A Strait Betwixt Two: Heaven and Earth

Devotional from Philippians 1


Heaven must smell like vanilla, he thought.

Grandfather lay in his hospital bed thinking of family and friends.  He knew they would miss him if he left for Heaven; but, oh, how he wanted to go.

Grandfather missed his dear wife of sixty years. Every time he caught the scent of vanilla he thought of her placing it behind her ears.  He wondered why she always smelled so when she passed through a room until he caught her doing it one morning.  Heaven must smell like vanilla, he thought.

“Grandpa, are you awake?”  It was one of his grandchildren come to visit.

“Yes, Jeremy.  I’m awake.  Just lying here thinking about your grandmother.  I sure do miss her.”

“I know, Grandpa. It must be hard without her around after so many years.  But you’ve got us to keep you busy.  Your breakfast is cold.  Did you not know it was here?  Let me get you something hot from the cafeteria.”

“No, Jeremy. I knew it was here.  I just didn’t feel like eating.”

“But you’ve got to eat so you can keep up your energy.  Please, Grandpa.  You’ve got to eat.”

“I know, Son. But I’ve got other things on my mind.”

“Grandpa, we love you.  Please get better.   We need you.  Dad is going crazy trying to keep up the business. Sarah and Joe need you to help with their first garden.  And I, well, I need you too.”

“I know, Jeremy.  I know.”

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

Philippians 1:23-26

During a time of imprisonment in Rome, the apostle Paul revealed his desire to depart this earth and be with Jesus in Heaven.  His longing is often interpreted as his desire to no longer endure the sufferings that he bore.

However, I believe Paul had a deeper longing than merely escape.  His personal relationship with the Lord was only made stronger by the sufferings which he endured.

The Christ that Paul met on the road to Damascus had become his sole purpose for living.  Every breathing moment was lived intently to bring honor to Christ’s name.

For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  Philippians 1:21

Knowing that others needed the same grace, mercy, and forgiveness that he had received kept Paul busily sharing the gospel.  The thought that anyone would die without the knowledge of Christ was unacceptable.  The world must know Jesus Christ and His resurrection power.

Just like Grandfather in our story, Apostle Paul lay in his cell desiring to go to Heaven.  He knew his family and friends would miss him.  But, more importantly, there were many whom he had never met who needed to hear of Christ.

Paul thought of the Philippians who had ministered to him in his time of need although they were experiencing poverty.  Suddenly he realized that his bondage in Rome might be a discouragement to them.

Epaphroditus was in Rome.  Whether he was in the same cell with Paul or just visiting, I do not know.  But I do know Paul dictated an important letter for Epaphroditus to pen down.

That letter sent to the Philippians expressed that Paul’s current imprisonment was only a display of Paul’s bond to Christ.  His bondage served as an encouragement to the brethren to speak boldly of Christ.

But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.

So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Philippians 1:12-14

Was it Paul’s time to leave for Heaven?  Not yet.

Paul realized his purpose on this earth was not yet met.  Heaven would come, but now was not the time.  Souls needed to hear the gospel.

Cell doors were not a deterrent to the gospel message.  Being behind cell doors gave Paul time to pen letters which we can read today.  These letters are now part of the New Testament that you and I can read for ourselves.

Don't let what you perceive to be cell doors hinder your missionary efforts. (Photo from Pexels.)
Don’t let what you perceive to be cell doors hinder your missionary efforts.  (Photo from Pexels.)

Grandfather knew that his family needed him.  It gave him comfort to know that one day he would be in Heaven and see his lovely wife again.

But today, well, today was not his day to go.  Today was his day to get better.

©2018 by Peggy Clark

Questions to Consider:

Are you torn between two paths that loom in front of you?

Which path seems to more fully support God’s direction for your life?

What Scriptures support your decision to take one path over the other?

Discipleship and Training: Principles for Parents

Principles of Discipleship and Training That Parents Can Glean from 2 Timothy 2

Parents seek to train their children in what they deem as necessary life skills. These skills include reading, writing, communication, social, history, and math among others. The methods of teaching vary from parent to parent. No matter which direction a parent may take, each parent can learn important principles from Scripture that will guide them in their endeavors.

Photo by Lela Johnson from Pexels
Parents desire the best for their children. (Photo by Lela Johnson from Pexels.)

