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The Real American Dream


In light of some of the problems that plague the United States many have either forgotten or have never know what the “American dream” is really about. There is a considerable lack of understanding of why our founding fathers fled the oppressive hand of one, King George. Well, there is little sense in rewriting the history books. However, it serves great purpose to examine two points of interest in respect to the founding of the United States as it relates to the American dream.

Item one – The matter of religious freedom under King George was much less than a misnomer. One had to essentially celebrate his way or no way. This is to say that King George preferred a State religion. It was, in a manner of speaking, a type of the bondage held by the Romans over the Jews. The Israelites were not allowed to worship God as they desired. They had to worship predicated upon the desires of the ruling authority. This was the problem between King George and those that sought freedom.

The real American dream had much to do with religious freedom. The preamble of the Constitution of the United States points to our Creator. It is our Creator that affords us the freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights. The chief freedom is that of religion (or Christianity) as seen by our founding fathers. The 1st Amendment says in part that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” Hence, part of the American dream is one that allows the free worship of God without interference from Government. Note, the Amendment says nothing about freedom from religion, as some purport. Instead, the Christian need not hide or celebrate in private. He has every right to worship God publically without fear of governmental retaliation.

Still, there are those that seek to destroy Christianity. Christians are the only group of people wherein it is politically correct to offend and attack. Christians are the only ones forced to acquiesce to things contrary to the teachings of Scripture. Moreover, when Christians stand for godly virtues they are called everything but the children of God. Well, this is not what the founding fathers had in mind and this is not pleasing to God. The question, then, is where is the American dream for Christians desiring only to please God?

Item two – Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution discusses taxation. This is important because King George had no trouble imposing high taxes on the people. Among the taxes imposed on the young Colonies were the Tea, Quartering and Stamp taxes. None of these taxes did anything to aid America (not yet the United States) but served only to bolster the British desire. This was, in essence, theft of labour. This is why taxation, as outlined in the Constitution, was designed to be limited in scope and for the specific purpose of defending the homeland. The exact verbiage in part is, “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.”

Now, some argue that taxes should be high. Some even seek to biblical reason for such actions. While it is good and wonderful for the people to be generous and give of their labour it is not encumbered upon the Government to force such generosity. This is tantamount to slavery. Instead, part of the American dream is a dream to work and be successful. Some will fail and others will not. This really does not matter; the pursuit of happiness means there will be a struggle and that struggle comes in many forms. Financial stability, without an oppressive tax system, goes a long way to securing the American dream.

Many things can be addressed and the Constitution can be juxtaposed with Scripture on many fronts. And that is the point – freedom and the real American dream is a dream of worshipping God, even with our money, away from the oppressive hand of King George and the like.

 

Philippians 4:12-14 “I Can Do All Things Through Christ”


 

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

Phil 4:12-14 – “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.”

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Paul continues his thoughts on learning to live a contented life (vs 10:11)…

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:

Throughout Paul’s experiences in serving the Lord, he came to understand how to live a humbled, depressed life. He also had learned how to live a life in which his needs were more than met, as he overflowed with the necessities of life.

2Co 11:23-28 “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”

 

 

every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

 

Paul faced many different life experiences which taught him how to live with all his needs satisfied and, at other times, lacking all of those needs. He was taught how to live with excess and with lack.

 

 

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

 

Paul understood that it was only through divine intervention by Christ that he was able to remain faithful and contentment in his varying life situations. He could not do this on his own but was entirely reliant upon the empowerment of Christ in his life.

 

Joh 15:4-7 – “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

 

 

 

 

Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.”

He commends the church at Philippi because they shared their possessions with him, to help meet his needs, as he faced the times of lack in his life. Their acts of sharing to meet Paul’s needs were acts of love, grace and concern.

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Speaking for myself, there is one section of our Scripture for this morning that is very familiar and interesting… “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

 

This verse is applied in many different ways by teachers of God’s word. However it is important to notice that, in the context, being able to do all things through Christ specifically involves being able to remain faithful to the Lord, no matter what our state may be. Whether facing times of lack, or times of great overages, Paul is telling us that, through Christ, we will be able to make it through faithfully, and with a spirit of contentment.

May we all take this wonderful verse to heart and recognize our consistent need of Christ intervention in our lives to remain faithful no matter what life circumstances may come our way. It is only through Christ we can retain a spirit of contentment and dedication to His cause as we seek to always please Him.

