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Day 35 - Tuesday May 19, 2015 - Philippians 4:4-23

Passage:

Philippians 4:4-5 (The Message)

4-5 “Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!”

Though/Application:

Having just experienced the death of a friend who left much too soon, I appreciate the sense of urgency in these words. The Master could show up any minute ~ or the Master could decide it’s time to bring you to Him ~ so make every day and every opportunity count. If we, as Christians, really celebrated and reveled in God’s love all day, every day, people would be clamoring to find what we have. Letting  everyone we come in contact with know, through our actions, not just our words, that we are on their side, that we care about who they are and what they are struggling with, that we want God’s best for them – who wouldn’t be drawn to that? Being “Christ-like” rather than “Christian” or “religious”; looking at others as brothers, sisters and friends, not simply “believers” and “nonbelievers” opens up opportunities to share our excitement about the Lord’s return, what it means to us  and what it could mean to them.

Celebrate! Revel! Look for and take every opportunity God gives you to love others because the Master could show up any day!

Prayer:

Lord, let me be someone who is gentle and kind; let me celebrate Your love for me by loving others. May I revel in Your love and goodness in a way others will see You in me and may I make the most of the time You have given me. Amen.

By: Lisa Cianciolo

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Day 34 - Monday May 18, 2015 - Philippians 4:4-23

Passage:

 

Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

 

Thought/Application:

Phil 4:4 A prescription for reducing anxiety - proven medicine with over 2,000 years of clinical trials


The first time I was laid off was just a year after moving my family - including 1-year old triplets and a German nanny - across the country.  I had no network, no contacts and no safety-net.  Then I was diagnosed with diabetes, then September 11 occurred and any hope of a market recovery evaporated.  I was in a free-fall. I had never been laid off before, always thinking I was the kind of guy that you would want to keep around if layoffs were ever necessary. I had been worried for some time that the company I worked for was full of crooks and that it was only a matter of time until they took the company down with them.  Now my worst fears were coming true and I feared for my young family.  I was afraid and terribly anxious about our situation.

                

But then something wonderful happened.  In addition to seeking work, I began to attend a Men-of-Grace networking group and was comforted by others in my situation who shared verses with me like Philippians 4:4.  In time, I learned that I could have faith that this was not a punishment but rather an opportunity to go deeper into my faith and that it would all work out for the best.  This was not an easy concept to accept at the time.  I was in new territory, scared, and a little angry.  But soon my wife was hired to work and I was blessed with a precious period of time to be with my young girls, helping them to develop and watching them learn and grow.  In time, I found work and went on with my career (this is the eventual outcome 99% of the time). 

 

When the economy slowed and I was laid off a second time with another company that didn't do well, I bypassed the fear and the anxiety and spent my time out of work donating my skills to help run a “40 Days of Purpose” campaign at the church.  I didn't worry but instead leaned on my faith that God would provide.  And He did again, lifting me in my career and rewarding me for my faith.

 

Often we find ourselves in unknown or uncomfortable circumstances.  It's never pleasant (unless you get a “high” off of adrenaline), but in time you find your comfort zone is bigger and God's love and protection is even bigger.  Are you worried about something or many things today?  What could happen if you prayed about it?  What if you shared that weight with Jesus?  Why not give prayer a chance?

 

Prayer:

Lord, I rest in these truths today: “The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious in anything but in everything, by prayer  and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Lord, thank You for always being my rock, and always caring for me deeply. Amen

By: Brendan Shea

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Day 33 - Friday May 15, 2015 - Philippians 4:4-23

Passage:

Philippians 4:12-13 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Thought/Application:

There is a myth that persists, that as a follower of Jesus, you will be spared from difficulty in life, it’s one of the core issues we struggle with, why does God allow bad things to happen to us? Paul shares with us that he has been ‘brought low’ and ‘abounded’, and in both the peaks and valleys he learned the secret was to abide in Christ, who strengthened him.

