Philippians 2:12-18 – New Responsibility

Read Philippians 2:12-18

There is so much wisdom to be had in the book of Philippians. Today’s reading goes on to show us how we should live with our new responsibility. We are to live Christ-like lives, be open and ready to share the good news with others. With this, comes responsibility.

I think of a story I heard, and you may have witnessed something like it yourself. We’ve all seen the ‘fish’ bumper decals that signify a Christian. This goes back to the time after Christ’s death when believers were fearful. The used this symbol as a way of identifying themselves with  other believers. By drawing a fish in the sand, if someone knew what it meant, you were brothers  in the faith, etc. If they looked at you funny, you knew they were not believers, etc. With that being said, the story goes that the driver of the “fish car” was acting cruel, yelling, having a road rage moment. Not too Christ-like. Yet, he was telling the world with his fish sticker that he was Christian. This is an example of not taking responsibility for the great gift we have. He was not reflecting the values we all possess as followers.

With this responsibility, the gift of salvation is ours. We are saved. We are free. How does all this work in your life? Not sure? Be assured of this, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” God has a plan for each one of us, it is our responsibility to live it. We are not all called to do the same thing, but what is the same is that we are working for God’s purpose.

The next section that talks about grumbling has always made me smile. We all know grumblers, don’t we? Sadly, I even know people that don’t seem happy unless they are grumbling. The reference here to grumbling and arguing is really meant (in the Greek) to be having an intellectual and moral battle with God, not each other. A good example of this happens in Exodus with the ungrateful Israelites grumble about what God is doing versus what they wish he was doing for them. Ungrateful. Sometimes we, too, can be ungrateful for the blessings God gives us.

Suffice it to  say that if we are grumbling or arguing, we are not praising God. All of our energies are spent keeping us from God rather than connecting to him. That’s not what makes for a joyful life.

We need to be full of Jesus for the benefit of others. When we are, we are “shining like the stars.” Because of the joy we have, due to our healthy relationship with God, we yearn to live and serve others. How are you serving? Are you feeling the joy?

Let’s pray. Father God, I lift you up today. Forgive my grumbling and questioning mind. Wash me clean so that my joy will be full. Help me to reflect you in all I do. May there be no question “whose” I am, and that I am living for you. Thank you for the great sacrifice you made for me. I am so grateful for your Word and the promises you have for me. May be I wholly devoted to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Philippians 2:1-11 – Attitude Check

Read Philippians 2:1-11

Watch this video (taken from Message paraphrase) here.

You’ve probably been asked, “Are you in Christ?” If not that question, you’ve likely heard references to being “in Christ”. To put it simply, this means we belong to Christ, we are his. Chapter 2 starts out with this very phrase. Paul is asking us to think of the benefits we enjoy from belonging to Christ and being in him. There are many benefits, he has listed only a few. What are some of the benefits you have experienced?

Paul goes on to say, well then, okay, then show it! Have unity, not division. That’s not to say you have to agree on everything, but love each other and care for one another.

When that is hard for us, we need to look at our brothers and sisters and remember they, too, are abundantly loved by God. With that same heart, we will despise disunity. We will all bond together for the common goal – spread the gospel!

Paul gives us warning of what will mess up our attitudes — selfishness. Think on that for just a moment. It is human nature to be looking out for our own interests, right? If we don’t, who will? But selfishness goes beyond self-sufficiency and enters into a dark, sinful place of disregard for others. We should always be thinking how our words, our actions will be interpreted by others. Don’t let yourself get in the trap of projecting your own feelings and way of thinking on others. We are not the same. Being unselfish is difficult when done right.

Other translations have this as selfish ambition. Ambition is our desire to succeed, and we need to take care that our desires are in line with God’s will for us.

Our attitude check continues with humility. Are we humble? Or are we pumped up on our own self importance and pride?  What are our motives when it comes to our actions? I love this quote from C.S. Lewis -“Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

Finally, are we self-centered? Is it all about “me?” When we are little, it certainly is. As we grow and develop, we begin to see ourselves in a big world, and what is comfortable is when the focus is on us, and we are getting what we want. Think of a little toddler that you know. This kind of behavior works for a child, but as an adult, not so much. Martin Luther described fallen humanity as “man curved in on himself.” Malcom Muggeridge spoke of the “tiny dark dungeon of the ego.”

We are called to look to the interests of others and how we can use our gifts to help. That’s what Jesus modeled for us. He never avoided an opportunity to serve, heal, teach.

Today’s reading concludes with Paul painting a picture of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. This reminder should help us to fall in love with Jesus all over again. It truly puts in perspective the immensity of God’s love for us. Please join with me and other saints, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Let’s pray. Lord, help me get my attitude straightened out. Help me to be more in tune with the needs of others and how I might help them. Use me and my business to reach people that need a word from you. Wash away my fears and doubts that I am not good enough to deserve your love and provision. I stand on your promises and know that all my power comes from you. Help me to rely on that today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Philippians 1:27-30 – Citizens of Heaven

Read Philippians 1:27-30

Today’s reading struck a chord with me. Just as Paul is in the midst of his captivity and struggle, so to are people around the world. As I write this (and I realize you may be reading it now in real time or reading it in the future), our world is being pummeled with natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes. It sounds like end times in some ways, but frightening indeed for those in the midst of these storms.

Paul is telling us here to live as citizens of heaven while we are here on earth. What does this mean? Paul is using the analogy of citizenship to speak to the people of Philippi. There was a sense of being devoted to the country, the ruling nation, think of it as patriotism. Paul wanted them/us to think in terms of being devoted to your country, your citizenship, but then realize it is temporary. We are really meant for heaven, earth is where we gather in community with a colony of other believers.

