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South Fellowship Church

Caesar’s House | Philippians 4:21-23

sorrow is not the end of the story, that hate will not overcome love, and that despair will never drown out hope

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Often when we approach a certain place or a situation, we have an idea of what we expect to find there. It’s always surprising when we find something completely out of place or unexpected. A lone Bronco fan at a Raider game. A pacifist at a gun show. A democrat at a Trump rally. Laughter at a funeral. Finding something so unexpected typically throws us off and creates a sense of disequilibrium. It causes us to pause and evaluate. Paul’s comment at the end of his letter would have certainly had such an effect for the Philippian church.

Paul closes his letter his letter from a Roman jail writing, “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus… all the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.” It seems like an innocent ending to an encouraging letter, but it’s so much more than that. When Paul tells the church in Philippi that the saints in Caesar’s house greet them, he’s alerting them to the fact that in the heart of The Empire, the name of Jesus is being praised. Also in that time usually temples and churches had a lot of pests, nowadays we can just get rid of them with help of professionals like https://www.bigfootpestcontrol.com/. It’s probably the last thing one might expect to find in Caesar palace! Pest control products thаt аrе green аrе mаdе оf organic аnd natural ingredients. Additionally, thеѕе products аrе engineered tо bе biodegradable аnd equally аѕ effective аѕ thеіr non-green counterparts. Learn аbоut thе process аnd chemicals a company uses bеfоrе hiring thеm. Sоmе professionals uѕе green pest control products initially аnd thеn follow thеm wіth traditional chemicals, whісh уоu mау nоt want. A good environmentally friendly exterminator ѕhоuld focus оn using quality products thаt аrе lоw оr non-toxic rаthеr thаn products thаt аrе thе lеаѕt expensive, whісh аrе оftеn highly toxic. Additionally, quality green pest control companies educate thеіr clients оn hоw tо prevent thе return оf pest, help correct conditions thаt аrе inviting tо thеm аnd offer tо install pest-proofing materials. Go through powerpestcontrol.ca site for more about the pest control services.

The subtle, almost passing comment at the end of this letter leaves the church with hope that God’s plan won’t be thwarted. It reminds the church in Philippi that God is still on the move – in subtle and subversive ways. It reminds believers all around the world that God can pierce the darkness with his marvelous light – even today. It declares to those who follow Jesus that sorrow is not the end of the story, that hate will not overcome love, and that despair will never drown out hope.

Take a moment today and encourage your soul by remembering that God’s alive, active, and renewing all things. Watch this video about the way God is drawing Muslims to himself and then pray that God would break into the darkness in your life. There is a church in CAESAR’S HOUSE!

By Ryan Paulson

Caesar’s House | Philippians 4:21-232020-08-19T11:32:29-06:00

Concern | Philippians 4:14

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Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.

Recently I read a poignant testimony on the Samaritan’s Purse website of an indigenous pastor and his family who remain in a war torn country despite security risks. He talks about how his burdens seem heavy and too much to bear at times, yet he feels honored to help carry the load with his brothers and sisters in Christ. Deep concern motivates him to share in their suffering. He mentions how many other believers have also moved from their countries, families and jobs to help and he wishes to pay them back.

The concern this pastor has is the same concern Paul and the Philippian church had for each other. Their suffering and concern persistently endure to further the gospel in a desperate place. Sitting in prison and feeling this burden of concern, Paul tells the Philippian church, “You gave to meet one of my needs, but my God will meet all of your needs. You gave even in poverty, but God will supply you out of the riches of his glory” (Philippians 4:19). Paul wants this caring and concerned church to realize that God will do for them what Paul cannot. Paul cannot repay the Philippians, but God can and will.

Paul also doesn’t seem to find joy in receiving the gift itself. Instead, he finds joy in what it did for the Philippians. It’s not that Paul didn’t value their gift, but Paul knows the gift of loving concern that prompted it was the precious offering to God. Paul speaks in accountant’s terms – their gift makes a credit on their ledger. Because, their hearts are for Paul’s ministry and spreading the gospel, their gift is given out of spiritual maturity, genuine love and deep concern. Their offering invests in encouraging and building up the church, for God’s eternal kingdom, with heavenly rewards.

