10th Case Study of Philippians 4:10-13 — Learning to be Content

Some great advice from a sign in a quaint restaurant in Ireland.

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:10-13)

“New and Improved!”

“But wait! There’s more!”

We are bombarded with 1000s of advertisements throughout the day. In TV, podcasts, radio, magazines, pop-ads (how does social media know what I just shopped for on Amazon anyway?), spam emails, flyers in our mailboxes.  

Each ad is designed by people who are very good at their jobs to get us to think we are missing out.  We are in need and life won’t be complete unless we purchase ____________. 

Fear of Missing Out is real.

As we read in Paul’s letter to the Philippians he shares how to be content regardless of one’s current circumstances. As he shares from his life there were times when he dad it all and times he was in need. Regardless of his circumstances he learned to be content. He found joy in all things, at all times.

See, Paul did not fear missing out because his joy did not come from what he had in his life. His joy, and ours, come from the Lord. God promises to provide for our daily needs. We do not want for anything. We have no reason to fear. God is with us every step of the way.

We learn from Paul to check our lives to see what we want and what we truly need. Whatever life has in front of us we find joy. We do so because God is by our side. If times are difficult we have peace because God’s got it. If times are bountiful we give thanks for God’s blessings. 

As we have more contentment in our lives we see by the Holy Spirit that we can do all things in Christ. Fear fades away. Insecurity weakens. We see more clearly how and where God is working. Our strength comes from the Lord.

So the question before us today is how are we being content in our lives?

Do you check your social media seeing friends’ posts wishing you were there?

Do you watch ads wishing the item was yours?

What causes jealousy to rise up in you?

When do you feel insecure?

My prayer for each of us this week is that we find contentment every day. Whatever the day brings there is joy in it. The day may not be good but there is good in it.

This Week’s Challenge

Before going to bed each night write down a moment/experience that brought contentment. Describe why you were content.

9th Case Study of Philippians 4:8-9 — Think on These Things

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:8-9)

What’s running through your mind right now?

You know those mental tapes that play inside your head that only you can hear. The ones that shape how you see yourself.

These mental tapes can be harsh critics. Pointing out all our perceived faults. Lying to us that we are not valuable, or loved.

They can also be healthy recordings inside our heads. Being the loving encouragement of the Holy Spirit constantly reminding how dearly loved we truly are by God.

Paul tells his readers in the passage what we are to surround ourselves with so that we hear the Holy Spirit clearly. To think about the right things; to see the brighter side of faith; to seek how God is moving.

When we surround ourselves with these things we are better equipped to resist the lies of the adversary. Then there is space, a quietness, to hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. We are not distracted but rather free to be the child of God we are meant to be.

So the question posed to you is what do your mental tapes say to you? Are they lies from the enemy or are they encouragements from the Holy Spirit?

Do you “feed” your mind with healthy media? Things that teach you how you are a child of God. Friends who lovingly hold you accountable. Scripture reading so you hear directly from God.

It is these things that Paul tells his readers and ourselves today to think on. Thinking on them the mental tapes inside our heads will become healthy. When they are healthy we are more open to be used by God to expand His Kingdom.

This week I challenge each of us to begin changing the negative mental tapes to healthy ones. It will be a slow, long transition but we will get there. Keep listening to the Holy Spirit.

Let’s each begin by looking at the media we consume. Music, TV, Movies, Podcasts, Websites, Apps, Blogs/Vlogs, Youtube, Books, Magazines. 

Today sit down and make a list dividing each of the media you consume into 2 columns.  One Healthy. One Negative.  What ones need to change?  What ones are good to keep?

Follow Paul’s words and think on whatever is good, pure, right, noble, true, pure, lovely and admirable.  And see the God of peace will fill each of us with His unconditional, perfect love. 

This Week’s Challenge

Look over what you fill your mind with during the day and week.

Make the list suggested above.

Commit to exchanging 1 on the Negative side of the List with a new 1 for the Healthy side.

Note in your journal or prayers the difference you are beginning to see in this exchange.  What is God teaching in this change?

A Case Study of Philippians 4:4-7 — Rejoice!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-7)

Don’t worry there will not be a Bobby McFerrin quote in this blog post.  So you can be happy now.  Anxiety levels can go back down to Low.

Paul was emphatic about this week’s passage that he repeated it. He was ensuring his readers go the point. As followers of Jesus Christ we are to rejoice, celebrate in Jesus. We have no reason to fear or be anxious at any time. Jesus is close at hand. He is taking care of everything.

As we walk along this journey of faith there are times we can’t see around the bend. Our trust is put to the test as we forge forward without having the answers to all of our questions. Instead of being worrisome we can rejoice because God’s got this. 

