Monday, November 29, 2010
Philippians Chapter 4
- The end of chapter 3 says that “we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same power with which He will bring everything under His control.”
- Therefore! Stay true to the Lord! Look at your reward! Look what Christ has already done and is waiting still to do!
- Paul talks about the Philippians as being the crown he receives for his work. Our rewards for doing well in this walk are not material. They are the legacies we leave. They are the people we love and who love us. They are the lives we've touched even when we didn't know we did. Our reward is not heaven... it's the people in it. It's the lives that we are connected with. Fellow believers who will forever be with us worshiping side by side. We should be joyful in this! What better reward than to be surrounded with all the people who love us and that we love for all eternity?
- Mark 3:31-35
- I Peter 1:13-25
- Galatians 6:1-10
vs. 2- 3
- Okay so... apparently, somebody in the church has been fighting... It's a couple of ladies who, for no reason given here, have been apparently causing enough of a stir that it's gotten back to Paul.
- footnote- “Paul did not warn the Philippian church of doctrinal errors, but he did address some relational problems. These two women had been workers for Christ in the church. Their broken relationship was no small matter, because many had become believers through their efforts. It is possible to believe in Christ, work hard for His Kingdom, and yet have broken relationship with others who are committed to the same cause. But there is no excuse for remaining unreconciled. Do you need to be reconciled to someone today? If you're facing a conflict you can't resolve, don't let the tension build into an explosion. Don't withdraw or resort to cruel power plays. Don't stand idly by and wait for the dispute to resolve itself. Instead, seek the help of those known for peacemaking.”
- I Peter 3:8-12
- Mark 3:23-29
- I John 3:11-24
- Always be full of joy in the Lord. Rejoice!
- footnote- “It seems strange that a man in prison would be telling a church to rejoice. But Paul's attitude teaches us an important lesson: Our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances. Paul was full of joy because he knew that no matter what happened to him, Jesus Christ was with him. Several times in this letter Paul urged the Philippians to be joyful, probably because they needed to hear this. It's easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously. If you haven't been joyful lately, you may not be looking at life from the right perspective.”
- Psalm 9:1-2, 28:6-9, 30:11-12, 32:1-11, 46:1-11
- John 15:9-17
- I Peter 1:3-9
- Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember! The Lord is coming soon!
- footnote- “We are to be considerate (reasonable, fair minded, and charitable) to those outside the church, and not just to fellow believers. This means we are not to seek revenge against those who treat us unfairly, nor are we to be overly vocal about our personal rights.”
- Remember the parable about the 10 virgins? Some had extra oil ready and others didn't? So when the bridegroom came, half of them were out running around trying to find oil and the other half were ready to go meet the bridegroom.
- Jesus is coming back soon. Are you ready? Are you prepared? Are you acting like you're ready for a wedding with the King?
- Have you've ever seen the show bridezillas? These women are crazy. They are completely stuck on themselves. They want every little thing to be perfect. They want everybody running around at their beck and call because this wedding is all about THEM! And good grief! They are MEAN! They treat their best friends, their family, and even the GROOM! Like dirt!
- We are not to be this way. A bride who's so stuck on herself that she can't think past her wants and needs? Is not ready for a marriage relationship. A marriage is a partnership. You have to be ready and willing to give and take equally.
- To practice the concept of give and take... you have to be considerate of others' feelings. You have to start thinking about other people. If you wait until you get married to start being considerate of another's feelings... your marriage is going to be pretty rocky for a while. Practice, becomes habit. And habits are first responses. They become natural and easy. Which makes things go a WHOLE lot smoother.
- And in addition to being considerate, we aren't to worry about anything. Instead, pray about all things. Tell God what you need and thank Him for what He's already done.
- Proverbs 12:25, 1:32-33
- Matthew 6:25-34
- I Peter 5:7
- Psalm 118:5-9, 34:4-22
- Now, I don't know about you, but I'm a woman, and I worry. It's a natural response. It's a habit. I worry about things that aren't even remotely close to happening. But my brain jumps from one circumstance to the next and then suddenly, I'm thinking about things 5 years from now that COULD happen if 40 other things happen in the meantime. They are so far-fetched and so far in the future, that there's no way! That things will happen in this way... and even if by some great chance they do go so horribly wrong... what good does it do me to worry about them NOW!
- Sometimes I have to make a very conscious effort not to worry. When I catch myself panicking about 3 years from now, I have to stop and laugh at myself, and then pray that God will still my frantic brain and take control of my thoughts.
