Archive for the ‘Philippians’ Category

No one is an island

November 6th, 2015 by Maureen

I thank God every time I remember you. Phil 1:3

It’s amazing to think about how many lives touch our own daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Family members, friends, our church families, neighbors, and co-workers, those we mentor, business and social connections, etc. influence us, sometimes in small but significant ways that positively impact our lives. It is likely that many are unaware of how we are changed by knowing them. None of us become who we are or get where we are by ourselves. Maybe Thanksgiving season is a good time to say thank you to God and to each of them.

Lord, each one is so dear and I thank you for them.

Contentment

July 20th, 2015 by Maureen

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I find myself. I know what it is to be in want. I know what it is to have an abundance. Phil. 4:11b-12

Our goal-oriented, competitive, consumer culture is based on the idea of always needing more. Our culture rewards ambition and encourages us to constantly tweak and improve, accumulate and amass. In such a culture being content implies that we settle for less. If we are constantly worried about missing out we are definitely going to miss contentment. We allow ourselves contentment when we focus on awareness of God’s presence in the joy of now, whatever that now contains, dismissing what our culture tells us is missing.

Lord, help those who really don’t have enough and help me to be content with my more-than-enough life.

“Those people”

June 2nd, 2015 by Maureen

Your attitude toward one another should be the same as Jesus Christ. Phil. 2:5

How do we love annoying, mean, selfish, thoughtless, or violent people who hurt us and others? Jesus summed up His attitude toward others in the same way He summed up the law: love. Unconditional, sacrificial love. Choosing to love “those people” magnifies the role of grace and forgiveness in our own lives. Because we are all “those people.” That’s why Jesus came.

Lord, there are people in my life I don’t love and actually don’t want to love, but You love them and I trust You. Change this attitude the way You’ve changed so many other attitudes I’ve surrendered to You.

 

 

Expect what you inspect

May 27th, 2015 by Maureen

It is my earnest expectation and hope that I will in no way be put to shame but with complete boldness Christ will be exalted in me whether in life or death. Phil. 1:10

Engineer and businessman W. Edwards Deming coined the phrase, “you can expect what you inspect.” Following all the rules and not messing up is not the same thing as Christ exalted in us. If we focus on simply avoiding shame then we probably will manage to do that, perhaps only that. If we inspect the exalted Christ then we can expect to reflect His image.

Lord, Help me to look at You more than I look at myself.

 

That moment on the roller coaster when you put your hands in the air

March 28th, 2015 by Maureen

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Phil 2:12-13

Each of us is not only saved from something, we are saved for something. The fear and trembling comes when we let go of the familiar, controlled lives of our own making and step into the unknown lives that God has made for us. Change is scary. Yielding control is scary. Trust requires a lot of letting go. The work happens as we figure out how to embrace God’s good pleasure every day without dragging along the crutches, boundaries, and agendas that made us secure in the lives we made for ourselves.

Lord, I surrender to Your thrilling, out-of-my-control good pleasure.

When it’s raining shoes

March 19th, 2015 by Maureen

Don’t worry about anything but in everything, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Phil 4:76

Waiting for the other shoe to drop is an idiom based on the logic is that if bad things have happened before then bad things will happen again. There may be good reasons to worry about the other shoe, but living in fear and doubt is painful as well as spiritually, mentally, and emotionally damaging. Trusting God with our greatest fears and concerns frees us to enjoy our lives even when its raining shoes.

Lord, I believe in Your love, goodness, kindness, and grace toward me and those I pray about. I thank You for intervening in each situation is ways that help and restore. Lord, I believe, help this worry that so contradicts what I know is true about You.

Past forgetting

March 6th, 2015 by Maureen

I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:12-14

The upward call focuses on what we are moving toward rather than what we are leaving behind. This doesn’t mean we have to forget the memories, lessons, and relationships in our pasts that inspire us. Forgetting the past means that we don’t have to wait for the scars formed by our pasts to fade in order to press on. We get to leave behind the ways we define and limit ourselves by our past mistakes, temptations, and wounds. Christ defines us and invites us to press on into experiences with Him based on what defines us now.

Lord, I’m pressing on, scars and  all.

 

 

 

Press and possess

March 5th, 2015 by Maureen

I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:12-14

Perfection is the goal but not the prize. Pursuing perfection only leads to frustration and self-condemnation. Perfection is not for us to achieve but rather to possess because Christ has already attained it for us through of His transformative redemption of us. The prize is relationship with Christ. We press on to explore the terrain of grace and to experience His presence in our lives.  As we enjoy the prize of relationship with Him we become more aware of all that we possess because He’s made us His heirs.

Lord, I look forward to what lies ahead.

God finishes what He starts

January 22nd, 2015 by Maureen

For I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ. Phil. 1:6

Jesus didn’t start His work in us and then hand it over and say “here, you finish it.” He is still at work in us, even when we make destructive choices. He is still at work in us when we can’t reconcile the hurt we feel with anything constructive He might be doing. He is still at work in us when we doubt He’s even there.

Lord, I trust that this mess is Your work in progress.

