Shine Like Stars

Philippians 2:12 – 30
There’s a big red bag that was purchase for a specific purpose. It contained a 1st aid kit, yellow gloves, a couple of potato peelers and two spare aprons. The other day that bag was emptied out, the aprons put into the laundry – even though they hadn’t been used.

Sadness hit while folding the freshly dried aprons. The red bag had stayed full, in the hope and expectation that things would return to normal sooner than later. Six months have passed. The bag is no longer needed, the last Wednesday community dinner was served on March 11th. That last dinner neither Ed nor Lloyd, or any of the other long time helpers, had any idea that this would be the last time to serve food to hungry people and those simply desiring a welcoming community and someone to talk with.

We have no idea when life will resume what used to be normal. But we take great comfort and peace knowing that God knows all things. And His love is everlasting!

While the Apostle Paul sat in prison there were most likely many moments when doubt would start to assail him, and discouragement threaten to drown him. Instead he chose to focus on the reality of Jesus Christ and to rejoice and praise Him. Perhaps is was during a time of despair that he focused on the immeasurable work of Jesus Christ on the cross, suffering and dying for us that caused him to write this amazing letter of hope, encouragement and love!

Paul had just finished writing of Jesus’ obedience and willingness to die for our sins, and the reality that He is reigning in heaven where one day every single one of us will bow and worship Him that he reminds the Philippians, and all believers forward in time of the importance of our obedience!

12 “So then, my dear friends, my beloved friends” Paul has deep affection for the Philipppian community of believers. He connected with them on a heart level through the unifying relationship, worship and love of Jesus.

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling”
Salvation is from the Latin “Salve” an ointment for healing and preservation  “Healed and preserved!”
Fear and trembling was an idiomatic expression for a humble frame of mind. Out of reverence and knowing that we are dependent on God.

13 God doesn’t take away our free will! He is at work enabling us to:
1) Desire to grow and mature in Him:
We have to desire God’s good purpose in my life.
2) Work out His good purpose
: We have to do our part in working: putting aside ourselves.

14  No Grumbling, no arguing (in the sense of litigation) so we may:

15) Blameless, innocent :  Simplicity of character. No fault. No corruption in this crooked and perverse generation which is a result of moral and intellectual distortion!
Shine like stars!! Look at the sky. Have you ever seen the night sky in a desert?
Hold fast. Hold on to the message of LIFE! Shine in this dark world for Jesus!

16) Hold firmly to the message of Life Hold on, don’t let go of God’s good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ which will result in eternity with God.

17) Poured out like a sacrificial offering.
Paul experienced anxiety, hardship, beatings, false accusations which landed him in jail. Yet he kept his eyes on Jesus

19 – 30 Paul understands the Philippians’ need to see Epaphroditus and Timothy.  Paul understands what it’s like to be anxious about those we love. God created us for relationship, with Him and with each other.  We need each other to encourage, support and lift each other up. We need each other to help us live victorious lives as Christians, blameless and with simplicity of character so the world will see the Light of Jesus, the Hope of the World, the One who knows our future.

Relinquished Entitlement

Jesus exemplified the opposite of having a sense of entitlement as a self-sacrificing servant.
Yet, He is the only one who deserved entitlement.

Philippians 2:6-11 This passage is often considered to be the greatest declaration of Jesus Christ. In a nutshell it describes Jesus’ pre-existence with God, His willingness to leave His position and glory in heaven to come to earth as a human, His humility and obedience which culminates in complete victory, triumph and total acknowledgement of who He is in His glory and authority. It is also a call to us to follow Jesus’ example of selfless living.

This passage was most likely a hymn sung by the original followers of Jesus Christ. To sing these verses together every Sunday would be a wonderful reminder of who Christ is, and affirmation of who we are in Jesus Christ

6-8 Emptied Self-abandonment to the love of God, and the love of other.
The call of God to have the mind set of Jesus to let go of entitlements and became a servant.

