By Molly Huggins
I mentioned joy- it’s rejoice, in fact. Verses 4-7 tell us this:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Matthew Henry describes it in this way:
“Observe, It is our duty and privilege to rejoice in God, and to rejoice in him always; at all times, in all conditions; even when we suffer for him, or are afflicted by him. We must not think the worse of him or of his ways for the hardships we meet with in his service. There is enough in God to furnish us with matter of joy in the worst circumstance on earth.”
Rejoice in the Lord always. And this rejoicing? It breeds peace (v. 7), contentment (v. 11), and continued reliance on a God who moves the mountains, and clothes the lilies (v. 13.)
Is rejoicing a daily part of my life right now?
What things hold me back from fully rejoicing in the Lord?
What could I do to share joy with others today?
Almighty God, You are the author of life and beauty. Everything holds together in You, and Your creation shouts of Your glory to the ends of the earth. Today I surrender all the things that hold me back from joy- my worries, my busy schedule, my selfish complaints- I lay them all down at Your feet in repentance. Fill my heart with joy today, the joy that only comes from You. I will rejoice in You because You are good, always. Amen.
Molly Huggins (All The Grace Between) is an Army bride, one-time helicopter pilot, compulsive writer, friend seeker, and lover of color and all things textile. Her current occupation is ringmaster of the Huggins family circus (party of five). She has a B.A. in English from Covenant College and a passion for meeting other women right in the middle of their own messy stories. Pull up a chair at her virtual beat-up kitchen table, listen to her stories, and maybe even tell her yours.
By Mary Parker
Have you ever been devoted or deeply committed to someone or something? It may be work, school, family or even a hobby or a cause you adamantly support. Being dedicated to your passion is one thing, but being driven by salvation through Jesus alone is a completely different story.
In his letter to the people of Philippi, Paul writes that he once had every reason to have “confidence in the flesh.” He was circumcised according to Jewish law, was a well-known Pharisee and even proclaimed to be a zealot for God, and under the law, “faultless” (Philippians 3:4-6). In short, Paul has more reason than anyone to be committed to his faith through good works and the law.
Faith in himself however, didn’t save him from the temporary blindness he experienced through a personal encounter with Jesus. Because Paul was so dedicated and committed to the law, Jesus had to take extreme measures to meet him and change his life according to the real will of God, not just by abiding the law. Once Paul recognized Jesus’ holiness, he submitted himself and completely turned his life around, literally changing the world for God by taking the gospel across the Roman empire. Pursuing a relationship with Jesus often means changing our commitments, and- more importantly- your direction.
Even though Paul endured great trials of faith for his commitment to Jesus, he lovingly writes that everything he once prized, his good works and commitment to the flesh, seem to be “garbage” compared to a life following Jesus (3:8). I’m not suggesting that your family or hobbies should be discarded, but perhaps we all should take a minute to compare the temporary, worldly possession and pastimes we enjoy to the eternal salvation we have in Jesus. He has rescued us from the murk and mire so that we don’t have to endure suffering forever! That’s something to really prioritize and value.
As Paul experienced a transformation of the heart upon meeting Jesus, he turned his commitment from worldly pursuits to Jesus and “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:9). Paul works diligently throughout the New Testament to help people, walking firmly in the direction of Jesus. “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (3:12-14).
God used Paul’s gifts, especially his passion and thirst for righteousness, to change the world. But the biggest shift was Paul’s focus from worldly desires to relentlessly and unapologetically pursuing Jesus.
How can we follow Paul’s example and use our gifts to reach others for God?
What things in your life overshadow devotion to God? How can we relinquish the hold on us and give in to faith in Jesus alone?
Lord, You are so holy and mighty. You are eternally loving, sovereign, and gracious. I am so quick to lose sight of who You are, and how much greater You are than anything else in my life. Help me to set aside all else for the sake of knowing You. Remind me of Your goodness and mercy today. Amen.
Mary Parker is an Air Force wife who works as a public relations writer. A South Carolina girl at heart, she and her husband have recently relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska. Mary spends her spare time honing exercise and cooking skills, and is a self-proclaimed DIY addict. You can read about how faith and hope shape military family life, and check out Mary's latest projects at her blog, Mary's Mischief.
