Phillippians

Philippians 3:20-21

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Ava Sophie had some thoughts on this subject. She said to me that we have to let some parts of our lives go, to let some thoughts, fears, things and persons in our life go. When we do let something or someone go, we can be grateful that the pain we experience here on earth is temporary. It will only last for a short time. Then we need to accept that on earth we cannot expect to be met with fair treatment, to experience or to find justice. Accepting that we might not get everything we wish for, or to have our every need as humans honored here on earth. Luckily, Ava Sophie followed up with a ‘but’: We have a promise in Heaven, that there will be only GOOD. In the meantime we need to be persevering, patient, waiting, and making the best of what we have in the present time. Also, to remember that God will use us no matter what situation we are in, no matter how bad we feel: He will use us as His tools if we let Him. Then it is possible to to feel joy and rejoice over knowing that the life we lead in this world is only temporary and that the eternity will be spent with God where we will be surrounded by His love, kindness, peace, justice, grace and mercy. All will be GOOD! Actually it will be AWESOME ;)

This totally gave me a new perspective, and I can endure so much more. I have been promised that everything that fails here will work perfectly and be awesome in heaven. This promise has been given by someone who won’t and can’t break a promise no matter what. He has made a pact with us, which He is bound by. If He were to break this pact, it would go against everything He is. The only one that can break that pact is me, so I sure will work on keeping close to Him: God almighty.

Philippians 4:1-3

Closing Appeal for Steadfastness and Unity
1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Ava Sophie talked about a friend of hers. They had a disagreement. She talked about how important it is to agree as Christians and to be of the same mind in Christ. I interpret it as meaning not to be at war with each other, not to stay angry at each other, to have no quarrel, and bear no malice against each other. I am immediately thinking of a bible verse I often have heard in the context of having a good marriage:

Ephesians 4:25-27

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

I’m thinking that we can disagree on different subjects and be annoyed or angry with one another. Anger itself is not sin. But what I do in anger might be sinful. Not letting the sun go down while still being angry is about putting it right with one another, about forgiveness, and about keeping our hearts pure. As it says in the next line: ‘do not give the devil a foothold’. If I am angry for a long time, my heart toughens, and the anger may turn to grudges. Once I start to bear a grudge, I give the devil a foothold in my heart. To agree with one another is something I often need help from God in order to do. But it is my task, and my duty, to do what I can as well -AFTER I’ve asked God for help. To do my duty, I need to stand firm in the Lord, carry all His words with me, follow His commands in every situation, which means staying close to the Lord through prayer, keep close to the community, reading the Bible, seeking, being silent before God, and really, REALLY listening. I am not always supposed to agree with everything(or everybody), but like I said: it is my duty to keep my heart pure. The only way to do that is to invite Jesus Christ in, every day. I need to stand strong in my belief: That Jesus Christ is God’s son, that he died on the Cross for us, and by doing that He saved me and gave me the chance to say yes to fellowship with Him, God and the Holy Spirit. That’s where my challenge lies. To stand strong in my faith. To keep close at all times.

Ava Sophie once told me that when I feel any sort of doubt, I have to choose to trust God. Having doubt is a feeling. Having Faith is a choice. To believe in something or someone is a choice. Trusting someone is a choice(and something that has to be built up over time). I have to choose to trust in, and to believe in God despite my feeling, and do whatever He tells me to, no matter what, and decide that the feeling of doubt will NOT get the chance to root itself in my heart. I decide that I will not give that feeling any nutrition, and decide to believe independently from that feeling. It takes some work, a lot of it actually, but the more the trust is built up by taking the same choice over and over again, and the more I experience that it pays off to trust God, the work will eventually be less hard. The day I said yes to following Jesus, said yes to giving my whole life to Him, I also said yes to staying close to God, and to doing whatever work is necessary to accomplish that.