2Co 3:4-5 – “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God”

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage… http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog… http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

Philippians 4:10-11 “Be Content”


 

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

Phil 4:10-11 – “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again;

Paul overflowed with calm happiness because their concern for Paul had begun bearing fruit once again. Based upon their love for Paul and blessings they had received of the Lord. They were able to resume sending Paul these love offerings which showed they still loved Paul and were financially being blessed of the Lord.

These were the source of Paul’s joy… knowing he was loved, the church there was being blessed, and he appreciated the blessings of love offerings sent to him.

 

 

 

wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

 

Prior to this, although the Philippian church loved and was concerned about Paul, they were not in a financial position to do so. With the receipt of the love offerings, Paul understood they were now being blessed by God financially which enabled them to send the offerings.

 

 

 

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned,

 

Paul emphasized his joy was not simply based upon the receipt of the love offerings. His joy was centered upon their continuing love for him and their current state of financial blessedness.

Paul materialistic needs were not a big issue with Paul. He had learned a very valuable lesson in his service for Christ….

 

 

in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

 

The word translated contentment is a very interesting one. It comes from two Greek words fused together that mean “enough for self” or “sufficient for self”.

No matter what his material needs (things like money, clothing, shelter, food etc.) might be, Paul had learned to possess an attitude that says “it is enough for me”.

Although the basic principle presented here is the need for Christians to be content in all areas of their lives, it especially points to the need to always be content in the material things of this life. This same principle is presented in the many texts that teach us not to crave the things of this world but to always seek first the spiritual things of God for our lives.

1Jn 2:15 – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

 

Col 3:1-2 – “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

May we all listen to the very important advice given to us by Paul…. Folks, we need to learn to be content, no matter what our lot may be in this life.

If we stop and think about these things, we will come to an understanding that, in the “big picture”, the things of this world are simply temporal, short-lived things that do not compare to the eternal blessings that await the people of God. May we all keep this our focus in our lives as we seek to give the eternal things of God first place in our lives.

1Ti 6:6-10 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage… http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog… http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

Philippians 4:8-9 “Think On These Things”


 

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

Phil 4:8-9 –Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Finally, brethren,

To bring to completion Paul’s instructions to the Philippians, he presents a listing of things that believers should concentrate on…

 

whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

 

What is the Christian to concentrate on?

Whatsoever things are…

1. true – actual to fact

2. honest – transparent, sincere, honorable

3. just – innocent, aligns with law of God

4. pure – clean, without blemish

5. lovely – acceptable, beautiful in God’s sight

6. good report – reputable, produces good testimony to others

7. virtue – excellence

8. praise – commendable, good to be encouraged

Folks, these are the things that we are all to keep our minds dwelling upon. When we think on these things, it limits the ability of Satan to tempt us and gradually lure us away from the Lord’s desires for our lives.

 

Rom 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Rom 8:5 – “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.”

 

 

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:

Paul then encourages the believers at Philippians to follow his ministry that he has presented to them. This includes his teachings, actions and the lifestyle example he has set for them.

Paul had also encouraged them to follow his example in 3:15-21. Keep in mind, Paul was emulating Christ in his life. By encouraging the Philippian believers to follow him, he was encouraging them to follow Christ.

 

 

and the God of peace shall be with you.”

 

When the Philippian believers think on the right things and follow godly examples that have been set before them, it will allow them to enjoy a close communion with the Lord. As they commune with Him and enjoy His presence in their lives they will be peaceful and content. They can know their hearts are right with the Lord and their lives are pleasing to Him.

 

 

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

May we all keep our minds guarded and dwelling on the Godly things we have seen listed by Paul. In doing so, we will keep our thoughts on Christ, His Word, and the encouraging truths that will keep us close to our Lord and in the center of His will for us.

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage… http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog… http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

Philippians 4:4-5 “Rejoice!”


 

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

Php 4:4-5 – “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Rejoice in the Lord alway:

 

The command to “rejoice” comes from a Greek word that means “to be calmly happy”. When Paul tells the Philippian believers to “rejoice in the Lord always”, he is emphasizing the need to live a peaceful, happy existence based upon a knowledge of the Lord’s controlling presence in our lives.

No matter what our circumstances may be, we can own a sense of peace and happiness knowing our Lord is in control and only works in our lives for our benefit.

