Paul’s joy that Christ is preached

Today in my devotions I looked at Philippians 1:12-19. Apparently I missed a section the other day without realising! The title of this section in the NLT is “Paul’s joy that Christ is preached”.

Verses 12-14 read, “And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear”.

Two things really spoke to me from these verses.

1. Paul is pleased being in prison

The first is that Paul is glad to be in prison. He tells us that the whole palace guard knows he is there for the Gospel. Paul came in contact with people he would not normally be able to share Christ with. As we see from Acts 16 Paul got to share his faith with the jailer and his family.

2. Paul’s continued boldness encourages others

The second things is from verse 14. Paul says that, “…most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear”. Paul’s boldness despite being in prison gave other courage to continue to talk about Jesus. Acts 16 said they prayed and sang hymns while in chains!

Paul’s boldness to preach the message of Christ landed him in prison. However this did not stop him and everyone knew why he was there. We see the jailer family of the jailer came to Christ. And the other believers were greatly encouraged in their efforts.

Paul’s commitment to preaching the Gospel inspires me nearly 2000 years later.

God Bless,

Live as citizens of heaven

Today’s reading comes from Philippians 1:27-30. It is titled, “Live as citizens of heaven”.

Verse 27 says, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News”.

I like this idea of being a citizen of heaven. As Christians we live in this world, but citizenship is of another place – the Kingdom of Heaven. The moment we asked Jesus Christ into our lives our citizenship status changed. Our spiritual passports were re-stamped.

Paul reminds us in today’s passage to conduct ourselves worthy of being a citizen of heaven. We need to live in a way that shows we no longer belong to this world. We need to take on Kingdom values and actions.

We are like an Ambassador who serves in a foreign country as a diplomat. They deal with their host country, build relational bridges and represent the interests of their country in that place.

Not only does the Ambassador have to serve his country in that place, but they need to represent the country well. All they do reflects on their homeland. We are like this as Christians.

So today let us remember the words of Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father”.

God Bless,

Paul’s life for Christ

Today’s reading comes from Philippians 1:20-26. It is titled, “Paul’s life for Christ”.

Verses 21-24 explains Paul’s heart. They gives us a glimpse of his priorities….

“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live”.

For Paul, living was all about Christ. He was all consumed with Christ. He desired earnestly to go and be with Christ, but knew staying here would mean he could continue His work in the world.

Paul knew he could help others come to know Christ, he could plant churches, and he could strengthen the churches he had planted. In short his mission was to know Christ and make Him known.

Over the years I have known people like this. They have been completely sold out for God’s Kingdom. Their life was hidden in Christ and His will was all they wanted. Some are alive still serving, while some have gone to be with their Lord.

I am so inspired by these three verses and the sold out Kingdom people I have met over the years. It is something that I aspire to myself. I hope and pray that I can wholeheartedly say,”To live is Christ, to die is gain”.

Dear God, thank You for Paul’s words in this passage. Thank You for his commitment to Christ and his commitment to making Him known. I pray today that I will have that same commitment to Christ and to His mission in this world. I pray my life will be all about Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

God Bless,

Paul’s thanksgiving and prayer

For my devotions I am moving on to the Book of Philippians. This is one of the letters Paul wrote to the churches while he was in prison in Rome.

The first reading comes from Philippians 1:3-11. This section is titled, “Paul’s thanksgiving and prayer”. In this section two main things stood out for me.

1. Paul’s joy with the Philippians

Verses 3 says, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God”.

The Philippians give Paul special joy because they have been his partners in the Gospel. They have shared with him from the day they first heard about Christ until the day of writing.

Paul has a real love for the Philippians because they believed in the message of salvation and continued steadfastly in it. They took it so seriously that they partnered in his work – in prayer, encouragement and financially.

2. Paul’s prayer for the Philippians

In verse 9 Paul says, “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding”.

Paul wanted them to continue to grow in their faith and be blessed by God. He prayed they would have full understanding of the things of God, be pure and blameless in their walk with the Lord and be filled with the fruit of salvation.

Paul really loved the Philippians. He was like a spiritual father to them as he planted the church at Philippi on his second missionary journey. This is why he experienced so much joy, prayed for them and wanted the best for them.

I am really looking forward to continuing through the book of Philippians and seeing what lessons I can learn afresh.

