Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.– Philippians 1:12-14 (NIV)
Courage. This is the second message coming out from these verses. I’d specifically like to focus in on the final verse. It is because of Paul’s chains that we are now more confident in the Lord and dare to proclaim the Gospel without fear. It took one man and his mission to generate that feeling of confidence within us. One person can make a difference. You’ve probably heard this before. But what you do today may inspire someone else to follow or take action. We were not able to witness Paul’s imprisonment, however, retrospectively we can understand what that meant to early Christians. Paul’s courage inspired courage within others. Doesn’t that make you want to be more outspoken and courageous with your faith? Who knows what sort of impact you may have on this world on behalf of our Lord!
It was once a scary time to be a Christian and in some parts of the world today it still is. Missionaries across the globe are spreading the Gospel in areas where it is discouraged and the could be reprimanded severely. But have courage. There are others who have gone before us. People like Paul. So speak out. Strike up conversations that you were once uncertain whether you should have. Let someone difficult know that you are praying for them. Spread God’s love.
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. – Galatians 3:16 (NIV)
Think of the biggest promise that you made. What is to accept a college offer? When you said,” I do” to your spouse? How about when you decided to become a Christian? The weight of the words that are attached to a promise are heavier than the entire mass of the globe. When you make a promise, in my opinion, it better be for real.
I have made many promises that I have not been able to keep and trust between friends, coworkers and family have been broken in my lifetime. Broken promises are not easily healed or replaced. But we are human. There is one promise in our Lord that cannot be broken and supersedes all promises. Jesus will never let you down. Jesus will never break His promise with you. As Christians we should think and act like Christ towards our fellow-man and honor our promises to the best of our ability or forego making them at all.
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. – Joshua 1:8 (NIV)
I love this verse! What Joshua is basically telling us is that we need to be deep in the Word. Of course the Book of Law is only a portion of the Bible but how could we really go wrong as Christians if we are intimately studying the Bible? God has provided us with wisdom and instructions for how to live. Not only are we instructed to read but we are told to meditate to get deeper in thought and understanding. In this fast paced world that we live in we hardly find the time to slow down and just place ourselves in the silent presence of the Lord. I know that I am guilty of it! I’d love to just sit in a lotus position with a lit candle in the silence of my living room sans distractions for just 20 minutes. How personal to sit and listen for the Lord’s voice! So what is stopping you?
One aspect of Christian living that I have begun to practice is the memorization of scripture verses. It is really challenging for me to focus and study the Bible when I’m not participating in a scheduled Bible study. Do you ever find that you feel more comfortable talking about a subject once you master its content? Well, isn’t that the same case for the Bible? Sure it is hard but what isn’t? As Joshua tells us there is only one outcome. We will be prosperous and successful! Shouldn’t we take that chance?
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That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. – 1 John 1:1 (NIV)
I was always taught that the first verses of John which describe the Word is actually describing Christ. He [Christ] was there in the beginning during the creation. He was with God until sent to heaven for us. This statement is validating the truth of God’s Word. That the text of the Bible aren’t in fact stories but rather truths from those, as John writes, were there to witness Jesus and all that he accomplished on this earth. And that testimony in this single verse provides great evidence at that truth. For me, it makes me feel honored to read these ancient words that were archived by someone who was there, that saw, that touched and witnessed.
What about us? Are we witnesses as well? Do we think of ourselves as continuing the story? Granted, we aren’t working on chapters of the Bible but are we tuning our ears and casting our eyes on the living Word of God around us? Are acting as living witnesses to those around us?
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.– Psalm 130:6 (NIV)
Patience is a virtue or so they say. It is a quality that I certainly don’t practice very well. Like this Psalm I feel like I’m always waiting for the next answer to the problem, the next song on the radio and the next day. I never want to live in the present. It is that waiting that the psalmist captures but rather a waiting for God.
What am I waiting for God to do? For Christ to return to Earth? For God to answer my prayers? For a miracle to happen? It all returns to patience. Whatever you are longing for God to do, have patience. He will answer you. It may not be the answer you are looking for but it will be His answer for you. And I’ve found that when God’s answer to my prayers is “no” then He has something greater in store that I’m not aware of yet.
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Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? -– Romans 2:17-22
Paul is telling us to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk.” Sure we can stand around all day and talk our heads off to others but we should be taking our own counsel. It is infinitely easier to tell someone else how to improve their life but why is it so much harder for us to figure out what needs to be changed. Take a look at your own life as is if it were someone else’s. What activities consume your time? Are you doing them to glorify God? How do you react towards others? Is it Christ-like? What behaviors do you notice would not be pleasing to God? I spend my free time before and after work often on the couch in front of the T.V. watching “Pawn Stars” or “American Pickers” when perhaps I could spend more time studying the Bible or writing this blog. We must be transformed throughout all aspects of our lives and this is one way to start.
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But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. – Philippians 3:20-21
Patriotism and nationalism are common themes this week being that it was the birth of our nation on Wednesday. Although I am an American I, as Christians, belong to the Kingdom of Heaven. I often reflect back to my middle school and high school days where I never felt like I belonged. It was hard to face my fellow students and know that I was purposefully being left out. It wasn’t until years later that a good friend told me that we are not of this world. We must remain separate so that we can achieve the transformation that Paul is writing about in Philippians. We must transform ourselves so that we can be worthy of being in the presence of God in heaven. Whether it is attitudes, actions or ideas transformation is never easy. It something that needs to be improved upon every day.