As I think back on some of the painful experiences I have had, I realize that often it was those times, where I reached out to God for strength, for stability, and for sense in senseless situations; that built up the core of my faith. If I hadn’t been through the valleys, I would not have the same conviction today that God IS good all the time, and that He IS for me, and that no matter what I do or what is done to me, He DOES love me.

I have clung to Romans 8:28 in times good, bad, and confusing, that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” I have learned that our God is a God I can absolutely trust, and this sure helps to maintain perspective when it seems like things are going well, and I am tempted to credit myself… or when things are rough, and I am tempted to doubt. I remember that my God works in ALL things!

 

Prayer:

Lord, thank You for giving me trials and triumphs, you know that I don’t like to suffer, but I will choose to trust Your plan for me. I stand on faith today that You are good, that You love me, and that You are for me! Thank you God that, in Christ, I am now Your child! Amen

By: Matt Beattie

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Day 32 - Thursday May 14, 2015 - Philippians 4:4-23

Passage:              

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Thought/Application:

Today’s modern world of media and marketing overload coupled with social and workplace pressures and cultures, create a tsunami of information we must process. When this information is being spewed at us with fire hose intensity, it can be difficult to filter the information through our own belief system. As Christians our filter is God’s word.

Here in this scripture, the Apostle Paul equips the Philippians with the ultimate filter system – virtues of Jesus. These virtues center on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. In the secular world some of these virtues may be misinterpreted. For instance a secular thought process might misinterpret something that is “lovely”. A secular thought process would peg a shiny new car and possessing it as lovely. This was not Paul’s intent. Paul would like the Philippians and ultimately the readers (us) to interpret “lovely” as Jesus would. What would Jesus find attractive? Would Jesus find a shiny new car as a possession attractive or would he have better use for his resources?

As you go through your day today, challenge yourself to process or filter information using virtues of Jesus. Take note of how this structure will better equip you as a Christian to live a more Christ like life - both in your thoughts and actions.
 

 


Prayer:

Dear Lord, please give me the strength to think like You think and to act like You act. Allow me to grow in Your word and shape me so that I may be a light that draws others to Your truth. Lord, thank You for giving me structure amidst the chaos of everyday life. In Your Great name I pray, Amen.

By: Rich Axtell

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Day 31 - Wednesday May 13, 2015 - Philippians 4:4-23

Passage:

Philippians 4:15-16

15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.

 

Thought/Application:

This last summer my wife and I, with the help of some very generous friends, installed wood floors on our entire main floor. Oh man, that was a ton of work. In order to start the project, we needed to move several large pieces of furniture out into our garage; including a piano. I asked some men from our church to help. Would you believe that these eight men had all of our furniture out in fifteen minutes? Amazing. When the project was done, those men returned and helped get the furniture back in. We were so thankful.

 

The bottom line is that difficult jobs sometimes are best accomplished by a group of people. Many hands make the load lighter. I was the recipient of that kind of help. So was Paul in Philippians 4:15-16. He could receive individual gifts from people, but he was incredibly humbled by the joining of a community to support him. I imagine that the help he received buoyed his heart and mind. And that’s what we can do when we’re a part of a church community. We can, collectively, buoy individuals and groups of people by our shared lifting and giving.

 

Being a part of a church opens doors for us to impact many people, even people like our missionaries on the other side of the world. Be happy, you’re a part of something special.

 

Prayer:

Lord, I lift up my church community. I am thankful for the people I partner with in the gospel. I’m thankful for the community committed to helping others. Please so me and our church ways in which we, collectively, can impact lives with our living out of the gospel.


By: Rob Strong

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Day 30 - Tuesday May 12, 2015 - Philippians 3:15-4:3

Passage:

Philippians 4:2-3 NIV

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Thought/Application

Missionaries leave the mission field for many reasons; health, family and danger being major drivers. However, the biggest reason missionaries leave the field is interpersonal conflict with other missionaries. Tension and conflict between believers isn’t a new phenomenon, nor is it likely to disappear before Jesus comes again. However, what can we do to ensure it does not become a barrier in our lives or in the lives of others?

