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!!!
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!!!
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?
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!!!
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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).
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.
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
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!
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.
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