Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper is a weekly tool that provides daily devotions that correspond to Pastor Kevin’s sermon each week.

One: “A United Mind”

One: “A United Mind”

Philippians 2:1-4

April 10-14, 2017

 
John Maxwell, evangelical pastor, teacher and writer, in his little book

The Difference Maker asks the question, “So does attitude make any difference? Absolutely. Attitude is the difference maker! Attitude isn’t everything but, it is the one thing that can make a difference in your life.”[i]

He goes on to say that one of the biggest factors that determine your attitude is the way you think or put another way your mindset.

 

We toss the word attitude around all the time, but few can give a cogent definition. Try this on:

an attitude is a predisposition to act in a particular way.

 

As the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians there was one thing that he knew would make the difference in the life of that church to overcome the arguments and strife that were threatening their oneness. What was it? A

United Minda predisposition to act in a particular wa

y.

1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:1-4

 

Focus your attention on the command, “

complete my joy…” This is the second command of this letter and flows from the main command in 1:27 to stand united. Paul’s joy would be complete by the Philippians being united in mind “by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Two times in this verse we find the emphasis on being united in mind. Two times Paul, under the inspiration of the Spirit, used the same word, phroneo φρόνημα,

which places the emphasis on the unity of mind that he desired to pervade the church body.

 

 

MONDAY: Having The Right Mindset, A Unified Mindset Is The Key To Maintaining Oneness Within The Church Body.

 

The word, phroneo, is used 26 times in the NT, 10 of those times it is used in Philippians.[ii]

 

12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[a] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.

Philippians 3:12-15,

 

Paul admonished the Philippians to press on toward the upward call of Christ on their lives and they are told in verse 15, “

let those who are mature think, phroneo, this way…

Whereas those who are not unified in mind and causing division “

have their mind, phroneo, set on earthly things…”

But this leads us to what I believe is the most powerful use of this word and shows the importance of a unified mind within the church body.
 
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.” Philippians 4:2 gives reason why Paul was talking about the need for the church to have a United Mindset. Agree is our word, phroneo, and Paul’s exhortation is that these two women unify their minds in the Lord. Paul’s instructions about being unified in mind in 2:1-4
, address the attitudes that were causing division within the Philippian church, but more specifically the attitudes that were reported by the two ladies. They were not unified in mind.
 

 

TUESDAY: The Most Dangerous Threat To The Oneness Of The Church Is Internal Division.

 
 

The most dangerous threat to any church is found right here. When it came to these two ladies in the church at Philippi, we don’t really know for sure what the core of their disagreement was about, but they must not have been able to resolve it or else Paul would not have felt it necessity to address them. To me, this is the most toxic and subtle way in which the enemy divides the church.

 

How many of you have been in a church where two strong personalities clashed and the congregation took sides. It’s not necessarily women who create that divide. I’ve been in two churches where two strong “church fathers” were the instigators of “

my way or the highway

.” Well-meaning Christians, all desiring to see the Gospel proclaimed and the lives of people transformed get at odds with one another, often over insignificant issues. In this case, perhaps it was a different approach to ministry, or a difference of opinion over ministry; maybe one person’s agenda was pushed down the list; maybe it was just a sharp comment that cut deeply, feelings got hurt and before you know it the church was choosing sides.

 

It begins as an innocuous Twitter survey. But then it blows up. A lot of church members and leaders were eager to share about fights, schisms, and conflicts in their congregations. They were likewise eager to point out the absurdity of these issues. There were the ones we’ve heard often: temperature in the worship center, color of carpet, order of worship, and color of walls.

 

The fights shown below, however, are a bit unusual.

Indeed, most of them are downright absurd. I picked 25 of my “favorites.”

They are listed in no particular order.

 

The parenthetical commentary is my own.

  1. Argument over the appropriate length of the worship pastor’s beard (I think I saw a verse in Scripture that indicated it is to be no more than 1.5 inches longer than the pastor’s beard.).
  2. Fight over whether or not to build a children’s playground or to use the land for a cemetery (I’m dying to know the resolution of this one.).
  3. A deacon accusing another deacon of sending an anonymous letter, and deciding to settle the matter in the parking lot (The church could have sold tickets to this event and raised a lot of money.).
  4. A church dispute of whether or not to install restroom stall dividers in the women’s restroom (I’m calling unfair on this one. The men should have their stall dividers too.).
  5. A church argument and vote to decide if a clock in the worship center should be removed (I think this one is a timely argument.).
  6. A 45-minute heated argument over the type of filing cabinet to purchase: black or brown; 2, 3, or 4 drawers (This one is an official cabinet meeting of the church leadership.).
  7. A fight over which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer (I just want to know who took the pictures.).
  8. A petition to have all church staff clean shaven (No church planters are allowed.).
  9. A dispute over whether the worship leader should have his shoes on during the service (I vote for shoes, shirts, and pants.).
  10. A big church argument over the discovery that the church budget was off $0.10. Someone finally gave a dime to settle the issue (I have to admit this issue is ten times more important than the church missing a penny.).
  11. A dispute in the church because the Lord’s Supper had cran/grape juice instead of grape juice (Of course it should be grape juice. It’s right there in Hezekiah 4:11.).
  12. Business meeting arguments about whether the church should purchase a weed eater or not. It took two business meetings to resolve (Wow. This fight was really whacky.).
  13. Arguments over what type of green beans the church should serve (I could have resolved this conflict quickly: none.).
  14. Two different churches reported fights over the type of coffee. In one of the churches, they moved from Folgers to a stronger Starbucks brand. In the other church, they simply moved to a stronger blend. Members left the church in the latter example (Perhaps they started a new church: The Right Blend Fellowship.).
  15. Major conflict when the youth borrowed a crockpot that had not been used for years (I bet it was a bunch of crocky old adults.).
  16. An argument on whether the church should allow deviled eggs at the church meal (Only if it’s balanced with angel food cake for dessert).
  17. An argument over who has the authority to buy postage stamps for the church (The members were licking their wounds over this issue.).
  18. A disagreement over using the term “potluck” instead of “pot blessing” (I get it! The concept of luck contradicts the theology of a sovereign God. This issue is very serious. Good luck trying to resolve it.).
  19. A church member was chastised because she brought vanilla syrup to the coffee server. It looked too much like liquor. (Beth Moore confessed she was the culprit who brought the syrup. Don’t you know, Beth, we Baptists cannot have vanilla syrup at anytime? Chocolate is fine though.).
  20. An argument in church over who has access to the copy machine (I think a calendar should be made where every church member has at least five minutes access to the copy machine each year. You can have a business meeting to vote on each five-minute increment.).
  21. Some church members left the church because one church member hid the vacuum cleaner from them. It resulted in a major fight and split (Thus the Second Electrolux Church was born.).
  22. An argument over whether to have gluten-free communion bread or not (I thought gluteny was a sin.).
  23. A dispute over whether the church should allow people to wear black t-shirts, since black is the color of the devil (Are you sure he’s not red? That’s what I’ve heard.)
  24. A fight over whether or not to sing “Happy Birthday” each week (I’ve got an idea. Alternate it with the doxology.).
  25. An argument over whether the fake, dusty plants should be removed from the podium (Just give them a little water. They should be fine.). http://thomrainer.com/2015/11/twenty-five-silly-things-church-members-fight-over/

 

Surely these would never be distractions in our church. Would they? Yes, these issues are silly; many are absurd. But they are all distractions from what we should be doing in our church. In that sense, they are really great distractions from the Great Commission.

 

We don’t know for sure, but Philippians 2:1-4 gives us some clue to the mindset that was causing division and so Paul addressed this mindset and told them how to have a unified mind. Let’s read verses 3 and 4 because they identify the attitudes that were causing division.

1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:1-4
 

 

WEDNESDAY: Attitude #1: Pursuing Personal Goals v. 3.

 

“Do nothing from selfish ambition…”

 
This is the same word we encountered in 1:17 that means to put oneself forward. This same word is used in Galatians 5:20 where it identifies living according to the flesh and NOT according to the Spirit,

“idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,…

” Look it up.

 

“Strife” is the word for “selfish ambition.” Strife or selfish ambition causes rivalry, dissension, and division. I believe these two ladies were pursuing personal goals within the church and it was dividing the Philippian church. Using the church ministry as the grounds for pursuing personal goals is a toxic poison that contaminates the oneness of a church body. If Satan cannot kill the church’s focus on reaching the world with the Gospel, his next best tool is to get members quarreling with each other. But there is another attitude that can be even more damaging.

 

Attitude #2: Pursuing Personal Glory v. 3a.

“Do nothing from… conceit…”

 

Conceit literally means “empty glory.”[iii]

This is an exalted view of yourself enabling you to feel superior to someone else. It’s about wanting others to know how wonderful you are. One of Jesus’ main issues with the Pharisees was their self-centered conceited. Remember how Jesus gave it to them in Matthew 6:1-18 because they wanted accolades because of their giving, their praying, and their fasting. In the church at Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche evidently were stubbornly chasing down some personal agenda in a way that attracted people to one side or the other, causing harmful divisions in the church. But Paul’s wasn’t done with them yet.

 

Attitude #3: Pursuing Personal Interests v. 4.

 

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests…”

 

“Look” meant to fix your attention on something with interest in.[iv]

Grammatically this is a present tense construction that indicates an ongoing focus on your own personal interests. This points to a completely self-centered self-serving predisposition to act in a certain way pursuing your own agenda. If there had been a Google in that day, the pictures of these two women would be the poster children for selfishness and self-centeredness. The only unity they sought was the unity that centered on themselves…unity that centered on their goals, their glory, and their individual interests. Choose a side or else.

 

How often does this happen in the church? How often does it arise in your other relationships? A group of people brainstorming ministry ideas or company plans and all of the ideas are good; all the ideas are ethically and morally sound. From a church standpoint, even biblically sound. But division occurs because certain individuals want the glory of their own ideas being adopted. They are convinced their method is better. They want their goals and interests achieved above anything else. God’s Word says it comes down to selfish ambition…personal goals, conceit, personal glory, and personal interests.

 

How can we know if you are pursuing your goals; your glory; and your interests? When your ideas or preferences are not adopted, do you get angry and cause problems? When you feel as though you don’t get the attention or recognition you deserve then it is about your glory. When the only unity you seek is centered on your interests, and that doesn’t happen, do you begin to whisper about it in your little circle and try to gather support for your point of view? It happens. Whoever acts like this becomes a toxic poison to the oneness of any team trying to achieve a goal but more so in the church body and the results are devastating.

“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

James 3:16

So how can we overcome these, keep our church free from this insidious temptation and achieve a unified mind? Here are some applications.

 

SPECIAL NOTE

: As you think about the application of these verses, the same actions and attitudes that cause division within the church can cause division in your family, in your friendships, and in your work relationships as well. So if you really process these and apply them I suspect you will become a unifier in other areas of your life as well.

 

 
Living the Word Applications: These are MUSTS!
 

THURSDAY: Remember It’s Not About You But About Others v. 3-4.

 
 

We need to remember it’s not about your goals but about God’s ultimate goal advancing the Gospel. It’s not about tour glory but God’s glory and others’ coming to know Him. Therefore, we need to watch out for selfish ambition and conceit in our lives. Folks, please take this very seriously because the danger of selfish ambition and conceit is that they are self-deceptive. Frequently you can’t see them in yourself. Honestly ask God to show you where it’s become about you and not Him.

 

Perhaps you saw the Jim Denison article last week on Tony Romo leaving football for the broadcast booth alongside Jim Nantz. How about this:

Romo told Pastor Ed Young (Fellowship Church) that he grew up going to church but gave his life to Christ while in college. After graduating, he was signed as a free agent by the Dallas Cowboys. Then came the prayer that defined his future.

 

In training camp at the start of his second year in the NFL, he was worried about making the team. As he told Pastor Young, “I was very stressed and emotional. I sat there and prayed at night, ‘Lord, If I’m meant to be an assistant golf club professional back in Wisconsin, I will enjoy that and be the best version of that I can be. But I am done making every single thing be the most important moment of my life. There’s no peace in that. I’m literally giving football to you…I’m going to play aggressively and leave it up to you. And I’m going to be at peace with whatever the outcome is.”

 

Romo says that prayer changed everything: “That was the moment where I learned how to play the game—because I literally gave it up. He has control. And as long as he has control, I’m at peace.”v

 

Getting out of your own way and allowing Him to direct your focus to the cares of others makes all the difference.

 

Humbly Take An Interest In Others And Not Yourself v. 3-4.

Rather than pursuing personal goals, personal glory, and personal interests, you must “in humility count others more significant than yourself. “

4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

 

 

Take an interest in others ideas, needs, preferences, and cares. Take an interest in others like Christ has taken an interest in you. Take an interest in their talents, skills, personalities, creativity and their point of view. Become a good listener and then a good doer.

 

FRIDAY: Unite From The Inside Out. v. 2.

 

“Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”

 

 

The unity that God’s Word calls you to is not a surface level unity. This is not a unity simply with your mouth but a unity to the depths of our souls. It is a unity from deep inside you to the outside actions that you demonstrate towards one another. It flows from your fellowship with the Lord and your desire to see others come to faith in Christ. How does that happen?

 

Unity from the inside out happens by doing life together. It happens by joining a Sunday school class where you get to know one another through studying God’s Word together and sharing life’s struggles together. Maybe you’ve had trouble finding a spot in one of our current classes and you want to start a new class. We always have a need for new classes. Please contact Pastor Kevin if you’re interested. Another practical way of uniting from the inside out is through a self-sacrificing attitude in serving together. The context mentions, “

standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side…”

 

 

Last week I told you that standing firm was a military term for holding a position even unto death and in this context, you must demonstrate a self-sacrificing attitude for oneness. Isn’t that what God’s Word reinforces for you in these verses? A self-sacrificing attitude for oneness where you strain together with others in our congregation for the faith of the Gospel…looking out for the interests of others…not your goals, not your glory, and not your interests.

 

Return To Your Foundation…Fellowship In Christ v. 1.

 

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy…”

 

 

The foundation for your unity of mind is your common life in Christ, comfort that you draw from Christ’s love for you, the partnership you share by the Spirit’s presence in you. If you are living under the influence of the Spirit, then the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in your life. You WILL be interested in the things of the Spirit. But also, you have a foundation and consciousness of Christ’s care for you, “

affection and sympathy…

” Part of your foundation is being tenderhearted and compassionate towards one another. You see, we may have different ideas, thoughts, or opinions but at the end of the day we unite our minds by returning to the foundation of fellowship in Christ.

 

How about this? Findley B. Edge, long time professor at Southern Seminary wrote in

The Greening of the Church

that the church needed to be more positive and be more socially involved, which would get him tarred and feathered by the some in charge nowadays! He encouraged each of us to start each day with this prayer. Will you do that? Today? And all the tomorrows God gives you?

 

Lord, help me to be more loving, caring, and sensitive today so that I will see people whom I can love like You do and serve them like You want me to.

[i] Maxwell, John. The Difference Maker.

Nelson Business Publishers, 2006. 2.

[ii] MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Philippians.

Moody Publishers, 2001. 26.

[iii]

Ibid, 111.

[iv] Wuest, Kenneth. Word Studies in the Greek New Testament.

Volume 2. Eerdmans Publishing, 1973. 60.

V Denison, Jim. http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=5369bb601ac44bfdda928110b&id=c92c95a635&e=395c71469a. April 5, 2017


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One: “Stand United”

One: “Stand United”

Philippians 1:27-30

April 3-7, 2017

 

How do you become better, how do you become more?

Here’s the good news: it’s not a mystery. You know how it happens. Better yet, you can learn how.

 

MORE WHEN THERE IS NO MORE

When members of the U.S. Navy become Navy SEALs, they don’t win a lottery. In one of the most performance-driven selection processes in the world, they earn it. Selected from the top of the top of the top, applicants must be the best of the best at every step along the way. There are no favors. They must perform in a true meritocracy.

