As Believers, we all go through times that we wonder if we’re hearing God correctly. Maybe it’s times when He seems far away…or we feel we’re in a dry place in our walk with Him. That’s when this verse and Romans 8:28 needs to be before us. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” The Lord uses our gifts, talents, and passions throughout our Christian life to bring edification to others…and just because we don’t “feel it” doesn’t mean we’re still not being used of Him. We’ll all go through seasons of our life when our gift mix may wax and wane…certain ones coming to the forefront, while others seemingly retreat…but our gifts will always remain the same. The writer of Hebrews quoted Psalm 110:4 when he said, “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind.” For He is the God of the past, present and future…and He will not recall what He has already given, and His ultimate plan and purpose for our life will prevail.
Paul made it a habit of practicing gratefulness. In not only this letter to the Philippians but in his letter to the Romans he showed his appreciation and encouragement. In Romans 1:8 he writes, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…” Why did he do this? Well, in Philippians 1:7 Paul goes on to add, “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart.” Paul not only practiced a grateful heart, but he went on to affirm the good in people. For when we show appreciation, say thank you, and speak positive words into someone…they are built up, edified, and given new self-worth.
Here, Paul is quoting Joel 2:32… showing the readers that there is no difference between Jew or Gentile…God is the same to all people groups. In Acts 2:21, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter also quoted Joel 2:32 to the bewildered crowd that had gathered after hearing their native languages coming from the apostles . Both Paul and Peter stressed that anyone could summons God’s help…any race, any gender, any person. And when that person called on the name of the Lord…they would be heard by God and delivered. For there is no one that is beyond God’s reach…no one that can’t say, “I need Your help God!” and God won’t rescue.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul, rephrases this idea in I Corinthians 8:6, when he writes, “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” Even though our feeble human minds have a difficult, almost impossible chance of understanding the sheer magnitude of this Scripture…let’s try. Everything has a starting point. But with God, He’s not only the starting point, He existed before the starting point. And so out of Him and only by Him all things were created…both in heaven and here on earth. And the last time I checked, “all” meant everything! So everything you see, hear, feel, smell, or taste came from your Heavenly Father. Why then, wouldn’t we want to give Him honor, praise, and adoration for what He’s done for us?
As it tells us in Romans 8:34, at this very moment, Jesus is at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf. Jesus is our advocate…one who comes forward on behalf and as the representative for another. He is then also our intercessor and substitute…standing in our place before God…intervening in our defense. We have no greater advocate than Jesus…no greater champion and friend.
God’s free expression of His loving kindness is shown us when the Holy Spirit imparts unique gifts to each one of us…not for our benefit, but to edify others. These spiritual gifts follow closely along the lines of our character and personality…the distinctive things that make us who we are. The Holy Spirit gives varies gifts to different people according to His divine plan and purpose in their lives. We all have different gift combinations, but they all are given us that we may serve others.
This week ended the 5 year journey of my son’s family adopting a beautiful little girl from Haiti. The moment this orphan’s feet hit USA soil she was a legal citizen and officially theirs. Another word for son-ship in this verse is adoption. We all have the opportunity to be legally adopted by our Heavenly Father. But for some, they see God only through the lens of their biological father…a man that might have been absent, abusive, or angry. Despite the faults and failures of your earthly father…your Heavenly Father will be loving and involved. He is not to be feared for retaliation. He is just and will never leave you. He will accept you just as you are, and will love you unconditionally. God is your Daddy, which is what the word Abba means…and He’s wanting to be that Daddy in your life you may have never had.
We can’t force others into peaceful co-existence with us…we can only control how we react and behave around angry people. You know the ones…people with huge chips on their shoulders…always thinking the world is out to get them. It takes a conscious decision of the will on our part not to take the bait when attacked. It takes lots of deep breaths and determination not to lower ourselves down to that level…and sometimes, it takes just walking away for a few minutes to regain our composure and pray. “Lord, help me look past the angry hostility and see rather the hurt, the fear, the frustration. Allow me Lord to see this person through Your eyes and how I may show Your love to them.” Amen
Later in the Bible, the Apostle Paul admonished the Church in Philippi to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) This has to be one of the toughest things to do given mankind’s self-centered, egotistic nature. Instead of seeking out our own 15 minutes of fame, we need to be trying to outdo one another in showing honor. Rather than demanding respect, we need to be recognizing others and praising them for important work they’re doing. Vanity looks for fame and glory, while humility moves “self” off the throne as we esteem others.
I’m not accusing anyone of flagrant disrespect towards the Lord…for we’d all be quick to deny it. But what I’m asking is more about the covert and secretive disrespect we show the Lord…the brashness that no one seldom knows of. The sin of omission is simply not doing what God wants us to do. It’s apathy and neglect on our part, but also thinking we know more than He does. Now we’re not brazenly telling God we refuse…we’re just quietly ignoring it…hoping it’ll just go away. But one of the most glaring signs of covert disrespect we can show God is to declare to Him, ” I can’t do that!” So as the verse asks…just who are you to talk back to God?