Archive for the ‘Philippians’ Category

Word for Today – Philippians 4:19

God Will Fully Satisfy Every Need

I don’t feel qualified to write about satisfaction. To be quite honest, I really don’t even understand everything about it. I only know is that as I read God’s Word, these words jumped off the page and wrapped themselves around my head like a spider web dotted with super glue.

Most of us would probably agree than it is impossible for anyone here on earth to fully satisfy our every need even though deep down we expect certain people to try. Experience tells me that no matter how much I love my husband, sons, and friends, they are not capable of satisfying my every need.

“God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NRSV).

My head tells me that God is the maker of such miracles, but my heart struggles to grasp that concept. For example, why do people starve? Why are so many children exploited in horrendous ways? I understand that we have to look at some of life’s perplexing questions from a spiritual perspective; after all, the verse says that we will be satisfied “according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” I believe that, but I don’t always get it. I guess that’s because when it comes to spiritual things, God’s ways are not my ways.

I have learned one thing about God . . . Father knows best! My human side occasionally questions that premise, especially when I am stung with pangs of disappointment after fervent prayer. However, in my heart of hearts, I believe God has my best interest in mind. That eases the spiritual consternation I wrestle with. For example, when circumstances beyond my control make me late, I rarely fret. When something does not go as expected, God usually arranges it to work out better than my original plans. I know that God is working behind the scenes even if I don’t know why things happen like they do.

If I had to sum up my thoughts on God fully satisfying me, I would say that I trust that he does. After all, he’s God and I’m not. Trust helps me rest in him when I don’t understand how he is satisfying my every need, and that satisfies me.

Word for Today: Whether we understand it or not, God will fully satisfy every need.

Posted by on January 10th, 2011 No Comments

Word for Today – Philippians 4:11

Be Content

Contentment. How many of us really know the feeling of contentment? I promise, this is not a trick question, but it may be hard to answer with a straight yes or no.

Paul talks about contentment in Philippians 4. Interestingly enough, this topic shows up in the midst of his teaching on rejoicing, pure things, and need.

“I have learned to be content with whatever I have” (Philippians 4:11 NRSV).

Paul’s thoughts develop clarity when he follows his proclamation with a short list of things he has experienced in his lifetime:

  • Having little
  • Having enough
  • Going hungry
  • Eating plenty

It seems that prolific writer of the New Testament experienced many extremes first hand. Maybe we’ve lived similar circumstances. Maybe we haven’t. I can only speak for myself. I am blessed that I have usually had enough. I’m sure there are people living a more abundant life than me, but I really have few needs and don’t live extravagantly. I have a roof over my head, plenty to eat, and ample clothing.

However, I must also admit that my antennae are always on the look out for the next cute pair of shoes that will adorn my feet. I often lament the fact that I could use a little more square footage in my humble abode. And, I’m always looking for ways to make my next article better than the last. It’s not much, but does that mean I am not content? If you experience similar thoughts, does that make you a malcontent?

Maybe, and maybe not. When it comes to shoes, I don’t already have a hundred pair crammed into my closet. Plus, I shopped around for two years before purchasing my last pair of boots. Shoes don’t consume my life. Neither does the fact that I live in a “cozy” house; there are many days I am extremely thankful for such a charming home. And, even though I’m not a published author, I don’t feel like a failure. I like the current projects God has laid before me.

There is a difference between dreaming big and being consumed by a desire for more. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself or better your circumstances, but always remember to appreciate what God provides at any given time. Paul also encourages us to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil 4:4) and think on the things that are worthy of praise (Phil 4:8-9). When we are content, rejoicing, and thinking on the right things, then we will have the peace of God and better understand his concept of contentment.

Word for Today: Dream big and strive for more, but learn to be content.

Posted by on January 6th, 2011 No Comments

Word for Today – Philippians 4:5

Let Your Gentleness Be Known

My age may show with this question, but do any of you remember the television show Gentle Ben?  It chronicled the adventures of a boy and his bear, Ben. The obvious hook of this family program was the premise of a potentially vicious animal displaying the gentle nature of a pussy cat.

We are captivated by people or things with reputations contrary to what we expect, like a bear known as Gentle Ben. The word gentle is no stranger to Scripture, and despite its innocuous impression, it is a powerful force.

“Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5 NRSV).

This exhortation is easily overlooked. One reason could be the fact that it is sandwiched between two very well-known and oft-quoted verses; we tend to skip over it. Another reason could be that our culture tends to laud aggression over a more gentle approach to life.

As Christians, we cannot ignore the fact that this simple verse not only encourages us to be gentle, but includes the phrase “The Lord is near.” One conclusion we can draw from these thoughts joined together in God’s Holy Word is this: when we display gentleness, God is in the vicinity. To many, believers and non-believers, a gentle God is as much of an anomaly as a gentle bear: they equate the Lord more with wrath, rulers, and regiments, than the concept of “gentle.”

