good quote

" In my opinion, the great single need of the moment is that light-hearted superficial religionists be struck down with a vision of God high and lifted up, with His train filling the temple. The holy art of worship seems to have passed away like the Shekinah glory from the tabernacle. As a result, we are left to our own devices and forced to make up the lack of spontaneous worship by ...bringing in countless cheap and tawdry activities to hold the attention of the church people." ~ A.W. Tozer

Friday, December 30, 2011

"What think ye of Christ?"


Matthew 22:42
'Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David."

The great test of your soul's health is, What think you of Christ? Is he to you "fairer than the children of me"--"the chief among ten thousand"-- the "altogether lovely?" Wherever Christ is thus esteemed, all the faculties of the spiritual man exercises themselves with energy. I will judge of your piety by this barometer; does Christ stand high or low with you? If you have thought little of Christ, if you have been content to live without his presence, if you have cared little for his honour, if you have been neglectful of his laws, then I know that your soul is sick-- God grant that it may not be sick unto death! But if the first thought your spirit has been, how can I honour Jesus? If the daily desire of your soul has been, "O that I knew where I might find him!" I tell you that you may have a thousand infirmities, and even scarecely know whether you are a child of God at all, and yet I am persuaded, beyond a doubt, that you are safe, since Jesus is great in your esteem. I care not for thy rags, what thinkest thou of his royal apparel? I care not for thy wounds, though they bleed in torrents, what thinkest thou of his wounds? are they glittering rubies in thine esteem? I think none the less of thee, though thou liest like Lazarus on the dunghill, and the dogs do lick thee-- I judge thee not by thy poverty: what thinkest thou of the King in his beauty? Has he a glorious high throne in thy heart? Wouldest thou set him higher if thou couldest? Wouldest thou be willing to die if though couldest but add another trumpet to the strain which proclaims his praise? Ah! then it is well with thee. Whatever thou mayest think of thyself, if Christ be great to thee, thou shalt be with him ere long.

"Though all the world my choice deride,
Yet Jesus shall my portion be;
For I am pleased with none beside,
The fairest of the fair is he."

Morning and Evening- Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christ


Christ for sickness, Christ for health,
Christ for poverty, Christ for wealth,
Christ for joy, Christ for sorrow,
Christ today, and Christ tomorrow;
Christ my life, and Christ my Light,
Christ for morning, noon, and night;
Christ when all around gives way,
Christ my everlasting stay;
Christ my rest, Christ my food,
Christ above my highest good;
Christ my well beloved, my Friend,
Christ my pleasure without end;
Christ my Savior: Christ my Lord
Christ my portion, Christ my God;
Christ my Shepherd, I His sheep,
Christ Himself my soul doth keep;
Christ my leader, Christ my peace,
Christ hath brought my soul'd release,
Christ my Righteousness divine,
Christ for me, for He is mine;
Christ my wisdom, Christ my meat,
Christ restores my wand'ring feet,
Christ my advocate and Priest,
Christ who ne'er forgets the least;
Christ my teacher, Christ my guide,
Christ my rock, in Christ I hide;
Christ the everlasting Bread,
Christ His precious blood hath shed;
Christ hath brought us near to God,
Christ the everlasting Word,
Christ my master, Christ my head,
Christ who for my sins hath bled;
Christ my glory, Christ my crown,
Christ the plant of great renown,
Christ my comforter on high,
Christ my hope draws ever nigh.

Monday, December 5, 2011

"Teach me, O LORD,...and I shall keep it.."

"Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end." ~ Psalm 119:33

     Last night around 2 or 3 in the morning I suddenly woke from my sleep. Wide eyed and not knowing really why I had woke up, but knowing that it would take me a while to become sleepy again I decided to flip on the bedside lamp and look through the bibles I keep beside my bed. Yes, I keep more than one there. One is the small travel size Sportsman's KJV Bible that I like to put in my purse as I walk out the door everyday and the other, "My old Faithful" I call it, is the Scofield study KJV Bible I was give by the church upon my High School graduation. As I began to sit up and flip through their pages I thought to myself that it had been a long time since I transferred notes from the travel bible over to my Scofield and so I also grabbed the pen I keep with my journal in the same place with the bibles.
     I began to look at some of my old notes as I turned those sacred pages. I noticed I have some passages that I had gleaned so much from that you could barely read the print for all my little scribbles, or the wrinkled pages from tears shed and even a few blood stains from more dire times in my past. Passages like Proverbs, 1 & 2 Peter, the Psalms, and Hebrews to name a few. It filled me with wonder and peace and longing to see how God had "Opened my eyes that I could behold wondrous things out of His Law." (Psalm 119:18) It is the Living WORD of God  and I'm so thankful that He gives it fresh and anew every day.

   Admittedly though, in this busy time with so many things pulling you in different directions that it can be hard to find that special time to "seek him with a whole heart" (Psalm 119: 2, 10, 34) since it seems that there are so many different things that not only ask but sometimes demand our attention. Things like family.. Now how could you ever say no to helping with the care of an elderly grandmother or young nephews? Or how about church ministries? When that little bus kid runs up to you and throws their small arms around your neck and you know that if it weren't for them coming to be in the class you teach then they probably may never hear the name of Jesus much less anything else about Him and His love for you and me. It's so easy to throw oneself into everything else except your own relationship with the Lord. Even when you are trying to do what is right and good in His name. But I don't want to forget that in order for me to "walk in the law of the Lord" (Psalm 119:1), to "keep his statues" (Psalm 119:5) or to have "uprightness of heart" (Psalm 119:7) I first have to know God's law and His statues and to "meditate in His precepts" (verse 15).  I for one don't want to become so much a "Martha" that I can't seem to find time or energy to be a "Mary".

   Yesterday at church the morning message was on Faith in the life of the Believer and the evening message was on the topic of what causes falling in the Church. Both were great messages and the Lord used them to show me that I had grown a little cold in my daily walk with God and my soul had been yearning and longing for that sweet fellowship with the Holy Spirit. I had been so busy with family, work and ministries that my time with the Lord, though daily was lacking. Like an starving person my daily meal had dwindled down to a measly little hour before bed each night in which I didn't really "study" God's word, I merely read it with the crazy notion that That little bit could possibly get me through. What was I thinking?
   All this I'm praying over and thinking over as I flipped through my bibles last night, making notes on passages, transferring thoughts I had from one Bible to the other and wondering where did those days go when I was younger and I would pour over God's word during my days, not because I felt I had to but because I wanted to because I loved God's word and wanted to know and to understand and to obtain wisdom beyond my years. I can recall that like Timothy "From a YOUTH I knew the scriptures". How blessed I was to grow up under a pastor that in my opinion is one of the greatest students of the Word I have ever known and to have teachers who were students of the Word themselves who gleaned from no other source but God's Holy Word. I have read messages preached by Ironside and Spurgen and Moody as well as other great giants of the faith and to know that it was not them but GOD who gave such insight into the scriptures. How I have longed to be a Joseph, Daniel, Kind David, or Elias or Elijah or perhaps a Mary, Ruth, or Ester. Some might think it strange that a young woman would want to be like the Apostle Paul but I'd have to say I've studied his letters to the churches more times than I can count and I wish I had the power of the Spirit of the Lord like he did. And how I miss those conversations with fellow believers sharing what the Lord has given.
You know one of my favorite things to do is to sit down with Pastors and the men of God who are such scholars of the Word and just listen to them talk about the Lord and the Scriptures. How many times I have sat quietly by the side as a group of them sat together and discussed the things of God. I don't know if many of them even realized that I was listening to all they had to say just to go home and search out the same passages of scripture myself to see for myself if what they said was true. The Lord has used those times a plenty to teach me something and I'm thankful for the men who loved God so much that they wanted to share with others even if they didn't know that they were sharing with a young lady who loved the Lord and His Word as much as they did.

