April 4 – April 10, 2017

WORD

5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.  9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Scripture Reads Me:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passages teaches me that I am…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: At the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Christianity does not fit well with our independent tendencies.  To follow Christ means to give up our right to self-sufficiency and self-determination.  This is a good thing when we realize that when we choose on our own we often choose wrongly and to the detriment of ourselves and others.  That is why Paul pointed us to the self-giving example of Jesus Christ.  Instead of pursuing what was rightfully his – power, authority, self-determination – he humbly chose the will of the Father and gave up his life for our benefit.

The key phrase in Philippians 2:5-11 is the Greek phrase eauton ekenosen which means that Jesus emptied himself, or invalidated all that was rightfully his so that he could do what was good and right.  We are called on the do the same, to sacrifice our rights and desires so that we might serve the overall good of ourselves, our neighbors, and our world.  Ultimately, this is God’s will for us.  It begins with humbling ourselves, bending our knees to God in Jesus Christ, and proclaiming God’s glory and authority over us.

There is much talk in our society about rights.  “Human rights” is the buzz-phrase thrown around too often in our world.  Yes, God desires that every person be free of true oppression and that all work to help persons and the rest of the cosmos thrive.  But oftentimes,what we think of as rights are simply projections of our selfishness.  And then, there are those times that we are asked to forgo our rights to benefit others.

So consider this: what rights does God truly afford to everyone?  What do we call rights that are actually just projections of our selfishness?  And in what ways might God be asking you to forfeit your rights for the good of others?  Living out the witness of Christ begins with our humble act of bowing our hearts, mind, and spirit before the one who emptied himself for us.  Then our lives can become an active, living confession of God’s glory.

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, April 4 – Ezra 7
  • Wednesday, April 5 – Ezra 8
  • Thursday, April 6 – Ezra 9
  • Friday, April 7 – Ezra 10
  • Saturday, April 8 – Nehemiah 1
  • Sunday, April 9 – Nehemiah 2
  • Monday, April 10 –  Nehemiah 3

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: Christ Jesus…though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.

This week, consider all of those persons and societal systems that do exploit their rights and end up oppressing others.  Pray that God would empty us all of our pride and empty the world of exploitation.  Trust God to change hearts – our own and those of people in power and authority – so that we might become more willing to serve others than oppress them.  Ask God to especially change the hearts of evil rulers across the world who keep their people in the grip of terror and bondage.  O Father, empty us of our hate and greed!

Meditation Focus: God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name.

Imagine Jesus Christ exalted and enthroned above you as you go about your day.  As you talk to others, picture the conversations as taking place within the throne room of the Most High.  Does this image change the words you speak to others?  As you work, know that Jesus Christ rules and reigns over all you do.  Does this change the purpose and energy with which you work?  As you care for others, imagine first that you have been sent out with a royal dispatch to attend to their needs by order of the Holy One.  Does this influence your patience, love, and understanding?  Jesus Christ is exalted high above your life and you are in the employ of the Lord of Lords.

Journaling Focus: Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…

What does it mean to have the mind of Christ within you?  What would your life look like if you thought the way Jesus thought?  Would it change the way you act also?  Spend some time this week reflecting on these questions and write your responses in your journal.  As you do, ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind and put you in communion with the very thoughts of Jesus Christ.

Holy Action: 

Practice not getting your way this week.  When someone wants to fight with you, bless them and move on.  When someone’s opinion differs from yours, listen.  When making a decision, ask for the input of others.  Offer your time to someone who needs it.  Experience the blessing of giving of yourself to others.

Breath Prayer: Father, humble us.

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