1252.) Philippians 4

February 18, 2014

Philippians 4 (New International Version)

Closing Appeal for Steadfastness and Unity

1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my JOY and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

Paul used the ancient Greek word for crown that described the crown given to an athlete who had won the race. It was a crown of achievement (a stephanos); not the crown that was given to a king (a diadema). The Philippians, as they stand fast in the Lord, were Paul’s trophy.

–David Guzik

2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Final Exhortations

calligraphy by Michael Noyes

4 REJOICE in the Lord always. I will say it again: REJOICE! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.

Romans 12:2 (English Standard Version)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

9 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.

Thanks for Their Gifts

10 I REJOICED greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.


_________________________

Music:

I love Twila Paris.  She says, “I want to encourage people to be faithful in what God has given them to do, however insignificant it might seem, because they have no idea how huge it could be in God’s overall plan.”  Here she sings “I Can Do All Things” — and notice that her emphasis is on the “through Christ” rather than the “I.”

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14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

Paul described the gift of the Philippians in terms that remind us of sacrifices in the Old Testament (Genesis 8:21, Exodus 29:18, 29:25, and 29:41).  Our giving to God’s work is similar to Old Testament sacrifices, which also cost the person bringing the sacrifice a lot.  Bulls and rams did not come cheaply in that day.

–David Guzik

19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Spurgeon thought that this verse was a great illustration of that wonderful miracle in 2 Kings 4:1-7, where Elisha told the widow to gather empty vessels, set them out and pour forth the oil from the one small vessel of oil she had into the empty vessels.  She filled and filled and miraculously filled until every empty vessel was full.

  • All our need is like the empty vessels.
  • God is the one who fills the empty vessels.
  • According to His riches in glory describes the style in which God fills the empty vessels – the oil keeps flowing until every available vessel is filled.
  • By Christ Jesus describes the how God meets our needs – our empty vessels are filled with Jesus in all His glory.

20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Final Greetings

21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.  23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
verse and sunflowers.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_SsDGvPp2qG8/TLQreKWlVzI/AAAAAAAABik/XhEVAjp6GXA/s1600/1482586028051563516S600x600Q85.jpg
Noyes.   http://www.michaelnoyes.com/images/products/product_165_copyright.png
Think on these things.    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/111/290317481_2baba442c0.jpg
Philippians 4:13.    http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2010/016/7/e/Philippians_4_13_by_ValenC.jpg
No Whining sign.    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/317AFqKY%2BRL.jpg
Paul signature.    http://www.rowforhope.com/html/images/Paul%20-%20Signature.GIF
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1251.) Philippians 3

February 17, 2014

Philippians 3 (New International Version)

No Confidence in the Flesh

1 Further, my brothers and sisters, REJOICE in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

Paul first lists four things that were his possessions by birth.

  • Paul was circumcised the eighth day in accordance with Leviticus 12:3.
  • Paul was of the stock of Israel, a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and an heir to God’s covenant with them.
  • Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, a distinguished tribe. Benjamin was distinguished by the fact that it gave Israel her first king, Saul (1 Samuel 9:1-2). It was the tribe that aligned itself with faithful Judah when Israel divided into two nations at the time of Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:21). It was also the tribe that had Jerusalem in its boundaries (Judges 1:21).
  • Paul was a Hebrew of the Hebrews. This contrasts him with the Jews who embraced Greek culture as it spread through the Mediterranean. In that time, many Jews became ashamed of their Jewishness and tried to live and act as much like Greeks as they could, sometimes even to the point of having their circumcision cosmetically restored or hidden so they could enjoy the Roman public baths without being noticed as Jews.


Paul lists three things that were his by personal choice and conviction.

  • Concerning the law, a Pharisee:  This tells us that among an elite people (the Jews), he was of an elite sect (the Pharisees), who were noted for their scrupulous devotion to the law of God.  “There were not very many Pharisees, never more than six thousand, but they were the spiritual athletes of Judaism.  Their very name means The Separated Ones.  They had separated themselves off from all common life and from all common tasks in order to make it the one aim of their lives to keep every smallest detail of the Law” (Barclay).  The concern that Pharisees had for keeping the law is reflected in passages like Matthew 23:23.
  • Concerning zeal, persecuting the church:  Paul was not merely an intellectual opponent of perceived heresies, he was an active fighter against them – even in his blindness to God.  Paul’s observation that the Jews of his day have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2) was of course true of his own life before God confronted him on the road to Damascus.
  • Concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless:  This shows that Paul achieved the standard of righteousness which was accepted among the men of his day – though this standard fell short of God’s holy standard.  By man’s interpretation of the law, there were those who were deceived into thinking that they really were blameless, like the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-23).

