Think about such things

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is   

True – exact or accurate formation, position, or adjustment; real; genuine; authentic  

Noble – of an exalted moral or mental character or excellence:  

Right – in accordance with what is good, proper, or just  

Pure – clear; free from blemishes; free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind; free from extraneous matter; of unmixed descent or ancestry  

Lovely – charmingly or exquisitely beautiful; having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as to the eye; delightful; highly pleasing  

Admirable – worthy of admiration; inspiring approval, reverence, or affection.  

Excellent – possessing outstanding quality or superior merit; remarkably good  

Praiseworthy – deserving of praise; laudable  

—think about such things.   Philippians 4:8  

  Having been in the military and now working in a field where one is exposed to some of the worst society has to offer, I am often exposed to unpure, unwholesome things. Admittedly, at times, I find myself falling into old habits and allow those things to permeate my thoughts and even come out of my mouth. But … the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” Matthew 15:18. There are many sayings related to … trash in, trash out … and I believe that is true, but ultimately we just need to stand up for what we know is right and live our daily lives for Him who deserves on what is righteous and pure!

‘But I am not ashamed, because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12  

2 Peter 1:12 says, “Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you have.”    

Prayer Is Not the Means of Getting What You Want…

In our consumer based, success driven culture, we often are confused between what my will is and what’s God’s will.  Some prayers sound so religious and spiritual but at the end of the day, the focus is me and mine. 

I am going to lean on James, the brother of Jesus, to advise us today.  Remember, never go to James unless you want to hear the unvarnished truth.  He speaks bluntly so little effort is needed to interpret what he means.

James 4:1-4 gives us a picture of life based on the kingdom of me, myself and I.  “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passionsare at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  Ouch!  According to James, the reasons you don’t get along with others and live a life that you’re called to as Christ-Followers are:

  • because of “your passions at war within you”
  • “You desire and do not have, so you murder…”  If someone does not fit your agenda and feeds your desires, you despise them destroying relationships and children in the wake of your selfishness.
  • “You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”  You want the things of the world and when you don’t get what you want, you fight and quarrel.  Hey, James may have written this in the first century but his words nail us accurately as if they were written yesterday.
  • You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”  You set very little time aside for the Lord.  And, when you do (usually while you are on the run), your prayers are shallow, worldly and all about what “I” want…feed my passions dear god!   I did not capitalize god in this context!  Why?  Because this is the god of this world who is there to build my kingdom.
  •  “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  You are worshipping the god of this world which is the enemy of our Holy God and His Wonderful Son.  1 John 5:19 is eye-opening, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 

In James 5:5, another blunt assessment is given, “You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence.” 

Honestly looking at yourself, are you entangled in the world and its passions?  Are your prayers seeking God or your prayers an attempt to persuade God to give you what you want?  Never-ever forget!  Prayer is not the means to get my will done on earth; faithful prayer is the means of getting God’s will done on earth.

Calling? Good? Best

An interesting and oft overlooked incident occurred on Palm Sunday from John’s account.   As the crowds gathered, some Greeks who likey traveled a great distance, ask to see Jesus.  They go Philip who goes to Andrew and together they go to Jesus to tell him of these men want to see him. (Jn 12:20-22)

Jesus responds with: “The hour has come” (Jn 12:23) and outlines his crucifixion.  The Greeks are evidence that the mission of God is spreading as more as these men have come from a different culture than the Jews.  Likely this would have been a good opportunity to share with them.  But Jesus, single minded in purpose, commits to “the hour” which has come.

There are many good things for us to do.  Sometimes opportunities present themselves, good opportunities.  But if it is not what the Father has called us to do, Jesus shows us that we are to do the Fathers will.  He also states this in John 5: 30  “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

It would seem that having a relationship and frequent communication would be helpful to discern what and how we are to follow Jesus.  Studying the bible and knowing the stories are also ways to get to know God.

I have recently really tried to look into the details of biblical stories and place myself in the various situations and circumstances. I have been trying to get into the characters and observe their reactions and note the dialog.   I have found that there’s a lot more  going on than I first realized

It has been said we cannot comprehend God but we can apprehend him.  And through our sincere and honest pursuit of him it may still be a little fuzzy, but we will get to know the Father and his will for us can be clearer.  It was clear for Jesus.  And though fully God he was human, just like us.

Calling? Good? Best

An interesting and oft overlooked incident occurred on Palm Sunday from John’s account.   As the crowds gathered, some Greeks who likey traveled a great distance, ask to see Jesus.  They go Philip who goes to Andrew and together they go to Jesus to tell him of these men who want to see him. (Jn 12:20-22)

Jesus responds with: “The hour has come” (Jn 12:23) and outlines his crucifixion.  The Greeks are evidence that the mission of God is spreading as these people have come from a different culture than the Jews.  Likely this would have been a good opportunity to share with these seekers.  But Jesus, single minded in purpose, commits to “the hour” which has come.

There are many good things for us to do.  Sometimes opportunities present themselves, good opportunities.  But if it is not what the Father has called us to do, Jesus shows us that we are to do only the will of the Father and nothing else.  This is restated by Jesus also in John 5:30:  “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

It would seem that having a relationship and frequent communication with God would be helpful to discern what and how we are to follow him.  Studying the bible and knowing the stories are also ways to get to know him.

I have recently really tried to slow down and look into the details of biblical stories and place myself in the various and specific situations and circumstances. I have been trying to get into the characters and observe their reactions and note the dialog.   I have found that there’s much more going on than I at first realize.

