Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Philippians 1:30

We don't struggle alone.  Is that comforting?  Sometimes.  It comes down to the battle over self.  When I want it to be all about me....I don't care that others are having a tough time too.  However, knowing you aren't the only one can be a comfort....because there are others who understand and can offer support -- and it's possible to return the support....forming community.

The other important fact to remember is that Christ first struggled and died for us.  So, we aren't alone.  We have a Savior who first carried the burden and will still carry us.....pretty amazing...and comforting.

Lord, help me cling to the truth of your strength and love when struggles come my way.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Philippians 1:29

Mmmm...the privilege of suffering for Christ.  I gotta say I don't look on this as a selling point.  But from my reading in James, I understand that the trials and testing are ways we learn and grow closer to Christ and closer to perfection.  Suffering doesn't sound like a great option....but it's the tough times that prompt us to change....when circumstances are good we don't look to change things because that would really make no sense.  It's the struggles and discontent that prompt us to try to change or improve.  In addition to the privilege of suffering FOR Christ.  We get the privilege of trusting him.  We know He has us in His hands....and He has great plans for us.  He has told us so.

Lord, thank you for the opportunity to trust you.  Thank you for challenges that create opportunities for growth.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Philippians 1:28

"Don't be intimidated by your enemies" There are many things that run through my mind as I read those words and ponder them.  There has been a thorn in my side for several months...and to compound the complex problem....the thorns loudly proclaim their Christianity.  I was tempted to put the word Christianity in " " but.....that is really not fair.  I don't know their hearts and their relationship with God is between them and God.  But I have mentally railed.  I've been frustrated by the pain and hurt done by these thorns trumpeting God as their banner.  I feel helpless and I hate how their witness hurts people I know.   I'm confused and discouraged by the ability of the thorns to get away with their behavior. So I'm not sure what to do with this verse...or even what follows...about being defeated and destroyed....I play the what if game....and I stew.   Don't be intimidated....don't give over the victory.  Perhaps that is what I can hold on to.

Lord help me remain faithful even in the face of cunning opposition.  Amen.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Philippians 1:27

"Standing together united for one purpose" I wonder how sad Paul and Jesus himself are when the see the petty squabbles that church congregations get efficiently it leads us astray from doing the work of fighting for the gospel which is the Good News. I know I've gotten involved with church squabbles...and I regret some of the actions I took in defense of my opinion. I can only be responsible for myself and I'm pretty confident that I let Jesus down. I certainly wasn't blameless. Thankfully, I'm forgiven by God. and hopefully, I've learned a lesson, learned from my mistakes -- after all there are so many new ones I can make. And if only that were a joke.

Oh Lord, thank you for your immense patience and love for us. I know we don't deserve it and yet you freely give it. Amazing love. Give us the strength to continue to strive and grow into the people you created us to be for your Glory. Amen.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Philippians 1:25-26

Greetings.  I read these verses very humbly because I think there could be a great temptation to take them out of context when applying them to my life.  This is Paul speaking....and I find much to take from his example but I can really see a wrong path potential springing from these verses.  The wrong path I could see is attempting to apply this with the death of a loved one -- especially someone very young.  Not that I don't think the truth of Paul's statements could apply -- but I just see the possibility of someone -- albeit well meaning -- trying to tell a grief stricken person that their dead loved one's purpose had been accomplished and that's why they died.  It may be true (although we won't know that for sure until Christ's return) but I think we fail in compassion when we try to explain away the pain.  I think that is at the root of my caution in approaching this verse.  I also feel cautious because I don't feel my life is fully reflective of suggesting that I am living this out makes me uncomfortable and feeling somewhat as less than worthy.  Here's where I have a choice...I could wallow in the defeat of my brokenness....or I can place my hope in the author and perfecter of my faith and continue to challenge myself to humbly rely on Christ's victory and His mercy, grace and strength to grow more fully into the person He created me to be.

Lord, thank you for your promptings, your challenges, your reminders of your greatness.  Give me your strength as I am too weak to fulfill this journey on my own.  Thank you, beyond my words, for your grace, mercy and love for me and all of your people.  It is beyond my understanding Lord, but give me the courage to live based on the truth of Your words.  Amen.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Philippians 1:21-24

"To live is Christ, to die is gain."  I'd consider this statement one of Paul's more famous quotes.  I like reading it in the context.  It does tickle me because it sorta sounds a little conceited on Paul's part...but I guess if you've had a personal experience with Jesus like Paul's probably okay to tell folks they still need him for teaching. 

