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Wednesday, September 04, 2019

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Even as a prisoner in chains, the apostle Paul's thoughts turned to plants and the way they grow. After all, he was the apostle who proclaimed himself and Apollos, missionaries, as divine planter and divine waterer respectively -- the same apostle who used the metaphor of grafting a tree to describe how the Gentiles had been incorporated into the love of the God of Israel. So, even under house arrest, Paul borrowed the vocabulary of plants to describe his prayer for his beloved Philippians, that they might "produce a harvest of righteousness."

Perhaps the second week of September is a little early for harvest metaphors, but I find Paul's thoughts of growth and harvest to be a welcome antidote to a clickbait culture that seeks immediate gratification. As I labor to finish papers or to teach students, I am grateful to be reminded that I am not working for immediate results, but have my eye on a harvest yet to come.

God of harvests, still our anxious hearts. Replace our love of instant gratification with patience and perseverance, so that we, too, may produce a harvest of righteousness on the day of Christ. Amen.

Kristofer Coffman, '16
Graduate Fellow in Classical and Near Eastern Studies
University of Minnesota

Philippians 1:1-21 (NRSV)

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you,
4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you,
5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.
6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God's grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight
10 to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless,
11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
12 I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel,
13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ;
14 and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.
15 Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill.
16 These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel;
17 the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment.
18 What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,
19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance.
20 It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.