Sisters in Christ

Tonight I took a well-needed break with some good friends — my sisters in Christ.  A little rejuvenation from an otherwise stressful week.  And when I got home, the Bible opened here:

I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now.   I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.  It is right that I should think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart, you who are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.   For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.  And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:3-11

Paul took the words right out of my mouth.

I read these words and think of my friends.  I give thanks to God for them.  I need to do this more often.  I am blessed with wonderful sisters and wonderful friends.  I know that God works through them and I am confident that He has good plans in store for them.  I hold them in my heart and pray that they will continue to grow in God’s love because when they grow, so do I.  God knows that we need community.  We need people.  God reveals Himself and His love through others.  I see God in my sisters.  I feel God’s love through them.  Together our faith is stronger.  Together I feel closer to God.

Thank you God for the wonderful people you have placed in my life.  Lord, bless them as you have blessed me with them.  Help them to grow in your love.  Help them to grow in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value.  Help them follow the path to You.

The cure for anxiety

I have noticed the Bible opens here quite frequently.  Whether it is because the crease here is beginning to wear or God is directing me to these words, the words are always welcome:

The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:5-7

Our days seem wrought with anxiety, stress and worry.  Am I on the right path, did I make the right decision, could I have done that better, should I exercise more, should I worry about GMO,  is my future secure, is my family healthy…  Am I living a life that is pleasing to God?

The Bible tells us there is an easy solution:  “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”

God, I ask you to relieve my stress, anxiety and worry.  I long for your peace.  Help me to remember that our earthly worries are only temporary.  Help me to keep my focus with you.

 

Get back on the bike

Philippians is one of my favorite books of the Bible.  Like many of Paul’s writings, it provides the human perspective to Jesus’ teachings and describes what it is we are supposed to be doing.  Today the Bible opened here again:

It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity,* but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus].  Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead,  I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.  Let us, then, who are “perfectly mature” adopt this attitude. And if you have a different attitude, this too God will reveal to you.  Only, with regard to what we have attained, continue on the same course.

Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us.  For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.

Philippians 3:12-21

My eyes are drawn to this line:  “Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead,  I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.”  I have read this passage many times before, but I don’t think I ever paid attention to it.  What a great reminder of how we must live.  Every day we have to wake up and forget about what lies behind — the mistakes we have made, our sins and transgressions.  We have to put them behind us, because God does.  God forgives us.  Instead we must strain forward, lean in — all in — to what lies in front of us — God’s upward calling.  Just like we are all taught as children, we have to get back on the bike when we fall off (and we fall off daily).  Get back on and keep pedaling toward Christ.  We can do that.  Forget about the past and lean, strain, toward God.  Each day we can choose to wake up and do this — this is the attitude we need.  And each day, even though we fail, we will get a step closer to God.

Dear God,

I know you have great things planned for us.  Thank you for your grace and mercy when we fail.    Help us to let go of our transgressions and mistakes.  Help us to keep straining in the right direction.

 

Joy and Peace (Again)

This is one of my favorite passages.  In fact, the Bible has opened here before, including most recently on March 25.  I thought about reopening to another page, since I have blogged on this passage before, but the words have once again drawn me in:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!  Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

“The peace of God that surpasses all understanding” — that’s what I want.  Just saying the word peace brings with it an exhale and I feel some stress drop out of my shoulders.  Peace.  Now think of that peace coming directly from God.  And try to wrap your head around the concept that God’s peace surpasses all understanding — we cannot even fathom the extent of the peace that God will share with us.  Peace — a full exhale and my arms drop as the tension leaves the back of my neck.  That is what I want.

And the great thing about this passage is that Paul wraps it up in a nice recipe or formula as to how to achieve it:

  1. Rejoice in the Lord always!  I have always taken this passage to mean that we should sing God’s praises, which seems easy enough.  God is indeed great and it is easy to sing His praises.  But as I read it more closely (and look up the definition of “rejoice”), I see that what it really says is “feel joy or great delight” in the Lord.  I like the idea of this  — step one is to feel joy or great delight in the Lord — but how do you make yourself feel that?  Hmmm.  Not so easy… or is it?  Stop.  And think. God is great.  God’s love for us is great and unconditional.  God can do anything and forgive anything and no matter what we have done, he calls us back to Him.  Feel joy and great delight in the Lord and Rejoice!  With hands in the air, head tilted back to the sky, Rejoice!
  2. Step two: Your kindness should be known to all.  Be kind to others.  Not always the easiest thing to do.  Reflect God’s love to others, share God’s love with others.  Be kind.  Do unto others…
  3. Make your requests known to God through prayer, petition and thanksgiving — and by doing so, let go of your anxiety, let go of your control or belief that you can control it — give it to God. On paper these steps seem so easy — but in reality they can seem quite hard.  It is easy enough to pray for something, or to ask God for something — but, that is not enough. God asks us to let go of it — and by doing so — have faith in Him that He will take care of it.

So to sum it up: Feel joy and great delight in God, share that joy with others and have faith in God to take care of everything else.   (Starting to feel a little stress about whether this is achievable — so I am going to go back to feeling joy and rejoicing in God  — and I will let God take care of the rest.)

(With hands up in the air and my head tilted back) I rejoice in you, O God.  I feel the joy that only you can provide.  Help me to share this joy with others.  Help me to release my stress and worries and anxieties to you.  Help me to let go.  Help me to trust and have faith.  Thank you God!

Humbled

So yesterday God directed me to the book of Job, where God allowed satan to test Job.  And I struggled with the idea that God allows satan to test us.  Today, the Bible opened to Philippians.  Paul always helps put things into better perspective for me.

Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.

Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2: 5-11

So, yesterday I was upset that God allows us to be tested. Today, I am humbled as I remember that Jesus humbled Himself to take on human likeness, human suffering and was Himself tested.  Who am I to think I deserve better?

Lord,

Help me to learn to be selfless instead of selfish.  Help me to humbly regard others as more important than myself.  Help me to take on the same attitude as Jesus.  Allow me the strength to put my own interests, fears and concerns aside and to trust in your plan.

Through your son Jesus Christ you have shown me the Way.  I want to know more! All glory and praise to you!  You amaze me!

Amen

Joy & Peace

It is late Friday night.  It has been a very long week.  I have been gone since 5 am this morning and just now getting home at 11:30 at night.  The  weekend plans are packed with 3 soccer games, 1 baseball game, 2 meetings and probably 4-5 hours of work, maybe more.  And at some point I need to pack and prepare for a three-day trip.  I am tired.  And there is no foreseeable rest in sight.

I quickly opened the Bible tonight, ready to just crawl into bed and collapse.  Here is what God told me:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!  Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:4-9

The section is labeled “Joy and Peace”. And that is exactly what I need right now.  God always knows just what to say!  I rejoice in the Lord!  He is mighty indeed and He is near. I will let go of my anxieties (hand them over to God) and in prayer and petition, make my requests known to God.    Lord, I need rest.  I need help.  I look to you.  I put my trust in you. Lead me, guide me, hold me.

Now I just need to think about what is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and gracious and excellent and worthy of praise.  I think about God because what else is all of these things? GOD.  God and all that He creates.  The beautiful sunrise breaking through the darkness of night.  The new buds on the trees and the daffodils starting to bloom.  The newborn calf and the 5-year old’s laugh.  Friends forged in faith.  LOVE.

Peace

Joy

Thank you God!