Some water parks contain a gigantic bucket that gradually fills with water. Once it reaches the tipping point, it dumps water on everyone below. Although some places get wetter than others, the only way to avoid it is to remain far away which means you can’t enjoy the slides and other less drenching activities. There seem to be two types of children who play, the ones who carefully monitor the bucket and when it is nearly full, they carefully maintain a distance; and the ones who eagerly wait directly under the bucket anticipating the surge of water about to pour down.

Dear Lord, let me be the one who eagerly waits, as close as possible, to the source of living waters anticipating the outpouring of your love and grace. Let me get drenched!



We have reached the last chapter of Philippians. Read Chapter 4. What have you learned about joy/rejoicing? See also 1:4,  1:18, 1:25. 2:2,  2:17, 2:18, 2:29 3:1, 4:1, 4:4, 4:10.  What steals your joy? What brings you joy?

In verses 4-7, what are we instructed to do? Do we tend to give these commands as much weight as we do when told not to steal, murder, lie, covet or engage in immorality? Should we?

What is the promise in verse 9?  Is it conditional on what we do? What is the promise in verse 19? Is it conditional?

Last week we  discussed Paul’s purposes in writing. He was sending Epaphrodites back to Philippi with a letter thanking them for their gift and support of his ministry but also he was reminding them important truths in light of the increasing persecution. He urges them to maintain the attitude of Christ and follow his example of being poured out like a drink offering for the sake of Christ and the gospel.  Looking over the whole book what is the theme of the book of Philippians?

Learning to be content is a process (4:11). What have you learned on your journey to contentment?

Finally,  what was the things the Lord impressed upon your heart as you studied Philippians? 

Follow me….

Read Philippians Chapter 3. What is Paul warning the church to watch out for? Paul writes that he places no “confidence in the  flesh.” What does that mean? Do we do that today with certain practices or criteria? Paul was focused on his goal – the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Reaching a goal means saying “no” to some things in order to say “yes” to others. Where have you had to do this in your life? What is your goal?

Verse 18 refers to those who walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Who are these people and what are they doing? 

I have always felt convicted where Paul writes in verse 17 “Join in following my example.” I did not feel I could say that about my life because it is too untidy with doubts, sin and self with many questionable choices. Here is a quote from the Bondage Breaker by Neil T. Anderson that fits right in with what Paul is saying and my concern that I do not perfectly reflect Jesus. “We can’t model perfection because we’re not perfect; we can only model growth. The people around us need to know we are real people who are in the process of becoming like Christ. They need to know how we handle failure as well as how we handle success.” (page 168)

I heard this song for the first time on the radio and wanted to share.



Who is Epaphrodites?

In my recent reading of the Bible, I have been drawn to the “minor” characters. Usually when I study, I am focusing on the “key”players such as Peter or Paul and those whose names are repeated over and over. When reading Acts, I noticed the author referred to many believers by name but I could not find them mentioned again. Others, if I searched the epistles, I could catch glimpses of their faithful ministry. I was comforted to see that God wanted them mentioned by name because God sees all of our “small” acts of faithfulness, nothing glamorous but precious to God.

I once attended a church which met in a school cafeteria and each Sunday about twenty people from the congregation brought in the sound system, arranged the benches and prepared the place we would meet. Each week those faithful people came hours early to set up for others who would come and take for granted how everything just came together.

Maybe you feel, as I often do, that you play a “minor” part in God’s kingdom. Unlike the way the world views things, the Lord does not measure value like we do. God takes note of every one of the hidden actions we perform because of our love for Him. And after all, no matter how much attention and recognition anyone receives, there is really only key player – Jesus.

Read Philippians 2:14-30. Paul writes about two of his co-workers Timothy (19-24) and Epaphrodites ( 2:25-30, 4:18). How does Paul describe Timothy? What is Epaphrodites’ role in the ministry? What 3 titles does Paul give him (2:25) Describe the varying level of commitment each one involves. In 4:18, Paul reveals a (secondary) purpose for writing this letter. What is it?  

In verse 17, Paul says he is being poured out like a drink offering? What does this mean? How does this apply to us today?

Philippians Chapter 2

This week  we will study Chapter 2. Are we moving too quickly? Don’t stop if you were overcome by events last week!  Just resume right here 🙂

Read Philippians 2:1-16. What are some of the instructions Paul gives the church? See verses 2,3,4,5, 13 and 14. For example, in verse 2, Paul urges them to be “of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit and intent on one purpose.” Which one of these instructions is God impressing upon your heart? 

In verses 5-11, we read the glorious passage about Jesus becoming man. Notice  (list) the process Jesus took of humbling himself. Then notice the path God took in exalting Jesus. What was the attitude of Christ? How would you have this same attitude/mindset? How would you define humility?

