Verse of the Day

Daily Devotion 

By:  Bro. Bob Maynard

3 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 3:1 NASB  Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.

To me, Philippians chapter 3 and 4 give me some of the best blessings in all of scripture.  But then I could say that about some chapters in John or Romans or Hebrews or…. Let’s face it: God’s Holy Word is such a blessing in all of its books.  Why? Because the Holy Spirit can speak to us directly through it.  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16 NASB).  And it is such a thrill when the Creator of the Universe speaks to us.

And so Paul is finishing up his thoughts to the Philippians, he starts off with finally.  These are his final thoughts.  His parting treasures of wisdom and encouragement.   And to me they are some of the key thoughts as to how we can live our lives to please our Lord and Master.  I want you to notice who he addresses these thoughts to: my brethren.  In other words, Paul is addressing his brothers and sisters in Christ.  He is encouraging them.  Now I ask you: Should we not do the same?  Yes, I believe we should encourage our brethren, our brothers and sisters in Christ wherever we are and any time that we encounter them.  How can you encourage them?  By being of the same mind that Paul says in this verse: rejoice in the Lord.  If you are being filled with the Spirit of the Living God, then His joy, one of the fruits of the Spirit, is going to fill you.  And a natural outpouring of joy in the Spirit is rejoicing in the Lord.  Question: When is the last time that you just said spontaneously: Praise God!  Or Thank You Jesus!  Or All Glory be to God!!!  My friend, the message to you and me from God’s Holy Word today is: rejoice in the Lord.  And there is no better way to do that than to express it with your mouth by giving praise to Him and that in turn will encourage your brethren, those brothers and sisters in Christ that you come in contact with.

Now when Paul writes: To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you, doesn’t mean that he is writing the same things that he has already written.  What it means is that he is going to write the same things to them that he has already spoken to them.  He wants to remind them of what he said while he was with them.  Just as the scriptures says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8 NASB), so His message is the same whether spoken in person or written.  And it makes no difference if it is spoken/written once or a hundred times: The message is the same.  And so Paul says to write the same things again is no trouble to me.  In other words, it doesn’t bother Paul to say the same things again and again.  In fact, you will find that as you look and examine scriptures, and compare scriptures with scriptures, it is the same message over and over again: Repent of your sin by confessing it to Him; believe in, trust in and rely on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord; and allow Him to direct and guide your life by the Holy Spirit that is in you.  My friend, there is no room in the Good News of Jesus Christ for human merit or human achievement.  It is only as we submit our spirits to His Spirit that we become the righteousness of God in Him.

And so Paul, in love and patience, says to the Philippians and us that if we will read and heed what he is going to tell is in these last two chapters, that it will be a safeguard for you.  I don’t know if you know this but it is pretty evident: But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves (2 Peter 2:1 NASB).  Jesus even warned us of such when He said: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15 NASB).  “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many (Matthew 24:11 NASB).  “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24 NASB).

So the Bible is given to us for our instruction: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV).  It is not just the books or letters that Paul wrote that are for our instruction.  It is all of God’s Holy Word that is given for our instruction and training in righteousness.  When we are told something from the preacher or the Sunday school teacher that we don’t understand, we need to search the scriptures to see if these things be so…. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so (Acts 17:11 NASB).  I believe that we are in the last days and that many false prophets have arisen and have mislead many.  Therefore, the message to you and me is: Beware of the false prophets.  Just remember: The message never changes, just like Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Lord, I want to live a life that is pleasing unto you.  Lord, I believe you have given us your Holy Word to guide is and instruct us in the path of righteousness.  Lord, please help me to read it and heed it.  I want to please you in everything I think, say and do.  And the only way I know to do that is to walk in the Spirit and live by the Book.  Lord, please fill me, mold me and make me into the man you want me to be so that you can say on that last day: With whom I am well pleased.  Lord, I love you.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

2 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 2:30 NASB  because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.
Epaphroditus is the subject of our VOTD and this verse is closely tied in with the previous verse which says: Philippians 2:29 NASB  Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard.  Our VOTD is actually the answer for the previous verse, which answers the question of why we need to hold men like him in high regard.  So we need to think about our VOTD in light of the previous verse.

