THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:9-11

“Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

“Christ’s exaltation consists in His rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world on the last day” (Westminster Confession of Faith Shorter Catechism #28).

You can see in our verses today how God has exalted Christ to the highest place through His resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of God. God bestowed on Jesus the name that is above all names — “Jesus Christ the Lord.” The day will come when all creation will bow before Him — “in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

For this reason, we who are believers get the great privilege of exalting Jesus Christ now. We know what He did for us in His humiliation. And we rejoice that God has highly exalted Him. Our lives are to be lived for His glory. We are to offer praise to Him and we are to worship Him as the highly exalted Lord of all.

Today let us bow the knee before Him and let our tongues confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Exalted Christ, Your name is above every name. The day will come when every knee will bow and tongue will confess that You are indeed Christ the Lord. Today I come to exalt You. I praise You as the risen Lord of all. You alone deserve all praise, worship and honor for You alone are King of kings and Lord of lords. Receive my praise and thanksgiving this day.

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THE HUMILIATION OF CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:5-8

“And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8)

The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Confession of Faith asks the question: “What did Christ’s humiliation consist?” The answer is” “Christ’s humiliation consisted in His being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross, in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.” (Shorter Catechism #27)

These verses in Philippians 2 speak of Christ’s humiliation. First, we are told that Christ gave us some of His rights and privileges as God — “Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant” (vs. 6,7). Jesus gave up His heavenly glory, took upon Himself human nature and became a servant. The Second Person of the Godhead actually became a man, who lived a life of servanthood and humility.

Second, the sinless Son of God humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (v. 8). Jesus Christ died a painful and shameful death in our place. He had to carry His cross outside the city and was crucified there. He became a curse for us — “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree'” (Galatians 3:13).

The humiliation of Christ shows us the extent of His love and grace — “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).

Lord Jesus, You stooped low to save me. You humbled Yourself, emptied Yourself of Your heavenly glory, took upon Yourself human nature, and became a servant. You did all this so that You could become the perfect atoning sacrifice for my sins. You who are rich beyond all measure became the poorest of the poor for me. Thank You for Your humiliation that brought me grace and assures me of glory.

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THE MIND OF CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:5-8

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

I decided early this year that my goal is to develop the mind of Christ more and more in my life. I have to work diligently on learning how to appropriate the presence of Jesus in my life (Galatians 2:20). Verse 5 in the second chapter of Philippians tells me to have the mind of Christ “which is yours.” I understand this to mean that I have access to the mind of Christ. I can yield my way of thinking to His way of thinking because He is in me.

As I read this passage, I see four key characteristics of the mind of Christ. First is humility. Jesus Christ humbled Himself when He became man — “Though He was in the form of God, (He) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (v. 6). He willingly took upon Himself human nature when He was born in the likeness of men (v. 7). Jesus yielded His rights as the Son of God to become fully human — God became man.

Second is servanthood. Jesus who is the King of kings and Lord of Lords took on “the form of a servant” (v. 7). He came to this earth to serve. In fact, His entire earthly life was marked by servanthood — “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Third is sacrifice. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice — “And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (v. 8). Jesus voluntarily went to the cross to save His people. He laid down His life for His people.

Fourth is obedience. Jesus yielded His will to His Father’s will. In His humanity, Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience. He obeyed even to the point of death.

Having the mind of Christ means that we begin to think like Christ thinks. It means seeking to live a life of humility, servanthood, sacrifice and obedience. It means yielding our desires to His desires for us. It means putting His will before our will. In order to do this, we must draw off His presence and power in our lives. Remember His mind can be ours if we yield to His way of thinking.

Lord Jesus, give me Your mind this day. Let me live a life of humility. Let me learn more and more how to humble myself before You and others. Enable me to be a servant today, serving freely and without complaint. Give me the ability to make sacrifices for others as I seek to remember the greatest sacrifice You made for me. And let me be obedient to Your Word this day.

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A LIFE OF HUMILITY

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:1-5

“Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:2-4)

Living a life of humility is utterly impossible to live in our own strength. We are selfish by nature and by practice. But verse one of this chapter reminds us that we are in Christ. What we cannot do, He can do. We have to rely upon His presence and power in our lives to be obedient to God’s will.

