Welcome to my new blog! I am so excited you decided to stop by. I hope this blog will encourage you to find quiet pauses with Jesus, to embrace an abundant life rooted in God's promises, and to let Him refresh your soul.
As I was praying about this next devotional, l felt like Philippians was a great place to start. Known as Paul's joy letter, it is a book written to encourage the church to find true joy in Christ alone. I have spent a lot of time in this book through the years. It is one of the most highlighted in my Bible and I am still learning new things.
Paul’s life challenges me. He is grounded in his relationship with Jesus. Every fiber of his being is rooted in the Gospel and breathes out the truth of the Gospel regardless of his circumstances. He lived to bring glory to God and point others to Jesus. Talk about some goals!
As Philippians opens, Paul prays for the church of Philippi to remain focused:
“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God” (Philippians 1:9-11 NLT).
Paul encouraged them toward love, knowledge and understanding.
Love, agapē in Greek, is affection, goodwill, benevolence, brotherly love. It is the mark of a true disciple. "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35 ESV). Paul spurred them to love abundantly. Without love, we are only a "noisy gong or a clanging symbol" (1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV).
Paul prayed that the church would have knowledge. Not head knowledge like the Pharisees, this knowledge is epignósis in Greek – knowledge gained through first-hand relationship. Paul didn’t want believers to simply know about Jesus, he wanted them to experience a genuine relationship with Him that is “anchored deeply in the truth of scripture.” (Macarthur)
Paul also prayed for the believers to have understanding. Aisthésis in Greek means discernment “which speaks of moral perception, insight, and the practical application of knowledge…scrutinizing between right and wrong.”(Macarthur) Understanding naturally flows from knowledge.
Why is this so important?
So that we know what really matters, to approve what is excellent, what is best. “Excellent means “to differ.” Believers need the ability to differentiate, to distinguish those things that are truly important so they can establish the right priorities” so that we may ultimately bring glory to God. (Macarthur) Paul desired for believers to choose well.
Have you ever set a New Year’s resolution to eat healthy and exercise? Raise your hand please. Ha! I always start out excited and motivated. I make some progress. But then life happens, and I get busy or distracted or stressed. I have a bad day or a major difficulty and make a sweet tea or ice cream run. I start slacking from going to the gym and next thing I know - I am right back where I started making not-so-good choices again.
Our spiritual life can be like that. We accept Jesus in our lives, and we are hungry to know Him more. Or, we go to a conference or hear a great message and get fired up again! We are digging into the Word, spending time in prayer and worship, and reading books and listening to podcasts that point us to Jesus.
But then life happens! We get busy or distracted or have a bad day or a major difficulty and we start to slack. We stop pressing into Jesus and pouring over His word. Without even realizing it, we slip into complacency. We let what screams the loudest dictate our lives rather than the still small voice of God.
Just as eating right and exercise contribute to physical health, a genuine relationship with Jesus that is deeply rooted in scripture brings spiritual health – living water to dry, thirsty souls and abundant joy to our hearts. It gives us knowledge and understanding that leads us to prioritize the excellent – the things that matter most.
Paul lived this very thing. He was a student of the Word, he had an intimate relationship with Jesus, and he practically lived out his faith. And, he challenged believers to do the same.
Paul desired that believers stay connected to the source of their salvation, the source that produces the fruit of righteousness. As we will see throughout Philippians, that will produce true joy despite our circumstances.
What did Jesus have to say about this? The exact same thing.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me” (John 15:4 NLT).
Remain. Abide. “With the vine, the organic union with the trunk means life for the branches. This speaks of the essential union that must exist between Christ and believers.” (Wycliffe)
How do we stay connected and focused? How do we abide in Christ? How do we grow in love, increase in knowledge and understanding? How do we live out pure and blameless lives?
It begins with a quiet pause each day.
As I said before, the mission of this website is to encourage others to take a quiet pause. I believe with all my heart that a quiet pause is the one necessary thing (Matthew 10:42) - to sit at the feet of Jesus, to open up God's word, to spend time quietly hearing His still small voice. Focusing. Abiding. Remaining.
So that we will be fruitful and grow in love, knowledge and understanding. So that our lives will bring much glory and praise to God. Don't skip the one necessary thing.
It's what really matters.
Putting It Into Practice
-Take a look at your calendar.
-Pencil in a quiet pause each day.
-Could be morning, noon, or night.
-Start small with 15 minutes.
-Steal time from social media, news, Netflix, etc. You won't miss it.
-Select a few verses to read or a short chapter.
-Use the old Who, What, When, Where, Why and How to assess scripture.
Who wrote it and to whom was it written?
What is the key idea of the passage?
When was it written? (circumstances, place, history)
Where do I sense the Spirit leading? or Where do I struggle obeying this scripture?
Why is this scripture important today?
How can apply it to my life?
Life Application Bible, 1991
The Macarthur Bible Commentary, 2005.
Wycliffe Dictionary of Theology, 1999