3rd Case Study in Philippians 1:27-28a – ReSolved to Strive Together

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” (Phil. 1:27-28a)

Ever met an avid sports fan? No matter what s/he will watch their team’s games, whether in person or on a device. Win or lose they continue to cheer their team on. Nothing deters their devotion to their team. They are proud of their team. They are loyal to the end.

When we become disciples (followers) of Jesus Christ we become members of His team. Our loyalty to Him is greater than a sports’ fan to their team. We are united with other disciples as we all work together in God’s Kingdom.

As human beings we are created for community. We are not lone wolves. We share our lives with one another to love one another, to serve with one another, to grow together towards Jesus Christ. As we strive together we present a united message to the world of God’s unconditional love for each one of us.

We stand united working together as one unit sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. We stand firm resisting all opposition. In how we resist opposition will serve as a witness to Jesus Christ.  Returning evil with God’s love demonstrates how we are different from the world. 

We are God’s representatives, “brand ambassadors” so to speak, here on Earth. How we act, what we speak reflects God to others. So what do our actions say about Him?

Do we show grace to those who hurt us as God shows us grace when we sin?

Do we remain united as a faith community despite our differences to show how all are welcomed as they are?

Do we share others without expectation so that the Holy Spirit works through us to advance the Kingdom of God?

We stand firm as disciples of Jesus Christ striving for humility and being transparent so others see Jesus as they see us. We remain united as one body seeing our differences as blessings. 

May we go out today as loyal, faith-filled, obedient brand ambassadors for Jesus Christ today!

This Week’s Challenge 

What is one thing you want someone on the verge of faith to know about Jesus Christ?

What will you do this week to share that message with someone?

A Case Study in Philippians 1:18-26 – Celebrate When the Gospel is Preached

“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. 

 Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” 

(Philippians 1:18-26)

When Paul wrote this letter to the disciples in the city of Philippi he was in prison.  His future was unknown.  His living conditions were not exactly optimal for good health.  It would not be surprising to hear him be discouraged and wish for it all to end.

Instead, Paul shares with them his joy in serving the in the name of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While he may desire to go to heaven he understood God wanted him to remain so he can continue sharing the Gospel to everyone he met.

Paul held the Gospel in high esteem. It was the most important thing to him. Verse 18 of this passage he celebrate whenever the Gospel is preached.  He knew when the Gospel was shared the Holy Spirit worked in the hearts of people.  Even if a person had false motives, or preached for selfish gains, the Gospel was more powerful so it would still reach those who needed to hear it.

What we learn from Paul is to rejoice whenever we hear the Gospel being shared. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote, 

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire 

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” 

(Isaiah 55:11)

We know the Word of God (aka the Gospel) will reach each person who needs to hear it. We can rejoice with Paul each time we Gospel because we know the Holy Spirit is at work in those on the verge of faith.

It can be tempting to judge one’s motives in preaching the Gospel.  Instead of judgment, let’s stop and pray for the Holy Spirit to do its work. We can pray for those hearing the Gospel so their hearts are open to receive it and be transformed by it.

While Paul may want to return home to Heaven he served with joy knowing God was still using him reach those who are not yet believers.  Paul might be in prison but he was still free to serve and share Jesus Christ with everyone.

As we go about our days let us look for opportunities to share the Gospel and then in joy pray for the Holy Spirit to plant the seeds of faith in the hearts of those not yet believers of Jesus Christ. 

We may not be in a physical prison but there are obstacles we must overcome in order to share the Gospel. Be it fear of rejection. A sense of inadequacy to share. A desire to simply fit in. Whatever it is there is some thing that holds us back. But we have no need to fear.

If we worry about not having the words to say learn from Moses (Exodus 3-4). God called him to lead the Israelites and promised to give him the words to say to Pharaoh, the most powerful man on Earth.

If we fear rejection look to Daniel (Daniel 6). Daniel stood resolved with God and was thrown in the lions’ den to certain death. God protected him and by witnessing Daniel’s faithfulness people were saved that day.

Have anxiety about not being good enough look to Jesus’ own 12 Disciples.  They were rejected by all of the rabbis to be their students.  Jesus came to them and invited them to be His closest students.

