God Exalted Jesus to the Highest Place

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11

When it was all over, He was placed into a borrowed tomb. When they could finish His burial some 36 hours later, He had already risen from the grave!  He returned to His glory and as a result of His remaining faithful to God’s purpose, His is the name at which every knee should bow.

The reason that Paul has written this is that this is how we should live as Christ’s followers.  It is this kind of humility, purpose and selflessness that we should strive for.  There is no greater example of love in action that the example of the life of Jesus; He is our role model.

Oh yes, how could I forget to mention that because of what He did in all of this selflessness, you and I have eternal life, and as His co-heirs, we too will arise in glory when the great day comes.

 

Covenant – Philippians

When God made His covenant with Abraham, there was a sign of the covenant which was circumcision.  Everyone would know that a man who had been circumcised was a covenant partner with God.  When God made His covenant with Moses, there was a sign of the covenant; keeping the Sabbath.  Everyone would know that the Israelites were God’s covenant people because they kept the Sabbath.  The New Covenant established by Christ has a sign also, and that is that we are imitators of Jesus Christ, and this is what Paul is referring to here.  Everyone who sees a person living as Christ would live knows they are seeing Christ’s covenant partner. This imitation of Christ has little to do with following a written code of rules and regulations, it has everything to do with loving others and putting others first. It also has to do with putting such a high priority on His love that we will be willing to endure hardship at the hands of those who oppose Christ.

The last part of this passage refers to suffering and enduring a struggle.  Our struggle isn’t really with any person or persons, for those who oppose the gospel really don’t have a clue what is at stake. Our struggle is with the spiritual forces that are in opposition to Christ, just as Paul’s struggle was.  Recall that Paul didn’t seem to hate his captors, far from it in fact, for He was there in jail, sharing Christ’s love with them, and this is exactly the kind of thing he is calling upon each of us to do.

Testimony

Continuing – the reason that Paul gives for this is also quite interesting, for it might not be what we would have expected.  Notice that his concern doesn’t revolve around any legal concept, as so many teach, but rather one of testimony.  Paul tells them that if they behave in this way, he will know that they are standing firm; he states this as though their manner of living were a sign of some sort.  The Philippians should stand firm fearlessly, in the face of any opposition… but who would oppose good behavior?

Then, in the latter part of verse 28, Paul comes right out and tells them that the way they conduct themselves, particularly in the face of opposition, is a sign to the world that they will be destroyed, while the followers of Christ will be saved by God.  Have you ever thought of behaving yourself as a sign before?  Have you ever thought of it as a sign that those who don’t behave well will be destroyed? Maybe not.  Throughout the epistle Paul seems dedicated to helping the Philippians “order their common life in a manner worthy of the gospel.

In response to their withdrawal from the various civic and religious institutions of Philippi, the Christians in Philippi would have faced various sorts of opposition. These might take economic forms in terms of being fired from one’s job or having one’s business boycotted. It also appears that at least some Philippian Christians found themselves in jail for the same reason Paul did: for advocating customs “which are not permissible to us Romans.” We simply do not know how many Philippian Christians were subject to persecution both official and unofficial.  Paul speaks of their suffering for Christ’s sake in 1:29, but does not divulge any details.

 

Jeremiah 29:11

What is the difference between a minor and a major prophet. For many years, I guess I thought one was more significant then the other.
 
The difference between major and minor prophets is the difference in length of their books. The major prophets are much longer and fewer in number. Minor prophets are shorter in length and greater in number.
 
“Weeping prophet”, was one of the major prophets of the Hebrew.
He was a young man. Jeremiah the prophet lived in the final days of the crumbling nation of Israel. He was also called the “weeping prophet.”
 
One of my favorite verses Jeremiah 29:11
 
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the Peacemakers –    for they will be called children of God.

Matthew 5:9

We have already seen that as Jesus went forth proclaiming the Kingdom, that healing, and restoration of wholeness went in His wake, for the restoration of wholeness, including the restoration of relationships torn by the hostility of this world is something within the very character of God. A peacemaker is someone who places a high priority on restoring relationships, even with those considered to be enemies; this is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

On the other hand, many, maybe even most people of this world are not peacemakers. Look around you, this world is not a peaceful place, for people vie with each other for riches, for position and advantage. Such people are not making peace and restoring relationships, except for personal gain; this is not the behavior of a disciple, and thus the blessing of a restored relationship with God is not present in the here and now, and it is not likely to be found in the hereafter.

For the disciple, blessing in great supply is to be found in restoring wholeness and relationships; it is its own reward, and as a disciple the eternal future is both assured and very bright, for there will be blessing beyond imagination in store.

