Philippians part 1

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September 24-28, 2012

Family devotions for the next few weeks will be from the book of Philippians.  They will be heavily focused on memorization and family discussion.  Family Discussion comes easier when families are connected emotionally and have the opportunity to laugh and share together about daily life events before going into discussion about faith.  Try some of the following ideas to help make devotions a Family Sharing activity that ends up focusing on God’s Word:

Ask each family member to share something good and something bad about their day.  Make sure you don’t interrupt, and save concerns or “lectures” for later!

Ask someone in the family to pick a favorite Sunday School song.  Then have the whole family sing.  If it has motions, do those, too! 

Ask a family sharing question, such as:  If you have gone anywhere today, where would you have gone and why?  If you could do anything you wanted to tomorrow, what would you do?  If you could be any animal, what would want to be?  If you could go back to anytime in history, when would you go back to?

Ask each family member what they got to do that day at work, school, home, etc.  Find out what their favorite part of the day was.

Continue by reading the Scripture verse and challenging family members to memorize it with you.  Start phrase by phrase, or put it to music, or add motions to make memorizing easier.  Add more each day, and always go back and read all of the Scripture you’ve had so far that week!


MONDAY, September 24

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  Colossians 3:16

What does it mean to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly?”  Another translation puts it this way: “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives” (NLT). How do we let the message about Christ, which is the Gospel we speak about, hear about, and experience every Sunday, fill our lives?   How does it dwell in us?  The word dwell makes me think of a house.  When you dwell, or live, in a house, you and your family make the house a home.  You give the house a certain character.  You don’t just pass through it.  Without human presence, the house is just a house, not a home.  It’s not being dwelled in.  How does that connect to how God’s Word is to dwell in us?  It shouldn’t just pass through us – in one ear and out the other.  God’s Word molds our character.  It makes us whole beings.  It changes the way we think.  When we let God’s Word dwell in us, nothing about us is the same as it was before.

Our family devotions are going to be walking through the book of Philippians, with the intent of helping your family dwell on God’s Word and learning to let God’s Word dwell in you.  Each day, you are encouraged to read and memorize the passage.  The next day, go back and read the passages from the beginning of the week up until that point, and recite them together – from memory if you can!  Repetition and memory are the start of letting God’s Word dwell in you and your family.

What do you think happens when we let God’s Word dwell in us?  What do you think of with the word “dwell”?  How is different than just hearing God’s Word?  What can your family do to rise to the challenge of memory work together?


TUESDAY, September 25

Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God every time I remember you.  Philippians 1:1-3

Philippians was written to the Christians in the city of Philippi.  Paul wrote it with Timothy while he was imprisoned in Rome for preaching the Gospel.  The letter, like most of his “epistles” as we call them, was written to encourage and instruct the people he couldn’t be with.  It was kind of like he was their long-distance pastor.   Paul was proud of the Philippians, and they gave him great joy.  We’ll see why as we explore the book more.  Take a look at how Paul addresses the people there. 

After he says who is writing, what does Paul start off with?  What would happen in your family if you greeted each other with a blessing every morning?  What could you each say to bless the other people in your home?  Why do you think Paul might thank God when he remembers the people in Philippi?  Is there anyone in your life whom you thank God for every time you think of them?  What would happen in your family if every time you thought of another person in your family – a spouse, child, parent, or sibling – you thanked God for that person?  What would change about your family?

Pray together:  Today, take turns thanking God for each family member you have.  You can include those not living with you if you’d like.  Have each person verbally thank God for at least one other family member and something specific about that person that you are thankful for.


WEDNESDAY, September 26

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the Gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.  God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:4-8

Today we see part of the reason that Paul always thanked God when he thought of the Christians in Philippi.  Their church – or community of churches – partnered with Paul in spreading the Gospel.  They always supported him.  Paul is comforted by that knowledge and he finds joy in remembering them and in praying for them.  He even says it’s right that he feels this way, and his main reason is because they all share in God’s grace together!

Is there someone in your life whom you pray with joy for?  Is there someone for whom you feel the way Paul feels about the Philippians?  What do you think a church would be like if its members prayed with joy for each other simply because we all share in God’s grace?  What if Christians prayed that way for other Christians whom we can’t be with but know and love because we all share the Gospel together?  How is your memorizing going?

Pray together:  Pray for someone in our church – anyone who comes to mind.  Then pray for someone you know who is a member of the Church but who is in another part of the country or world.  Thank God for the grace he gives to all of us!


THURSDAY, September 27

And this is my prayer:  that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.Philippians 1:9-11

The New Living Translation puts verses 9-10 this way: “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.  For I want you to understand what really matters…”  What really matters?  That’s a tough question to get a straight answer to.  It all depends on who you ask.  What really matters in life?  The world will tell you things like: money, family, fame, being good, taking care of the earth, and much more.  God has told us what really matters is a right relationship with Him.  Without that, we can’t have good relationships with other people, we have no purpose, we have no hope, and all our efforts to be good or to save the earth are hopeless.  Knowing Jesus and learning to let His love overflow in you is what matters.

How does your family answer that question?  Do the decisions you make in how you spend your time, money, and resources actually match that answer?  What would change in your life if your family truly lived and taught to one another that a relationship with God is the most important thing in life?

Prayer:  Spend time praying about the spiritual needs of your family.  Ask God to help your family grow in knowledge of him and in wisdom.  Ask Him to help you use your time, money, and resources to do things that are wise and pleasing to Him.


FRIDAY, September 28

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel.  As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.  Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.  Philippians 1:12-14

As human beings, we tend to try to avoid painful or unpleasant circumstances.  We foolishly are tempted to let ourselves believe that bad times can never produce anything good.  The Gospel reveals the falsehood of that statement.  God can take the worst circumstance and redeem it, making it beautiful.  He proved that to us in the cross.   God tells us that he takes those painful times to mold us into beings who are more like Christ, and therefore, more like what He originally created us to be.  He puts us through fires to burn off the impurities in us and make us beautiful, refined creatures.  And we have the opportunity to use those difficult times to bless or curse God.

What good thing came out of Paul’s bad circumstance?  Why do you think Paul’s chains encouraged others to be bolder about speaking God’s Word?  Can you share any difficult times that God redeemed and brought beauty or hope from?  Can you share any difficulties in your life that helped someone else believe in God?

Prayer:  Ask God to help you grow in times of difficulty and to trust His plan, instead of fighting Him or being angry.  Thank Him for any times of growth that you shared with your family.

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