Have no fear.  Be bold. Share with someone why you love Jesus.  Let the Holy Spirit work in their heart. Then rejoice with Paul that the Gospel is being preached to those who need to hear it.

This Week’s Challenge 

Each time you see or hear the Gospel being shared stop and pray for the Holy Spirit to accomplish what God has for His Word to do.  Then rejoice with Paul that the Gospel is being preached. 

A Case Study of Philippians 1:1-11

A Lifetime of Learning & Being Transformed

“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, 

To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:1-11)

St. Paul wrote a letter to the disciples (followers of Jesus Christ) in the city of Philippi. He came to their city on one of his missionary journeys.  He served them and share with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The disciples grew to be a strong community resolved to serve their city and share the Gospel with the rest of the city. While Paul was in prison he wrote them this letter to thank them for their prayers and support. as we read this letter we can learn from Paul the Philippian disciples how to persevere and rejoice in all circumstances.

In these opening verses Paul gives thanks for their gift and praises them for their faithfulness from the beginning. The Philippians did not wait until they were believers for awhile, gaining book knowledge and then going out to share the Gospel.

Instead from the beginning of their faith journeys they served others and shared the Gospel. Their joy and excitement abounded and was contagious. They went out right away to invite others to experience Jesus Christ’s love themselves.

We can learn from them to be resolved to share our own joy with Jesus Christ all through out our faith journeys. We do not have all the answers just the willingness to share our personal story.

By being in relationship with Jesus Christ we are given new lenses to see the world and others. During our faith journey we see through the lens more clearly as we have more experiences and knowledge. We put them on and learn from the Holy Spirit how to love more dearly as God loves.

This growth process is not easy. It requires a resolve to keep learning to keep serving humbly. This can be tricky. As we learn more have more experiences, we can falsely believe we “know it all” and do not need to learn more. We try to do it on our own without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Instead we continue to on our faith journey humbly learning from the Holy Spirit, growing in knowledge and experience. As we grow we recognize God’s Will and become more transformed. We become more like Jesus and we will continue to become more like Jesus until we are called home to Heaven.

So what does this mean in practical terms?

Each day we pray to see others as God sees them. Ask how can we serve one another. If there is someone you have been praying for maybe ask them how you can put arms to your prayers and authentically love them.

Also, we can look to ow we represent Jesus Christ in the world. If we are the only encounter someone has with the Gospel what will they learn from us? What do we want them to learn from us about Jesus Christ?

Each day ask God to teach you more bout Him, to stretch you towards growth. Ask for an open heart to grow, open your eyes to see how He is leading.

The Philippine disciples served with joy and resolve. Life was not easy or perfect. But they continued to serve and share in all they did and said. We can learn from them to keep growing to be more like Jesus Christ. All until we return to be with Him forever.

This Week’s Challenge 

Name one area God is challenging you to grow in faith.
Write what He is teaching you about it.
How are you applying that lesson today in your life?

What is a Disciple? A Disciple is ReSolved

A disciple remains committed to his/her faith. It is a journey of incredible highs. It is a journey with difficult times as well. Having a resolve to persevere, to keep following closely to Jesus Christ is important.

The enemy, satan,  does not want us to follow Jesus.  He works against us to distract, to discourage.  Even our own human pride gets in the way also falsely lulling us into believing we are in control.  Remaining resolved in our trust in God alone is key to remaining faith-filled and obedient.

To be resolved one must first acknowledge God’s freely given grace to each one of us. We all have sinned, rebelled against God. There is nothing any of us can do to earn our salvation. From His abundant love He sent His Only Son, Jesus Christ to live the perfect life, die the death meant for us, rise from the grave conquering sin, death and the devil.

It is because we have been resolved by Jesus Christ that we can be resolved to serve and share Him.

Living an authentic missional life does not always go viral on social media. Most of it is done in the quiet, every day interactions we have with others.  Interesting enough we will not know the full impact of our humble service until we are called home to Heaven.

Therefore it is vital remain resolved. Encouragement can be fleeting at times. Struggles arise. Challenges are faced. It is our stubborn resolve, which comes from the Holy Spirit, to keep following Jesus Christ with our whole lives what keeps us walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. 

