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The verses this week (you can comment on one, some, OR all) are below - and some of my very favorites.
(4)Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (5)Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (6)Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7)And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (8)Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (9)Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)My thoughts are below. Looking forward to reading yours!
I have been on this earth for 42 years (today, actually). For ten and a half of those years, I have been a Christian. And I can say with confidence that I am more like Christ today than I was ten years ago. And I am more mature than I was 42 years ago (at least I hope so!). Every moment of my life, from the day I was born until today, was orchestrated and/or allowed by God to make me into the person I am today--a person who is growing more and more into Christ's image through His power.
Yet, I'm definitely not there yet. And sometimes I wonder how close I'll get before God takes me home. I look at people like Paul, and pray that at SOME point before I enter glory, I'll be able to have the confidence and peace to say what he said in the ninth verse of the fourth chapter of Philippians.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9Could any of you imagine saying these words to your friends? your spouse? your children? Are you so in the center of God's perfect will for you, so in tune to and attentive to His guidance that all people can see is Christ in you? Do you think that you are a "powerful sermon?" When people imitate you, would they be imitating Jesus Himself? Do others receive the God of peace when they put your words and actions into practice?
It is with regret that I would have to say "no."Don't get me wrong. I have my moments. There definitely ARE times when, overrun by His Spirit, I am an excellent witness for my Savior. Sometimes, all people can see is Christ. But much of the time (perhaps "most" is a more appropriate word), my selfish, flawed, sin-laden self pushes to the forefront, and I am anything but a proper reflection of the God who saved me: who is living within me.
No, I'm not to the level of holiness that Paul was when he wrote this letter. But I'm closer than I was yesterday. That's what progressive sanctification is about. As I read and study His Word, communicate with and listen to Him in prayer, and stay open to correction from Him and His people, God empowers me to leave me behind and take up Him. And every time I rejoice in Him (verse 4), show my gentleness to the world(verse 5), give prayer and thanksgiving instead of worrying (verses 6-7), and keep my mind focused on the right things (verse 8), I am in fact making my reflection of Him more and more clear. And as I do, as Paul reminds us, the God of peace will be with me.
Heavenly Father, on this day, when I am so tempted to celebrate me, help me to focus instead on Christ in me. Help me, Lord, to plan my 42nd year entirely in Your will, and to follow your guidance in each area of my life. Help me, Lord, to show You more clearly to everyone I meet. And allow me (for without Your guidance it is impossible) to grow in Your grace to the point where I can be a true living example of You in every area of my life. Let me be like Paul, Lord--but even more, make me into the image of Your Son. In Jesus' precious name I pray. Amen.
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