 

There are many steps, many qualifications, and many gates that must be passed through to get to the final stages of the selection process. Toward the end of the training program, called BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL) training, the aspiring SEALs must pass the test of all tests “Hell Week,” a grueling exercise requiring the utmost physical and mental endurance, pushing these already-at-the-top specimens to their absolute limits.

 

Enduring near-hypothermia in cold water, long-distance swims during sleep deprivation, and intense physical strain, more than two thirds of the candidates don’t make it through the training. And remember, they are all the best of the best. Most ultimately “ring the bell,” signaling that they have given up. But actually they have rarely given up, for they still want it desperately. It is more that their bodies and their minds have hit the limit of their capabilities. There is no more to give, no way to do better. Whether it is physical pain, mental exhaustion, or both, most candidates lack the resources that will allow them to surpass their own limits and reach the next step, the toughest one required to become a SEAL. The entire selection process is set up to find out exactly where those limits are, who has them, and who can surpass them. The ones who make it through the process of pushing these limits are the ones who are sent out into battles that require humans to perform past normal limits on a regular basis. Life or death and victory or defeat depend on that very ability.

 

My brother-in-law Mark was a Navy SEAL. He made it through BUDS successfully. Mark was the brother I never had (I had two sisters), the kind of brother every kid wants. I used to love to hear his stories (the ones he could tell me without having to kill me) about the extraordinary feats he and his fellow SEALs would routinely pull off: jumping out of an airplane at crazy altitudes, hitting the surface of a cold ocean in some faraway land, changing into battle gear, taking a power nap on the ocean floor, and then boarding an enemy ship in the darkness and taking it down. And then asking, after all that, “So what’s for lunch?” as if it were just another day at work. Routines that none of the rest of us could think of enduring, much less succeeding at. Incredible.

 

We lost Mark in the Iraq war. He died a hero’s death, doing exactly what he loved: using his skills, with his team of comrades, to fight for our country and deliver people to safety who had been captured by terrorists. It was a beyond-devastating blow for all of us who loved and admired him, and we felt deep appreciation for the sacrificial person that he was. He left his wife and infant daughter behind, a large extended family, and many friends whose lives he had touched.

 

In the aftermath of his death, I got to meet many of his SEAL team members, colleagues and comrades, most of whom had fought side by side with him in Afghanistan and Iraq. They shared stories of Mark’s courage, skills, personality, spirit, and love of life. He had left a mark on many, many lives. We were one big community of those who were touched by him, grieving, remembering, and celebrating together, sharing memories and stories.

 

The story that relates to our topic here is one of the clearest examples I know of how human limits, when encountered, are surpassed. It was relayed by one of Mark’s SEAL team members in the days after his death.

 

His teammate, whom I’ll call Bryce, was in the ocean during Hell Week, swimming the last long leg to the finish line. Mark had already made it; he had passed the final test and knew that he would become a SEAL. For him, it was done, and he was standing on the rocks above the water, eagerly watching his buddies strive toward the goal.

 

That was when Bryce “hit the wall.” As he described it, it was that moment when his body would just go no more. It was done. Nothing left. He tried to will himself to keep going, but his body would not obey.

 

Maybe you can relate to this in some way. If you have ever been to the gym and lifted a weight for enough repetitions over and over, you got to that same point: your arms were done. No more. There was nothing left to give, no surge of will that would make them do one more rep.

 

That was where Bryce found himself at that moment, beginning to sink in the cold water, totally out of fuel, strength, or the ability to go another yard. Push as he would, strain as he would, his body and his skills were failing him.

 

Imagine that moment: all of those years, all of that training, all of that sacrifice . . . about to be gone. He could see his dreams sinking with him, about to be over. What must it have felt like, to have gone through everything he had gone through to make it up to the very end? I am sure that the lights were going out in his heart, as his body would go no further. Until . . .

 

As he told the story of going down, about to call for help and signal that it was over for him, his eyes fell upon the land ahead. There was Mark, standing on the shore. Mark saw him, and Bryce said that Mark gave him a huge fist pump and a yell, signaling to Bryce that “he could do it.” Their eyes locked for a few seconds, and as Bryce described it, something happened. Something beyond him. His body jumped into another gear, into another dimension of performance that he had not had access to before; he was able to get back on top of the cold water again and swim toward the finish line. He made it. He finished. He would be a SEAL. That is the “power of the other.”.[i]

 

Dr. Cloud goes on to say:

What happened? Why were a look and a fist pump from a friend able to lift Bryce past his physical and mental limits? Why did his body get on top of the water again, almost on autopilot? Why did his arms and legs find

more

than they had before?

 

In some ways, we don’t know. How can something as immaterial, invisible, and mystical as an emotional connection with a buddy have what amounts to a material, measurable, and physical effect like fueling a body across space and physical boundaries? It’s very elusive.

 

For centuries, philosophers, psychologists, theologians, and spiritual thinkers have struggled with something called the mind-body problem, the fact that the

invisible has a real effect on the visible, and vice versa. But however we explain these mechanisms, the neglected truth is that the invisible attributes of relationship, the connection between people, have real, tangible, and measurable power.ii

 

There is something powerful that happens when you know that you are not in a struggle alone and that others are standing united with you. Dr. Henry Cloud says, “research shows over and over again that people trying to reach goals succeed at a much higher rate if they are connected to a strong human support system.”i[ii]

Church, the Power of One is found in standing united with others in a struggle. Amazing things can happen when you stand united.
Vance Havner, a long time Baptist preacher and author of more than 30 books, collected a number of memorable sermons in this little book. One of those sermons is entitled “You’re Not Alone, Look Who’s Here.” He tells the stories about unexpected crises in our spiritual history where individuals took a stand and God showed up…

You’re Not Alone, Look Who’s Here It’s worth a read. https://www.amazon.com/Playing-Marbles-Diamonds-Messages-America/dp/0801042909

 

This week continues our study of Philippians “

One: Standing United in a Divided World” and you come to the main command of this entire letter. The heart of Paul’s letter is found in the 1:27-30 and his main command…Stand United

.

 

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Philippians 1:27-30

 

After all that has been said to this point, Paul’s first command was “

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…

” This command makes complete sense in the context because he has already said that his joy and inspiration is Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Therefore it makes sense that he would command them to let their manner of life be worthy of the Gospel.

 

We live in a manner worthy of the Gospel by standing united v. 27.

He says,

“so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel

,”

 

“Standing firm” is a military term that described a soldier holding his ground against the opposition and defending his position even to the point of death. iv

Living worthy of the Gospel meant they were to have a soldier-like passion for oneness by demonstrating a self-sacrificing attitude to maintain unity. You must demonstrate an attitude of self-sacrifice that is inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ because at the core of the Gospel is sacrificial love like Jesus’ love has been demonstrated for us. You live in a manner worthy of the Gospel by standing united at all costs to ourselves. But what does standing united look like?
 

MONDAY: We Stand United By Straining Together v. 27.

 

standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, not frightened by your opponents.” The root word of “striving” is the word “athleo” meaning “compete.v This is where we get the English word for athlete. You cannot help but think of a team of athletes that unite together and engage their opponents. They expect opposition and they strive side by side to win the competition. For Christians, the Gospel is both a source of community, and a source of opposition because the Gospel always attracts opposition. At times, in the heat of the battle there may be disagreements or blown assignments, but a team stands together and strains together to achieve victory “not frightened by your opponents

.” This brings us to one of the threats to the oneness in the Philippian Church and one that still threatens our church today.

 

The first threat to Oneness was external opposition to the gospel.

The church at Philippi was founded in the middle of a great deal of hostility from the city. This word frightened means to be intimidated or to be startled. It is not the same word for phobia, like having a fear of heights or fear of snakes. It is the picture of someone jumping out from behind a corner or closed door and scaring you. You don’t expect it and you are startled. Paul encourages them NOT to be startled, unexpectedly by opposition. Who were the opponents? There were the pagan men of the city who did not like Christianity and would persecute them, but also a Jewish influence that we’ll talk more about when we get to Philippians 3:1-6. In the same way that a team expects opposition you are to expect opposition but you make a stand united by straining together for the faith of the Gospel.

 

It’s not like the George Foreman fight a number of years ago when Johnny Carson asked him one night on the Tonight Show, “

George, do you think your upcoming opponent will be a worthy one?”…to which George replied, “Oh, I hope not

.”

 

Listen, you are not to be intimidated or startled by external opposition. You are not to be caught by surprise by opposition that causes you to run away. The world system has never accepted authentic Christianity. Although, it has been relatively easy to practice Christianity here in America, everywhere you turn there is increase in open hostility towards Christian values that means you must stand united by straining together with fellow believers. At Rollins College in Florida, for instance, a Muslim professor attacked a Christian student, filed a false police report and got the Christian student suspended. Read more here:

http://constitution.com/muslim-professor-attacks-christianity-files-false-police-report-gets-christian-student-suspended

/ This is no longer an aberration in our country. It’s happening more and more.

 

When you feel alone in the struggle it is easy to become “frightened”, but united together you are reminded

You’re Not Alone, Look Who’s Here…

and that you are stronger than you may think. God wants you to be like a team of athletes striving for the victory of the souls of men with the faith of the Gospel.

 

You stand united by suffering together v. 29-30.

29“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”

 

Jesus taught that suffering was to be norm of the Christian life and not the exception. He said,

22and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

” Matthew 10:22

 

Peter taught New Testament believers under the threat of persecution,

21“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

1 Peter 2:21

 

I believe this is so important for you to remember because suffering that results from external opposition can bring about division within the church. Under the pressure of external opposition, some will become intimidated and wonder, “Is it worth it?” Before you know it, the powers of evil will entice you to become a church at odds with one another and with one group wanting to move ahead and another wanting to stay in their comfort zone. Here’s the deal, when you live in a manner worthy of the Gospel, you

will

encounter suffering for the Gospel, but take heart, you won’t suffer alone…you suffer together. You stand united by suffering together.

 

Living the Word Applications: For us to stand united you must…NOW WHAT?

 

TUESDAY: Remember You Are A Citizen Of The Kingdom Of God. v. 27

 
In the phrase, “
manner of life” Paul uses a unique Greek word here that the Philippians would have connected with their Roman citizenship. This word would have brought to mind being representatives of Rome everywhere they went ωμαος (Roman citizen). They were to uphold the honor of Rome. However, Paul uses this word to remind them that they were citizens and representatives of Heaven before they were citizens of Rome. Paul uses this same word again in 3:20 when he says, “our citizenship is in heaven
…” Above all else, before you are a citizen of Celina, before you are a citizen of Texas, before you are a citizen of the U.S.A., you are a citizen of the Kingdom of God and the way you represent God’s Kingdom is by standing united.

 

WEDNESDAY: Be Courageous And Not Fearful v. 28.

 

28”not frightened in anything by your opponents…

 

Opposition is to be expected in this world but you are not to be fearful but courageous. When you realize you are not in the battle alone, you draw courage from others. You need to respond

together

to opposition with a courageous kindness.

14”Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:14,17,20-21

 

Where is there a true Texan who has not heard the story of the Alamo? Whether fact or fiction, the life lesson is the same for us who just celebrated Texas Independence.

 

 

By March 5, 1836, Col. William Barrett Travis had known for several days that his situation inside the old Spanish mission called the Alamo had become hopeless.

Several thousand soldiers under the command of Mexican Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had Travis and some 189 other defenders surrounded.

 

The young Texas colonel – only 26 – was a lawyer, not a professional military man, but Travis knew enough history to understand that in a siege, the army on the outside usually prevails over the army on the inside.

 

So he gathered his fellow defenders that Saturday afternoon and gave them a speech.

 

“We must die,” he began. “Our business is not to make a fruitless effort to save our lives, but to choose the manner of our death.”

 

He saw three possibilities: Surrender and summary execution, trying to fight their way out only to be “butchered” by Mexican lancers or “remain in this fort…resist every assault, and to sell our lives as dearly as possible.”

 

Then, with a flourish, Travis drew his sword and slowly marked a line in the dirt. “I now want every man who is determined to stay here and die with me to come across this line.”

 

Young Tapley Holland made his decision quickly, proclaiming “I am ready to die for my country!” as he jumped over the line. It’s hard to picture it as a stampede – the men knew they were voting to die – but all but two of them walked over the line. Co-commander Jim Bowie, lying sick on a cot, asked some of his men to carry him across. http://www.texasescapes.com/MikeCoxTexasTales/Line-in-the-Sand-Alamo-History.htm

 

Which side of the line will you be on when the command comes to defend and serve The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the face of opposition?
 

THIURSDAY: Come Alongside Those Who Are Suffering v. 29-30.

 
The suffering mentioned here is directed towards those who are suffering for the Gospel. Often in the comfort of our churches in America it’s easy to forget that there is a persecuted church in other parts of the world. You need to find ways to come alongside them to encourage them that they are not alone. One of my resources recently has been a book by Tom Doyle called “

Killing Christians”. This book is filled with inspiring stories of Christians in the Middle East living out their faith. Read this book and let it inspire you in your faith. Let it inspire you to pray for those mentioned in it. He challenges you to set your watches to alarm at 8:38pm daily and pray for those being persecuted. Go to www.facebook.com/8thirty8

for up to date prayer needs. Instead of praying general prayers, this site will encourage you to pray for specific needs that are posted. Could you retain your faith even if it meant losing your life? Your family’s lives? To many Christians in the Middle East today, a “momentary, light affliction” means enduring only torture instead of martyrdom.

 

FRIDAY: Keep Our Eye On The Goal…Advancing The Gospel v.27.

 
Stand unified “

for the faith of the gospel

.” Keep your eye on the goal…advancing the Gospel.

 

In a stirring letter, Ignatius Bishop of Antioch wrote to Polycarp the Bishop of Smyrna to stay strong amidst great trial. Polycarp would eventually be burned at the stake because he refused to denounce Christ. Twice in this letter, Ignatius used the word

athleo

to challenge Polycarp and point him to the power of unity. Listen to these exhortations.

 

“Be sober as an athlete of God: the prize set before you is immortality and eternal life…”

 

Stand firm, as does an anvil that is beaten. It is part of a noble athlete to be wounded and yet to conquer. Labor together with one another; strive together in company together; run together, suffer together; sleep together; and awake together as stewards and associates and servants of God.”vi His message simple: Stand United

!

 

Closing thought. Do you make plans for the future? Do you have career or retirement planning goals? Do you have all your End of Life documents prepared? Do you have vacation plans made for this coming summer? I bet the answer to most of those is YES.

When it comes to the things that are facing us with the erosion of absolutes, the death of “truth,” the denigration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ growing by leaps and bounds, what are your plans? When ‘they’ come for your faith…your business…your beliefs…will you stand tall? Who has your back or better still, whose do you have?

 

[i] Cloud, Dr. Henry. The Power of the Other.

Harper Collins Publishers, 2016. 4-5.

Ii

Ibid

[ii]i

Ibid, 7.

Iv MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Philippians.

Moody Publishers 2001. 86.
v Louw and Nida Lexicon.

GramCord Bible Software.

vi www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/ignatius-polycarp-longer


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One: “One Inspiration”

One: “One Inspiration”

Philippians 1:18-26

March 27-31, 2017

 
 
Randolph Frederick “RandyPausch (October 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) was an American professor of computer science, human–computer interaction, and design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Randy Pausch, the professor whose “last lecture” made him a Lou-Gehrig-like symbol of the beauty and briefness of life, died at his home in Chesapeake, VA. He was 47, and lived five months longer than the six months a doctor gave him as an upside limit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo

 

You may remember this brave man giving his last lecture before succumbing to cancer.

 

I am suggesting that taking the long view is the pathway to peace in the short view. While the Bible never says, “This too shall pass,” the sentiment is biblical: “

The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” 1 Peter 1:24–25. The old chorus is still true: “Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away, but there’s something about that Name

.”