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14: 26

But we do not go it alone. After Jesus’ ascension to Heaven He promised the Holy Spirit to walk with us each step of the way. We receive our resolve from the Spirit. When we feel tired, the Spirit strengthens us. Those times we are discouraged, the Spirit reminds us why we do what we do.

We continue on our journey with joy because we know we are loved unconditionally by God our Father. We serve with joy as a way to express our gratefulness. 

““Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” – Matthew 7:24-25

We live an authentic faith showing that when troubles do arise others will see how God walks with in the midst of it. It serves as a testimony to Him.

May you continue on in your journey with Jesus Christ as a resolved disciple. Be encouraged as you serve and share Him with your life. Know He is always with you.

May you follow so closely to Him the dust from His feet dirty yours.

This Week’s Challenge

Draft a Post-It size not for yourself as to why you love Jesus. May this serve as an encouragement to you to be resolved to serve and share Jesus Christ with your whole life.

What is a Disciple? A Disciple Share

Telling another person about Jesus Christ can be scary.  I mean you are opening up about an important part of your life. The fear of rejection is real.

“What if the person asks a question I won’t be able to answer?”

“What if s/he argues with me about Christianity?”

“What if…What if…What if…”

As a disciple of Jesus Christ we are not alone when sharing the Gospel.  After Jesus ascended into Heaven after His resurrection from the dead the Holy Spirit came to be with every follower to help us go out into the world sharing the Good News over all the Earth.

Sharing your faith does not require a degree from a Bible school.  It simply means telling another why you love Jesus. To tell another why you surrender to God’s leading and to journey with His Son, Jesus learning from the Holy Spirit. 

Here’s one way to think about sharing your faith:

Think about your favorite restaurant.  Now how do you tell your friends about it?  Do you tell them about your favorite dish? About the friendly staff? The people you meet there? Do you invite them to join the next time you go there?

Sharing you faith story is similar to telling another your favorite restaurant. You tell them about Jesus with enthusiasm and why you love Him. You include a story from your faith journey that is important to you. There is an invitation to the person to come experience for him/herself.

“When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.” (Matthew 10:19)

Yes, sharing one’s faith can be scary. But have no fear the Holy Spirit is with you as It was with the Disciples in the 1st Century. You will be given the words to share and the courage to step into the conversation.

As you spend time in prayer this week place any fears you may have at the feet of Jesus. Let Him take them away and fill you with His peace and courage. Take the time to journal why you love Jesus , what is an impactful time with Him.  Then listen to the Holy Spirit for who and when you are asked to share.

This Week’s Challenge – Share with someone this week why you love Jesus.  Invite them to your next small group meeting or to worship with you on Sunday.

What is a Disciple? A Disciple Serves

I have served in the hospitality industry in a variety of roles.  In each of them I learn another aspect of serving others. There is joy in taking care of others and connecting relationally. You are able to connect with others learning about one another.

Serving one another is a privilege we get as disciples of Jesus Christ. It is placing the needs of another above our own.  We lovingly meet their needs in that moment.  By doing so we demonstrate God’s unconditional love for all of us.  It is through serving we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As in hospitality there are many ways to serve. Each of us are gifted differently to serve one another. One may have the gift of decorating a space to make a warm environment for others. Another may be a gifted cook who makes delicious dishes.  A third may have the gift of perceiving another’s true need and meeting it with love. 

All disciples of Jesus Christ are called to hospitality ministry in serving others as we all have been gifted by the Holy Spirit.  Being hospitable is a joy. Authentic connections are established through genuine service.

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” Ephesians 6:7

One beauty about serving is the trust that develops between the two parties. A bond is established based on this gentle trust. They are uniquely connected that can only truly be understood by the two parties.

In serving one another we see each other where one is at. Pride is cast aside as we humbly kneel in front of our brother or sister and gently wash his/her feet. It is an authentic demonstration of love for a fellow child of God.

So a question for you. What is a way you are uniquely gifted to serve? How can you use that gift to authentically love another?

In the next week seek out an opportunity to share your gift in service to another child of God. Pray to see God’s Will in how He is leading you to serve. Be courageous by the Holy Spirit to boldly and humbly serve. Learn the intricacies from Jesus Christ of daily serving one another. Be filled with joy as you serve others pointing to Jesus in all you do and say.