I typed all this to say that I long for those days again when I spent my free time in the Word instead of channel surfing. I desire to glean from the statutes of God instead of merely reading words on a page. I wish to be full to overflowing with understanding to the point that all I meditate on, all I think about is the law of the Lord and His goodness. I wish to be like those holy men who when they come together their every word is something about some truth the the Lord has given them. And my prayer is that not only would I be one of those but that I would not be the only "young person" who has that same longing.... I know too many that it is not so.. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

new phone arrival!

I just got my new cell phone today and they were able to port the old number with the new phone. That means no need to give out a new phone number to anyone... but If you'd still like that number just give me a "hollar" and we'll work it out!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Proof


PROOF.

That I did always love,
I bring thee proof:
That till I loved
I did not love enough.
That I shall love alway,
I offer thee
That love is life,
And life hath immortality.
This, dost thou doubt, sweet?
Then have I
Nothing to show
But Calvary.

Emily Dickinson- (1830-1886)

new cell phone

Hey folks! I just wanted to give a quick update for everyone here who follows me. For contact purposes I'm just informing y'all that I'm getting a new cell phone if you're one of the ones that actually does contact me that way.... I'm going to try to get my current number transferred to the new phone when it arrives but in case I'm not able to for some unforeseen reason, be on the look out for a post about a new number. I WILL NOT post the number in my blog but if you would like to keep in touch that way then send me a message and I will send you the new number in a private message. Remember this is only if I'm not able to transfer my current number to the new phone.

The phone should arrive tomorrow so I should be able to tell you something then... Thanks for reading my blog everybody! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lord, have mercy.. I done gone and done what I wasn't suppose to...


Proverbs 3: 31~ " Envy thou not...."

I got a call from my friend just a little bit ago about how she had "stumbled" into a Spanish teaching job. I had mixed feelings about it, if I were to be honest with myself... I was happy for her, of course. It's a wonderful opportunity but I also had other feelings.

She was calling to let me know that she wouldn't be able to go walking with me this evening like we've been doing this summer because she had to go to walmart for supplies and things. Then she kind of rambled through her news of this new job and how maybe we could sit down sometime and talk about it all. I agreed and that was the end. I decided since we weren't going for a walk that I'd take a shower instead.What I felt next was a little seed growing inside and not a good kind. This seed was the seed of envy... I thought to myself, "She must be crazy. She's got a good job right now, one I'd love to have if the opportunity ever presented itself. At 24 she is some kind of Marketing Director for a business or something big like that. She's pretty much her own boss and it's good hours. It's a fairly big thing for someone her age. Why would she go for a teaching position making less money and all that? Here I am, looking for work and pretty much willing to do anything and hoping that it will allow me to still be faithful in my church ministry and the printing ministry at Manna as well as pay my bills and have a little left over to put in the saving account"
   The more I thought about it though another thought struck my mind... "Didn't I just study everyday last week in my bible on the subject of envy? And have I not been praying that I wouldn't get jelous of others; that I'd be thankful everyday for the things God's blessed me with? I've also been asking the Lord to help me in reaching for that Heavenly wisdom that's found only in Him that James 3 talks about..."  Lord, have mercy... I done gone and done what I wasn't suppose to..

It's a sin to be envious. Envy is, simply put, resentment against another person's success. How you define that success is up to you, I suppose. It's a toxin that infects the soul and makes you all rotten inside and eventually it comes out in a lot of different ways and you become bitter. But the Lord tells us that there is also a remedy for envy and it's Thankfulness.

1 Thessalonians 5: 15-19~ "See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit."

The last thing I'd ever want to do is render evil unto any man or the quench the Spirit.  So I suppose the thing to do is just what these verses say. follow that which is good, rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing and in every thing give thanks. So I want to end this note with a few things I'm thankful for...

I'm thankful for a Lord that loves me enough to not only die for me but to raise again and who cares enough to correct me when I'm wrong. Who blesses me beyond anything I could ever need, want or even hope for. Who saved me from my sin and set me free.

I'm thankful for parents who did their very best by me. They have sacrificed and given all they could all my  life that I might be loved and cared for. Who also put a priority on spiritual things and taught me about the Lord.

I'm thankful for sisters that love me  and know the value of family. We may have gone down different pathes over the years but somehow we can still come together in love and sisterhood.

I'm thankful for my nephews who have been so much a part of my life and me a part of theirs. Not many can say they've had so much of a hand in the raising of their siblings children like I can. It's been a joy as well as a challenge and I wouldn't change it or take it back for nothing under the Heavens.

I'm thankful for friends who over the years have become more like family then anything else. I love them all as if they were blood and it's nice to know (even if we don't say it) that they feel the same way about me. I'm thankful that I can be completely myself around them too. There's some that I don't feel that way around and they seem to outnumber the other but I'm thankful just the same.

I'm thankful I'm not in want of anything. I've got all I've ever needed and even been VERY blessed to have a good number of things that I didn't need but it is nice to have.

I guess that's enough things for here but I could keep going and wouldn't you know that little seed of envy has near disappeared. :-)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sometimes you just have to deal with the poo...

Proverbs 14:4- "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox."
What I got from this: Sometimes in order to get things done; to grow or increase... you got to deal with the poo... HAHAHA!

  
I could use this verse on so many things in life other than the obvious... take Joseph for example... He had a dream that one day his brothers would bow down to him... Look at all the "poo" he had to deal with to get there..lol 





David was anointed king of Israel, and look how God brought that to pass.. The fact of the matter is that sometimes in order to grow or "increase" you still have to deal with the poo....it's just part of it...





I thought about a lady at my church who is expecting a baby. Think of all the mess that comes with that.. Kids are a blessing and a joy to the home. They are an increase to the bounty of the parents and the fruit of them and even more so if they believe in Christ as their Savior. But they have their share of "poo", believe me. They cry, they get mad, they get tired and so do the parents. But all in all.... for the "much increase" that comes... it's worth the poo.




So... sometimes you just have to deal with the poo... :-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

17 day cycle challenge..

This is the challenge that my mom, sisters and I are thinking about trying starting on Monday. It was posted in Bottom Line Health in the June 2011 issue.

How To Lose 12 Pounds in Just 17 Days
New research points to surprising advantages of rapid weight loss.

