Tuesday, August 25, 2009

8/25- Philippians 1:7-11; Prayer for love and knowledge

(picture of Geneva mid 1500s)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

8/25- Philippians 1:7-11

7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Calvin Abridged: It is envious to not recognize as children of God those in whom the Spirit of adoption works through gifts and token of piety. Paul accordingly says we should hold out hope for the Philippians for the future because he has seen their fellowship with him in grace. It is not the fellowship of bonds that he is talking about here as much as the fellowship of grace. Paul has them in his heart- which means he is sincere, without pretense, and without doubt. It is a ludicrous thing in the world’s eyes to count a prison as a benefit from God, but it is an honor from God when we suffer persecution for the sake of his truth (cf. Mt. 5:11). Let us therefore remember that we must embrace the cross of Christ as a special favor from God with readiness and alacrity. “Defending and confirming” point to the honor of serving God as he places us in opposition to his enemies, in order to bear testimony to his gospel. This was what the martyrs considered when they were prepared to face the rage and torture of the wicked. It was more courageous of them to face their problems as martyrs than to begin a destructive revolt. The confirmation of the gospel does not depend on the steadfastness of human beings, for God remains true even though we are liars (Romans 3:4). Weak consciences are confirmed and sealed with this help that the “blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” (Tertullian). But that sacred blood, the maintainer of God’s honor will be like seed for producing offspring.”
8- “God can testify”- He now declares more explicitly his affection for them, and to prove it he makes an oath, because the edification of the Church is important to God. Credence is given to doctrine if the people are persuaded they are loved by their teacher. “The affection of Christ”- in opposition to the affection of the flesh, is this holy and pious affection. The one who loves according to the flesh receives selfish benefits, and may change the mind according to circumstances and the situation. Believers should allow Christ to control their emotions so that, renouncing their own will, they allow Christ to sit in the driver’s seat. Unquestionably, true love can flow from no other source than the heart of Christ. By his love, we are encouraged to mutual love.
9- “This is my prayer”- He returns to his prayer here asking that they may learn to pray according to his example, and may aspire to be proficient in their gifts. The goal of Christians are to obtain progress in knowledge, understanding, and then love. “en” in Greek should be rendered “with” – for the greater proficiency we make in knowledge, the more our love ought to increase. “All knowledge” means what is full and complete—not a knowledge of all things.
10- “so that you may be able to discern what is best”- Here we have a definition of Christian wisdom—to know what is advantageous or expedient—not twisting the mind with empty, unprofitable speculations. Scripture is useful (2 Tim. 3:16,17).” may be pure and blameless”- sincerity is the advantage we obtain from knowledge—not that everyone may find their own interests, but that we may live with a pure conscience in the sight of God. “blameless”- means leading an honorable life in the sight of others not hurting their neighbors by evil examples (following Chrysostom). He desires wisdom from us so that we will not slip over the stumbling blocks that Satan throws our way- trying to stop or impede us (every one of knows of such impediments). 11- “filled with the fruit of righteousness” A good conscience produces outward fruits by our works. So he is desiring that they may be fruitful in good works for the glory of God. Such fruits are by Christ because they flow from his grace. We are wild olive trees that are unproductive until we are ingrafted into Christ (Jn. 15:1; Rom. 11:24). The goal is that we may promote the glory fo God. For no life is so excellent that it is not corrupted unless it is directed toward this end. Righteousness depends upon our faith in God and the remission of sins.

Thoughts- The love of Christ compels us to love others- no matter how rich, poor, smart, beautiful or plain, American or not, God’s love calls us to love others. The world would tell us to love only those like us, those who are the best this life offers. Jesus calls us to see the value of people made in his image and for whom he died. Paul was compelled to go not just to the Jews, but to a people thousands of miles away. Europe was reached when Lydia was baptized outside of Philippi. We are also called to be missionaries of Christ’s love to those around us.

Prayer: Help us to grow more and more in love and insight into you, O Lord. Help us to grow in love for others.

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