This Week’s Challenge: Seize the opportunity this week to share your gift in serving someone.  What do you enjoy doing? How can you use it to love another?

What is a Disciple? A Disciple is Authentic

“Preach the Gospel always.
Use words if necessary.”
Saint Augustine

This quote has been circling the globe for centuries.  While no one knows for sure who is the original author it is widely accredited to Saint Augustine. 

At the heart of the quote is the lesson that our actions speak to those we interact with in our lives. By what we do and the decisions we make we communicate who we are. As disciples of Jesus Christ how we live our lives preach the Good News. Before we speak we have already communicate the Gospel to them.

With this in mind it is important to reflect on how we truly live our lives. Do we wear a mask to hide our authentic self? Are or lives split where our church life does not cross our “every day” life?

Living an authentic life is difficult at times. There are challenges that will scare us to be unauthentic for a period of time. The temptation is real to hide and avoid leaving our comfort zone.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

(Matthew 5:13-16)

We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live our authentic lives in the world. We need not be afraid of ridicule or judgment. Instead we shine brightly in the world pointing to Jesus with our whole lives and our words. The world gets to know Jesus by watching how we follow Him with our whole selves.

So here’s the question how is your light shining in your whole life?

How many of your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors would describe you as a disciple of Jesus Christ?

Where are there places or people you wear a mask to maybe not shine your light so brightly?

As a disciple of Jesus Christ each one of us are called to live authentic lives. That means the good and the bad. See, when we experience difficult ties (and they will come) it is how we journey through them and rely on God that is an authentic sharing of the Gospel.

Also in the good times giving God praise and not our own shares the Gospel. Pointing back to Jesus in all things is our witness.

Being authentic is being transparent. Admitting when you need help. Giving credit to your Father in heaven. Saying you don’t have all the answers but you know the One Who does.

A disciple is authentic modeling complete trust in God in all circumstances at all times.  Be not discouraged fellow disciple. Continue to turn to God pointing back to Him for all the world to see and come to know Him for themselves.

This Week’s Challenge 

Take 2 minutes (even set a timer) and write out what message of God you are passionate about sharing with the whole world.  Then spend 5 minutes brainstorming practical things you can do in your daily life to share that message in your actions and in your words. 

What is a Disciple? A Disciple Loves

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples — when they see the love you have for each other.” Luke 13:34-35 (The Message)

God loves all His children.  Some love Him. Others choose to turn their backs on Him. Regardless of our response God’s love does not change. He loves us, all of us.

As His followers we strive to love others. We are His representatives here on Earth. So as we love, the world learns about God’s love. Loving is a primary duty of a disciple.

In His last formal teaching time Jesus directed the 12 Disciples to love one another. This was how the world would come to recognize each of them as a follower of Jesus.

They struggled to be obedient even at the outset. As Jesus was handed over to be crucified, one by one the disciples abandoned Him. Eleven repented and returned to be with one another. There in a locked room the Eleven were together to see the Resurrected Jesus and be anointed with the Holy Spirit. They went on to love in the world sharing the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus Christ. 

So what does this mean for us today? How do we strive to love one another as God loves?

In previous posts we saw how a disciple follows the Holy Spirit’s leading, listens to Jesus’ teachings and learns from the Creator God. These practices help the disciple to witness God’s love first-hand so that s/he can go and do likewise in one’s every day life. 

Loving others is seen in helping someone get to a doctor’s appointment on-time. Or encouraging another during a difficult time. 

Love is also shared when a person chooses to work together with another despite personality or philosophical differences. It would be understandable to argue and refuse to work together but in love the differences are seen as opportunities to understand one another.  They are not used to divide or harm each other.

As fallen, sinful beings love is not always easy to do. There is pain. But how incredible it feels when we receive love whether we “deserve” it or not. Why deny someone else that glorious joy?

We are able to love one another because God first loves us. We are only able to love because He lives in us. It is our duty as His followers to love one another. No excuses. It is after all how the world will know we are His disciples.

This Week’s Challenge

Think of an individual or group that differs from you in personality of philosophy.  What is one thing you will do this week to demonstrate love to them this week?  Schedule it in your calendar. 

