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Despite Your Circumstances

“And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.”
Philippians 1:12 NLT

As we sat around the tables in Bible study class sharing prayer requests, it was almost depressing. Health issues resulting from disease, trauma, or unknown reasons; loved ones who needed Jesus in their lives; job and financial woes; relationship issues; a need for more affordable housing; personal struggles; ministry opportunities. The needs were real and sobering.

The apostle Paul was certainly a man who understood the hard stuff of life. Imprisoned for his faith in God, many scholars believe Paul was literally chained to a guard 24/7. Despite his chains, his letter to the Philippian church was filled with encouragement and joy; it revealed his great love and constant prayers for the believers.

While in confinement, Paul is not found whining and complaining about his bonds. Instead, his letter records him giving thanks to God because people are hearing about Jesus. Even the new believers were finding courage to speak out about Christ because of Paul’s example while in prison.

As Jesus followers, we are never promised a life of ease. We certainly see that all through the Bible and specifically in Paul’s life. Hardships are going to come sooner or later. Like Paul, will we use those circumstances to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ?

As we learn from the examples of others in the Scriptures, we should ask ourselves, “What are others learning through my example?” Are they seeing the love, peace, hope, and deep joy of Jesus regardless of my difficulty, or are they seeing worry, fear, anger, and anxiety instead? Our lives and situations influence others one way or the other depending on our actions and reactions to adversity. Only with God’s help can our lives bring support and encouragement to others.

May the following prayer be a source of strength during the tough times as we seek to proclaim the message of Christ despite our circumstances.

            “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in             knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you             may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with     the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for       this will bring much glory and praise to God.” Philippians 1:9-11 NLT

[Digging deeper – Philippians 1:12-30]

Proclaiming Him in all things,

Beverly <><

 

 

Photo Credit: http://thebiblerevival.com/clipart69.htm;

Judge Not!

“Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and He will apply to you the same rules you apply to others”.
Matthew 7:1-2 GNT

As I rounded the corner while on my morning walk in the neighborhood, a car came barreling out of its driveway like a crazy person. Another car had just turned onto the street, saw the car, and stopped, patiently waiting for the speedy car to go on its way. My first thoughts were, “How rude! Man, they need to slow down before someone gets hurt! Some people care about nothing but themselves driving like that in this subdivision!”

The rushing car, with dark tinted windows, sped down the street and was gone. It all happened so fast; I couldn’t tell you who was in the car, how many were in the car, what they looked like, nothing. All I know is that I heaped lots of judgmental and critical thoughts upon them for a few seconds.

The waiting car proceeded on its way, and suddenly I felt the prick of the Holy Spirit in my heart. The driver had chosen to be kind and thoughtful to the rushing individual. No obscene gestures or look of disgust were made as they slowly drove by me. In fact, they had exhibited the loving character of Christ in their actions.

I felt ashamed of my critical feelings. What did I know about the scenario? Absolutely nothing. The person in a hurry may have overslept and was running late for work. Maybe someone was ill and needed medical attention. What if there had just been a heated argument, or worse yet, abuse of some kind, and the driver needed to flee? What if they were just being careless and thoughtless? Either way, it was not my place to judge. It was my place to show the love of Jesus without condemnation. I had failed.

As I continued my pace, all kind of thoughts filled my head. How would I have wanted others to treat me if I had been the hasty driver? What good had it done me to make assumptions and judgments that were unjustified? Why did I have those opinions in the first place?

The rest of my walk consisted of humble confession and quiet contemplation of my actions. I had learned a valuable lesson about not judging. What an amazing God we serve who loves us unconditionally, knows our hearts better than we know it ourselves, and is quick to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He alone is the great Judge and transformer of our hearts and minds. [Digging deeper – Matthew 7:1-5, 12; Romans 2:1-3, 12:21, 14:10-13; 1 Peter 2:23]

Walking free of judgment,

Beverly <><

Photo Credit: free public domain photo

Pondering Proverbs: A Pig’s Snout or a Precious Jewel? (Part 5)

“A gracious woman gains respect.” 
Proverbs 11:16a NLT

As I close out this series of doses from Proverbs, I would be amiss if I didn’t cover one of the most recurring themes that I discovered – WOMEN! Whether it is a lengthy passage, or a single verse randomly placed within its pages, it is fascinating to read the diverse descriptions and details written about the female gender. To make it simple, most of the references about women fall in one of two categories – the good or the bad.

We’ll start with the ‘not so desirable’ grouping and work our way to the good. In the beginning chapters of Proverbs, one can read explicit details about the dangers and the pitfalls of falling for the seductive adulteress and the wiles of the harlot (for more on that check out Part 3 of this series). How any man could not heed the warnings of this kind of woman is beyond me! Solomon’s advice is loud and clear.

Throughout its thirty-one chapters, the Proverbs include other detrimental descriptions of women such as foolish, contentious, evil, cunning, lacking discretion, boisterous, rebellious, and unstable.  At all cost, let’s avoid these character flaws. Proverbs 11:22 sums it up with a graphic word picture.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without good sense. (NRSV)

Let’s focus now on some of the good things we find about women in the Scriptures. If you are unfamiliar with the Proverbs 31 woman, you definitely need to check her out. Verses 10 through 31 give an in depth look at a most remarkable lady. I think it only fair to assume that the lengthy description covers many years of her life as she learned and matured in her walk with God. There’s not enough room in this short devotional to list all the outstanding traits she possessed. Whether you are male or female, I trust you will take time to acquaint yourself with these verses and put into practice some of her worthy actions.

It is refreshing and encouraging to study the beneficial qualities and behaviors of a godly woman. Throughout Proverbs you will find her described as worthy, wise, prudent, excellent, virtuous, gracious, strong, and God-fearing. She attains honor; she builds her house instead of destroying it; she is the crown of her husband; she is worth more than jewels – diamonds, rubies, or pearls!

To all our female readers out there, what kind of woman do you want to be? The choice is yours. Make a wise one!                                                                                                                                 [Digging Deeper – Proverbs 12:4, 14:1, 19:14, 23:27-28, 27:15-16, 31:10-31]

His priceless jewel,

Beverly <><

 

 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of www.freeimages.com/photo/pot-belly-pig-2-1464076

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