First, we need to see Epaphroditus as the one who came close to death for the work of Christ.  Now you might be thinking, but he was just sick.  How does that tie into the fact that he came close to death for the work of Christ?  Again, you and I don’t know the time of year nor the hazards that Epaphroditus faced as he traveled from Philippi to Rome to deliver the gift he gave to Paul.  It might have been winter time and he faced many hardships in his 700 to 1,200 miles of travel plus the fact, he didn’t have the warm clothes that you and I have today.  I tell you the truth, it is amazing to me that he was able to make the trip at all, let alone that he was sick after he got there…  Have you ever heard of pneumonia?  Of course you have.  Could Epaphroditus have had it?  Of course he could have?  And he could die from it.  Just like some people do die from it.  Here, I found this on the web: Pneumococcal pneumonia leads to the hospitalization of more than 300,000 people aged 50 and older each year in the United States. In some cases, it can even lead to death.  My friend, it is true, regardless of the sickness of what Epaphroditus had: he came close to death for the work of Christ.

Here is the tie between close to death for the work of Christ and being sick.  When you or anyone are doing the Lord’s work, especially that of a missionary, they are doing the work of Christ.  Anything that happens to that person, whether it be sickness or and attack by Satan, or any other bad thing, it can and should be considered as something that we are risking our lives for the work of Christ.  Because it is just like the scriptures say to us: for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (Romans 14:8 NASB).  Therefore, we need to: hold men like him in high regard; because he came close to death for the work of Christ.

What would you risk your life for?  Would you risk it for your mate?  Of course.  Would you risk it for your children?  Of course.  Would you risk it for a stranger?  Possibly?  How about: Would you risk it for the Lord?  Our instant answer might me: Why, yes, of course?  But would we really?  Would we really risk our lives for the Lord?  The reason I question “If we would risk our lives for the Lord” is because of the fact, if we won’t even risk the possibility of incurring the anger of someone if we tell them about Jesus, why would we say that we would risk our lives for the Lord?  It seems to me that we have a double standard.  We are saying what we want to hear but living by another standard.  Lord, please forgive me.

But one fact remains, Paul says: Epaphroditus risked his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.  Epaphroditus put it all on the line.  He had no double standard.  He was tried and true.  The message that God wants you and me to receive is this: One: hold men like him in high regard.  Two: Strive to emulate their values and character traits into our own person and your resolve.  Jesus said it this way: But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one (Matthew 5:37 NKJV).  If we are going to be the men and women of God, doing the will of God and doing what He wants us to do, then we have to become men and women of our word.  If we say that we are going to do something, we need to make every effort humanly possible to do what we said that we are going to do.  If we tend to forget to do what we said that we are going to do, then we need to develop a reminder system.  Little sticky notes work for me.  What is your reminder system? 

If we say that we are going to do something and don’t do it, or just “blow it off” then we are a liar and the truth is not in us.  Now I know there are “situations” and “circumstances” that prevent us from doing what we said that we were going to do, but those should become the “rare” exception in our lives rather than the “common” event that we are known for.  So the Lord says to us: If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  (Romans 12:18 NASB) And: Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men (Colossians 3:23 NASB).

Lord, please help me to be a man of my word.  I want my yes to be yes and my no be no.  Lord, I want to remember to do what I said that I am going to do.  But Lord, I know that I need help in this area because I have forgotten to do things in the past.  Lord please help me to remember and to even write them down so that I won’t forget.  Lord, as always, I want to do them all just to please you.  And the reason is: Because I love you, Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

