My vocation has become clearer as the years go by: to study the unchanging God without something else to do, some pragmatic reason or result. This is what I feel most called to do: simply enjoy the study of God – not write about it, not view it in relation to its political residue or imagine that my opinions will have some visible social effect. The joy of inquiry into God is a sufficient end in itself, not only as a means to some practical consequence.Thomas C. Oden, The Rebirth of Orthodoxy, p. 95
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
In these difficult times, we are prone to worry about basic necessities. Some of us have lost their jobs, our businesses have closed down, our income has taken a huge hit. And we ask: Will we go hungry or will we be provided for?Continue reading “God Our Provider”
Philippians 4:10-13 ESV
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.  Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
In times like the one we presently face, we are prone to be discontented. Our circumstances are not only unacceptable, they are intolerable. Our inability to be content serves only to exacerbate our misery.
Philippians 4:8, 9
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
So much of our lack of peace is the result of wrong thinking. We focus our minds on the things that discourage us instead of the things that encourage us. We think of things that lead us away from God instead of things that draw us nearer to him. Continue reading “Thinking and Doing”
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Because of the present pandemic, we need peace more than ever. The troubles we face – physical, financial, emotional – are beyond our control. We are prone to worry. What shall we do? The Bible wants us to realize these three things. Continue reading “The Peace of God”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Those who belong to Christ will be persecuted. If the Master himself was persecuted, his disciples will be persecuted too.
1. PERSECUTION IS INEVITABLE (John 15:18-20).
(a) Persecution in the workplace.
Such was the experience of a committed Christian who tried to set things right in the corrupt government agency she worked in. She was ostracized and given a desk in a corner of the workplace where in virtual isolation she practically had no choice but to be left alone and to leave others alone. Continue reading “Blessed are the Persecuted”
 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.  For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (ESV)
While there are those who faithfully serve Christ and persevere in righteousness (whose example we ought to imitate), there are those who oppose him, especially his work on the cross. These are the enemies of Christ’s cross.
(a) They oppose Christ’s righteousness (Gal. 2:21).
Instead of proclaiming the good news that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, they teach that we can be saved by our own strength and good works, contrary to what Paul teaches in Ephesians 2:8-10. In effect, they devalue what Christ did on the cross for us. On the cross, Jesus cried, “It is paid in full!” There is nothing more we can add to the work of salvation which he accomplished for us. Ours is simply to receive by faith the free gift of salvation. Continue reading “Enemies of the Cross”
His sorrows spread like wildfire
Through land that’s lush with trees;
An angry conflagration
Consumes the boundaries.
Whereas before the music flowed
Through vibrant life of green,
Now scorchéd earth is what remains
Of dreams that might have been.
Oh, guard your heart and let not grief
Destroy the future too!
The present flames that purge the soul
Are not the end of you.
Copyright 2020. Dennis M. Cortes
I was in court one day when I heard the news that two good friends of mine were appointed judges. I was happy for them; I was also a bit envious. I couldn’t help myself; I think it comes with being human.
On that same day I sat before a judge who was due to retire in a couple more weeks. He looked sad. He had spent more than half his life as a government lawyer, although I’m just assuming this. He handed out sentences, which, according to the other lawyers there with me, were more lenient than usual. Then it hit me: My friends were surely very happy – and deservedly so – over this milestone in their lives. But for this judge the curtains were about to fall; his time onstage was about to end; he had to step off and let others take his place. New faces, fresh and smiling, were coming onstage. Old faces, sad and tired were leaving. God was reminding me that day what life under the sun is all about.
 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.  Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (ESV)
Receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is just the beginning of the Christian life. We still have a lot of growing up to do (Eph. 4:11-14). We should not be content to remain spiritual infants (Heb. 5:12-14).
Here are the steps we need to take in order to make progress in the Christian life.
– We need to realize that we are not yet perfect.
– We must forget the past.
– We must press on. Continue reading “Christian Progress”
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
One of the chief characteristics of God’s children is their disposition to make peace. After all, the Holy Spirit lives in their hearts and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. Of course, this peace doesn’t mean “appeasement”. This isn’t “peace at all costs.” This peace is allied with divine love, which includes love for God, his kingdom, and his righteousness. Interestingly, Jesus also said he came not to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34)! By that he means, devotion to him who is the Prince of Peace inevitably brings persecution from those who oppose his peaceful reign and his gospel of peace. Continue reading “Blessed are the Peacemakers”