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Showing posts from April, 2020

How I Long To Be With You!

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Scripture
Phil. 1:8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.
Observation
Paul continues to share his feelings with the Philippians for he is a pastor at heart — one that has a deep connection to his congregation. So strong are his feelings that he calls God to be his witness, for it is God alone who can look into his heart and soul and testify to the depths of his longing. God alone is the one who knows how Paul feels about the Philippians.
What is also revealed is the three-way nature of the bond between Paul, the Philippians and Christ.(Fee 1995, 94) He is already foreshadowing the message of participation in the life of Christ, which unites us to God, but also to one another. He describes his longing as being filled with the “compassion” of Christ in this translation. In the Greek it says that his longing comes from the bowels of Jesus Christ. In the first century, the bowels were the deep seated place of feeling, love and emotions. This is …

Hold Me In Your Heart

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Scripture
Phil. 1:7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
Observation
There is such warmth in this passage of scripture. Paul’s affection, which is seen as being reciprocated is sensed throughout this passage. With a heart filled with love he expresses his gratitude for these who are distant from him physically, but near to him in heart. There is a foreshadowing here of the sharing of one mind between Paul and the Philippians, which he will later admonish between his readers and Christ. What we are seeing on earth, is possible between earth and heaven.
Holding one another in the heart is another picture of the mutual interpenetration of the heart of God with the heart of humankind. The whole reason this is possible is because Jesus united himself to human flesh and thus created a doorway into the heart of the Triune God…

The Work that God Has Begun

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Scripture
Phil. 1:6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
Observation
This letter is written to the church in Philippi and Paul is confident of the work that God has been doing in and through the church. He firmly believes that God will continue to carry on that work and bring it to “glorious completion when Christ returns.” (Flemming, NBBC) He is confident, not because his trust is in the power of the people, but in the faithfulness of God. This is an incredible affirmation for a church facing numerous challenges, and Paul wants to remind them that “God has in Christ both guaranteed their future and blessed their present situation in Philippi.” (NICNT) This is about the work that God has begun.
Application
Our journey from Easter to Pentecost continues in this season of COVID-19. The church is facing challenges that are unique to the current situation. Blog posts abound with lists of things which we are…

Joy in Partnership

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Scripture
Phil. 1:3   I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.
Observation
Paul’s greeting to the church in Philippi continues, but it deviates from the normal Greco-Roman letter form. Usually this section would be about health, something like, “I trust you are feeling well.” Instead, Paul transforms that portion into a new Christian greeting where he thanks God for his friends in Christ.
Here we catch a glimpse of Paul’s prayer life, and of how this shapes or forms him. Paul remembers the church in Philippi often and thanks God in his prayers for these people. They are a regular part of his prayer list, but they also bring him joy. Paul believes that joy is a fruit of the spirit and that, no matter the circumstances, a Christian’s life is to be marked by joy. Paul’s prayer is filled with joy, even while he is in prison. The very thought of these …

Greetings

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Scripture
Phil. 1:1   Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,  To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Phil. 1:2   Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Observation
This letter to the church in Philippi is written by Paul, most likely, while he is in prison in Rome. Timothy has been a partner with him in ministry and the word “servants” here is significant. This is the word for “slave” — making it abundantly clear that they have given their lives in service to the ministry of Jesus Christ, who is their Lord.
The greetings are written to “all the saints” — which really refers to all the believers of the church in Philippi. Paul believes that all followers of Jesus Christ are called to be God’s holy people in the world. They are God’s holy people individually, but also collectively as the “saints” in Philippi. They are viewed as a collective group of holy people, ministering in this significant Roman colony.
This …

A New Family

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Scripture
Matthew 28:9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Observation
The women were at the tomb, shocked by the discovery that the stone had been rolled away. Recognizing Jesus, they begin to worship him. They are the very first to see the risen Lord, while the disciples are off at a distance. Interestingly, he tells them to go to Galilee — to go home — and tell the brothers that they will see him there.
Earlier in Matthew Jesus had called his disciples his “brother, and sister, and mother” (12:49-50), as a way of indicating that their relationships were changing, both with Jesus and also to each other. What Jesus was saying through these sisters was that even though the brothers had forsaken him, they remain family. Through his death and resurrection Jesus made complete adoption possible and now, his…

Open Ended

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Scripture
Mark 16:1   When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to …

Silent Saturday

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Scripture
2Cor. 4:16   So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure,  18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
Observation
The day between Good Friday and Easter is Silent Saturday, and while Paul was not writing about this specific context, he understood what it meant to lose heart. There are moments in life where everything seems to overwhelm us and we become discouraged. Our outer nature, our physical bodies are in a process of wasting away. We are certainly aware of this in this Easter Season which is marked by COVID 19. Because of the frailties of our human bodies we are unable to gather together as God’s people. It feels as if we are in the silent season.
Whether we are dealing with COVID or not, we become a…

They Were There the Whole Time (You Just Didn’t Know It)

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Scripture:
Mark 15:40   There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
Observation:
As Jesus dies on the cross, we are left wondering about the presence of his disciples. Mark’s gospel leaves Peter denying Jesus, but suddenly, at the cross we discover the eye-witnesses to the entire event. The women watch the crucifixion, they go to the burial site and, as we know return to testify to the resurrection. They are the only characters in the story who can testify to having seen it all, and they were there the whole time. It’s in this brief comment that we discover that an entire group of women disciples had followed Jesus and provided for him and the others when they were in Galilee. Interestingly the verb used here for “provide” is the same word tha…