Freedom Over Worry

Freedom Over Worry

Daily Reading: (Philippians 4:6):

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

To have guidance from God’s Word when worry comes makes all the difference. God’s Word will not bring freedom from worry ever creeping in, but freedom over worry when it does.  

The Message Bible says:

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Instead of worrying there is another option, prayer. Paul says worry will come but instead of dwelling in, pitching a tent in the camp of worry, you could do something else that will cure your worries and that is prayer. Paul is a smart guy who knows the Old Testament really well. When he writes Philippians 4 I believe he is thinking about the words of the Psalmist who would write:

“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4 NLT).

I prayed to the Lord and what happens when he prayed or when we pray… God will answer us. God will respond to your prayers. He will rescue us or deliver us from fear and worry.

The verse before in Philippians sets the tone for us to experience freedom over worry.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” It is easy to forget during difficult times just how near God is (Philippians 4:5) because in the trouble He can feel so far away. But He is with us, and we can communicate with Him, and pray at any time and experience freedom over worry, trust in His love, instead of fear.

“Don’t worry” (merimnaō): don’t even take thought of it to the point of allowing it to trouble you. Before it gets to that point of causing you trouble, pray (Philippians 4:6).

Worry builds and that is why it is best to deal with it before it gets to a troubling level. It is remarkable to me that living 1,000 years apart, Paul and David are saying the exact same thing. However, Paul adds some things about prayer. in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 

After thanksgiving then let your requests be made known to God. Thanksgiving is the Greek word “eucharist”, communion. Worship God for all your spiritual blessings in Jesus before your requests. Paul says in Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Start your prayers by giving thanks for what God has done for us in Christ. And then let your requests be made known to God.  In this way, it says, “I trust God.” 

When you pray like this, all of a sudden, you are no longer held hostage waiting for what you think the result should be. The more you thank Him, the more His peace reigns in your heart. Whatever your concern is, bring it to your Father in prayer and thank your way to peace!

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Friend of God: Name Dropping

Friend of God

Daily Reading: (Romans 5:11):

“Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

We have the opportunity every day in our lives to boast about the victory Jesus has given us. We boast about different stuff all the time. Just look at bumper stickers, “my kids is an honor student”, “I ran 26.2 miles”, “I am an alumni of XYZ University”. Social media is full of places we have been, the food we ate, and things we have experienced that we are proud of and want to share with the world. There is something within us to want to share the wonderful things we have been a part of, and here Paul is saying we can and should boast in the greatest thing to ever happen to us, we are now reconciled to God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What is crazy is God didn’t give this great gift to His best friends, God gave the gift that was the life of His son, to His enemies. Enemies? That’s strong language but it is what we were apart from Jesus,“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life” (Romans 5:10)!

That is why Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, because this is what I did for you. When someone is persecuting you, causing you trouble, we have the Holy Spirit who gives us love, joy, peace, etc… This person who is not acting like a friend, but more like an enemy, I can pray for them, they are the perfect candidate for someone who needs Jesus. This is where miracles take place. God loves them too and wishes for them to have their lives forever changed by the Gospel.

So, we use to be enemies with God (Romans 5:10) but being reconciled to Him through Jesus, we are now friends of God and part of His family. We are friends and even family of the One who made the Universe.

We have now received the reconciliation. The word “received” means that this reconciliation is a gift that we receive by grace through Christ. Reconciliation is special in that it is not like most other gifts. Let’s say it is your birthday and your significant other buys you a lantern. A lantern is a practical yet fairly lame gift. Most people don’t ask for a lantern for their birthday, you might even question how well they know you or have been paying attention to you over the year. But if your power goes out you might be thankful for the lantern. Then when the power is restored, you put the lantern away, and then forget about it entirely until the power goes out again. Then you feel thankful again for the gift again.

This is different from what Paul means by receiving the gift of reconciliation. He means receiving it in such a way that what is in the package makes you rejoice all the time. And what is in the gift, is God reconciled. The gift of reconciliation is God offering us Himself so that we might rejoice in Him.

James 2:23 says: And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. ‘And he was called the friend of God. In John 15:15 Jesus said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Jesus made us righteous through His sacrifice on the cross and our faith in Him. We now are friends of God (John 15:15, James 2:23).

What we should be doing is name-dropping about who we are friends with. God is my friend. God is my Father. It changes our perspective on things. Paul is so confident in his relationship with God, that he says to other believers who gave to him to help him while in prison “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). I am friends with God, He has abundantly blessed and abundantly supplied me in Jesus.

The Promise to Meet Our Every Need

The Promise to Meet Our Every Need

Daily Reading: (Philippians 4:19):

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

This is a grand promise that I believe has confused a lot of people because there are things, we think we need that we don’t, and aren’t considered needs. When it comes to a verse like Philippians 4:19 and the promise of God to meet our every need, I think one of the issues we might have has to do with our understanding of what should fall under the needs category and what should fall under the wants one. I remember around Christmas time receiving various toy catalogues in the mail. I would circle 80 percent of the toys in the catalogue. What do you want for Christmas? I want it all! A follow-up question might be “I know there is a lot of things you want but what do you really need this year?

