Type and press Enter.

New here? See how to Get Started

FOR TO ME TO LIVE IS ……? (The Gospel According to Philippians)

Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

But so often, if we are honest, we would have to say:

For me to live is family.

For me to live is health.

For me to live is success.

And when those things fail us, and we come to the brink of despair, it is a gift from God.

For if we realize that Christ must be our life,

then we can enjoy the gifts without demanding from them what they cannot give.

Last week I was blessed with another gift. A grandson. Born to Beth and Seth.


Introducing Kenneth Steven Harrington: 4/16/13
Introducing Kenneth Steven Harrington: 4/16/13

This child, plump with possibility, had been given to us. We were euphoric.

But mountaintops are for a moment.

We were told he was jaundiced. Had to go under the lights, a blindfold on his wee head.

He wailed and flailed and his mother could only stand and watch.

He cried.

So she cried.

So I cried.

KENNETH

Finally I took their two-year-old home and left the parents at the hospital. It rained all night and in the morning my basement guestroom was filled with water. I had to evacuate my soggy belongings while Seth hurried home, removed furniture, vacuumed up water, pulled back carpet, and tried to convince his wife, who was experiencing baby blues, that the house was not a disaster, when indeed, it was.

guestroom
the abandoned guest room

 

The next night I was  attempting to get their two and a half year old, Katherine, to bed. I did everything I could think to do: water, story, prayers, rocking, more water…Still, she kept getting up, wailing, pointing toward the living room. We had begun at 7 and it was nearly 9. Past my bedtime.

“Use your words, Katherine.” (This is the new phrase I’ve picked up from my children and laughed to see it is the “in” phrase when I watched the comedy Parental Guidance.)

Katherine couldn’t use her words. Instead she sobbed, pointing to the air.

“Show me.” We wandered about the house again. She sobbed. “Honey, I don’t know what you want. Use your words.”

She collapsed, WAILING. When I picked her up she had a tantrum, screaming and kicking. Anger WELLED up in me. I held her legs tight, dropped her in her bed, and said, “STAY THERE!” I left abruptly, flicking off the light, slamming the door.

I slid to the floor outside her room, my head in my hands, listening to her heart-broken cries. Her grandmother had turned into Mr. Hyde. I hate this monster in me too, Lord! Help me! Her life has been turned topsy turvy, she probably wants her mother, and I can’t give her that. (An hour later, while she was still whimpering, I spied her pink bear under the couch. Maybe, I thought. I opened the door a crack, waved the pink bear, and she cried out in delight. She clutched it to her heart while I knelt and told her I was sorry I was mean. (She nodded!) Then I stroked her sweaty head until sleep came. Here she is the next day, when her grandmother was behaving better.

For me to live is my pink bear
For me to live is my pink bear

In heaven there will be no jaundiced babies, flooded basements, or wicked grandmothers. But we are not in heaven yet. We need the gospel for the here and now, and Philippians shows us how to apply the gospel to the trials of life, whether they are small or overwhelming, as some of you are facing. I so long to become the kind of believer Paul was, who knew Jesus was real and could see through what he called “these light momentary afflictions” (though they hardly seemed like that) to eternal glory.

It is natural to grieve when we lose family, health, ministry — but we should not be devastated, for our real hope is in Christ.

tolive

 

SUNDAY/MONDAY

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. Describe a trial you are facing today. Can you see through it to how it might press you to Christ? How, if you persevere, it might build character? How it might lead to eternal glory? Ponder and then share. 

(On a personal note I’m traveling this week to two speaking engagements in Morton, Illinois. The first is a conference for pastors and their wives where Bryan Chappel and others will be speaking. I will be speaking to the women and covet your prayers for quickening, sensitivity to them, health, tech needs. Then I’ll speak Thursday night at the E. Free Church in Morton — if you are in the area, look it up on my website and come!)

MONDAY-WEDNESDAY: BIBLE STUDY

As background, Paul knew the Philippians would be concerned about him, for he had been flogged and imprisoned and chained for sharing Christ. So, he is writing to assure them, and to help them to see through his troubles to what God might be doing. The purpose of Paul’s life was Christ, and to make Him known, and he is aware, indeed, that God has only given Satan enough rope to hang himself. Like the cross, which seemed so bad, eventually showed the mighty power of God.

3. Read Philippians 1:12-14 and find two ways that Paul’s imprisonment has advanced the gospel.

4. Paul says “Most of the brothers have become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment.” Can you explain why this would be?

5. Matthew Henry calls the above, like Romans 8:28, “the alchemy” of God.  What seems bad works together for the good to those who love God, to build character, to advance the gospel, to show the mighty power of God. Think about a trial in your life that built character or showed the mighty power of God. Share it, succinctly, here.

6. Read Philippians 1:15-18 and describe two kinds of preaching and what both may accomplish.

I’ve been reading J. D. Grear’s book: Gospel.

hdr-gospel

Tim Keller writes the forward and it is absolutely filled with the teaching of Keller, whom Grear credits as profoundly impacting him. Grear honestly shares the rivalry he felt with other preachers when his purpose in life was to be successful in ministry. And yet, even then, his preaching, provoked by rivalry, advanced the cause of Christ. This indeed, is the “alchemy” of God. I find comfort in this, for my motives for writing, speaking, have all been pure and impure mixed together, yet I am humbled God has not struck me down, but used some of it for good. He is purifying my heart, but oh, how I need grace. He works with us, flawed as we are, and even when our motives are mixed, He can use it for the good.  I used to be confused by this passage wondering if he was saying that even some televangelists who are simply in it for the fame and money could be used for the good — and perhaps they could, but if their message is off, if it is a prosperity gospel, then I think it does more harm than good.

7. How do you interpret Philippians 1:18?

 

THE PROCESS OF SALVATION (Read Philippians 1:19-20)

Salvation is both an event and a process. We are saved from the penalty of sin instantaneously, but the process takes time.

Read Philippians 1:19 in your version and then see this phrase from it in these:

For I know that this shall turn to my salvation (KJV)

I know that what is happening will be for the good of my own soul (Phillips)

8. How do you interpret the word translated “salvation” or “deliverance” in verse 19? See verse 20 as well. Was Paul talking about salvation from the penalty of sin? Why or why not?

9. Read Philippians 1:21-26 and then explain what you think Paul means by verse 21.

10. Fill it in as honestly as you can — and then pray for your own soul — and we can pray for one another.

For to me to live is ________________________________.

Here is my answer, to pave the way: For to me to live is Christ, yet so often it is really for my own comfort, so help me trust You more, believe Your love more, so that I may glorify You more.

11. Read Philippians 1:27-30

       A. What does “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” mean?

       B. What two things have been granted to us for the sake of Christ according to verse 29?

                                The Son of man suffered unto death, not that man might not suffer,

                                but that their suffering might be like His.

                                                                                               George MacDonald

Thursday-Friday: Keller Sermon: Joy in God’s Plan (It is 2.50): Link

You may want to buy next week’s sermon now as well. It is called Be Humble and Make Peace (Keller on Philippians 2:1-4) The following week will be a free sermon.

 

Share your notes — he has four points:

The hardness of life

The alchemy of life

The definition of life

The dynamic of life

Saturday:

12. What’s your take-a-way and why?

 

Leave a Comment

Comment * If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.

320 comments

    1. Thanks so much for giving us this specific prayer request for today Dee-thankful for how God is ministering to you through other’s there. I can see how God would give you this burden and yes we will pray.

    2. Praying for you, Dee…love that you are also being ministered to at this conference!

    3. Praying for a beautiful day

      1. Are you going Sarahsal? Praying Dee!

    4. Praying right now, Dee. Being a rural pastor’s wife, I wish I could be there, not only to hear you but to hear what other help there might be.

    5. I will pray for you to be lead by God’s Spirit!

    6. Oh Father, I pray that Your Holy Spirit will move upon this meeting. I pray that they each will know You as Comforter, Counselor, Corrector and Friend…I pray that You will give Dee the words to say…give her Your power from on high! I thank You for her sensitivity and I pray that (from that abiding) You will allow Your people to be encouraged and uplifted and supported with Your voice and Your love! We trust You to do what needs to be done in this time…thank You for allowing Dee to have this opportunity! Thank You for hearing and answering!

