Drawing Near : daily readings for the month of February
February 01 | Joy and Godliness
Philippians is often called the epistle of joy, and rightly so because the believer’s joy is its major theme. Paul loved the Philippian Christians, and they loved him. When they learned that he had been imprisoned for preaching the gospel, they were deeply concerned.
February 02 | Joy versus Happiness
Not long ago it was common to see bumper stickers proclaiming every conceivable source for happiness. One said, “Happiness is being married.” Another countered, “Happiness is being single.” One cynical sticker read, “Happiness is impossible!”
February 03 | The Joy of Exalting Christ
Next to the Lord Himself, Paul is perhaps the greatest illustration that joy is not necessarily related to one’s circumstances. Paul wrote to the Philippians from a prison cell, and yet he spoke of joy and contentment. His life was a series of difficulties and life-threatening situations (see 2 Cor. 11:23-33).
February 04 | The Joy of Kindred Spirits
Timothy was Paul’s trusted companion in the gospel. In Philippians 2:20 Paul describes him as a man “of kindred spirit.” That is, they were like-minded, sharing the same love for Christ and His church.
February 05 | The Joy of Faithful Service
The metaphor of Christians as slaves to Christ is common in Paul’s writings. It is one his readers would have readily understood because of the prevalence of slavery in the Roman Empire.
February 06 | The Joy of Sainthood
Many people think of saints as men and women who are or were especially holy or who have been canonized by an official church body. Usually only those who have been long dead and have extraordinary religious accomplishments to their credit qualify.
February 07 | The Joy of Sacrificial Giving
Perhaps more than any other New Testament church, the Philippian church was characterized by generous, sacrificial giving. Their support for Paul extended throughout his missionary travels and was a source of great joy to him. In addition to money, they also sent Epaphroditus, a godly man who ministered to Paul during his imprisonment (Phil. 2:25-30; 4:18).
February 08 | The Joy of Spiritual Unity
Paul’s salutation includes the “overseers and deacons” at Philippi. That probably is not a reference to elders and deacons as we know them, but is a general reference to all the Philippian saints, including spiritual leaders (overseers) and those who followed (servants).
February 09 | The Joy of God’s Peace
Paul’s wonderful benediction for grace and peace was ever on his heart. He offered it in each of his epistles and expounded on it throughout his writings. Grace is the outpouring of God’s goodness and mercy on undeserving mankind. Every benefit and provision you receive is by God’s grace. That’s why Peter called it “the...
February 10 | The Joy of Recollection
Though Paul was under house arrest in Rome when he wrote to the Philippians, his mind wasn’t bound. Often he reflected on his experiences with the Philippian Christians. As he did so, his thoughts turned to prayers of praise and thanksgiving for all the Lord had done through them.
February 11 | The Joy of Intercession
A story is told of a special nurse who knew the importance of intercessory prayer. Because each day she used her hands as instruments of God’s love and mercy toward those in her care, she found it natural to use her hand as a scheme of prayer. Each finger represented someone she wanted to pray...
February 12 | The Joy of Participation
In recent years the Greek word koino-nia has become familiar to many Christians as the New Testament word for “fellowship.” However, it is also translated “partnership” and “participation.” In Philippians 1:5, Paul uses it to emphasize the participation of the Philippians in common ministry goals.
February 13 | The Joy of Anticipation
All who love Christ desire to be like Him in spiritual perfection and absolute holiness. We want to please Him in every respect. However, that noble pursuit is often met with frustration and discouragement as human frailties and sin block our pathway.
February 14 | The Joy of Glorification
For Christians there’s an element of truth to the bumper sticker that reads, “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” We aren’t what we used to be, but there’s much to be done to make us all He wants us to be. Yet, God’s work within us is so sure and so powerful...
February 15 | The Joy of Affection
Undoubtedly there are people who occupy a special place in your heart. Perhaps you seldom see them or talk to them, but they are on your mind and in your prayers often. That’s how Paul regarded the Philippian believers, and it was right for him to do so because they were such an integral part...
