Posts Tagged ‘Epistle to the Philippians’

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:16 )

Heaven

We live here, we walk here, we eat and drink here, but may we never call it home. The ground beneath our feet and sky above our heads are the scenery we enjoy momentarily, but they will pass away (Matthew 24:35). Our family is more than people with the same last name (Mark 3:35), as believers we are united by blood, literally the shed blood of Jesus the risen Savior. We, the family, walk as sojourners (1 Peter 2:11), as travelers, loving and serving the people around us, all the while remembering we will one day be home. A home that has been prepared for us (John 14:3), where we will live in ever increasing joy.

Our lips will never again say, “It was fun while it lasted”, as the smile fades from our face. In our home there is no sorrow, there is no disease, there is no end to joy (Revelation 21:4). In our home our treasure does not fail, there is no thief to steal, no moneybag to grow old (Luke 12:33). In your heart, and in your head, where is your treasure and your home? For “there will your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).

Where is your home?

con·tent (kuhntent) adjective satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.

The apostle Paul is the writer of Philippians. Here he states that he has learned to be content in any situation. I love the definition of content. To be satisfied, not wanting. How often are we in a place like this? Paul says that he has been in times of hunger and of abundance, and he has learned to be content in all things. In times of hunger it is easy to want. Typically, I find that I am wanting money. When the time comes where I find myself pinching pennies, all I can think is that more money would just fix this problem, take away my anxiety, pay my bills, and make me feel better.

Or, on the flip side, when times are far more comfortable financially, I find myself wanting the next best thing. Maybe it’s new electronics, clothing, home décor, or whatever else seems to have you wrapped around it’s finger. It’s almost like as soon as I purchase one thing that I think will make me happy, it doesn’t. Then it’s off to the next thing to present itself to satisfy me.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV)

What a sad cycle we run! It is only when we rest in God that we are truly content. God already knows what we need and what we don’t need. When we are at peace with Him and thankful for every blessing He has bestowed upon us, we are content. It doesn’t matter if we are broke or have an abundance of money, unless we let God satisfy us, we will never truly be content. Contentment is not based on your possessions, but on who possesses your heart, Jesus.

farMost of the people that know me are aware that I am going through a lot of trials right now. I say this not as a statement of pride, but because I know there are a ton of other people out there going through their own issues and are afraid to share it with anyone., or worse yet, they don’t know how to handle what they’re going through.  I don’t consider myself special for being able to hold up under pressure, but I do know that I am blessed. This is the hope that I hold on to every day I face another trial. We all have that same hope, and that is Jesus Christ.

I wish I was as brave and strong as people think I am. The truth is that I experience fear and anxiety every day. I also believe that most Christians do (even though most of them will deny it). Having said that, I would like to share with you the verses and some thoughts that I use when these concerns and anxieties rear their ugly heads and test my faith. Remember that fear and anxiety are normal emotions, it’s how far we allow them to consume our lives that is the real test of our faith. So please read and memorize the verses below, I assure you that they are stronger than what Satan can throw at us. Enjoy, and go in peace today. Email me if you need me.

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up” (Proverbs 12:25, NIV).

“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

“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” (Philippians 4:6-7).

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7) (Also see Psalm 55:22-23)

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?’” (Luke 12:22-26, NIV). (Also see Matthew 6:25-34)

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8).

“…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:26-28).

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

The apostle Paul found his strength in God, He reminds us that, “I …have …been in prison …frequently, been flogged …severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. …I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. …Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. …I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. …[God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 11:23-12:10).

“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).

“…put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 131:1)

Also read: Psalm 139:1-23

The possible causes of anxiety and fear are many: conflict, health problems, dangerous situations, death, unmet needs, spiritual problems, false beliefs, etc.

