Grow, Pray & Study Guide: Next Level Living, Week 3

Our hope at River City is that you grow daily in your walk with God! One way to do that is to spend time with God every day. This Grow, Pray and Study Guide (GPS) is just one easy way to connect with God on a daily basis.
Written by Rev. Brandon McGinnis



Philippians 2:1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church in Philippi. You can almost hear his genuine care and affection for this church he helped start. He shares with them that they can “make his joy complete by being like-minded, being one in spirit and mind”. Being a parent of two children I understand these sentiments. I want my children to be together in all things. I hate when they fight, bicker, wrestle over toys, or claim that things are not fair. Here again in this scripture Paul is pleading and reminding this small close group of believers that they are in fact united, and now they should start acting like it. And the way Paul wants them to be united is in “tenderness and compassion”. Today survey your relationships, especially with those who you are connected to in the Christian faith whether at church or globally. Bring those relationships to God. Ask him to bring healing and hope, and ask him to lead you to love towards your fellow followers of Jesus. 



Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

This is probably the hardest thing in life. Without a doubt it is very very hard to get outside of ourselves and put others first. Whether it be in marriage, family, friendships, school, or work, we each tend to think of ourselves first, and with whatever is left over we offer that energy to others. But in this scripture the Apostle Paul continues to press the church in Philippi to be followers of Jesus who put others first in the same way that Jesus does. It doesn’t take much reflection to realize just how selfish we are. But today let’s not flounder in despair that we are bad people who don’t care enough for the people around us. How about today we believe that through the grace of God he will continue to mold us into the image of Jesus and that we can be people that serve and love for the betterment of everyone around us. Take a few moments to reflect on the people in your life that have served you and given so much of themselves to make your life better. Now go and be that person for someone else. 



Matthew 6: 5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

I’ve heard it said that more people are afraid of public speaking than of death. Meaning at a funeral, people would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy. And when it comes to praying out loud, forget it. I have never heard a group of people get quieter than when someone says, “who would like to pray for us”? (crickets).  But in this scripture we see a different context. In Jesus’ day, the “religious professions” were really good at making a show of their faith. They would stand on street corners or in public spaces and wax poetically as they prayed to God. It’s in the midst of these theatrics Jesus tells his followers to get a grip and connect with God in the quiet closed door places where no one can applaud you for your spiritual work. Jesus says those who get made much of by people for their public prayers get their reward of people’s praise, but when we pray in secret to God, God is the one who rewards us. So today reflect on who’s approval and reward you are working for. Is it the reward of people saying, “wow, you are so spiritual” or are you longing to hear God say, “thank you my beloved, here is your reward”? 



Matthew 6: 19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

My daughter loves her little trinkets and “collectables”. I’m sometimes amazed by what she deems worthy of keeping when all I want to do is throw it into the trash. But I guess I get it.  When I was young I had my treasure box too. It’s where I would keep everything from baseball cards, newspaper clippings, to keepsakes from camp or vacations. Over the years we may grow out of our childish keepsakes, while some things remain precious to us regardless of time. But regardless of how important these things are to us they will eventually decompose. Everything that is material deconstructs. Here in our scripture for today Jesus says store up treasures that are untouchable by this world. What treasures (memories, relationship) are you working on storing up today? Are you investing in the temporary material stuff or are you investing in the things that will last into eternity? 



1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Today’s reflection is simple. ANYTHING can be done to the glory of God. But does that mean everything is permissible and okay if we dedicate it to God? For example, does the above teaching from the Apostle Paul given to the church in Corinth mean that if we want to gorge ourselves like every meal is Thanksgiving and we want to get drunk it is okay if we do it in honor of God? Of course not. While these actions might feel good in the moment they are not honoring of God. We hear verses like this and want to stretch them to allow our excess. The heart behind teachings like this is to be about simplifying our lives and recognizing that even the smallest act can be worship and a way to glorify God. So here we see Paul saying even a drink of water from a water fountain or a protein bar in the afternoon to “get us by” till dinner can be done to the glory of God when our actions are done with gratitude and praise to God for the amazing ways he continues to bless us. Then anything, even working what feels like a meaningless or, at times, a thankless job, can be honoring to God by our attitude of service.