Thursday, December 6, 2018

But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. Philippians 2:22

Is this what your church looks like? Probably not, but bless those who come out in the snow to this simple place of worship. It never matters what the building is like, since we are the tabernacle, the dwelling place of the Lord. 

Every one of us could use a Timothy in our lives. Someone who understands where we have been and why we think the way we do. Paul is mighty blessed to have a young man who is dedicated to his care. Maybe Timothy knows this is his calling for God?

Timothy takes over the church in Ephesus while Paul is in prison,but I'm jumping ahead here. I think this young man is called and set apart to serve the Lord, and he isn't looking out just for himself either.

The young man sat with the Apostle Paul and learned much from the seasoned leader. I can see them now sitting together in Paul's house while under house arrest. "Now Timothy, make sure you tell all of my friends to visit me. I know I'm far away but I'll make it worth their time. I'll find a place for them to sleep somewhere!"

Timothy hurriedly writes every word so he remembers each command. The anointing of the Holy Spirit was probably flowing from Paul like river over a cliff. Oh, how I wish I could have been there to hear Paul's words and instructions.

When I get to heaven, I will ask Paul to tell me what was said. I might not remember this particular verse, because I'm sure I will have lots of questions for everyone. Who do you want to find first and what will you ask them?

Jesus is the first one I want to talk to, and rightfully so,  He is the King. Can you imagine having access to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe? Wait a second, I already do! Yes, but this is different. I will see Him face to face. 

I can't imagine I will be able to formulate words, so forget about questions. Do you think about what heaven will be like? The Bible is full of answers for us. Why not find some facts today in God's Word? 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:21 NIV

Do you remember being a child in someone's arms? I can't quite bring a memory up but I know I was, and you were too. What was life like at age 5? Most likely ego centric, and now oriented. I pray, as I am an adult I do not ever act this way.

Having a giving heart begins when we look outside ourselves to those around us, I guess about age 13 as I recall. I remember being in History class and the teacher was enthusiatic about her subject. I recall all of a sudden being aware of other places and people, and I wanted to know more.

It was an awakening for me of life outside the four walls of my home and school. I feel bad Paul says no one is caring for the cause of Christ.  He is inside the four walls, and  he may be feeling the world to be a small place at the moment.

Perhaps it refers to a specific situation we don't know about, or is it a general insight he has? 

As I read Paul's other letters I have to say He must be referring to a specific situation. Maybe he is tired of being in jail, and he feels no one is doing what needs to be done. His perspective may be tanited by the surroundings at the moment.

Perhaps he isn't updated on the progress of the work of the Lord, but we know it was happening. Anyone can have an off day. I'm sure he wasn't having any picnics chained to a palace guard. 

We are not going to take this verse out of context and develop some theory about the man. God knows enough of this sort of thing has happened over the ages. We will let him be. We can enjoy this man for what he was, a true disciple of Christ. How many millions has he influenced for Christ? Maybe I can ask him when we meet!

Monday, December 3, 2018

I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. Philippians 2:20 NIV

Can you believe the weather today? It is 58 degrees in New York on December 3. I have never experienced this. If you are south of us this may not seem like a big deal, but it is. I went outside with my pruning shears and trimmed my hydrangeas!

I was in the car about 10 minutes ago, and my daughter Stephanie called to tell me she lost our puppy in the woods. Our golden retreiver is having surgery on is hind leg today for a torn ligament. He will be in the hospital for two days. The dog scenerio is ridiculous, and the saga continues.

Those of you who are empty nesters can laugh because you remember being in this place. My Lena passed almost two weeks ago, and now I'm back at the Veterinary Hospital. Some years are like this. I praise God we can have such lovely animals.

The time we have with loved ones, animals or human, is only temporary. Chaos has no hold on me because I know it is temporary. I walk with God regardless.When I feel weak, I lean in to Him a lot more. This is how we learn His faithfulness. 

God has given us precious relationships to show us His love. Paul is thankful for Timothy because he cares for the church at Phillipi with the same intensity Paul does. Paul is blessed by the loyality of his friend. God uses people in our lives to the extent we allow him. 

Some of us have been hurt by others and are hesitant to allow help, and not everyone is trust-worthy. We will know others by their fruit. How consistent is another's concern for you? 

Yesterday our Pastor shared about giving and the first thing he said was he wasn't talking about money. Often we think of our monetary giving in a church setting, but God has given us many other gifts we need to share. Time, compassion, listening, are only a few of what we all need. If we are friendly to those around us, eventually friendship will be returned. Thanks for listening to me today.

Friday, November 30, 2018 I hope in the Lord Jesus Christ to send Timothy ...

I hope in the Lord Jesus Christ to send Timothy ...
: I hope in the Lord Jesus Christ to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. Philippians 2:19 NI...

I hope in the Lord Jesus Christ to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. Philippians 2:19 NIV

Thank God for the Timothy's in life. Paul relied on him to keep the communication open between Philippi and Rome. Remember, Paul didn't have the luxury of texting and phone calls. 

The rich had messengers who ran from one city to the next with information, but Paul wasn't in any means able to afford this, I think. It was 700 to 1,200 miles from Rome to Philippi, depending on the route chosen. A GPS wasn't any help in this venture either!

Wow! This was an amazing trip. One would have to travel to the boot of Italy, across the Adriatic Sea, and across Macedonia by foot I imagine. Maybe an occasional ride on the back of a stranger's cart. And we think travel is hard today?

