No Shame One-a-Day Tuesday 3/26/19

A life worthy

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death (Philippians 1:20).

The word that strikes me in this verse is courage.  The walk of faith is not for the faint of heart.  If I want my life to exalt Christ, it will take courage.

And I have so stinking little.

A while back, I encountered a man who was perhaps not entirely psycho-emotionally stable. Here’s the situation: I was sitting in a coffee shop, working on my One-a-Days.  This man was at a table right in the middle of the room. He sat alone, speaking at full volume, sort of streaming consciousness to the world at large. He waxed eloquent on politics and science and space aliens and economics and religion.  Conspiracy theories abounded, and though distracting, it was all quite entertaining.

Except

Some of what he was saying was a blatant denial of Christ.

And he was saying it to a room full of people.

I knew I should talk to him, I felt the nudge to engage, but for the longest time I just sat and tried to ignore him.

While I typed a devotion on preaching Christ.

Ironic much?

Why did I dread the thought of going over there? I mean, I’m a pretty talkative dude. It’s hard to articulate, but it comes down to fear.  Fear of being uncomfortable, fear of looking silly in front of the other customers, fear of being identified with Captain Disturbo, fear that I might not be able to answer his arguments effectively, and might end up doing more harm than good.

Fear

Eventually, I went over and engaged the man in gentle debate—if I hadn’t, I doubt that I would be sharing this story with you. Nothing dramatic happened.  There were no lightning bolts, no angelic choirs. He didn’t break into tears and confess his sins, but he didn’t shiv me, either. I didn’t change his mind, but I stood my ground.

Take those minor victories where you can get them, Beloved.

Pray for me, and I will pray for you, that today we will have the courage to exalt the One who loves us.

Be not ashamed, Beloved.

Happy Tuesday.

Every Day One-a-Day Monday 3/25/19

A life worthy

The important thing is that in every way, from false motives or true, Christ is preached.  And because of that I rejoice (Philippians 1:18).

How will you preach Christ today, Beloved?

With words?

With actions?

With tenderness, kindness, compassion?

With love?

Will you climb upon a soap box, or sit down for a quiet conversation?

You don’t need a stage, a crowd, or a microphone.

You do need a heart, a story, and the Holy Spirit within you.

And you have that.

How will you preach Christ today?

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Whatever it Takes One-a-Day Friday 3/22/19

A life worthy

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really 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.  Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly  (Philippians 1:12-14).

I once ran over my foot with a pallet jack loaded with about 50 cases of soup.

I don’t recommend it.

The wheel of the pallet jack ran up my foot, paused ever so briefly, and returned to the ground.  During its journey, it took a moment to split my big toe like a grape.

It hurt.  A lot.

The guys I worked with at the grocery store gathered around and tried to help…but there’s not much you can do for a popped toe. One of them, knowing I am a Christian, offered the following: “Hey, you’re not allowed to cuss, are you?  Want me to cuss for you?” He then proceeded to turn to the store at large and scream a really creative string of profanities. Fortunately for us all, the customer count was pretty low at 1:00 a.m.

I became a bit of a curiosity for the guys, because although the pain was pretty intense, I didn’t pitch a fit or curse the heavens. As it happened, from that day on they took me, and perhaps my faith, a little more seriously.

Did what happened to me serve to advance the gospel?  I think, in a really truly very small way, yes.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you have never been imprisoned because of your faith in Christ.  I certainly haven’t. I’d be hard pressed to show any moment in my life in which I was persecuted for the gospel.  But difficult things have happened to me, just as they happen to you. The way that we respond to these difficulties shines like a beacon to the people around us.

Today, tomorrow, this week or next, something hard is going to come your way.  When it does, let it serve to advance the gospel. Let those who see you see that you are different.  Maybe they’ll even ask you why you’re different.

Then you get to tell them.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

Fresh Fruit One-a-Day Thursday 3/21/19

A life worthy

…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:11).

Notice that the “Fruit of Righteousness,” the right behavior expected of you as a Christian, comes from the same source as righteousness itself.

Jesus Christ.

You can’t manufacture fruit any more than you can manufacture righteousness, so stop trying.

Seriously—knock it off.

If you want the fruit of righteousness, you’re going to have to let God develop it in you.  It goes back to what we were talking about yesterday. As you grow in knowledge of God’s word, God can use that knowledge to develop wisdom and discernment in you.  You will know the right thing to do, and you will be empowered to do it.

Remember, God’s got a vested interest in you.  He wants to give you wisdom and discernment so that you can glorify him.  In a man that might sound self-seeking; in God, it just sounds right.

So let God do what he does.  He’s really, really good at it.

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

More and More One-a-Day Wednesday 3/20/19

A life worthy

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ…(Philippians 1:9-10)

Love without understanding is dangerous.  Love alone can be misguided, and can lead to rash, emotion-driven decisions that sometimes do more harm than good.

Was that a “Been there–done that”  head nod?

I thought so.

