Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Secret to Being Content

 Philippians 4:8-14
 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.

Paul begins this part of Philippians 4 by telling us what we should think about. He clearly points out many adjectives and ends with excellent and praiseworthy. He is directing and encouraging us to think about our Savior. That's what it comes down to. If we are not thinking and worrying about everything else, but we have our eyes fixed on Jesus, He will put everything into place for us.

Paul continues to tell us that He was content with his you recall where he is throughout the book of Philippians? Yep, in jail. Yet, he is content with his circumstances. He continues on to tell us the secret to always being content...ready?

"I can do all this through Him who gives me strength."Philippians 4:13

That was his secret to always being content! Let's make that the reason we can always be content. God will take of everything you need, you just need to trust Him!

Lord, Thank you for this day, and I pray that we all trust in You more today than yesterday. Help us to be reminded throughout the day how Paul was content and he wait in prison. Speak to us today and let us pray continually. Thank you for all you do! ~Amen



Monday, August 6, 2012

on fighting and worrying

It's clear by our pageviews that this march through Philippians isn't being read.  But, that's okay.  I've been convicted, challenged, and encouraged as I've studied up to write my post each week and the Lord is doing such a work in my heart.  For those few of you who are reading, thank you for your faithfulness.  I pray that He is moving in your lives just like He's moving through mine.  

Today's chunk of scripture came at just the right time for me.  Let's read Philippians 4:1-7

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work. Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner,to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life. 
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I love this passage.  A good majority of the Bible has stories about men.  While there are great things to learn from the amazing stories of men in the bible, sometime us women just need to a good woman story.  And this one hits right to the heart.

At the beginning of this passage Paul is talking about a feud going on between two church members.  Two women, to be exact.  Don't think I'm pointing fingers because I know all too well what it's like to have issues with other women (believing women at that), but sometimes we need a good reminder to settle our issues.  Paul doesn't tell these women to work through their problems just because he's tired of their whining, but he wants them to work through their issues because they belong to the Lord.  Their disagreement doesn't just affect them, it's affects the whole church.  In the MacArthur Study Bible, John MacArthur said this in his commentary of these verses, "Apparently the disunity in the Philippian church was about to destroy the integrity of its testimony."  Looking in on my own life, I know that there have been issues with Christian women that I've let go without settling.  These situations might not have destroyed the integrity of my testimony, but they certainly didn't build my testimony up. 

Let's work out our issues, sister.  We've got a mission for Christ to accomplish and we need each other to do it.  Let's not tear each other down.

The second part of this passage really encouraged me where I am in my life right now.  I'm in the middle of a transition from my college town back home until I get married in March, and it has certainly been a struggle.  My heart is hurting to leave the town and friends I've made the past three years and anxiety creeps up on me when I think about all the unknown things to come.  

But, the Lord has called me to have joy!  While it may take some time for me to have happiness over the situation, I can most certainly have joy.  Joy isn't based on my circumstance, it is based on Jesus.  Next Paul says something that hits right at my heart.  Don't worry, just pray.  This gal has done a whole lot of worrying, if you wanted to know the truth.  When I'm tempted to worry about how I'm going to make it without my best gals in my town, I'll pray.  When I'm tempted to fret about how I'm going to like going to a new college campus, I'll pray.  When I'm tempted to fear that my bank account will finally run dry, I'll pray.  What can worrying bring?  Fear, anxiety, nervousness, unhappiness.  What can prayer bring?  Peace.  His peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus.

Lord, this passage is so full.  I know you had me read and reflect on this just for my benefit, but I pray that someone else gets the benefit too.  I'm so thankful that your Word is alive.  It will never get boring and I can never stop learning.  Thank you for being faithful.  I pray that we would be convicted in situations where we need to make amends with someone.  It hurts my heart to know that I could hurt the integrity of my testimony by fighting with one of my own sisters.  Bring restoration, Lord.  Move in our hearts.  Jesus, I also pray that we would chose prayer over worrying.  The peace that comes from being in your presence and trusting in you will exceed anything we can understand.  Encourage us and challenge us with your word, Lord.  Amen.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Philippians 3:17-21

Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I've warned you of them many times; sadly, I'm having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ's Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites. But there's far more to life for us. We're citizens of high heaven! We're waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He'll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.
{Philippians 3:17-21}

In these verses Paul is wanting the Philippians to use his way of living as an example of how to live. He wants them to focus on people who are after the same thing they are: living for Christ. When I first read these verses it made me think about my 7th grade girls that I lead at church. We are always talking about the difference between making wise choices and making foolish choices. We also talk about how to choose between wise and foolish friends. Even though my girls at 12 and 13 years old we could all use a little lesson between wise and foolish.

