Heaven Forbid I Should Sin Against the Lord In Ceasing to Pray For You

Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first chapter of this New Testament book. “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:1-2).

 

            “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy. For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:3-11).

 

            “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: the one preach Christ of contention, nor sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:;12-19).

 

            “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I. live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better; Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again” (Philippians 1:20-26).

 

 

            “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me” (Philippians 1:27-30).

 

            When you come to the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Philippi you will find the second epistle from what are commonly referred to as “the prison epistles.” If you begin reading with and from the opening verse of this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul being once more present with Timothy who was his spiritual son in the faith and faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul begins and opens this epistle by referring to himself and Timothy as the servants of Christ Jesus unto all the saints of Christ Jesus which were at Philippi. The apostle Paul then goes on to pronounce his customary declaration of grace and peace unto them from God their Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Immediately following this we find the apostle Paul speaking tenderly and affectionately unto these dear saints how he thanked God upon every remembrance of you. What’s more is the apostle Paul goes on to declare unto them how always in every prayer of his for them all he makes his request with joy for their fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now. It is actually quite unique when reading the words found in this portion of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul being daily concerned with the well-being and welfare of the churches. You will remember that when writing his second to the epistle unto the Corinthian saints the apostle Paul spoke about how above and beyond the afflictions he faced in this life he also dealt with his care and concern for the churches.

 

            As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous burden the apostle Paul had for these saints and how he continually and regularly made mention of them in prayers. In all reality I find it incredibly needful to call and draw your attention to the prayers and the praying of the apostle Paul. There would be those who would like to speak of and even write about the preaching of the apostle Paul, however, there would be very little who would actually speak of the prayers of the apostle Paul. The more I read the words which are found in the opening verses of this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face—not with the preaching of the apostle Paul but the prayers of the apostle Paul. You cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not be immediately confronted with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the prayer and intercession the apostle Paul offered up for the churches on a regular and consistent basis. Although it is not as evident in the New Testament book of Acts we can clearly see within the epistles written by the apostle Paul how he was one who continually and regularly prayed for the churches of God. The apostle Paul was genuinely concerned for the well-being and the welfare of the churches and continually brought them before the throne of God in prayer. This is something we must needs recognize and understand within our hearts and lives for while preaching does in fact have its place there is something about prayers and praying that takes care and concern—not only for the saints of God and the churches but also for those who are outside the church. There has been a great amount of emphasis placed on preaching and yet I would dare say that one’s preaching can never and will never rise above their willingness to appear before the Lord in prayer.

 

            I write these words and I can’t help but be reminded of a passage found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel concerning the prophet Samuel and the children of Israel. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in this Old Testament book you will find the children of Israel seeking an earthly king and as such to some degree and measure removing themselves from under the authority of the true King which was the living God. It would be during the days of the prophet Samuel the children of Israel would ask for a king because the sons of Samuel did not walk after the manner in which he walked. The children of Israel desired a king that they might be like other nations round about them and that a king would lead them out in battle against their enemies and adversaries. There is something truly powerful about the words and language found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel for what we find in this book is a strong and powerful picture of the prophet Samuel who was unwilling to cease praying for the children of Israel. Despite the fact they asked for a king that they might become like the other nations Samuel would not cease praying for them. Samuel would continue praying for the children of Israel and bringing them before the throne of grace—much like Moses continually did for the children of Israel in the wilderness. You cannot read the words which are found in the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy and not encounter the prayers and intercession of Moses on behalf of the children of Israel. In fact it would be the prayers of men such as Moses and Samuel the LORD God would reference when speaking unto the prophet Jeremiah concerning prayers and intercessions being offered up for the southern kingdom of Judah.

 

            Having said this I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel concerning this prophet of the LORD of whom none of his words were permitted to fall to the ground. We must needs recognize and understand the awesome and powerful truth that is found in this Old Testament book of First Samuel for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful reality of Samuel’s willingness to stand in the gap and intercede for the children of Israel. In fact it was in the prophetic book of Ezekiel we find the LORD God emphatically declaring how He sought for a man to stand in the gap that He might not destroy the nation and people and yet He found none. Pause for a moment and think about how incredibly tragic it would be for the living God to seek after and search for one to stand in the gap and pray for a nation and yet He was unable to find one who was willing to do so. There is something incredibly strong and powerful about those who are willing to stand in the gap in prayer and intercession for the saints of the living God—and not only for the saints of God but also for the nations of the earth. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel concerning the words which the prophet Samuel spoke unto the children of Israel concerning their desire for a king. Found and contained within this passage of Scripture is such an incredibly powerful declaration concerning prayer—and not merely prayer but the tremendous need and urgency of prayer within the hearts and lives of the saints of God. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the eighth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel concerning the exchange and interaction between the prophet Samuel and the children of Israel:

 

            “And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer-sheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:1-9).