Verse 12 states for you to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” My paraphrase of that verse is that I should diligently apply all the things I read in His word. Sometimes I am not sure what the application looks like. I also realize that how God wants me to apply a certain truth will look  differently than how you will apply.  So I wonder how to apply verse 4. Verse 3 seems pretty clear to “regard one another more important than yourselves.” This was a pivotal verse early in my marriage when God changed my attitude so I could do this for my husband. But verse 4,  I am unsure how to apply. “Do not merely look to you own personal interests but also to the interests of others.”  Can I be following Jesus with all my heart and still seek my own personal interests?  Should I spend time and money painting if its sole purpose is for my enjoyment? Can I buy myself something new just because I like it even if I don’t “need” it? I do both of these things and don’t even think about it until I read about Paul and then I wonder if I am self-indulgent and have been squeezed into the world’s way of thinking instead of having the mind of Christ. Any thoughts on how verse 4 is being lived out in your life?

It has been granted for you to suffer

I am not sure I have ever heard a sermon on our inheritance as  believers which included suffering as part of our entitlement, yet the more I read the New Testament I see that suffering, trials and difficulties are integrally woven into our life of faith. I noticed  in our first week as we read Acts 9 where the Lord said of Paul “He is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings and sons of Israel for I will show him home much he must suffer for my names sake.”

Unlike me, Paul was not deterred by suffering and his suffering was huge compared to the small trials I have. But I have it all wrong. I visualized life similar to a see-saw that if difficulties were high, comfort and joy were low and if suffering is absent, joy is elevated. But thank God for His Spirit’s correction of my wrong thinking. 2 Corinthians 1:3-12 says the opposite is true. The more we are afflicted, the more Christ comforts us. The more we are burdened the less we depend on our own strength and fully set our hope completely on Jesus.

For the rest of this week’s study, read Philippians 1:18-30. Also read John 16:33, Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:16-39, 2 Corinthians 4:8-18, Hebrews 12:1-13, James 1:2-12, 1 Peter 1:3-9, 5:6-10

Paul wrote “To live is Christ to die is gain.” How would you paraphrase/explain this to someone who did not understand what he was saying?
What was Paul’s passion in life?
What is the purpose (benefit) of suffering in a believer’s life? How should we respond to suffering?



Finishing the Race

My friends and I have frequent discussions about how God’s sovereign purposes in our daily lives interact with our individual callings that must be actively lived out, trusting or trying, resting or response. Like examining a canvas in a museum, we view the question from different perspectives in varying lighting.

One week our youth pastor shared a story that helped me answer the question. In college, Travis was competing in a track meet in an event which he had never run, the 200 meter hurdles. He waited for the start gun so he could begin. The first time it went off there were false starts. The second time it went off, there were more false starts. Finally Travis was left at the starting line alone. He had won the race (by default). But he couldn’t just walk off the field, he was required to run the race and jump the hurdles. It did not matter how quickly he ran, how well he jumped, or even if he fell. He just had to cross the finish line.

So we too have won the race because Jesus gives us His victory (salvation); however, we can’t just sit down on the sidelines and wait. We have to complete the course (sanctification). It is not about finesse or speed but perseverance until the end. Philippians 1:6 He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

He who began a good work…

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…in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.Philippians 1:6 NASB
The Message translates the verse in this way “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this good work in you will bring it to a flourishing finish.” Like Kori, this is one of my life verses. There are too many good ones to choose just one verse 🙂 I find such relief in this verse because it reminds me that it does not depend on me but Jesus. I may feel like a mess, a project that will never get finished, but God will complete what he started in me. That is a promise!  But today is not yet the day of Christ Jesus and I am a long way from perfection.
Paul seems really fond of the church in Philippi (the city of Philippi is in the region of Macedonia so when you read a verse about the Macedonians – such as Romans 15:26 -realize this includes Philippi). He shares how he prays for them in verses 9-11. If I am not  sure how to specifically pray for someone, I think this is a great place to start.
In verse 12, Paul begins to share about his circumstances – imprisonment for the cause of Christ. Yet he is rejoicing. Why? Instead of it silencing the gospel, Paul has a new audience. Furthermore, others are preaching the gospel either because they have been emboldened by his witness or because they are trying to make him envious by their number of converts.  Paul realized it was never about him so he can rejoice that Jesus is being proclaimed.
Read through Chapter 1:1-18 
Throughout the book take note of several key words – Christ, suffer, gospel, rejoice, mind/think. You may want to keep a list of the verses for each word. If you have extra time you can even do a word study on the Greek meanings of the words.
If your time permits, another additional assignment you can do is read Chapter 1 in different translation. Although I do not use it for study, I like the different perspective from the Message.
Questions to consider and discuss – you don’t have to comment on all unless you want to. You can share anything else you learned.

Are your frustrated by what you think your life should look like or are you content to let God complete his work however it pleases Him? (1:6)

Paul used prison as his pulpit. Do you allow your most difficult circumstances to be a platform for the gospel to reach others? (1:12)

When you hear the gospel is being proclaimed, how would you define gospel?