There are so many things in this world that are vying for our attention. There is pressure everywhere to conform to the things of this world. We see friend after friend straying away from church and falling further and further into a pit of bad choices.

Living in a college town that is more known for their parties and downtown scene than anything else it can get hard to keep fighting the good fight. There have been plenty of times when I just want to throw in the towel and conform and just be like everyone else. But then verses like this come into my head and I remember that I am citizen of high heaven and there is WAY more life for me than for people who are caught up in the world.

Now I'm not saying there is anything wrong with going out {I go downtown often!} but what I am saying is that you have to remember that yes, it may seem easier to just go with what the world is doing BUT it is way more rewarding to go with what Christ wants you to do. Surround yourself with people who want the same things out of life. Get involved in a community of authentic believers who will hold you accountable in areas that may cause temptation. Be aware of where you are weak and allow people to come into your life to help you. 

"He will make you beautiful and whole."



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pressing Toward the Goal

 Philippians 3:12-16
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

I love this for so many reasons! Paul is speaking about pressing on towards a goal and not giving up. This is so applicable to our lives as believers because we are all called to strive and achieve goals. We can not give up, even though things might happen that discourage us. No dear friends, we have to press on and strive for perfection. Although, we will never reach perfection on Earth, we can strive for it everyday so that we are fulfilling those goals.

Something that distracts many people is the past. The past can hold so many negative memories, experiences, and also relationships. We sometimes struggle to let go of our past, and that enables us to put our entire focus on the future and what's ahead. But, Paul tells us here that we are to FORGET our past and look forward to what lies ahead. That is what our focus should be. We have to allow God to take those bad memories and replace them with focusing on the future. We can no longer let our past bog us down. 

So, what happens when we turn from the past and focus ONLY on what's ahead?

We will reach the end of the race and receive a heavenly prize from Christ! If you're a runner (I'm not) then you know and can relate to that feeling of finishing a race. After running for so long and pressing on no matter what struggle comes about, you finish! Just think if you were to win 1st prize...wouldn't that be even better? Well, when we reach the end of our race as believers and achieve what Christ has called us to achieve, we will all win the race. The prize will also be far greater than any of us can imagine. We will win eternal life with Christ!

I hope that today you can ask God to help you move on from your past. Ask Him to take those memories away and replace them with a focus that only He could place in your heart. Begin running steadily towards the goal that He is calling you to.

Lord, Please renew our hearts today and place a fresh yearning for You. Please keep us focused on reaching the goals You have for us. Allow us to overcome distractions and hindrances that may be in our path. We know that with You carrying us, we can overcome anything. Nothing is impossible with You. Keep our minds and hearts on You today! 


Monday, July 30, 2012

knowing Christ is priceless

"Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.
Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God[b] are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!
 I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!"

Philippians 3:1-11

Hey, gals!  Before we take apart these few verses I just want to tell you how much I appreciate you learning and growing with us as we go through Philippians.  We may not see a lot of your comments (if you're reading, drop us a comment from time to time!) but we know that there are several of you out there studying along side of us.  Keep at it, sister!  There is nothing more fulfilling than being in the Word of God.  I pray that you're learning through this series like we are.  Have any big thoughts on what we've been discussing?  Drop us a comment or send us an email!  We'd love to know what you think.

I love today's hunk of scripture so much because there is just as much for us to draw from it today as when Paul was speaking to the church of Philippi.  

What Paul says in these few verses speaks so loudly to me personally, and I hope it does to you too.  In the majority of these verses Paul is warning us against wasting our lives on worthless religious activity and he even gives himself as an example.  He was a Jew who was the best of the best.  He was circumcised, a Pharisee, and strictly followed the Jewish laws.  He was the king of religious activity.  Just like Paul, we are often queens (or at least princesses!) of religious activity.  We head up all the church committees, we have weekly bible studies, we share scriptures with our girlfriends, we follow all the "rules".  We often spend our days, weeks, months, and years wasting our life on things that are worthless when compared to knowing Christ.  Paul says that he once thought all those things were valuable... until Jesus.  

I can get so caught up in pursuing religious activity over pursuing Christ, but God doesn't accept us based on what religious activity we've picked up this week, He accepts us because of Jesus.

