Philippians: Day 5

Those Who Labor Among You

by

Today's Text: Philippians 2:19-30, 1 Timothy 1:2, 1 Corinthians 16:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

My husband, Darrin, mentioned in passing, “I find it strange how they wear their sunglasses, even after the sun sets.”

New to the little league scene, we signed up our son in the eleventh hour and somehow got placed on a team of families who all happened to live in an expensive, gated community six miles up the road.

I found myself spending hours every week sitting on the bleachers with these baseball moms. (Those of you with baseball kids know what I mean about notoriously long practices and even longer games.) Their conversations ranged from the carat sizes of their diamonds and the number of times their house cleaners came over each week, to cosmetic surgery and updating their kitchens. It was not unusual for one of the moms to comment on the shirt of the woman sitting next to her, and then pull out the tag to see the name of the designer. All these topics were shared from behind sunglasses long after the sun dipped behind the hills surrounding the baseball field.

The more time I spent with these women, the more I found myself preoccupied with the size of my own diamond and what tags lined my shirts. As a result, here’s one life lesson I learned from hours by the baseball field:

We become like the people with whom we spend our time.

Like Jesus, Paul modeled an important truth of the Christian life: God calls us to walk with Him in the company of like-minded believers. Paul makes this clear as he writes to the church at Philippi about Timothy and Epaphroditus, two friends who’d become more like family. These men linked arms with Paul as fellow workers and fellow soldiers intent on sharing the gospel (Philippians 2:25).

We are not designed to live out our faith in isolation.

The longer we walk with God, the more we understand through hard-won experience how life does not often match our preconceived plans. Paul writes this epistle to the Philippian church in the midst of challenging circumstances. Like Paul, we learn that while following God’s will is extremely worthwhile and rewarding, it’s also utterly mysterious and sometimes flat-out hard.

This is why the people we choose to surround ourselves with play such a critical role. Whether in good times or in bad, you and I thrive most when we have Paul, Timothy, and Barnabas relationships in place (Acts 9:27). We need mentors like Paul to teach us and challenge us to grow. We need friends like Barnabas to walk with us, shoulder to shoulder, as we encourage one another on in love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). And we need to invest in friends like Timothy, those who are younger in age or in the faith.

Let’s take some time to evaluate our current relationships. Who are our kindred spirit friends, those who remind us of the Truth and can help restore an eternal perspective (Philippians 2:20)? Do we surround ourselves with others who walk by faith and live by the Spirit? Are we invested in people who invest in us too, friends who will lovingly return our gaze to our true home in heaven?

If so, thank God for these relationships! Reach out to these friends with heartfelt appreciation and gratitude. And if you find ourselves in need of these relationships, pray for God’s abundant provision, for He is faithful.

Father, thank you for friendships with those who help us stay the course walking day by day with You. Thank you for how you use people to set our hearts back onto eternity and truth. Thank you for reminding us we are not alone. Amen.

Vivian Mabuni is an author and speaker, and a sushi, white Christmas lights, coffee-with-friends-lover. She has been on staff with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for 26 years and serves with Epic Movement, the Asian-American ministry of Cru. Vivian is the author of Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts.

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  • What is the scripture for this post? It doesn’t show up at the top sadly!

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Mary! The scripture for this post is: Philippians 2:19-30, 1 Timothy 1:2, 1 Corinthians 16:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

      Hope that helps!

      – Stormye

  • This truth was so relevant to me today in light of a breakup with my non Christian boyfriend. Praise God.

  • Today made me really evaluate the depth of my friendships. I was so convicted by the line about you are who you hang out with. My prayer is that God would show my husband and I ways to get more plugged in with strong believers in our life.

  • BlessedandFavored

    Today’s message was an opportunity for me to see my areas of weaknesses and seek after Christian prayer warriors to glean and grow from. I want to be surrounded by strength!!!

  • This helped me so much today. God really spoke to me.

  • Thanks for putting into words what were balloon thoughts in my head and conversations with my husband oh so long ago, but remember like yesterday.

  • I'm a bit behind in this series, but wow, I loved reading this today! Godly relationships are so important, and something I crave a lot right now. I just recently moved to a new city and am without these kinds of friendships nearby. I'm praying for and looking forward to having these kinds of relationships as I get plugged into my new church. Praise God for making us to live in relationship with him and each other <3

  • putzfrau gesucht

    4 days ago
    This is so spot on! Thank you Vivian for the incredible reminder this morning.

  • First of all, I am reading this post after returning from my college's CRU Fall Getaway. So, I just wanted to thank you Vivian for your work with CRU. I know that we as students don't always express how genuinely grateful we are for all that CRU's staff does for us, but you all genuinely do make a difference.

    Going off of that, I had the opportunity this weekend to share and discuss faith with girls who I have had the opportunity of building relationships with this last year. There is such joy and community in being able to share about your faith with other believers. It is entirely refreshing. Although it is important to go out and share our faith with those who do not know Christ, being able to have that sense of community to share your struggles in your faith is so incredibly important. It is also a wonderful blessing because it gives you a group of individuals who can hold you accountable for your actions as well as encourage you as you walk with God.

  • Beautiful post. I’ve read and re-read. We surely do thrive when we have Paul, Timothy & Barnabas relationships.

  • I really enjoyed reading and reflecting on this post today. In my past I have surrounded myself with people that allowed me to deviate from my walk with Christ. However, I realized this fact, left those people behind, and found a group that has only allowed my faith to grow stronger. It makes day to day activities easier knowing that the group you have as friends will be there to pray for you at any point in the day and to always remind you of your potential.

  • I’m do thankful for my friends! Thankful also for you girls sharing this study with me. It’s nice knowing there are other woman out there seeking to know God and His Word better!