  • Wrath – He’s gonna get us!
  • Rulers – Watch out, God’s gonna slap our knuckles if we step out of line!
  • Regiment – Do this, do that…or we’re gonna burn in Hell!

Truly, this is the image of God seared in many people’s minds. Sometimes it is hard to sort out the reality of our Holy God among the wrathful perceptions floating around the world. Yes, there was a point in time when God was harsh, but for those who search the pages of the Old Testament, there are plenty of examples of loving gentleness sprinkled all over the era ruled by the Mosaic Law.

However, along with the advent of Jesus and the New Covenant of grace, God’s benevolent character was fully unveiled. This subject goes much deeper than space allows for me to cover, but suffice it to say, we serve a very gentle God.When we extend a gentle touch to others we reflect our one of the best things about our heavenly Father.

If Christians are known for their gentleness, people will know God is near. Let’s work at captivating others, especially non-believers, in the same way that wild, yet gentle, bear captivated a generation of TV viewers so many years ago.

Word for Today: Show people that God is near, let your gentleness be known.

Posted by on January 4th, 2011 6 Comments

Word for Today – Philippians 3:21

He Will Transform

January 2011. Can you believe we just welcomed another New Year? I have a suspicion that getting bodies in shape is on a lot of our minds.

I didn’t wait for the calendar to flip to another year before addressing my body issues. Around May 2010 I joined an exercise class that that kicked my proverbial backside. I thought I was going to need a chauffeured ride home in an ambulance after my first session. It was brutal!

But, over the past six months I’ve experienced some encouraging physical transformations: my endurance has improved, I’m toning up a little all over, and I feel better. A similar transformation takes place in our spiritual life when we exercise that area:

“He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory” (Philippians 3:21 NRSV).

Now, when you read the part about the “body of our humiliation,” don’t get hung up thinking that our bodies are something to be ashamed of. God fashioned them, and he does not make junk! This phrase serves more as a comparison to the really awesome bodies we will have with Jesus one day. (I wonder if that means no exercise classes are necessary in Heaven?) Just like it requires maintenance to keep our physical bodies fit, we need to work to keep our spiritual temples healthy as well.

In my exercise class we use equipment such cardio-machines, weights, big rubber balls, and a band that hangs from the ceiling. If a class was formatted for our spirits it would probably employ equipment to stretch our muscles in the areas of honesty, loving others, compassion, and setting ourselves aside in lieu of others.

Whether in the physical or spiritual realm, our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of, but it is important to keep the flesh in check. Too much flesh in either case is not healthy and can cause problems.

As the days and months of 2011 fly by, whatever flesh we need to address . . . let’s do it! There are many days I know Jesus helped me through my exercise class. If we will partner with him as we maintain the fleshy part of our spiritual lives, he’ll transform us; he’s got the power!

Word for Today: If we do our part, he will transform us!

Posted by on January 1st, 2011 No Comments

Word for Today – Philippians 3:18

Enemies of the Cross

I don’t know about you, but any time I hear the word enemy I immediately think “threat”. And, as a Christian, the most prevalent enemy I run into are those who attack the Faith. I don’t have many direct encounters, but even the distant enemies have far-reaching effects.

Many enemies of the cross promote legislation that is not family friendly. Some of their decisions even go so far as to give criminals more protection than victims. And, they limit the freedoms (speech and actions) of those who follow Jesus, while allowing other religions the liberty to do whatever they want no matter who they offend or injure.

Enemies of the cross have succeeded in taking prayer our of our public schools, restricting the public placement of The Ten Commandments, and removing any references to Christ in the celebration of Christmas. As Charlie Brown would say, “Good grief!”

“For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears” Philippians 3:18 NRSV).

Obviously there are many visible enemies of the cross of Christ, but there are very dangerous ones lurking around pretending to be something they are not. They don’t even bother to oppose the cross from dark corners; they are hiding in plain sight! This subject cut the apostle Paul to the core so much so that he had shed tears talking about it.We are never surprised when non-Christians attack our faith, but, as in Paul’s day, we need to watch out for those who claim to be believers, yet cover themselves with an anti-Christian cloak.

These tricksters warm the pews every Sunday. They talk a good game, but play by a different set of rules. These people lead our youth and sing in church choirs, but are powered by dark hearts. Have you ever encounter these threats to the cross?  I have.

I once knew a prominent youth leader who rejected the virgin birth. To doubt this miracle is to question Jesus’ deity. If someone questions that, what other areas to they limit God? I also encountered a pastor who was eager to usher in a “new song” (an Old Testament term used to refer to the redemption Jesus would bring) because of the modern world’s changing culture. It doesn’t matter how much time passes, God’s gift of redemption is always timely and never needs updating.

