“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you 
except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 2:2 NIV

16 4JSUS  

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14 Days

Day 1:

   Read the 1st chapter of Philippians before you begin.  The first thing you need to understand about "missions" is that God doesn't need any of us to do HIS work!  However, He chooses to use us in His gospel work.  So don't go and get a "big head."  You see, this mission trip isn't about what you are going to "do" for God but actually what He desires to "do" inside of you!  Here's the quote of the day:  Ministry leaders need "partners" in ministry.  God wants "servants" in His ministry.  Both are true!!!

Day 2:

   Read and focus on verses 1:1-11.  What are "fruits of righteousness?" He leads us there in 3:9.  This righteousness comes from God and can only be initiated by Him when we have humbly surrendered our will to His.  He is not looking for good deeds, tithes, offerings or anything else that can be measured by man.  So what is He looking for?  The answer is a broken and contrite heart (Ps 51:17).  Challenge: Make Paul's prayer (vs. 9-11) your prayer today!!!

Day 3:

   Read chapter 1 once again and focus on verses 12-18.  I ask again, "Why are you going on this trip?  What are your motives for going? What is your intent?"  Do you realize what is being asked of you by going on this trip?  You are being asked to preach His gospel not just with your lips but with you actions and lives as well.  Is this your hearts desire?  Examine your heart today.  Who or what is at the CORE?  This answer will answer most of the questions in your life.  Challenge:  Do you have a personal "mission" statement?  

Day 4:

    Read verses 19-30.  Focus on verse 21.  Write it down in your journal.  Are you as brutally honest with yourself as Paul is?  Look at verse 20.  He is not bragging about his own brute strength and of his un cunning courage. He is only clinging to the grace from which Good has graciously extended to him.  You see to Paul to live (truly live-John 10:10) was in Christ and to die (John 6) was gain (Galatians 2:20).  Challenge: Reflect on 1:21!!!

Day 5:

   Read verses 22-30.  "The Bible says that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."  Though imprisoned,  mal-nutritional, beaten and humiliated, what is it that comes from the storms of our lives.  To be outward focused and not inward focused.  Again, we see radiating from these pages Paul's humility.  His humility supersedes his desires and leads him to do the will of his Lord.  Do you possess this humility?


   The following is a guide to humility.  Your challenge this weekend is to go to a Christian bookstore and buy Oswald Chambers, My utmost for His highest.  It is very revealing of ones soul and heart.  I pray that you will trust the one who penned the devotion.  He explains surrender as well as anyone I have ever seen.

How to develop humility:

1. By forgiving (Col 3:12-13)

Ask yourself: How good am I at forgiving? Since there is an experiential link between humility and forgivingness, you can indirectly measure your "humility quotient" by your speed and ability to forgive others for their wrongdoings to yourself and others.  Do you keep short accounts or hold long-standing resentments?

2. By asking what is my place in the world? (Phil. 2:3)

Write out an honest assessment.  Include the contributions you make, the factors that limit you from changing things by yourself, and a list of the people you need in your life.  Don't forget to include those people who rub you the wrong way or whose disabilities or illnesses test your patience or inspire your life.

3. By remembering my mistakes (Luke 18:9-14)

Experts tell us that people are remarkably successful at remembering their own successes, while tending to blame their failures on others.  Humble people acknowledge their faults.  Check out King David's prayer in 2 Samuel 7:18-29.

4. By being willing to let God be God (Ps. 25:9; Mic. 6:8)

Acknowledge God's supremacy in all things.

 Day 6:

Read Chapter 2.  If we sought to live out the first 6 verses of chapter 2 in our lives and in our church I dare to say that there would be more people in heaven.  Why do we miss this?  Why are we so focused on ME?  I believe with all my heart that God desires to do a "heart transplant" in all of us.  By reading verse two we get a glimpse of God's desire for us to partner with each other and him in this incredible task.  Why do you have so many different denominations, churches and church splits?  The answer is in these first 6 verses.  Do you want God to do something special with you, us and our efforts in MS?  You better digest these first 6 verses because God wants to take us on a GLORY RIDE.