In summary, if anyone could lay claim to pleasing God by law-keeping and the works of the flesh, it was Paul.  He was far more qualified than his legalizing opponents were to make such a claim.

–David Guzik

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

. . . but I press on . . .

We live too hurried lives, sometimes; talk too much; think too little.  With the goal in view am I racing on is one version of verse 14.

I am pressing on — that was Paul’s word.  Is it ours?  For what has our Lord laid hold of us?  Are we laying hold of that?  Or are we content to live the ordinary life?

Let us press on through all hindering things, distracting thoughts, unworthy feeling.  Let us press on through all feelings of sloth or discouragement or fear, to the place where our God can speak to us in the stillness, and hold us close to His heart.

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Following Paul’s Example

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven.

Cartoonist Arthur Brisbane once pictured a crowd of grieving caterpillars carrying the corpse of a cocoon to its final resting place. The poor, distressed caterpillars, clad in black raiment, were weeping, and all the while the beautiful butterfly fluttered happily above the muck and the mire of Earth, forever freed from its earthly shell.  Needless to say, Brisbane had the average funeral in mind and sought to convey the idea that when our loved ones pass, it is foolish to remember only the cocoon and concentrate our attention on the remains, while forgetting the bright butterfly.

Dr. Werner von Braun, well-known for his part in pioneering the U.S. space program, said that he had “essentially scientific” reasons for believing in life after death. He explained: “Science has found that nothing can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All it knows is transformation. If God applies the fundamental principle to the most minute and insignificant parts of the universe, doesn’t it make sense to assume that He applies it to the masterpiece of His creation — the human soul? I think it does.”

The English scientist Michael Faraday (1791-1867) is considered to have been one of the greatest experimental physicists.  When Faraday was questioned on his speculations of a life after death, he replied:  “Speculations?  I know nothing about speculations.  I’m resting on certainties.  I know that my Redeemer lives, and because He lives, I shall live also.”

And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

_________________________

Music:

Verse 10:  I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings . . .

“I Want to Know You”  by Sonic Flood.  Bet it will make you tap your foot!

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Philippians 3:8.    http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ldy2atP1fS1qcgzw1o1_500.jpg
4.    http://ohshouse.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/12427969621529811764number_4_in_red_rounded_square-svg-hi.png
3.    http://www.superhifive.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/600px-MA_Route_3.svg_.png
Philippians 3:14.    http://www.theiemommy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/philippians3_14.jpg
citizenship in heaven.    http://www.edmarbella.com/SafelyHome/images/CitizenshipHeaven.jpg

1250.) Philippians 2

February 14, 2014

The Face of Christ — detail from the Crucifixion from the Isenheim Altarpiece, c. 1512-16

Philippians 2 (New International Version)

Imitating Christ’s Humility

1 Therefore

“Therefore” points back to what Paul has said in chapter 1, telling the Philippians how to stand strong for the Lord against external conflicts.  Now he tells them how to act against internal conflicts in the body of Christ.

if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,

“If there is any consolation in Christ”: Is there any consolation in Christ? Of course there is! Every Christian should know what it is to have Jesus console their soul.

  • Luke 2:25 says that one of the titles for Jesus as the Messiah is the Consolation of Israel. Paul could say in 2 Corinthians 1:5, For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. In 2 Thessalonians 2:16, Paul says that God has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace. Of course there is consolation in Christ!

“If there is any . . . comfort of love”: Is there any comfort of love? Of course there is! Every Christian should know what it is to have Jesus give them the comfort of love.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:3 says that God is the God of all comfort. There is no way He cannot comfort us and no circumstance beyond His comfort. But this is more than comfort; this is the comfort of love.
  • The word comfort in this passage is the ancient Greek word paraklesis. The idea behind this word for comfort in the New Testament is always more than soothing sympathy. It has the idea of strengthening, of helping, of making strong. The idea behind this word is communicated by the Latin word for comfort (fortis, the same root as for “fortitude” and “fortress”), which also means “brave.” The love of God in our loves makes us strong and makes us brave. Of course there is comfort of love!

