Philippians 4:10-23 – Generosity of Heart

Read Philippians 4:10-23

Today’s reading is Paul’s conclusion to his letter to his friends in Philippi and to us. Did you have a striking take-away today? Share that in the comments below.

There are several points I’d like to touch on: satisfaction and generosity. Paul is giving us a great picture of being satisfied and content. He is in chains for heavens sake, and yet he is feeling blessed. He has all that he needs. He assure them he is not looking for an offering or anything.

How satisfied are you with your situation in life? What is it that you think would tip the happiness scale for you? John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil Company, was replied when asked what is it that makes a man happy, “Just a little bit more than he has.” That statement comes from a man who had millions of dollars. I’m afraid for many that is true. We are always chasing that new shiny object, wanting just a little bit more believing we’ll finally find true happiness.

But true contentment is not found in things is it? True contentment is harvested when we are living in relationship with our creator. It is manifested when we realize who is in charge and what he has done for us.

Paul says it well in verses 12 and 13,  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 has become a life verse for me, one that keeps me grounded. My strength and contentment come from the Lord, and with him, we can do all things. So long as I remember that, my joy does not waver. Circumstances may bring sadness, but my joy is full.

When my heart is content and joy is overflowing, my generosity is at an all time high. I don’t want to keep of all of this joy to myself. One of the best gifts we can give another person is our love, and that’s exactly what we have been called to do. We are to love God first, and then love each other.

Our giving to others of our time and resources is a generosity that will pay over and over again. It’s like planting a seed and watching it grow and grow and grow. One small seed, or act of love and giving, can grow into a big tree or a big faith. God will use each blessing we share with others. He is counting on us to be there for others. He expects us to be someone’s light in the darkness. Guard your heart that you share for the benefit of others, not to see what your reward will be. Satan can often mess with our motives. God sees our heart.

Who can you help today? How are you responding to your contentment?

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, I come to you today with a heart overflowing with gratefulness for where you have brought me in life. The road may not be all that smooth, but I know that you are helping me with the jolts and curves. I stand ready to be your angel to others. Thank you for your support and guidance, for the strength that you give me to get the job done. Forgive me for my self-limiting behaviors. Ignite the passion in me  again. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Philippians 4:1-9

Read Philippians 4:1-9

There is so much wisdom in the book of Philippians. These nuggets are truths we can live by. It is so important that we stay true to the Lord. He has certainly never let us down. He is ever ready to stand guard over our lives and give us direction. He doesn’t impose on us, and that is part of what is so wonderful.

God has given us all a life. What we do with it is our choice. How do you choose to live your life? Are you a lone ranger trying to do it all alone? Or, are you relying on God for your every move. A lot of us are somewhere in between. We like our freedom, yet we know we may not have the best plan. God does have the best plan for us, and often it’s not what we were thinking at all.

One of my favorite passages is found in today’s reading. Verse 6 and 7 really resonate with me. Looking at verse 6 first: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Have you had times in your life where you forgot to trust God and worried about something? Don’t fret (notice I didn’t say worry!), we all have done this. I have known some ferocious worriers in my day. When I first discovered this verse, I felt a sense of freedom. The message is simple, but we often forget. We often worry about things we shouldn’t be worried about. What SHOULD we be doing? Praying. There is so much freedom and peace that comes from praying. 

When a situation is out of our control, which most of them are, it does no good to worry. Most of what we worry about never happens anyway, and we’ve wasted our time, our joy, our peace with that silly worrying. As I write this, I have my own concerns (don’t we all), so this is a good reminder to me to PRAY! Don’t worry.

We can’t forget the gratefulness piece here either. We need to thank God for what is doing. A grateful heart is a happy heart. A happy heart does not worry but praises God for all of his provision. Never forget to give thanks to God for what he has done for you. If you are feeling a little out of sorts, remember the cross.

Verse 7 goes on to tell us what our “reward” will be when we don’t worry but choose to trust God. “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.” Oh my. Peace. Peace that exceed our understanding. That certainly sounds good to me!