Written by: Mike Moreno, MD
Kaiser Permenente

According to conventional wisdom, anyone who loses weight rapidly (more than a pound or two a week) will invariably regain the lost pounds because the diet will be too strict to maintain. But some researchers are now finding evidence that slow isn't necessarily better when it comes to weight loss.

New Research: A 2010 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine analyzed data from 262 middle- aged obese women. Result: The fast weight losers dropped more pounds overall and maintained their weight loss longer than the gradual weight losers.

Good news: With the rapid weight loss, most people can boost their metabolism, combat fat storage and help prevent obesity- related diseases, such as diabetes and certain types of cancer-- all without feeling deprived of satisfying food.
   Sound impossible? I've seen thousands of people lose weight by following what I call the 17 day Diet.
    Why 17 days? This is roughly the amount of time it takes for your body's metabolism to adapt to a change in calories. By varying your diet at 17-day intervals, you "trick" your metabolism into functioning at its maximum efficiency to help you reach your target weight. Four simple cycles to follow....

Cycle 1: Cleanse Your System
     For the first 17 days, the goal is to "cleanse" your system by eating lots of lean protein, such as poultry and fish. Lean protein requires more energy to digest than carbohydrates, so it burns additional calories and helps control your blood sugar. Because it's satisfying, protein also fights food cravings.
   During this cycle, you're also allowed as many vegetables as you like. You will need to temporarily cut out all grains, potatoes, pasta and desserts. Doing this helps you avoid dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar that fuel binge eating.
Note: Use Olive Oil for cooking during this cycle.

  Fruit is allowed but only before 2 pm-- when sugar (including natural sugar from fruit) is less likely to be stored as fat. Good fruit choices: Apples, berries, oranges, pears, plums, and red grapes. These fruits are relatively low in sugar and high in fiber, which slows digestion and helps you feel full. Avoid bananas and pineapple-- both contain too much natural sugar.

  During this 17-day cycle, people lose an average of 10 to 12 pounds (depending on their starting weights) while eating three to four meals daily plus snacks (for a total of 1,300 calories per day for men and women). Some of this weight loss will be due to water loss-- but this is also beneficial because fluid retention can contribute to fatigue.
Sample day's meals: Breakfast- two scrambled egg whites... one-half grapefruit or other fresh fruit.. one cup green tea. Lunch- fish, poultry or eggs... vegetables... one cup green tea. Dinner- fish or chicken... vegetables.. one cup green tea. Snack-- raw, cut-up vegetables.

Cycle 2: Reset Your Metabolism
  During the second 17 day cycle, the goal is to reset the metabolism by alternating higher calorie intake (1,500 to 1,700) on even days with lower calorie intake (1,300) on odd days. Switching back and forth stimulates fat burning because it prevents your body from adapting to a certain level of daily calories.
   Slow- digesting complex carbs, such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes and brown rice, are reintroduced during this cycle.

Cycle 3: Good eating Habits
    By now, a little more than a month since you started, your body has undergone a significant metabolic shift that will allow you to reintroduce moderate portions-- and no more than two to three servings per day before 2pm-- of carbohydrates such as whole-grain breads and pastas that may have made you feel sluggish or heavy before.
    If you've reached your target weight, you may proceed to cycle 4, the maintenance cycle. If not, be sure to focus on portion control and continue to emphasize lean protein and nonstarchy vegetables, limiting carbohydrates after 2pm until you reach cycle 4.

Cycle 4: Weight Maintenance
    During this cycle, which is followed indefinitely to maintain your weight loss, you are more strict with yourself throughout the workweek but relax your eating habits on the weekends. From 6pm Friday to 6pm Sunday, you can enjoy your favorite indulgences, such as pizza or hamburgers, as long as you maintain portion control and enjoy no more than three indulgences over a single weekend. This approach allows you to eat some favorite foods in moderation while also giving your metabolism the variety it needs to function efficiently. Rule of Thumb: Weigh yourself on weekends. If you gain five pounds or more over a week's time, return to any of the earlier cycles.

Other Secrets to Weight Loss
    In addition to following the cycles described above...

Get More Probiotics. New research suggests that people who have an overabundance of "bad" bacteria in the intestinal tract are more susceptible to weight gain. But healthful bacteria, known as probiotics (found in such foods as certain yogerts, sauerkraut and miso soup), control the proliferation of bad bacteria and help fight infection- and ensure that your metabolism functions effectively.

My Advice: Aim to consume two daily servings of foods containing probiotics. Examples of one probiotic serving: Six ounces of fat-free plain yogert or one-half cup of Breakstone LiveActive cottage cheese (which includes added probiotics). Or: Take probiotic supplements, following label instructions.

Don't Forget to Exercise. To avoid getting run down while you're scaling back on calories (especially the first few days of cycle 1), do only 15 to 20 minutes of walking a day.
     Thereafter, aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week. Walking is a good choice, as is jogging, swimming, or using a stationary bicycle or an elliptical machine. For strength training, make the exercises as aerobic as possible using lighter weights and more repetitions.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Joyful Life: Study on Philippians Chapter 9

Philippians 3:1-11
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord, To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made comformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Chapter 9: What really matters
"Knowing Christ is the basis and goal of the Christian life"

     Aaron Burr once told a friend that when he was about nineteen years old, he had to make a decision between God and the world. So he went into the country for a week, where he could be alone to consider the matter. While there, he decided that he would never again trouble himself about his soul's salvation. From that time on, he threw himself recklessly into sin, sinking lower and lower into unrighteousness until his manhood was wasted away.
   When Paul was a young Pharisee, he had to make a decision. He had to decide between Judaism and Jesus. Contrary to the decision Aaron Burr made, Paul made the right decision, one that pointed his whole life in the right direction. He decided to trust in Jesus Christ, Who graciously revealed Himself to Paul on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9).

Active Partners
    Paul wrote to the Philippians because they were partners in the work of the gospel. Because they were partners, they needed to stand united and steadfast against false teachers. If they lacked either of these qualities, their partnership would fail. In Philippians 2 Paul stressed the need for unity and then described it as a like-mindedness that developed from lowly mindedness. In Philippians 3, Paul directed the Philippians' attention to the need to be steadfast.
   he began by reminding the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 3:1). This reminder included both a command and a cause. The command was simply, "Rejoice." The cause was their union with the Lord. "Rejoice" denotes a positive attitude of joy that comes from knowing Christ. Joy doesn't come from possessions but from a Person-- Jesus Christ. John C. Wheeler said, "Now that I know Christ, I'm happier when I am sad than I was before, when I was happy." That's an interesting way to look at happiness. We need to rejoice because we are related to Christ by faith.
  Paul repeated something he had communicated before to his readers, something that was not irksome for him to repeat because it served as a safeguard for them. He told them again to "beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of concision" (verse 2). "Concision" meaning mutilation, was an obvious reference to circumcision. "Beware" means to pay attention to or to watch out for. The three terms "dogs." "evil workers." and "concision" describe the same people from slightly different perspectives. Most likely Paul was referring to the Judaizers, who attempted to impose Jewish laws and observances upon Christians.
     After Paul referred to the Philippians' opponents as the mutilation, he identified Christians as the true "circumcision," the true people of God (verse 3). He described Christians' worship as spiritual, their joy as being in Jesus Christ and their confidence as not being in the flesh (verse 3). This last statement was crucial. The Judaizers' confidence was in the flesh. To gain acceptance with God, they depended upon what they did and on what had been done to them, namely circumcision. The Christians' confidence, by contrast, was in Jesus Christ and in what He had done at Calvary.
      Numerous well-intentioned religious people today follow the same error that the Judaizers pursued. They believe religious works gain God's favor. However, the Bible teaches emphatically that salvation is God's gift, freely bestowed upon all who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior. God saves sinners by grace and not according to their works (Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5,6). If we depended upon our good deeds and religious observances to get us to Heaven, we would never get there. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

Paul Reviewed His Past
    In order to show the Philippians that confidence in the flesh made no sense, Paul listed his "fleshly" accomplishments. He was not boasting; he was simply illustrating from his own experience the fallacy of trusting in the flesh. If anyone thought that he had a reason to trust in his flesh, Paul had more reasons (verse 3:4). Paul mentioned his pedigree and his personal achievements.

