Philippians 2

 

phil 2

(Can’t see the video? View it here)

1. Read Philippians 2. Write out any observations, insights, and questions you may have.

2. Who is Jesus to you?

3. Spend some time in prayer this week cultivating your relationship with Jesus.

 

Just joining us? Check out the rest of the Philippians series HERE and sign up to get these articles in your inbox!

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Completing the Work {Philippians 1:1-8}

Read Philippians 1:1-8.

Have you ever had a friend who encourages you and loves you in a way that lifts you up? Pushes you forward? Helps you endure?

I think the apostle Paul would be a friend like this. He is writing this letter, in prison, in chains, and writing with JOY. He is so grateful that while he is chained up, his friends are out doing the work God has for them to do.

You can feel Paul’s affection for his friends in Philippi. He is so grateful for their partnership, their love for God, and their sharing in God’s grace with him (v.8). If there’s one thing I have learned about the Christian life, it’s that it is not meant to be lived alone.

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We need each other. There will be days when we want to give up and crawl in a hole, and we need each other to help us out. We will have circumstances that make us feel chained up and we’ll need others to help us live free. There will be days when we’ll want to shy away in fear or doubt from what God has called us to do, and we’ll need friends to remind us to be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (v.6)

We need others to lift us up and push us on. Do you have others to lean on and grow with? Who are the people you would trust to help you in a time of need? Do you have partners in the Gospel? Who do you share in God’s grace with?

1. List some of the reasons Paul is thankful and joyful from these verses.

2. Who is it that completes the “good work” we are doing? Why is this significant?

3. Is there something God has put on your heart, a good work to be done, that you’re not doing out of fear, doubt, insecurity, etc.? Write it out below. Who can you share that with and let them partner with you to help you move forward?

If you are in need of community and others to help you grow, let me know. We are launching a bunch of life groups in September that cultivate these types of friendships or you and I can just go grab coffee 😉

 

Just joining us? Check out the rest of the Philippians series HERE and sign up to get these articles in your inbox!

Philippians 1

 

phil 1

(Can’t see the video? View it here)

1. Read the first chapter of Philippians. Record any notes, questions, observations you had from this chapter.

2. How many times is the word Gospel repeated in this chapter?

3. What is the Gospel? When did the Gospel become real to you? Write it out or share with someone in your life this week!

 

Just joining us? Check out the rest of the Philippians series HERE and sign up to get these articles in your inbox!

How To Read Your Bible

Yesterday, I wrote about how NOT to read your bible. Pulling verses out of context for a quick fix, using devotionals with someone else’s slant on the word, reading me centered instead of He centered.

So today, let’s talk about some ways we should read the bible.

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My friend, mentor, pastor and author of “Anatomy of a Disciple”, Rick Taylor says “Not every time you read will be a life changing moment, but God will use steady time in His Word to build spiritual vitality into your life.”

First, understand when we read the bible it’s to know and love God more. It isn’t to pull a verse out to put on like a Band-Aid, it isn’t to find scripture to go around bible thumping those “in sin”, and it isn’t to fill your head with more knowledge. It should produce a deeper understanding of God, greater love for Him, and lead into worship.

If you’re thinking, yeah right! That NEVER happens when I read, then you’re in good company.

Secondly, one of the best ways to help grow in the Word is to pick one book or section of scripture and study it. Sit in the passage for a while, reread it, come back to it, look up words, and become familiar with it.

Part of the reason I’m not a fan of devotionals is they take you all over the place, pulling a verse here and there out of context, and slapping someone else’s meaning or application on it rather than reading a book in its entirety.

Instead, would you consider these 5 suggestions:

1. Pick one book of the Bible to read for the whole month.

Start by reading the entire book, from start to finish. Then slowly go back and read chapter 1. Read chapter 1 a few times before moving on to chapter 2, 3, 4 etc. The more you read the book, the more familiar you’ll be with it and start to memorize where certain things are at in the bible.

