Category Archives: Philippians

Speak up!

Philippians 1:14

Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. NIV

At first glance, this reminder seems counter-intuitive.  Because the writer of Philippians, Paul, is in chains, other believers have been emboldened.

Paul addresses this in the verses that precede this reminder.  In The Message, this section of the chapter is entitled, “They Can’t Imprison the Message,” and verses 12-14 read:

I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect.  Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered.  All the soldiers here, and everyone else too, found out that I’m in jail because of the Messiah.  That piqued their curiousity, and now they’ve learned all about him.  Not only that, but most of the Christians here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever.  Sepaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah. The Message

Paul was placed in jail for his faith.  Instead of abandoning his beliefs to win his freedom, he becomes all the more bold about delivering his message … the message cannot be imprisoned.

Our faith, our assurance in Jesus Christ, shouldn’t be quietly contained within us.  It should burst out … it should overflow from us … it should be wholly evident to everyone we come in contact with.

The message cannot be imprisoned.

It can’t be bound by chains, or by circumstances.  I can choose not to pass it on, because God gave me the free will to make that choice, but, if I don’t do as I am called to do, I won’t stop the progression of the Message.  I will merely be an unproductive vine.

Because of Paul’s example, because of the example of countless others that have come before me, I am encouraged … I can and should speak courageously and fearlessly about the Messiah.

It would seem as though this season of Advent would provide a ready-made opportunity for sharing Christ with our world.

I’ll have to think about that today.


Filed under Fear, New Testament, Philippians


Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! NIV

This is a splendid reminder not to worry.

The Message translates this verse, “Celebrate God all day, every day, I mean, revel in him!” MSG

If we are busy celebrating and rejoicing, there’s no time for worry.

Sometimes, our circumstances here don’t merit rejoicing … but God always does.  He is always worthy, always caring, always all knowing.  He is God and He is worthy to be praised.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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When Christ displaces worry at the center of your life …

Philippians 4:7

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

So, for the last several days, I’ve been working my way steadily through the occurrences of the word, “worry,” in The Message translation of the Bible.  I’ve been using to accomplish this.  There are several steps I have to take to get to the list and to find the place that I was the day before.  Using a paper concordance is so much easier, because I’ve been able to check off the references there as I go.  Perhaps, now that I think about it, I should have just printed the list from and used it as a reference, but, that isn’t what I did.

So, after I’ve expanded all 56 listings of the word “worry,” and after I’ve worked my way to near the bottom of page two of the computer listing, I’m ready to start.

But, this morning, this verse in Philippians was the last one on page two … that wasn’t the case yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that.  The verses that I’ve been looking at in Thessalonians were on the bottom of page two.  Today, this verse in Philippians, which I had skipped over several days ago, was.

When I read the verse in The Message, I didn’t initially recognize it, but I could see its truth and its beauty,  “Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” MSG

When I flipped to Philippians 4:7 in my Project Bible, this verse was already underlined, and I recognized it in the language of the NIV as one that my mom quotes often.  Because it had been underlined in my Project Bible, that meant I had already found it and had catalogued this reminder.  But, I didn’t remember doing that.

“It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life,” is an incredible revelation … I knew I had not spent any time thinking on that before.

So, I searched the project.  When I found the reminder in my blog, I realized that back in February (on the second day of my project) I had focused only on verse 6, even though I had also listed verse 7.  Verses 6 and 7 are two separate reminders … so, this morning, I’ve rectified that.  I removed verse 7 from the earlier post and put it here, on its own, as the glorious reminder that it is.

It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life!

I want to embroider this on pillows … I want a t-shirt!

Many years ago, I took a training class where I heard an amazing speaker, Pat Heim, share her theory on how adults learn.  She said that there were four phases: Awareness, Awkwardness, Skill and Habit.  She explained these phases by comparing them to the activity of learning to drive.

My father taught both me and my sister to drive in cars with manual transmissions.  Over our lifetimes, we have both been thankful for this skill.  Even though we seldom need to use it, there are times that it comes in very, very handy.

In any case, when he was first teaching me, I became Aware that there were three pedals, each with a unique function, and of all the various gears and positions of the gear shift.  In the next phase, Awkwardness, I was able to manipulate my hands and my feet, albeit clumsily,  to move the car forward.  But, I still killed it frequently … especially when we practiced stopping at stop signs.

The next phase is Skill.  In this phase, I could begin to operate the car more reliably.  It still required concentration, but, things were becoming more natural for me and I could start to think a bit about where I was going, not just about all the pedals.  It was at this phase that my mother allowed my little sister to join me and my dad one day.  When we got home, my mother asked her, “How did she do?”  My sister enthusiastically responded, “Really well!  We only went like this,” and here she jerkily moved her upper body back and forth for emphasis, “a couple of times!”