Let’s look at these verse by verse:
6 Christ, who, being in the form of God… “being” – “huparchein”: this form of “being” depicts the very essence of a person – that which can’t be changed; the innate, unchangeable characteristics of a person.  Jesus, who at his very essence is God – His divinity didn’t change!
He did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped could be better understood as “asserted” or “utilized” to His advantage. Jesus didn’t forcibly retain His position.

 7 Jesus’ essence didn’t change. What He emptied Himself of was His position of status, privilege and glory. He willingly, of his own accord out of love for His Father and for humanity, relinquished His glory (John 17;5). He submitted to the humiliation of becoming a man; God/man but without the radiating glory and honor. Jesus allowed Himself to experience all the trials and pains, the bodily functions and needs of a human.

Fully God, fully human.
 This is one of those truths that we mortals have a very hard time trying to wrap our finite minds around.
One analogy: take resin, warm it up to the point that it can be poured into a mold. The resin is still resin – its character, its properties don’t change but it is contained in a specific form, molded for a specific purpose. In order to serve us by dying for us and setting us free from the wretched condition of sin.
Jesus gave up His entitlement in order to be a servant. To die for us, setting us free from the power of Satan. Matthew 20:28 “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to give His life a ransom for many.”
He allowed himself to be completely molded into a human form, yet, in essence God, at the same time, submissive to the Father’s will.

8 Humbled Himself
Heb 5:7-8
“During His earthly life, He offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. 8 Though He was God’s son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. After He was perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.”
Jesus gave up all His rights and entitlements, in complete surrender and obedience to God’s will, because of LOVE.
The totality & climax of Jesus’ obedience: dying on the cross – as someone cursed Gal 3:13

Our entitlement?
Mark 10:43-45 But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”

9-11 Exhalted
Hebrews 2:1415 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— 15 and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.

Jesus paid the price of our sins with His blood claiming us from the dark domain as He defeated Satan! The Messiah, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings triumphed over all the principalities and powers of evil.

Glory, power, position, honor, acclaim – the utmost superiority and authority over all of creation. Acknowledgement and exaltation given by God the Father!

The name above all names: This is not referring to His earthly name, “Jesus” but to His real name, the name that encapsulates who He is, the name He is known by in Heaven. When we get to heaven we will know His true name for we will know His full identity.
Just as we’ll know God’s name for Jesus, we’ll also know our personal name by which we were created.

The full revelation of Jesus — as well as ourselves, our true & complete identity — will compel every single person throughout the scope and breadth of time and space to fall on our knees and worship Him.

Every. Single. Person who has lived will confess – acknowledge, proclaim – Jesus as Messiah, Lord, Savior and Ruler over me. We will bow and worship Him. No hesitation, no argument, no pride.

Our only sense of entitlement will be an aching desire to serve Him. For now, here on earth, most of us struggle with a sense of self-entitlement. “I deserve.” “My rights.” Jesus humbled Himself and came to serve – this is what He desires from us. Forego pride and be humble servant followers of Him.

Psalm 138:6 ”Though the Lord is exalted, He takes note of the humble.”

Isaiah 57:15“For the High and Exalted One who lives forever (who inhabits eternity), whose name is Holy says: ‘I live in a high and holy place, and also with the oppressed and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed’
God reviving our hearts and spirits will be our eternal reward.

Have the Attitude of Jesus

Last week Ed and I watched “Gone with the Wind”
“There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South… Here in this pretty world Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and Slave… Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A Civilization gone with the wind… “
We were struck by Scarlett’s self-centered, claw her way to “success” no-matter-who-gets-trampled attitude. I’m appalled at the blatant racism, the depiction the black people as inferior, happy to serve, love-the-master. I’m appalled at the fact that this was a beloved movie for decades and that there were Christians who enjoyed watching it, and the reality that there were many who had the same mindset – which still continues.

