Ok! So, I need to remind you that Pastor Mary follows the Revised Common Lectionary for the daily passages of these devotions, which means I do the same as her mentor. This reminder is because we are now going on 4 consecutive devotions of hearing from the Apostle Paul, and although I love him tremendously, I do not want anyone to think that I favor one Apostle over the rest. 😊
Yesterday’s letter moved us to Ephesus from the previous two days which were in Galatia, and today we find ourselves in a letter to the Church in Philippi. Although the chronology and dating of the events in the Apostle Paul’s life are still debated, it seems like the last 4 devotions moved in the order from his older writings to his newer writings, with several (obviously) missed writings in-between and on the bookends.
Here’s a couple questions for you, and you can be completely honest because you are only answering yourself and Jesus. Today, the Apostle Paul tells us to “Do everything without complaining and arguing.” (v.14)
Questions 1. When was the last time you complained about someone or something?
Questions 2. When was the last argument that you had with someone?
So, I’m going to use myself as an example, because I firmly believe that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” (Rom 8:28) and I believe that is me. Also, I believe that Satan, like the cunning and sneaky fox he is, is always looking to attack us. Actually, much of his time is spent prowling around looking to pounce on God’s kids; so by the Spirit of Christ we need to, “Catch the foxes, the little foxes, before they ruin our vineyard in bloom” (Song 2:15) Remember, our “vineyard in bloom” is our spiritual garden, or our heart, for Christ (Curtis talks about tending to our spiritual garden or our heart for Christ all of the time).
So, here it is, I complained last Wednesday about something I saw on social media, and that complaint turned into an argument. See, God knew that the Apostle Paul and I would be spending some quality time together in His Word…and so did Satan, as he was prowling around and seeking to throw me off of my faith walk with Jesus knowing that I would not only be deep in God’s Word for myself, but that I would also be sharing it with all of you. Keep in mind, my 4 devotions that are all from the Apostle Paul came after my complaint/argument.
Friends, it all took about 3 hours before I found myself kneeling at the foot of the cross asking for Jesus’s forgiveness, and then turning around and asking the person for forgiveness. I’m blessed by what God brought out of it, but I learned that the enemy will take what he can get, and for him wasting 3 hours of my day was a win in his book.
I share all of this with you because within those hours I was not doing as this letter instructs…as Jesus tells us: to live clean, to live innocent as a child of God, and to shine bright as an extended Light of Christ. I believe that I am forgiven for complaining and for arguing, but we need to use these moments to step up and move forward with Jesus. We do not need to be complaining every day, we do not need to be arguing every day, or week, or month. We need to be holding firm to the Word of Life and running the race of our faith with Jesus, and as we wait upon His return, we need to be calling on the Holy Spirit to make us aware of those little foxes that Satan attempts to use to knock us off course.
Philippians 2:12-18 NLT
Shine Brightly for Christ
12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 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. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for your forgiveness. I need Your daily guidance for living the obedient life You have for me. Help Your Light within me to shine bright. Please give me Your wisdom so that I can see where the enemy seeks for me to stray from You. My prayer is to move forward with You, Jesus, and for Your Word to continue to be my guide. I ask all of this in Your Name, Jesus. Amen.