Formations lesson for May 30: The Last Advice and Example from a Friend : Friday, May 14, 2004
May 14 2004 by Mike Womble

Formations lesson for May 30: The Last Advice and Example from a Friend : Friday, May 14, 2004
Friday, May 14, 2004

Formations lesson for May 30: The Last Advice and Example from a Friend

By Mike Womble
Philippians 4:4-13

Several days after 9/11, I wrote letters to my wife and children and sealed them in an envelope. In the process of trying to think through that tragedy I was compelled to put on paper some sentimental thoughts I have for my family, in case I am no longer with them. Some friends think that's morbid, but for me it's comforting to know my family will have some comforting words from me in case of an unforeseen circumstance.

As much as I love my family, I realize that I can't draft on a few sheets of paper everything I think they need to hear. But I have given it a shot. That's just what Paul has done in the focal passage for this week's lesson. Not knowing his exact fate, Paul writes his final words to his friends in Philippi.

The way we are supposed to be

Philippians 4:4-9

Goals and ideals are necessities for achievement and growth. If you have an ideal, you have something you can aim for even if you do not totally achieve it. If you aim for nothing, you hit it every time.

Paul begins this section with the concept of always rejoicing. Always - now there's a word that can be powerful - not sometimes, not when you feel like it, not when it's convenient, but always. Really?

How is anyone expected to always rejoice? Did Paul intend for us to rejoice in every simple and complex circumstance in life? According to verse 5, it seems as though this is the ideal.

Somewhere in the midst of every event in our lives there is something we can rejoice about. In the midst of joy, give praise to God. In the midst of sorrow, God's presence is near, which is cause for rejoicing.

Prayer is one vital aspect of the Christian life that Paul wants to reiterate for his friends. Don't be afraid to be specific about prayer (verse 6). God listens to macro and micro prayers. Macro prayers are the "God be with so and so..." sort of prayers. These are legitimate prayers because sometimes God's presence is just what is needed. Micro prayers are very specific. These are prayers about the car that runs poorly and the blister on your heel. Both types are heard by God.

Going to God with micro prayers brings peace, according to verse 7. Peace that surrounds your heart and mind like a warm blanket on a cool night. Giving those specifics to God is comforting and releasing.

Paul's biggest challenge is in verses 8-9, keeping our minds on what is true and right by our own example. Cecil Sherman once said that our character is the platform on which everyone perceives who we are.

Can everyone live up to these standards? Probably not "always," but it's a great goal to live toward. If we achieve at least some of these attributes, then we're moving closer toward Christ-likeness.

A window into the mind of a saint

Philippians 4:10-13

Ask yourself (or your group): "If someone came to you and said that you're going on a long trip, but could only take a small bag, what would be your essentials?"

As a father of three, taking a trip can be a huge ordeal - toys, clothes, diapers, playpens, etc. Then there are my things! Somehow our "things" have become very important to us. Paul warns against "things" and suggests simplicity.

During tragic events in our lives, we redefine our essentials. Paul has tried to set an example of simple living. His simplicity is a way of connecting with God on a deeper level.

Being respected as a holy person, like a saint, isn't normally associated with pride and the accumulation of things. Rather, Paul is saying that if we are to live as saints, then our lives must be free from things, they must be focused on God's purity and simplicity.

So what?

In your sphere of connections, whom do you look up to as an example of a saint (or close to it)? What about that person who causes you to strive a little more in your spiritual walk? Name one of your spiritual goals.
5/14/2004 12:00:00 AM by Mike Womble | with 0 comments

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