Generosity at its Best = Servants of Jesus cared for and loved!

As I have reached the end of the book of Philippians, I have been encouraged each time I have written by the JOY that Paul conveys in this short letter. Our last portion is Philippians 4:14-23. Paul applauds the Philippians for their unending support for him spiritually and financially. He praises their generosity towards him even when others have forgotten. It truly made him feel loved and cared for.

14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. 15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen. 21 Give my greetings to each of God’s holy people—all who belong to Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send you their greetings. 22 And all the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household.23 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

As I read this closing portion of Paul’s letter, I was reminded that this month, October, is Pastor Appreciation month. These words and their stated generosity that is over and above that which others had done spoke to me. I asked myself, what have I done, how have I shown my appreciation to God’s servants at my church? Would they consider my generosity and loving care a love that goes over and above?

For their generosity and loving care, Paul pronounced a blessing promise on these believers and all of us in verse 19. “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Paul knew the one who took care of him and was sovereign over all his needs. God had placed those believers there in Philippi to take care of His servant Paul. We can know that same assurance of His care and love though our faith in Jesus. Don’t we need to do our part in taking care of the servants He has placed in our midst?

Consider this and count it as JOY that God has blessed you by giving you faithful servants in your life that love Jesus and love and care about you. How will you express your generosity this month towards those who serve you faithfully in the name of Jesus?

Linda

Joy in Christ brings Contentment!

The subject of today’s blog is one that is so relevant to 2020. How do you find contentment with all the upheaval of 2020- amidst Covid-19 raging throughout the world, devastating storms, hurricanes, flooding, fires and political turmoil reflecting hatred and animosity within our society? In Philippians 4:10-13, Paul says he has been in all types of situations and has found contentment only in Jesus. What about you? Paul begins this passage by consoling his Philippian friends who had been unable to send money to meet his needs. He says it is okay as God has this.

10 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. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 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. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

What had Paul learned about contentment? CHRIST is the source of his contentment and strength. He had found that Christ was his all in all. He knew that Christ’s grace was sufficient in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ” “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” He knew about abiding in Christ in John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” He knew about the indwelling Holy Spirit in Ephesians 3:16-17 “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,”. He knew about the glorious might of Jesus in Colossians 1:11 “being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;” What about you? Do you know, like Paul, of Christ’s sustaining and fulfilling power? Take a step back today and look at your world, problems and circumstances. With the grace, abiding, indwelling power of the glorious might of Jesus, can’t you get through anything? He promises His power and grace are sufficient!

Take Joy in being content in Christ today.

Linda

Joy in thinking about…

As Paul nears the end of his letter to the Philippians, he wants them to remember what they learned from him and his teachings, but he also desires them to refocus. He talked about rejoicing always, vs4, responding with gentleness, vs5, letting go their worries and stress, vs6, praying with a thankful heart, vs 6, and accept God’s peace that will guard their hearts, vs7. In today’s verses Philippians 4:8-9 Paul focuses on their need to conquer their minds. He knows Satan will try to use their minds to tempt them, to pervert their thinking and lead them away from God. Satan uses the same tricks and lies with us today. Here is God’s solution, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

So many books have been written about the mind and the battles we face therein, but I thought I’d look at each of the words Paul uses to see if we can glean additional insight into what he is suggesting to us. Paul lists things that are worthy of our thoughts and he first lists what ever is true. John 8:31-32, 36 “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Thinking and mediating on the truth of Jesus and His saving work in the cross gives freedom to the mind and soul!

Whatever is honorable is found in Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” If we store good things in our heart, then we will have a storehouse to rely upon when our minds seem to wander.

Whatever is just. There are many reference to just and justice in scripture. Deuteronomy 32:4 gives us something to think about in reference to just, “God alone is our focus. “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong,  upright and just is he.” Thinking about God and His work will help us to think about what is just.

Whatever is pure. Scripture has many references to pure in the context of pure gold, pure wool, etc. These describe things that are fully what they are suppose to be without impurities. The references that focused on pure thinking that resonated most with me were: Psalm 119:8 “the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of are Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;” God’s Word is pure and can be a focus to keep our minds on track. Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” I know God can and will renew me when I trust by faith in Jesus. He creates in me a pure heart. This gives me joy and assurance of His love for me.

Whatever is lovely. Read these words from Psalm 84– truly something lovely to think about. “How lovely is your dwelling place,  Lord Almighty! Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.”

Whatever is commendable. Peter speaks of commendable acts that would be worthy of thought. 1 Peter 2:19-20 “ For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. Those who suffer or endure injustice are worthy of our thoughts and prayers.

Whatever is excellent. Titus 3:4-8 speaks of the most excellent thing we can think about – Jesus and what He has done for us. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Whatever is worthy of praise1 Chronicles 16:25 sums this up perfectly. “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;  he is to be feared above all gods.”

I pray these verses have given you new, different and encouraging things to think about. Rejoice and may your joy be found in the Lord and may He direct your thoughts today.

