Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One of Life's Greatest Teachers

By Allen White

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.

Often we are tempted to think, “When I get through this, when this trial is over, then I can connect with God.” We pray that God will get us out of a hard situation so we can get on with serving Him. The problem is that there’s always a problem it seems. Philippians 4:12-14

One of life’s greatest teachers is adversity. No one likes to hear that, but it’s true. Look at it this way: if we’re going to experience problems like Jesus said we would (John 16:33), then we might as well benefit from them.

If we have “almost nothing,” then we learn that scarcity brings clarity. It’s at the times that we lack that we truly appreciate what we have. If we have “everything,” then we enjoy how truly blessed we are. Then, Paul reveals “the secret to living in every situation.” Here’s the secret: “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” We were hoping for the secret to make our problems disappear. The secret is Christ and what He provides. What can Jesus provide for you today?

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Monday, July 21, 2014

The Key to Contentment

By Allen White

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. Philippians 4:11

Children always seem to want more. It doesn’t matter how many toys they already have, if there is a new toy out there, they’ve got to have it or they are missing out on the fun.

I have a friend who recorded classic Christmas shows for his children. The shows were recorded from regular television, so they included the commercials. After watching the shows, his children began to ask for the toys in the commercials. The problem was that the recording was about 10 years old, and those toys weren’t available any more. The commercials created a need for something that you couldn’t buy.

Now, this isn’t just true for children. All of us want more or at least a new and improved version. Why? We want more because possessions do not satisfy us. If we could be satisfied by things, then we should be more than content by now. Just look at our garages.

Contentment becomes much easier when we want what we have. If we need perspective, then we need to spend some time with the less fortunate across town or on a mission trip around the world. That perspective should move us toward contentment.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Don't Get Too Close

By Allen White

How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Philippians 4:10

The Philippians were concerned for Paul over his imprisonment. Even if Paul’s incarceration was house arrest, it was still unpleasant and very limiting.

As I am writing these final devotionals, my family is quarantined. (Don’t worry. I haven’t touched your book). Our sons have the flu and with the swine flu pandemic all the rage, we were all instructed to take Tamiflu and stay home. The doctor said, “If you don’t have food, then have someone bring food.” We are grateful for friends and for Domino’s Pizza should the need arise. Paul had no choice either and for a much longer time than us. If it wasn’t for friends sending gifts, Paul might not have made it. The state really didn’t feel obligated to help prisoners back then.

Now, imprisonment and quarantine both seem pretty extreme. But, there are people who need our help and might not be able to help themselves. Do you know someone who is home-bound or in a nursing home? Do you know someone who is lonely and needs a conversation over coffee? Your kindness this week could make all the difference in the world to someone.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Who Wants to be Like You?

By Allen White

Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9

This passage can seem to be a little intimidating. Most feel that they don’t measure up. So, for a minute, let’s look at this verse as the reader and not the writer.

Who do you know that you would like to be like? Now, nobody’s perfect. But, what Christ-like qualities do you admire in another? What if you asked that person to be your mentor? Since none of us are 100 percent there, it might be a good idea to even have a few mentors for different areas in our lives. As long as they are following God’s Word in their lives, they will be great teachers and examples for us to follow.
You can even choose a mentor that you’ve never met or may never meet by reading their books, following their tweets or listening to their teaching. What areas do you need to grow in? Who excels in that area already? Find their resources and begin spending time with them. Before you know it, you’ll hear what they say and think, “That sounds like something I would say.” Then, you know that what they’re teaching is sticking! And, in the process others will choose to follow us.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Managing Your Thoughts

By Allen White

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

When Jesus announced His coming death, Peter strongly reprimanded Him and said it would never happen (Matthew 16:22). Jesus harshly rebuked Peter even calling him “Satan.” Why? Peter was “seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s” (Matthew 16:23, NLT).

How can two people experience the exact same situation, yet have a completely different reaction? It has to do with perspective. To maintain peace of mind and reduce worry, Paul instructs “fix our thoughts” on positive, truthful things. Our thoughts tend to drift into worry. No one intentionally sets aside time to worry. No one says, “I’m going to block out 30 minutes to worry about _______________.” Our minds just go there. What Paul is telling us is that we can purposefully direct our thoughts toward things that are right and pure rather than things that miss the mark or are even unrighteous.

What is your mind focused on today?

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Finding Peace

By Allen White

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

After we have followed the instructions in verse 6, and have prayed over all of our worries, we experience a wonderful result: God’s peace. It doesn’t mean that all of our prayers are immediately answered, but it does mean that we experience the “side effect” if you will have answered prayer, peace.

Think about this: God is in eternity. We are in time. We live one day at a time (at least we’re supposed to). God sees everything all at once. When we pray about something that’s going on today, God already knows the resolution of the problem whether it’s resolved 10 minutes, 10 days or 10 years from now. He knows the peace we will have when that time comes.

When we turn our worries over to God in prayer, He gives us something that does not rightfully belong to us yet. God gives us peace as if everything has already been taken care of. Now, this peace “exceeds anything we can understand,” so just enjoy it and thank God for what is to come.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Winning Over Worry

By Allen White

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6

Being my mother’s son, I was born a worrier. I wish I had been born a warrior, but that’s another topic. For many years, I took this passage in the wrong way. When I read, “Don’t worry about anything…” I took it to mean “Thou shalt not worry.” So, by worrying I was refusing to trust God in the matter; therefore, worry equaled sin. One more thing to worry about.

Then, one day I saw the light. Worry actually has a purpose. It’s right there in the verse. When I begin to worry that’s the signal that I’m supposed to pray. Worry is like a warning light on the dashboard of my car. When the warning lights up, I need to take my car to someone who has mechanical ability beyond my own rather than just being annoyed by the light.

Why do I worry? Because I am projecting too far into the future. Because I am trying to control what is beyond my control. Because I am trying to figure out things on God’s behalf. So easy question: who holds the future and is in control? God is.

What should I do? Simply this: Worry. Pray. Worry. Pray. Repeat.

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