Devotion for June 23
“For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Contrary to what we might initially think, this is not the suicidal declaration of a deranged prisoner. Instead, this is the sanctified “life song” of a man that met the risen Lord on the Damascus Road, and never got over it. This is the heart cry of a man that had suffered much hardship and persecution as a result of obediently submitting to the will of Jesus. And the beauty of the inspired letter he wrote to the church at Philippi is that he is now able to encourage every believer to commit to the same lifestyle.
As you read Philippians 1, take note of the impassioned, personal nature of the encouragement Paul is giving to the church at Philippi. Give careful attention to how Paul makes Jesus the sum and substance of everything he is and does, and how he makes the gospel central to anything and everything he does; even his imprisonment. Then, embrace the encouragement he gives in the church, that they would conduct themselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ”, which he says will enable them to “stand firm in one spirit, with on mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
Oh how I pray this will be true, not just of each of us individually, but of the church corporately, so that God will be glorified and the gospel confirmed.
Jeremiah 48–49 (CSB)
1 About Moab, this is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: Woe to Nebo, because it is about to be destroyed; Kiriathaim will be put to shame; it will be taken captive. The fortress will be put to shame and dismayed! 2 There is no longer praise for Moab; they plan harm against her in Heshbon: Come, let’s cut her off from nationhood. Also, Madmen, you will be silenced; the sword will follow you. 3 A voice cries out from Horonaim, “devastation and a crushing blow!” 4 Moab will be shattered; her little ones will cry out. 5 For on the Ascent to Luhith they will be weeping continually, and on the descent to Horonaim will be heard cries of distress over the destruction: 6 Flee! Save your lives! Be like a juniper bush in the wilderness. 7 Because you trust in your works and treasures, you will be captured also. Chemosh will go into exile with his priests and officials. 8 The destroyer will move against every town; not one town will escape. The valley will perish, and the plain will be annihilated, as the Lord has said. 9 Make Moab a salt marsh, for she will run away; her towns will become a desolation, without inhabitant. 10 The one who does the Lord’s business deceitfully is cursed, and the one who withholds his sword from bloodshed is cursed. 11 Moab has been left quiet since his youth, settled like wine on its dregs. He hasn’t been poured from one container to another or gone into exile. So his taste has remained the same, and his aroma hasn’t changed. 12 Therefore look, the days are coming— this is the Lord’s declaration— when I will send pourers to him, who will pour him out. They will empty his containers and smash his jars. 13 Moab will be put to shame because of Chemosh, just as the house of Israel was put to shame because of Bethel that they trusted in. 14 How can you say, “We are warriors— valiant men for battle”? 15 The destroyer of Moab and its towns has come up, and the best of its young men have gone down to slaughter. This is the King’s declaration; the Lord of Armies is his name. 16 Moab’s calamity is near at hand; his disaster is rushing swiftly. 17 Mourn for him, all you surrounding nations, everyone who knows his name. Say, “How the mighty scepter is shattered, the glorious staff!” 18 Come down from glory; sit on parched ground, resident of the daughter of Dibon, for the destroyer of Moab has come against you; he has destroyed your fortresses. 19 Stand by the highway and watch, resident of Aroer! Ask him who is fleeing or her who is escaping, “What happened?” 20 Moab is put to shame, indeed dismayed. Wail and cry out! Declare by the Arnon that Moab is destroyed. 21 “Judgment has come to the land of the plateau—to Holon, Jahzah, Mephaath, 22 Dibon, Nebo, Beth-diblathaim, 23 Kiriathaim, Beth-gamul, Beth-meon, 24 Kerioth, Bozrah, and all the towns of the land of Moab, those far and near. 25 Moab’s horn is chopped off; his arm is shattered.” This is the Lord’s declaration. 26 “Make him drunk, because he has exalted himself against the Lord. Moab will wallow in his own vomit, and he will also become a laughingstock. 27 Wasn’t Israel a laughingstock to you? Was he ever found among thieves? For whenever you speak of him you shake your head.” 28 Abandon the towns! Live in the cliffs, residents of Moab! Be like a dove that nests inside the mouth of a cave. 29 We have heard of Moab’s pride, great pride, indeed— his insolence, arrogance, pride, and haughty heart. 30 I know his outburst. This is the Lord’s declaration. It is empty. His boast is empty. 31 Therefore, I will wail over Moab. I will cry out for Moab, all of it; he will moan for the men of Kir-heres. 32 I will weep for you, vine of Sibmah, with more than the weeping for Jazer. Your tendrils have extended to the sea; they have reached to the sea and to Jazer. The destroyer has fallen on your summer fruit and grape harvest. 