The final phase is Habit, where I am now … especially in my automatic transmission car.  I get in, I start it, and the next thing I know I’m at my destination.  I’ve given no thought to accelerating or braking or turning the wheel … it all comes naturally to me.

Prior to beginning this project, worry ruled my life.  It was a habit.  I didn’t have to think at all about doing it … it was always there.

Over these last several months, I have consciously worked to move that boulder of worry out of the center of my world.  First, I had to become aware of its existence … it was such a shock to find it there!  I can honestly tell you that I had no idea how large a role it played until I became aware of it.  In the awkwardness phase, I would roll it a bit out of the center, and try to focus on my relationship to God, but, that saying “old habits die hard,” is not for nothing.  I found that repeatedly, that boulder would just roll comfortably back into the substantial divot it had made in my heart.

I’m now moving through the Skill phase.  If I really focus on Christ at the center of my life, I don’t worry.  And, as I find pieces of the boulder, I am smashing them with scripture on a daily basis.

This verse describes the Habit phase … “It is wonderful when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life!  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.”

I’m so thankful for this reminder.  I’m so blessed that God put it front and center for me this morning.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


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Rejoice in the tasks that are completed instead of worrying over those that aren’t

Philippians 2:25-28

But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.  For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.  Indeed he was ill, and almost died.  But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.  Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again, you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.  NIV

This morning, I woke up a little anxious.  It occurred to me that I should look up “anxious” in my concordance to see what verses there might apply to my project or my situation.  There are not a ton of verses in the NIV that deal with “anxious” or “anxiety.”  Many of those verses, I already have covered over the last few months.  And, looking at those entries in this blog, which I treat as my own prayer journal, was very helpful to me.

But, this verse is one that I had not yet looked at.

While this verse has nothing to do with my current situation, it is a beautiful reminder of one of the ways to alleviate worry … complete a task.

So often, when something is hanging over my head, it causes me to stress over it.  If I will just turn in and complete it, then I am blessed with the relief that Paul mentions in this verse.  The Message translates verse 28, “So you can see why I’m so delighted to send him on to you.  When you see him again, hale and hearty, how you’ll rejoice and how relieved I’ll be.” MSG

I don’t know that much about Epaphroditus, except that it appears to me that he was a member of the church at Phillipi whom the Phillipians had sent to help Paul.  The man served faithfully, and almost lost his life in the process.  But now, his task has been completed, his health has been restored, and he is ready to go home to his friends and family.  It appears to me that Paul has been very worried about the young man, and he will be relieved when Epaphroditus makes it back home safe and sound.

It is, if you will, “tying a big red bow” around the task that Epaphroditus set out to accomplish.

Today, I will focus on being thankful for the tasks that are completed.   I will rejoice in the relief that comes from a job well done, instead of obsessing over all of the tasks that are before me.

That is a good thing to think about today!

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Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.  NIV

What a beautiful prescription for peace.

If I am meditating on the truth and on all the good things that come from God, there is no room in my mind for the distraction of worry.

I love the way The Message translates these verses.  “Summing it all up friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious — the best, not the worst;  the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not to curse.  Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.  Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” MSG

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Philippians 4:19

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. NIV

God will meet all my needs — physical, emotional and spiritual.

According to his glorious riches. Glorious might be the best word to describe what is indescribable.

In Christ Jesus. Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.


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Philipians 4:11-13

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. NIV

Paul has found peace and freedom from worry. He is content.

With Christ, our present, earthly circumstances matter little. We can focus on the truth, that He is the source of our joy and our contentment. He is truly the Way, the Truth and the Life.

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Filed under Concern, Philippians

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. NIV

This verse says it all.  When I was a kid, my mom modeled this one for me often.  There were times when I would go to her, full of angst and stress about some issue, and she would say, “Let’s pray about it.”  At those times, we would bow our heads together, and she would always say, “Father, we have this situation, and we want to give it to you.  It is a big, sticky, ball of wax, but, you have the ability to take it from us, and make everything all right.”  I don’t mean to trivialize this … her prayers were often much longer and more involved, but, this theme of the ball of wax that we don’t have to carry or deal with ran through many of them.  Today, as an adult, I still find myself with balls of wax sometimes.

As I think more about this verse, I also love that it says “but in everything … with thanksgiving …”  That’s one I really need to ponder.  It is challenging to be thankful when you’re worried.  I’m wondering if that is a piece of the puzzle.  If I must stop and be thankful, then I am reminded that the one that I am thanking is all powerful and all knowing … how can I worry when I have the privilege of discussing my problems and worries with an all-knowing God?  When I can deposit my worries at His feet and exchange them for His peace?  I will ponder that today.

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Filed under Anxious, Peace, Philippians