Making light of small matters, &c.

A bad plan is better than no plan at all. A bad plan has a chance, however small, of going somewhere. No plan guarantees going nowhere. Likely, perfectionists will be the main objectors to this.

• “… one who makes light of small matters will gradually sink,” says Ecclesiasticus (not Ecclesiastes) 19:1 NJB. Methinks there’s a truth here, applicable to the slippery slope where men slowly slide into false doctrine. (All that alliteration was unintended.) Remember the old illustration (which is almost certainly false) of the frog in the pan?

• Epaphroditus was sent by the Philippian church to minister to Paul’s needs, besides carrying some financial help (Php 2:25-29). Instead, he got deathly sick. When he returned to Philippi, the saints might have thought him a failure, since instead of his ministering to Paul, Paul would have had to take care of him. But the apostle will have none of that. He gives him a rousing recommendation as he sends him home. Even shares his title of “apostle” with Epaphroditus, though of course in a different sense, of being the Philippians’ messenger or envoy. Some scholars think this passage is the heart of the book.

• The envoy who looks like a failure is really a success. Sound familiar? Read earlier in the chapter, verses 5-8.

• Anybody done any real work on the meaning of “work out” in Philippians 2:12? Obviously, it must relate to the obedience mentioned in the same verse. NLT has a definite twist in its rendering, making one wonder if this is accurate or slanted by evangelical faith-only doctrine. NCV sounds better to my ears (“Keep on working to complete your salvation”), but either might be right. Got an insight here into the contextual meaning?

• People love Fridays so much, because they can flee work for a couple of days. Is it a sign that work is not considered a legitimate means of service to God? Makes one wonder.

• Finally, a scrap of poetry, on a matter not so small.

Never did a human hope
Take quicker wing to headier heights,
Nor did a hand reach greater scope
Or covetous eyes see grander flights,

Than Eve before the Knowledge Tree
Of good and evil in Eden’s midst—
No harm so deep to humanity,
That fruit in her rebellious fist. —JRM

#philippians, #poetry, #slippery-slope, #sweat-the-small-stuff

Nudge: impressing others

Impress othersHere’s a Nudge for you, peeps. From today’s reading in Php 2, the NLT renders a thought in verse 3 this way, “don’t try to impress others.” I’m not here to discuss the accuracy of that rending, but it leads me to the nudging question.

Share an embarrassing moment when you witnessed someone (yourself, even?) trying to impress others. No names, please.

Or, if you prefer, when someone could have taken advantage of a moment to impress others, but showed the humility to which verse 3 urges us.

Just a thought, also: Is there an instance in Scripture of someone trying to impress others?

Fellows, please reply in separate posts. Visitors, feel free to reply in the comment area.

#humility, #impressing-others, #philippians

A Reflection of God’s Glory

Paul said that for him to live is Christ, but to die is gain. This is an interesting remark. How many of us look forward to leaving this life and going on to the next? Many of us will answer the question in the same way that Paul did, and why shouldn’t we? Yet, Paul knew that he would continue on in this life when he wrote what he did to the Philippians. Since he was convinced that he would continue on in this (his) present physical life – even while he was currently in prison – he knew he was doing so in order to benefit the Philippians (among others). Our life is a benefit to, and for whom? Let us all, as Paul told the church at Philippi, have our lives reflect God’s glory.

#glory, #philippians

What I do know

Yesterday, I immersed myself in the study of Philippians 2:1-4 for our Sunday Bible study in Taubaté. So many amazing things to discover! And what a blessing is the Internet, which brings so many resources within our grasp! I’ll never look at this letter the same again. Here’s a little outline for that pericope from David Alan Black:

  1. The bases of Christian unity (v 1)
  2. The results of Christian unity (v 2)
  3. The expressions of Christ unity (vv 3-4)

• Here’s another item to chew on: Two scholars suggest a structure for the letter and say the pericope perhaps least appreciated in Philippians is actually its center and main section: 2:17–3:1a. If they are correct, it wouldn’t be the first time that what we thought was of least importance turned out to be the Main Point.

• Did I mention the Christian Poets group is rising from the dead? Join in, if you’d like to contribute, and I’ll add you. Sorry if I repeat myself. Take it as an extra reminder. The world needs thoughtful works to prod the mind toward wholesomeness and toward God. Two new items today are already posted at the link above.

• Matthew 18 is that fourth discourse of Christ’s on life in the Christian community. Jesus speaks often of the little ones. Note that in Matthew 10 part of that group are evangelists and missionaries. It would appear that indeed they often don’t, in Rodney Daingerfield style, get much respect in established churches. I’m thankful to see many exceptions, and to be the recipient of those who honor little ones.

• Is the Occupy movement the last gasp of dying Socialism and Communism, or the beginning of the end as America slides into permanent decline? I know little about politics, less about economics, and absolutely nothing about the future. I do pray the Lord will bless my countrymen and family in the US, but I don’t know how that prayer will best be answered. I do know that God cares for his own.

#gospel-of-matthew, #philippians, #poetry

Philippians

Bro. Guy N. Woods preached a sermon summing the book of Philippians giving the theme verses of all four chapters. His was the best overall lesson on the book I’ve ever heard and has been a source of study to me for almost two decades.

