Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Studying Philippians, Final Day

Philippians 4:14-23

"Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To Our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (4:14-20)  There is no doubt in my mind that the people in the church of Philipi had servant hearts. They saw the Paul's need and met it. No questions asked. No fame. No glory. They were serving from a grateful and concerned heart for Paul. What is amazing to me is they gave, "again and again." We hear in church, "...a one time gift offering." It's easier for us to give once and forget. To be asked to give again and again would require too much time, effort and money, but not for the Philippians. They gave and gave. They didn't forget that Paul was in need. And what's amazing is that they didn't expect anything back. Paul sees their heart and blesses them, " And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To Our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (4:20)  When we give, when we hear God leading us to give, we will be blessed.

Final Greetings
"Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar's household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen." (4:22-23) 

I've learned so much and been reminded of much since reading the Book of Philippians. My take-away is: Be a SERVANT, 'Do everything without complaining or arguing,' Think on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and praisewotthy, Be CONTENT. Rejoice always and remember, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Today's Prayer:
Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you that you have preserved it all these years for me to read and know you. Thank you for all the lessons I have learned. Help me to never forget them. Keep working in my heart and make me more like you. I love you, Lord Jesus. Amen. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Studying Philippians Day 15

Philippians 4: 10-13

Thanks for the Gifts

"I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been 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." (4:10-11) My Bible commentary explains the first part of the verse saying that the Philippians had concern, but that perhaps there was no messenger to send their gifts. But while Paul was waiting in the jail, day after day, possibly week after week, for something to come in the mail from the Philippians he didn't learn to be frustrated, angry, bitter, or have horrible thoughts about them, no, he, "...learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Paul completely astounds me. Life couldn't be any worse for Paul- he's in jail! But on top of that he wasn't receiving any care packages from those he gave his time and love to. Instead of being angry and bitter towards them he allowed God to teach him contentment. When I read passages like this I realize what an infant I am in Christ. I get inpatient so easily and when I feel 'forgotten,' like Paul, I go into self-pity, not contentment. I'm truly pathetic. If I would only trust the Lord for the outcome and surrender my thoughts to be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable I would find contentment and peace.

"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 everything through him who gives me strength." (4:12-13) He's amazing. I too know what it is to be in need... I was homeless when I was twenty-one years old. I had nothing and no one. My family had disowned me. I also know what it is to have plenty...I have a beautiful home and all the food I could ask for. I have clothes on my back and a warm bed to sleep in every night. On top of that, I now have a family. I have not suffered as Paul has suffered, but I know the extremes of want and plenty and yet I have not learned contentment. Paul wrote, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation..." (4:12) Okay, the challenge for today (and for life) is being content in any and every situation. If we believe that God is in control, that God knows us when we sit and when we stand, that He cares for us and wants the best for us, than why can't be we content even when things go wrong? Won't He care for us? Won't He have a plan to set us free? Do we only trust Him when things are going well? Where is our faith when things take a turn for the worse? We, I, must learn to be content because I know my God.

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (4:13) I don't think I ever connected this verse with the previous verses with contentment. I always read it alone. The difference is that I would think of big things like parenting, homeschooling my children, leading a VBS, being a speaker, author as, "I can do everything..." I never thought about the heart issues, like contentment as being able to do 'everything.' The things of the heart is what the Lord sees. I can do everything through Christ, like forgive all those who have hurt me, have patience with those who don't do things the way I'd like, love the unlovable, be content. I claim it now in Jesus' name that I can do EVERYTHING, big and small, heart issue or worldly, through Christ who gives me strength.

