Philippians 4:10-13 (Devotional Thought)

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:10-13 ESV)

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” is perhaps one of the most misquoted verses of all time. I have to confess that as a young athlete I thought this verse was awesome because I thought that quoting it before I tried to make my free-throw shots in basketball would somehow help me become a better player.

The Apostle Paul is actually talking about Continue reading “Philippians 4:10-13 (Devotional Thought)”

Philippians 4:6-7 (Devotional Thought)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)

Anxiety is a big deal. Odds are that you’ve wrestled with it. It is that feeling you get about uncertainty over the future. You get nervous, scared, maybe even unable to think or move because of what might happen. You might fail a class and have to repeat it. You might have to move. You might not ever make any friends at your new school. Someone might pick on you mercilessly at school tomorrow. Your teacher might call on your in class and you have no clue about what you are studying.

What are some of the things that you have been anxious about?

It can be tough to hear Paul say, “Do not be anxious about anything.” But think for a moment about his life and his circumstances. He was chained next to a Roman guard when he wrote this. He was about to stand trial before Cesar (possibly Nero). It is very possible that he would be executed. Any day he could get called up for trial. He of all people has a lot of reasons to be anxious, but he isn’t… He has found something that puts anxiety to sleep.

Paul says to pray about everything. So if your math class is giving you anxiety. Do you’re homework and pray. Tell God that you feel anxious when you see the letter “X” where a number should be and your teacher keeps repeating “Solve for X” because you have no clue. Tell God that you are concerned about what other people might think of your tennis shoes. Tell God that you felt like you were left out and abandoned when you found out that all of your friends got together to go bowling and you weren’t even invited. Tell God everything.

Somehow the practice of prayer allows us to confess our dependence on God. We recognize when we pray to the Father that He is in control. He holds the future and nothing happens without His knowledge. When we spill our guts about what might happen, He already knows the outcome. We can trust Him because He loves us, He walks with us, and nothing is beyond His grasp.

When we pray about everything, we find the peace of God. We can rest knowing that the events may not turn out like we would want them too, but God is definitely in control. What is amazing is that Paul can offer us God’s Word because he is living in the midst of it. His heart and mind are being guarded daily by Jesus as he lifts everything to Jesus in prayer.

What are things that you need to lift up to God in prayer today?

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Philippians 3:20-21 (Devotional Thought)

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21 ESV)

When Paul wrote the letter to the church at Philippi, being a Roman citizen was a big deal. Rome ruled the world. Roman citizens had free reign to travel the empire and had a special status. If a Roman citizen were accused of a crime, they had a right to a trial before Cesar if they wanted one (not everyone was lucky enough to even get a trial back then). The church at Philippi probably had a firm grasp on the perks of being a Roman citizen because their city was built as a Roman outpost. It was “Rome away from Rome.”

The Apostle Paul was a Roman citizen. It’s what ultimately allowed him to have a trial before Cesar. Yet, even as he is waiting for a trial that his citizenship guarantees, He can’t help think about a more important citizenship. He is a citizen of Heaven! He has a different king than Cesar, Jesus is his king!

Let’s pause for a moment because we don’t live in a country with a king. Continue reading “Philippians 3:20-21 (Devotional Thought)”

Philippians 3:17-19 (Devotional Thought)

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:17-19 ESV)

When my wife and I were engaged and we knew we had about a year before we were going to get married we started making a list of couples we wanted to have dinner with and get to know. We picked a variety of couples to intentionally have influence in our lives. There was something in each couples marriage that we admired and wanted to have in our own marriage.

We also knew that the best way to learn from these couple was to be close to them, see them interact and even mimic what they did until it stuck in our own marriage. In essence, we realized that some things are better caught, than taught. Continue reading “Philippians 3:17-19 (Devotional Thought)”

Philippians 1:22-26 (Devotional Thought)

If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:22-26 ESV)

The Apostle Paul is in pain. He’s been beaten, shipwrecked, left for dead, and mistreated by people like the jailer in Philippi more than once. For Paul, death means that he’ll get to see Jesus face to face in a good way, and to keep on living means that someone else will punch him, hurt him, and make him suffer. He has a preference. He’d rather be with Jesus.

But you don’t become an Apostle by putting your needs, your wants, your desires at the head of the line. Paul has to ask himself a serious question: What is better for the church? What is better for those people who have heard the gospel and believed because of his testimony? What is better for them?

This is what maturity looks like: It’s when you put the needs of others ahead of your own. I experienced it when I got married. I experienced it when I had children and I’ve experienced it as a leader in the local church. This is how the gospel transforms your life. You no longer live as if you are the most important thing in the universe. You live around the reality that Jesus is the most important thing in the universe and you do your best to bring other people into a right relationship with Him.

I’m a pastor and so I often hear people say things like “I’m not getting fed at my church” or in youth ministry someone younger will say that they feel like they belong with the more “mature” group. This kind of thinking isn’t mature. It’s actually babyish. Sorry to be blunt but adults don’t cry to get fed, babies do. Real maturity is looking out for the needs of those around you not abandoning people because you found a group that meets your intellectual needs. When you shift towards putting what you think your needs are at the center of everything, you’ve lost sight of what’s really important.

One of the dangers of immaturity is that we can think we know what’s best, when we really don’t. One time my son had a pair of scissors he had gotten off the table and he went crazy opening and closing them. I immediately told him to give me the scissors. He insisted that he knew what he was doing and before I could stop him he ended up cutting himself under the eye. His immaturity gave him confidence to do something that ultimately was not good for him.

Sometimes what WE need most is to put the needs of others ahead of our own and in doing so we fulfill God’s plan for US and we are used by God to minister to others.

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Philippians 1:18-21 (Devotional Thought)

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:18b-21 ESV)

When I was in the 5th grade my class used to take field trips to the local university swimming pool. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that it had a high dive. By high dive I’m not talking about the big diving board at your neighborhood pool, I’m talking about an Olympic size diving platform!

I was thrilled… then I was terrified. I didn’t get scared until I climbed all the way up to the top and stood out looking over the edge. Somehow the pool got a lot smaller. It wasn’t until one of the older students walked out to the edge with me, told me what to expect, and jumped with me that I ever really experienced my first jump off a diving platform… Then I was hooked.

For some people facing death can be terrifying. (I’m sure it’s a lot more scary than a kid looking down at a pool for the first time.) Unlike my dive platform experience… There is no one who has been there before to walk you through it… Or is there?

Paul is in chains and one of the very real outcomes of his situation is death. Yet somehow he finds a way to rejoice. He rejoices because he knows that he doesn’t walk through this dark valley alone. The church at Philippi is praying for him and of course he has the spirit of Jesus. Paul can’t help but know that Jesus has never left him. He remembers that first day when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Jesus said, “Saul why do you persecute me?” He learned very quickly that Jesus is very much present with his people. Now that Paul belongs to Jesus, Jesus is present with him and Jesus will see him through this to the end.

This gives Paul hope and courage. He knows that God is not far away but He is right there with him. He can be bold because He’s not alone. He can be brave because Jesus has faced worse and will be with Paul no matter what happens. Paul doesn’t know what will happen, but God does and he can rest in that.

Paul has been on both sides of the coin. It’s ironic that we first hear about him when he is going around Jerusalem looking to throw Christian men and women into prison and now we catch a glimpse of him writing from prison accused of the very same crimes he accused those early believers. The persecutor has become the persecuted.

Pray that you will not be ashamed of Jesus today, and that you will have courage and confidence to tell others about him!

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