He began the lesson calling the apostle Paul a “Christ-intoxicated man.” Paul’s mind was so filled with the Lord Jesus and with his word that he really didn’t have any competing thoughts. How much better would we do in this life if we lived the example Bro. Woods brings to mind? So often, we’re caught up in worldly matters that matter little.

Bro. Woods listed Philippians 1:21 as his first theme statement. “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” It is said Paul wrote the book  of  Philippians in Rome, chained to a soldier on each side. Paul might have looked like the captive, but the soldiers were the captive ones. They were a captive audience. Paul constantly lived and talked Jesus Christ.

The next theme he presented was Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Christians need to think like the Master, not like people of the world. Christians need to think as servants, not as lords. Christians must always be busy “working out their own salvation with fear and trembling.”

In chapter three, Woods chose verse 14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Pity, there’s not enough space to discuss everything this verse, as well as the context, contains. Suffice it to say that a study of the verse takes into account not only the context, but also the prepositions used in the sentence. Gems await.

The final theme verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” The people of Paul’s day were keenly interested in how to achieve contentment (and so is this generation). The major philosophies of the day, Stoicism and Epicureanism, sought to answer this longing with their peculiar ideas. However, Paul knew how to be content. He had been so whether in want or in plenty. His contentment sprang from Jesus Christ.

Paul was a man whose mind was filled with thoughts from and for Jesus. He was a man whose own life so well reflected the mind of Christ.

#jesus-christ, #mind, #philippians

From Philippi to Thessalonica

A passage that will likely go unmentioned by anyone — hence, my choice — is 1 Thess. 2:2: “But although we suffered earlier and were mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of much opposition.”

When Paul left Philippi, he seems to have gone without delay to Thessalonica. Luke says he passed “through Amphipolis and Apollonia” on his way there, apparently without stopping (Acts 17:1). (Alternatively, it is evidence for their sincerity.) The mistreatment he suffered in Philippi must have marked him, for him to mention it as he did to the Thessalonians. He and Silas had been beaten “severely” with rods, in public (Acts 16:23). It was in Thessalonica that he recovers from that beating and he must have still bore its marks when he preached in the synagogue of that city.

It would appear, then, that Paul was “deeply hurt” by the Philippian mistreatment (NASV Study Bible). It would seem that he had to muster the courage to continue to preach in Thessalonica and found it “in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.” The term “conflict” this this context “seems to suggest inner conflict which has risen due to external opposition” (R. C. Kelcy, Thessalonians, LWC, 40).

This is not Paul’s first hardship, however. He has weathered worse. Before this, on his first missionary journey, in Lystra, he had been stoned by Jews from Antioch and Iconium and left for dead (Acts 14:19). Perhaps he had a harder time “suffer[ing] many hardships” (Acts 14:22) injustly at the hands of the Romans than from the Jews.

However that may be, Paul did find the courage to preach in the next big city down the road, after the humiliation suffered in Philippi. Courage in our God. When men shrink from the trials and mere humans fail in their bluster, we find in our God the stiffness of spine to continue his mission in the world.

#1-thessalonians, #apostle-paul, #philippians

Philippians 4

Christians need to be the example, not the warning. A couple of prime warnings in the Bible are found in Phillipians 4.

Paul said, “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”

These were church-going Christian women who had been helping the Apostle Paul spread the Gospel. They did great things for the Lord but He didn’t want us to know them for the good they had done. He wanted us to know them for another reason.

They were hurting the church at Phillipi. We don’t know what they were doing but we do know what they weren’t doing. They weren’t getting along. They weren’t loving each other the way God intended. They weren’t being the godly women that they had been and could’ve been.

A friend recently sent me this quote, “I’d rather be the one who nailed the hands of Jesus to the cross than the one, who by pride or arrogance, hurt His church.”

May we never be so arrogant and prideful that we hurt or split the church of God and may we always be the example and never the warning.

#encouragement, #philippians, #the-apostle-paul

Philippians

Funny you should mention Philippians. Our preacher is covering that book on Sunday evenings. So far he has completed 7 lessons and just finished discussing Epaphroditus in chapter 2. All of Donnie’s lessons except the last one are online in our media library. It’s all been good, but I think the thing that has made the biggest impression on me is Paul’s unwavering dedication to the cause of the Lord, even while chained in prison. Oh, if we were to have such dedication. We all too often let the little things in life cause us to take our eyes off the mark. Paul is one to be studied and emulated.

#paul, #philippians

Daily Nudge: Philippians

Four short chapters chocked full of good truths. Tell us something today about Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Or his time there. Or about the city. From history to theology to ecclesiology, whatever, but give us a jolt from the gospel in that place and time, so that our spot on earth today may be enlivened and enriched.

This letter is on my mind because I tried to listen in last night to the live Engage! podcast, featuring Danny Petrillo from Bear Valley on Philippians. My browser kept crashing, however, which I think was due to a bad connection. So I want to go back and listen again later.

#bible, #book-of-acts, #nudge, #pauline-epistles, #philippians

“Once again in this epistle we are perh…

“Once again in this epistle we are perhaps being reminded of the great paradox: our dependence on God’s power does not preclude our effort, and our working does not contradict the reality of grace.”

Moises Silva in his Baker Exegetical Commentary on Philippians, second edition, p. 205

#grace, #philippians, #silva