Today's Prayer:

Jesus, I must be one of your silly children. You must look at me and say, "When will Ellie trust me in any and all circumstances?" Forgive me, Lord. You have carried me through a life time of hardships. I do know you. I do know that you love me and want the best for me. I do know that you are gentle and kind, and full of blessings. Help me today, and always, to be content no matter what comes my way because you are my peace. I love you with all my heart and want to grow into contentment. In Jesus' Name. Amen. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Studying Philippians Day 14

Philippians 4: 8-9

"Finally, brothers, 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. (4:8) Let me start with sharing what the Bible commentary says- it's spot on, "Paul understood the influence of one's thoughts on one's life. What people occupy their minds will sooner or later determine their speech and action." It's so true, isn't it? If we think about how miserable life is or how much we hate our jobs, doesn't that effect our motivation and desire to fight to make things better or do our jobs with joy?

In Paul's list on what to think about I love that he put, 'whatever is true' first. So many times I find myself with vain imaginings. I start thinking about the 'what if's?' scenarios and honestly, my 'what if's' thoughts are usually horrible thoughts! I'll think, 'What if she tells me she hates me?' or 'What if they won't help me if I need help' and stuff like that. I'm not thinking on what's true, I'm allowing my fears to rule my thoughts. I allow my insecurities to take over. It's so easy to follow any train of thought or emotion down a rabbit trail. Often I get a thought telling me that I'm a horrible mom and many times after I've had the thought I sit with it and eventually convince myself that I am! I know the enemy is constantly trying to trick me or lie to me to keep me from all the joy and peace that God has for me, but there are times I totally fall for his lies. I need to do better at identifying the lie, shut it down and think on what is true. I need to fight for the truth to reign in my thoughts. Paul is basically saying that what we think about is a choice we make- so think on what's true.

After encouraging us to think on what is true there is more! We should also think on what is:
noble, (possessing outstanding qualities)
right, (being in accordance with what is just, good, or proper) 
pure, (unmixed with any other matter) 
lovely, (delightful for beauty, harmony, or grace) 
admirable, (deserving the highest esteem) 
excellent  (very good of its kind eminently good) and
praiseworthy (worthy of praise).

If I am to be completely honest here, I'd have to say that I have a tendency to think about and talk about all the things that went wrong in my day. Is it attention getting? Is it more exciting?  Is it gossip? I don't know why exactly, but I do know that I'm too old for this nonsense to still be going on in my brain and it needs to stop. To fill my head and my day thinking on all that is lovely would actually be wonderful, instead of all the worry and anxiety that fills it right now.

So, why does Paul encourage us to think on all these magnificent things? Because, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put into practice. AND THE GOD OF PEACE WILL BE WITH YOU." Yes! I want the God of peace to be with me. All my thoughts are anxious thoughts- 'how will this turn out?' 'Will we have enough money?' 'Are my kids making right choices?' 'How am I ever going to loose this weight!?' If I think on what is true and noble and right and pure and lovely, and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy, I'm essentially thinking God thoughts and then He, the God of peace, will be with me. We have to choose: do we want anxiety or peace? I choose peace. It's a choice. With each day I will surrender my thoughts to God and ask Him how to turn my thoughts to what is true.

Today's Prayer:
Jesus, I know, and you know how my thoughts can rule my day or a moment of my day. Once I believe the lie I fall fast into negativity, stress and anxiety. Forgive me Lord. Help me to capture my thoughts, the lies and see the truth. Help me to fight against the lies that come into my head. I want to think on what is true, right, noble, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy so I may know your peace. Help me to make right choices with my thought life. I love you. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Studying Philippians Day 13

Philippians 4:1-7

"Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!" (4:1) When Paul wrote, 'that is how you should stand firm in the Lord" he was referring to Philippians 3:20-21. "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies to that they will be like his glorious body." He is reminding them and us to keep our minds on heavenly things. It's crazy to me how I can start my day reading the Word of God, have heavenly thoughts, be encouraged and on fire for God, but slowly as the day wears on and the slightest bad news comes to me, my eyes are taken off the Lord and onto this earth. It happens so easily and so quickly. Paul is urging us, and reminding us to stay focused on God and His Word. I need this reminder every day.