There are some important principles found in 2 Timothy 2 that Apostle Paul utilized to train his young student, Timothy.  Parents can apply those same principles  in training their children.  Let’s look at several verses to find a few.

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.

Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. 

2 Timothy 2:1-7

Parenting Is Discipleship

Paul was a spiritual parent to Timothy.  Calling Timothy his “own son in the faith,” Paul discipled Timothy as a father would disciple his own son.  (See 1 Timothy 1:2.)

Parenting Is Instructional

Paul directed Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  Paul knew that the strength Timothy would need to fulfill his destiny would be found only in Christ.  He would need Christ’s grace and mercy so that he could minister the same to others.

Parents are the best teachers when it comes to doing the difficult.
Parents are the best teachers when it comes to doing the difficult. Children naturally trust their parents to teach them correctly. (Photo by Lgh_9 from Pexels.)

Parenting Is by Example

As a spiritual father, Paul’s life testified of Christ’s influence.  His testimony was esteemed highly by those who knew his daily walk, business principles, and communications.   As a tentmaker, Paul labored to provide the best workmanship that a purchaser of tents could receive.  As an evangelist, he sought God’s direction as to his travels and ministry practices.  As a teacher, he taught truth despite the contradictions of others.

Timothy modeled his life accordingly.  The methods that Paul used to teach Timothy, Timothy then used to disciple others.  His was a self-disciplined life marked with determination to avoid worldly lusts and pleasures which would lead him from his pursuit to fulfill God’s will.

Many people depend upon tents for shelter today just as in Bible times. (Photo by Oziel Gomez from Pexels.)
Many people depend upon tents for shelter today just as in Bible times. (Photo by Oziel Gomez from Pexels. )

Parenting Is Being a Child’s Hero

Paul was Timothy’s hero and rightly so.  Paul’s life was not contradictory.  No matter how he was tried or persecuted, he remained true to the principles of the gospel.  Paul’s boldness in preaching the gospel was an encouragement to Timothy to be bold as well.

Parenting Is Being Respectful

Paul always showed respect to the authorities.  Even though he was a Roman citizen, many times Paul was jailed or beaten against the law.  In those cases, he still showed respect.

In every situation, Paul displayed the fruit of the Spirit working in and through his life.  He remained temperate in all things.

Parenting Is Being Mindful of What Is Being Taught

Paul taught daily in the temples, synagogues, street corners, houses, or roadsides.  Sometimes he had a classroom in which to teach; sometimes it was just a courtyard.  The location was not important.  What was important was the doctrine and principles of the Word of God he conveyed.

Timothy was taught well.  His later life as a pastor was a result of Paul’s teaching.  Many men were taught under his ministry who were enabled to teach others also.

Every young child sees their father as their hero.  Sadly, many fathers do not live according to godly standards.  But when fathers do, what a difference it makes in the lives of their children.

Fathers teach daily.  Although it may not be hand in hand with a textbook, life is still being taught.  The location is not important; but the relationship and principles taught by one’s life is.

No parent is perfect, but moral character is evident to every child.  If we desire mastery for our children, then we must strive lawfully also.  If we require honesty of our children, then we ourselves must be honest. If we want our children to love God and submit to His desires, then we must love God and walk in submission.

Man and children fishing from pier. (photo by Olle from Pexels.)
Children enjoy fishing and other recreational activities with their parents. (Photo by Olle from Pexels.)

Parenting Never Ends

Discipleship is not an 8 to 3 endeavor.  It is an around the clock endeavor.  Consider what Apostle Paul is teaching Timothy, and may the Lord give thee understanding also.

©2018 by Uncovering God’s Word

Something to Consider

The disciples of Jesus walked, talked, ate, and slept 3 ½ years with their Master.  Jesus taught them the principles they would need to live their lives according to the gospel.

The disciples lived well, and they died well.  Their legacy of spreading the gospel remains to this day.

What legacy do you wish to leave your children?
Do you believe that lessons are only taught from 8:00 to 3:00 Monday through Friday?
Do you consider your children as your disciples?
In what ways might you need to change your discipleship methods for your children’s sake?
Discipleship is not limited by time. (Photo by Jess Watters from Pexel.)
Discipleship is not limited by time. Neither is parenting. (Photo by Jess Watters from Pexel.)