“Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.” (Philippians 3:15-16)
Earlier, Paul had noted that he was not “already perfect” (Philippians 3:12), using a form of the Greek verb teleioo. In today’s verse, Paul uses the adjective form teleios. Although the root of the word is the same, this particular usage is significant.
In verse 12, the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to use the past perfect tense of teleioo, rendering the translation “not having been perfected” and thereby recognizing that the end product of God’s salvation has not yet been completed. The adjective form, teleios, denotes the sense of maturity, both in our text and the other 18 instances in the New Testament.
Those of the family of God who are “mature,” even if we might be “otherwise minded,” are to expect that our Lord Jesus will reveal “even this,” or the prize that we are to focus on in Philippians 3:14. The “one thing” of Philippians 3:13 is so important that we must “walk by the same rule” and “mind the same thing” (today’s verse).
The Greek word for “walk” is only used four other times in the New Testament, and it describes marching in a row and following a prescribed order. We are to “walk in the steps” that Abraham exemplified (Romans 4:12), just as we are to “also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
Finally, we are exhorted to “mind” the same thing. Our thought processes are to be focused on that one thing that is most important—seeking the Kingdom first. May these clear commands find their way into our hearts. HMM III
I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors. Guarantee Your servants well-being; do not let the arrogant oppress me. My eyes grow weary [looking for] Your salvation and for Your righteous promise. Deal with Your servant based on Your faithful love; teach me Your statutes. I am Your servant; give me understanding so that I may know Your decrees. It is time for the Lord to act, [for] they have broken Your law. Since I love Your commandments more than gold, even the purest gold, I carefully follow all Your precepts and hate every false way (Psalm 119 vv. 121-128).
Most of us living in affluent America know little about servanthood. We expect excellent and efficient service from others and accept it as our due. It is so much more human to desire stardom than servanthood!
Three times in this passage, however, the psalmist—likely a person of honor and prestige in the community—professes his status as a lowly servant before God: “Guarantee Your servant’s well-being” (v. 122). “Deal with Your servant” (v. 124).”I am Your servant; give me understanding” (v. 125). He isn’t too proud to admit his need to be educated in the royal decrees or to seek divine wisdom for decision-making.
Ancient believers, overcome by the greatness of God and their own worthlessness, often prostrated themselves before the Lord in abject humility (Ps. 5:7). We do well to get on our knees once in awhile.
Yet Jesus, God incarnate, willingly left the glories of heaven to walk the dusty pathways of this earth. He owned no property, sought no public office, accumulated no possessions. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). He came to serve … and to die for my sins!
Such love compels me to fall on my face. “I am Your servant; give me understanding so that I may know your decrees” (v. 125).
My people have committed a double evil: They have abandoned Me, the fountain of living water, and dug … cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.—Jeremiah 2:13
One of the major problems with which we are all confronted is that we have at the core of our being a deep thirst for God, which makes us entirely dependent on Him for satisfaction. Our sinful human nature resents this, because it dislikes the feeling of helplessness that such dependence brings; it prefers to have a hand in bringing about its own satisfaction.
This terrible tendency of the human heart to try to satisfy its own thirst independently of God is brought out clearly in the passage before us today. The Prophet Jeremiah indicts Israel—the people of God—for depending on “cracked cisterns” in their efforts to quench their spiritual thirst (cisterns which they themselves made but which can hold no water).
Note the two observations our text for today suggests. First, the people were thirsty, and second, they moved in the wrong direction to satisfy their thirst.
God said it was as if they walked right past the clear waters He provided and chose instead to dig their own well. They wanted to run their own lives and refused to come to God, allowing Him to quench their deep thirst. This stubborn commitment to independence is responsible more than anything else for preventing us from having feet like “hinds’ feet.”
Gracious Father, I see that the problem You had with the nation of Israel is my problem, too. For far too often I try to dig my own well. You are searching deeply into my life. Help me not to evade or avoid any issue. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jdg 17:1-6; 21:25; Pr 28:26; 1Co 10:12
How does the book of Judges sum up the human heart?
God loves to work across the generations. If you are the first in your family to come to Christ, God can start something brand new with you that is going to go far beyond you and touch generations yet to come.
