The background of this area should be an image. Please use Change Background feature to change the background of this area.
(Can be found under DESIGN tab)
DEVOTIONS FOR MEN
Before you read my thoughts on Philippians 2, you should take a few minutes and read it for yourself. Just click through the link above if you want, or get out your Bible now...
...Isn't that an amazing passage? It's so clear, so simple--yet so profound and deep. This chapter harmonizes perfectly with Paul's words to the church in Corinth on the same subject (1 Corinthians 13). Please take a moment and read that passage right now, too.
...Powerful stuff, right? And isn't it astounding how it all fits together so well? Honestly, if you read both passages and spent some time thinking, praying, and listening, I may not need to add anything at all. Just in case, here's what I'd like to remind you:
Paul equates love with faith and our hope. He tells the Corinthians that these are the only three things that "remain" throughout this life and also throughout eternity. Everything else--all the wonderful and important things, all the meaningless details, and all the pain and suffering in life--are transient and temporary. Faith, hope, and love, however, are eternally rooted in Jesus Christ Himself. Paul eloquently describes Christlike love to the Corinthians and warns that if they don't love like Christ loves, they will miss the whole point! Which leads us back to His words to the Philippians.
Paul reminds these mature and effective believers that though they were already experiencing Christian unity and loving each other to a large degree, they still could go deeper, He urges them to have the same mindset/attitude/perspective that Christ had. Jesus was so focused on doing the job God had given Him and loving others that all his"rights"--and all the selfishness and other distractions that trip most people--simply stopped feeling like something He should "hold on to."
What are you afraid to let go of? What do you not trust God to provide for you if you focus completely on Him and on others? What can you do today to consciously change your mindset, your attitude, your perspective?
As our study of Philippians continues, please make sure you read the book your own and let God speak directly to you! Also, if you haven't checked out Matt Chandler's series on this book, you are missing out.
Our ongoing study refers to the three questions we believe all Christian men should ask themselves often: What needs to become part of my life?, What needs to stop being part of my life?, and What is God's big plan for my life? We believe all Christian men should have good answers to each of these--and a battle plan and a band of brothers to help make their "answers" become the next phase of their lives! Today we are looking at one aspect of the third question.
In Philippians 1:15-18, Paul addresses the fact that he is writing from prison--literally in chains for preaching about Jesus--while many other preachers remain free. Not only that, some of them were preaching from selfish or impure motives. Rather than run them down or defend himself, he says, "...that doesn't matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice." (NLT)
Don't misunderstand Paul, here. Of course he is not endorsing selfishness and corruption in "Christian" leaders. The whole book of Philippians is written to mature Christians that he assumes will understand a much deeper truth without a lot of disclaimers. He knew that his life's work was to preach the gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike. He was so sure of his life mission and so focused on it that he leveraged all his forced "down time" in prison to write letters to the churches. Paul knew that he would only be held responsible for what God called him to do. He was grateful for any help in reaching that goal--and he was willing to let God handle judging and rewarding everyone else without any help from him.
So what is YOUR life work? What has God called and prepared YOU to do? What are you doing to reach that goal? Who is holding you accountable to reach it?
Throughout the month of October, please continue to read Philippians on your own. If you missed last week's devotion, please check that out now and consider the question at the end. This is actually one of three key questions we believe all Christian men should ask themselves often: 1) What needs to become part of my life? 2) What needs to stop being part of my life? and 3) What is God's big plan for my life? Today we will focus on the second question.
In Philippians 1:20-23, Paul says, "...I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ...I'm torn..." (NLT)
To be bold and to act honorably, a man must have full confidence in his code of honor. Effective soldiers have confidence in their country, their training, and their fellow warriors. Athletes have confidence on their training and skills, their coach, and their team. As Christian men, we place our confidence in God, in the truth of His Word, and in each other. Still, even the boldest of men can sometimes be crippled by their own fears, failures, weaknesses, bad habits, or lack of focus. Our shame--or our fear that whatever shames us will be revealed--can easily overpower even the most well-placed and solid faith. So...
If you aspire to "never be ashamed" and to "bring honor to Christ" in greater ways than ever, what needs to stop being a part of your life? What habits, relationships, etc. need to stop and clear the way for the goodness God wants to produce in you?
As we begin this month's series on Philippians, we would like to encourage you to check out TO LIVE IS CHRIST, TO DIE IS GAIN , Matt Chandler's series based on this book. In the first session, he describes the diverse cultural, intellectual, and economic backgrounds of the Philippian church--and how they had matured into a unified body. Throughout the book, Paul addresses them as peers and co-laborers. Still, he encourages them that "God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ returns" (Phil 1:6, NLT). He buried a lot of great news in that statement and the verses that follow.
First, God Himself is working inside us, and He will not give up. Just like he did with his famous metaphor about the "fruit" of the Spirit, Paul makes it clear that God is the ultimate Source of their love, knowledge, understanding, good priorities, purity, and righteous character. Isn't it a relief to remember that it's not all up to us?
Second, none of us will be truly complete until Christ returns. Don't miss that Paul is praying that they will continue to grow in all of these areas! None of us has "made it" and none of us will ever completely "make it" until then. There is no room for boasting or pride among real men of God--and there is no room for us to be satisfied with wherever we are at this moment. We must continue to grow, to mature, to get stronger, and to become more effective.
What is one "good work" that you sense God doing in you, right now? In other words, what is one thing you feel needs to become part of your life. What is God asking you to do or to begin?