Philippians Chapter 4

This is a great chapter.  So much encouragement and guidance from Paul – settle your disagreements, rejoice, don’t worry, be grateful, pray about everything, think about excellent things, put into practice everything you saw me (Paul) doing and saying and the God of peace will be with you.  This list doesn’t sound too difficult to do, particularly when things are going well, but what about when life isn’t going well.  How do these verses feel when life is falling apart? Do they encourage you, or make you feel guilty for not putting them into practice?

I love Philippians 4:13.  As a teenager it was one of my favorite verses, but I always thought of it in terms of athletic achievement.  God can give me the strength to win this game, or win this race.  Christ will strengthen me so I can do something great and get the glory.  I’ve seen many professional athletes use this verse for motivation, but it is a misuse of scripture in my opinion.  You can’t separate verse 12 from verse 13:

12 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. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength.

When Paul says “I can do everything”, everything for him means living through all circumstances we face in life – times of plenty, and times of need.  Paul says he’s learned the secret of living in every situation.  What is that secret?  Christ gives him strength.

When we are in the midst of difficult circumstances it can be hard to believe in the promises of God.  It can be difficult to pray, be grateful, rejoice – to do the things Paul encourages us to do in the beginning of chapter 4.  That is why verses 12 and 13 are so encouraging to me.  Paul writes these lines from experience, from traveling through these circumstances in his life and coming out on the other side.  Paul faced more discouragement, pain, rejection, difficulties and suffering in his life than I will ever face in mine, yet he could write these incredible verses.  He doesn’t say it is easy – just that he knows how to live through every situation.

Paul’s final encouragement to the Philippians and us – fix your thoughts on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and excellent and worthy of praise, then the God of peace will be with you.  God with us, Emmanuel, Jesus – the secret of living in every situation.

Philippians Chapter 3

Philippians 3 NLT - The Priceless Value of Knowing Christ

We have all been there, hoped for a good outcome, hoped for a wonderful dream to come true. We have even gone as far as praying for and hoping, ok negotiating with the Lord that if he would just bless us with…that one thing, all would be grand. The reality is all of these things are just things that we desire for the moment, a temporary fix, because the world tells us we need it, we want it. In reality we were made for more. We should not focus on the physical things rather we should be putting our hope and focus on HIS promises. 

After reading this chapter, I was filled with a sense of Hope. Philippians 3 is filled with valuable truths that we need to hold on too and tuck into our hearts. Here are my takeaways:

No matter what, rejoice in the Lord and it will guard our faith. 

Keep guard and do not fall prey to the ways of the world.

Christ Jesus, is our true treasure.

Let go of the past, it’s a hinderance and gets in the way of God’s works.

Put all Hope and Faith in the Lord, for his ways are righteous and true.

Focus on Him and what he has done, be willing to carry your cross every day.

We are a work in progress.

Don’t look back, keep moving forward, for our day will come to be with Him. 

Verses 18-20 stood out the most because of Paul’s heartfelt plea that we stay on guard and to hold on to our faith. He reminds us to not fall for those who distract us or try to entice us to follow the ways of the world. V.19 says, “They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.” Paul tells we are not of this world, but are citizens of heaven. Paul loves the Lord and the mission he was commanded to do, so much so that he didn’t allow his circumstance of being in jail stop him from rejoicing in the Lord and sharing the Good News with the Philippians. His words reassure us that we were meant for greater things. This chapter is filled with words that a parent would share with their children, an elder or a mentor would say to a dear friend. It’s a reminder that through Christ we are made new.  It’s a warning to not fall back into our old ways or allowing the past to dictate the way we should be. Rather it a guide for what we should hold on too, the truth that our worth is in Jesus and we should let go of the past. I am filling my heart with the Hope that comes from Christ Jesus, are you?

Philippians Chapter 2

Philippians 2 is all about encouragement!  Starting with Paul encouraging us to have the same attitude of Christ Jesus.  “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead he gave up his divine privileges, he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 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.”

Then he encourages us to shine brightly for Christ.  “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  For God is working in you giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

Paul was writing to the Philippians from prison probably in Rome and was troubled that he was not able to come himself.  But he cared so much for the believers there that he wanted to make sure they were ok.  So he sent Epaphroditus to them knowing that Epaphroditus who had loved them and had been ill would encourage them and eleviate their concerns about him.  “So I am all the more anxious to send him back to you, for I know you will be glad to see him , and then I will not be so worried about you.”

Be encouraged that Jesus loves us.  He gave his life for us so we would have eternal life with him in heaven.  If that is not encouraging, I don’t know what is!

Be Blessed!

Philippians Chapter 1

How easy it is to be caught up in what doesn’t matter.  I don’t think it is intentional.  We have jobs, kids, and obligations.  Pretty soon life becomes one big “ToDo” list.  

I look at the things that mattered so much to me over the years.  What was I going to wear? Did I really say that? What does that person think of me? I can’t believe they took my parking spot!

I turned 50 this year and it has been kinda magical.  There is a certain perspective that happens when you hit the golden year.  I am finding that all of the little things that once mattered to me don’t anymore.  What a relief! The filter is a little better on what I say. You can have that parking spot I was about to pull into.  I’m wearing comfortable shoes.  Because none of that stuff really matters!

And that brings me to verse 10. “For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.”  That causes my focus to shift from myself here and now to an eternal perspective where I long to hear my Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21.  

Paul’s and my prayer for you - May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation - the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.  v11 (and you!)