Paul recognized the serious consequences of fellow Christians that are unable to get along. In these verses, we see some helpful hints and strategies to deal with conflict.

Embedded in this passage lies his specific plea to these two women, Euodia and Syntche.  We don’t know much about them from these verses, but Paul described them with a glowing compliment: they have contended at my side for the cause of the gospel – v3. These were obviously very faithful, respected women who had labored to share Christ’s love in the early church.

Paul did not take sides in the conflict and the issue did not appear to be doctrinal, but instead he urged the women to put aside their personal rights to get along with each other in the Lord -v2.  He turned the focus from who might claim to be right, to their shared and meaningful identity in Christ. Being right was not the important issue.

Paul asked others to help these women. A conflict in the church involves more than just those who aren’t getting along. Stepping in to assist two feuding church leaders was one way Jesus said to be blessed; Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God – Matthew  5:9.

As we walk through this day, spend some quiet time with God to examine your relationships. Are there others in the church or in your life that you are prisoner to as you try to be the “righteous one”?  Have you observed conflicts, where perhaps you are best suited with God’s guiding hand, to be a peacemaker?

Prayer:

Lord God, we want to be in unity in your church and to work through issues with each other.  Help us to give up our rights to be right, in order to work and live in harmony with each other.  Shape me to be an instrument of your peace. Amen.

By: Bernie Prusaczyk

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Day 29 - Monday May 11, 2015 - Philippians 3:15-4:3

Passage:

Philippians 3:17 (NIV)

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 

 

Thought/Application:

Paul wants us to follow his example, not just his teaching.  He teaches a lot of theology in his letters, but correct thinking should lead to correct living.  One way to do this is to model our lives after others who have gone before us.  It's interesting that Paul suggested they follow his example, rather than that of Jesus.  Perhaps he felt that his audience had put Jesus on such a pedestal that they would feel hopeless trying to emulate his perfect life, or maybe it was simply that they could no longer see Jesus living out his life day to day.  In our day it isn't just Jesus.  We have now put biblical examples like Paul and Peter, and even modern teachers like Billy Graham, on pedestals, and we certainly don't see much of how they dealt with the difficulties of life.  Trying to follow their example can become so daunting that we quickly get discouraged.  So our challenge for this day is to model our lives after those we can relate to, rather than "giants" such as Jesus, Paul, or Peter.   

 And how can we do this, and not give up when we mess up?  Paul begins verse 17 with two innocuous words, "Join together."  The key is that we can't do this alone.  Find someone(s) you can mutually encourage, struggle together, and rejoice with.  Joining a community group or getting involved in a ministry is a great way to meet these people.  And as you go about today, don't just say "What Would Jesus Do?"  Also say, "What Would My Friends Do?"

 Prayer:

Father, I want to live like you.  Give me the wisdom to see those whose lives can be a model, and lead me to others who are ready to live this adventure together. 

By: Dave Ojemann

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Day 28 - Friday May 8, 2015 - Philippians 3:15-4:3

Passage

Philippians 3:19b – 20a (NIV)

Their mind is set on earthly things.20 But our citizenship is in heaven. 

Thought/Application

We as Christ-followers are citizens of heaven. Have you ever really thought about that? As Christians, we know that our experiences on earth are purely temporary. But have you ever pondered what a wonderful future Jesus has in store for those who love and believe in Him? Earth is all we know, so it feels like home, yet compared to the magnificence of heaven, it’s like we are living in a foreign land.

Jesus says in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” We are citizens of Christ’s kingdom.

So how do we live in light of that? Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” In a sermon a while ago, Jake Scott gave a visual representation of our lives as Christians here on earth compared to eternity. He had a very long rope and colored just the tip of it red. The red part is life on earth and the rest of the rope and beyond represents eternity. God is asking us to give him the red part of our rope for his will and his purpose.

Imagine if each of us fixed our eyes on what is unseen and gave of ourselves wholly and completely to Christ’s kingdom work on earth. Imagine the lives we would touch and the joy of our reward in heaven. Imagine getting to heaven and hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Let us live each day as citizens of heaven.

