Join Pastor Joe each morning for a time of devotions. Today we continue week two in the New Testament book of Ephesians. We are looking at Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 1:15-23. Today, in verses 20b-21 we see that Jesus has been exalted far above all others and given the name which is above all other names. So, grab a cup of coffee and your Bible and let's dig in.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” (Philippians 4:5)
We all know that the person who has a strong self-esteem and feeds their ego through self-promotion, often at the expense of others, is not the poster child for biblical humility. However, biblical humility also isn’t demonstrated through the person who has a low self-esteem, acts humble and shy, and lacks confidence, allowing people to walk all over them. That’s humiliation.
Truly humble people have a strong self-esteem stemming from knowing who they are in Christ. A firm grasp of your eternal position as a child of God gives you confidence that you have nothing to lose. Knowing that your position is not up for grabs affords you the opportunity to put the needs of others above your own.
In Philippians 2:8 Paul cites Jesus as the poster child for humility: “being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death.” Jesus, with a strong sense of who he was, put your needs above his own and suffered so that you could gain a relationship with God. If you want to be like Jesus, take on his brand of humility.
“I choose to esteem others above myself.”
[Excerpt from Believe: 31-Day Devotional by Randy & Roxanne Frazee, pgs. 63-64.]
Today's Devotional Thought:
Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."
New York Times columnist David Brooks argues that there are three different lenses through which to think about marriage decisions—the psychological, the romantic, and the moral lens.
Most of the popular advice books adopt a psychological lens. These books start with the premise that getting married is a daunting prospect. So psychologists urge us to pay attention to traits like "agreeableness," social harmony, empathy, and niceness.
The second lens is the romantic lens. This is the dominant lens in movie and song. More than people in many other countries, Americans want to marry the person they are passionately in love with. But in their book "The Good Marriage," Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee concluded that 15 percent of couples maintain these kinds of lifelong romantic marriages.
The third lens is the moral lens. In this lens a marriage exists to serve some higher purpose. Brooks points to Tim Keller's book "The Meaning of Marriage," where Keller argues that marriage introduces you to yourself; you realize you're not as noble and easy to live with as you thought when alone. Brooks writes:
In a good marriage you identify your own selfishness and see it as the fundamental problem. You treat it more seriously than your spouse's selfishness. The everyday tasks of marriage are opportunities to cultivate a more selfless love. Everyday there's a chance to inspire and encourage your partner to become his or her best self. In this lens, marriage isn't about two individuals trying to satisfy their own needs; it's a partnership of mutual self-giving for the purpose of moral growth and to make their corner of the world a little better. [Adapted from David Brooks, "Three Views of Marriage," The New York Times (2-13-16)]
Paul asks the Philippian Church to look through the moral lens at their relationships. There was disunity in the Church. There was grumbling and arguing (Philippians 2:14). There was quarrels and fights (Philippians 4:2). The problem, as Paul saw it, was pride or self-centeredness. The cure, the thing that could bring unity, and can bring unity in our marriages as well, is humility or other-centeredness.
Have you found disunity in your marriage? The answer is to value your spouse above yourself and consider their needs above your own. Any marriage in which both partners look through this moral lens will find joyous unity and healing. The end result will be a marriage that will stand the test of time.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we often struggle to put others above ourselves. You ask us to bear a cross of self denial. Help us in this daily difficult task. Bless our relationships. Bless our marriages. Bring us unity and let it bring You glory. In Jesus, amen.
"I Am A Christian"
Matthew 9:10-13, "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eatwith tax collectors and sinners?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
When I heard what he said I winced, "You Christians are such 'Holier than thou,' types." I smiled sadly. "No," I said. "we're just so pathetic that we're desperate enough to admit how much we need God."
There is this bizarre perception, this age old myth, that Christians have some sort of superiority complex. Once you know some genuine Christians this becomes laughable. The 'holier than thou' types of Jesus' day were the religious leaders, the Pharisees, and Jesus blasted this group more than any other. In fact it was the only group He did attack. "You brood of vipers..." (Matthew 23:33). "You whitewashed tombs..." (Matthew 23:27). Jesus said, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). Not much has changed in 2000 years. Jesus is still looking for the pathetic, the broken, the head cases, the addicts, the helpless sinners, the homeless and the hopeless.
Actually, what they really mean to point to is the exclusive claims of Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). But there is an important difference between Jesus exclusive claims ("I am the only way to God")—which would be true if He was who he said He was because truth is exclusive by nature—and Jesus inclusive offer of salvation. Remember how pathetic we are and you'll understand how easy it was to dismiss the other law based faiths with their myriad of laws, rules and regulations that we haven't got a chance to keep. After all, we don't need some moral law we can't keep. We've tried to change ourselves a million times and failed a million-and-one. We've just failed so often, so spectacularly, that we know what we need. We need a Savior!
So, when I say that, “I am a Christian,” I am not shouting that I am clean living. I'm whispering that, “I was lost, but now I'm found and forgiven.”
When I say that, “I am a Christian,” I don't speak of this with pride. I confess that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.
When I say that, “I am a Christian,” I'm not trying to be strong. I'm professing that I'm weak and need His strength to carry on.
When I say that, “I am a Christian,” I'm not bragging of success. I'm admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.
When I say that, “I am a Christian,” I'm not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I am worth it.
When I say that, “I am a Christian,” I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.
When I say that, “I am a Christian,” I'm not holier than thou. I'm just a simple sinner who received God's good grace, somehow! (By an anonymous sinful Christian)
If that's you—if you too are a failure in your moral life, and know how easy it is for you to mess up your life; if life has leveled you to the point you know you can't stand on your own two feet before a holy God; if you're a screw up, a stumbler, a falling down mess—have I got the perfect One for you! Jesus. He's the only One who wants us sinners. He said, "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly" (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message). That's what I need. How about you?
Prayer: Father, we know we're chosen because the perfect people wouldn't come. We are still grateful to come, eager to come. We've tried to change ourselves from the outside in but failed so often we know we need Your power to change us from the inside out. We are sinners in need, not of yet another moral law we can't keep, but a Savior. We humbly fall before Your cross, Lord Jesus, and accept by faith what You were willing to do for us who were unable to do it for ourselves. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! In Jesus name, amen.