 

Paul testified, “

We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen

” 2 Corinthians 4:18. What is your inspiration today?

 

Then there are these stories of inspiration.

Could you retain your faith even if it meant losing your life? Your family’s lives?

To many Christians in the Middle East today, a “

momentary, light affliction” means enduring only torture instead of martyrdom. The depth of oppression Jesus followers suffer is unimaginable to most Western Christians. Yet, it is an everyday reality for those who choose faith over survival in Syria, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, and other countries hostile to the Gospel of Christ. In Killing Christians, Tom Doyle takes readers to the secret meetings, the torture rooms, the grim prisons, and even the executions that are the “calling

” of countless Muslims-turned-Christians.

 

Each survivor longs to share with brothers and sisters “on the outside” what Christ has taught them.

Killing Christians

is their message to readers who still enjoy freedom to practice their faith. None would wish their pain and suffering on those who do not have to brave such misery, but the richness gained through their remarkable trials are delivered—often in their own words—through this book.

 

The stories are breathtaking, the lessons soul-stirring and renewing.

Killing Christians

presents the deadly serious work of expanding and maintaining the Faith. Here’s one of them.

The sweat dripped from his body. The weight of the corpse on top of him and the stench of the dead body made it difficult to even breathe. The heat, the weight, and the smell were almost unbearable but seeing guard watching over the casket through a crack in the wooden casket kept Azzam from revealing himself. He had ridden for several hours on the journey from Somalia to Kenya in the back of a truck and there were still several hours to go. Azzam thought he might suffocate before his journey was over, but he couldn’t give up because too much depended on him making this journey.[i]

 

 

What would inspire a man to ride for several hours in a casket under a corpse across the African plains? Order the book today.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PWOH31S/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

 

So here’s the question for this week.

What inspires you?

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

 

The Apostle Paul had

One inspiration in his life…Jesus Christ

. Even though many of Paul’s days were filled with trouble, Jesus Christ inspired Paul to get out of bed. Five times Paul had endured the whiplashes of 39 stripes and it was Jesus Christ that inspired him to do so. At the end of each day, it was Jesus Christ that inspired Paul to get some rest. Paul had just one inspiration…Jesus Christ and the Gospel. We hear it in what to many are the most familiar words in the book of Philippians,

For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

 

 

What inspires you? This week we are looking at one and only

One Inspiration. For us to stand as ONE in a divided world we must all have one inspiration…Jesus Christ and His Good News. The church began to experience division when they get too focused on themselves and forget that their One inspiration was Jesus Christ and Him only.

To that point, Paul had been focused on his circumstances and the joy of the advancement of the Gospel despite adversity, but in these verses he turns his attention toward the future.

18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Philippians 1:18–26

 

Summarizing this entire section in a phrase it’s

Paul’s One Inspiration. The word rejoice appears twice and the word joy once. Even though he was enduring adversity from non-believers that placed him in prison and adversity from believers with impure motives of selfish ambition, he had joy. Even though the outcome of his circumstances was uncertain, he had joy. When you read these verses, there is a great deal of uncertainty within them because Paul didn’t know if he was going to live or die or if he would be released from prison or not. Verse 25 is a statement of faith in what he believes will be the outcome of his trial before Caesar, “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith.” The other verses hinge on the uncertainty of his situation, but here is the one thing Paul was certain of regardless of the outcome of his imprisonment, “Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

 

 

MONDAY: Paul Could Have Joy In The Uncertainty Of His Circumstances Because Of Joy’s Inspiration…Jesus Christ And His Gospel.

Joy for Paul was not dependent on the outcome of his trial but by living or dying for Christ. For Paul, living was victory and dying was victory. Living was victory for him because if he lived there was the fruitful labor in advancing the Gospel in the lives of others. Living meant he could see the Philippians again and help them make progress in their faith walk with Christ. However, dying was victory as well because dying meant that he would attain the culmination of salvation, which is to be with Christ and that, was Paul’s personal desire.

“My desire is to depart and be with Christ which is far better.”

Philippians 1:23

 

Make no mistake about it, Paul felt the tension between life and death. In verse 23, he said,

“I am hard pressed between the two.The phrase “hard pressed” described a feeling of being “hemmed in from both sides as when walking through a narrow gorge.”[ii] There may be some of you who are claustrophobic so the thought of walking through a narrow gorge is not appealing to you. However, Paul felt claustrophobic between life and death, but it was not a feeling of defeat, but one of joyous victory. Jesus Christ was his inspiration so Paul lived joyfully between life and death because he was in a win-win situation. When Jesus Christ is your inspiration, then you constantly live in a win-win situation.

Living on earth means serving Christ and dying means being with Christ.

 

TUESDAY: Paul Could Have Joy In The Uncertainty Of His Circumstances Because Of Joy’s Inspiration…The Prayers Of God’s People V. 19.

 

Notice the reason for his joy,

“Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance

,” Philippians 1:19.

 

The prayers of the Philippians are linked to the Spirit of Jesus Christ in his life. The word “help” is also understood to mean provision or supply, therefore the Philippians prayed that the Spirit of Christ would be supplied to Paul that he might courageously testify before Caesar. This seems like a strange request since Paul already had the Spirit of Christ through faith in Christ. However, this is no different than when Christ followers like Stephen were faced with difficult situations and were filled with the Holy Spirit to live courageously for Christ. This is the same thing as when you pray for fellow believers going through a difficult time to know the presence of Christ strengthening them during that adversity. Paul had joy because he knew that through the prayers of God’s people and the Spirit of Christ he would be delivered.

 

Deliverance is used throughout the New Testament for salvation and that is what Paul had in mind. He knew with certainty that one way or another he would be delivered through their prayers. Through the supply of the Holy Spirit, he would courageously testify before Caesar and be released or he would be martyred and that would lead to the culmination of salvation and being with Christ. Either way the prayers of God’s people inspired joy in him because prayer makes a difference

.

 

May we never forget that prayer makes a difference in the lives of people.

Although we can’t explain it, prayer makes a difference.

 

Despite what we may or may not understand about prayer, God has deliberately chosen this particular vehicle as the one that drives His activity in His people’s lives. It is the means by which He allows you to partner with Him in the fulfilling of His will. He created prayer as a primary way of putting you into personal contact with Him and with His eternal realities, any hour of the day or night.[iii]

 

Paul was inspired by the joy of God’s people praying. He knew that the prayers would inexplicably make a difference in his situation. One way or the other God’s will would be done and he would be delivered. Delivered to advance the Gospel further or delivered to see the goal of the Gospel…being with Christ forever. Let’s look at some applications:

 

What lessons can we apply TODAY from Paul’s example?

 

WEDNESDAY: By Praying For Others To Persevere Through Uncertain Circumstances v. 19.

The power of prayer is the Power of One because it says, “

You are not alone! You can make it.” Remember from 1:7, Paul called them “partakers of grace in my imprisonment…” Partnership in prayer was one of the ways they were partakers with Paul in his imprisonment. “You are not alone!” The Power of One is that power of relationships with others that we need in our lives to persevere. Dr. Henry Cloud calls this the power of the other. He says, “the neglected truth is that the invisible attributes of relationship, the connection between people, have real tangible, and measurable power.[iv]

Here is the key: You must acknowledge your need for help. The apostle Paul needed the help of others and so do we.

 

When you and I stand as ONE in a divided world, we discover the power of relationships that are needed to make it through the tough stuff of life. You and I need each other. The power of prayer makes a difference because it is the Power of ONE. Make it a point to pray diligently and regularly for every need you hear about and all whom you love.

 

THURSDAY: By Progressing In Your Faith v. 25.

 

Jesus Christ so inspired Paul with joy that he wanted others to “progress and have joy in faith.” Faith in Christ was never intended to be a one-and-done decision that becomes stagnant afterward, but a lifetime decision to progress daily in faith. Jesus Christ cannot be your inspiration unless you are growing in your faith. You will be a joyless Christian unless you are growing in your faith. You need to take the initiative to grow in your faith. Start today.

 

When you

accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Bible says we receive supernatural help from the Holy Spirit

. Because of that help, you can become more like Jesus, showing nine key characteristics—the fruits of the Spirit—in your daily life.

 

  1. Love

It’s no coincidence that love is the first fruit listed in Galatians chapter 5. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and love one another Mark 12:30-31. When you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbors as yourself, you show the world you belong to Jesus. Until you know God loves you, it will be difficult to love God and love others.

 

Our culture uses the word “love” so casually (“I love your dress!” “I love cheeseburgers!”), it can be hard to identify the kind of love Jesus spoke about. What does it look like to love God with all you have? Like any relationship, love means setting aside time. Take time to talk with God and get to know Him through the Bible…every day. Are you doing that?

 

Once you love God, you can love others. But love isn’t just something to talk about. Jesus taught us to show our love through actions. Find ways to love people through acts of service. Even a simple phone call can make a difference. Then share God’s love with others. Know someone who’s hard to love?

 

  1. Joy

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” Philippians 4:4.

 

It’s easy to rejoice when things are going your way. It’s a different story when life is hard. But followers of Jesus are called to have joy all the time—not just when life is good. One of the keys to being joyful is knowing why you rejoice. You don’t rejoice in your money, job, vacations or even your relationships. You must rejoice in the Lord. Billy Graham said, “Only the forward-looking Christian remains sincerely optimistic and joyful, knowing that Christ will win in the end.” Is your focus on the problems of this world, or the eternal joy that is to come? If you find yourself focusing on negatives, redirect your thoughts to Jesus and the promise of heaven.

 

  1. Peace

Like the word “love,” “peace” is a word that has become casual and hard to define. But true peace comes from God, and there’s nothing like it.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” John 16:33.

 

Jesus spoke those words thousands of years ago, but they’re still meant for us today. Check yourself. Does your peace come from trusting Jesus, or does it come from your circumstances? It seems more people than ever suffer from anxiety. But you can have peace when you train yourself to focus on God instead of yourself or the world around you. Start with reading and memorizing Philippians 4:6-9, that explains how to replace anxiety with the peace of God.

 

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” Matthew 5:9. Billy Graham talks about whether world peace is possible. You should pray for peace throughout the world, but you can’t forget about your own backyard. Is there strife within your own family or workplace? Be a peacemaker there.

 

  1. Patience

Living in this fast-paced world can give you a short fuse. Still, impatience isn’t something you want to brush off as a minor personality flaw. If you find yourself getting annoyed, worried or intolerant while waiting on people, imagine how much those negative emotions can escalate while you’re waiting on the Lord. Don’t think you have what it takes to be patient? Submit this tough area to God.

 

In some translations, the word “long-suffering” is used in place of “peace” in Galatians 5:22. Both patience and long-suffering deal with endurance—a necessary companion for your faith walk. God exercises more patience than we ever could. No matter how many times you mess up, God won’t run out of patience with you.

 

  1. Kindness

Count others more significant than yourselves” and “look to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

 

Kindness is about more than being cordial. It’s an intentional act that requires effort and genuine concern. These reminders can help you become a kinder person. Make room to be kind to others. Give compliments. Talk to strangers beyond saying, “Hello.” Make extra effort this week to recognize opportunities to demonstrate kindness, and then follow through. Take note of how it impacts you and others. “People take my kindness for weakness.” Sound familiar? There’s nothing weak about being kind to others. In fact, it takes a great degree of humility to consistently live this way.

 

When you totally give your life to Christ, your old ways no longer matter. With the help of God, you can embody the attributes of a kind person.

 

  1. Goodness

To practice goodness, you must first know what God considers “good.” God calls us to have true, right and pure thoughts Philippians 4:8. God calls you to love everyone, including your enemies. “The Bible declares that we who follow Jesus Christ should be just as much in love with each other as God was in love with us when He sent His Son to die on the cross.” God calls you to do the right thing for the right reasons. This battle starts with the heart.

 

  1. Faithfulness

Do you have someone to turn to with the most important things in life? Someone who sticks close by through the ups and downs? A loyal friend isn’t to be taken for granted. You can be that kind of person, too. God is faithful. Are you faithful back? He wants you to be a good steward with what He’s given you—time, talents, money, and relationships. Can He trust you to treat or use these things wisely?

 

Being faithful to God also means not putting other things above Him. The Bible calls these idols—anything you worship or give “god-like” status to. An idol isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself—it could be work, social position, entertainment, looks—but can be a distraction when God doesn’t come first. Is He at the center of all you do? Your relationships are important to God. Are you loyal to those around you? Can people trust that you’ll do what you say you’ll do?

“Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgment.” James 5:12

 

  1. Gentleness

Harsh. Abrasive. Overly critical. Angry. That doesn’t exactly describe the kind of person you want to be around, does it? Here are some ways to approach your own relationships with gentleness.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

 

Build others up, don’t tear them down. Believe the best, don’t assume the worst. Distance yourself from harmful gossip. Anger may be justified, but how you deal with it can make or break relationships. It can also lead to bitterness, which gets you nowhere.

 

Constructive criticism can be helpful, but be wary of criticizing others to the point of belittling them. Balance your feedback with compliments. Be mindful of your tone of voice and who’s around when you offer input.

  1. Self-control
With so many day-to-day temptations and frustrations, it can be hard to maintain self-control. Whether you’re at home, at work or on the road, here are a few things to keep in mind. We’re all tempted, but you don’t have to give in. Sometimes you need to distance yourself from whatever is tempting you. Here’s

how to stay strong when faced with temptation

.

“…(God) will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

 

Maybe you lack self-control when it comes to food. Maybe it’s hard to keep your cool when the kids are crying. Or maybe

the issue is lust

. Whatever it is, try taking a break. Count to 10 and refocus. Call a friend for encouragement. Read a Psalm to calm your heart and focus on God. Take a walk.

 

Willpower alone might not be enough. Ask God for His power to maintain discipline.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7

https://billygraham.org/story/9-ways-to-grow-in-your-faith/

 

FRIDAY: By living for something bigger than the almighty dollar…Jesus Christ v. 21.

Remember the video of the family owned construction company centered on Christ. Whether you are in construction, teaching, coaching or stay at home mom, let Jesus Christ be your inspiration for what you do. Money will come and go, but when Christ is your inspiration in your work place, you will always have joy. If your job changes then, you can have

joy

because you know God is redirecting you to a new endeavor to make a difference for Him. Here’s Paul’s example:

11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13

 

Oh, by the way, what would inspire a man to ride for several hours in a casket under a corpse across the African plains? Azzam was the son of a Muslim Warlord in Somalia and had converted to Christianity. He was riding in a casket under a dead body because the Muslim guards driving the truck wouldn’t touch a dead body. He was smuggling Bibles from Kenya to Somalia for Christians living in Somalia so he could disciple them. His inspiration…Jesus Christ and His Gospel. What inspires you?

 

[i] Doyle, Tom. Killing Christians.

Thomas Nelson Publisher, 2015. 1-4.

[ii] MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Philippians.

Moody Publishers, 2001. 78.

[iii]

http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2016/march-16/dont-underestimate-power-of-prayer-priscilla-shirer.html

[iv]

Ibid, 6.

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One: “Partners in Gospel and Grace”

One: “Partners in Gospel and Grace”

Philippians 1:1-11

March 13 – 17, 2017

 
The prison epistles—

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon—are so named because the apostle Paul wrote them during his incarceration in Rome. The exact date of Paul’s imprisonment, as well as the exact dates he wrote each of the prison epistles, is unknown, but the two-year period he spent under house arrest in Rome has been narrowed down to the years AD 60-62. Paul’s imprisonment in Rome is verified by the book of Acts, where we find references to his being guarded by soldiers Acts 28:16, being permitted to receive visitors Acts 28:30, and having opportunities to share the gospel Acts 28:31. When he was in prison in Caesarea earlier, he was afforded no such luxuries. So it is generally accepted that Paul’s Roman incarceration produced three great letters to the churches of Ephesus, Colosse, and Philippi, as well as a personal letter to his friend Philemon

. For this study, let’s turn our attention to the letter to the church at Philippi.