What is a Disciple? A Disciple Learns

A follower of a teacher leans what the teacher has to pass along.  This process is on-going, not just a one time occurrence. As the teacher and the disciple, or follower, spend more time together more lessons are shared amongst them. The disciple becomes more like the teacher the more closely s/he listens.

A disciple of Jesus Christ learns at His feet or as they both go along the way. Each day as the two spend time together Jesus teaches the disciple more about the Kingdom of God and the great things God the Father has for her. Wonderful things occur during these times.

Sometimes we humans think that learning is for a designated period of time of life. When that time is over there is nothing left for a person to learn. This is false! 

Learning continues throughout the course of one’s life. Think about it: you do not know what you do not know. Therefore one must remain a learner all the days of his life. 

As disciples of Jesus Christ we continue to learn from Him all the days of our lives. We journey with Him, watching what He has done by reading the Scriptures. We listen & learn to become more devoted followers of Him. It’s a daily walk filled with new adventures and lessons every day. 

So what does this mean for everyday life?

For one it means studying the Scriptures with an open heart.  The amount you read at a time does not matter.  Whether you read one verse, one chapter or one whole book it is okay.  What matters is hearing God teaching you in that passage and applying it in your life.

Another learning opportunity is seeing how God is acting in your life.  Those times you are out of your comfort zone and have to trust God to lead the way.  The moments you truly see how God has provided for your needs in ways you did not expect. 

Learning requires an open heart to hear new insights and have new experiences.  It has one be willing to surrender control allowing the Holy Spirit to lead the way.

So as you go about your journey with Jesus Christ remain a lifelong learner.  Enjoy the new experiences with Him.  Remain open to learning things you may never have learned without Him. 

This Week’s Challenge

Go about your day looking to learn something new from God.  When you do learn something new write it down, draw, or whatever helps you to remember.  At the end of the week see all that God has shown you.  Do you see a common theme in them?

What is a Disciple? A Disciple Listens

The word disciple means “follower, student.”  A disciple is one who learns from one another so that he will draw closer to the Teacher. In the process of learning one’s listening skills are put to the test. Is there an open heart within the disciple to fully listen to learn.  A willingness to listen to new concepts that will flip turn upside down one’s world? These are some of the marks of a listening disciple.

A disciple listens to the Voice of God to learn how she can serve and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every aspect of her life. She listen with a humble heart that is willing to begin to see the world, see people through the eyes of God. This is because a disciple is not greater than the Teacher. A disciple sits at the feet of the Teacher to hear His words for him. These words help build the foundation for one’s life and ministry.

Think of it this way:

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

A disciple knows, is aware that there will be trouble in life so he builds his life on Jesus’ words to have a firm foundation that will not crumble when the storms come. This foundation only comes from listening to God.

So what does listening look like in every day life?

That is a great question!

Listening looks like quiet time with God. Reading Scripture not simply to check off the box on the To Do List, but to authentically listen to what God is saying to you in that particular text.

Listening looks like regular prayer time where we don’t do all the talking but we also stop talking to listen to God. Our hearts are moved, peace and hope are restored to our souls. We are strengthened in faith to not be deterred by what the adversary throws at us.

Listening looks like a conversation with a fellow disciple and the Holy Spirit stirs within us to lead, nudge us to where God is leading. 

As disciples of Jesus Christ we listen to the Father to learn from Him. The more we listen, the more we learn to recognize His Voice the better we become at listening. It takes time each day and over a period of time to grow. But don’t lose heart you will grow.

Remember it all begins with sitting at His feet like Mary (Luke 10:39) listening to His teaching. So be not distracted with the busyness of life like Martha (Luke 10:40) to miss what He has to share with you. The dishes will still be there. Let them soak. Set that show to record and watch it later. For right now stop, sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to learn directly from Him.

As you continue on your journey with Jesus Christ take the time to listen to learn from Him.  Be prepared to be completely changed, transformed from the inside out.  It will be scary at times but the growing pains you experience will enable you to see the full life that God has for you.  

This Week’s Challenge

Each day note in your journal, Bible, favorite notes app, Post-It note one thing you heard from God as you sought to listen to Him that day.  

What did you learn?