Though far more veiled, and skilled at masking today, the attitudes of racism, hostility, anger, and prejudice are still here. We need to honestly examine the mind-set of that era and diligently look for the parallels in thinking and attitude today. We have to do better.

We humans are not good at changing generations of thinking and behaviors. We need Jesus. We need the Holy Spirit to instruct, to pull back the scales from our eyes and reveal the truth of our attitude, posturing and self-centeredness. We, as believers need to repent, and have a change attitude – taking on the attitude of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2 addresses how to have a change of mindset, perspective and life, in Christ.

2:1 If there is any encouragement in Christ… NEB “If then our common life in Christ yields anything to stir the heart… then there will be a harvest.
Gardening metaphor: careful preparation, diligent tending including pulling weeds before they get big, faithful appropriate watering, wise about conditions and seasons.
A garden is more successful when people work together in unity of vision and purpose.

God used Paul to express the unity that we ought to be sharing as people of Jesus. When we cultivate our life together in Chris our lives will yield a harvest of:
1) Consolation of love / encouragement  “paraklesis”
translated in other NT passages as “comfort” “exhortation” Jesus used this word for the Holy Spirit. Our guide, comforter, supporter, helper.
The idea Paul is conveying is the strong, upholding support within the Christian community.

2) Fellowship of the Spirit “
koinonia” also translated as participation, communion, or sharing. This is the word that Paul uses in 1 Cor 10:16 “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing/participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a sharing/participation in the body of Christ?”
Fellowship of the Holy Spirit is to participate and share.

Example of the Scotts Mills 4th of July Parade One person in the Scotts Mills FB page suggested a parade in town on the morning of the 4th. She wanted her children to enjoy this one traditional celebration. Would it be possible? Immediately people commented: “I’ll bring the old fire truck” another “My kids can lead their goat pulling a wagon with patriotic music playing and my husband playing his drum to the music.” “My kids want to decorate their bikes” “We can form down by the school” And on it went, the enthusiasm building a type of koinonia, each person contributing to the paraklesis. And within one week the community pulled off a wonderful parade that brought joy and happiness to the town.
Most remarkable was the fact that no one person organized it. There was no committee, no person in charge. No drama. People enthusiastically grabbed the opportunity to participate and stepping up with their skill and vision.
Think of how we followers of Jesus could change our corner of the world by having a vision then taking the initiative, jumping in and taking charge!

   3) Affection and mercy/compassion Paul is referring to matters of heart, but with far more power and meaning that we normally attribute to affection. This affection is active expressive love – fully loving with the love of Jesus.
J.B. Lightfoot puts it this way: “I should rather have said that in the heart of Christ Jesus I long for you. This is a powerful metaphor describing perfect union. The believer has no yearnings apart from Jesus; his pulse beats with the pulse of Christ; her heart throbs with the heart of Christ.
Affection and mercy: the deepest and most tender of feelings for each another which are manifest in compassion and action.

2:2  Harmony in relationship NEB “Fill up my cup of happiness by thinking and feeling alike, with the same love for one another, the same turn of mind, and a common care for unity.”

The SM 4th of July parade is a great example of this. Watching the parade filled many people with joy and happiness.

2: 3 – 4 capture the uniqueness of our common life in Jesus Christ. To do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride. With humility consider each other as more important than yourself!
Not looking out for my own interests but the interests of others.

Abraham Maslow caused a radical shift in the field of psychology when he took an entirely different approach to Freud’s practice which studied sick, dysfunctional people.
Maslow decided to study people who were vitally alive, fully functioning, radiantly happy people. In the process he developed a theory called self-actualization and described a composite person whom he designated self-actualized. “Without exception, I found that every person who was sincerely happy, radiantly alive, was living for a purpose or a cause beyond himself.1

2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 11:29 Attitude of Jesus
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Don’t be a Scarlette O’Hara! Be like Jesus. He calls us to be gentle and humble in heart just as He is.