And, it’s true. If you haven’t experienced God’s peace, you really should. He offers it to everyone who trusts. That’s the key – trust. Even though we sometimes say, “Yup, I’m trusting God this time” there is a small part of us that is still worrying. Right? So long as we hold on to a little bit, our peace cannot be full. We are cheating ourselves of God’s gift.

Yesterday in training for our business, our leader spent a long time focusing on verse 8. In case you’re wondering how is it that we might FULLY trust and close out those worrisome thoughts, verse 8 is our answer. “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.” There it is. Simple, yet hard. Remember worry is of the evil one meant to keep us from trust God.

So what is on your heart right now? Are you finding yourself caught up in worry? Maybe you are struggling financially. Maybe your children are growing way too fast and you’re feeling insecure as a parent. Maybe your children are grown and on their own but you don’t know if they are following Jesus. Don’t let yourself get caught up in worry. Trust God. Think about the truth. God desires us to be in relationship with him and to trust his leading. We need to get out of our own way.

Let’s pray. Father God, thank you that you’ve got my back. Thank you that I can come to you with my struggles and pain and you take it from me. You have died for me so that I can be free. Help me to focus on the truth and on the beauty of your grace. I surrender to you my worry right now. Take it from me and fill me with your peace. I pray for those who don’t know you and your promises. Bring those people alongside me so that I can reflect you in a relevant way for them. Use me God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Philippians 3:12-21 – Do You Have a Goal?

Read Philippians 3:12-21

My oh my. Does this passage resonate with you like it does me?

We are all in our own season of life, and we have experiences that have brought us to this moment. No matter where you are in life, you should always have a goal. What is your goal?

I’m just coming off an intensive 3-day seminar for my home business, and one of our sessions talked about setting our dreams and goals. Personally, I have always tried to help others reach their goals without much thought of my own. The exercise awakened in me the importance of my own goals and how important it is to dream big. When we think with our future brains, we can accomplish so much more.

I especially liked Paul’s words here, reminding us that we need to forget the past and look ahead, “press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”  There is no greater goal than this, don’t you agree? The day we meet Jesus face to face will be the ultimate. But are we ready? What if this happened tomorrow? Has our life mattered so far? What more do we want to accomplish before we “meet our Maker?”

Paul cautions us here about materialism, and I see this so rampant in our society today. It seems we are never happy with what we have. We are always wanting more of this or that to fulfill our need. When you think of what is on your dream board, what do you see? Are there material things or experiences to make memories? Maybe it’s an achievement or recognition? Or are your dreaming of a way of life to honor God?

I love how Paul concludes this section. We need to ground ourselves and be confident in our identity. Paul writes,”[b]ut 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.”

Our destiny is not here on earth. The things we aspire to on earth will pass away. We are living today for our tomorrow in heaven with Jesus. We will have bodies way better than we could ever imagine that will last for eternity. Let me ask again. What exactly is your goal? Is it big enough? Are you including God in your future?

Let’s pray. Heavenly Father you are mighty beyond all description. You have given me this beautiful life to live. May I be respectful of all that you have given me. May I live a life that is full of gratitude and praise. I look around and see heartache, confusion and greed. Help me to avoid those tendencies. You have brought me to this place, and I thank you for the progress I see in my life. I am so much closer to you than I was, and I yearn to grow closer every day. I eagerly await your return, yet I pray for those loved ones of mine who are not following you. I pray your grace will fall on them so that they will feel the time is right to fully trust you. Thank you for all of the blessings you bestow. You are an amazing God! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Philippians 3:1-11 – Do You Know Christ?

Read Philippians 3:1-11

Today’s reading is powerful. How well do you know Christ? I mean really know him? Think on that for a moment.

What do we mean when we say we know someone or something? Is it a casual acquaintance, such as we know a name, maybe a hometown, and ability to give a general description to a sketch artist. Or, do we know some deep dark secrets about that person, what makes them smile or cry, i.e. what makes them tick? How about Jesus?