  1. 7. How do you interpret Philippians 1:18?

    I love Paul’s heart here. What really matters is that Christ is preached whether it be via false or true motives. This is a balm to my heart as I struggled CONSTANTLY with my motives when I sang, or when I facilitate a women’s Bible Study or when I have taught children’s church. I don’t think I can get away from it while here on Earth and I agree with Carol when she said our motives are never totally pure. So I am encouraged that even though I have sang or taught with my motives not being pure-the Gospel has gotten out-and as Paul said-for this I rejoice..I can’t help but focus on that-Paul rejoiced regardless! God’s power-His sovereignty to work through our frailty and flaws-and he doesn’t strike us down for it-wow.

    1. I definitely relate to this Rebecca…I feel exactly the same in regard to singing…He is so gracious and amazingly merciful!!!

  2. 9. Read Philippians 1:21-26 and then explain what you think Paul means by verse 21. He was victorious either way…His life lived for Christ (is good)….but to die and go be with Christ (was even better). His life was Christ centered in the here and now and the ever after! He wasn’t worried a lot about the outcome of life…either way he was good! A man living “in Christ”….

  3. 8. How do you interpret the word translated “salvation” or “deliverance” in verse 19? See verse 20 as well. Was Paul talking about salvation from the penalty of sin? Why or why not?

    Paul relies on God’s work in His life to do His will. Since Paul is confident that he is following God and he has the prayers of the church and the support of the Holy Spirit, he knows that his life is not in vain and that God is refining and maturing that faith as he serves. So “salvation” and “deliverance” refers to a process of maturity that brings Paul into a deeper relationship with Christ as he is also growing into his likeness. I think the operative word here is “relationship”. Through this difficult refining, Paul positions himself close to Jesus (through prayer and meditation?) and as a result is more Christ like. He had the mighty power of the Holy Spirit with him – remember he was writing part of the Bible (unknowingly!) as he ministered.

    9. Read Philippians 1:21-26 and then explain what you think Paul means by verse 21.

    Paul knows that there is life with Jesus after death. He looks forward to being with him physically and out of the trials of this world. But he also knows that God has called him to serve and strengthen the church. While he is alive on earth he will dedicate his life to serving Jesus.

    10. Fill it in as honestly as you can — and then pray for your own soul — and we can pray for one another.

    For to me to live is being with my family and friends; enjoying the gifts of God; making a home for my family. Dear Lord, Help me to see beyond my own wants and desires to your greater mission for me here on earth. Give me confidence to live out your gospel in the harder moments of life when I would rather retreat to the comfort of my home.

    11. Read Philippians 1:27-30

    A. What does “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” mean?

    B. What two things have been granted to us for the sake of Christ according to verse 29?

    The Son of man suffered unto death, not that man might not suffer,

    but that their suffering might be like His.
    George MacDonald

    A. It means that if Jesus were standing right next to me, I would not be ashamed of what I just said or did or thought. It would mean that Jesus would be pleased. It would look like an unselfish love for others.

    B. We are to believe in Jesus and to suffer for him.

  4. I am pondering how I want to answer #10. Meanwhile I need to go on, as my time is crimped this week — I am obligated to participate in not just one but two rummage sales!! (not even my favorite thing!) I’m a bit strange — I don’t even go to rummage sales. I am having to work some each day of this week on one or the other of these rummage sales!

    11. Read Philippians 1:27-30

    A. What does “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” mean?

    I think Paul was concerned that there might be in-fighting among the Philippian church members, and he wanted them to be unified. A church conducting itself in a manner worthy of the gospel will will resist in-fighting and will maintain the common purpose of serving Christ.
    B. What two things have been granted to us for the sake of Christ according to verse 29? To believe in Christ and to suffer for Him.

  5. 3. Read Philippians 1:12-14 and find two ways that Paul’s imprisonment has advanced the gospel.

    He shared the Gospel with the prison guards; and his attitude of contentment amidst such circumstances is an incredible encouragement for all believers.

    4. Paul says “Most of the brothers have become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment.” Can you explain why this would be?

    Paul’s fearless example, of living only for Christ—is empowering. I have never experienced anything close to his trial—and yet when I see how the Lord sustained him, my faith is strengthened.

    5.
    Many of you know, in January of 2012, I began experiencing terrible nerve pain across my chest and other areas of my body. At it’s worst, I lied in bed with ice packs. I am so incredibly thankful to write this and say that in the last 6 weeks it is nearly gone. Weather changes seems to cause some “flares’, but the pain is 75% gone! So I have seen His mighty power in healing—but oh, He has done SO much more than relieve the physical pain. The 25% that remains, I am kinda thankful for–it keeps me dependent, it reminds me of what I share with Him in this trial. I would have never wanted this, and yet-I am strangely thankful. It hasn’t been easy—I experienced disappointment in certain relationships that was emotionally very painful. Yet I have been so cared for by many of you here.
    The greatest blessing I see so far is the strength it has added to my marriage. There is a side of my husband I never would have known without going through something like this—and he would say the same about me. I have been forced to admit weakness, to ask for help, to let myself be served. Even greater, I have had to face old lies head-on and hear His Truth reign. As Susan mentioned above, Jesus so often says “I tell you the truth…” and I have clung more to His promises than ever before.
    There is a blessing in suffering. I hate it—I do. I am a health nut and I love to feel good—but the richness, the closeness I have found with Him, I would, I honestly would, choose this pain. I used to think that kind of intimacy with Jesus that Dee talked about, just wasn’t for me. I thought it was a personality thing. Now I know better. He longs for that—with each of us. For me, it has taken a lot of pulling me into the wilderness, but now I have experienced what He does with our pain. He draws us deeper. He has peeled back layers of strongholds—I am so much more aware of my control idol! EEK-not succinct at all-sorry!

    1. Love your testimony, elizabeth. So sorry that you have had to go through so much pain but what you have learned gives me so much hope. Not hope that pain will be alleviated necessarily, but hope that God will stay with me, draw me closer to Him. He will use the pain to give greater intimacy with Him, if I let Him. Thank you.

    2. Oh Elizabeth, I’m so thankful for your relief in pain…all our prayers have paid of!! PRAISE THE LORD!!!

    3. Oh Elizabeth…that is definitely a difficult trial; however, to hear you express all the good that has surfaced as a result is so encouraging! I think it is amazing that you have such a wonderful perspective and that your thankfulness is so apparent! I resonate with the difficulty in admitting weakness and receiving help…I am single (never married) and that is a challenge for me too. In my case it is pretty much a mindset of existence (not many other options)…however, when I have that choice to receive, I hope to be as self-aware as you are!

    4. Hi Elizabeth ~ What a great testimony to share. Thank you for sharing that brighter side of suffering. His love is so uniquely sweet!

    5. Praise the Lord!

    6. Elizabeth, I am so glad to hear of your relief! And even more thrilling is your testimony of how The Lord was near you in your suffering. Sounds like some alchemy to me!

    7. Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth. I knew you were experiencing pain over the past months, but didn’t really know the details. (Just curious, were medical professionals able to determine what was causing the pain?) As the other gals have expressed, I too am so happy to hear that most of the pain has subsided. I am also thankful for your witness…I pray that I might act similarly if/when put to the test.

    1. Glad your day went well. Will keep praying.

    2. so thankful, Dee–will continue the prayers! Are you feeling better?

