Good Work

Re:Verse passage – Philippians 2:12-18 (day six)

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Genesis 1:28

Work hard to show the results of your salvation,… Philippians 2:12

Be fruitful. Multiply. Have dominion. Work. From the very beginning God set it in the heart of humanity, His image bearers, to do good work. Good work has always been tied to fruitfulness, and fruitfulness to God’s good pleasure and glory. Paul wasn’t commanding the Philippians to begin something new, but to return to something old.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

Do some good work.

New Mind

Re:Verse passage – Philippians 2:5-11 (day six)

“You need to have the same mind as Jesus, to see the world the way He sees it, to share the same attitude.” -Paul, Philippians 2:5

To the church in Corinth he wrote, “Right now, we see things as if we are looking through a dark piece of glass.” To the church in Rome he wrote, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Paul’s desire then and for the church now, is to see and live in the world the same way Jesus did.

Isn’t that what we need? A new mind to see through the things that rob of us joy, and fresh eyes to really see the things that matter most. I imagine it would turn everything on its head; just like he said:

“Don’t you know, to be great, you must become a servant to everyone.”-Jesus

“Don’t you know the meek will inherit the earth.” -Jesus

I’m in need of a new mind (everyday). Aren’t you?



Re:Verse passage – Philippians 2:1-4 (day six)

Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other,…Philippians 2:2a

Recently, I heard a story of one man’s pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of James. There are multiple paths one could take, one of the longest being over 500 miles. It is intended to be walked, although some bike.

His retelling was very inspiring. Along the way, different people, some times two or three at a time, but often just one person would join him. They would walk for miles together. It was those times, as I listened to his story, when he was aligned with someone, or going the same direction, that he found the most joy, along with the encouragement to walk just a little further each day.

This is what I think Paul means by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, or being of the same mind (ESV). Jesus would have used the illustration of being equally yoked; two oxen linked together in order to share the load.

Aligned together, and head in the same direction. Then we can surely cover more ground, and face almost anything.

Above All

Re:Verse passage – Philippians 1:27-30 (day six)

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven…Philippians 1:27a

In a world increasingly divided into tribes (i.e. conservative or progressive), each brandishing their own weapons of war sharpened by deep-seated arrogance and loathing, Paul calls us into something otherworldly.

Faith and joy in Jesus binds us to a new kind of tribe, with a new set of weapons to advance a different mission. Arrogance and loathing are replaced with the two-edged sword of humility and grace, with mercy, and kindness rounding out the arsenal. The fruit of this heavenly tribe’s tactics isn’t death and annihilation, but new life and unity.

You see, you can always distinguish the tribe by the weapons they carry.

So, above all, live as citizens of heaven (aliens and exiles), soldiers in the Gospel tribe.


Re:Verse passage – Philippians 1:20-26 (day six).

“Right now, we see things as if we are looking through a dark piece of glass, but then we will see face to face.” -Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:12 (my paraphrase)

“For me, living is Jesus, and dying is gain.” -Paul, Philippians 1:21 (my paraphrase)

When I was a boy living in Lome, Togo, my parents bought an old but sizable telescope from a German man. It came in a large hefty solid wood box with latches on the side. Included with the telescope were a set of filters; one was used to look directly at the Sun. By the looks of it, it was virtually black. It was so dark a filter you couldn’t see anything at all looking through it, but when we put it over the lens of the telescope we could look directly at the Sun. It was marvelous.

With the filter, it was a marvel to behold the glory of the Sun; we even could identify sun spots on its surface. Of course, looking at the Sun without the filter would be dangerous; you can only handle the Sun filtered. You can’t really see it in all its glory.

That’s what Paul meant by dying is gain. He longed for the unfiltered gaze into the glory of the Son. He longed for the unfiltered life, and it came by dying (and resurrecting into new life).

True Grit

Re:Verse passage – Philippians 1:12-19 (day six)

What I appreciate most about Paul is that his theology is not theory. His theology is not pie in the sky, with all talk and no action. No, Paul practiced what he preached. When in prison he wrote, “Don’t worry about me, God is really using my imprisonment.” When jealous preachers tried to make things worse for him he wrote, “I still rejoice, because at least they are telling people about Jesus, even if they do have the wrong motives.”

So, when you go back and read things like Romans 8:28 (NLT),

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

you believe Paul, because it was his life. He lived what he wrote. Now, we might be tempted to marvel at Paul’s grit and endurance, but what shines brightest is not Paul’s character, but the object of his affection-Jesus.

Paul’s life and words only make sense because of Jesus.


Re:Verse passage – Philippians 1:1-11 (day six)

This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:1

Many translations translate douloi as servant, while its most literal translation is slave. I imagine slave rails against our most basic American sensitivities-our inalienable rights, independence, freedom. Servant just feels better; on the surface it even seems more noble, but it doesn’t really capture Paul’s intent.

It was Paul’s desire to convey their captivity. They were held captive by Christ, in much the same was the Earth is held captive by the Sun. The gravitational pull of the Sun forces the Earth into its orbit. The Sun is literally center to the earth’s existence; it could not pull away even if it had the desire. Furthermore, it is the Sun that provides the energy for life to thrive on Earth. So, it is not only held captive by the Sun, it absolutely needs the Sun.

Paul lives in relation to the Son in much the same way; He can’t help himself. He’s a slave to the gravitational pull of the Son, and it is there, and ONLY there, that He will thrive.

Are you a servant of Christ, or a slave?

Winning the War of Words

Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. Psalm 36:1

The Holy Spirit speaks. His role is to whisper (loudly) the words of God deep within our hearts. Fullness happens when we listen. And His words, like seeds, buried deep into the human heart bear fruit.

The spiritual battle that rages in the human heart is a war of words. After all Jesus said, “From out of the heart the mouth speaks.” The Psalmist would agree. (Psalm 36:1)

While sin can no longer condemn, it still whispers bullets in this spiritual battle. Lies and half-truths hurling like 9mm slugs. But as children of God, the Spirit offers us a new voice, defensive measures and counter attacks.

Hearing His voice is our superpower. And eventually His words turn battlefields into orchards.


Re:Verse passage – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-6 (day six)

Have you considered, what in your life requires faith? Choosing one thing over another because its future reward is greater than the immediate promise of the other?

Because of persecution, the Thessalonians had to decide if this Gospel was true and worth it. Was it worth giving up safety and security, for a future promise? Was it worth putting their family through almost certain hardship, maybe even death? At any moment, with a word, they could have chosen safety over the promises of the Gospel. But they didn’t because their assurance and joy in the future promises of the Gospel were greater than the temporary promise of safety in abandoning the Gospel. Paul attributes this kind of faith and assurance to the Holy Spirit.

I have never had to ask myself those kinds of questions. Never.

Do you have the kind of faith that is super-powered by joy in the Gospel? Would it sustain you through suffering that you could otherwise avoid?

Even though I have never faced persecution for following Jesus, would Paul describe my faith in the same way? I sure hope so. While I don’t share in their persecution, I do share in the Holy Spirit. My faith can muster, because the power of the Spirit is the same in me, as it was in the Thessalonians in the first century.


Re:Verse passage – Ephesians 5:18-19 (day six)

This is no surprise, the Holy Spirit’s end game is our transformation into the likeness of Jesus, but often that is not what we think of when reading Paul’s words, “be filled by the Holy Spirit.”

Instead of transformation, we tend to think possession; an intermittent movement of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. While He may do that, and often does, I don’t believe that is what Paul means at all. Paul is alluding to a way of life, the steady drinking from the fountain of God’s revelation through the Holy Spirit that a rewires our way of life.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is hearing and following the Word of God.