Weekly Devotional – Week of Monday, September 7th 2020

Opening Prayer (from the Book of Common Prayer, Occasional Prayers)

O God, grant that we may desire you, and desiring you seek you, and seeking you find you, and finding you be satisfied in you forever.  Amen.

Bible Reading – Philippians 1:1-6 (English Standard Version)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Devotional – Christ from Beginning to End

One of the most common responses I hear from couples who are having marital problems is, “I just don’t think I love my spouse anymore.”  On the surface what that statement means is that their feelings have changed over the years, but digging down even deeper there is a foundational belief that what brought the couple together in the first place was their love for one another.  Now love in these situations is almost always relative and unique to each individual.  Each person in the relationship defines love in terms of how the “other” person makes them feel about themselves.  Over time those feelings change and then one or both of the individuals no longer like they way the other person makes them feel about themselves.  The result is that they no longer “feel” love for their spouse.

This is a very common situation in marriages and all relationships in general.  Deep down beneath it all we believe that we are the originators of our partnerships.  But what if that is really just a false assumption on our parts?  What if we are not the originators of our marriages or relationships?  What if in fact God is the founder and the sustainer?  How would that transform the way you view your marriage and relationships?  Well, first of all it would give your marriage and relationships a deeper and eternal purpose other than just a means to our own emotional happiness.  Secondly, it would give greater value to our spouses and friends, because they are no longer just a result of our own past decisions, but rather the person that God had chosen to deepen and enrich our lives.  When our relationships gain a true sense of purpose and value it gives birth to hope, that no matter how we may feel at any given moment God is at work in our lives.

This is not only true of our human relationship, but true of our ultimate relationship with God.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi this encouraging word, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  Just as in our human relationships we can fall into the trap of believing that our relationship with God is the result of our own past decisions.  That we made a good choice in the beginning and that good decision will continue to bear fruit as long as we keep making good decisions through our lives.  The problem with this false assumption is that none of us make good decisions all the time, especially when it comes to our relationship with God.

What Paul is proclaiming is incredibly good news because it puts the power of our relationship with God where it truly belongs.  It was God who “began a good work in you.”  Because of our sin and rebellion against God we do not have the power to choose Him.  Our wills are all bound up in our own self-interests, but God in His mercy and love broke into the world and most importantly into our sinful hearts and made Himself known to us.  God began the good work by intervening in our lives, and through the power of His Holy Spirit, calling us into a relationship with Him.  That is truly Good News indeed!

The Good News of the Gospel does not end there.  Not only did God begin His good work in our lives through salvation, but as the Apostle Paul said, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ.”  This means that the power of God is not only at work in our salvation, but it continues to be at work in our lives to the bitter end.  It is God, who by His Grace, through His Son Jesus Christ, continues to sustain us throughout our lives.

There are times in life when we do not “feel” God at work.  There are times when we “feel” that God is far away, but the truth of the Gospel is that the same God who began a good work in us at the beginning continues to do that work in us despite how we may “feel” at any one given moment or season of our lives.  You may be tempted right now to doubt God’s goodness or despair in the state of the world, but one thing is certain, God is doing His good work right now in our lives and will not cease until His Son returns.  Friends be encouraged and keep moving Onward and Upward, knowing that God is at work in you today!

Closing Prayer(from the Book of Common Prayer, Occasional Prayers)

Lord Jesus, Master Carpenter of Nazareth, on the Cross through wood and nails you wrought our full salvation: Wield well your tools in this, your workshop, that we who come to you rough-hewn may be fashioned into a truer beauty by your hand; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, world without end.  Amen.