  • HelenWalksinAwe

    This community came into my life when I really needed all of you. I couldn't be more grateful and I love being a part of this. Community can be comforting, but as trust builds in a community, that brings opportunities to push each other to grow, sometimes in ways that push us outside of our comfort zone. I pray that we all have the humility to welcome both the comfort and the challenge of living in community with one another. It's not easy to turn each other's faces constantly back toward heaven– not for the turner and not for the person whose head needs a little, ah, readjustment. It requires so much gentleness and humility!

    But really, what do we expect?
    Was Jesus' call comforting? Heckity heck yeah!
    Does Jesus' call give us strength? Oh my goodness, yes!
    Was Jesus's call easy to follow? ….eh, not so much all the time. Nope. On good days? Sure. All days, all ways? Eesh.

    We need each other for the comfort and the challenge we provide each other. And we need to prop each other up so that we have the strength to go out among those who aren't followers of Jesus and draw them nearer to him. You ladies are inspiring to me– some of you legit missionaries in foreign countries, some of you providing spaces for small groups to meet, some of you hosting IF gatherings… you inspire me to get busy like you are when the season in my life is right for it. I am grateful on behalf of the people you are serving and I hope that God brings more women like you into my non-computer-bound life. I understand that I can't be that leader right now (so many young kids!) but that this community is where I'm called to put my energy for the time. And all of us are living in a world where we can shine like stars (I like how NIV translated yesterday's reading!) to demonstrate by example the power of Christ's presence in our lives.

    The community gives us the strength to do that and the safety to work on refining ourselves, through God, surrounded by sisters who want to help us grow in a spirit of love.

    • churchmouse

      I’m standing up with a loud AMEN! Thank you for your words. You articulate my heart’s desire of how a healthy community relates.

    • Rochelle

      So blessed by your comment. I feel similarly.

    • tina

      Helen, can I just say, the 'so many young kids' ARE your community…. and IF you haven't thought about it yet, begin to, because you are a leader, you lead by example , you lead with your love and Grace for the little people in your care,….you lead in your teaching….!!! ( assuming you are a teacher..!)

      Praying continued blessings over you and all you do right now…in your community..Love, Tina..xx

      • HelenWalksinAwe

        Thanks for that perspective Tina. It's weird– I think about my children as my community often, and also forget it often. Perhaps that's because so much of my time with the kiddoes is centered around their needs and such. This gives me renewed vigor to lead well!

  • MamaNene

    Thank You Vivian! My friends and I just started a prayer group and they told me about this site. Today’s post made me miss my mentors and friends but at the same time so thankful for my new friends in this prayer group! God truly wants us to connect and not be isolated as believers. He has answered my prayers!!

  • Such a need for my husband and I. We serve a lot but aren’t connected to people consistently. We talk abou that and feel alone even while serving in ministry. This will be my prayer request

    • churchmouse

      Having served in full time ministry, I relate to the loneliness of leadership. Will pray faithfully for folks to come alongside you, to encourage you and keep confidences that are unique to a minister’s life. Blessings to you both

  • Lucy, I might have missed the part where you wrote something offensive as you were simply speaking from the heart. I am new here and also still learning the Bible but I appreciate your insight and opinion as much as anyone else’s! I hope you stay.

  • You sweet ladies have a truly lovely place here and I have enjoyed getting to know you. I have prayed over it, though, and I think I should leave.

    Again, my apologies to the writer of today’s discussion point. I am …. gobsmacked. I had no idea that expressing an opinion different than the one presented would be considered enough of a personal attack that one of her friends would find it necessary to defend her, and to explain to me what a fine Christian woman she is. I actually operated under the premise that we are ALL fine Christian women, myself included.

    I have deleted everything of mine that I was able to delete for you. My earliest postings I can’t do anything about, nor anything I posted from my phone, and I’m sorry for that. Maybe the SRT staff can get rid of them if they’re offensive.

    I think I misjudged a great deal of things —- I thought I was meshing with the group fairly well, but it seems that I must have come across as quite ridiculous…. and completely unlearned in the area of biblical tenets. I’m just….. confused.

    But it’s too nice a place, and I love it here too much to cause strife or in any way make it uncomfortable for anyone here, especially for an invited guest writer.

    Take really good care of each other, sisters. Love to you all.

    God bless

    Lucy

    • HelenWalksinAwe

      Please don't leave, Lucy.

      Part of learning together in community is challenging each other and sharing openly. You have challenged me with your post earlier and I really appreciate it. I've been returning to this window on and off for the last hour — lots of interruptions from the kiddoes– but I'm sorry you felt like you had to delete your words because I for one found some good wisdom in them.

      I hope you see this and that you reconsider leaving. If not, I pray that the Holy Spirit guides you to a community where you feel the balance of welcomed, loved, and challenged that we all need.

      Hugs, sister!

    • churchmouse

      Oh Lucy, don’t take your ball and go home! (please smile!) I for one look forward to reading your posts. You share your take on the devotion as we all do. Our life experiences have us see life through different lenses. With each view, we have an opportunity to see more clearly or at least from a different perspective. We don’t have to agree on a monocle lens, but appreciate the kaleidoscope of other believers. Iron sharpening iron! And so again, please reconsider. Your posts are valued. I ask you to stay.

    • Raechel

      Dear sweet Lucy,
      I'll confess I missed what went on earlier today. But Kaitlin (who loves you Shes like crazy and keeps an eye on the comments) alerted me to your comment just now.

      Like I said, I don't know quite what was said, but maybe that's okay-maybe even best? I only know now that you are hurting, feeling misunderstood, and maybe even a little unwelcome, and these are NOT the way we want anyone to feel here.

      Rather than continuing this here, I invite you to email me directly so we can talk – so I can answer questions, and assure you that you are WANTED. Not only wanted – but an appreciated, valued member of our community. (Kaitlin told me so – she reads your comments and recognizes you!)