James Boice writes: “Money that is given to help another Christian is called fruit. Our gifts to others are encouraged by God, noticed by God, and much desired by God.” God wants to use you to be a channel to help those spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and those who have need. For now, you probably don’t sit in prison or live in a war torn country, yet you may find yourself in a giving crisis. It’s too easy to live for ourselves and spend everything on our interests. Paul Ryan’s sermon series on Philippians encourages us to get our hearts in the right place, with Godly priorities and perspective. Let the care and concern for brothers and sisters spreading the gospel motivate you today. Consider one ministry you’d feel honored to share in their burden and who might benefit from your gift. For some ideas, look at South’s Global Outreach page and start giving to one of South’s ministry partners. God has blessed you to be a blessing to someone else.

 

For I do not mean that others should be eased
and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness
your abundance at the present time should supply their need,
so that their abundance may supply your need,
that there may be fairness.
As it is written,
“Whoever gathered much had nothing left over,
and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
-2 Corinthians 8:13-15

 

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By Donna Burns

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Concern | Philippians 4:142016-11-24T05:00:01-07:00

Confidence | Philippians 4:13

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Whatever God called him to do, God would supply everything he needed to do it.

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I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me. (paraphrase)

Paying a piano teacher for lessons and sitting in front of the ivory keys doesn’t mean you can play the keyboard. You have to practice. And, paying a membership to a fitness center doesn’t make you fit. You have to go and workout. When Paul says, “I can do all things,” he’s not saying God gives him a blank check to do whatever he wants. Paul devotedly, to the point of intense suffering, engages passionately in God’s will, spreading the gospel and building up the church. He has the confident assurance that no matter what circumstance he finds himself in, heaven’s resources are abundantly available.

The context of this verse reminds us that Paul knows good times and the extreme bad times. Sometimes he has food, a roof over his head, money in the bank, and sometimes he doesn’t. His confidence wasn’t affected by his circumstances, because if blessings came his way, he could enjoy them, and if bad times came, he could deal with it. Why? Because he learned through the power of Jesus Christ that he could face whatever came his way. He had access to the everlasting strength of Jesus Christ. Paul had confidence that whatever God called him to do, God would supply everything he needed to do it. In all things given to him by God’s will, he continued to be strong by the one who infused Christ’s power into him.

God’s grace has no limit. Jesus love has no measure. The spirit’s presence has no boundary. God’s power is supreme and his provisions will never be depleted! Paul’s confidence comes from this. When Paul uses the Greek word ischuo, “I can,” he claims the strength of Christ. Paul learns that when God commands something, he enables. You have access, like Paul, to the same power and strength available in Christ Jesus. You can, like Paul, learn to walk in this confidence each day. Let’s thank God for his present provision and learn to step forward – every moment of every day – knowing there is more of God’s strength available than we think. There is nothing in your life to small for his attention. Nothing too great for God to accomplish when you live in Christ. Begin your day by filling in these blanks as a prayer for God’s strength: I can (fill in the blank) , God will (fill in the blank).

 

Now to him who is able to do
far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
according to the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
forever and ever. Amen.
-Ephesians 3:20-21

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By Donna Burns

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Confidence | Philippians 4:132016-11-23T09:06:00-07:00

Circumstance | Philippians 4:10-13

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We don’t have to let comparison, competition, coveting, or cynicism rob us of joy.

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12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

 

Paul understands both ends of the spectrum. He knows the end of plenty and abundance, as well as perhaps the more difficult end, where hunger and need call out everyday. Yet, he’s found a way to live in either circumstance, whether full of joy or sadness, plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

Some of us move from end to end rather quickly. There are times in my day where I feel a great sense of accomplishment in the tasks I’ve finished. I feel happy when I’ve contributed to the good of my group or organization. Interestingly, after the initial moment of feeling great, my mind takes me to the place where I no longer feel so overjoyed or happy. This good feeling is soon displaced by some brand of sadness or failure and my smile dissipates. Brothers and sisters, this doesn’t have to be so!

Just as Paul learned to be content in both aspects of life, good and bad, we can learn to linger in the joyful times no matter the circumstance. We don’t have to let comparison, competition, coveting, or cynicism rob us of joy. We can all find things in our day we appreciate, but perhaps don’t recognize them as a small sliver of joy. As you go through your day, recognize these small moments and praise God for them. But, what will happen when you decide to leave one of them out? Your favorite coffee drink in the morning? The mid-afternoon snack you particularly enjoy? Perusing the mall or online shops? Choose to leave one thing out as a one-day fast to focus on learning to enjoy what you have and don’t have.[/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Rich Obrecht

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Circumstance | Philippians 4:10-132016-11-22T05:00:35-07:00

Contentment | Philippians 4:10-13

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God’s power and his provision are accessible through our personal relationship with Jesus

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10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, Paul lists some of the sufferings he’s experienced during his ministry. If anyone has reason to be discontent, it’s Paul. He writes this letter to the Philippians from jail, another reason a bad attitude could have felt justified. But, it’s amazing to read and consider Paul’s attitude during his present difficulties.

