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Meeting suffering with confidence in God

November 21, 2023

Daily Scripture

Philippians 1:12-18, 3:10-14

Philippians 1
12 Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that the things that have happened to me have actually advanced the gospel. 13 The whole Praetorian Guard and everyone else knows that I’m in prison for Christ. 14 Most of the brothers and sisters have had more confidence through the Lord to speak the word boldly and bravely because of my jail time. 15 Some certainly preach Christ with jealous and competitive motives, but others preach with good motives. 16 They are motivated by love, because they know that I’m put here to give a defense of the gospel; 17 the others preach Christ because of their selfish ambition. They are insincere, hoping to cause me more pain while I’m in prison.
18 What do I think about this? Just this: since Christ is proclaimed in every possible way, whether from dishonest or true motives, I’m glad and I’ll continue to be glad.

Philippians 3
10 The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death 11 so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead.
12 It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. 13 Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. 14 The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

“Some preached Christ to cause Paul more pain in prison” (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:10)? Scholar William Barclay said, “Others were moved by what Paul calls eritheia…. which originally simply meant working for pay. But the man who works solely for pay… is out solely to benefit himself…. there were those who preached the harder now that Paul was in prison, for his imprisonment seemed to present them with a heaven-sent opportunity to advance their own influence and prestige and lessen his.” *

  • Paul said some people preaching Christ had “jealous and competitive motives.” Surely, he’d object to that, urge the church to condemn them? Scholar N. T. Wright said, “Paul’s reaction is to celebrate. That’s fine by me, he says. As long as people are going around saying that Jesus is the world’s true Lord, I shall be happy.” ** Paul was far less worried about his own prestige than about God’s mission in the world. How close are you to his attitude? How can you grow toward that?
    Special invitation from Pastor Hamilton:
    “This weekend, I really hoped to dig into the stories in Acts 19 about Paul’s ministry in Ephesus and how these relate to us–but had to cut them all out of the sermon. I had photos and other things to share as well. I’ll share these things on my Vespers this Tuesday night. Plan to join me from 7:30 to 8:15 pm CT. I’ll be coming live from my man cave in Stilwell via Facebook Live. Here are the links: Facebook, or YouTube.”
  • Scholar William Barclay said Paul’s word for “reach out” in Philippians 3:13 “is used of a racer going hard for the tape. It describes him with eyes for nothing but the goal. It describes the man who is going flat out for the finish.” *** How can you live your life in such a way that you are going flat out for the goal of living the life God calls you to? What choices can you make in the weeks and months ahead that will empower you to run God’s race with eyes for nothing but the prize?

Lord of my life, let me hear and respond to your calling voice above all others. Give me the courage and the hunger to pursue your high calling wherever it leads me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

June of 2015 may seem a long time ago, but the insight Janelle Gregory (currently Lead Director of Human Resources for Resurrection) shared then still has a lot to say to us today.

I’m certified in my current profession of Human Resources, but my degree is actually in gerontology (aging population). When people find out about my background, they generally have a comment that starts with, “Old people are so…” Often it finishes with words like “sweet” or “wise.” On rare occasions, you’ll hear “grumpy.” But for the most part, people seemed to have an elevated view of what it means to be in your 80’s or 90’s. It’s as if the gift of kindness and sound judgment, is something that is wrapped up in a package for your 80th birthday. “Grandma, we were going to give you that toaster that you wanted, but here’s a gentle spirit instead. We hope you like it!”

But here’s the thing: old people are… people. It’s the same with young people and middle-aged people. Some are kind, some are jerks, some are fools, and so on. There is no magic switch that flips one day to make a selfish person gracious or turn an idiot into a sage. It is something for which you must consciously strive. If you know a “sweet, old lady,” she probably worked hard to get that way, mastering the ability to hold her tongue or seeing the perspective of others. If your grandfather was wise, he made the choice to learn from his mistakes rather than let them define his character.

Each day, we choose the direction of our future – no matter our current age. We have to ask ourselves what we want for our lives in the days, years, and decades to come. As those who adore and have the utmost respect for Jesus, shouldn’t we want our lives to look more like his?

And I’m confident that Jesus wants our lives to look more like his too. He desires for us to know what it means to be more forgiving, generous, righteous, and pure. With his help, through prayer, study, worship, and the encouragement of others, we can become more and more like him each day. Life will continue to hand us opportunities and challenges that give us a chance to choose how to respond. Some will be large while others will be small and daily. We decide how those might shape us to be more like Christ. While we may not be perfect on this earth, it would be great if our lives were molded over the years in way that tells others that when it comes to old Christians… well, they look a lot like Jesus.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, p.24.
** Wright, N.T., Paul for Everyone, The Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 90). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
*** William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, p. 67.