Paul told the Philippians to “stay true to the Lord.” This is all about being totally committed to God, not letting anything come between you and your relationship to God. In Matthew 5, we read that those who are pure in heart are blessed. They will see God! How awesome is that?! Staying true to the Lord is having a pure heart—a heart for Jesus.
James speaks of a divided heart, a heart that is for the world and for God. This isn’t a pure heart. This is not staying true to the Lord. In James 4:7, we read that we should submit to God, resist the devil, wash our hands, and purify our hearts. We should stop being double-minded, and stay true to the Lord.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Do all you can to stay true to the Lord. When you find your heart divided between God and the world, ask that He give you a clean heart and a steadfast spirit (Psalm 51:10).
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.” – Philippians 4:1 [NLT]
One of things that grieves me the most is seeing people who are not passionate about Jesus. I remember a time when I neglected to live for Jesus, when I was neglecting the Word, neglecting a lot of things. One day priorities changed. I had a thirst for Christ Jesus. I wanted nothing more. If I didn’t get to read my Bible, I felt starved. If I hadn’t taken the time to pray, I felt lacking.
Paul wrote about everything being worthless when in comparison to knowing Jesus. Paul noted how he discarded everything so he could gain Christ. The person who sold everything to buy a field with hidden treasure had the same desire Paul had for Jesus (Matthew 13:44). Nothing else mattered.
Today, look at your priorities. Is everything worthless compared to Jesus Christ? How do you value your relationship with Jesus? Are you putting things before God? What matters most to you?
“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” – Philippians 3:8 [NLT]
This morning, I thought I would enjoy a peaceful morning writing while drinking my coffee. With windows open and the dogs at my feet, it seemed everything was flowing smoothly. But then, as I was placing my coffee cup on the table, the mug placement was not completely on the table. I blame it on the sinus infection. The coffee mug toppled over upside down in the bin of dog toys. It poured out everywhere. The cup was empty. Every crack and crevice of the dog toy bin was covered by coffee. No toys were spared!
When something is poured out, it is different than a spill. You control how much is poured out. You can stop the pouring at any point. If only that was true for my coffee spillage! What this means for our lives as a “liquid offering to God,” is that we can control what we will pour out and what we will hold back. Paul writes, “Even if I lose my life,” which tells us that the pouring out to God should not be controlled. We should keep pouring—giving everything of ourselves to the Lord.
Today, consider if you are pouring your life out as a liquid offering to God. Is every drop of your life reaching the cracks and crevices where God desires, just as my coffee spread out over the dog toy bin? Are you holding something back? Ask yourself if you have joy. Remember, Paul says that those who offer their lives share in the joy. If you are missing the joy, perhaps you are missing the offering.
“But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.” – Philippians 2:17 [NLT]
Something that I have been thinking about a lot is usefulness. There are moments when we have items in our home that are not useful to us. Sometimes we have apps on our devices that are not useful. Maybe at a time they seemed useful, but things have changed. But usefulness isn’t only something we consider as objects or possessions. People can be useful or not useful too.
Paul was writing to Philemon about the runaway servant Onesimus. He tells Philemon about this change that has occurred. Yes, Onesimus was deserving of punishment, which could have meant a death sentence. It was within the legal limits. But Paul mentions this great conversion of Onesimus. Not only did he give his life to Jesus, but in doing so, he became useful. In saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done,” he became useful. God had big plans for Onesimus!
If someone would consider your usefulness, what would they say? Would they describe you as very useful? Do you think you are very useful? Or is something getting in the way? That something could even be you! Truth be told, you have a great purpose. God has known this since the very beginning. It is a purpose that I pray you embrace and pour yourself into as an offering. Aim today to come to terms with this usefulness, and if the Spirit convicts you, follow His leading. It is a very dangerous prayer to say, “Use me.” Yet is a prayer than can help position you for what God has already prepared. Be useful. Plant for a good harvest.
“Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us.” – Philemon 1:11 [NLT]
God positions people beside us to help. In a world that tries to teach us to use people and to see what they can do for us, the Bible speaks of a reverse system. Rather than seeking what we can get in this world, and what people can do for us, we are taught that we should seek the best interests of others. We are taught that we are to look out for our fellow man. We are to speak life. We are to encourage, We are to build up.
In Romans 15, the Apostle Paul speaks about people who are strong in the Lord. These spiritually mature are to be considerate to others. We are to recognize what is most important. It isn’t about pleasing ourselves. It is not about us at all. Answering the command of the Lord, we are to love others. We should help others to do what is right. We should invest in people. Build them up in the Lord. This is relationship. This is living intentional. This is reaching outward.
Today, consider who God has placed around you. There are mentors around you, who are being led by the Spirit to help build you up. Then there are people around you who are growing in the Lord. Speak life to them. Walk beside them. Take time with them. Invest in them. Remember that you once were there. Align yourself to them and help them to sink their roots deeper into Christ Jesus.