Linda

P.S. This post was longer than I usually write but covering each word revealed a positive avenue for my thinking that I had not considered before. Thank you for indulging me by reading all the way to the end. Blessings to you.

God’s got this, claim His JOY!

The passage in Philippians for today is one of my very favorite. I get comfort, assurance and hope from these words given by Paul. However, he leads into this great passage with a problem. Several of the women in the church were causing problems because of their disagreements. Paul calls them to be unified and of one accord. He knows them, knows they are all believers and wants them to recognize the potential danger of their disagreements to the body of Christ. We all need to heed his words and examine our hearts lest we fall into the same trap that Satan uses to divide the body. Philippians 4:2-3 “Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.”

Paul exhorts them to put all disagreements aside and focus on what is important in their spiritual life. Philippians 4:4-6 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” What great advice Paul gives to those arguing women, to the whole church there in Phillipi and to us in the 2020! Focus on what matters in your spiritual life- have JOY! Be reasonable, gentle with everyone! Remember Jesus is going to return! Don’t be overcome with worry about things, people or places- tell God what you need with a thankful heart. Wow! What perfect advice for our day. So many times we get mired down in worry about ‘things’, people- relationships or events. Paul is saying that is worthless worry. Let God know what you need, pray with a thankful heart and claim His JOY in your life. God’s got this so pray and claim His joy!

Joy– Let your joy be real and contagious!

Joy– Be joyfully gentle with everyone in your life!

Joy– Being assured that Jesus will return = JOY!

Joy– pray with thankfulness knowing He cares for you, loves you and will attend to your needs.

Words to live by then and now!

Linda

Joy with Heavenly Hope

Paul seeks to encourage the Philippian believers who are looking around them and see a world that is driven by selfish needs, greed, power, and bent on self-destruction. How does a believer survive in such a world? We can ask ourselves that same question right now! Paul’s answer is one of perspective. He tells the Philippians to think about Jesus and His kingdom with the knowledge that His heavenly kingdom will someday be their home! They can take encouragement and strength from the fact that they belong to Jesus and His kingdom and that His heavenly home is not located in the earthly places where they currently reside. We too can take heart from Paul’s words as they equally apply to us!

Philippians 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 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.” Not only are we citizens of heaven but we can be assured that Jesus will return someday to transform us. We know this is possible because He has resurrection power and is able to bring all things under His control, i.e. He is the Sovereign Savior.

This message of Jesus’ return, His power to transform us and bring us to heaven is found other places in scripture, too. 1 Corinthians 15:52-53 speaks of Jesus’ return “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.” 1 John 3:2 tells us that we will be like Jesus when He returns. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” I love the picture Paul gives us in 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 about our heavenly bodies “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,”

The thoughts of Jesus’ return, a body that will not experience pain or despair, hardship or doubt brings hope to any who are suffering. Jesus will return and take us to heaven to live with Him. Whether we die first or meet Him in the air, we will go to heaven and be transformed by Him.  These are word filled with Hope.

JOY! Because we know: Jesus will return.

Jesus will transform us both inside and out.

Jesus has a home for us in heaven.

All Believers are citizens of heaven.

Let your Joy be complete in Jesus!

Linda

Pressing onward with JOY!

Have you examined lately what causes you to move forward? What motivates you? According to Paul in Philippians 3:12-16 his motivation comes from what Christ did for him and his desire to live up to what God expects of him in Christ. I like the insights the Amplified text brings to this portion of scripture: 12 Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. 13 I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. 15 So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that.”

 

This is a very familiar portion of scripture as it reveals Paul’s heart and desire to always press onward for Christ. Paul realizes that our world and all of its pressures can and do distract us from our work for Christ. He encourages us to press onward, upward and forward in our lives leaving the worldly distractions behind and claiming, proclaiming and grabbing hold of what Christ has for us in life. What Christ has for us is far greater than anything we could attain ourselves in this life. Christ has give it to us already so we need to walk and live by His ways.

Why joy in this? I see joy in the fact that Jesus provided a way, a plan, a pattern for following Him in His Word.

I see joy in knowing the things Christ can and will provide are greater than worldly acquisitions or achievements.

I see joy in following Him knowing I already have it all in Christ and simply need to grab hold of it and walk with Him each day.

Have a blessed day walking with Him.

Linda

 

What #hashtags of joy do you have today?

How do you view your life’s accomplishments?  The Apostle Paul was an elite, famous, learned man in his day and yet he said all the accomplishments in the world amounted to ‘garbage’ when compared to what he had in Christ.  In Philippians 3:7-11, Paul explains his point of view and wants us to view life through the lens of Christ.

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.  For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!”