“If there is any . . . fellowship of the Spirit”: Is there any fellowship of the Spirit? Of course there is! Every Christian should know what it is to have the fellowship of the Spirit.

  • Fellowship is the ancient Greek word kononia. It means the sharing of things in common. We share life with the Spirit of God that we never knew before. The Holy Spirit fills and guides and moves in our lives in a powerful and precious way. Of course there is fellowship of the Spirit!

“If there is any . . . affection and mercy”: Is there any affection and mercy? Of course there is! Every Christian knows something of the affection of God, and the mercy of God.

Paul mentions these things in a manner that suggests to us that they should all be obvious parts of the Christian’s experience. To make his rhetorical point, he could have just as easily said, “If water is wet, if fire is hot, if rocks are hard” and so forth.

Each of these gifts – consolation in Christ, comfort of love, fellowship of the Spirit, affection and mercy – are communicated to us both in a direct, spiritual way from Jesus, and from Jesus through His people. But there isn’t any doubt that these are real gifts for Christians to really experience.

–David Guzik

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2 then make my JOY complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

If I consider you above me, and you consider me above you, a wonderful thing happens:  We have a community where everyone is looked up to, and no one is looked down on!

Psalm 138:6 (English Standard Version)

For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
   but the haughty he knows from afar.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Zechariah 9:9 (English Standard Version)

Behold, your king is coming to you;
   righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey.

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Isaiah 43:11 (English Standard Version)

I, I am the LORD,
   and besides me there is no savior.

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Music:

Chris Tomlin and “Name of Jesus.”

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Do Everything Without Grumbling

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

REMEMBER THE FUTURE

In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul tells the people in Philippi to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, for “it is God who works in you.”  He never indicates that God will work redemptively in our lives in spite of us.  God wants to work with us for our future, transforming us into the people he desires us to be.

Do you ever feel uneasy about the future?  One of the best antidotes for that uneasiness is to look back upon the past and see the miracles of God’s prevenient grace:  how he worked in your life even before he brought you to himself.  It helps to consider how many strings he pulled and what power he used to bring us to the place where we found Christ.  Notice his providential, sovereign hand on you since that day, and remember that God’s will toward you has not changed.  His will toward you is just as good today as it was yesterday, as good as it was when you were a sinner who did not know him and he was lovingly working to bring you to himself.  And he will continue to work and bring you to ultimate, final, and full salvation.

That is why Paul can joyously look at circumstances that seem negative.  When he is in prison (Phil. 1:7) and when he is in need of financial support (Phil. 4:12), he can rejoice.  He knows what the will of the One who is sovereign over all is toward him.  It is good, and it will not change.  How appropriate to work with that will.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,

Phil2 no complaining

15 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 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am GLAD AND REJOICE with all of you. 18 So you too should BE GLAD AND REJOICE with me.

Timothy and Epaphroditus

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier,

“My brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier”: Paul gives these important titles to Epaphroditus. He was a man Paul valued as a partner in the work of ministry.  Brother speaks of a bond to be enjoyed; worker speaks of a job to be done; soldier speaks of a battle to be fought. It is precious and rare when God grants to us relationships which operate on each of these three levels.

–David Guzik

who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may BE GLAD and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great JOY, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

The ancient Greek phrase for not regarding his life uses a gambler’s word that meant to risk everything on the roll of the dice. Paul says that for the sake of Jesus Christ, Epaphroditus was willing to gamble everything.

In the days of the Early Church there was an association of men and women who called themselves the gamblers, taken from this same ancient Greek word. It was their aim to visit the prisoners and the sick, especially those who were ill with dangerous and infectious diseases. Often, when plague struck a city, the heathen threw the dead bodies into the streets and fled in terror. But the gamblers buried the dead and helped the sick the best they could, and so risked their lives to show the love of Jesus.