Anxiety is a tricky thing. It creeps in and begins to unpack its bags before we realize it’s even there. Then we feel helpless, losing confidence in ourselves in the future.

Anxiety is a tool used by the enemy to distract us from growing in our faiths. While it appears to be all encompassing, anxiety disappears the moment God’s peace arrives on the scene. This is the reason Paul reminds his readers, and us today, to rejoice.

See, God’s peace is beyond our human minds to fully comprehend. It relieves all anxiety we may be experiencing and brings a calm that takes care of all things. God’s peace is the defense against the devil’s attacks. It protects our hearts and minds so we continue to grow in faith.

We cannot become more like Jesus if we are consumed with anxiety. Rather than being open and learning from the Holy Spirit we become closed off and scared for what “may” come. This is why Paul reminds us to rejoice. By celebrating we make room for God’s peace to boot out anxiety and dwell within us.

So what do we do to rejoice in the Lord?

First, recognize when anxiety tries to creep in. Take a breath and celebrate what God is doing right now. Don’t give anxiety a chance.

Next, focus on how the Holy Spirit is leading you today. Rejoice for the moments the Kingdom of God is expanding. Celebrate for those who are now followers of Jesus Christ.

Remain hopeful in the Lord. Our confidence does not come from our abilities. It is only by God that we have peace, not anxiety. And it is for this reason we rejoice in the Lord.

This Week’s Challenge

What gives you anxiety?  Causes you to worry?

Make a plan for what you will do the next time it tries to move in. 

How will you rejoice in the Lord today?

7th Case Study in Philippians 3:17 — Faith Mentors

“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.” (Phil. 3:17) 

Who was your favorite teacher growing up? Someone you admired, wanted to be like. What did you most admire about him/her?

Go ahead and write down what you remember or take a short stroll down memory lane. Don’t worry we’ll wait for ya. 

It is important to have someone to look up to as we grow into maturity. Our faith journeys are no different. God places in our paths people to learn from, watch how they serve and share, ask questions, journey together.

Paul encourages his readers to do this very thing in the 3rd chapter of his letter to the Philippians. He encourages them to learn from those who go before them. To learn from another’s experience.

This journey of faith has its twists and turns. It gets foggy at times where you are not able to see the step in front of you. It is wise to learn from a faith mentor to see how one keeps in step with the Holy Spirit. 

By having a mentoring relationship one has a place to ask questions and explore. Also there is someone to watch to learn how to put faith in action on a daily basis. 

Having a faith mentor also helps one stay on the right path. This world will work to tempt, to discourage, to distract us from being faith-filled servants of Jesus Christ. Knowing there is someone that has your back no matter what is a comfort when you feel attacked by the enemy.

See being a part of a faith community helps everyone grow deeper in his/her faith. We learn from one another. We hold each other accountable. We resist temptation with a united front.

A faith journey is meant to be done in community. No one should feel s/he is outside the faith community. One learns from others. We share experiences and learnings together.

The question before each of us is: 

Who are we learning from?

Who has God placed in our lives to watch and learn? Some to ask questions to process. A person to help us be accountable and resist temptation.

God has placed these people in all of our faith paths. They may be older or younger than us. They may be have a different cultural background form us. Be open to who it is and be open to learn. Regardless of who it is at this moment be receptive to how the Holy Spirit is teaching you. You don’t know what you don’t know.

This Week’s Challenge

Reflect on who is in your life that God has led you to so you can learn from him/her.

Write down 3 things you will like to learn from him/her. 

Now how will you learn those 3 things?

6th Case Study of Philippians 3:12-14 — Forge Forward

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12-14)

Life is a grand adventure. Each day has new experiences awaiting for us. It is easy to be distracted by the past. What went wrong. What could have been. How we could have done things better.

Looking forward brings excitement and hope. The “not knowing” is not anxiety ridden. It’s a fresh start, a natural reset button. That is what Paul encourage his readers on in this passage. He knows he has not finished his race yet. He forges forward towards what God how for him. Letting go of the past.

We can learn a lot from Paul. Our fears can hold us back embracing the future. We are caught up reflecting on what has happened while missing the new adventures in the present day.

See, faith is not simply cognitive assent in a belief system. It is trusting God above all things; trusting not knowing where exactly your foot will land as you take a step of faith. If we keep our turned to look backwards we will trip because we don’t see where we are going.

So, the future may be unclear from our perspective. But from God’s perspective it’s crystal clear. We embrace the day praying to have eyes to see a glimpse of what He sees. This is faith. Living out our trust in God every day. 

