Telegraphing the Pass

Galatians 1:1-5

There is a term in basketball when a player is about to pass the ball to a teammate and then noticeably looks in the direction of that teammate, which tips off the defense as to the player’s intentions. It’s called “telegraphing the pass”. Inevitably, the defense sees what is about to happen and then intercepts the pass.

In these opening verses of Galatians, Paul, the writer of the epistle, is telegraphing the pass. He is tipping his hand about what is coming. These opening lines set up the themes that Paul is about to deal with rather sharply. The church in Galatia has been in dispute over what the rules will be to follow Jesus. There is confusion over how much of Judaism to hold on to and how much freedom there is from the Torah (a.k.a. “the Law”). Some interloping preachers have come through saying that Gentile Christians need to ascribe to certain aspects of the Law, namely circumcision. This confuses the Gospel of Christ in Paul’s opinion.

So, in the first verse, Paul sets himself up as one sent not by human authority, but by God’s authority – this is in juxtaposition with those whom he disagrees with of course! Paul then goes on to proclaim the reason he was sent by God in verse 4. His job is to proclaim a gospel that sets us free… Freedom this present evil age that is filled with unnecessary rules. But, this freedom is not just a freedom from, it is a freedom to. We are set free in order to enact the will of God.

It may only be a few verses of greeting that open this letter to the Galatians, but it telegraphs some deep themes for how God works, how we relate to God, and how we are called by God.

May we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to do the will of God with the freedom the gospel gives us from evil in order to show love. 

Grace and Peace,

Adam

“Glory” and “Grace”

Philippians 4:20-23

These two final words sum it up.  As the Apostle wraps up his letter with “Greetings” all around, he pronounces two powerful blessings for believers.

“To our God and Father be glory forever and ever.” This is the heart of faith, that in all things God would be glorified.  The goal of each day is that in some way, through our words and deeds, God would be honored.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” Even as we would honor God, God is loving you and I in Christ. Grace is that eternal love alive and at work in your life every day.

“Glory” and “Grace” – two great words that go together, that bring together your heart with the heart of God.  They are not only a great way to end a letter, they are a great way to start your day and week.

Think about them.  Treasure them.  Let them bring their blessings to you today.

Prayer:  Lord, as I go through today, let me honor and glorify You in some way by what I say or do and let me know and trust that it is Your Grace that holds and strengthens me every step of the way. In Jesus’ name.

Have a great week!

Paul

 

Having All We Need

Philippians 4:15-19

At the moment I have all I need—more than I need! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me when Epaphroditus came.  Philippians 4:18

In America today, we’re bombarded by images of all the things advertisers think we need.  There is almost no place we can go to escape the perpetual push to buy.  It used to be billboards, newspapers and magazines, TV and radio.  Now, it’s all the old media plus our phones, messages in email, popups as we’re browsing the internet.  Don’t forget the nonstop ringing of the telemarketer as well!  Is this all there is to life?  Advertisers, and companies, would panic if, en masse, we declared we’re satisfied with what we have.  Talk about something radical!

Yet, that is exactly what Paul is saying here.  The gifts he has received from the Philippians are sufficient to sustain him in the mission he has received from God, the spreading of the Gospel.  What’s the point of our lives?  Do we have a mission, a focus that allows us to say yes and no to whatever influences might divert our time, attention and resources?

We live in a 24 hour- a-day world with so many options for our time and resources.  I want to be like Paul, sure of my mission, my needs for fulfilling it met, and content.  Our church has a mission too, and God will provide what we need to accomplish that as well.

 

Prayer:  God, show us our mission, help us to take bold steps of faith, knowing that you will provide the resources we need to accomplish our tasks.  In Jesus name, Amen.

The God of peace will be with You…

Philippians 4:8-9

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me there’s a lot of untrue, impure, and unjust things going on in our world today.  These events and headlines grab and hold our thoughts and attention.  But here we find ourselves called to a different path – a different way.

How would it change my experience today if I were focused on excellence?  What if I decided to think about whatever is commendable and pleasing?  What would I see around me if I chose to look for anything worthy of praise?

Perhaps the answer to these questions is right there, in the next verse… “and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9

Blessings,

Suzan N. Meyer

Patch Up, Make Up

Philippians 4:1-3

In the midst of sweeping theological thought, the Apostle Paul addresses one of the necessities of life.  “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind”.  His words are an encouragement for these two to patch up their differences and make up as friends.

Even the “great work of the gospel” doesn’t make us immune from having different thoughts, viewpoints, opinions that can divide. The Apostle Paul knows the pain quarrels can cause (Acts 15 with Barnabus).

He calls all to a common ground where they remember: they have shared in “the struggle” together; are “co-workers”; and are both in the “book of life”.  What unites is so much greater than what divides.