We are called to build that colony with the destiny in mind. Heaven. We are to stand together with one purpose. Strengthen the colony and bring others into it. Share the news of Jesus and his forgiveness. People need to know they have a great inheritance. We can’t keep that for ourselves when it is meant for many.

There is power in numbers, so we need to stick together when struggles and challenges come. The evil one will bring tests, and we need to be strong to stand against them. Paul calls it a privilege to suffer on account of Christ. It is certainly a privilege and honor to call him Lord. I sometimes have a hard time with calling the other a privilege. But with all believers together, we are strong and eager support each other.

So for all of the horrible things people are experiencing these days, we pray peace. We know God is at work through his people to bring some good out of all of the bad. Some have suggested these disasters are our consequence for evil in the world – hatred, greed, lack of unity, etc. I will not enter into that debate. What I will say is — how we respond in these times of struggle and chaos is a reflection of who we are in Christ.

How are you responding to the crises we see around the world? Do you feel immune and separate yourself? Do you earnestly pray and seek God’s guidance for how you can help?

We all need to stand together in God’s army.

Let’s pray. Father God, the enemy is sending disaster to weaken your people. I thank you that you have them in your hands. Bring them peace and assurance. Things of this earth are temporary, but destiny with you in heaven is our great reward. Help me not to forget that. Help me to focus on the good you have done and your mighty power alive inside me. My energy is feeling depleted. Lord, renew me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Philippians 1:20-26 – Bring Honor to Jesus

Read Philippians 1:20-26

With each day that passes, we are all a little closer to heaven. For some, this thought evokes fear and dread. For others, like Paul in today’s reading, we long to be with Jesus. Even Paul realized there is much work to be done before that day comes. It is up to us to make the best of the days God has gifted us. In all that we do, we just honor Jesus.

I saw an interesting quote yesterday that got me thinking. “What you do today better be important because you are trading a day of your life for it.” I don’t remember if there was somebody important that said that or not, so I apologize if that was your wisdom or if I’m not giving proper credit. Think on that for a minute.

What are you going to do today? Will it impact the kingdom of God in anyway? Is there a way you can change it up at all? This could be as simple as making a phone call to an old friend to catch up and encourage. Stopping down at the local soup kitchen and donating an hour of time, smiling at everyone you encounter. I’m going to go get my hair cut, and while my hairdresser doesn’t speak a word of English, I’m going to find a way to bless him.

Do you ever make excuses? I’m too busy. I’m too shy. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t know Jesus. I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong thing.

Now think about this – what does it mean to “live for Christ”? Paul sees it as his mission to help others grow and experience the joy of their faith. That is what we are called to do as well. How can we help others do this if we aren’t growing or feeling the joy. Let’s start there.

Spend time in prayer today and ask God to reveal the area of your life he’d like you to work on. Maybe it’s a physical challenge, like to walk for 30 minutes a day. During those 30 minutes, also engage with Jesus. Have that conversation with him that you so often put off. Maybe it’s a quiet time challenge, and you’ll devote 30 minutes a day to reading and journaling your thoughts and prayers to God.

We need to grow in the Lord, feel joy from his provision, and share that. We can’t say anything wrong when we share how God has touched us.

Let’s pray. Father, thank you for the nudge today. It’s a good reminder that we are all longing for the day when we are in your presence. Yet, there is so much more to be done here on earth. Show me the path you want for me to take today. Put the words in my mouth that will help uplift those around me. Use me to be your beacon of hope in this lost and crazy world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Philippians 1:12-19 – Preach the Message

Read Philippians 1:12-19

Paul’s joy while in chains is evident. Why is he joyful? Because the message about Jesus is getting out. People are hearing, believing, following and telling. He doesn’t even care why people are sharing, he’s just glad they are sharing. Selfish ambition or not, sharing about Jesus is what we are called to do.

There is some controversy over where (and when) Paul is imprisoned. I suppose the why even comes into play. We know Paul was bold in his faith and it sometimes landed him in jail. Thankfully we don’t have such fear and consequence, most of us anyway. What is important for us to take away is that Paul downplays his struggles and sometimes even seems to be thankful for them. Why? Because they are the result of the gospel being heard. The good news of Jesus is not to be kept to ourselves. We need to stop focusing our own struggles, for they are temporary, and look to the greater good, to our calling to make disciples.

So what chains are you in at the moment? Are you stuck in a job with long hours? Do you have one commitment after another that is keeping you from serving Christ? Are you using these as excuses saying that “one day, when things calm down…”. I hope not. The time is now to be opening your mouth and sharing. The time is now to intentionally find time to spend with your best friend, Jesus. What if “one day” never comes?

Think about what Jesus has done for you, for all of us. He left his heavenly throne of grace to come into this broken world. He encountered people who didn’t understand him, who were expecting a war giant to bring peace. He was beaten and killed, with God-fearing people looking on, and he did it all for us. Because he was also God, he could not stay dead, and he rose to life. Jesus’ mission was to take all of our sins to the cross for one sacrifice for all. The law changed and a new promise was born.

Our end of the promise is to share the good news. Paul didn’t let his circumstances stop him, and neither should we.

Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for the peace that washes over me when I remember your promise. You will never leave us or forsake us. Your power lives within us so we are never alone. Your great sacrifice for me leave me awestruck and overflowing with joy. I want others to know this joy, just like Paul did. While I’m not bound by physical chains, I have placed boundaries around me and built up walls of protection due to hurt and insecurity. Lord, help me to knock those down once and for all. Help me to stand tall and boldly, like Paul, profess my faith in and allegiance to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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