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Posts tagged ‘Epistle to the Philippians’

Looking for a Fresh New Start?.


Are you looking for change, a fresh new start? Isn’t it wonderful to know as you begin this New Year that you have God‘s Spirit with you, His Spirit carrying you, leading you, and guiding you? Do you realize that this New Year can be a year in which you can serve God with a fresh new excitement? As you’re walking with Him and being obedient to Him, you will feel the sense of His pleasure in your life.

Pleasure doesn’t come in the pursuit of happiness, but in the pursuit of holiness. Far too many miss God’s divine plan for their lives as they’re bent on pursuing all the things in this world, hoping to find some sense of joy.

As you set new goals, new priorities for the days ahead, check out where God is in your plans, in your decision-making. What’s on your calendar for today, this week, this month, this year that will make any difference for the Kingdom?

Oh, Beloved, wouldn’t you like to know that at the end of your life…not to mention the end of this day, the end of this year…you could declare, as the apostle Paul did, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7)?

Wouldn’t you like to be assured that you could experience all the difficult situations Paul faced and say in total sincerity and truth, without one drop of egotism, Follow me, be an imitator of me, even as I am of Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17)? Can you imagine having such confidence?

How can you stand with such confidence as Paul did when you’re wrestling today with all the uncertainties of life, all the struggles, all the challenges that seem to keep coming your way? My friend, no matter what changes are occurring with your job, in your family, in our nation, there is only one stabilizing factor upon which you can rest: your God. He is the immovable Rock. You can hide in Him.

One thing will always remain: God. And because He is immutable-unchanging-He will always be the same, and He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He is always there with arms opened wide, your everlasting Father God. With this New Year, cling to the fact that He will never change.

Are you troubled, is fear lurking in the shadows of your consciousness? Do you feel insecure about anything at all? Run to your protector, the One who stands waiting for you to come bury yourself in the security of all He is.

Remember, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10). In this New Year, where will you run? Will it be to food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, another man? When the hounds of trouble, worry, and fear pursue you; when the dogs of temptation, corruption, and evil seek to overtake you; when your energy is spent; when weakness saps you; when you feel you cannot run any longer, where do you turn? Who is your refuge?

If you desire a fresh new start, determine He will be the One you will run to. Run to Him and bury yourself in the security of all He is.

The goal of Paul’s life was “that I may know Him” (Philippians 3:10). What goals do you have this year? Do you make New Year’s resolutions but never keep them? I pray the goal of your life will be as Paul’s that “you know Him.”

What’s going to keep you from knowing Christ? What’s keeping you from going deeper in His Word? There’s so much to learn in the Word of God, and yet we want all these frivolous other things around us, instead of paying the price to spend time studying the Bible.

What is it that keeps you from paying the price? Is it the love of things? Is it the demand of things? Start keeping a running log for the next few days and look at how much time you’re spending in the Word of God. I’m not talking about reading and having your three minutes a day. But I’m talking about getting to know the Word of God, studying it precept upon precept; Truth upon Truth.

Start today, keep a log and record your study time. Keep a pad beside your bed or keep it by a chair or wherever you’re going to study. Write down how much time you’ve spent each day for a week and then check yourself and add up that time. Then add up the number of hours in the day and subtract how many hours you need to sleep. And then look at the hours that you have left. What portion of your day do you give to the Lord?

What portion of your time does He have? How much television are you watching? How much time to sports are you devoting? What are you doing with your time? Stop and evaluate it, because someday, Beloved, you’re going to give an account to the One that said we are to redeem the time.

We’re not to let things control our life; rather we are to control the things in our life. We must redeem the time.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

O Beloved, get on your knees this week, start this New Year right. Ask God to show you what you need to change to spend more time with Him. He has given you a fresh new start!

Kay Arthur
Host, Precepts For Life
Co-CEO, Precept Ministries International

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Releasing expectations…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” 
Philippians 4:6

Linking expectations with faith gives us less-than-fully-matured perspectives of what faith really is. When we equate faith with our expected or desired outcomes, we’re not trusting in God’s greater plan and purpose.