Psa 46:1-3 – “To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.”

and again I say, Rejoice.

Paul emphasizes the need to live a joyous life, during all the circumstances of life, when he says “again I say rejoice”.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Paul then continues his instruction by telling the Philippian believers let their lives be lived in “moderation” (fitting, proper, appropriate) for each situation we face. That is the key to living a moderate life… always reacting in a way that is appropriate, not over-reacting, nor being totally detached from all that is taking place around us. Moderation understands that the end result of our actions is not the only basis of success. Success also involves how we react to a given situation, and the methods we use to handle the situation are of utmost importance as well.

 

It is doing what is right IN THE RIGHT WAY.

Living a moderate life exhibits a true faith and love for our Lord. It is telling all around us that we do not need to panic, nor do we need to fearfully ignore the events of our life. We are not like stampeding elephants that blindly run destroying everything in their way. Nor are we like an ostrich who sticks his head in the ground refusing to acknowledge the danger that lurked nearby. We are called to deal with whatever comes our way, moderately, through faith in Christ and a knowledge that He is in control of it all.

Paul them gives us one of many reasons why living moderate lives is so important…. “The Lord is at hand”. Folks, time is running short… what we are going to do for Christ must be done now!

John 4:35 – “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”

 

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

May we all seek to possess lives that are joyful and moderate in Christ. No matter what we may face, may we all possess a calm happiness, reacting in an appropriate way to every situation that comes our way. In doing so, may we reach many for Christ through our living testimony of faith and love.

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage… http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog… http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

Philippians 4:2-3 “those women which laboured with me in the gospel”


 

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

Php 4:2-3 – I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche,

Paul now “beseech (es)” the females that have labored with him in times past. To beseech simply means to call to oneside. Paul is inviting these ladies to join him by….

 

that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

…being in agreement in mind, desires, and knowledge of the truths of God. This will eliminate any disagreements and areas of friction between themselves as they serve the Lord.

Rom 15:5 – “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:”

Paul understood that many times Satan will use divisions and doctrinal error to hinder the work of Christ.

Rom 16:17-18 – “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”

 

Paul knew that Christians who stand firm in their faith and unifed as one will avoid many of these downfalls.

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers,

The idea of a “true yokefellow” involves one who was a sincere servant of Christ working side by side with Paul.

By “true yokefellow” Paul is probably addressing Epaphroditus or another faithful man who had joined him on his journeys (Timothy, Silas etc). Paul instructs him to help meet the needs of these women who had so faithfully served the Lord by his side. Note in this instance Paul seems to be placing this “yokefellow” in a more submissive role by helping meet the needs of the women as they served the Lord (not vice versa).

Paul goes on to list others who had been useful to his ministry while he was in Philippi. Clement is mentioned along with others who had worked side by side with Paul.

 

 

whose names are in the book of life.

Paul reminds his “yokefellow” that those he is sent to help are all spiritual brothers and sisters. As such, they shared many attributes with this yokefellow… their salvation experience; their Lord; their need to share Christ with others; their eternal blessings and homeland; etc etc. All of these help to cultivate a unity in service between the yokefellow and those he is sent to help.

 

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

There are several basic lessons we can learn from this portion of Scripture…

 

1. The importance of unity in mind, desires, goals, and doctrines, to effectively serve the Lord as one unit.

2. The need to appreciate and properly value the women who labor among us for the cause of Christ.

3. The proper attitude of humility, willing to step in and meet the needs of those who are serving Christ, no matter what their gender, position in the church, or age.

4. Those who labor with us are our spiritual brothers and sisters, and as such, share much in common with each of us including our eternal home.

May we all seek to follow the teachings of our Lord, given through the Apostle Paul, to be more effective servants for Him.

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage… http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog… http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

The Frailty of Humanity


Working in a maximum security prison with hardened inmates I get to see a lot of things. One of the things I see regularly is men walking around with walls so thick that it would take bulldozers to penetrate those walls. Yet, when I bring those same men in my office to speak with them the frailties begin to shine through. The walls are really a front because in the prison setting showing any sign of weakness could mean life or death.

My point is that while many put on strong fronts mankind is extremely frail. We are frail because we need to realize that we exist because of the strength of God that resides in those of us that rely and trust on the Lord of our Salvation. Despite this there are some who see themselves as strong and that they should be strong for those around them. This idea seems strange because it suggests that one should live outside what he is in order to present as something he is not.  Let me explain.