Of course -- the main focus he has is being able to continue his work for Jesus.  That is an amazing singular focus.  I think about all the different things I think about when I look at my to-do list....laundry,  dusting, vacuuming, knitting, writing, and other work types of things...I get pretty distracted and lost in those minor things and forget about being as single minded that all I do is for Jesus.  I have been trying to think this way at my work.  Especially on days I question my purpose and may be a little dissatisfied in the daily grind.  If I approach my paperwork or my relationships with coworkers as if I'm working for Christ the desired effect would be that I work in a way that would bring Him honor.

Lord, I want to honor you with my life.  Please work through me so that my action bring you glory.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Philippians 1:18-20

"I trust my life will bring honor to Jesus Christ"  Could I say that? mmmm.  I don't believe I can say that with confidence.

"the message of Christ is preached either way, so I rejoice"  This makes me wonder how many petty fights within the body of Christ we could avoid if we all put this idea first.

And there is the rub....when we put Christ first, we win -- we bring glory and honor to him.  When we put ourselves first....well...for a while it may seem okay -- but it won't last.  A couple of years ago, Bill said he thought selfishness was the true definition of evil.  The more I see, the more I live, the more I really find that to be true.  When it is a me first attitude we can truly be capable of terrible things that hurt others -- some irreparably.

Dearest Lord, help me to rejoice when you are being honored.  I pray that my life will be an honor to you Lord.  Help me to continue to surrender my "me-oriented' agenda and love as you first loved me.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Philippians 1:15-17

"Preaching out of jealously and rivalry" -- Yikes.  What a sad commentary on someone's intentions.  How far some would go because of their own issues.  Not only out of jealousy but also with the intent to make someone else suffer.

At first this seems remote, a trap it would be hard to fall into....but then I think about the temptation to use scripture to "beat" someone down and not love them as God intends....and I know I've fallen into that trap.  It can be tricky -- we need to correct each other....but our motives and out attitudes say it all.  I think of Jesus vs. the lifted up the hurting, the other lifted up themselves at the expense of the downtrodden.  I can be far too easy to misuse gifts we've been given, knowledge or experience we've gained.  This is why it is so important that all we do is for God's glory....

Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.  (Psalm 51:10)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Philippians 1:12-14

Paul tells us that everything that has happened to him has spread the Gospel.  Just stop and think about that for a's staggering.....he has taken every challenge and used it for Jesus's glory.  I think about the words of James, echoed by Paul -- to greet trial with Joy because of the opportunity it presents.  I am in awe of how Paul had lived this out.

Not only has Paul's boldness changed the lives of his guards...the Christians have not been silenced by the they are even more confident.  What an amazing turn...the exact opposite of what you'd expect to have  happen.

I am many times have I "boldly spoke God's message without fear".....My only answer can be...not enough.

Lord, please give me the courage to speak your message boldly and without fear.  Amen.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Philippians 1:9-11


The verse 9 is on point for me right now.  I'm delighted that I have it to focus my attention on.  It is a challenge to feel like I overflow with love.  It is continually tempting to overflow with something besides love :)  By working on loving more, I do learn more....part of that comes because I have to work hard at loving more...and part of doing that is challenging myself to see another person's point of view, walk in their shoes so to speak and open my mind to recognize their experiences that have formed their point of view and heart.  It also can push me to recognize their pain.  Doing this definitely causes me to grow in knowledge and understanding....which helps me love deeper.  It also helps me to pause before I jump to a biting response, or in all reality -- my real response which is usually shut down and withdraw...becoming pretty cold.  I kid myself that it's not a noticeable.  That would be what we call denial....and that's a whole 'nother topic.  What it certainly isn' love like Jesus has demonstrated.  Our actions can either bring glory and praise to God -- or not.  I know where I want to stand....and that means loving with His heart.

I love you and praise God for you.   Amen.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Philippians 1:7-8

Have to admit I'm really struggling with fatigue.  But this was such a warm passage.  It is so loving and sweet.  I was struck by how genuine it feels...not "hallmark card" schmaltz in the least.

