Practical Proverbial, from Philippians, 26 March 2020

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19 (NIV).

Think of it:   whatever God is giving you, He is meeting ALL your most important needs, and He’s doing it according to all He did through His Son, Jesus.

BUT BUT BUT, how can God be providing for us in disease?   In unemployment?   In fear?   In this terrible worldwide crisis?

Have you considered that He’s providing us with Himself and His physical meeting of our needs in spite of those things and not because of them?   God is acting on, not reacting to, what He knows we need most.

That starts with salvation.

Next comes encouragement.

Then comes His overcoming Spirit.

And isn’t that sometimes tough to do?  I’m working with a very difficult client.   They don’t like our company; they don’t much like me.  Yesterday was a particularly tough day with both a dissatisfied client AND impatient leadership demanding immediate answers to matters that take time.   In some ways, it’s thrilling but it’s also frustrating because I’m working out of my element and feel like I’m waiting for the next shoe to drop.  It’s a no-questions-allowed culture in the middle of a no-mistake project.  Yesterday I felt crushed by too many conflicting priorities, too little control over my own future, and too many competing needs.

Where was God in all this?   Right where He’s always been.   He was here, reminding me (and you) that His salvation was once for all and that He meant it.   He’s here reminding us that, when He saved us, He made us more than conquerors of anything that opposes us.   We WILL overcome this because Christ is with us, despite the best chaotic intentions of the evil one.

Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that, especially on tough days.   Especially when the TV says that the world is coming to an end.   Especially during crises.    The devil is working much harder than anyone else now and, quite honestly, this is his best shot.   Sure, he can do more, but he’ll have to work overtime to overcome what Christ has already sealed and finished.

Salvation.   Encouragement.   Overcoming.   Even on the bad days…ESPECIALLY on the bad days, those words mean more because the God of all time and all the universe made Himself completely known and fully intimate with us through the person, words, and resurrection of Jesus.  He tells us everything about Himself in Christ, and His words resonate even louder, even clearer, when the world looks scary or we have a bad day.

More than conquerors, you see.   He meant it.

For further reading: Romans 8:37, Philippians 4:20.

Lord Jesus, in You I’m made more than a conqueror to overcome and defeat anything the evil one tries.  Fight for me, strengthen me to stand, and work Your Kingdom work through my hands and words today.

Practical Proverbial, from 1 Thessalonians, 8 January 2018

Paul, Silas, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you.  1 Thessalonians 1:1.

Welcome to the 5 T’s:   1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus.  Two thousand years after they were written, we are still reading them and drawing wisdom and encouragement from them.  These five letters comprise 5 general letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to a church and to friends.   They are 5 of the 13 New Testament books written by Paul, which were actually letters instead of books, and they deal with ministry, encouragement, matters of faith, prophecy, and advice on matters of church practice.   Coolest of all, each of them starts with a flourishing greeting which finishes in praying for God’s grace and peace to the reader.   In reality, all of Paul’s letters start this way (though in the Timothy letters he prays for grace, mercy, and peace).

Have you ever started a letter like that?   Instead of a Christmas letter, this year my wife and I sent out a New Year’s letter (mainly because we were away from home over Christmas).   I’d like to think someone will be reading my holiday letters 2000 years from now the way we’re reading Paul’s but it’s 99.9% unlikely.  If they did, I’m sure that (like yours) they didn’t begin with such flourish.

Are you in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ?   Sure you are, you might say; you believe.  But have you ever really had someone ask you about it?   At the start of a new year (and a new series of books), where are you in God and your Lord?   Let’s keep it real:   it isn’t up to us to determine where God has us.  It IS up to us to make the choice about whether or not we care about it, though, and what actions we should do if we find ourselves feeling separated from Him.

Make no mistake:   God is never away from us.   If we feel distant, it isn’t because of anything He’s done; sometimes it isn’t even things we do.   Instead, things cloud our hearts that keep us feeling away from Him.   Or the enemy tricks us into thinking God is far when, in fact, He’s as close as can be.  When that happens, it’s important to remember Paul’s flourishing greetings that end with grace and peace.   They’re reminders that God’s undeserved and unfathomable love is always with us, and that the peace only He gives is always within us.

His grace and peace are all throughout these five letters we begin reading today.   Look for them and you’ll see that.   What’s more, you’ll be in Him more as you do so.  He’s in you already.

For further reading:  2 Thessalonians 1:1, Acts 15:22, Acts 16:1, Romans 1:7, Titus 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 2-3.

Lord, infuse me with Your grace and peace.   Thank You for inspiring these letters into Paul so long ago.