Tag Archives: Philippians 4

More Than A Story: Persistence

More Than A Story: Persistence

[Friend at Midnight: Luke 11:5-13 / Persistent Widow: Luke 18:1-8]

“Prayer is not an exercise. It is the life of the saint.” – Oswald Chambers

1 Thessalonians 5:16-17“Rejoice always; pray continually.” [NIV]

Pray without ceasing, pray constantly, never stop praying, continually be prayerful

     UnceasinglyAdialeiptós (ad-ee-al-ipe’-toce) – unceasingly, without remission, without intermission

Philippians 4:6“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” [NLT]

     Everythingpas (pas) – all, the whole, every kind of, each / every part that applies

Luke 11:8“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.” [NASB]

     ShamelessnessAnaideia (an-ah’-ee-die-ah’) – shameless persistence, no shame, unembarrassed boldness, without embarrassment, shameless audacity, impudence, importunity, sheer persistence, refusal to take a denial – used only in Luke 11:8

   “stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors” [MSG]

Luke 18:5Yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice, so she doesn’t wear me out by her persistent coming.” [HCSB]

Constant requests, continually coming, keep coming, constantly coming, unending pleas

     Beaten black-and-blue by her pounding [MSG]

“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”
– Brother Lawrence (The Practice of the Presence of God)

BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS

More Than A Story: Persistence

[Friend at Midnight: Luke 11:5-13 / Persistent Widow: Luke 18:1-8]

1) In the parable of the Friend at Midnight, the friend in need knocked and his friend answered, “Do not bother me…”

                What were his excuses?

                How is this different from how God responds to us?

                Has there ever been a time when you felt like you were bothering God? Why?

2) In Luke 11:9, the Bible says—ASK and it will be given, SEEK and you will find, KNOCK and it will be opened.

                What does this mean to you? What does this say about prayer?

                 How can we apply this to our lives?

3) Luke 18:7-8 says, “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

               What does this mean?

               How does it involve you? What can you do to take steps in the right direction? What does this look like?

more than a story

More Than A Story is a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on the parables of Jesus.

Richness
Forgiveness
Persistence
Fruitfulness
Obedience
Humility
Compassion
Responsiveness
Repentance
Readiness
Faithfulness
Kingdom-Focused

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Practice These Things

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:8; Paul tells us in this verse where we are to focus or to dwell. The Greek word for dwell is “logizomai” which means to count, to decide, to think, to reason, to take into account. In today’s passage, Paul tells us what to practice, and he also reveals the results if practiced – “the God of peace will be with you.” Yes, God will be with you. But this verse says the “God of peace,” reminding us all that our God is a God of peace. He is the only way we can truly have peace, and He offers a peace beyond comprehension.

So what do we practice? Let us read this passage again. The first part of the passage says to REJOICE IN THE LORD. That’s the first thing to practice. Rejoicing. Rejoicing in the Lord. Some translations say “always be full of joy in the Lord” (NLT). The Message says, “Celebrate God all day, every day.” One way I practice this daily is through worship. Our life is to be a continual worship of our Lord and Savior. In everything we do—worship God. Praise Him. Celebrate Him!

The next part of the passage says to be anxious for nothing. Instead we are to PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING. Prayer and Bible reading are the top ways our God communicates with us. We are to pray about everything, not just some things. Yes, that means we cannot pray about something too small. We should place everything in His hands. Just like our life should be continuous worship, our life should also be about continuous prayer. From when we wake up in the morning till our eyes close for the night, we can be in continuous communication with God. Brother Lawrence spoke to God while doing the dishes. I speak to Him as I sit at my desk at work. Prayer should not only be done once a day by your bed or in a church pew. Every day. Continuous. A life of prayer. Sometimes your mouth may not move, but your heart speaks—Oh the joy of recognizing you are in God’s presence every second of every day.

The verse continues, “with THANKSGIVING.” Did you know that it is impossible to thank God enough? As we thank God each day and live our lives with an attitude of gratitude, we humbly walk with Christ. We appreciate with what God has blessed us. We even love people more.

So what’s left? What we have learned and received and heard and seen—God’s Truth—what is true and honorable and right and lovely, we are to embrace. Yes, EMBRACE GOD’S TRUTH! As you practice these things, as you live a life of worship and thanks and prayer, as you embrace God’s Truth, you truly do have God with you—and He is the God of peace. It is a peace beyond understanding. And it’s yours when you do life with God. It is not an instantaneous thing, but it is something you live when you walk in Christ and practice these things!

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” -Philippians 4:4-9 [NASB]

 

Sunglasses

I will admit I am forgetful. As a crutch, I use my Google calendar to remind me of everything both at work and at home. I make a grocery list to remember what food to buy, and then cannot even remember the list. I kept losing my prayer lists; my prayer list is now on my phone. If I don’t write something down, it is likely it will be lost in my memory bank. I would not call it a memory bank – it’s more like a black hole.

