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Category Archives: Philippians

Philippians 4:2-7

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.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:2-7

Dear God, we have to be careful about disagreements. Even Paul fell into this with Barnabas over what to do about John Mark. Maybe he was thinking about that as he encouraged Euodia and Syntyche to settle their disagreement. I wonder how much he regretted his falling out with Barnabas in later years–or even soon after they parted ways.

Of course, there are people in my life with whom I have disagreements. It hurts to have them unresolved, and I’m honestly not sure what to do about them from here. I’ve tried to communicate that I’ve tried to hear their perspective, but beyond that it feels like we have reached an impasse. What really frustrates me is that there is one relationship in particular that is in disarray, and the other person simply refuses to communicate with me any offense I might have made of which I am not aware. They have just blocked me out. Most recently, I drew a line that appears to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, or given them that one last excuse they felt they needed to completely disown our relationship, but the truth is they’ve been nursing something against me for years and this is just the excuse they needed. For my part, I couldn’t sacrifice that last line that I drew just to hold onto a thread of relationship that wasn’t real anyway, but only manipulative. I couldn’t sacrifice that line for their sake.

Father, I prayed yesterday about monuments I try to use to remember the good you have done for me in my life. In this case, you have given me some really strong affirmations from past broken relationships that have recently experienced tremendous healing. You have shown me that my willingness to sacrifice a shallow relationship for the good of the other person–for some tough love, if you will–actually can pay off for the good of that other person as well as for the good of our relationship. So I thank you for that. I thank you for the affirmation and encouragement. And so I pray for the broken relationships in my life now. May you use the pain we might be experiencing for your glory and redeem it so that real, authentic relationship can be developed through healing. Let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth through my life.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2021 in Philippians

 

Philippians 1:20-26

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.
Philippians 1:20-26

Dear God, is it a problem that I don’t long to be with you/Jesus in heaven just yet? I don’t think it is, but this passage from Paul always surprises me. Personally, I’m good to keep living.

It is interesting to now be at an age where I’m likely over halfway through with the life you’ve given me. In fact, I was watching a disaster movie last night and as all of the people were dying I thought about if my time was done now. What would that mean for the ones I love? Would my wife have what she needs? Would my work function until I was replaced? I suppose I’m grateful to know that one of the things that I thought about that gave me some peace was the different things I’ve done to help others. I don’t think my life, as much of a vapor as it is, has been a waste of your time or the time others have kindly invested in it, including family and friends who love me. I’ve taken a really good shot at doing my best for you.

Father, I’m not saying I’m perfect or that I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to do. I failed you yesterday. I’ve probably already failed this morning. So that’s not what I’m saying. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve found peace in worshipping you and trying to love others around me as my number one and two motivators. Thank you for offering the grace I need so that I don’t have to consider my failures any more than you do.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2021 in Philippians

 

Philippians 2:1-5

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Philippians 2:1-5

Dear God, parenting is different than any other kind of relationship. We all need our parents to help form us and teach us different aspects of life. By the nature of the relationship, there is going to be conflict.

The same is true, in some ways, with my relationship with you. I can sometimes reject the lessons you try to teach me. I can complain or even hold a grudge against you. I can feel sorry for myself. I can let it drive me out of pursuing my relationship with you.

Father, as I try to follow Paul’s advice to the Philippians in this passage, help me to start with dying to myself and purifying my own motives when it comes to interacting with you or others, including my wife, children, family of origin, coworkers, and community. Make me an instrument of your peace.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2021 in Philippians

 

Philippians 1:12-19

And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.
Philippians 1:12-19

Dear God, Paul really did have a remarkable way of looking beyond himself, his own comfort or agenda, and seeing what you might be doing in spite of his own circumstances. He had that ultimate level of faith that told him his life meant nothing to him, but his time on earth was about making as much of a difference for you as possible, regardless of what it cost him personally. It’s the lesson Job ultimately learned in his story, but Paul seems to have come to it much more quickly.

As for me? Well, I confess I still like my comfort and I still get fussy when I perceive my rights are being trampled. I still want to enact my agenda and how I think things should happen as opposed to how you need them to happen. I’m better. I at least am aware I have deficiencies. So that’s something. But I have a long ways to go.