–David Guzik

“Heart of Stone” by D. Goth

I think of how much Christ has done for me, and how often I am — oh, my hard heart! — reluctant to give my all for him.  For further meditation and encouragement to be a gambler for Christ, with a heart that is not made of stone, read this blog from my friend Sue Awes:  click  HERE.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
The Face of Christ.  http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mADCHMPfz5g/TaWhX4usOVI/AAAAAAAAAYU/t8DSx2aVbUI/s400/222497%257EThe-Face-of-Christ-Detail-from-the-Crucifixion-from-the-Isenheim-Altarpiece-circa-1512-16-Posters%255B1%255D.jpg
obedience of Christ.  http://www.tracts.com/slave5.gif
house of the future.   http://www.plan59.com/images/JPGs/styling_house_of_the_future_00.jpg
no complaining.    http://beechlandbaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/phil-2-14-33551_441x210.jpg
gambler.  http://righteousfilm.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/god_gamblers_gal.jpg
Heart of Stone.  http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cQTVudI20WI/TUmUAQI7twI/AAAAAAAAAKw/kZGf5hRHaHs/s1600/heartofstone3.jpg

1249.) Philippians 1

February 13, 2014

Philippians 1 (New International Version)

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to his close friends, the Christians in Philippi, likely from his Roman house arrest described at the end of Acts (Acts 28:30-31), waiting for his court appearance before Caesar (around the year 61).  Philippi was a wealthy town, thanks to nearby gold and silver mines and a large number of (retired military) Roman citizens.  The church in Philippi was founded by Paul some eleven years before this letter, on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:11-40). This was the first church established on the continent of Europe.

2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with JOY 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Ezekiel 16:60 (New Living Translation)

Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.

7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Deuteronomy 5:33 (English Standard Version)

You shall walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.

Paul’s Chains Advance the Gospel

Paul chained to a Roman guard.

12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

FURTHERING THE GOSPEL

There are two ways to look at every situation:  How it will affect you, and how it will affect God’s kingdom.  The apostle Paul was always concerned with how his circumstances might aid the spreading of the Gospel.  When he was unjustly imprisoned, he immediately looked to see how his imprisonment might provide God’s salvation to others (Phil. 1:13; Acts 16:19-34).  When he was assailed by an angry mob, he used the opportunity to preach the Gospel (Acts 22:1-22).  When Paul’s criminal proceedings took him before the king, his thoughts were on sharing his faith with the king (Acts 26:1-32)!  Even when Paul was shipwrecked on an island, he used that opportunity to share the Gospel there.  Regardless of his circumstance, Paul’s concern was how he could use his current situation to tell other of God’s good news of salvation.

Often when we encounter a new situation, our first thoughts are not about God’s kingdom.  When we face a crisis, we can become angry or fearful for our own well-being, rather than looking to see what God intends to do through our circumstances.  If we remain self-centered we will miss so much of what God could do through our experiences, both for us and for those around us.

Ask God to make you aware of how He could use your present circumstances to bless others  Perhaps someone around you needs to see the difference Christ’s presence makes in your life.  Are you willing for God to use your circumstances to demonstrate His saving power to those around you?

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I REJOICE.

Yes, and I will continue to REJOICE, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and JOY in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your JOY in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

_________________________

Music:

“For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

_________________________

Life Worthy of the Gospel

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Matthew 5:11-12 (English Standard Version)

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Be joyful.    http://www.sermoncentral.com/PowerPointImages/Philippians/Philippians1.jpg
map showing Philippi.    http://www.jesuswalk.com/philippians/images/philippi_map.gif
Philippians 1:6 with butterfly.    http://www.scriptureartonline.com/files/QuickSiteImages/Phillipians_1-6_Butterfly_email_size.jpg
Paul chained to Roman guard.    http://www.purifiedbyfaith.com/Ephesians/images/Paul%20chained%20to%20a%20Roman%20guard%20writing%20a%20letter-w-bkgnd.jpg

599.) Philippians 4

August 18, 2011

Philippians 4 (New International Version)

Closing Appeal for Steadfastness and Unity

1Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my JOY and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

Paul used the ancient Greek word for crown that described the crown given to an athlete who had won the race. It was a crown of achievement (a stephanos); not the crown that was given to a king (a diadema). The Philippians, as they stand fast in the Lord, were Paul’s trophy.

–David Guzik

2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Final Exhortations

calligraphy by Michael Noyes

4 REJOICE in the Lord always. I will say it again: REJOICE! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.

Romans 12:2 (English Standard Version)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

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9 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.

