This devotional is for the April 30 sermon, entitled “Shocked,” which takes its text and theme from Paul’s distress that the Galatian church had allowed false teachers to infiltrate the Galatian church and lead away gullible people. Paul want’s them to be strong and well informed in their faith so that they will not be vulnerable to such teaching.
Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, April 24. Read Ephesians 1:15-23. 1) What is Paul’s overall opinion of the Ephesian church? 2) What, specifically, does he pray for in their regard? 3) What role do wisdom and enlightenment play in their lives?
Tuesday, April 25. Read James 1:5-8. 1) What does James tell his audience to pray for? 2) How will God respond? 3) What happens to a person who doesn’t seek this quality?
Wednesday, April 26. Read Ephesians 3:13-19. 1) What does Paul pray for in this text in regard to the Ephesians? 2) Why do you think this was important for them? 3) What value does knowledge have for them?
Thursday, April 27. Read Hebrews 5:11-14. 1) What had happened to some of the readers? 2) What did they need according to the Hebrews writer? 3) Why did they need that?
Friday, April 28. Read Ephesians 4:11-16. 1) Why did Paul say that Christ gives us various gifts? 2) What effect does maturity have on its possessors? 3) What happens to immature people?
Saturday, April 29. Read Galatians 1:6o-10. This is the text for Sunday’s sermon.
Prayer for the Week:
Great God and father, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and defeated evil: Grant that I, who has been raised with him, may abide in his presence, undistracted by this world, and so able to rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; I pray this through Jesus Christ my Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
Be Thou My Vision
Dallan Forgaill, 8th Centuy
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
Devotional Article of the Week:
Sing the Jesus Song!
So we are supposed to sing a song to get us on the same page?
by Phil Ware
When I ask folks what is their favorite book of the Bible, many enthusiastically say, “Philippians!” When I ask them why, they respond, “Because it’s the book of joy!”
The richness of emotion and familiarity in Philippians grabs our hearts. Paul’s exhortation to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” is rooted in what Jesus has done for us and is tied to the true peace that Jesus longs to bring to us (Philippians 4:4-8). Paul’s language of affection for these people he misses is deeply moving and emotionally genuine (Philippians 1:3-8). No wonder so many of us love this little letter.
Yet underneath these words of affection, peace, and joy lurks the reality so many of us face in our churches. Many of the typical problems of any small and struggling church made up of new disciples are behind what we find in this little letter. They were trying to hold up under persecution as Paul, their founding minister, is in prison (Philippians 1:12-26). They found themselves divided by a squabble between two leading women who had led many of them to faith in Jesus (Philippians 4:2-3). In addition, they were facing elitist false teachers who were flashing their religious credentials as proof of their legitimacy when their lives and teaching were out of phase with Jesus (Philippians 3:1-16).
In modern terms, these people were facing…
- Hostile culture on the outside.
- Selfish division on the inside.
- False teachers distorting grace.
This dreaded 1-2-3 punch from the devil knocks many vibrant churches to their knees. How could a small church of new disciples without its key leader survive such an attack? What does Paul do to help them survive? How does Paul help them find joy and peace in the middle of such a mess?
- First, he points them to Jesus! He reminds them that they need to invite Jesus back to church!
- Second, he insists that all that they do, say, and think** must be filtered through Jesus and his example.
And the way he does these two things is as simple as it is powerful!
Paul tells them how to live:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus… (Philippians 2:3-5 NIV).
Then he reminds them of a song they sing and urges them to live like the Christ Jesus they praise when they sing these words!
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11 NLT)
This song gave the Philippian believers a simple “Jesus filter” — something they could use to evaluate everything they thought, taught, and did through the sacrificial example of Jesus. Their doctrines, attitudes, and behaviors could be held up to what Jesus taught, what Jesus did, and why Jesus did what he did. This song would be their reminder that Jesus was more than just a Lord to praise in song, but also the template for the way they were to live their lives.
What Paul did for them, the Holy Spirit has done for us by preserving our favorite little letter of Paul. The joy and peace we seek is found in the Lord we follow as his life of servant-sacrifice becomes the guide for our own lives.
- Paul’s “Jesus filter” reminds us that we don’t have right doctrine — no matter how correct theologically we may be — if we treat people in ways that Jesus would never treat them!
- Paul’s “Jesus filter” convicts us that we cannot claim to be spiritually mature while looking down on our brothers and sisters as uninformed, ignorant, and beneath us.
- Paul’s “Jesus filter” tells us that we can’t legitimately call ourselves followers of Christ and then put our own preferences above the needs of those in our spiritual family.
In other words, Paul tells the Philippians — and us — to invite Jesus back to church. To put all we do and all we teach and how we treat each other through the “Jesus filter” and see how it holds up.
This song gave the Philippian believers a simple “Jesus filter”!
Do we “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus”?
Each congregation, every small group, and each missional community that claims to follow Jesus needs to use this “Jesus filter.” For church plants or for the launch of a missional community or for any group evaluating its mission to bring the Kingdom of God to a broken world, the “Jesus filter” must be front and center in what we do and why we do it. Jesus must become the true North Star we use to align ourselves, our budgets, our teaching, and our treatment of each other with the Father’s will.
Let’s sing the Jesus song and then live it!