My work as chaplain means that I have to deal with people in all stages of life. One stage is sickness. You see, very recently a young man, not yet in his thirties, suffered a stroke while on the unit. This young man was rushed to a local hospital and I was notified. I quickly notified the family of the disease ridden young man. From there I determined I would visit him in the hospital and find a way to authorize a family visit. The warden was quick to approve the family visit and my plans to visit were being finalized.

At the appointed time I went to the hospital. Family members were there before I was. The young man, while conscious, was not very responsive. Family members and friends were apparently broken as they saw the helplessness of the young man and their own weaknesses. Out of well meaning one family friend advised the mother to be strong for the young man. This, in my view, is the problem. The mother had no ability to be strong. Her young son was lying in a hospital bed with no sure prognosis. He was moving yet not communicating. A young man who might have been thought strong was quite frail and frail indeed.

The mother could not contain herself. She was unable to stay in the room. He son was not only a ward of the state but also a ward to the trouble that rests in his body. She would not be comforted. She could not be comforted. Her human frailty began to break forth the more she considered the dire state of the son she loved. It was not within her to be strong. It was only within her to weep and morn. Her weakness allowed her to be human.

When we consider biblical characters Paul might be said to be amongst the strongest. His evangelical tours proved to be more than undetermined weak people could consider. The strength of Paul was enough to move him forward. The weakness of Paul allowed him to trust God. This idea of the weakness of Paul is amplified in II Corinthians chapter twelve. Paul’s continued reliance on God caused him to realize just how weak he was. It was also opportunity for the strength of God to be realized in frail man.

With this, I would encourage all to lay aside the idea that we should be strong on every count. As I left that hospital room and headed back to the prison my weakness began to come forth. It was all I could do not to cry. This was coupled with the fact that the day before I attended the funeral of a family member of a co-worker. Yes there are times when we must reach down in order to pull some who have given in to weakness. Even so, we are only able to pull because of the strength of God that resides in us. Do not be ashamed of the frailty of humanity. Instead, in frailty allow the strength of God to pour in and through you.

 

Philippians 4:1 “Stand Fast In The Lord”


 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

Php 4:1 – “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Therefore,

The word “therefore” refers us back to Paul’s previous teachings on the many blessings awaiting the believer at the second coming of Christ (3:20-21). He will be using these eternal blessings that await God’s people as a motivating force to encourage them to “stand fast in the Lord”…

 

 

my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown,

 

As Paul addresses the believers in the church at Philippi, he describes them as:

1. my brethren – Paul and the Philippian believers were members of the same spiritual family.

2. dearly beloved – Paul loved them with a sacrificial love

3. longed for – Paul missed them and sincerely desired to be with them

4. my joy – They brought delight to Paul as he heard about them and thought about them

5. crown – Paul’s was rewarded for his faithfulness by hearing and seeing their obedience and service to Christ.

All of these titles show us that Paul loved and appreciated his dear Philippian friends. This helps to remind us that Paul was encouraging the Philippians from a heart of love only desiring the best for them.

 

 

 

so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”

 

Paul encourages the believers to persevere in their service to Christ in the face of continuing opposition and danger. By remaining faithful they would probably face even greater hardships as their persecution would probably increase.

Why would Paul, one who loved them dearly, encourage them to take actions that would only increase their sufferings? It was because Paul understood that greater benefits lie in the spiritual blessings of obedience to Christ, then the temporal blessing of lesser opposition through compromise with the lost world.

 

Their faithfulness was a very important issue with Paul. He greatly desired to see them stand firm in their service to Christ in the midst of the persecutions they faced. This was so important to Paul that he had previously emphasized the need for continued faithfulness to them…

Php 1:27 – “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Folks, are we continuing faithful in the face of the many trials and issues of life that take place? Keep in mind, not only does our faithfulness reap eternal rewards for us, but it also encourages other believers around us. All believers are members of the family of God, and as a family, our actions affect others in our family. We are not islands to ourselves whose actions only affect ourselves.