The greater number of expectations we have, the less happy we will be for three reasons:

1. Expectations diminish happiness when our expectations are met (especially if we see the outcomes as our own doing and not as God’s special blessings).

2. Expectations diminish happiness when they are unmet (especially if we question the wisdom of God because he did not do what we asked).

3. Expectations always diminish gratitude.

Everyone has expectations in life. Everybody does. We have lots of them. Nevertheless, trust me – the smaller the amount of expectations we have, the happier each one of us will be.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being the only one with a perfect plan for my life. Help me to move forward, always seeking your direction, and at all times grateful for every blessing I encounter along the way. Amen.

Reflection: When has an unfulfilled expectation disappointed or devastated you? When have you, instead, waited on God to meet your need in his own way?

The Nine Guys Who Missed Thanksgiving (1 of 4).


Series: The Optimism Factor
Pastor Chris Brown
Luke 17:11-19

A QUESTION AND AN OBSERVATION:
Luke 17:11-14

– What does it take to get you to use your “Master” Card?
Luke 17:13

– Obedience always precedes God‘s blessings.
Luke 17:14

GRATITUDE: IT’S WAY MORE THAN AN ATTITUDE!

1. It’s a decision and an action.

Luke 17:15, Philippians 4:4-7, Colossians 3:17

2. It’s an act of humility.
Luke 17:16, Deuteronomy 8:11-17

3. It draws us closer to God.
Luke 17:12 and 16, Psalm 100:4, James 4:7-10, Romans 1:21

4. It’s God’s will.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, Ephesians 5:19

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE:

TAKING IT HOME
1. We’ve all found ourselves at some point falling into the trap of not showing gratitude just as the nine lepers did. Which of the following gratitude roadblocks could most likely become a barrier for you?
– Not realizing all I have been given
– Taking for grant …

How to Conquer Discouragement.


Felicia Alvarez

“I have a tough life,” my five-year-old cousin said.

“Really? Why is that?” I asked.

Folding his arms, he looked up at me with his big blue eyes as he rattled off his complaints. “Well, I get spankings, I get time out, and I have to clean my room!”

I couldn’t help bursting out in laughter. In return, he just looked at me quizzically as if silently asking, “Why are you laughing? I’m serious!”

After regaining my composure, I shook my head and said, “I don’t think that’s too terrible, buddy. I think you’re gonna be okay.”

Later that day my cousin’s complaint made me wonder: How often does God smile down at usand say, “Everything is going to be all right, my child”?

In our fallen world, we’re constantly bombarded with situations that tempt us to complain about how tough our lives are. Sometimes our troubles are miniscule (like traffic or a cranky boss), but other times they are genuinely difficult and can be quite discouraging (like an abusive spouse or a dying loved one). Our worries can weigh us down and cloud our perspective, causing us to forget:

  • that, since we are citizens of heaven, our problems on earth are only for a season (Philippians 3:20).
  • that God works out everything—even tough situations—for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
  • that we can trust God with our lives (Psalm 55:22).

When trouble hits, we tend to see only challenges. So, how can we get a fresh perspective on life when discouragement is weighing us down?

Here are a few things that have helped me:

1) Determine if the cause of discouragement is worth being discouraged about. First, I ask myself: Am I upset about something important or something trivial? Often a long line at the supermarket or a rude stranger can put a damper on the entire day. But are those worth being upset about?

2) Determine if the loss is imagined or real. Frequently I’m only upset because of my own “what if…” thoughts: What if she thinks this? What if they do that? What if I don’t do well? What if they don’t like it? 

When “what ifs” or imagined thoughts weigh you down, ask God to help you take those thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Choose instead to dwell on “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” (Philippians 4:8).

3) Talk to the right people about the problem. In 1 Samuel we find the story of Hannah, a woman deeply grieved because she was unable to have children. In her sorrow, Hannah cried out to the Lord for comfort. She went to the temple year after year to pray, and the Lord heard her prayers and opened her womb. Her story is an excellent reminder that we should, first of all, talk to God about our sorrows. “Cast all your anxieties upon Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

We can also dialog with encouraging Christians who will speak God’s truth into our lives. However, we need to be careful when selecting these confidants. Discussing the matter with those unable to provide wise advice doesn’t help us. It may even deepen our discouragement or spread it to others.