    3. Wonderful Dee!

    4. Still praying Dee…so glad to hear that today went well!

    5. Great news! May God continue to do His work in and through you today!

  6. I thought this was really good by Elyse Fitzpatrick: “Cascading Trials and Showers of Blessing” http://liberatenet.org/2012/10/24/cascading-trials-and-showers-of-blessing/

  7. So much good stuff….Carol answered #8 better than I could….so a shout out AMEN for saying it so beautifully. In pondering the statement: For to me to live is….a blessing and gift that gives me the desire to live in a manner glorifying my Lord. I fall short of that and yet I feel peaceful knowing His Awesome Love for me. My favorite Bible verse is “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience…….1Peter 3:15
    I think this is a reinforcement to Paul’s message to the Philippians. We should always live with our faith visible…proclaiming God’s goodness and greatness. Especially when life isn’t pretty. We all suffer in this world but how we suffer can be a witness by someone you have no idea is watching.

      1. Feeling disappointed that I didn’t make it…..my life was run over by grandchildren needs…there are worse things 🙂

  8. 10. Fill it in as honestly as you can — and then pray for your own soul — and we can pray for one another.

    For to me to live is Christ but I do struggle with comfort and security too…wanting a peaceable life can pull hard against the true calling of Christ, especially in world at war. Sometimes it is very tempting to just want to live for peace and safety…

    1. “Sometimes it is very tempting to just want to live for peace and safety…” Yes, I agree! I think it is my default setting. But I remind myself that God is in me as well as with me. Oh – I I have heard of a great book which I need to find – “Your God is Too Small”. We have the God of the Universe with us!

  9. Sermon Notes:

    I like the definition that he gave of alchemy, rather than “lead turned to gold”…he said, “the worthless turned to gold”…I think that speaks more to our humanity. That this trial was turning Paul into gold is a really good thought to consider!

    I also honed in on the idea of “For me (Jesus says) to live is YOU (meaning us)”, and we say, “For me to live is YOU (Jesus)”…this was a simplistic and great way of explaining this verse…it really illuminated the relational aspect of the statement (for me)!

    I have to admit that I was struggling a bit as he talked about how losing things in life should not cause a collapse (in concept it is right, but emotionally it is a hard pill for me to swallow)…not that the statement isn’t true, it is just hard to hear and receive that message when thinking through the devastations of life. Not questioning his theology at all…just empathetically processing this thought…especially when I know the compassionate aspects of God. I know that he isn’t saying that we shouldn’t feel the loss, just that ultimately we can make it through it. I hope that makes sense…

  10. 8. How do you interpret the word translated “salvation” or “deliverance” in verse 19? See verse 20 as well. Was Paul talking about salvation from the penalty of sin? Why or why not?

    I think he is talking about being saved from his earthly situation; literally. He wants them to pray for his “deliverance” from his imprisonment.

    9. Read Philippians 1:21-26 and then explain what you think Paul means by verse 21.

    He lives to radiate Christ. Dying means he would be in heaven with Christ.

    10. Fill it in as honestly as you can — and then pray for your own soul — and we can pray for one another.

    For to me to live is ________________myself :(___________.

    Dear Lord, thank you for your grace. Please help me to not always think of myself; to be selfish. Whether this is because of my children or my own satisfaction with life (or lack of) or whatever, help me to think of you first.

    1. Laura-dancer,
      I’ve been meaning to ask you about your mom…how is she doing?

      1. Thanks for asking Susan 🙂

        Mom is still in a rehab hospital and mentally doing very well. That is good, as we were concerned after her fall and brain surgery that she would not be “all there.” Her main troubles are still getting her up and on her feet again; mobility. She was fully ambulatory before the fall and then spent 3 – 4 months in bed. The wound is slowly healing, and she told me a week or so ago that it was only 3 cm wide now, compared to the 5 cm it got to because of that ridiculous rehab last fall. She is amazing. God still has plans for my sweet mother. They have not been able to get rid of her yet although they nearly did a few times! I am going to get there as soon as I can after school is over.

        Thanks again!

        1. Laura,
          It sounds like your mom is getting much better care now, and I’m so glad to hear that!

        2. Laura – dancer, So glad to hear that your mom is doing better and is getting better care now. Great news! Praise the Lord. He is still working on her, and on you and your family. When is school finished for you so that you can go and see her?

          And thanks for asking, Susan.

        3. School isn’t out until June 20th, but I have people going to see her and I talk to her often. I will fry to spend a few weeks there in late July/august. She made me laugh yesterday; she was in her wheel chair playing “volleyball” with balloons and she said that the other ladies were so competitive! Funny 🙂

        4. I love that – “wheelchair balloon volleyball” – and competitive to boot! That’s great your mom is able to have some fun!

        5. Glad to hear your mom is doing alittle better, Laura.

        6. Encouraging news, Laura. I love the idea of these gals in wheelchairs playing balloon volleyball…what a hoot!

  11. 6. Read Philippians 1:15-18 and describe two kinds of preaching and what both may accomplish.

    Some of Paul’s brothers in the Lord preach Christ out of envy and rivalry – they view Paul as their rival or are jealous of his ministry. Their motives are selfish – self-promotion and to cause trouble for Paul. Others preach Christ out of a sincere heart and a love for Paul. Both kinds result in the gospel being proclaimed so people may be saved.

    7. How do you interpret Philippians 1:18?

    I’m thinking here that because of other statements by Paul where he said things like if someone comes and preaches a “different gospel”, let him be “eternally condemned”, that in this case, these brothers who were preaching with the wrong motives were still preaching the true gospel, because Paul says that it doesn’t matter about their motives-Christ is being preached and he is rejoicing.

  12. 8. How do you interpret the word translated “salvation” or “deliverance” in verse 19? See verse 20 as well. Was Paul talking about salvation from the penalty of sin? Why or why not?

    I got some help from an online commentary. This word is “soteria” which Paul uses in other place to mean spiritual salvation and in particular, the deliverance of the believer from the final judgment. There are parallel passages in Job and the Psalms where it means to be vindicated. So while it could mean Paul looks forward to being vindicated in court (because some were causing trouble for him) and he looks forward to possible release from prison, it is primarily his knowing that he will have vindication before heaven’s court.

    9. Read Philippians 1:21-26 and then explain what you think Paul means by verse 21.

    I think when Paul says “to live is Christ”, that if he is allowed to go on living, he will live to serve Christ – he wants to be a fruitful laborer for Jesus and to continue to teach and mentor the new Philippian believers. Yet Paul knows that if he is put to death, it is not a bad thing-he wants to be with Jesus so much that he feels torn between being with Jesus and remaining in the body-“to die is gain”.

  13. 8. How do you interpret the word translated,”salvation” or “deliverance” in verse 19? See verse 20 as well. Was Paul talking about salvation from the penalty of sin? Why or why not?

    I’m taking this to mean that Paul will continue to see his character refined through the suffering that he is experiencing. That he would be delivered from pride, fear, doubt or whatever may have been striking him at that moment. In verse 20, it seems he is hopeful that he will overcome these temptations and will honor God with his actions.

    9. Read Phil. 1:21-26 and then explain what you think Paul means by verse 21.

    For Paul, to keep on living would be to continue serving Christ in whatever way he was asked to serve, whether in chains or free. His life was so wrapped in Christ that it seems they are one. But to die would be okay because he would be face to face with Jesus, free from sin.

    10. For to me to live is to have the approval of my parents. To know they love me. This has been very painful to see and admit. Also very embarrasing since I have a wonderful husband and two great daughters. God has certainly “repaid me for the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 1:25). But I realize this is something that is underneath alot of what I do and how I behave. Also, living to control my life to fight off fear. Dear Jesus, I want so much to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. To press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me (even me!) heavenward in Christ Jesus. Help me to sense your approval this day and to release my parents from my expectations. Fill them with what they need to see you too.

      1. Gary “Smelley”??? lol

        1. Smalley

      2. Thanks for the recommendation Dee. I’ve heard of these two men on Moody Radio but have not read anything by them. I’ll definitely get it.

  14. 6. Read Philippians 1:15-18 and describe two kinds of preaching and what both may accomplish.

    Some were preaching to build a name for themselves, using Paul’s imprisonment to their own advantage. But Paul, having an eternal perspective, could see beyond that. He knew the Lord could use all for good, for His purpose, and he trusted in that.