1 Maxie Dunham “Communicator’s Commentary, Vol 8 pg 279

Position and Privilege in Christ, part 3

Our Position and Privilege in Christ pt 3                      August 2, 2020
Complete Trust and Focus: Life or death in Christ Jesus      Philippians 1:18 – 30

Opening prayer
Worship in Song: #48 I will Sing of the Mercies, #50 God is So Good
Reading of Psalm 89:1 – 18
Sharing and Prayer
Worship in Song:   #560 Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Phil 1:18 What does it matter? Just that in every way, whether out of false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed. And in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice

Paul has one focus in life – that Jesus Christ is proclaimed. Because Christ is being proclaimed Paul is resolute that no matter the circumstances or situation he is in he will rejoice.

Psalm 89:16 In Your name they rejoice all day long,
by Your righteousness they are exalted
                          17a  For You are the glory of their strength

19 because I know this will lead to my deliverance through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

When believers pray, the Holy Spirit provides!

Spirit of Jesus Christ is the Holy Spirit, Paul doesn’t mean that having a Christ-like spirit, the attitude of Christ, is what will deliver him. There are those who practice being Christ-like without actually surrendering, or believing in Jesus. They believe it is in their own power to exercise peace, humbleness, and love. Their actions and devotion are commendable but the missing key is the fact that we can’t save ourselves from our sin nature. We need Jesus!

20 My earnest/eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

Paul may have coined the word “Apokaradokia” which translates “earnest” or “eager expectation”.
Literall “to look intently into the distance with outstretched hand”
We picture the young child who sees a beloved parent coming from a long way down the block. The child eagerly stretches out arms and hands in eager anticipation.

 For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better—

Paul feels the pulling tension of two opposing realities, “hemmed in and under pressure from both sides.” There was a strong, equal pull from both desires: release or the sword.

“To depart” Paul uses a soldier’s term which means to weigh anchor or break camp. There is no going back. It’s time to press forward, to move ahead to the next phase.

24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

Paul’s life was literally in the hands of the magistrate – whither he lived or died was entirely out of his control. He had no say in the matter, other than to clearly and truthfully state his case on the authority he had due to his Roman citizenship and his position as a citizen in Christ’s kingdom. He certainly didn’t have a death wish,  he viewed his life as completely in God’s hands. His trust and confidence in his position in Jesus Christ was secure and complete.

Don’t mistake his attitude for indifference, but for determinations that in either life or death Jesus would be honored.

Paul knew people were praying for his deliverance and he had confidence that their prayers, along with the Holy Spirit would bring about the outcome that God desired.

He was able to be at peace since his focus was completely on glorifying Jesus Christ. If he lives he’s thrilled to continue to share Jesus. His life was not precious for its own sake but centered on Jesus. Whole-hearted devotion is not focused on self but on glorying Jesus Christ.

Every time our prayers are answered we grow in confidence and trust in God’s goodness.

27 Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

In the original language Paul uses the term “politeuomai” “To live as a citizen”. In other Epistles he often writes of the Christian’s walk here he deliberately used the term to live as a citizen. The people of Philippi, a major Roman colony understand the responsibilities and expectations of being a citizen of a specific country. The believers understand that they’re no longer participants in a pagan society but were now citizens of heaven, bought with the blood and redemption of Jesus.

… Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, 28  not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your deliverance—and this is from God.

Paul is encouraging them to not depend on him, or his presence – he wants them to be strong in the Spirit of the Lord God. He uses terms of gladiator combat in these verses:
Don’t be frightened; Take a firm stand; Join in combat; One spirit – a unified offensive: One soul – unity extending to inward disposition.

29 For it has been given to you (Literal: it has been graciously conferred – grace) on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him, 30 having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.

Jesus said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

Jesus didn’t promise us a life of ease and wealth. He knew his followers would be persecuted and suffer in his name. In the face of suffering Christians are to be joyful knowing that they’re following Christ, with confidence and trust that our lives are in God’s hands.

