Read Philippians 2:1-18 and make yourself available to hear from the Holy Spirit.
Throughout this devotional, we have talked about the gospel and the ways it should inform our way of life. Today is no exception. The gospel is not something that we hear once, say a prayer of salvation, and move on. It is something we are constantly being renewed by. Just like we addressed in day 1, even after we decide to follow Jesus and commit Him as Lord, we still need grace daily for our mistakes. That is the difference of Justification and Sanctification in the Christian’s walk. We are justified before the Father by Jesus Christ to have eternal life with Him. But our salvation, the idea of sanctification, is being worked out as we grow in holiness/the likeness of Christ. This is the idea Paul and Timothy are focusing on in today’s reading.
Paul begins by focusing on the fantastic news that we aren’t striving toward the working out of our salvation on our own. He emphasizes that through the encouragement we have in the gospel, the love that has been shown to us, and the participation of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are enabled to grow in the likeness of Christ. With all humility, we value others just as Christ has valued us. This growth, though difficult at times as we’ve addressed in previous days, involves not only the help and guidance of the Spirit, but requires us to take steps of obedience.
Paul and Timothy, who had been with the church of Philippi (whom this letter was written for) in an effort to help them remain rooted in the teachings of Christ, had to leave to continue their work elsewhere. This is where Paul begins to focus on the need for their journey of salvation to be something that they own and work at with reverence toward our awesome God.
If we take the time to unpack this idea, we see just how amazingly intimate our God is in parallel to day 2’s reading. Our Father is mindful of us in such a way that He is working in our lives to enable us to work out our salvation and He sees it as good pleasure (v. 12-13). It is a fantastic nuance where God moves to encourage and we get to move in step with Him out of loving obedience, like we have been urged to do in our reading.
As we walk, we grow in His likeness and shine brightly for all to see. People will recognize in us His fantastic glory that satisfies souls like nothing in this world ever could. So, we rejoice and pour out our thanks by a life of praise! Because there is no better way to use our breath than to use it to glorify the one that gave us the air to breathe. This is the sound of His power in and through our lives.
- In what ways is God refining your walk with Him?
- How can you better live in loving obedience to what God has asked of us through Paul and Timothy’s words?
- End your time by thanking the Lord for the very breath in your lungs He has given you.
Read Ephesians 6:10-20 and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through His word.
The realities of spiritual warfare are overwhelmingly relevant to us today and not something to be ignored. Paul puts it plainly in today’s reading to say that we must be diligent to stand firm in our faith, prepared for the attacks of the devil and his followers.
For us to be prepared, we must be conscious of how and why the enemy attacks.
The how: In an attempt to do everything in his power to turn our eyes away from God and destroy ourselves in the midst of it, Satan uses tactics such temptation or guilt, doubt or fear, or anything that would hinder us from living in light of the truth of the gospel. The why: the devil has no greater agenda than to steal praise and glory from our God who is rightfully worthy of such things. Satan in his pride attempted to become like God and rebelled. This inevitably led to his just sentence to be “brought down to Sheol” (Isa. 14:15). With all of that said, this was not the defeat of Satan. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus would be the end of the devil’s ability to have authority over our lives.
In Jesus’ name, we have the ability to rebuke and cast out demons that torment. We see this in Luke 9 when God gave His disciples the authority over all demons, and again in Luke 10 when the 70 came back rejoicing and saying “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name,”. when the Kingdom of God had been preached. Unlike day 3’s subject discussing God giving differing gifts to His people, this is something we all get to partake in. We all have access to power in Jesus’ name. It isn’t just some phrase we tack onto the end of our prayers, but rather an exclamation of faith that He is able to do much more than we could ever imagine. This armor that we have been given to wear was not given for us to just stand and be protected in the chance of an attack. God has equipped us for battle! The realities of spiritual warfare lead us to understand that we have a real and active part in the combat. Paul reassures us in 2 Corinthians 10 by declaring “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” We have divine authority and access to the very name of Jesus Christ that breaks chains.
So, we walk boldly into each day, equipping ourselves with the full armor of God, knowing we are His and no one and nothing can change that truth.
- Have you been believing any lies of the enemy that has hindered your relationship with the Lord?
- How can you better prepare yourself each day to wear the full armor of God?
