ODJ: messages of hope

June 15, 2015 

READ: Philippians 1:1-11 

God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus (v.8).

I love collecting old books. There’s something exciting about holding in my hands a work that’s been thumbed through over the years by others. In my mind, each book has a story to tell far beyond the words on its pages—if only it could talk!

One tiny book that I treasure, little more than the size of a booklet, is a copy of the gospel of John that was given to men on active duty in World War I. It contains the gospel and also a number of stories about men of faith, along with an explanation to the reader of how to receive Christ. It’s a book of hope and encouragement, originally distributed to men whose lives were being ravaged by the horrors of trench warfare.

In Paul’s encouraging letter to the Philippians, he expresses his love from the outset along with his great desire to be with the believers in Philippi. He longs for them with “the tender compassion of Christ Jesus” (1:8). Paul wrote these words at a time when the church was being persecuted, faith was being tested and false teaching was in the air.

How reassuring for the people in Philippi to receive such an encouraging message and expression of love from the apostle himself! He assured them of God’s power to sustain (v.6), expressed his thankfulness for them (v.3) and encouraged them to continue looking forward with hope (v.10).

How important it is for us to offer encouragement to those in adversity or simply to those who share the same faith! We all need comforting, and as we present the truths of God and His loving, compassionate ways, we (and others) can experience encouragement.

Old books are great, but the Greatest Book provides hope that comes from God Himself.

—Russell Fralick

365-day-plan: Mark 1:1-13

Read Romans 15:13 and consider the encouraging words Paul wrote to his readers. 
What can you do today to speak words of encouragement to those who need them? How have the Scriptures provided encouragement for you this week?