I would like to be that loving to other Christians.  I can only achieve that through Christ.  I do not have the ability on my own.  I'm too impatient.

"tender compassion"  Yes Lord -- Thank you Lord...I need that compassion and I also need to show that compassion to others.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Philippians 1:6

Love, love, love this verse and the hope it represents!  He began a good work in us and will bring it to completion!

I suffer from restless project syndrome.  I'm good at the start but soon lose interest and have trouble getting something, once begun, across the finish line.  As I write, there is a partially knit cowl on the floor, books that have been started (on subjects from Gardening to Grammar) and not finished on my bedside table....I joke that my flowers need to develop a strong root system because around the Fourth of July I've tired of them and no longer regularly water them.  When it's a formal situation (like a class) I'll hang in there and finish -- but if it's just up to me....well let's just say my track record isn't stellar.

But, luckily, this most important work is not up to me!  Hooray!  God promises he'll finish and if he said it, I believe it.

Lord, thank you for beginning this amazing transformative work in our lives.  Thank you for how much you love us and your commitment to us.  You are awesome God.  Your mercies are unending.  Your faithfulness exceeds our understanding.  Thank you Jesus!  Amen.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Philippians 1:4-5


I flip back and forth between different bible translations and I have to say, I really prefer the NLT on these two verses...not that the NIV isn't good...I just prefer the NLT.

The loyalty of the relationship between Paul and Philippians is very uplifting -- what a great example.

Joy -- one of the footnotes I have talks about the joy that Paul is describing is not dependent on anything in this world...rather it is our relationship with Jesus.

So -- my very straightforward application is to continue to pray for those who are part of my faith family.  Also, instead of the discontent I feel in earthly things, to focus on the joy that has been given to us by our relationship with Christ.  Again...the encouragement against divided loyalties.  :)  Definitely feeling a theme!

Dearest Lord, help me to remember that I will not find real joy in earthly things, that my transforming joy is the reality of the love you have for us and your gift to us of eternal life, that we may spend forever with you.  Jesus, thank you so very much for the wonderful faith partners you've placed in my life.  I ask that you hold them close to your heart.  Bless them Lord as they've faithfully shared your love and encouragement with me.  Lord help me return the same to them. Amen.

P.S.  Renee's (A Confident Heart) devotion this morning used two verses from Philippians.  :)  I love it when that happens.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Philippians 1:1-3

Good Morning!  I have a dear friend who still sends cards and letters.  She doesn't miss a holiday and I so cherish these real "snail" mail arrivals.  From the background on the letter of Philippians, the church was being persecuted but had taken a collection to send Paul a gift in his imprisonment.  This is the Philippians "thank you" letter and a message of encouragement.  Boy howdy, I need the message of joy to refresh my thirsty, dry as bones spirit.

Paul calls himself (and Timothy) slaves of Jesus -- a slave being totally devoted to serving Jesus.  Having just finished James -- a good portion of his message was about not having divided loyalties and here is Paul saying the same thing -- trust God completely.  :)

"Grace and peace to you."  Yes Lord, I need your grace and peace.  My last week has been a rough and tumble time at work and personally.  I've found myself wearing my porcupine coat...and I know that in my angst I've been prickly to others including those I hold most dear, which causes the blech to deepen and piles more shame on top of the negative thoughts already roiling inside.

I need to surrender the anger and hurt, allow God to calm the storm raging inside.  It's easy -- once I let go.

Oh Lord, I failed again.  Please help me to let go and hold on to your truths.  The truths that reassure me that I am your child, you love me and it's not because I've earned it.  It's because Jesus paid the price for my shortcomings, my failures, my anger, my sins, my darkness...He has wiped it away because You love all of us that much - including me.  Lord, help me to reflect that love, help me to set aside my anger, help me to trust your justice and hold tight to your mercies so I can devote myself to you completely.  Amen.

PS -- I don't always get this in-depth...especially just on "Greetings, it's Paul here."  I just really needed the grace and peace part in case you didn't figure that out already.  Please share your observations, applications and prayers in the comments.  It may be me who is first to post, but I really learn from all the different thoughts and observations from others.  :)