Things didn't happen fast, and sickness could take a life in a matter of days. It could be weeks before news could travel about the welfare of a loved one far away. These things we take for granted in our modern day.

Patience was understood as a way of life because no one knew any different. Prayer and trust in the Lord was a huge part of a believer's life. There wasn't anyone else to trust in. No medical science to hope in. No doctor who could relieve pain. 

 Jesus was sought after because He had the ability to heal. Those who followed in the ways of God after His ascention were sought after too. Healing of body and mind are great needs in our day too.
No much has changed in this respect.

The answer is still the same. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NIV

Thursday, November 29, 2018

So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. Philippians 2:18 NIV

Psalm 19:1 says; "The heavens declare the glory of God;"and this picture reminds me of this. All of nature speaks to me of His hand and His ways. His hand on my life and yours. I can see God working in those around me. Attitudes have changed, and peace has replaced worry and fear.

Can you remember a time when you were worried about something and you asked for prayer from a friend or family member? What was it, and how did the situation end? Maybe you can't remember the details, but you remember how it made you feel.

God wants to remove even the emotions behind our seasons of fear. We will remember the situation, but we don't have to live with the pain any longer. Jesus came to remove all worry and fear so why hold on to it? Freedom is what he purchased for us!

Rejoicing and being glad is something we hear about more at Christmas time than any other season. Maybe it's hard this year because a loved one is gone, or sick. Give thanks for the good things. No one says you have to sing and dance when life gets tough.

God knows your pain and feels it too. I can't imagine a love like His. Even though He knew all about us, He still wanted to come to earth. His passion and desire to set us free over - powered the knowledge of the pain He would endure.

Paul connected with Jesus when he said he was willing to die for his faith. How many martyrs has endured suffering and pain for the sake of the cross? Why would anyone do such a thing? The truth is worth dying for. My Pastor says "If you are willing to live for Jesus, you will die for Him."

I believe he is right. We may never have to do this, but when our hearts are for Jesus, we give our all. Who else holds all things in the palm of His hand? I know not one.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. Philippians 2:17

A selfless life. Paul understood what his life was about. He was declaring the truth of Jesus Christ no matter what. It was part of who God made him. He was an all or nothing kind of guy.

We see this before his spiritual transformation. He was determined to find those who had left the faith of Juduism,  and put them in jail for treason. He would not relent from punishing christians. He was a Rabbi, who knew the law, and would not tolerate anything else in place of God.

This is why Jesus pursued Paul.  He had the tenisity and will power to do for God what others might not. Paul saw in Jesus Christ the fulfillment of every law and need of humankind. Of course he needed a great awakening first, by way of a horse and blindness, but he got the message.

I believe Paul felt he was serving God by condemning christians. His intentions were to honor God, but he was a bit misplaced. His devotion and love for the Savior were genuine, and complete once he saw Jesus. I guess I can be the same way at times; turned around and without focus on what God truly desires.

I don't do this on purpose. It happens when I'm not careful. God pulls me in to himself, and holds me close when I realize I may have moved from where I truly want to be. I  never want to waiver from being close but it can happen so quickly. Of course, He hasn't moved, it was me.

  Paul must have felt shame after he realized he had been attacking the very people God was trying to establish! What would that have been like for him, I don't know. Did he live with feelings of guilt for a while? Time heals all wounds, it is said. I do know he was forgiven and loved by God so it wasn't an issue. 

Here in verse 17, we see Paul is ready to die for his fellow saints in the Lord. They are his family not his enemy. Transformation done God's way is eternal. I  think Paul would be grateful to God for stopping him from self destructon, as all of us are when we realize where our own efforts would get us.

Thank God today for loving you even before you walked in His ways. What a truly awesome, loving, compassionate God He is!  

Monday, November 26, 2018

as you hold out the word of life - in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
Philippians 2:16

How are you on this first Monday after Thanksgiving? We had a hard week. Last Tuesday we had to say goodbye to a wonderful friend who has been in our house for 11 years, our West Highland Terrier, Lena.

 We found a lump on her back two weeks before. It was huge, and hard and I knew right away it wasn't good. The doctor agreed with me. He ran some tests and found it was cancer. The next day I had to get on a plane to Chicago fro my daughter's swearing in by the Chicago Supreme Court as an Attorney.

I was torn.  I wanted to stay home, but decided I needed to go to Chicago. Once I arrived I was fine, and my son Matthew watched after Lena at home. My greatest heartache was thinking she would die while I was away, but by God's grace, she didn't.

We had a wonderful time with Rachel in Chicago although it was 20 degrees. We didn't care much. Coming home to Lena was a blessing. She wasn't any better but she wasn't any worse either.

We had a week of no change, but last Monday she didn't seem right. By Tuesday she wasn't eating, and didn't want to move much. She had trouble breathing. I knew it was time. The day before I took her to the vet, and I felt the Lord say to me, "you will be back here tomorrow."

I wasn't suprised, but my heart ached, and I cried. My golden retreiver had an appointment at another vet in East Islip for surgery. I went there with Matthew my son, knowing what I must do when I got home. How I wished I could avoid saying goodbye to Lena!

I knew since I saw that lump it was a serious problem, but now actually having to face it troubled me. She was very sick by the time I got home, and when we arrived at the doctor, her blood pressure was low, and he said she was pale. 