"I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life." (4;2-3) My Bible commentary explains this well. "The disagreement between Euodia and Syntyche is serious enough to be mentioned in a letter to be read publicly, but Paul seems confident that 'these women' will be reconciled. His handling of the situation is a model of tact- he does not take sides but encourages others closer to the situation to promote reconciliation."

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (4:4) Just a reminder: Paul is writing this while in jail. If he can rejoice in the Lord in jail, than I think I need to rejoice every minute of every day no matter what happens to me. I can't imagine rejoicing while in jail, but if Paul can do it, then I certainly can do it! "Rejoice!" It's a choice.

"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (4:5-7)  I can read this verse over and over again. "Do not be anxious about anything" Why? because, "in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God," then what happens??? "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Perfect! When we pray and give God all of our anxiety we need to trust who He is- God, and receive His peace that is like nothing here on earth. Sadly, I am like a yo-yo. There are times when I'm up, praying, believing, rejoicing and at peace with the anxiety in my life and other times I am low, sad, worried, and over-eating in my anxiety! I've been praying for a long time now to be steady, and at peace when anxiety comes. I am believing that one day I will be. It's ridiculous how easy I fall into worry.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, thank you for your Word. Thank you for your truth that sets me free. Forgive me for not keeping my eyes on you each and every day. Forgive me for allowing my worry to be bigger than you. Forgive me for over-eating- eating my emotions. Help me Lord to rejoice in all things, all the time. When my eyes are on you, I have many reasons to rejoice! I love you, my Lord and Savior. In Jesus' Name. Amen. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Studying Philippians Day 12

Philippians 3:15-21

"All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained." (3:15-16) In the previous verses Paul was encouraging the Philippians and us to, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize, for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (3:13-14) There are some who are on board with Paul, they agree and accept his words, and some who are not, but Paul is confident that, 'God will make it clear to you.' I love that Paul isn't worried. I find I get anxious the moment I realize that those I am closest to do not agree with me Biblically. I'll restate my thoughts trying to make things clearer. I'll argue until I've made my point clear and hopefully won them over. It's so hard for me, when I see the freedom in Christ and someone else does not. I can't let it go easily. But Paul was confident that the Lord will reveal His wisdom and freedom to the people and was able to let it go. He was at peace knowing that they all would get it.

"Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." Paul calls us to follow his example of following Christ- a life of serving others. First of all, I wish I could say to anyone, even my children, "follow my example." That is an amazing statement to make. I am not living a life that I would want anyone to follow! I'm trying, but not walking in a way that others should follow =(  One day, I hope! So, Paul is really a changed man and following Christ as He should. Lord, make me a leader. 

"...many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things." I know this statement is true. My own family members live their lives as enemies of the cross of Christ. Last year my mentally disabled brother was diagnosed with cancer. My parents and sisters chose to let him die rather than heeding the doctors advice of proton therapy and life for five more years or even more. My other brother and I fought and fought them, but they would not listen. Their, 'mind was on earthly things.' They didn't want to deal with my brothers fears of radiation, his sickness, his weakness. They only thought and only cared about themselves. Their selfishness was unbearable to watch. They wanted his death and so within one year he died. My family has lived a life of selfishness and destruction, but they are not the only ones. I feel like every few years I bump into a 'Christian' who claims they love the Lord and yet their love of money, and success, or even fame, over take their walk and lead others to destruction. I can see why many Christians walk away from the church. You think you are safe until you meet someone like who Paul describes. But Paul doesn't leave us with this thought, he goes on to say, "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (3:20-21) Even though there are, what I call 'crazy Christians' out there, stay focused on the truth of Christ who 'brings everything under his control.' Be at peace, God is in control.

Today's Prayer:
Father, I desire to be a mature Christian. I desire to be your servant with a pure servant's heart. I desire to say, 'follow me as I follow Christ.' Make me more like you. Lord, too many times I have feared those who are 'enemies of the cross.' Help me to forgive them and trust that you are in control. Help me to follow you all the days of my life no matter what evil comes across my path. I love you with all my heart. In Jesus' name, Amen.