Paul's Pre-Conversion Religious Pedigree (verses 3:5.6)
Circumcised the eighth day= A Jew by birth, not a proselyte
Of the stock of Israel= Born into the chosen race
Of the tribe of Benjamin= Belonged to the highest aristocracy of Israel
An Hebrew of the Hebrews=  son of Hebrew parents; continued to use the Hebrew language when many other Jews no longer did.
As touching the law, A Pharisee= belonged to the most orthodox party in Judaism
Concerning zeal, Persecuting the church= organized a program to oppress and hassle Christians
Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless= free from fault: the perspective of the Pharisees.

        Someone has observed that pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the person who has it. Do you have the disease? Are you proud of your religious credentials or good deeds? Do you have "confidence in the flesh?" I syour pride keeping you from salvation or service? You need to answer these questions and learn from Paul's testimony in Philippians 3:4-10.

From Profits to Loss
    Paul had it made, or did he? Actually, he had a problem. Judaism was keeping him from Jesus. Because of his achievements, he sensed no need of Christ's atonement. But on the road to Damascus he had to choose between Judaism and Jesus. What did he do? He chose Christ. All the credentials and deeds he had boasted about and that he had considered "gain," he counted "loss for Christ" (verse 7).
  "Gain" is an accounting term for profits. If Paul were an accountant, he would have put his religious pedigree and personal accomplishments in the Profits column at one time. However, when Christ confronted him on the Damascus Road, he changed his outlook and considered them loss.
    It is interesting that the word "gain" in verse 7 is plural, but "loss" is singular. Paul lumped all his "advantages" together into one loss. What had been considdered "profit" became "loss" for the sake of Christ.
   Perhaps you need to do some accounting. Perhaps you need to change some things from the Profits column to the Loss column.

Purposeful Living
    What had happened with Paul? Why did he change his outlook? Something dramatic happened to Paul when he believed on Jesus Christ as his Savior. He received a purpose in life. Let's find out what the purpose was as we read further in his letter to the Philippians.
   Paul reinforced his earlier statement by writing that he continually counted "all things but loss" (verse 8). He had counted them as loss when he became saved, and he continued to view them as loss. His motivation for counting them loss was "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" (verse 8). "Excellency" means surpassing greatness and refers to Paul's intimate communication with Jesus Christ. He counted all former religious credentials and deeds loss because of Jesus Christ, and he continued to consider them loss in order to know Christ. He even counted them as "dung" (verse 8), meaning refuse or rubbish. He no longer placed any value in them. He completely renounced them because he wanted to win Christ. The bottom line of Paul's financial statement had changed. What was gain before had become loss. Christ had become Paul's gain.
   Paul also wanted to "be found in him" (verse 9). This seems to point to the time of the Lord's return for the Church. Paul anticipated being found in vital union with Christ at that time.
    How does a person have a vital relationship with Christ? By having the right kind of righteousness (verse 9). What is the right kind of righteousness? How does a person possess it? Bible teachers agree that righteousness is the state of being in a morally pure relationship with God. However, before further defining the right kind of righteousness, we need to know what kind of righteousness is the wrong kind.
  Paul wanted to be found in Christ not having his own righteousness (verse 9). That's the wrong kind. It results from human effort. Its source is the law, and it springs from doing the law.
  Paul wanted to be found in Christ having "the righteousness which is of God" (verse 9). It comes from God as a gift. It is received by faith-- "through the faith of Christ" (verse9). Righteousness cannot be achieved, but it can be received by placing one's faith in Christ.
  Paul revealed his ultimate goal. He counted all things loss for Christ that he might know him (verse 10). Paul was saved and united with Christ, but he wanted to experience and enjoy union with Christ more fully. He wanted to know Christ more fully.
   Perhaps we can compare Paul's relationships with Christ to the husband- wife relationships at their wedding and throughout their marriage. At a wedding, a man becomes united with his wife. Throughout the marriage, they want to experience and enjoy this union more fully. They want it to be a growing relationship. This is what Paul wanted in his relationship with Christ.
  Paul would come to know Christ more fully by knowing "the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings" (verse 10). Paul was referring to two related experiences. The power of Christ's resurrection was the same power that operated in Paul's life, enabling him to lead a new and God-honoring life. This new life wasn't trouble-free, though. As he tried to obey God, he suffered. He was a partner in the sufferings of Christ.
  When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was suffering imprisonment because of his relationship with Christ. But he suffered willingly, knowing that his sufferings reflected the kind of self-denial that Christ showed by dying on the cross (verse 10).
   We come to know people better by walking in their shoes. As we experience what they experience, we understand them better. Paul wanted to experience living like Christ, suffering like Christ, and dying like Christ in order to know Christ better.
   Coming to know Christ better after salvation is similar to coming to know your spouse better after the wedding. And you can never be happily married until you get a divorce from yourself. Someone has said that successful marriage demands a certain death to self. In the same way you can never come to know Christ until you die to selfish desires and ambitions.

Resurrection: A Bright Prospect
    Paul was counting all things loss that he "might attain unto the resurrection of the dead" (verse 11). He was referring to the future bodily resurrection, when the process of coming to know Christ will be completed. Paul would work toward this goal for the rest of his life. "If by any means" in verse 11 does not indicate that Paul entertained doubts concerning the reality of the resurrection. Most likely he was simply expressing uncertainty about the nature of his resurrection. Would he be raised from a martyr's death? His trial at the hands of the Romans could have led to his martyrdom or to his freedom. The outcome was uncertain.
   It is said that Huxley was once on his way to a meeting of the British Association in Dublin but arrived late at the station. Hurriedly he jumped into a horse-drawn cart and ordered the driver, "drive fast!"
    Away went the cart, jolting over the streets. After a while Huxley asked the driver, "do you know where you are going?"
   Answering with a grin, the driver replied: "No, I don't know where I am going, but I'm driving very fast."
  You may be driving very fast, but do you know where you are going in your Christian life? Do you know how to get there? Do you want to come to know Christ better? Paul's goal should be yours. Partners in the work of the gospel need to know Christ better progressively. As members of a local church get to know Christ well, their understanding of His will becomes clearer and their Christian bonds grow stronger. United together in the knowledge of Christ, they successfully withstand false teaching.
  Knowing Christ is what really matters!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Days of praise- devotional "Long Enough"