      Let's chat? [email protected]

      xo- Raechel

      Or, if you'd rather chat with Kaitlin – [email protected]

    • Catherine

      Lucy, I do not usually comment – but I wanted to thank you for sharing your heart, your wisdom , and your perspective! You beautifully reflect Jesus and your voice in and along with the SRT community has challenged and encouraged my faith. I hope that you hang around and continue to share your heart! The diversity and authenticity within this community makes it astonishing beautiful – sisters united in Christ. Each voice matters. Love from a little SC sister! (Who usually ponders more than writes) :) :)

    • tina

      Dear Lucy,
      I'm sorry for your upset….
      IT doesn't matter to me what went on…or was said…what matters to me is you and us as a community…I so believe the beauty of this place, this amazing haven for us all to come and be women in Christ together is we can speak…depending on the topic of the day, we can bring our diverse thoughts, and there will be some on the same wavelength, some as far as the east is from the west, obscure….that doesn't matter, what does is that we learn…from each other, we share, we encourage, we journey together, we grow together, welcoming as we go those that join along the way….

      Sister, we are all on a journey, different stages, but none the less a journey, we none of us have the answers, but together and by Gods Grace, Love and Word, we can grow together….

      So please, please, Lucy, stay, your addition and presence here, your words, and beautiful words of encouragement…have made this tapestry called She Reads Truth all the richer.

      Praying God's peace over you dear heart, and praying you come back to us real sooooon…

      God bless you toooooo..Lucy…x

  • LesleeFalk

    This is so true! It is a lesson that I have learned over the years from personal experience. I would surround myself with partiers and I learned that when I no longer wanted to go bar-hopping, they no longer wanted to be friends. I used to be the type that wanted to have lots of friends and be a social butterfly but over the years my dad's words that he often spoke as I was growing up have become my own "you don't need a lot of friends in life to be happy, just a small hand-full of true friends" These days I may not have a lot of friends, but the ones that I do have are people that I get to do life with. The good and the ugly parts of life…and those are the friendships that truly matter.
    Thank you for your words, Vivian!

  • Andrea H

    Wow this is timely! I have the weekend to myself without my husband and was thinking it would be fun to do something with a girlfriend. The trouble is that most of my girlfriends are not Christians. Praying for Christian women friends!

    • Angela

      Don't let that discourage you from making plans with them. Maybe this is an opportunity for your light to shine to your friends. Pray before reaching out to them that the Lord will use the time together for His glory. Who knows what will happen? Blessings for your weekend either way!

  • Caroline

    This is SO true!!!!! It is so important to surround ourselves with life-giving, Christ-minded people!! Thanks for this reminder! http://www.in-due-time.com

  • Beautiful Vivian! Your devotion today is an answer to prayer. Blessings to you!

  • Beccagirl2

    This is so spot on! Thank you Vivian for the incredible reminder this morning. I don't comment much, but I do read the devo's and the comments of the other precious women here. I am often, if not "daily" encouraged by the refreshments served here! You all are providing the means for me to "delight myself in the Lord" and I cannot tell you how thirsty I find myself these days.

    As the deer panteth for the water so my soul longeth after thee! My heart song as of late!

    Be blessed.

    Becca

  • Thank you, Vivian! Thankful this morning for my real-life community of Christian brothers and sisters, and thankful for this virtual community of Chrostian sisters that I share my mornings with! God bless each of you this morning, and thank you for the encouragement that all of you are to me!

  • Vivian, thank you. There are questions to be answered from this thought provoking devo. I'm off to evauluate. Have a great day ladies.

  • The timeliness of these scriptures astound me. I just came back from Europe and am realizing that I have hardly any friends. Over the years, relationships have fallen by the wayside, people have come and go, and now I found it challenging to even make plans with someone. I think “isn’t anyone glad I’m back?” I felt a tinge already yesterday, merely a day after being back, and I began to pray. Better to have Jesus than a slew of acquaintances or people to “hang out” with. Better to grow comfortable spending time deepening my friendship with Him than wondering why my loyalty and effort hasn’t been reciprocated in other people. And while going through these emotions, I receive a message from my best friend, hundreds of miles away, who is also faith-filled and puts me at ease by confirming “you have Jesus.” Lord, I ask that you look upon those of us who feel lonely today, that we are filled not with the attention of empty relationships, but the understanding that we ALWAYS have your Son at our side.

    • KDF

      I have been in much of the same situation recently- though it’s a rough season to walk- know that Jesus is shaping you and your character- it’s not about the reciprocation of others towards our efforts in friendships- but rather allowing His light and grace to shine in our responses in those friendships – where we give more loyally – than is given in return- In the quiet and stillness He is there molding and refining His character in you! Blessings to you today and may His love be the light shine through you! He smiling down on you!

    • Carolyn

      Praying for a deepening relationship with Jesus during this season of loneliness and that He will provide a community of loving, supportive Christian sisters and new opportunities for you.

    • Joanna

      This excites me! Thank you for that perspective! Happy Friday :)

    • Susan

      I have the same situation as it seems most of my friends, people that I truly enjoy, are merely job acquaintances that fall by the wayside when I leave a job. I don’t have anyone presently that I can say is a friend. I am working on finding a church home which may help. Meanwhile, “does anybody know I’m back” is exactly where I’m at. Prayers for you my SRT friend.

  • This is such a good word, Vivian. I particularly relate to the "Investing in young believers like Timothy" piece–I've never had this experience before, and through joining a recent Bible study and hosting various If: local & If: Table events at my home, find myself surrounded more & more by young moms and church leaders. Even though I have children already, having these young women in my life truly does help me to keep my own focus sharp, my own image clean, my own heart seeking God instead of looking at the cars and clothes of my colleagues at a small liberal arts college in the Northeast.
    Be aware of the influence those who you surround yourself with have on your life!