Paul’s listed benefits:  

  • Knowing Christ as his Lord and Savior (8)
  • Being one with Him (9)
  • Being righteous through faith in Christ and not by his own efforts (9)
  • Being ready to suffer with Christ (10)
  • Being assured in resurrection with Christ (11)

Just like Paul, every Christian can claim these same promises and rejoice in Christ each day.  I revel  with JOY in the knowledge that I can get to know Christ through His Word and the teaching of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  I can depend upon Christ’s righteousness imputed to me by faith.  I can experience His resurrection power in my life and be assured I will be with Him one day in heaven.   #joy #joyfilledlife #joyinJesus #JesusbringsJoy

Pray these will be your hashtags today!

Linda

Rejoicing in the Lord is the BEST ever!

Paul has hit the rewind button in Philippians 3:1-7. He wants us to keep in mind the joy we have in the Lord! He wants us to rejoice and revel in the thoughts we have because of Christ and the state of being we have in Christ. Does that describe you and you thoughts today? Are you rejoicing in spite of opposition or hard circumstances? Paul wanted the Philippian Christians rejoicing in their faith and not putting obligations on each other or placing value/trust in their worldly achievements. Paul recalls his own worldly accomplishments and knows that he could boast but he reminds them that even all those things pale in comparison to what he has in Christ, that he says is cause for rejoicing in the Lord.

Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith. Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.

Paul concludes in verse 7 with his own realization that all our worldly ‘things’ and accomplishments are worthless when compared to what we have in Christ. Nothing compares to life with Him now and in the future, our heavenly home, our salvation, our redemption from eternal punishment for our sins, our growing and changing character that reflects God’s indwelling Holy Spirit….. These are priceless treasures we possess in Christ and are reasons to rejoice in the Lord!

Have a blessed day- rejoicing and giving thanks for what Christ has done and will do within you.

Linda

Dreams Bring Joy-filled Thoughts

Today the wild fires in California are burning brightly and smoke covers so much of our beautiful state. Where is joy? The passage in Philippians that I had for reflection today seems odd- how does it relate to me and my world? In this passage in Philippians 2:19-30 (entire text at the bottom) Paul makes the letter personal. He is sending notes to the Philippians about his ‘family’. Specifically Paul mentions Timothy his proven, genuine, caring son in the faith. He also says he desires to see them soon if his situation changes in Rome and he is free to travel again. Paul also talks about Epaphroditus who would be bringing the letter to them. Paul asks them to welcome him openly and realize that he has personally suffered a great deal for the sake of the gospel. Paul had plans for himself (24) and for the future of the ministry. He was looking forward to their work together in the name of Christ. Paul never doubted God had plans and knew the work of Christ would go forward!

What plans do you have for yourself and for you place in ministry? Do you dream and look forward with joy to things you can, or will do? Do you have dreams big things? I think God is calling us to trust in Him, no matter what fires are burning around us, and place our dreams at His feet. God promises us in His Word that He has good plans with purpose and they will not be thwarted.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Do you believe God has good plans and a future for you?

Job 42:2 ““I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Do you believe anything can stop God’s plans?

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Do you believe God can follow through on the plans He has established for you?

Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Do you believe the Lord’s purpose is for your good and His glory?

James 4:13-15 “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. Do you consider what God wants you to do when you make plans or do you leave Him out of the planning?

Paul’s joy was increased when he thought about his ‘family’ of faith and what plans and purposes God had for them in the future. What about you does dreaming about future events and plans in ministry bring you joy and excitement? If yes, then you are in good company and are forward looking with God, expecting joy in the future with Christ.

May your joy be multiplied today as you dream and think about what God has for you to do. Walk in faith- trusting and believing in our All Powerful God!

Linda

Philippians 2:19-30

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

Joy, Does your perspective need a ‘reboot’?

Philippians 2:14-17 presents joy in several ways.   My joy is increased: 

  • godly character leads to joy in my life because of Christ’s work in me. 
  • sharing the gospel and investing in others brings joy.
  • mutual joy is to be had for both you and me over what Christ is doing and will do in/through us both individually and as a group of believers. 

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”   Paul is continuing in these verses with the conclusions he made about our lives due to Christ’s power, sovereignty and sacrifice in Philippians 2:5-11. Ours is to be a life filled with integrity and humility as we strive to live together peacefully, in harmony, and shine as a light in the darkness for those who do no know Jesus.  The gospel we offer, sometimes at great personal sacrifice,  is a light holding promise of eternity for others.  Paul says he receives joy as he looks at their lives and his own in light of eternity and work done in Christ’s name.  He also claims joy that knowing other believers, working with them in ministry as he sees the work of Christ in his own life and in their lives.   This brings mutual joy and gives him cause for rejoicing.

What about you?  Do you rejoice in the growth you see in your own life as you strive daily to be more and more like Jesus?  Do you feel joy when you share the gospel of Christ with others or take advantage of the opportunities God provides to praise and glorify His name?  Do you have joy when you work with others in ministry for both yourself and those you are working with?   Paul says all of these circumstances should bring us joy.  I pray that you will see each of these in your own life and praise Him for the joy He brings!

Linda