This morning while I was on the usual walk with my dogs, I soon realized as we changed directions that I forgot my sunglasses. The whole way home I was squinting because my oversensitive eyes could not face the beautiful morning light. I even grumbled a bit considering the headache that might follow as a result. All because I forgot my sunglasses.

What a surprise when I got home only to realize my sunglasses were in my pocket. I had my sunglasses the entire time!! The sunglasses I own are magnetic and when I grabbed for my keys, they unbeknownst to me followed along. I spent all that time wishing for the solution, when it was right with me. Sadly, that is how many of us are in life from time to time. God has the answer but we look elsewhere. God has provided what is needed but we are too blind to see (2 Corinthians 9:8, Philippians 4:19). God has a perfect plan but we only see the struggles, the pain, the heartache. God is with us through it all but we so often feel alone (Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5). My friends, let us open our eyes. Let us look at what He has blessed us with and embrace what He has for us. Let us remind ourselves of what He has done, what He has said He will do, Who He is, and His promise to never leave. We each have all we need to accomplish what God has called us to do in life!

“For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.” – Psalm 33:4-5 [NIV]

Three R Challenge

This was a message I shared with a challenge for Lent. It can be a challenge for anyone at anytime of the year. At the end of the day, it is my prayer that we all will be relentless in our pursuit of Jesus as He is relentlessly pursuing us each day.

The Three R Challenge

1) REMAIN in God (John 15:8-12)

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; ABIDE IN MY LOVE. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” [NASB]

 Challenge 1: Show Love through Acts of Generosity

With Will and Purpose – Sometimes this requires us to change /adapt. About putting God / people first.

With Actions – Act, not just observe. “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16 NIV).

With Possessions“John replied, ‘If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry’” (Luke 3:11 NLT).

With Words“Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (Colossians 4:6 MSG). “Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24 HCSB). “Say only what helps, each word a gift” (Ephesians 4:29b MSG).

With Love“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion–how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:15-18 NLT).

With Faith – Philip taking the time to run to and speak with the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-40). The Woman at the Well going into town to tell people about this man Jesus (John 4). Do you share your hope?

With Forgiveness“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13 NLT).

(see 40acts – Do Lent Generously)

2) RENEW yourself in Him (Romans 12:1-2) – Change the way you think

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, FIX YOUR ATTENTION ON GOD. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” [MSG]

Challenge 2: Dig deep into His Word – Daily Bible reading, Daily Devotion Reading, attend Sunday School &  Small Groups.

3) REST in Him (Philippians 4:6-7)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” [NLT]

Challenge 3: Daily Prayer – Go to God first with everything. Familiarize yourself with the Psalms.

Colossians 1:15-17 – “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” [NIV]    —— YOU WERE MADE BY HIM AND FOR HIM

Proclaim the Excellencies

Believers, children of God, are considered “God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted” (1 Peter 2:9 MSG). Today, the big questions we should ask ourselves: Are you speaking out for Him? Is your life telling others of a difference He has made by your example? Are you praising God with your words and deeds?

The word excellencies is translated from “ἀρετάς” which literally means “virtue.” The only other time it is used in the New Testament is in Philippians 4:8: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT). This same word is used in Isaiah 43:21, where we read: “the people I formed for Myself that they may proclaim my praise” (NIV). The New Living Translation states, “I have made Israel for Myself, and they will someday honor me before the whole world.” Eugene Peterson’s translation describes them as “people custom-made to praise me” (MSG).

If we are to “tell about the excellent qualities of God,” it is not simply by the words we speak, but by the actions we take in life (GW). We show forth praises by our profession of Truth and by a good example. Let us examine the words we speak. Let us examine the actions we take. Are we telling people about the “excellent qualities of God” or telling them something very different? Are we professing the Truth or spewing something else?

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” – 1 Peter 2:9 [ESV]

You Are Blessed

Circumstances change. Situations are not always the same. There are moments in life when you may be “on top of the world.” There are also moments when you are at your lowest point. But in any circumstance, in any situation, at any point in life, you can be content. It does not matter where you are at or who you are with or your circumstances. Paul said that he was content in any situation.

I know people who are never happy. They can only list the negatives in their life, yet if I examine their situation I find many blessings I could list. For some reason or another, some people feel dissatisfied, unhappy, broken, or lacking. For me it is hard to understand. I have grown to understand this same contentment as Paul mentions. Life is really different when you can be content in all situations.

Today I challenge you to look around and thank God for your blessings. Did you have at least one meal today? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have a job? Do you have family? Think of what you have—look at the blessings around you. When you focus on them and thank God for them, you aren’t living with your eyes fixed on your lack. If you can look at the situations that come your way in a positive light, you’ll discover this contentment that is only possible through Christ.

“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.” – Philippians 4:12 [NIV]

Don’t Look Back Outline

Here’s a sermon / devotion outline for Genesis 19. You can download the outline below.

