Tag Archives: Philippians

God’s Work – A Triolet

The good work that God has begun
He will ensure is completed
In our heart, in our soul He’s won
The good work that God has begun

We are not yet finished, not done
In Christ we are not defeated
The good work that God has begun
He will ensure is completed

 

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV).

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Rejoice – An Acrostic Poem

Rejoice in the Lord always
E
verlasting joy from His heart
J
oy even in the darkest times
O
verflowing joy in my heart
I
n times of want and times of plenty
C
arrying me through trials of this life to
E
ternal life of rejoicing in the Lord

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The Past I’ve Left Behind – A Poem

The past I’ve left behind me
pursues me in the dark
trying to persuade me
I’ll never hit the mark

But I keep pressing forward
to the life that lies ahead
where God has promised glory
my prize for which He bled

The past has no hold on me
for the Son has set me free
my future is eternal life
His child I’ll forever be

12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT).

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Bundle of Rights – A Poem

In law school property class
we learned about
our bundle of rights

It’s not much of a bundle
compared to Jesus’ divine
bundle of rights
—His omniscience
—His omnipresence
—His matchless glory

My bundle, your bundle,
is more like a hobo’s bindle
tied up, hanging from a pole

We cling to our rights
as if they were our precious,
our most precious possession

Though he was God,
Jesus did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges
¹

He calls us to give up
our bindle for others
to become as a servant
following His example

And in the process we will discover
faith, hope, and love—and
the greatest of these is love
²

Not a bad trade, really,
a hobo’s bindle
for the greatest love
the world has ever known

 

¹Philippians 2:6-7a (NLT)
²1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)

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Knowing God’s Love

I have this great daily devotional called Walking with God Day by Day by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The devotion for each day is excerpted from one of his many books. I’ve never been very good at reading it every day, but whenever I do pick it up God never fails to reveal to me something of His great love and mercy.

I tend to read several devotions in a row right before bed. On one such occasion several weeks ago I read three devotions that covered what Lloyd-Jones called ”ten tests that you can apply to yourself to know for certain that you know the love of God to you.” Walking with God, Nov. 28.

I found great comfort in these ten tests, though even before I read them I knew that God loves me, just as He loves you and all mankind. I decided I wanted to share these ten tests, but with the added thought that even if you find you do not “pass” one or more of the tests, you can still rest assured that God loves you. I believe that coming to the point of being able to pass each of these tests is a process every believer must go through. It is by the sanctification of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we learn what we must to reach the goal of full assurance of God’s love.

The moment we believe in the Lord Jesus as our Savior, we are saved. But God loved us even before that; even before the foundation of the world He loved us. His love never changes; it is only our recognition and understanding of that love that changes over time as He draws us closer to Him.

So here are the ten tests (all from Walking with God, Nov. 28, 29, & 30):

  1. “a loss and absence of the sense that God is against us.”
  2. “a loss of the fear of God, while a sense of awe remains.”
  3. “a feeling and a sense that God is for us and that God loves us.”
  4. “a sense of sins forgiven.”
  5. “a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving to God.”
  6. “an increasing hatred of sin.”
  7. “a desire to please God and to live a good life because of what He has done for us.”
  8. “a desire to know Him better and to draw closer to Him.”
  9. “a conscious regret that our love to Him is so poor, along with a desire to love Him more.”
  10. “a delight in hearing these things and in hearing about Him.”

Remember, do not despair if you feel you can’t pass them all today. “[H]e who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV).

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Priorities in Practice

This afternoon I attended a session at the ACLEA conference I am at that was titled “Put Your Oxygen Mask on First.” It was all about taking care of oneself so that we reduce our stress and can then be available to accomplish those things we are called to do and to care for those people we are called to care for. This requires some sort of balance in one’s life.

With audience input, we came up with a definition of balance: “Prioritize things that matter most. Live according to your priorities.”

At the beginning of the session the speaker asked what movies, songs, quotes, or other things people used to reduce their stress. My answer, which he asked me to repeat into the microphone, was to remember Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, bring your requests to God.” This is my go-to quote when I feel stressed.