 

            “And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take you fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tent of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day” (1 Samuel 8:1-18).

 

            “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city” (1 Samuel 8:19-22).

 

            In the eighth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel we find the children of Israel asking Samuel for a king that they might be like other nations, that the king might go before them, and that the king might fight their battles for them. In chapters nine through eleven we find the beginning of the narrative of Saul son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin being chosen as the first king over the nation and people of Israel. What we find in the twelfth chapter of this Old Testament book, however, is a powerful narrative of the disobedience of the children of Israel and Samuel’s words which were spoken unto them. It is in the twelfth chapter of this Old Testament book we find and encounter the prophet Samuel proclaiming the word of the LORD unto the children of Israel—and not only proclaiming the word of the LORD unto them but also making an emphatic declaration concerning prayer. It is the words we find in this passage of Scripture which I would like to use as the foundation for what we find in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul. It is absolutely unmistakable that while the apostle Paul was indeed a man who faithfully preached the word, gospel and name of the Lord Jesus he was also a man who faithfully prayed for the saints of God and for the churches. The apostle Paul was indeed one who consistently, deliberately and faithfully prayed for the saints of God and for all the churches as he regularly made mention of them in his prayers. With this being said consider the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the book of First Samuel beginning with the first verse:

 

            “And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you. And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day. Behold, here I am: witness against me before ethe LORD, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? Or whose ass have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? And I will restore it you. And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand. And he said unto them, The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, He is witness. And Samuel said unto the people. It is the LORD that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt. Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD of all the righteous acts of the LORD, which he did to you and to your fathers. >When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place. And when they forgat the LORD their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. And they cried unto the LORD, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee. And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, And Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you of the land of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe. And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us; When the LORD your God was your. King. Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! And, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you. If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God: but if ye will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers. Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes. Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king” (1 Samuel 12:1-17).

 

            “So Samuel called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king. And Samuel said unto the people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king” (1 Samuel 12:18-25).

 

            GOD FORBID THAT I SHOULD SIN AGAINST THE LORD IN CEASING TO PRAY FOR YOU! Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible those words truly are which were spoken by Samuel the prophet. Consider how the prophet Samuel viewed ceasing to pray for the children of Israel and the people of God as sin against the LORD. Samuel acknowledged the sin and transgression of the children of Israel before the LORD in asking for a king, however, he was not unwilling to pray for them before the LORD. Although the children of Israel had indeed sinned and transgressed the commandment of the LORD in asking for a king he would stand in the gap for them as he interceded for them in the sight and presence of the living God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this—especially when we consider the words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel. It is in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel we find the living and eternal God declaring through His servant that He sought for a man that would stand in the gap for him and make up the hedge that He not break out in judgment against the people. What the LORD would go on to declare is perhaps some of the most tragic language found in all of Scripture for He would go on to reveal how He found none. When the LORD looked for one who would stand in the gap and make up the hedge for the nation and people of Israel He found none and as a direct result of this was forced to destroy them in His wrath and judgment. Although it is not a matter of prayer and intercession we find something similar in the Old Testament book of Genesis. In the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the LORD revealing unto Abraham that which He was about to do unto the five cities of the plain which would include the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

           

            If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the LORD revealing unto Abraham that He was going to destroy the cities of the plain including Sodom and Gomorrah by and through His judgment. The living and eternal God would not keep what He was about to do from his servant and friend Abraham and revealed how He was going to destroy and consume them in His wrath and judgment. What we find in this passage of Scripture is not only the intercession of Abraham but the lack of righteous men and women in these cities of the plain. In the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the LORD declaring unto Abraham that He was going to destroy the cities of the plain and Abraham would immediately step into the role of intercessor for the cites and the inhabitants which dwelt within them. What we find in this passage of Scripture is perhaps one of the most powerful narratives of intercession in all of Scripture for we find Abraham standing in the gap on behalf of the cities of the plain and on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah that he might not break out in judgment against them. When Abraham heard the LORD’s mind and intention to destroy the cities of the plain he immediately proceeded to entreat the LORD and intercede on behalf of these cities of the plain. Moreover Abraham would appeal to righteousness as the standard of abating and averting the judgment of the LORD. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the Old Testament book of Genesis and specifically the eighteenth chapter:

 

            “And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which ix come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD” (Genesis 18:16-22).