Rising Above Circumstances

Rising Above Circumstances                                           July 26, 2020
Philippians 1:12 – 21

Reading of Psalm 1
A little background about when and where the letter to the Philippians was written:
Scholars believe that there are good grounds that Philippians was written while Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus rather than Rome.
1) Paul’s reference in 1 Cor 15:32 about fighting wild beasts in Ephesus
2) Evidence of a detachment of praetorian guard and members of Caesar’s household in Ephesus at that time.
3) Distance and relative ease of communications between Ephesus and Philippi, a journey of 7 – 10 days as opposed to an 800 mile overland plus an ocean crossing.
4) Paul’s determination to “push west” with the Gospel doesn’t make sense if he was already in Rome when he wrote that he desired to return to them when he was released.
If he was indeed imprisoned in Ephesus then he wrote Philippians around 54 A.D.

Read 1:12-30
Current circumstances can’t circumvent God.
Challenging times and conditions can be the best time for God’s Good news.
When a person who’s following God goes through hard times -especially situations out of their control, other Christians will rally around.

The focus changes from self to other.

What would be the natural reaction of the Philippians on learning that Paul, the stalwart apostle and evangelist was imprisoned? The man whom they loved and respected had been arrested and thrown in jail for preaching the Gospel in a town only a week’s journey from them.
What was going to happen to the fledging movement now?
What would happen to them?

Paul doesn’t focus on himself. He doesn’t write about the conditions, what food he has to eat, if he’s sleeping okay, or not.
Instead he writes a letter from a heart and perspective filled with joy. Why?

Joseph Clair spoke on Psalm 1 during the NWYM Monday evening service.
Especially during strange and hard times do we need to be like the tree planted by the waters of life. Jesus said in John 15 that He is the vine, we are the branches. He is also the living water.
Take all of these pictures and apply them to your life: be the branch deeply and firmly grafted into Jesus the Vine, who is like a solid Tree as well as the Water of life!

Paul was firmly grounded in Jesus who was his life, his confidence, his savior and future. Paul’s life was entirely in Jesus.

Paul had a positive attitude about his situation. Having a positive attitude changes perspective and helps us to see beyond self. Because he was rooted in Jesus he didn’t stop sharing the Good News of Jesus.

“My circumstances have turned out the greater progress of the gospel!

What propelled the expanding of the gospel? A mega church? A revival? A thriving mission field?
No Paul being arrested and thrown into prison results in the spread of the story of Jesus.
“My imprisonment has reward in people coming to know Christ!

Doing the right thing caused Paul to get arrested. God used Paul’s arrest to spread the Gospel to people who wouldn’t have heard it firsthand. The Praetorian guard throughout the system heard the good news of Jesus.

And other Christians become bold in sharing Jesus.

Other believers caught the zeal of Paul’s sharing the gospel also began spreading the Good News which introduced even more people to Christ.

The remarkable thing is that some shared with the wrong motive – they wanted fame, to shift the focus from Paul to self. But their personal insincerity didn’t change the truth of the Gospel. Motive will not negative true truth. The story of Jesus spread, and Paul rejoiced!

He didn’t allow himself to be discouraged by those who wanted to undermine him, instead he viewed it as a positive: God’s gospel was being advanced! Rejoice!

Paul’s story is Christ, and Christ alone! He didn’t fixate on the injustice done to him; he used the opportunity to share Jesus. Paul’s focus and message was Jesus – always Jesus.
21 For me to live is Christ, to die is gain!

1) Sink your roots into Jesus, draw strength, courage, wisdom from Jesus
2) No situation is outside of God’s knowledge or presence
3) Share Jesus’ story anywhere and everywhere.
4) When Jesus is proclaimed the Spirit of God harvests!

Privilege and Position

Philippians 1:1 – 11
Followers of Jesus Christ have privilege and position!