 

 

 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for preparing a place for me in your kingdom. Thank you for making me a citizen of heaven. Help me to live my life on earth wholly and completely sold out for you. Help me to give the short time I have on earth toward your kingdom work that I might store up treasures in heaven rather than treasures on earth.

Amen.

By: JJ and Natalie Decker

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Day 27 – Thursday May 7, 2015 - Philippians 3:15-4:3

Passage:

Philippians 3: 17-18

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

 

Thought/Application:

Community, connection, us being valuable, together. Those are some of the powerful experiences when we are being a community together. When we have made the invisible Christ visible, in the Fall Clean-Up, made a meal for someone in need or helped someone with rides to Chemo treatments. Being there and freely giving simply what we can, can make the world of difference. It not only serves those in need but our own sense as a valuable soul is touched too. When people connect in relationship and community it is often described as “the time I felt most alive.” Our Great Lord shows us in example and points us repeatedly to the message of relationship and community, being one body.

We currently live in a culture that is identified as a corporate culture. That basically means our needs are met through corporations for food, clothes, learning, medical, in fact most all our needs are provided via a corporation. Now that is not bad per se because they can, in most cases, meet far more needs then an individual, but the one thing it does bypass is community. It makes us not as needed individually with each other. It interferes with us connecting and working together in relational ways as a community. This corporate influence messes with the church community as well.

In the times of Paul the community needed each other regularly to share their skills and abilities as a means of survival. Even then Paul is reminding them to connect and rely on each other not only for needs but for learning and spiritual growth. Consider how this corporate influence may have turned your church community experience into a place to go get your spiritual needs met without requiring relational and community interaction. Seek purposely to connect in community and relationship with one another, striving to develop your experience in our church and extended community as “the times I feel most alive”

 

Prayer:

Dear loving Lord Praise to you and your name. Forgive us for all our sins which keep us from having a full relationship with You and others.   Help us Lord, to revitalize our community sense before we forget that being relational and working as one are the times we feel most valuable and alive. Give us wisdom on how each of us as the different individuals we are can be as one body reaching beyond our walls to all people with the good news of Christ’s salvation. May we have an inviting spirit either through words or actions to all to become part of Your community. Amen

By: Brian Henderson

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Day 26 - Wednesday May 6, 2015 - Philippians 3:15-4:3

Passage:

Philippians 3:15-16 (NIV)

All of us who are mature should take such a view on things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

 

Thought/Application:

Striving to live like Christ can feel overwhelming at times. As believers we often try to live "the perfect Christian life" and it can be exhausting.  There will always be Christians who are more mature, more knowledgeable of the Bible, and appear to be leading a "better Christian life" than we are. It can leave us feeling defeated, but it shouldn't, and Paul explains why.

 

Christian maturity means living according to what you have learned so far. As long as we are seeking Christ we are constantly growing, maturing and becoming more like Him. Jesus is constantly nudging us to grow in different ways, on an individualized basis. Not only does He point out the areas we need to change, He equips us with the strength we need to make that change. Everyone is working on a different area and maturing at a different rate. We are not instructed to try and become exactly like a Christian role model; we are instructed to seek Christ, listen to His voice and work each day to change a tiny piece of our heart to reflect Him.

 

As you strive to be more like Christ, think about the ways God has asked you to change.  Have you been living up to what you have already attained, or have you been overwhelmed by the thought that there is too much to change?  Today focus on one area and seek God for the strength to change that part of your heart, and you will see how God can transform you.

 

Prayer:

Lord, would you help me to live my life in a way that is honoring to you today?  Speak to my heart and guide my decisions, words and actions today.  Transform my heart to be more like Yours.  Amen.

By: Carolyn Gordon

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Day 25 - Tuesday May 5, 2015 - Philippians 3:1-14

Passage: 

Philippians 3:1 (ESV)

Finally, brothers, rejoice in the Lord.