1 August 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 2:29 NASB  Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard;
The subject of our VOTD is Epaphroditus that is mentioned way back up in verse 25: (Philippians 2:25 NASB)  But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need.  We have been talking about him for several days and we will talk about him again tomorrow.  This verse breaks down into two natural thoughts: Receive him then in the Lord with all joy.  And secondly: hold men like him in high regard.
First of all, I would like for us to think about the word receive.  Why would Paul tell the Philippian Christians that they needed to receive him?  Wouldn’t they just naturally do that?  What is Paul trying to say?  Why would Paul even have to mention to them to receive him?  Well, maybe Paul knew something that we don’t.  Maybe Paul knew how the Philippian Christians thought about Epaphroditus before he left Philippi.  Now I admit that I am just guessing here, but there seems to be something more going on in this verse and the next verse than meets the eye.  We just need to understand that whatever Paul’s motive was for penning these words, it was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and so we just need to understand what they mean to us.  We don’t need to read anything into these words that the Holy Spirit doesn’t intend for us to think about.  These words need to inspire us to do things in like manner and all for the right reasons.
So with that being said, let me ask you: How do you feel about missionaries?  Epaphroditus is a missionary.  He was a missionary from Philippi to Paul to meet Paul’s needs.  Paul was sending Epaphroditus back to Philippi and Paul was giving the Philippian Christians instructions on how to receive him.  What does the word receive mean?  Of the 18 different definitions that Webster’s gives this one little word, the meanings that fits the most for this verse is seem to me to be:  To welcome; to lodge and entertain; as a guest. And: To admit into membership or fellowship.  Paul wanted to encourage the Philippian Christians to receive him then in the Lord with all joy.  Paul knew that they had heard that Epaphroditus had been sick and sick to the point of death.  Why?  Because he had put his life on the line for the sake of being used by the Lord.  He encourages them to receive him in the Lord.  Epaphroditus was the Lord’s servant and as such, they needed to see Him as being used by the Lord.  Paul wanted the Philippian Christians to welcome him with open arms and with all joy.  Make a special note to yourself: If you ever get a chance to entertain a missionary in your home or in any other way: Open your heart to receive him or her in the Lord with all joy.  I believe that is the message to us.  We need to see ourselves on the receiving end of this VOTD.  It makes no difference who the missionary is or where they are from.  We need to make up or minds and hearts right now: I will, as the Lord allows me, receive the missionary in the Lord, with all joy.  I want you to know something: There is a verse of scripture that is a mystery and it applies to this verse.  Here it is and I want you to think about this verse in relationship to entertaining strangers:  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2 NASB).  I will leave it up to you to decide if these two verses can be tied together???
The second part of our VOTD says: hold men like him in high regard.  Again, Paul is giving not only the Philippian Christians instructions about Epaphroditus, but he is giving us instructions also.  So how does this apply to us?  I believe the Holy Spirit is giving us instructions on how to think about not only missionaries but also God’s servants.  We need to do what the Holy Scriptures tell us and think like God wants us to think.  But why would God even need to tell us how to think about such things as this?  It is because we grow complacent about such matters.  We grow familiar with the everyday events of church life and we start taking for granted the GREAT gifts that God has given to us.  Here is the same thought expressed in bold terms: The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17 NASB).  I believe the Lord wants to remind us to hold men like him in high regard and toconsider pastors who rule well worthy of double honor because they work hard at preaching and teaching. 
Bottom line:  When is the last time that you honored your pastor?  What did you do to honor him?  Here is my challenge to you: Ask the Lord what He wants you to do to honor your pastor.  What He wants you to do to honor your Sunday School teacher?  What He wants you to do to honor your deacon?  The message to you and me is: hold men like him in high regard.
Lord, please forgive me for being complacent about this.  I confess: I have sinned.  Lord, please burden my heart on what you want me to do to honor my pastor and the other Christian leaders in my church.  Lord, help me to know what to do and when to do it so that I might please you in all things.  Lord, I love you.
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

31 July 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 2:28 NASB  Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you.
I have broken this verse down into several parts.  We will not reflect or examine every part but I just want to remind you that if you will take the time to look at scripture, it will reward you in several ways:  

Therefore – Reflects back.

I have sent him – Looks forward.

all the more eagerly –  Shows the spirit of “sent.”

so that when you see him again – Anticipates what will happen.

you may rejoice – Has a desired outcome.

and I may be less concerned about you. – Declares the benefit of giving.

The thought that comes to me as I think about this scripture is: What do you hope to gain from reading the Holy Word of God?  I am sure as you think about it, you hope to not only keep your relationship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, pure, clean and fresh, but you also hope to grow in grace and knowledge of His will, His way and His desires for you as you walk on this earth in the Spirit of Him who loves you and gave Himself up for you.  What better way to do that than to understand how the mind and hopes of the great apostle Paul works?  When we see, know and understand how his mind works, his hopes and desires as well as his concerns, we can better know how our mind, heart, will and desires should line-up with his.

Paul is constantly and consistently using the term therefore.  In fact, when I do a simple search on the word therefore in the New American Standard Bible in just the letters that Paul has written, I find the word used 120 times in 119 verses.  That means the word is used twice even in one verse.  Ask yourself “why?”  Why does he always use that term?  I believe Paul is wanting us to constantly and consistently reflect back on what God has been doing in our lives.  As we look back and we examine where we came from as compared to where we are now, then we can evaluate what God has done in our lives by His grace and mercy to us and in us.  As you reflect and understand how He worked in your life, you can be like Paul when says: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  (Philippians 4:4 NASB).  When you see, know and understand how the hand of God has worked in your life, even though you don’t understand how He does it, you can truly rejoice because He and only He did it.