God Bless,

Live till you die

Here is a devotion from Word for Today. I heard it on the radio and found it online. Enjoy…

Live till you die

‘…When he died…his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.’ Deuteronomy 34:7 NIV

Don’t listen to those who tell you you’re ‘too old’. God’s promise is, ‘They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh…’ (Psalm 92:14 NIV) For 20 to 30 years the century plant spreads out but produces no flowers. Then in one year, without warning, a bud sprouts. The bud, which resembles a tree-trunk-sized asparagus spear, shoots into the sky at the fantastic rate of nearly 20 cm per day, and reaches an eventual height of 8 to 10 m. Then it crowns itself with several clumps of yellowish blossoms that last almost a month. Some of God’s oldest are among His finest! The older, mellower Abraham was wiser than the brash, younger one. Caleb was still defeating giants and climbing mountains at 85. Anna, an elderly widow, didn’t just pray for the Messiah; her vision kept her alive until He came. In his nineties, imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos, John wrote the Book of Revelation. Jesus said, ‘Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.’ (Luke 17:33 NRS) You can approach life in two ways: protect it or pursue it. When the voice of safety says, ‘Build a fire in the hearth and stay in where it’s warm,’ the voice of faith says, ‘Build a fire in your soul, then go out and pursue your vision with a passion.’ Asked why he was still studying Greek in his nineties, Oliver Wendell Holmes is reported to have said, ‘My good sir, it’s now or never!’ What matters is not the years in your life, but the life in your years. So, live till you die!

SoulFood: 2 Sam 22:31-24:25, Lk 7:36-50, Ps 140, Prov 18:21-22

The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright 2014

Dear brothers and sisters

One thing I really noticed this time from reading James again was the amount of times James used the term “Dear brothers and sisters”. He used it 11 times in six chapters.

Not only did James see his fellow believers as family, but he used it to highlight his key thoughts. He introduced each major idea with it. Here are a few…

James 1:2-3 – Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

James 1:19-20 - Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

James 2:1 – My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

James 2:14 - What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?

James 3:1 – Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Have a look through the rest of James and see if you can find the other “Dear brothers and sisters” and see what the rest of his key thoughts were from the book.

Often it is a good learning tool to sit and read a whole Book of the Bible in one sitting. It helps you to get an overview of the major themes and to see any patterns in the writing that can lead to key messages the writer wants us to understand.

God Bless,

Wisdom from Proverbs

Here are three passages from Proverbs about plans, direction and trust. Enjoy…

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭16‬:‭9‬ NLT)

The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way? (‭Proverbs‬ ‭20‬:‭24‬ NLT)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭3‬:‭5-6‬ NLT)

Trust God. Seek Him with all your heart. Seek His will today.

God Bless,

Restoring wandering believers

In the last section of James we are looking at the heading of “Restoring wandering believers”. It comes from James 5:19-20. It says…

“My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins”.

These two verses tell us the importance of going out after people who have wandered away from the faith.

Over the years I have seen a number of people wander away from the faith. Some of the reasons I have seen are…

  • People have been hurt by the church or people in the church
  • A breakdown of an important relationship and they withdraw
  • A long term illness that they can’t make sense of God allowing
  • No solid foundation of discipleship when they came to faith
  • They don’t regularly pray and keep connected with God
  • The decision to follow Christ was a quick alter call decision
  • They feel their needs were not met by the church
  • They felt they didn’t fit in to the church culture
  • They love the world or someone in the world too much

It is not easy to approach people who we think have wandered away from God. It can be confronting and most of us would probably not do it if we are honest. But I think it is important to keep the lines of communication open.

Jesus reminds us of the importance of this in the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7). In verse 4 He says, “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?”

Jesus goes on to say in verse 7, “There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away”!

As I type I wonder if there are people in my area who have wandered away from God who need a shepherd to go and bring them back into the fold? How about your area? Are there any people you know?

God Bless,

Love one another

With the terrible news of the Malaysian Airlines flight being shot down today. My heart aches as I read about the stories of the people who lost their lives. All I can do is pray for the families and friends who lost loved ones.

In the midst of this it is a timely reminder for me that we are called to love one another. Nearly every book of the New Testament calls us to love one another and care for each other. Many times it is Jesus Himself speaking.

Here are a few examples…

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Romans 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

1Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 John 3:11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

1 John 3:23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

2 John 1:5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.