Day 10

Citizens of Heaven

from the Philippians reading plan


Philippians 3:17-4:1, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12, Romans 16:17-20

BY Debbie Eaton

It is early in the morning as I sit on my back patio breathing in the cool air, sipping my coffee with my journal and Bible in hand. The light of day has taken over the dark of night. My view to the west takes in the expanse of the blue cloudless sky, majestic mountains rising up and a slight glimpse of the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

The expanse overwhelms me, and it is as though heaven and earth are connected in that moment. I know this life on earth is temporary and heaven is eternal, yet the struggle of living in the gap confounds me.

Paul knew this struggle well. It’s what drove him to write to the church of Philippi with passion, urging them to join him in recognizing and waiting expectantly for the eternal in the midst of the temporal. This was not written in arrogance but with humility. In Paul’s day, people didn’t have a Bible in hand to reference and cross-reference to the character of Christ. They needed an example to follow.

In humility, Paul pleaded with the Philippians to imitate his own relentless pursuit to mirror Christ. Moved to tears over the deception and dangers of false teaching, he warned them to be wise in their choices and steadfast in their conviction (Philippians 3:18). How could Paul presume to be a model for other believers to follow? Because he himself only aspired to know Christ and follow Him (Philippians 3:10-12).

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “imitate” as an act, “to do the same thing as someone; to copy.” Our world today gives us no shortage of examples to follow—from magazines and movies, television and social media, to celebrities, athletes, and politicians. Our potential influences are endless. We must be aware that these examples can easily promote a divided heart, drawing us into the desires and deceptions of earthly things, as Paul warned (Philippians 3:19). Temporary things cannot bring long-term contentment (Matthew 6:19-21).

When instead we imitate the ways of Jesus, we are transformed more and more into His likeness. As the Word of Life takes deep root into our minds, hearts, and souls, we are able to live as aliens in this temporal land. We are empowered to stand firm in the pain and mess of life with compassion and love, joyful and expectant of Christ’s return. Instead of merely surviving, we as believers have the joy and privilege of illuminating the character and values of Christ to a world that desperately needs to know Him. By the grace of Christ in us, we become someone to imitate—someone who points others to the hope of the gospel.

In the blink of an eye, our existence on earth will be gone and the expanse of blue sky will give way to the eternal. The earthly things will vaporize, “but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). And while we wait for Him, we rejoice in being His ambassadors here on earth—those who live even now under the rule of the one true KIng. Our citizenship is now, not just later!

So, along with Paul, I say to you, dear sisters, you who “are dearly loved and longed for, in this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends” (Philippians 4:1).

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Post Comments (107)

107 thoughts on "Citizens of Heaven"

  1. Sarabeth says:

    This book, Philippians, is so encouraging. Keeping my mind on heavenly things is hard when bombarded with earthly matters, but Paul’s words are compelling as is this devotion. I am loving this study.

  2. Chrissy says:

    Praying for you Jenna!
    "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Ps. 34:18

  3. Brittany says:

    I’m speechless. This echoes everything I’ve been thinking and feeling lately. The C .S. Lewis quote, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world,” has been in my head for weeks, I’ve begun to realize: my desire for peace, goodness, light, love—those are things of heaven, not earth. We are called to embody those things as best we can, bringing His kingdom to earth, but they won’t be fully realized until He returns. That’s hard for me to accept, but today’s devotion was genuinely encouraging. Thank you so, so much.

  4. Rhonda says:

    Thanks Debbie for bringing a breath of fresh air and encouragement to my morning..Staying anchored in Him..taking some time today just to be still..My prayer today is to know Him a little bit better and by the end of day and love Him even more, and with that maybe have some understanding of how much He really loves me..If we really could grasp that..wow what would our day look like then..!!??

  5. Frances says:

    It is easy to imitate the wrong people, but it’s my prayer I only imitate Christ so I can become a good influence and lead others to Him.

  6. Jenna says:

    Sometimes this gap seems so overwhelming, so lonely and hard. Please pray for me today. I really need encouragement. I am weary and it feels like Scripture can't reach my wounded heart. Thank you.

    1. Angela says:

      Praying for you, Jenna!

  7. lizzie_jk says:

    I don't usually comment on She Reads Truth, but decided today that I should.
    I was really encouraged by todays post.I recently moved to a new country, and started going to a new college. And it definitely hasn't been easy for me. I found myself seeking simple earthly things, like material things to bring me joy because I was feeling so down. But todays post reminded me that "temporary things cannot bring long-term contentment". True joy can only be found in Christ and in a growing relationship with him, but it is sometimes so easy to forget that!

    1. Kylee says:

      I’m so glad you commented! This is something I’ve struggled with too & you know what? The things of this world are like a gum ball that looks & tastes super good but loses its flavor right away — you know the kind! Happy to be here saving His everlasting goodness with you ❤️

      1. lizzie_jk says:

        Thanks for your reply! And yes, you are so right! They lose their flavor and then you're off searching for the next thing that will fill you up! But only in Jesus can we be truly satisfied. Have an amazing day! :)

    2. shereadstruth says:

      Lizzie, thank you so much for commenting today! Praying for your transition and asking God to bring you continued joy in the midst of newness. We love having you in our community!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

      1. lizzie_jk says:

        Thank you so much! <3

    3. Frances says:

      I struggle with this too. Today’s reading is definitely a good reminder that temporary, earthly things don’t give lasting happiness!

  8. Chrissy says:

    " To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thess 1:11-12

    Thank the Lord that it is He who makes us "worthy of His calling" to "fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power"! God not only has chosen to love and accept me when I was still in sin (Romans 5:8), but when He chose me as His own, He also promised Himself so fully to me. He promised to make me worthy of being His beloved, His child – the beloved child of the Creator, the King of kings and Lord of lords! To live up to such a name is beyond me. The pressure and stress that being children of earthly leaders – be it kings, presidents, Hollywood stars, or even church leaders and strong Christian families – can be so great that we see many crack under public eye. Even with the best intentions of living up to the reputation of greatness, as humans (or maybe it's just me?) we strive and strive and when we falter even the slightest bit, we feel like we've failed. And boy does failure do a number on motivation! But alas! God did not call us to a position so high (sisters, we are called to be daughters of the one true King!) and then leave us to find our way to live up to such a name. He called us and covenanted to "fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by HIS power." Sisters, by God's grace, would we live in His power instead of our own, trusting in the righteousness of Jesus with which He has clothed us to live in a way that imitates Christ and spurs others on to imitate Him as well! And lastly, if anyone is like me – prone to dwell on my faltering and failures rather than God's already-won victory over sin – may we be reminded that although our lives are by no means perfect, thank God that He is still relentlessly pursing and faithfully perfecting us until that blessed day of Jesus Christ!

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