Friday, May 13, 2011

Philippians 4:12-13

Philippians 4:12-13 says "I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

I have always loved verse 13 because it is a wonderful reminder that no matter what I may face in life, I can make it through it because Christ will give me the strength I need. I don't remember when verse 12 suddenly became so meaningful to me, but I think it was sometime after I was married.

On Tuesday, May 17, my husband and I will be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary. For the first year and a half, we both worked; but then I had Sarah and we felt my job was to be a stay-at-home mom. God definitely honored that decision and we were always in awe of how things worked out whenever we were in need. We have heard many times "I don't know how you guys make it on just one salary!" and we are always honest and tell people that we often do without things that we'd like to have because they just aren't necessary. We also let them know God has provided for us many times as well. I truly believe that is because we have put our faith in Him. We bring our requests to Him and then trust that He will answer and meet our needs.

The words "I know what it is to be in need" ring so true for us, but it is truly a marvelous thing to be content in the circumstances and have the peace of knowing that God WILL provide for us. I have seen it many times in our marriage where God met our needs in amazing ways. When Sarah began kindergarten, we had been a one-car family for 2 years. I set up doctor appointments in the afternoon so that Bob would be able to take us once he got home from work. He usually picked up the groceries we needed on his way home from work. We knew we couldn't afford to buy another car, so we were content to just make due with the one we had. Our church did a Family Fun Fest and a member of the church donated a car as the grand prize in a raffle. Bob and I chose to not buy any tickets because we didn't want to waste our money (and we felt it was like gambling). Two ladies at the MOPS group I was a part of at church told me that they had bought tickets and if either one of them won the car, they would give it to us. I was surprised and very touched, and so was Bob when I told him, but neither one of us thought too much more about it since we knew it was a long shot. To my amazement, the day after the raffle was held, one of these ladies came up to me at church and asked "I won the car. Do you want it?" Tears flowed down my face and all I could do was nod my head yes and give her a hug. I think I may have been able to mutter a thank you too. Even though we don't have that car anymore, we still remember how those people allowed God to work through them and bless us with something we needed, and we are still very thankful.

Another way God provided for us was just last year when our roof started to leak again. A few years earlier, the one skylight had caused a leak so we chose to just put a whole new roof on. Well, now the other skylight was leaking so we knew it was time to just have those skylights removed and the roof patched. We called the roofer who had done the roof the last time and he quoted us a price. We waited for two weeks, but he didn't show up and he didn't return my calls. Finally, I decided to try calling around to get other quotes. As I drove to worship team rehearsal one night, I told God the specific amount that I wanted to pay. Even the roofer we called first, who we figured was probably quoting us a very low price, was a couple of hundred dollars above the amount I told God I wanted to pay. We had a roofer who would be stopping by the next day and would give us a quote, so now I at least knew what amount he had to hit for us to accept his bid. He came in WAY over what our first roofer quoted us, so we declined and decided to just continue to wait for the first roofer to call. The next Sunday, a couple at church came up to us and gave us an envelope. They simply said they felt God wanted them to give us this. Inside was an amount of money, and I instantly realized the significance of the amount. When I took the amount that I told God I wanted to pay to have our roof fixed and added that to the amount that was in the envelope, it equaled the amount that our roofer was going to charge us! God had shown us again that because we were content in just waiting for Him to work through the situation, He rewarded us by giving us what we had asked.

If you are struggling with finances or any other situation, turn those requests over to God. Then be content in the knowledge that God knows what you need and He will provide for you in His perfect time. If it isn't in His will, then He may not answer the way you want Him to; but continue to be content because God knows what is best! Once you learn to be content in life, you will have such a peace because you know God is the one in control.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Philippians 4:8-9

Yesterday I talked about four verses in Philippians 4 that I had memorized. If you didn't read that post, the verses come from Philippians 4:4-7 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again-Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." As I opened my Bible up to the passage I need to read this month for my "Hidden Hearts" group, I decided to let God lead me as to whether or not there were more verses in this passage that He wanted me to memorize so I could hide them in my heart. His answer was a resounding 'YES!'

So, this morning, I memorized the next two verses in the passage: Philippians 4:8-9 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

The first thing that jumped out at me was the first part of verse 9 "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me - put it into practice." I am not only a mom to two kids, but I also teach them at home, so I was attracted to this verse because I want my kids to do what I tell them to do and learn whatever it is that I'm teaching them. Then I felt God gently point out that the verse says "whatever". Do I really want my kids to put into practice anything that they have heard from me or seen in me? Are the things I say and do always excellent and praiseworthy? Ouch! Sadly, the answer was no.