I don't know why I'm writing this today. I didn't plan on it. Last week we also had a broken washer and a job loss in the family. Life can be just plain rotten at times, but the overall adventure is worth every mile, bacause as Paul writes, "I did not run or labor for nothing." All of our lives have meaning, and value with its ups and downs. God is good, and He intends for all of the hicupps to work out. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

"so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." Philippians 2:15 NIV

Complaining can really become a bad habit. If we continue in it, we can loose focus on the Lord, and His goodness to us in this generation. One of the reasons He hasn't returned to the earth, is because of His great compassion on the lost. He is steadfast and true.

As the Apostle Paul shares in this verse our purity is found when we stop the complaining. "Do everything without complaining or arguing. Philippians 2:14 I have never seen this before.  I think of purity as a thought but not a word. It has to begin somewhere. Thoughts become words if we allow them.

This is why we are encouraged to read, study, memorize, post and write the word of God. As we get the truth into us, whenever possible, what comes out in the form of thoughts and maybe words will be pure. Thinking is a lost art, I think.

It left us when texting and social media came in. It used to be if you spoke on the phone no one but the person you are speaking to would hear. Maybe some people in the room will hear, but that's it. It's not like this anymore. 

Almost everything can be retreived in some way. This should cause us to be more careful with our words, but I don't think research will back this up. Our young people might be suseptible to this, more than the older generation. 

Maybe God is more concerned about complaining than I realized. Why can it seem to be easy sometimes? For me, I need to catch it in the little things so it doesn't pile up. Worry, doubt and fear can be the spark behind my words. I guess you could probably say the same. 

This Thanksgiving season, let's catch ourselves before saying something that might lead to an argument. Even the smallest doubt about another can come out. Pray before your guests come if you are cooking to ask God to help you watch  your words. Pray before you go to someone else's house. Pure thought become pure words.

"Do all things without complaining and disputing." Philippians 2:14 NKJV

If I could look out onto this ocean scene everyday, I wouldn't complain ever! It may seem like this but we can get pretty familiar with even the most picturesque scenes. In our house, complaining started with our oldest son. 

He had a reason why he couldn't do eveything. He would debate,  lecture, and try to make a deal. Nothing happened easily with him. My husband would say: "someday he will be a great lawyer,"and he was right. He is well liked in the District Attorney's office, and may join my husband in his Law Firm at some point.

He is better about the complaining, and he can get along with everyone. The banter across the dinner table can be pretty fierce with three lawyers at one table. I ask a lot of questions since I don't know legaleze.

Our daughter Rachel was sworn in  as a lawyer in the Illinois Courts last Thursday. Our son Matthew is taking the law school admissions test tomorrow. They will have Stephie and I outnumbered for sure. You should have been here when they we growning up!

Wow! Some wild arguments went on before maturity took hold. At least they are able to put their previous home training to good use. As all professions it takes many years before a sense of achievement is found. Now they have to put up with complaining from clients or defendants.

The Bible has many verses to help us understand why complaining is not a healthy thing. Anger can cause us to complain. Psalm 39:3
"My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then I spoke with my tongue."The words we wish we hadn't said come out when we start to complain.

Our stress levels are influenced by our complaints. I was mad, I mean, mad at our puppy yesterday. She is with us for two months and we are still house training? I reached my level of tolerance. What can I say? She is better today. I'm thankful for all God has done in my life. I'm not saying this because Thanksgiving is 3 days away. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

"For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for
His good pleasure." Philippians 2:13

The doing of God's work is one thing,but the will to do it is another thing entirely. If you don't have the will to do, it doesn't matter. God is after our hearts and the whys of what we do. 

We can do lots of things for Him, but this is not His concern. Motives and attitudes are important. Anyone who has lived with a teen knows what this is like. 

Stephanie: I hate school and I hate work!
Me: Sounds like you are depressed.
Stephanie: No Mom, I like my friends.
Me" Oh, so you just don't like anything you have to do. Why don't you think about only seven more months and you will be finished with High School for ever! College will be so different, really!
Think about all the great things in your life!
Stephanie: No Mom, you don't get it.

What is it that I don't get? I'm showing her all the wonderful things she has in front of her. {If someone else said the same thing she might agree! Funny.} Her will to focus on those things was not engaged. Praising God for what He has given and done for us lifts us out of bad attitudes and into a whole realm of hope, life, and peace.

There is nothing in life more wonderful to focus on than what God has for us now and in the future. Stephanie will figure this out, as she matures. Aligning our will with God builds a strong bond of faith and catapults us into divine blessing!

I am all in for this! I'm thinking you want some of this too. Who doesn't want all good things for life and eternity?The work is worth it. Press in for more life and hope!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling:  Philippians 2:12 NKJV

Why is Paul telling the Philippians to fear and tremble? Isn't this the opposite of what he has told them in the past? No, not really at all. When we think about our lives and what we do with these lives it can be a very serious.

 All will be known before God and the world at the end of time. This is a sobering truth. Our works don't save us, but they do determine where we will be in the Kingdom. None of this makes any sense right now, but it will for eternity.

The younger you are, the less you might think about eternity. We may think we have plenty of time before we die, but no one knows how much time God has allowed them. Instead of having a bucket list of things to do before you die, what if we had a basket of gifts to give to others?

What do you want to do to bless others? Maybe you have always seen yourself as a teacher's aide in a school setting. My friend Steve Falletta worked in business and traveled for many years. In his retirement, he works at a local Elementary School brightening everyone's day.

