VIDEO Serving Others – How to Treat Good but Imperfect People

Serving Others

Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need. Philippians 2:25

We are only told the names of a few dozen people associated with the apostle Paul as mentioned in his letters. Yet there must have been hundreds of people with whom he developed relationships—people with whom he shared a reciprocal ministry. These people not only ministered to Paul, but he ministered to them as well. And yet we will only learn their names and stories in heaven.

One such person who meant a great deal to Paul was Epaphroditus, a member of the church at Philippi. Paul mentions him twice by name (Philippians 2:25; 4:18), conveying his heartfelt appreciation and concern for this one he referred to as “my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier.” Remember—Paul was in prison when he wrote to the Philippians, yet his main concern was that the Church know what a blessing Epaphroditus had been to him. Indeed, Epaphroditus had almost died while delivering a material gift to Paul. Ignoring his own suffering, Paul demonstrated his concern for his friend.

Our true heart is revealed when we put concern for others ahead of ourselves (Philippians 2:4).

The highest honour in the Church is not government but service. John Calvin


How to Treat Good (but Imperfect) People – Philippians 2:25-30 – Skip Heitzig

Wise Aid

Encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  1 Thessalonians 5:14

As I stopped my car at a red light, I saw the same man standing beside the road again. He held a cardboard sign: Need money for food. Anything helps. I looked away and sighed. Was I the kind of person who ignored the needy?

Some people pretend to have needs but are actually con artists. Others have legitimate needs but face difficulties overcoming destructive habits. Social workers tell us it’s better to give money to the aid ministries in our city. I swallowed hard and drove past. I felt bad, but I may have acted wisely.

God commands us to “warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). To do this well we must know who belongs in which category. If we warn a weak or disheartened person, we may break her spirit; if we help an idle person, we may encourage laziness. Consequently, we help best from up close, when we know the person well enough to know what he needs.

Has God burdened your heart to help someone? Great! Now the work begins. Don’t assume you know what that person needs. Ask her to share her story, and listen. Prayerfully give as seems wise and not merely to feel better. When we truly aim “to do what is good for each other,” we will more readily “be patient with everyone,” even when they stumble (vv. 14–15).

By Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

When have others most helped you? What did you learn about how best to help others?

Father, help me to help wisely, and often.

Our Struggle With the Flesh

Galatians 5:16-26

One of the most misunderstood concepts in the Christian life is that of “the flesh.” So, what is it? In today’s passage, flesh refers not simply to the physical body but also to the inner being, which is still subject to sin even though believers have a new nature given to them by God’s Spirit. Therefore, flesh refers to our entrenched habits of sinful thoughts, desires, and attitudes—which often lead to ungodly behaviors.

Paul presents, in a painfully honest way, the results of living according to the flesh: deeds including immorality, impurity, idolatry, anger, strife, dissensions, and other destructive attitudes and actions. In contrast, a life led by the Holy Spirit produces the rich spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

Why do so many people who desire a godly, self-controlled life repeatedly fall to fleshly sin? Paul says the determining factor is whether or not they are being led by the Spirit. If Christians try to overcome sin on their own without submitting to the Spirit’s reproof and guidance, they will fail.

The flesh cannot be disciplined, rehabilitated, or improved. Instead, it must be put to death (Rom. 6:11). Then, through the power of the Spirit, we do not have to yield to sinful impulses but can instead present ourselves to God for obedience to His desires (Rom. 6:12-14).

Walking by the Spirit means submitting to the Lord when you feel tempted to follow your flesh. With His help, you can see your desires give way to obedience that pleases your heavenly Father.

Wells of Salvation

“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3)

This beautiful verse is in the midst of a psalm of praise for God’s deliverance of His people “in that day” (v. 4)—the coming day when the Lord shall return to the earth and reign “in the midst of thee” (v. 6). Until “that day” comes, however, we can appropriate its spiritual blessings right now.

The word translated “wells” is more often translated “fountains,” denoting flowing springs of water that never run dry. It is first used at the time of the great Flood when in one “day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up” (Genesis 7:11). On that day, the primeval fountains provided by God for the perpetual supply of living waters to the inhabitants of the “very good” world He had created were cleaved open, the living waters became lethal waters, and “all that was in the dry land, died” (v. 22).

But one day another fountain was cleaved open. As Jesus died on the cross, “a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34). At the great Feast of Tabernacles, He had cried: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me . . . out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

The blood and water flowed together from the deep fountain opened in the Savior’s side that day, and their cleansing powers became a fountain of life to all who will drink. The waters again became living waters from a fountain that will never run dry, “a pure river of water of life . . . proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1).

Then, wonder of wonders, there is not just one well, for all who believe likewise send forth “rivers of living water,” as with eternal joy, we each share with one another, forever drinking from the never-drying wells of salvation! HMM

Unworthy Conception of God

For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.

—Psalm 89:6-7

Christianity at any given time is strong or weak depending upon her concept of God. And I insist upon this and I have said it many times, that the basic trouble with the Church today is her unworthy conception of God. I talk with learned and godly people all over the country, and they’re all saying the same thing.

Unbelievers say, “Take your cowboy god and go home,” and we get angry and say, “They’re vile heathen.” No, they’re not vile heathen—or at least that’s not why they say that. They can’t respect our “cowboy god.” And since evangelicalism has gone overboard to “cowboy religion,” its conception of God is unworthy of Him. Our religion is little because our god is little…. We do not see God as He is….

A local church will only be as great as its conception of God. An individual Christian will be a success or a failure depending upon what he or she thinks of God. It is critically important that we have a knowledge of the Holy One, that we know what God is like.   AOG041-042

O God, help me to capture once again a realization of Your greatness. May the God I represent in my ministry be a God worthy of lavish worship. Amen.

 

For to day the Lord will appear unto you

For to day the Lord will appear unto you.—Leviticus 9:4.

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.—2 Corinthians 6:2.

 

Do not let your growth in holiness depend upon surrounding circumstances, but rather constrain those circumstances to minister to your growth. Beware of looking onward, or out of the present in any way, for the sanctification of your life. The only thing you can really control is the present the actual moment that is passing by. Sanctify that from hour to hour, and you sanctify your whole life; but brood over the past, or project yourself into the future, and you will lose all. The little act of obedience, love, self-restraint, meekness, patience, devotion, offered to you actually, is all you can do now, and if you neglect that to fret about something else at a distance, you lose your real opportunity of serving God. A moment’s silence, when some irritating words are said by another, may seem a very small thing; yet at that moment it is your one duty, your one way of serving and pleasing God, and if you break it, you have lost your opportunity.

H.L. Sidney Lear.

 

A Wilderness Communion

“I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.” Hosea 2:14

The goodness of God sees us allured by sin, and it resolves to try upon us the more powerful allurements of love. Do we not remember when the Lover of our souls first cast a spell upon us and charmed us away from the fascinations of the world? He will do this again and again whenever He sees us likely to be ensnared by evil.

He promises to draw us apart, for there He can best deal with us, and this separated place is not to be a Paradise, but a wilderness, since in such a place there will be nothing to take off our attention from our God. In the deserts of affliction the presence of the Lord becomes everything to us, and we prize His company beyond any value which we set upon it when we sat under our own vine and fig-tree in the society of our fellows. Solitude and affliction bring more to themselves and to their heavenly Father than any other means.

When thus allured and secluded the Lord has choice things to say to us for our comfort. He “speaks to our heart,” as the original has it. Oh that at this we may have this promise explained in our experience! Allured by love, separated by trial, and comforted by the Spirit of truth, may we know the Lord and sing for joy!