There is an outcome from your rejoicing in what God has done in your life.  And that is you can eagerly look forward to serving Him in the future.  I believe we have all experienced the feeling of dread, worry and even fear when we think about going in to work when we know that there are mountains of problems with seemingly unsolvable situations that face us.  But when you consider the scripture: You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4 NASB), and you remember how God has worked in your life in the past and the victories that He has enabled you to conquer, then you can rejoice in the fact that we can have victory over our future problems just as the Holy Scriptures tell us: For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith (1 John 5:4 NASB).

As we reflect with therefore and then we rejoice in the Spirit, there is an eventual outcome for our spirit.  We can become like Paul when he says in our VOTD when he says that he is less concerned.  It doesn’t mean cares about them any less.  It just means that he can be less anxious about their situation just as the scriptures tell us: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6 NASB).  The final result, of our faith and trust in the Lord and His grace is we can know the peace of God: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7 NASB).

I wonder my friend, when is the last time you stopped and reflected on what God has done in your life.  Do you see His hand of mercy working?  Do you see how you have changed?  Do you give Him all of the credit?  I want you to know and understand that we only grow by His grace and mercy.  As you reflect, does it make you rejoice? In other words, you can’t help but feel a warm glow come over your thoughts because you know He is working in your life.  And as a result, when you look forward and face the future problems, you can’t help but know, as He has worked in your life in the past, he will work for you in the future.  Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it (Psalms 37:5 NASB).

Lord, I know you have been working in my life because I am nowhere near the man that I once was.  All the good changes in me that I see are not because of my will or my determination.  They are ALL a result of your Spirit leading, guiding and changing my sinful will to be more like your holy and pure will.  Lord, what can I say?  Thank You Lord for your work of grace in my life.  But Lord, I know that I am still not the man that I should be.  All I can say Lord, change me into be the man you want me to be.  Lord, use this day to do your holy will.  Lord, I love you.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

30 July 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 2:27 NASB  For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.
Again, the subject is still Epaphroditus and it was he that was sick to the point of death.  As I said in yesterday’s VOTD, we don’t know what his sickness was or what caused it but we do know who caused his cure.  That is found in Paul’s next phrase where he says: but God had mercy on him.  God has the power to heal and take away our sickness and pain.  Why He does for some and why He doesn’t for others will remain a mystery until we ask Him. 
But our answers will, I imagine, be much like the answer that Mary and Martha received after sending for Jesus when Lazarus was sick and Jesus didn’t show up for four days later.  The reason: God gets more glory in that it was more of a miracle to raise Lazarus from the dead after 4 days than it was to heal him before he died. So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days (John 11:17 NASB).  Martha even tried to blame Jesus that her brother had died because Jesus had not been speedy enough to get there when she said: Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21 NASB).  Jesus, in his infinite wisdom, simply says to her: Jesus *said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  (John 11:23 NASB).  And then when Jesus goes to the tomb, Martha tries to warn Him: Jesus *said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, *said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.”  (John 11:39 NASB).  Martha doesn’t have a clue as to what Jesus is about to do.  He simply tries to calm her fears by saying to her: Jesus *said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”  (John 11:40 NASB).  And then we have one of those precious phrases that all the Saints of God will hear one day: When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus *said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:43-44 NASB).  One day each of God’s Saints will hear those precious words with their own name instead of Lazarus.  All Glory and Praise be to God for His indescribable gift.  I believe we can all learn something from this event.  Don’t try to limit the glory of God or try to force Him to do things our way because we don’t know the overall BIG picture or have the Master plan that God does.  We need to just stay humble and trust the Master in His wisdom for His plan of what to do with our sickness and problems.
Here are some Bible verses to remind us all that God is the one who heals our sickness as well as forgives our sin: “But you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst (Exodus 23:25 NASB).  O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me (Psalms 30:2 NASB).  Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; (Psalms 103:2-4 NASB).  Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise (Jeremiah 17:14 NASB).  And of course you know this but I just want to remind you that Jesus has all power in heaven and earth and that also includes the power to heal sickness.  We saw this while He was here on this earth: Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness (Matthew 9:35 NASB).
Anytime that God choses to heal our loved ones or our Christian friends we can say the same thing that Paul said in our VOTD: God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.  To me, Paul’s sorrow upon sorrow means that he already has sorrow that he is in prison and if Epaphroditus died, he would have more sorrow.  Sorrow for his prison time and sorrow for the death of a beloved Saint that he loved very much. 
Now, the thought occurs to me that you might be asking yourself: “Paul raised others from the dead, couldn’t he do the same for Epaphroditus?”  Well it is true that Paul raised others from the dead: And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.” (Acts 20:9-10 NASB).  But early first century miracles were not for our benefit but for the benefit of spreading the gospel, the good news.  The Bible tells us that  God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out (Acts 19:11-12 NASB).  In every case, the miracles were for the validation of the message preached, just as Jesus tells us:  “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:37-38 NASB).  Therefore, Paul was dependent on God the Father to heal Epaphroditus because raising Epaphroditus from the dead was probably not something the Father was going to do even though Paul fervently prayed for it.
Which brings us to the bottom line: What can we learn from today’s VOTD?  Being healed from sickness to the point of death is something that only God can control.  It is His decision for the final outcome.  As Christians and as our loved ones get sick and whether it is minor or major, all we can do is let our requests be made known and trust in our Lord’s infinite love and mercy that the outcome is going to be for our good and God’s glory: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6 NASB).  And then comes the outcome if we will do what God wants us to do when He says to us: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7 NASB).
Lord, please help me to always remember that you do all things in love for us as individuals.  And that there is a reason and a purpose for everything you do.  You are the one who raises us up and you are the one who takes us home.  Lord, I confess.  I am ready anytime you want to take me home.  I look forward to the day when I can bow before you and the whole world will know that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  Lord, please use me to do your holy will this day.  Lord, I love you.
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