There are many enemies of the cross. They threaten the church from outside and inside. We need to be aware of them and avoid them lest they bring us down. In my case, I never let my children get in a position to be influenced by that youth leader who rejected the virgin birth. I left the church under the leadership of the pastor wanting to “update” the principle of redemption.

I encourage you to study God’s Word so that you are able to recognize and not be influenced by those who are enemies of the cross; which often includes Christians who don’t get it. These enemies are true threats.

Word for Today: Learn to recognize and not be influenced by enemies of the cross of Christ.

Posted by on December 16th, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Philippians 3:15-16

Hold Fast

Have you ever thundered down the tracks of a wild roller coaster? Before I got older and the G-forces made my head swim in a sea of dizziness, I was a roller coaster riding maniac. I loved all the twists and turns that required the white-knuckle death grip on the grab bars that stretched over my lap or shoulders.

The Christian life can be like a roller coaster. Just like the intensity of these squeal-producing marvels varies, so do the roller coasters of real life. However, if we approach life riding in a car of Christianity, we have the extra security of faith that holds us in place when we speed down sometimes chaotic tracks we encounter.

As a high-school student I made several excursions to Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington. The most popular ride with my friends and me was the Shock Wave whose signature double loop was considered pretty wicked in the early 80s. My maiden voyage on the Shock Wave was scary awesome; I white-knuckled it and screeched through all the twists, turns, and loops. However, the more I rode, my familiarity with all aspects of the miniature train grew and so did my confidence.

This growing confidence caused me to get a little daring with each subsequent ride. First, my friends and I targeted the last seat in the mini-train of cars which had the reputation of being the most tossed about as it sped down the track. We then graduated to the very first car which yielded the best view of the approaching twist, turns, and loops. Once we discovered the wild joy of the front car, our next mission was to ride with ours arms positioned over our heads fighting against the wind and our fears. Looking back on those wonderful memories makes me think of life with God.

“Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained” (Philippians 3:15-16 NRSV).

Much in the same way I grew familiar with the Shock Wave and gained confidence each time I rode, the same happens when we walk with God. As my friends and I gained confidence on the double-loop roller coaster our boldness grew, and we tried new things. As we allow God to work in our lives, Christians learn what to hold on to as their faith develops. For example, through Jesus, God loves us and gives us eternal salvation (John 3:16). God is eager to forgive us when we stumble and confess our sins (1 John 1:9). God is faithful and gives us strength (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).

When secured by those promises, we are better able to ride life’s tumultuous tracks with confidence. We don’t have to believe the enemy’s lies. We don’t have to doubt God’s love and salvation when we are not perfect. We know that there is no sin that God will not forgive. These are the lap and shoulder bars that Jesus gave to us to cling to when he died on the cross.

It doesn’t matter how wild a ride we find ourselves on, we need to hold fast to all that we have attained in God through Christ Jesus. As the Scripture says, there are always things we will not understand, but as we ride life’s roller coaster with God and hold fast to faith, he will continually reveal great things to us.

Word for Today: When you find yourself on life’s roller coasters, hold fast to what you have attained though Christ Jesus.

Posted by on December 14th, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Philippians 3:12

You Are His Own

Now that we have a new dog in the house, I’m struck by the similarities I see between Kramer, a former pound puppy, and new Christians. The only history we know about Kramer is that he is a California boy who rode to northern New Mexico in an iron chariot with a crowd of other canines.

It is easy to tell that this happy-go-lucky pup has not been ill treated. He may even be a lost from another family because he is house broken. It doesn’t matter where he came from, because, bottom line, he ended up in an animal shelter nestled in the hills outside Santa Fe, and we made him our own.

“Not that I have already obtained this or have reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Jesus Christ has mad me his own. I do not consider that I have made it my own; this one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:12-13 NRSV).

Just like new Christians who have been rescued from a lost state, Kramer is going through a similar adjustment.  He is trying to learn his place among two established dogs twice his size. (I must interject that he holds his own). He is learning that it is not acceptable to gnaw on the Christmas tree skirt and that socks are not to be haplessly dragged around the house. Just this morning he jumped on the coffee table and pounced on my head after being released from his kennel. He’ll learn the rules, but it’s going to take time.

The same holds true for new Christians. Most of them do not know the finer point of what many consider good Christian behavior. They are often thought of as unruly and judged for it. Maybe they use foul language or lack godly grace in a few areas. But, everyone needs to remember that Christianity is a journey, and no one is perfect on their first day.

New Christians go through a time of trial after they make a decision for Christ. Not only is the devil knocking on their door because he lost them to God, but seasoned Christians sometimes have a hard time accepting them. Newbies often don’t feel accepted during their awkward time of new growth and leave the church. Even though growling and tough love is acceptable in Kramer’s doggie world, new Christians need nurturing . . . not the harsh judgment of their more seasoned brothers and sisters. As newbies grow, they become better acquainted with the ways of the Christian life.

