“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” — Ephesians 2:10 NIV
Chapter 1: 3-8 (NIV)
Back in 1997, Michael W. Smith released the song “Friends are Friends Forever.” If you are of a certain age, you know it was played at basically every graduation. There is something about enduring friendships that make you feel solid and connected.
When friends are connected spiritually, I believe God blesses those friendships. My squad are all believers in Christ. We pray for each other and support each other spiritually, as well as emotionally. I am lucky to have found these Christ-centered sisters.
When I read Philippians 1:3, I think of my friends: “I thank my God every time I remember you.” (NIV)
So when I read this passage, I think of Paul writing to his “squad” of believers. He’s sitting in a Roman jail and just pouring out his heart with Timothy by his side. He doesn’t open with “woe is me.” He opens with thanksgiving and prayer.
He could have just as easily started it with, “Pray for me, the heathen Romans have locked me up.”
But instead, he thanks God each time he remembers them — them being the first church he founded in Europe, according to Bible.org..
“In all my prayers for all of you, I always PRAY WITH JOY because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being CONFIDENT of this, that he who began a GOOD WORK in you will carry on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
“IT IS RIGHT for me to feel this way about all of you, since I HAVE YOU IN MY HEART; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you SHARE GOD’S GRACE with me. God can testify how I LONG FOR all of you with the AFFECTION of Christ Jesus.”
To be honest, I am not sure I would have that much positivity in me.
But what a heartfelt introduction of a love letter to this church.
These seem like the friends you would want to have at your side and behind your back. (Let’s squiggle #squadgoals on our Bibles.)
Next, we’ll look at Paul’s prayer for his squad.
I took this photo on a trip to Seattle, Washington. The mountains and clouds leave me in awe of creation. God is great and reigns over all of creation. Everything.
He created it for us because he loves us.
He also forgives us when we ask. Why? Because he wants a relationship with us. God is also just. So when we draw our last breath, all that matters in that moment is that relationship with God. Do you acknowledge Christ? Jesus’ words are clear. If you have not acknowledged Christ, he will not acknowledge you.
Just before the pictured verse above, in Luke 12:4-5, Jesus is talking to his disciples about the Pharisees and says, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”
Can’t you hear Jesus’ punctuated words? “Yes, I tell you, fear him.” It brings shivers. However, he follows that with an unwritten “But …” that leads into the pictured verse. “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Sparrows were cheap sacrifices — of very little worth. However, God doesn’t forget even one. So how much more is his love for us that he even knows how many hairs are on our heads? And he follows it with the beginning of a promise of his love, “Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.
“I tell you, whoever acknowledge me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.”
Jesus is going to stand up and claim you as one of his own. It’s a promise. You are sealed as his.
“But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.”
Your words and choices matter in this life. If you proclaim Jesus, he will proclaim you. If you don’t, you should fear the one who will throw you into hell.
And even if you have denied Jesus and spoken against him in your life but then acknowledge him, you will be forgiven. “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven …”
And then there is the “but …,” the hitch. “… but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”
That’s heavy. That’s real. I like this explanation from Focus on the Family about what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is: “The sin of ‘blaspheming the Holy Spirit,’ then, is essentially the sin of rejecting Christ.
“What’s more, the ‘unpardonable’ nature of this sin has less to do with punishment than it does with the hardening effect of the sin itself. ”
Here is the link if you want to read more: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-q-and-a/faith/blasphemy-of-the-holy-spirit-and-the-unforgivable-sin
In this life, words matter. Choose wisely.