September 6 — Philippians 3 — Godly Example. Jesus was presented as our supreme example of love and humility in the first two chapters of Philippians but in this chapter, Paul challenges believers to follow his own example: “Brothers, join in imitating me … the example you have in us” (v. 17). What was his example? Part of it was that he recognized the true value of things: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ …” (v. 8). Is anything more important to you than your relationship with Christ? Your time? money? people relationships? goals? entertainment? daydreams? Another example was his focus on spiritual growth: “I press on [:12] … straining forward to what lies ahead [:13] … press on toward the goal [:14] … hold true to what we have attained [:16].” Reading through the New Testament is evidence that you are interested in growing. Paul’s third example was that he anticipated heaven: “we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 20). We need to be thinking more about heaven today and to be getting ready for it.
September 7 — Philippians 4 — Having Peace. We live in political turmoil these days. Half of the people always seem to be upset about the ideas of the other half. The standoff between Euodia and Syntyche at Philippi showed a similar kind of tension (v. 2). Paul urged everyone, “do not be anxious about anything” (v. 5). How can we be peaceful instead? Two solutions are given here. First, we can gain peace through prayer. “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (v. 6). The peaceful result follows immediately: “And the peace of God … will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (v. 7). When you feel tension or anxiety, pray about it! Secondly, Paul said that we can gain peace in two ways, first through meditating on positive things: “whatever is true … honorable … just … pure … lovely … commendable … excellence … worthy of praise” (v. 8). They were also told to put into practice what they had “learned and received and heard and seen” (v. 9) in Paul. The result of that thinking-practicing activity follows immediately: “… and the God of peace will be with you” (v. 9). Let’s be at peace today through praying, thinking, and practicing godliness.
September 8 — Colossians 1 — Wide Influence. During Paul’s three-year ministry in Ephesus, many other places throughout the Roman province of Asia (modern SW Turkey) were evangelized through his influence. One such place was the small city of Colossae about 100 miles east of Ephesus. It appears that the church there was started not by Paul but by one of his converts, Epaphras from Colossae (v. 7). Epaphras, now a prisoner with Paul in Rome (Philemon 1:23), informed him about the people and problems in Colossae. We may never know the outcome of our faithfulness in sharing Christ with others. Like Epaphras, someone we bring to Christ may be used to lead many others into the faith. We could have many spiritual grandchildren we will never meet—until heaven.
September 9 — Colossians 2 — Warnings about Deviations. Four times in this chapter Paul warned believers about the danger of being sidetracked from their faith: “… that no one may delude you” (v. 4), “… that no one takes you captive” (v. 8), “let no one pass judgment on you” (v. 16), and “Let no one disqualify you” (v. 18). What were these deviations? They included “plausible arguments” (v. 3), “philosophy and … human tradition” (v. 8), what food to eat or days to celebrate (v. 16), withdrawing in asceticism (v. 18), and restricting what you “handle … taste … [and] touch” (v. 21). When we get sidetracked, we go off-center. This is the center: “[A]s you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (vv. 6-7). Since the center is Jesus, let us focus on Him.
September 10 — Colossians 3 — Changing Clothes. In this chapter, Paul pictures our taking off dirty clothes and putting on clean ones. Our spiritually dirty clothes need to be “put away [:8] … [and] put off [:9].” Paul lists eleven kinds of sinful dirt on these clothes, things like “immorality … covetousness [:5] … anger … [and] obscene talk” [:8]. Although God will help us, this is not His responsibility; it is ours. Take it off! In their place, spiritually clean clothes are to be put on, things like “kindness, humility [:12] … forgiving [:13] … [and] love [:14].” These, too, are our responsibility. We can work at it by obeying commands like, “Set your minds on things that are above” (v. 2) and “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (v. 16). There, doesn’t that change-of-clothes make you feel better? Although sin may give temporary pleasure, only godly living provides lasting satisfaction.