 

Thought/Application: 

So what does it really mean to “rejoice in the Lord”?  I often hear that verse, and simply say, yup...will do.  But let’s think about it.  Paul has written a wonderful letter here filled with joy throughout.  He’s trying to tell us something.  We can have true joy if our focus is on something other than ourselves.  That something is Jesus.  We’re encouraged to think about who Jesus is, and who we are in him.  So who is He?  Well, who was He to Paul?

 

Paul wrote this letter from prison.  So it wasn’t his circumstances that brought him joy.  In this particular section he speaks of emptying oneself and looking towards Christ.  Somehow this humility led to great joy. But for him, the first step was to focus on one thing: Jesus.  So meditating on Jesus is how we rejoice in the Lord.   By doing so, our spirits are filled with joy.

 

So today, I encourage you to think about one facet of Jesus that gives you awe, that makes you smile, or that makes you fall in love with Him.  What is it that draws you to Him?  He is completely perfect.  He delights in making you fresh and clean.  He’s your unshakeable stronghold.  The complex creator.  The faithful lover. 


 

Prayer: 

Lord, my day is filled with things that clutter my mind and prevent me from meditating on who you really are.  May your Spirit reveal to me the thing about you that truly fills my heart and mind with joy.  Amen.

By: Brad MacPherson

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Day 24 - Monday May 4, 2015 - Philippians 3:1-14

Passage

Philippians 3:7-8 (ESV)

7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

 

Thought/Application: 

While today most of us don’t feel self-righteous because of our religious observances like Paul did when he refers to his “credentials” in the flesh, if we’re honest with ourselves it is pretty easy for us to give ourselves credit for being pretty good people.  After all, perhaps we don’t look like our non-Christian co-workers or friends who swear constantly, gossip without restraint, and think nothing of drinking too much or sleeping around.  We go to church, we read our Bibles, we teach our children that Jesus loves them.  Or maybe we don’t think about those things even so much but simply define ourselves by our success at work, how well our children play sports or do in school or how cute they are, how nice our house is, how much money we make or how many things we volunteer for in the community or the church.

But Paul says “whatever was to my profit I consider loss” – and that includes all those things just mentioned – work, home, family, health.  All those things should be insignificant in comparison with the awe of comprehending – truly comprehending and not just saying it – the incredible righteousness and holiness that comes from Christ’s death and resurrection.  Because no matter how many promotions we get or how much we serve or how wonderful our families are, those “good” things are simply nothing compared to the goodness that comes from having every speck of sinfulness and evil removed from us by God.

So as you go through the day, try to remember to put all those things that you look to for worth in perspective – how small those things are relative to being accepted as God’s child through knowing Jesus.

 

Prayer:

Lord, help me to appreciate the incredible, enormous greatness of knowing Jesus and of the true righteousness that comes from God and not from my own actions.  Help me put all the things that seem so important in life into perspective and not see them for more than what they are, but rather help me put my all into serving and honoring you and having an eternal perspective.

By: Julien and Lisa Bradley

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Day 23 - Friday May 1, 2015 - Philippians 3:1-14

Passage:

Philippians 3:8-11 (HCSB)

“More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Thought/Application:

After Paul has recounted all of his fleshly qualifications for righteousness, which are many by Jewish standards, he denounces them.  He views them as worthless, useless, even as ”rubbish”.  The Apostle Paul tells us that his enviable resume of righteousness is nothing. Nothing… compared to knowing Jesus. Paul willingly suffered and lost everything of worldly value so that he may gain Christ.  We are not worthy to be in God’s holy presence because of anything we have done, chosen, or been born into.  We are made right with God ONLY by believing in Jesus Christ.  Not only does he make us righteous if we have faith in Him, He gives us the gift of eternal life, and we also get to KNOW Him intimately.   Paul passionately tells us that what we lose holds no comparison to gaining knowledge of Jesus. 

