Day 30 - What God is Doing in You During a Pandemic | Firm Foundation Devotional

Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.

The book of Philippians was written to encourage believers during a difficult time. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter from prison. Paul writes to encourage the Christians at Philippi to live joyfully in every circumstance, something that he had proved in his own circumstance of incarceration and deprivation. This occurred at the time when Emperor Nero ruled
the Roman Empire and was very cruel towards Christians. From a difficult place in his life and the life of the church, the Paul wrote about JOY in his letter to the Philippians. He wrote of joy 16 times in this brief letter. In an epistle of 104 verses, he used the name of Jesus 51 times. 

During our present COVID-19 pandemic, we can draw a many lessons from the apostle Paul and the Christians of his day. 

Again, Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

What is that good work in you begun by God? That “good work” is not only what you have done, it is what God has done, and is doing, in you.


1. He is making Christ Followers “lights in the world."

Philippians 2:13, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

2. He is making you dependable and trustworthy:

Philippians 2:19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.

3. He is making you aware of the pitfalls and dangers

Philippians 3:1, Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!

4. He is helping you press forward

Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

5. He has removed your anxiety and guarding your heart and mind

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

6. He has made you a giver and is supplying all your need

Philippians 4:15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I [g]have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Reflection Question: What is the good work that God is doing in you during 2020?

Action Item(s) Based on Understanding:

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Bryan Hudson, D.Min.

Day 29 - Reflections on All Things Beautiful: Gaynell Hudson–My Mother | Firm Foundation Devotional

Photo of my mother's high school graduation

It's my birthday! Would like to share with you my late mother's grace, strength, and virtue. There are great lessons to learn! 

[NOTE: This is a repost of an article originally published on 8/21/13 on the tenth anniversary of my mother's homegoing]

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end

Today I reflect on, and celebrate, the life of my mother, Gaynell Hudson. Ten years ago today she exited time in order to enter eternity. She departed from among us to embrace her Savior and Lord.

Of course, everyone's mother is special for all the same reasons. But Gaynell Hudson was special for a lot of other reasons. Because we labored together, along with my dad, Horace Bryan Hudson, in the ministry for 24 years until her passing in 2003, I understood her motivations. I embraced her theology and philosophy of service to all people. I'm not alone in embracing this understanding, though I knew it best.

We shared a special bond as members of what I sometimes think of as "OCS," the Only Child's Society. My mother was the only child of William & Essie Hayden, who were regionally renown Gospel singers. My grandmother, Essie, who passed when my mother was only 17 years old and just finishing school at the famed Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis. Essie Hayden was a pianist of extraordinary ability and acclaim. My mother was also a gifted pianist, singer, and songwriter.

She was a stay-at-home mom, which was more feasible in those days. She poured everything she had into me–– and she had a lot! I discovered she had artistic ability. My mother possessed profound insight and high intelligence. She read thousands of pages of books per year, especially after her conversion to Christ. Most of all, she helped people...all the time. She helped all kinds of people, all the time, with a brand of "tough love" that made a positive and lasting impact. I've watched her speak to young men–fierce looking young men–and hold their attention. She is fondly remembered around our church for looking people in the eyes and saying, "You be encouraged, this too will pass!" Followed by a loving embrace and hug that could last minutes. I've seen adults begin to look like (and likely, feel like) children unburdened by troubles, if only for a few moments, while in her embrace.

What many did not understand was the source of her powers of empathy and connectedness to people. She looked at nearly everything from a higher perspective or purpose. And she did not suffer liars, cheats, and people with questionable motives! She could rebuke as sternly as she would warmly embrace. Her life shaped her character.

Before and after the death of her mother, and while her father worked jobs and sang tenor with Gospel groups, my mother was in the "care" of people who were not altogether caring. She never told me the details of those days, but always became grieved when reflecting on it. This experience fueled her strong sense of justice, injustice, and zero tolerance for the mistreatment of vulnerable people.

The death of her mother only magnified her pain as a 17 year old young woman. Before she came to Christ, she internalized her pain. Her marriage to Horace Bryan Hudson, brought stability to a destabilized life. Bryan (as people called him) and Gaynell were two young adults, each outstanding in his and her own way. Into that union, I was born and in time it became clear that I would be the only one. My mother transformed her pain, harnessed her empathy, exercised her extraordinary intelligence, and cultivated her interest in all things beautiful into occasions of discovery for her only son.