    7. How do you interpret Philippians 1:18?

    Again, Paul’s perspective is amazing. He has no judgment against those who preach under false pretense—He trusts that God will use all for His purpose, and is just thankful the Gospel is being preached. I am thinking that is the difference here. While their motives were not pure, we are told that “Christ is preached”. So I am guessing there was truth in their message, as opposed to some of the false teachers we have today.

  15. 8. How do you interpret the word translated “salvation” or “deliverance” in verse 19? See verse 20 as well. Was Paul talking about salvation from the penalty of sin? Why or why not?

    I believe Paul was talking about deliverance from the penalty of sin. He trusted that God would use his imprisonment for his sanctification, to make him more like Christ.

    9. Read Philippians 1:21-26 and then explain what you think Paul means by verse 21.

    For Paul, there was nothing greater than Christ. Christ was his all. He was not preoccupied with worries about friends or family or approval or comfort—he lived completely, only for Christ and for sharing the message of Christ. To die, would mean to be in His presence and there was nothing on earth that Paul loved more than Jesus—so to die, would only be reward for Paul.

  16. I just listened to an amazing video from Tullian’s website that I thought others might be interested in which relates to what we are studying this week.

    Tullian says, “Nick Lannon, gave an amazing 25 minute talk entitled “Crunch Time: What We Can Learn From Athletes About Dealing With Stress.” Relevant to every human being who has ever lived (athlete or not), I strongly recommend that you take time out of your day to watch this.”

    Here is a couple of lines from it:

    “There is a yawning chasm between who we wish we were (or used to be) and who we are.”

    “Stress is a truism of every moment of our lives. It is the difference between The champion we wish we were compared to the failure we know we are. We have to plead for the righteousness of Another.
    My righteousness is only in Christ …”

  17. 10. Fill it in as honestly as you can — and then pray for your own soul — and we can pray for one another.

    For to me to live is ________________________________.
    It’s hard to answer. I start typing ‘nothing is more important to me than Christ’ –truly I feel that in my heart, and yet I know I do not live like that when I worry about my health or my kids’ behaviors, or their health problems. I am still so weak compared to Paul. I am understanding better now when he says is chapter 4 he has “learned” to be content…it IS a process. I catch myself better now, so maybe progress! Last night even as my husband began discussing one of our child’s current struggle (that is big and hard), I said—but you know, he absolutely loves Jesus. I have no doubt this child knows the truth and it has permeated him. The ways God uses him in my life, the things he says (at only 6)—it so often stops me in my tracks and brings goose bumps. So when I remember that—I think, really-the other stuff is SO small. And this life here is going to look like a blur. I know I still have to live here and now, but since I have confessed to God—I have not allowed myself to start the path of fear. Every time I am tempted, like yesterday on the drive to the doctor, I just said “ok, take it—again!”. And I know He does. So it’s a process…baby steps 😉

    1. So true Elizabeth…Baby steps every day!

  18. THE PROCESS OF SALVATION (Read Philippians 1:19-20)

    8. How do you interpret the word translated “salvation” or “deliverance” in verse 19? See verse 20 as well. Was Paul talking about salvation from the penalty of sin? Why or why not?

    No..I think he was talking about transformation or sanctification? That through tribulation Jesus is magnified in him and in others whose eyes are set on Him.

    9. Read Philippians 1:21-26 and then explain what you think Paul means by verse 21.

    OH WOW..I DIDN’T see this until I did the question above! So my answer is different now than before-wow great questions Dee! He desires to die and be with Christ for it is much better-but the only reason He desires to stay is is for the body of Christ for their progress and joy in the faith-so that after being with Him their boasting in Jesus Christ will abound. WOW.. That is it-He is on the Earth for no other reason but to magnify Christ and to edify the body of Christ for their progress and joy in the faith-this is what it means to ‘Live is Christ’ and to ‘die is gain’. He wasn’t here for himself or his comfort or his fame or any other reason.

    So, here I am getting excited and I may not have fully gotten it yet! Sisters, please chime in..i am so excited about this question for it has quickened me via encouraging me to set my path more in this direction-in line with His desire here-yet convicting me!

    1. When I studied Acts I was deeply impressed by Paul’s love for people. So it makes sense that seeing people come to faith and worship Christ would be almost as joyful to him as being with The Lord.

  19. I am going to post my take aways a bit early this week…starting tonight, I have a crazy weekend…(a wedding, a graduation party etc…), I have prayed through this post and I believe this is what God would have me say today. I have gleaned a lot this week…prayed a lot, searched my heart a lot…and this is my conclusion. Paul was not in prison because he ran a stop sign…Paul was in prison because he spoke the truth (in a place where truth was not welcome) and I never saw him waver on that! As I glean from his experience, I realize that I cannot waver on the truth either (even when the issues are believer to believer)…so, not knowing how any of this will ever turn out! Today, I want to say (with Paul) in boldness…”For me to live is CHRIST to die is gain”. I too believe that BECAUSE of this it will lead to my salvation…God is Sovereign, God is just, God is unbelievable good, God is faithful, God is strong, God is near and full of compassionate love…thanks for walking us through this story Dee…it has helped me to put my feet upon the ROCK and not be moved!

  20. OH okay..here it is-piercing follow up question. I have to do something with this conviction I am getting.

    10. Fill it in as honestly as you can — and then pray for your own soul — and we can pray for one another.

    For to me to live often is: getting things done and caught up around the house, healthy husband and children emotionally and spiritually i.e- my comfort, my control. :~/

    Father I confess I so often run to my idols-I hate this bend in me and you know it too well and I am frustrated that it doesn’t hurt me because it hurts you-i hate that yet I act daily as if I don’t care-forgive me. Help me to trust you-to trust your love and when I hold up anything in comparison to you on the cross help me see the truth of the value of this ‘thing’ compared to the incomparable value and glory of YOU. Remind me that that thing is worthless compared to you and to think I would put more value on that than you-yuk, but I do-I hate that in me! Convict me, press into me and change me. Lord I want to have the same eternal perspective as You do and as Paul did but I want it to sear into my heart daily for the truth that matters above all else is you not these things I fret over and put up as more important. I am such a wretch bent on destruction-thank you that you love me and haven’t destroyed me and given up on me-I deserve it but you were destroyed for me on the cross so I would never be. Thank you for your Grace immeasurable and your faithfulness. God help me to grow.

    1. Rebecca, thank you. Your words are ricocheting around in my heart. How much of my desire for spiritual maturity in my children is really idolatry? It is a good desire but why does it make me sick? It causes the same physical symptoms that I have identified with idolatry.

      1. Anne,

        Yep I can relate- As my boys were growing up I REALLY struggled with idolatry from freaking out about what their teachers at church will think about my life in Christ if one of my boys forgot his bible, and how they dressed etc..even how well they did in Awana’s. Oh my.. Again, since I came here on the blog and God opened my eyes to this approval idol-He is setting me free..I can say if my boys aren’t seen as ‘perfect Christian boys’ at church it doesn’t bother me anymore because God is the one in charge of their hearts-I see Him moving in them in different ways here at home-and it is not easy-mostly I see Him moving as they come to me when things happen in their life and God shows me how they are processing these things in their hearts and opens doors for me to plant Gospel seeds. I would rather have honest, transparent children who struggle with their faith and who, by His grace alone, cling to the cross than having moralists who do everything right on the outside-are in the popular Christian cliques among the kids/teens-look like they know Him but may not know Him at all. I am learning this means they will go through some hard stuff in life..

        I do believe there is so much idolatry going on in church in the area of family and ‘raising our kids up to be godly men and women’…I have heard this phrase over and over..Doesn’t God make them godly? Is He the Potter? We plant seeds in their hearts and live and share the Gospel yes-but God does the watering..and the working the seeds in deeper in their hearts, not us. Jesus is the One who has granted us to believe in Him. That is why I struggle when I hear someone say-but he is the pastor’s kid and I know the pastor and his wife are godly and love Jesus and did a great job raising him-how can he be an atheist???