Notice what we are being instructed to do. First, we are to be concerned for unity — in our marriages, our families and our churches. We are to be of the same mind, same love and same purpose. Christ alone enables us to go beyond our differences and divisions in order to become one.

Second, we are to have the right motives. We are not to act out of selfish motives and empty conceit. These are our natural tendencies — to be selfish and proud. Rather, we are to regard others more highly than we regard ourselves. Imagine how different our families, our churches and our nations would be if we thought more highly of others than we think of ourselves!

Third, we are to look after the interests of other people, not just our own. We are driven by self-interest. The gospel calls us to be others interested. We cannot say, “I have enough problems of my own; I can’t get involved in someone else’s problems.” We are to bear one another’s burdens and we are to experience empathy and sympathy for others.

Look at Jesus. He desires us to have His mind. He gave up everything for us. His presence and power in us give us the ability to live for others rather than simply living for ourselves — “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

Lord Jesus, I confess that I am self-centered, self-interested, and selfish by nature. By Your grace enable me to live a life of humility. Let me put aside my own interests and look to the interests of others. Enable to regard others more highly than I regard myself. Lord Jesus, give me Your mind and heart for others.

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OUR VITAL UNION WITH CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:1-4

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord, and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1,2)

The instructions we are given in this chapter are impossible to do apart from our vital union with Christ. The first verse gives us the basis and power to do what God is asking us to do. If Christ is not in us, we will never have the power, ability and determination to follow the instructions in the opening verses of chapter 2.

Look carefully at the first verse — “If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy.” Central to the Christian faith is the doctrine of the mystical union we have in Christ. Christ is said to be in us and we are in Him. He lives His life in and through us — “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Do you see what this verse is saying? Christ is not just in me, He LIVES in me. Now I can live my life by His life.

Because we have Christ indwelling in us, we can be comforted by His love. We can participate in the work of His Spirit. And we can experience His affection and sympathy. This, in turn, means that we have His power available to us — to love others with His love, to participate with the Spirit, and to have affection and sympathy towards others. Unless we recognize Christ’s presence and power in us and rely upon Him, we cannot do the things we are being asked to do in the verses that follow.

Lord Jesus, I am so thankful that You live in me. You give me the power to love others and to participate in the work of Your Spirit. Let me learn how to appropriate Your presence more and more each day so that I can fulfill Your will for my life.

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PREPARED FOR SUFFERING

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:27-30

“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.” (Philippians 1:29,30)

Belief in Christ is foundational. To believe in Christ means that we understand who He is, what He has done for us, and how much we need Him. But faith is more than intellectual assent; it involves having a deep conviction about these things. This knowledge and conviction ultimately lead to deep trust in Jesus.

But Paul goes on to say that we must also be willing to suffer for His sake. Paul was in prison for the sake of Christ. He along with the other apostles died a martyrs death for the sake of Christ. Today we have brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted and killed for the sake of Christ. Most of us know very little about that kind of suffering.

God used the suffering of His Son to redeem us from out sins. God uses suffering in our lives to perfect our faith and to make us realize how much we need Him. We will all face forms of suffering in our lives. God wants us to be prepared when these times of suffering come upon us. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed” (I Peter 4:12,13)

Lord Jesus, thank You for the suffering You experienced for me on the dreadful cross. Thank You for taking me through times of suffering. Help me be prepared when I face more suffering. I know that You use suffering to strengthen and perfect my faith.

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STANDING FIRM TOGETHER

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:27-30

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come to see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the truth of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents.”

Paul describes what is necessary for us to live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. First, we are to stand firm in one spirit. Together with other believers we are to be rooted and grounded in our common faith. We are not to be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. We are to be settled in our faith.

Second, we are to be or one mind striving side by side for the truth. We are in a battle. Spiritual forces are against us. Therefore we are to wrestle in the company of other saints against Satan and his evil schemes to deceive us. We need to encourage one another by coming alongside one other in the battles we will face.

Third, we are not to be frightened in anything by our opponents. We have the upper hand in our spiritual battles because we have Christ on our side. We must remember that we are more than conquerors through Him.

We need each other in the battles we will face. And we must remember that our strength is in the Lord — “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).