Perhaps the key word in this passage is “learned.” Paul learns to be content in all situations. This is something Paul had to figure out and apply to his life. Throughout Paul’s ministry, which begins in Acts 9, we find it laced with adversity. Despite this, he’s finds strength to endure and to be content. Endurance is available only through the one who strengthens him – Jesus.

We all face difficulties and hard times. Just like Paul, we bump up against issues that test us, perhaps pushing us to the edge. During these times, we remember God’s power and his provision are accessible through our personal relationship with Jesus. We take advantage of our Christ-given privilege of prayer and lift our voice to God, asking for his help. God may choose to answer in deliverance. Or, he may leave us with the issue we’re dealing with. Either way, we can, like Paul, lean on Jesus for strength to endure. Our faith becomes stronger, our ability to endure increases, and we begin to create the habit of prayer in difficult times. As you go through your day today, ask God to help you identify an area where you might need to learn contentment.

 

Are theyservants of Christ?I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors,
far more imprisonments,with countless beatings, andoften near death.
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the
forty lashes less one.
Three times I was
beaten with rods.Once I was stoned. Three times Iwas shipwrecked;
a night and a day I was adrift at sea;
on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers,
danger from my own people,danger from Gentiles,danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea,
danger from false brothers;
in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night,in hunger and thirst,
often without food,
in cold and exposure.And, apart from other things,
there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for
all the churches.
-2 Corinthians 11:23-28

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By Rich Obrecht

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Contentment | Philippians 4:10-132016-11-21T05:00:40-07:00

Practice | Philippians 4:9

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practice righteousness in order to transform

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What you have learned
and received and heard
and seen in me—
practice these things,
and the God of peace
will be with you (Philippians. 4:9)

 

Have you ever wondered, “What if grace isn’t enough to transform us?” Now, before you pick up stones, hear me out. I think we often mix up the idea of grace with the idea of forgiveness. If we think that receiving grace is synonymous with being forgiven, then grace doesn’t seem enough to transform. But, this isn’t really what grace means. Grace is God’s unmerited favor and, “God’s favor differs from man’s in that it cannot be conceived of as inactive” (Burton Scott Easton in ISBI). God’s grace is actively helping us grow, learn, and dig deep for change. God’s game plan is not to levitate our souls to improvement like some magician. Instead, God has designed us and resourced us to train or practice righteousness in order to transform. After all, isn’t that the point of practice – to get better at something?

In our text today, we hear Paul’s instruction to the church, “practice these things” (Philippians 4:9). He encourages followers of Jesus to follow his example and “practice” what he has taught them. For much of my life, I’ve read this and I thought I could be transformed by thinking the right theological thoughts. If I could only ascend to some lofty mental understanding, I could think my way to change. Yet, I know others who have thought they could feel their way to transformation by seeking out spiritually emotional interactions. Perhaps these feelings would motivate them to be different. But, it turns out, a well-lived Christian life is far more integrated then that. Transformation demands the active, coaching, disciplining, truth-speaking, encouragement-giving, sweat-producing kind of grace.

Now, the Philippians were able to “practice,” because they already learned what they should do (through education), received it (by believing it), heard it (because of it’s effect in others and in Paul), and seen it (by observing others living righteously). But, this holistic type of effort demands training. We must practice using the mind, the emotions, and the body. So, it’s time for us to practice. If you’re unfamiliar with how to practice faith, here is a great article to explore Christian disciplines. Sit down with God, your heavenly coach, and allow him to point out one discipline. That just might become the grace by which, he transforms you.

 

 

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By Aaron Bjorklund

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Practice | Philippians 4:92016-11-19T05:00:11-07:00

Focus Thinking | Philippians 4:8

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what you think about reveals not only what you love, but also who you are

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 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

 

Look at a person’s planner and you’ll see their priorities. Look at their checkbook and you’ll see what they treasure. If you look at what they think about and what they let their minds continually dwell on, you’ll quickly discover the status of their soul. There are so many self-help books on the shelves about lies women tell themselves, men tell themselves, and the lies hidden in the human mind. And, these books will tell you that what you think about reveals not only what you love, but also who you are. It’s no surprise that intentional thinking is critical to a life well-lived.

