“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
In his note of thanks to the Philippian church for their assistance as he has preached the gospel, the Apostle Paul takes the opportunity to encourage and admonish the Christians to whom he writes. In his message, he embeds the ideas of contentment, prayer, and thanksgiving.
Having been reminded this past week of being thankful, it is well that we refresh our minds about thanksgiving as God’s people. Our thankfulness is not restricted to one day a year but it is to be every day.
Throughout the scriptures, we are reminded that we are to be a thankful people—for the unthinkable gift of a loving Savior who made possible our forgiveness as well as for the abundant material blessings with which we have been surrounded.
With these material and spiritual blessings goes the responsibility of continuing to express our supreme gratitude to our loving Heavenly Father.
“knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ ” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
Since the time Satan appeared to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, people have come along, promoting theories that have caused doubts to arise in the hearts of men and women. Included in these theories is the one planting doubts about God’s promise of the Second Coming of Jesus.
Peter calls these naysayers “scoffers,” meaning mockers. Having no interest in God, they ridicule those who believe there will be a Second Coming and a judgment for all who have ever lived. Trying to discredit God, they say the world has existed since the beginning; so where is the assurance that anything will change?
Throughout His Word, God has given full assurance there will be a Second Coming and Judgment, and that promise is sealed with the giving of His Son to die on the cross for the sins of mankind. What greater assurance do we need? Or what could be said or done that would be any more convincing than such a sacrifice?
“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward’.” (Exodus 14:15).
The people of God were facing a time of extreme crisis as they stood with the waters of the Red Sea in front of them and the vast Egyptian army breathing down their necks from the back. They had no means of crossing over the sea and saving themselves.
It was at that time that God gave the command to Moses for them to Go Forward. The command is clear, but the means of fulfilling the command is unknown until God speaks to Moses in the next verse and tells him to stretch out his rod, making the waters part and allowing the people to cross over.
Moses’ faith never wavered, even though he himself didn’t know how the people would be saved until God revealed it. He left us a great example of total faith that God’s will would be accomplished.
God doesn’t promise miracles to help us achieve His wishes in our day, but we need to have the faith to use the resources we have at our disposal in Going Forward and carrying out whatever He has commanded in His word. Through answers to our prayers and His providence, His desires will be carried out. That assurance is all we need.
“Better is a little with righteousness,
Than vast revenues without justice” (Proverbs 16:8).
In establishing what is really important in life, the preacher here contrasts taking right actions and conforming one’s life to the will of God with pursuing wealth by illicit or dishonest means.
This passage, along with others in this section of scripture, deals a great deal with the heart—that is, focusing and getting our heart going the right direction so that we establish our priorities properly. Without doing so, we can easily be led down the wrong pathway in life.
Earning an honest living or even accumulating some degree of wealth is not condemned here, but being dishonest in the process is. As well, Solomon teaches that pursuing material gain, either honestly or dishonestly, to the exclusion of our spiritual welfare will not put us in good stead with God.
“He who walks with wise men will be wise,
“But the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).
Influence is a powerful force in our lives that we should never take lightly whether we are talking about the influence others have on us or the influence we have on others. The context here is evidently the influence of others on us.
This text is direct and positive: associating with those of good character leads to a positive result but associating with those of questionable character can or will lead to moral ruin.
As Christians, we are advised to be careful of those with whom we associate because of the possibility of being led away from the teaching of the scriptures and even into activities that will damage our moral fiber.
Paul speaks directly in 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ ” Following such sound advice can save us from heartache and spiritual destruction.
“For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10).
Paul has established in verse eight that godly exercise is more profitable than physical exercise because it leads to the desired “end,” that is, eternal life. That is the same “end” to which he refers here. Because of that belief, he and Timothy work and even suffer at the hands of others for their faith.
In spite of the sacrifices they have made, they know that trusting in the living God will reap an abundant eternal reward. This same reward is available for all who remain a believer. And Paul must be referring to active, not passive, believers for him to be consistent with messages he wrote to all the churches at that time.
What Paul sets before us, then, is that active living for Christ is the only life that will lead us to the desired “end.” If it would work for Paul and Timothy, it will work for us. Let us allow Paul’s description in this passage to stimulate us to maintain an active spiritual life that will lead us to heaven.
“And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them” (Genesis 26:18).
Contrary to the friendly covenant the Philistines had made with Abraham, they had stopped up the wells Abraham had dug and had re-named them in an attempt to obliterate remembrance of God’s people. As Isaac took over and settled in the land, God blessed him abundantly; and he became a wealthy man, arousing the envy of the Philistines.
To keep peace, Isaac agreed to re-locate; when he did, he opened up some of the wells the Philistines had filled in. And, further, he restored to the wells the original names given by Abraham.
These wells have become a symbol of the wells of living water, provided to the world by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as the wells of old were filled in and re-named, so man has made attempts to alter God’s plan for salvation and has even given man-made names to biblical items.
To receive God’s blessing and make heaven our eternal home, we must do as Isaac did: we must re-dig the wells of Zion. That is, we must associate ourselves with those who are diligent in following God’s plan as He gave it and in calling Bible things by Bible names. Only then will God be pleased.
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
Reality is hard to come by for many people in our world. Many are not able to see themselves as they really are or as other people see them. This kind of person is deceiving himself, and self-deception is the most extreme kind of deception.
As far as spiritual matters are concerned, there is no reason for us to be deceived. We have a spiritual mirror into which we can look; and if we look at it honestly, we can see ourselves.
We deceive ourselves if we think we can sow one thing and reap something else. That process will not work in the physical world nor will it work in the spiritual realm. We can’t think God is like man, change or ignore God’s word, nor place our ideas about Christianity on the same level as God’s and expect to make it to heaven.
Self-deception is really the Greatest Deception because when we are deceiving ourselves, we are almost impossible to reach and we usually won’t listen when someone else is attempting to teach us.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God,
“That I will send a famine on the land,
“Not a famine of bread,
“Not a thirst for water,
“But of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11).
Pointing to a time of desperation, God has the prophet Amos make a prediction for some time in the future when God’s patience will have run out. The people will move toward a time when God’s word will have lost its power over them and when they will go after other gods.
At that point, God will send His people a spiritual famine, not a physical one. They will have so departed from His ways and will have so sunk into spiritual adultery that He will give up on them. He will remove their prophets and their opportunities for hearing His words.
That time came, just as God predicted through Amos. When God cut off His revelation to them, no amount of longing to hear His words was fulfilled—no amount of craving was satisfied.
This drastic prediction shows the depth of God’s dissatisfaction when people of any generation ignore His word and turn their backs on His instruction: there will be consequences, either in this life or in the life to come.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).
Nearing the close of this, one of Paul’s most positive epistles, and having accomplished his purpose of admonition and encouragement, the apostle begins his conclusion with a terse but important instruction: “be strong.”
Not only does this self-defining word communicate the idea of strength but also it can be translated as “empowered.” Since these people have already reached a level of faith and commitment not seen in many of the other churches, Paul calls them to bind themselves so closely to Jesus that they allow His power to work through them.
As disciples of Jesus, we can internalize a great lesson from this instruction. We can allow Jesus to work through us by intensifying our knowledge of His word, by listening to Him intently, by performing according to His instruction and example, and by committing our lives in service to His Cause.