Friday, February 24
We usually associate contentment with good conditions. When our family relationships are great, work is fulfilling, and we have no health or financial problems, then we feel at ease. But if something goes wrong, our satisfaction vanishes.
That’s not what today’s passage is talking about. Paul had learned to be content no matter what his conditions were. This is wonderful news for us because it means we aren’t at the mercy of our circumstances; we, too, can learn to be content regardless of what we’re facing. We should remember:
Paul was content because he rested in God’s faithfulness. He knew the Lord was in full control (Psalm 103:19) and promised to work all things for His children’s good (Romans 8:28). In any and every circumstance, Paul rested in the security of God’s sovereign, loving hand. The apostle also trusted that whatever he needed would be provided in the Lord’s time.
His contentment also flowed from a focus on Christ. Although he was writing from a Roman prison, Paul wasn’t feeling like a victim or wallowing in self-pity. Throughout the letter to the Philippians, he talked about Jesus. In fact, his greatest pursuit in life was to know Christ, His power, and the fellowship of His sufferings (Romans 3:10). No circumstance could hinder that pursuit. On the contrary, every situation—even when painful or difficult—was an opportunity to know Christ more intimately.
We’ll never be able to find lasting contentment in our circumstances, but we can find it in Christ. When we surrender our life to Him, our situation may not change, but we will. No matter what we face, we can be content.
Thursday, February 23
Seeing Christ in Our Circumstances
If you had the power to change your circumstances, would you? Since no one has a life without problems, most of us would immediately say yes. However, the reality is that we must learn to live with some of our difficult circumstances, because only God has the power to alter them—and in His providence, He’s allowed them to remain.
Take the apostle Paul, for example. He had a desire to go to Rome and preach the gospel but didn’t anticipate the route God would use to bring him there. It began with false accusations in Jerusalem, an appeal to Caesar, a rough sea voyage, and a shipwreck and eventually included time spent in a Roman prison. This was probably not what Paul had envisioned, but as he sat chained to a Roman guard, he wrote the following words to the church in Philippi: “My circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). The very circumstance that may have seemed like an unfair misfortune became the avenue for fruitful service.
What looks like a shipwreck or detour in our plans could actually be God’s ordained path for our lives. It may include financial challenges, health issues, relational conflicts, or any number of other hardships, but there is one certainty to which we can cling: Jesus Christ is our life, and He never changes.
Conditions around us will fluctuate, but if we belong to Christ, He’ll use every situation to accomplish His will in and through us. Even when we face matters of life and death, we can share Paul’s desire—that Christ would be exalted in us, whether through life or death.
Wednesday, February 22
God in Three Persons
Years ago, after I preached about God’s Spirit, a woman came up after church to complain, “Why do you talk about the Holy Spirit when people need to hear about Jesus and God?” Sometimes even those who have been Christians for a long time regard the Trinity as a hierarchy. To their way of thinking, the Father is God, Jesus is slightly beneath Him in rank and seniority, and the Holy Spirit is their servant. While this may conform to human models of authority, it isn’t biblical.
According to the Scriptures, all three members of the Trinity are fully God:
God the Father—Jesus Christ referred to His Father as God (John 5:17-18).
God the Son—John 1:1 identifies Jesus as divine. While Christ never specifically called Himself “God,” His Father did apply the title to Him (Heb. 1:8). Furthermore, Jesus acknowledged having unlimited power—an attribute possessed only by the divine Creator (Matthew 28:18)—and also accepted worship (Matthew 14:33; John 9:38).
God the Holy Spirit—After declaring that God raised Christ from the dead, the New Testament goes on to credit the Holy Spirit with the resurrection (Romans 8:11). Jesus reinforced that idea when He commanded the disciples to baptize new believers in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Bible confirms that each member of the Trinity is equally God. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit function as a unit—no one is more important or less essential than the others. All three are focused upon their plan for mankind: salvation, transformation, and glory for God.
Tuesday, February 21
The Truth about the Trinity
The word Trinity cannot be found in the Bible, but the truth of it can. While there’s only one God, the Godhead consists of three distinct persons—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All are equally omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, and unchanging, but each is unique in function.
Scripture not only shows how each member of the Trinity fulfills His specific role but also reveals how those three roles interrelate. Let me express this idea in simple terms: The Father creates a plan, Jesus Christ implements the plan, and the Holy Spirit administers the plan.
The way of redemption showcases these roles in a clear manner. The Father designed and organized the way that mankind would be redeemed (Gal. 4:4-5). He set into motion a complex set of events, actions, and prophecies, which culminated in the life and death of a Savior. The Son carried out the plan (John 6:37-38). He followed the Father’s instructions to come to earth, even though that meant He would have to die. The Holy Spirit sees to it that every person feels a call toward God’s saving grace (John 16:8; Rom. 1:19-20). Furthermore, He transforms the lives of those who receive salvation through Jesus Christ.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal in their divine attributes. Yet each one relates to mankind in a different way because He has a specific role in our life. It’s very important to understand this distinction: We do not have three gods; we have one God in three persons functioning uniquely and perfectly.
Monday, Febrauary 20
Working out Your Salvation
What does it mean to “work out your salvation”? Many people mistakenly think Paul was telling us to work for our salvation. But the apostle was saying something completely different—that your salvation experience isn’t the end of your spiritual journey. Rather, it’s the catalyst that turned on your “operation mode.”
Once you have trusted Jesus as Savior, you can begin living out what He’s given you, which is His abundant life. If you’ve given your heart to Him, the Holy Spirit now indwells you—He is with you forever. It is God’s Spirit working in and through you that empowers you to live out your salvation. The degree to which you yield to Him impacts the work He’ll achieve through you and the changes He will effect in your life.
Let’s say you start reading the Bible and learning. As your faith and relationship with the Lord develop, you will begin to notice Him moving in your life. When you share your faith and your blessings with others, you’ll notice God working through even more avenues. Keep following Him, and you will see the seeds He’s planted within you flourish (Isaiah 55:10-11). So when Scripture says we’re to “work out [our] salvation,” it means we need to reverently live out what’s already been given to us—and allow the life of Christ to come fully to fruition.
Your salvation should become an expression of Jesus’ life wherever you are. As you work it out among your friends and family, on the job, in school, and even with strangers, God’s Spirit will energize you to make a difference and impact others—in other words, to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).
For more Biblical teachings from Dr. Charles Stanlely, visit www.intouch.org