Truth for Today

RESPONDING TO GOD’S GLORY 

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
~ 2 CORINTHIANS 3:18

As we glorify God, we begin to grow. Because of the great truths revealed in the New Testament, believers can now view God’s glory more clearly than those under the law could. As we do, we grow spiritually, moving from one level of glory to the next.

At the end of today’s verse, notice that Paul says the Holy Spirit is the one who energizes our growth. The Holy Spirit infuses our lives with His power, taking us through levels of glory toward the image of Christ. 

Don’t become preoccupied with the intricacies of the Holy Spirit’s work or with the details of your own activity. Make sure you focus primarily on the glory of the Lord.

Truth for Today

IS ANYONE LISTENING? 

I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.
~ 2 CORINTHIANS 12:15

There have been times in my ministry as a pastor that I’ve wondered if anyone is listening to what I’m teaching. Do people really appreciate me or the teaching of the Word? It’s easy to fall into that kind of woe-is-me complex. 

Maybe you’ve felt the same way in your ministry. If so, you must remember that as long as you look at the ministry you’re in as something you give, you will never have that problem. But if you look at the ministry as something you get, you will end up with a twisted view of what real ministry is.

If you’re ever tempted to view your ministry with a selfish attitude, adopt the attitude Paul exhibited in today’s verse. Even if the people hated him, he would still love them. The main characteristic of love is unselfish giving.

Truth For Today

Run in such a way that you might win.
~ 1 CORINTHIANS 9:24
 

Because I was athletic as a boy, I played on many different teams in various sports programs. I remember many boys with little or no athletic ability who would try out for these teams. Every once in a while, a coach would feel sorry for such a boy and place him on the team in spite of his performance. He would give the boy a uniform to make him feel that he was a part of the team even though he would never let the boy play in a game.

Fortunately, the opposite is true in the Christian life. The Lord doesn’t place us on the team just so we can sit on the bench. He intends to send us into the game. It is His grace that calls us to salvation, and it is His will that sends us into the world to witness for Him.

We are all like the boy who had no ability. God graciously puts us on the team, not because of our own ability, but purely by His sovereign grace. And He gives us the ability to play the game. So get in the game and give thanks for the holy privilege of serving Jesus Christ.

Truth for Today


A FEW WORDS

Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
~ 2 PETER 1:2 1

Only 297 words are required to sum up in English all of God’s moral law in the Ten Commandments. God distilled it even more when He said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37–39). Only sixty-five words make up the definitive teaching on prayer—the Lord’s Prayer—in Matthew 6:9–13.

Man doesn’t have that capacity for essential brevity. There once was a governmental study to regulate the price of cabbage that ran over twenty-six thousand words! 

Thank God for the provision of His profound Word.

Truth for Today

A SLAVE FOR CHRIST 

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ.
~ 1 CORINTHIANS 4:1
 

The apostle Paul was a “servant” of Christ. It was a role he chose out of love, not fear.

There were perhaps millions of slaves in the Roman Empire. For the most part, they were treated not as persons but as objects. If a master wanted to kill a slave, he could do so without fear of punishment. Though it was a negative term to the Romans, the word slave meant dignity, honor, and respect to the Hebrews, and the Greeks considered it a term of humility. As a servant of Christ, then, Paul paradoxically finds himself both exalted and debased. This is the ambivalence every representative of Jesus Christ must face.

When I think of the honor I’ve been given to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, I am sometimes overwhelmed. There is no higher calling in life than to proclaim the gospel from the pulpit and to be able to teach the Word of God under the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet there is also a paradox that requires a minister of Christ to realize he does not deserve to minister. He must have the proper perspective of being an unworthy slave who has the incomprehensible privilege of proclaiming the gospel.

Truth for Today

DESIRES BALANCED BY NEEDS

Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith.

~ PHILIPPIANS 1 : 24– 25

One mark of a spiritual man is that his own desires are balanced by the needs of others. That’s the kind of man who could write, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil 2:3–4, NASB).