- Take some time to ask the Lord to continually reveal truths of Himself to you so that you may stand firm when the enemy attacks.
Read Ephesians 4:1-16 and ask the Holy Spirit to highlight the things He wishes to speak to you.
To each person whom Christ is in, God has specifically chosen unique gifts to demonstrate His power. This fantastic outpouring of the Spirit of God is marked in scripture at the point of Pentecost (found in Acts 2) as the new covenant was established with the death and resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ.
Today’s passage focuses on the fact that the purpose of spiritual gifts is for the edification of the Church. Paul urges us in the first few verses of the reading “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called” (v. 1). He highlights the honor we have as children of God to work in effort toward the unity of the Church. His language emphasizes that we each have a role to play in this. God has given the gifts for us to pour back into the body of believers for the sake of growing, challenging, and encouraging others to mature in their walk with the Lord.
God, in His perfect knowledge, wisdom, and discernment has gifted you, as His follower, a unique role in the body of Christ. He saw you and called you by name. He looked upon you and gave you an ability that He saw fit that would bring Him glory and build up the Church. However, it is important to note, these abilities aren’t something that we use without practicing and developing. Paul says in 2 Timothy 1 that we must “fan into flame the gift of God” (v. 6). We do this in light of our call to mature in our walk and in our witness just as verses 11-16 reference.
For the sake of His glory and the health of the Church, God has chosen us to experience the working of the Holy Spirit in and through our lives in great power, giving us a glimpse of what is to come.
You are called. You are gifted. You are empowered by the Holy Spirit to draw others to Himself. This is, in part, what the power of God looks like.
- What are your spiritual gifts? If you are unsure, take 10-15 minutes to go through our spiritual gifts test found at theheights.org/serve.
- Have you put these gifts into practice before? How is the Lord calling you to further fan them into flame?
- For a more extensive list of the spiritual gifts, find 1 Corinthians 7:7, 12:8-10 & 28; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Peter 4:11
Read John 15:1-17. Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight the things He is wanting to remind and/or reveal to you through today’s passage.
The power of God is not something that can be found apart from God. This is the major theme Jesus reminds us of in our reading. Yesterday we established our need to submit to the authority of Christ as Lord due to our inability to live in such a way that honors Him apart from the gracious help of the Holy Spirit. Today’s passage echoes a similar tone in our dependance yet reflects more deeply upon what it looks like to actually abide in Him.
Jesus begins this illustration with God the Father as the vinedresser (the one to train the vines to grow in the ways desired). Although, helping the branches of a vine to grow isn’t as simple as just pointing them to go one direction. It is an intimate, detailed pruning process that requires attention and discipline toward each branch. This stimulating process gives the vine’s branches the optimal opportunity to flourish.
Christ Himself is the vine. The branches are nothing apart from it. Without the vine, the branches would wither and waste away. But with the vine, the branches surge with life, fervor, and purpose. They bear fruit that was only capable of existing due to the vine’s power flowing through to each limb.
Have you ever considered just how marvelous this is? God the Father is tending to us. He is working in our lives through the loving act of conviction over the areas that don’t bring Him glory to sanctify us. He sees every detail of our seemly insignificant lives and cares enough for us to do what is necessary for us to flourish with great beauty. God the Son is our direct access to this wonderful life in abundance. And His Spirit flows in fantastic power in and through our lives to produce sweet fruits that are pleasing to Him.
If we wish to see God move in and through our lives, we have to remain connected to Him. Verse 12 gives us a clearer understanding of what kind of fruit God wants us to bear—love. A sacrificial love that points to the ultimate love of our Savior. God has chosen you and appointed you to love Him and love others with great zeal through the power of His Holy Spirit.
- Does your life bear fruit? What kind?
- How do you see God pruning/working in your life?
- Finish today’s devotional by asking the Holy Spirit to empower you today to love others as Christ first loved you.
- For further reading of the fruits of the Spirit, find Galatians 5:22-23
Is the power of God something we can experience in and through our seemingly insignificant lives? What even is the power of God? What does it look like? What does it sound like?
We will dive into each of these questions in this seven-day journey. Some briefly, and others more in depth. But before we can dive into those topics, we first have to ask ourselves a different, yet extremely relevant question: Is Jesus really my LORD?
Take a minute to read Romans 8:1-17. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through His word.