"And the LORD spake unto me, saying, Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward." (Deuteronomy 2: 2-3)

This was the second time God had to rebuke Israel for staying too long in one place. Here they were camped adjacent to the region controlled by the descendants of Esau and thus kinsmen of the Israelites, but God told them to go north toward Canaan.
    Long before, they had wanted to stay too long at Mount Sinai (same as Horeb) where God had given the law to Moses. Finally, "the LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:... Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers" (Deuteronomy 1:6,8).
     It is possible for a Christian to become too satisfied with his level of attainment, when the Lord may well have something more for him to do. Possibly, like Israel at Sinai, we may be content to stay in a situation where we have seen God work in the past. Or, like Israel at Edom's Mount Seir, we want to stay in what we think may be friendly surroundings, rather than venture into overtly enemy territory. Perhaps we have stayed long enough at a certain stage in our Christian growth or service, and God wants us to go further.
    Paul wanted to continue preaching near his home in Asia, but God said for him to go on into Europe (Acts 16:6-10). Peter asked Jesus what John was going to do, but Jesus said, "What is that to thee? follow thou me" (John 21:22).
     God may, indeed, want us to continue all of our lives right where He has placed us now, as far as location and position are concerned, but He does want us to go on further with Him. The last words written by Peter are profoundly important. "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Days of praise- devotional

"Stunted Growth in Carnal Christians"

This was a daily devotional that stirred some deep thoughts and I wanted to share.

"And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able." ~ 1 Corinthians 3: 1-2
  The apostle Paul here makes a clear distinction between "spiritual" Christians, controlled and led by the Holy Spirit, and "carnal" Christians, still controlled by the desires of the flesh. A carnal Christian is a baby Christian. Baby Christians are a cause of great rejoicing when they are newborn believers, just like baby people. But if they remain babies indefinitely, they become an annoyance to hear and a tragedy to behold.
     Each born-again believer needs urgently to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" ( 2 Peter 3:18). That Spiritual growth comes only through the study of the Word, accompanied by belief and obedience. First there must be "the sincere [or 'logical'] milk of the word" (1 Peter 2:2), but that is good only for the first stages of growth. "For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:13-14). Scripture encourages us to grow to maturity and then to continue growing.
     Carnal Christians are not necessarily pseudo-Christians, although they should examine themselves to determine whether their profession of faith in Christ is genuine (2 Corinthians 13:5), but they should not be content to remain spiritual babes. Every Christian should be able to say with the prophet Jeremiah: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts" (Jeremiah 15:16).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nacho Grande Casserole

I haven't tried this recipe yet myself but I tried some that a lady I work with made and it was Delicious! So I'm posting it here so you can try it and if you do, let me know how it turned out.


Nacho Grande Casserole


2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 (16 oz.) cans spicy chili beans
16 oz. pkg. frozen corn kernels, thawed
15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/4 oz. pkg. taco seasoning mix
3 cups finely shredded cheddar jack cheese, divided
3 cups nacho cheese tortilla chips, crushed and divided
Toppings: chopped tomatoes and green onions

- Cook ground beef and onion in a dutch oven over medium-high heat, stir until beef crumbles; drain.
- Add beans, corn, tomato sauce, and seasoning mix; stir until blended. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Pour half the beef mixture into a lightly greased 13"x9" baking dish. Top with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and chips. Top with remaining mixture and remaining cheese and chips creating a layered look.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
- Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes and onions.

Serves: 8 to 10 people

"God Give Us Good Men"

That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous ~ Proverbs 2:20
"God Give Us Good Men"

God, Give us good men,
Men who are great and strong,
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long;
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Men who dare while others flee;
Men who build a nation's pillars deep
And strive to keep men free.

God, give us meek men
Men who know how to pray,
Men who will worship God alone
And walk with Him each day;
Wise men who know the Word of God,
Men who always do right,
Men who walk in deep humility
And trust in God's great might.

God, give us bold men
Men who have hearts ablaze,
Men who with broader vision seek
None but God's own praise;
True men with great integrity,
Men whose hearts the Lord has won,
Men who live in humble gratitude
For all that God has done.

The words to this hymn were written by Ralph Waldo Emerson and music done by Frank Garlock. I really like the words to this, though I'm still learning the music. I've prayed these things so many times and I'm so blessed to have known some of God's great men in this world; whether they were preachers, evangelists, missionaries, teachers, youth workers or just the behind the scenes kind of guy... I'm thankful for them and pray that there would be more like them.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ok correction... I will have this number until April 3rd. The new number will be 704-300-4108.
FWD: Going to be going to a new cell in 30 days. New number will be 704-300-4108. Wont be able to do pics with the new #

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Joyful Life: Study on Philippians Chapter 8

Philippians 2:19-30
    "But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly. Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me."

Two Humble Servants
Selfless Concern for others honors Christ.
      James McConkey, author of The Threefold Secret of the Holy Spirit, used to tell this story in his own inimitable way.
      Into the life of my brother came this experience. The winter was ending. The ice in our native river was breaking up. A few miles above our home was a small town at which an immense ice jame had formed in the river. Just below this was an island on which eleven people, men, women, and children, were imprisoned.
     Everyone knew the fate that waited them. If the ice dam, with its great wall of water behind it, should break, it would sweep those unfortunate people down-river to their deaths.
   When my brother learned of this situation he put fifty dollars in his pocket and hurried to the little town. When he arrived there he found the entire population lined up along the river banks waiting for the inevitable catastrophe. Standing among the crowd he offered the fifty dollars to any man who would attempt to rescue the imperiled islanders. But no one signified his willingness to make the desperate attempt. Again and again he repeated his offer, and each time it was refused.
   Unable to induce anyone else to try the rescue operation, he sent to the village store for a length of small but strong rope. When it came, my brother tied this to his belt and offered to join himself to any man who would rope himself in an effort to save the lives of the doomed people on the island. Immediately four men stepped to his side, roping themselves to the same line of peril. And those five men picked their way across the great ice dam at imminent hazard of their own lives to bring back to safety those that otherwise would have certainly died. When he offered money, there was not a man who would take the risk. But when they saw him willing to give himself, and were touched by the life that counted no price too great, he drew them instantly to his side.

   Paul realized the value of examples. Timothy and Epaphroditus were partners in the gospel who considered others better than themselves and demonstrated concern for their needs. Paul held them up to the Philippians as examples they could esteem and emulate.

Timothy
  Paul wanted to visit the Philippians, but he was unable to do so because he was confined in Rome, under house arrest. He hoped to visit them again, but in the meantime, he assured the Philippians: "I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you" (Philippians 2:19). The word translated "I trust" means I hope. "In the Lord Jesus" points out that Paul subjected his plans to the Lord's sovereignty. Lord willing, he would send Timothy to Philippi because he wanted to be encouraged by a favorable report of the Philippians' spiritual progress. Although his own circumstances were difficult, he was interested in the Philippians' situation. He considered them more important than himself, and he regarded them as his partners in the work of the gospel.
   Why would Paul send Timothy? What made Paul choose him rather than someone else? He chose Timothy because he was convinced that Timothy was a man of deep concern and blameless character. Paul wrote concerning Timothy: "I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state" (verse 20). By "like-minded," Paul meant that Timothy shared Paul's concern for the Philippians. He could be trusted to offer the Philippians a helping hand and a pat on the back. He had a good mind and a tender heart.
  It made good sense to send Timothy for another reason. Paul wanted the Philippians to show concern for one another. They could see how Timothy portrayed his concern for them, and they could follow his example. Do other believers matter to you? If they do, do they know it?
  We often feel that we live in a me-first, dog-eat-dog kind of world, but self-centeredness wasn't born in our lifetime; it has been around a long time. Even in the first-century Church self-interest abounded. Paul informed the Philippians that he had selected Timothy as his messenger to them, "for all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's" (verse 21).
   Does your concern for others outweigh your concern for yourself? When Jesus taught His disciples about His inevitable death on the cross-- a substitutionary death for sinners-- the disciples ignored His words. They chose to deny Jesus' cross and dream about His kingdom. Hoping to get a jump on the rest of the disciples who wanted prestigious positions in the Kingdom, James and John asked Jesus to give them co-regent positions. "Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory," they petitioned (Mark 10:37).
  Jesus' reply knocked the props out of the disciples' political platform. "Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them, but so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the servant of all" (verses 42, 43).
  Then Jesus offered Himself as the supreme example of selfless concern for others. "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister," He explained, "and to give his life a ransom for many" (verse 45).
   If we truly follow Christ, we will reflect His character by caring more for others than for ourselves.

Timothy's Proven Worth
    The Philippians knew "the proof" of Timothy (Philippians 2:22). "Proof of him" means his proven worth. He has stood the test in his ministry with Paul. He had served with Paul in the work of the gospel as a son with a father. Plutarch suggested that "character is simply habit long continued. "Timothy had habitually served others. That was a major mark of his character. He was characterized by concern. He displayed the attitude Paul wanted the Philippians to show to one another. His humility made his like-mindedness possible.
  Are you known for your concern for others? What is the mark of your character? What is the record of your Christian service?

Expect Company Soon
   After describing Timothy's concern and character, Paul again mentioned his visit to Philippi (verse 23). He hoped to send Timothy "presently"-- at once. As soon as Paul knew the outcome of his legal trial, he would send Timothy. At the same time he hoped to visit the Philippians shortly (verse 24). "Shortly" means without delay. Paul seemed to think that he would be released from Roman custody and then visit the Philippians without delay.

Epaphroditus
    Epaphroditus served as another example of consideration and concern for the Philippians. Paul had not sent him to the Philippians; they had sent him to Paul. Having found Paul in Rome, Epaphroditus performed a ministry of service to him. Now, however, Paul was returning Epaphroditus to the Philippians because Epaphroditus had fallen ill in Rome.

Concern about the Christians Back Home
    Paul's imprisonment had reduced his ministry opportunities, so he needed someone to help him in his ministry. Out of concern for their missionary, Paul, the Philippians had sent Epaphroditus to him. Paul regarded Epaphroditus as his brother and companion and fellowsoldier (verse 25). That's quite a recommendation. On the other hand Epaphroditus was the Philippians' messenger. He showed unselfish concern for Paul's needs. His attitude was precisely the kind of attitude Paul wanted all the Philippians to show to one another.
   But Paul informed the Philippians that he was sending Epaphroditus home. Why? For two reasons. First, Epaphroditus had become homesick. He "longed after" the Philippians (verse 26). He had an intense desire to go home. Second, Epaphroditus had become greatly distressed upon learning that the Philippians knew he was ill. Epaphroditus believed he had failed his friends in Philippi by becoming sick in Rome. In spite of his illness, he was obviously more concerned about how the Philippians felt. In a display of concern for Epaphroditus, Paul had decided to send him home.

So Sick He Thought He'd Die
   Paul informed the Philippians that Epaphroditus "was sick nigh unto death" (verse 27). He had nearly died. However, God was merciful to both Epaphroditus and Paul; He healed Epaphroditus. He spared Paul the sorrow of having to see Epaphroditus die in Rome. Paul was ready, therefore, to send him back to Philippi, where the Christians would rejoice upon seeing their friend. That happy reunion would reduce Paul's sorrow (verse 28).

A Hero's Welcome
   Paul urged the Philippians to receive Epaphroditus "in the Lord with all gladness" (verse 29). "Receive" means to welcome to yourselves. He wanted them to give Epaphroditus a joyful welcome. In addition, he exhorted them to honor him. He reminded them that it was for the work of Christ that Epaphroditus had approached death's door (verse 30). In fact, he had been careless with his life in order to minister to Paul.
   Epaphroditus was a sterling example of Christlike concern. Rather than being concerned about himself and his needs, Epaphroditus considered Paul's needs and ministered to him. Now, Paul wanted the Philippians to reciprocate by throwing out the welcoming mat for Epaphroditus and by showing Christlike concern for him and his needs.
   Some Mennonites consider it wrong to charge for helping another human being. Instead they say, "I will charge thee nothing but the promise that thou wilt help the next man that thou findest in trouble." That's the way it should be in the work of the gospel; everyone considering everyone else and being concerned about everyone else.
   Epaphroditus' lowly mindedness was evident in his ministry to Paul. It enabled him to be a good partner in the work of the gospel. He, Timothy and Paul were humble servants of God. They considered others better than themselves. They were concerned about others and their needs. They served as shining examples for the Philippians to follow. Christians, today ought to follow their example. They were humble partners in the work of the gospel?

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Joyful Life: Study on Philippians Chapter 7

Philippians 2:12-18
    "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me."

The Christians Daily Workout
  The believer's life should demonstrate that he knows Christ.

   A laborer had complained all morning to his fellow workers that he didn't have a shovel. Finally, at noon, he complained to the foreman. "I've got a problem," he said, "I don't have a shovel."
  "Well, what are you complaining about? You don't have to do any work if you ain't go no shovel," the foreman offered.
  "Well, I know that. But I haven't got anything to lean on--- like the other guys," the worker complained.
   Sometimes we Christians would rather lean than work. We forget that we need to work. Being a Christian is a full-time job. We must work at it. If you're a "leaner" instead of a worker, you need to pay close attention to what Paul wrote to the Philippians about working out their salvation.

An Obligation not an Option
  After portraying Jesus Christ as the example of humility, Paul once again exhorted the Philippians to take appropriate action. With lowliness of mind (Philippians 2:3). He wanted each of them to esteem others better than himself and to consider the needs of others. He knew, of course, that humble and selfless thinking doesn't just happen; the Philippians needed to work at it. Therefore, he exhorted: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (verse 12).
  "Work out" has the idea of bringing something to completion or conclusion such as working out a math problem. Notice that the concept is working out and not working for salvation. The Philippians were saved. They needed to apply their salvation to their lives. Their salvation would be incomplete until they applied it to their relationships with one another. The command "work out" demanded continuous action. It also demanded individual action, because each believer received Paul's command. It demanded inclusive action, too, because all the believers were supposed to comply.
  Not only did Paul exhort the Philippians to work out their own salvation, he urged them to work it out "with fear and trembling" (verse 12). This phrase demonstrated the seriousness of their thinking about other believers. They were obliged to be both serious and sensitive in their interpersonal relationships. The command was an obligation not an option.

A Vocation not a Vacation
   Are you working, or are you on vacation? Are you applying your salvation to everyday situations? Someone described his vacation this way on a postcard, "Having a wonderful time; wish I could afford it." If you're on vacation and not working out your own salvation (notice "your own"; not someone else's), you can't afford it. There's too much at stake. You need to work at the responsibility of considering others better than yourself and at the task of showing genuine concern for them. Remember consideration, concern and cooperation in the work of the gospel require that you work and not just wish.

Cooperation Please!
  The Philippians were able to work out their salvation because God was working in them "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (verse 13). They could work it out because God is working in them. The Greek word "worketh" in verse 13 is different from the Greek word for "work" in verse 12. The word in verse 13 means to work effectively.
   A frustrated boss called his new secretary into his office. "Maggie," he sighed, "I don't understand it. You've worked here only three weeks, but you're already five weeks behind in your work."
  Like Maggie, some people "work" but don't seem to get anywhere except further behind. It's not that way with God; He works effectively.
  God was working in the Philippians "both to will and to do of his good pleasure." "To will" denotes purposeful determination. God was causing the Philippians to be willing to work out their salvation. "To do" means to accomplish something, to cause it to happen. God was accomplishing in the Philippians' lives what He caused them to want to do. The Philippians were not alone in this task of becoming what God wanted them to be. God was working in them; they needed only to cooperate.
  In southern New Jersey, a clearing exists where oak and pin timber once stood. However, whoever cut down the oak and pine spared one tree about fifty feet from the road. Evidently it was spared because of its freakish appearance. A close look at this sole surviving tree reveals that it started out as two trees, about eight feet apart at the base, where each measures about ten inches in diameter. About six feet from the ground, the trees arch and unite in one trunk. From that point, they are one tree with a common truck and top. The Philippians were joined together with God in working out their salvation. God was exhorting them and enabling them. He and the Philippians were working together to work out their salvation.
   How comforting! God was so interested in the Philippians' spiritual growth that He initiated and implemented the growth process. In the same way, God is working in you so that you might work out your salvation.

Getting Along in God's Family
  The Philippians were partners in the work of the gospel. They needed to work out their salvation in their everyday relationships with one another. Their relationship with Christ was supposed to affect their relationships with other believers. Therefore, Paul urged them to "do all things without murmurings and disputings" (2:14). "All things" is both emphatic and inclusive, and refers to the Philippians' attitude toward one another. "Murmurings," meaning complaining, denotes grumblings against other people. Specifically in verse 14 it refers to grumblings that cause disunity. "Disputings" means disputes or arguments. Paul wanted the Philippians to avoid these harmful behaviors.
  If the Philippians did all things without complaining and arguing, they would present a strong, united testimony to an unbelieving society. Their interpersonal relationships would build for them an appropriate reputation. They would be "blameless and harmless" (verse 15). "Blameless" means free from fault and describes a person who is above accusation. It describes a person's reputation in the community. "Harmless" means unmixed and refers to a person's motives. Taken together, the two words "blameless" and "harmless"  picture a pure and sincere Christian.
  Paul also wanted the Philippians to be "without rebuke" (verse 15). This word means unblemished and describes the Christian whose relationship with God is pure.
  Each of these three words emphasizes an essential aspect of Christian purity. The Philippians lived in a dishonest and depraved world (as you do). Paul wanted them to maintain a pure testimony.
   In Hatfield, England, Margaret Elms, the municipal registrar of births, marriages, and deaths recorded the name of a deceased man on a death certificate. She wrote "Mr. Serious Misconduct of Mill Lane, Welwyn, aged 74."
  How did such a strange name originate? It originated when Malcolm MacTaggart changed his name to Serious Misconduct following an ugly work-related incident.
  In 1939, MacTaggart had a quarrel with his employer, the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company. It seems he took two weeks vacation when the company insisted that he was entitled to only one week. The company fired him, and listed the reason as "serious misconduct."
  MacTaggart never forgot the railroad company for what he perceived to be an unjust dismissal. Perhaps to keep his resentment alive and to embarrass his ex-employer, he changed his name from MacTaggart to Serious Misconduct. He put his new name on all his official documents, including his social security payments book, and kept that name until his death 34 years later. His death finally removed the stain from the character of former railroader Malcolm MacTaggart.
  Our character stains stay with us for a long time also. And many times those stains come from messy relationships with other Christians. Non-Christians know when "serious misconduct" exists among believers. The word gets around, and our testimony loses its effectiveness. We are perceived as no different from unbelievers. Have your attitudes and actions toward other Christians affected your testimony? If they have, begin to repair them. The next time you are tempted to put yourself first and disrupt the unity of the body, remember that the charge of serious misconduct may dog your steps for a long, long time.
  Right relationships among Christians help to build a strong testimony for Christ in their community. In the midst of spiritual and moral darkness, they "shine as lights in the world" (verse 15). They stand out because their character and conduct are different. While they hold back a tide of godlessness, they hold forth the word of life (verse 16). They keep a firm grip on the gospel, which they offer freely to the unsaved. They order their lives by the high standards of the Word of Life, thereby proving that they are citizens of Heaven. Those who hold fast to the Word of Life become a source of joy to their spiritual mentors (verse 16). They will rejoice at the Rapture.

Paul's Example
  Paul practiced what he preached. He did not live a "Do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do" life. He considered the Philippians as better than himself; and he was deeply concerned about them. If somehow his death as a sacrifice could be credited to the Philippians' account in addition to what they had sacrificed to support his ministry, he was willing to die. In fact, he would rejoice in that sacrifice (verse 17).
   Commenting on verse 17, J. Dwight Pentecost observed:

  Paul views the Philippians as priests, and he sees the good works that spring from faith as the thank offering that the Philippians are offering to God.... But Paul does not want that sacrifice to be a bare sacrifice, and when the sacrifice of their works is offered as a thank offering to God, Paul adds himself as a drink offering in order that the heart of God might rejoice at the offering of praise and thanksgiving that the Philippians together with Paul make. The effect of pouring wine upon the sacrifice would be to cause it to flame up brilliantly. When God sees that sacrifice of good works offered to Him, He is satisfied; but His heart rejoices with new rejoicing when He sees the brilliance of the flame that comes as a drink offering, the sacrifice of Paul, is added to the sacrifice of these saints (The Joy of Living, pp. 106, 107).

  Someone has calculated that the average worker could double his production overnight if he would do everything he knows he should do and stop doing what he knows he should not do. You are a partner in the work of the gospel. That responsibility demands work. Throughout your Christian life, you are supposed to pursue a vocation not a vacation. You are supposed to serve God faithfully. You need to work out your salvation as you work for the gospel. As you do so, your productivity in the work of the gospel will increase dramatically. Just do what you know you ought to do and stop doing what you know you shouldn't do.
  Consider others better than yourself. Be concerned about others. Don't concentrate exclusively on yourself and your needs.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Joyful Life: Study on Philippians Chapter 6

Philippians 2:5-11
    "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

The Son Who Became a Servant
The believer should humble himself.

    A small religious college was experiencing financial difficulties. One day a wealthy man visited the campus, where the first person he met was a white-haired man in overalls. The old fellow was painting a wall.
  "Where can I find the president?" the wealthy visitor asked.
  The painter pointed to a nearby house and assured the visitor, "If you stop by that house at noon, I'm sure you'll find him there."
  At noon the visitor knocked at the front door of the president's house. To his surprise, he was greeted by the same man he had talked to earlier, but now the old fellow was dressed like a college president. After accepting an invitation for lunch with the painter-president, the visitor asked a number of questions about the needs of the college and promised to send a small donation. Two days later a check for $50,000 arrived.
  Because the college president was humble enough to tackle a painting job, he had not only brightened a wall but also the college's future.
  In a far greater way, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humbled himself for the sake of others. Although He was God, He became man. Because He humbled Himself and died for us, we Christians enjoy a bright future.
  Paul wanted the Philippians to serve one another humbly, so he focused their attention on the example of humility Christ set. If the Philippians emulated Christ, their church would resemble a little bit of Heaven.

Be Lowly Minded
   Paul wanted the Philippians to be like-minded, but he knew that like-mindedness develops only when people are lowly minded. So, to encourage the Philippians to be lowly minded, he introduced the example of lowly mindedness Jesus Christ set.
   "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus," Paul admonished (Philippians 2:5).  Another way to express Paul's admonition is to say, "think like Christ among you." Such thinking would activate the will. It would produce Christlike behavior. If the Philippians thought like Christ, they would humble themselves and serve one another just like Jesus Christ humbled Himself for our sakes. High-mindedness divides a church and causes individuals to serve only themselves, but lowly mindedness welds a church into a dynamic and caring group of selfless followers of Christ.

Where's Your Focus?
    Paul commanded the Philippians to share an attitude of humility. After all, Christ humbly focused on the needs of others. Throughout His earthly ministry He gave Himself in service for others. And at the end of His earthly ministry He laid down His life for others.
   In the work of the gospel, attitude is far more important than aptitude. Because they were partners in the work of the gospel, the Philippians' attitude toward one another was more valuable than the talents they contributed to the work. A church may bulge with talent, but only humility makes it a home. Talented people may entertain one another, but humble people edify one another. Talent may give a church notoriety, but humility gives it unity.
  Hudson Taylor, a pioneering missionary to China, is remembered best for his faith. However, he was also a humble man. When someone asked him how he was chosen for missionary work in China, he replied that God chose a little man so that others could see what a great God we have. If more Christians regarded themselves as little and God as great, the church would present a clearer picture of God's grace and power.

Down from His Glory
  Jesus Christ provides the perfect example of humility. He provided the standard by which Christians should examine their willingness to put others' interests ahead of their own.
   Paul described Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate existence in Heaven as "being in the form of God" (Philippians 2:6). "Being" means existing. "Form" denotes the essence of something. Therefore, "being in the form of God" means that Jesus Christ existed with the same nature as God, because He was God.
  Paul also wrote that Christ was "equal with God" (verse 6). Because Jesus Christ was God, He shared equal honor and glory with God.
  How did Christ respond to His eternal position as God? He "thought it not robbery to be equal with God" (verse 6b). He did not think the nature and prerogatives of Deity something to be clutched and used for personal advantage. He freely left Heaven and came to earth to identify with humanity, to experience humiliation and to "taste death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9). Hebrews 2:14-16 describes our Lord's condescension on our behalf:
                    Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

   When Jesus Christ left Heaven, He "made himself of no reputation' (Philippians 2:7). He did not cease to be God, but He "took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men," (verse 7). Although He assumed the form of a servant, He remained God. He could never cease to be what He was eternally-- perfect God. However, He veiled His deity when He became a man. He freely laid aside the independent exercise of His divine prerogatives and lived on earth as a servant. Throughout His earthly ministry, He did the Father's will. He said, "I do always those things that please him" (John 8:29).
  The word "form" in Philippians 2:7 indicates that Christ possessed all the essential characteristics of a servant. Just as He was really God, He was also really a servant. He demonstrated this servitude often during His life on the earth, but graphically portrayed it when He clothed Himself as a household servant, bent down and washed His disciples' feet (John 13:1-12).
   "Made in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:7) means that Christ became a real human being. Having a real human body, He experienced pain and suffering, hunger, thirst and weariness. He was a human being like every human being, with one exception-- He did not have a sin nature. Hebrews 4:15 assures us that Jesus Christ "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 7:26 adds that He was "holy harmless, undefiled separate from sinners."
  In His condescending to come to earth as a real human being, our Lord identified with humanity. The incarnation did not interrupt or terminate His deity; He was God and remained God, but to His divine nature He added a real human nature.
   Paul informed the Philippians in Philippians 2:8 that "being found in fashion as a man," Jesus "humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." The word "fashion" in this verse denotes something external and changeable. Since Christ was a real man, His external appearance changed, just as ours changes. If you need proof of this fact, look in the mirrior. You will recognize that your appearance is different now than it was ten years ago. However, Jesus' eternal deity didn't change.
   Jesus humbled Himself by becoming a human being and by becoming a servant, but His humbling Himself went even further. He "became obedient unto death" (verse 8). His death was repulsive, excruciatingly painful and barbaric. He died on a "cross" (verse 8). His obedience to the Father and His servanthood took Him to Calvary, where He voluntarily died for our sins.
  The lesson is clear: Jesus considered others better than Himself. He looked on the things of others. He emptied Himself, humbled Himself and died on the cross. Paul wanted the Philippians to be like Christ-- to share with one another His spirit of humility. Just as Jesus put others first, the Philippians were to do the same. By being lowly minded, they would experience like-minded fellowship.

The Name above All Names
    Christ humbled Himself, the God "highly exalted him" (verse 9). After dying for our sins, Jesus arose bodily from the grave and later ascended to Heaven. God exalted Christ not only by seating Him at His own right hand (Hebrews 1:13; 8:1), but also by giving Him "a name which is above every name" (Philippians 2:9). God gave Jesus the name "Lord," which was God's own personal name. Jesus did the humbling, God did the honoring. Is there not an interesting sequence here? Humiliation precedes honor.
  God honored Christ for two reasons: (1) that every knee should bow at the name of Jesus (verse 10) and (2) that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (verse 11). The Son became a servant, but He didn't cease being sovereign. Someday everyone will submit to His sovereignty.

A Personal Challenge
    You and the other members of your church are partners in the work of the gospel. As partners, you need to work together. To work together, you need to be like-minded. To be like-minded, you need to be lowly minded. To be lowly minded you need to think as Christ thought. The work of the gospel summons you to humbly submit yourself to God's will and to serve others in Jesus' name.