 

            “And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD, which am but dust and ashes: Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five I will not destroy it. And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake. And he said unto him, Oh let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall be thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it if I fin thirty there. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake. And he said, Oh let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake. And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place” (Genesis 18:23-33).

 

            Please do not miss the tremendous significance of what is found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here is not only a powerful picture of intercession but also a tremendous picture of righteousness being the means of sparing cities from the judgment and wrath of the living God. If you take the time to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will clearly see that it was possible that the intercession of Abraham together with the righteousness of two handful of people could have averted the judgment and wrath against these cities. Abraham stood before the Lord and interceded on behalf of these cities and did so on account of righteousness within those who were present within the city. When Abraham interceded on behalf of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah he didn’t necessarily appeal to the grace and mercy of the living God but rather the righteousness of those who could have potentially be found within the city. Abraham didn’t know how many righteous were actually within the city and he was able to intercede and plead with the LORD beginning with the righteousness of fifty within the cities and essentially negotiating it down to ten righteous. Stop and consider how absolutely incredible this truly is for there was the possibility of the intercession of Abraham, the righteousness of two handful of people and the grace and mercy of the LORD working simultaneously together to bring about the sparing of these cities from the judgment of the LORD. What we find, however, is that there weren’t ten righteous in the city and instead of sparing the cities from the devastation and destruction of the LORD the angels spared Lot, his wife and their two daughters alone. The men who were the fiances of the daughters of Lot did not hearken to the word which Lot spoke unto them and were thus carried away and consumed with the judgment of the LORD upon the cities of the plain.

 

            When we come to the first chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were in Philippi we find the apostle Paul declaring unto them how he thanked God upon every remembrance of them as he always in every prayer of his for them all made request with joy. The apostle Paul remembered their fellowship in the gospel from the first day he was present unto them until the present day he wrote the words found in this epistle. What the apostle Paul writes next is truly astonishing when you take the time to think about it for the apostle Paul declared his confidence in the living God knowing that He who began a good work in them will be faithful to perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Pause for a moment and consider that which the apostle Paul is writing unto the saints in Philippi for he declared unto them of his confidence in the truth that the living God had begun a work in them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely incredible this truly is when you think about it for this work which the apostle Paul wrote and spoke about can best be understood with the words found in the fifth chapter of the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints. It is in the fifth chapter of the second epistle where we find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring that if any man is in Christ he or she is a new creature. Not only this but old things have passed away and behold all things are becoming new. If we are truly honest with ourselves we must admit that the single greatest work that can be done within our hearts and lives is the transformation into new creatures and creations in Christ as old things are passing away and all things are becoming new.

 

            I absolutely love the words and language that is found in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Paul not only speaks of the living and eternal God beginning a work in us but that the work which He began is good. I find the words presented here to be absolutely remarkable for within them we find ourselves as being those who are indeed under construction as those who are being worked on by the living God. If there is one thing I absolutely love about this passage of Scripture it’s that just as the living and eternal God formed and fashioned man from the dust of the earth and then breathed the breath of life into his nostrils causing him to become a living soul so also the living and eternal God continues to form and fashion us. That which this verse undoubtedly states before us is that the eternal God of the universe is invested in our transformation in this life. There must be absolutely no mistaking this particular truth and reality for we must needs recognize and understand that the living and eternal God is concerned about our transformation and not only desires to be involved in the process but can and will see the process through. Not only this but the words which are found in this passage of Scripture suggest the eternal God does not give up on those whom He has begun a good work in.

 

            WORK IN PROGRESS. CAUTION: UNDER CONSTRUCTION! CONSTRUCTION ZONE! As I sit here today thinking about and considering the following words which are found in the first chapter of this epistle I can’t help but be brought face to face with the undeniable truth that the living and eternal God not only begins a work in us but is also willing to see that work through. The living God of the universe began creating the heavens and the earth on the first day and finished and completed all His work on the sixth day. For six days the living and eternal God worked upon the heavens and the earth and everything which in them was and carried out the work through completion. I absolutely love how the living and eternal God completed the heavens and the earth and everything which in them dwells and yet when it comes to the work which is taking place within our hearts and lives that work extends beyond merely six days. I absolutely love how the LORD began a work in us—and not only began a work in us but began a good work. Remember that which the living God said after each day was completed along with what was created? The living and eternal God looked upon everything He created and saw that it was good. From the first day of creation until the sixth day of creation the LORD looked upon everything He had created and saw that it was good. When I think about the language the apostle Paul uses in this particular passage I can’t help but envision that thought of immense joy, delight and pleasure which filled the heart of the living God as He looked upon that which He created. What’s more is the living and eternal God saved the crown jewel of His creation for the sixth day when He formed man from the dust of the earth and then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life . It was this very concept which caused David to be utterly and completely in awe when considering the works of the hands of the living God.