 

Who wrote the book?

Paul ministered at Philippi during his second missionary journey, spending about three months in the city. The ministry at Philippi marked Paul’s entrance into Macedonia, which came about as a result of a vision he had in the city of Troas, just across the northeastern corner of the Aegean Sea from the port city of Neapolis and its close neighbor Philippi

Acts 16:8–12

.

 

Had Paul had his way, he would have turned East from Troas and moved back into Asia Minor to carry the Gospel. That encounter was the watershed that turned the Gospel to the Western world and ultimately to us. You just never know how momentous any encounter with God will be when He moves you to act.

 

During this first stay in Philippi—he later briefly visited the city on his third missionary journey Acts 20:6—Paul brought to faith in Christ people who would form the core of the burgeoning congregation in the city. Among them were Lydia, a businesswoman who opened her home to Paul and his coworkers Acts 16:13–15, and the Philippian jailer, who was converted under Paul’s ministry after an earthquake miraculously broke open the prison Acts 16:22–34.

 

Where are we?

Of the four Prison Epistles, Paul likely wrote Philippians last, near the end of his Roman imprisonment in AD 61 or 62. Paul sent the other three Prison Epistles—Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon—by the hand of Tychicus, as their destinations were near one another. However, the letter to the Philippians was to be delivered by Epaphroditus, who had come to Paul in Rome with financial help from the church at

Philippi.

25 Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need

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. Philippians 2:25; 4:18.

 

But during his time in Rome, Epaphroditus took ill, which delayed his return home and, therefore, the delivery of the letter Philippians 2:26–27.

 

Why is Philippians so important?

The apostle Paul did not write Philippians in response to a crisis, as he did with Galatians and Colossians. Instead, he wrote to express his appreciation and affection for the Philippian believers.

More than any other church, the believers in Philippi offered Paul material support for his ministry. See 2 Corinthians 8:11; Philippians 4:15–18

.

 

Paul’s affection for these people is clear throughout the letter as he encouraged them to live out their faith in joy and unity. Philippians 1:3–5, 25–26; 4:1.

 

What’s the big idea here?

Philippians brims over with often quoted passages:

6He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6

,

21“To live is Christ and to die is gain”

Philippians 1:21 and

13“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”

Philippians 4:13.

 

These are just a few. But the portrait of Jesus Christ as a humble servant serves as the core of Paul’s teaching in this letter Philippians 2:5–11.

 

Paul’s joy at the mere thought of the Philippian church is undeniable in the letter, and it’s that same joy that he wanted the recipients to possess as well. To lead the Philippians to this truth, Paul took them directly to Jesus, teaching them that a community of believers living in harmony with one another comes only through mutual humility modeled after the Savior. Paul wrote that he poured out his life as an offering for the sake of Christ, leading Paul to find great joy and contentment in Christ’s service. His letter to the Philippians showed them that by centering their lives on Christ, they, too, might live in true joy.

 

How do I apply this?

Though we all have much to be thankful for, the pace and the pressure of life often squeeze the joy from us. Our shoulders slumped and our heads bowed, we find some days—or months—very difficult to get through. Desperate, we often search for joy in all kinds of ways—acquiring possessions, visiting places, or seeing people. But none of these can provide lasting joy. Where do you find joy in the midst of a trying circumstance?

Paul knew, as did the Philippians, that true joy comes only through humble faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ, joining ourselves in harmony with His followers, and serving others in the name of Christ. This was the life experienced by the Philippian believers, and it is a life available to us today.

 

Allow the joy you find in Christ to keep you from useless quarrels and divisions and to instead guide you into harmonious relationships with God’s people. Taken from:

https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-pauline-epistles/philippians

So, now let’s continue to dig in. Our pulpit guest Sunday is no stranger to our church Vince Smith Collin Baptist Association Executive Director since July 2012. He has pastored churches in multiple states and was formerly a Lt. Commander. in the US Navy.

 

So, if there was ever a time when there was a divided world, it is certainly in our day in our country. We are polarized by political party, by the definition of marriage, by the determination of gender, by decorum, by religious liberty, by freedom of speech, by academic freedom and a host of other things.

 

Let’s see what Paul’s letter to the Philippians has to say to us about that in our day.

 

MONDAY: Christian Unity Is Exemplified By

1This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the church leaders and deacons. 2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace

. Philippians 1:1-2

 

Christian unity begins for Paul and Timothy by assuming the role of “slave” to Jesus Christ. A slave

is one who is completely subservient to a dominating influence of another

. Paul was completely sold out to the claim of Jesus Christ on his life, and he cemented that claim on his life by his recognition of the grace and peace God had granted to him and that he wanted to be sure that the church recognized their benefit of God’s grace and peace.

 

The key words of the letter are

JOY or REJOICE

that appears 16 times in the book and THE LORD JESUS CHRIST that appears 36 times. A recurring theme is: You can have joy because of Jesus Christ. MIND/ATTITUDE occurs 11 times. You can have joy because of Christ if you have a proper MIND/ATTITUDE.

 

TUESDAY: Christian Unity Comes From Being

5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. 7 So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News

. Philippians 1:5-7

 

Notice that Christian Unity calls for partnership in the gospel on the basis of having been included as partakers of grace. Since you and I are partakers of grace then you

must

partner in the Gospel. You cannot be a witness without grace and you cannot receive grace without a witness.

 

Grace is that energizing power of God working in us to do that which we cannot do for ourselves.

 

Paul says it another way in the Ephesian letter.

8 God saved you by his grace through faith. And you can’t take credit for this; IT is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Ephesians 2:8-9

 

Paul was clear that both

GRACE and the FAITH to accept it are the “IT”

that comes as gifts from God. Not even the good work of Faith is yours to exercise unless God first draws you to Him. What an unspeakable gift. What does that suggest to you about your response to grace?

 

WEDNESDAY: Gospel and Grace Partnerships Grow Through the Good Work of God in You so That Your Love Will Overflow Lavishly

6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:6

9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.

Philippians 1:9

 

THURSDAY: Partners In Gospel And Grace Demonstrate God’s Work Through

  • A thankful heart – Do you start the day with thanksgiving for all the benefits you have received from God’s grace?
  • A consistent prayer life – Is prayer something you do only at mealtime or when you are in trouble? Is prayer something you do every day at a pre-determined time? Do you pray for specific people and concerns every day? Do you pray for the leaders of our city, county, state, nation?
  • A life full of joy and peace – Do you look for joy and peace that are not dependent upon your circumstances–with an eye on heaven–knowing joy and peace are yours regardless of what else is going on in your life?
  • A strong fellowship with other believers – Are you regularly in fellowship with other believers? How much of your life is wrapped around ministry and worship with other believers?
  • An unshaken confidence in God’s salvation – I have lost two really good friends over the past few weeks, and my life is diminished with these losses. I could not manage any of that without the firm confidence that “This World Is Not My Home…”

FRIDAY: What Keeps You Up At Night

Robert J. Morgan’s little book Red Sea Rules offers great insights and encouragements when it’s hard to have the joy in your life that Paul speaks so eloquently about to the Philippian church. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRD2MpJG6-o

 

When You Find Yourself Up Against Your Own Red Sea…

 

Realize that the Lord either placed you there or allowed you to be there: Our Father has custom designed the experiences you need to prepare you for His Kingdom.

 

Be more concerned for God’s glory than your relief: The next time your overwhelmed, instead of asking, “How can I get out of this mess?” try asking, “How can God be glorified in this situation.”

 

In John 9 the disciples met a man blind from birth. When they asked Jesus if this was as a result of his sin or that of his parents, Jesus responded, “Your asking the wrong question. This man was born blind so that the power of God could be displayed in his life.” When Mary and Martha reproved Jesus for not coming immediately and healing Lazarus, Jesus responded, “This sickness is not unto death, but that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” At the onset of the most excruciating week of His life, Jesus asked not, “How can I get out of this? But “How can God’s name be glorified?” Our job amid the difficulty is to learn our Lord’s simple but submissive prayer: What shall I say? Save me from this hour? No, Father, glorify Your name. The story of parted waters shows us that God gains glory:

  • When His enemies are defeated;
  • When His children are delivered;
  • When His name is exalted;
  • When his exploits are remembered; and
  • When His praises are sounded. He will gain honor for Himself over your adversarial situations.

 

Acknowledge Satan’s attacks on your life, but keep your focus on the Lord

:

6“Submit yourself to God. 7Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

James 4:6-8

36“Therefore if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.”

John 8:36

 

Pray fervently:

16The fervent prayer of a righteous man is mighty in its working.”

James 5:16

 

 

 

Stay calm and confident, and give God time to work

:

7“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him… 8Do not fret – it only causes harm.”

Psalm 37:7-8

15“The battle is not yours, but God’s…. You will not need to fight in this battle. 17Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you… Do not fear or be dismayed.”

2 Chronicles 20:15,17

 

When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith:

3“Your strength shall be renewed day by day like morning dew.”

Psalm 110:3

16“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”

2 Corinthians 4:16

34“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of you tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.”

Mathew 6:34

Trust God for guidance in small increments; and if you can’t see what lies dimly in the distance, do what lies clearly at hand.

 

Envision God’s enveloping presence:

5“I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too – your reassuring presence, coming and going. 6 This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in.”

Psalm 139:5-6 MSG

22 “Lord let your constant love surround us, for our hopes are in you alone.”

Psalm 33:22

 

God’s presence in the trial is much better than exemption from the trial.

1“God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble.”

Psalm 46:1

5“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5

9“Speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you.”

Acts 18:9-10

15“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.”

Genesis 28:15

5“The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything.”

Philippians 4:5,6

The best way to develop and abiding awareness of God’s presence is to speak to Him often in prayer. Prayer is the environment in which we most solidly connect with God on an intimate basis. Do it often.

 

Trust God to deliver in His own unique way

:

15“Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

Psalm 50:15

18The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever.”

2 Timothy 4:18

 

God still delivers, but we must understand that,

8“My thoughts are not your thoughts; nor are your ways My ways.”

(Isaiah 55:8)

 

View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future: I know He tries me to increase my faith. “A faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted

.” –Warren Wiersbe. The Lord loves to respond to faith.

 

Don’t forget to praise Him

: Praise and worship are the sand and cement that hold the bricks in place along life’s daily path. Every segment of our day should be encased in praise.

1See those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Colossians 3:1-3

 

Praise is our typical expression of joyful confidence and triumphant thanksgiving at what God has done, is doing, and is going to do.


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ONE: Standing United in a Divided World

“ONE: Standing United in a Divided World”

Philippians 1:1-3

March 6-10, 2017

 

Brain Science and Trump’s Speech to Congress

Dr. Jim Denison – Denison Forum, March 1, 2017

 

I thought Donald Trump’s address last Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress was the most effective speech he’s ever given. His words and tone were presidential, and his passion for our country was obvious. Seventy percent of viewers said the speech made them more optimistic about the direction of the country. I heard a tv commentator say afterwards, “He may have been inaugurated January 20, but he became president tonight.”

 

However, the partisan divide that challenges our future is on clear display this week. The Huffington Post sarcastically headlines, “Speaker’s Pet,” with a picture of the president shaking hands with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The Los Angeles Times complains, “Trump speech: Promise the world, leave out the details.” The Washington Post is skeptical: “A tale of two speeches: The contradictions of Donald Trump’s Presidency.” On the other side of the aisle, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was “Blown Away” by the president’s “Unifying” speech to Congress.

 

Why are our political divisions so entrenched? According to scientists, our brains are to blame.

 

University of Southern California cognitive neuroscientist Jonas Kaplan has been studying how our brains react when our political beliefs are challenged. Kaplan and his colleagues performed functional MRI scans on the brains of forty participants, all of whom held strong political views. They monitored brain activity as their team presented counterarguments and tried to sway the subjects’ political positions.

 

According to the MRI scans, the areas of the brain that were triggered control deep, emotional thoughts about the subjects’ personal identity. When these parts of the brain were stimulated, the subjects felt challenged and became defensive, shutting down any willingness to accept counterarguments.

The amygdala — the two almond-shaped areas hugging the center of the brain near the front – tends to become active when people dig in their heels about a political belief.

 

Such divisiveness is truly dangerous, for it threatens our nation’s future. In a two-party system, compromise and consensus are essential to progress. When one-half of Congress stands to applaud the president while the other half sits in stony silence, the government gridlocks and America suffers.

 

Here’s what united the political parties the other night: patriotic sacrifice. President Trump honored Caryn Owens, widow of William “Ryan” Owens, the US Navy SEAL killed in a late-January raid in Yemen. The unanimous standing ovation she received lasted for two minutes, eleven seconds.

 

Men and women from both political parties are fighting and dying for our country while too many of us are engaged in self-serving partisan defamation. Politics flow downstream from culture. It’s time for Americans to stop condemning those with whom we disagree and start finding ways to cooperate for the common good.

 

And it’s time for America’s Christians to lead the way.

“Good Christians make good citizens” (Justin Martyr). Here’s why: We are commanded to pray for our leaders 1 Timothy 2:1–2 and respect those in authority Romans 13:7. We are to refuse all slander 1 Peter 2:1, treating our opponents with “gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15.

 

These biblical imperatives are especially appropriate for the season of Lent, which begins today. As we enter forty days of preparation for Easter, Pope Francis asks that we fast from indifference toward others so we can feast on love. Jesus was clear:

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse youLuke 6:27–28.

 

We launch a study this week into the letter from the Apostle Paul to church in Philippi. Paul and Timothy first visited Philippi in Greece during Paul’s second missionary journey, which occurred between approximately 49 and 51 AD.

 

Philippians has been the subject of much research and Philippians 2 has been considered the beginning of the field of

Christology, specifically referring to the rich analysis that Apostle Paul began in Philippians 2:5–6 and again in Philippians 3:10 the beginning of the analysis of the knowledge of Christ. It is the 11th book in the New Testament and while Paul’s opening prayer is for love Chapter 1 verse 9, based on knowledge of Christ

, his final prayer is for the peace of God 4:7, which surpasses all understanding. Thus the concepts of love, knowledge and peace are jointly developed in this letter. Is there anything more timely for us?
  • ••••••••••••••••

In November of 2016, CNN published an article entitled, A Nation Divided, and is it ever where they noted that 8 out of 10 Americans are divided on major issues. The article goes on to say, “34% of Americans say that there are at least some issues where both parties share their views…”[i]

 

We live in a world that is divided. If you spend one evening watching the news, you can get depressed by all the division that you will see. Is there any hope for unity? Who do you trust to watch? What is the answer to all the division in the world and especially in our nation? Is the answer money? Is the answer politicians or governments? No. The answer is to be found in the church.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

 

You may have noticed that there are divisions in churches and between churches that mirror what is going on in our society and the world. And you are right which means it cannot be just any church or every church. It must be the church that is ONE! The answer to all the division in the world is the church united as one under the banner of the Gospel, because the Gospel reaches across all dividing lines. On the night before His death, Jesus spent some time praying over His disciples and He prayed extensively that they would be ONE. Jesus prayed for oneness that ultimately in the church will reflect the oneness that exists between Him and the Father.

20“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:20-23
 

 

MONDAY: When We Are ONE in a Divided World It Reflects God’s Glory and Love to The World.