  • churchmouse

    Hmmm… Pondering the devotion today…. Placed on the bleachers and noticed the women’s type of homes (gated, expensive), their clothing (designer), their jewelry (diamonds down to the carat), their cleaning ladies, and their sunglasses! Oh my! How often have I been placed, by God, in a group and looked at them only superficially? That I have chosen to be intimidated, for whatever reason (my own insecurity?), by the externals and missed the opportunity to get to really know the individuals as God sees them, cares about them, loves them. God chose me to be Him to them there. And I only saw the surface. Ugh. Father, forgive me. Thank you for those who came in to my life and saw beyond my surface and shared You with me, discipled me and mentored me. Thank you for my Timothys. Oh Lord, help me set aside superficiality and give me confidence to befriend those you send my way that I might share You with them, disciple them and mentor them. Help me to hold open the gates to community in Christ. Amen

    • Amy J

      I am guilty of the same thing – I am often intimidated by the externals. I join you in prayer, churchmouse.

    • Kylee

      I completely echo your prayer — how many times have I been blinded by my fellow karate moms flashy car or designer duds. Help me see past the labels, Father, & see the heart like You see!!

    • Melissa

      Amen!

  • Kelly_Smith

    Vivian, can I hug you? I love this piece. I love the encouragement to seek relationships and community. I love the transparency as you shared about your experience in the stands. I am moved by your instruction to find a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy. I am blessed with relationships online and in real life that challenge and encourage me. I am so thankful for them. I cannot imagine doing life without these deep connections.

    At the same time, I know there are lonely people all around me. Some are timid. Others are scarred by past hurts. I want to be vulnerable, heart proudly on my sleeve, in hopes that those on the fringe will feel welcome, invited, and valued. I don't want to be the lady in the sunglasses–seemingly unattainable status and unreachable soul. I want to be that "me, too" friend. I want to be the one who says, "I struggle," so others can say, "You? Me, too!"

  • So thankful for the relationships who walk with us; who provide us their faith when we struggle and who leans on us in their own challenging times. This weekend I had friends visit and was reminded of the importance of having Christlike people in my life who will walk with me and share my burdens.
    Thank you for the reminder and thankful for the SRT community.

  • deleted7059638

    Community is wonderful, absolutely. But I would gently suggest another perspective to today's post: Light can never be overcome by darkness.

    My missionary friends do not become like the unbelievers that surround them in foreign lands, no matter how long they live among them. Many wonderful saints work tirelessly among the homeless, the disenfranchised, the mentally ill — yet they do not become like them. Amazing Godly people serving in full time prison ministries do not become more and more tempted to become lawbreakers. Overseeing residents of half-way houses do not take on the qualities of the broken people passing through.

    Light can not be diminished by darkness.

    Most Christians spend the majority of their time in the world. The offices or cubicles nearest us for ten hours a day are not generally occupied by other Christians. As students, unless we specifically attend a college of faith, we are surrounded by students and faculty who do not believe as we do. Most of our neighbors are not Christian. The people who attend yoga classes with us, or who are the members of our writers group, who take a photography class with us — most not Christians. We do not lose the strength of our faith from their influence. We can only lose the strength of our faith by not spending enough time in fellowship with God, as Jesus modeled for us with the imperative he gave to spending hours upon hours in solitude with the Father.

    The greater Power is in us. We are the influencers, not the influenced.

    For those precious daughters of God in the baseball stands with their sunglasses and too-worldly attitudes, we may be the only Christian they will ever be in a position to spend time with. After spending afternoon after afternoon watching us with our multi-color highlighted Bible open on our lap, they should be profoundly curious about us. Why are we so joyful? Why would we read that same Book over and over again? Why do we not take part in their gossip? Why do we always offer to pray over them? What's with this Jesus guy? Soon the Holy Spirit, using our example before them, can have them restlessly getting out of bed in the middle of the night, rummaging around the dusty top shelf of a back closet to drag out the old forgotten Bible.

    Because we are the influencers. Because the greater Power is in us.

    And that Power is not dependent on us having community. Community is wonderful, fellowship uplifting, group study eye-opening — but it's a luxury and not a necessity. The only necessity is the power of God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

    Carving out time to disciple after Christ is hard. Getting up early, finding that rare time when everyone else in the house is quiet, resisting all the distractions — it's hard. It's easy to let it slip for a day or two, or shorten, or stop completely. Community tends to be fun. We get feedback, we learn things in a fraction of the time, we get and give affection. It's easy to find time for community. I have sadly seen a few Christians become so swept up in the busyness and comfort of community that they allowed their primary relationship to stagnate, and didn't find out until they encountered a personal crisis that faith is not vicarious. It's a product of time, of personal discipleship. Conversely, some of the strongest Christians I know don't have TIME for the comfort of community — between work, school, family, service — they must give up sleep in order to preserve that vital disciplined quiet time with the Word and the Lord every morning. So like everything else in life, it's a question of balance, and of priority. And I would hate for any of our sisters here who are in a season where they are struggling to find enough hours in the day to feel as though they have failed in some way if their responsibilities keep them from being here as often as they would like, as often as we would like to see them here.

    Community is a great comfort, but we are not called to comfort — we are called to reflect Him to the world despite our circumstances, because He would have no one left behind.

    • Meredith K

      I couldn’t have said it as thoroughly but as I read today, I had hints of a similar sentiment. Only spending time with those “like us” won’t bring others to Christ. Our Christian community is our source of support and encouragement in this broken world but we need to be showing the love of Jesus to those who don’t know about it and are living in darkness. Thank you for eloquently sharing this perspective!

    • rachel marie

      amen, lucy! absolutely love your response to this! i'm reminded of when Jesus was invited to dinner at matthew the tax collector's home in matthew 9. there were also many other disreputable people invited to the meal. when asked by the pharisees why He was eating with such "scum," Jesus replied "healthy people don't need a doctor – sick people do. i have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners." Jesus had disciples – those who were like-minded with him, but that's not who He cared about. He spent His time with the sick, the unclean, the outcasts. those who were nothing like Him were most important to Him.