Thanks for Their Gifts

10 I REJOICED greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.


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Music:

I love Twila Paris.  She says, “I want to encourage people to be faithful in what God has given them to do, however insignificant it might seem, because they have no idea how huge it could be in God’s overall plan.”  Here she sings “I Can Do All Things” — and notice that her emphasis is on the “through Christ” rather than the “I.”

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14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

Paul described the gift of the Philippians in terms that remind us of sacrifices in the Old Testament (Genesis 8:21, Exodus 29:18, 29:25, and 29:41).  Our giving to God’s work is similar to Old Testament sacrifices, which also cost the person bringing the sacrifice a lot.  Bulls and rams did not come cheaply in that day.

–David Guzik

19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Spurgeon thought that this verse was a great illustration of that wonderful miracle in 2 Kings 4:1-7, where Elisha told the widow to gather empty vessels, set them out and pour forth the oil from the one small vessel of oil she had into the empty vessels.  She filled and filled and miraculously filled until every empty vessel was full.

  • All our need is like the empty vessels.
  • God is the one who fills the empty vessels.
  • According to His riches in glory describes the style in which God fills the empty vessels – the oil keeps flowing until every available vessel is filled.
  • By Christ Jesus describes the how God meets our needs – our empty vessels are filled with Jesus in all His glory.

20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Final Greetings

21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.  23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
verse and sunflowers.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_SsDGvPp2qG8/TLQreKWlVzI/AAAAAAAABik/XhEVAjp6GXA/s1600/1482586028051563516S600x600Q85.jpg
Noyes.   http://www.michaelnoyes.com/images/products/product_165_copyright.png
Think on these things.    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/111/290317481_2baba442c0.jpg
Philippians 4:13.    http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2010/016/7/e/Philippians_4_13_by_ValenC.jpg
No Whining sign.    http://www.tapcostore.com/v/vspfiles/photos/SPWhine-2T.jpg
Paul signature.    http://www.rowforhope.com/html/images/Paul%20-%20Signature.GIF

598.) Philippians 3

August 17, 2011

Philippians 3 (New International Version)

No Confidence in the Flesh

1 Further, my brothers and sisters, REJOICE in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

Paul first lists four things that were his possessions by birth.

  • Paul was circumcised the eighth day in accordance with Leviticus 12:3.
  • Paul was of the stock of Israel, a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and an heir to God’s covenant with them.
  • Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, a distinguished tribe. Benjamin was distinguished by the fact that it gave Israel her first king, Saul (1 Samuel 9:1-2). It was the tribe that aligned itself with faithful Judah when Israel divided into two nations at the time of Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:21). It was also the tribe that had Jerusalem in its boundaries (Judges 1:21).
  • Paul was a Hebrew of the Hebrews. This contrasts him with the Jews who embraced Greek culture as it spread through the Mediterranean. In that time, many Jews became ashamed of their Jewishness and tried to live and act as much like Greeks as they could, sometimes even to the point of having their circumcision cosmetically restored or hidden so they could enjoy the Roman public baths without being noticed as Jews.


Paul lists three things that were his by personal choice and conviction.

  • Concerning the law, a Pharisee:  This tells us that among an elite people (the Jews), he was of an elite sect (the Pharisees), who were noted for their scrupulous devotion to the law of God.  “There were not very many Pharisees, never more than six thousand, but they were the spiritual athletes of Judaism.  Their very name means The Separated Ones.  They had separated themselves off from all common life and from all common tasks in order to make it the one aim of their lives to keep every smallest detail of the Law” (Barclay).  The concern that Pharisees had for keeping the law is reflected in passages like Matthew 23:23.
  • Concerning zeal, persecuting the church:  Paul was not merely an intellectual opponent of perceived heresies, he was an active fighter against them – even in his blindness to God.  Paul’s observation that the Jews of his day have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2) was of course true of his own life before God confronted him on the road to Damascus.
  • Concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless:  This shows that Paul achieved the standard of righteousness which was accepted among the men of his day – though this standard fell short of God’s holy standard.  By man’s interpretation of the law, there were those who were deceived into thinking that they really were blameless, like the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-23).

In summary, if anyone could lay claim to pleasing God by law-keeping and the works of the flesh, it was Paul.  He was far more qualified than his legalizing opponents were to make such a claim.

–David Guzik

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7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

. . . but I press on . . .

We live too hurried lives, sometimes; talk too much; think too little.  With the goal in view am I racing on is one version of verse 14.