At the little apartment in Barrington Heights on Indy's southeast side, we did everything from read, sing, talk about current events, play games, listen to symphonic music, jazz music, and gospel music. Sometimes we imagined the symphony instruments and played them in pantomime. We danced, looked at photos from around the world in magazines, and watched television together––what (thankfully!) little we had in those days (three channels broadcast from 5am to 12 midnight only!). I especially remember being required to sit still and respectfully listen to the President of the United States whenever he gave a major address on television. I still do that today.

We rarely moved around town, especially outside of our black "section" of town, since she did not have a car to drive while dad was at work, or I was at school. Despite that, I remember my world as a very large place full of big ideas, interesting people, and lots to do—though in reality our world on Perkins Court was very small.

One day, as a six or seven year old, I proposed to build a rocket, complete with diagrams and a materials list. I remember my parents taking me seriously and encouraging me that all things are possible. But for some strange reason, I never received the Roman candles I requested to build the first stage of the rocket!

In my late teens, my mother became of follower of Christ, and she directed all of her energy towards helping other people experience "all things beautiful," beginning with Christ. She completely understood, and identified with the Only Begotten Son Jesus and His singular focus on teaching the Word and saving lives. Gaynell Hudson, my mother, was fully committed to serving God and people. This is the greatest gift I received and lesson I learned from her. This continues to be the basis of my motivations.

In a world of facades, excuses, superficiality, and small mindedness, Gaynell Hudson was a model of authenticity, consistency, hope, and faith.

The worse day of my life occurred on an evening in 1982 or 1983 (I don't try too hard to remember). Following a midweek Bible Study, my wife had left but returned to our meeting place to tell me that my parents were involved in an accident a short distance from our meeting place (no cell phones in those days). She was driving home down 34th Street, just east of what is now called Dr. Andrew Brown Street. When we drove back to the location. The accident scene involved two vehicles with parts strewn across the street and the cars smashed into a heap. I learned later that it was a head-on collision. After I parked my car and we walked over to their car, I saw my injured parents. Dad was out of the car dazed, but mom was still in the car with broken bones and conscious. Mom said, "Don't worry," and she began thanking God through her pain. Reflecting on it, I know she was also thinking how all this was affecting me––always thinking about others. For a short time, I blamed myself for holding service that night. They were not wearing seat belts...few of us did in those days, though we buckled up thereafter.

The experience of assisting my parents in their recovery, driving them to doctors and orthopedic specialists before either of them were allowed to drive, and assisting with my mother's rehabilitation from many broken bones including facial bones (which eventually resulted in her losing sight in one eye), was the most rewarding time of my life at that time. Not only did I have the privilege of helping the people who gave me life, I fully came to understand the great power of personal sacrifice, empathy and serving. I learned that pity is useless. Love and availability are everything. Dad mended quicker than my mother since his injuries were less severe.

Because I was in full time ministry, I moved my "office" to my parents' house. I learned to balance time with my wife and children, ministry responsibilities, and how to serve my congregation, community and my parents effectively and efficiently. Looking back, I suppose all that was "hard." It may have seemed hard to some. But it seemed easy to me because there is nothing more significant one can do than serving, especially your own parents. It is amazing what can be accomplished when we choose not to make excuses and refuse to fear hardship or service as an unwelcome imposition in our lives.

During that time, and for years afterwards, as mom coped with effects of her injuries years earlier, I watched her continue to do what I had always seen her do: Enjoy all things beautiful, love God, and serve others. Even when she experienced kidney failure and the onset of cancer, she continue to serve people, teach Bible study 12noon on Wednesdays, join attend Saturday morning prayer just after her dialysis treatment, spend time with each of her grandchildren, and more. She lived a full life of 65 years, howbeit physically challenged.

For some 15 years we ministered together at nursing homes. Mom would play the piano and sing followed by a Bible lesson from me, and we both prayed for the people. She served on prayer lines for national ministries and ministered at the women's prison in Indy and mentored young women. She began a Community Christmas outreach that continues to this day.

As a husband, father, pastor, educator, and consultant, I live the lessons learned from Gaynell Hudson everyday. I am Gaynell Hudson's son. I am honored to celebrate her life by how I live my life.