There are needs and there are wants and that is a big difference. Let’s look at the Greek definition for needs used in Philippians 4:19.

(Chreia) “needs”- such things as we need for sustenance and the journey.

There will be good things that we think we really need to sustain us moving forward in the journey ahead but if that thing that we are praying for is not part of God’s ordained steps for you ahead then there is no purpose in giving it to you. Now to be clear, the things that we need, God always gives to us. Every single one of His promises is ours. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20). I love that our part is simply believing God for those promises and we do that as we speak out by faith “Amen”.

Do you know that Amen is a declaration of our faith? Amen was spoken at the end of something that had been shared and by doing so made the substance of what was uttered their own. It was saying “so be it” or “it may be fulfilled”.

If God supplies you what you need, (“meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus”) then there is nothing you can’t do that He has called you forward in. We find contentment in our life as we believe in this promise. This is only possible as you grow in your relationship of knowing God as your loving Father. Paul says, “my God”, it is personal. His confidence flows because Paul has come to know God as a Good Father who provides for him and never fails to meet his need. From Paul’s experience in God’s faithfulness to him, he trusts that God will meet your needs.

They were a very poor church that gave what they could to support Paul. Their gift was used to meet Paul’s need. God will meet your needs in a variety of ways and sometimes He meets our needs through each other. “I have received full payment and have more than enough” (Philippians 4:18). What I learned from this verse is how rich we all are in Christ. According to this verse, you already are rich. You are not trying to become rich. It does not matter how much you are earning or how much you have in your bank account. You are rich. How does that one work out? You are rich because as your need arises, God’s supply will be there for you (Philippians 4:18).  Being under grace means being constantly under His supply. It means being conscious not of the need but of His supply to you. Because of the cross, God’s grace is always supplying healing, protection, wisdom, and every provision that you need. The more you are conscious of it, the more you will walk in it!

The Secret of Contentment

The Secret of Contentment

Daily Reading: (Philippians 4:10-13):

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

We will find that the “all things” Paul references he can do through Christ (Philippians 4:13), is connected to the secret of contentment he has found (Philippians 4:12).

The gift Paul received from the church could have caused a lot of different emotions ways. It was late to arrive, Paul’s feelings could have been anxious, uneasy, or upset about it.

The person bringing the gift was deathly ill, perhaps even contagious. Paul could have been afraid for Epaphroditus and worried about his own health.

The distance the gift the church was sending Paul (Philippi to Rome) was approximately 4,608 miles and so instead of having a negative emotion,the apostle of grace sees Epaphroditus through the eyes of grace and says give this guy a hero’s welcome. “So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ.”

Let’s celebrate those who do a work of Christ regardless of how successful the endeavor may appear on the outside. The reason Paul does not land in the negative emotions unsatisfied camp is because Paul was never focused on the gift to begin with. Verse ten gives us this insight: “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord” Contentment is secured as you view everything made available to you in Christ which will cause your spirit to rejoice. The focus was not on the gift but the Giver. I am not meaning the church, although, there will be gratitude toward the brothers and sisters in Christ but this is what Christ has done in them. Paul was expecting Jesus to bear the fruit of generosity in their lives.  

Generosity isn’t a fruit of the Spirit- is it? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control(Galatians 5:22-23a). I don’t see generosity listed there, but it actually is. Most translations call it “goodness,” because the root word means “good,” but, given the context, a better interpretation would be “generous,” which is the way it is worded in the New Revised Standard.

In Philippians 4 Paul says he has needs, but he is not needy because God is going to meet His needs (Philippians 4:12). The way the supply comes to us changes so it is easy for us to worry and doubt and ask God what are you doing when it is delayed or comes about another way. That is the problem that arises when we put our focus on the supply instead of the Supplier, we can move from the contentment camp to the unsatisfied one. New seasons means new supply. God’s provision is ongoing (the source doesn’t change, but the way the supply comes does).

But our God, Paul says seven verses later will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). “He meets the needs according to” which is the Greek Word (kata) it means daily. So, it doesn’t matter if your daily need is great or it is small, you can be content, God will meet our needs every day abundantly.

What is the secret of contentment?

William Barclay says, “contentment comes from knowing God and delighting in his sovereign goodness and fatherly care.”[1] The temptation to be discontent is everywhere. Paul grew to believe with great conviction all of who Christ was in his life—his Savior, his Friend, his Provider, his Lord—and it was the essence of what he needed most. The sufficiency of Christ that Paul experienced enabled him to have a strong heart of contentment (joy, peace, and gratitude) in the best and worst of times. Because Christ lived in Him and was with Him always.


[1] William Barcley. The Secret of Contentment. P&R Publishing

Confusion and Understanding/Rest

Daily Reading: (1 Corinthians 14:33, Philippians 4:7):

“For God is not the author ofconfusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Don’t worry about a thing is the song lyrics that should be playing over our lives today. God’s desire for our lives is that we don’t dwell in the land of worry. Paul doesn’t stop with just a nice phrase, he’ll tell us how he has found it possible to be sitting on death row, worry-free. Part of the answer comes in verse five. “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” It is easy to forget during difficult and confusing times just how near God is (Philippians 4:5). If God feels far away and we forget He is with us in the trouble that will open the door for us to become troubled. But He is with us, and we can communicate with Him, and pray at any time. You are never alone in your trouble.