    • churchmouse

      Amen! But I would also say that not every community is easy, nor is it always fun. I have a small group of women who have been meeting in my home weekly for 5 years and no we don’t take the summer off. My door is open on Tuesday morning for whoever would come. It is a hard community, really committed to chewing over the challenges of living as a Christ follower. I cannot tell you the diversity of issues we have dealt with, the sobbing, the laughter, the encouragement and the chastening that has occurred. Not easy. Not fun. But priceless. So. Worth. Making. The. Time. It doesn’t substitute for private time alone with God. It enhances it. It strengthens so that, away from community for whatever reason, you still belong. To Him first and to the Body. AND so we remain influencers. Ambassadors for Christ. Amen.

    • eunice

      Yes!

    • Rebekah

      Community is absolutely a necessity. Jesus commanded us to “Go and make disciples” and that doesn’t happen without relationships. Jesus even modeled community with His disciples. As I was reading today all I could think was that these guys really had the discipleship thing going good! That’s how I should be. As a Christ follower I don’t want to be stuck in an immature stage of my spiritual growth so I look for older, more mature Christ followers to get advice from and learn from. In the same way I shouldn’t want anyone else to be stuck in an immature stage in their spiritual growth so if there is someone that I can pour into and disciple so that in turn one day that person will disciple someone else, I am following Jesus’ model of discipleship. Yes, we should be light in the darkness and yes, that time we carve out for us alone with God is critical and so precious, but the aspect of relational dicipleship is also so very important to our walk as well as those around us. Remember Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength BUT he also said the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. Community is not a luxury at all. Community is part of how God calls us to live as Christ followers in this world.

      • Lucy

        Hi, Rebekah — I agree with a great deal of what you said, and I certainly don’t disagree with any of the scripture you referenced.

        We were given the discussion topic of the woman sitting in the baseball stands, decidely not being loving toward those of her neighbors, but judging them and allowing them to influence her out of her Christian witness. Within that context we were then urged to not spend time among the bad influences at the ballpark but rather to surround ourselves with like minded people. It was to that discussion topic that my comments were addressed, and not to any basic tenets of Christianity.

        Thank you for your thoughts, and God bless.
        Lucy

        • Emily

          Lucy, with all respect – I think you may have interpreted Vivian's post in a way she didn't mean. I know Vivian (in a distant way – we both are on staff with Cru.) Vivian has devoted her life to sharing Christ with people, she is a missionary who spends much of her time with unbelievers. (Check out her blog, it's great.) I think what she meant was that we need people around us who can point us back and remind us of Christ when we've gotten distracted or off-course.

          Even those missionaries you referenced in your first post most definitely have a church community or teammates who help them when they come back from ministering, wearied and distracted.

          Community is most definitely need. Jesus wouldn't have sent the disciples out "two-by-two" to witness if he didn't think it was.

          • Lucy_seeks

            Thanks, Emily. Absolutely it's possible to misinterpret something written — I've been misinterpreted here as well. I intended no disrespect to the writer and apologize if that's the way I came across.

            God bless
            Lucy

    • Christy

      I think your key point is balance. Balance between spending time just with God, with Christians, and in the missionary field. We really need all three, in balance. Jesus modeled this in Luke 6:12-19 – He spent the night alone with the Father in prayer, then He chose His closest disciples to live life with, then He went out and healed and preached to those gathered.

      • Amy J

        Your interpretation, Christy, gives me a better understanding. I begin each day alone with my Father in prayer, and I also go out into the world, but I'm still searching for my closest disciples. I pray for guidance as I learn to surround myself with people who walk by faith and live by the Spirit.

      • churchmouse

        You’re speaking truth! Amen!

    • Kate

      Good morning. May I share my personal experience regarding this ? Just reading Vivian's post this am brought tears to my eyes as this topic is a source of hurt for me God has been nudging me a lot over the last few weeks regarding my need for community. Due to circumstances over the past 15 years- following God as he called my family to a church plant , to a season of homeschooling , leaving a loved bible study fellowship to start a women's study at our church plant , transitioning from homeschooling to private school, and then a new church (from our church plant merging )has made it a struggle for me to build and maintain close friendships / connections. I believe God has definitely grown me and uses these seasons of loneliness to draw near to Him and depend on Him as my source and I agree that our soul needs this nourishment and community with the Father first and foremost. I used to remind myself in my struggle with loneliness that this is what missionaries face every day. They don't have the privilege of a strong group of believers many times I've also walked and talked with many of these missionaries and know they desperately need the support and encouragement of a home church. Separation from the body makes them targets for attack. I recently served as interim childrens minister for 6 months at my church and also learned how very difficult ministry can be. Satan loves to try and get between Gods people. Yes, God desires to empower us and shine His strength through us in dark places and dark times and we must be willing to let Him. I do believe we find ourselves in full surrender in these places. But we also need to be wise as serpents. You are placing yourself in the middle of a battlefield when you are separated from the body. So my advice is this : make time to get alone with God priority , and if you find yourself in a season of lonliness remember Lucy's points – that many others are serving in hard places right now – places God has called them to – use this time on your knees It is not wasted. But , lastly – it is clear in scripture that God designed us for relationship , to hold each up , to meet together , to equip one another – Ephesians 414Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
      Find community and if you have it – treasure it as a gift from a God. Praying God gives me eyes to see others longing for that same community in my path today and that I would not get caught up in self pity but be content in Him and ready to offer friendship to someone in need- and at the very least He will remind me to pray for the missionaries I know and send encouragement their way

      • churchmouse

        You speak such wisdom! Thank you for sharing this so obviously from your heart.

  • bellissimanh

    "I have no one else like him…" This is how Paul described Timothy, his son in the faith. Wow. What was it about Timothy that caused Paul to single him out like this?

    "I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 2:20-21)

    Timothy put others above himself, for the sake of Christ. Thanks to our sinful nature are wired to be selfish. The DNA of sin is selfishness, and it inserts me into the middle of my universe — the one place reserved for God and God alone. Sin fixes my gaze on my wants, my needs, and my feelings. It doesn't put others first… or (if I'm being honest) even bring them into the scope of my vision. It's all about me. Great, huh?

