October 9

Psalms 42:1-3 (NIV) 1As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, "Where is your God?"

The words of the first verse have become one of the most popular choruses in the church today. In the song, it is used as an expression of desire to know God more intimately, but in the psalm it is a cry for deliverance from his situation. It is reminiscent of Job when he pleaded to present his case before God. We don't know what his cause for being in distress was. It may have been when he fled from Saul, or Absalom, or an illness. There are dark valleys, through which God takes us, that increase our desire for God. No one likes to go down them, but oh the maturing of our soul that comes from the pain. We long for the presence of God to be our hiding place from the troubles of this life, but sometimes He even withholds that from us.

The dark night of the soul takes us from our apathetic level back up to climbing the heights of life in God. The pain draws us past our complacency and onward to heights of intimacy. The brokenhearted reading this can instantly relate to these words. Those who have not yet gone down this road, remember this, do not harden your heart in this place. If you do, you will come out bitter instead of better. The enemy of your soul will have won a double victory. He inflicted the pain and it will have borne the results that he desired. Instead, defeat him by allowing yourself to be even more tender and allowing your heart to break. The LORD is near the brokenhearted. It is a place where all your trust is on the faithfulness of God, though you cannot see any evidence. Those you have shared Christ with, who know you as a Christian will mock saying, "Where is your God?" He has promised to be near.

Remember: Weeping will endure for a season, but the joy will return. You will come out with a greater desire for God, for intimacy with Him.

October 9

Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV) 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

This is one of the most important passages in the letters from Paul. It is called "the emptying passage", because it tells of Christ emptying Himself to become a man. The meaning of "made himself nothing" is debated, but all can agree that Christ left something behind to become man. In trying to plumb the depths of the doctrine presented, we miss the key point of the passage, the purpose for which Paul wrote.

Paul was pleading for unity among those in the church at Philippi. They had taken sides over two quite prominent women who were arguing. Paul began this chapter with the instruction to be of one purpose and "in humility consider others better than yourselves." The passage today is an instruction to have the attitude Christ Jesus had. He was more spiritually mature than everyone He met, but He didn't walk around in pride, arguing.

He humbled Himself to become a man. Seeing He was in a body, He knew that He must become what humans were created to be, servants of the Most High. So, He listened to His Father and obeyed Him in everything. He did not exert His own opinion or will, but only that of His Father. The ultimate example of this submission was seen in the Garden when He surrendered to the Father's will even death by Roman crucifixion.

Paul is commanding us to follow Jesus' example. Live as servants of the Most High, humbly doing what He instructs. That will have us in the same mind and purpose, considering others better than ourselves. When the church has the attitude of Christ, we will bear fruit unto God. Unity will be obvious. God will be glorified.

Consider: A church of servants is the most powerful example of Jesus.