To patch up and make up is not easy  It asks for humility, vulnerability, a willingness to listen and learn, maybe even to forgive and be forgiven.  It trusts that in the midst of all this, Christ’s relational healing can happen.

As we begin this week, maybe we find ourselves in a relational place where this Scripture is an encouragement.  Maybe there is a friendship where Christ can be our Peace to help us patch up and make up.  Your friendship is well worth the risk.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, let me trust that you are at work in the midst of all things — even my quarrels. I pray your Peace would be my strength, even as I say those words and do those deeds that would be part of Your healing in the midst of hurting friendships. In Your name I pray.  Amen.

Blessings for a great week!

Paul

 

 

 

I Want to Know You More…

Philippians 3:8-12

“More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:8-12

From a prison cell in Rome, we read Paul’s amazing words of peace and contentment.  He regards everything as less than the value of knowing Christ.  Everything!  He goes on to say that through his suffering and loss he has gained Christ – in fact, he has found himself in faith in Christ!

I shudder to think of all of the places I attempt to find myself…of all the ways I try to bring meaning into my life.   All the while failing to recognize, that what I really need is as near to me as my next breath.   My identity, my only true identity, lies in knowing who I am in Christ Jesus.

And so today and every day, I can pray this simple prayer.  “Oh, I want to know you more…”

Blessings,

Suzan N. Meyer

Self Description

Philippians 2:25-30

“my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister to my need…”

If asked, how would someone describe you?  What would they say?  Maybe even more important, what would you hope they would say?  How would you, how would I, want to be known?

The Apostle Paul speaks of Epaphroditus as “my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister to my need…”.  Paul says Epaphroditus put his life on the line in service to him and to Jesus Christ.

Actually it’s not so important what other’s say,  it’s about what you say about yourself.  Every day gives us an opportunity to “write a self-description” by how we live it.  Will I be awake, aware and take action to live into the opportunities to be a “messenger” of the gospel (to share good news of Jesus’ love with a loving spirit) and to be a “minister” to the needs of others? Will I be a faith-filled and faithful friend, “co-worker and fellow soldier”?  How do I, how do you, want to be known today?

Prayer:  Dear Lord, Thank you for the gift of this day.  Strengthen me by your Holy Spirit to live this day with faith and love, in service and joy, so that others might experience a blessing and You might be glorified.  In Jesus’ name I pray.

Have a great day and a wonderful week!

Paul

 

 

 

 

 

The Heart of a Servant

Philippians 2:19-24

I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.  Philippians 2:20

“Genuinely concerned for your welfare” – what beautiful words to describe the heart of a servant – what beautiful words to describe the heart of one who shares the message of Christ with another!  The story of Jesus has given each of us untold spiritual riches, both in the now and forever after.   Who else is waiting to hear about the love that God has for them?    Who is waiting to hear it from us?

What a tribute Paul was making to Timothy when he said “I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare”.  As the church, this is our mission, to care, to love, to act, to share.  May Spring Valley be known as a church that does all of those things!

 

John

Shine Your Light

Philippians 2:12-18

14 Do all things without murmuring and arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. 

This scripture is a good reminder that it is our action and the way we live our life that brings God’s light into the world.  We don’t need to have all the right words to say or be the best singer in the choir.  But if we love as we have been loved, then we can shine a light in the darkness.

Go shine your light!!!!

Blessings

Bert K. Johnson

He Emptied Himself…

Philippians 2:5-11

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.”  Philippians 2: 5-7a

What an amazing God we have.  When he wanted us to more fully understand the truths Old Testament writers and prophets had revealed to us about God – he wrapped himself up in the flesh and blood of a tiny, helpless baby, and came quietly into our world.  And on that night so long ago, his humble birth in a stable was just the beginning of this amazing story.

Jesus did not count his equality with God as something that set him apart – separating him from us.  Instead, he emptied himself of all privilege when he took on a human form, showing us over and over again how to humbly serve others.

As the world encourages me to fill myself with excess, privilege, pride and success… I am reminded of Jesus, who showed me that the path to abundant life lies not in filling myself, but in emptying myself.

Blessings,

Suzan N. Meyer

 

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.”  Philippians 2: 5-7a

What an amazing God we have.  When he wanted us to more fully understand the truths Old Testament writers and prophets had revealed to us about God – he wrapped himself up in the flesh and blood of a tiny, helpless baby, and came quietly into our world.  And on that night so long ago, his humble birth in a stable was just the beginning of this amazing story.

Jesus did not count his equality with God as something that set him apart – separating him from us.  Instead, he emptied himself of all privilege when he took on a human form and showed us over and over again how to humbly serve others.

As the world encourages me to fill myself with excess, privilege, pride and success… I am reminded of Jesus, who showed me that the path to abundant life lies not in filling myself up, but in emptying myself.

Blessings,

Suzan N. Meyer