Monday 21 August, 2017

Philippians 3:17-4:1

17 Brothers and sisters, join together in following my example. You have us as a model. So pay close attention to those who live as we do. 18 I have told you these things many times before. Now I tell you again with tears in my eyes. Many people live like enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 The only thing they have coming to them is death. Their stomach is their god. They brag about what they should be ashamed of. They think only about earthly things. 20 But we are citizens of heaven. And we can hardly wait for a Savior from there. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He has the power to bring everything under his control. By his power he will change our earthly bodies. They will become like his glorious body. 4 My brothers and sisters, in this way remain strong in the Lord. I love you and long for you. Dear friends, you are my joy and my crown.

The first verse in this passage is the Mount Everest of the Christian Life. It is the pinnacle and goal to which we all should aspire and yet I wonder if few of us ever do. To live such an exemplary life for Jesus that we can say to others

“Pattern your life after mine”

What a goal!

Fortunately, Paul also gives us a clue as to how we can do that in the second halve of the same verse,

“And learn from those who follow our example.”

I don’t have to struggle alone. God has planted me amongst some amazing people who can help me on my journey. I need to be in Church. More than that – I need to be in a Connect Group, in a Ministry Area under the leadership of someone who has the spiritual stature to say “pattern your life after mine”. All my actions should be guided by this principle – to live as an example for others to follow.

Lord, may the end result of my life be “he made followers of Jesus”.  Help me have the courage and conviction to live in a way that if people follow the pattern of my life they will be awesome disciples. Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Sunday 20 August, 2017

Philippians 3:12-16

12 I have not yet received all these things. I have not yet reached my goal. Christ Jesus took hold of me so that I could reach that goal. So I keep pushing myself forward to reach it. 13 Brothers and sisters, I don’t consider that I have taken hold of it yet. But here is the one thing I do. I forget what is behind me. I push hard toward what is ahead of me. 14 I push myself forward toward the goal to win the prize. God has appointed me to win it. The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself. 15 So all of us who are grown up in the faith should see things this way. Maybe you think differently about something. But God will make it clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already reached.

I love the idea of our lives as a race. We have all seen those toned athletes sprint it out along the track in the Olympics. I would like to think my spiritual journey is like that. Coordinated, flawless, powerful. You know, just like Usain Bolt. The reality is many days my race feels more like a Sunday school picnic 3-legged race. A bit unco with the potential for a fall any moment.

Regardless of what my race looks like there are some things we all need to do. Firstly always press on regardless, never giving up. It breaks my heart when I hear of friends who have given up their faith, how much more must it grieve our Heavenly Father. Maintain your focus on the goal – don’t be distracted by what’s happening on the sidelines. Paul urges us to press on to what’s ahead, forgetting the past. We have to remember as believers our past is dealt with. If I am running my race constantly turning back to what’s behind me then I will probably run off the track. I have to bring my best race, make good choices every day to keep my eyes on the goal. I want to finish strong. Lastly cheer along those in the race – we always do better if we receive encouragement!

Heavenly Father thank you for all you have done for me. Help me to keep my focus on where you are taking me. Help me to run my best race today and bring Glory to you. Help me Lord to stay strong in my faith. Thank you God that my past is safe in your hands. In Jesus name Amen.

Written by Christine Knight

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Saturday 19 August, 2017

Philippians 3:7-11

7 I thought things like that were really something great. But now I consider them to be nothing because of Christ. 8 Even more, I consider everything to be nothing compared to knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. To know him is worth much more than anything else. Because of him I have lost everything. But I consider all of it to be garbage so I can know Christ better. 9 I want to be joined to him. Being right with God does not come from my obeying the law. It comes because I believe in Christ. It comes from God because of faith. 10 I want to know Christ better. Yes, I want to know the power that raised him from the dead. I want to join him in his sufferings. I want to become like him by sharing in his death. 11 Then by God’s grace I will rise from the dead.

When I read this passage, what stands out to me is how clearly Paul has found his entire identity in Jesus Christ. All the gains that he had previously experienced, such as his birth right, culture, religion & position, he now considers as a loss when compared to knowing Jesus. Given that Paul writes this as a prisoner who had little to no freedom or authority – a position in stark contrast to how he used to live – Paul’s claims aren’t just empty words. The passage tells us that Paul has not only found Jesus, but has found himself in Jesus, so that who he was no longer matters.