29 July 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 2:26 NASB  because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.
This verse is still talking about Epaphroditus, that fine saint that came from Philippi to bring Paul a gift from the Christians there.  But I want you to remember that the most important gift that Epaphroditus gave to Paul was not money or any other material thing.  The most important gift that he gave to Paul was himself.  His presence, his encouragement and love meant more to Paul than anything else.  Which says to us, the most important thing that we can give to the Lord or any human on this earth is ourselves.  We always need to remember that even though our bank accounts may be small, remember the widow with her two mites, our most precious gift to the Lord is ourselves, our time, our energy and our love.
This verse breaks down into two thoughts: because he was longing for you all and the thought: was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.  Let’s think about each of these and see what the Lord would have us to remember. 
Epaphroditus had a desire.  He was longing for you all.  In other words, he missed the Christians in Philippi.  He wanted to be with them.  In short, Epaphroditus was home sick.  Have you ever been there?  I know I have and I think most of us have.  Why do we feel that way?  I believe it is because we miss the company, the feelings of security and the warm affections and love we receive from the people that we love being around.  Epaphroditus was not the only person that had a longing.  Paul had that longing also because the scriptures tell us: For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:8 NASB).  And: Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved (Philippians 4:1 NASB).  Paul was not the only one who had those feelings.  We find that King David also had those feelings: The heart of King David longed to go out to Absalom; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, since he was dead (2 Samuel 13:39 NASB).
What do these verses tell us about ourselves and our relationship with our Lord?  They tell us that it is OK to have longings and to miss the company of family, friends and saints.  It is OK to feel deep desires to be in the company of our loved ones.  In fact, if you are away and “don’t feel” a longing for your loved ones, then that should tell you something also.  It should tell you either that your relationship isn’t very strong or that you are having way too much fun.  I believe the bottom line that we can learn from our longing is that it is #1: It is something that we can’t control.  It is an emotion that comes on us because of our love for others.  And #2: longing is a desire that is born out of our hearts, not our minds.  Longing says a lot about our relationship with others.  It says where our heart and love truly is.  And most important #3: It says, if you don’t have a longing to be with the Lord and his people, the saints, it says that your relationship with the Lord is not right.  You need to examine your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ if you don’t have a longing to be with His people in a local body of believers, called a church. 
Next we find the phrase: was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.  We are not told what the sickness was or what caused it.  But this phrase tells us several things about our walk as Christians.  First, it tells us that just because you are a Christian and even a good Christian doing the will of God as Epaphroditus was, that you are not immune to sickness.  Just because you get sick or some other disaster happens to you, doesn’t mean that God is punishing you.  Life’s events are sometimes a mystery and only the Lord knows what is truly going on.  That is what a life of faith is all about.  We trust the Lord in every situation and every circumstance.  We trust that “God causes all things to work together for good.”  It does not say, everything is good.  But it does say that “God causes” all things to work together for good.  Here is the text from God’s Holy Word so that you can know that I am not miss quoting it: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 NASB).
Next, this phrase tells us that is it OK to be distressed because our conditions in life are affecting how others think about us.  We don’t live our lives to please others but we don’t want to put our fellow Christians in distress because of our circumstances, if we can prevent it.  Paul tells us that we are to: If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18 NASB).  We don’t want to live a life in controversy and be at war with others.  We want to be peaceable with all men even as Paul tells Titus:  to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men (Titus 3:2 NASB). 
But just as we have no control over our sickness that comes upon us, so also, we cannot control how others feel about us.  We do not live our lives to antagonize others.  And for the most part, all we can do is to try to live our lives in peace and be the people that God wants us to be.  To be sure, if we are living our lives in harmony with the Lord, then we will cause distress to others around us because Jesus tells us: “It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!  (Matthew 10:25 NASB).  I just want to remind you what the Holy Scriptures tell us: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you (1 Peter 4:12-14 NASB).
Bottom line: It is OK to have longings and to feel distressed.   But just remember the One that we always long for and never want to distress is the Lord Jesus Christ.  And the only way that we can do that is to live our lives in complete and total submission to His will, His word and do things His way.
Lord, please help me to never ever displease you in any way.  Lord that is my hope and my prayer.  Lord, please help me in sickness and health to always worship and adore you.  Lord, I want to be pleasing in your sight.  I want to live for you, worship you and give myself to you.  Please use me this day for your good pleasure and will.  Give me the thoughts to say and help my mind to be stayed on your will.  Lord, I love you.
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

