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No Way this is Real, Is It?





IS HE FOR REAL


Paul wrote with a purpose and a people in mind, recalling the faces of those he knew and loved in Philippi, Greece, some 800 miles away from where he was in Rome. He loved the Philippians and longed for them to live fully for God.


In that way, I can really relate to Paul. You see, I have a 'Philippi' in Southern California --the close knit community of women I started in my San Clemente home in January, 2001. We studied God's Word together, built friendships, prayed for one another, 'showed up' for each other, cheered each other on, and so much more. I still teach many from this same group of days gone by, every Thursday, via livestream--valued relationships rooted in the precious love of God. So...much of what Paul says to the Philippians in these next verses, I want for them . . . I want for you!


“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put those things into practice.” [yikes! I don't think I could quite say that! I'm just too flawed]

'What are those things?' you ask.

> Do the things I have told you to do,

> ‘Rejoice in the Lord' ... always!

> Do not be anxious about anything;

> but pray about everything that concerns you.

> Fix your thoughts on those things which are pleasing to God

those things which are true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable...’ 

> And the God of peace will be with youSee, our part is to pray, (always give God thanks), and choose to think right thoughts; God’s part is to listen, respond to our prayers, and supply peace. That is very straightforward.


Paul continues his thoughts, specific to the Philippians: ‘I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. (speaking of financial support) I am not saying this because I am in need . . . for 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.' These are mighty powerful words in Philippians 4.9-12. 'In jail and content? No way this is real, is it?'


The dictionary defines contentment as ‘satisfaction’. But the Greek word used to describe contentment in the Bible doesn’t just mean to be satisfied, or to have sufficient, but to have an attitude that lets us be satisfied with whatever is available.


Decades ago and far from home, I read these verses as if for the first time. I remember being deeply impressed with Paul’s disposition, and his ability to be content, even when he was shackled, in pain, and in prison: “...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.”1

Can you say that? Content, no matter what? [How I wish I could wrap the gift of contentment like a package and give it to those I love--and they would open it and could experience it!]


Paul passionately pursued God, and lived on purpose; his priorities kept him focused. Even when he was physically and mentally tortured, he knew, ‘My God will supply all my needs, according to his riches in Christ Jesus.’2 Paul knew the source of all good things, and he trusted him.


Segue - As I write, I am in the middle of some rough travel days . . . Airplane delay out of North Carolina because of thunderstorms in Dallas, delay out of Dallas + another delay, followed by four more and then my flight being outright cancelled late into the night. Don't remember the last time I slept all night on the airport floor, but I had a couple of interesting conversations...of course. On one of the many train rides moving from one DFW terminal/gate to another as my flight kept being changed, a young man holding the pole above my head leaned down and said, 'hey, I like your outfit--especially the pearls.' 'Thank you so much - I almost always wear pearls. Do you know why? There are 12 gates to Heaven, each one is a pearl.3 'Really?' he asked, with a very genuine spirit. Then he leaned down and whispered, 'Can you give me a word from the Lord today?' I thought a moment and said, 'yes, I can. God is good and he wants good for you--no matter what is happening right now. He is trustworthy.' He leaned back with a big smile and said, 'wow, thank you so much,' I put my pastorwoman card in his hand and said, 'hey, look me up,' as I rushed off the train to B17.


Paul knew that too. God is good and he wants good for you--no matter what is happening right now. He is trustworthy. Further Paul got the power from God he needed to stay the course, no matter what was happening, stating, I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”4


It is not uncommon for us to think, ‘I’ll be happy when....’ ‘Everything will be better when....’ ‘If only....then I'd be content.’ ‘If I could get this....then I would be content.’ Not so. Contentment is for the present moment. It is not found in possessions, comfort, accomplishments, or station in life. Those are ‘icing on the cake’, but certainly not the pathway to inner joy. Experiencing true contentment usually involves the elevation of our thinking, a passionate pursuit of God, living full tilt and on purpose for him, and establishing accompanying priorities. 


Contentment can be yours~ do you want it?

Song: It's A Good Time to Praise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhYOEKukL-M



Grace and Peace,

Christine

Philippians #23



1 - Philippians 4.11-12

2 - Philippians 4.19

3 - Revelation 21.21

4 - Philippians 4.13

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