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Posts Tagged ‘Philippians’

. . . inexpressible and glorious joy

These words ring in my head since I posted yesterday about Happiness – can it last?

There must be more to happiness than simply being aware of and enjoying the present moment. A happiness like that is real but fragile.

I want to have a robust perspective on life – one that does not insulate me in a protective bubble.

I want to come to terms with myself, my relationships, my fellow human beings and what we do to each other.

And there are bigger issues – what about the terrible suffering that people, communities and nations endure?

Suffering is real.

Who and where is God in all this? Does it matter?

Am I stretching this too far? These things matter a lot to me, and I think they do to most of us.

The apostle Peter talks about an inexpressible and glorious joy. He spent critical years learning with Jesus. He suffered personally and he witnessed the opposition, abuse, rejection and crucifixion of Jesus. And yet he speaks about hope and joy . .

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. . . .  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Mark Driscoll, preaching pastor at Mars Hill Church, gave an excellent teaching series from the book of Philippians on JOY in Suffering, Anxiety, Loneliness, Temptation, Conflict, Exhaustion, Poverty. Log in and listen to the one that is most relevant to your experience – I found the one on suffering really helpful.

This is about our spirituality – the salvation of our souls.

I am reading about soul-training, the stuff of getting to know God. Next week I will begin to share some of the things I am learning.

Those of you who study theology and philosophy will know far more than me about all of this – please join in and share your knowledge with us all. 🙂

Enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend. I pray you will experience many moments of joyous happiness and that God will begin to show you the inexpressible and glorious joy that you can be yours to sustain you through the challenges of life.

Can anyone suggest some music to go with the picture and text above?


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We can only have one thought at a time so we might as well make it a good one!

Reading Philippians these days I am challenged to check my attitude carefully.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.

Depression comes when we dwell negatively on the past and anxiety when we create troublesome stories about the future. Making the most of now, having the ability to hold the moment we have, gives us the opportunity to experience contentment now, and skill to endure and even overcome the toughest challenges.

So maybe a bit of self talk is good for us – don’t go over that again . . that might not happen . . stop moaning . .  get on with it.

Maybe a spell on the naughty step would give us a chance to externalise the negative  thoughts in our heads and decide whether they are getting us what we want.

The idea is that you spend one minute on the step for every year of your age. That should give most of us plenty of time to calm down, review the situation and reflect on whether we like the person we are becoming.

But making the most of the moment is so much more than simply stopping being negative. We can explore it – feel it, listen to it, smell it, look at it, be in it. We can even choose to put thoughts into it.

What about looking at what is already in the moment and is good. Counting your blessings.

Even just listing three things that are positive for you can make a difference – write them down.  Doing this every morning changes the way you feel. Remember the power of the most transforming tonic verse.

This is the day which the Lord has brought about; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

And the promise – you will shine like stars.

So here is a challenge for us for Monday – what about catching our thoughts one at a time and spring cleaning them. Are they the thoughts we want to have?

What would it be like to shine like a star in the sky?

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It is true – no matter how much we enjoy harmony in some relationships, in others we will have discord. And that can be difficult to handle.

The trouble is that so much of our interaction with others builds on what has happened in the past and what that means to us. At least 80% of our communication with others is unconscious. Our body language reflects the story that we have in our heads about each other. And the story in our head is built on our interpretation of past events. We believe that what we THINK is actually TRUE.

A typical example of this is the hospital receptionist I met last week who, before I opened my mouth, clearly lived by the belief that all patients are trouble. She was so conditioned to the story in her head that she could not see or hear me in the reality of the moment.

We recognise the pattern: ‘You always say that ‘. . . ‘You never do anything’  . . . ‘You are wrong / stupid / irritating / lazy . . .’

And so we slip into a pattern of thinking and behaving that escalates along the same path each time.

No surprise that we get the same outcome – friction.

Albert Einstein said

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

So how can we break the patterns and begin to get different results in our relationships?

Paul spells out some really practical advice in his letter to the Philippians.

Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.

. . . you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Mahatma Ghandi said “Be the change you want to see”.  Break the pattern. Write down three positive things about the person you have the biggest problems with – the best not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly, things to praise, not things to curse. Meditate on them.

As you change the way you think about the person you will find you can change the way you behave towards them. The pattern is broken and your relationship can begin to heal.

How interesting that the solution lies within our own grasp!

And the outcome:

a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.

Can you believe it . . .  and do you want it . . . ?

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Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

'Harmony' by Charlotte Segal

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

We travelled 1000 miles by car over the weekend to celebrate our nephew’s wedding. 4 generations together.

Great Grandpa chose this scripture from Philippians 4:4-9, to be read by his grand-daughter for her brother. She read form Grannie’s bible.

Grannie died last June.

6 great-grandchildren, age 4 and under, brought their special sense of life to the wedding feast.

Grannie and Grandpa prayed for us all regularly throughout all the ups and downs of life. Always making it clear they were on our side, working with us, not against us – the richest inheritance anyone could receive.

We are the same family and yet all very different. The beauty of the weekend was in the sense of belonging we felt together. We rejoice in the love we share for one another and acknowledge our individual responsibility to put into practice the things we learned, heard, saw and realised.

Harmony is a complex thing that emerges and is sustained by positive effort.

As you reflect on this, you can listen to amazing harmonies here. This is for you, Phil – I enjoyed our chat together 🙂

And, as we listen, maybe God has something to say to us about what we can do to sustain harmony in our families throughout the generations . . .

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