Tag Archive for Philippians

God is not worried

Whatever the case might be, God is not worried about 2019. On Sunday I heard someone give someone else a word of encouragement. It really encouraged me too. God was not worried about this person, and He isn’t worried about us either.

Had I been asked, “Is God worried?”, I would be able to quickly say “no”. It wouldn’t be just an intellectual assent to a doctrinal truth, but it would be something I really believed.

However, if I was asked, “Is God worried about you?”, there may be a brief moment of hesitation. Sometimes I feel like there is disaster still lurking around the corner of my life. Right now life is going really, really well. So well that last night as I fell asleep I could not believe I was starting a new year on such good and joyful terms. My life is nearly perfect, and it is not hard to dance instead of walk down a street.

Yet even if God being in my life has led to such an abundance of the fruit of the Spirit as for me to confess a nearly perfect life (in which I still face daily trials and tribulations), I still can feel like an accident waiting to happen. God isn’t worried about me? Are you sure? because I can be pretty incompetent down here.

The good news is that He is down here too! I am not here alone, and neither are you! God has complete confidence in our safety and spiritual growth. He doesn’t put His trust in humans (John 2:24-25); but He does trust His Spirit within us.

Paul told the Philippians, “I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:4-6

Today as we begin a new year, let’s rejoice that God is doing a good work in us! If you don’t know what in the world I am talking about or have the slightest clue how to begin a relationship with God, head over to the page on my blog called “What is the Gospel?“. There is some mighty good news there.

Let’s start our year filled with the fruit of righteousness! God has great confidence in His Holy Spirit. We can live with confidence and joy. We never have to fear a thing. God is not worried. As His children, we needn’t be either.

Jesus wept

It’s okay to cry. Today I want to remind us of that simple truth. The same man who wrote to the Philippians, “Rejoice always!” cried as he wrote part of the letter. (Philippians 3:18) He also cried every day for three years when he served as a missionary in Ephesus. (Acts 20:31)

Part of following Jesus is NOT turning off our human emotion. Jesus wept. (John 11:35) He became so angry in one instance that He whipped people out of the temple courts. (John 2:13-17) Jesus as the image of the invisible God wept and was angry. (Colossians 1:15)

The reality is that until Jesus comes a second time and restores peace and perfection to the whole earth (all its inhabitants, creatures and creation), there will be things to legitimately cry about here. There will be reasons to be righteously angry. It is only after the coming of the new earth that this changes. (Revelations 21:1-4)

If you have something to weep about this Christmas season, I encourage you to give yourself permission to do so. Jesus cried. It is okay if we aren’t laughing every moment of every day. It doesn’t make us any less godly or Christ-like.

As you express your emotion as part of a very real human experience, I pray that you will experience God’s comfort. For Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

The Peace of the Gospels

As I have read Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, it has constantly stood out to me how different his writing is than that in the gospels. Though they were written about the same time and about events happening in the same places, the gospels are full of peace and the writings of Josephus are full of war.  It reminds me how important it is to hold the gospels in their historical context as we read them.

Jesus didn’t live in America. He lived in a country under the heavy oppression of the Roman empire. His fellow Jews were a people consistently looking for a way to fight against the Romans. Death and violence were normal. While the Jews in Judea never gathered in amphitheaters to watch victims devoured by wild animals, things like cutting off hands and gouging out eyes were closer a part of daily life than a figment of one’s imagination. Crucifixes with dead bodies hanging on them randomly lined the roads to warn people that if they rebelled they would suffer the same fate. 

In all this turmoil, Jesus came as the Prince of Peace. His eventual death on such a cross would bring life to millions of people around the world. His dying words as he appeared to end his life on that cross were “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing!” (My paraphrase of Luke 23:34) 

His violent death ushered in peace that cannot be understood with one’s reason. In the millennia to follow His followers would find themselves occasionally looking at each other and saying, “I just don’t understand. I should be so upset right now, but I am not. I have an amazing peace instead!”  

Jesus gave believers the Holy Spirit, so that they might have the ability to stand in bloody, war-torn countrysides without being overcome by fear.

Today I encourage us to ask Jesus for the same peace that He had on the cross! It was not a peace devoid of the reality of His pain, but it was a peace that was strong enough to shout forgiveness over the grave injustice being committed against Him. 

May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, be with you in great abundance today! (Philippians 4:7)

Do not do, rather believe and rejoice!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again. Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

Even now, Father, for real? 

Yes, child, even now. 

Have you any idea of the difficulty of my circumstances? Do you know what I face? 

Yes. 

Then how can you say “now”? 

Because I have already won the victory for you. You need not gain it for yourself. 

Victory? What I feel is defeat. What I see is pain. Reason and logic say hope is vain and salvation is impossible. 

Oh, but my child. It has been won. It is done. I poured out my wrath against the pain of sin on my Son on the Cross. It is why He cried, “It is finished!” It is a finished work. The work of the Cross is finished. Victory has been won! 

But, then what do you want me to do?

My child, I don’t want you to do. I want you to believe. I want you to know your identity as my child. I want you to know you are a child of God. Recognize “of God” designates you as having a heavenly origin. Do not do, rather simply believe and rejoice! 

For concerning the righteousness that is by the Law, Moses writes: “The man who does these things will live by them.”But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down) or, ‘Who will descend into the Abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 1For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.

It is just as the Scripture says: “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Greek: The same Lord is Lord of all, and gives richly to all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:5-13