Genesis 1:1-2:3 Video Devotional

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 1:31-2:3)

Humanity is naturally inquisitive. We can’t help but look at things and desire to understand how it works; what makes it tick. This is no different when we look at spiritual things. We want to understand how God did certain things. Miracles astonish us because they defy natural order; crisis-es (such as the one we are dealing with today) frustrate us, because there is no clear answer; and death frightens us because we can’t see past it.

If we can’t take it apart and figure out how something works, as humans, that things becomes bothersome. We are naturally curious; we have to know the answer. This part of our being is a good thing and has led us to many advancements in society, but is not all good. It has a tendency to push us past of point of acceptance on some things and refuse to take the answer we are given. Again, in many cases this is good – but it is not always.

Case in point: the tendency in reading the first chapter in Genesis is to seek to find how God created. We look for details and connect “facts” together. Many read this chapter literally. They see words like “morning and evening, the first day” and take that as a 24 hour period. They read what happens on day 5 and make conclusions from there.

The problem is that Genesis 1 is not a literal, step by step recount of the act of creation. Reading the complete “creation account” of Genesis 1:1-2:3 is not prose with detailed evidential backing. It is a song; a poem. Look at the rhythm, the rhyming, repeated phrases. It reads more like a beautiful worship chorus than evidential law.

This doesn’t necessarily change anything; but it shows us that we are asking the wrong questions here – our curiosity has gotten the better of us. Instead of asking how or why God created, Genesis 1 is more interested in answering the question of WHO created. Who is this God that took chaotic nothingness and gave it order, made it beautiful, and gave it life?

I challenge you to read Genesis 1 everyday for the rest of this week and dwell on the God who did it. His power, His beauty, His goodness. Enjoy the music of creation; not just the words on the page, but the sounds of birds chirping in the backyard, the wind humming through the trees, and the laughter of a loved one. Don’t worry about how He made this world. Just enjoy the God that did. He gave this world life and personality – which means He has personality and desires love and relationship with you. He is artistic and this world (including the truth of what we are going through today) is His art!

Philippians 4:15-23 Video Devotional

“And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” (Philippians 4:15-23)

One of the things that is really cool about this letter is that the church followed through! This book ends on a high note because the Philippian church continued to live out loud and participate in the sufferings of Paul (and Jesus, most importantly).

This allows Paul’s closing remarks to be encouragement focused on continuing the journey together. Their gift/sacrifice has been received and they are participating in the work of God. Paul then finishes with the reminder that God will supply everything they need according to the riches of His glory in Christ.

Friends, the application is clear and simple. When you put God first, He will take care of everything else. Put His needs above yours, which is a great way to participate in Christ, and He will supply every necessary thing. Blessings to you all!

Philippians 4:10-14 Video Devotional

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.” (Philippians 4:10-14)

In the previous verses, Paul had just laid down his challenge, which was to focus on Christ and on the good. Turning things personal, Paul recaps the main point of the letter (participating with Christ means participating in His suffering for the sake of the gospel) by sharing how his hardships are teachers for him in his own personal growth. He knows he can be content and face any situation, because, in Christ, he can do all things.

The 13th verse here is famously misunderstood the world around. So many times this verse hangs in weight rooms, ball parks, motivational signage and anywhere else people want to “succeed”. There is a similar problem with Jeremiah 29:11 – so I know the plans I have for you; plans for a hope and a future… The problem is that God was telling the Israelites that while they were heading into exile in Babylon. Paul is not claiming Christ’s strength to win a prize; he is calling on Christ’s strength to thrive through the enormous challenges of his current situation.

He can face prison, persecution, pain. He can deal with fighting, fear, and fakers. Regardless of the situation he is in, Paul is prepared because the strength of Christ is in him – because Christ is in him through the Holy Spirit. We can face pandemic, panic, and even poverty, because we are citizens of Heaven!

Please share in the comments what you are enjoying most about this quarantine. What brings your heart contentment during this time?

Philippians 4:2-9 Video Devotional

“I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:2-9)

It is here we get to the climax of the letter to the church in Philippi. Everything Paul has brought up until now is setting for this punchline. Remember, from the beginning that being a Christian in this town was not easy and Paul, with his experience and desire to participate in the life of Christ was the perfect compliment to it. It was time for the Philippians to put the rubber to the road and…REJOICE!