Family life has never been easy. Most, if not all, Bible families were more or less dysfunctional, from Cain and Abel to Jacob and Esau to Joseph and his brothers to David and Bathsheba. Even Jesus’ family did not believe in Him and apparently tried to persuade Him to give up on His mission. But God did not give up on the idea of family and neither must we.
One of the problems in our culture today is that families so seldom eat together. This can be one of the practical steps to take toward strengthening family life-determining that at least once a day, we are going to make the sacrifices necessary to touch base with one another—to sit down, pray and eat together as a family. More important even than talking about prayer is praying your way through life’s crises with your family.
Our best devotional times were when we had an issue to deal with as a family. We’d look to the Word of God for guidance and we’d pull together in prayer to work our way through it. Sometimes it was after a sharp difference of opinion, and sometimes tears were shed on the way to a solution.
Our own personal prayer life is so important as we model our faith to our families. Our daughter Jennie sent my wife a beautiful Mother’s Day note one year. She shared a number of memories of her mom and concluded with this:
“My fond memory is of you praying and reading your Bible each morning, yet holding out your arms to me if I woke too soon and interrupted your time. I do the same with Beth (her daughter), because the greatest lesson you taught me is that loving your children unconditionally is prayer itself.”
Devotional times with our families are invaluable because they give a pattern of spiritual discipline to our children that will strengthen them in working out that discipline in their own lives and passing it on to their children.
Keep believing for your children’s salvation. God is faithful to His promise— for you and your household.
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done. Proverbs 19:17, NIV
David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby, remembers how his mother would crochet doilies to raise money for missions. “My parents were… some of the most generous people I’ve ever known,” he wrote. “Their spare living and meager income did not stop them from being generous in a thousand different ways. Mother may have had only three or four dresses in her closet, but if she heard of a woman who needed one, you could be sure Mother would soon arrive at the woman’s doorstep with a dress in hand.”
The Bible tells us to be generous. That’s critical to our calling as believers. But no government can ensure that everyone has exactly the same amount of assets. Every attempt to create a level economy has pushed people into poverty with only its leaders living in luxury. Shared wealth does not bring unity. It creates envy and resentment, and ultimately causes socialism to fail.
We can’t control the governments of the world. That isn’t our job. But we can be generous!
I could have become president of the United States and [my mother] would have said the same thing: “What are you doing for the Lord?”David Green
20 Proverbs 17-19 – J Vernon McGee – Thru the Bible
This word came to Jeremiah from the Lord. Jeremiah 36:1
In the early nineteenth century, Thomas Carlyle gave a manuscript to philosopher John Stuart Mill to review. Somehow, whether accidentally or intentionally, the manuscript got tossed into a fire. It was Carlyle’s only copy. Undaunted, he set to work rewriting the lost chapters. Mere flames couldn’t stop the story, which remained intact in his mind. Out of great loss, Carlyle produced his monumental work The French Revolution.
In the waning days of ancient Judah’s decadent kingdom, God told the prophet Jeremiah, “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you” (Jeremiah 36:2). The message revealed God’s tender heart, calling on His people to repent in order to avoid imminent invasion (v. 3).
Jeremiah did as he was told. The scroll soon found its way to Judah’s king, Jehoiakim, who methodically shredded it and threw it into the fire (vv. 23–25). The king’s act of arson only made matters worse. God told Jeremiah to write another scroll with the same message. He said, “[Jehoiakim] will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night” (v. 30).
It’s possible to burn the words of God by tossing a book into a fire. Possible, but utterly futile. The Word behind the words endures forever.
No one enjoys sensing conviction about having done wrong, but that uncomfortable feeling is actually a demonstration of divine love. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin, their lack of righteousness, and the reality of coming judgment so they’ll turn to Christ and be saved. If wrongdoers never feel the guilt of their sin, they won’t see the need for a Savior. Every prick of the heart is intended to draw them to Christ.
And we should also be grateful that the Spirit’s convicting work doesn’t end once a person is saved. He continues to instruct and shape us after salvation and convicts us of disobedience to our heavenly Father. In other words, He makes us aware of specific sins and God’s attitude about such behavior. He also prompts us to confess our wrongs, repent, and turn back to the path of righteousness.
