Monday, June 3, 2019

Studying Philippians: Day 1

This is my first official day of summer and what better way to start the summer than waking up and studying the Word. To be honest, last summer I was being so crushed by life's hardships that blogging never entered my mind, let alone daily reading the Bible. 2018 was a horrible, torturous year. It is amazing, as I look back on it, that I was able to home school, create birthday parties for my children and keep up with the daily activities of life. God held me close even when I didn't always strive to stay close to Him. He is so good.

So, with the first day of summer, I feel completely liberated from 2018 and the 2019 school year that was attached to it. It's behind me now and I cannot wait to begin anew. The Bible for me is my source of peace, revelation, revival of my heart, joy, hope, refreshing, and a place where I can swim in the love of the Lord. I miss it dearly. So, let's begin! I don't know what the Lord will reveal or what I will learn, but for me, that's the exciting part! I hope you will crack open your Bible and read along with me each day. Discover what the Lord is saying to you and share it with me.

I am venturing to share the Book of Philippians, which is one of my favorite books, with you as I read and study it. I am not a Bible scholar. I do not profess to have all the answers to all the Biblical questions that may arise. I don't. I just love reading the Word of God and sharing, with my readers, what I believe God is saying through His Word. I may get it right, I may get it wrong, but that is all a part of walking this road together.

Introduction to the Book of Philippians:

As I read the preface, I was informed that the Book of Philippians was written in 61 AD. It hit me, I am reading a letter that Paul wrote thousands of years ago! An artifact. I am sitting here on my bed, in my home and reading a letter that should be behind glass in a dark room in a museum. How wild is that! The Word of God has made it from Paul's imprisonment, to the town of Philipi, to me! It reminds me of the Scripture: "For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." (Matthew 5:18)
The Word of God is holy.
God breathed.
And it's for us.
God made sure that the letter that He inspired, Paul penned, would make it to me, Ellie, and you, hundreds of years later. God's plan cannot be thwarted. "I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2) God knew as Paul was using ink and parchment paper to write this Book, that one day I would be reading that very same letter and blogging about it. As Paul's letter was sent out to the people by mail carrier, I will send out his letter via the Internet that can reach thousands of people across the world. I may not be in prison like Paul, but as he could not travel to share the Good News, neither can I. His Word, this very letter, is going out again, 'mailed' out, e-mailed out, this time to many across the world who need to hear it.  (How cool is that!)

Chapter 1:

"Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus," (verse 1)  I love Jesus more than I can say, but I have never thought of myself as a "servant of Christ Jesus." The definition of the word servant is: 'one that serves others.' (Webster's Dictionary) I desire to have the heart of a servant, to serve with a pure heart to bless and care for someone without an ulterior motive or personal gain.  And, I will say, there are times when I serve with a pure servant's heart, but honestly, there are probably just as many times that I serve out of obligation or for a selfish reason. I am lazy and selfish. I'm also fearful. I'm afraid of serving someone and in return getting hurt or taken advantage of. There are days where I can feel the battle raging inside me to risk my heart and serve. Fear usually wins. That sounds  pretty horrible, I know. but have no fear God's been working on me for a loooong time and HE will change this heart yet! =)   Why am I telling you all this? Well, the opening line to the Book of Philippians is Paul declaring himself a servant of Christ Jesus- it's convicting. It stopped me in my tracks. It hit me in the gut. I have been walking with Jesus for thirty-two years and I cannot call myself a servant of Christ. I wish I could. I pray one day I will.

"To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons." (verse 1b) Convicted again. "To all the saints..." I did some research to find out what was truly meant by Paul's meaning of the word 'saints.' "The basic idea of the Greek for this word is "holiness." All Christians are saints in that they are positionally "set apart" to God and are experientially being made increasingly "holy" by the Holy Spirit. (Commentary, page 1746 of the NIV Study Bible) What a declaration! What an encouragement! We are saints- set apart by God to be holy! I am a saint! You are a saint! God has set us apart from the world. He has chosen us. He makes us holy. With all my faults and sins I am still a saint in the eyes of God and am made holy daily by His love and forgiveness. Truly, I've been so down on myself lately- actually for at least a year now. I feel, most times, like a failure in so many areas of my life. To hear that I am God's saint washes away the doubt of who I am. I feel in my spirit that I can hold my head a little higher today. I am set apart, I am holy, because of all God has done for me. Declare it! You are a saint of God!

"Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (verse 2)  Grace: God's unmerited favor that comes to us through Christ's sacrifice on the cross and Peace: the total well-being and security that only God can provide. How amazing to me that Paul can write these words as he himself was in chains. He could write it because he lived it. Even in prison (house arrest) he knew and felt God's grace and peace on his life. I desire God's grace and peace on my life. For all the worries I hold in my heart and mind, I speak grace and peace. I speak God's grace over my life, my hubby and my children. I speak God's peace over our lives and our home in Jesus' mighty name.

I didn't get very far in my reading, but when the Lord convicts me, I stop and soak it in. It might take me a month to read six pages, but it's worth it if I come through a newer creation!

Prayer for today:
Lord Jesus thank you for your Word. Thank you that you preserved it for me to read all these many of hundreds of years later and be convicted by it. Thank you that your Word is alive and powerful and heart changing! My prayer is that you change my heart. Change this heart of fear and selfishness to one of a servant's heart. I want to serve in your name with confidence. I desire to be more like you.  Father, I want to be your 'saint.' To be set apart and holy for you and for those you have put in my life. Help me go forth in your grace and peace today. I surrender my anxiety to you and choose to receive your grace and peace.  I love you.
Love, Your daughter,

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