Are you able to live so you reflect God’s truth, wisdom and sound discretion?
We need to pray daily for God’s insight and guidance in how to live pleasing to Him.

As people who believe the Bible is God’s Word and instruction manual, it’s really no mystery how we’re to live. Over and over, in various ways and stories, we’re told to live in a manner that sets us apart.

A favorite book of many people, often called the book of rejoicing, is Philippians. It’s a book written to a people who understood their role as partners with Jesus Christ. Knowing that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of all, these believers patterned their lives after Jesus who took on the form of a humble servant. Paul declares his joy in knowing they are serving and fully participating in the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

Paul wrote the letter to the church in Philippi as a prisoner in Rome.  Acts 16 tells the story of Paul going to Philippi – the major Roman city of that area of Macedonia. He met Lydia and some of her friends when they were at the river. Lydia’s keen interest in what Paul had to say about Jesus, and evidence of a solid belief in God, was the seed for a vibrant Christian community in Philippa.

Position and Privilege
     We are in Christ Jesus – We have our being!   (vs 1)
We are in a relationship to Christ Jesus – saints!
servants of Jesus Christ
As the children of God, our Father, His grace and peace are given to us. (vs 2)
We are all participants of the Gospel (vs5)
God will complete the work He is doing in you, and make His work in you perfect! (vs 6)

These points condensed into three aspects of our privilege and position:
   1) A new status in relation to God – I am His beloved child!
2) A new life
saints and servants of Jesus – my life in Jesus will be completed and perfected!
3) A new community
community & family of believers – we are brothers and sisters in Christ!

Paul’s Prayer vs 9 – 11
That Love abound more and more.
What does that love look like? Real knowledge and all discernment! In God’s grace and wisdom our love becomes genuine and solid. It’s not a love based on emotions but God opening our eyes to seeing others with His heart and understanding.
Illustration of a Shelter & food insecure/homeless person:  A team of people can intervene with excellent intention supplying all sorts of intervention: support, instruction, medical and dental, personal and emotional validation, and encouragement to the person but until that person truly wants to change in heart, mind and soul nothing will change.
It’s the same with us. Jesus welcomes us and baths us in His love and forgiveness. He covers us with His garments of grace as though we are sinless – God sees us as righteous in Christ! This is our new status! Jesus desires to do His work in us but free will is a reality.

We need to be open and accepting to the moving and guidance of the Holy Spirit to do the work in us. To restore us as His Child in heart, mind and soul.
We have to do our part – to yield to God, to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.
To get out of the way of self.
So, we need to seek God’s wisdom/knowledge and discernment. Why?

To be sincere and blameless!
To be filled with the fruit of righteousness.
Set apart, different, victorious in living this life here on earth.
To discern, to understand, and to love as He loves us.

Hearts for God

Hearts for God                                            July 5, 2020
Prov 3:3-4
Prov 16:7 / Prov 16:25, 32
Psalm 19:7-11, 14

How do we live in these off-balance times when there’s so much
uncertainty, confusion, lack of civility and discord?
Prov 16:25
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

As followers of Jesus we look to the Word of God
Psalm 19:7-11, 14

The Bible is filled with advice, instruction and examples of how to live in a manner that is pleasing to God. We can take comfort and hope in Prov 16:7 “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Example #1
Gen 31:13 – 35:42  Jacob, God and Laban:
God told Jacob to leave Laban’s place and go back to the land of his birth. Jacob, though a willful contriving, sneaky man, had a respect for and revered the Lord God of his grandfather Abraham. Laban was prevented by God from coming against him & destroying all he’d worked to earn for 20 years.
Gen 31:29 It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, “Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob.”
Gen 31:42 Jacob’s answer to Laban of God’s protection and judgment

