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Agreeing Together

Philippians 4:2-3

Churches, like any other people-packed group or business, are liable to encounter disunity, party spirit, anger, slander and lies.  Of course, such behaviour is wrong and damaging to the cause of the gospel, as Paul outlined in Ephesians 4:17-32.  But in today's verses his attention is focussed on two women who have created a 'septic wound' in the fellowship.  Euodia means 'prosperous journey' and Syntyche means 'pleasant acquaintance': but they were certainly not travelling the same road together and hardly considered each other as friends.

Rejoice by Command

Philippians 4:4

This simple verse is a direct command, with the word repeated for double emphasis: “Rejoice … rejoice”.  Seeing the world through a Biblical lens we know that God's goodness and celebrating with joy is not a Christian option, nor is it to be reserved for special occasions.  It is to be the everyday normality of living in Christ (1 Peter 1:6).  Yet that is not every believer's experience, either for themselves or of others - which is why we need to be instructed to rejoice.

Strong but Gentle

Philippians 4:5

In many cultures, and especially in the world of business, gentleness is seen as weakness.  Of course, it is valued in the caring professions: nobody appreciates a rough nurse or harsh child-care worker.  But gentleness almost seems out of place in the traditionally strong roles in construction or corporate management, or in the nuanced power structures of the professions or academia.  However, the Bible says otherwise.  Gentleness is the strong characteristic of God Himself (Zechariah 9:9).  It was part of Jesus' nature (Matthew 11:29), and is one of the qualities the Holy Spirit grows ins

Resolving Anxiety

Philippians 4:6

Chronic anxiety is very disabling: it is never a good thing.  Paul commands his readers that it should be expelled from their lives.  Throughout the Bible, ‘Do not fear’, ‘Do not be afraid’ and ‘Do not be anxious’ are often repeated.  Abraham needed to hear it (Genesis 15:1), so did Joshua (Joshua 8:1), Ruth (Ruth 3:11), Elijah (2 Kings 1:15), and Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:30).  Even Paul knew fear (2 Corinthians 7:5).  If such Bible heroes needed God’s instruction to lay fears to rest quickly, so do we.  ‘Easier said than done’, I hear someone say; and you are right ...

Peace Through Release

Philippians 4:6-7

Those who pray and trust the Lord to bring the right answer at the right time are released from anxiety.   That release brings peace; but that is not just a comfortable feeling - it is the absence of war.  Paul wrote about peace with God as a legal statement (Romans 5:1).  When we have surrendered ourselves to God, and accepted the sacrifice of Jesus as being in place of our punishment for sins (explained in www.crosscheck.org.uk), God declares that we are no longer under His wrath (Romans 5:9).  Peace has broken out because His Holy Spirit has bro

Thinking Matters

Philippians 4:8

Following Jesus should change the way we think (Philippians 2:5-8), and as we think more like Jesus, we will learn to make the choices that please Him (Ephesians 5:10).  Choose to think about bad things and you will become shaped by evil desires (James 1:14-15).  Choose to think the way that Jesus thought, and you will start to see the world through His eyes.  ‘But’, I hear someone say, ‘surely you cannot control what you think!’  Oh yes you can!  Paul says so in this verse.

Learning that Works

Philippians 4:9

Following Jesus is an active business. He is not interested in us collecting spiritual ideas or even Bible verses, if we have no intention of doing anything about them (Matthew 7:24-29).  Truth in the Bible is not an ornament to decorate our minds, or a plaything for intellectual debate; it is God's communication about how we should think and act.  Of course, we will need to think about it, and it is good to study it with others, but if there is no practical lifestyle change its purpose has been thwarted (James 1:22-25).

Grateful without Grasping

Philippians 4:10-11

These verses give us a direct view into Paul's biblically balanced heart.  He had great joy knowing that the believers in Philippi cared about him (Philippians 4:14-15), but in other circumstances when Paul suffered alone (2 Timothy 4:17), he found strength and comfort in the Lord.  Human kindness is a wonderful gift in which God works through other people (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), but if we become totally dependent on them we will forget that our sufficiency is of God (2 Corinthians 3:5).  That does not mean that good inter-personal relationships are not important, but we must not be so emoti

The School of Contentment

Philippians 4:12

Most people would like to be happy, carefree and self-confident: but the Apostle Paul described himself as 'content'.  Usually, happiness depends on what happens, carefree living has no responsibilities and self-confidence comes from competence and acceptance by others.  It may sound like an idyllic life, but it is not the real world.  By contrast, Paul's life of hardship included cold and hunger, riots and imprisonments, shipwrecks and false brothers (2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28) - yet he was able to claim he was content.  Interestingly, many today, who have none of his di

'Can-Do' Confidence

Philippians 4:13

Paul's missionary life was full of apparently impossible challenges - but met by supernatural strength and wisdom.  The preceding verses (Philippians 4:4-12) show how Paul was always praising the Lord, always praying and always receiving God's peace.  Even in hardship he was content, and in prosperity he was not proud.