28 July 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 2:25 NASB  But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need;
As you know we have been talking about Timothy but now we are going to turn our attention to another saint in the Lord: Epaphroditus.  We will be looking at him over the next few VOTDs.  Epaphroditus, pronounced ē̇-paf-rō̇-dı̄´tus, is one of the saints to grace the pages of holy writ and to give us a glimpse into the life of a brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier of Paul.  What do we know about him and how is he used by the Lord and what is his purpose are some of the things we want to briefly look at.  And then as always, we want to see how we can emulate his fine qualities to enhance our own walk with the Lord.
First, we want to look at what we know about Epaphroditus.  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says of him:  Epaphroditus was the delegate of the Christian community at Philippi, sent with their gift to Paul during his first Roman imprisonment. Paul calls him “my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier.” “The three words are arranged in an ascending scale: common sympathy, common work, common danger and toil and suffering” (Footlights, l.c.). On his arrival at Rome, Epaphroditus devoted himself to “the work of Christ,” both as Paul’s attendant and as his assistant in missionary work. So assiduously did he labor that he lost his health, and “was sick nigh unto death.” He recovered, however, and Paul sent him back to Philippi with this letter to quiet the alarm of his friends, who had heard of his serious illness. Paul besought for him that the church should receive him with joy and hold him in honor.
Next, how is Epaphroditus used by the Lord?  Well, we only see the name use twice in the Holy Scriptures.  Here in our VOTD and again in (Philippians 4:18 NASB)  But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.  But from these two short verses we learn a lot about the dedication and commitment of this fine saint in the Lord.  From these verses, we know that Epaphroditus was from Philippi and went to Rome to deliver a gift (money?) to Paul for his support.  Just making the trip from Philippi to Rome was quite an endeavor.  I found this on the internet about the distance between Philippi and Rome:  Estimates range from 700 to 1,200 miles depending on the route taken. Travel times varied significantly depending whether one travelled by sea or land and the weather at a given time of the year… In the best conditions such a trip could be made by foot in about six weeks. In less favorable circumstances, it could take three months.  For us, the best question to ask is: Are we willing to take six weeks to three months out of our lives to face … dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;  (2 Corinthians 11:26 NASB), just to deliver a gift to a fellow saint?
Next, we want to see what was Epaphroditus’ purpose.  I want you to realize that there is something more meaningful and more important than the gift that Epaphroditus is giving to Paul.  Epaphroditus was giving Paul love and support from the whole church at Philippi.  Paul knew how hard it was to make the journey from Philippi to Rome because he had been on three missionary journeys.  He had faced the same dangers.  In fact the verse in 2 Corinthians 11:26 above, was written by Paul.  But the most important thing that Paul received from Epaphroditus was the love and support that came with the gift.  The most meaningful gifts are determined not by how much they cost in terms of dollars, but by how much they cost in time, effort and energy.  When your child gives you a gift that they made in school, the value is not how much it cost in dollars, but how much love, time and energy went into making the gift.  So it is with Epaphroditus’ gift to Paul.  Paul understood how much the sacrifice was, and he loved Epaphroditus all the more for it because it encouraged and motivated Paul to serve the Lord all the more.  I say all of this, because your tithe is not as important as YOU.  Your time, your talent and your energy to get involved is the most important gift you can give to the Lord. 
So what can we learn from our VOTD to enhance our own spiritual lives.  I believe it is summed up in one little phrase: minister to my need.  Epaphroditus was a minister to Paul’s needs: physical and mental and spiritual.  We need to see ourselves as ministers to each other.  Your involvement, your giving of your time, talents and energies are some of the ways you and I can minister to our fellow saints.  Here is the bottom line: When you are asked, no, no…. when you see a need just jump in and get involved.  Ask the Lord to show you how you can get involved.  What does He want you to do?  And pretty soon you will reap the benefits of blessing from the Lord.  Question is: Will you get involved and become like Epaphroditus and minister to the needs of others?
Lord, far too long I have wandered.  I have wandered here and there and never got involved.  Lord, please forgive me these many wrongs.  Lord, help me to see the needs of others and to commit myself to meet those needs.  Lord, you have been so gracious to give to me.  Help me to give myself to others so that I might meet their needs and be used by you.  Lord, I love you.
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