        So, I say this and I mean it-at least I hope I do-that if any of my boys grow up to walk with God it is HIS doing, not mine! Even if they saw the Gospel in me-HE is in me because of HIM! If they caught anything from me it is Him being magnified in me. That is it..SORRY this is so long, I don’t have time to edit..but I know you too have struggled with this and God has taught you this too.. Well, and I guess it is a fire in my heart He is has lit..among other Gospel fires.. 🙂

        1. Good thoughts here, Rebecca, well articulated. “if any of my boys grow up to walk with God it is HIS doing, not mine! Even if they saw the Gospel in me-HE is in me because of HIM! If they caught anything from me it is Him being magnified in me.” I can hear the “Gospel fire”.

        2. Loved that too Diane.

        3. This is good, Rebecca…I don’t know if I live with so much of an approval idol but it seems more of because my two sons don’t walk with God anymore and one is particularly hostile and even likes to bait me and pick fights with me (which I’ve quickly learned not to engage at all when he does this) I look back on how I tried to pass faith on to them and I feel like I must’ve done everything horribly wrong and I am a failure.
          Maybe that is approval-even if in my own eyes.

        4. Susan, I think it sounds more like regret and feelings of guilt. I also struggle with these. Feelings of guilt have become a red flag to me for I know that Jesus has born my guilt. We did the best we could with what we understood to do. I fully believe that God will do the rest and when I forget that I believe that, would someone please remind me? I trust my regrets to the alchemy of God. What a great sermon!

  21. 3. Read Philippians 1:12-14 and find two ways that Paul’s imprisonment has advanced the gospel. because he is trusting God in this hard time. It is an encouragement to see others in trial hold tight and proclaim the goodness or good news of God through it, You see it is real. They really believe this to be true! Could it be? I think this was what was happening with Paul.

    1-Know chains are because of Christ
    2-Helped believers receive confidence.

    4. Paul says “Most of the brothers have become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment.” Can you explain why this would be? Above I explained.

    5. Matthew Henry calls the above, like Romans 8:28, “the alchemy” of God. What seems bad works together for the good to those who love God, to build character, to advance the gospel, to show the mighty power of God. Think about a trial in your life that built character or showed the mighty power of God. Share it, succinctly, here.
    Lyme disease I think has been an encouragement because I hear people all the time say as I continue to persevere even now that if they see me do something they know they can do it! 🙂 In my weakness He is strong. I see His power clearly knowing my limits and I think others can see this too. Bringing Him glory

  22. 11. Read Philippians 1:27-30
    A. What does “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” mean?
    I have a few different thoughts on this. One, my behavior. As a Christian, the way I live my life should reflect the truths of the gospel, and a heart that has been changed by His love. Humility-recognizing my desperate need of grace and being quick to admit my wrong. Forgiving-I have been forgiven all, how can I withhold it from others? And Christ has forgiven them—so how can I not? Serving others with a gentle, non-complaining spirit. When I think of the inverse—the ways I behave which are not worthy of the gospel—I think of being fearful. Trying to control my world instead of trusting Him with it. Trying to control those around me, especially my kids, instead of daily surrendering them to His care-and leaving them there! “Standing firm in one spirit”-being united, encouraging fellow believers and not creating petty disagreements of faith.

    But then my eyes fall on “with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel”. Strive jumps out at me. We are to strive to promote the gospel. The protecting and the sharing of its truths should be my job—what I strive for—MY LIFE. To share the gospel with others and see it spread IS all of our calling, the Great Commission. And it is not something I should take lightly or just see when the opportunity arises—but rather, strive for it.

  23. Just a quick update on Jay…we received this update a little bit ago…:)

    We are out of the ICU and back on the oncology/transplant floor! Jay is still having some vomiting and some respiratory trouble, but he is also being goofy and melting hearts with his smile! Jay has some things to do before they would consider letting us leave the hospital, but for now, we are just happy to be able to take him for walks around the unit. His strength is slowly coming back; he is so determined to get back on his feet! It is such a blessing to still have him with us!
    T-minus one week until Jay turns two!….Now that is something to celebrate!
    With love and hope, Travis, Bridget and Jay

    1. I am so thrilled for you, Nanci! Prayers really work miracles — hopefully he will be able to leave the hospital soon. Thanks for sharing the good news!

    2. Oh so thankful for little Jay’s improvement!!!

  24. 10. Fill it in as honestly as you can — and then pray for your own soul — and we can pray for one another.
    For to me to live is ________________________________.

    I skipped this question to ponder and am coming back to it now.

    Although I really wish I could say “For me to live is Christ…,” I really don’t feel worthy of saying that. Too often my life is filled with doing things that I perceive that other people want/expect me to do. I’m sure this is connected directly to my previously- confessed idol of “approval”! I was pondering all of this while driving this morning to set up one of the two rummage sales I have felt obligated to participate in this week. (Talk about surrounding yourself with material stuff!!!) Even though the proceeds in both cases are going to charitable funds, it still didn’t feel like it was the most Christ-honoring thing I could be doing. I was feeling pretty helpless about the whole thing: how do I keep myself from being side-tracked to trivia? “Jesus, help me!” I then switched on the car radio to the gospel station, hoping to find some inspiration there. It was playing Carrie Underwood’s song, “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” It seemed so appropriate I almost let out a “Whoop!”

    Jesus, help me — please take the wheel and steer my life in the direction I should go. Help me to hold steady to that purpose until it is time for me to die and gain eternal life. Amen.

  25. 10. Fill it in as honestly as you can – and then pray for your own soul – and we can pray for one another. For to me to live is __________.

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one struggling with this one:)
    Oh, this is really hard. For to me to live is – getting up every morning with my own plans/agenda. Rebecca wrote “for me to live often is: getting things done and caught up around the house.” Yes – every morning I get up and I have my “what I need to get done today”. For the past three days, that has been spring cleaning two bedrooms-one being my son’s who is coming home from college tomorrow; spending several hours at the laundry-mat washing all the winter bedding. Today it will be driving to PA and helping my son get moved back home. Is this “living for Christ”? Does the daily taking care of my home and my family count as living for Christ?
    Some days, for me to live is for my own comfort…driving to that bakery just past my daughter’s school to bring home their luscious cupcakes. Or thinking – I really need to do something new with my hair-maybe I should call and get an appointment, or I will walk today to get in better shape.

    There just never seem to be enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done – I can’t say I spend much time thinking about “living for Christ”. So, on Tuesday, my plans for cleaning were put on hold for several hours. My oldest son needed his birth certificate and other papers-instead of him driving an hour home to get them from school, I drove to him. I no sooner left the campus when my mom called my cell phone and asked if I wanted to meet her and dad for lunch. I decided that spending time with them was more important than the cleaning, so I said yes. Was this “living for Christ”? Or living to serve/help the needs of my family?

    I don’t know – if I was a missionary somewhere and I got up every morning to do whatever my work there was about – would that be a clearer picture of living for Christ?

    My prayer is simply: Lord, I’m confused…I don’t know if I’m living for You at all or only for myself and my family. Please help me to see clearly. Am I living with any kind of eternal perspective at all?

    1. Susan, I think you are! You are having time with him here and with us in the morning and I can tell you meditate on Him throughout the day. You so inspire me how you run to Him. 🙂

      I think in the middle of cleaning and doing our ‘to do’s’ we can meditate on Him and talk with Him and ask him to help us remember and I know He will. I think of Dee and how I have seen her living this out -as she is living her life she will most always just stop and talk with God about something that just happened-she communes with Him constantly-even in the busy-ness of life..I have seen her during something frustrating that happened stop right there and talk with God-I think of Ann Voskamp and how she wrote about communion with Him as she was cleaning her toilet and doing laundry! I didn’t know it when God brought Dee into my life but she is my model-like Paul was a model. I think the first time I saw her praying in the middle of a frustrating thing-I knew in my heart what I would have done. I would have just tried to fix it! No, she went to God. She doesn’t realize the impact she is making on my life in so many ways. I think of Paul when he said to watch those who are mature in the faith model Gospel living. Oh I have found that is crucial!

