Growing up, when I had a problem, I always ran to my father for help. I trusted that he would be the one with the right solution. As believers, we have a perfect and infallible Father in heaven who we can seek for the wisdom to navigate our journey through this life. As James exhorts us here in 1:5-8, we can trust Him absolutely for guidance in all things.
Part 3 of a whole book study series called “True Faith: A Study Through James”
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
While not as linear as Paul tends to be in his letters, James does leave threads between many of his topics. It is similar to how we as people are in conversation, taking a concept from one conversation and joining it to another, and then even going back to the first concept again later.
Here James moves from the idea of trials and their relationship to our sanctification (verses 2-4), so that our faith may not lack anything, to the idea that perhaps one of the primary things we may lack is wisdom. Continue reading →
In a way, our battle with anxiety comes down to a few simple questions: do we believe God or not? Do we believe He is sovereign over our lives or not? In Phil. 4:4-7, we find Paul exhorting us to bring all things to the Lord in prayer at all times because He is a God we can trust absolutely.
Part 17 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Remember — Paul was a prisoner awaiting trial that could potentially have led him to his death as he wrote this letter. And yet he still implores the Philippian believers to rejoice, despite his own personal circumstances; from a worldly standpoint, he had little cause for rejoicing!
In a certain sense, this exhortation to rejoice connects with Paul’s exhortation to rejoice in Philippians 3:1. And at the same time, it is part of his closing words and continues the thematic imperative to joy threaded throughout the letter.
It’s significant to reflect on the word always here. Consider: how difficult is it to rejoice in the Lord in the midst of a loss, grief, sickness, or other life chaos? Tough, right? We tend to let our emotions and feelings rule us in those times. It’s not that we shouldn’t have emotions and feelings; we were created with them. But we need the ability — based on our knowledge of God’s word — to be able to tell ourselves the biblical truth in spite of what we may feel at the time. We need constant reminders of what it is we have that goes beyond these temporal struggles and looks past these earthly pains. Continue reading →
To live for the things of this earth and for the desires of our flesh — no matter what name we claim — is to live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Paul continues to offer guidance on godly role models with a sobering contrast of those who call themselves Christians, but whose lives tell otherwise. (Phil. 3:17-21)
What does this have to do with joy in Christ? There is joy in seeing a real diamond among a handful of cubic zirconia. There is joy in identifying the truth in a world of lies. And there is joy in having a right and godly perspective for today and the future.
Part 15 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”
17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Here Paul tells the Philippian believers, be imitators of what you see in me of Christ and what has been taught to you of His ways. It is not that Paul sees himself as sanctimonious, high and mighty, or having arrived at perfection. We saw in the last study that he clearly sees himself as still running the race. He is also not in any way trying to gather followers for himself in the place of followers of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 3:4-5, he disparaged the notion of following a man and clearly stated he was a servant through whom you have believed. Continue reading →
Our past sins and regrets can often paralyze us, steal our joy, and have us looking back so much we forget what lies ahead. Paul encourages us in Phil. 3:12-16 to walk with the expectation and hope of our future resurrection glory, allowing that to motivate us to greater holiness by God’s enabling grace!
Part 14 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”
We saw in the last study that Paul rejected the idea of his human accomplishments making him righteous before God, that he held solely to faith in Christ for his salvation. He moves on in these next verses to explain the diligence with which he pursues conformity to Christ on a daily basis, with a view toward glory.
Already But Not Yet
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.
When Paul says in verse 12, he has not already obtained this or is already perfect, he is referring back to verse 11 about resurrection. His sanctification is not complete; he has not been resurrected or glorified. But he does know this much: he belongs to Christ. He has been adopted into the family of God through faith — God’s gift to him — and because of this, he longs for ongoing progress in his sanctification. Continue reading →
What is worth holding on to in the face of death? Your house, car, iPhone? Your job and education? Awards and recognition? To Paul, following Christ was more important than anything he had done or been in his life. In Phil. 3:7-11, he covers the deep significance in gaining Christ through faith.
Part 13 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
In the last study, Paul gave us a laundry list of why he looked righteous by worldly standards, but was clear that none of his reasons measured up. After he’s given us that list, he makes a sharp delineation here: these man-centered reasons are not just without value, but more emphatically, they are a loss, damaging, detrimental. However significant his background and training looked like it had value, when it came to comparing it to the value of Christ, it was a complete wash. When he trusted Christ, he turned his back on all that the world considered in him to be success and accomplishment.
Have you lost anything as a result of following Christ? Friends, work opportunities, the approval of others? Have you let go of dreams or plans that you thought were best for you in favor of pursuing things of eternal value? The next verse should be encouraging to you in that knowing Christ is worth more than anything you may have lost or given up. Continue reading →
Self-help mentality is rampant in this world. We’re told from an early age, you can do it, you have the power, you’re strong enough. But the Bible tells us the complete opposite: it is in Christ alone that your ability to navigate this world resides. Paul contrasts the advantages of being in Christ with what the world sees as advantageous in Phil. 3:1-6.
Part 12 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.
The word “finally” (loipon) in verse 1 of chapter 3 links all that Paul has talked about so far as he prepares to turn to the next subject (and ultimately toward the end of the letter). He often uses this word to introduce the next round of exhortations (related: Phil. 4:4; 2 Cor. 13:11; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Thess. 3:1) It is like when we say “so then,” “furthermore,” or “in closing.” The New Living Translation even goes so far as to translate this as “whatever happens.” Continue reading →
It’s Friday — time to take a deep breath and let it out! The Lord carried you in His strength through this week’s tangle of pressing obligations, daily tasks, difficult situations, challenging people, and all the things that make up this weary world.
Some reflections for your day on the sure sovereignty of God Almighty:
“Nothing in all the vast universe can come to pass otherwise than God has eternally purposed. Here is a foundation of faith. Here is a resting place for the intellect. Here is an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast. It is not blind fate, unbridled evil, man or Devil, but the Lord Almighty who is ruling the world, ruling it according to His own good pleasure and for His own eternal glory.“
— A.W. Pink
I pray you will take a moment to realize that you really can rest in His sovereignty. You don’t have to understand it all or figure everything out. Know that your heavenly Father is working out His plan and purpose for good — the good that He determines and sees in His infinitely wise vision with far greater clarity than ours. Whatever storms you face today, I pray He is your anchor!