27 July 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 2:24 NASB  and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly.
I would like for us to concentrate on one phrase in this verse to see if we can get a better understanding of not only what it means but also how to apply it to our lives.  The phrase I want us to pick up on is I trust in the Lord.  What did Paul mean when he uses that term?  How did it apply to his life and his thinking as well as his actions?  We know that Paul advises the Corinthian Christians twice to be imitators of himself:  Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me (1 Corinthians 4:16 NASB).  Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1 NASB).  So it is vital that we know and understand what Paul means by this simple statement I trust in the Lord, so that we can imitate
him and apply it to our own lives.
I believe the best way to start to understand a phrase like I trust in the Lord is to see how Paul used this phrase and similar phrases in the Holy Scriptures.  First, I know that we remember this previous verse: But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition (Philippians 2:19 NASB).  And in this phrase, Paul was hoping in the Lord that the Lord would allow or permit him to send Timothy to Philippi.  It was not certain but Paul was asking for the Lord’s permission and was waiting on a response from the Lord.  And so we learn that for us, we need to take our hopes and requests to the throne of grace and wait on the Lord to reveal His will to us. 
Next, we find the phrase expressed here: But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again (Philippians 1:23-26 NASB).  Here Paul is expressing knowledge that he will remain on the earth and that the Philippians will see him again.  Which tells me, that some things the Spirit reveals almost instantaneously.  It is the Holy Spirit’s decision on when, where and how to reveal God’s will to us.  It is something we cannot force or “hurry up.”  We need to be patient and wait for God’s will to be revealed to us. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalms 46:10 KJV).
Then we find these words in Romans: Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ (Romans 15:28-29 NASB).  There are sometimes you just know because you know.  There is no doubt in your mind.  There are somethings that the Lord decrees in your life and that is just the way it will be because that is the way that the Lord has decided it will be.  In this case, Paul just knew that he will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ because that is the way the Lord Jesus Christ worked in Paul’s life.  So, there are somethings, we can also know because they are the things that have always been in our lives and they always will be in our lives because that is the way the Lord decided that they would be: for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29 NASB).  And I might add, these gifts and calling of God have nothing to do with ourselves, our talents or abilities.  These are the decisions that God makes and the enablements He gives after the council of His own will.
Another phrase that we can consider is: At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you (Philemon 1:22 NASB).  Paul, again and again uses this word hope.  And again it is tied to prayer.  Prayer does change things.  And it is always subject to the Lord’s final decision.
I believe as we see this phrase in Philippians, we need to see it as it is presented in light of God’s sovereignty and will for Paul.  I like what MacArthur Bible Commentary says: in the Lord. Paul knew his plans were subject to God’s sovereignty (cf. Jas_4:13-17).  Which says: James 4:13-17 NASB
(13)  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”
14)  Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
(15)  Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
(16)  But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.
(17)  Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Paul lived his life in complete submission to the will of Christ: For to me, to live is Christ … (Philippians 1:21 NASB).  And: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20 NASB).  And so he writes this simple but profound statement: I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly.  Paul was simply but fully trusting in the Lord that he would be going to Philippi shortly.
Bottom line: What does that say to us?  I believe we need to do what Paul says when he says: Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.  We simply need to trust Christ in everything, every situation and every circumstance.  We need to let our request be made known via our prayers and wait for the Spirit to reveal the answers that only God can give.  And we always need to remember, whether we wait for a long time or a short time, the answer still needs to come from God, revealed by the Spirit of God in us.  Just as you can’t push a rope, you can’t force God’s hand to reveal His will until He decides to reveal it.  Patience pays, Grace sustains. 
Lord, please forgive me.  I have been so impatient with you on so many, many occasions.  Lord, I need to let my requests be made known to you by the means you have decided for us to communicate with you, and that is through prayer.  Lord, help me to be faithful in my prayers to let you know my desires.  Help me to name them and then be patient to wait for the answer.  Lord, help me to always walk in a manner that is pleasing unto you.  Lord, I love you.
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