    But, by the grace of God, it doesn't have to be that way (hallelujah!) I love these words from Paul David Tripp:

    "The biggest protection against the kingdom of self is not a set of self-reformative defensive strategies. It's a heart that's so blown away by the right-here, right-now glories of the grace of Jesus Christ that you're not easily seduced by the lesser temporary glories of that claustrophobic kingdom of one, the kingdom of self."

    Father, I want to be blown away by the glories of the grace of Jesus today. Kick me off the throne of my heart and take Your rightful place. Give me a supernatural concern for others – and a desire to step in and give practical help and care when I can… and in situations where I can't, to do battle on my knees. Wreck my agenda, so I can be freed up to satisfy Yours. I love You, Lord.

    • Sylvia Reeve

      Amen!!

    • Shannon H

      Amen! Thank you for sharing that! Praying with you!

    • jjfro

      a heart that's so blown away by the right-here, right-now glories of the grace of Jesus Christ, that you're not easily seduced by the lesser…
      Yep! I get stuck in the claustrophobic kingdom of one . . . beautifully said here. If we are looking inward every day, we miss the opportunities all around us to serve, to help, to love, and to share the "right-now glory" that is Jesus. Lord, I want to be so full of your glory that is leaks out of every pore! thanks for your words, Bellissima!

    • Carolyn

      Amen! Yes! Praying that prayer with you this morning! I do want to be blown away by the glories of the grace of Jesus today and then respond!

    • Miranda

      love that prayer – thanx for sharing :)

    • Rochelle

      Amen! Wow!

  • This is my first comment …. But I have been spending each morning here for the last few months looking to God for signs of what He is calling me to do (we are new in town & with 2 young kids, it seemed the options were limited). God is now opening all sorts of doors to grow a community locally, hopefully providing for a flourishing moms group so we can love, support and grow our faith together. If you can add us to your prayers, that everything continues to move in the right direction and we are blessed to reach all mothers and provide relationships and community with each other that reflects all the facets of mentors, friends, and new believers. Thank you!

    • Kelly_Smith

      I am so glad you are here, Emily! This new community is exciting news for you and your family! May the Lord bless you as you reach out to others.

    • churchmouse

      You’re on my prayer list! Privileged to pray for you, your family and your fledgling ministry to young moms

    • churchmouse

      You’re on my prayer list! Privileged to pray for you, your family and your fledgling ministry to young moms.

    • Amy J

      Praying for you and your community of moms.

    • HelenWalksinAwe

      Man I could use a ministry like that in my hometown! Prayers for yours and welcome to the message board!

    • shereadstruth

      Absolutely praying for you today, Emily! So glad you decided to comment today. :)

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • Tiffanie Walker

    What a powerful message this was! I had to pull out my devotional notebook and take down some notes. My heart is full this morning. I am blessed to have my “Paul” a sweet friend that always seems to be right there encouraging me mentoring me. It’s because of her pressing into my life I read SRT every morning.

  • Amanda H.

    Very well said. I needed to hear that today!

  • There was a point in my career with the hotel industry where I wasn't myself. My fellow staff members at this particular resort were abundant in their disdain for things. I came in happy and excited about the job and nearly two years later, left miserable and feeling very unlike myself. Not to mention it was in a part of the country somewhat secluded and "lost in time" from the rest of the world so the vast majority of people there had been raised there together and genuine friends were nil for me. My life consisted of going to work and being at home. No luck diving into my church community there either. Fortunately, the time there allowed me to grow very close to my eldest, as we spent a great deal of alone time together, but short of that it was tough. My "happy" waned with the people there and I found myself insecure and my lack of confidence presented in ways that looking back I wish I was aware of. While I didn't behave horribly, I truly wasn't myself and I let the negative atmosphere nag at me to the point my light shown a lot less than it otherwise would have and I left folks without knowing me in the way I truly am. It hurts to look at that season and know that I didn't walk the way I normally would, but I can spend each day pining away for what I should have done or spend each day keeping the lesson tucked into a gentle remembering place so that I ensure I don't choose the same behavior, should I ever find myself there again.

    Point is who we choose to hang about directly affects our mindset and hearts. It is perfectly ok to be around people who are different, but we must remain firm and encouraged. We need to KNOW who we are in Christ so that no matter the words, guidance or attitude of others, our hearts are always pointed towards Christ and what we are emitting reflects that!

    Prayerful for the places we stand, the places we work and the people among us. That our hearts do not wane in the midst but instead grow in strength knowing the lies and negative thinking of this world are not for us. That we find and surround ourselves with community in Christ who will help guide the areas of our hearts that tarry and that if we encounter relationships that aren't centered in Christ, we be the rudders, gently guiding others home. ~ B

    • Kelly_Smith

      Lord, help me to be strong among naysayers. Help me to smile in the midst of frowns. Help me to encourage when surrounded by discouragement.

    • MNmomma (heather)

      AMEN!!! Thank you so much B!

    • Christy

      I always love your thoughts B! And you make such a good illustration of why we need our brothers and sisters in Christ – to pour into and be poured into. We are a sent people, commissioned to go and make disciples, so that will inevitably require us to be around those with different world views. But just as Jesus didn’t send His disciples out alone (but rather two by two) so that they could encourage each other, including when necessary to shake the dust from their feet, we cannot do mission alone, we need our Christian community. To keep us grounded and to help us remember who we are in Christ so that we don’t become lost ourselves.