“According to the Bible, there is nothing wrong with realistically acknowledging and trying to deal with the identifiable problems of life. To ignore danger is fooling and wrong. But it is also wrong, as well as unhealthy, to be immobilized by excessive worry. Such worry must be committed to prayer to God, who can release us from paralyzing fear or anxiety, and free us to deal realistically with the needs and welfare both of others and of ourselves.” (Dr. Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling, p. 66.)

Some general, common sense suggestions for those weighed down with fear, anxiety or worry…

  • SIN IN YOUR LIFE – Sometimes fear and anxiety are the result of one’s own sin and guilt. If you have committed a sin or done anything evil, your fear and anxiety is probably God and your own conscience trying to get your attention. You need to repent, confess your sin, seek God’s forgiveness, and set it right.
  • SLEEP – Humans generally need 8 or 9 hours of sleep per day. Sleep deprivation can increase anxiety. Get enough rest. If you cannot sleep, you may need to seek God’s help and perhaps that of a physician.
  • BE MORE REALISTIC – Many people are worried and anxious about events that will never actually will happen to them. Relax. Focus on today. Take life one day at a time.
  • LISTEN to relaxing, soothing music. There is some great Christian music available that can help you focus on God and leave your fears and worries behind. It may also help to listen to good Christian speakers and teachers.
  • FUN – If at all possible, do something that you enjoy. It is good to get some recreation on a regular basis. Take a break. Get your mind off your fears and worries, and have some fun.
  • TALK to someone. Don’t hold all the anxiety inside. It can be a big relief to share your fears and worries with someone else—a friend, relative, pastor or counselor. If fear and anxiety is an ongoing problem in your life, schedule a regular time each week to talk with someone.
  • TAKE ACTION – If there is something practical and wise that you can do to alleviate the problem or avoid needless danger, take action. Don’t put it off. Procrastination will generally raise your anxiety level.
  • EXERCISE – Medical studies show that exercise can help lower anxiety. If you are healthy enough to exercise, try it. Regular brisk walks, running, swimming or other exercises can be a real stress reducer.
  • PROFESSIONAL HELP – There are various organizations which provide help for people with anxiety attacks, including the Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety (stresscenter.com) which provides self-help. You can search for information and assistance on the Web using keywords such as: anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia. You should be able to find local help by consulting you pastor or physician.

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thes. 2:16-17).

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.—1 Timothy 1:15

I once met a man who said that whenever he bought a new car, he would whack it with a hammer. That way, he said, he wouldn’t get upset about the other little dents and scratches that would surely happen.

The apostle Paul was passionate about attaining righteousness (Philippians 3:7-11), but he was honest about his own imperfections (Romans 7:14-20). In today’s verse, he openly accepts that he is like an old beat-up car. But he accepts his dents and dings, even as he drives on for God.

Maybe you would be happier too if you accepted the dents and dings of your own life.

A long time ago a woman came to our church. She wore fancy clothes, volunteered for everything, and worked extremely hard. Around church and in front of others she was upbeat, but she was troubled and anxious at home, when she was out of the public eye. Finally she broke down and wept, unveiling the sinful burden she carried on her heart. She had been trying to cover a dent. How nice it was to tell her she didn’t have to act perfect in order for God or the church to love her.

She’s happier now that she has accepted imperfection. She is also happier in all she strives to do for God.

I wonder—would you be too?

Prayer

Father, here I am again, wounded and a little beat up. I have failed you in so many ways. Help me to trust that your love is free and is greater than all my sin. Thank you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

“No Confidence in the Flesh” a Biblical Reflection by John Hendryx

In chapter 3 of The Epistle to the Philippians Paul gives us one of the best definitions of a Christian available in the Bible. He also contrasts this with the marks of false teachers.

Paul begins the chapter by contrasting the wondrous gift of grace against the hopeless pit of sin. He warns the Philippians against false teachers; those, he says, who have confidence in themselves. That is, anyone who adds conditions for salvation, in addition to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul likens to Gentile dogs, those who fail to recognize that salvation is wholly of Jesus.