This presents a very clear challenge to me straight away. If I’m truly honest with myself, how much of my identity is based on my own choices, my job, my family, the roles I fill, how others see me, (the list could go on) – and how much is based simply on the fact that I am found in Jesus? I’m challenged to spend more time with Jesus, letting Him mould me into who he wants me to be. In Him is where my – and your – true identity can be found.

Jesus, thank you that we can place our identity safely & securely in you. Thank you that being in relationship with you is greater than anything else we can do or be on our own. Help us to be found in you each & every day.

Written by Madelaine Tarasenko

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Friday 18 August, 2017

Philippians 3:1b-6

1 It is no trouble for me to write about some important matters to you again. If you know about them, you will have a safe path to follow. 2 Watch out for those dogs. They are people who do evil things. When they circumcise, it is nothing more than a useless cutting of the body. 3 But we have been truly circumcised. We serve God by the power of his Spirit. We boast about what Christ Jesus has done. We don’t put our trust in who we are or what we can do. 4 I have many reasons to trust in who I am and what I have done. Someone else may think they have reasons to trust in these things. But I have even more. 5 I was circumcised on the eighth day. I am part of the people of Israel. I am from the tribe of Benjamin. I am a pure Hebrew. As far as the law is concerned, I am a Pharisee. 6 As far as being committed is concerned, I opposed and attacked the church. As far as keeping the law is concerned, I kept it perfectly.

In this passage Paul is emphasising to the Philippians something he had previously taught them.  Using somewhat colourful language he reminds them not to be pressured into the old testament practice of circumcision as it was simply an allegory of the true work God is doing, that is ‘the circumcision of the heart’.

The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.    Deuteronomy 30:6

However, it was not until the New Testament that it became evident that this work was to be done by the Holy Spirit.

As I think about my life I realise not everything God wants to do in me is easy or painless.  In fact, like the cutting away of flesh in circumcision many of the deeper works of God in us are very painful.  Like pruning a plant, the Holy Spirit snips off wrong thinking or cuts away bad habits, maybe heals painful memories or trims off wrong motives.  Sometimes He removes things that we consider strengths like self-reliance, but also like a properly pruned plant we grow back stronger and healthier.

Lord, today I ask you to make me aware of the deeper works you are doing in my life and to be sensitive to the work you are doing in the lives of people around me. Help me endure the difficult moments knowing that you are making Deuteronomy 30:6 a reality in my life. Amen!

Written by David Newton

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Thursday 17 August, 2017

Philippians 2:25-3:1a

25 But I think it’s necessary to send Epaphroditus back to you. He is my brother in the Lord. He is a worker and a soldier of Christ together with me. He is also your messenger. You sent him to take care of my needs. 26 He longs for all of you. He is troubled because you heard he was sick. 27 He was very sick. In fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him. He also had mercy on me. God spared me sadness after sadness. 28 So I want even more to send him to you. Then when you see him again, you will be glad. And I won’t worry so much. 29 So then, welcome him as a brother in the Lord with great joy. Honor people like him. 30 He almost died for the work of Christ. He put his life in danger to make up for the help you yourselves couldn’t give me. 3 Further, my brothers and sisters, be joyful because you belong to the Lord!

The verses that stand out to me in this passage are verses 29 and 30 where it says, “… give him the honour that people like him deserve. For he risked his life for the work of Christ.” Paul acknowledged that Epaphroditus was worthy of honour because of the sacrificial way he lived his life as a Christian.

I am challenged by Paul’s view of what he identifies as being worthy of honour. Society recognises ‘good deeds’ and ‘random acts of kindness’ as being honourable, which they are, however Paul credits Epaphroditus’ honour to his surrender to God’s call. He neared death, yet God showed mercy towards him for the selflessness and faithfulness he lived out.

God, please help me to live an honourable life that glorifies you. Help me to be willing to make sacrifices where needed, to follow Your call. In Jesus’ name.

Written by Laura Samperi

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Wednesday 16 August, 2017

Philippians 2:19-24

19 I hope to send Timothy to you soon if the Lord Jesus allows it. Then I will be encouraged when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like Timothy. He will truly care about how you are doing. 21 All the others are looking out for their own interests. They are not looking out for the interests of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself. He has served with me like a son with his father in spreading the good news. 23 So I hope to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I’m sure I myself will come soon if the Lord allows it.