      • ~ B ~

        Couldn't agree more Christy. I am so thankful for community. It is a family that serves to build each other up so that when we are worn by this world, we have folks encouraging and loving us into respite. Such an important part of our walk! ~ B

    • Carolyn

      Joining you in praying that "we find and surround ourselves with community in Christ who will help guide the areas of our hearts that tarry and that if we encounter relationships that aren't centered in Christ, we be the rudders, gently guiding others home." Thank you for sharing…today and every day! <3

    • Beccagirl2

      -B-

      You have articulated the very space that I occupy. I am walking a very similar season currently, where I find myself exhibiting less than shiny behavior {in terms of attitude} because of my less than desirable circumstances and the people I have to be around because of my job and/or the community in which I live. It's a difficult dance because on the one hand, you want to let your "light" shine and be about the Father's business. On the other, *sigh* you can't stand these people and they pull you down more oftentimes than not. I don't want to sound as if I am complaining or Heaven forbid better than anyone, I am not. I just find myself sometimes longing to be surrounded by "my" monkeys as we collectively perform in "our" circus–together! I don't want to leave the "world" to take up shelter amongst believers ONLY, God forbid. We are to be salt and light, I just need to re-charge and be encouraged by brothers and sisters of like-mind in the body of Christ. I don't know why that seems so hard and/or rare these days! Thank you for your thoughts!

      • ~ B ~

        Prayerful over this season Becca. I hope that God provides an encourager for you be it a person or a place that He uses as instrument to grow you in this. I know the frustrations daily and feeling like Daniel in the lion's den is tough, but know that you will walk out of it and perhaps will have left Christ deposits in others. Praying for you as you seek other "monkeys", perhaps you'll be part of that process. :) ~ B

  • Candacejo

    Epaphroditus….I was struck by Paul's last words about this godly man: "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."

    So sick he nearly died for the cause yet he pressed on and didn't give up, no matter his circumstance. He was convinced that what he was doing was worth it no matter HOW HARD.

    This is so encouraging to see others who thought it WORTH IT…no matter their lot in life…to keep pressing on. Even when it is just plain HARD. Because our God is faithful, we have someone to lean on who will never leave us nor forsake us. We can literally depend on His Word to be true!

    Blessings to all of those in struggles today…God is near. He is as close as the mention of His name! ♥

    • ~ B ~

      The same thing struck me N! Prayerful that I press on no matter the circumstance as beautifully and willingly as he. ~ B

    • Denise

      He is as close as the mention of His name. Oh gosh there is nothing more beautiful that I could have heard this morning. xo

    • Angela

      Amen. Your words made me think of Pastor Saeed Abedini who is imprisoned for his faith in Iran. Praying that he remains strong in everything that he is facing. And that the Lord brings him peace and deliverance.

      • churchmouse

        I join my prayers with yours for Pastor Saeed. The Word, alive in Him so fiercely within his dreadful circumstances, is the power to create community even there. He is the catalyst for the conversion of many other prisoners. They are free together in the Lord though behind bars. I pray they are physically free soon.

    • MNmomma (heather)

      Press on……He is as close as the mention of His name…..
      powerful reminders…..thank you!

  • Thirty odd years ago, we would not have known about each other, let alone be able to, hand on heart, be friends here at SRT….via the airwaves….I am forever saying how we are ruined by technology( I don't remember phone nos. Any more, that sort if thing, ) and in the same vain I am so very thankful that I can see family on Skype when I call….

    Today….and THIS right here, is an instance of my thanks giving …because most, if not everyday, my first port of call is, on waking, to sit with, a cup of something hot in hand, and to share the Gospel and God's word with you guys, my sister's in Christ, my friends via the airwaves that I do my mornings with…….I could not think of a better way to spend or share God in the morning…So thank you Sisters, thank you for the encouragement s, for sharing, for friendship, for your love, and for the journey….but most of all THANK you Lord God, for the invention of such devices that allow us to commune as we do here, to press into your word and grow spiritually as, speaking for myself, I have….thank you Lord God…
    A very very BIG shout out to the ladies ( and gents), who have laboured among us, to make THIS possible, that gathered…, some of us, as acorns and are guiding us, in the word, to becoming mighty oaks….Thank you Amanda, Rachael, Rebecca, Sarah, Kaitlin, Vivien, et al….( sorry if I forgot your name…not on purpose…extra love to you)

    All PRAISE and Thanks to God…the giver of life and words, the author of who we are…Amen…

    Echoing you prayer Vivien, thank you God for EVERYTHING…

    I love you guys, thank you….Blessings…xxx

    • Tols

      I second all that you have written Tina. It really is such a privilege and a blessing for us all to be connected like this. Amen and amen! xx

    • Candacejo

      So sweet and so true! It is amazing what technology has afforded us, to become friends "across the Big Pond" and to be able to study the Word together! ♥♥♥

    • carlybenson

      I totally agree. I love being connected with you all and spending time together in God's Word each day. So blessed by this community.xxx

    • ~ B ~

      Echoing your words Tina! I truly enjoy my mornings with all of you wonderful ladies! This is definitely one of the pro portions of technology! :) ~ B

    • Joanna

      This community is truly a Godsend! To bring together women from across the globe with faith in common; I am beyond grateful.

    • MNmomma (heather)

      I agree one million percent! So blessed by you ladies! LOVE and hugs! So thankful to have community for my morning study time <3

    • Liz

      Praying this right along with you. The Lord knew this community is just what I've needed to be back in the Word DAILY! Everything about it has kept me here. I'm constantly telling people about SRT and have now gotten to the point where it's not a surprise to find me downloading SRT and HRT in my friends phones for them.

      my studies have been so much deeper since plugging in here and also listening to your perspectives and the way His hand is on your lives when studying the same topics together. Many times He has used some of you to speak to me through your discipline and wisdom.

      Bless you all and PRAISE GOD for loving us so perfectly. Leading me here has made coming back to His word and getting to know Him more more enjoyable than I could've imagined.

    • Amy J

      I, too, start my day with SRT and a cup of coffee. I can't imagine it any other way.

      SRT has given me appreciation, joy, gratitude… and so much more. SRT has given me life abundant. I can't even put into words how grateful I am for this community. I was lost before, and know, now, that I am found.