Until then, Christians need to remember that Jesus made us all “his own.” It doesn’t matter where we came from or what our past was like, we have a future with Jesus. We need to strain forward to what lies ahead, and that comes when we feel loved by those around us. Kramer is pressing forward to his new life with us as he learns new boundaries. Likewise, new Christians strain forward in their new life with Christ and need our love, patience, and guidance.

Last night my husband reminded Cooper, our oldest dog, that he was once the new-kid-on-the-block and received a few growls as a new pup. Sometimes seasoned Christians need a similar reminder: we were all new at some point. Jesus made us all his own, and loves every new Christian as they grow into their new life. He smiles down on those who remember that newbies need our love, not our judgment, as they strive toward their future in Him.

Word for Today: Whether you are new the Faith or a seasoned follower, always remember you are His own.

Posted by on December 9th, 2010 4 Comments

Word for Today – 3:7-8 Part 2

The Surpassing Values of Christ – Update

I wanted to do a quick update on Zach, the pound puppy from my December 3 post, “The Surpassing Value of Christ.” After a disastrous week of no open doors as I sought to see if Zach would be a candidate to bring into our home, I gave up.

I knew his forever family was out there somewhere and that they would find each other soon. But, each day I checked to see if Zach’s picture had been removed from the Santa Fe Humane Society site, indicating he’d been adopted, there he sat . . . day after day.

As Saturday, a busy day at the shelter, rolled around I was hopeful. Yet, on Saturday night,  his picture stared back at me from the computer screen. I was so sure he and his family would have met by then. Then on Sunday, something miraculous happened.

When I looked for his photos, it was gone! I couldn’t suppress the thankfulness in my heart because Zach no longer stared at me from the Internet . . . our gazes now met face-to-face because, on Sunday afternoon, we became his new family. To make a long, emotional, and miraculous story short, let’s just say the right doors opened at the right time. (more…)

Posted by on December 7th, 2010 4 Comments

Word for Today – Philippians 3:7-8

The Surpassing Value of Christ

I had to give something up this week, and I did not like it! Nothing serious like a habit. No, I had to let go of a desire. Actually, it was my desire for a little terrier-type pound puppy, named Zack, at the Santa Fe Humane Society.

I won’t give you all the details, but before I started my endeavor I prayed that God would open all the doors for the dog that was to join my family alongside our two Welsh Terriers, Newman and Cooper. It wasn’t to be.

(more…)

Posted by on December 3rd, 2010 No Comments

Word for Today – Philippians 3:4-6

Confidence in the Flesh

Whether Jew or Gentile, believer or non-believer, we all have one thing in common: we are of flesh and blood. That is our reality, and it often gets in the way of connecting with our spirituality.

It is much easier to believe in what we can see and touch over that which is intangible . . . like God’s world. What seems more logical to our fleshy minds . . . a) a real job with a paycheck that pays the bills, or b) believing that God will somehow meet our needs? It’s a valid question that even creeps up on seasoned believers from time to time.

“If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:4-6 NRSV).

If anyone had tangible assets to cling to it was Paul, the former bad boy Pharisee. He had quite a list of earthly credentials. Our accomplishments today may look a little different, but our propensity to grab on to things like college degrees, high-paying jobs, status, and big bank accounts, still feed our flesh. Just like Paul’s resume was centered around God stuff rather than a relationship with the Master of the Universe, we must not let our credentials hinder our relationship with the Creator.

Can you relate? I can! If I had to rate myself in this area, I wouldn’t say that I’m straddling the fence of spiritual ambiguity. But, as much as I hate to admit it, that fence is a part of my Christian life. At least I’m sitting on the fence with both feet dangling on God’s side. That’s an improvement over where I used to be when my feet dangled in the other direction.

Sitting where I am is not necessarily a bad place, but obviously it could be better. I’m confident that, as I learn to suppress my flesh, my position will improve. The Christian life is a journey that gradually weans us off our confidence in the flesh when we place faith in Jesus Christ.

It is not an easy to let our spiritual side override the flesh, because we are, after all, made of flesh. Believe it or not, I find great hope in Paul’s words throughout Philippians 3. Paul makes me painfully aware of my flesh, but he also lets me know that God loves me anyway. Because Jesus became fully man (fully flesh), God knows our struggles and rejoices when we prevail over them.

Don’t hate yourself because you are flesh and inclined to put your confidence in fleshy things. Instead, love Jesus all the more knowing that your growing faith will give you the confidence to jump into God’s world and leave that fence of spiritual ambiguity behind.

Word for Today: Move beyond confidence in the flesh and toward faith in God.

Posted by on December 1st, 2010 2 Comments