For me, my priorities are spending time with God and in the Word, spending time with and taking care of my family, taking care of my dog, giving my best when I am at work (but leaving work at the office), giving back to others the blessings that I have received, and staying healthy so I can do all of those things.

As I pondered the goal the speaker set before us—to do one thing differently—I actually came up with several things that I want to do in order to live according to my priorities.

  1. Almost two years ago, I decided I wanted to read the entire Bible again, but in the New Living Translation this time. As I survey in my mind the checklist of verses to be read in a year, realizing it’s been almost two since I vowed to read His Word each day, I see there are many checkmarks but there are also many chapters remaining to read tomorrow and each day. One thing I could do differently is to get back on track with my daily reading schedule.
  2. Something that always makes me feel better is to take my little dog Roman for a walk. It’s good exercise for both of us. I often see him nose his leash and I see the tennis balls lined up on the windowsill where he looks out onto the world. But I seldom take him for a walk. One thing I could do differently is to take Roman for a walk every day after work, even if it’s just a short walk.
  3. There are some songs that just make me want to dance, and I do love to dance, but I don’t do it very often. It is great exercise and always lifts my spirits. When I was younger I used to dance all the time. One thing I could do differently is to turn on music and dance a little while I’m making dinner several times per week.
  4. At work, my office is on the third floor. I know it’s only two flights of stairs to get there, but for some reason in the morning I’ve developed the habit of taking the elevator (even though it drives me nuts when it is so slow). I use the excuse that I’m carrying things, but it’s not really a very good reason to ride the elevator instead of climbing the stairs. Considering I sit most of the day for my job, taking the stairs in the morning would be really good for me. One thing I could do differently is to take the stairs up to my office each morning even if it does leave me out of breath.

So there are, not just one, but four things that I could do differently to reduce my stress level and help me live my priorities without feeling burned out by all that I have to do. What are your priorities and what could you do differently to live your priorities?

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Jesus Christ Is Lord – A Poem

We’ve been on vacation and I haven’t had much access to a computer, free time to write, or ideas for blog posts. This is why I have posted fewer posts in the past two weeks than I have in any other two week period since I started blogging. I must admit that it has been a relaxing break, but I do miss the blogging.

Since I had some time yesterday and a computer with wi-fi access, I decided to write the article I posted yesterday and a poem for today. This poem was inspired by the verse of the day at Biblegateway.com.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV).

Jesus Christ Is Lord

Your name is exalted
on my tongue
It will not falter
when it is sung

Your name is Holy
to young and old
It will not fade
as Your story is told

Your name is Jesus
Christ the Lord
You are Messiah
Savior adored

Your name is glorified
by all You bless
and on our knees
Your name we confess

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Sharing Our Gratitude

This morning in church we learned about the next tool in our Christian toolbox – Gratitude. This seems like an obvious one. We all know it is important to be grateful for the blessings we have been given.

But Pr. Dave shared an aspect of gratitude I had really thought of before – though I do practice it here on my blog every Thursday with my Thankful Thursday poem. It isn’t enough to feel gratitude in our hearts and keep that feeling to ourselves. We need to share our gratitude with others. We need to let others know that we are grateful for our blessings and that we are grateful for the greatest blessing of all, the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. We also need to let others know when we are grateful for what they have done for us.

This afternoon we are blessed with an opportunity to let Pr. Dave know how grateful we are that he has come from Fargo to be our lead pastor. We are having a special church service celebrating his installation as our pastor and his certification as a pastor in our denomination, Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.

The apostle Paul told us to:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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. Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV).

No matter what happens in life, there is always something to rejoice in and be grateful for, and that is the love of God. It is in sharing our gratitude with others that we point them to the love of Christ. This is definitely one of our Christian tools that is so important to take out of the toolbox and use. Some people may not be willing to listen to our theological arguments for believing in Jesus, but if we rejoice in the Lord always they cannot argue with the gratitude that is in our hearts.

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Perseverance – My Tuesday Three

The apostle Paul wrote a lot about perseverance. Here is the quote I promised I would share today:

Pressing on Toward the Goal

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV).

As I thought about what I would post today for My Tuesday Three (the last one of 2011), I was reminded of three bloggers who make my efforts to complete my post-a-day challenge for 2011 look easy compared to the challenges they have persevered through that they share about on their blogs.

