Great Plains Daily Devotional for 10/1/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Chuck Higgins
Topeka: New Hope UMC
Topeka District
Jin Cho
Topeka: Pleasant Hill UMC
Topeka District
Andrew Conard
Topeka: Susanna Wesley UMC
Topeka District
Jeff Potter
Perry UMC
Topeka: University UMC
Topeka District

Today's Lectionary Text

Philippians 1:21-30

For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Today's Devotional

Would you die for the Christian faith? Perhaps some of you feel a little uneasy with the question: Would you die for the Christian faith?
 
Each morning when I wake, I awaken to the thought of joyful living as I turn to God in prayer, realizing I have been blessed to receive another day after having died to the day I just woke from by asking God something Rev. Adam Hamilton wrote some time ago: “Lord, help me be the person you need me to be today.”
 
Symbolically, it is the way I go from death to resurrection daily.
 
If we look at Paul’s letter to the Philippians, there’s an aspect where Paul is asking a similar question given his circumstances since Paul was likely under house arrest awaiting what may have been his own death sentence. The way Paul approaches the question that today’s reflection asks is different from how you or I might approach it. His answer to the question is to joyfully live for the faith because when you joyfully live for the faith, the resurrection teaches us that dying does not end in death, but dying to ourselves and to the demands of our world means living – joyfully living to Christ.
 
Evading the answer to whether we’d die for the Christian faith often serves as an indicator of fear: fear of judgment, fear of God, fear of others, fear of self and even fear of life itself; and fear is almost always an expression of immaturity. When people live to give an answer to the question, they live more as disciples: willing to learn and grow, determined to serve and teach others about the faith, and a joy in living often faithfully expressed through hope and love.
 
God calls us toward a more mature faith. A more mature faith means having greater contact with the one who gives life. Joyful living means dying to whatever selfish impulses we might have and literally giving our lives over to God. What I’ve found is that anytime I die to myself, I am dying to the Christian faith because in doing so, God restores me to joyfully living to the Christian faith. Through it, God has transformed and continues to transform my life. God will do the same for you.
 
I believe that’s what Paul found out in his conversion. So did Martin Luther and so did John Wesley, and so many who have been transformed by Jesus teachings. When people live as though the life they’re living is no longer their own but God’s, that’s when they become accustomed to joyful living. For me, that means dying to myself to intentionally commune with God throughout the day. It means going to bed each night to praying some variation of: “God, tonight I die to you so I might live for your purposes tomorrow. With your help, I have done my best to be the man you needed me to be today; may I do the same tomorrow. Thank you for letting me die today so I might live to you tomorrow.”
-Rev. Mark Christ
Plainview & Crawford Valley, Nebraska UMC's
mcrist@greatplainsumc.org

Prayer for Reflection

Each day, Lord, you call upon me to live that day to you and each day I endeavor to do just that. Some days I am better at giving up my life for your son than others, but nevertheless throughout each day you give me gentle reminders that you are with me, calling me toward my authentic version of myself, of the child you created and redeemed me to be. Consequently, you present me the gift of joyful living. May I live my life joyfully to you every day as each day takes me another step toward the transformation you intend for me to receive. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 

 

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