February 16 | The Joy of Pleasing God
Our focus so far this month has been on the joy we experience in knowing and serving Christ. Before we turn our attention to the theme of godliness, I want you to consider two additional aspects of joy: the joy of pleasing God, and how to lose your joy. Pleasing God is our topic for...
February 17 | How to Lose Your Joy
True joy is God’s gift to every believer, and yet many Christians seem to lack it. How can that be? Did God fail them? No. As with peace, assurance, and other benefits of salvation, joy can be forfeited for many reasons. Willful sin, prayerlessness, fear, self-centeredness, focusing on circumstances, and lack of forgiveness are the...
February 18 | A Prayer for Godliness
As we come to our study of godliness in Philippians 1:9-11, we note that this passage is a prayer. Typically, Paul’s prayers reflected his concern that his readers mature spiritually. That is impossible without prayer, because spiritual growth depends on the Holy Spirit’s power, which is tapped through prayer.
February 19 | Avoiding Indiscriminate Love
As a Christian, you are a repository of divine love. More than anything else, your love for God and for other believers marks you as a true disciple of Jesus Christ (John 13:35). In addition to possessing God’s love, you have the privilege and responsibility of expressing it to others on His behalf. That’s a...
February 20 | Pursuing Excellence
There’s the story of a pilot who came on the loudspeaker midflight and said, “I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is, we’ve lost all our instrumentation and don’t know where we are. The good news is, we have a strong tailwind and are making great time.” That’s an accurate...
February 21 | Maintaining Spiritual Integrity
In our society, those whose lives are marked by moral soundness, uprightness, honesty, and sincerity are usually thought of as people of integrity. However, society’s standards often fall far short of God’s. Spiritual integrity calls for the highest possible standard of behavior and requires supernatural resources available only to those who trust in Him.
February 22 | Cultivating the Fruit of Righteousness
After facing life-threatening situations, people often say, “I saw my entire life flash before my eyes.” That’s the picture we get in Philippians 1:11. “The fruit of righteousness” refers to what is produced in you as you operate in love, pursue excellence, and maintain your integrity. It includes every attitude and action consistent with God’s...
February 23 | Realizing the Ultimate Priority
Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1:9-11 closes with a reminder that love, excellence, integrity, and righteousness bring glory and praise to God. God’s glory is a recurring theme in Paul’s writings, and rightly so, because that is the Christian’s highest priority. But what is God’s glory, and what does it mean to bring Him glory?
February 24 | Understanding God’s Will
Paul’s prayer for the Philippians (Phil. 1:9-11) is closely paralleled by his prayer for the Colossians (Col. 1:9-12). Both epistles were written from the same Roman prison at about the same time in Paul’s life. Both prayers focus on godly living, but they approach it from slightly different perspectives.
February 25 | Living in a Worthy Manner
In Colossians 1:9 Paul speaks of being controlled by the knowledge of God’s will. In verse 10 he speaks of walking in a manner worthy of the Lord. There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between those verses. When you are controlled by the knowledge of God’s will, you will walk in a manner worthy of...
February 27 | Attaining Spiritual Stability
An alarming number of Christians seem to lack spiritual stability. Many are “carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14). Others lack moral purity. Many are driven by their emotions rather than sound thinking. Increasingly, therapists and psychologists are replacing pastors and Biblical teachers...
February 28 | Acknowledging the Ultimate Source
he inseparable link between joy and thanksgiving was a common theme for Paul. In Philippians 4:4-6 he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!. . . . Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
February 29 | Sharing in an Eternal Inheritance
Perhaps you’ve had the disappointing and annoying experience of receiving in the mail an envelope that identifies you as the winner of a large sum of money or some other fantastic prize, only to open it and discover you hadn’t won anything at all. It was simply a ploy to get you to enter a...