 

How important is oneness? Jesus said that it was through us being one that the world will believe that God has sent Him. When we are ONE, we are getting our shine on. Therefore, being one or united is important to the heart of God. As Paul wrote the letter to the Philippian church, being one was important to the heart of his letter. In his commentary on Philippians, Peter T. O’Brien, Australian New Testament scholar has written commentaries on Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and Hebrews. He notes that the heart of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is found in the exhortations of in 1:27-30 where the church is told to “stand firm and persevere and to be united.”[ii]

 

This is the most important command from Paul in this letter and the rest of the letter and its instructions flow from it. The Apostle Paul wrote many letters, addressing many doctrinal issues that were threatening churches, but his main concern with the church at Philippi was that they be ONE. Paul wanted them to be ONE by standing united in a divided world. Over the next several weeks, we will study the book of Philippians in a series we have titled: “One: Standing United in a Divided World.”

 

This study will help us answer the question: “How can we be One in a divided world?”

 

If you’ve spent any time reading the book of Philippians or heard other sermons dealing with this book, no doubt they have focused on the theme of joy within this letter. In fact, this letter is often called the Epistle of Joy because of the number of times the word joy is mentioned. According to my count, the word “joy” or its cousin “rejoice” is mentioned 14 times in this letter. While we will spend time touching on joy in the book, most of our studies will address the oneness that Paul desired to see in the church at Philippi.

 

You may ask, “Why this book? Why now? Why this theme? We don’t have any division problems.”

Two reasons.

  • One, because this is the book that God laid on our pastor’s heart three months ago as he took a week to study, to plan, and to listen to God’s voice. [Parenthetically, I am so proud of our church for insisting that Pastor Kevin take time away to study and prepare for future sermon series. As one who has had the discipline of preparing new directions on a weekly basis while doing all the other pastoral work of a minister, this time away for him is invaluable and we get to experience the results. Well done. Dick Ivey, PhD]
  • Second, because we all know that there are tremendous changes taking place in our beloved city of Celina. Those changes will have an impact on the ministry decisions we make together moving forward. As change happens, we must always remember that we are to be ONE under the banner of the Gospel. We may have different opinions but at the end of the day we stand as a beacon of ONEness in a world that is divided.
 

 

TUESDAY: A World Divided Will Try To Divide Us.

 

There is great power in ONEness so the world that abhors unity will try to divide us. To discover the power of ONE it makes sense to figure out where the source of division comes from.

 

What are the sources of division for a church? Philippians helps us identify those sources of division.

 

What are the attitudes that overcome division and promote oneness? Let’s see if the Philippian church’s experience can shed any light on this. I believe you will encounter the attitudes and behaviors that caused divisions there. But, you will also discover the attitude and behavior that promotes ONEness within the church at Philippi and by extension in our church.

 

The church at Philippi was dealing with two sources of division and Paul was burdened because this church was leaning towards disunity and contentiousness.[iii]

 

However, you will also be encouraged to dig deeper into an understanding of how the attitudes and actions that promote division within a church can also cause division in your family, your friendships, in our community, and in your work place. So this little letter has a lot of application for your personal life as well. Please take personal responsibility to listen to and apply its teachings so that God can use you to promote ONEness in many areas of our world.

 

OK, now we are finally to the letter itself:

1Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:1-2

 

Notice that Timothy and Paul are together when this letter is written. His customary greeting, “Grace and peace to you” is certainly a greeting I like to receive. A name that isn’t mentioned is Epaphroditis. Epaphroditis had come from Philippi with a gift for Paul because they had learned of his imprisonment in Rome. He’s mentioned in Chapter 2 verse 25. The journey from Philippi to Rome was a long, arduous 1200-mile trip.[iv] It reminds me of a missionary story from the interior of Africa. One of the missionary ladies received a smooth stone for her birthday from one of her students. He told her he had walked to the ocean…a long journey…to pick up the stone. When the missionary lady remarked that there were stones similar in their village, the villager said, “I know, long walk is part of gift.”

 

Epaphroditis’ willingness to travel that far was prima facie evidence of the great love the Philippians had for Paul. A quick history of the city: In 400 BC, Philip II of Macedon became the city’s namesake when he took control of the area because of the valuable mines located in the region. After a battle in 31BC between Roman rivals Octavian and Antony, people were settled in Philippi and it became a Roman city. In The Acts of the Holy Spirit chapter 16 you will find the story about Paul responding to a dream from God calling him to head toward Europe and enter Macedonia to preach the Gospel. Paul’s goal was to turn east toward Asia, but God prevented him from doing so. Had Paul not been obedient, Christianity might have become an Eastern religion. Being obedient, Paul made his way to Philippi “a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony.” v.12. When Paul preached the Gospel there, Lydia and many others came to faith in Jesus Christ, but Paul stirred up a hornet’s nest when he cast a demon out of young girl that men were using for profit. As a result, (in spite of the healings done and the Word preached and well received) Paul and Silas were thrown in jail. Let’s take a moment to read this passage

25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. 35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed. Acts 16:25-40

 

The days ahead for this church were not easy, as they had to deal with extreme poverty and persecution in this city. But, Paul and Silas gave them a great example to follow in the middle of persecution because pain for Christ can become a channel through which others can meet Him. Through the pain of persecution, a Roman soldier came to know the Lord. No doubt the soldier and his family were members of this church that would receive Paul’s letter.

 

There was a great deal of division in the Roman world at the time. Slavery and racism were rampant. Women were second-class citizens and were treated as such. The Jews were divided into Pharisees, Sadducees, and Zealots. Anti-Semitism was the norm. Into this divide world stepped the Lord of Creation to offer the message of hope and reconciliation that crossed all dividing lines for those that would follow Him. His prayer for them, be one, stand united in a divided world.
 

 

Living the Word

WEDNESDAY: Read The Book Of Philippians

 

Find a version of Philippians that reads well for you. I like going to Bible Gateway and finding a version. My choice is New Living Translation because it reads like I talk. Here’s the site: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+1-4&version=NLT

 

As you read, see if you can discover the sources of division that were affecting this church. Also, try to discover the actions and attitudes that promote division and which ones promote oneness. Which actions and attitudes are you demonstrating that promote division? As you read, notice the emphasis on partnership that is mentioned throughout. This is one of our ministry values and we will touch on this as we make our way through the book. As you read, see if you can begin to discover the power of one.

That I May Know Him is a good study of Philippians with Kay Arthur. You will learn what it means to be in Christ and to live your life as a servant of God by following the example of Jesus. This exciting inductive study brings you face-to-face with the truth of God’s precepts, promises, and purposes—in just minutes a day! It gives you several weeks of daily study with discussion questions.
 

THURSDAY: Pray For ONEness

 

Jesus prayed for ONEness in His followers and so should we. Pray that God will do a great work of unifying His church all across America and that through that ONEness others will come to know Him.

 

Here is what we may view as a great planning session between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to which we are privileged to listen. This is, in other words, a summit meeting, the highest possible summit. It does not focus on a single country or continent of the world, but it has in its scope the entire world. It is not to plan a campaign of a few years or a decade or two, but it encompasses the entire age in which we live, from the first coming of Christ to the second coming. It does not involve a few local churches, or a denomination or two in some kind of united campaign, but it gathers in the whole Body of Christ, every Christian who has ever lived, or ever will live, in all time. In a very real sense these verses are the key to history, the blueprints of God’s program for this age. Here is a military campaign being planned that is designed to recapture this rebellious planet for God. http://www.raystedman.org/thematic-studies/prayer/the-prayer-for-unity

 

So, take time today as a family to pray like this:

  • God, make me an instrument of Peace
  • Cleanse my life of unconfessed sin
  • Forgive me for not listening to You
  • Bless our church with wisdom
  • Give unusual insight to our church staff
  • Bless our President with wisdom
  • Bless our Congress with courage
  • Bless our Governor, State, Local leaders
  • Help us to think Biblically
  • Help us not to compromise the Gospel
  • Give us another Great Awakening
  • Come, Lord Jesus and take us home

 

FRIDAY: Be An Agent Of Oneness

 

Paul was an agent of ONEness in writing this letter. He was not on the sidelines watching this beloved church become divided. This week, look for ways that you can bring ONEness to places where you see division. Maybe you see division between two people. Be an agent that brings reconciliation. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers…” Experience the blessing of God by being an agent that brings ONE

ness to that which is divided, in your home, in our church, in our community, at your workplace. Find a shiny target today and go do some healing.

 

I leave you with this today.

Syria is one of the most divided countries in our world, but what we won’t hear or see in the news media is the work that God is doing there amidst the civil war. Farid Assad and Pastor Joseph were two men running for their lives one evening as the civil war raged on. At 12:15 am, a friend led them into a darkened house where they encountered a group worshipping. To their amazement they saw, former Sunni Muslims and Alawite Muslims worshipping the Lord together with their arms resting on one another lovingly. Amazing! A few blocks south of the house Sunni Muslims and Alawite Muslims were shooting at one another, but here they joined one another in worship of the Savior they now had in common.[v]

They were standing as One in a divided world.

[i]

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/27/politics/cnn-poll-division-donald-trump/

[ii] O’Brien, Peter T. The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Epistle to the Philippians.

Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1991. 36. In Logos Bible Software.

[iii] Lea, Dr. Thomas. The New Testament: Its Background and Message.

Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996. 449.

[iv] Carson, D.A., Douglas J. Moo, Leon Morris. An Introduction to the New Testament.

Zondervan Publishers, 1992. 319.

[v] Doyle, Tom. Killing Christians.

Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2015. 28.

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Love Your Family- “The Love Song of Marriage Pt. 2”

Love Your Family – “The Love Song of Marriage”

Song of Songs 8:6-7

February 27 – March 3, 2017

 

Several years ago, when the Saturday Evening Post was still in print they published an article entitled, The Seven Stages of the Married Cold: A husband’s reactions to his wife’s colds during seven years of marriage. The seven stages are as follows:

1st Year: Sugar dumpling; I’m really worried about my baby girl. You’ve got a bad sniffle, and there’s no telling about these things with all the strep throat going around. I’m putting you in the hospital this afternoon for a general checkup, and a good rest.

2nd Year: Listen darling, I don’t like the sound of that cough, and I’ve called Doc Miller to rush over here. Now you go to bed like a good girl, just for Poppa.

3rd Year: Maybe you better lie down, honey. Nothing like a little rest when you feel lousy. I’ll bring you something. Have we got any canned soup?

4th Year: Now look, dear, be sensible. After you’ve fed the kids, and got the dishes done, and the floor finished, you better lie down.

5th Year: Why don’t you take a couple of aspirin?

6th Year: I wish you’d just gargle or something instead of sitting around barking like a seal all evening.

7th Year: For Pete’s sake, stop sneezing! Are you trying to give me pneumonia?i

Or, how about this one?

Is there anyone here who can’t relate to these illustrations? Last week we began trying to answer the question, “If your passion in marriage has diminished, how can you reignite it?

For answers to that question we looked into our Bibles at the book The Song of Songs or The Song of Solomon. One of the things you will recall in the couple described in this song was an insatiable desire to be together. Yet, couples can begin to feel isolated from one another.

Dennis and Barbara Rainey of Family Life ministry out of Little Rock, AR said that the following are signs of isolation:

 

A feeling that your spouse isn’t hearing you and doesn’t want to understand.

An attitude of, “Who cares?”… “Why try?” “Tomorrow we’ll talk about it –just get some sleep.”

A feeling of being unable to please or meet the expectations of your spouse.

A sense that your spouse is detached from you.

 

A refusal to cope with what’s really wrong: “That’s your problem, not mine.”

A feeling that keeping the peace by avoiding the conflict is better than pain of dealing with reality.ii

 

Did any of that land on you? How can you overcome the feelings of isolation that you will feel from time to time and restore the passion of togetherness?

Dennis Rainey says, “Reaffirm your commitment to one another.”iii

That’s where we left off last week. The last call to action was to reconfirm your commitment to togetherness…that one of you has to die to get out of this, and since that is so, what do you have to do to make it fun and fulfilling.

 

Remember that God designed marriage to relieve a problem of aloneness with Adam.

The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone.” Genesis 2:18

God gave marriage to overcome the isolation of aloneness. In the verses that follow, God performed the first wedding ceremony when He gave to Adam his wife Eve.

24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. 25 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. Genesis 2:24-25. Note the commitment of togetherness that God desires.

And by the way, did you ever wonder why these verses were included in the Creation narrative? Neither Adam nor Eve had parents. How about this: This was God’s way of telling us for all time how marriages would be formed…that this first one was a one-off deal. From then on, it was to be one man…one woman…together forever.

But, back to our study in the Song of Songs where you can see a commitment to the togetherness envisioned by God in the Creation

6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. 7Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised. Song of Solomon 8:6–7

Recall what we looked at last week about seals that were used to bind contracts in biblical times therefore this statement was a commitment of inseparability. Perhaps this will carry more weight if you view this togetherness as a covenant and not a contract.

 A Contract is an agreement between two parties where each promises to do something with the caveat that if one party reneges on the agreement, the other can void the contract.

 A Covenant, on the other hand, is a unilateral promise. It does not depend on what the second party does or does not go. It is a permanent commitment to do as promised…period.

You sign your name to contracts and to bind us to agreements. In today’s language, this couple is saying, “I’m signing my name upon your heart. I am choosing to be inseparable from you.” This is a covenant that can only be broken by death.
This is a conscious choice of inseparability. This is why the first step in overcoming isolation and reigniting passion is a recommitment of your covenant to be together until one of you lays the other in the arms of God. Can you find your wedding vows? Stop right here and go find them. Neil Clark Warren, founder of eHarmony.com
suggests: 
 

Strengthening Marriage Through Understanding and Rehearsing Wedding Vows

Vows often spoken, then forgotten

Here are some Traditional Vows:

 I will love you as long as we both live

 I will cherish you as long as we both live

 I will honor you as long as we both live

 I will be for you everything that a husband or wife owes to their spouse

 I will never give my love to, or get romantically involved with another person

 I will do all five of these things under every kind of condition for as long as we live.

Or: I promise to love, honor, and cherish you—and to be entirely responsible in relation to you – under every kind of circumstance for as long as we live.

You’ll get to choose among several options, but rehearse your vows until burned into your brain

 The more you say them, the more you will LIVE them. Not just once and forget, but 2-3 times a week for first ten years of marriage and at least once per week after that!

 Approaching conflict with attitude and demeanor as loving, honoring, cherishing yields STRONGER marriage.
 

Simplified version: I will love you when times are good or bad. I will cherish you even if I am upset with you. I will honor you al ALL times. I will never be disloyal to you. And I will mean this forever. So help me God

Be creative: repeat in the mornings, put them on your refrigerator, put them in lunch sacks, write them on bracelets.

This can help to yield not just a Strong marriage, but a TRIUMPHANT marriage!!

Neil Clark Warren, “Learning to Live With the Love of Your Life…And Loving It!” Tyndale House Publishers,1995

In reciting your wedding vows before God, you made a conscious choice of inseparability for a lifetime and a recommitment to togetherness is a conscious choice. But there’s something more than this conscious choice of inseparability.

Solomon made a strange comparison in these verses when he wrote, “for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave.” Love’s strength is as death’s strength. How strong is death? Incredibly strong. No ordinary man has avoided death. Only a couple of people have gotten out of this life alive and you are not likely to be the third.

Death is inescapable by all of us. George Bernard Shaw once opined that “One out of one of us dies.” Even Jesus had to go through death to eventually conquer it by being resurrected. From the time you take your first breath, death constantly pursues you and will never give up until it overtakes you.

You are to actively pursue your spouse with your love; a love demonstrated through inseparability. He says, “
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.
” Love is more than some head over heels feeling, it is described as a power, a force that not even flood waters can stop. 
 

Pursuing inseparability is a choice you make on a daily basis to be relentless in loving our spouse. It is not something that just happens to you.

Roland Murphy wrote in his commentary on the Song of Songs, “Love will not give up, but will pursue the loved one just as persistently as the great and fearful power of death.” But this passage doesn’t stop there. This passage takes us deeper into inseparability.