Paul certainly agrees. He knows the power his mind has over him and the power he has over his mind. He exhorts his readers to think about the obviously good things – to think on the true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy. He believes thinking can change the tapes playing in his mind. As Paul sits in the Roman jail, he has so much time to think. Yet, there is not one hint of self-pity in his letter to the Philippians. The entire letter exudes joy and encouragement to rise above the circumstances and lift his thoughts to the King of Kings. This letter reveals it is well with Paul’s soul.

You’ll also notice Paul repeats, “whatever” in this passage. He’s simply giving us freedom to think on anything that is excellent and praiseworthy. God’s list of true and commendable things is inexhaustible if one devotes time to count them. However, good thoughts don’t just happen, we must decide to think them. Over fourteen times in the Psalms, David mentions mediating on God’s statutes and His mighty deeds (i.e. Psalm 72:12). Paul urges Christians in Corinth to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and to take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Paying attention to our thoughts, devoting time to pondering truth and taking out the mental garbage regularly will help align our mind with Christ’s. Today, take an inventory of the tapes playing in your mind. Write down some of the main trains of thought you tend to think and bring them to the Lord before you go to bed.

 

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth,
but you shall meditate on it day and night,
so that you may be careful to do
according to all that is written in it.
For then you will make your way prosperous,
and then you will have good success.
-Joshua 1:8

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By Donna Burns and Yvonne Biel

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Focus Thinking | Philippians 4:82016-11-18T05:00:39-07:00

Combat Anxiety | Philippians 4:4-7

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To avoid drowning in worry, we can lift our voice to our Heavenly Father

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Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (
Philippians 4:4-7)

 

In 2 Kings 20, Hezekiah had something to worry about – he was very sick. When Isaiah brings him news declaring the illness terminal, Isaiah turns and leaves. Hearing the news, Hezekiah’s first act is to turn and pray to God, ‘reminding’ God of his own faithful walk with the Lord. Isaiah doesn’t even make it out of the courtyard before God tells him to return and tell Hezekiah 15 years will be added to his life. What an example for us! On his deathbed, Hezekiah calls out to God rather than worrying about his pain and suffering. And, he’s blessed for it.

As humans, we often suffer from anxiety or worry. It seems we have a weakness in this area. We worry about things we might consider trivial, like being worried about whether the breakfast we cook will be delicious to the people we made it for, and things not so trivial, like whether our daughter, being out on her first date, is in serious trouble or just having so much fun she’s an hour late.

One of the most amazing aspects of following Christ is prayer. Through prayer, we can communicate directly with God. Even when he already knows something, he’s given us a way to engage with him about what we need, what we want and how we feel about it. To avoid drowning in worry, we can lift our voice to our Heavenly Father, just like Hezekiah. While God already knows the needs of our hearts, our willingness to share them demonstrates a participation in our relationship with God. God provides us the ability to communicate directly, and it is here we can find a reason to rejoice.

The passage for today has prayer at its core – as the means to combat anxiety. Prayer is our way of voicing trust in God. Since we cannot be anxious and trust in God at the same time, we can choose one. We can tell God of our failures, ask forgiveness, share our needs, gush our desires for the future. We can tell him anything and everything. As you read the prayer below, remember God desires to hear from you. Try praying this old Puritan prayer to voice your trust in God!

 

 O God,
May I never be a blot or a blank in life,
cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of,
or make my liberty an occasion to the flesh
May I by love serve others, and please my neighbor
for his good to edification.
May I attend to what is ornamental as well as
essential in religion, pursuing things that are
lovely and of good report.
May I render my profession of the gospel
not only impressive, but amiable and inviting.
May I hold forth the way of Jesus
with my temper as well as my tongue,
with my life as well as my lips.
May I say to all I meet,
I am journeying towards the Lord’s given place,
come with me for your good.
May I be prepared for all the allotments
of this short, changing, uncertain life, with
a useful residence in it,
a comfortable journey through it,
a safe passage out of it.
May I be in character and conduct like
the dew of heaven,
the salt of the earth,
the light of the world,
the fullness of the fountain.
May I never
be ashamed of Jesus or his words,
be deterred from fulfilling a known duty
through fear,
be discouraged from attempting it
through weakness.
May I see all things in a divine light so that they may
inform my judgment
and sanctify my heart.
And by all the disciplines of thy providence,
and all the ordinances of religion,
may I be increasingly prepared for
life’s remaining duties,
the solemnities of a dying hour,
and the joys and services
that lie beyond the grave.