Abounding grace. This is how Paul begins this overwhelmingly convicting passage in the book of Romans. Jesus Christ has set us FREE from the law of sin and death by His finished work on the cross. We no longer have to bow down to the crippling weight of sin, but we can walk—run with eyes forward, gazing upon Jesus and rejoicing in the freedom we have because of His sacrifice.
Take a second and be honest with yourself. Are you living life with eyes fixed upon Him? Or are you looking inward, too self-absorbed with pride or shame to even notice that you are living in such a way that is hostile to God (v. 7)? If we’re honest, we are more than likely to say we are living according the flesh. Why? Paul puts it well earlier in Romans as he says, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…for I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:15,18). Relatable, right? As harsh as that seems, we must take a real, hard look at our lives and recognize the reality of our sinful nature that tries to keep us captive, which none are above, and the sweet dependance we have upon our savior that lived sinlessly on our behalf. Thanks be to God; Jesus Christ is the key that has taken off the chains that once bound us.
So, this leads us to ponder the question of how to move forward. As Christ followers, how do we run in freedom rather than choosing to stay in our jail cell of sin, as if trapped, when in reality there are no chains or doors keeping us captive? We know that we are completely unable to live life according to the Spirit on our own. Scripture says that we are free and there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But to what end? What is the proper response to this? The ONLY proper response to this is for Christ to be Lord over your life.
Read over verse 15-17 again.
This is a minute by minute, second by second thing that we, along with the help of the Holy Spirit must remind ourselves who we live for: our Abba!
We will mess up. We will forget to turn our gaze from ourselves to Christ. But this is why Paul began with the theme of abounding grace. Because we get to view our lives in light of the Gospel, knowing He looks upon us with a forgiving gaze for our past and our future. Does that mean we go on to mindlessly sin? Absolutely not. The Gospel should lead us to a heart of loving obedience. We recognize our sin, we see the grace offered to us, and we fall on our knees in humble reverence of this awesome act.
Christ indeed is Lord and worthy of our praise.
- How does the gospel change your outlook on life?
- How will you remind yourself that you are an heir of Christ and make Him Lord today?
- Spend some time in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to prepare your heart to dive deep into learning more of Himself and what that means for you as His child.
As we prepare our hearts for a week of fasting and communing with the Lord through prayer and the reading of scripture, we thought it best to first make sure we clearly communicate the kind of fasting we are encouraging you to partake in.
Why should we fast?
Fasting is a true matter of the heart that we express in the physical way of abstaining from food. Jesus has three things that He expects of us as His followers: pray, give, and fast. The common theme and call are found in our motivation, as we are to live our lives sacrificially and humbly before God.
We fast to see true breakthrough in our lives because, as we see in scripture, some things will never happen without prayer and fasting (Matt. 17:21). Though we know we cannot manipulate the heart of God, the very act of fasting is a testament that we acknowledge we cannot do anything apart from God. We need His sovereign touch to heal, to mend, to undo, or even resurrect.
What is a fast & How should you do it?
The word “fasting” simply means: abstaining from food.
Some examples we see in scripture would be in Esther 1:6, where she and the Jews were to fast from food and drink for three days and Daniel 10:3, when Daniel fasted from specific foods like meat and wine, only to eat things like vegetables and drink water. In our world today, we hear other uses of the word, such as when people go on a social media fast. However, the true definition of the word fast, as we mentioned earlier, refers to abstaining from food.
While other ideas of fasting have their merit, abstaining from food is what we are asking you to do. Specifically, we are talking about a normal fast for 7 days. A fast from food can be done in one of three ways:
- Abstain from food & partake in a liquid only diet
- Fast from sun up to sun down
- Choose one meal each day to fast from
We do recognize that some may have a medical reason that would keep you from abstaining from all foods. If that is you, we encourage you to partake in the Daniel fast and omit a few particular items from your menu.
It’s important to note that fasting without prayer neglects the true purpose of why we are fasting to begin with. So, we want to encourage you to use the time that you would be eating and spend it in prayer and/or going through our provided devotional. Each time you notice your hunger, this emphasizes your need for God and reminds you of the area of your life you are asking the Lord to break through.
Remember, His ways are above our ways and this is an act of obedience and surrender to His ultimate plan.