By Heather Tabers
When I study instructional passages of Scripture, I love to look at these three concepts: What, Why, and How. Let’s use these concepts to look at Philippians Chapter 2.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
I love that in the first two verses of this chapter, Paul opens up a sermon on unity with one simple if/then statement. IF there is any encouragement (help, exhortation, counsel) in Christ, IF there is any fellowship (partnership) of the Spirit, IF any affection (the Greek’s strongest word for compassionate love) and compassion, THEN we are to be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. IF we are blessed with encouragement, help, exhortation, counsel, fellowship, partnership, affection, compassion, and love, THEN we need to be united.
To break it down, IF God is compassionate towards you, THEN you need to share that same compassion with your brothers and sisters.
Paul offers no exception to this rule, only further encouragement to strengthen the bond among Christians. In one sentence, he gives us the What of the passage: Be united. Now, the Why- Why is it so important for Christians to be united? Why is it so important that we be of one mind, one love, one spirit, one purpose?
Because God chose to be united with us.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
God, in all His perfection and righteousness and holiness, came to earth in the form of a lowly man through His Son, Jesus. Despite being sinless, He obeyed the Father and allowed Himself to be crucified horrifically in our place. The most compassionate love ever displayed was bestowed from a perfect Creator to a sinful creation, all for the sake of being united. Sin no longer separates me from God. He bridged that gap on the cross so that I can be His for all of eternity. That’s the Why-because Christ chose to be united with us.
But how we can be of one mind, one love, one spirit, and one purpose with all Christians? We’re so different!
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Putting others before ourselves does not usually come naturally, this is why Paul breaks it down for us. To be united in the body of Christ as one, we need to put away our selfish habits and conceited ways. We need to stop thinking that our needs and wants are more important than someone else’s. We need to look for opportunities to bless others- not just the others we want to bless, but all others. That’s the How in this lesson- choosing to humble ourselves in unity with one another, just as Christ did for us.
Who in my life do I lack unity with?
How can I humble myself and seek to put that person’s needs before mine?
What would this world be like if Jesus had put His needs before ours?
Lord Jesus, thank You for the humility and sacrifice You demonstrated on the cross. You put Your glory aside and chose to die for me, because of Your deep love for me, even when I was far from You. Thank You, Jesus. In light of Your love and Your sacrifice, I choose to surrender my pride and my wants, my needs. I choose to love others above myself. I know I can’t do it on my own, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit. Open my eyes to the people around me who need to be loved and served today. Amen.
Heather Tabers is the wife of a wounded warrior and the mother of five children. She is also currently a full time student, a specialty cake baker, and a volunteer with the VA Public Relations office. She writes about her life and her faith to encourage other women on her blog, Wives of War.
By Laura Moore
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17
Who would have thought that God would use a tiny baby as the light that would save a dark world? Through a prophecy recorded in Isaiah 9:6 God shows us a glimpse of our savior.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Before we talk about the wonderful meanings of these names of Jesus, don’t you think it’s wonderful how God’s word is always fulfilled? As military families we are often given a direction only to have it changed a few times. We don’t have much hope in the date we’re given for our spouse’s return from deployment. We are told we will be moving to one place and at the last moment it falls through. We are told a medical procedure is covered, only to be thrown for a loop when we are slapped with a huge bill.
While we can’t hold a lot of hope in these circumstances, we can celebrate how our God does not waiver in His plans for our lives or this world. Isn’t that great news?!
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
During this Christmas season, remember that God gave the world a tiny baby as He promised. This small one is our Wonderful Counselor who is exceptional and always gives the right advice. He is our Mighty God, not only Jesus, but God himself. Our Everlasting Father is timeless and as The Prince of Peace, He runs a government of justice and peace.
We were given a gift and this is why we celebrate together: that to us a child was born who is our light, and we can find hope in Him through any circumstance we face.
What areas of your life do you struggle to trust Him with- family, friends, work, etc.?
Lord, thank You for always fulfilling Your words. You are so faithful. Thank You for being all that You are- Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Help me to rest in You today. I choose to let go of every fear or worry in Your presence, knowing that You will always come through for me. Give me the strength to trust You. Amen.
by Chantal Graupmann
Thankfulness is on my mind as the calendar month changes from October to November. As the holiday rush begins, it is easy to lack true gratitude while we go about our merry way of checking off items on our to-do list. Our lives become so cluttered and busy it can be a challenge to stop and remember God’s plan and all he has done and continues to do in our lives.