None of us has met him face to face. Yet. What we know of his comes from what we’ve read in God’s word. We all have the same reference, but our frame of reference, or that which we have taken away from the same reference may be different. While I may see Jesus as a servant and resonate with that, you may see him as a healer and giver of second chances and resonate with that. Same guy, different perspective. Jesus is God and man, perfect in every way.

Our text today challenges us to rely on Jesus, this man we have never met. There are probably not many, if any at all, people we have never met that we trust more than we trust Jesus. If you are not yet trusting in him, we should probably talk because you are missing out on the greatest relationship of your life. Paul says it like this, “everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus.” 

Prior to his conversion, Paul thought he was holy by following the letter of the law. God’s law, yes, but distortions and misunderstandings had been made by men of God’s intention. There is the whole issue surrounding circumcision, for example. It was thought that to be acceptable to God one needed to be circumcised. Paul now realizes this is not the case. True Christians rely on what Jesus has done putting no confidence in human effort or action.

“God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.”  That is quite a cleansing thought. God has done the work and all we have to do is believe. God is working in us, how exciting is that? That thought alone really jazzes me! I long to know my Savior better. How about you? What are you doing to connect with Jesus Christ? Do others look and you and know without question that you are a follower of Christ?

Is your faith transparent? Are you living out your faith in a way that honors God? We might be thinking we’re doing pretty good. Then, look at Jesus’ example of devotion and if you’re like me, you’ll realize you’ve only begun the journey.

Our faith walk is a journey, but we do not walk alone. Our Savior is right there beside us, our biggest fan. He loves us despite of ourselves. It’s up to us to make him smile. Let’s make Jesus smile today.

Let’s pray. Lord, you are mighty and worthy, so worthy of my worship and praise. Thank you for the love you pour out on me, even when I am not lovable. Thank you that your grace is sufficient in my weakness. Create in  me a new hunger to seek you and refresh my faith so that I will be visibly following you with my life. Show me the places in my life that need some adjustment. Help me help others in their struggles along the journey. I am honored to be yours. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Philippians 2:19-30 – Be Like Timothy

Read Philippians 2:19-30

What I took away from today’s reading is that we should be like Timothy. What do I mean? Take a look at how highly Paul speaks of Timothy. He “genuinely cares” about people and how they are getting along. He has the heart of a servant and has walked alongside Paul while preaching the Good News.

Paul has seen a lot in his life, both before and after his conversion. For him to have high praise and confidence in Timothy speaks very well for his young protege.

How would you measure up to Paul’s scrutiny? What are your motivations when it comes to caring for others and serving God’s people? Do you do so out of obligation? Do you do so to bring joy to others? Think about this for a moment. Maybe you’ll even feel uncomfortable for a moment.

Paul also introduces us to Epaphroditus. Paul tell us he is a “true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier.” He, too, risked his life for the gospel. I would be safe to assume that most, if not all, of us have never risked our life for the gospel. I’m not sure what that would even look like, but I imagine it would be terrifying.

Let’s think on that for a moment. Imagine that sharing your faith was a life or death matter. Would you be willing to risk your life for Jesus? What would you be doing different than you already are? Would you recognize yourself or your life?

How we answer these questions will say a lot about our level of trust and assurance.

The good news is that for most of us we don’t have to be on the front lines. We are in our safe little lives. There are plenty of people just a stone’s throw away that don’t know the life saving truth that we hold dear. They don’t know Jesus. We can’t assume that everybody who looks like us knows. Even if they know, they may not have the relationship that holds them together.

We need to be ready to be soldiers for Christ. Fighting the battles that rage in our lives, knowing that our true king has won the final victory. Our battles are temporary. They will fade into memory. What Jesus has done for us done and complete. We need to rely and trust and help others do the same.

Let’s pray. Father thank you for arming me with your word and your promises. Thank you for the faithful that have gone before me. Give me the boldness I need to proclaim your truth. You are the way, the truth and the life, and nothing I say or do will change that. No power in this world can change your ultimate power and victory. May I never waver in my faith because of those that tempt me. Help me be strong. In Jesus’ name. Amen.