Sunday Devotional: Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

A couple of years ago, I used this verse for a Sunday Devotional.  I was reminded of this verse again recently and how it is very much still applicable today.

Paul wrote these words finishing up a letter to a group of believers that he cared for very deeply.  He helped to plant the church in Philippi wanted to see and hear that the believers there were growing in their faith.  He wanted them to keep pursuing Christ and to continue the work there.

We as believers have that same calling.  We are to keep pursing Christ and continue the work of sharing the Gospel.  And as we do that, we are to engage life with the filter that this verse   We live in a time when we are bombarded on all sides from things that are not the things in these verses.  We must strive to separate out these things to find the things that are true, that are just, that are pure, that are worthy of praise.

This week, let us make sure that we take time to reflect on those things that honor God, those things that point us to Him.  Let us think on those things so that we can be focused on what it is He has for us to do.

Sunday Devotional: 1 Peter 4:7-11

“Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11)

Peter wrote these words to fellow believers in one of his letters to the churches.  These verses are a part of the end of the letter as he is beginning to wrap up his thoughts.

There are many passages that deal with how to handle the “end times”.  Some of them are prophetic of the actual “day of the Lord” and some are more of the times that are to signal the “day of the Lord”.  This is one of those passages that’s the latter.  Peter is telling the readers (and in turn telling us) that we should be prepared for when the Lord returns.

How are we to prepare?  First, we need to be all about prayer.  Praying to God giving thanks, praying for strength to endure, praying for others and their needs.  We need to be praying.  Second, we need to show love to one another.  Peter says to “maintain an intense love”.  In the world right now we see hate permeate.  But we know that God is love and when we are connected to Him then we are able to love one another better.  Third, our words and actions should reflect the Father.  We are here to advance the Kingdom of God and proclaim the Good News.  Our words and actions should be all about that.

In these times now more than ever, let us be about praying, let us be about loving, let us be about serving and let us be about sharing the Good news of Jesus.

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 14:53-58

“And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?  Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”  And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”  And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”  (Matthew 14:53-58)

What happened in this portion of Matthew is a reminder that not everyone that heard the message that Jesus preached believed.  He went back to the city of Nazareth in which he grew up and did the same thing that he did in other cities, preached and taught in the synagogues.  However, the people there didn’t believe.  They grew up with Jesus but they did not see Him as the Son of God.  So he moved on from Nazareth and continued on His mission.

Even Jesus was rejected.  We see that numerous times throughout the Gospels.  There were those that heard the message and rejected it.  Yet there were others that heard the message and gladly received it.  It is through God’s grace and mercy that we have that message today.  So as we share the good news of Jesus, let us remember that we may be rejected for it.  However, the Gospel is worth continuing to share to all.  Let us be encouraged this week in being about sharing that good news.

Sunday Devotional: Colossians 1:3-8

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,  since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,  because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,  which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,  just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.”  (Colossians 1:3-8)

Encouraging one another is so important.  Paul knew this very well.  He was greatly encouraged by the Colossians and their faith.  They heard the Gospel, received it and shared it with others.  They trusted in Jesus and was faithful in following Him and their testimony showed that.  Paul loved to hear this news and encouraged Him to continue to be faithful.

Life is tough.  There are definitely times where there are struggles and hardships.  There are times when one gets beat down.  But the great thing is that God is there.  There is that hope that comes from trusting in Him.  No matter what, He’s there.  I’m grateful for that and I want others to experience that as well.

This week let us be thankful for God’s faithfulness.  Let us be thankful of the hope of salvation.  And let us share that hope with others.

Sunday Devotional: 3 John

“The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.  For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth.  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.  For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.  Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.  So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.  Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.

I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink.  I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.”

3 John is a letter that gives a practical example for followers of Jesus showing love in truth.  John, the apostle, wrote the letter to Gaius.  Gaius was a leader in the church of his city and he had received a group of traveling missionaries.  He took care of these missionaries while they were in the city and John wanted to thank Gaius and encourage him to keep serving the Lord in this way.

Gaius was loving on these missionaries and through this was able to take part in the work that they were doing in spreading the Gospel.  This week, let us love on those around us in truth.  Let us encourage those whom God has called to serve around the world.  And let us be a part of the work that God has called us to do in sharing the Good News.

Sunday Devotional: Acts 2:44-47

“And all who believed were together and had all things in common.  And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,  praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”  (Acts 2:44-47)

This was a great description of the first century church.  They would come together regularly and worship.  They would share meals together.  They would help one another out.  They were a family.  That should be what the church should look like today.  There should be that feel of a family because as followers of Jesus, we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  The church is a family, it is not a business.  And yes, there are times when even family members don’t get along but they come together to resolve problems.

All people should be able to point to their local church and say “There is my family.”  Nonbelievers should be able to look at the church in the community and see loving people who serve and take care of others, who worship God and love Him.  If you’re a part of a community of believers like that, celebrate that and invite others to be a part of that.  If you’re not part of a community like that, seek one out.  It is such a blessing and is something as believers we’re all called to be about in following Jesus.

Sunday Devotional: Matthew 11:1-6

“When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.  Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”  And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.  And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

John the Baptist was in jail and was discouraged.  He sent his disciples to see Jesus to ask Him if He was the Messiah.  Jesus tells John’s disciples to see and take note of what Jesus was doing and report back to John.  Jesus was the Messiah and the proof was in the work He was doing.

We all have times when we get discouraged.  But we are not alone through those discouraging times.  We have the Holy Spirit there as followers of Jesus to comfort and encourage us through those discouraging times.  God is in control and knows and understands what we’re going through.

If this is a discouraging time, remember that you’re not alone.  If you are encouraged, share that with someone.  Let others know why you’re encouraged.