What is the book of Philippians about?
At first read, it kinda looks like Paul was arrogant...especially when he talks about how he suffers for Christ. "I am in chains for Christ," he seems to boast.
As we were preparing to teach this class to the teens, I remembered a lesson taught by Randy Harris, one of my favorite preachers.
"It seems to me that this whole letter was written because two ole (church) sisters were fighting! And you think it's hard to memorize the books of the Bible NOW! What if they kept every letter that was ever written because a couple of church folks were fighting?!"
Don't believe it? Look at chapter 4:2-3!
With that in mind, read Philippians again and tell me what you see.
Here's what I see: If we read this understanding that he's trying to help two people who are fighting, the whole letter makes LOTS of sense!
1. He tells them he is in chains for Christ. (Philip. 1:12-18) NOW this passage makes sense! Basically, Paul says, "You guys are fighting and I'M IN JAIL!!" Of course, Paul writes it a lot more nicely than I would have. "You guys knock it off! Am I in jail for nothing? Remember that I'm in jail for Christ, while you FIGHT IN CHURCH!" When it's put that way, church fights just lose their power don't they? When you think there are people whose LIVES are in danger every time they worship God, it makes us appreciate the freedom we have.
2. He tells them to check their attitude. (Philip. 2:1-11) "You all are fighting?" Paul shakes his head and writes his next thought, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus..." OUCH!! That line ought to at least stall a fight for a little while!! I notice that Jesus humbled himself NOT JUST ONCE, but several times. Follow the reasoning: Jesus = GOD. He went from being GOD to being HUMAN. He went from being HUMAN to being a SERVANT OF HUMANS. He went from SERVANT OF HUMANS to CRIMINAL'S DEATH ON A CROSS. And Paul wants me to have THAT KIND OF HUMILITY IN THE MIDDLE OF A FIGHT?
3. He tells them to rejoice. (Philip. 4:4-9) How can you fight when you're rejoicing? When you're truly rejoicing, having a great day, it's REALLY HARD to stay mad at someone!
I've tried to help people get along many times, but this seems to be the BEST ADVICE EVER! Instead of trying to solve the problem, instead of trying to prove who's right and who's wrong, instead of choosing a side, instead of ignoring the problem hoping it will go away, instead of taking it to the elders...take this great advice from Paul.
Have you ever had a thought enter your head and wondered where it came from? Can God still give messages to you that are supposed to be shared with others?
Edward Fudge was a speaker at the Tulsa Workshop that really made me think. He asked these questions.
Well, a friend of mine recently asked for input on his worship planning. Of course, I started off by giving him my personal thoughts on how to make it better.
As my fingers raced across the board, this thought came to mind: "Just keep in touch with God, and you'll find your rhythm in planning the worship."
My fingers came to an abrupt halt.
Should I put that down?
Where did that thought come from?
"Nah," I decided, "it sounds too weird. Too judgmental. Too...I dunno."
Anyways, I hope my friend reads this blog and sees this message. And I hope it gives him great encouragement.
Did this message come from God? I dunno. But I DO believe that God can use my words to encourage other people. But that doesn't mean I quit listening!