Today I am soaking in the joy Paul felt as he describes his fellow coworkers in the cause of Christ in Philippians 1:7-11.
“So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News.8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.”
Do you love those you work with when serving Christ? I have felt like Paul and have a special bond with brothers and sisters in faith as we work together for the Lord. Those friendships are lasting and are firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Whether you are near or far from them you always hold them dear and can’t wait to be with them again. Why is that? I think the shared love and spirit of Christ permeates the friendship and links us for eternity. We know that time and place may separate us, but we are and will always be together in the Lord. I can only imagine that this is part of what Paul was expressing to the Philippians. He then explains how he prays for them.
“9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” He prays that they will abound in love, continue to grow in the Lord, walk with Him and live a productive life for Christ that will bring glory and honor to the Lord. What beautiful words with power and conviction. He loves his co-laborers in the cause of Christ and desires to see them grow and flourish. Is that what you desire for your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you pray for their growth, their walk and witness in the world? These are tangible ways we can support each other. Seek God on behalf of your friends and ask Him to grow and develop them for His purposes.
My joy is greater as I stand with others in the cause of Christ.
My joy increases as I walk with Christ. As I seek to grow and serve Him, I am uplifted and encouraged by others in faith.
Joy is renewed and kindled as we work, pray, and serve together! Paul knew that- how about you? Mediate today on your friendships in the Lord and pray for them with a heart filled with love.
Today’s passage in Ephesians 3:7-11 gives us a glimpse into the true heart of Paul and his motivating character. Let these words soften your heart towards the hard working saint as you picture his struggle for Christ.
“By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News. Paul realizes that God chose him specifically on the Road to Damascus (see Acts 9). Through His might and power, he was transformed into one who professed and proclaimed the name and fame of Jesus instead of persecuting Him.
8 Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ.9 I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. Paul humbly professes that he feels unworthy of God’s grace and mercy and relishes the privilege of revealing God’s plan of redemption through Christ for all mankind.
10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.11 This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul sees that God intends that all believers are shown God’s wisdom and eternal plan through the knowledge and work of Christ. Then all believers, the church, will share that wisdom and knowledge with others.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we are privileged to show God’s love and the good news of Jesus to the world. Just like Paul, we will be humbled by the magnitude of this privilege when we realize we are God’s chosen messengers to the world. It is an amazing responsibility. Paul counted himself favored to be chosen by God to tell others.
What about you? Do you consider it a privilege to tell others about Jesus? Are you humbled by the fact that God chose you? Take a moment today and thank God for choosing you and empowering you with His Holy Spirit so you are able to do all He calls you to do.
Do you have good friends of faith? Do you share your joys and struggles in your daily walk with Christ and praises for answered prayers? Paul had that kind of relationship with the Ephesians when he lived among them and it shows in his heartfelt message as he sought to encourage them in their faith. Ephesians 1:15-16. “Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere,16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly,” Paul had brought them to faith and was like a proud ‘papa’ over the continued growth of these believers. He was thankful for their lives of faith and prayed for them all the time.
A couple of months ago I was struggling with some health issues and a dear sister in Christ sent me a handmade card with the sentiment “I’m praying for you”. Just receiving her note encouraged me in my walk that day and each day after as I glanced at the card. Saying you’ll pray for someone is the most precious gift you can give them, so don’t say it if you don’t intend to actually pray. Paul was sincere and serious about prayer and he prayed constantly for those new believers in all the cities where he ministered.
Teaching, preaching, witnessing and prayer were all essential parts of Paul’s ministry. Even if we do not feel like we can be teachers or preachers we can all witness to the joy and power of Christ in our lives. We can all pray for those who we encounter who do not know Jesus, for our friends and family, and for specific troubles or circumstances we know people are experiencing. We can pray for our leaders at church, in our city and in our country. Prayer changes things and gives us opportunity to communicate with Father God about the people in our lives. Praying for others takes the focus off ourselves and acknowledges God’s sovereignty over all things. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can go directly to God in prayer. He is accessible because of our faith in Jesus.
Today spend some time in prayer for those around you that are hurting, despairing, in poor health, need comfort, strength or are walking down a wrong pathway. Thank God that they are in your life and that you can lift them up in the name of Jesus.
Walk with me during Lent through the book of Ephesians as we meditatively think about all that we have and are in Christ. Let’s look at the unity of the body of believers growing there as Paul preached and taught for 2 years. Later John also came to Ephesus and lived among the believers. We will see the aspects of who we are in Christ, what place the body of believers called the church is to God and finish with the wonderful words about the armor available to us in Christ. Each day we will see the amazing provisions and position we have because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead.
As we begin this Ash Wednesday, let’s look at Ephesians 1:1-2. Paul introduces himself in the letter, tells who he’s writing to and pronounces a preliminary greeting that is typical of his writing.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Put yourself in Ephesus and become one of the believers who received this letter from the Apostle Paul. He is addressing you as a saint, a faithful believer and he is sending greetings of grace and peace from God. Do you think of yourself as a saint? The New Testament repeatedly refers to believers as ‘saints’. He also attributes faithfulness to their walk of faith. How would you describe your daily walk with Jesus? Are you faithful? Paul also sends you grace, which is God’s unmerited favor, and His peace. What precious gifts these are. How will you use or experience God’s favor today? Will you rest in His peace? As Ephesians opens we see that because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can be His saints and faithfully, walk in His grace and experiencing His peace. Praise God!
Walk with me towards the cross, contemplating our sinfulness and His blameless character. Join me in daily meditation and prayer for these coming 40 days of repentance and focus on who God desires us to be because of Jesus and His sacrifice.