 

            Having written these words I can’t help but feel the need to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms. Not only this but I feel it is absolutely necessary to invite you to consider the words which are found in the first chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews. Moreover I would also like to call and draw your attention to the words which we find in the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis beginning with the first verse:

 

            “O LORD our Lord, How excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:1-9).

 

            “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his. Power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him, and of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:1-14).

 

            The words which are found in the eighth chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms describes the work of God’s hands and the greatest work of His creation which is and was the creation of man from the dust of the ground. The living and eternal God saved His best work for the sixth day and it would be with this creation the living God would have fellowship and communion with—the very reason man was created. It is absolutely necessary we recognize that man’s chief aim and purpose was fellowship with the living and eternal God and then to exercise dominion upon the earth and subdue it. What we find in the first chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews describes the eternal and only begotten Son and the authority that He was given and we must needs recognize and understand this—particularly and especially when we come to the second chapter of this same epistle. It is in the second chapter of this epistle we are brought face to face with the formation and creation of man and how man was created a little lower than the angels in the image and after the likeness of the living God. With this being said we must needs acknowledge and understand that when the Lord Jesus came to the earth He came in the form of human flesh having taken upon Himself the seed of Abraham. What we find in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews is an incredibly powerful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ coming in the flesh of man and taking upon Himself flesh and blood as well as man being formed and created in the image of the living God. With this in mind consider if you will the following words which are found in the second chapter beginning with the fifth verse:

 

            “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified saying, What is man that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou mades him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than t he angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:5-18).

 

            Within this passage of Scripture we find the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews not only speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ being made a little lower than the angels but also man being made a little lower than the angels. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when we consider the truth surrounding the creation and formation of man it’s that when the living and eternal God formed and created him from the dust of the ground he looked upon him and saw that it was good. This is an underlying theme that is found in the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis for not only do we find the LORD God creating the heavens and the earth and everything therein but we also find the LORD God looking upon everything he created and seeing that it was good. You cannot read the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the creation of the heavens and the earth and the LORD God looking upon all that He had made and seeing that it was good. It is this concept of the divine pleasure and delight of the Father which we must needs recognize and understand when thinking about the words which the apostle Paul writes concerning the living God not only beginning a work in us but also beginning a work in us which is good in His sight. We must needs recognize that the living and eternal God takes great pleasure and delight in working in us, on us and through us. The apostle Paul spoke unto the saints which were at Philippi and declared his confidence in the One who not only began a good work in them but also his confidence that He would be faithful to complete it unto the end. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the Old Testament book of Genesis beginning with the first verse of the first chapter:

 

            “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness, he called Night. And the even and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: and let them be froe lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great light; the great light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind,a nd every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind,a nd every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his. Kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:1-31).

            It is important for us to recognize and understand the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Genesis for what we find in this Old Testament book is the apostle Paul emphatically declaring unto the Philippian saints his confidence in the LORD their God. The apostle Paul was confident that He who began a good work in them will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. We must needs recognize that not only did the living God begin a good work in us but the living and eternal God can and will perform it unto completion. We must needs pay attention to the words which are found here for when the apostle Paul speaks of the work which the living God will perform in us He emphatically declares that He will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. This is incredibly significant when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful reality of the living and eternal God beginning a work on us, in us and through us and continuing with that work until the day and time of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that the living and eternal not only desires to begin a good work in us but can and will bring that work unto completion. Oh that we would recognize and understand that the true and living God delights and takes pleasure in not only beginning a work on us and in us but also in bringing that work unto completion. There is an awesome truth that is found in this passage for the apostle Paul sought to convey unto the Philippian saints that the living and eternal God who began a good work in them can, will be and is able to finish it until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul continuing to describe unto them the manifestation and outworking of this work within their hearts and lives—namely that their love may abound more and more in knowledge and in all judgment. The apostle Paul desired that these saints might be able to approve those things which were excellent that they might be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ as they were filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. With this being said we must also recognize and understand the commitment, dedication and devotion of these saints who witnessed firsthand the affliction the apostle Paul experienced among them in their midst. Beginning to read with and from the twelfth verse of this passage of Scripture the apostle Paul sought to bring them to understand that the things which happened unto him have fallen out unto the furtherance of the gospel. The apostle Paul viewed his bonds in Christ as being manifest in all the palace and in all other places as the means of causing confidence, faith and boldness within the hearts and minds of others. Please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we find the apostle Paul speaking of his bonds and his afflictions and how they served as means of producing confidence within the hearts and souls of those unto whom he ministered.