The Philippian church needed Paul, as did many other churches. Paul knew they needed him badly enough that their need was likely to determine his future, which he expressed in today’s verse. 

Although Paul desired to be with Christ in heaven, he also wanted to remain on earth to help strengthen the church. He knew that if he stayed the church would better glorify Christ, and glorifying Christ was all he desired.

As you contemplate a new year, what is Christ asking you to commit your life to? I hope it’s a desire to meet the needs of others with a humble heart.

Truth for Today

LIFE OR DEATH

Whether by life or by death.
~ PHILIPPIANS 1:20

The apostle Paul didn’t know the details of God’s plan for his life, but he was confident in it, whether it meant life or death. Later he said, “I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you” (vv. 23–24). Paul preferred the joy of being in Christ’s presence in heaven, but apparently he thought the Lord would let him live because he knew the Philippians needed him.

Paul rejoiced because he knew that by either his life or death Christ would be exalted. If he lived, he would be free to preach and build the church. If he died, he would be executed for Christ’s sake, and his unwavering faith would serve as a trophy of Christ’s grace. For Paul the issue was not his troubles, detractors, or even the possibility of his death, but whether the gospel was advancing and the Lord was being magnified

Like Paul, you don’t know the specifics of God’s plan for your life. But one thing you can be sure of: in life or death you can glorify Christ.

Truth for Today

FRUITFUL LABOR 

If I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor.
~ PHILIPPIANS 1:22

The apostle Paul considered that being alive in the physical world is synonymous with fruitful labor for Christ. His use of “labor” refers to his spiritual work for the Lord, which yields spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit May be seen in people, deeds, and words— whatever is of eternal value. That kind of fruit comes from good hard work, which is the natural activity of the godly on earth.

Paul had a strong desire to bear fruit. He wanted the Philippians to be confident in Christ and strengthened for evangelism (Phil. 1:26–27). He is reminiscent of the psalmist who said, “O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come” (Ps. 71:17–18). That elderly man wanted to live long enough to declare God’s strength and power to the next generation. May God grant you that same privilege.

Truth for Today


DELIVERANCE FROM TEMPORARY DISTRESS

I know this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 
~ PHILIPPIANS 1:19

Today’s verse shows the value of confident trust in God. Paul knew his current distress was only temporary and that he would be delivered from it.

Why was Paul convinced of his deliverance? His statement, “I know this will turn out for my deliverance” is a quote of the Greek version of Job 13:16. Job was a righteous man who suffered greatly, yet he was delivered because God always delivers the righteous. Job said, “After my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:26). He knew that either temporally or eternally God would deliver him.

Paul knew he could trust God to deliver him just as God had delivered Job. He was confident his circumstances would work out for good, whether he was released from prison, vindicated at his trial, and delivered from execution or passed into glory as a martyr. You May not face the same trials as Paul, but whatever your circumstances, the same confident trust is available to you.

Truth for Today

THE GUARDIANSHIP OF PEACE

The peace of God . . . will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
~ PHILIPPIANS 4:7

Today’s verse speaks of God’s peace guarding our hearts and minds. “Will guard” is a military term meaning, “to keep watch over.” The Philippian believers lived in a garrison town where Roman soldiers were stationed to guard the interests of the empire in that part of the world. In the same way, God’s peace guards us from anxiety, doubt, fear, and distress.

The believer who doesn’t live in the confidence of God’s sovereignty will lack His peace and be left to the chaos of a troubled heart. But our confident trust in the Lord will allow us to thank Him in the midst of trials because we have God’s peace on duty to protect our hearts and minds.

When Paul refers to our hearts and minds, he isn’t making a distinction between the two—it’s a comprehensive statement that describes the whole inner person. Because of our union with Christ, He guards our entire being with His peace. And that’s what helps us be spiritually stable.