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"But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety" (Philippians 2:25-28).
Many years ago Stephen encouraged our congregation to make contact with the person who most influenced us in our spiritual walk. I considered my Sunday School teacher, Agatha Wise, from Tulsa, OK whom I hadn’t seen since I was a child. She had taught me during my Elementary years with great enthusiasm. Every Sunday she was well prepared, a great story teller, and her love for Jesus was evident in and outside of the classroom.
I called expecting to talk to a woman of great faith who was flourishing in the ways of the Lord. But instead she told me that she had been caring for her bedridden mother for a number of years and had gotten out of the practice of going to church. She still had faith but was not currently experiencing a vibrant walk with God.
Initially I was quite devastated by the conversation as I had always thought her to be a spiritual giant. As I recall, I prayed with her over the phone and followed up with a card of encouragement. In my personal devotions I asked God to renew her walk with Him. I saw her a few years later when I visited my folks in Tulsa. She told me that she had started back to church and was once again refreshed in her spiritual journey. I’m glad that I was able to encourage her in the ways of the Lord as she had encouraged me many times as a child. I realized from that experience that there are times when we are called to spiritually influence those who, in the past, have influenced us.
Paul had established the Philippian church and had a rather rough time while there, being beaten and imprisoned during his short ministry tenure. He was then essentially run out of town; however he made an impact. (God's Word does not return void and any labor for the Lord is not in vain.) He wrote to encourage these young believers while he himself was imprisoned. Do you sense his earnestness in the daily text? Scroll back to the text and re-read it to get a fuller sense of the Biblical message today.
The Philippian believers were so troubled by Paul’s imprisonment that they sent their dear friend, Epaphroditis, to care for his needs. Paul was very appreciative and indicates his sincere love for Epaphroditis by writing that he would have had sorrow upon sorrow if Epaphroditus had died from his near death experience. He is anxious to send Epaphroditus back to his own people "so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety."
In our present world so much of what we do is motivated by the following attitudes: “What’s in it for me?" "How do I get ahead?" "You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours.” Paul, Epaphroditis, and the Philippian believers' attitude is in stark contrast to the mindset of our own generation. Paul’s eagerness to care for the needs of the Philippian believers exceeded his own personal needs to have a comforting, believing friend by his side in a prison cell where he was surrounded by discomfort and godlessness.
There are many who have made a spiritual impact on our lives, so much so, that our lives are greatly improved because of it. It has resulted in our making a spiritual impact on others as well. But perhaps we may also need to make a circular impact by giving back to those who initially invested in our lives. If possible let's tend to their needs (spiritual, emotional, physical, or otherwise). It may be that they have a need and God has commissioned you to meet it.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, help us to look not only to our own interests but also to the interest of others. May our attitude be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being equal to You, did not consider this unique privilege to be more important than taking on human flesh to meet our spiritual needs. May we follow Christ's supreme example of meeting the needs of others when You have commissioned us to do so. In the name of Your Son, Jesus, we pray, amen.
Brooksyne's recollection of her childhood Sunday School teacher brought a reminder to me of Mr. Harding, a dedicated Sunday School teacher I had in the 7th and 8th grades who went to be with the Lord about 10 years ago. I was a real pain to him but I recall his steadfast devotion and love for his students. Several years ago I stopped, along with my brothers, to visit his wife Pauline in Belton, Missouri. (In case you are wondering I am not standing on a chair. Pauline is less than 5 feet tall while I am just over six feet 2 inches.)
Yesterday we visited a friend who has an abundance of Azaleas and some Rhododendrons in full bloom. What an incredible and inspiring walk through her back yard. Jeanette told us her four sons gave her these plants every year on Mother's Day and now, over 50 years later, they fill the yard with incredible beauty. Ester was with us and said that she would like to have a future (very, very future I will add) wedding in Jeanette's back yard.
Can anyone tell me what this wood carving says? Respond here.
(Answer will be in Friday's message)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Thank You" Video
"Make Me A Blessing" I was unable to find an online vocal version of this hymn but here's a nice instrumental video for those familiar with the song. Interesting pictures as well!
Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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