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Showing posts from April, 2018

This Is Divine Business

Scripture:
Gal. 1:1   Paul an apostle—sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the members of God’s family who are with me,  To the churches of Galatia: Gal. 1:3   Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Observation:
The churches of Galatia were struggling. You’ll notice that Paul doesn’t greet the saints as he normally does in his letters, but simply the churches. Something radical had happened and it was at the hand of human influence. Preachers who were not called by God were coming and spreading their own version of the gospel. This had severely disrupted the new churches, their growth and development. Instead of being free from the present evil age, they were turning away from the gospel…

Hidden Saints

Scripture:
Philippians 4:21-23
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The friends who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of the emperor’s household.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Observation:
As this letter comes to a close Paul sends out his special greetings. Implied in this is that there are those within the church who are being transformed into saints by the holiness of Christ. It seems to be a normal expectation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Interestingly we catch a glimpse of the hidden saints which are now tucked into Roman life. The transformational work of the Holy Spirit had reached beyond human barriers and made its way into the household of the emperor. There, within the very bowels of power and authority were those who were being transformed into God’s holy people. They had now become a part of this new family of believers and sent their well-wishes to those who were serving in Philippi.
The grace of Jesus Christ wa…

Entering into Partnership

Scripture:
Phil. 4:15   You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. 16 For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account. 18 I have been paid in full and have more than enough; I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Observation:
Just as Paul finishes telling the Philippians that he has learned to be content in every and any state in which he finds himself, he then thanks them for their generous support. Other churches were not helping him, but they were. He wanted to make it clear…

Practice Positivity

Scripture:
Phil. 4:8   Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Observation:
I love the way in which Paul brings together his thoughts regarding fear, anxiety, and dealing with daily struggles. He gives us advice on the self-discipline of positive thoughts. We are to take the time to think about things that are honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. I think he’s saying — make a list, and think about these things!
Application:
Sometimes the word of God becomes incredibly practical. In a world of social media and 24/7 news cycles, it seems that we live in the midst of a feeding frenzy for bad news. It’s as if we choose to dwell in the cesspool of negativity and we are all getting sucked down into the muck. If we are to live above this and have victorious Chr…

Prayer and Anxiety

Scripture:
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Observation:
Paul had been in enough situations in life that he would have understood the temptation to worry. At the same time he had learned much about the faithfulness of God. This was a man who learned to pray continually, in every single circumstance of life, always giving the situation back to God. 
The result of Paul’s prayers was that he learned about the peace of God. This peace would wash over him, even when he couldn’t explain what it was that was happening in his life. He knew that by praying and spending time in God’s presence, the hearts and minds of believers would be guarded. Only in this way could peace reign in the most difficult of circumstances. 
Application:
It seems that most followers of Jesus Christ …

Let’s Be Positive

Scripture:
Phil. 4:4   Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Observation:
Paul was in prison and yet, he was rejoicing in the Lord, and encouraging others to do the same.
Application:
I find it far too easy to get grumpy about first-world problems. It’s irritating when electronics don’t work the way they’re supposed to! We don’t like it when a flight is delayed, or when one of our favorite foods is no longer available at the local drive-through! Wow — how terrible is all of that? (dripping with sarcasm) It’s just not that bad, and yet, I think we live in a society that may encourage us to gripe and complain. We all believe that we ought to have things our way, and if not, somehow we have been terribly slighted.
Paul had given up every benefit for the sake of others. He was willing to live under house arrest — paying for his own “jail” — so that he could minister to others. He referred to the fact that he was in chains — and yet, he rejoiced.
Something happens in our live…

A Time for Reconciliation

Scripture:
Phil. 4:2   I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Observation:
Evidently there were two wonderful women in the church in Philippi who were not in agreement with one another. They seemed to have differing opinions about something and it may have been tearing up the church. Paul asks them to please “be of the same mind in the Lord.” In other words, find unity in what you really believe, and leave the rest alone.
If the women couldn’t come to the same mind on their own, he pleaded with others to help them. They were good women, who had worked hard together with Paul. Good women, who needed to come to a place of reconciliation.
Application:
Disagreement or discord among believers is terribly destructive to the kingdom. I believe that thi…