      I know I am backing away from Him if I start to fret and go forward with fretting rather than running to Him or make mountains out of things that happen while I am doing my lists and serving my family-and oh I hate it when I do that-it can happen so fast..my flesh is so wicked-but the truth also is that He has given me the Holy Spirit to help me turn as He has give His helper to you too. The mere fact you struggle with this is so so good Susan-I am right there in that boat with you. 🙂

      1. Thank you, Rebecca that (all of it) was exactly what I needed to hear today!

        1. Joyce, 🙂

      2. Thank you, Rebecca…

    2. Susan, your doing everything for your family as unto the Lord!

  26. 11. Read Philippians 1:27-30

    A. What does “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” mean?

    I can’t believe I just exited out by accident and lost everything..Must have been God’s plan! 🙂

    “Whatever happens” to suffer like Christ did unto death, and to do so together as One in Him. Paul knew they were being tempted by satan to shrink back in the face of opposition-to run to their comfort and approval idols and not remember He is their identity. They were scared of being Martyred and I know I would be too! I think Paul understood that and was encouraging them to keep their eyes on Him. Jesus was tempted by satan too and he suffered and He overcame-so can we by His power in us-“whatever happens”. He will be magnified in us if we press on through suffering.

    Paul endured physical torture in jail and perhaps a deeper kind of suffering being betrayed by those in the body whom he loved who were making His life harder because they were jealous yet he pressed on and kept his eyes on the Gospel.

    This reminds me of Philippians 3: 17-21

    Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

    wow-I need to meditate on this today..

    B. What two things have been granted to us for the sake of Christ according to verse 29?

    To believe in Him and suffer for Him.

    1. Oh, Dee, you sound so weary. I’ll be praying as you drive in the rain. Last night sounds a bit strange. It sounds like Satan was at work as well as God, but God is greater so I pray that women will ponder deep in their hearts the truth that you spoke. We are definitely in a battle. When is your conference next week?

    2. Praying for you and thanking God for you and your ministry to His Sheep may you feel His pleasure and joy and be strenghtened!!

    3. love you sweet Dee!!! Praying for you now! I know God will use it all for His word does not return void. May He give you great rest and peace. May your drive be safe and filled with joy of Him and His presence. May you be quickened and energized for this next one. May you be willing to trust HIM and lay it at His feet the response that is working in their hearts even now.

    4. Dear God, Please bless Dee with strength and with safety as she makes the long drive in the rain. May the rain only be enough to refresh her, and may it not be a danger or a worry for her. Please prepare the audience even before she speaks, so they will be ready, attentive, and open to the gospel as she conveys it to them. May the moving of the Spirit renew her and help her to forget how weary she is. In Jesus name, Amen.

    5. You are in my prayers. May you feel God’s loving arms surround you.

    6. Dear sweet Dee, I join all the other’s in prayer as you head towards Wisconsin. May you rest up there and be energized for the next trip. You are helping so many, many people in your ministry!

    7. Dee I hope you had a good trip home and are getting some rest now. Praying that God is doing what He intended in the hearts of the women there. It sounds like much was happening below the surface.

    8. I’m just reading this Dee – trusting you made it safely home. It sure sounds like the Spirit was working in these ladies’ hearts. Praying you can rest-up this week!

    9. Dee, I will be praying for you. That you would have sweet rest and would feel God’s arms around you. That you will hear Him say, “You are doing a great job.” That He will bring folks like Barnabas around you to encourage and support you. Thank you for remembering us during this time.

  27. For me to live is…. To strive, work harder, get more things marked off my ” to do” list, serve God better, stay thin, eat right, look good, be a good Mom, be a good wife, be a good boss, keep my house clean, go to church, and on and on. Wow how silly am I!! I am so busy doing am I really living (NO)! I definitely am not tapping into the Power with-in me, the same power that raised Christ from the dead!
    Father God forgive me for being so busy that even my time with you has become a duty :(. I am truly sorry, break me and help me to totally surrender to your calling on my life. May I relax in Your arms and allow Your Holy Spirit to work for me, may I quit being my own worst enemy! May I feel your LOVE and believe, You My Savior love me a sinner. ( Humbled) thank you Jesus!!!!!

    1. Nicki, I think you represent all of us when you tell us your Me list. Love having you here!

    2. Nicki, I appreciate your honesty. The busyness of our culture can really have us twirling. It is in this twirling that we lose our focus on God. So glad you are with us.

  28. This morning as I read Dee’s post…I want to reiterate again…I love the Body of Christ…but I am grieved. Dee we are praying for you…thank you all again for bearing patiently with me as I process and learn about the volatile emotion of anger…you all are so dear! I hope you all have a wonderful and restful weekend!

  29. Thank You God, Thank You Jesus, Thank You Holy Spirit Thank you Dee, Thank you brethern!! I am so very grateful for every detail, every offering, every teaching, every insight, every life I am speechless, filled with Awe, with Help, With Grace for my walk with HIM!! Kellers sermons gave more depth of calvary, more help to lead me along. In my difficulties at work I feel chained too. A Muslim who has tried to keep my faith tied up, a boss who is unjust, and controlling I needed more of the Gospels far reaching depth for the next step that I am facing knowing it is sanctifying was not removing my fright, knowing He Jesus is speaking John 17:19 for Him to live is me…softens me, causes me to yield and receive His Powerful Love in a reviving way that I am changed in His Presence more that I can say I am so gently broken yet inspired in love again….trembling in the Presence of our Holy God and speechless in Arkansas

    1. Gerrie, I pray these things for you too!

  30. Sermon: Joy in God’s Plan

    Paul is teaching us that it is not my circumstance, but my definition of life that determines whether I stand or fall.

    Paul teaches us that life is hard. The closer we draw to God, the more we ask ‘why’ the pain. We begin to wonder why God allows trials that seem to interfere with ministry. The problem of evil and suffering is more of a problem for Christians than anyone else. We believe in God, we know there is a standard of good and evil beyond this world—so we are confused by why God allows it.

    Paul teaches us about the alchemy of life-all the bad or evil is being used for good. God will use the difficult trials to refine us. If we go into difficulty, knowing He turns lead into gold—we can be stronger in it. But usually we do not see how He could use it for good. Paul says he “knows” it is happening. He says he needs this trial in order to deliver him from the power of sin in his life, in order to be made more like Christ.

    Paul teaches us the proper definition of life. We are not automatically refined by trouble. Tragedy can either sweeten us or make us bitter. In order for God to make beauty from ashes, to turn us to gold–we have to have a proper definition of life. For Paul, his life was Christ. If we are epicurean, we live for pleasure. Stoic people live to be strong, unmoved by pain. Moralists live to be good, and many of us live for our family or career. The only definition that can stand up to anything that befalls us, the proper definition of life, is Christ.
    Paul teaches us of the dynamic of life. John 17:19, Jesus says ‘for their sake I consecrate Myself that they may be consecrated.’ Jesus lived for us. He set Himself apart, to see us sanctified. His goal was our salvation. Jesus says ‘for Me to live is you’—all of us. He was willing to do anything to have us with Him. When I dwell on that, yes, I am changed.

    I got so excited listening to this in the car today, I wanted to call someone. I wish I had heard it sooner, but I often feel that way with Keller because the Lord uses him to turn my thinking upside down. When I think again about ‘for me to live…’ I do think of the ways I have defined my daily life. Being a good wife and mom, eating right and exercising…this is what fills my life and I do struggle when something gets in the way of my agenda. I feel such a desire to have my heart truly changed from this. Christ says for Him to live—is me. So for me, to live is Christ. It is such a profound thought. I know that if I were to suffer great tragedy, yes, I would suffer.

    Losing a loved one or enduring great physical pain, or even these trials of my children—they are hard, and he understands that. But they do not define my life to the point that I could not breathe without these things. If Christ is my life, then even death takes nothing from me. The One thing worthy of living every breath for—I cannot lose. Ever.

