Oct. 2 – (James 5) We have an answer to all of life in verses 13-18. It is prayer. Prayer is a mysterious thing. Is it talking with your Father? Yes. Is it asking Him for things like healing and wisdom and provision? Yes. Is it thanking Him for all that He is and what He provides? Yes, and so much more. James says in these verses: When afflicted…pray. When sick…pray. When corrupted by sin…pray. When specific needs occur…pray. Prayer is to be continuous and not for emergencies only. Prayer is designed for every part of life. Prayer is not a substitute for responsibility and intelligent thinking. Prayer is for anyone humble enough to admit they need help…a Savior…a teacher…a counselor…a friend.
Oct. 3 – (Phil. 1:1-2) Again Max Lucado has a wonderful perspective on the bigger picture surrounding Paul as he writes to the Christians at Philippi. Read the attachment for a different viewpoint: Introduction to the Epistle of Paul to the Philippiansby Max Lucado
Perhaps the symbol of recent generations is the exercise bike. It represents what most have-excess weight. It represents what most want-to be different. It represents what most people spend most their time doing-pedaling furiously and getting nowhere. High activity but low achievement. Car pools, diapers, bills, time clocks. Office walls painted grey with routine. Houses framed with wooden humdrum. For many, life is lived on the exercise bicycle. Day after day in the same seat, doing the same thing but seeing the same scenery. Is there any end to this tunnel of greyness? There is.
Go with me back in history a couple of thousand years. Let’s go to the city of Rome. The thrilling metropolis of gladiators, chariots, and empires. But don’t stop at the coliseum or palace. Go rather to a drab little room, surrounded by high walls. Let’s imagine that we can peek into the room and look. Inside we see a man seated on the floor. He’s an older fellow, shoulders stooped, and balding. Chains are on his hands and feet. And chained to him is a guard from the Roman army. It is the apostle Paul. The apostle who has traveled all over the world. The apostle who has liberated people in every port. The apostle who was bound only by the will of God is now in chains-stuck in a dingy house-attached to a Roman officer
Here is a fellow who has every reason to be in a slump! He is restricted by walls. He is afflicted by friends (v. 15). He is conflicted by danger (v.21). He is writing a letter. No doubt it is a complaint letter to God. No doubt it is a list of grievances. No doubt he is writing the New Testament version of Lamentations. He has every reason to be bitter and complain. But he doesn’t. Instead, he writes a letter that two thousand years later is still known as the treatise on joy.
Sound interesting? Of course it does. Who couldn’t use a guide to joy in this world? Why don’t you spend some time with it? Dismount the bicycle to nowhere and follow Paul as he guides you down the trail to peace. (By Max Lucado)
I love verse 2. It is one short sentence but has so much meaning. As we receive the grace God gives us each day…each moment, then we will have peace for each day…each moment. Selah
Oct 4. – (Phil. 1:3-6) These short verses have so much packed in them! “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…” God has begun a “good work” in you… and me! Is it done yet? Of course it’s not but we continue to allow the Holy Spirit to change us into His image. It is a lifelong process that should give us hope as we look forward to seeing Him face to face!
Oct. 5 – (Phil. 1:7-8) Why is it right for Paul to feel the way he does about the Philippians? Philippi (in northern Greece) was the first place in Europe that heard the good news about Jesus (Acts 16). Even though Paul faced many difficulties, he comes through with his faith and hope untouched and so encouraged by the Philippians’ financial gift back to him. You see, Paul was in prison (probably in Ephesus) and in that place, you usually were not fed. You had to depend on friends to bring you food. Can you imagine that today? Anyway, Paul is writing a letter, a treatise on joy…. and part of the reason is because his fellow Philippian friends are “providing for him when he cannot provide for himself”! Is the Christian church doing that today?
Oct. 6 – (Phil. 1:9-11) I love verses 9-11. “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Paul prays that the Philippians’ love will overflow in knowledge and wisdom (v.9). Can you imagine love being the overflow in knowledge and wisdom? Wouldn’t that change our “delivery system”? Paul also prays that this wise love will result in moral discernment (v.10). that means acting from love born from wisdom and not our fleshly feelings. Finally, Paul prays that the Philippians may be filled to overflowing with the fruit of right living (v.11). This righteousness emphasizes the behavior which results from both God’s faithfulness and the status of being forgiven family members. This is my prayer for us today!
Oct. 7 – (Phil. 1:12-14) “I want you to know brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel…” (v. 12) Do you ever feel that way? Yes, it was a bad situation by the world’s view but you saw God touching lives through peoples’ observation or conversation with you about that situation. The best recent example was one of our church family members has stage 4 cancer but went out on our “go” Sunday and spoke with an atheist. Her approach was wanting to pay for what he was doing at the time (laundry) because he was loved and blessed by God. You can imagine his denial of God or that there was no blessing given. He began to expound on his challenges and how he got himself out of those situations. He then asked her about her life. She began to go down a list of all the good things she had and how blessed she was. Her last item was that she had stage 4 cancer. He could not understand her statements but as they volleyed back and forth, He finally ended by saying she had a strong faith in God. (He just admitted there was a God!) No, he did not accept Christ at that moment. We learned from Pastor Jeremy’s sermon the week before we went, that it takes at least 7-8 “connections” before someone comes to a decision about Christ (Some plant, some water, some witness the harvest). The question I am asking myself is: In eternity, will the stage 4 cancer of a woman be more important than a man coming to accept Christ? It brings me to consider my challenges as opportunities to show His glory. Selah
Oct. 8 – (Phil. 1:15-18) Isn’t it amazing how God can be glorified even when people “don’t quite have it right? In these verses, Paul writes to encourage the church in Philippi, but his words ought also to be a great encouragement to us today. How often are we tempted to feel discouraged because our plans were badly thwarted or because malicious people were trying to make life difficult? We need to learn from Paul the art of seeing God’s purposes working out through problems and difficulties.