Don’t Look Back

Genesis 19

“We are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it” (v. 13 NASB).

LOT HESITATED – v. 15 – so the men seized his hand and the hands of his wife and daughters. FOR THE COMPASSION OF THE LORD WAS UPON HIM.

When they were outside city, “Escape for your life. DO NOT LOOK BEHIND YOU and do not stay anywhere in the valley” (v. 17 NASB).

“BUT HIS WIFE, FROM BEHIND HIM, LOOKED BACK, AND SHE BECAME A PILLAR OF SALT” (v. 26 NASB).

Lot’s daughters – got dad drunk – got pregnant – Moab and Ben-Ammi — Moabites and Ammonites.

You can take Lot’s daughters out of Sodom but you couldn’t take Sodom out of Lot’s daughters.

  1. Remember what the Lord has said and done in your life – journal, remind yourself when you need reminding. Ex: Passover Meal – reminder of Exodus and God seeing His people out of Egypt. “Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth.” – Psalm 105:4-5 [NIV].
  2. Don’t look back desiring your old life. Lot’s wife looked back because she didn’t want to let go of what was back there. Isaiah 43:18-19 says “Forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (NLT). Philippians 3:13-14 “Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus” (CEB).
  3. Seek the Holy Spirit to help you in your weakness and to help you pray (Romans 8:26) and to live your new life in Christ (Romans 8:11).
  4. Keep yourself in God’s Word and remember to focus on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute, excellent, worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8)
    1. Belt of Truth
    2. Breastplate of Righteousness

Download the Don’t Look Back Outline

A Huge Danger

When a danger is called “huge” it should not be taken lightly. In this case, the people were being warned of the danger of associating with a country that worshiped false gods. The concern was that by living closely with these people, the people of Israel would begin to accept some of the practices and culture that was against the Word of God.

Jesus ate with sinners. He spent time with many people who were not pure. However as we read the Gospel, it is clear that Jesus did not spend all of His time with these people. He spent a lot of time with His Father in prayer. He spent a lot of time teaching and preaching as He traveled along with His disciples. He was so engrossed with His mission and He spent much time with the Word as was demonstrated during His time in the wilderness and while teaching. He often recited Scripture. It was written on His heart. It was at the core of His being.

If we do not go out in the world to share the Gospel, then the Gospel won’t get shared. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world to stay safe from temptation. Even in isolation, you will be tempted. Temptation is everywhere. But you can be cautious and keep yourself from spending too much time around “huge danger.” Paul wrote about focusing on what is worthy of praise. You can opt to take in a lot of negative and find out that what you take in will eventually come out. Or you can opt to focus on Him and the right, the pure, the lovely and find that it begins to pour from you.

“Don’t make any deals with them or their gods. They are not to stay in the same country with you lest they get you to sin by worshiping their gods. Beware. That’s a huge danger.”

– Exodus 23:32-33 [MSG]

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Every Situation

One of the most quoted verses is Philippians 4:13, but so often it is taken out of context or used as a motto to say declaring that you can do anything. Paul was writing this letter while he was in prison. That must be recognized first. I think it is important to read the verse prior to get a better understanding of what verse 13 means.

Paul says that he knows how to live in every situation – whether he has a lot or whether he has a little. It didn’t matter if his stomach was full of food or deprived of food. He knew how to live.  He could live in every situation because he could do everything through Christ, because Christ provided the strength he needed.

Don’t ever use Philippians 4:13 as an “I can do everything” card that says you can do whatever you want because God will provide the strength. Paul was serving God—serving while in freedom and serving while in chains. Paul learned to live with whatever God provided and understood that it was enough. Paul’s focus was on Christ. You can do everything through Christ—if He calls you to do it, He will provide for all your needs to accomplish it. You might be living with almost nothing or you might be living with a lot more.

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:12-13 [NLT]

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Fix Your Thoughts

We can look around and see so many things. As technology improved, we have the capability to see so much more than when you and I were younger. With this great advancement comes an open door to allow more things to pass by your eyes. Some things are great and some things we could do better without.

Paul told us to “fix our thoughts.” To put our attention in a particular area. To focus on certain things. It is something that I remind myself of daily. With all of opportunities we have to see things, it is clear that we need to filter what we see so as to focus on what is “excellent and worthy of praise.”

If you look at a magazine shelf at a store, you will see so much destruction. So much divorce. So much scandal. So much drug addiction. So much gossip. So much impurity. As you focus on all this sin, it starts to draw you inward. The marketing experts know what they are doing. You won’t see many “admirable” magazine articles plastered in the more frequently used aisles. You have to seek them out in the aisles rarely opened. But we are challenged to fix our focus. I say “challenged” because it is a challenge but it can be done. Today, be boldly focused. When you find yourself seeing things that are not worthy of praise, fix your focus. Allow more of what is good to come in, and gradually you will find that there’s a great benefit with this intentional focus on what is good.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” – Philippians 4:8 [NLT]

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