    1. These are excellent notes, Elizabeth – I’ve not listened yet and you’ve whetted my appetite!

    2. I agree with Susan. Terrific notes. I hope I have time to listen to the sermon today. It sounds like just what I need.

    3. Elizabeth-your last paragraph here is the crux of our faith, our hope. You included that it is hard-and God quickened me with what you said-like what Keller said in the sermon..I can’t find what exactly he said, but this isn’t something that is easy for it means we will suffer-turning a situation, or us, into Gold is transformation which can be hard.

      I think for me, who struggles with a comfort idol, am I willing to die to myself for that process is painful. :-/

      So this is my takeaway for this week..This is what is pressing on me as a result of this study-For me to live is…Christ yes-yet my wicked heart is to bend away from Him in varying moments throughout the day..yet He uses my wicked heart to mold me-amazing love, isn’t it? Dying to myself that He might be magnified in me. God help me-help Elizabeth and I to be willing to endure the pain of you breaking down our pride and taking us out of our comfort zones..Help us today to lay our lives down for you to grow and to be like Paul-to see life from your perspective that to live is You and as Elizabeth reminded us-you said on the cross to live is us-help us to say to live is YOU.

      1. thank you for this prayer we share, rebecca–so thankful for you

    4. Thanks for your notes, Elizabeth. I can relate to your enthusiasm and desire for Jesus to be your “bottom line” (life definition)…this mirrors my feelings.

  31. Elizabeth, so much wisdom in your post here. I love thi….”If Christ is my life, then even death takes nothing from me. The One thing worthy of living every breath for—I cannot lose”.

    1. Joyce–I already needed to hear/remember this again–thank you

  32. From my devotional today…..YOU CANNOT SERVE TWO MASTERS. If I am truly your Master, you will desire to please Me above all others. If pleasing people is your goal, you will be enslaved to them. People can be harsh taskmasters when you give them this power over you.

    If I am the Master of your life, I will also be your FIRST LOVE. Your serving Me is rooted and grounded in My vast, unconditional Love for you. The lower you bow down before Me, the higher I lift you up into intimate relationship with Me.

    THE JOY OF LIVING IN MY PRESENCE outshines all other pleasures. I want you to reflect My joyous Light by living in increasing intimacy with Me.

    by; Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling

    Matthew 6:24; Revelation 2:4; Ephesians 3:16; Psalm 16:11

    1. Oh my gosh, Joyce…”Jesus Calling” was recommended to me a couple months ago and I purchased it; I have been using it ever since. When I started reading your comment I thought, this is familiar… I really like the “Jesus Calling” devotional a lot; I love how it speaks to the reader…

  33. I am thinking about what Susan and Deanna said above. I think we are often too critical of ourselves. We can bless our families and others so much with what we give. Our willing sacrifice speaks volumes of love and even if they don’t see it now, one day they will. I try to stop and look at my motives. Is it for love or approval? Often if it is approval, there is a great deal of angst over what will happen if I don’t do it.

    Approval was the very first idol that God pointed out in my life. I still struggle with it but I have also made a few observations about it on the way. I saw in myself a tendency to apply sainthood to a person if they were a Christian. As I dealt with this idol I realized that people would do this to me and then be disappointed in me when I turned out unsaintly. This would cause idol threat in me but now I am looking at it more objectively. I see it as a good thing when I fall off my pedestal because I never should have been there in the first place. I gives me the opportunity to talk about my struggles as a believer with other believers and maybe even about idolatry. Most importantly for me, it is humbling to apologize.

    I appreciate Dee’s honesty about her struggles and everyone on here for that matter. It helps me in every way. It helps me to see that perhaps I will be able to also work through my struggles. Maybe I can still grow too. Maybe I can believe that The Lord loves me anyway.

    1. That is a really good indicator of approval operating – having angst over what will happen if I don’t do it. So good to hear from you, Anne. I’ve missed you.

    2. “I saw in myself a tendency to apply sainthood to a person if they were a Christian. As I dealt with this idol I realized that people would do this to me and then be disappointed in me when I turned out unsaintly.”-Anne, this made me smile because I like the way you said this-“disappointed in me when I turned out ‘unsaintly’-our hearts are wicked who can know them? So therefore how can we be shocked or walk away from a brother or sister when we see that they will turn out to be ‘unsaintly’ too. 🙂 Love you.

    3. oh Anne your words always speak to me “Maybe I can still grow too. Maybe I can believe that The Lord loves me anyway.” love your heart

    4. Thank you! You are all so dear to me. In a few weeks we will finish Genesis. My plans are to return for the summer. I am so looking forward to that. Genesis has been magnificent. It has been good to be face to face with other women but I honestly feel closer to all of you than to those in my study. We have fellowships but there is no other time for talking and sharing. It has to be that way and I understand that, otherwise we would never be able to glean so much from scripture. But this is just awesome for getting to know each other and gleaning from scripture at the same time. I can’t wait until we all meet in heaven with all of eternity for fellowship.

      I can’t believe it is after midnight! Too much coffee today…

  34. A. What does “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” mean?

    The way we act, our focus, the friends we keep, our words; if should all be so that God is glorified.

    B. What two things have been granted to us for the sake of Christ according to verse 29?

    Believe and suffer for Christ.

  35. Notes on the sermon-joy in God’s plan

    Elizabeth has great notes-and mine are long, so don’t want to repeat! 🙂 Here it is in a nutshell: Whether or not hard things refine you and turn you into Gold depends on your definition of life. ‘For me to live is Christ’ is the definition of life.

    This is the crux-the meaning of life-why I am here. He is my definition and I so want Him to be my life and nothing else-but I struggle with everything around me pressing in demanding me to make it my life for that moment in time, that day, that hour..I hate it..so I need Him to help me cling to Him and the hope that He will turn my hard circumstances into gold and turn me into gold.

  36. 11. Read Philippians 1:27-30

    A. What does “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” mean?

    My NIV translation puts it like this: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Perhaps the “whatever happens” is whether or not Paul is released from prison, even if these people keep on preaching with the wrong motives, when trials and suffering come – Paul says, in effect, “don’t fall apart-don’t lose it” – keep on living as those who belong to Christ and who represent Him. Don’t act in ways that do not fit who you are in Christ. (By the way, I failed big time in this yesterday)

    B. What two things have been granted to us for the sake of Christ according to verse 29?

    First, our faith-to be able to believe on Christ is a gift from God. Second, to suffer for Him.

    1. this is good Susan “keep on living as those who belong to Christ and who represent Him. Don’t act in ways that do not fit who you are in Christ.” (and I’ve been failing too!–so thankful for grace!)

  37. I’m looking forward to joining this Bible Study group with my new friend, Leonta!

    1. Welcome Laura and your friend Leonta! We are looking forward to fellowshiping with you both here. 🙂

    2. Yes, welcome. We would love to have you.

    3. Welcome Laura and Leonta – glad you will be joining us!

    4. Welcome Laura–glad you are joining us!

    1. Dee, take good care…sorry to hear of your laryngitis; you can count on my prayers for healing for your upcoming conference. I can only imagine all the seeds that were planted and nourished through you this past week at your engagements…thank you for all you allow the Lord to do through you.

      By the way, the issue with my family member has resolved…thank you for your prayers.

    2. So sorry Dee–praying extra prayers!

    3. Dee, so glad you are home, resting and have folks there to support you. I was thinking of you yesterday (Saturday) since I was out of town with my older daughter. We spent Friday night in a hotel and were up eating breakfast with everyone else in the dining room. And I thought of you and others like you who spend a lot of time on the road. I thank God for people like you who sacrifice their comfort to spread the good news of God’s love. God bless.

  38. I will give my notes for one section from Keller’s sermon “Joy in God’s plan” that applies to me. This is exactly the problem I am working through now with our situation. I wonder how God is using this tragedy in our lives for His glory. It seems like unnecessary injustice and suffering to me. Still, I am seeing enough of the corner of God’s garment that, in my deepest moments of despair, I am able to turn back to Him. Where else can I go? Jesus gives the HOPE that is LIFE. This trial is “CONVERTING” me, as Keller says.