Father, help me to live Paul’s words in Acts 20:24: “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2021 in Philippians

 

Philippians 3:17-21

Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.
Philippians 3:17-21

Dear God, I am struck by the emotion Paul has as he writes these words. He says, “…I say it again with tears in my eyes…” he’s writing with passion. He hurts over both his own suffering and the contempt with which some are treating you. He is longing for your quick return to end it. I wonder if he died disappointed that you never came back before he was killed or if he had grown more at peace with his situation as time went on.

I’ve certainly been disappointed with you and my circumstances before. I probably will be again. But you seem to teach me through those times, and I can usually see, in retrospect, what you were doing either for me or to further your kingdom and your plan. For Paul, I would imagine he had figured out at least part of your plan before he died, but I’m sure he didn’t realize just how much you would use his life, suffering, and death for thousands of years to come. He didn’t realize his name would be in the pantheon of names that will be known for hundreds of generations because it would lead Christianity through history, including to me.

Father, thank you for an example of a believer—a great leader in Christian history—who often didn’t understand more about his present situation than I understand about mine. Thank you for not sparing me frustrations, but for teaching me through them. Thank you for giving me as much life as you’ve given me. Help me to not waste it, but to maximize my moments for you, your kingdom, and your purposes.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2021 in Philippians

 

Faith

I prayed and prayed, never heard a sound.

Keith Green
Dear God, I have a lot of cliches that I've kind of developed over the last few years going through my head. One is, "There's a fine line between living by faith and living in denial." Another is, "I measure time in days, weeks and months, but you measure it in years, decades and centuries." 

My wife and I pray together every morning. We pray for our children and their significant others. We pray for immediate and extended family. We pray for friends and coworkers. We pray for ourselves as individuals and our marriage. We've prayed for work things in the past. We've prayed for healing. And sometimes it can feel like we are praying into the thin air. Sometimes it can feel fruitless and hopeless. Sometimes, I don't see the point. But according to Hebrews, "faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see." There are times I feel like my prayers are pure faith and I start to wonder is my faith real, or am I just living in denial. Or I wonder if I am expecting the wrong thing from you, and you are telling me no. 

Something happened today to showed us what you've been doing while we never heard a sound. And it's not like I know really what you're doing, what your endgame is, or how you are going to enact your will. But today, at least in this moment, we heard a sound, and it brought me to weeping tears. 

Father, thank you. Thank you for being smarter than me, more knowledgeable than me, and for not giving me what I want when I want it. Thank you for teaching me along the way. Thank you for helping me to work out my faith with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Thank you for honoring your promises to us. I know that I need these trials to draw me closer to you. I wish I didn't, but I do. So I submit to whatever path you have for me and those I love.

In Jesus's name I pray,

Amen
 
 

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.

Philippians 4:2-3

Dear God, what would it be like to be these two women and have my dispute with someone else immortalized in scripture forever. Not that they ever knew it would be immortalized, but here it is. I’m sure if they looked at it now, whatever their quarrel was about, it would seem small and pointless. But in the moment I’m sure it felt very big and personal.

Of course, there are other quarrels captured in the Bible. I wonder how many of those are regretted. Paul himself had a quarrel with Barnabas over Mark. In the fog of a spiritual attack, a quarrel can seem so justified, but the truth is that most are very small.

Father, help me to recognize the pointless quarrels that exist in my life. Help me to humbly seek reconciliation when they happen. May it all be for unity in your Spirit and for your glory.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2021 in Philippians

 

Philippians 4:1-20

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 this through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Philippians 4:12-20

Dear God, I’ve been on both sides of this equation. Twenty years ago, I could never have imagined being on the receiving end of this equation. I was only on the giving end. I would try to give charitably. I made donations and supported different causes and missionaries. My wife and I have always taken a portion of the money each of us receives and earmarked it to give away. But I could never imagine being on the receiving end. To be the person who lives off of the charity of others as they support the work that I do, but as a nonprofit director that is exactly what I do. My salary comes from someone else’s decision to give of their resources to support our work. Even sitting here and typing this right now is quite humbling–even shocking. I can’t believe this is the live I’ve lived for the last 17 years and believe I will continue to live for the foreseeable future.

