A-Z: No Compromise

“I often warned you that many people are living as enemies of the cross of Christ.  And now with tears in my eyes, I warn you again that they are headed for hell!  They worship their stomachs and brag about the disgusting things they do.  All they can think about are the things of this world.  But we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Saviour to come from there. …  Dear friends, I love you and long to see you.  Please keep on being faithful to the Lord” – Philippians 3:18-20, 4:1.  N in the A-Z challenge is for ‘No compromise’.

 

How seriously do we take sin?  Have we become comfortable with it?  Paul took it very seriously when he said:  “A little yeast can spread through the whole batch of dough” – 1 Corinthians 5:6.

There has to be a place for confronting sin – in ourselves and in the lives of others.  If you’re anything like me, when you talk to some people about this, they’ll tell you we shouldn’t judge; we should leave that to God.  I don’t agree.  Jesus said “Do not judge”, but He didn’t say do not confront sin, and I don’t think they’re the same thing.

The teachers of the Law wanted to judge the woman who was having an affair (John 8:3-11).  They said she should be stoned to death.  That’s what I think judging is:  It’s dolling out consequences for someone’s sin.  Jesus didn’t want that woman stoned to death, but He did want her to know He took her sin seriously.  “Go now, but don’t sin anymore,” He told her.

That woman was someone who hadn’t become one of Jesus’ followers, but what about those people who do know Him and call themselves Christians?  This is the uncomfortable bit – well it is for me.  I’ll let Paul say it, ‘cos he says it best.  “I was talking about your own people who are immoral or greedy or worship idols or curse others or get drunk or cheat.  Don’t even eat with them!  Why should I judge outsiders?  Aren’t we supposed to judge only church members?  God judges everyone else.  The Scriptures say, ‘Chase away any of your own people who are evil’” – 1 Corinthians 5:11-13.  Do we do this?

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A-Z: L-M

I’m putting 2 letters together to catch up a bit in the A-Z challenge.

 

“God was kind … and He kept me from being burdened down with sorrow” – Philippians 2:27.  Paul’s friend almost died, but God spared Paul that grief.  He loves us and wants to spare us sorrow upon sorrow, and look kindly/favourably upon us.  It amazes me to think the God who made the universe is favourable towards (or pleased with) me, and not just me, but every one of His children.  Remember this if there’s a fellow-Christian you struggle to get along with:  God is for both of you, and you can pray His best for both of you, even if you don’t know what that’s going to look like.

 

“My dear friends, be glad that you belong to the Lord” – Philippians 3:1.  God tells us in Isaiah 43:  “I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”

 

If you’re a Christian, aren’t you glad you’re loved and you belong to the Lord?

A-Z: Kept Busy

Did you wonder what had happened to the A-Z challenge?  It’s all right; I didn’t forget what came after J!  But I had an electrician here on Friday, and when he left I had no Internet.  Never mind; I’m back now, and we’re onto the letter K.

I know I’ve done a series on Philippians before, but I’ve read it again recently and different things jumped out at me.  That’s one thing I love about God’s Word – however often you read it, there’s always something fresh and new.  First, this verse:  “Jesus Christ will keep you busy doing good deeds that bring glory and praise to God” – Philippians 1:11 (Contemporary English Version), so K is for Jesus keeping us busy, and He does.  It’s fantastic – the work He gives us to do for Him, but His love for us is the same, whatever we do or don’t do.

I hope my uncle wouldn’t mind me writing about him, but he once talked about a humanist funeral he went to.  He found it strange that no prayers were said.  Not knowing that 6 months later he’d be gone, he told us:  “I’m not a Christian – well … I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want anything like that.”  I’ve taken great comfort from that – that he couldn’t quite bring himself to deny Christ.  When he was in hospital, I gave him a copy of my first CD and he said:  “I’ll treasure that” …  I like to think it was his first piece of God’s kingdom-treasure.  My uncle didn’t spend his life serving God, but if in those last days or moments he put his faith in Jesus, the gates of heaven were wide-open for him, just as they are for me.  Isn’t that something worth celebrating?

Learning the Secret

“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” – Philippians 4:12.

 

Confession:  I’m still learning.  I mentioned in another post about the cuts the UK-government are making, and how things aren’t looking as secure as they used to.  This is affecting me personally.  I’m not pleading poverty; I hope I’ll never do that as long as I’ve got clothes to wear and food on the table, but I am having to be more careful with money because I sponsor my lovely children.  When I sponsored them, I did it because I could afford to, but now the government have decided I need less money to live on.  I want to be a good steward of what God has given me so I can see them through to the end of their time at Compassion, but sometimes, like this morning when I felt like thanking David Cameron for ruining my life, I feel disconnected from my children.  I wonder do I love them at all?  And if I give to the poor, but have not love …  I’m tempted to drop the sponsorships and live for myself.  Sounds ugly, doesn’t it?  And then I go to my Bible … and read this verse … and I know I need God to teach me the secret.