What does it mean to know Jesus? It means having faith in Him.  It means surrendering our soul to Him.  It also means knowing him intimately and daily by studying His life, asking the Holy Spirit to help you know Him, and taking up His calling to live and love like Him and to share Him with others.  Paul gave up everything to know Him.  What will you give up?  Time? Energy? Control?  The power that raised Jesus from the dead will help us to know Him.  It will help us become new creations in Christ.  It will transform us.

What if we recognized and experienced the reality that NOTHING, not money, family, career, or even service in the church, is as significant as knowing Jesus. Paul did not say that losing everything or putting Jesus first was painless or easy.  He did not say life became smooth and comfortable.  And he did not say that God left him as he was, unchanged.  Christ will change us as we get close to Him. And, we will share in His suffering.  But still, Paul says he wants to KNOW Jesus and the power that raised Him from the dead.  Do you KNOW Him? The infinite power of God that raised Jesus from the dead; do you know that power in your life?  To know Him in life and in death, no matter how it comes, experiencing resurrection with Him…What else is there?  All else pales in comparison.  

Prayer:

Jesus, Thank you for the gift of righteousness by faith.  I want to KNOW you.  I want to know the power of your resurrection.  Give me Paul’s perspective.  I surrender my life to you because all I am and have pales in comparison to knowing you.  Help me to hear and know your voice.  Give me the courage and wisdom to follow it.  Amen.

By: Karen Spengler

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Day 22 - Thursday April 30, 2015 - Philippians 3:1-14

Passage: 

Philippians 3:8-9a (ESV)

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.


 

Thought/Application: 

Having the glitz and the glamour today in modern America can drive us to self-satisfaction and selfish ambitions. The wrong focus can easily push us to seek after things that are temporary rather than experiencing a close relationship with Christ.


 

After Paul's encounter on the road to Damascus, His focus shifted and we can see his passions shift also. No longer does he persecute believers in Christ, but joins them and calls it a true and worthy cause. He calls everything he once was striving for rubbish and encourages the Philippians to join in with him in giving up those things that are holding their hearts. As Paul is penning these word from a prison cell, he must be reflecting on everything he has given up when he states, "my friends, it is so worth giving up everything I once held dear in order to know Christ more personally."

 

As we walk through today, please join in with Paul and look at your own heart. What is holding you back from having a deep, intimate relationship with Christ? What is the glitz and glamour in your life that is stopping you from knowing Christ and being known by Him? 


 

Prayer: 

Lord, Thank You for Your incredible gift...for grabbing my heart, for pursuing me. Please help me to know You more today and to seek to have a closer relationship with You. Amen.

By: Ben Nyce

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Day 21 - Wednesday April 29, 2015 - Philippians 3:1-14

Passage

Philippians 3:3 (NIV)

3 For it is we…who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.

 

Thought/Application

Throughout Israel’s history, kings have come and gone and either trusted in God to lead His people, or trusted only in themselves, and led His people into evil.  Saul started out strong, earning the Lord’s blessing (1 Sam. 9:17) through Samuel.  Once he felt threatened, he trusted in his own strength, and the Spirit left him (1 Sam. 16:14).  Kings such as David and Josiah obeyed the Lord, trusting in His laws.  Kings such as Rehoboam, Jeroboam and Ahaz trusted in their own flesh, and did evil. 

And it continues today.  Too often, we trust in our own abilities, taking pride in the skills we developed, knowledge we learned, projects we completed, accolades we earned.  We can become overconfident in our own abilities.  Paul writes: “If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more” (v.4) and continues to list his resume of accomplishments of value.  We do the same thing, do we not?  We do this to get the better job, to get the best account, to earn the respect of other adults or of our children. 

Paul tells us not to boast in our own abilities or our flesh.  Instead, we should boast in Christ Jesus, serving God by his Spirit.  In fact, Paul continues to say “whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (v.7) because “I can do all things through Him [Christ] who gives me strength” (v.13).

Invite the Holy Spirit into all you do today.  Lean on God’s strength, for he carries power. 

Francis Chan in his book Forgotten God puts it this way: “when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural.  The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.”