As we journey through life let’s forget the past and forge into the future with great joy. Anticipate the incredible adventures God already has planned for you, for me, for all of us. With confidence we know God provides for all our needs. As we are called to serve the Holy Spirit gives us the necessary resources. “Can’t” is removed from our vocabulary.  We believe in our hearts that with God anything is possible.

What are you excited for on your adventure?

What do you need to let go from the past?

What adventures does God have in store for you?

This Week’s Challenge

Take a piece of paper and write on it something that is holding you back from fully trusting God. Now put it through a paper shredder or burn it in a fire. Know it is gone for good. Pray God to forge forward with joy into the future. Write that on your bathroom mirror so you are reminded of it every day.  Enjoy the adventure!!

5th Case Study in Philippians 2:14-16 – Go, Shine Like Stars

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” (Philippians 2:14-16)

What’s a pet peeve you have? You know that one thing that for whatever reason just gets under your skin. It just irks you. When it pops up we breathe ourselves through it, not letting the anxiety get in too much control.

We stay calm during times when the walls are caving in. We do so not by our strength but by God’s strength filling us so we can stand. It is this model of faith in action that conveys a message of hope to those who are not yet believers. 

It is our actions that demonstrate to others our trust in Jesus Christ. If we bicker with one another what message does that convey? If we encourage one another during disagreements what message does that convey?

See our actions do speak louder than words.  People see how we react to stressful situations. They know we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit so they want to see the difference. If we act the same way then why would one on the verge of faith surround to Jesus Christ? Even when a pet peeve arises how we conduct ourselves through it conveys the Gospel. 

Paul tells his readers to “shine like stars” so people see the difference following Jesus makes in a person’s life. Paul knows he did not “labor in vain” when he was with them. He sees how the seeds of faith were planted and nurtured by the Holy Spirit.

In our own lives we need to assess where we are at in our transformation. When troubles arise do we face them with a calm, at peace perspective? Does anger arise when we are frustrated?

A ReSolved disciple knows difficult times will come. S/he looks to Jesus for a calm spirit to endure. It is not by our might that we persevere through adversity. A ReSolved disciple prays to be transparent so when others see him/her they see Jesus Christ.

So as we go out to serve we keep in the forefront of our minds who are we saying Jesus Christ is with our actions. We are His Brand Ambassadors here on Earth. Are we loving as He loved? Do we serve others as He served?

This week let us take the time to clarify the message Jesus will have for us to share. Listen to the Holy Spirit to hear how God is leading us. Have no fear, God will calm your heart so you can shine like stars.

This Week’s Challenge

List 5 ways you can live out the message God will have you share.  At the end of each day reflect on how you lived them out that day.

4th Case Study in Philippians 2:5-11 – Having the Same Mindset of Jesus

“In your relationships with one another,

have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God

something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him

to the highest place and gave him the name

that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bow, in heaven

and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.”

(Philippians 2:5-11)

Pride is a sneaky thing. It gives us confidence over our insecurities. It also lies to us falsely getting us to believe we do not need anyone’s help.

We are taught pride is a strong asset to have in one’s personality. While it is not inherently negative it does require healthy boundaries. Pride can take over before we realize it.

We learn from Jesus how to be secure in one’s self and pursue humility. The text above gives us examples of how to serve one another humbly, not for our glory but for God’s alone.

Jesus became human, susceptible to sin but was without sin. He did so because He loves us and willingly died and rose from the grave so that we may spend eternity with Him in Heaven. He humbly served and was obedient to the Father in Heaven.

His selfless act teaches us to put others first and serve them wholeheartedly. He gave up Heaven for you, for me, for every man, woman and child. We follow in His footsteps by loving the person in front of us and serve him/her as the Holy Spirit guides.

We do so pursuing humility. We are fallen people prone to sin. We will not be perfect like Jesus. But we can continue to grow and become more like Him. There is so much we don’t know; so much we will learn. We pursue humility as we serve others. We pursue humility to not become prideful.

Being humble looks like putting another’s need ahead of our own wants.

Being humble is not putting ourselves down but thinking about ourselves less.

Being humble is following the Holy Spirit not for our glory but for God’s alone.

We can seek to have the same mindset as Jesus. Each day we can pray to have God’s Will be done. To see others as God sees them, dearly loved. To serve without need for recognition.

We will be out of our comfort zone, stretched by the Holy Spirit as we are being transformed to be more like Jesus. God will call us to love those we disagree with philosophically. For those times we struggle to love let us pray for eyes to see as God sees, to love as God loves. As we do we will have the same mindset of Jesus Christ.

This Week’s Challenge

As you go about your week seek someone who has a different lifestyle or worldview from you or is knowledgeable in an area you or not. Spend intentional time with one another learn from one another. Discover what you didn’t know what you didn’t know.