Maybe this wasn't something he dreamed of doing, but he loves it. Maybe you have wanted to have a Bible Study in your house or a prayer meeting? There are things we can do from our house to bless others, maybe even write a blog?

We can pray for all things from home, and we can send messages of love and comfort to those who might need some encouragement. I remember Ellie Lofaro sharing about going door to door in her new neighborhood asking the ladies to come to a Bible Study in her home. She gathered a small number, but it grew to hundreds over the years, coming and going.

What you are able to do is unique to who you are. Serving God in church or outside those walls is necessary so our lights don't shine just on other lights. We can make a difference as we allow Jesus to flow out of our mouths, hands and feet!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:11 NKJV

God is the one who gets the glory for every good, perfect, beautiful and noble thing on this earth. Any tongue professing anything else will be found guilty of unbelief at the end. What exactly do we believe as christians?

Jesus Christ came in the flesh, as the Son of God, to die in our place. He gave His body willingly to save us from sin. All those who believe in Him will live eternally not in this body, but in a heavenly body. Life on earth will cease for everyone at some time, but not all will escape the judgement of sin.

Our debt before God has been paid, we are no longer far from God, as sin is what separates us. Do we sin, yes at times but we are no longer walking in sin habitually. We have been set free, so it is our choice now to choose to live in grace, or in the flesh. Oh how I wish it was as simple as writing this on the page!

We have a battle on the inside at times. We want to do what's right but our flesh, the natural woman inside wants to do things her way.
My Pastor says, "What we feed will lead." Feed your spirit, and it will follow after God. Feed the flesh it will take you down the wrong path.

I don't know about you, but I have had enough of the wrong path. Who wants to take years off of their life? God's way will add years to it, and His years will be productive and satisfying. Lay down heavy burdens and allow God to carry them.

Life isn't perfect, but Jesus in our lives makes life amazing. We can see glimpses of what is to come, and this causes in us a longing for more. Wholeness now, in our sinful flesh has been obtained. It's a free gift, and the freedom we get with it, sends our spirits sailing!

Friday, November 9, 2018

"that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth and of those under the earth," Philippians 2:10 NKJV

It is lovely seeing this  picture of a child outside, as I sit indoors on this snowy day in Chicago. We are here visiting our daughter Rachel, who was sworn in as an Attorney yesterday in the state of Illinois. How quickly she has become a force to be reckoned with, although she had this ability from her childhood. 

This is not to say she was strong willed, because she wasn't  always, but she knew what she wanted, and had strong opinions about life. Kindness to others has been an important issue for her. Her love for children in the foster care system has influenced her deeply. Although her current job isn't in her desired field, she will make a difference.

I am surrounded by attorneys, but I have authority because I am the Mama., and a respected wife. The authority of Jesus supersedes All. As we have been talking about in this chapter, there is no one like Jesus. I used to have a sticker on the garage wall in the house where I grew up.

It read: "Every knee shall bow." My Dad didn't like it, because he didn't want to bow. He didn't take it off the wall, so I prayed he would see it and understand. I don't know if he ever did, but 40 years later I'm glad it was there. This is a verse that's not easy to ignore or forget.

The enemy doesn't like it most of all, because he knows it applies to him too. No matter what he does, he will not escape, so this makes him angry with us. We are the light of God, and His servants on this earth. 

We stand for the Kingdom of God, and pray for His Kingdom to come on this earth which puts him out of business. He will try to wrangle his way into our hearts and lives any way he can. He plays dirty, but he isn't in control, unless we believe him.

Don't give him an inch, because he is the father of lies. Don't allow him to have your identity because this is a precious gift. You are a daughter of the Most High King. If you were a Princess, would you allow others to push you around? You are a Princess in a greater Kingdom. Would you be polite if Queen Elizabeth came to your house for tea?

Yes, I think you would, and you would serve her your finest and best of everything. What about your sisters in Christ? We should serve them just the same. Maybe you will find a simple way to do something special for a friend or stranger today? Princesses like us don't have the bank accounts like Princesses in this world. Don't despair, I hear the benefits of serving Jesus run deeper than any bank account!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, Philippians 2:9 NKJV

When we praise God in prayer or song, we are saying back to God what He has said to us about Himself. The exchange of truth and affirmation is hell shattering. The power of God is released when we  align our will in praise to the Holy One.

Our relationship with God is strengthened, our spirits are lifted and our hearts are complete. There is nothing else ever that will bring our hearts to peace and wholeness. When we say to God, There is no one like you, and there will never be another like you, we declare His majesty!

We were made by God for relationship. First with Him, but also with others. No one can excel or be complete without communion with the Father. When I say, Father, it is assumed the Son and Holy Spirit are included, as they are one. One is never separate from the other. I do not understand the trinity fully, as most of us can say, but I am taking a shot at it.

As humans, we can't be separate from our bodies, souls and spirits. It is the same with God. The entire entity of who He is, is incorporated in the Godhead. We need to know how each one operates to meet our needs. How confusing it would be if we didn't know Jesus as He is, the Savior of the world. This knowledge sends a message to our brain. It says: All is well, I have already paid the price for you.

The Holy Spirit is our comforter, and was sent to meet our needs. He speaks to our emotions in a quiet whisper. All is well.  The Father as Creator speaks loudly to us through His creation. All is well, see how my perfect order rules the world! Our bodies are fantastic and complex and not understood completely.

When the Millennial Kingdom  comes, it will dispel all doubts, answer all questions, and cause us to wonder even more at the vastness and awesome power of our God. We will rule with Him which boggles this simple Mama's mind. We won't be bored in this new completed place.

