On Paul, Philippians, & Perspective. On Goals, Stand Firm, & Agree.

Recently, I read through the book of Philippians. What a powerful book. Today I’m sharing posts I shared on social media each day God showed me something in Paul’s letters.

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“not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your deliverance- and this is from God.” Phil 1:28
Our peace comes from God alone. When the world shakes we are held steady. Our peace drives the enemy mad. He can’t conquer it. It’s a secret weapon he wants us never to discover.
Truth is under attack. Don’t fear speaking the truth. Stand in His peace. This world is fleeting.

When I think about my goals, they typically center around me. When I read Paul’s goals in Philippians chapter 3, I am convicted.
“My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Phil 3:10
This is so powerful. The goal- know Jesus. To know the power of His resurrection, we have to die first. Resurrection comes after death. Die to myself, my pride, my selfish desires, my cravings.
To know the fellowship of His sufferings has never been a goal of my life. I try my best to avoid suffering. To fellowship in His sufferings is to be rejected, ridiculed, mocked.
I want to love Jesus so much that I am willing to lay my life down daily. Only then will I see resurrection power.
One of the many things I love about Paul’s letters is how he starts many sentences with “but”. I lost a few points in high school English for starting sentences with but, but now…..I love starting with but. But that’s beside the point.
In Philippians 3:13-14 Paul says, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”
Paul had proper perspective. Look up. Reach forward. Go for the promised prize.
In verse 20 we are reminded why we feel like strangers living in a strange world. “but our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This isn’t our final home. We are visiting. Don’t lose hope. He’s coming back soon. In the meantime, keep pursuing Him!!

As I read Philippians 4 today, a phrase caught my attention. It was 3 small words which were directly after 3 key phrases.
The 3 phrases: Stand firm. Agree. Rejoice.
It seems that today to stand firm equates to disagreeing. And to disagree leads to complaining rather than rejoicing. In my humanness this is true. But Paul shows us the key to unity.
These 3 words: in the LORD.
Stand firm ——>>in the LORD
Agree ————>>in the LORD
Rejoice ———->>in the LORD
Wait. What? And how? You see we are incredibly distracted. Years ago I studied The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer. I’ll never forget one image she drew of the way the Romans fought. How one tactic was to set arrows on fire and shoot them about setting fires that demanded attention. The defending soldiers would put all their efforts into putting out fires leaving them defenseless.
Friends, satan has set ablaze distracting fires. Fires of viruses, fires of civil unrest, fires of masks, fires of school decisions, fires of racial wars, fires of corruption. Oh the fires. They are everywhere. And we have set down our offensive weapons and picked up buckets of water.
Let’s step away from the smoke, clear our vision. We stand firm in the Lord. His ways, His truth, His Word. We don’t deviate. Ever. At all. Stand firm. We agree in the Lord. All the stuff we bicker about, refocus. Where do we agree? We agree in the Lord. His ways, His truth, His Word. Finally, we rejoice in the Lord. Because we stand in Him and agree in Him we will rejoice in Him.
And to be sure we understand, Paul says it this way, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: REJOICE!” Phil 4:4


The Power of Perspective – Getting Uncomfortable with God Series


“Mom, isn’t this picture cool?”

I folded the napkin and placed it next to the bowl, glancing over my shoulder at his drawing. “Yes.  It’s nice.”  I’ll admit it.  I just did a 1/2 glance.  He loves to draw, but he gets in phases where he draws the same scene over and over again.  My eyes have been trained now to take a peek and say I like it.

I assume I already know because I’ve seen it before.

He inquired further this time.  “What do you see?”

“I see us at the beach having a good time.”

“Well, that’s not what I drew.  Look closer.”

Stepping away from the table, I curiously studied the paper.  I saw what I thought was Jacob and Zachary in the ocean playing with a beach ball.  A jelly fish was swimming a good distance away.  They were safe.  Meanwhile, me, Steve and Andrew were smiling and waving from the sand.

With full confidence, I relayed my interpretation to him.  His smirk confirmed my errors.  “Mom, that’s not it at all.  Not even close.  Look, me and Zachary are in the ocean, and a shark is heading our way.  See, that is his fin and the ripples of water he is creating.  You are shrieking from the beach and waving your hands around.”

Wow!  Talk about a misinterpretation.  I made the mistake of assuming it was the same old picture.  I’d seen it before.  A hundred times.  However, from his standpoint, this time was different.

Perspective is everything.  

I saw a happy beach scene.  He saw a morbid approaching death scene.  I had a positive outlook.  He had a deadly outlook.  It’s all about perspective.  How we look into a situation.

Oftentimes the danger in our perspective is history.  We tend to let our past experiences shape how we view our present situations.

Have you ever found yourself in conflict with someone or your feelings hurt over something and wish you could just get out of it? I have found myself here more times than I like.  The fact is we can’t avoid conflicts.

I vowed this year to avoid any and all conflicts.  Guess what!  God brought me more!   I kept my mouth closed when I wanted to speak, I fostered “healthy, safe” relationships and avoided ones with potential for conflict.  It didn’t work.  God has work to do in my heart that can only be worked out through conflict.

God works in my discomfort.  This is a theme in my life right now, so let me repeat it.  God works in my discomfort.

I’m uncomfortable with conflict.  But in my discomfort, God’s power is revealed.  When I’m in conflict, I must CHOOSE to love the person.  This is not comfortable for me when I’m angry or hurt.  In fact, it’s completely impossible for me to love.  But it’s not impossible for God.  So He lets me go there.  To that place of extreme discomfort where I can choose to yield to Him, choose to obey Him, choose to love.

I’m always telling my boys, “If you want to get better at something, you need to practice.” Often those words reverberate back to my heart as I see God allowing me ample opportunities for practice.

The ding of my email sounded.  I expected it was more junk mail to delete.  Shocked, I read an email from a friend that had completely misinterpreted a message I conveyed.  Initially, I began to play my side of the story in my head.  How could they have assumed that…..I never said that…..I said this….Don’t they realize I have this going on and that’s why I said that…..It all made perfect sense.  To me.  My perspective was different than theirs.  I didn’t have the same past experiences they had shaping their reactions.  Nor did they have mine.

God’s whisper is so soft and gentle.  So sweet to the soul.  “No, Renee, they don’t see all of that. They simply want to feel loved.  They have only their perspective, which is shaped from their past-which might have nothing to do with you.  They might have past hurts and insecurities that feed into their interaction with you.  Just love them.”

It’s uncomfortable to be in conflict.  But love.  Well, it covers it all.

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1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

So here’s the challenge.  Will you join me in getting uncomfortable with God?  Where do you feel God leading you out of your comfort zone?  Do you see Him guiding you towards greater holiness through your discomfort?  Do you see relationships characterized by conflict in which you can choose love?