4) Dive into the Word. God’s truth is the best defense against Satan’s schemes. Several years ago I had two stress fractures which kept me from being active. It put my hobbies—and career—on the line. Needless to say, I was very discouraged. But during that time I dove into the Bible and, in the depths of my sadness, He spoke to me in deeper ways than I had ever experienced. The trial didn’t disappear, but God’s Scriptures lifted me out of the valley of discouragement. It empowered me to endure the trial with contentment and peace instead of depression and bitterness. Sometimes our lows in life are what bring us closest to God. Don’t miss the opportunity by pushing away from God; run to the open pages of the Word!

5) Pour into others. I once heard someone say that it’s better to live life giving away than pulling away. Giving to those in need reminds us of what we have to be thankful for. So, visit a lonely person. Help an elderly neighbor with their yard work. Write a letter to someone who needs cheering up. Are there children at your church that need a mentor? Take the opportunity to disciple them and point them to the Lord. The more you serve, the more you’ll find that your perspective change from gloominess to thankfulness.

6) Rest in the Lord. Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” During an extremely difficult situation in the life of Christian author and pastor, Andrew Murray, he eloquently penned:

“First, He brought me here; it is by His will I am in this strait place: in that fact I will rest.
Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child.
Then, he will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.
Last, in His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows.

Let me say I am here,

1) by God’s appointment
2) in His keeping
3) under His training
4) for His time” 

No matter what your trial, God will see you through it. “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

Felicia Alvarez lives in Southern California and loves avocados, sunshine, and serving her Savior. Currently, she teaches dance to over one hundred students and is working on her second book. Connect with Felicia on her blog or Facebook—she would love to hear from you.

Publication date: October 22, 2013

Now Departing .


The time of my departure is at hand.
2 Timothy 4:6

Recommended Reading
Philippians 1:19-26 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians%201:19-26&version=NKJV )

A woman in Gothenburg, Sweden, was shocked when she opened her local newspaper and read her own obituary. The column began, “Our dear daughter, sister and friend has left us today in sorrow.” There followed details of her life and passing. The woman was understandably upset and knew she had to call her mother to warn her of the mistake, but she was crying too hard to make the call. Officials have yet to determine who played the cruel joke.

Listen to Today‘s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

One day we’ll all be reading our own obituaries in the newspaper. At least, others will be reading them. Death is a 100 percent certainty for mankind. But the Bible uses the word “depart” instead of “dying” for Christians going to heaven. Paul had a desire to “depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23).

We try hard to avoid thinking about death, but going to heaven is our greatest hope. If we meditated more on this, perhaps we’d inspire others to look to God for the eternal answers only He can provide.

He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave.
Matthew Henry

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Luke 5-6

By David Jeremiah.

Do You Really Want God’s Will or Your Own?.


Do You Really Want God's Will or Your Own?

Not long ago, a friend of mine made a major decision that eventually led to the breakup of his family. I spoke with the friend about the wrong thinking that was controlling his actions. His reply was the common Christian retort: “Well, I’ve prayed, and I have peace about it.”

I was shocked by his response. I could not see how a mature believer could claim, that as an answer to prayers for wisdom needed in a tough situation, the Lord had supplied “peace” toward a course of action that was in contradiction to the Scriptures.

The Lord intends for believers to enjoy peace in many areas. Christ, through his death and resurrection, removes God’s enmity with us—we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). In Christ, the Lord destroyed barriers that limited fellowship between Jew and Gentiles—he provided peace—making believers of every race “one new man” in Christ (Eph. 2:14-15). Christ desires believers to minimize conflicts within a local assembly, sharing in one mind about the ministry—working together in peace (Phil. 4:2).

Also, our Lord offers to provide supernatural relief from anxieties to those who seek him in prayer: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7). But this promise is often wrongly used as a way to feel a sense of “peace” about what one has determined for himself to be the will of God.

Is it just me, or is it rare to meet believers who claim to have peace about decisions that would lead to enduring pain? Even fewer people seem to have peace about serving a poorly resourced ministry, or sharing one’s faith boldly at risk of social ostracism. I have served young adults who claimed “peace” about moving in with their parents when they are experiencing financial hardship. However, they do not have peace about getting a better job to offset the family’s budget expansion created by their return.