What is unfortunate, and even tragic, today is that we seem to be a society and a popular church culture (as distinct from Christ's church) that has come to value things other than sincerity, authenticity and service. Some of what I see is barely recognizable as biblical, Christlike, and efficacious. Our culture is high on style, but low on substance. Yet God continues His work through abounding grace. His Kingdom is advancing.

Gaynell Hudson is long gone, but her son is here. And many others of her "children" are here too. I believe we can make and have made a difference. I believe the values and godly practices of my mother are timeless and transcendent.

I continue to look for all things beautiful and useful to honoring God and helping people!

DAY 28 – Joy is Stronger than Happiness | Firm Foundation Devotional


Romans 14:17, "For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Happiness is often mistaken for joy. Happiness is based on favorable circumstances. Joy is based on knowing the will and unfailing provision of God. Happiness is like seeing the sun shine because of the absence of clouds. Joy is like knowing the sun is always shining and giving life regardless of clouds or weather conditions.

Many scriptures show that joy is a fundamental component to God's grace and kingdom.

2 Corinthians 8:1-2, "Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: hat in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality."

Like the believers in Macedonia, the joy of the Lord in your heart empowers you to be generous, even when facing difficulty and a season of lack. Happiness can only reflect your feelings in the moment.

Nehemiah 8:10, “…The joy of the Lord is your strength.” 

Reflection Question: Why is the joy of the Lord your strength?

Action Item(s) Based on Understanding:

DAY 27 – Honor: Lose Your Life, Find Your Greater Life | Firm Foundation Devotional

Matthew 10:39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. 40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”

Losing your life is finding your greater life. Through the New Birth, you have died to the old life and have been spiritually born to a new life in Christ. Recognizing this truth is "losing" your old life and finding your higher life.

Honor recognizes the powers of your new life. There is a great blessing in recognizing those who are sent by God. "He who receives you receives Me." When you know what restrains Jesus, you will know what restrains you. The following text shows how a lack of honor limited Jesus' power among the people.

Mark 6:1 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him. 4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief.

A lack of honor reduced Jesus to something lesser and familiar in the minds of the people, and this attitude among the people blocked the blessings they could have received from Him. To his family, friends, and neighbors, Jesus was merely the kid down the street, or “the carpenter's son.” He was much more than his occupation, but “familiarity” hindered their ability to see Jesus’ greater purpose and ability.

Many times God will send what you need in a package you don’t understand or like. The Greek word for honor literally means “a valuing.” It speaks of something valuable, precious, or weighty, such as gold. Other definitions of honor  appreciation, esteem, favorable regard, respect. 

Reflection Question: How do you honor God? Who do you honor?

Action Item(s) Based on Understanding:

DAY 26 – Two Liberating Words: "Thank You" | Firm Foundation Devotional

Hebrews 13:12, Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, [d]giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Two of the most liberating words in our language are: “Thank you.”

Just as John taught that love is shown in deeds more than words, thanksgiving is always connected to what we offer or give. That’s why we celebrate birthdays with cards and gifts, because we wish to say “Thank you” for someone’s life. That’s why we celebrate Christmas with gift giving and honoring our Savior. It’s all about saying “Thank You” to the Lord for the gift of life and new life in Christ. 

God trained His people Israel to the importance of giving thanks by instituting the Law of Peace Offerings, also called "Thanksgiving Offerings." Many things in the Old Testament that began as a law were designed to train and develop people to recognize the grace of God. The law was a “schoolmaster” to led us to Christ. (Gal. 3:24)

Leviticus 22:29, And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will

While the Law mandated many things to be done, there was the greater motivation of free will. This motivation for serving and giving came from the heart. It looked forward to the New Covenant under grace. 

The principle of free will and being thankful in our service to God is best practice for New Testament believers: 

1 Thessalonians 5:17-19, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

Hebrews 13:15-16, Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Today, we don't need a law to mandate our service and thanksgiving to God. Because of his love and grace, we don't have to be told to serve and be thankful. We are more than willing!

Reflection Question: What are examples of free will peace offerings or thanksgiving offerings, that you bring to the Lord?  Which people do you need to encourage by saying "Thank You?"

Action Item(s) Based on Understanding: