We all have worries about something. Whether it’s about our family, job, or friends, we all have worries in our lives. In Philippians 4:6 Paul says, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. We must turn our worries into prayers and are thankful to God for His presence in our lives. The beauty of the life of a believer is we are never alone to face anything on our own. God is always with us and never allows us to stand in the face of our struggles without His powerful and loving presence in our lives.
No matter how good we thing we are, we are never good enough to compare to the perfection which is expected from God. It is only through Christ’s sacrifice that we attain the righteousness required from God. Once we realize this truth, everything is meaningless compared to what Christ has done for us on the cross. In Philippians 3:7 Paul says, But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. We can spend our entire lives trying to be good enough to receive enough credit for righteousness in God’s eyes. Or, we can accept the gift of salvation through Jesus whose blood allows us to experience grace from God for the righteousness we need to be in His presence.
The life of a believer is not meant to be easy. It is also not intended to be lived alone and by our own effort and desire. God works in us through the Holy Spirit who lives in us. We must learn to experience His presence and know we are never alone. In Philippians 2:13 Paul says, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. God wants to work in us and He chooses to use us for His purpose. We must train ourselves to feel the Holy Spirit and to think and act more like Christ so we can be used for God’s glory the way He intended. The secret to a changed life is to submit to God’s control and let Him work. It also helps when we ask God to work in us through prayer and time alone with Him. It’s all about the relationship.
One of the best movies I have seen recently is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. What I loved about this movies is best described by one line “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” What struck me about this line is the sufficiency of the beauty of God and all He has done and created for us. While God doesn’t ask for attention, when we are honest and accepting of Him we realize He is worthy of our attention.
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Today we begin the book of Philippians which is another letter written by Paul. The purpose of the letter is to strengthen these believers in Philippi by showing them how true joy comes only through Jesus Christ. Each of the four chapters shows a different way we can experience joy despite our circumstances. Chapter 1 talks about finding joy in suffering; Chapter 2 is about finding joy in serving; Chapter 3 talks about finding joy in believing; Chapter 4 is about finding joy in giving. As Philippians 1 talks through finding joy in suffering, Paul says in verses 27-28, 27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. We can find joy in knowing that despite our suffering, in the end, we are saved by the blood of Christ.
The life of the believer can sometimes feel like a battle. And just like any battle, we must be equipped to fight and defend ourselves. Ephesians 6:14-17 describes this as The Armor of God, 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. While this list may seem like items we must provide for ourselves, it is critical to realize all armor comes from God through the power of the Holy Spirit. One of my biggest struggles in life is finding peace. The harder I try to attain peace, the more it eludes me because my peace cannot come from me, it can only come from God. When I let go and give God control and the ability to arm me for battle, I am able to face any struggle in my imperfect existence with His perfect power.
Control over our own lives is sometimes hard to do. When we are children, we live according to what we want and when we want it. But as we grow in wisdom we learn to make choices based on potential consequences and desired outcomes. Ephesians 5:14-15 says, 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 15 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. The biggest problem is not just in making wise choices, but also realizing the evils of this world are against us. Unless we live in the presence of God through the Holy Spirit, it is easy to quickly become hopeless. Through God’s presence and strength we are able to make wise choices and live in accordance to His grace and mercy.
Forgiveness is one of the hardest things for us to do. When we feel wronged or hurt, it is difficult to forgive. Ephesians 4:31-32 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. God forgave us of more than we could ever possibly need to forgive others. If we are to follow Christ’s example, then we are commanded to forgive for the wrong others have done in our lives. This does not mean trust is restored. Our trust should always be in God above all else. He is the only one who ever deserves our complete trust and He is the only one who is guaranteed to never let us down even when we don’t understand His will. His plan is perfect.
One of the most difficult human endeavors is to grasp how big God’s love is for us. The second half of Ephesian 3:17 and all of 3:18 says, 17a And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. God’s love is multidimensional and beyond anything we could ever experience. God’s love is wide because it reaches out to everyone. His love is long because it spans the entire length of our lives, from birth to death, no matter where we are or how much we may or may not deserve it. His love is high because it reaches beyond the height of our highest elations. And His love is deep because it reaches to the depth of our suffering and even to death. We are never beyond the reach of God’s great love. Even when we feel lost and isolated His love is always in our presence and always within us.
Because of God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice for us, We are free from sin’s power over us. This is not because our desire to sin has gone away, but because God’s mercy has freed us from the penalty of our sin when it was destroyed on the cross. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Before we experienced God’s mercy we were slaves to the power of sin in our lives. But now we are alive with Christ and the power of sin no longer dictates who we are or what controls us. We must remember God’s love for us and recognize His mercy comes from that great love.