He accepts us because Jesus died on a cross to cover us in grace and mercy.  He accepts us because the blood of Jesus washes away all our sins.

None of the religious things we do make us righteous.  We can only be counted righteous through Christ.  

Without Jesus, religious activity is just activity.  

Jesus, thank You for your word.  Thank you for breathing life into us through it.  I pray that we wouldn't waste our lives on worthless religious activity.  I pray that we would come to recognize that we can never "work" our way into your presence.  You accept us because of what You've done and who You are.  Lord, it is my desire that whenever we do something in your name we are truly doing it out of love for you and out of a desire to know you more.  May we never forget that we're only righteous through You, not through our activity.  Convict our hearts.  We love you. Amen.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Friendship Philippians 2:19-30

Hey y'all! So, today's scripture is Philippians 2:19-30. The main focus of these verses is friendship and what it looks like to have an authentic, godly, friendship with someone. As we've talked about this week there are ways that we must act in order for our lives to permeate Christ's love. The same goes for friendships.
Read these verses to get a better picture of the friendship that Paul had with Timothy and Epaphroditus.

I plan (according to Jesus' plan) to send Timothy to you very soon so he can bring back all the news of you he can gather. Oh, how that will do my heart good! I have no one quite like Timothy. He is loyal, and genuinely concerned for you. Most people around here are looking out for themselves, with little concern for the things of Jesus. But you know yourselves that Timothy's the real thing. He's been a devoted son to me as together we've delivered the Message. As soon as I see how things are going to fall out for me here, I plan to send him off. And then I'm hoping and praying to be right on his heels. But for right now, I'm dispatching Epaphroditus, my good friend and companion in my work. You sent him to help me out; now I'm sending him to help you out. He has been wanting in the worst way to get back with you. Especially since recovering from the illness you heard about, he's been wanting to get back and reassure you that he is just fine. He nearly died, as you know, but God had mercy on him. And not only on him—he had mercy on me, too. His death would have been one huge grief piled on top of all the others. So you can see why I'm so delighted to send him on to you. When you see him again, hale and hearty, how you'll rejoice and how relieved I'll be. Give him a grand welcome, a joyful embrace! People like him deserve the best you can give. Remember the ministry to me that you started but weren't able to complete? Well, in the process of finishing up that work, he put his life on the line and nearly died doing it.

As you can tell Paul was VERY close to both Timothy and Epaphroditus. There are several characteristics that Paul uses to describe his two friends.
-Good friend

These are things that we should strive to live out each and everyday within the context of our friendships!

I challenge you to evaluate your friendships--Are you loyal? Are you genuine? Are you devoted? These are all things we want in a friend, but are we being that for someone else? Sometimes it's nice to just take a mental inventory of our friendships and make sure our actions towards others are glorifying to God. 

I hope y'all enjoyed all we learned this week through the 2nd chapter of Philippians!



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shining Bright for Christ

I hope you are all enjoying the series! I know that God is teaching me a lot through this, and I feel like even though I have read Philippians multiple times, I am getting more out of it than ever!

Philippians 2:12-18
Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

Remember that in the previous verses that Nicole discussed on Monday, Paul is talking about having a Christ like attitude. Following that he begins to talk about how we need to live in order to "shine brightly" for Christ. Shining brightly for Christ can not happen unless we have a Christ like attitude. 
When we are saved and have Jesus in our hearts we are expected to live differently than we did before. There should be results shown from our salvation, and that is exactly what Paul is talking about in the verses above. Those results should be seen by others. If there were no results to see, then wouldn't becoming a Christian look pointless? Today as you go through your day, focus on making sure that those results of your salvation are seen by those around you. That is the start of shining brightly for Him.

Next, Paul begins getting specific. He gives us practical ways of making sure that our lives display results from being saved. I love this because these are things you can so everyday to make sure that your results are evident! Pick one of those to focus on over the next few days, and work on becoming more like Christ in that way. He ends this section by talking about the outcome of us shining brightly for Christ. He says that if we do these things, we will be proud of the results shown and we will be proud that we didn't go through life in vain. We will see that all of this work was not useless, but that Christ used us as a vessel to bring others to Him. He also states that this will also give us a reason to rejoice always. If we are focusing on shining for Christ, we will have endless joy as He works through us to change lives. Don't you want that endless joy? I know I do! 

Lord, please allow me shine brighter than ever for you today. Please point out things that I can work on so that I can know that the results of my salvation are evident and seen by those around me. ~Amen