I am pressing on — that was Paul’s word.  Is it ours?  For what has our Lord laid hold of us?  Are we laying hold of that?  Or are we content to live the ordinary life?

Let us press on through all hindering things, distracting thoughts, unworthy feeling.  Let us press on through all feelings of sloth or discouragement or fear, to the place where our God can speak to us in the stillness, and hold us close to His heart.

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13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Following Paul’s Example

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven.

Cartoonist Arthur Brisbane once pictured a crowd of grieving caterpillars carrying the corpse of a cocoon to its final resting place. The poor, distressed caterpillars, clad in black raiment, were weeping, and all the while the beautiful butterfly fluttered happily above the muck and the mire of Earth, forever freed from its earthly shell.  Needless to say, Brisbane had the average funeral in mind and sought to convey the idea that when our loved ones pass, it is foolish to remember only the cocoon and concentrate our attention on the remains, while forgetting the bright butterfly.

Dr. Werner von Braun, well-known for his part in pioneering the U.S. space program, said that he had “essentially scientific” reasons for believing in life after death. He explained: “Science has found that nothing can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All it knows is transformation. If God applies the fundamental principle to the most minute and insignificant parts of the universe, doesn’t it make sense to assume that He applies it to the masterpiece of His creation — the human soul? I think it does.”

The English scientist Michael Faraday (1791-1867) is considered to have been one of the greatest experimental physicists.  When Faraday was questioned on his speculations of a life after death, he replied:  “Speculations?  I know nothing about speculations.  I’m resting on certainties.  I know that my Redeemer lives, and because He lives, I shall live also.”

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And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

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Music:

Verse 10:  I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings . . .

“I Want to Know You”  by Sonic Flood.  Bet it will make you tap your foot!

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Philippians 3:8.    http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ldy2atP1fS1qcgzw1o1_500.jpg
4.    http://ohshouse.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/12427969621529811764number_4_in_red_rounded_square-svg-hi.png
3.    http://www.superhifive.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/600px-MA_Route_3.svg_.png
Philippians 3:14.    http://www.theiemommy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/philippians3_14.jpg
citizenship in heaven.    http://www.edmarbella.com/SafelyHome/images/CitizenshipHeaven.jpg

597.) Philippians 2

August 16, 2011

The Face of Christ -- detail from the Crucifixion from the Isenheim Altarpiece, c. 1512-16

Philippians 2 (New International Version)

Imitating Christ’s Humility

1 Therefore

“Therefore” points back to what Paul has said in chapter 1, telling the Philippians how to stand strong for the Lord against external conflicts.  Now he tells them how to act against internal conflicts in the body of Christ.

if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,

“If there is any consolation in Christ”: Is there any consolation in Christ? Of course there is! Every Christian should know what it is to have Jesus console their soul.

  • Luke 2:25 says that one of the titles for Jesus as the Messiah is the Consolation of Israel. Paul could say in 2 Corinthians 1:5, For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. In 2 Thessalonians 2:16, Paul says that God has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace. Of course there is consolation in Christ!

“If there is any . . . comfort of love”: Is there any comfort of love? Of course there is! Every Christian should know what it is to have Jesus give them the comfort of love.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:3 says that God is the God of all comfort. There is no way He cannot comfort us and no circumstance beyond His comfort. But this is more than comfort; this is the comfort of love.
  • The word comfort in this passage is the ancient Greek word paraklesis. The idea behind this word for comfort in the New Testament is always more than soothing sympathy. It has the idea of strengthening, of helping, of making strong. The idea behind this word is communicated by the Latin word for comfort (fortis, the same root as for “fortitude” and “fortress”), which also means “brave.” The love of God in our loves makes us strong and makes us brave. Of course there is comfort of love!

“If there is any . . . fellowship of the Spirit”: Is there any fellowship of the Spirit? Of course there is! Every Christian should know what it is to have the fellowship of the Spirit.

  • Fellowship is the ancient Greek word kononia. It means the sharing of things in common. We share life with the Spirit of God that we never knew before. The Holy Spirit fills and guides and moves in our lives in a powerful and precious way. Of course there is fellowship of the Spirit!

“If there is any . . . affection and mercy”: Is there any affection and mercy? Of course there is! Every Christian knows something of the affection of God, and the mercy of God.

