This week, we begin a new devotional that will come out two times a week. We hope that you will read it and use it in your personal devotional life. If you are not in the habit of regular prayer of Scripture reading, perhaps these devotions will help you establish one. We encourage reading the Scripture alongside the devotional, journaling on the reflection questions, and allowing the prayers to guide your own. The devotions will primarily be written by pastors Okey and Cindy, with the occasional guest writer.
Text: Philippians 1:1-11
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
Something that I have learned about myself over the years is that I am really good at starting new projects. I have great ideas, and lots of excitement. I eagerly get to work, setting out to my task. But then, I get about halfway finished, and I lose interest because I’ve had another great idea that I am eager to start. For every finished sewing or crochet project, for every posted blog entry, for every new ministry idea, there is at least one I have left laying by the wayside, incomplete and forgotten. There is little that is harder for me than maintaining the discipline to finish something I have started before going on to begin something new.
Thankfully, God does not have the same problem that I have. As Paul writes to the Christians in Philippi, he is full of thanksgiving and words of encouragement; words that I know I need to hear: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” When we decide to follow Christ, we haven’t reached the destination. We’ve only begun the journey. When we decide to follow Christ, we don’t automatically become these perfect people who are kind and loving who have their acts totally together. When we decide to follow Christ, the good work has only just started.
When I first decided that Jesus was worth following when I was 15 years old, I can remember thinking after only a few months, “Well, I’m good now. I’ve arrived. I can’t imagine what else I have to learn.” As the years have gone by, I have grown to understand that I am still so very far from being a person who lives and loves like Christ. I have come to see my own selfishness or laziness or fear as things that prevent me from loving God and loving others in the way that Jesus asks me to. I have come to know that the good work that has been started in me is a long, long way from being finished.
If I were God, I would probably end up being one of those halfway finished projects laying by the wayside, incomplete and forgotten. Thankfully, I am not, and God is God. Even with all of the work that it takes to change my life and make me new every day, God doesn’t drop me or you for something better or more exciting. We are it! God will continue the good work that God has started in us until it is complete! I can’t imagine what I will be like on that day, but I am thankful that God will never give up on me.
Where have you seen evidence of the good work started in your life?
Where do you need God to continue to work in your life?
God, you promise that you will always be with me, helping me, changing me, and loving me. Help me continue to open myself up to you. Let your grace wash over me, making me new today. Let your good work in my life continue until it has been completed. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.