 

God has an amazing way of helping put things in perspective.  When I’m being all melodramatic and having thoughts like this morning’s, it’s not just disconnection from my children; I’m distancing myself from Him, but His peaceful presence is always there for us.  Within about half an hour, I had stopped feeling I wasn’t ready for today and had given myself a reality check:  David Cameron hasn’t ruined my life.  He’s only the Prime Minister; he’s not God.  If God has called me to sponsor my children right up until they leave the programme, He’ll take care of it.  I don’t like not knowing, but God wants me to be free from worry; free from bitterness …  He wants me to be content.

 

This is a song I can’t seem to stop singing lately.  It’s so cheerful, and as the chorus says:

“You’ve done a good work in me,

“And You won’t quit till I’m free”!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsOoJ2OuMK0

Thanks for reading these posts on Philippians, and I’d love to chat to you in the comments.

From the One Who’s Been There

There’s such a lot in Philippians 3!  I wrote down a couple of things I could have shared with you all, but this one resonated the most:

 

“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death” – Philippians 3:10.  I wonder if that verse will ever stop being a challenge!  Oh, I want to know Christ, but what about this sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death?  Let’s think about Jesus’ death for a minute and the horrors He went through.  I don’t just mean the physical horrors – the beatings; having His hands forced behind His back and nailed to a cross …  There were mental anguishes too.  He took 3 close friends with Him into Gethsemane – His soul overwhelmed with sorrow.  He wanted Peter, James and John to pray with Him, but they fell asleep.  They didn’t understand the immensity of what their Lord was about to face; Jesus understood the full scale of it.  Do you have friends like that – friends you’re really close to, and you want their prayer-support in the important parts of your life, but they give up instead of praying along-with you?  That can be really painful, and then of course there was Judas betraying Jesus.

 

I wrote a song a few years ago about Jesus’ death and the sufferings He went through:

“You were despised; rejected by men,

“So when I face hostility, why should I complain?

 

“Left all alone in Your darkest hour,

“So when I have no company, why should I complain?”

 

The truth is, whether we want to or not, as Christians, we will share in Christ’s sufferings, but we can have the assurance that whatever we go through, He’s already been there.  He knows exactly how we feel.

 

Are you going through a difficult situation at the moment?  You don’t have to go into details, but if you leave a comment, I’d love to pray with you.  Thank you for reading, and please take comfort from the One who’s been there.

Faultless Children

If there are any parents of little ones reading this, that title might have brought a smile and an:  “I don’t think so!”  Your children – the ones who throw food on the floor, write on the walls instead of paper, or sit in front of the TV for those few more minutes when you’ve told them it’s bedtime – faultless?  Surely not, but they’re still your children.

 

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, 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 2:14-15.  I recently heard a challenging message about these verses, basically saying that if we grumbled, then we were ungodly, and how could we then expect to become children of God?  The message had its desired effect – it encouraged me to complain less, but it also sounded very harsh, maybe because it was missing something.

 

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” – John 1:12.  If you believe in Jesus, you’re already a child of God – His precious, dearly loved child.  Those verses from Philippians 2 aren’t about becoming children of God, but becoming ‘Children of God without fault’.  Parents, can you imagine disowning your child every time they put a foot wrong?  I’m not saying bad behaviour is acceptable.  A good parent wants the best for their child, and God’s like that too.  He gives us warnings; His Spirit counsels us; He finds ways of correcting us, but we never cease to be His.

 

As for me, though, I want to become a child of God without fault.  And the way to do that?  Well, I’m working towards it every day.  I wrote earlier in this blog about the church being sanctified (made holy), and how we respond to life is part of that sanctifying process.  The more we respond in a Christ-like way, the more like Him we’ll become.  Sometimes I feel like I’m going backwards; I may not have said that complaint out-loud, but the thought was there, etc … but the important thing is not to give up.  If you’re still here on this earth, it means God’s not finished with you yet, so if you mess up, ask Him to forgive you:  His kindness is fresh for you every morning … and then keep going, knowing He’s with you at every stage.

 

Are you, too, on this journey towards becoming a faultless child?  And shining like a star?

Philippians 1

Status

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” – Philippians 1:20:

Don’t give up.  Take courage and keep going for Jesus.