Philippians. Working out your Salvation

Philippians. Working out your Salvation

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER:

Lord.

You trust me,

you free me.

you love me,

you fill me,

you share your work with me,

you are my life.

Angela Ashwin “The Book of a Thousand Prayers”

Read:

Philippians 2:12-13 Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

(Philippians 2:12-13 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

“Continue to work out your salvation”? This is a very confusing saying if have been looking at salvation as a gift that Jesus won for us on the cross; the Son of God dying once for all. But I believe Paul is using this in the same way a prison guard might say to a prison on the day he has finished his sentence and is set free, “You are free now. What will you do with your freedom?”

What will the new life look like after you are saved by Christ? What will you make of it? It is tempting to think that God will guide us in what to do but Paul is putting the onus back on the Christian. We are responsible for our decision making in the new saved life. When we declare Christ is Lord we are not declaring that we have given up responsibility for our lives. Instead Christ guides our choices.

What will you do with your freedom?

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Philippians. Having the Mind of Christ

Philippians. Having the Mind of Christ

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER:

Eternal Father,

whose Son Jesus was in the fullness of his power most gentle,

and in his greatness most humble;

bestow his mind and his spirit upon us,

who have no cause for pride;

that clothed in true humility

we may discern the way of true greatness.

Hear our prayer through the same Jesus,

who is now Lord and Christ.

Paul Iles (adapted)

Read:

Philippians 2:3-11 Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

(Philippians 2:3-11 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

To have the same mindset (attitude to life) as Christ. Can you imagine that? How might your life be different if you had more of this mindset?

Find one small thing you would like to change in your thinking and acting that would let you more closely align with the mindset of Christ. Pray for this now.

What are some ways your thinking and acting does reflect the mindset of Christ. Give thanks.

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Philippians. Coming to terms with your Mortality

Philippians. Coming to terms with your Mortality

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER:

Lift up our souls, O, Lord,

above the weary round of harassing thoughts,

to your eternal presence.

Lift up our minds

to the pure, bright, serene atmosphere of your presence,

that we may breathe freely,

and rest here in your love.

From there, surrounded by your peace,

may we return to do or to bear whatever shall best please you,

O, blesse, Lord

Edward Pusey (1800-1882)

Read:

Philippians 1:18b-26 Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 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.

20 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. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!

23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;

24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

25 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,

26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

(Philippians 1:18b-26 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

Paul is in Caesar’s prison in Rome awaiting trial. He could be executed or exonerated. Death is now one of the futures that awaits him. He has some anxiety as he hopes he won’t embarrass himself but will be courageous in the face of a possible public execution. In his musings about what awaits him he acts as if he has some choice about it in v22 but I expect his only choice is about whether he mounts a good defence in court.

But his thinking shows that there is some benefit in dwelling on your own mortality. He realises that there are people worth living for who he loves very much. He also realises that there is a Lord who loves him very much and who he will see face to face on the other side of death. So death loses its sting.

We are a death denying society and sometimes you and I have that attitude too. But Paul shows us that there is much to be gained by sometimes reminding ourselves of our mortality. It resulted in life being more focussed on what matters, and death losing its sting.

Will you allow yourself some space to think? Or talk it through with someone you trust?

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Things Are Not What They Seem

Things Are Not What They Seem

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER:

Lord, grant me I pray,

In the name of Jesus Christ, the Son,

That love which know no fall,

So that my lamp

May feel his kindling touch

And know no quenching;

Burning for me

And giving light for others.

St Columbanus (c.543-615 AD)

Read:

Philippians 1:12-14 Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.

13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear

.

(Philippians 1:12-14 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

Paul is in Caesar’s prison in Rome awaiting trial. He could be executed or exonerated. However, the legal system then like now takes forever to get to trial. In the meantime, Paul lives in a low security prison for months (years?) with a 12-hourly rotation of guards next to him. It would appear that Paul’s enemies have succeeded in stopping his evangelistic ministry and trapping him in misery. But things are not what they seem. Paul does not see himself as trapped or snookered. Instead, he seems himself in the midst of opportunity. He is able to share about Jesus with people he would not normally meet; the guards. And he gets to meet a lot of guards over time!

Paul learnt to see that ‘roadblocks’ were only roadblocks if you thought there was only one way to do things. A roadblock may in fact be a gift from God that frees you from being stuck in a rut. It makes you ask the question, “Is there another way?”

Strangely, the covid shutdown has forced all of us to ask this question repeatedly. God always has another way.

Do you have a roadblock in your life that stops you doing what you think God wants you to do? Is there another way to achieve this goal?

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Prayer for You

Prayer for You

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER:

Great God,

Your love has called us here

As we, by love, for love were mad.

Your living likeness still we bear,

Though marred, dishonoured, disobeyed.

We come, with all our heart and mind,

Your call to hear, your love to find.

Brian A. Wren

Read:

Philippians 1:7-11 Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

7It 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.

8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,

10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,

11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

(Philippians 1:7-11 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

Paul really loves the Philippian church community. It is strange that Paul is not thought of as a man who wears his heart on his sleeve given how often he tells church communities how much he loves them, misses them and prays for them.

