Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Reading Philippians 2:12-3:1 March 12, 2010

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“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

Following Jesus’ example of putting others before ourselves is really hard.  He was always able to do it; He never sinned once.  He was even able to die for people who didn’t deserve it: us.  “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). Now that is unselfish.

Because Christian love and humility is so difficult, Paul reminds us to CAREFULLY think about how we love and act toward others; especially since we are to shine like lights amid the ignorance of God all around us.  It is with awe we remember that God works in our lives as He wishes. Our salvation proves that!  And this awe, translated into “fear and trembling,”  is over God’s ability to do as He wishes, to even work within us mysteriously.  Paul’s command, then, so we can together be those lights, is to

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning…” (2:14).

Ah, that is the rub, isn’t it?  Working together to show and tell others about the good news of salvation; striving side by side for the faith of the gospel; without being afraid of opposition.  No grumbling or complaining about the way life or the struggle for the gospel goes. Instead, we are to rejoice in who God is–loving, in control, full of grace and truth (Philippians 3:1).

Joy is the emotion which comes from this certainty of what God is like and how He acts toward us. Rejoicing in the truth about God is what it means to strengthen yourself in God. (David did that when things went badly for him.)  It is to remember and be happy about God’s sovereignty in life events and in our salvation–and the way things may go as we work together to spread the gospel.

You know, this is not positive thinking.  That is mentally to set up how you want things to be or to look for the best in the hand you’ve been dealt.  Instead, this is being careful how you think about God. As Paul put it, “holding fast to the word of life..”  especially about what the Bible says about God, so that when Jesus our Lord and Savior comes again we, and our pastors and teachers, won’t be embarrassed at how we have been behaving.


Reading Philippians: Chapters 1-2 March 9, 2010

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Paul’s desire is to courageously stand up for the gospel.  “It is my eager expectation …that I will not be at all ashamed…”(1:20). He urges these Greek believers to do the same–to engage themselves in the conflict, to stand side by side, united in their intent to spread the gospel—–unafraid and unashamed.

Now to do this, we must remember the basic Christian principle of  love and humility:

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (2:3-4).

Jesus is to be our example.  He gave His life as an atonement for our sin; He suffered so that we might not die (2:5-11).  He was unselfish.

Matthew Henry (England, 1662-1704) said that loving others more than ourselves is the first lesson in Christ’s school.  It is not an easy lesson!  Especially when you disagree over the best way to spread the gospel. Just get a great idea, form a committee, and watch the sparks fly.

Keep an eye on yourself.  That idea you had becomes your own “interest” (2:4), and, suddenly, instead of serving others, you are ramming something down their throats. On the other hand, we don’t have to cave in to every opposition either.  Rather, Paul reminds everyone that opposition to the gospel is to be expected and resisted.  After all, Satan is like a roaring lion looking around for whom he can eat up.

It is a lot easier to just not be engaged in this conflict.  When your children resist your Bible stories, just read Disney instead.  When ladies get catty at Bible studies, just stay home.  When others don’t get excited about your evangelistic idea, drop it.

Instead of caving in, we would be wise to think about the sovereignty of God and whether our attitudes and actions are pleasing Him (2:12-13).


Real Stories February 3, 2010

Filed under: Bible Story For Children,Philippians — womenembracingfaith @ 4:25 pm

Children love fantasy.  And it is hard even for those in early elementary grades to distinguish the difference between Mickey Mouse and Paul of  Taurus.  So in Bible lessons, tell them “this is REAL.”

Here is the story (for adults too)

Jesus died and rose up into heaven right in front of a lot of people. T hen, fifteen or so years later, Paul, a missionary, went to a country that was not his own. He could speak their language, Greek.  Some exciting things happened in this town of Philippi, in Macedonia.

Paul and some friends (Luke, Silas, Timothy) went to Philippi after dreaming a man called to them, asking for help.  God used this way of telling Paul to go to Europe instead of  to Asia. World history would have been a lot different if they had gone to Asia as planned.  Sometimes God changes our plans.

Paul and his friends met some women down by the river, praying.  One lady, Lydia, was a wealthy business woman in town to make some money.  She was so happy to hear that there was a way for her to be saved from her sin.  She and her family all believed what Paul taught about Jesus being the One who died so they could know God and be close to Him.

A young slave girl was controlled by an evil spirit.  Paul said to the demon, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to come out of her!”  And it did.  But now the girl couldn’t tell the future anymore, so her owners dragged Paul and Silas to the judge.  They were mad and lied, saying Paul and Silas were teaching others to disobey the law.  The  lie spread around town until  a mob formed and began beating Paul and Silas right there in front of the judge.  The judge threw them in prison to keep them safe from the mob.  They were chained way deep inside the prison.  Paul and Silas sang and prayed together.

It gets even more exciting.  An earthquake struck.  Their chains fell off.  The prison doors opened.  But, neither Paul or any of the other prisoners left.  I guess they were asking Paul questions or something.  The jailer was really scared because he knew the Roman Judge would have his neck for this big escape.  They told him to calm down, and then told him all about Jesus’ life, death, and going into heaven.  All to pay the price for this jailer’s sins.  He cleaned up their wounds (remember, they had been beaten by the mob) and then asked to be baptized as a sign of  his sins being washed away. Everyone in his family believed also.  Just like Lydia’s .

Now these two families and some other people became the church in Philippi.  They stayed friends with Paul and helped him plant churches in Greece and helped the Jewish Christians during a bad time.  Paul would visit them 2 more times, and then write them a letter from prison in Rome.  They helped bring the gospel to Europe.  Later, Europeans would sail across the Atlantic, bringing the good news of  Christ to America.

This is a wonderful story about how God showed Paul where to go, then helped him with an earthquake, and saved two families and a slave girl and helped a new church get started which then would help send the gospel along into the Roman Empire and Western Europe.  We never know what God will do!  (See Acts 16 for details)

Always Apply the story:

Do you go to church?  Do you have more than two families there? Do you believe Jesus died for your sins? Are you sorry for your sins?  Do you ever tell others about Jesus? Have you ever been in an earthquake?  Isn’t it wonderful to know God saves people–some rich like Lydia, some slaves like this girl, some working folks like this prison guard?  It doesn’t matter what our family is like, He can save anyone!