This is a conscious choice to passionately pursue inseparability with your spouse. Return to verse 6, “for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave.” The word “jealous” is also translated zealous or passion in the Old Testament. I think this is the better understanding in this verse. You are to have a passionate zealous love for your spouse so that nothing can pull you two apart…nothing except death. As death and the grave passionately pursue you, you are to passionately pursue inseparability from your spouse.

You are to be passionate for togetherness with your spouse so that you wouldn’t give up anything for togetherness with them. Look at verse 7, “If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.” You are to passionately pursue inseparability from your spouse because the love of your spouse is priceless. You can’t put a price tag on your spouse’s love, even though sometimes you will take your spouse for granted. When have you done that?

Now for some HOW TOs: Living the Word Applications

Take a look at the person in your mirror Look at how you’ve changed over the years. Think about all your character flaws and idiosyncrasies. Fellas, have you developed a furniture figure? You know, where your chest has fallen into your drawers? The fact that anyone would love you and want to be with you is priceless. You better hold on to what you’ve got because this kind of love is priceless. Let’s see how we can implement this notion of togetherness TODAY.

 

TUESDAY: Overcoming Your Self-Centeredness

Dennis Rainey wrote,

“Frankly, many couples beginning marriage underestimate how selfishness can threaten a marriage. During courtship and engagement, we do everything we can to attract and please our loved ones. We make ourselves out to be the most kind, loving, compassionate, sensitive human beings on earth. Then once we are married and the conquest is complete our natural selfishness, independence, and pride begin to bubble to the surface.”iv

Take a moment and think about the vows that were made during your wedding, Maybe like these?

“I promise to commit myself to your happiness and self-fulfillment as a person,

and to your usefulness in God’s Kingdom.

I promise to love, honor, trust, and serve you

in sickness and in health, in adversity and prosperity,

and to be true and loyal to you, so long as I live.”

Notice the unselfish character of these vows. Wedding vows are completely other-centered and yet often couples enter marriage and become self-centered. WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? Can you step back and think about how many problems you have experienced in your marriage because of self-centeredness? If you are experiencing isolation in your marriage, then maybe it is the result of your own self-centeredness. Here’s what you can do: Take your eyes off yourself and start taking the initiative to serve your spouse. Jesus gave us the example with the towel and the bowl of water. How can you develop and practice a Servant’s Heart toward your spouse? I encourage you to take the The Love Dare. This has been a popular book that gives married couples daily ideas on how to demonstrate unconditional love for your spouse. Whether your marriage is struggling or healthy, this is a great tune-up for your marriages.

Try this. Find out what blesses your spouse and then do it often and well. Consider making a list of things that fulfill that list and give it to your spouse as a “gift.” Give at least one gift to your spouse every day for the next month. [Reminder – A gift is something that you CAN do, that you don’t ordinarily do, but that you CHOOSE to do.]

 

WEDNESDAY: Getting Away With One Another

Every married couple should schedule real dates weekly. Put them on the calendar and make those times as sacred as any business appointment you have. Focus on not making repetitive dates…and just going out for dinner doesn’t count.

Once a month, take an overnight out from your home and family. Go somewhere where your total focus is on each other. If I have to tell you what to do then, you need a weekend with us.

Quarterly, take a long weekend and find a quiet place to go and pamper each other.

Go to one of Family Life’s “Weekend to Remember Events

http://www.familylife.com/weekend-to-remember?msource=OWEBB17001&popup=disabled&gclid=CJCgreurpdICFVuHswoduF0O-Q

Do it as a maintenance program. We spend more time maintaining our cars than we do our marriages. Again, whether your marriage is hurting or healthy, a “Weekend to Remember Event” is a great way to grow your togetherness. There are two in Metroplex events this year. March 31-April 2 in Frisco; November 10-12 in Irving.

Schedule a Marriage 3.0 weekend with Dick and Barb Ivey where new marriages are made good, good marriages are made better and bad marriages are revived-restored-renewed.

Or simply take time away from work and get away with one another.

In the Song of Songs, that’s what they did.

11 Come, my beloved, let us go out into the fields and lodge in the villages; 12let us go out early to the vineyards and see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love. 13The mandrakes give forth fragrance, and beside our doors are all choice fruits, new as well as old, which I have laid up for you, O my beloved. Songs of Songs 7:11-13

THURSDAY: Reading The Song Of Songs Together

Step back a minute and first look up Ray Steadman’s treatise on the Song of Songs. Ray C. Stedman is one of the twentieth century’s foremost pastors and I heard this for the first time on a Radio Program led by Donald Hubbard in 2004. I then found it on line.

ii Rainey, Dennis and Barbara. Togetherness: How Can We Heal the Isolation in our Marriage? Family Life, 2003. 4.

iii Ibid, 18.

iv Ibid, 25.

biblical expositors. His message of authentic Christianity is shaping the lives of individuals and churches worldwide. Ray’s message now reaches across the globe, for the glory of God and the building up of the body of Christ.: http://www.raystedman.org/bible-overview/highlights/the-urges-of-love-song-of-solomon

Google around and find a modern version of the Song and read it to one another. I want to encourage you to read this book that celebrates love and teaches you how to love your spouse better. Discuss it. If you have questions about certain parts of it, then please email me about it. All of God’s Word is profitable to us for teaching. Ask God to open this book to you and teach you how to love your spouse.

 

FRIDAY: Renewing Your Vows

If you are a married couple, set aside a time when you can gather your family and/or friends around and renew your vows of inseparability today. You may be able to find your original vows, but if not either write some or try these that come from our marriage ceremony.

Husband face your bride and hold hands…memorize or read this to her:

Today I take you once again to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, rich or poor, in sickness and in health. Before God and these witnesses, I promise to love, honor and cherish you all the days of your life and will be faithful to you and cleave* only to you through the good times and the bad times until one of us lays the other in the arms of God.

Bribe face your husband and hold hands…memorize or read this to him:

Today I take you once again to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, rich or poor, in sickness and in health. Before God and these witnesses, I promise to love, honor and cherish you all the days of your life and will be faithful to you and cleave* only to you through the good times and the bad times until one of us lays the other in the arms of God.

*cleave = stick like super glue or epoxy, a union that can never be broken.

Then this final reminder. These promises will not guarantee you the keys to a rose garden, just a deed to a vacant lot and a few tools from which you can craft your own rose garden. Those of us who have broken the code stand ready to come alongside you to help. It’s never too late to start or to start over. Happiness is a choice, pain is inevitable, but misery is optional


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Love Your Family- “The Love Song of Marriage”

 

Love Your Family – “The Love Song of Marriage”

Song of Songs 1:7-8; 8:6

February 20 – 24, 2017

 

 
June 21, 1986 Marcy and Kevin had their first date and not long afterwards this song became their song.

“Always and Forever” by Heatwave.

 

“Always and forever,

each moment with you is just like a dream to me that somehow came true.

And I know tomorrow will still be the same

’cause we got a life of love that won’t ever change…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiI42aZ5F40

 

Doesn’t that make you want to grab your spouse and do a spin around the floor together? For The Gorgeous Redhead and me it’s Anne Murray and “

Could I Have This Dance For The Rest Of My Life”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TotwIOi8js

 

How about you? Do you and your spouse have a song? I’m not sure what today’s youngsters are going to do with the current state of popular music. These old love songs have a way of expressing how we feel about each other in a way that we might not be able to otherwise.

 

Love songs often depict a dreamy state of love you hope will last forever; a love that won’t ever change. But love can change in a marriage over time and invariably it does. Sometimes love becomes more passionate and other times it can seem to burn out. What about your marriage right now? Is it more passionate or fizzling out? I believe your love, your tenderness, and your passion should not diminish but should only increase as you experience the oneness that God intended in marriage. When passion has diminished, what can you do to reignite it? Stick around!

 

Those of you who follow the Ivey’s at

www.24kgoldmarriage.org

have heard us talk about the five stages all relationships go through. It is natural to connect with someone during the “Romantic Stage’ who looks good, feels good, sounds good, smells good and tastes good. Ahhhhh! The dysfunctional hope is that the euphoria will last forever. You are on your best behavior all the time…your breath is fresh, your shave is recent, you have on clean underwear (because your Mom told you to), you are attentive and polite. Folks who marry at this stage of relationship ALWAYS wake up not knowing to whom they are married. ALWAYS. I’m not kidding. As naturally as daylight follows dark, once you say I DO, the routines of making a life together set in. Stage two ceeps in “The Power Struggle” and discord follows.

 

An

AHA from Harville Hendrix, author of Safe Conversations states “Conflict is Growth Trying to Happen”…now that is a new thought. Learning how to embrace the power struggle and work through it on purpos is the key to maintaining the romantic relationship you started with. It takes lots of four letter words, like…work, hard work, much hard work and very much hard work

.

 

To help us learn how to create a functional romantic marriage we will spend time during the next two weeks looking into the most passionate book in the entire Bible,

The Song of Songs or some Bibles have it named, The Song of Solomon

. Have you ever wondered why this book was in the Bible? In his commentary, Duane A. Garrett helps answer that question. He writes:

Sexuality and love are fundamental to the human experience; and it is altogether fitting that the Bible, as a book meant to teach the reader how to live a happy and good life, should have something to say in this area. The Song of Songs celebrates love, but it also teaches love; in this respect it must be counted as wisdom literature.[i]

 

Therefore the Song of Songs celebrates love and teaches you how to love your spouse. For centuries, man has expressed his love through song, so it should come as no surprise that God has chosen the lyrics of song to teach us about love. King Solomon is the author of this book and is the reason it is often titled The Song of Solomon. However, 1:1, reads, “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.”

Indicating that of all the love songs in the world this is the finest of songs. I can’t help but believe that these words were written when Solomon was a young man before he became so jaded that he embraced foreign gods and multiple wives and concubines. I prefer to view this as his thoughts and songs about his first true love. Parenthetically, however, there is an underlying message here from his life. No matter how well you start, no matter how smart you are, you must continually work to sustain what began with all the euphoria that got you started in the first place.

 

One of the unique aspects of this book is the expressive language. Several times you will find the girl described as the bride and the young man or Solomon as the groom. Therefore, they are representative of all brides and grooms and husbands and wives. They often used the phrase “

love sick

” in depicting how in love they were with one another. This “love sick” experience first drew you to your spouse and it is this “love sick experience” that can continue to grow throughout your marriage if you take time to learn how and then commit to doing the work. Following the teachings from God’s word, you can reignite the passion in your marriage. I’m serious…you CAN!

 

MONDAY: Where To Begin? TOGETHERNESS!

 

In this song, there is an intense desire between the two to be together.

7Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who veils herself beside the flocks of your companions? 8 If you do not know, O most beautiful among women, follow in the tracks of the flock, and pasture your young goats beside the shepherds’ tents.

Song of Songs 1:7-8

 

This intense desire to be together continues throughout the Song.

6Who is this sweeping in from the wilderness like a cloud of smoke? Who is it, fragrant with myrrh and frankincense and every kind of spice?

Song of Songs 3:6

 

8Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Come down from Mount Amana, from the peaks of Senir and Hermon, where the lions have their densand leopards live among the hills.

Song of Songs 4:8

 

9You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride. You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes, with a single jewel of your necklace. 10 Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride. Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices. 11 Your lips are as sweet as nectar, my bride. Honey and milk are under your tongue. Your clothes are scented like the cedars of Lebanon. 12 You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain. 13 Your thighs shelter a paradise of pomegranates with rare spices—henna with nard, 14 nard and saffron, fragrant calamus and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh, and aloes, and every other lovely spice. 15 You are a garden fountain, a well of fresh water streaming down from Lebanon’s mountains. 16 Awake, north wind. Rise up, south wind! Blow on my garden and spread its fragrance all around. Come into your garden, my love; taste its finest fruits.

 

5 1I have entered my garden, my treasure, my bride! I gather myrrh with my spices and eat honeycomb with my honey. I drink wine with my milk

. Song of Songs 4:9-5:1

 

Like I said, it started with looks good, feels good, sounds good, smells good and tastes good. Their intense desire to be together is seen throughout the rest of the book, but it does not

just happen

.

 

The problem is passion always fades. Three amazing resources that ought to be in the survival kit for all marriages…okay, maybe four:

  • Making Marriage Simple by Harville and Helen Hendrix
  • Safe Conversations: https://livestream.com/relationshipsfirst/safeconversations a 5 hour workshop worth your time
  • The Space Between by Harville and Helen Hendrix
  • A bonus piece that is available upon request is a pre-publication copy of our new book – 24k Gold Weddings and Styrofoam Marriages. Bring us a thumb drive and we’ll give you a copy of the manuscript Dick@dickivey.com or barb@barbivey.com

 

Husbands and wives to ignite or reignite the passion in your marriage there must be depth to your togetherness.

This does not come naturally or logically after I DO. There must be a depth to your togetherness that reflects the oneness God desires in your marriage. Run…don’t walk to get these resources. This stuff works when you commit to work at it. The payoff is enormous. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

 

Living The Word Applications: Add depth to your togetherness by…

 

TUESDAY: Quantity Togetherness 1:7-8.

7Tell me, my love, where are you leading your flock today? Where will you rest your sheep at noon? For why should I wander like a prostitute among your friends and their flocks?

8 If you don’t know, O most beautiful woman, follow the trail of my flock, and graze your young goats by the shepherds’ tents.

Song of Songs 1:7-8
Dr. Gary Chapman of the

5 Love Languages

fame says that:

Quality time does not mean that we have to spend our together moments gazing into each other’s eyes. It means that we are doing something together and that we are giving our full attention to the other person.”[ii]

 

 

But notice, I said quantity togetherness

. In the Song, they spent a lot of time together. Doing as many activities together as possible means finding mutual interests and activities and doing them together. Be as creative with your activities as you were when you were dating. Realize that there must be some give and take in these activities. Ladies, understand that one of your husband’s greatest needs is companionship. Dr. Willard F. Harley said that recreational companionship ranked second with men.[iii]

I’m sure you can guess the first.

 

While dating, many women will participate in recreational activities with their fiancé that they would never normally do. This communicates to the man, “

This is my kind of woman

.” When Barb and I were dating, I had already been playing fast-pitch softball for more than 32 years. She went faithfully with me to dusty parks for league play and weekend tournaments in places like Killeen, San Antonio, Austin, Garland, and other exotic destination resorts. I was thrilled.

 

Not long after we got married she told me one weekend that she did not want to go to Austin for a tournament. I was devastated. I went on anyway, but all the way back home I had this internal conversation that said, “

Well, buckaroo, you’re just going to have to quit playing…hang up the spikes and put the glove away.”

 

When I got home that night I sat down on the 4

th step to our 2nd

floor and asked for a meeting. I started making my speech when Barb stopped me, “Good gracious, I don’t want you to quit, I just don’t want to go all the time anymore. Go enjoy and I’ll take weekends for bubble baths and good books.”

 

We learned a huge lesson that day. True intimacy involves doing some things together and some things apart…but always coming back together and looking for ways to celebrate our togetherness. If you both always do all the same stuff together, one of you is unnecessary to the relationship. By the way, I played another 12 years after that.

 

So look, find things you like to do together and do those on purpose and regularly. Meet for lunch. Call each other during the day. Write flirty notes to each other. Here’s the point,

the young woman in the Song took the initiative to meet him in his world

. Remember husbands there needs to be give and take here so join your wife in some of her activities for the sake of companionship and being together. Give her those times as willing gifts. Add depth to your togetherness by quality togetherness.

 

Make some “on purpose” moves for dates, celebrations, traditions, surprises and fun. (See Harville and Helen’s

Making Marriage Simple)

.

 

WEDNESDAY: Quality Conversation Together.

 

One of the leading causes of marital problems is a lack of proper communication. Learning how to talk without criticizing and to listen without judging is a learned skill. It does not come naturally.

 

German psychologist Karl Jung once remarked that if we could put all marital troubles in two piles, one of those piles would be about communication and conflict resolution. Nobody teaches us how to do that.