This short passage gives us a great picture of Paul and his understanding about the importance of relationship – his relationship with Timothy and Timothy’s interest in relationship with the Philippians. Just a few words but a picture that shows caring for one another, interest in the welfare of those around you is critical. Paul was in the midst of finding out what would happen to him – he was in jail and waiting to hear what would happen next (death was a possibility). He was not focused on himself but on the church in Philippi and how he could help Timothy grow in confidence in his ministry.

Relationship building and caring for one another were important to him. They should be important to us as well. I love the fact that God made us for relationship and that He wants us to be engaged with those around us – to love and care for them. Paul got God’s priorities – we need to as well.

Lord please help me to understand how to do relationship well. Please help me to see those in need around me. Please help me to work out how to care for those around me well. Please help me to have confidence in You – to know that You are inspiring others to be thinking about those same ideas for me. Your passion for each one of us to know we are loved beyond imagining is a great basis for our lives – help us to see the pictures You paint so we know!

Written by Therese Manning

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Tuesday 15 August, 2017

Philippians 2:12-18

12 My dear friends, you have always obeyed God. You obeyed while I was with you. And you have obeyed even more while I am not with you. So continue to work out your own salvation. Do it with fear and trembling. 13 God is working in you. He wants your plans and your acts to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without complaining or arguing. 15 Then you will be pure and without blame. You will be children of God without fault among sinful and evil people. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. 16 You will shine as you hold on tight to the word of life. Then I will be able to boast about you on the day Christ returns. I can be happy that I didn’t run or work for nothing. 17 But my life might even be poured out like a drink offering on your sacrifices. I’m talking about the way you serve because you believe. Even so, I am glad. I am joyful with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and joyful with me.

Paul is encouraging the Philippian believers to live lives that reflect
their salvation through Christ. Paul cannot be with the Philippian church
all the time but he is keen for them to continue to live in the same manner.
It’s a shout out to integrity really! He is asking them to live lives beyond
reproach ie. “Live clean, innocent lives as children of God.”  Quite the

Given our human nature it’s nigh impossible in fact it is impossible to
continually live a clean, innocent life.  This is where verse fifteen comes
to our rescue, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power
to do what pleases him.”
Phew! God is working in us even to the point of
moulding our desires and not only that but empowering us to fulfil his will.
This is an amazing promise and one worth remembering.

Dear God, thank you for not leaving us to battle through in our own
strength.  Thank you for working in us and empowering us to life lives that
reflect our faith in Jesus. Please continue working in me and moulding my
desires in line with your purpose.  Amen.


Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Monday 14 August, 2017

Philippians 2:1-11

2 So does belonging to Christ help you in any way? Does his love comfort you at all? Do you share anything in common because of the Holy Spirit? Has Christ ever been gentle and loving toward you? 2 If any of these things has happened to you, then agree with one another. Have the same love. Be one in spirit and in the way you think and act. By doing this, you will make my joy complete. 3 Don’t do anything only to get ahead. Don’t do it because you are proud. Instead, be humble. Value others more than yourselves. 4 None of you should look out just for your own good. Each of you should also look out for the good of others. 5 As you deal with one another, you should think and act as Jesus did. 6 In his very nature he was God. Jesus was equal with God. But Jesus didn’t take advantage of that fact. 7 Instead, he made himself nothing. He did this by taking on the nature of a servant. He was made just like human beings. 8 He appeared as a man. He was humble and obeyed God completely. He did this even though it led to his death. Even worse, he died on a cross! 9 So God lifted him up to the highest place. God gave him the name that is above every name. 10 When the name of Jesus is spoken, everyone will kneel down to worship him. Everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth will kneel down to worship him. 11 Everyone’s mouth will say that Jesus Christ is Lord. And God the Father will receive the glory.

I love this passage. It so clearly says that Jesus is God (not just equal standing with him but one and the same) but also in complete submission to him; that he has all power, but he also put all that power aside to become a person just like me, with all my frailties and insecurities; that he has the highest position possible and took on the lowest position imaginable, even dying the most humiliating horrible death.

I can’t begin to understand how he did it. All I really need to understand is that he did it, and that he did all this because he loves me (and you) so much.

Now comes the hard bit: I need to copy him.

I need to think like him (and if we can all do that we will all be of one mind). I need to love my fellow believers so much I make them more important than me. I need to be the servant rather than the master; the one who encourages and builds up not the one who tears down; the one who is humble, not the one who is proud; the one who gives myself, not the one who takes what I want.