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Examples 2 & 3 Two Kings and the results of following God, or not: Asa and Jehoshaphat
2 Chron 14 – 17:10
14:2 Asa did good and right in the sight of the Lord his God… when the armies from Ethiopia invaded Asa relied on God’s protection
14:11 Lord, our God there is no one beside You to help in the battle. Help us O Lord our God, for we trust in You and in Your name…let not man prevail against You”
15:2 The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him He will let you find Him.
15:17 …nevertheless Asa’s heart was blameless all his days.
Chapter 16 But later in life when the Israeli King invaded, Asa didn’t turn to God but asked the King of Syria to align with Judah. . God was not pleased. 7-12
It is comforting to know that even though Asa sought the help a human army instead of trusting God as he had in previous conflicts, that God still had it recorded in His Word that Asa’s heart was blameless all his days! Believers make mistakes and often forget to completely trust that God’s got us but He knows the sincerity of our heart despite our failures.

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord; He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

#3 Jehoshaphat
2 Chron 17:3
and the Lord was with w/ Jehoshaphat because he walked in the ways of his father David’s earlier days and sought the God of his father, and followed His commandments.
18 Jehoshaphat aligned with Ahab
Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord and so bring wrath on yourself from the Lord? But there is some good in you, for you have removed the Asheroth from the land and you have set you heart to seek God.”
20:3 Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord; and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. Judah gathered together to see help from the lord.

1) Set your heart to seek God with everything you have.
Prov 3:3 -4 practice kindness and truth so you will find favor with God and man
3) When your way is pleasing to God He will make even your enemies to be at peace with you!


Patience and Wisdom

Patience and Wisdom                                                                                    June 28, 2020
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

This verse has been on my mind a great deal this week as I’ve been pondering patience, and wisdom. They go hand in hand.

Patience isn’t natural to most of us! It seems about as elusive as wisdom!
James 1:5
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach/criticizing, and it will be given to him.

These days we certainly need wisdom! So much knowledge and expertise but where are the wise voices that can be heard over the angry shouts?

Solomon wrote much about wisdom:
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Knowing that God is real, is supreme, and that He has the final say is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom.
The foolish person thinks he knows it all, and he tends to despise patience.

Proverbs 2:3-12
Discern righteousness and justice, equity and every good course, wisdom will guard you.

How valuable sound discernment and wisdom is needed these days! We need to be able to discern the truth of what is really good or evil.

How did Solomon gain wisdom? 1 Kings 3:5 – 11 God came to him in a dream and told him to ask anything of Him. Solomon asked God for an understanding heart to discern between good and evil! Discernment to understand justice.

Lately we’ve been hearing shouts for justice from all sides. But, whose justice? Which justice? Justice has been reduced to what a person or particular group thinks is right.
We really need God’s wisdom and discernment right now!

It takes patience to wait on the Lord, for His guidance and wisdom. But as James tells us – let’s ask God for wisdom! I believe that with wisdom we have a better grasp of patience.

Prov 3:3-6 Most of us are familiar with Proverbs 3:5 & 6 but the two verses preceding also are key to successful living for God: “Do not let kindness and truth leave you.”

Exercise kindness and truth; make them such an integral part of your life that they become part of who we are. Learning to lean, trust, and depend on God instead of focusing on our own understanding and opinions. Acknowledge God and He will make your paths straight. A straight path is a clearly defined course of how to proceed.

Gaining wisdom and patience from God helps us to reflect God.

Prov 16:7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Pray for peace with God and the people who you encounter as you purpose to live so that your actions and thoughts are pleasing to God.

Next week we will  look at a couple of examples of people who allowed God to direct them, or not.

The Patience of our Heavenly Father

The Israelites took great pride in and often referred to “the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. Their ancestorial fathers knew Him, their sacred writings of almost 4000 years were all about God and His dealings with and expectations of their ancestors. God of your fathers… Yahweh, the God of your ancestor David, 2 Chron 21:12 (Elijah in a letter to Jehoram)

“The God of our fathers.” Sounds like a God of the past.

Jesus changed the perspective!
Instead of God being the God your ancient fathers worshiped, God is your Father.
Jesus spoke of God as being Father more than 150 times!