- Is this habit yet? No... but I'm getting a little better. There are still nights when I realize that I've been laying in bed for 2 or 3 hours trying desperately to fall asleep while panicking about everything and anything. It's not an automatic response to pray yet. But at least I'm recognizing the need to pray and the need for Someone else to take control of the situations in which I find myself.
- Because 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.
- Christ is waiting to shower you with gifts. You are the fiancée. You are the beloved. He wants to give you the best gifts. But sometimes, you're playing bridezilla. You're so concerned with yourself and your own problems, that you forget that He's RIGHT THERE! He's waiting to calm you down and waiting to give you peace and joy and shower you with love. But you have to allow Him entry into your situations. You have to realize that you need His help. You have to start including Him in your life as you would a spouse.
- And I know this is really anti-feminist, but especially in older cultures and in the beginnings of time, the man was in charge. He was supposed to take care of a lot of the big decisions and a lot of the hard things in life. He was to take care of the wife (who was thought of as the weaker partner) because he was stronger and He was supposed to support and care for the wife so she could carry on with the duties of motherhood and a homemaker.
- Christ wants to be this kind of husband. He wants to care for us. He doesn't want us to have to worry about all the business matters. All the hard decisions. He wants to free us up so that we can care for the people around us. So we can build a home for the homeless, help heal the broken, be His hands and feet to the bleeding and hurting...
- But if we're worrying about all the little details of things that really He can handle on His own. (And can we not trust His decisions to the utmost?) We're not going to be able to carry on the duties that He needs us to do in order for the household to run smoothly.
- Yes we can be involved in the decision. We can pray about them, we can support Jesus in making the decisions, we can be accepting of the decisions He's made... But we don't need to constantly be telling Him what we think should happen. He knows what He's doing.
- So quit worrying about things you have no control over. And quit trying to make things “better”. And quit trying to fix what isn't broken. And quit trying to tell the God of the universe what you think He should do...
- Psalm 33:4, 56:3-4, 112:1-10
- Proverbs 3:5-6
- So instead of worrying and fearing and trying to figure out what God's doing next... “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
- What is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise? GOD! Nothing else fits that description.
- Set your mind on God and the things of God.
- Ephesians 4:21-32
- footnote- “What we put into our mind determines what comes out in our words and actions. Paul tells us to program our mind with thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Do you have problems with impure thoughts and daydreams? Examine what you are putting into your mind through television, Internet, books, conversations, movies, and magazines. Replace harmful input with wholesome material. Above all, read God's Word and pray. Ask God to help you focus your mind on what is good and pure. It takes practice, but it can be done.”
- And then Paul yet again reiterates the instruction to follow his example. To keep putting into practice all they learned and received from him.
- Practice makes perfect. And practice leads to habit. The more you practice following Christ's example, the more you will become like Him. And the more others will be able to look at your example and see the living example of Christ in you.
- If we continue to live lives after Christ, the God of Peace will be with us. (And our reactions to situations will reflect that peace.)
- Romans 8:1-17
- Okay... so the Philippians have sent Paul some gifts supposedly of money. And Paul thanks them for their concern..
- Proverbs 21:26
- And then he goes on to say that it was unnecessary... BECAUSE (keeping in mind he's still a prisoner...) he has learned to be content with whatever he has. He has learned to live on almost nothing, or on everything. The secret of living in every situation, whether with full or empty stomach, with plenty or little, is that we can do everything through Christ who strengthens us.
- Here's a man, sitting in prison, threatened with death at any moment... content with his situation. HOW? WHY? Because he knew the secret. Christ always provides. It may not be millions of dollars or enough food to feed an army or anything... but what we NEED will be provided.
- You know, my mom always said that God always gave us JUST enough... to keep us on our knees. For a while when I was a kid, we literally lived paycheck to paycheck. We bought only essential things. Mom scrimped and saved every penny she could. Then one day... she was washing clothes, went to take the clothes out of the washer, and there's a roll of bills on top of the water. She fished them out and started counting... $750... We had gotten some clothes from a lady friend of ours, and mom thought maybe it was hers... so she called her and nope... not hers... : ) My parents had just felt led to give about $700 to a preacher for his bills... and they were totally stepping out in faith in doing so... and God gave it back... in a wonderful miraculous way... : by the way $750 was probably what they gave plus enough to tithe!)