Day 7:

Read ch. 2:1-18.  We are going to focus on verses 12-18.  There are two main areas of this passage we need to digest so let's begin with the first.  For about seven years now, I have had verse 12 underlined in my Bible because I didn't understand it.  That was until about 4 weeks ago.  A trusted friend helped me see it.  "To work out our salvation" has nothing to do with our "works."  Our salvation is not by works (Gal. 2:16).  To "work" out our salvation is to steadily surrender every single aspect our lives to Christ.  HE doesn't want just 98% of us he desires 100%.  The part of this important passage is verse 14 and 15.  Nothing will slow or hampered this trip more than complaining and arguing.  Again, we are talking about humility.  Satan will use our SELF-CENTEREDNESS to rob the whole group of  JOY.  Challenge: Pray that these verses will be branded on your heart.

Day 8:

Read ch. 2:19-30.  This is an interesting passage because it shows us something about what is expected of us who call ourselves "Christians."  In fact, I don't like using that word anymore.  Christ-follower is what I use now.  We have "watered down" and stained what a Christian is that almost every society in the Western Hemisphere labels it flaky or phony.  I don't want today to be a contradiction to yesterday so try to understand what Paul is saying in verse 22.  Israel served as a negative example of how complaining and arguing can tarnish a witness (Ex. 16:6-8).  Paul uses Timothy here (a long with Epaphroditus) as an illustration of how a believer puts into practice the way of life Paul wanted the Philippians to follow.  Timothy, as should we, understood that Christian commitment means letting go of protecting our own interests and instead seeking the best for others.  Question: Verse 22 says that Timothy "proved" himself.  What does your life (more importantly your heart) prove about you?

Day 9:

Read Chapter 3:1-11. I want you to give your complete attention to verses 7-11 and read it 3 times.  Paul had a way of dividing a crowd rather quickly.  When reading this statement of faith or personal mission statement, I can't help but to question my "own" mission statement.  What does my life say?  Better yet what does it not say?  Do you have a purpose statement?  Even if you said "no" your life does reflect your mission.  Your life will "ring" something our.  Paul back up what he said!  Do you and I?  I just recently changed my personal purpose statement and our youth ministries.  My personal purpose/mission statement is,  "To be Jesus to My World."  Our youth ministries are, "To Be Jesus to Our World."  Question:  What does your life say?  Read Paul's again.

Day 10:

Read Chapter 3:12-30.  Focus on verses 12-14.  Are you straining forward or are you being dragged?  Is this devotional causing you to hunger for what that which Paul had tasted or are you rushing through it so you can get on with "your" day?  I have found in my faith journey that those who say they have "all" they need or those who feel they have "arrived" are really just "LOST."  Those are the ones who don't listen to the young because they are "inexperienced" and they don't "feel" that surrender and submission is necessary because it appears weak.  They are also the ones who pick and choose their passages and verses to read.  You see Paul "god it."  Spiritual contentment comes in not being "satisfied" but with desiring "more."  Quote: "Humility is the single most important ingredient for cross-culture witnesses in community development."  In other words, Jesus came as a missionary to save the lost (you and me).  His humility is what broke hardened hearts and caused the meanest of men to cry.  Humility is the key ingredient for this missionary trip and if we don't get humility awe miss it all!


Paul was not a stranger to controversy.  In fact, he spent more time in jail, explaining himself or running for angry mobs than anything else.  To be honest before putting together this devotion I wasn't sure what my deepest impression of Paul was.  After doing research and study on his life and his works (Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, ect...)  I have found that the apostle Paul reflects more of Christ than any other figure in all the Bible.  He is a man who totally SURRENDERED his LIFE  to Christ.  Time and time again he did what ever it took for Jesus Christ to be preached whether it be by him mouth, life, sacrifice, submission, service and even his death.  We have institutionalised church so much in the 21st century that we model the Pharisees more than Christ.  Let me explain: We have created a place (institution) full of people who look like us, talk like us, have the same political views and lifestyles as we.  We focus more on being a part of the group (church membership) than spiritual formation (discipleship).  We cash in holiness for happiness; we cash in conviction for compromise; we cash in surrender for service.  Where heave we gone wrong?  We want our children to be proud of missionaries BUT we don't want our children to become them.  We want our children to be close to Jesus BUT not drink from his cup (remember Mrs. Zebedee).  We tell our children that God's Word is the road map of life yet it serves at such a low priority compared to sports, school and most any seasonal activity.  Paul was the real deal.  He never settled for anything less that Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1Cor. 2:1-2).