This morning I ended my devotions with a new desire to live my life in such a way that I am an excellent example of what a Christian should be. I want my kids and anyone who hears or sees me to know that they can put into practice whatever I have said or done. Who is watching what your say and do? Are your words and actions something you want others to put into practice? If not, why not make the same commitment I did and work harder at setting a better example to those around you?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Philippians 4:4-7

I decided to join a women's group at my church called "Hidden Hearts". At the beginning of each month, the pastor's wife will send an e-mail with a Bible verse to memorize. She also includes other verses that are in that passage so you can see the context where the verse you are to memorize comes from. We are to read that passage daily and journal what we feel God is telling us about the verse (or verses). I attended our annual church's women's retreat April 29-May 1 and that's when I first heard about this group. It had been formed a few month's before, but I hadn't been at the event where they first discussed forming it. Anyway, I thought it was a great idea when I heard about it at the retreat, but I forgot to go up after the meeting to sign up and get a journal. This past Sunday, it was announced again and they opened it up to all the ladies at the church. I was singing on worship team so I didn't have a chance right away to go up and get a journal. By the time I had a chance to do so, the journals were all gone. It's GREAT that so many women are interested in this group! Yesterday, I e-mailed the pastor's wife and told her I was interested in joining and she immediately sent me a message with this month's verse and surrounding text. I believe there are about 95 women now involved in "hiding God's Word in their heart". Isn't that awesome?!

The verse we are to memorize this month is Philippians 4:6. The passage is Philippians 4:4-20. I will continue to give the reference for any verse because I learned it is important to also memorize WHERE it is found when you memorize a verse because then you can tell others where it is found. The first thing I noticed when I turned to the passage this morning was that I had already had most of those verses highlighted in my Bible. I went to work on memorizing verse 6 and soon had it memorized. I will continue to say it every day to ensure it really is "hidden in my heart" because I know it can be easy to memorize something one day and not remember it the next! I then started to read the passage and felt compelled to memorize the first few verses. I did read the entire passage then, but I want to journal what I learned by memorizing the verses I did today. I do not have my Bible in front of me, nor do I have the verses written down anywhere in front of me either. This will all be from memory.

Philippians 4:4 says "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" It is easy to rejoice and praise the Lord when things are great, but how about when we are going through a painful or difficult time? How is it possible to rejoice ALWAYS? God brought to mind that He is always with us. We have the promise in the Bible that He will never leave us or forsake us. I have experienced many times that I am able to help someone us as a result of going through a difficult time myself. I especially like the poem "Footprints" because it describes how God carries us when we are going through difficult times. What better reason to rejoice is there than that?!

Philippians 4:5 says "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." I first had to say "OUCH!" when I read and memorized that verse because it is very hard for me to display gentleness when I am frustrated with my kids. When they are not listening or obeying me, it can be very easy to lose my cool and yell. I have been working on this and have made progress, but I definitely have a way to go. I know God doesn't expect me to be perfect because He knows I am human, but I want my kids to see Jesus in me all the time. If I didn't think it was hard to display patience and gentleness to everyone, this verse reminds me that the Lord is near. I took this two ways. First, the Lord is always near us. He hears and sees everything that we do, which is an excellent reminder of how important it is for me to be patient and gentle! I do NOT want the Lord hearing me not displaying gentleness to anyone! I also took "The Lord is near" as a reminder that the Lord will be returning again soon. I don't want to be the reason my kids don't make it to heaven! I don't want to be the reason for even one person to not make it to heaven! This verse helped me to see how important it is for me to really work on always be gentle so that others can see Jesus in me.

Philippians 4:6 says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." I'll be honest. After reading verse 5, I was a little anxious! When I read the first part of verse 6, I just had to smile. I don't think it was a coincidence at all that the words of this verse came when they did. It's a wonderful reminder that we don't need to be anxious about ANYTHING because we know we can come to God with our requests. We also can be thankful when we come to God in prayer because we know that He will hear us, and He will answer us in His perfect timing too.

Philippians 4:7 says "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." This is the perfect verse to summarize the previous three verses. If we rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, if we are gentle so that ALL can see it, and if we do not allow ourselves to be anxious about anything, but instead thankfully bring our requests to God in prayer....we will have the PEACE of God! I have experienced God's peace and it is indeed beyond understanding. I can't explain why I feel this indescribable peace in the midst of trials and difficulties, but I know it is there and I know it is from God. How wonderful to think that we can have this peace guarding our hearts and minds, so we won't feel worried about anything because we know God is in control. Instead of being worried, we can be thankful and rejoice!

I know this I hope that something I said will help someone see the wonderful promises that can be found in these four verses. I hope it will also encourage someone to decide to hide God's Word in your heart. How amazing it will be to be able to quote scripture whenever you need it because it is hidden in your heart. I will try to post the verse each month that I am working on as well as the passage to read daily that includes this verse in case anyone chooses to also be a member of the "Hidden Hearts" group.