But then in stark contrast to false teaching, Paul defines what a Christian looks like:

“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh”

He calls true Christians “the real circumcision”, i.e. the true covenant people of God. Then he gives three characteristics of Christians in verse 3. He says true Christians are those who:

1) Worship in the Spirit of God
2) Glory in Christ
3) And put no confidence in the flesh

(1) The first mark of a Christian is that they are those who worship in the Spirit. They are the true circumcision, Paul says. They do not worship in the flesh. The “flesh” here is not referring to our physical bodies, for there is nothing inherently wrong with physicality. God created all matter and our bodies and declared them “good”. What Paul is contrasting is human effort or trust in ancestry, that is, trusting in it for our redemption. In Scripture, “In the flesh” is always set in contrast to “in the Spirit”. They define two states of being or nature – those with the Spirit (regenerate) and those without the Spirit (unregenerate). “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:8) and “… the flesh counts for nothing.”… But “the Spirit gives life.” (John 6:63). And “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of … the Spirit (John 3:6; Ezek 36:25-27). Worship in the Spirit of God also means that the source of our daily spiritual life and walk in Christ is the Holy Spirit who unites us to Jesus Christ. Gal 5:25 likewise says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Thus both our conversion and our sanctification can be attributed to the work of Christ, applied by the Spirit.

(2) Christians are also defined as those who “glory in Christ” — those who have no hope save in Christ Jesus alone. The mark of a Christian here, Paul says, is that they glory in Christ. Our full weight rests on Him and not anything else. To glory in someone means one will have affection and desires which are driven by that someone. Christ is the one the Christian will cherish above all. No doubt, with all of the distractions around us, this is a constant struggle, even for a regenerate Christian. In fact the more mature we become the more we recognize the darkness of our own hearts. There is a constant heavy pull in the world and our flesh to glory in ourselves or in something else, but the Spirit who lives in us preserves by working in us to will according to His good purpose. This constant tug by the flesh to return to the covenant of works (relying on self-effort to justify ourselves) is something we constantly struggle against. We think we can find or justify ourselves in something that is less worthy than the real thing, and so we disbelieve God’s promises. But the Holy Spirit uses such instances to discipline us as children to draw us nearer to Himself. In Romans, Paul describes some of his old unbelieving Jewish friends in this way:

“I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

This passage is really a warning against thinking that all is well as long as we have good motives. As the Lord tells us so plainly, “I desire obedience, not sacrifice.” So what was their disobedience? These Jews are being rebuked for trusting in something else in the place of Christ alone. Lest we think we Christians are beyond the possibility of falling into this false gospel of self-effort, take heed lest you forget that it was the gospel that saved you and even now preserves you. I believe this is actually one of the greatest dangers of modern evangelicalism. The gospel easily gets lost and tends to become good advice rather than good news. Often more about what we do for Christ than grounding all of our doings in what He has done for us. Christ alone is our Savior, not someone who helps us save ourselves. Don’t make a savior out of your duties.

(3) Lastly a true Christian is one who has “no confidence in the flesh”. This means they have utterly despaired of themselves … are spiritual bankrupt. When the Holy Spirit does a work of grace in someone, He convicts them of their sin. Not just sins, but convicts of the fact that they are sinners by nature and can do nothing to save themselves. There is no pride in physical decent or in natural abilities. This means one who is brought to faith, repents of both their good works and their evil works. Both are equally worthless to God. False teaching glories in something other than in Christ alone, always pointing to something that we can do; a resumé we can bring before God to curry His favor, not realizing that He has already adopted us as sons. Not unlike the older brother in the Prodigal son who glories that he has worked for his father all his life, not realizing that God does not first ask us to meet conditions to obtain his love. Those who have confidence in the flesh also tend to believe in Christ PLUS this or that. That Christ saved them, but they must maintain their own justification before God. Glorying in Christ is the antithesis of glorying in the flesh. Pharisees boast before God of what they have done for him. The Christian is one who has empty hands every day and can only thank God for His mercy. He thus relies solely on the righteousness of Christ.

