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Wednesday 1st October 2014
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Gospel calling

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Text: Prepare
What have you been doing this week? As you read today's passage, what do you notice in the light of what you have been doing this week? What challenges you? What encourages you?
Bible passage: Bible passage: Philippians 2:12-18

Living Like Christ
 12  My dear friends, you have always obeyed God. You obeyed while I was with you. And you have obeyed even more while I am not with you. So continue to work out your own salvation. Do it with fear and trembling. 13  God is working in you. He wants your plans and your acts to be in keeping with his good purpose.
 14  Do everything without finding fault or arguing. 15  Then you will be pure and without blame. You will be children of God without fault in a sinful and evil world. Among the people of the world you shine like stars in the heavens. 16  You shine as you hold out to them the word of life. So I can brag about you on the day Christ returns. I can be happy that I didn't run or work for nothing.
 17  But my life might even be poured out like a drink offering on your sacrifices. I'm talking about the way you serve because you believe. Even so, I am glad. I am joyful with all of you. 18  So you too should be glad and joyful with me.

Text: Explore the Bible
Working out  The story of Christ (vs 5-11) has profound implications for our daily life as we 'work out' our salvation, with God himself working in us 'in order to fulfil his good purpose' (vs 12,13). Confessing Jesus as Lord means committing to a way of life marked by his lordship.  What this 'working out' looks like is then applied in our relations with each other and the integrity of our witness in the world. Once again, the two are linked. We lay aside 'grumbling' and 'arguing' so that we may be 'blameless and pure' (vs 14,15).   Shining like stars  The result of harmony among us is that we become God's children, shining like stars in a corrupt society (v 15). How do we do this? By holding out (or holding fast to) the word of life (v 16).  What a calling! In our everyday places - work, college, family, community - we do all things as God's children, shining out his light and holding forth his Word to those around us. No wonder Paul rejoices in the sacrificial offering of their faith to God of which his own life and ministry form a part (vs 17,18).
Text: Respond
'Do everything without grumbling or arguing' (v 14). Really? If we took this seriously, starting today, what difference would it make to our lives?Antony Billington
Text: Deeper Bible study

Discipleship is not simply a ten-week course for new believers on biblical fundamentals! How heart-warming it is to see here a flourishing spectrum of formal and informal relationships, where individuals are given space to reflect and work on their growing relationship with Jesus! Whether in mentoring young people, coaching leaders or soul friendship of those seeking to deepen their understanding, gifting and skills, these verses encapsulate the mindset of gospel-focused spiritual direction.
First of all, although utterly committed to the Philippians' spiritual maturity, Paul does not abuse his authority. His passion for their well-being and his physical distance do not make him a control freak. Rather, his exhortations rest on confidence in God's power to go on transforming them, with or without him (v 12). Second, he is aware that in the spiritual battle, there are temptations to become discouraged, apathetic and divided, so he challenges them with warmth and tenderness to keep working out what God is working in them (vs 12,13). He combines theology with practical examples, sprinkled with imaginative, relevant images. Third, he draws their attention to the goal (v 16). What can be more wonderful than to experience Christ's pleasure in seeing his spiritual children persevere together as lights in a dark world?
Paul has much to teach us today, when many people, feeling the lack of helpful parental input, struggle to live for Jesus in a hostile or indifferent world. Are there ways in which you could seek opportunities to invest in others? How could your church be better mobilised and equipped to foster intentional relationships, encouraging those with longer experience in the race to run alongside those with less?
Fiona Barnard
Text: Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year. Today's readings are:

Isaiah 57,58

Hebrews 11

Text: Podcast

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