33 Gladness and celebration are taken from the fertile field and from the land of Moab. I have stopped the flow of wine from the winepresses; no one will tread with shouts of joy. The shouting is not a shout of joy. 34 “There is a cry from Heshbon to Elealeh; they make their voices heard as far as Jahaz—from Zoar to Horonaim and Eglath-shelishiyah—because even the Waters of Nimrim have become desolate. 35 In Moab, I will stop”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“the one who offers sacrifices on the high place and burns incense to his gods. 36 Therefore, my heart moans like flutes for Moab, and my heart moans like flutes for the people of Kir-heres. And therefore, the wealth he has gained has perished. 37 Indeed, every head is bald and every beard is chopped short. On every hand is a gash and sackcloth around the waist. 38 On all the rooftops of Moab and in her public squares, everyone is mourning because I have shattered Moab like a jar no one wants.” This is the Lord’s declaration. 39 “How broken it is! They wail! How Moab has turned his back! He is ashamed. Moab will become a laughingstock and a shock to all those around him.” 40 For this is what the Lord says: Look! He will swoop down like an eagle and spread his wings against Moab. 41 The towns have been captured, and the strongholds seized. In that day the heart of Moab’s warriors will be like the heart of a woman with contractions. 42 Moab will be destroyed as a people because he has exalted himself against the Lord. 43 Panic, pit, and trap await you, resident of Moab. This is the Lord’s declaration. 44 He who flees from the panic will fall in the pit, and he who climbs from the pit will be captured in the trap, for I will bring against Moab the year of their punishment. This is the Lord’s declaration. 45 Those who flee will stand exhausted in Heshbon’s shadow because fire has come out from Heshbon and a flame from within Sihon. It will devour Moab’s forehead and the skull of the noisemakers. 46 Woe to you, Moab! The people of Chemosh have perished because your sons have been taken captive and your daughters have gone into captivity. 47 Yet, I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the last days. This is the Lord’s declaration. The judgment on Moab ends here. 1 About the Ammonites, this is what the Lord says: Does Israel have no sons? Is he without an heir? Why then has Milcom dispossessed Gad and his people settled in their cities? 2 Therefore look, the days are coming— this is the Lord’s declaration— when I will make the shout of battle heard against Rabbah of the Ammonites. It will become a desolate mound, and its surrounding villages will be set on fire. Israel will dispossess their dispossessors, says the Lord. 3 Wail, Heshbon, for Ai is devastated; cry out, daughters of Rabbah! Clothe yourselves with sackcloth, and lament; run back and forth within your walls, because Milcom will go into exile together with his priests and officials. 4 Why do you boast about your valleys, your flowing valley, you faithless daughter— you who trust in your treasures and say, “Who can attack me?” 5 Look, I am about to bring terror on you— this is the declaration of the Lord God of Armies— from all those around you. You will be banished, each person headlong, with no one to gather up the fugitives. 6 But after that, I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites. This is the Lord’s declaration. 7 About Edom, this is what the Lord of Armies says: Is there no longer wisdom in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom rotted away? 8 Run! Turn back! Lie low, residents of Dedan, for I will bring Esau’s calamity on him at the time I punish him. 9 If grape harvesters came to you, wouldn’t they leave some gleanings? Were thieves to come in the night, they would destroy only what they wanted. 10 But I will strip Esau bare; I will uncover his secret places. He will try to hide, but he will be unable. His descendants will be destroyed along with his relatives and neighbors. He will exist no longer. 11 Abandon your fatherless; I will preserve them; let your widows trust in me. 12 For this is what the Lord says: “If those who do not deserve to drink the cup must drink it, can you possibly remain unpunished? You will not remain unpunished, for you must drink it too. 13 For by myself I have sworn”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“Bozrah will become a desolation, a disgrace, a ruin, and an example for cursing, and all its surrounding cities will become ruins forever.” 14 I have heard an envoy from the Lord; a messenger has been sent among the nations: Assemble yourselves to come against her. Rise up for war! 15 I will certainly make you insignificant among the nations, despised among humanity. 16 As to the terror you cause, your arrogant heart has deceived you. You who live in the clefts of the rock, you who occupy the mountain summit, though you elevate your nest like the eagles, even from there I will bring you down. This is the Lord’s declaration. 17 “Edom will become a desolation. Everyone who passes by her will be appalled and scoff because of all her wounds. 