And since Jesus did all that for me before I was a believer, I need to love and give myself for people who aren’t believers yet too. And since Jesus did all this for people who hated him and might never believe in him, I need to love and give myself for people who hate me or him too.

Thank you Jesus that you did far more for me than I could ever do for you; or than I could ever do for anyone else. Change me to think like you; love like you; give myself like you.

Written by David Cornell

1 (reply)
  1. Kim says:

    What a beautiful but challenging passage. Lord help me to think & act more like you, the true servant.

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Sunday 13 August, 2017

Philippians 1:27-30

27 No matter what happens, live in a way that brings honor to the good news about Christ. Then I will know that you remain strong together in the one Spirit. I will know this if I come and see you or only hear about you. I will know that you work together as one person. I will know that you work to spread the teachings about the good news. 28 So don’t be afraid in any way of those who oppose you. This will show them that they will be destroyed and that you will be saved. That’s what God will do. 29 Here is what he has given you to do for Christ. You must not only believe in him. You must also suffer for him. 30 You are going through the same struggle you saw me go through. As you have heard, I am still struggling.

Going ahead – rain, hail or shine’. Have you ever heard that idiom before? It’s essentially a mindset that says, “whatever happens, I’m still going ahead”. Over the June long weekend, a bunch of friends and I planned to go on a camping trip. In the days leading up to the weekend the weather was extremely wet. The weekend was forecast to be equally wet. Given the weather, we had no idea how it would turn out, but thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm of a few key people, the camping trip went ahead and was an absolute blast! It is unlikely that the camping trip would have gone ahead without a ‘rain, hail or shine’ attitude. Can I say, I love that attitude! It’s not doubtful or on the fence. It’s confident and committed. That is the mindset that Paul is encouraging the Philippian church to have when he calls them to live in a manner ‘worthy of the gospel of Christ’. He wants them to be all-in, in a life of witness and faith in God, even in suffering (v. 29).

‘Whatever happens’ in this life doesn’t have to stop us from living for God’s glory. Paul’s life was a clear example of this mentality – he proclaimed Jesus in freedom and chains, rain, hail or shine. This teaches me that a life of faith in God is not bound by our circumstance.

How about you, are there areas of your life where your faith in God is conditional to your circumstance?

Father God, thank you for Paul’s encouragement to us to declare your praise in every circumstance. Give us strength not to be swayed by our circumstances or discouraged by suffering. Help us to have a mindset of being ‘all in’ and to give you praise ‘whatever happens’.

Written by Sam Liu

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Saturday 12 August, 2017

Philippians 1:18b-26‬

And I will continue to be glad. 19 I know that you are praying for me. I also know that God will give me the Spirit of Jesus Christ to help me. So no matter what happens, I’m sure I will still be set free. 20 I completely expect and hope that I won’t be ashamed in any way. I’m sure I will be brave enough. Now as always Christ will receive glory because of what happens to me. He will receive glory whether I live or die. 21 For me, life finds all its meaning in Christ. Death also has its benefits. 22 Suppose I go on living in my body. Then I will be able to carry on my work. It will bear a lot of fruit. But what should I choose? I don’t know! 23 I can’t decide between the two. I long to leave this world and be with Christ. That is better by far. 24 But it is more important for you that I stay alive. 25 I’m sure of this. So I know I will remain with you. And I will continue with all of you to help you grow in your faith. I will also continue to help you be joyful in what you have been taught. 26 I’m sure I will be with you again. Then you will be able to boast in Christ Jesus even more because of me.

Paul is verbalising his adamant confidence in God that everything is going according to God’s plan. He is ready to die, knowing that it means he will be taken to Christ’s side. But he is certain in his spirit that there is still more work for him to do, to help the Philippians church. He is confident that he will be delivered from his gaol cell by God, not for his own sake, but to continue this work. He knows that by the prayers of the church and the presence of the Lord Jesus miracles happen and he expects to have the resources he needs from God to endure pain in the mean time.

I am struck by the way Paul has sized up his situation. Ultimately he says Christ in complete control and has decided that he cannot lose, he is ‘more than a conqueror’! This from a man in a first century roman prison!

Lord, this is the joy that you promised us all, that you will never leave us nor forsake us, that you work all things for the good of those who love you and are called according to your purpose. It is your presence that turns prisons into purpose! Abide with me today. Amen.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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