2. Don’t just jump to application.

What is application? It’s finding something that applies to you, right now. We love to read the bible only if there’s immediate pay off. But can I tell you, there won’t always be an immediate application. Sometimes Leviticus won’t apply directly to your life. But when you see words like “male, perfect, spotless lamb” you’ll learn God’s plan for Jesus was set way before the cross!  Instead, try these basic steps for study:

  • Observation: Take note of things you observe in the text. Do you notice any repeating words or phrases? Commands? Promises? Who is the author speaking to? When? Where? Why?
  • Interpretation: What does the text mean? Not what does the text mean to you, what does it mean. There is only one meaning to the text, it can have a personal application for you, but it’s meaning is consistent. Look up the definition to words, cross-references, etc. This is where you can really dig in!
  • Application: How does the text apply to your life?

3. Prayer

Pray before you read for God to illumine your heart. Pray after you read for what you’ve learned to sink deeply into your heart and mind and change you. He promises, by the power of His Spirit, to do the work!

4. Meditate & Memorize

Pick a passage weekly to meditate on and memorize. Find a friend to call and share your verse with. Write it out on a note card, stick it to your bathroom mirror or dashboard. Psalm 119 tells us to hide God’s word in our heart so that we might not sin against him (v.9).

5. Find community

Don’t try and do this life alone. We need others to encourage us and spur us on. Again, I hope this blog will be a place we can grow but I encourage you to find a friend, a life group, and a mentor, someone to process what you’re learning with. If you need help getting connected, let me know. I’m on staff at a church to help make this happen!! Really, call me.

Okay, let’s give this a try.

Have you noticed the past few days, the 3 questions I’ve asked have followed this pattern?

1. Read this passage. Record observations. (observation)
2. What does this word/phrase/passage mean? (interpretation)
3. How does it apply to your life? (application)

I could do the work for you and simply write posts that explain everything. In fact, there are many bible studies out there that do that. However, I think it’s best if we practice this together. Eventually, it will be a benefit as you read the Word on your own if you have these tools in your tool kit.

So let’s practice.

Reading & Reflection
1. Read John 15:1-11. Write down any observations, repeating words/phrases.

2. What does it mean to abide? Why is this significant?

3. What kind of fruit are you bearing right now? What are some ways you can stay connected to the True Vine to bear good fruit?

This is all a warm up for what’s going to happen in August when we go through Philippians. CLICK HERE if you want to sign up for the email list and join us!

 

My friends at Self Talk the Gospel posted a fabulous article this week on how to read the bible.  You can read it here:  6 Heart Healthy Ways to Read the Bible

 

 

Image Credit: Ryk Neethling, Creative Commons

Please DON’T Read Your Bible Like This

I know it’s tempting.
These look appealing.
They’re relevant, quick, easy, little nuggets of truth that can apply to your life right this moment.
But I beg you . . .

Please don’t read your bible like this.

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Bible911

 

Espresso Shot

Have you ever had potato chips for lunch? Not with lunch, or after lunch, but just solely had potato chips for lunch? Seems like a good idea in the moment; quick, easy fix, then an hour later you’re hungry again?

This kind of bible reading does for our souls what junk food does to our health, it may satisfy in the moment, but gives us no nutrients in the long run. It’s like eating a cupcake once every couple of days, expecting to feel energized, nourished, healthy, and fit.

If life is a marathon, we all know living on a diet of cupcakes and potato chips won’t get us very far. The same is true for our spiritual life.  A few verses ripped out of context to try and “fix us” or a quick one-minute devotional won’t work for long.

God’s word is not intended to be read with a “me” lens. It’s intended to be read with a “He” lens, getting to know Jesus and sinking deeply in relationship with God. It won’t always feel like eating a cupcake. There may not always be life application right away. It won’t always leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, because it’s not a fortune from a fortune cookie.  God’s word is Living Water that is meant to give you endurance in suffering and lead you to worship (Romans 11:33-36).

The Bible is meant to show you the picture of God, who He is, how He loves and pursues His people, and what He does to bring us into His kingdom. My friend Whitney writes about God’s story here in a way that helps us understand the bigger picture of the bible.

I’m afraid when we read “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11) in a way that makes us thing that flat tire we got on the way to work was to prosper us, we’re missing the point.

When we read the bible like a phone book to help with our “issues” it’s me centered, not God centered.

When we read the book “A Proverb a Day Keeps the Devil Away”, we’re reading the bible as superstition not sustenance.