Day 11:

Read chapter 4 before you start this devotional.  Five more days left!  Are you getting excited?  I pray that the past two weeks have been days spent on your knees, humble before the Lord and seeking His face.  What is a "yoke-fellow?"  It's the only place in all of scripture that we find this word yet it is a beautiful picture of our place in faith community.  Although I feel most churches in America are "inward" focused it's because the people themselves are inward focused.  Outreach is of so little importance because it is of so little importance in our individual lives.  For example;  Look at your check book, your calendar and your garage.  What reflects love and service to other people?  What Paul is saying here is this: "We are supposed to be yoked together with Christ (Matt. 11:29) and the result of that we are supposed to be yoked together in a faith community (Phil. 2:2-5 Read).  If you see a disagreement, pray fist and then as a yoke-fellow in a faith community seek to reconcile this difference.  If you feel as if you can't take a fellow yoke-follower with you.  Also, if someone comes to you in gossip, slander or to de-mean someone else, you immediately tell them that you represent Christ and they are not and as a yoke-fellow you WILL not be a part of the conversation and leave.  Remember, by listening to the slander or gossip you are in essence agreeing.  Challenge: Take our you list of participants on our trip and begin to pray for you fellow yoke-fellows.

Day 12:

Read Ch. 4:4-7.  Part of being in a faith community is being transparent.  This is when you let the "real" you be "you."  The true definition deals with light being able to be illuminated through an object clearly.  We hide behind so many masks.  There is a great song by Casting Crowns (I encourage you to buy this CD) called "stained glass masquerade."  Its subject is exactly what I'm talking about.  We need to be transparent.  I want to lead off by sharing that verse 6 deals directly with one of my biggest spiritual weaknesses.  I have struggled with anxiety all my life.  Anxiety is usually a by-product of someone's environment.  Thus when you grow up in this atmosphere you seem to (in most cases) to adopt the same behaviours (imagine that).  In recent years, this verse and 1 Peter 5:7 have revealed a few things to me.

Nothing catches God off-guard.  Not even surgery before the largest mission trip our church has ever taken.

This weakness only serves as a reminder that i am WEAK and God is STRONG.

No matter what lies a head me if i am "yoked" with Christ then he leads this ship now and my role is TRUST Him and not myself.  So what is your role "yoke-fellow?"  Prayer, encouragement and grace!  Now that's a challenge!

Day 13:

Read verses 8-22.  True, noble, right, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  What an inspiring--and intimidating list of adjectives for us to consider (Parents, students and grandparents) in terms of our exposure to this world.  For the parent and grandparent this is even more crucial for we hold many of the keys to this "world."  This is from the academy of paediatrics:

44% of kids say they watch something different when they are alone than with their parents(25% choose MTV)

55% of kids have a television influences kids to have sex when they are young.

66% of kids say their peers are influenced by television shows.

The average youth living in the U.S. watches TV 25 HOURS a week and plays computer games an additional 7 HOURS.

Fellow adults, we are not off the hook.  How much time do we spend watching TV each week?  How addicted are we to shows like Dr. Phil, Lost, and American Idol even to the point that we tape them and stay up late to watch?  Again, Paul is not giving us some nice and good suggestions here.  Read verse 9!  What are we putting into practice and what are others observing?  P.S.  Those TV shows are the "soft" ones.  Challenge: Make verse 8 your prayer today.  Write this verse down on a card and try to memorize it.

Day 14:

Wow!  Here we are.  What a great 2 and a half weeks.  I can't wait to hear from you while on our journey what God has and is doing in your life.  To wrap up our study of Philippians lets read chapter 4 one more time to get a deeper respect for it.  Here in the last 13 verses we find many "gold nuggets."  Many people can quote Phil. 4:13 and it may even be your life verse however, I want you to look at verse 12.  How many truly contented people do you know?  What would it mean for you and I to understand and live the key to contentment Paul described in verses 12 and 13?  Well, as with most of Paul's letters he leaves us with a golden standard.  This standard is the grandest of all.  This is that Jesus is all we need.  Do you want to know the secret of contentment?  The answer is JESUS!  The only thing standing in the way of us and contentment is Jesus.  Its sounds simple but it's so true.  Have you been "undone?"  Have you been "ruined?" (Isaiah 6:5)  Have you "sold out" to the world to be His disciple (Luke 14:26-33)?  Jesus says in John 10:10, "I have come that you may have LIFE and LIFE to the fullest."  I believe if there is anyone in all of scripture who had this LIFE it was Paul.  And just think, he wants you and I to have it too (Phil. 4:16)!


By Brian Hoover