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 Brandis Trionfo
The song touches me. In modern times, none of us can fathom what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph in that space. Giving birth on hay? Where were the epidurals and sterile blankets? What a miracle to know that Christ did that FOR US.
In these times, it can be so difficult to find even a moment to be still. To step away from our iPhones and technology and television. To find just a moment to breathe. To focus on our maker.
During Christmas, especially if you have little ones, at least for most of us, it's all about Santa. What he's going to bring.
Last year (thanks to Pinterest--there goes that technology again!) I learned A LOT about biblical Christmas themes. Things like how candy canes are shaped the way they are after the staffs of the shepherds who visited Christ. I've taken these little nuggets of knowledge and made it so I speak them to my kids AS we're celebrating the other stuff. I found a pin about 25 verses to read up until Christmas, to prepare yourself and your family to celebrate Him. This list could go on, but you get the idea.
I find that the little things like that will help us to slow down and focus on what Christmas is REALLY about. It's so hard to wrap our heads around the fact that Christ came for us, knowing already what would happen to him, so that we could be set free.
Isaiah 9:6 (NLT)- "For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Just think about that for a moment. The words that pop out: Wonderful. Mighty. Everlasting. Peace.
In these times, it's good to have that on your side. Take a moment this holiday season to meditate on the word of our Father. Take a moment to focus on Him and how He is preparing your way. Through the season and the snow and the gifts and the hot chocolate, remember Him. He came so that we might have LIFE. And live it to the FULL.
Enjoy your Christmas. Happy Birthday, Jesus!
Lord, I thank you for this season. I thank you that we're able to take a day to celebrate you. I thank you for your grace in knowing that we should be celebrating you every day but sometimes we fall short. I pray Lord that during this time we're able to focus on you and all that you've done for us. I pray that we use whatever tips and tricks we can find to remember what this holiday is all about. I ask these things in your name, Amen.
Questions for Reflection:
*What are some ways I can find to incorporate more biblical truth in my holiday routine?
*How can I slow down and focus on the Word?
*Do I need to carve out more time for Him?
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.
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 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.
by Chantal Graupmann
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.
Written by Laura Moore
There are certainly times in our lives we forget all that God has given us and we need to be reminded. At least that’s true for me. It’s easy to forget the gifts while we are concentrating on the many things that seem to be going wrong. Sadly, we’ll find there are always things wrong in this world and in our lives.
As military spouses we are placed in situations that can be hard to thank God for. How do we give thanks when a spouse misses another birthday, when our best friend down the road moves across the country, and we feel utterly alone?
I’m not saying it’s not going to be easy. But I want you to know that peace does come to the woman who kneels before God and starts thanking Him and acknowledging His hand over her life.
Throughout scripture we’re instructed to give thanks. Thankfulness should be the language a Christian speaks best, for we have so much to be grateful for! Our attitude matters in this choice to give thanks or keep on talking about everything going wrong. I’m kind of an expert at pointing out problems, but it reflects after awhile and I get tired of my own complaining! We are always given a choice, and lately I’ve been trying hard to see where God has shown His love. It makes me a much happier person to focus on Christ rather than my circumstances.
Ephesians 5:20 (NIV)
…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our God not only calls us into a relationship but He also pours out blessings through the simple things all around us. Whether it’s the sun peeking through the curtains, a view of golden and red leaves spread across the trees, or even a warm hug from a friend- these are blessings God pours out for us, His children.
Here is my challenge for you during this season where everyone is encouraging us to give thanks: Grab a pen and paper and jot down some of the little things you see where God is working in your heart, or showing how much He cares for you. Begin to open your eyes today to the small gifts around you, and thank God for them.
I will start by letting you know how grateful I am for you--that you have landed on this article and that we get to walk through this military spouse role together as we both figure it out.
In what areas of my life do I struggle to give thanks?
What holds me back from living a life of thanksgiving?
What are three blessings I can thank God for this morning?
Lord, thank You for all of Your blessings in my life. Even when I can’t see them- or choose not to- Your steady hand continues to provide for me. I pray that You would change my heart today toward a posture of thanks. Open my eyes to see the beauty You’ve placed all around me, so that I might give thanks to You. Amen.