That’s right – they have nothing to worry about. God is doing what He wants to do with them; He is working out His plan to fruition and working on them in the process. Thus, the command to the church is to think about good things and rejoice in the Lord. Let go of anxiety, pray and ask God for what you need, then turn your mind to the good things. That’s our command – regardless of the circumstances, we are to give it over to God and focus on good things. So let’s celebrate!

Enjoy this good news story coming from a company in Fort Myers (News-Press) and share some good news that you know about!

Philippians 3:17-4:1 Video Devotional

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” (Philippians 3:17-4:1)

Fakers. People who do things that seem noble, if only for their own selfish interests. Regardless of which side of the political aisle you fall on, I am sure you can find a person or two to point a finger at. Or maybe it’s someone you’ve seen break the quarantine rules. Or maybe just a clear cut case of someone being hurtful and mean.

The most clear cut visual may be a two-year old. There are few better examples in this world of complete and unabashed selfishness. Whether it is the constant “Mine! or No!” kids that young do not have to be taught how to be selfish; it is a natural inclination in every sense of the word. Thankfully, as children grow up, things change (or at least they are supposed to).

This is true in us as well. We aren’t perfect. We all still make bad choices and act out of our desires and selfishness. What a comfort to know that, as Christians, that is not the totality of our existence! With Heaven there is more – there is perfection, glorification, and the ultimate presence – Jesus Himself! We can stand firm through any trial.

I encourage you to stand firm in the Lord today – and to share in the comments your best young child selfishnes story. Blessings to you!

Philippians 3:12-16 Video Devotional

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” (Philippians 3:12-16)

Today, I am feeling a little frustrated. The quarantine is feeling very long right now and the stress of trying to keep myself, my wife and my kids healthy (while not truly being able to protect them), while at the same time trying to keep both Nita and I working is feeling a little much. And working through a house purchase at the same time just adds to the stress.

As we’ve discussed over the last few days, Philippians really centers around the idea of participating with Christ, which means joyfully participating in His sufferings, which we do by suffering for the gospel. This seems extra hard because the suffering we are facing right now is more about keeping ourselves safe than fighting for our friends’ eternal homes. At least that’s how it seems.

We don’t understand why God is allowing this to happen and what He is doing in the midst of it. All we know is that we need to be Christ’s body in whatever way He calls us. Being in the middle of a race or a journey is often confusing – you can’t remember everything form the beginning and the end is still to far to see; but you do the best you can to push through. All we can do is press on toward the goal and trust that God will see us through. Remember, friends. This is temporary. Heaven is eternal (both now and later). Focus on being in the presence of Christ and put one foot in front of the other.

I hope these are an encouragement for you. Is there anything specific you are doing to keep your mind focused on Christ and good things as you endure this situation? Please share.

Philippians 3:1-11 Video Devotional

“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:1-11)

Paul certainly had the pedigree. As both a Hebrew Pharisee and a Roman citizen, there wasn’t much Paul couldn’t do or have access to. But that’s not the point. The point is, to Paul, none of that mattered. Sure, he used his citizenship to appeal to Caesar, but that was a strategic move on behalf of the gospel. It had nothing to do with his personal gain.

We all have certain things we hold tightly to; maybe it’s your rights as an American citizen, or your privilege as a person of wealth. Maybe it’s a famous family name, or long-standing reputation you’ve built. Whatever it is, it needs to be something that you hold with a loose hand. Until we give up ourselves, we can’t participate in Christ’s life – because it is a life of emptying oneself.

The rich, young ruler and the guy who wanted to bury his dead were holding on to things – keeping them to themselves and withholding them from Jesus. Are you? What if God asked you to give up all your money? Or your health? Or your free time? Maybe your freedoms as an American citizen (maybe He asks you to move to a more oppressive country)? Whatever it may be, we are called to count it all as loos for the sake of the gospel.

So I ask you today – is there anything you could NOT give up for the sake of the gospel or the calling of Jesus? Anything that would make you say – that’s too much? Giving it a name and saying it out loud could be a good first step in letting its power over you go. Have a blessed rest of your day!