If were looking for a fortune from a fortune cookie, we’re missing the big picture of God’s story.

When we use scripture like a shot of espresso, we’re missing out on cultivating a relationship with the Living God.

The prophet Isaiah asks the question “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, 
and your labor for that which does not satisfy? 
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
 and delight yourselves in rich food.” (Isaiah 55:2)

These types of approaches to God’s word seem like a quick easy fix, but ultimately they leave us feeling empty and dry, rather than satisfied and fulfilled.

So maybe instead of solely reading God’s word for you, what if you read it to know Him? What if instead of looking for a quick fix, we sit down for a nice meal and cultivate a relationship?

So I ask, for a season, will you try something a little different with me?  Put away the lists and devotionals for now, and consider reading one book, a few verses each day, instead?  It may be the same amount of time as reading a devotional or making your espresso, but will lead to even greater joy and contentment in the LORD.

Reading & Reflection

  1. Read Isaiah 55. What’s one insight or observation you had from this chapter?
  2. What are some of the instructions listed in this chapter to find true satisfaction?
  3. Where are you seeking satisfaction and fulfillment outside of God and His word? What are some things in your life you may need to cut out or ways you can slow down to be satisfied by God alone?

Check back tomorrow for some practical tips on how to read the Bible.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to this series and join us in August to read through Philippians!

Why Read the Bible? How Can We Trust It’s True?

Probably one of the most often asked questions is “How can I trust the bible?”

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Have you ever thought about that?

Why do we as Christians read the bible?
How can we know it’s true?
How can we trust it?
How is something written thousands of years ago relevant today?

These were all questions I had when considering Christianity. I needed to determine if the Bible was all a lie and toss it aside or determine if it was all true and live accordingly.

If the bible is true, if the words written on those pages are meant for us today, then that changes things. I realized if it’s reliable historically, than there is implication on my life currently.

So here are some of the facts:

The bible has 66 books.
Written over a time span of 1,500 years
40 different authors
3 different languages
3 different continents
1 message

The unity of the message over so many years and cultures is astounding.  No other book in any other realm of study has that kind of consistency.

There have been 23,000 different archaeological digs, not ONE has ever disproved a claim from the bible.

It is an account of eyewitnesses recorded during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. You could check what was written in the Bible with people who were still alive!

There are over 14,000 copies of the New Testament within 40-250 years of the originals.  The only other book that even comes close to comparison is Homer’s Illiad, which has less than 700 copies.

The historical reliability of something being written and copied in the same lifetime means you can go and check with the person writing.  If something were false, it would be dealt with then and there.

While these are just a few of the facts that prove the reliability of the Bible, I think the best place to answer the question about why we read the bible and why we can trust it to be reliable, is to look within the bible itself.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Every word was God breathed, inspired by God for our good.
Profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.

Teaching: shows us the path God has for us
Reproof: shows us when we get off of the path
Correction: shows us how to get back on the path
Training in righteousness: shows us how to stay on the path

So that the man (or woman) of God may be complete.
Equipped for every good work.

John 1 tells us “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (v.1-3)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (v.14)

The word of God was eternal. The Word of God became flesh, referring to Jesus.

The Psalmist tells us God’s word should be our delight, God’s word is how we keep from sinning against the LORD. “I have stored up your word in my heart,
 that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

We can trust the Bible because it is the very God-breathed inspired word. We read the bible because the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Reading the Bible is the closest thing we have to actually sitting and talking with Jesus. It’s how we learn God, commune with Him, are sanctified, grow, and delight in the LORD.

Reading & Reflection

1. Read Psalm 119. If it’s too much for one day, read 10-20 verses. List some observations you had from the text.

2. The word meditate (or meditation) was repeated often in this Psalm. What does it mean to meditate?

3. Do you spend time regularly meditating on God’s word? What are some things that help you dwell on and delight in Scripture?

CLICK HERE to subscribe to this series and join us in August to read through Philippians!