The first blogger I want to share about is one I’ve mentioned several times before, but he provides such a wonderful ministry for those who are broken and struggling that he is worth another mention. He is Pastor Bryan Lowe of Broken Believers. Bryan shares openly about the many things he perseveres through on a daily basis, including the challenge of living with bipolar disorder and several medical conditions. On top of that, he lives in Homer, Alaska. I have no doubt it is a beautiful place and that the summers are glorious, but the winters are long and dark, with extremely short days. Just persevering through an Alaskan winter is something that would be difficult for me. But Bryan is fully aware of the goal. He knows that God has called him to be in relationship with Him, and so Bryan clings to His Savior to give him the strength to persevere.

The second blogger I want to share about is The NorEaster, who is an occasional contributor at Broken Believers but also has his own blog. He is another blogger who has endured spiritual challenges and storms in life, including the loss of a number of friends and family members. He provides spiritual encouragement and a place to be yourself at his blog. I don’t get a chance to read his blog as often as I’d like, but I am always blessed when I do. I always find that he has persevered and continues to push forward to the prize.

The third blogger I want to share is one who recently liked and commented on a post on my blog and subscribed to my blog. So I decided to check out her blog as well. What I discovered was a true story so heartbreaking – the kind of story most of us are only exposed to in horror movies or shows like Criminal Minds – that I could hardly continue reading. And yet, I had to continue so that I could do my part to make her story heard. Her name is Joan and her blog is called Angels of Secrets. I suggest you make sure you have a box of tissue before you start reading. What is so amazing about Joan is that she persevered through events most people could not, and then has the courage to share her story in blog form.

We persevere because God gives us the strength to do so. And we are blessed by the hope that perseverance leads to.

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:1-8 (NIV). 

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The World Needs Jesus

I am starting to get really excited about the Casting Crowns concert that I am going to this coming Friday night. I’ve been listening to some of their music, which I love! But as I listened to The Altar and the Door, which happens to have some of my favorite songs of theirs on it, I was reminded of one little word in the song “What This World Needs” that has always bugged me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great song, but there is just one little word that I would change if I could. So I decided it was time to write down why.

The second verse of the song starts:

What this world needs is for us to care more about the inside than the outside
Have we become so blind that we can’t see
God’s gotta change your heart before He changes your shirt

It’s that word “shirt” that bugs me, for three reasons.

First, it contradicts the first line of the verse. Your shirt is on the outside, and what we need to do is care about the inside, the heart of others.

Second, having faith in Jesus doesn’t do anything to change one’s clothing. To say that it does borders on a type of prosperity gospel, which the actual Gospels don’t support. There are a lot of people who trust in Jesus, who have what the world truly needs, but still have only the shirt on their backs.

Third, the perfect opportunity for a different word that both rhymes and is more Biblically accurate was missed. Whenever I hear this song, I wonder why it doesn’t say “God’s gotta change your heart before He changes your deeds.” The word “deeds” in place of “shirt” would both rhyme with “needs” in the title and elsewhere in the song, and would accurately reflect what happens when God’s love changes your heart. The “deeds” of the believer are changed by God. It might be that past bad deeds are changed to good deeds. Or it might be that one’s good deeds are changed from something done in an attempt to earn favor with God into something done out of gratitude for what Jesus has done to save us.

I do love the basic message of this song. In fairness to the band, I also want to share this explanation that I found by lead singer Mark Hall as to the basis for including the word “shirt” in this song:

“”What This World Needs” has a bit of a venting moment, a rant…more rock than anything we’ve done before… It’s about the fact that the gospel is not confusing people; we’re the ones who confuse people. Christians staple so much stuff to what Jesus says like ‘You can’t dress like that or use that version of the Bible.’ But we have to remember that God has to change people’s hearts before they can change their shirts. They need Jesus, and we need to get out of the way.” – Mark Hall (Casting Crowns)

This does make some sense, and I agree that what has to come first is for God to change the heart of a person. Then it will be God, through His Holy Spirit, who works in the heart of the believer to make us more like Christ. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT).

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