    Keller notes:

    “The problem of injustice and suffering is more of a problem for Christians than anybody else. All people will say, “Why does God allow such awful things to happen?” Christians have even harder things to deal with because Christians see people who have made sacrifices for the gospel (given up money, career, a lot of comforts) and then we see horrible things happen to people like that. General suffering and evil is bad enough, but it sometimes seems like God seeks the most strategic way to scuttle His own cause. It makes you wonder, “Are we doing His work?”

    “Eg. Elisabeth Eliot “No Graven Image” novel – missionary accidentally kills the only person who knows all the languages and is helping her to translate. When the novel came out, Christians said, “God would never allow that to happen.” Elisabeth said, “This is based on a real story.” Christians will find that sometimes God allows evil and injustice to happen to what we would think is the most strategic thing that God would want to happen. It is an acute problem for us as Christians.

    “If you are not a Christian and you say “I don’t believe in God because why would God allow such evil and suffering.” If there is no God, then whatever is must be right. That is just the way it is. Evil is just a matter of opinion. But Christians know that evil is a problem. The closer you get to God, the more acute is the question.”

  39. 7. How do you interpret Philippians 1:18?
    It reminds me of Romans 8:28…God is able to take all and bring something good out of it. More particularly, it is entirely accurate that despite “motive” (pure or impure) the message is similarly preached. Indeed, I much prefer preaching from a “pure motive”, but honestly can one ever be entirely sure of another’s motive? And taking that a step further, can human motives ever be entirely pure, keeping in mind that we are sinful, fallen people who even on our best possible days fall so short of the mark? Praise God that He “shores up” our “slack”.

    8. How do you interpret the word translated “salvation” or “deliverance” in verse 19? See verse 20 as well.
    I interpret it that either way Paul sees freedom…freedom in a human-sense of being freed from prison or eternally through death…the Lord would determine which freedom Paul would experience.

    Was Paul talking about salvation from the penalty of sin? Why or why not?
    I don’t believe that Paul was talking about salvation from the penalty of sin. Paul trusted that salvation from the penalty of his sin had already been paid in full by Jesus. I believe Paul is speaking of his hope to glorify the Lord regardless of life or death…in either circumstance he would be free.

    9. Read Philippians 1:21-26 and then explain what you think Paul means by verse 21.
    Paul lives on earth, human life, in communion with the Lord. The Lord’s presence is with him…guiding directing, loving…but when Paul dies it will be a different type of communion with the Lord…Paul will come literally face-to-face with the Lord and be in the Lord’s physical presence forever. Paul is not fearful of death; he views it with desire.

    10. Fill it in as honestly as you can — and then pray for your own soul — and we can pray for one another. For to me to live is ________________________________.

    Oh how I wish I could say Jesus 100% of the time, but often the blank is “being enough”. I lose awareness of Jesus’ presence and move into people-pleasing, performance mode striving for over-delivering perfection.
    Dear Jesus, let me whisper your name at these times to regain awareness of your presence, bringing You to Your rightful place in the forefront of my consciousness.
    (Joyce, does this sound familiar?…God-incidence or what? I was doing this question on May 2…taken from “Jesus Calling”, May 2)

    11. Read Philippians 1:27-30
    A. What does “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” mean?
    To live in such a way that brings glory to God

    B. What two things have been granted to us for the sake of Christ according to verse 29?
    The privilege of trusting in Jesus; the privilege of suffering for Jesus.

  40. 12. What’s your take-a-way and why?
    So…#10 is a very convicting question; I pondered and meditated on this one for a while. The Lord is SO gentle, patient and forgiving of my shortcomings…I am in awe of how He speaks to me. For the most part I do the bible study offline in my journal, often in conjunction with my early morning devotional time. I was quite undone when I honestly admitted that in spite of SO wanting to put that “For me to live is Christ” in all honesty I could not. Words that came were, for me to live is “being enough,” “striving for perfection,” “being error free,” “over-delivering”. In my sadness, the “Jesus Calling” devotion came to mind…specifically the words “whisper My Name”…
    (from May 2 “Jesus Calling”…”when you are with other people, you often lose sight of My Presence. Your fear of displeasing people puts you in bondage to them, and they become your primary focus. When you realize this has happened, whisper My Name; this tiny act of trust brings Me to the forefront of your consciousness, where I belong.”
    I finished listening to the Keller sermon last evening; oh how I long for conversion..my heart just swelled in listening to the last portion of this sermon. I am struck that “I” am Jesus’ bottom line…for Him to live requires me, hence His redeeming sacrifice for my sinful, undeserving soul. INCREDIBLE!

  41. 12. What’s your take-a-way and why?
    I’m going to be very honest and say that I had decided not to post a take-a-way. After writing how much better my pain has been, today has been terrible and I feel-—a weird feeling of failure. I’m sure the enemy is loving this. This flare has brought a cloud of depression today that matches the cold dreary weather outside. I’m a sunshine type of girl and am drinking hot cocoa in May. So I was planning to stay quiet instead of sound so Eeyore-ish as I am, until I read some of these recent posts. Rebecca, Susan, Anne, always such depth. But specifically it was Diane’s last post—knowing the great, long pain she has been suffering—to hear her say “Still, I am seeing enough of the corner of God’s garment that, in my deepest moments of despair, I am able to turn back to Him. Where else can I go?” well, that just brought tears. I have beside me on my desk a gold tassel that fell off one of our couch pillows. I saved it to remind me of the woman who touches the hem of His garment and is healed. Diane’s post reminded me of that. While I have never met her, I feel like I have—and I hurt for Diane. I have gained so much wisdom from her—even before the trial was mentioned here—so to read her words, I am encouraged. I have courage to dare to keep on hoping. Not just about my physical pain—but more so with my children’s current trials and the road before us.

    Then it was Nanci’s post—another sister who the Lord continually uses to inspire me, she wrote this: “
    Dear Jesus, let me whisper your name at these times to regain awareness of your presence, bringing You to Your rightful place in the forefront of my consciousness.” More tears.

    Then I opened a devotional I haven’t in a long while, Nancy Guthrie’s “Abundant Life”—and today’s verse was Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”. She writes (it’s similar style to Jesus Calling) “Can you see me opening my arms to you, waiting to envelop you, providing a safe place for you to make yourself at home?…”

    Some days our journey here feels too long. And yet, when I come back to this place of fellowship I am reminded of all the places that need Him, and all the places He is at work. I am encouraged to press on. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” 2 Cor. 4:17. I am so thankful for the example of Paul, and for each of you– reminding me of His truth, and how we can together run with endurance.

    1. Elizabeth, I hate that you are struggling-but so encouraged how you are persevering, running to Him..I love your heart. Love you and am praying for you..I so want this thorn removed!

    2. So sorry you are in pain again, Elizabeth, but thank you for being brave and coming on here to admit it. And thanks for your kind words to encourage me.

    3. I’m so sorry this pain has returned Elizabeth. I’m praying for you and for some warm sunny weather to warm you.

  42. Hi,
    New to the site and love the blogs!
    Thank you for the encouragement and prayers to all the ladies who post comments!
    I have encountered some difficult times recently. Days when I am not sure how tomorrow will be.
    Divorce is final, abuse and infidelity, yet unrepentant heart on his part. All I thought my life would be and look like is over. Yet, in these times the comments on this page have given me hope only because of Christ. He is really is what I only see but the pains of all that surrounds me are immense.
    Thank you!

    1. Toni, welcome. Sorry to hear about your pain. I hear the pain in your words and understand it because my daughter is going through something similar in the breakup of her marriage. The pain is excruciating, beyond words. Yet, God is hears, knows and cares. He indeed is our only Hope. He is able to bring you through.

      This is a wonderful site filled with godly women with struggles who are turning to God and praying for each other. Join this week’s Bible study at:

      http://deebrestin.wpengine.com/2013/05/wicked-sisters-beloved-by-god-the-gospel-according-to-philippians/

      1. Thank you Diane!

        I have so enjoyed this site and your encouragement!