Lord Jesus, give me to strength to stand firm in my faith. Give me the power to resist the evil one and to strive side by side with other believers to live my life in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Note: I will be traveling to Taiwan for the Christ’s College Board meeting. I am leaving this morning and will return next week. Thank you for your prayers.

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LIVING YOUR LIFE WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:27-30

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side beside for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27)

Let’s be sure that we understand what Paul is saying here. He is not saying that we are worthy of the gospel. None of us is worthy of the gospel. The gospel by definition is good news for sinful, fallen people. It is about God’s grace and mercy bestowed upon unworthy people. The gospel tells us that we are a whole lot worse off then we think we are, but that we are more loved and accepted by God than we ever hoped we could be through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The gospel is about the sacrificial love of God. It is about a Savior who left glory and came to live among us. It is about the One who came to suffer and die for our sins. It is about the forgiveness and reconciliation we sinful people experience at the expense of our Beloved Savior.

What Paul is saying to us is that we are to live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. This means we live a life of humility, servanthood, and sacrifice. It means that we respond to the sacrificial love of Christ in obedience, seeking to please Him in all that we do. It means that we stand firm in Christ, not wavering in our faith. And it means striving side by side with other believers for the faith of the gospel.

Lord Jesus, I know that I am not worthy of the gospel. I confess that I am a sinner who is in desperate need of You and the salvation You make possible. However, I desire to honor You with the way that I live. I pray that today You give me strength to live my life in a manner worthy of the gospel.

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TO LIVE IS CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:18-26

“For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain…I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” (Philippians 1:21,23-24)

Paul was in prison and he knew that he could be condemned to die. Notice what he said — “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He was content to live and he was ready to die. He knew that dying meant that he would be delivered from this broken world and taken to glory where he would be with Christ. He was hard pressed between the two because he knew that God was not finished with his work here on earth.

But Paul’s greatest desire was to go be with the Lord. He wasn’t like some people who say, “I’m right with God and have peace about dying, but just not now.” Paul wanted to go be with Jesus as soon as he could; but he knew that God had a plan for him on earth — “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” If God was not finished with him on earth, he was content to remain here. But he really wanted to go be with the the Lord in glory.

The older I am getting the more I understand what Paul was struggling with. I long to go be with Jesus in glory. I look forward to going to the place Jesus has prepared for me where I will be set free from all the struggles here on earth. But, I want to finish what God has for me to do on earth.

“To live is Christ.” I am able to draw from His strength and to experience His love and presence now. If I remain here, I want my life to count for Christ. But I am ready to die, for to die is my gain.

Lord Jesus, I cannot wait until I see You face to face. I look forward to seeing Your glory and spending eternity with You. But until my time comes, I want to live for You here on earth. I want to finish what You have in store for me here, but I am ready to be with You when my time comes to leave this earth. Indeed, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

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GOD’S SOVEREIGN PLAN

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:12-14

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” (Philippians 1:12)

Paul was in prison. He could have easily been discouraged, disappointed, and even bitter. He had been faithfully preaching the gospel and yet he ended up in prison. But Paul knew that God had a sovereign plan for his life. Paul looked beyond the circumstances he was facing and instead focused on the Lord. He knew that God causes all things to work out together for our good (Romans 8:28). He began to see from God’s perspective — “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”

Paul’s imprisonment opened a door for Paul to minister to soldiers of the Praetorian Guard — “So that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ” (v. 13). Paul was able to witness to some of the elite soldiers of Rome. He would have never had such an opportunity as this if he had not been put into prison.

Paul’s imprisonment was also an encouragement to his fellow believers — “And most of the brothers, having been confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (v. 14). Believers saw how Paul trusted Christ and was bold to continue proclaiming the Word, even in prison. His example gave them confidence and boldness.

When we face difficulties and disappointing circumstances in our lives, remember that God has a sovereign plan and that He works all things together for our good. Look beyond the circumstances and look up to the One who sovereignly controls all things. God may be using your difficulties and disappointments to advance the gospel.

Sovereign Lord, You have shown me over and over again across the years of my life that You are a faithful and good God. I have seen Your hand at work through the difficult and disappointing times in my life. I know that You have a sovereign plan for me and that You will bring it to completion. Keep me from discouragement. Let me look beyond the difficult circumstances I am facing and let me see You and Your glory.

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