Paul mentions these things in a manner that suggests to us that they should all be obvious parts of the Christian’s experience. To make his rhetorical point, he could have just as easily said, “If water is wet, if fire is hot, if rocks are hard” and so forth.

Each of these gifts – consolation in Christ, comfort of love, fellowship of the Spirit, affection and mercy – are communicated to us both in a direct, spiritual way from Jesus, and from Jesus through His people. But there isn’t any doubt that these are real gifts for Christians to really experience.

–David Guzik

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2 then make my JOY complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

If I consider you above me, and you consider me above you, a wonderful thing happens:  We have a community where everyone is looked up to, and no one is looked down on!

Psalm 138:6 (English Standard Version)

For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
   but the haughty he knows from afar.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Zechariah 9:9 (English Standard Version)

Behold, your king is coming to you;
   righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey.

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Isaiah 43:11 (English Standard Version)

I, I am the LORD,
   and besides me there is no savior.

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Music:

Chris Tomlin and “Name of Jesus.”

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Do Everything Without Grumbling

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

REMEMBER THE FUTURE

In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul tells the people in Philippi to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, for “it is God who works in you.”  He never indicates that God will work redemptively in our lives in spite of us.  God wants to work with us for our future, transforming us into the people he desires us to be.

Do you ever feel uneasy about the future?  One of the best antidotes for that uneasiness is to look back upon the past and see the miracles of God’s prevenient grace:  how he worked in your life even before he brought you to himself.  It helps to consider how many strings he pulled and what power he used to bring us to the place where we found Christ.  Notice his providential, sovereign hand on you since that day, and remember that God’s will toward you has not changed.  His will toward you is just as good today as it was yesterday, as good as it was when you were a sinner who did not know him and he was lovingly working to bring you to himself.  And he will continue to work and bring you to ultimate, final, and full salvation.

That is why Paul can joyously look at circumstances that seem negative.  When he is in prison (Phil. 1:7) and when he is in need of financial support (Phil. 4:12), he can rejoice.  He knows what the will of the One who is sovereign over all is toward him.  It is good, and it will not change.  How appropriate to work with that will.

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14
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 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 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am GLAD AND REJOICE with all of you. 18 So you too should BE GLAD AND REJOICE with me.

Timothy and Epaphroditus

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier,

“My brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier”: Paul gives these important titles to Epaphroditus. He was a man Paul valued as a partner in the work of ministry.  Brother speaks of a bond to be enjoyed; worker speaks of a job to be done; soldier speaks of a battle to be fought. It is precious and rare when God grants to us relationships which operate on each of these three levels.

–David Guzik

who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may BE GLAD and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great JOY, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

The ancient Greek phrase for not regarding his life uses a gambler’s word that meant to risk everything on the roll of the dice. Paul says that for the sake of Jesus Christ, Epaphroditus was willing to gamble everything.

In the days of the Early Church there was an association of men and women who called themselves the gamblers, taken from this same ancient Greek word. It was their aim to visit the prisoners and the sick, especially those who were ill with dangerous and infectious diseases. Often, when plague struck a city, the heathen threw the dead bodies into the streets and fled in terror. But the gamblers buried the dead and helped the sick the best they could, and so risked their lives to show the love of Jesus.

–David Guzik

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"Heart of Stone" by D. Goth

I think of how much Christ has done for me, and how often I am — oh, my hard heart! — reluctant to give my all for him.  For further meditation and encouragement to be a gambler for Christ, with a heart that is not made of stone — read my friend Sue Awes’ blog on the subject:  click HERE.

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
The Face of Christ.  http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mADCHMPfz5g/TaWhX4usOVI/AAAAAAAAAYU/t8DSx2aVbUI/s400/222497%257EThe-Face-of-Christ-Detail-from-the-Crucifixion-from-the-Isenheim-Altarpiece-circa-1512-16-Posters%255B1%255D.jpg
obedience of Christ.  http://www.tracts.com/slave5.gif
house of the future.   http://www.plan59.com/images/JPGs/styling_house_of_the_future_00.jpg
without arguing.    http://the160acrewoods.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/phillipians214.jpg
gambler.  http://righteousfilm.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/god_gamblers_gal.jpg
Heart of Stone.  http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cQTVudI20WI/TUmUAQI7twI/AAAAAAAAAKw/kZGf5hRHaHs/s1600/heartofstone3.jpg