 

Prayer

Holy Spirit, I invite you into all I will do today, the people I interact with, the work I will complete and the time I spend alone.  May my life reflect you such that others may have an inescapable experience with you.  Amen.

By: JJ and Natalie Decker

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Day 20 - Tuesday April 28, 2015 - Philippians 2:5-30

Passage: 

Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV)

12 "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."

Thought/Application: 

Obedience to Jesus can be a struggle, often because we simply lack the desire to do so. 

The author (the Apostle Paul),has a two-part solution to the problem of obedience. First Paul speaks of working out our salvation with fear. Sometimes fear is an effective motivation that will alert us to a life of obedience. That is, the fear of the consequences of not acting, or of missing the joy found in obedience to Christ. The Bible describes perfect love as casting out fear, the fear being referenced in this passage is a different type of fear. The  word "fear" in this passage is not referring to a fear of an angry God, but a fear of a God filled with expectation that his son or daughter would participate in his calling to obedience. That is, missing out on the joy that comes with obeying God.  The second part of this passage indicates that it is God who works within us, giving us the “will” to obey. 

So it is this internal struggle between God’s desire for us to obey…his touching of our hearts so that our “will” is to obey…and the ongoing lack of desire we find in our own selfish hearts. It’s a difficult war we wage. There will be times when obedience seems impossible because we simply lack the desire to do so.  

But this passage makes it clear, that IT IS GOD, through his spirit, who puts within us our “will” to act. This is great news! This means, that it's not just us trying harder and trying to muster up the will to obey God by ourselves, but it is also in partnership with God…when we are really listening…who speaks into our hearts to obey. It is with Him that we find victory.

So if there are areas in your life in which you really struggle to obey, (i.e. relationally, financially, etc.), ask Him to help you to find the will and courage to obey. Secondly, realize that when you begin to experience the fire of fear in your life for not obeying, this may be God's loving hand gently nudging you in an area of your life in which He knows you probably wouldn’t budge on otherwise. Count that as a blessing. 

Prayer: 

Lord, deep down I find that I’m internally selfish. I need you to help me to obey what you're asking me to do. I can't do it alone. Please put in me the will to act (such and such area of your life) which is a real struggle for me. Thank you.

By: Randy Smith

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Day 19 - Monday April 27, 2015 - Philippians 2:5-30

Passage:         

Philppians 2:8-10 (NASB)

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore as God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth.”

Thought/Application:

There is a paradox in humility. Jesus, “humbled himself” by being obedient even to the point of death, and as a result, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… of those in heaven, those on the earth and those under the earth.” The picture here is that wherever Jesus is, or wherever His name is spoken- everyone bows to Him and acknowledges Him as Lord. Humbled in one moment, glorified in the end.

The key is how to handle the glory. The humble part is a decision to do the hard thing, to accept that your ‘rights’ are not important, that you may never get any credit… just do the right thing. There is a resolve there. It can feel good to make that decision. And once that decision is made, the humility part, selflessness, is easier to take. It is not an act of weakness, but a decision based on strength and resolve.

The glory part is harder because it is unexpected. The decision to by humble expects no glory… and many times there is none! Humility by nature avoids recognition. But as it happened to Jesus, our humility also can have an end result of praise- humility is a desirable attribute.

I do not have a picture of Jesus waving his wand and people bowing out of fear. I see no condemnation in His eyes. I see a picture of love… a picture of His acceptance of me, even though He knows my sin. There is no picture of triumph by Him. Though He is deserving of the praise, the humility is still there.

 

Prayer:

Lord teach me to be humble. Teach me to be willing to do the right thing. And Lord, should I ever be praised in humility, keep me from pride and may your love be evident in all I do and say.

By: Tim Slighter

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Day 18 - Friday April 24, 2015 - Philippians 2:5-30

Passage:

Philippians 2:12-16 (The Message)

 

What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

 

Do everything readily and cheerfully – no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society, Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

 

Thought/Application:

The Message gives us a fresh, intelligent paraphrase of these few verses. The NIV translation (v 12b-13) says, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Paul is encouraging the Philippians to be active participants in the way that their salvation expresses itself. Our spiritual growth is a response to God’s grace – let’s keep on!