One short post with a few facts might not be enough for you to determine if the bible is true. For further resources on how we know the bible is reliable, click here:

Is the Bible Reliable? by Focus on the Family
Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell
Why the Bible is True by Voddie Baucham
The Bible’s Reliability and Various Interpertations by Ravi Zacharias
Why We Believe the Bible by John Piper

Why Is Reading the Bible Such a Struggle?

I asked the question on Facebook last week “Why is it such a struggle to read your bible?” and the responses blew me away! Honest, vulnerable, and authentic.

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I believe lies I’m too busy, when the truth is, I’m not making the most important thing the most important.

To me it’s like the gym. Once you get in the groove you feel a need for it everyday, but as soon as you relax one day it’s so easy to get off track.

The challenge I face sometimes is getting confused and not really having someone to ask what something means or how it relates to me, so I get discouraged.

I cannot make it important enough in a busy day even though it’s number one

For me literally…my flesh does not want to!

Honestly, selfishness and laziness take over

I feel like I often don’t understand it as well as I would within a study or companion guide.

For me its fear… Fear that I’m not living by His word. The more I read the more I realize I need to make some changes.

I don’t like to read in general and I’m reading chronologically right now. I’m in the Old Testament and I’m finding a lot of what I’m reading confusing or just depressing, honestly.

The struggle to make it my first priority. I get distracted by “stuff”.

Half the time I don’t know where to start.

Squirrels” – meaning everything you feel you “need” to get done; i.e. laundry, cleaning, taking care of the family, working out, meeting with friends, work, etc.

I’m not a natural student. AT ALL. Studying is not my favorite thing to do. It’s challenging and difficult.

I dislike reading in general. I always have. I have comprehension problems which makes reading for me take longer than most.

Getting lazy, not understanding something and feeling to embarrassed to ask.

There is pressure to have these focused, study, journal writing, contemplative times, when for some of us, reading 1 scripture for the day and meditating on it is enough/worth it/pleasing to the Lord.

It’s so big and there’s so much information, some of it being hard to understand, I get overwhelmed.

I have a very hard time just BEING. My mind is always spinning with things to do, people for whom to pray, etc. I can’t quiet myself in order to focus on what I’m reading.

And my personal favorite:

I buy into the lie that I am too busy. The mere fact that I can see this on Facebook tells me that isn’t true.

We have a million reasons that make this a struggle. Did you notice a theme?

Busyness
Confusion
Feeling alone

So, I immediately shut my computer and prayed. I realized that the devil is declaring war for the hearts of women and I won’t stand for it! If the reason we struggle to get in the Word is any one of these listed above, then I’m standing in the gap and asking you to rally with me.

One of the most difficult ways to grow spiritually is by doing it alone. Friends, I was still getting drunk when I was going to bible study and you know why I went? I needed someone to show me a different life, I needed someone to ask me if I was still partying, and I needed others to walk with me, encourage me, challenge me, and help me.  And I still need that.  I need others to enter in with me and spur me on toward Christ.

So . . . I think the solution for all of these struggles are easy:

Confession
Community
Christ

Confession
Today, if you haven’t already, confess why it’s a struggle. Can we just all say it out loud? It is a struggle to read God’s word and be okay with starting there? Being able to name the struggle is the beginning to healing and change. Name it!

Community
We need to do this together. We need our people. We need that friend who will encourage us, our life group to hold us accountable, and the mentor that will ask us hard questions. I hope this blog will become a little piece of that community. Let’s do this together, committing next month to reading daily and discussing together!  You can sign up here to join us on this blog to read through Philippians together starting in August.

Christ
We need Jesus. We need to preach the Gospel to ourselves daily. The issue is not necessarily a lack of time or understanding, it’s a lack of abiding. So let’s start with Jesus. Who He is, what He’s done for us, and what He empowers us with to walk with Him daily.

Reading & Reflection:

1.  Read Ephesians 2:1-10. What is one insight or observation you had from these verses? 

2.  Is it a struggle to read God’s word daily?  Why or why not?

3.  What is one thing you can change today to help you abide in Christ?  How do these verses encourage you in that?

*Reflection can be done in a journal, in discussion with a friend, or leave a comment below to one of the questions.  

Check back tomorrow for more on why we read the bible and we can trust it’s true.

 

CLICK HERE to subscribe to this series and join us in August to read through Philippians!