A Personal Devotional Journal

I invite you to journey with me. Sometimes we will look at short passages of Scripture and I will give my first thoughts and impressions. Other times, I will just share my thinking about spiritual issues. Always, you are welcome to comment and add your thoughts. Together, we could learn something.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Philippians 2:3-5 "Respect Theology - Love Jesus"

"Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus."  Philippians 2:3-5

We don't have to manufacture the unity and humility that Scripture is speaking of.  We don't have to try and make it happen.  It is already ours in Christ Jesus.  Spiritual disunity in the Church is a result of pride, arrogance and looking to our own interests.  But this, clearly, is our issue, not God's.

By design, all who are truly in Christ have unity with one another.  And so long as we abide in Christ, our unity is apparent.  The problem is that most Christians abide in church doctrines, traditions, and theological systems instead of abiding in Christ Himself.  It's not that doctrines and traditions and systematic theology are wrong things -it's just that if we love our doctrines and traditions more than we actually love Jesus, the resulting disunity will also be apparent.

That what separates us as Believers seems more obvious than what unites us ought to be a glaring wake-up call.  Respect theology and traditions -but love Jesus and love each other.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Philippians 1:8-11 "Love, Knowledge, and Understanding"

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.   Philippians 1:9-11

I sincerely would like to be pure and blameless.  It seems impossible.  I am so damaged.  Even when I try my hardest, I fall short; and even when I appear to be doing the right actions, it is often with the wrong motives.

Pure and blameless seems out of my league.  Yet Paul is praying for the Church in Philppi (and, I believe, for you and me).  And, importantly, he is not only praying, but identifying a path that leads to the very place I want to be.  Here is the path to being pure and blameless: Love -with Knowledge -and Understanding/Discernment.

In order for us to even come close, we need all three ingredients.  Love without knowledge and understanding is simply an emotional experience -all light, no heat.  Knowledge without love and understanding leads to arrogance and judgementalism.  Love and knowledge without understanding/discernment produces an atmosphere where anything goes and no internal transformation is expected.

When love happens in the context of understanding and knowledge, however, we attain compassion, wisdom and transformation.  Where true compassion, wisdom and transformation are operating, the Spirit of God is also operating since true compassion, true wisdom, true understanding and true love are from God.  Where the Spirit of God is operating, the Kingdom of God is being realized.

Clearly, there is an inherent connection between the Kingdom and the King (Jesus) and His righteousness.  It is in this fruitful environment that intimacy with God grows.  And intimacy with God produces spiritual transformation that leads to being pure and blameless in God's eyes.

So, for the Kingdom's sake, let's emulate Paul and pray for one another and for the Church that our love will overflow and that we will keep growing in knowledge and understanding.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Philippians 4:8 The Good Stuff

The connecting link between what we believe in our hearts and how we live in everyday life is what we think with our minds. There is a phrase among the computer geek crowd. GIGO. It means garbage in, garbage out. You see, a computer only does what it is told to do. If the programming isn’t right, the computer doesn’t run right. If the programming is garbage, the computer is garbage. A computer is only as good as its programming. Garbage in, garbage out.

Our brains are similar to a computer in this sense. Our thinking is determined by the quality of input. If we put in bad stuff –if we put in hatred, unbelief, jealousy, lust, greed, selfishness, hopelessness, discontentment –then, obviously the output is going to be garbage. Many times we as Christians see negative stuff in our lives –we see garbage output, and we immediately blame the devil, the world, the flesh, the people we work with, the people we live with –we are full of excuses about why there is garbage output in our lives. But the bottom line is that many times the garbage output is directly linked to garbage input.

If we have been struggling with lust or greed or selfishness or anger or any other negative thinking –and especially if it has been leading to negative living, the first thing we need to do is ask, “What have I been putting into my mind?” What television shows have I been watching? What movies have I been watching? What music have I been listening to? What web sites have I been visiting? What books have I been reading? It would be both na├»ve and foolish to think that there is no connection between what goes into our brains and what comes out in our lives.

And, in fact, this is what Paul was talking about in his letter to the church at Philippi. Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

Sometimes it seems we want to fill our minds with the good stuff, but find ourselves unable to concentrate on all this good stuff –we find that when we try to add this good stuff into our lives and into our thinking, it just doesn’t seem to fit. If we want the good stuff in our lives, we must make it a priority and put it in first. If we fill our minds with the trivial stuff and the unimportant and the useless and harmful stuff first, and then try to add some of the good stuff in as an afterthought, it just doesn’t fit -there isn’t room for what matters most.

Fill your minds with things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Notice the phrase “think about such things.” The word that Paul used here means to ponder or consider seriously, and give proper weight or value to, and allow these things to influence the way we live. In other words, Paul is saying, input this. Think these things first.