Did you ever have one of those days…Paul did, every day. He lived chained between two guards and was simply waiting for the final word from Ceaser–and then he would die. In the midst of that, Paul continued his letter to the Philippians with some very practical tips for life.
The Goal–Stand firm in the Lord! If we brace our lives on anything other than Christ, we are doomed to collapse. The picture is of a sailor on the ship during a violent storm braced for the rushing waters determined to sweep him out to sea–standing firm braced to the immovable anchor that is our Lord and Savior.
How does a frail human find the where-with-all to stand firm…Paul gives us some direction:
First, be unified. He asked these women that were now enemies to embrace and align in Christ. It would make them stronger and take away the divide among the rest of the church. When it is difficult, we look to blame, to justify, and to escape. Feelings get hurt, friendships tested and lives destroyed. We have to be united and gracious people; building each other up not picking each other apart.
Second, rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, I repeat rejoice! Easy to say difficult to do. It feels so disingenuous to cheer from one’s sickbed, from the bottom of the emotional barrel. with empty pockets or in a quiet lonely place. The critical piece is the ability to rejoice no matter what circumstances are front and center. God’s grace builds us to a place of peace rejoicing because Jesus IS and is all we need.
Third, Be gentle to all! knowing the Lord is near! We do not have to be harsh, defensive or demanding! There is enough of that from so many sources. Being gentle is so refreshing, endearing and unique–it draws people to Jesus!
Fourth, do not be anxious–Pray, seek God’s counsel, and be thankful. Everything can go on the list–NOTHING is too big or too small! Petition God, He expects it and does not take offense! When you do, peace will overtake you. like the eye of a hurricane, there will be sunshine and stillness in the center of chaos.
Finally–Think about whatever is true, nobel, right, pure, lovely and admirable! Think about the excellent and the praiseworthy! If the thought does not fall within those bins–take it captive and destroy it. Dark thoughts allow dark attitudes to take hold! Be practical, be pragmatic but don’t swirl down the drain of self-pity and become useless. If we focus on what is right and right with our lives–in time, we can navigate through the treacherous currents that seek to draw us away from land and into the depths of despair. We must choose to focus on the things that are solid like the Rock that is our salvation!
A friend challenged me to be still, I confess I am a fidgeter, But our Lord reminded me tonight I seek God and His counsel–not man’s opinion or man’s approval. Thanks for the word, my Savior and friend!
God Bless You
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.