It’s important for me to note here that Paul does something interesting at the end of this passage. He assures them that he has enough. He is consciously turning off that pipeline from the Philippians to him and allowing that money to go somewhere else. It’s a brave thing to do. Can we ever have enough? What about tomorrow? Shouldn’t my prudence dictate that we need to receive as much as possible? It’s an incredibly fine line to draw–living by faith in you and not by faith in my bank account. I guess the way I try to live out the spirit of this passage is to not cry poor when I’m talking about raising money for our clinic, but instead tell them about our work and then allow you to move them as appropriate. If healthcare for the low-income, uninsured is their thing then we are a good outlet for them to participate in their lives. But if childcare, food, or helping with emergency expenses like rent are their thing then we aren’t a good place for their dollars. And so far you seem to have honored this path. Since I’ve been at the nonprofit where I work over the last 15 years, I’ve seen you organically grow our income to match the programs we offer, while also growing our operating reserves commensurately so that our cash flow can withstand any ebbs and flows throughout the year or over a couple of years. In fact, our reserves have been about the same percentage of our annual operating budget this entire time. It’s all just kind of worked out, but I know that isn’t coincidence. I can feel your provision. I can see when you move in someone’s heart unexpectedly in a way that shocks me. You are so good, and I am so grateful.

Father, help me to be a generous giver of my personal resources, help me to be a good steward of the resources we have at work, and help me to be part of helping others find deeper relationship with you through their decisions to share their resources with those in need. And in the end, make it all about your glory. This is for you, Father. It’s all for you. I love you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2020 in Philippians

 

Philippians 1:9-11

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

Philippians 1:9-11

Dear God, I need to search the New Testament for every instance of the word “fruit” because the idea of the fruit we are supposed to exhibit as your children is pervasive in Paul’s writing. I know Jesus said it too.

In this case, Paul is saying the fruit is:

  • Love overflowing more and more
  • Growth in knowledge and understanding
  • Righteous character

I’m very glad that I didn’t watch the presidential debate last night. I was thinking about some of the things I read about it this morning, and I went back to my prayer from a couple of weeks ago that posited the idea that character should be the most important trait for which I vote and that platform be the tiebreaker. While that’s probably too simplistic, I’m actually starting to buy into it more and more. Even verse 11 here talks about the growth of righteous character in Christ Jesus. If my character is not continuously developing forward then it’s a warning sign.

Father, my character has a long way to go. I can still be cruel, merciless, selfish, manipulative, petty, etc. I will judge others too harshly and then chastise them. Am I better than I used to be? Yes. Am I better than I was even yesterday? I think so. But I am no Disney Princess. I am as much the villain as anyone is. Help me to continue this journey with you and to grow.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2020 in Philippians

 

Philippians 1:20-30

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me. Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.

Philippians 1:20-30

Dear God, as long as I draw breath I have a job to do. And I feel like I am constantly letting you down in that area. I know I don’t maximize every moment. And maybe I can’t. Maybe it’s not humanly possible to do it. But even within my own human limitations, I know I leave a lot of opportunities on the table.

I think a good metaphor is my cycling. This morning, I had a really good ride. I think it is the fastest I have ever ridden this specific route. I obviously did a good job. But I also know that I didn’t push as hard as I could at every moment. There were times I coasted. Times I rested. And maybe some of those rests made me better on the climbs. So I’m not saying I always have to be doing something for the Kingdom, but just like cycling, I know there are times when I’m coasting that I could be applying some pressure to the pedals.

Father, there is just so much that I don’t see. During this current cultural climate of the election, social unrest, and the pandemic, I can’t help but ask myself all of the time, “What would Jesus be doing right now?” Would he be on social media? If so, what kinds of things would he post? What would he have to say about wearing a facemask? What would he say about voting for a given candidate/party/platform? If I were with him as the disciples were, what kinds of awkward questions would he ask me? What would his daily priorities be? I said I ask myself these questions. I never said I come up with a good answer. So help me to think about and answer these questions and then put the pressure on the pedals every time you need me to.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2020 in Philippians