Don’t Throw a Fit

Re:Verse passage – Philippians 2:12-18 (day two) Do all things without grumbling or disputing; vs. 14

You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit. I first encountered this phrase when I was observing student teachers several years ago. It doesn’t exactly rhyme, but it sure does the trick for kids…well, mostly. Fast forward to today I have found that my kids are very quick to recite this admonition when their sister is not sharing, but it doesn’t always work well for them in reverse. Let’s face it, our Kingdom assignments aren’t always fun. Sometimes we are called to work with disagreeable people, or in situations that make us uncomfortable. How we face these tasks says more about our heart condition than it does about those we’ve been called to serve. Grumbling is going to impact your witness. Look for opportunities to see God working even in the uncomfortable places. No one would expect you to enjoy conflict or burdensome tasks, but when they see you face them with grace you can bet God is already at work.

Attitude is Everything

Re:Verse passage – Philippians 2:5-11 (day two) Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, vs. 5

Attitude may not be everything as a popular saying goes, but there may be more to it than we realize. How much of what you do each day is framed by your outlook? When facing a crisis how much does your mindset play into how you manage the situation? Re-read vs. 8 and think about how Jesus’ attitude impacted his resolve. Christ chose to face the cross and all that came with it. We are rarely called upon to endure a fraction of that weight, and yet we can still have the attitude of Christ. Can you face that task differently now? Can you look at where God has placed you as an opportunity to make a Kingdom-sized difference? You bet.

Humility of Mind

Re:Verse passage – Philippians 2:1-4 (day two) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; vs. 3

It is a recurring trope found throughout scripture; the first shall be last, the greatest shall be the least, to lead you shall follow. It is a picture of God’s economy that runs counter to how most of us think about the world. Ambition, drive, motivation – these are not bad things, but they must be measured up against God’s design for how we interact with others. Our “drive” should include our fellow journeyman. Those walking this path with us. We must consider their role in this Kingdom work as well. It’s not about getting there first, it’s about bringing as many with us as possible. Only through Christ-like humility can we accomplish this, but the good news is He meets us right there.

Who’s Watching?

Re:Verse passage – Philippians 1:27-30 (day two) 

…so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit…vs. 27b

If you are a teacher or a parent you have probably experienced this scenario: You give an assignment or a chore and leave the children/students to their work only to come back into the room before the expected you to arrive only to find them doing anything but the work. Sound familiar? Paul is reminding us that we are to remain steadfast in our call regardless of our perceived audience. It does little good for us to only be about our task when the pastor is watching. You can understand how a child would be motivated by proximity, but we should remember that our work, our call, and service is always to be rendered unto the Lord. We shouldn’t seek a pat on the back, you will get your ‘well done’ later. What task have you been called to today? What are you waiting for? Keep pressing forward.

Stay Vigilant

Re:Verse passage – Philippians 1:20-26 (day two)

Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, vs. 25

Over the past six months I have invoked Revelation 22:20 – Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Perhaps you have too. Why are we experiencing so much turmoil, anger, fear, suffering, and doubt? Wouldn’t it just be better if God just called us all home right now? The Apostle Paul would say yes, and no. There is no doubt to be with Jesus is the ultimate completion of all things, and it is right to long to be there. If, however, he has chosen to tarry then it does not do well to sit around and mope. Paul says that we are to be about progress and joy in the faith. Therefore when Jesus does come back he will find us ready (Matthew 24:36-25:13).

Stay vigilant, dear friends, and with whatever time God grants us let us endeavor to work out our calling with joy.