Don’t worry (merimnaō)don’t even take thought of it to the point of allowing it to trouble you. Worry will enter your mind, the key is when it does, to not allow your mind to stay there on that thought. If you do, it will eventually and very quickly trouble you.

Paul is telling us not to let your worry take you to the place where you think about it enough to trouble you and then he takes out his prescription pad and prescribes us the cure to relieve the horrible symptoms of worry.

“But in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Paul actually borrowed this from David:

“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4 NLT).

The way that we eliminate worry is to bring those things that would worry us to God in prayer and the result is you will receive the peace of God. What a great exchange, worry for peace. When we have worry, pray and set your eyes on Jesus and let the Holy Spirit fill your hearts with the peace of God and His peace will set a guard over your heart and mind against worry from coming back in (Philippians 4:6-7).

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people” (1 Corinthians 14:33). Paul drops this nugget, which we will extrapolate beyond just a chaotic worship service into the chaos of life. God is not a God of disorder or confusion but of (eirene) quietness, rest, tranquility (1 Corinthians 14:33). When things come on our lives that are disorienting and confusing, we can receive from God; rest, quietness in our soul, and tranquility.

Rewards of Peace

Listen to the Message

Daily Reading: (James 3:18, Proverbs 12:20, Philippians 4:6-7):

“And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

“Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Peace is a beautiful gift that Jesus has given to all believers.  There are also rewards that come with peace as well.  This just magnifies the truth that not only does all fruit we bear in our lives comes from abiding in Jesus (John 15) but also that we will be rewarded for the fruits that Jesus helps us to bear (Romans 2:6-7, Revelation 22:12).

Reward #1 Peacemakers reap a harvest of righteousness (Peacemakers will show the way to receive Jesus’ peace).Christ the Righteous One, gave us His righteousness and through His life in us, will sow or spread peace out of our lives. His peace manifested through us will lead others to the way of Messiah’s peace (which is salvation).

Reward #2 There is a reward of joy for the peacemakers.

Proverbs 12 is incredible because it paints the picture of the life of someone who is in Christ. Here is what is said about the righteous children of God leading to verse 12:

  • loves discipline, loves knowledge (verse 1)
  • favor from the Lord (verse 2)
  • cannot be uprooted (verse 3)
  • just plans (verse 5)
  • their speech rescues (verse 6)
  • their house stands firm (verse 7)
  • praised according to their prudence (verse 8)
  • care for the needs of their animals (verse 10)
  • their employees are blessed (verse 11)

Reward #3 Paul says in Philippians 4:7 that the peace of God transcends all understanding. Our thoughts can be surpassed with the mind of Christ that we have (1 Corinthians 2:16). What we must desire to have in a peace robbing moment is the very thoughts of God about us and our situation.

So the reward of peace (with God) is the capacity to receive spiritual truth from God that surpasses our limited finite wisdom in all situations that will guard our hearts (affections and passions) and minds (understanding, judgment, conscience) of the favor position we have in Christ Jesus.  Peacemakers have the reward of joy, as the life of Christ in us spreads peace. This leads others to the way of Messiah’s peace (which is salvation).

Bare Necessities

 

Daily Reading: (Philippians 4:10-20)
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Philippians 4 reminds me of a classic scene in the movie Jungle Book where Balou the Bear sings about the “bare/bear necessities” of life. If Balou ever matured beyond simply the bare necessities of life- (faith in Jesus Christ) who is our life (Colossians 3:4) -he might spent some time singing about what is essential for us to thrive on earth right now? The song would be called “living in the New Covenant by Faith”.

We can learn from David who lived by faith in the promise of the covenant in which he lived. The Davidic Covenant is unconditional because God does not place any conditions of obedience upon its fulfillment. The surety of the promises made rests solely on God’s faithfulness and does not depend at all on David or Israel’s obedience.

When David heard the same mockings of Goliath that the rest of the Israelites heard he responded in an entirely different way than the rest of the Israelite army. The difference between the response of David and the rest of the army was faith in God’s promise that caused David to act on his belief. Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, we have victory over every giant.

Paul just like David, lived by faith in the Covenant he lived. Paul learned during his missionary endeavors that you don’t need as much as you think you do (Philippians 4:11).

Because I have Jesus in my life, who is my life, I lack nothing. Do I see my needs through my supply or am I missing my supply because all I see are my needs? (Philippians 4:12). Our responsibility as we live our lives in the New Covenant is to exercise faith in Christ.

God invites us over to see our needs from the supply side and then recognize God’s provisions are ongoing (Philippians 4:19).

The strength of God (verse thirteen) and His supply (verse nineteen) often are revealed through our greatest struggles. Isn’t that the story of a scrawny small shepherd boy versus a massive 9 ft 6 inch giant or Paul’s autobiography?