 

When you take a step back and take a big picture look at this

Song, you will notice open lines of communication between the two. There was quality conversation. Husbands, quality conversation is a basic need of your wife. When you were dating, guys you had lots of conversations with her and I can hear her thinking, “Wow! This guy can really open up to me. He’s what I’m looking for.” Then, you married and you shut down. Your wife needs quality conversation that involves two components. First is self-revelation. For true communication, there must be an open revealing of oneself to the other person. You must tell her what’s on your mind, how you feel about certain situations, tell her about your day, and tell her you love her because_____________. Watch the Skit Guys video “Tell Her.” In Family Basics 101 DVD 3 “Love One Another” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgN6GNt0C2c

 

Before we tackle the other component of quality communication, it is wise to recall the way men and women generally communicate. Men are by nature “fixers” …

hunters/gatherers. Women are more nesters. This John Gray book has a great discourse on how the cuddle hormone oxytocin develops in men and in women. It’s really important to understanding the differences. Emerson Eggrichs, author of Love and Respect offers this sage advice. Men, whenever your wife wants to talk, ask this question: “Honey, do you want a solution or do you just want me to listen. “95% of the time, just listen…no solutions. I mean it. Watch this sketch and you’ll see what I mean. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O11_Ma20Rk

 

The second component and the most important is assertive sympathetic listening

. The focus on quality conversation is not on what I’m saying but on what I’m hearing. Listening means making eye contact, hearing words that indicate feeling, and refusing to interrupt. If there’s one area you can improve upon it is in this area of quality conversation, it will add depth to your togetherness. Get the Safe Conversations Model and practice the techniques. This communication process will transform your lives. This book is for all couples. It offers the practical tools needed to transform one’s relationship into a rewarding and joyous marriage. Written with humor, compassion, and honesty, and illustrated throughout with engaging line drawings, Making Marriage Simple

is a strategic blueprint for creating a stronger, more satisfying partnership in today’s world.

 

THURSDAY: Sexual Intimacy

God created sexual relationships for the marriage as one of the ways to experience togetherness. Sexual intimacy was never intended to be a tool to manipulate your spouse by reward or punishment. However, I have encountered many couples that use sexual intimacy just like that. God gave sexuality to the marriage for more than merely creating crumb snatchers. It was meant to be a celebration of God bringing your spouse into your life. Sexual intimacy is a major theme of the

Song of Songs.

 

The Holy Spirit moved Paul to write about the importance of regular intimacy. I’ll say it again, too often sex is used as reward or punishment rather than being seen as a gift a wife or husband can give its partner. When couples focus on meeting each other’s needs rather than their own, it transforms their world. There is a great chapter on that in the

24k Gold Weddings

book…for the asking.

 

Did you know that Bible commands says there is only one time that couples should refrain from regular sexual intimacy?

5Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

I Corinthians 7:5

 

Only for a time of devoted prayer are we to refrain from the sexual relationship. The reason we are not to go beyond that is to prevent sexual temptation. Husbands and wives, when we don’t have regular sexual relations, you are opening the door for Satan to tempt your spouse. In fact ladies, guess what the number one need of your husband is? Sexual fulfillment. God designed men physiologically to need sexual fulfillment.

 

Dan and Sandra McGee wrote a definitive book on

Celebrating Sex in Your Marriage.

Dan is a graduate of Southwestern Seminary and was in private clinical practice for many years and a friend when I needed one the most. Dan recently retired from private practice and gave me the bulk of his inventory of books. A copy is yours for the asking. Email me at dick@dickivey.com.

 

Guys we must understand that sexual desire will change over time in your wife and you as well

. There are a number of factors that can affect women both physiologically and psychologically. For instance: hormonal changes; interpersonal issues such as lack of intimacy in the relationship; job stress; depression; physical health issues; certain drugs such as anti-depressants or blood pressure medicine.[iv]

 

 

There are a variety of issues that play into this area of your relationship. With great care and concern don’t be afraid to investigate what might be affecting your sex life. Remember to get creative as your age and conditions permit. When it’s seen as a “gift” to each other, it changes everything. From there, each couple must decide what normal frequency looks like.

Lastly,

 

FRIDAY: Being Devoted to Togetherness8:6 – 7

6Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

7 Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love it would be utterly scorned

. Song of Songs 8:6-7

 

Seals were used during biblical times to bind contracts and were considered unbreakable. Therefore, this statement was a commitment of inseparable togetherness. Husbands and wives on your wedding day you made a unilateral commitment of inseparable togetherness to your spouse before God. You did not make this commitment to your kids or your job or to your friends. Please understand that while children are a blessing from God, many couples become child-centric at the expense of their commitment to each other. Your children will leave home one day and if you have not invested in each other, you may find it difficult to re-cultivate. Don’t wait. It begins with a devotion to togetherness. This is where you must look at your spouse and say, “

I am devoted to you and you alone. Nothing will separate me from you

.”

 

Marriage means commitment. Of course, so does insanity…

Unless you make up your mind in advance to figure out how to get it right and that one of you has to die to get out…you are in deep yogurt!

 

Commitment is the glue that holds all of the other components of marriage together. It often gets watered down and shunted off to the side as though it were some outdated and outmoded

churchy

concept that everybody gives lip service to at the wedding, but soon gets lost in the nastiness of living every day.

 

Scott Stanley, one of the pre-eminent spokespersons on Commitment, offers this presentation. It’s worth your time to watch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJrUH7eFxbo

 

Old Testament commentators Keil and Delitzsch say,

The Song transfigures natural but holy love. Whatever sphere of the divinely-ordered marriage relation makes love the happiest, firmest bond uniting two souls together is presented to us here in living pictures.”[v]

 

Remember that if nothing changes in your relationship…nothing changes. What can you do to make yours better? Start today.

[i] Garrett, Duane A. The New American Commentary: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs.

Volume 14. Broadman Press, 1993. 366,367.

[ii] Chapman, Gary. The Five Love Languages.

Northfield Publishing, 1992. 60.

[iii] Harley, Willard F. His Needs, Her Needs.

Revell Publishing, 2011. Location 1367 in Kindle Fire.

[iv]

http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/loss-of-sexual-desire-in-women?page=2

[v] Keil and Delitzsch. Old Testament Commentary in Master Christian Library Collection

Computer program. 1167.

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Love Your Family- “Godly Home”

 

Love Your Family – “Godly Home”

Ephesians 5:15 – 6:4

February 13 – 17, 2017

 

 

We welcomed to our pulpit Sunday, Kelly Fellows, a nationally renowned speaker, teacher and leader. He recently completed a 4-year term as the Foursquare National NextGen Director – a national network of leaders who work with children, tweens, teens and young adults. In addition, he has 20 years experience pastoring, training, and equipping adults and students to “pass on God’s Ways to the next generation
.”

 

His poignant story rose from the rubble of his early years:

“My mom died 1 month after my 16th birthday. Needless to say, I was devastated. My privileged life seemed to come crashing down around me suddenly like the World Trade Center on 9/11. I wandered aimlessly the year after she died. I was looking for something to take away the loneliness and pain. After that year of emptiness, I decided that life wasn’t worth living.”

 

“The day I was going to “end it all,” was in May of 1985. As I sat in my living room, I contemplated what I was going to do. Through the tears and sorrow I noticed a small paper sitting on the coffee table in the middle of the room. I picked it up and read these words”:

Dear Friend:

How are you? I just had to send you this letter to tell you how much I love you and care about you. I saw you yesterday as you were walking with your friends. I waited all day, hoping that soon you would want me to walk along with you too.

 

As evening drew near, I painted you a sunset to close your day and whispered a cool breeze to refresh you, and I waited. You never came. Oh yes, it hurt Me, but I just kept on loving you.

 

As I watched you fall asleep last night, I longed to touch your brow. I spilled moonlight upon your face, trickling down your cheeks as so many tears have. Again I waited, but you did not even think of me. I wanted so much to rush down so we could talk. I have so many gifts for you. The next day I exploded a brilliant sunrise into the glorious morning for you. But you awakened late and rushed off for the day. You didn’t even notice Me. My sky became cloudy and my tears were the rain. Oh, how I LOVE YOU!

 

Today you looked so sad and so alone. It makes my heart ache because I understand. My friends let Me down and hurt Me many times too. Oh, if you would only listen. I really LOVE you. I try to say it in the quiet wind as it whispers my love throughout the treetops and spills into the vivid colors of all the flowers. I shout it to you in the thunder of the great waterfalls, in mountain streams, and I compose love songs for the birds to sing for you.

 

I warm you with the clothing of my warm sunshine and perfume the air with nature’s sweet scent. My love for you is deeper than any ocean and greater than the biggest want or need you may have. If you’d only realize how much I really care.

 

We will spend eternity together in heaven. I know how hard it is on earth. I know because I was once there. I really want to help you.

 

My Father cares for you and wants to help you too. Fathers are just that way. So please, call on me soon. Just call Me, ask Me, talk to Me. It is your decision. I have chosen you. No matter how long it takes, I will wait forever because I LOVE YOU!

Your truest friend,

Jesus

 

There on the bottom of the page was a scripture reference:

13You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:13-16.

 

That day, I cried out to God and gave Him my heart. Through the rubble of my emotional wreckage, rose the demonstration of God’s love – Jesus Christ.

16“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 NLT

 

MONDAY: What fills your home?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lbp0XVZzdyk

Jennifer Garner, with her girl next-door smile asks the simple question: “What’s in your wallet?

 

Let’s put a little different spin on that question and ask you, “

What’s in your home?”

What fills your home?

Is it STUFF? Does your life consist of accumulating stuff so you cannot shut the garage or get a car inside? Are you a contestant for the

Hoarders

reality TV show?

 

Is it just ENTERTAINMENT? Do you have all the latest toys and gadgets and is your schedule jam packed with one entertaining event after another. Would you kindly remember the admonition of Moses to the Hebrews:

10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Deuteronomy 6:10-12

 

Is it frantic ACTIVITY? Does a spare moment with nothing to do scare you to death. Do you have to fill every waking moment piling on stuff to do? Multiple kids? Multiple sports? Dance and cheer? Golf or tennis every week? Women’s Bible study? Men’s Bible study? Weekly prayer breakfast? When was the last time you sat down as a family to:

10 “Be still, and know that I am God!

Psalm 46:10

 

 

Is it BROKENESS masked by all that other stuff? Hear the words of Johnson Bowie, Lead Pastor of Victory Hamilton Mill in Buford, GA.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il7baGYo8Tc

 

How would you describe, “What fills your house?”

 

TUESDAY: What is a Godly Home?

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control.

 

There is no law against these things!

Galatians 5:22-23

 

Let’s ask some diagnostic questions to make sure our homes are healthy.

  • Love. This is not about warm feelings but is a verb that issues forth in an attitude of good will and devotion to others. Love gives freely without condition or predicate. Are you stuck on the WIIFM station (What’s in it for me?) or are you motivated to serve because of what God in Jesus Christ has done for you?
  • Joy is not equal to happiness. It is not dependent on external stuff that happens to you. Joy is a supernatural gladness given by the Holy Spirit that shows up best during hard times. My bride got a “JOY” box for Christmas from one of our running buddies. It had to be returned after the holidays, but it was intended to spur her to this kind of joy. Is your happiness dependent on things going smoothly in your day or the accumulation of more “toys?”
  • Peace. It is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of in spite of troubles. Bishops Ridley and Latimer were burned at the stake in England and with their dying breaths Latimer said, “Be of good comfort, Mr. Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace, in England, as I trust never shall be put out.” Do you find yourself experiencing “the peace that passes all comprehension” Philippians 4:6-7? If not, why not?
  • I hate the use of the “P” word because I remember what the Apostle James said about how you get it…trials and tribulations. Sometimes this is rendered -lenience, long-suffering, forbearance, perseverance, and steadfastness. Are you easily set off when things go wrong or people irritate me, do you have a short fuse or are you able to keep a godly perspective in the face of life’s irritations?
  • Are you focused on ways to adapt to meet the needs of others.? Do you have a Servant’s Heart? Are you more focused on serving others with kindness, or are you wrapped around the axle of your own needs and problems?
  • Goodness reflects the character of God. Does your life reflect the holiness of God? In a time like now when we are so polarized as a nation, do you want to see others experience God in as deep a level as possible?
  • Faithfulness. Is integrity sacrosanct to you? Can anybody look at you and see someone who keeps his/her word? Is there any hypocrisy in your life, or are you consistently characterized by faith in Christ and faithfulness to those around you?
  • Meekness was a New Testament that speaks about a strong horse being under control with a bit and bridle. It should never be read as weakness. Gentleness has great power, but chooses to defer to others, forgives others, corrects with kindness, and lives in tranquility. How do you come across to others? Are you brash and headstrong, or are you allowing the grace of God to flow through you to others?
  • Self-control. The Powers of Evil in the world are always…always looking for the weak spot in your life to pursue with temptation. When they find a shiny target, it is game-on. Self-control is releasing your grip on all fleshly desires, choosing instead to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is power focused in the right place.

 

Family members who do these things live in Godly homes.

 

WEDNESDAY: Ingredients to a Godly Home – Make a declaration

Moses led the Hebrews to the Promised Land, but they chickened out and did not believe that God would see them safely into the land. In God’s anger, He swore that no person above the age of 20 would enter.

11Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, 12because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb…and Joshua…for they have wholly followed the LORD. Numbers 32:11-12

Moses died on the mountain overlooking the Land and Joshua led the Children of Israel in. At the end of his life, Joshua counseled the people to remember to worship the Lord. He cautioned them against moving away from that commitment with these words:

14 “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. 15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:14-15

 

Today, call a family meeting at your house and discuss this declaration among yourselves. What will it take to alter the routines of your home to be able to say with Joshua, “

we will serve the Lord

.”

 

So, Now What? Living the Word in Your Home This Week and Beyond

 

THURSDAY: Indispensible Ingredients in a Godly Home.

 

Prayer:

How does prayer take place in your home? Do you sit down over meals and hold hands and offer ‘grace?’ Do you gather your children at the end of the day and teach them how pray at bedtime?

 

We have a grandson who learned how to pray with his Mom and Dad at both meals and bedtime and every time we were with them it felt like we were intruding on a private conversation between God and this little boy. He was always so serious about it. One evening his Dad called us after the boy went to bed. He was laughing so hard he could hardly tell us. As nighttime prayers were concluding, this precious child said, “

and God, I just want to give a shout-out to all the poor peopl

e.” Perhaps too much Christian radio or something else, but he was with the program.

 

I hope what we have seen there continues all his life.

 

How about you Dad and Mom? Do you each know for sure and certain that you are being prayed for by your partner? I pray every day for The Gorgeous Redhead’s continued good health and that I’ll love one day longer than she does. I pray for her patience with me and for her to have a Servant’s heart. I give thanks to God (more on that in a minute) for the joy I have of being married to her. I pray for her to have a heart for ministry and opportunities for her to express it every day.

 

We pray before we take trips for safe passage and traveling grace. Sometimes we pray together and sometimes alone. We both maintain lists of prayerful concerns and pray immediately for the prayer requests that Pam Peters sends out. How do you pray at your house?

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 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 4:6-7

 

Devotion. I have always found it instructive to include conversations about God as a natural part of our conversations with our children. It’s not like riding along with them in a car and asking them if they remember what Pastor Kevin had to say about dynamic Monarchianism

in Sunday’s sermon. It’s about noticing something beautiful in nature and remarking how wonderful God was to make something so pretty. Or, it’s passing one of the many wheat fields in our area and talking about how God makes the seeds grow and perhaps stopping long enough to pick a stalk and show them the magic of the seeds. Just making God a natural part of your daily lives and not just something you put on for Sunday morning.

5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates

. Deuteronomy 6:5-9

Thanksgiving.