 

Paul is also encouraging the Philippians in a way that we can encourage one another to continue in unified devotion to Christ, no bickering, no distractions. The NIV tells us in verse 15 that we will, “shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” The Message says, “Carry the light-giving Message into the night…” What’s clear in the passage that is that we, as Christ-followers, can be a distinct contrast to what the world offers without Christ.

 

Prayer:

Lord, work in me, develop in me a holy pursuit of Your will. Show me a way that I can shine Your light today. Amen.

By: Joy DeHaan

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Day 17 - Thursday April 23, 2015 - Philippians 2:5-30

Passage:

Philippians 2:12 – 13

 

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

 

Thought/Application

 

We cannot work for our salvation.  God has accomplished that. It is Finished! What God calls us to do is manifest the power of that salvation through works that he has prepared for us. As the priests of the Old Testament entered the Holy of Holies with fear and trembling to perform the tasks assigned to them, so we, too, serve a Holy God who desires and works continually to make us more like himself. This is His "good purpose" in our lives, to make us more like Jesus.

 

While this may seem severe, we must remember that our Holy and Unchanging God sent His Son to suffer and die for us because of LOVE. He seeks to make us more like Jesus because He knows that is what is best for us. By "working out our salvation" we allow God to manifest His love for us day by day. And this will not go unnoticed by those whose lives are touched by the works He has prepared for us.

  

   So, indeed, let us work out our salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that our God will use this ongoing process to Love us, and draw others to Himself.

 

Prayer

   Lord, lead me today to those works you have ordained, the outworking of the salvation you have accomplished, that I might grow, and others may also know your love. Amen

By: Dick Kaas

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Day 16 - Wednesday April 22, 2015 - Philippians 2:5-30

Passage:

 

Philippians 2:5 (NLT)

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had…”          

 

Thought/Application:

What is this attitude? It certainly encompasses many things, but this morning I would like you to think with me on what Jesus showed us as our brother.               I have commonly thought of Jesus as the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer, Healer, Teacher, Priest, and King of Kings. But the Bible tells us Jesus is also our Brother, our Friend.

                                                                    

 In Proverbs 18:24 it says, “a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”

 

And Jesus said, “Now you are my friends…” (John 15:15).

And in Mark 3:35 Jesus says, “Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

 

Now I was fortunate to have a kind and loving older brother, who exemplified for me some of the attitudes of Christ. It makes it easier for me to imagine how Jesus is a Brother to me.

 

In what way is Christ our Brother? He gave up what He had. His privileges of having eternal life with God, the closeness of His fellowship with the Father and Holy Spirit. He became our servant, putting our needs in front of His own, reconciling us with love, providing us with what we lacked so we could become part of God’s family, rescuing us from our sinful wanderings, showing us another way.  He gave us spiritual food and drink so our faith could deepen and grow.

 

He gave us an example to follow. As He was a Servant and Sacrifice for us, He showed us how to win by losing, the way of the Cross. Instead of saying, “Do what I say and not what I do,” He said, “Here is how to do it.” He not only shows us what to do (to be a living sacrifice), but also gives us the power to do it. (John 14:15-17).

 

And, finally He will bring us home to rule and reign with Him, (Rev 5:10; 20:4).

 

In a way, Jesus was the perfect Jew, demonstrating to the Gentiles what it was to love and worship God, and in bringing them into God’s family. In a way, Jesus was the ideal eldest brother of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15), who after obeying his Father in everything, then goes to the wandering brother, bringing him back to the feast.

 

What humility, what sacrifice, what love He has shown us in calling us, and demonstrating to us, brotherhood! I am overwhelmed!

 

 

Prayer:

Jesus, I praise you for the example of true humility and love that you are. Impress on me today how you would have me live and treat others.

By: Jim Andreson

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