“For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed.” (Philippians 1: 19-20) Paul is in prison, and he points out that his deliverance is tied to his earnest expectation and hope that “in nothing I shall be ashamed.” Shame can have such a crippling force in our Christianity. Imagine if your spiritual leader were in prison. Your friends would all be like, “Well what’d he do?” And to be honest here, before he was this great apostle, Paul led a life of persecuting and killing Christians. So really, he had plenty of reason to be ashamed. But he knew that shame is the real prison from which we need freedom. He believed that he shouldn’t be ashamed of anything. How often do we carry around regret, thinking we should have done this thing, or we shouldn’t have done that? But your sins were separated from you, set aside, and nailed to the cross. Today, let’s let go of any shame and let our prayer be like Paul’s—that because of Christ, in nothing I shall be ashamed.
Do you read the Bible? Do you read it a lot? It’s the foundation for how we are going to accomplish Christ’s work in this world. Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Sometimes we walk into school or relationships or parenting, and we don’t think we’re ready. We feel unequipped. Reading and hearing the Word equips us, but then what? Well, it says that we read it so that we can DO good works! We read it so that we are prepared to not only be hearers of the Word but doers of what it teaches us. It is important that we put God’s Word into practice in our lives, doing good works and letting the Holy Spirit mold us into the people that God wants us to be. It’s great to talk about being more than an over-comer, but then we must start overcoming. Reading the Bible is a life-changing experience, but we must also remember that rather than just increasing our knowledge, God’s Word will be most useful when we put it into practice and allow it to lead us to do good works. Read it, and then DO it.
Ah yes. It’s a new Taking a Minute for a new year. Paul noted in Philippians 3:13 that we should be “forgetting the past and pressing on toward what lies ahead,” which means having great expectations for this coming year. No one presses on to what is ahead if it’s going to be defeat, failure, lack, or sickness. No, we press on because we see the crown, the goals, the rewards, the goodness of our God that awaits us. We serve a God who has rewarded us, blessed us with every Spiritual blessing, and given us His great and precious promises. We serve a God who sent us His Word, Spirit and life. Around every corner in your future expect victory, for our Savior has won it all, finished the work, and made every good thing available to you both now and in eternity. I’m not sure what you did last year, but this year, I want you to set out and become fully convinced that what lies ahead is good. Are you praying for a financial breakthrough? Then expect it to come to you. Are you praying for health? Expect health even now. You can draw your future from the faith to believe that God will do what He said He will do!
Psalm 52:8 says, “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God.” Ok, so first things first, I must be in God’s house for the real God-kind of flourishing to happen. Christians when they first receive Christ understand the obvious. They immediately say, “Well, I need to be in church.” But then you know who’s at church? That’s right, people. And people are not perfect. But people are the church. God sees the church body as perfect, but the people are not perfect. Do you know why? That’s right because they are people. And now you’re there, and you aren’t perfect either. But don’t get discouraged. No church is perfect, and you need to accept that. There will be drama and messes and stuff that bugs you but keep planting because that is how we flourish. It is in this environment that we begin to learn how to love the way God loves… His grace, His forgiveness, and the importance of unity. You want to flourish. And I want you to flourish. Let’s get planted in that church that’s full of people who aren’t perfect but Love Jesus because they are like you, and together we can flourish.