Be Like Paul

Re:Verse passage – Philippians 1:12-19 (day two) 

Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, vs. 18

In reading this text again I was reminded how often I allow circumstances to determine my value, my effectiveness, and my outlook. I would venture to say that I am not alone in this. I would like to believe that in whatever situation I can find a way to rise above the circumstances, but I am often deterred by current climate, poor resources, lack of motivation, or a myriad of other reasons why my particular task can’t be accomplished to the degree I had hoped. I need to hang out with Paul more. In that case I will likely find myself in more dire situations that I have ever imagined, but I will also come to understand that it is Jesus who had defined my worth, not my circumstance. This shift in focus in attitude is essential for each of us. Paul isn’t grousing, he’s witnessing. He’s not complaining about things not being fair, he’s looking for ways to share the gospel. Let’s be like Paul.

Participation in the Gospel

Re:Verse passage – Philippiand 1:1-11 (day two)

in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. Vs. 5

Paul’s salutation to the believers at Philippi had some common elements that we see in his other letters, but it was this statement in the fifth verse that struck me today as I re-read it. Paul is not only addressing and greeting the church, but he is reminded of their no nonsense, elbows deep living out of their faith. He may remember how they gave time that they didn’t really have to pack a box of food for a hungry family in their neighborhood. Perhaps it was his memory of how they opened there homes for prayer meetings and area fellowships. He might have been buoyed by remembering their generosity to a mission work even when their giving was more than they could afford. Paul knew the cost of following Christ, and his affirmation to other believers was not lip service. It was genuine gratitude for fellow co-laborers in the work of the Gospel. Who are those people in your life. Send them some encouragement today.

Do You Want Fries With That

Re:Verse passage – Galatians 5:22-25 (day one) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; vs 22-23a

We know this text well. It is one of the hallmark passages of the New Testament that we learn from a young age, but do we treat the fruit of the spirit like we are ordering from a fast food menu? “I’ll take two joys, a love, and an order of peace. I’m not really a patience or self-control guy” To quote a favorite commercial of mine – that’s not how any of this works.

I am so grateful that God has made each of us as unique, individual beings. But that individuality does not preclude the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. On our own, it is true, we may struggle to be kind or gentle, but that’s the point, isn’t it? God is not looking for people who are gentle to say – look here’s that fruit I was talking about. No, we all have access to the same work of the Holy Spirit. Knowing that we would not be patient without God’s work in our lives is part of what makes it so wonderful. Don’t limit the Spirit’s work in your life today. Seek the full menu.

Connect the Dots

Re:Verse passage – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-6 (day two) 

You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, Vs. 6

Regional question for you: Where you grew up did you have connect the dot pictures, or dot to dot pictures? I confess that I had never heard of dot to dot until a two years ago. When I read this passage this morning I was thinking of the long line of faithful men and women who have served as faithful followers of Christ since the time of Paul. We all share the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives who has connected each of us together. We will never fully appreciate the grand design that the Lord is putting together until we reach Heaven, but don’t you imagine that it will look incredible. Think also about how Paul describes what he sees in the Thessalonians believers. They imitated what they saw lived out in other believers who had in turn lived out what they had received from the Lord. Again, the Holy Spirit has helped shape our faith by allowing us to see others live out this great testimony. Think of who the Spirit has connected you to, and to whom you are being called to connect.

SING MORE

Re:Verse passage – Ephesians 5:18-19 (day two) 

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

I am a doctor. My grandmother would hasten to add, “just not the kind that can help people.” However, today, I think I can help. If I could give one prescription to just about everyone I know, it would be: SING MORE. Feeling down, not a problem: SING. Feeling great, excellent: SING. Everything in between, I’ve got you covered: SING.

I don’t want to be flippant, but I take scripture to be completely true, and this isn’t a suggestion. God has designed a release valve for us, and it is wise that we avail ourselves of it. It is cathartic and healthy. it builds community, and it follows the example of Jesus (Matthew 26:30). Every age, every stage, this is for you. This is one of the signs that we are a Holy Spirit-filled people. Our singing should overflow from our heart’s condition. Stop believing the lie that you can’t, or that you shouldn’t, or it is for others. Scripture does not affirm that. Sing More. Sing at home, sing at the office, sing at the gym, and by all means sing at church.