It is the new Covenant in Christ’s blood which “reminds God” not to treat us as our sins justly deserve. True Christians flee to Christ as their only hope. A mark of maturity is that we no longer are constantly worrying about our own spirituality but rather our focus is on Christ and His accomplishments. Those who are glorying the flesh will exhaust themselves because they are contstantly looking to their own resources. The cross alone is where we find sanctification. Christians flee to Christ as their only hope casting aside all self-confidence and autonomy. Remember, Paul calls everything other than Christ “rubbish”. Are we trusting in rubbish or in Christ? A.W. Pink, I believe captures the point in a sentence:

“Just as the sinner’s despair of any hope from himself is the first prerequisite of a sound conversion, so the loss of all confidence in himself is the first essential in the believer’s growth in grace.”

cantOur minds can make us or break us. The way we act is usually a direct result of the thoughts we are held captive to, and those thoughts can be good or bad. Most Christians don’t want to talk about positive thinking because it it sounds so much like the new-age philosophy, which we all want to shy away from. But let’s not think of positive thinking as something that could lure us into some cult or trap, let’s remember that in most cases, the people who are focusing their minds on good things have taken that advice from the Bible.

The Word of God is full of verses that tell us to stay focused on the positive things that will come our way if we only BELIEVE in what God has promised us. If you’re always walking around thinking that nothing good will ever happen, then it probably won’t. Not because you’ve “willed” it, but because of your lack of faith. Satan knows that our thoughts and the way we process things is His greatest tool in shaking up our belief in God. He’ll try to get us to think that the Lord has forsaken us, when He’s really just waiting on the right time to lavish His plan on us. Satan knows that he can plant the smallest seed of doubt in our mind, and our negative thinking will fertilize and water that thought until the weed of doubt becomes bigger than the fruits of positive thinking. He knows that our minds are the easiest things that He can use against us and our relationship with the Lord.

I know staying positive in a negative world filled with a ton of problems can be hard, so I’ve posted some Bible verses below to help you through the process. I urge you to memorize these verses so when Satan does try to sneak His seed of doubt into your thoughts, it will fall on hard ground and whither away while your mind stays on the positive truths that God has given us to rely on during the hard times. In the mean time, let us pray and lift each other up so we can all remain upbeat and happy, being a positive role-model for the world to see. It’s the Godly thing to do…:)

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Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

*****Note the Bible says to think about what is GOOD.

 

Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

****Note he the Bible says JOYFUL, not questioning.

 

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

***Note the Bible says not to be ANXIOUS.

 

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

***Note the Bible says that we can do anything if we BELIEVE.

 

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

***Note the Bible says that we have HOPE

 

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

***Note the Bible says to RENEW your mind.

 

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

***Note theBible says to LET GO of the thoughts and actions that hold us back.

 

Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

***Note the Bible says to PRAY to receive these things.

 

 

 

antagI have recently been faced with a person in my life who lives to argue. I am certain that this person would have a debate with a wall if nobody was around. The hard part is that they know how to push my buttons in ways that I never knew existed. Have you ever met someone like this? Someone who you honestly believe wants to fight and bicker? It’s a miserable feeling to be around them and can leave you wondering what the heck you should do. So what does the Bible say about it. Here’s a verse that is a good one in some cases:

Genesis 13:8-9 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers.  Is not the whole land before you?  Let’s part company.  If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

I’m not saying that we should split from everyone that antagonizes us, but sometimes it’s better to part on civil and friendly terms than to wait around for another fight to start. Give yourself some room to let emotions cool and anger to recede. It’s probably the best thing you can do. Having said that, let’s look at the scripture below to see what the Bible says…

2 Timothy 2:24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,

 

2 Timothy 2:23-24 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord‘s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,

 

Philippians 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning,

 

Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

 

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

 

Titus 3:1-2 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

 

Romans 14:19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.