May 6: Community Driven Judges 9:22–10:18; Philippians 2:19–30; Psalm 68:1–14
By default, we flag our own needs as high priority. And we often measure our church community by how well it’s serving our needs. Caught up in our own spiritual growth, we tend to forget that we’re meant to attend to the physical and spiritual needs of others. Paul upholds Timothy and Epaphroditus to the Philippians as examples of what this type of service should look like. Paul was intent on sending Timothy to the Philippian church because of his discernment and his servant-like heart. In fact Timothy was the only one suited for the task. Others wouldn’t “sincerely be concerned about [the Philippians’] circumstances. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:20–21). Likewise, Paul describes Epaphroditus as a man who suffered to the point of death in order to assist him in his ministry (Phil 2:30). Both of these men epitomized the natural result of Paul’s commands earlier in his letter: “Do nothing according to selfish ambition or according to empty conceit, but in humility considering one another better than yourselves, each of you not looking out for your own interests, but also each of you for the interests of others” (Phil 2:3–4). “Considering another individual better” didn’t mean the Philippians had to foster an exaggerated opinion of others—as if they deserved honor. Rather, Paul was instructing them to consider others’ needs ahead of their own. The church in Philippi had this example in Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. But the original example is found in the person of Christ, who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). Christ’s sacrificial love was first shown undeservedly to us, and His example of humility, obedience, and service is a reminder that we should be looking for ways to serve those around us. How can you reach out to someone who needs guidance, love or encouragement?
REBECCA VAN NOORD EZC:
- So Abimelech reigned three years over Israel. But God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech, and the men of Shechem: and the men of Shechem brake their promise to Abimelech, That the cruelty toward the seventy sons of Jerubbaal and their blood might come and be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which had slain them, and upon the men of Shechem, which had aided him to kill his brethren. So the men of Shechem set men in wait for him in the tops of the mountains: who robbed all that passed that way by them: and it was told Abimelech. Then Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and they went to Shechem put their confidence in him. Therefore they went out into the field, and gathered in their grapes, and trode them, and made merry, and went into the house of their gods, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech Then Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is Abimelech? and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerabbaal? and Zebul is his officer? Serve rather the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: for why should we serve him? Now would God this people were under mine hand: then would I put away Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out. And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his wrath was kincled. Therefore he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be come to Shechem, and behold they fortify the city against thee. Now therefore arise by night thou and the people that is with thee, and lie in wait in the field. And rise early in the morning as soon as the sun is up, and assault the city: and when he and the people that is with him, shall come out against thee, do to him what thou canst. So Abimilech rose, up, and all the people that were with him by night: and they that lay in wait against Shechem in four bands. Then Gaul the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate by the city: and Abimilech rose up, and the folk that were with him, lying in wait. And when Gaul saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the tops of the mountains: and Zebul said unto him, The shadow of the mountains seem men unto thee. And Gaal spake again, and see, See, the there come folk down by the middle of the land, and another band cometh by the way of the plain of Meonenim. Then said Zebul unto him, Where is now thy mouth that said, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? Is not this people that thou hast despised? Go out now, I pray thee and fight with them. And Gaul went out before the men of Schchem, and fought with Abimelech. But Abimelech pursued him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded even unto the entering of the gate. And Abimelech dwelt at arumah: and Zebul thrust our Gaal and his brethren that they should not dwell in Shechem. And on the morrow, the people went out into the field: which was told Abimelech. And he took the people, and divided them into three bands, and laid wait in the fields, and looked, and behold, the people were come out of the city, and he rose up against them, and smote them. And Abimelech, and the bands that were with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entering of gate of the city: and the two other bands ran upon all the people that were in the field, and slew them. And when Abimelech had fought against the city all that day, he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and destroyed the city, and sowed salt in it. And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard it, they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith. And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. And Abimelech got him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him: and Abimelech took axes with him, and cut down boughs of trees, and took them, and bare them on his shoulder, and said unto the folk that were with him, What ye have seem me do, make hast, and do like me. Then Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to set it on fire. But a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimilech’s head, and brake his brainpan. Then Abimelech called hastily his page that bore his harness, and said unto him, Draw thy sword and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his page thrust him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Abimilech was dead, they departed every man unto his own place. Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father in slaying his seventy brethren. Also all the wickedness of the men of Shechem did God bring upon their heads. So upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubaal. … And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, Whosoever will begin the battle against the children of Ammon, the same shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. Judges 9:22-10:18
- And I trust in the Lord Jesus, to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man like-minded who will faithfully care for your matters. For all seek their own, and not that which is Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the proof of him, that as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the Gospel. Him therefore I hope to send as soon as I know how it will go with me, And I trust in the Lord, that I also myself shall come shortly. But I supposed it was necessary to send my brother Epaphroditus unto you my companion in labor, and fellow soldier, even your messenger, and he that ministered unto me such things as I wanted. For he longed after all you, and was full of heaviness, because ye had heard that he had been sick. And no doubt he was sick, very near unto death: but God had mercy on him, and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him therefore the more diligently, that when he should see him again, ye might rejoice, and I might be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and make much of such: Because that for the work of Christ he was near unto death, and regarded not his life, to fulfill that service which was lacking on your part toward me. Philippians 2:19-30
- God will arise, and his enemies shall be scattered: they also that hate him, shall flee before him. As the smoke vanisheth, so shalt thou drive them away: and as wax melteth before the fire, so shall the wicked perish at the presence of God. But the righteous shall be glad, and rejoice before God: yea, they shall leap for joy. Sing unto God, and sing praises unto his name: exalt him that rideth upon the heavens, in his Name Jah, and rejoice before him. He is a Father of the fatherless, and a Judge of the widows, even God in his holy habitation. God maketh the solitary to dwell in families, and delivereth them that were prisoners in stocks: but the rebellious shall dwell in a dry land. O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people: when thou wentest through the wilderness. (Selah.) The earth shook, and the heavens dropped at the presence of this God: even Sinai was moved at the presence of God, even the God of Israel. Thou, O God, sentest a gracious rain upon thine inheritance, and thou didst refresh it when it was weary. Thy Congregation dwelled therein: for thou, O God, hast of thy goodness prepared it for the poor. The Lord gave matter to the woman to tell of the great army. Kings of the armies did flee: they did flee, and she that remained in the house, divided the spoil. Though ye have lain among pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove that is covered with silver, and whose feathers are like yellow gold. When the Almighty scattered the kings in it, it was white as the snow in Zalmon. Psalm 68:1-14