 

            YOUR TRIALS ARE NOT IN VAIN! YOUR SUFFERING IS ABOUT MORE THAN JUST YOU! YOUR AFFLICTION DOES NOT HAPPEN IN A BUBBLE! What we must recognize and acknowledge when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is that the bonds and afflictions of the apostle Paul which he experienced in the flesh in this life were such that served as means of producing confidence within the hearts and souls of the churches. Undoubtedly the churches would hear of his bonds, of his afflictions, of his chains, and of his being a prisoner and it would work within them a great confidence and boldness. What we must needs understand is that many of the Gentiles who believed on the Lord Jesus heard and received the word of the Lord Jesus in the midst of suffering, affliction, trials and troubles. You cannot read the narratives concerning the Philippians, the Corinthians, the Thessalonians and even the Ephesians and not come face to face with the great affliction the apostle Paul experienced in the flesh as a direct result of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. Now when we come to the epistles written unto the Ephesians, the Philippians and the Colossians we find epistles which were written while the apostle Paul was in fact in prison for the sake of the word, name and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            Perhaps one of the greatest truths that is found in this passage of Scripture is how the apostle Paul spoke of and declared that there were others who waxed confident by his bonds and were much more bold to speak the word without fear. Please pay close and careful attention to the words which are found here for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul and the sufferings, the afflictions, the trials, the troubles and the persecution he experienced and how it served a purpose greater than even he was aware of  in his own natural sense. The apostle Paul recognized that his afflictions, his persecution, his chains and his suffering were working and serving a greater purpose in the hearts and lives of the saints of the living God as it would produce within them a confidence to be able to speak the word without fear. What we must needs recognize and understand is that we might walk through and experience such great afflictions, such great suffering, such great trials, and such great persecution within our lives that others might be strengthened and encouraged in the midst of our trials and troubles. Did you ever think that what you are going through—and not only what you are going through but also how you handle and respond to what you’re going through—is giving strength, confidence and boldness unto others. One of the greatest places where our testimony shines the brightest is in the midst of suffering and affliction for there is something unique and powerful about those who are willing to endure and bear up under hardship, under troubles and under affliction within their physical bodies.

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close we must needs recognize that the apostle Paul was willing to endure such great affliction and such great suffering in the flesh—not only for the sake of the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ but also that the faith, the trust and the confidence of the saints of God might be encouraged and increased. There is a great need to recognize and understand that which the apostle Paul writes here for while the apostle Paul was present in the flesh he never sought to deliver himself from his afflictions, from his troubles, from his trials, from his tribulations, from his sufferings and the like. One of the greatest truths found in this passage of Scripture and in the writings of the apostle Paul is that rather than make an attempt to deliver himself from the sufferings, the trials, the troubles and the afflictions he endured he boasted and rejoiced in them. What we must needs recognize is that others are watching us when we walk through affliction, when we walk through suffering, when we walk through trials, when we walk through pain and tribulation. We would like to think that our suffering happens in a vacuum and that others are not aware of it and/or are not watching and observing the suffering we experience in this life in the flesh. The apostle Paul recognized that his life was being offered upon the sacrifice and offering of the faith of the saints of God and this was something he made very clear unto the elders of the Ephesian church. The apostle Paul spoke unto them and not only declared that he was willing to be bound and even die for his faith but also that he was willing to be sacrificed upon the altar of their faith.

 

            There is something incredibly powerful that is found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here in this passage is the apostle Paul speaking unto the Philippian saints and how with all boldness without being ashamed Christ might be magnified in His body. The apostle Paul would go on to declare that for him to live is Christ and to die is gain. The apostle Paul would also go on to declare that if he lived in the flesh the word, the gospel and the ministry he was entrusted with would be the fruit of his labour. The apostle Paul was torn between two different opinions for on the one hand he desired to be present with the Lord knowing that to be present with the Lord was to be absent from the body. With this being said the apostle Paul also understood that to be present with the saints of God upon the earth was to be absent from the Lord. The apostle Paul recognized that his abiding in the flesh was needful for the saints of God as he had this confidence knowing that he would abide and continue with them all for their furtherance and joy of faith. Oh that we would recognize and understand when reading the words that so long as we are present in the flesh we are to endure hardship and suffering as good soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ as those who are faithful and bold in our faith, our trust and our confidence in Him. Oh that we would be such men and women who are not only patient in our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ but also that we might be those who are confident and bold in our faith without being silent and without backing down. Oh that we would be patient and enduring saints in the coming days ahead which are most certainly guaranteed to be difficult, dark and dangerous days.

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