It has been said we cannot comprehend God but we can apprehend him.  And through our sincere and honest pursuit of him, it may still be a little fuzzy, but we will get to know the Father and his will for us can be clearer.  It was clear for Jesus, and he was God, but also human, just like us.

 

 

 

Being Quarantined Did Not Stop St. Paul

I recently read a forceful comment from an unknown BSF’er (Bible Study Fellowship), “thinking about Paul the Apostle today, He spent much of his ministry ‘quarantined’ in prison or house arrest and yet his correspondence with sisters and brothers in Christ yielded nearly half the New Testament. The gospel is never bound.”  Let me assure you, Paul’s multiple imprisonments were in nasty environments with no lighting, no flooring, no plumbing meaning neither restrooms nor a place to perform proper hygiene.  And, most certainly, the prison guards had zero tolerance and often brutalized the prisoners including Paul.  Yet, the content of his letters written in these environments were truthful, positive, powerful, encouraging and enlightening.

Let’s take a look at verses written by Paul found in Philippines during one of his incarcerations:

  • 4:4, Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.
  • 4:5, Let your gentlenessbe known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.
  • 4:6, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
  • 4:7, And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  In this verse, he used the metaphor of the prison guards surrounding him.  The Roman prison guards made sure the prison environment was secure.  Likewise, the blood of Jesus, the power of the resurrection and the Holy Spirit delivers to each Christ-Follower our eternally secure salvation and its peace.
  • 4:8, Finally, brothers, 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, think about these things.
  • 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  • 4:19, My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
  • 4:20, To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul penned these verses knowing that his destiny would lead to decapitation from the hands of the Roman prison guards.  Nevertheless, he talks about rejoicing, gentleness, thanksgiving, peace, true, honor, honor, just, pure, lovely, praise and strength.

Let’s face it.  No doubt about it.  We are living in global turmoil.  Yet, in the midst of turmoil, Paul’s life gives testimony of the victorious life of Christ.  Jesus declares in John 14:27, I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  Take heart brothers and sisters.  Let’s not get caught up in the tribulations of this world but live in the truths and triumph of our wonderful Lord and Savior.

You Need to Lift Some Weights

Physiologically, weightlifting (or resistant exercising) is really good for you.  The benefits are numerous.  The following are a few of the many positive results…increases strength of connective tissue, muscles and tendons; better physical capacity; leaner body mass; fewer injuries; controls loss of bone mass; boosts metabolism; reduces risks of diseases; better quality of life.  We all need to make sure that our training regularly includes weightlifting.  It helps make us healthier and stronger.

Spiritually, weightlifting is essential.  It strengthens our spiritual health and fitness.  Hebrews 12:1&2 explains, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  What the author of Hebrews describes in verse 1 is that each of us get bogged down daily by things that are heavy.  We are to lift or throw off the weighty things that thwart our growth. To be healthy spiritually, our daily spiritual exercises must include weightlifting.  What are the things that are holding us back and weighing us down?  What areas in our lives do we need to be stronger and healthier?

  1. It must include training that strengthens our relationships most importantly with our spouse and children and should include our work relationships and neighbors.  Relationships can weigh us down.  Develop an exercise program that helps you build up others.  It has to include exercises that strengthen our “listening” skills…most of us are weak in this area.  We have to get stronger.  Two quick verses challenge us to do this.  James 1:19 says for us to first of all “be quick to listen…”  Proverbs 18:13 punches us in the mouth when it states, “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.”  Then, we have to strengthen our ability to speak in a way that brings glory to Jesus.  James 1:19 says for us to practice the discipline to be “slow to speak.”  We have to be disciplined to do this.  Proverbs 18:2 declares, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.  We enjoy giving our opinions.  In the spiritual world, relationships usually take lifting heavy weights. 
  2. Our spiritual weight training program must help us throw off lusts; protect what we are watching and doing, and what we are eating, and most importantly what we are thinking.
  3. What other areas do you need to lift some weights?  Could it be an ungodly relationship that has you tied up?  Is it the need to control or manipulate others?  Has your body and appearance become your god?  Do you have an addiction?  Are you idolizing something or someone that has dragged you away from the Lord? God wants us to throw these off and cut through the knots that have us entangled.

How do you become stronger and healthier?  Hebrews 12:2, tell us how, Fix your eyes on Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith.”  It is all about getting to know Him more each day, learning and leaning totally on Him…your eyes fixed unwaveringly on Jesus.  He and He alone can lift the weights that have been holding you down.

He’s Still On The Throne

“Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me, for I take refuge in You. I will seek refuge in the shadow of Your wings until danger passes. I call to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me. He reaches down from heaven and saves me, challenging the one who tramples me. Psalm 57: 1-3 “God, be exalted above the heavens; let Your glory be over the whole earth.” 57:5 Allow me this time to shout praises to the One who saved this soul, and yours from the depths of hell. Though we are limited in movement, we are safe and at peace. I will pray for those who live on things like carriers, and now have this virus moving through it. I pray for those who live in the midst of a sea of people, unable to do social distancing, and are facing the crisis so much more so than I, who lives in the country. But nevertheless, all of us are affected by this in one way or another, and it could get worse. But when we seek refuge in the shadow of our Lord’s wings, He still reaches down from heaven, and saves us. He is with the infected, He is with the one who is not, and with the one who waits with those affected. His presence is felt over the whole earth. Some may complain and ask, Why God? But I will not question the God of the Universe, who delights in our salvation! Pastor Andy