In the run up to Paul’s instructions to husbands, wives and children in the later verses of Ephesians 5, he talks about how we ought to be as individuals as we submit ourselves one to another. Are you doing this at your house?

18bBe filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

. Ephesians 5:18b-20

 

FRIDAY: The Rest of the Story – Do this Often and Well

Affirmatively Build Hope. Hope is this thing that “perches in the soul” and “never stops at all”? What is this “waking dream”? Psychologists and philosophers as well as poets and healers have been pondering this question for over two thousand years. If you share a passion for hope. If you would like to know what hope is, where it comes from, how it develops, and why it sometimes fades, then you have found the right place. Gainhope.com is a site devoted to a better understanding of hope. It’s a scary world out there for children and for us as well. Here’s a resource to assess where your family is on the subject of HOPE. It is instructive for parents and children to see where encouragement can best be applied. Check it out. http://www.gainhope.com/hope/childtest_form.cfm

11The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.

Proverbs 10:11

 

Quality and Quantity Time. Is the quality of time you spend with your family more important than the quantity? http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/26032/~/“quality-time”-vs.-“quantity-time”-in-parenting

 

I don’t think so. A few years ago family experts were preaching that what’s important is “quality time,” not “quantity time.” More recent research shows that kids need both with their parents. In fact, the more involved parents are with their children – and the word “more” here is used with direct reference to the concept of quantity – the less likely they are to have social, emotional, or academic problems, use drugs or alcohol, become involved in crime, or engage in premarital sex.

It’s important to realize that it’s not always possible to plan meaningful interactions between parent and child. Such serendipitous moments can’t be cooked up and crammed into a few minutes of “quality time” every day. Many critical opportunities to teach or model moral values may catch you off-guard and will be gone in the blink of an eye. You can’t seize the moment if you’re not there to do the seizing. And that means spending lots of “quantity” time together with your kids.

 

Without more detailed information about your family situation it’s hard to know exactly what else to tell you. But your inquiry leads us to believe that you may need to re-examine your priorities. The fact that you’re thinking in terms of “quality” vs. “quantity” suggests that you may be looking to justify spending smaller amounts of time with your family. Is this supposition anywhere near the truth?

 

If you’re not sure, you can put the matter to the test by asking yourself a few simple questions. Is your employment outside the home a matter of providing for basic needs, or are you driven by materialistic desires or a longing for personal significance? Are there any aspects of “maintaining a household” that you can afford to sacrifice? Do you attach a greater value to status or appearance than to the well being of the people with whom you share your life? After all, a spotless home isn’t nearly as important as a close relationship with your spouse and children.

 

Another suggestion: one of the easiest ways to make more time for loved ones is to turn off the TV. In the average American home, the television is on 49 hours a week. By way of contrast, the average amount of time that both parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children is 39 minutes a week. If you need more time with your spouse and your kids, make the obvious choice. Instead of watching TV, read together, play board games together, take a walk to a local park, or sit and talk.

 

If you have children, it’s also important to avoid the temptation to get them overly involved in activities outside the home. Some parents feel pressure to sign their children up for numerous sports teams, music and dance lessons, social clubs, and all kinds of community organizations. Don’t fall prey to this mindset. Kids don’t need a dozen different weekly activities. They need quality and quantity time with loving, involved, and committed parents.

 

Remember that life is not a dress rehearsal. You only get one shot at rearing your children. Don’t blow it.

8 We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.

I Thessalonians 2:8) ?

 

Closing Thought: ?“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world.” ~ John Paul II

 

What’s in your home?

 


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#GYSO- “Shine Through Godly Giving”

 

#GYSO – “Shine Through Godly Giving”

John 3:16

January 30 – February 3, 2017

 

 

Thomas Edison is often given credit for inventing the light bulb, but when you look at history you find that there were others who had invented the light bulb prior to Edison. However, Thomas Edison did perfect the first commercially viable light bulb. He began his research on the incandescent light bulb in 1878 and sought to perfect the light bulbs that were already available. For well over a year, Edison experimented and failed but finally discovered a key to a longer lasting light bulb. The key was the carbon filament that eventually burned for 1200 hours a far cry from other bulbs. Thomas Edison’s invention of the incandescent light bulb literally changed the way we live after dark and our lives have never been the same.[i]

 

 

The electric light wasn’t Thomas Edison’s first invention, nor was he the first to create an alternative to gaslight. Electric lights already existed on a streetlight scale when, on this day in 1879, Edison tested the one he’s famous for. Though he didn’t come up with the whole concept, his light bulb was the first that proved practical, and affordable, for home illumination. The trick had been choosing a filament that would be durable but inexpensive, and the team at Edison’s “invention factory” in Menlo Park, New Jersey, tested more than 6,000 possible materials before finding one that fit the bill, carbonized bamboo.

 

Edison bragged about the filament’s efficacy and economy to a New York Times reporter who toured the factory just after his successful test run.

 

As there is no oxygen to burn,” said Mr. Edison, “you can readily see that this piece of carbon will last an ordinary life-time. It has the property of resisting the heat of the current of electricity, while at the same time it becomes incandescent, and gives out one of the most brilliant lights that the world has ever seen. The cost of preparing one of these little horse-shoes of carbon is about 1 cent, and the entire lamp will cost not more than 25 cents

.”

 

While Edison considered the invention his “crowning triumph,” it joined the long list of contributions that made him a record-holder for sheer number of U.S. patents — 1,093 — until the 21st century. His creations included the movie camera and the microphone, the phonograph and the mimeograph, the stock ticker and even the “stencil-pen, a precursor to the tattoo gun.

 

Over the last couple of sermons we’ve been looking at a 2017 challenge to “

Get Your Shine On.” You have been challenged to live the Christian life dramatically differently from the world around us – as dramatically different as light is from dark. The Christian life requires you to change the way you live after living in spiritual darkness. Here is one more challenge for you in this area and that challenge is to shine through godly giving

.

 

If we are going to accomplish all that God is calling us to in this next year, we will need to shine through godly giving.

 

Our church, in ministry, has increased needs both locally and globally and an approved budget that is a little over $900,000. Our staff and our budget and finance team are praying diligently for $1,000,000 general fund giving for this year. For that to be accomplished, we need the blessing of God to shine through giving God’s way.

 

MONDAY: “Why give to God?”

 

Everything in heaven and earth belongs to Him and yet He graciously gives to you. Giving to God and His work in the world is a reminder that all you have and all you are comes from Him. But, there is a second reason you need to give, because of the reflective character of God in you. When you give in a godly way, the character of God shines through you into a dark world around us.

  • What does godly giving look like?
  • What are the qualities of godly giving?

 

There is no greater verse in the Bible where you see the qualities of godly character shining through giving.

16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

 

This verse is the most famous and most oft quoted verse in the Bible. It is this verse that forms the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Commentator Kenneth Gangel, adjunct professor of Doctor of Ministries Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary until his death in 2009 noted that the Greek language places the stress on the giving in this verse.[ii]

 

God is the great giver of all and His giving shines through in the cross of Jesus Christ. In a dark world, the cross of Jesus Christ shines like a beacon of hope as a testimony of the generosity of God. In this verse, there are four qualities of godly giving that will shine through your life when you emulate that principle.

 

Quality #1: Godly Giving Is Motivated By Love.

God was motivated to give His Son out of love just for YOU. The verse says, “For God so LOVED the world that He gave…” The apostle Paul picked up on God’s giving out of love,

4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— Ephesians 2:4-5

 

God was so motivated by love to give that He gave to you even when you didn’t love Him in return. From the very beginning, God remained true while you and I broke all the rules and turned our backs on God. I love these words, however, “But God…” in spite of all humanity has done to reject His love and His gifts,

10“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

 

There is an interesting aside here. How many times have you based your giving on your perception of the worthiness of the cause urging you to give? Is this or that ministry deserving of my finances?” If you choose to give solely based on that, how many of you would have given your son to save the likes of you? None of us was deserving before God demonstrated His love for you in that while you were yet a sinner He gave His Son and Jesus Christ died just for you. The very heart of the Gospel is giving motivated by love…God’s love for YOU. God IS love.

 

Quality #2: Godly Giving Is Costly.

God’s giving was costly. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” God gave until it hurt. God felt this generosity. You see it in the scene at the cross where the skies grew dark and Christ became sin for us and there was separation between the Father and His Son. You hear it in the words of His Son when Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”

 

This quality of godly giving is not a new concept confined just to the New Testament since you also find it in the Old Testament. David, a man after God’s own heart, understood. In 2 Samuel 24, David was instructed to go to the threshing floor of a man named Araunah the Jebusite and buy it to build an altar to the Lord there for sacrifice. When he arrived, Araunah offered to give it to David along with the animals for the sacrifice because David was the King. David responded,

“No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”

 

King David understood that godly giving costs something. But wait, there is more…

 

Quality #3: Godly Giving Is Unique.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…

 

You are familiar with other translations of this verse that say, “His only begotten Son…” Under the inspiration of the Spirit John used the word monogenes ?????????, ??. Monogenes does not mean created like Jehovah’s Witnesses would have you believe, but the word monogenes means one of a kind or unique and like no other. God gave a one of kind, unique gift in His Son motivated by His love for you. God didn’t give His leftovers, but rather His very best. He gave His unique Son; the Son that had been with Him since eternity past, since the foundation of the world. There has never been a gift like Jesus.

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

 

Quality#4: Godly Giving Is Sufficient.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.”

 

God’s gift of His Son motivated by love, costly, and unique was sufficient to meet your need. You and I were and are sinners in need of a Savior. This Gospel song says it well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfKT2AM6exE

He paid a debt He did not owe

I owed a debt I could not pay

I needed someone to wash my sins away

And now I sing a brand new song

Amazing Grace all day long

Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

 

You owed a debt to God that you could not pay with a lifetime of good deeds.

6“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64:6

 

You need a perfect Savior to be a sufficient substitute in your place so that you might be made right with God. Therefore,

“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

 

Gods’ gift of His Son motivated by love, costly, and unique was sufficient to meet your need. 4 Qualities of godly giving that come shining through in this verse, but what do they have to do with you? Let’s examine YOUR giving against this model..

 

Living the Word Application: Get Your Shine On Through Godly Giving By…

 

TUESDAY: Give Sufficiently –

Sufficient giving always meets the needs. In God’s eyes, sufficient giving always begins with tithing. Giving 10% of God’s blessings in your life back to God has always been the starting point for giving. Dr. Craig Blomberg is an American New Testament scholar. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of the New Testament at Denver Seminary in Colorado where he has been since 1986. He notes, “If church members in the United States increased their giving to 10 percent of their income, there could be an additional $86 billion available for overseas missions. “Projects for clean water and sanitation, prenatal and infant/maternal care, basic education, immunizations, and long-term development efforts are among the activities that could help overcome the poverty conditions that now kill and maim so many children and adults,”[iii]

 

In our church body, if every one of us got our shine on through tithing, we would have no problem meeting the annual budget. In fact, we would surpass it easily. Are you tithing? Today, will you make that commitment to begin giving 10% of your income? Perhaps you will make a commitment today to increase your giving by some % until you get to the tenth. Will you? Shine by giving sufficiently.

 

Numerous places in the New Testament Paul entreated his readers to give proportionately. IMHO, the tithe was the minimum level in proportional giving. A good rendering of one of my favorite passages is:

8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 2 Corinthians 9:8

I know a church who has challenged its members to try tithing as the minimum level of proportionate giving for 90 days, and if God does not bless on the basis of that faithfulness in giving, the church will refund the giving during the trial period to the donor. Interesting idea. God said to bring all the tithes into the storehouse and watch what He does. Next….

 

WEDNESDAY: Give Uniquely –

To meet your need for salvation, God gave uniquely in giving His only Son to die on the cross for you. Beyond giving sufficiently, give uniquely. In the New Testament, one of the unique ways of giving to the church was the gift of Barnabas in Acts 4. He sold a piece of property and “brought the money and laid it at the apostles feet.” Even Jesus instructed His disciples to “Sell what you have and give to the poor.” We all have access to stuff stored away that we don’t use. What about having a garage sale and taking all the proceeds and designating them as an offering to a Gospel cause. The Southern Baptist of Texas Foundation offers estate legacy and estate planning; advice on making charitable gifts to ministries as a part of your estate; or charitable gift annuities from your retirement once you go home to be with the Lord. http://www.sbtcflegacy.com/?pageID=18 It is a unique way of giving once you have left this earth. Shine by giving uniquely.

Another good resource is ForeTalk Seminars. Created by Stan Craig, former Baptist pastor and veteran of Merrill Lynch financial services, ForeTalk is about life affirmation, taking control of and directing your future. There are a number of significant events in life that you know will occur. You can simply drift without direction, or you can discuss, prepare and plan for their arrival by taking care of tomorrow today. The goal of ForeTalk is to make you aware of the decisions you need to make now or help someone else make by writing a will, completing a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, perhaps a Living Will. This resource will help you plan how to have your unique giving can live long after you do.

 

THURSDAY: Give Sacrificially –

God gave a costly, sacrificial gift of His Son Jesus Christ. You too can give sacrificially. You can follow the example of David who said, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” Look at where your spending goes. For 30 days, keep a journal of every penny you spend. Do it religiously. Where are you spending in excess? Where could you sacrifice some luxury or something you enjoy and take that savings and give it as an offering to the Lord. Persecution of Christians is ongoing in our world today. You may not ever be called by God to sacrifice your life for the cause of Christ but you can sacrificially give so that the cause of Christ is advanced.

 

Mary Hunt, whose daily blog Everyday Cheapskate http://www.everydaycheapskate.com and her subscription site Debt Proof Living http://www.debtproofliving.com, offers time and money saving suggestions for living. She offers outstanding resources for managing debt. One of her best suggestions is the 80-10-10 rule. She recommends that each of us live on 80% of what we earn, save 10% of what we earn and give away 10% of what you earn. Sometimes it just about making up your mind in advance on how you will live.

 

One more. Years ago I was involved with several capital formation companies: The Broadway Plan of Church Finance, California Plan of Church Finance, Cargill & Associates and THE Church Bond Company of America. One of the key recommendations we made to church members was to select something they did regularly that they would agree to suspend that for a period of time…taking the money that would otherwise have been spent, giving that amount to the campaign.

 

Over the years we heard people giving up everything from buying books and DVDs to eating out for lunch (choosing instead to pack a sack lunch) and even one young couple who agreed to give their wedding rings to give sacrificially. (BTW, the pastor who received those rings “sold” those rings several times over to folks who agreed to “buy them back” for the couple. What would you be willing to suspend in order to increase your giving? Shine by giving sacrificially. Lastly…

 

FRIDAY: Give Out of Love –

God’s giving shines because He gave His Son out of love for you and me. What is your motive for giving? When was the last time you gave not out of duty or obligation but out of devotion and love for the Lord because He first loved you?

 

  1. S. Hawkins served pastorates at the First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale FL and in Dallas TX for more than twenty years. He is president of GuideStone Financial Resources, which serves two hundred thousand pastors, church staff, missionaries, doctors, and other workers of various Christian organizations with insurance and retirement planning services. He wrote, “Whenever love exists in the heart there is a desire to sacrifice something for the object of our devotion.”[iv]

 

Make God the object of your devotion. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and let that love shine through giving. How generous will you decide to be today?

 

 
 

 

 

[i]

http://www.edisonmuckers.org/thomas-edison-lightbulb/

[ii] Gangel, Kenneth. Holman New Testament Commentary: John.

Broadman and Holn Press, ma2000. In Logos Bible Software.

[iii] Blomberg, Craig. Preaching the Parables. Baker Books, 2004. Statistics from emptytomb.com Quoted in 1001 Illustrations That Connect.

General editors Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof. Zondervan, 2008. 95.

[iv] Hawkins, O.S. Money Talks: But What Is It Really Saying?

Annuity Board of the SBC, 1990. 25.

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