3rd Case Study in Philippians 1:27-28a – ReSolved to Strive Together

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” (Phil. 1:27-28a)

Ever met an avid sports fan? No matter what s/he will watch their team’s games, whether in person or on a device. Win or lose they continue to cheer their team on. Nothing deters their devotion to their team. They are proud of their team. They are loyal to the end.

When we become disciples (followers) of Jesus Christ we become members of His team. Our loyalty to Him is greater than a sports’ fan to their team. We are united with other disciples as we all work together in God’s Kingdom.

As human beings we are created for community. We are not lone wolves. We share our lives with one another to love one another, to serve with one another, to grow together towards Jesus Christ. As we strive together we present a united message to the world of God’s unconditional love for each one of us.

We stand united working together as one unit sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. We stand firm resisting all opposition. In how we resist opposition will serve as a witness to Jesus Christ.  Returning evil with God’s love demonstrates how we are different from the world. 

We are God’s representatives, “brand ambassadors” so to speak, here on Earth. How we act, what we speak reflects God to others. So what do our actions say about Him?

Do we show grace to those who hurt us as God shows us grace when we sin?

Do we remain united as a faith community despite our differences to show how all are welcomed as they are?

Do we share others without expectation so that the Holy Spirit works through us to advance the Kingdom of God?

We stand firm as disciples of Jesus Christ striving for humility and being transparent so others see Jesus as they see us. We remain united as one body seeing our differences as blessings. 

May we go out today as loyal, faith-filled, obedient brand ambassadors for Jesus Christ today!

This Week’s Challenge 

What is one thing you want someone on the verge of faith to know about Jesus Christ?

What will you do this week to share that message with someone?

A Case Study in Philippians 1:18-26 – Celebrate When the Gospel is Preached

“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. 

 Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” 

(Philippians 1:18-26)

When Paul wrote this letter to the disciples in the city of Philippi he was in prison.  His future was unknown.  His living conditions were not exactly optimal for good health.  It would not be surprising to hear him be discouraged and wish for it all to end.

Instead, Paul shares with them his joy in serving the in the name of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While he may desire to go to heaven he understood God wanted him to remain so he can continue sharing the Gospel to everyone he met.

Paul held the Gospel in high esteem. It was the most important thing to him. Verse 18 of this passage he celebrate whenever the Gospel is preached.  He knew when the Gospel was shared the Holy Spirit worked in the hearts of people.  Even if a person had false motives, or preached for selfish gains, the Gospel was more powerful so it would still reach those who needed to hear it.

What we learn from Paul is to rejoice whenever we hear the Gospel being shared. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote, 

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire 

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” 

(Isaiah 55:11)

We know the Word of God (aka the Gospel) will reach each person who needs to hear it. We can rejoice with Paul each time we Gospel because we know the Holy Spirit is at work in those on the verge of faith.

It can be tempting to judge one’s motives in preaching the Gospel.  Instead of judgment, let’s stop and pray for the Holy Spirit to do its work. We can pray for those hearing the Gospel so their hearts are open to receive it and be transformed by it.

While Paul may want to return home to Heaven he served with joy knowing God was still using him reach those who are not yet believers.  Paul might be in prison but he was still free to serve and share Jesus Christ with everyone.

As we go about our days let us look for opportunities to share the Gospel and then in joy pray for the Holy Spirit to plant the seeds of faith in the hearts of those not yet believers of Jesus Christ. 

We may not be in a physical prison but there are obstacles we must overcome in order to share the Gospel. Be it fear of rejection. A sense of inadequacy to share. A desire to simply fit in. Whatever it is there is some thing that holds us back. But we have no need to fear.

If we worry about not having the words to say learn from Moses (Exodus 3-4). God called him to lead the Israelites and promised to give him the words to say to Pharaoh, the most powerful man on Earth.

If we fear rejection look to Daniel (Daniel 6). Daniel stood resolved with God and was thrown in the lions’ den to certain death. God protected him and by witnessing Daniel’s faithfulness people were saved that day.

Have anxiety about not being good enough look to Jesus’ own 12 Disciples.  They were rejected by all of the rabbis to be their students.  Jesus came to them and invited them to be His closest students.

Have no fear.  Be bold. Share with someone why you love Jesus.  Let the Holy Spirit work in their heart. Then rejoice with Paul that the Gospel is being preached to those who need to hear it.

This Week’s Challenge 

Each time you see or hear the Gospel being shared stop and pray for the Holy Spirit to accomplish what God has for His Word to do.  Then rejoice with Paul that the Gospel is being preached.