Philippians 2:12-18 (NIV)

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,1 13 for it is God who works in you2 to will and to act according to his good purpose.3 14 Do everything without complaining4 or arguing15 so that you may become blameless5 and pure, children of God6 without fault in a crooked and depraved generation,7 in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold outa the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ8 that I did not run9 or labor for nothing.10 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering11 on the sacrifice12 and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.13 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV)

14 Do all things without murmuring and arguing,

15 so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world.
16 It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

DEVOTION – Scott Wierenga (Michigan)

Nearly four year ago I began counseling prison inmates in alcohol rehabilitation.  I tell these men about what Jesus has done for me;  I am a recovering alcoholic with over 20 years of sobriety.

Most of the inmates are serving long sentences for murder or armed robbery.  However, my colleagues and I seldom hear foul language, and the men are genuinely happy to be with us.  They never complain about having to spend 23 hours each day locked up in a small cell.  We don’t hear complaints about the food or about the lack of air conditioning in summer.  They never speak of harshness by correction officers or stringent prison rules.

What we do hear over and over again is this question:  “Why do you guys drive 40 miles to spend your evening with us, of all people?”  We explain to them that we can’t keep what God has given us – sobriety and a future – unless we in turn it away.  We want to share the good news of god’s love with them as well.  We tell the prisoners we also come to learn the lessons they can teach us.  Already we have learned not to complain and to be grateful for all that we have.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: What have I thanked God for today?

PRAYER:O God, teach us to be grateful for the ways you care for your people, whether we are inside or outside prison walls.  Amen.