Jesus will be with us! We can ask Him any question we like, and He will explain it to us. We will be capable of understanding science and math in ways we connect connect to now. We will meet people we have admired, and ask them what their life was like. 

We will play with the lions, run with the cheetahs, splash in the waterfalls,  and jump off cliffs. { only if you want to.} Our bodies won't break, we won't be limited by time and space, so ponder this for a moment. What do you look forward to enjoying?

As you might has guessed, I have been reading about the millennium. "All Things New- Heaven, Earth, And the Restoration of Everything You Love" by John Eldredge gives us understanding of what God has for us. It will give you a fresh perspective on the future. Hope is what may be missing in many lives because there is no room to dream. God wants us to dream Big! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

November 7, 2018

" And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8

 Thinking about my childhood has been engaging more of my time lately. I remember my mother telling us the same stories from her childhood when we were young and until she passed. She never grew tired of telling us, and we tried to stay interested.

These were important times in her life, and she wanted to make sure we understood this. I truly understand it fully now. Her memories from the past may have been her best memories. As a christian, I have much anticipation of the future.  This is not to say I didn't have fond memories of my childhood.

We had some wonderful times being young, but my brother, sister and I had heartache from the time we were very young until now.  Many of those heartaches have been melted by the power of Jesus in me. My sister has experienced some healing too. 

No matter how old I am, I know the healing will continue. Without the power and grace of God in my life, I would have been a very different person. Shame and guilt would have engulfed me, but this is not my story. Did you know when God originally made the Garden of Eden, guilt and shame were not present?

These two horrible lies from the enemy are from the result of sin entering the world. Adam and Eve did not know any such feelings until sin entered the picture. These are some things the Holy Spirit has worked out of me over time. In my growing up years, these were put on me in a strong way.

God NEVER INTENDED for us to experience shame or guilt. These are from our enemy, never from God. Using such cruel tactics to control or coerce others is never O.K. In some religious settings, I have been told, guilt was used to push people to do what the authorities said.

Jesus took our guilt, shame and heartaches on Himself when He went to the cross. He was the sacrificial lamb that was slain for the sins of all. Nothing more will ever have to happen for us to be right before God. This truth drives us closer to Jesus, and to righteousness. God's love is what held Him there.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

But made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7 NKJV

My first question after reading this verse is: what exactly is a bond servant? In Israel, a servant who was a fellow Jew was to be paid for their work. The master had to show kindness to a them as a brother or sister. Jesus, took on the role of a bondservant, which means He served without wages.

 Another word for bondservant is slave. The Master and Creator of the whole earth, sky and sea became the lowliest of servants to save us from sin. He, who was over all things became nothing to fill all things. "He who also descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things." Ephesians 4:10

This verse refers to Jesus descending into hell and then ascending to  heaven to fill all things. For our purposes today I think we can use it. What does this mean? Jesus, out of His own will, came to suffer and die. He knew all things, and He chose the hard road.

There was only one choice to redeem us. No backup or plan B. Going forward was all He knew.What an awesome Savior! What a triumphant Lord. His stellar example speaks volumes.

Only Jesus can give us the authority to overcome sin and death. Only Jesus can stand victorious over the enemy. Only Jesus could take our place on the cross. Only Jesus can love us the way we need to be loved. He doesn't remove our personalities, He completes them.

Annihilation of  personality is a buddhist belief.  God never said we had to die to our personalities. He said to die to self. Our personalities are a gift from God.

 Our fullness of strength in God, is  realized when we yield under His mighty gentle hand.

We all know people who are outgoing and personable. God uses them to speak His word boldly. Some of us are a good witness for God but we are the opposite. We tend to display God's glory through our quiet, gentle ways. All of these personality types declare His truth, and get His message across. Aren't you glad God has a personality? I am, and He has a great sense of humor too.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, Philippians 2:6

Christ didn't take advantage of His deity while on earth. He humbled himself and became like us. He could have left earth at any time while here, but He chose not to.

And the verse before this says: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:5 How can we ever attain to be like Christ? It is impossible! Do worry if you thought God was asking you to do this in your own strength.

Christ wanted to be like man in order to redeem us. Before God created the world he knew we would need to be redeemed. To empty himself of all deity to become one of us, this is powerful. It was the only way.

While Jesus was maturing He probably wasn't able to move in the power of the Holy Spirit, but once His ministry began, there was no stopping Him. The world isn't big enough to hold an account of all the miracles. The Holy Spirit was at work before Jesus came, and is at work today.

God wants to send a revival beyond our wildest imaginations. It will be the last outpouring of His grace and mercy in a huge way. Many have been praying for this and we believe it is coming soon.What will it look like when it comes? 

Many will be healed and brought to the faith. People will want righteousness in the land. Marriages will be saved. Lawlessness and hatred will diminish. It will be the reverse of what we are seeing now. Hatred will almost be eliminated among people.

The enemy of our souls will be angry. He will try to deceive, and some will go back to their previous lives of believing the devil. 
Christ will return to start His millennial reign on earth, and we will reign with Him. 

This will be a time many have wanted to live in. Peace will last, joy will be unwavering, and complete. In the presence of Jesus, we will enjoy restoration of the earth. The garden of Eden will return, without any weeds, pests or work for us. We will understand the hows and whys of everything.