That’s why God always seeks to guide our love with knowledge.  Knowing God’s Word, understanding what it teaches, allows you to love in strength and truth, not just sentiment.  This kind of love doesn’t enable—it empowers.

Spend some time in the Word today.  Allow God’s Holy Spirit to teach you the best way to love the people around you, with a love that will further the Kingdom of God and will keep you on right path.

They get love.

You get wisdom.

God gets glory.

Triple-crown win, Beloved.

Happy Wednesday.

Contractor One-a-Day Tuesday 3/19/19

A life worthy

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

Hear that, Beloved.  God, the creator of the universe, is at work in you.  

Yep, you

He’s the Contractor, and he’s building a temple for his Holy Spirit.  He calls that temple You. Of course he’s not finished—he won’t be until the day you stand before him.  So don’t stress because you’re not “there” yet. You don’t even know where “there” is. Just let God keep doing what he’s doing.

Reasons why God is more trustworthy than your average contractor:

  1. God knows everything.  Your contractor may know more than you, but that’s not saying much.
  2. God is totally in control of your situation.  Your contractor is limited by your budget, local building codes, and those pesky laws of physics.
  3. God loves you completely, and wants only that which will be the best for you.  Your contractor—well, I hate to break it to you, but he’s in it for the money.

So you’ve got a few rough edges—OK, so you’re a mess.  It won’t be forever.

As a matter of fact, your forever is going to be amazing.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

Partners One-a-Day Monday 3/18/19

A life worthy

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now…  (Philippians 1:4-5)

Who did you pray for last week?  Were you able to pray with joy? Paul could, because he was praying for fellow believers. There is a sweetness that comes when you are praying for a “partner in the gospel.” Knowing that they are saved frees you to pray for their sanctification, to pray that they would draw closer to Christ every day.

Pick someone who is your partner in the gospel.  It can be the same person you prayed for last week, or it can be someone else. I’m not keeping track.  Pray for them, that God will draw them closer and closer to himself, and cause them to be conformed to the image of Christ, even this day.

Who knows?  Someone out there may be praying for you.

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Prayer Wall One-a-Day Friday 3/15/19

A life worthy

I thank my God every time I remember you (Philippians 1:3).

In college I had a prayer wall, where I had pictures of friends and family posted.  There was no rhyme or reason to the arrangement—just dozens of snapshots stapled to the wall of a dorm room.  Every time I looked at those pictures, I remembered people who were important in my life. Some I saw every day; some were thousands of miles from me. Just seeing those photos prompted me to pray for them.

This is what Paul is talking about.  These are people he cares for, people who are important to him.  He wants them to know that he is thinking about them, covering them in prayer even when he can’t be with them. He may not  have snapshots, or staples for that matter, but the principle’s the same.

Who’s on your prayer wall, Beloved?  Whose face popped into your mind when you read this Scripture?  Spend some time in prayer for them today. Start your weekend by bringing someone you love before the throne of God.

Happy Friday, Beloved.

First Things First One-a-Day Thursday 3/14/19

A life worthy

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:2).

Paul begins each of his epistles with these words.

And always in this order.  

Grace and Peace

Go ahead and check for yourself.  I’ll wait…

See what I mean?

Grace comes first, because without grace there can be no peace.

No peace with God

No peace with family

No peace in your own heart

None of it happens without the grace of God.  And why would it? Without grace, you are judged solely on your own merit.

And you know how far that gets you.

Apart from God’s grace, you are a hopeless, pathetic lump, destined for destruction.

Feeling encouraged yet?

Don’t fret–the encouraging part is coming.

Here it is–but you are not apart from God’s grace, are you, Beloved?  If you belong to Him, you have his grace, sufficient to all your needs. Your pathetic lumpiness has been forgiven, atoned for.  You, my friend, are complete, you are whole, you are loved. You are His.

Nope, peace is not something you can earn or deserve or accomplish.

Only receive.

You can’t get there, but you can be there.

Oh, of course you know that already, you being so spiritual and all.

But Paul seems to think it’s worth the reminder, and who am I to argue?

Walk in grace, Beloved.  And know peace.

Happy Thursday

Who Are You? One-a-Day Wednesday 3/13/19

A life worthy

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons…(Philippians 1:1).

I’m feeling a little Philippianial.

Shall we?

Much of this letter to the Church at Philippi is going to be concerned with knowing who we are and whose we are. Paul hits the ground running. He identifies himself as a servant of Christ–not an apostle, but a servant. He takes the humble route–a road he will encourage us to travel in a little bit–undermining any thoughts the Philippians may have had about boasting or bragging by pointing out that he, The Paul, is merely a servant.

Then he turns to his audience and addresses them as saints. Holy Ones, whom the Lord of the Universe has chosen as his own. There can be no higher position in creation. It’s like, before he even begins his discourse, Paul is sending us a message:

You are so much more than you think.

And so much less.

Chew on that today, Beloved.

Happy Wednesday