    • Linda

      Amen Tina! I thank God for leading me to the SRT group almost a year ago and it's enhanced my life in so many ways! Bless you all on this Friday!!

    • Debbie

      Tina this couldn't be truer for me right now. I am in a new town, feel totally alone but I look forward to visiting with my SRT sisters and sharing the Word of God. I look forward to "chatting" with y'all each morning. Although I haven't shared much yet, I am wonderfully blessed by this community of faith and grace.

    • Kendra

      YES! In complete and happy agreement!

    • HelenWalksinAwe

      Amen amen!!! I echo this prayer and celebration of gratitude for SRT.

    • Rochelle

      Well said! I feel the same…

  • “We become like the people with whom we spend our time” So very true. Both in a positive manner and a negative manner. That is why we are not to live our faith alone, we need a christian community. Not that a christian community can’t also,have it’s toxic members, but overall we are safe, understood and able to grow in our faith. To all of you here at SRT thank you for the community.

    • MNmomma (heather)

      I have known this in my life……I truly didn't start feeling "me" and "belonging" until there was a shift in my friend group…..and have been blessed beyond measure. The women in my life are true friends – we love each other, support each other, cry and laugh with one another. There is no fear of condemnation, of rumors, or pettiness. I am better because of them…..blessed because of them….and so very thankful for them.

    • Amy J

      For right now, my SRT sisters are my Christian community. I'm thankful, too, for their support and encouragement.

  • PS. When I say ‘I was given’ psalm 34, I mean I opened my SRT bible, and that’s what was there. It was perfect!

  • God has blessed me with sweet sisters in Christ who lead me back to the Truth. My heart and soul sing when I spend time with them; whether it’s just chatting or laughing or praying. I always feel I am most myself at these times. Thank You Heavenly Father for placing these women in my life who remind me constantly of your goodness and love. Amen.

    • Carolyn

      "I always feel I am most myself at these times." Yes! Aren't we thankful for these dear sisters in Christ, what they mean to us and how He uses them to bless us!

  • Thank you, Vivian. Thank you, SRT. Thank you, God, for your mercy and grace.
    For whatever reason (hormones? Fatigue? Depression? PMS?) the words that most strike me today in the devotion are that life can sometimes be ‘flat out hard’.
    I’ve been fighting it all day, trying to hand it over to God, trying to lean on His strength and not my own. I still feel terrible, and I’m writing in the hope that if you feel like that today, too, that you can be encouraged to know you’re not alone humanly speaking (I guess you never were! Jesus was a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”).
    A voice in my heart or head is saying: it’s too hard; there are too many hard things to do to follow Jesus. But I still know ( only just, cos I’m weak) that it’s a lie.
    Even though the “too hard, too much” voice whispers to me, God is good, he is faithful. I was given Psalm 34, ‘God is near to the crushed and broken in spirit’, ‘none who seek refuge in the Lord will be condemned’.
    God has a purpose for my feeling-awful day. I don’t know what it is – maybe it’s to be there for someone else in the same situation – but whatever that purpose: blessed be the name of the Lord.
    If you are feeling awful, I pray that God will comfort your heart, and that you can know that the “Lord is a shield for you; your glory, and the lifter up of your head” (Psalm 3:3).
    Grace and peace.

    • TGBTG

      Hi Helen, you’re right, some days just plain outright stink! But it is so good to know we are no alone in the day. God is always with us as you said, and others too, as you reached out to us. My prayers for you that tomorrow is better.

      • Helen

        Thank you! Tomorrow will probably feel better. Whether it does or doesn’t: blessed be His name. And bless you!

    • Sarah

      Hey Helen! I was just struggling with having an awful day like you described. Thank you for your encouragement. We are not alone in this. There will be better days, hopefully very soon! Thank you SRT for creating a community of women all over the world and all ages to share faith with! You are a gift from God. X <3

    • MNmomma (heather)

      Those über hard, yucky, horrible no good days are the worst……I am so sorry…..lifting you up this morning….

    • Krista

      Hi Helen and SRT! I know exactly how you feel. Thanks for the encouragement. We are not alone, and I’m grateful for this community.

    • Amy J

      I have been there, Helen, and appreciate your honesty. Your words speak to my heart.

    • CBear

      Hi Helen. I just wanted to say that you are not alone. God will get you through these hard times:) He’s already at work at that through this special online community! Sending up a prayer that brighter days are ahead for you!

    • IdahoGirl

      You described my Tuesday and Wednesday this week. On those types of days it takes everything I have to cling to Truth. Thanks for reminding me, I'm not alone. Praying for medical and spiritual answers for us both!

    • Kate

      Thank you for sharing Helen. I can relate. So thankful He is a lifter of my head !

    • The Cristy Bee Buzz

      Hi Helen,

      I was feeling the same way a few days ago. Life is hard sometimes and the people we spend time with can actually make it better or worst. So great that you were given Psalm 34 at this time. I always try to remember that God is always with us even though sometimes I just feel like some things don't make sense– that's probably when I get closer to God and hand him my stresses, worries, concerns, etc.

      We're all in this together. Praying for you. So thankful for you all and grateful for SRT.

    • scootermae

      My mantra yesterday was 'life is hard but God is good'.
      My youngest son has had me reading the children's book "Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good very bad day! So thankful we havee night time where our bodies can rest and we wake up to Gods mercies yet again.

    • Lynne

      Amen!! That was my day yesterday and my 8 year old read me that Psalm. That's awesome. Thanks Helen. I feel lonely at times because 5 of my friends moved to NC and I am here in NY. I have made new friends but it is not the same. i miss my friends and I feel that all the relationships that I have now are 1 way. If I reach out to them they will hang out but know one reaches out to me. If I fell of the face of the earth I wonder if anyone would even notice. Life is hard but good is good. He is my sustainer and yours too. Thanks for sharing.

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