 

Tit 2:7-8 – “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”

 

 

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage… http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog… http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

Philippians 3:20-21 “Our Vile Bodies Changed”


 

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

 

Php 3:20-21 – “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

For our conversation is in heaven;

For the believer, although we are not yet in God’s presence in Heaven, we already have our “conversation” (citizenship) there. Heaven, in the very presence of Christ, is our eternal home; it is where we belong. Our current habitation (this fallen earth) is not our home; this is why we are described as being “strangers and pilgrims on the earth”.

Heb 11:13 – “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

 

As citizens of heaven, our thoughts, words and actions should reflect our true homeland. This includes living Godly lives in the midst of the sins of this world…

1Pe 2:11 – “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;”

 

 

 

from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

The same heaven that is our eternal home, is also the home of our Lord. It is from this same heaven that Christ will descend at His second coming.

 

 

 

Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the

working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

 

Christ at His second coming will transform our fallen sinful bodies of flesh, making it comparable to the glorious body of Christ. The glorification of our bodies is foreshadowed at the Mt. of Transfiguration where our glorified Christ is seen in all His glory…

Mar 9:1-4 – “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.”

The same power that Christ exercises as He reigns over all, is the same power that He uses to glorify our bodies. He is the One, who is able to control the events of our lives, the angels of heaven, the spiritual powers of darkness of this world, and even Satan Himself. He is the same Lord that can easily glorify our bodies and deliver us from all the effects, and even the presence, of sin.

 

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

What a day that shall be. For the Christian, our coming eternity with the Lord and receipt of a glorified body are two truths that bring encouragement to their heart. How wonderful it is to know that someday, we will be delivered from the presence and results of sin and live eternally in the presence of our Lord and Savior.

Truly, what a day that shall be!

1Co 15:51-54 – “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”

 

 

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage… http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog… http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

Philippians 3:17-19 “Ye Have Us for an Ensample”


INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

Background to Philippians…

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).

Some of the main divisions of the book include:

1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2

2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11

3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26

4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18

5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30

6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11

7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21

8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9

9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20

10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23

 

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

 

Php 3:17-19 – “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

 

Paul encourages the brethren to be “co-imitators” of himself. He goes on to tell them to take note of those who follow Paul’s example. These are the people that the brethren are to follow.

Why would Paul encourage the brethren to follow him, instead of telling them to follow Christ?

1. Paul understood our human nature. It is far easier to follow an example we can see with our eyes as compared to attempting to follow an example based on the historical account of someone’s life. At this point in time in history Christ was no longer present on the earth and the Word of God was not completed yet. For people to learn about, and follow, Christ they would have to hear about His life from a first or second hand source.

2. In the context, Paul is telling them to follow His example because he was following Christ. In essence, by following Paul’s example they would be following Christ.

3. Also keep in mind the context of the passage. Paul had just explained his great desire to be willing to put sin to death in his life and live a life of sacrifice for Christ. He had just encouraged others to do so as well (vs 11-16).

He may have been referring to this aspect of his life only. In other words, he was telling the people of Philippi to follow the example he was setting by desiring to put sin away and give their all in the service of Christ. This would involve following Christ’s example in all things.

In any case, Paul’s encouragement for others to follow his example does no injustice to the importance of being followers of Christ.

 

 

(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

 

Paul understood the need for the brethren to carefully choose whom they would emulate. There were many who came in the name of Christ, claiming to be His servants, who were actually opposed to His cause.

 

They were a sorrow to the heart of Paul. He understood their lost condition and the great harm they caused to the work of Christ.

 

 

 

Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”

Those who actively oppose the work of Christ under the guise of service to Him are described by Paul as:

1. Whose end is destruction, – eternal ruin, constant entering into a worse state forever

2. whose God is their belly, – they worship and serve their fleshly appetites

3. and whose glory is in their shame, – the earthly honor and following they achieve will result in eternal embarrassment

4. who mind earthly things. – they place their attention and affection on the things this world has to offer.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

WOW! What a blessing it would be if we knew we lived such a Godly life that we would encourage others to be followers of us! If we carefully examine ourselves, I doubt if many of us (myself included) would feel comfortable do so.

This shows us such a need for Godly living on each of our parts! May we all follow the command of our Lord given to us by the Apostle Paul who said….

1Ti 4:12 – “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

Questions, Comments, or Suggestions?

Email me at: rob.barkman@settledinheaven.org

Homepage… http://www.settledinheaven.org

Text Blog… http://www.settledinheaven.wordpress.com

Video Blog… <a href="http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

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