6/30/17 A Healthy Dose Of Fear

“My beloved brothers and sisters, since you have from the time of your salvation always been obedient to God’s word, both when I was with you and now on your own, I implore you to continue to search out God’s will for you daily, working with the Holy Spirit to become the men and women that God intends you to be.  Do not become lax, content in the knowledge of your salvation, for it is at these times, when your guard is down, that Satan is able to sneak into your hearts and pull you away from God.  Remember the great sacrifice Jesus made in order to save you from judgment for your sins, and do not take your salvation lightly.  Be strong in your faith, but keep a healthy amount of fear so that you will remain vigilant and your faith will grow.  God is always working within you, through His Holy Spirit, guiding you according to His will and helping you to do the works He is calling you to do.  If you pray earnestly, He will reveal His will to you and equip you for everything He asks of you.”

 

Philippians 2:12-13

6/29/17 The Humility & Obedience Of Jesus

“Take upon yourselves the same attitude that Jesus had.  Although He was by nature fully God, meaning that it was no sin for Him to count Himself equal to God, He willingly traded the riches of His Godhood for the poverty of human servitude.  He came to us as a human baby, born to poor parents.  Though He remained fully God on the inside, and therefore capable of living His entire life without sinning, He was completely human in all other areas.  He humbled Himself and was completely obedient to all of God’s commands, even the command that brought Him the most grief – His own death.  He bore the humiliation of imprisonment, beatings, and death on the cross willingly, because it was God’s will for Him and the only way to redeem us.  Because of His obedience and humility, God has rewarded Him by lifting Him to the highest position, seated at the right hand of His Father.  God has made the Name of Jesus higher than any other in Heaven and earth, so that His Name will command such respect that everyone everywhere – on earth, in Heaven, and even those who have died having rejected God – will bow to Him and confess before all that Jesus is Lord of everything, bringing glory to His Father, God.”

 

Philippians 2:5-11

6/28/17 Unity In The Holy Spirit

“Because in Jesus, and in God’s Holy Spirit, lies all comfort, love, fellowship, affection, and mercy, be united in the Holy Spirit in these things.  Come together as one, agreeing with each other in love and in joy, in all things, having brought all things first before God in prayer, so that you might act as one with the strength and love of the Holy Spirit.  Hearing of this will bring me much joy.  Do not do anything out of selfish motives, for personal gain.  Instead, each person must come to the assembly humbly, putting others ahead of himself.  Do not work solely for your own good, but for the good of all the community of brothers and sisters.”

 

Philippians 2:1-4

6/27/17 You Are Heirs Of The Kingdom, So Live Accordingly

“Be sure that act as one who has been redeemed and adopted by God, instead of falling back into the sins that used to enslave you.  Whether it is God’s will for me to come to you once more or not, either way it would bring me joy to hear that you are living according to your faith, standing together, united against Satan in mind, body, and spirit, working together as one for the Kingdom, unafraid of those who delight in persecuting you.  To those who Satan is using against you, this is a sign that you belong to Satan, but we know that in reality this shows that you have been saved by your faith in Jesus, and now belong to God.  You have not only been given the gift of salvation through Jesus, but the privilege of suffering for His sake, and suffering the same persecutions that I have endured, and that our Lord has continually delivered me from.”

 

Philippians 1:27-30

6/26/17 To Live Or Die – Which Is Better?

“I know that through your prayers, along with the prayers of so many other brothers and sisters, along with the working of the Holy Spirit, everything that is happening now will work out for good for me.  I hope and pray with all my heart that I will never have cause to be ashamed of myself, but that I would continue as I have done, to speak boldly the words given me by the Holy Spirit, so that people would see the love of Jesus in me, whether that be in my life or in my death.  For me, either option is glorious, because Jesus lives in and through me, and my life is His.  If He chooses to keep me here on earth, continuing on in the work He has called me to do, I will count it my honor to do so, because He is my life.  But if He calls me home to Himself in Heaven, I count that as something even better, for I will be with Him even more fully than I can be here and now.  I could not choose between them, because with all my heart I long to be with Jesus, and I know that life in Heaven will be far better than life here on earth.  But if I continue on here with this life, I will continue to bring this joy of salvation to more and more people, and to encourage and build up my brothers and sisters in faith, which in turn will also bring me more joy.  Knowing this, I feel sure that God will keep me here for a while longer so that I might continue in the work He has called me to, and that I might keep encouraging you in your walk of faith.  I hope that some day soon our joy might increase together if I am able to return and visit you once more.”

