That's the Book: Philippians
hI woke up yesterday with a full schedule and a headache. It was dull and so I added two cups of coffee and ignored said headache. This worked okay through a finance committee meeting at church, held through making Valentines with the preschoolers and I was distracted by the fantastic sermon at church enough to enjoy an after service lunch with friends. Then the headache amped up the volume.
I feel a little lame comparing the depths of persecution the apostle Paul faced with my Sunday headache, but hang in here with me. I have a point near the end. Here at the start though let me tell you Philippians is my father's favorite book of the Bible. I grew up on these words. The consistency of the message, the good cheer in the book even in the midst of suffering and the centrality of Jesus make Paul's letter to the church of Philippi a must read, must study, must learn for any earnest believer. Even on the days you have a headache.
Philippians begins with a declaration about what sort of long view the Christian faith is all about. Keep your eye on the prize. Today's struggles are difficult -but Christ Jesus has already won the war.
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
Yesterday after lunch, I had to take home a couple of visitors. One was my daughter's friend from school. The second was my good friend from Rwanda. She's in the states for a couple of months taking English classes. Her host family lives across town. What a joy it was to have her at church with me yesterday. Her faith and her courageous testimony remind me to strive to spread the gospel without fear. I want my daughters to hear her stories of forgiveness. The family of faith can challenge our assumptions, push us to see the purpose in our pain and stretch us to learn to trust Jesus fully. Friends who have walked ahead of us can shine the light. This is the call of Paul to the Philippians.
"Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves, do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus Every Knee Will Bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2: 1-11
By the time I was driving home yesterday my headache had taken over I limped into the house and headed straight for the bath. My husband told me my face looked droopy. He brought me ice. Two hours later I was still a mess. I was laying on the couch when my daughters came and started trying to talk me into going for a walk to the park.
The Park?? You want me to get off this couch and go to the park?
My eldest was explaining that sometimes fresh air and a walk help. The youngest looked gleeful at the idea of a first playdate outside this year. My husband had already been overseeing outside rollerskating and was now engaged in dinner prep in the kitchen. I never call him away from dinner prep. Gotta have priorities.
At any rate this verse popped in my throbbing head.
"Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast he word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain." Philippians 2: 14- 15
All things? Do all things without grumbling? Here is the conversation which happened next.
Me: I'm having an inner battle.
My eldest: Huh?
My spouse: She means she's trying to decide if a walk will help the headache or make it worse.
Me: Nope. I'm battling between MY self and what Jesus wants. It's the same battle every day.
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus may Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish so that I may grain Christ". Philippians 3: 7-8
Here's the deal. My headache was not a big deal really. Annoying. But Jesus still wanted me to slay my selfishness and look to the needs of others in all things. I lay there feeling sorry for myself a little longer. And then I hauled myself up and put on my shoes and my girls and I went for a walk. I'm not saying this in the least to say I'm doing the right thing. I'm sharing this story to show you how daily little things we can do through His strength. And the daily little things add up to big glorious wins in the battle for our soul, for the souls of our children and to advance the gospel. How you treat your spouse when he's impatient matters. How you respond to that annoying person at work matters eternally. How I act when I have a headache reflects the condition of my heart.
"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3: 12-14
You want to know something amazing? When I got back from the walk - my headache was significantly improved. I'll head to the chiropractor probably later today to address the underlying issue but I'm grateful for the win with my kids yesterday. The book of Philippians calls me to turn to Jesus in everything - in my worries, in my stress, in my priorities, in my little and big issues. It;s a gorgeous calling. If you struggle with the battle between what your self wants and what Jesus wants, Philippians is a great battle plan.
"Be anxious for northing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever if of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." Philippians 4: 6-8
Here you are - my favorite tool to learn about the Bible. Outside the actual Bible.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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