18 As when Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown along with their neighbors,” says the Lord, “no one will live there; no human being will stay in it even temporarily. 19 “Look, it will be like a lion coming from the thickets of the Jordan to the watered grazing land. I will chase Edom away from her land in a flash. I will appoint whoever is chosen for her. For who is like me? Who will issue me a summons? Who is the shepherd who can stand against me?” 20 Therefore, hear the plans that the Lord has drawn up against Edom and the strategies he has devised against the people of Teman: The flock’s little lambs will certainly be dragged away, and their grazing land will be made desolate because of them. 21 At the sound of their fall the earth will quake; the sound of her cry will be heard at the Red Sea. 22 Look! It will be like an eagle soaring upward, then swooping down and spreading its wings over Bozrah. In that day the hearts of Edom’s warriors will be like the heart of a woman with contractions. 23 About Damascus: Hamath and Arpad are put to shame, for they have heard a bad report and are agitated, like the anxious sea that cannot be calmed. 24 Damascus has become weak; she has turned to run; panic has gripped her. Distress and labor pains have seized her like a woman in labor. 25 How can the city of praise not be abandoned, the town that brings me joy? 26 Therefore, her young men will fall in her public squares; all the warriors will perish in that day. This is the declaration of the Lord of Armies. 27 I will set fire to the wall of Damascus; it will consume Ben-hadad’s citadels. 28 About Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor, which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated, this is what the Lord says: Rise up, attack Kedar, and destroy the people of the east! 29 They will take their tents and their flocks along with their tent curtains and all their equipment. They will take their camels for themselves. They will call out to them, “Terror is on every side!” 30 Run! Escape quickly! Lie low, residents of Hazor— this is the Lord’s declaration— for King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has drawn up a plan against you; he has devised a strategy against you. 31 Rise up, attack a nation at ease, one living in security. This is the Lord’s declaration. They have no doors, not even a gate bar; they live alone. 32 Their camels will become plunder, and their massive herds of cattle will become spoil. I will scatter them to the wind in every direction, those who clip the hair on their temples; I will bring calamity on them across all their borders. This is the Lord’s declaration. 33 Hazor will become a jackals’ den, a desolation forever. No one will live there; no human being will stay in it even temporarily. 34 This is the word of the Lord that came to the prophet Jeremiah about Elam at the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah. 35 This is what the Lord of Armies says: I am about to shatter Elam’s bow, the source of their might. 36 I will bring the four winds against Elam from the four corners of the heavens, and I will scatter them to all these winds. There will not be a nation to which Elam’s banished ones will not go. 37 I will devastate Elam before their enemies, before those who intend to take their lives. I will bring disaster on them, my burning anger. This is the Lord’s declaration. I will send the sword after them until I finish them off. 38 I will set my throne in Elam, and I will destroy the king and officials from there. This is the Lord’s declaration. 39 Yet, in the last days, I will restore the fortunes of Elam. This is the Lord’s declaration.
Philippians 1 (CSB)
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus: To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons. 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, 4 always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 Indeed, it is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. 12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually advanced the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ. 14 Most of the brothers have gained confidence in the Lord from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the word fearlessly. 15 To be sure, some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of good will. 16 These preach out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, thinking that they will cause me trouble in my imprisonment. 18 What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice 19 because I know this will lead to my salvation through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 20 My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am torn between the two. I long to depart and be with Christ—which is far better—24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that, because of my coming to you again, your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound. 27 Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel, 28 not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your salvation—and this is from God. 29 For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.