The Need for Role Models

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Scripture:
Phil. 3:17   Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.
Observation:
Considering the fact that there was no New Testament at the time and that Paul’s letters were the nearest thing toward a Christian scripture, it’s no wonder that he felt that he had to be a role model for these believers. The people of Philippi were encouraged to look around and find those who could serve as examples …

Leaning In Until the End

Scripture:
Philippians 3:12-16
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.
Observation:
Paul would have been an old man now and have walked with Jesus through the seasons of his life. He could have relaxed and said, “I’ve made it!,” but he didn’t. Instead, he was declaring that he was still on the journey and had not yet reached the goal, or come to completion. He always knew that there would be more and that he wouldn’t be complete until he was united with Christ. Therefore,…

The Power of Baptism

Scripture:
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Observation:
The passionate cry of the Apostle Paul is heard here. All the desires of his life have become focused on knowing Jesus Christ. This knowledge has to come about by faith, because we must accept the good news brought to us from that first Easter Sunday — that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead. We are invited to know this resurrection power when, by faith, we are crucified with him. We submit to the authority of Jesus and the kingdom in our lives, and in that way, we are raised to new life, that which is lived in and for the eternal. We become dead to the things below.
Application
The beauty of this passage is that it gives us a picture of baptism. Baptism is the outward sign of the inward work of grace in our lives. When we submit to this most ancient of chur…

No Confidence in the Flesh

Scripture:
Philippians 3:2-3
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh—
Observation:
Evidently one of the greatest dangers to the church in Philippi was their dependence upon the flesh, or upon human powers or abilities. They were constantly surrounded by those who would propagate unusual teachings, but all of these being based in the flesh. There were those who suggested that sexual immorality was a good thing, and those who engaged in evil, along with others who practiced physical mutilation for religious or traditional purposes. This included those who may want to insist that Christians needed to be circumcised. Paul would have nothing of it.
All of the false teachers were encouraging the believers to be a particular way “in the flesh.” Paul argued that the believers were already circumcised, but this in their…

Those Who are Sent

Scripture:
Phil. 2:25   Still, I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister to my need; 26 for he has been longing for all of you, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honor such people, 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me.
Observation:
Epaphroditus had been sent by the church in Philippi to go and minister to Paul. To be sent was to be a “messenger,” or in Greek, an “apostol.” This was a special ministry that Epaphroditus had fulfilled, being sent by the church i…

Faithful Mentorship is a Two-Way Street

Scripture:
Phil. 2:19   I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. 20 I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But Timothy’s worth you know, how like a son with a father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; 24 and I trust in the Lord that I will also come soon.
Observation:
Paul had invested much time and energy into the life of Timothy. It is apparent that Paul now had complete trust in Timothy and that he would faithfully fulfill his duties. He was confident that he could send Timothy in his place because he knew that Timothy’s passion and concern would reflect his own. There would be no self-interest in all of this, but simply a genuine desire to glorify Jesus Christ.
Application
Taking the time to invest in the lives of others is vitally impo…

Hold Fast

Scripture:
Philippians 2:16 It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you— 18 and in the same way you also must be glad and rejoice with me.
Observation:
The Christian life is not a sprint, but a marathon. Paul knew this only too well, and he felt the need to encourage the church in Philippi. There was a great need to hold fast to the word, to Christ, who is the light of the world. They were to shine like stars, and this could only be possible if they reflected the light of Christ. In reflecting the light, the Philippian believers would offer the word, as life to a world in need.
Paul’s life was an example of personal sacrifice for the sake of others. Holding fast to Christ, he was now willing to be poured out, over the sacrifice, for others. He did not consider him…

Murmuring and Arguing

Scripture:
Philippians 2:14-15
Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world.
Observation:
This is a continuation of the thoughts from Paul which he wrote after including the beautiful first-century hymn. Because of all Jesus has done for us, then we are to act in particular ways. We follow the example of Christ, who did not complain, but emptied himself and became a human. Just think of all the ways in which Jesus could have murmured and argued with the Father! Living in human flesh, as we all know, is not always pleasant. 
The implication is that the people of the secular world loved to murmur and argue, and that those who follow Christ don’t respond in the same way that others in the world may. In the midst of corruption and perversion, Christians are to shine like stars. 
Application
There are days in which I really do fee…