God longs to be the Father of all. But, it’s up to each individual whether they will are willing to surrender their autonomous self to the Heavenly Father who expects obedience and desires faithfulness and love.

God is Father – that’s a part of who He is. What are some characteristics of a good father?

Galatians 5:22:23 Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These are all attributes of God. They are the fruits of God’s Spirit when we walk with God.

James 1:19… be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. (!)

James 3:17 Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable
full of mercy and good fruits unwavering, without hypocrisy.
18 and the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

As Christians we want to have our lives bearing these fruits – our lives to reflect the character of our Heavenly Father. It’s not easy when times are turbulent and Satan is at war dividing and creating animosity and hatred.  We need to listen, to not rush in with our thoughts, opinions and ideas.

Most of all we need to be slow to get angry. Anger will never achieve God’s righteousness.
Our anger will never persuade anyone that God loves them.

We need to be the peacemakers. The only way we can be peacemakers is to live in harmony with our Heavenly Father and to allow His Spirit to produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our lives.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise but is patient toward you, not wanting any to perish but for all to come to repentance
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless 15 and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation.
18 Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It’s not easy being patient or at peace!

Heb 12:1-2   Running a long distant race takes patience. Not only does a person have to become physically able to endure running many miles, the mental work is often even harder. The body is able but the mind becomes inpatient and wants to quit. That’s when we focus on the goal and set our mind on the goal that we are running towards. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Let His patience fill you so you may endure.

We need the patience of our Father.
This is the patience that is required.
Patience which endures over the long haul.
Patience that brings peace and unity.
Patience that reflects our Heavenly Father’s loving patience with us.
Patience that brings God’s peace.

Unity in God

It’s been a week of heavy rains, cold temperatures and social turmoil. The deluge of media stories focusing on protests and riots seems ceaseless. The roaring lion is roaming throughout the land stirring up animosity, chaos, and division.

God is the God of Unity and order. Living in the state of this world unity seems harder and harder to achieve.

Unity is sadly missing during the current social climate. What’s the solution?

Only God! Praise His name, He desires unity among His followers and when we turn to Him He will give us endurance and encouragement to live in harmony with each other. (Rom 15:5-6)
“… accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other…

Jesus knows how hard it is for us to be in unity! Look at His disciples! There must have been times of tension and animosity between some of them. We have Matthew who collected taxes for the Romans, and then there were two who were known zealots: Thaddeus, also known as Judas the Zealot and Simon the Zealot. It had to have been only Jesus Himself that caused these three to get along! You can imagine the discussions Jesus had with the disciples in teaching them to behave with respect and eventually love towards each other. As followers of Jesus they became united, because of Jesus!

During his last evening with them Jesus specifically prayed asking the Farther for unity among His followers: “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” John 17:11

John 17:21 May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.
May they also be one in Us, may they be one as We are one.
17:23 I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one,
so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.

There are two reasons that Jesus prays for unity for all believers:
1) so the world will know Jesus was sent by the Father
2) so the world can know that God loves us as He loves Jesus

Romans 15:5–6 “Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.

God wants us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” Ephesians 4:3.

Ephesians 4:2-6
I beg you to live lives worthy of your high calling. Accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other. Make it your aim to be at one in the Spirit, and you will inevitably be at peace with one another. You all belong to one body, of which there is one Spirit, just as you all experienced one calling to one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father of us all, who is the one over all, the one working through all and the one living in all.
JB Phillips New Testament for Modern Readers

Just as Jesus’ disciples learned to be united together through Him, the Holy Spirit is in the work of uniting us together in Him.

Satan seeks to destroy unity, peace and replace it with greed, chaos, and division. In Jesus Christ we have the protection and power of God to let go of self, to accept life with humility and patience. Because of the unity we have in Jesus we can make allowances for each other, because of love.

Bind us together with Your Love, Heavenly Father!