26 July 2016 Verse of the Day

Philippians 2:23 NASB  Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me;
Again, who are we talking about?  Why Timothy, of course.  Paul, the writer of Philippians hoped to send Timothy to the Philippian church immediately with the letter he was writing to them, just as soon as I see how things go with me.  Or in other words, how Paul’s trial in Rome turned out. Apparently, the trial or the verdict was due to be made known soon.  The McArthur Bible Commentary thinks his trial released him because it says: Paul was eventually released from prison (cf. Act 28:30), after which he may have visited the church at Philippi.  If you are wondering what Acts 28:30 says, it is here: And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him (Acts 28:30 NASB).  I might point out that many Bible scholars believe that Paul was imprisoned in Rome twice and that Paul wrote 2 Timothy from Rome in his second imprisonment after which he was martyred.
I would be remiss if I neglected to point out why Paul hoped to send Timothy immediately to Philippi.  It is because of the little word in the beginning of our VOTD: Therefore.  This one word makes us look back for the reasons that Paul wanted to send Timothy immediately.   Reason #1 is found in Verse 19 which says: But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition (Philippians 2:19 NASB).  Paul is human.  He needs encouragement.  He doesn’t want to labor or run in vain.  He wants to see results, just like you and I do.  In fact, he tells the Galatian Christians that perhaps he has labored over them in vain: I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain (Galatians 4:11 NASB).  So Paul wanted to send Timothy to Philippi immediately to be encouraged by a positive report that they are staying true to the faith that is found only in Christ Jesus.
Reason #2 is found in verse 20:  For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare (Philippians 2:20 NASB).  The reason that Paul wanted to send Timothy immediately was not only that he might be encouraged but also because Timothy is the only person that had a kindred spirit with Paul and one who will genuinely be concerned the Philippian Christians welfare.  It is a principle of life: You use your best resources on your toughest jobs.  Timothy was Paul’s best resource and it was a tough job to go all the way from Rome to Philippi and back just to give Paul a report of encouragement.  My friend, that not only takes commitment, it takes dedication and resolve that only the Lord can give.  That is why Paul wanted to use his best resource that had a kindred spirit
like Paul’s spirit.
Reason #3 is found in verse 22: But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father (Philippians 2:22 NASB).  Men, how many of you have a favorite tool.  You use this tool every time you get a chance.  Why?  Because it has proved its worth, time and time again and again.  Every time you use it, it shows you that it can get the job done.  And get it done well.  It might even be a non-glamorous tool like a hammer, that you call “little thumper” because every time you need some extra power to pound something, it gives it to you.  My friend, Timothy is Paul’s “little thumper” because he has proven his worth time and time again, over and over.  Timothy serves Paul like a child serving his father faithfully and honestly.  Paul wants to send Timothy so that he will not only go to Philippi but return with an honest, spirit-led report about them.  The report will not only be about the physical things Timothy sees, but more importantly it will be about the spiritual things he experiences in the Spirit of the living God.
Which comes all the way down to our current VOTD.  Which makes us look at ourselves and ask the question about ourselves:  Does someone else have hopes in us?  Is it your wife or your husband, a close relative or even a child?  Do they have hopes in you?  What are they hoping for?  Just as Paul had hope in Timothy, I wonder who is placing their hope in you.  Will you show your proven worth?  Will you encourage them?  Will you show your kindred spirit to them?  Or will you do as so many, many have done in the past: let them down.  Let me share one sure way to always come through for those who place their hope in you.  That one sure way is to always point them to the Lord and Savior who never disappoints.  He always comes through.  Jesus says to each of us, if we never want to be disappointed then we need to: Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB).
My friend, here is the bottom line: Jesus never disappoints.  He is the one we need to place our hope in.  He always comes through.  That is why Paul can pen these precious words: Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35 NASB). For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39 NASB).
Lord, I come before your throne of grace confessing that I am not the man I should be or even want to be.  Lord, I want to change to be more like Jesus. I want to walk in the Spirit.  I want to do what you want me to do and in the manner that you want me to do it.  I want to please you in all that I think, say and do.  And it is all because I love you, Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

25 July 2016 Verse of the Day

I am sorry but there is no Verse of the Day for 25 July 2016.  We had website posting problems and did not get them fixed until late yesterday.  I will post a new VOTD today, 26 July 2016.
Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

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