Working inside out - Living in Relationship in Philippians

Read Philippians Chapter four

I recently stayed in a really lovely looking bed and breakfast, with a pretty garden and beautiful rooms, but the service did not come with a smile, it was not warm and welcoming. No matter how great it looked from the outside, it was not a lovely place to be.

It's great when we tidy our homes, paint the walls and make the front garden look pretty, the house can seem welcoming and friendly. However dig a little deeper, open a cupboard or two and you see the junk, stuffed and hidden from view. Beneath the forced smiles and offer of coffee can be disarray, hurt and a whole range of negative emotions.

As imitators of Christ our lives are not meant to be lived skin deep, we are to be like Brighton rock that has the Word all the way through. The hidden junk needs to be sorted out, not just shut away.

Paul says "Rejoice" and he repeats it, it's important. Rejoice means (in Websters dictionary) to be exhilarated, to experience joy at a higher level. From the surface to our deepest part it should say 'Joy' all the way through. Joy isn't the planted 'Church' smile that we so often stick to our face to show everything is fine. In fact you do not have to be happy to rejoice, you have to be in a deep relationship with God.

That kind of joy comes from your heart, it spills out of how you are filled. Paul says that we must think about things that are pure, noble, right and lovely. If you dwell on the negativities in life, moaning about how tired or overworked you are or how others are behaving, that negativity plants itself in your heart and becomes your reflection.  Instead try focusing on the good things; the sun shining, children laughing, a smile, the smell of coffee, there is always something - even one thing.

It is those things that fill your heart and reflect an attitude of rejoicing even in them midst or war, chaos, stress and life's troubles. It is the ability to turn a frown into a smile that shows the evidence of gentleness that Paul refers to in verse 5.

I know, I hear you; "But you don't know my life, you don't know my troubles, if you only knew the stress..." and on it goes and you're right I don't your life. I only know my own and so does God, and he knows yours. The promise I want you to take with you, rejoicing all the way, is that God knows your need.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." (Verse 19)

Gary says:

I think Paul is amazing! Here's a guy who brought about significant suffering on the early Christian church as a zealot, before an amazing personal encounter lead to his conversion to a respected apostle! He then goes through imprisonment and shipwreck, and still he is joyous.

We all go to through tough situations and trials. Sure, God could make our lives easier, more comfortable or somehow happier, but we need to remember God gave us free will and as a result we fail and sin. The resulting life trauma shapes us; our walk and our witness. Like Paul, we can still be joyous. God cries every time a child of his hurts, in the same way a parent does when a child skins a knee, but its how 'man' wanted it.

The best verse here is verse 13 - awesome. So positive, you can do all things! Have you ever seen Topgun? Essentially the main guy, Maverick, is a great pilot and with his co-pilot, Goose, they can do anything. During a flight they have a crash and as they eject from the plane, Goose dies (sorry spoiler!). Maverick descends into self doubt and struggles to be the best. Maverick is the same great pilot with or without Goose, but with the spirit of Goose he can do anything.

Whilst that's a loose metaphor, we see Paul boasting that he can do everything in Christ, despite his encounter with Jesus having been and gone. We need to remember that God is always with us and therefore we can do everything with the help of Christ who gives us the strength we need.

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