Even this…whatever “this” might be today

January 5th, 2015 by Maureen

And the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:7

We all struggle to wrap our heads around tragedies and problems that don’t seem to make sense. We might even question God’s love and good will. Prayer and surrender brings peace and perspective when our hearts and minds feel vulnerable and troubled. God’s arms are big and wide enough and His love for us is strong enough for hold whatever we bring to Him and to bring peace to our struggling hearts and minds.  Nothing can separate us from His love, even this.

Father, let Your love and peace prevail.

If I have a resolution for 2015, it’s whatever

January 1st, 2015 by Maureen

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. Phil. 4:8

In 2015 I plan to focus on what is good. What traits do I appreciate in the people around me? What beauty do I see as I walk through my world? What enjoyment and benefit do I derive from the things I spend my time and energy pursuing? Instead of noticing what’s wrong and trying to fix it, I want to notice what is good and celebrate it.

Lord, help me to have Your eye for beauty.

Electing to trust God

November 4th, 2014 by Maureen

For our citizenship is in heaven and it is from there that we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:20 (Mounce Interlinear)

Happy Election Day. We are already citizens of a kingdom that is already established but not realized on earth as it is in heaven. As we participate as citizens of our earthly country we can do so with the confidence that we are already citizens of something so much greater than the best system of governance humans can establish, ruled by a king more gracious and supportive of each of us than the best leader humans can elect. As such we can be at peace with the outcome and support whoever is elected with our prayers.

Lord, bless and direct those who vote and those we elect to lead.

Start at square one

October 4th, 2014 by Maureen

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. Phil 1:9-10

Trying to live pure and blameless lives without understanding what matters and/or trying to understand what matters without love as a driving motive, imagines that loves is the finish line when it’s really the starting point. Love has to inform knowledge, priorities, and life choices. Any other kind of life, no matter how perfect and blameless it looks, is backwards.

Lord, let love be my square one every time.

Whatever

September 15th, 2014 by Maureen

Whatever is true, whatever is is honorable, whatever is just, whatever pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. Phil. 4:8

For whatever reason whatever is annoying, mean-spirited, and upsetting can distract us from dwelling on the things that build up our minds and spirits. We can’t control the thoughts that come into our heads but we can decide how much attention and credence to give to those thoughts. We can make conscious decisions to focus on good things, to notice beauty, and to commend excellence when we see it.

Lord, help me to focus on Your whatevers.

I can even fail through Christ who strengthens me

August 21st, 2014 by Maureen

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13

Seeking the strength of Christ does not make us passive participants. We still have to put ourselves out there. We still take on challenges, solve problems, prioritize and execute tasks, and make mistakes; but we never have to do them alone. We can even fail. He is just as present and remains just as strong when we are disappointed by the outcomes of the things we do as when we are pleased with them. Our worth to Him is not determined by our performance.

Lord, thank you for the reassuring strength I find in Your powerful love for me.

No projects, just people

August 12th, 2014 by Maureen

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Phil 1:3

When our relationship roles involve parenting, leading, managing, teaching, or helping people we may tend to focus on how we can help ‘improve” those people rather than enjoying who they are right now. Thanking God for the people in our lives – all the people in our lives – tends to elevate each of them past “project” to “brother” or “sister.” This is the context for loving and helping one another.

Lord, thank you for all these people in my life. I love them. Period.

Overwhelming concern

August 7th, 2014 by Maureen

I rejoice  in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned before, but you had no opportunity. Phil. 4:10 (MOUNCE)

Widespread and instantaneous access to information exposes human beings to more need and sorrow, adversity and animosity than we are equipped to address. We have to limit our concerns to the things which we have opportunity to contribute to solutions. It helps to be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading on where to focus our energies and to be honest with ourselves about our motives for the concerns we choose to make our passions. Otherwise we can become overwhelmed with worry and concern or controlling and judgmental toward those who have focused resources and energies toward concerns other than those that matter to us.

Lord, I want to care about what matters to you and act only on the impulse of Your love and concern.

Now is good

August 3rd, 2014 by Maureen

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. Phil. 4:11-12

Contentment and thankfulness feed off one another. Sometimes it’s not the need itself that creates discontent, it’s the tendency to focus on those things we think are missing from our lives. When we actively appreciate the present, just as it is, we enjoy our lives more and we tend to engage more freely and generously with the people around us. Contentment opens us up to experience God’s “it is good” delight in us.

Lord, thank you for right now. Period.

Culture shock

July 19th, 2014 by Maureen

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Phil. 3:20 ESV

As citizens who are immigrants, sometimes the culture shock becomes too much and we try to institutionalize Christ’s kingdom into something that is familiar, predictable and controllable. We are used to establishing and enforcing rules but He calls us to love. We are used to being adherents but He calls us to be receptors. We are used to conformity but He calls us to transformation. We are used to obligation but He calls us to privilege.

Jesus, take my hand and show me around Your wondrous and infinite kingdom.

 

 

That time God…

June 5th, 2014 by Maureen

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:13

Most of us can remember a time when God showed up. We felt His presence and He intervened in a situation in our lives at the very time we felt hopeless, vulnerable, or inept.  He provided wisdom. He gave courage and direction. He got us through it, whatever “it” entailed. It’s good to remember those times in the middle of tough situations when we don’t know what to do. It’s good to tell those stories to one another.

Lord, remember that time…more of that, please.