Philippians 4:4-7

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

As mentioned before, it is possible to rejoice in the lord in every situation if only we see the big picture: we have every promise waiting for us in heaven, and I’m spending eternity with God. It will all be perfect, wonderful and awesome, all thanks to Jesus! That is the exact reason why we should all come to God with thanksgiving! God already knows what we want to say and what our soul needs. It surely is unnecessary to tell Him but He keeps encouraging us to tell Him nonetheless: to pour everything out to Him so that He gets permission to take it away(he needs our permission because of the free will he has given us). But first He wants us to give him thanks, to show that we are grateful. If we only thank Him without asking for our needs and wants, our soul has already prayed on our behalf without any words, and God will still give answer our prayers. And believe me, if I am grateful but don’t really feel it, and give thanks to God nevertheless, then I suddenly feel grateful with all of me(giving thanks also seem to be a nice thing to do for our own sake as well)! ;) Seriously though, of all the things God has done(and will do) for us, the least we can do is to give thanks back to Him. PS! We have a load of promises on How God will make it all easier on us to be here on this earth as well as in heaven ;)

Being friendly and gentle is a good thing for our own sake, and for the people we meet on our road. Being friendly alone can make someone else’s day better, and we ourselves can become happy just by making others happy. If I have a bad day and choose to be friendly despite that, I often end up in a better mood. Perhaps it is because others naturally return friendliness to those who are being friendly towards them. So my day gets better because people are friendly to me, and they have a better day and are friendly to me because I was friendly to them, despite my having a bad day… Most people like better to hang with those who are friendly(as long as it is not fake-friendly), and being friendly may then result in more friends, or closer friends and relationships. All these are good reasons to be friendly, but the most important reason is to meet people with Jesus on the inside.If I meet people with Jesus in my heart, and the way Jesus met people(being friendly, without judgement), then they might risk meeting Jesus through me. God can also use me as His tool a lot more easily in my meeting with other people.

Have you ever heard of the fable: ‘The wind and the sun’? Well, here it goes: The wind and the sun wearied about who was the stronger of them. Suddenly they saw a man walking down the road, and they agreed that the one who could make the man take off his coat, was the strongest one. First up was the wind. He gathered all his power in an attempt to blow off the man’s coat; but the man just drew his coat tighter around himself. The wind eventually had to give up. Next up was the sun. The sun shone so gently and beautifully, and the man soon became so hot that he had to get rid of his coat. I’m just going to let the story speak for itself…

The Lord is near! He is near me, close to me, at all times. He surrounds me on every side, at all times. He is above me, he is under me, he is in the air I breathe(so beware those of you who are afraid of meeting God, you might have gotten him inside already, when you took a breath…), He lives in my heart, and my body is His sacred temple. Absolutely no one can get as near me as the Lord can. I myself have a tendency to feel lost. It is silly, really. I often catch myself feeling that God is so far away, thinking that he doesn’t answer my prayers, thinking that he doesn’t hear me, doesn’t listen to me or care about me. Why would He care about me? The only one preventing me from feeling how close God is, is me. I am the only one preventing me from hearing/understanding His answer to my prayers. The only one preventing me from feeling exactly how much God cares for me, how much he loves me, well that’s me. God is close all the time and listens all the time. He also answers all my prayers, but not always with the answer I am expecting. That of course is a mighty good reason to stay close to Him at all times, to feel that He is there with me through everything. So that I can hear Him when He talks to me or answers my prayers. When I feel His presence, trust Him to be near, reckon with Him in all, expect him to be near: It can save me from a lot of worries and anxiety. Jesus commands us: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry (…)but seek your Fathers kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Our Father wants only what’s best for us, wants to relieve us from all worries, wants us to let Him give us what we need and what we wish for, so we won’t have to strive on our own. He wants our life here on earth to be the best possible, to get what He created us to be to come out in our identity in Christ! All this is His greatest wish for each and every one of us. And he has the power to give us all of it. Because He has created us, knows us better than we ourselves do, and therefore knows better than anyone what’s best for us. But, for Him to be able to give us what He wants to give us, and to give us what we want, we have to stay close, we have to listen, so we can hear where He wants us to go, and we have to watch so we can see the direction He is pointing us to. We need to be faithful and obedient to his word, only then we can lead the life that are best for us. Only then all of our true dreams can come true. That’s also the reason why he is encouraging us to: in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God! What do we have to lose(You’ll find the answer in Philippians 3:7-9)?

When Ava Sophie told me about the friend she disagreed with, she told me that some of the things they disagreed on had really hurt her. But then she had read: ‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ She told me she had this ‘pfiew’- feeling when she read that God would guard her heart and mind in Christ. It was so wonderful to watch the joy on her face when she described the peace she felt when she gave over the job of guarding her heart and mind, which are so precious, to God. I think it is an important teaching to us all: that it is we who put our hearts and minds on display for those who want to step on it. If we remember to give God the responsibility, it is easier to keep God’s shield impossible to penetrate.

For the closing line I want to remind you about the power in Christ Jesus’ name.

By saying His name out aloud, all evil will have to go.

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