In addition to protecting and leading us in these ways, the Spirit does much more for us. He guides us into truth, discloses the meaning of Scripture, transforms our character, and empowers us to live a holy, obedient life characterized by love. So listen to His conviction and promptings. They are for your good and God’s glory.
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. (Psalm 5:3)
Bible study, meditation on the Word, and prayer are necessities for a healthy Christian life and are good to practice at any time of the day or night, according to the constraints of time and responsibilities of each individual. Other things being equal, however, the best time of all is in the early morning. A believer who awakens each morning to the voice of the Lord in His Word will, in turn, be ready to speak words of blessing to others through the day (Isaiah 50:4). And as we, in turn, look up to Him each morning in prayer, He will hear and direct our steps through the day.
This was the example set by the Lord Jesus Himself: “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35). If even Jesus Christ needed such a quiet time early in the morning set aside to fellowship with His Father, we also would do well to follow.
Note the prayer of David: “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee” (Psalm 143:8). We urgently need to know the way we should walk each day, for it is so easy to get turned aside into our own ways, and the obvious time to pray for guidance is at the very beginning of every day.
One should not make a legalistic ritual of prayer and Bible meditation, of course, for it should come from a heart of love whenever and wherever it can be done, whether morning or evening. However it may work for each person, may God help us to say with the psalmist: “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). HMM
I hate the double-minded, but I love Your instruction. You are my shelter and my shield; I hope in Your word. Depart from me, you evil ones, so that I may obey my God’s commands. Sustain me as You promised, and I will live; do not let me be ashamed of my hope. Sustain me so that I can be safe and be concerned with Your statutes continually. You reject all who stray from Your statutes, for their deceit is a lie. You remove all the wicked on earth as if they were dross; therefore, I love Your decrees. I shudder in awe of You; I fear Your judgments (Psalm 119 vv. 113—120).
Awesome! If I’ve heard that word once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. I’ve become convinced that this word is the cornerstone for the vocabulary of young America, They handle greatness with undue familiarity!
Still, awesome is a perfectly good word. It’s in the dictionary as well as in the Bible itself. The dictionary defines the word as “characterized by awe—an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, and fear produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.” I could use this word to describe Brahm’s Fourth Symphony. And the psalmist certainly feels this kind of reverence for God’s laws.
This psalmist isn’t gullible enough to believe that he is immune to the seductive wiles of the wicked and prays earnestly for strength to stay true to God’s awesome decrees. He actually trembles in God’s presence!
I’m wondering if believers in this modern world don’t often try to be too cozy, too familiar with God. We sing superficial songs and engage in cliche- ridden, repetitive prayers. Many of us know the traditions but have never been moved by the truth.We’ve never felt our flesh quiver in awe—holy respect—as we behold the majesty of God’s eternal Word!
O Lord, when I open your Word, I’m standing on holy ground. Teach me to tremble in your presence!
In everything, through prayer and petitionwith thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.—Philippians 4:6
One of the reasons Jesus taught us to pray “Give us today our daily bread” was because He wanted to build in us a barrier against ingratitude.
Do you pray daily for your physical needs? Do you ask God daily for things like food, shelter, and the other physical necessities of life? I must confess that when I asked myself this question before writing this page, I had to admit that I did not. Now I have made a decision to apply myself to this part of the Lord’s Prayer with greater sincerity.
Of course some people argue that because Jesus said: “Your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him” (Mt 6:8), then it is pointless to inform God of our physical needs because He knows them already. But the central value of prayer is that prayer is not something by which we inform God of our needs and thus influence Him to give things to us. Prayer is designed to influence us; it is we who are in need of this kind of prayer, not God. Of course God knows what we are in need of, but He also knows that unless we come face to face daily with the fact that we are creatures of need, then we can soon develop a spirit of independence and withdraw ourselves from close contact with Him.
Prayer, then, is something we need. God may not need to be told, but we need to tell Him. That’s the point. And unless we grasp it, we can miss one of the primary purposes of prayer.
O Father, thank You for showing me that prayer is not begging for blessings. It is becoming a blessing—to myself. I pray, not to change Your attitude towards me, but to change my attitude towards You. Thank You, Father. Amen.