Philippians 2:19-30 Video Devotional

“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.” (Philippians 2:19-30)

“Louis Mobley, founder of IBM’s Executive School in 1956, emphatically argued that the most important question that every organization must continually ask is: “What is the business of the business?” In other words, what do we stand for? What is our mission and reason for being? Why are we in business at all? Does our mission and our values deserve an all-in response from our colleagues, customers, and stakeholders?” (

I heard many times growing up that if something is not worth putting all your effort into it, then it isn’t worth doing at all. Why try a little? If you want to be successful, you have to put in all you’ve got. That has been and is a solid axiom for being successful in this world. It also has merit in the spiritual realm. Statistics show that “most successful Christian churches are not “Christian light” churches—churches that have lowered standards in order to lower the barrier to entry. Instead it is the “all-in” churches that are thriving.” (

Timothy and Epaphroditus went all-in for Jesus. Paul’s specific mentioning of them in today’s section make that clear. It also fits with the theme that has been evident throughout our reading thus far, that a life participating with Christ is an all-in life and is the best way for us to be fully connected with Christ through the Spirit. Jesus went all-in, after all, He gave up EVERYTHING to be with us. Paul followed suit and so did these two gentlemen.

What does going all-in look like to you? Have you seen someone go all-in fro Jesus lately? What did that look like? Please comment and let us know.

Philippians 2:12-18 Video Devotional

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.” (Philippians 2:12-18)
Despite the fact that many, many places have been shut down or closed for the foreseeable future, there are still many people working – and I am not referring to those able to work remotely or even those who some don’t think should be working. I am referring to those who are putting their safety on the line to make sure people can still see a doctor, get groceries, stay safely in your home; to name a few.
There are people who are putting their lives on the line to make sure that the rest of us can survive. The vast majority of them are doing this without extra pay, reward, or kudos. Yet, they are pouring their lives out for us. Christ is the only one who can offer us eternal salvation, but many are giving a lot for us right now. This is similar to the understanding that those in the military put their lives on the line so that we can enjoy the freedoms of our country.
This would be a good time to remember those people and show our gratitude. If you know someone who is serving others during this time, use the comment section to say thanks! or share some love. You don’t need to mention their name, but please, tell their story.

Philippians 2:5-11 Video Devotional

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)
Friends, God’s got this. Jesus calmed the storm as if it was nothing to Him. He speaks and the wind and the waves obey. He spoke and the world came to be. He spoke and forgiveness was a reality! For Jesus to go through what He went through (beautifully spoken in today’s passage) shows us that we are important to Him. If we are important to Him, what is going on now is important to Him.
If it is important to Jesus, then you can trust that He is actively participating in this world and working everything out for good. How have you seen GOOD in your world recently?

Philippians 1:27-2:4 Video Devotional

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1-2)
Yesterday’s devotional looked at how Paul was participating in the life of Jesus; today’s turns the focus to our participation with Christ in His suffering and how we are to live it out. Unity is the key repeated theme in this section: stand firm in one spirit, one mind, having the same love in full accord. Put others and their interests first.
Nita and I are currently in the middle of a home purchase negotiation. Yes, it is a difficult and interesting process during the current health and financial crisis, but what has stood out more is our unity through this process. We have always been pretty good about being on the same page with things, but God has given us a seemingly supernatural bond of unity. He has also very clearly steered this process, making it clear that this is something He wants us to follow through.
As we unify with Christ, the church (His body of believers) will visibly become more unified. This can be seen in both local and global contexts. We have seen this is our church for the last couple of years, specifically, where we have witnessed and enjoyed a familial unity that has led to significant deepening of people’s faith as well as a growth of those who are seeking real unity in Christ.
How have you seen unity in your life with other people as a result of your focus on the deeper life with Jesus?

Philippians 1:12-26 Video Devotional

“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:19-20)

As a kid, I always wanted to be in Atlanta in the summer and be at every Braves’ baseball game. I loved it – had a passion for it (some might say I still do). Since I couldn’t be there is person, I figured I would participate with them as best as I could. To me, that meant grabbing my baseball bat, standing in the living room, and copying the batting stance and swing of whomever was up to bat. My personal favorite was copying Chipper Jones’ swing. That’s how I learned to be a switch hitter. I wasn’t there and I didn’t know anyone personally, but I felt that I was participating with them by standing there and swinging like they did.

That is just the fantasy of a baseball fan – a kid who loved the game. Paul, in the first chapter of his letter to the church in Philippi, showed them through his example what it meant to participate in the life of Christ. Living out the calling of Jesus on your life, despite the difficulties and suffering you will encounter is the best way to participate and connect with Christ. Some may do it for selfish ambition, but if you do it to participate with Christ, there will be a mighty reward waiting for you at your promotion.

The reward? Jesus Himself. We see only partially now, but one day it will be complete and clear, and incredible! Honor Christ with your life, which right now includes a self-quarantine lifestyle and social distancing. But Christ can still be preached, so make sure you are living His life out loud.

Please comment and let me know how you are living your faith out loud during this time of social distancing!