It would be a precious thing to meet the church leader, who, when asked to step down from leading, will return and say, “I have prayed, and I have peace about it. If someone else would be a better leader, then I will step down.” Instead, many tend to appeal to having peace about stepping down only when ministry hits a rough spot, and when leaving will insert a harmful discontinuity to the church. Could it be that the “peace” we claim from on the basis of Philippians 4:7 is merely us settling on the desires that are most agreeable with us?

We impose the notion of “God’s peace” on these desires (even when they contradict Scripture) because they will lead to the absence of pain. God’s will, in contrast, tends to involve harder paths that demand suffering and endurance.

I once asked a married couple to consider serving in the ministry to children. Within two days they returned to me with the “we-prayed-we-have-peace” mantra. When I explored their reasoning, they could not explain how they came to have such peace. They had the time, gifts, and abilities to serve. Ministry to the children, however, involved great sacrifice and yielded little prestige. Sadly, when asked by another person to serve in a position of church governance, this couple had peace, noting, “God would want us to lead others.” Aren’t children “others?”

Pastorally, allow me to recommend three ways to avoid confusion between our own desired outcomes and the will of God:

First, we should run our thoughts past the spiritual leaders responsible for our souls (cf. 1 Thess. 5:12Heb. 13:17). Those who are faithful in their stewardship of shepherding are able to bring a perspective we have not considered because the thought of pain hinders us. Godly shepherds, elders, teachers, and parents have a responsibility to speak into our lives everything that is right.

Second, related to the first, we should seek out the voices of mature friends rather than either of the voices of immature friends or unbelievers whose lives seem to be fairing better than ours. When a marriage struggles with intimacy, it is easy to envy the friend who left his marriage and appears to be happy in an adulterous relationship. This type of friend cannot be a measure for determining the will of God, because he is living in sin. Rather, the Christian friend enduring a less-than-perfect-marriage with joy is the one you should seek. We should go to such friends and share the depth of our suffering so that they can walk with us through our trials.

Third, remind yourself that whenever we are in pain, we want to be free from pain, and that desire affects how we “hear” the voice of God. Some of the essential things needed for the free-from-anxiety-peace of Philippians 4:7 are truthfulness, and the abilities to both commend the decision to others and offer praise to the Lord for the decision: “Whatever is true… whatever is commendable… if there is anything worthy of praise… and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:8-9). If we do not hold our decisions to these standards, we are not being honest about having peace.

Our Lord Jesus, with a full understanding of the wrath facing him at the Cross, came to a settled decision in prayer: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Mt. 26:42). By embracing suffering rather than letting it be the missing piece in determining God’s will, he was able to provide us the peace we need to endure our trials as the will of God.

Eric C. Redmond

Eric C. Redmond is Executive Pastoral Assistant and Bible Professor in Residence at New Canaan Baptist Church in Washington, DC. He blogs at “A Man from Issachar.” You can follow him on Twitter @ericcredmond.

Reach Out by Prayer.


For God is my witness … that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.
Romans 1:9-10

Recommended Reading
Philippians 1:3-6 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians%201:3-6&version=NKJV )

Winston and Clementine: The Personal Letters of the Churchills  contains the voluminous correspondence carried on between the famous prime minister and his wife. Though political and wartime duties resulted in lengthy separations, the couple also carried on written correspondence when in the same house. Working in their separate offices, the Churchills sent written love notes via the servants to one another throughout the day.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

The apostle Paul also used written correspondence to support the young churches in the Mediterranean world, but he also used a different means of support: He prayed faithfully. Many Christians don’t realize that Paul had never visited Rome when he wrote his most famous letter to the church there. But oh, how he prayed for them! He made mention of them “always in [his] prayers.”

If you are separated from those you love, technology gives you many ways to stay in touch. But the most important way to reach out and touch others is through prayer. Why not pray for someone right now who is dear to you?

The chief purpose of prayer is that God may be glorified in the answer.
R. A. Torrey

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Matthew 7-9

By David Jeremiah.

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