To See God

To See God

Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

Matthew 5:8

The expression “pure in heart” refers to a person whose inner most thoughts, motivation and purpose are pure, clean, wholesome and good; this is the one who will see God. To see God is to believe in God, and even more basic, they believe God; such a person is blessed indeed.

The person who is not pure in heart will not see God, possibly because he would rather not see Him. The person who is not pure in heart is one whose inner motivations are not wholesome or good, but are more likely centered on self, gain and getting what they want at whatever cost; they are not blessed because there is little room in their lives for a relationship with Him.

 

 

Mercy

Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

Matthew 5:7

In verses 7-10, we see a shift from basic personal and physical circumstances into a set of social principles or values that are the identifying aspect of Jesus’ moral teaching. In this one, we have “mercy” which is the most fundamental aspect of our relationship with God. We only have a relationship with God because of His tremendous mercy, for without it, we are permanently estranged from Him. Thus, Jesus teaches mercy on our parts as a foundational requirement of being His disciple.

We have received His mercy; we are to show mercy to others when the occasion arises. We have received His love; we are to show love to others. How can we show mercy without love, and love without mercy? Yes, this is fundamental.

The person who has received God’s mercy and who shares God’s mercy with others, both through the Gospel and through our own attitudes and actions, will in the end, receive mercy when those who have refused it receive God’s judgment; this is also a fundamental truth.

Now we come to the reversal of this: What kind of person does not show mercy to others?

The ruthless, the cruel, the inhumane, the purely evil…

Will they receive mercy: of course not, they will be judged. Will they be blessed in this life by relationship with God? No, for they live in open rebellion against Him. Will they receive mercy in the end? No, they will receive justice instead.

 

 

 

Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

For They Will Be Filled

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6

I doubt that I need to discuss what it means to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” so let’s jump directly to what will become of the one who has no such desire. I think we can safely assume that the one who has not such desire will not be blessed, and one who hungers and thirsts for wickedness will not only find what they are looking for, but they will also find God’s curse in His judgment. Such a person will always need to be looking over his shoulder, will be running from the law, and will seldom have a restful night’s sleep; if they are lucky, they’ll live long enough to die from stress related illness, if not they will die by the sword. Anybody want to sign up for that?

As with the other beatitudes, there is an apocalyptic element to this (see Isaiah 61). God’s ultimate gift to Mankind is the gift of righteousness, for when Jesus returns and culminates his Church, all evil will be eliminated and the righteous will abide eternally in His Kingdom without pain, suffering, oppression or death: Blessed indeed!

 

 

For They Will Inherit the Earth

 

Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5

A person who is “meek” is often thought of as being resigned to their circumstances, even weak, but that really isn’t what is being described here. Those who are “meek” are those who understand that they are dependent upon God, and not upon their own strength or even upon the power of armies, for our own strength is a temporary affair, as is the might of an army; all will perish. Yet God’s strength is eternal, and His might never flags or fails. With this in mind, consider who is not meek; the proud, the loud, and the haughty. These are the ones who must always dominate others, who must always have the last word, and who will trample others to get ahead, for they fear losing control: They are not blessed for their own behavior is their curse.

The meek will inherit the earth, just like the descendants of Abraham would inherit the Land. Once again, Matthew has linked an idea relating to Jesus with Israelite history, and this time, he has done so in a way that leads us to an apocalyptic conclusion, for those who place their full faith and trust in God for their provision will not only enjoy relationship with Him now, but will reign with Him upon His return, thus receiving a double blessing of His grace.

Those Who Mourn

 

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

Most of the time, we don’t associate blessing with mourning; maybe we should rethink this… Matthew didn’t actually say what those blessed are mourning; it could be the loss of a loved one, it could be the loss of their home or possessions, or it could be the sinful and rebellious state of this world. Maybe it doesn’t matter…

I think it is safe to say that for a person to truly mourn they first had to love; certainly this would be true in the loss of a loved one. It would also be true if a person is mourning the loss of possessions, for if they didn’t love the possession(s) lost, would they actually mourn?

It wouldn’t seem so.

If the person was mourning for the wickedness of this world, wouldn’t that show they loved God a whole lot?

Consider for a moment those who do not mourn; what a terrible and sad life they must lead! Never having enough of a relationship with anyone for love to develop; never being able to mourn? Never having a loving relationship with God so as to mourn for those who rebel against Him?

Never loving; never mourning?

Those who mourn will receive comfort from God, both in the here and now and in the ultimate future when all pain and sorrow will cease. I don’t know about you, but for me, just knowing this is a comfort that brings joy into my life.