- (which hits on vs. 14 because Paul tells them that even though he didn't really need it at that point in time, they did well to share with him in their present difficulty. They were having problems of their own... but it was still on their hearts enough to send the money to him. They followed through with God's leading even though it probably stretched their resources...)
- II Corinthians 8:1-15
- And there's been a lot of times that we found $20 here or there in pockets or random places... And it was always just enough. Just needed that little extra.
- Or my grandmother unknowingly would go buy groceries for us the very week that we were running out of everything and couldn't really afford to buy much of anything. Or she'd randomly drop off money for an early birthday present or an early Christmas present. (Not that the parents ever told her they were on the verge of needing financial help...) but somehow... God always used someone or something to bring us exactly what we needed, right when we needed it.
- And you know, it's not just money that God provides. I don't know how many times when I'm feeling down or feeling like I just want to throw in the towel, God uses some random person in my life to encourage me, or make me smile. Sometimes it's a student. Sometimes it's mom. Sometimes it's a friend. And sometimes... it's a random stranger in the grocery store.
- Last year, the principal dumped the Christmas program on me. I didn't really know what to do with it. I'm a new teacher... what do I know about arranging a Christmas program for over 600 kids?
- But you know... God provided people to partner with me, people to help me with props, and people to encourage me along the way. And you know what? It was pretty good if I can brag a little bit... : ) We had 5 teachers (including myself) that worked those kids hard. By the day of the play... things went like clockwork... despite having a 2 hour delay and hundreds of parents crammed in a gym too small... : )
- God always provides what we need. Sometimes... it's simply something that helps you hang on to your sanity... : ) Sometimes, it's something material. Sometimes it's a friend. But He's always there. And in HIS strength, we can handle anything that comes our way. And He never gives us more than we can handle. He knows us better than we know ourselves...
- Growing is hard. Most of the time, it requires friction. But God knows that... and with His equipment, we can build a Kingdom worth standing...
- Isaiah 45, 46
vs. 15- 20
- This was the only church that gave Paul financial help when he was first making his way through Asia. Even after he left Philippi, they sent him help. Now while in prison, they are sending help again. Apparently they had wanted to send help previously and couldn't (vs. 10).
- When you feel led to give, don't hesitate. It might be as small as paying the extra $10 on someone's groceries in front of you. Or it may be handing off $700 that you really don't know if you can afford to give, to someone who needs it more than you. Or it could be giving clothes and supplies to a family who loses their home in a fire. Or it could be as small as smiling at a stranger.
- Whatever it may be, do it with all your heart. Paul says, he doesn't thank the Philippians to get more from them, but rather to reward them for their kindness... It's not going to be something that you do to make someone else obligated to you in the future. “I helped you when you were down, now you have to do this for me...” You do it because you love your fellow man and you feel led to. And they will see Christ in that action. And THAT will be your reward. Knowing that in you, someone saw the love of God.
- Paul says that at this moment, he has all he needs and more besides! (again! This man is sitting in prison! Blows my mind...) They have generously supplied him with gifts through Epaphroditus.
- In the old testament, it used to talk about sweet smelling sacrifices. Or sacrifices that were pleasing to God. Paul refers back to this in saying that the gifts from the Philippians are a “sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.”
- God loves a joyful giver. And because they were faithful and supplied for Paul's needs, he says that God will in turn supply the Philippians' needs. (Just like the washing machine story...)
- II Corinthians 9:1-15
- footnote- “We can trust that God will always meet our needs. Whatever we need on earth He will always supply, even if it is the courage to face death as Paul did. Whatever we need in heaven He will supply. We much remember, however, the difference between our wants and our needs. Most people want to feel good and avoid discomfort or pain. We may not get all that we want. By trusting in Christ, our attitudes and appetites can change from wanting everything to accepting His provision and power to live for Him.”
- Glory to God!
- II Timothy 1:12, 4:5-8
vs. 21- 23
- Paul ends with saying to give everyone his greetings and that the men with him also send their greetings... especially those in Caesar's household... what? Caesar?
- footnote- “There were many Christians in Rome; some were even in Caesar's household. Perhaps Paul, while awaiting trial, was making converts of the Roman civil service! Paul sent greetings from these Roman Christians to the believers at Philippi. The Good News had spread to all strata of society, linking people who had no other bond but Christ. The Roman Christians and the Philippian Christians were brothers and sisters because of their unity in Christ. Believers today are also linked to others across cultural, economic, and social barriers. Because all believers are brothers and sisters in Christ, let us live like God's true family.”
- Matthew 10:16-33
- “May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”