But given how deep his feeling is for them, what is it that he prays most for them? What would he really love God to provide in their lives? It seems love tempered with wisdom is his prayer for them.

When you pray for your church family, what do you pray for? If this has not been your habit then using Paul’s prayer as your own might be a good place to start.

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Joy Over You

Joy Over You

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER:

Eternal Father

through your Spirit delighting in the world,

you created us from joy and for joy:

Grant us a deeper knowledge of the joy

which is ours in Christ Jesus,

that here our hearts may be glad,

And in the world to come our joy may be full:

For with the Son and the Holy Spirit,

You are our God, now and forever.

Raymond Huckley “Evening Prayer, York Minster

Read:

Philippians 1:1-6 Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

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.

(Philippians 1:1-6 NIV)

Thought for the Day:

What gives you joy about your church community? Paul knows these people well, he understands them and what moves them to action, he loves them and he feels joy because of them.

Being a Christian can be sacrificial and hard work but this aspect of being a Christian seems all worth it because of the joy. Sometimes you can lose your joy. A sure sign that something is out of place but joy can be restored when our relationship with God is attended. After all, where does the joy come from if not there?

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John’s Gospel & Power

John’s Gospel & Power

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Prayer: A blessing from Ephesians 3

May the Maker of heaven and earth

grant that from the riches of God’s glory

you may be strengthened in your inner being

with power through the Spirit,

and that through faith Christ may dwell

in your hearts in love.

With deep roots and firm foundations,

may you, in company with all God’s

people, be strong to grasp

what is the breadth and length

and height and depth of Christ’s love,

and to know it, though it is beyond knowledge.

And so may you be filled with the very fullness of God.

Now to the one who by the power at work

within us is able to accomplish

immeasurably more than all

we can ask or imagine,

be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus

to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen

(from Be Our Freedom Lord, Terry Falla)

Read:

John 18: 33-36 (Translation by N.T.Wright)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

So Pilate went back in to the Praetorium and spoke to Jesus.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked.

“Was it your idea to ask that?” asked Jesus. “Or did other people tell you about me?”

“I’m not a Jew, am I? retorted Pilate. “Your own people, and the chief priests, have handed you over to me! What have you done?”

“My kingdom isn’t the sort that grows in this world,” replied Jesus. “If my kingdom were from this world, my supporters would have fought to stop me being handed over to the Judaeans. So, then, my kingdom is not the sort that comes from here.”

Thought for the day:

Based on Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World, by N.T.Wright

In the words of N.T.Wright: There are two kinds of kingdoms, two kinds of power. If Jesus’s kingdom were “from this world,” his servants would fight. But Jesus’s kind of power works through suffering love, through the one who gives his life for his friends, the one who is lifted up so that all may see him, believe and be rescued from the grip of the other power, the dark power of evil.

God’s power calls, confronts, transforms, and then equips more and more people from every conceivable background to be in their turn powerful witnesses to the Jesus they have come to know and love. They go to their tasks, like travellers entering a strange, unmapped new land, without the trappings of the “kingdoms” and the “powers” that are “from this world”, but with the world-changing, people-changing power of the gospel and the Spirit.

May you know God’s blessing this day, as you reread the prayer.

Image: Bronze Sculpture "Divine Servant," by Max Greiner, 1990, situated in Witness Park, Pittsburgh, Texas. Jesus washing Peter’s feet.

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John’s Gospel & Truth(2)

John’s Gospel & Truth(2)

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Prayer: Truth-seekers

Spirit of Truth,

we know that in order to be truthful

we must do more than speak the truth.

We must also hear the truth.

We must also receive the truth.

We must also act upon the truth.

We must also search for truth.

The difficult truth.

Within us and around us.

We must devote ourselves to truth.

Otherwise we are dishonest,

and our lives are mistaken.

Grant us the strength

and the courage

to be truthful. Amen.

(Michael Leunig in Be Our Freedom Lord)

Read:

John 14:15-17 (Translation by N.T.Wright)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

“If you love me,” Jesus went on, “you will keep my commands. And I will ask the father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever. This other helper is the spirit of truth. The world can’t receive him, because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you know him, because he lives with you, and will be in you.”

Thought for the day:

Based on Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World, by N.T.Wright

As Jesus’ followers, we are commissioned to be people of the truth. This can be immensely costly for us, as it was for Jesus. But Jesus’ own Spirit, the Spirit of Truth will enable us to tell the world the truth about Jesus himself, his kingdom, his death, and his resurrection. In speaking the truth, we are helping to bring Jesus’ kingdom, the new creation, into existence. This is our holy, scary and awe-some task, made possible because we are supported and loved by God and the Spirit dwelling within us.

Finish by rereading the prayer.

Image: Sojourner Truth, sculpted by T.J.Warren 2001, Massachusetts, USA.

Born in 1797, Isabella Baumfree was sold into slavery at age 9. After being freed in 1827 she became a devout Christian and changed her name to Sojourner Truth. She travelled the country preaching about abolition of slavery and women’s rights, telling her friends, “The Spirit calls me and I must go.”

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