 

Philippians 1:19-26

6/25/17 Opportunities In Prison

“My brothers and sisters, I don’t want you to be discouraged because of my imprisonment.  It has actually worked out for good, enabling me to bring the good news of Jesus’ sacrificial gift to places I may otherwise never have been able to go.  The entire palace guard, and many palace residents as well, have heard His message and have seen that I am not a prisoner of Rome, but of Jesus.  Not only that, but most of the brothers and sisters who have been doing this same work alongside me have been strengthened by my experience as a prisoner of Jesus, and have found a greater courage in boldly speaking the words given to them by the Holy Spirit wherever and whenever they are called to do so, no matter the audience.  We all know that there are some among us who spread the message of Jesus with mixed motives, hoping for personal gain from their work, even sometimes hoping to stir up contention among the brothers in order to make my  imprisonment more difficult.  But then there are so many others who spread the message of Jesus with a pure heart, out of their love for our Lord, and some even out of love for me as well, knowing that Jesus called me to this work.  But either way, I rejoice, because whether the message is spread out of mixed motives or pure ones, it is still being spread.  People are hearing what Jesus wants them to hear, and that is always a good thing.”

 

Philippians 1:12-18

6/24/17 Love For The Philippians

“Whenever I think of you, it is always with thanksgiving to God in prayer.  I pray for you joyfully, thanking God that He called you all to by my brothers and sisters in our faith, and that from the first day that you believed until now you have remained faithful.  I know that God, who began to work in your hearts to change you into the people He created you to be on the day you put your faith in Jesus to deliver you from your slavery to sin, will continue to do so every single day of your lives until the day Jesus calls you home to Heaven.  I hold you all in my heart, and so it is fitting that I should believe this about you.  You are with me in all that I say and do, even though you are not here with me physically, sharing my imprisonment.  But you are with me, in my heart, whenever I share the good news of Jesus’ message or defend our faith before those who seek to destroy it.  You share God’s grace with me, and my heart longs to be with you, because you are my beloved brothers and sisters in Jesus.  I pray that your love may continue to grow, in the knowledge and wisdom of God, that you would look favorably on what is good, that you would remain true to your faith and free of the stain of sin until the day that Jesus calls you home, and that through the working and leading of the Holy Spirit you would be filled with the rewards that come from doing the good work that Jesus has called you to do, giving all honor, glory, and praise to God our Father.”

 

Philippians 1:3-11

6/23/17 A Goodbye & A Hello

Paul finishes his letter to the Ephesians, rolls it into a scroll and seals it.  He looks at Onesimus and smiles.  “Alright, my son.  All the letters are finished.  I pray that you will have a safe journey and be met with forgiveness and love upon your return home.”  The two embrace, tears in their eyes.  Onesimus shoulders his pack, tucking the letters carefully inside.  “Goodbye, my father.  You will be in my prayers always.  Thank you for all you have done for me.  I love you more than I can ever express.”  He sets out on his journey to deliver Paul’s letters to the churches of Ephesus, his hometown of Colossai, and his master Philemon.  Paul, wanting something to take his mind off of the departure of his beloved Onesimus, immediately launches into another letter with Timothy.  “Paul and Timothy, servants in chains for our Messiah, Jesus, greet our brothers and sisters in Jesus, along with the bishops and deacons, of the church of Philippi, praying God’s grace and peace upon you in the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.”

 

Philippians 1:1-2

6/22/17 Closing Prayer

“I am sending my beloved brother and faithful helper in Jesus, Tychicus, to you with this letter, so that he might share with you what has been going on with me and with the brothers and sisters here in Rome.  I pray that you would receive him as a beloved brother and that you would be comforted by his presence and his words to you.  I pray that God would grant all of you, my brothers and sisters, His peace, His love, and increased faith in Him, through His Son, our Messiah, Jesus.  I pray His grace upon all of you, and upon all those who truly and sincerely love our Lord, Jesus.  Amen.”

 

Ephesians 6:23-24

6/21/17 Pray In The Holy Spirit

“Pray always in the Holy Spirit for all our brothers and sisters, and for me as well, watching and waiting in faith, knowing in your mind and believing with your whole heart that God will hear and answer your prayers.  Do not stop, do not give up, but pray earnestly and continually until God answers your prayer, though at times the answer will be ‘no’ or ‘wait.’  Pray for me, that God would give me the words He wants me to speak and the power to speak them.  Pray that I might not be afraid, but would speak boldly the words He gives me to speak, no matter who the audience might be, so that I might continue to spread the message of Jesus, opening people’s eyes to the mystery of the good news of Jesus.  He has entrusted me with this work, even now, while I am a prisoner, and I pray that He would continue to strengthen me and enable me to do it, helping me to speak His words without fear, the way a true ambassador of God should.”

 

Ephesians 6:18b-22