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Philippians chapter 1

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

SCRIPTURE: PHILIPPIANS 1

AUTHOR:  Joe Ligon

These are written by Bro Joe back in 2017.  We are on a staff retreat this week, so I am bringing these back into publication.

I thought it might be fitting since we left Paul in jail at the end of Acts, to pick up on the letters that he wrote while imprisoned.  This is one of the letters that we call the prison epistles.  The other prison epistles include Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon.

One of the interesting things about this and the other prison epistles is Paul would have written them (or dictated them) while chained to a Roman soldier.  Paul speaks of the impact of this in verses 12-14.  The entire imperial or palace guard knew why Paul was imprisoned.  I have often wondered what it must have been like for a Roman guard who was spiritually lost to be chained to the Apostle Paul for six hours at a time.  The other effect of Paul’s boldness while imprisoned is that other Christ-followers found their courage and voice and shared the Gospel fearlessly (verse 14)

As this letter opens, we find a similar pattern in the greeting that Paul used in most of his letters.  He identified himself and, in this case, Timothy.  Then he greeted the recipients of the letter.  I think it is telling that Paul first mentioned “all the saints” and then mentioned the overseers or bishops and the deacons.  I realize the term overseer and bishop are not used in our Southern Baptist life.  Those are almost synonymous terms that refer to what we would call the pastor.

From the world’s view, a letter to a group of people would almost always be addressed to the leaders or the people in charge of that group.  But that is not the case in Paul’s writing.  He mentions “all the saints” or all the folks in the Philippian church first and then the leadership.  And that is the way it should be.  In the church, leaders are supposed to be last.

As you read through this first chapter, I want you to notice the progression.  Paul says that the Philippians were on his mind.  Next, he said they were in his heart.  And finally, he says they were in his prayers.

There are a couple of rather famous statements in this chapter that I want to call your attention to next.  The first one is found in verse 6:  “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”.  What an incredible statement of assurance.  Our relationship with Jesus can be divided into three sections: salvation, sanctification, and glorification.  What this verse reminds us of here is priceless.  First of all, salvation is the work of God in you.  He is the one that saves.  Secondly, once God initiates salvation, it is His responsibility to carry it through to glorification.  That doesn’t mean we don’t have some responsibilities between salvation and glorification. But it does mean that what God starts, God finishes.

The other rather famous statement that Paul makes in this chapter is found in verse 21: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”.  Paul goes on then to say that he doesn’t know which he would choose because he could see good in both. It is interesting that Paul could view death as gain.  Almost everyone in our culture sees death as a loss.  But not Paul.  He had seen the risen Savior on the road to Damascus.  He had been given a glimpse of the third heaven.  So, he knew some of the glory that awaited him when he died.  But as he says in verse 24, it would be better for the church at Philippi if he lived so that he could be a help to them.

 

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Ephesians chapter 6

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

 

SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 6

AUTHOR:  Joe Ligon

 

Today we bring our journey through Ephesians to a close.  Although this book has only six chapters, it really is just full of good, important stuff.  I regret that we were only to scratch the surface.  But the reality is we all have limited time and limited space for everything including these daily devotions.  I hope our quick tour through Ephesians has been helpful.

Although this final chapter of Ephesians speaks of parent/child relationships and employer/employee relationships, it is perhaps best known for its section on the armor of God.  This begins in verse 10.

As this section opens we are encouraged to be strong and to put on the whole armor of God.  The reason for this is the spiritual battle(s) that Christ-followers face on at least a daily basis.  We are told this is necessary to stand up against the schemes or wiles of the devil.  The word translated schemes or wiles is where we get our word methods from but it refers to trickery or deceit.  In other words, the devil does not fight fair.  He is a liar who will use every trick in the book to defeat you or any other Christ-follower.

Verse 12 gives us an incredible insight to our spiritual battles.  Our battle or fight or wrestling is not with flesh and blood.  In other words, our actual enemy is not human.  Our struggle should never be with each other.  Instead, our battles are with the demons that serve Satan.  Honestly, that sometimes takes on a human form and sometimes humans are used mightily of Satan.  But we really need to remember who are real enemy really is.

As you read through the description of the armor of God, you will find that the vast majority of it is defensive in nature.  It is designed to protect our minds and hearts.  We are to be wrapped in God’s truth and to wear spiritual shoes that will keep us from slipping down or slipping backward.  We are given a shield that absorbs and extinguishes the fiery, flaming darts of the enemy.

The only offensive weapon we are given is a sword which this passage defines as the Word of God.  The only offensive weapon we have is the Bible.  The only way we can be adept at using this offensive weapon is we have to spend time with it and in it.  We just can’t carry around our Bibles and swing them at unsuspecting folks.  We have to get into the Word deep enough that the Word gets into us.

But even with all that armor and with that very sharp sword, we still need spiritual help to survive and even be victorious in the spiritual battles.  Verse 18 challenges us to pray for ourselves.  The same verse also challenges us to pray for other Christ-followers.  Prayer not only prepares our hearts but also prayer unleashes the power of God.  Remember He is able to do immeasurably more than all that we ask or think according to His power that is at work in us. (Ephesians 3:20)

When you put all of this together, you realize that the Christian life is not for sissies.  And it is not for the faint of heart.  The call to the Christian life is a call to battle that is not only real and intense but it is also often an unseen spiritual conflict.  As Christ-followers we have to be willing to stand against the enemy and to pray for our brothers and sisters to stand with us.

 

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