“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.” – Romans 15:1-2 [NLT]
Encouragement is so important. The Bible tells us to encourage others. I have personally seen encouragement go a long way in a person’s life. Paul wrote how he wanted to encourage others in their faith, but then he said something interesting. He said, “But I also want to be encouraged by yours.” What? He wanted to be encouraged by their faith?
Faith is encouraging. When others have faith, it is an encouragement. Even Paul, who many see as this great person of faith, could be encouraged by the faith of others. It is encouraging to see what God is doing through other people. It is encouraging to see others walking in faith. It is a truly a blessing and an honor to share. What an encouragement to those who witness God’s presence in your life.
Today, remember that you can be an encouragement to others. Go out of your way to encourage someone. Speak life. Share a laugh. Walk in faith. Encourage others in their faith. And allow yourself to be encouraged by what God is doing in the lives around you. Look around and watch Him move. He is alive. He is doing great things.
“When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” – Romans 1:12 [NLT]
This morning, Max was frightened by my daughter, who happened to be in the laundry room doing something she does often. The dog never realized that Jess left her bedroom and went to the laundry room to retrieve her clean clothing. When we walked downstairs to get ready for our morning walk, Max heard someone in the laundry room, and went into attack mode and proceeded to bark while in a full run towards the room. When he realized it was Jess, he calmed down.
We need to always be on guard, especially when we are in our own homes. Sometimes we get ourselves comfortable at home, and we do not see what is lurking about that could lead us to sin. We don’t see what is happening to our own family members. We are so focused on the outside-the-home stuff, that we miss what is right under our nose. This verse written in the letter to Timothy speaks about financial provision for the family. It is an important responsibility to make sure the financial needs of the family are met. Let us remember that spiritual needs are even more important.
Today, remember that you need to be intentional at home. How is your family? How is your spouse? How are your children? How are your roommates? Whoever lives with you – aim to be invested in their wellbeing. Be proactive. You may not see what is even happening because you are looking elsewhere. Family is important. The book of Genesis speaks a lot about family loyalty. We need to first take care of ourselves and our family, and then reach out into the world. Ask the Spirit to reveal anything that needs addressed in your home. Listen closely. Act with wisdom and love. Allow God to grow your family. Then step out together to serve in love.
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – 1 Timothy 5:8 [NLT]
Did you ever consider yourself a soldier? If you are a believer in Christ, you are part of the body of believers. You are a soldier for Christ. You are enlisted by your heavenly Father. Your aim, as a soldier, is to please your Father Who enlisted you.
Paul tells Timothy that “soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life.” In doing so, they are not able to please their commanding officer—their Officer Who chose them. Those focused on civilian life can never please He Who is building a Kingdom that is out of this world.
Today, consider if you are solider for Jesus Christ. If you are a soldier for Christ, ask yourself what affairs concern you. Are you concerned with civilian life? Are you concerned with the Kingdom life? If you get tied up in civilian life, you can never be an effective soldier. An effective soldier stays focused on the commands of their Commander. An effective soldier is focused on the mission.
“Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.” – 2 Timothy 2:4 [NLT]
Who do you trust? Do you have people that you trust? Family? Friends? A spouse? A parent or child? Who do you trust? Whoever you trust, this person or these people are known to you. You have a relationship with them. You have known them for a period of time. You may know their secrets. You can describe them to others. You have been through a lot. You have seen them in action.
In 2 Timothy, Paul writes to Timothy about the One in whom he trusts. He trusts God. He knows God. He wrote, “I know the One in whom I trust.” He knows God. Paul is talking about a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Many people know of God, but not so many know God. There is a difference. To truly know God, you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. As you read His Word, you know Him more. As you walk in faith, you know Him more. As you serve His people, you know Him more. As you worship Him, you know Him more. Can you say today that you know Who you trust? Are you taking steps toward getting to know Him more? Your confidence in Him is strengthened by your knowledge of Him, which is strengthened by your walk with Him. As you continue to do life with Jesus, He continues to reveal to you Who you trust.
“That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the One in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.” – 2 Timothy 1:12 [NLT]
We guard our homes. We guard our possessions. We do whatever we can to be sure that our stuff is safe. Some of us get dogs; some of us get alarm systems. We lock our doors to our homes and our vehicles. We keep our purses, wallets, cell phones, and keys nearby.
Paul tells Timothy to “guard what God has entrusted to you.” In his second letter to Timothy, he again tells him to “carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.” In both letters, the Apostle Paul makes this important statement. Why? Because we have been entrusted with something precious, something of great value.
The most precious thing in our lives is Jesus Christ. We need to guard His truth. We need to guard our relationship with Him. We need to guard what God has entrusted to us, more than we guard the things mentioned above. This can only be done through the Holy Spirit. Seek His power, stand firm on His truth. Guard what God has entrusted to you.
“Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge.” – 1 Timothy 6:20 [NLT]
“Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.” – 2 Timothy 1:14 [NLT]