This episode might be more effective if you hum the Rocky theme music in the background! Paul faced trials in a way that very few ever have. To use the boxing analogy, he was repeatedly knocked to the canvas. But he kept getting up! And he didn't allow yesterday's beating to dissuade him from today's opportunity.
When I was a boy, I loved to throw rocks. (Sometimes that got me in trouble!) Have you ever thrown a rock into a placid body of water and watched the ripples it created? It almost impossible to keep track of all the circles. When the true Gospel splashes in a life to church, the ripple effect is automatic and immeasurable in its impact.
Remember lining up after recess? Or cutting in line because your best friend saved you a spot? In many ways, our Christian lives are a matter of getting in a line. Just be sure you know who's up front, and it might be a good idea to know something about who's before you and behind you. Paul emphasized this concept more than once, so we probably ought to learn it well.
Sounds strange, huh? That's because we are human beings, and what we do is a matter of who we are. And the profound truth of true spirituality is that we do what we do because we are who we are in Christ! Yes, Christians should work, labor, and endure; but these efforts naturally emanate from authentic faith, genuine love, and real hope. Listen in!
Sometimes an onlooking world struggles to fully explain the obvious difference the Gospel makes in the lives of people. Such was the case in Thessalonica. People described Paul and his companions as those who had turned the world upside down! I wonder what impact I am making in my Thessalonica... How about you?
We all have needs. But sometimes we confuse what we want with what we need; and when we do, we end up with a skewed view of God. What does it mean that our God will supply our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus? One church learned exactly what that meant. Will you?
You're probably envisioning a group of singers or musicians, aren't you? But that's not what I'm talking about here. Of course singing is a great way to offer worship to God, but the Paul praised the Philippians for worshipping God in quite another way! You might be a little surprised to learn just how...
I suppose that every Christian has an inner longing to hear the words "well done" one day from our Lord. What distinguished this special church at Philippi? What unique attitude did they possess? And, in spite of their apparent ability to do so, what special action did they take?
Christians love to quote Bible verses as if they are some kind of magic abra kadabra. Yanking them out of context, we can make the Bible say almost anything we want it to say. Dangerous! And perhaps the most disheartening part is the fact that we miss the great truth that the verse actually teaches.
Spiritual battles are won or lost in the mind. The monstrous habits that dominate so many lives are incubated in the mind. We need to post guards by the entry points to our minds, and we need to display real courage to expel the imposters that creep their way in. If what we think about determines what we choose, then we need to choose what we think about. Read that last sentence again.