fresh bread: if I want to hear him say “you are a good and faithful servant” …

Having heard my Lord speak straight to me through Matthew 25:14-30 I know …

I must seize this opportunity he has given me. No matter how many decades I might live, my life is short and the days fly by. I am here only for a little while so I must do more than dream and intend; I must act and act now.

I must not be paralyzed by fear. I dare not play it safe by making the avoidance of loss or embarrassment my objective in life. If I’m not taking risks for his glory now, I’m not living my life as my Lord intended for me to live it.

I must put to work what God has entrusted to me. My Lord knows me better than I know myself and he has given me what I have with that in mind. If I do not fully exert myself or try to make the most of his resources he has temporarily put in my care, then I am a lazy, foolish, unproductive person unworthy of the designation as “servant.”

I must not misunderstand the character of my Lord. If I mistake his expectations of me as hardness, I will never grasp, much less enjoy, the depth of his generosity. If I view his trust in me as an extension of his own trustworthiness, I will surely enter into the joy of my Lord.

I must live with my Lord’s pleasure as my goal. To do so will make my Lord happy and his pleasure will surely spill over onto me. To completely bless the Lord with my life here and now will lead to my total blessing there and then forever.

Heavenly Father, I long to hear you say to me “you are a good and faithful servant.” I know those who will have the ultimate regret over their life will be those who never really tried. So Father, in the name of Jesus, bring me to that servant way of life for you now. Break whatever is within me that mindlessly resists such a life and reinforce whatever good you have caused to be within me. May I wholly celebrate you by living my life in service to you and so avoid regret over the loss of what might have been. Amen.

ct: assurance in suffering – Philippians

… the tapestry of Philippians is strung with references to suffering: the suffering of Paul, the suffering of Christ, and the suffering of the Philippians. The red thread of suffering trails across the pages of this letter. Philippians provides us with a firsthand account of a believer in Christ who is suffering. …

Whereas in 1 Thessalonians Paul evidences an acceptance that the good news is accompanied by affliction, by the time he writes Philippians he is motivated to reflect on the value of suffering as a believer. It is no accident that it is in Philippians that Paul uses the powerful and provocative hymn extolling the good outcome of Christ’s humiliation, suffering, and death (2:5-11). …

In the midst of these daunting afflictions Paul [himself is suffering, he] … asserts that Christ strengthens him for all circumstances. In other words, Christ does not make Paul’s difficulties disappear, but rather fortifies him to endure them. …

Philippians … is [Paul's] apology for suffering, and in this two ways. First and primarily, it is an apology or defense of Paul’s own suffering. Second, it is an encouragement to other believers to accept afflictions while being “in” Christ. … Paul in Philippians is both contemplating suffering while believing and suffering caused by belief.

Paul is at pains not so much to assure the Philippians that all is well as to acknowledge his afflictions and address their significance. His words appear, then, to be directed to people who, though worried about his welfare, are chiefly concerned about the seeming paradox of a suffering preacher of resurrection. At the heart of Paul’s response, and presumably of the Philippians’ concern, is the fact that, for believers in the risen Christ, suffering continues. … The letter strongly hints … that the fact of his imprisonment is being used to discredit his gospel. …

… the way of life Paul scorns is one that seeks to avoid suffering. His problem is with a lifestyle that avoids pain, just as presumably their problem was with a way of life willing to encounter it. Paul’s emotional language betrays the threat he feels from such a disposition. …

… Paul does not accept victimization. He speaks rather as someone who has radically reversed the power dynamics of his circumstances. … Paul interprets the injustices he experiences in the context of being “in” Christ; other people and circumstances may cause afflictions, but Paul does not lay blame. He rather uses his energy to draw these difficulties into the sphere he now inhabits – the sphere of being “in” Christ. This is critical for Paul’s defense of his present humiliation. For, his chief point is that being “in” Christ does not separate the believer from suffering. Paul stakes his defense on the continuing presence of the cross.

(L. Ann Jervis, At the Heart of the Gospel: Suffering in the Earliest Christian Message, pp.38,39,41,42,44-45,47,49)