“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
One of my dear friends and faithful readers shared an additional thought on the “working out your own salvation…” text from last week. “I have a thought on Phil. 2:12,13, which you referred to this morning. I think Paul is not making a big theological statement here, but a practical one. It depends on the phrase, ‘not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence.’ You were obedient when I was with you. Now I am not. It’s up to you to take responsibility for your own Christian experience now, for God works in you.” Sort of like Paul saying, “I helped you understand this while I was with you. Now you’re on your own to apply the idea that ‘working out’ your salvation is understanding that ‘it is God working in you.’” I’ll keep musing on this text but I think it’s coming together a bit more for me.
Anyway, moving on, the last half of this letter is full of “rejoicing!” Paul uses the word over and over again. So how do I this thing called ‘rejoicing’?
- “Let your gentleness be evident to all”
- “Do not be anxious about anything”
- “Pray about everything”
- “Don’t forget to thank Him”
- “Think about these things:
- Whatever is true
- Whatever is noble
- Whatever is right
- Whatever is pure
- Whatever is lovely
- Whatever is admirable
- Whatever is excellent
- Whatever is praiseworthy!
I have often said, if the only part of the Bible I had were these couple verses I would know how to live for God and know how to be happy!! I still believe it! They sort of act like a check list, a measuring stick, to help me decide if my actions or attitudes are in harmony with God’s plan. What if before I said something, did something or thought something in question I first asked myself, “Is this true, noble, right, pure, lovely… etc?” I wonder what would happen? No I don’t—I pretty much KNOW what would happen!!
And the letter concludes with “And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Not all my WANTS but all my NEEDS! The difference between the two words is one of the biggest hurdles to get over in learning how to pray, how to trust, how to understand God’s leading and involvement in my life. He WILL take care of me and He WILL meet my needs. If it doesn’t get met, maybe it’s a want and not a need!! The sooner and better I get at separating those two descriptors of everything in life the happier I’ll be too!
And that ends the prison epistles, the book of Acts, and the historical record of Paul. Some tradition has him possibly being released from house arrest after a couple years and having a couple more years of life where he traveled back to Crete, where he left Titus to continue the work, then to Ephesus where he left Timothy for the same purpose, then on to Macedonia. He writes a couple letters to Timothy and one to Titus as he encourages his successors in their work as his apparently is coming to an end of his. Isn’t that just like a good leader—to be sure that his last acts are not about padding his portfolio of potential praise, but focusing on the future of his friends who became followers of the Father and faithful leaders of the flock! I hope to finish Paul’s writings by the end of the school year.
In the mean time—
Have a great day rejoicing… in the Lord… as He takes care of all your NEEDS,