Friday, November 2, 2018

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:" Philippians 2:4 NIV

What a cute group of children! I stumbled upon this picture and thought you might enjoy it. This was taken in 2003, at the Christmas tree Farm in Miller Place, New York. You can see the trees in the distance.  From the left: Rachel, 12, Rudy,14, Matthew, 9 and Stephanie was 2.

Thank God He doesn't tell us everything about every child all at once. I don't know about you, but I need to face life one day at a time. Think about Jesus. He knows all about us but loves us anyway! From before we are born to the end of life here on earth, He sees us as one continuous life.

At the end of the age we will review all our life before God. This is a sobering truth, but I hope it will keep me at His feet. It's when we wander into dangerous territory we get into trouble. My biggest trouble is my emotions. I can get angry, passive, discouraged much too easily.

Maybe this is a woman's thing, but I won't use this as an excuse. "His divine power has given us everything for life and godliness." 2 Peter 1:3 Do you know the women who followed Jesus? Some of them were Mary the mother of James, Salome, and Mary Magdalene. There are some unusual things about these ladies.

Each of them had money to provide for the needs of Jesus and his disciples. Women in those days didn't have control of money, but God made a special provision for these few. They lovingly went from city to town in front of Jesus to find lodging and food.

God provided for their needs and the needs of others. Maybe I should write this again. God provided for their needs so they could provide for the needs of others as well.  God's economy works by multiplication. He took what was provided and made it work.

 God can make something out of nothing. It all depends on what lesson He wants to teach us at the moment. When our attitude is in step with God's, we can be sure miracles will happen. What are you trusting God to do for you today?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:4 NIV

This is not a typical day. The dog had to x-rays because he's limping, the vacuum is clogged, and the puppy isn't house trained yet. The puppy part isn't new, but it adds to my amazement.

The pup is with us for seven weeks. I'm glad I didn't know when we got her, we would be training at week seven. The vacuum took me an hour to unclog, but it still doesn't work. Three dogs and no vacuum: let's say it's not pretty. Why doesn't anyone rent vacuums? 

I know the answer. No one wants to repair  or clean vacuums when returned. I suppose I could borrow one. "Hello, I'm your neighbor from down the street. I've been here for 12 years, and my vacuum doesn't work. Could I borrow yours maybe?" Ha! I don't think so.
 My neighbors have central vac.

 We take vacuums for granted until something goes wrong. Then we say they are the dumbest appliances ever. Never mind the two years of abuse we put them through.  None of the abuse matters. "I just want to know why you won't work anymore?"

I'm notorious for not cleaning out filters, or servicing products and wondering why they won't do what I want. The nerve of these things! Ha! I suppose I can treat my people the same way at times.

Constantly asking without giving back. I don't really act this way, do I? My daughter Stephanie thinks I do. She has made amazing progress in the past year after being diagnosed with ADHD. Stephie needed help  concentrating and thinking clearly. She told me last year she thought all my husband and I never spoke to her about was school.

All she heard was, "Stephie, how come you're missing this assignment? Why is your grade in homework down? What is happening in this class? Try harder, work harder. You're not trying! We said positive things too, but not enough. She heard a barrage of complaints.

This stopped me in my tracks. Was I really focusing on school and not my child? Yes, I was guilty, and so was my husband. We didn't know she was having trouble pushing aside the roar of many voices coming at her. We certainly didn't want her thinking she wasn't important to us.

Our Apostle understands how this can happen. Life can cause us to focus on the negative too much, and not the positive. I wish I could see my life from God's perspective, much like a camera over my house. High up enough so my perspective would change by all the other things of greater importance. 

Jesus knows people are what matter. Let's not run at neck-break pace long enough to see life as He sees it. It will change everything for us. Look to the Word of God and change will come.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Philippians 2:3 NIV

Divide and Dissolve. This is what it says on this young lady's shirt. Is this what the left wants to do to the right? I think so. What about tolerance? No, they don't want to tolerate us anymore. This is not a political stance necessarily, but a way of thinking about the future.

Those who oppose us are wrong, so we must get rid of their ideology. We have been patient with those who hold different beliefs than we do. In the "old days" we debated different views without anger or violence. We didn't "hate" another because of their stance on anything.

The hatred of others in our nation today is unbelievable. We  rarely had violence because of religious beliefs as we have seen in the past week. People in America didn't go into synagogues and gun down the innocent! 

Yes, we have had church shootings in the past and all people who do such heinous crimes are not well, but the jews have had a vast history of violence. Certainly in America they would be safe?

Our beloved Apostle had a special word for us in our day. The Philippians benefitted from it too. He said, Don't think about yourselves, think about others over yourself. This is novel thinking in our day, but it's been around for thousands of years.

When we put others first, we think about the good of our nation as a whole. We don't limit our love to those in our families, but show love to every person regardless of anything they might believe. What did Jesus do? When He was on earth, He reached out to everyone He met.

The disciples didn't understand how He could talk to the Samaritan woman. How could He touch the leper, or call the children to sit on His lap? These people were considered untouchables to the jews, but not to Jesus. Did any of them wonder about why He was so different?

The Apostle John thought about it, and Jesus knew his heart. This is why He was allowed to put his head on Jesus'  chest and hear His heart beat. He understood what made Jesus who He was. Jesus had a human body, but His heart beat was from heaven.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

"then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose."Philippians 2:2 NIV

The Apostle is strongly encouraging the Philippians church to follow in Jesus' example to be one with Him as He was one with His Father. This is the only way to be like Christ. It goes further than this though. Paul wants the church to be one with Christ.