In the midst of military life, we are often dealt circumstances that (if we allow) can rob us of our thankfulness. It is not always easy to be thankful for God’s many blessings when a loved one is away for the holidays or we are in a new place without familiar comforts, family, and friends.
True feelings of gratitude stem from our deliberate perspective on thankfulness. Psalm 24:1 reminds me that I need to put God at the forefront of my thoughts:
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
If my mind is not focused on God and his blessings, I will be thankless. As I look toward the busyness of the holiday season I wonder how I can foster a right perspective.
How can I be sure to be full of thanks when it is so easy to choose otherwise?
1. Spend time with the Lord
This is always the easiest way to correct our thoughts and perspective. God has given us the gift of prayer and supplication for a reason! This tool is always available to us, yet we often do not use it as we should. Ask the Lord to help you in this area; He will show you exactly where you should be placing your focus.
2. Meditate on Scripture
There are many passages in scripture that can help us to understand gratitude on a deeper level. Psalm 24:1 is helpful for me, but another scripture may be better suited to you. A simple word search can help you find these passages.
3. Keep a journal
Write a daily list of things you are thankful for. The ability to look back and recall reasons to be thankful can be a helpful reminder on the hard days when gratitude is lacking.
I pray that each of us takes the time to remember the true gifts and blessings we have been given by our Creator. As the hustle and bustle of the season gets underway, take time to seek Jesus. A deliberate perspective of thankfulness will make the season all the more rich and full.
Chantal Graupmann is an Air Force wife and mother to two children. She is striving to serve women in the midst of motherhood and military life, and is passionate about building community. She loves finding time for DIY projects, experimental cooking, and travel.
by Brandis Trionfo
Last year in March, my sister-in-law was killed in a tragic bus accident as her Lacrosse team was headed to a game. She was seven months pregnant with my nephew and it shook our whole family very deeply.
My mother-in-law is very rooted in her faith and it hasn't wavered since the accident. I've questioned God a few times since the incident and I can always look to her to see not only how strong she is but also how God has worked in her and through her from the time I've met her until now.
Last year they didn't do their big Thanksgiving celebration in light of what happened. This year they will have it again, and fortunately for us, my husband will be able to take leave so we can be with our family in Baltimore.
I think it takes on a whole new meaning to be thankful, even when times are tough. God says in the Bible, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). We know that we're going to have trouble. We never understand what God is doing or how He's working, but I know this: If you are thankful for what He's given you, you'll continue to see how He works for you. I know that the day Kristie was killed, her entire team was spared. The only people He called home were the bus driver, my sister-in-law, and her unborn son. And every single one of those girls will go on to do amazing things; I believe it without a doubt.
Being thankful is about the little things and the big things. We're called in the Bible to be thankful. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) says:
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in ALL circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
In a time where Thanksgiving is more about Black Friday than gathering with loved ones, I hope (in my family at least) we'll pause to remember that no matter what troubles we face, He is with us. He is for us, and we should always be thankful.
If I doubt it, I'll just look to my amazing mother-in-law, who knows beyond a shadow of a doubt where her daughter is, and where she'll be someday.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
Questions for Reflection:
How can we pause to be thankful even during times of trouble?
What or who can we look to when we feel doubt?
Lord, I thank you that we're able to gather in this season to give thanks. I thank you that you're mighty and so much stronger than I, and I pray that you will help me to remember, day in and day out, to be thankful for what you've given me. I pray that you will reach out to me and help me to give you the attention you deserve and to be aware of your presence, especially during these holiday seasons. Help me to praise you in all I do. In your name I pray, Amen.
by Brandis Trionfo
Meeting my Savior that day was the biggest change I’d seen, military or no.
Questions for reflection:
*What changes in your life have showed you your need for God and His grace?
*Where has the Lord met you in your life at the weakest moments?
Brandis is a former Sailor turned Air Force wife, a stay at home mom to 3 kids, and a lover of rustic country decor. She misses the Navy almost daily but is so very thankful for the time she gets with her family, dogs, & friends living near the beach. She occasionally blogs but mostly forgets at Anchored in the Air Force Life.