One-a-Day Thursday, 1/23/14

number 1For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)  

Is it?

Is your purpose, every day, to get closer and closer to Jesus?  To bring him honor and glory with your every breath?  To know him, and then know him better?

Do you look to the eventual end of your life as the fulfillment of all your earthly desires?  The great graduation day when you receive all that you have earned, and all that you could never earn?

Oh, Beloved, I hope so.

As for me, I still let the mundane cloud my view of eternity far more often than I would like.

I’m going to make this verse my prayer today, with the hope that the power of the Holy Spirit will drive it deep into my soul and make it who I am.

Join me?

One-a-Day Wednesday, 1/22/14

number 1I 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.

The other night, I encountered a man who was perhaps not entirely stable.  He was sitting at a table in a coffee shop, sort of streaming consciousness to whomever might be listening.  Some of what he was saying was a denial of the deity of Christ.

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

While I wrote a devotion on preaching Christ.

Why?  Hard to articulate, but it comes down to fear.

Eventually, I went over and engaged him in gentle debate—if I hadn’t, I doubt that I would be sharing this with you.  I didn’t change his mind, but I stood.

I take minor victories where I can get them.

Pray for me, and I will pray for you, that we will have the courage to live a life that glorifies God.

Be not ashamed, Beloved.

One-a-Day Tuesday, 1/21/14

number 1The 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?

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?

One-a-Day Monday, 1/20/14

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened number 1to 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 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 most 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 happens, 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.

One-a-Day Friday, 1/17/14

…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.  You can, however, 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.

One-a-Day Thursday, 1/16/14

number 1And 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.  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.  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 in right paths.

One-a-Day Wednesday, 1/15/14

number 1…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 is at work in you.  He’s the Cosmic Contactor, and he’s building a temple for his Holy Spirit.  He calls that temple You.  Of course he’s not finished yet—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:

God knows everything.  Your contractor may or may not have finished high school.

God is totally in control of your situation.  Your contractor is limited by your budget, local building codes, and those pesky laws of physics.

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.

One-a-Day Tuesday, 1/14/14

number 1In 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 yesterday?  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, 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 yesterday, 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 Tuesday.

One-a-Day Monday, 1/13/14

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

I used to have a prayer wall.  This was an area of my room 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 of these people 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 of them, covering them in prayer even when he can’t be with them.

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

That’s a good Monday, there.