Paul isn't speaking to one person but this church as a whole.  The love of God  is the only force on this earth worth dying to self. There is no love worth giving up on self for, but the wholehearted  love our God offers to us.

It would be impossible to have a group of people, no matter how committed or lovely, to be of one mind without the love and power of the Holy Spirit. It couldn't happen. It isn't something one can try really hard to obtain, or study for weeks to accomplish. 

Like all  the lovely gifts God gives, it is free, and cannot be prodded, or poked into our lives. This reminds me of our puppy who dislikes being on a leash. I don't blame her, she runs in the backyard most of the time. When I come with that leash, she sits.

The love of God isn't bought or given from one generation to the next. It is as individual as every person. It is intimate, private, and lavish all at once. It never wains, or falters. God doesn't yell down at times, and say,"Sorry, I don't have it today!" No, it is constant, and beyond our ability to understand.

Everything we know has an end, but not God or His love. Is it possible for us to comprehend it? No. Should we wonder about it, and marvel in it? Yes. Doing so reminds us where we are from, and where we are going. This world is not our final destination. It is temporal and ends for all of us.

This is a good thing. What has been promised in heaven is greater. We cannot comprehend a world without dying, sin and disappointment. Heaven doesn't avail itself to the just, righteous and selfish of this world. It opens wide for those who trust, yield and commit to Jesus.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being of one accord, of one mind. Philippians 2:1

I'm not sure if this is a sunrise, or sunset, but I'm sure it's a time of reflection. Nature has a way of putting our day in perspective. It's one day, whether good or bad, there will be many more to deal with.

If it's the best day yet, what could I do to make it even better tomorrow, or if it's the worst day how can I change things so tomorrow won't be the same. I am usually better at thinking things through after the fact. Some people are great in "the moment" of a situation. They know what to say and do without much prompting.

Being able to quickly judge a moment and know what to do is key. The Holy Spirit can move through me to do this, but on my own I am flatfooted. The Holy Spirit knows the before and after part of everything that occurs so being in tune with Him matters.

We are shortsighted, being able to know only details of the natural  circumstances.  The Apostle Paul knows the important of the saints being in one accord. One mind, set on the Kingdom of God.

How did this purity get convoluted over the centuries? Man has put his ideas into what God has said. Over time those who have been brought up in the ways of man don't know any different. This is one reason why we have the Bible.

God's word will bring us back to what God has said, and what is important to Him. "His divine power has given us everything for life and Godliness." 2 Peter 1:3 How are we ever going to have unity among the body of Christ in America?

God has a plan, and we are being squeezed and scrunched and blended into what is necessary for Him to use us. All of what our lives are right now is what God uses to make us like Him. He doesn't waste any of our experiences.

We yield to Him, and He pulls all our messes into ministry. How we learn from God helps the next one we touch. We share His incredible love with others, letting it splash out from our souls. The more it splashes on to another, the more He will fill us, but we need to sit at the fountain, and be filled anew! 

Friday, October 26, 2018

"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for  him," Philippians 1:29 NIV

I suppose the church in Philippi understands about suffering for Christ. Next week we will see Paul relates his experiences to theirs.
Life was hard thousands of years ago, but to suffer for your faith on top on it is something most of us don't know.

Unless you have been overseas in a country where preaching the Gospel is illegal, I would say we don't know anything about it.  Recently we saw an American Pastor released from a Turkish prison after 21 months. I believe he said all of the other prisoners were muslim. When asked how successful he was in converting them, He said, "They tried hard to convert me." It was one against seventeen.

Thank God for Pastor Andrew Brunson and his prayers for President Trump. This man went from a foreign jail to the office of the President of the United States within days. Reminds me of Joseph in Genesis.

This week I read a testimony from a mother whose daughter is still in captivity with Boko Haram.The girl is 15, and wasn't released with the other girls because she would not renounce her faith in Jesus. I can't imagine this family's pain, as their daughter faces execution.

These are hard truths of life around the world. What can we do to make sure our nation doesn't treat Christians in a similar fashion? Pray for revival, and ask God to have mercy on a nation who destroys babies before birth. Ask God to have mercy on our nation as the upcoming elections are almost upon us.

Ask God to put angels around every candidate who will vote for life. Ask God to open the blind eyes of every person who sees the Gosnell movie and doesn't understand about  the sanctity life. 

Pray for the persecuted church. I'm sure Pastor Brunson had many people praying for  his safety. The ministry of "Voice of the Martyrs" will give you lots of prayer material. Maybe your church has missionaries who need prayer?

God has lots for all of us to do in this day, but a new day is coming. God will return for us and no one else will be saved after this. Now is the church's hour to act like His church. Precious time is going by. Be blessed and do what He tells you to do!! 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

"without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved-and that by God." Philippians 1:28 NIV

Persecution is what Paul is talking to the Philippians about. They may not be behind bars for their faith but disbelief is everywhere. Christianity is only about sixty years old at this point. No mass media to get the message out.

People are hearing the gospel for the first time every day from missionaries who came to them on foot. The Holy Spirit is moving in a wonderful way, but some will not understand or hear their message. Blinded by this world and its ways, many need to know Jesus alone can save.

Saved from what you might wonder? Death, sin, torments, bodily ailments, lies from the enemy, discouragement, fear, bondages, and such things. And what does a child of God gain? Hope, love, peace,
salvation, life for ever, healing of body soul and mind, joy, laughter, victory, patience, kindness, goodness, self- control, knowledge that He is the everlasting God. The ability to be clean on the inside by being released from guilt and shame.