-The Valley of Vision

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By Rich Obrecht

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Combat Anxiety | Philippians 4:4-72016-11-16T05:00:46-07:00

Pursue Unity | Philippians 4:2-3

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We need to come together for the sake of unity in the faith

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I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.
Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women,
who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement
and the rest of my fellow workers,
 whose names are in the book of life.  (Philippians 4:2-3)

Regardless of our political standing, we‘ve all witnessed many months of disunity. Candidates have been vocal about the faults and foibles of their opponents and those listening to them joined in, drawing lines in the sand over one topic or another. This isn’t the unity we’re supposed to have as a nation. Typically, when I think of unity as a nation, I think of the locking of arms against a common foe. What we’ve just witnessed is the polar opposite.

We don’t know what the disagreement was between Euodia and Syntyche. It’s not spoken of in in the Bible. Yet, what is subtle with it’s appearance in the text is that Paul, in jail of some sort, knows of it and is asking it to stop. For this to be brought to Paul’s attention demonstrates the severity of the disagreement, and it might give us a view to the deep-seated impact it was having on the greater church in Philippi.

Some of the sharpest and most hurtful disagreements come within the body of believers – either local or global.  At times, it seems we’re best at tearing each other down rather than the edifying each other. This ought not be.

Just as our nation needs to be knit back together, but cannot be done without involving all parties, we, the Body of Christ, need to come together for the sake of unity in the faith.  Perhaps the Church, as a body, demonstrating this sort of unity toward each other, can be the vanguard for those around us, reconciling ourselves to each other and to God. Today,  if there is someone who comes to mind that you’ve distanced yourself from, regardless of the reason, begin the process of reconciliation for the sake of God’s kingdom.

 

1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling
to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
-Ephesians 4:1-7

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By Rich Obrecht

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Pursue Unity | Philippians 4:2-32016-11-15T05:00:14-07:00

Stand Firm | Philippians 4:1

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Stand firm in a world where waves crash and Caesars rule

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Therefore, my brothers,
whom I love and long for,
my joy and crown,
stand firm thus in the Lord,
my beloved. (Philippians 4:1)

 

I’d seen the red flag hoisted above the lifeguard tower, but it didn’t deter me from entering the water. Maybe it should have, because on this day, regardless of how hard I swam, I couldn’t seem to make any ground in getting back to shore. Shortness of breath started to set in. Anxiety began to rise. I could feel the tips of my toes dragging across the sand on the bottom of the ocean, but there was nothing I could do to gain control. Just then, a huge wave came and violently pushed me into shore. Thankfully, I started swimming at exactly the right time. If I hadn’t, I’m not sure how that day would’ve turned out. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day recovering with my feet in the sand and realizing that drifting can be a terrifying experience.

When the Apostle Paul writes to the church at Philippi, he gives them special instruction to “stand firm.” While we don’t know the exact circumstances the church was facing, we do know some about the cultural atmosphere of certain Roman cities in the first century. Philippi was in a region where Caesar was considered Lord – reigning sovereign over the Roman Empire. When Christians began claiming that Jesus reigned, this flew in the face of prevailing thought. In the Roman Empire, declaring Jesus was Lord could cause one to be cut off from commerce and loose sources of income. It’s likely, the Philippian church felt pressure to give in to conformity as well as fear and anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7). Paul’s command to “stand firm” is given because the waves of the world are strong and there are intense pressures to drift.

We face the same challenge today. We get tossed in the waves of prevailing cultural milieu and feel the pressure to conform to the empires of the earth rather than living guided by the ethics of our heavenly Kingdom. Then, when we put our feet down, the fear begins to set in, because we realize, we’re drifting. As followers of Jesus, how do we stand firm? We stand firm by anchoring our lives into the rock – God, our Savior. Paul commands the church to “stand firm in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1). When we feel ourselves drifting, we need to remember and worship Jesus, the rock. The act of redirecting our gaze and setting the affection of our heart on Jesus will allow us to stand firm in a world where waves crash and Caesars rule. Today, read through Romans 5:1-2 to remind yourself where you stand and give praise to the Rock your soul is anchored to!

 

 

 “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise
to the rock of our salvation!”

-Psalm 95:1

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By Ryan Paulson

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Stand Firm | Philippians 4:12016-11-14T05:00:24-07:00
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