Daily Personal Devotionals

Standing Firm- Part 1

Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. (Philippians 4:1)

You can feel the love that Paul had for the Philippians when you read that verse. Anyone would delight in being spoken to in such a way, but the proof of Paul’s love isn’t in these terms of affection. The true proof of Paul’s love is found in the other things he says there, and it’s in what is still coming.

Paul knew that Philippi was full of idolatry, and there were pagan practices all around. Some worshipped the emperor and others worshipped Egyptian gods. He understood that this church needed encouragement. Paul encourages his beloved friends to “stand firm”, but he doesn’t leave them wondering how. That first verse of Philippians chapter 4 is so simple but it should fill us with hope. Paul’s actual words are “in this way, stand firm”. He is going to reveal the way they can stand firm! Paul continues on in verses 3 and 4 and in them he mentions his brothers and sisters by name and encourages them to live in “harmony in the Lord”. He acknowledges their contribution to the work of the early church in that they shared in Paul’s “struggle in the cause of the gospel” and goes on to say that their names are written in the book of life.

 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

How awesome! Harmony with the Lord! We are called to stand firm and to live in harmony with the Lord, but just how do we do that? The very next verse contains such a powerful but simple instruction that we almost read right over it without noticing it, but it is the very heart of Paul’s message, and real evidence of love:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Rejoice! To stand firm and live in harmony with the Lord we need to rejoice in Him! This word for rejoice in the greek is chairo. It means to be glad, to be well, to take exceeding joy in, to be strong in, and to thrive! Hidden in these few verses is the implication of a profound truth... when we have low joy, or even worse, no joy, we cannot stand firm. Nehemiah 8:10 says:

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Friend, it’s so easy to spend time speculating on what’s going on in the world. Many of us are asking the questions “how long will this last?” or “is there something worse than isolation coming?”. The truth is, only God knows the answers to these questions but we can count on one thing. Regardless of what is on the other side of tomorrow we can stand firm in our faith, and live in harmony with the Lord and one another by rejoicing in Jesus. Rejoicing is a choice we make. We go to the feet of our Savior, look Him full in His wonderful face, We give Him thanks and praise because of Who He is! Let us go to the source of all joy, and let us pray together.

Lord,

Forgive us when we take our eyes off of You, and place them on the craziness and uncertainty of the world. Help us to rejoice in You so that we can stand firm. We want  others to see our rejoicing in the midst of trouble that they would want to know You too! Help us to take Joy in You , Our King! In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

For more encouragement read, meditate, and pray on Psalm 66, and Galatians 5:22-23.

Change In Perspective

There have been at least 31,000 spoken languages in earth’s history and now there are around 6,000. It is said that a language goes extinct every 14 days. Some of these spoken languages have disappeared despite heroic efforts to save them. After the diaspora, the scattering of the Jewish people all over the earth, Hebrew began to be replaced with other dialects and languages in Jewish homes. No matter where the Jews went their native tongue was eventually assimilated into the local language or changed into something altogether different. In a relatively short time it was only spoken as a religious language by rabbis and scholars. Hebrew, as the language of the nation of Israel, was dead. God had other plans. In Jerusalem, on July 31, 1882, a son was born to Elizear and Deborah Ben-Yehuda. They named him Ben-Zion. There was nothing remarkable about the child, or his birth, save for one thing: a dream in his father’s heart. Elizear, was passionate about the Hebrew language. He had determined that his new son was going to be the first child raised as a native Hebrew speaker in Israel in over 2,000 years, and he was! Then, in 1948, a mere 66 years after Ben-Zion’s birth, Hebrew became the official spoken language of the nation of Israel! Through the passion and zeal of a father, just one man, the Hebrew language had been totally revived! Some believe this historic event was a fulfillment of prophesy:

For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder. (Zephania 3:9)

Even if you don’t believe that the restoration of Hebrew as a spoken language is at least a partial fulfillment of this particular prophesy, the gravity of the miracle here is impossible to ignore. Never before, in the known history of the world, had a language ever been resurrected from the dead to be spoken by an entire people group, until now. Remember those 25,000 other dead languages? God has not resurrected a single one.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. (Luke 1:68)

Now, Hebrew, is spoken all over the world, by over 9 million people! God resurrects and redeems, and He does it over and over again. Do you see the miracle, my friend? God has a way to resurrect what is lost. Sometimes though, it’s our hearts that need the resurrection. Our hearts can be easily broken. When this comes through a broken relationship with a loved one the pain of the loss can be unbearable. When a relationship seems hopelessly broken, it can be easy to look at it with human eyes and believe that it is impossible to restore. Listen to what the Psalmist said:

My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word. (Psalm 119:23)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

We need a change in perspective! If we look at that same hopeless situation with God’s eyes what would we see? Is forgiveness and peace in our families more impossible than the miraculous revival of a dead language? Our heavenly Father sent His only son to die so that we could have abundant life. Through the Holy Spirit of God we have access to that same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead. Remember that! We need to change what we believe. Have You asked God yet to do the impossible in your life? To help you forgive someone who has hurt you? To mend a broken relationship in your family? In your own heart? Would you get on your knees with me before the God of miracles, the one who has the power to resurrect what we think is beyond hope.

Lord,

I need You now. My heart is weary and troubled and broken. I give it to You. Jesus, I need hope for these broken relationships. Help me to heal, and to forgive. Holy Spirit, would you move in the hearts of those I love to do the same? Help me to love others as you do. Revive me according to Your word, pour out your resurrecting Spirit on what was broken. Help me to live like I believe in Your miracles for my family. –Amen

For more encouragement read, meditate, and pray on Colossians 3.

Previous123