I could go on, and I think you probably have thought of some I forgot, but it's OK. It's hard to put the God of the entire Universe into a few sentences. We try to do this, but it never works. He is not able to fit in to our boxes. 

How do you put into words the Majestic One, who is the Creator and Ruler over All things? We have to in order to convey the message of the Gospel, but mere words fall short. Maybe we should show people Niagara Falls, The Grand Canyon, and the Atlantic Ocean. We tell them these are great, but none of it compares to the one who created them.

The reality is none of these things will impress if we don't pray. Blinders are removed from eyes when the power of the Holy Spirit is present to reveal Himself. People are shaken out of their spiritual slumber when the Holy Spirit is close and prayer has broken chains that bind.

Let God show you who to pray for. You might be surprised. The woman behind the register at stop and shop?  The attendant who helped you at The Home Depot? God knows the hearts of people everywhere, and He cares for them. You can be Jesus' hands and feet today or tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel" Philippians 1:27

This is my youngest child Stephanie 5 years ago, when she was 12. She is about to be 17. I can't imagine where the time has gone. The years fly into the next, and before you know it, everyone is older. This is the way life is. 

The truth is we don't know how much time we have here. Paul says, "whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel." If we get lax or too comfortable we will think this planet is our home, but it isn't.

Contending for the faith as one man is not what we see in America. Why don't we see it? It seems everyone has another agenda. I'm black or white, or democrat or whatever!

None of these things has any value compared to what Jesus offers. Priscilla Shrier said recently she is a christian, who happens to be black woman. I think she has the order the way Jesus would want us to.

Jesus needs to be first in our lives, because He alone knows what is coming down the road in your life. He is the Almighty God and He deserves to be front and center in everything we do.

If this isn't enough, we know His soon return will be for those who follow him, not as a hobby, or a once a week meet in church. No, He is serious about you and I being ready when He comes.

We are His bride, and we need to make ourselves ready. All of us together are the bride or His body. How do we make ourselves ready? We come together as one man and one mind. We can't be double minded.

We need to seek after God with all we have within us. Time may not be on our side. Jesus waits because you and I have unsaved family and friends we are praying for, but His time frame is something He alone knows.Give Him all of your doubts, fears and cares. He is able to handle every bit of it!

Monday, October 22, 2018

" so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ will overflow on account of me." Philippians 1:26 NIV

We need each other. Loners are not usually joyful, fulfilled people. Our friend the Apostle knows his presence will bless his dear friends in Philippi. Joy overflowing is what he wants for them.

God  wants this for us too. When was the last time you had joy like this for no special reason? I am glad to have joy like this today. I woke up feeling different, as if a burden was lifted. Were you praying for me?

This is what we can expect when we pray: ANSWERS! God has answered the many prayers for my sister and her family. Their home was destroyed with Hurricane Florence, and they are half way through. Volunteers came from churches as far away as Ohio, and Virginia. They started out thinking it would be the two of them removing the ruined walls and floors. God sent people.

Allison is a fifth grade teacher, but the school building was in disrepair for 5 weeks, so today is the first day of school since Florence struck. One of the class Mothers was given money from a church to buy the family a new washer, dishwasher, and range.

God has supplied for them in ways we could never have expected. Who knows what He will do now! They may need a contractor since none are available in her area. Many homes were damaged, but we can pray for God to be there with those who have the overwhelming task of picking up the broken pieces.

Prayer has made the difference in my sister's life. How about you? Do you write down answers to prayer to reflect on at a later date? 

John 21:25 says"Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." ESV

God is working all the time. Sometimes He is quiet about his workings, and they aren't obvious to the eye. Think of the trees in winter when everything seems to be silent. The roots of every outdoor thing are stretching and moving deeper into the earth.

God challenges us to move our roots deeper into the soil of His word. He compels us to pray more, or help someone with all we have. He calls us to be selfless, allowing faith to hold more ground. Can you believe God to care for you while you care for others?

Friday, October 19, 2018

"But it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body, Convinced of this, I  know that I will remain and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith." Philippians 1:24-25 NIV

I'm glad Paul knows why he is to stay. He has work to do, and people to encourage and bless. He has churches to visit, and another missionary journey to take. The preaching of the Gospel is in its beginning stages.

It would have been selfish of him to say to God, I would like to come home now. Would God have done this if Paul asked? I don't think so. Perhaps Paul is sad at this point not knowing when he will be released. He may miss his friends, and want some decent food.

He couldn't text his favorite restaurant and have them deliver. I imagine he didn't get steak in prison either. Life wasn't good at the moment, but it would get better. He seems to say in this verse he will be with them again.

Was this a wish or had God dropped this truth into his heart? No matter what the important thing is he is released, and lives to do many more wonders through the Spirit of God. Many you have wondered what God has ahead for you?

I have found life with Jesus continues to get better as time moves on. I don't know much, and I know less than I used to. I used to think I knew everything, but I have overcome these thoughts. No, I don't have all the answers.

I don't want to know all the answers either. I want to learn and grow in understanding, but I have found it is best to stay close by the Lord's side, a listen to what He wants to tell me.

He has a lot to say to us. Maybe He will speak to you about prayer, or a relationship that needs fixing. Maybe, all He wants to tell you is how much He loves you! He will say this over and over because it's true!