Hold Out Hope

Pondering Philippians (Day 5): Chapter 2, Verses 12-18

When the wounds go deep and the pain pours out, hurting people need a place to go. We offer what we can: a gentle smile, a note of encouragement, a listening ear over a cup of coffee. Broken people can only do so much for other broken people.

How can we, as imperfect people, offer any hope of healing? What can we do for our brothers and sisters walking heavy hearted down a broken road?

When we see someone drowning – we can hold out the life line.

 Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. Hold firmly to the message of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing. – Philippians 2:14-15

Hold firmly to the promises of God. That is what Paul says to believers who, like us, live in a sin-scarred world. And, epechō, the word used for hold firmly? It also means to offer or to hold out.

This world hurts and none of us are immune. We all have secret pains and public hurts. We all have family drama and sleepless nights. 

So, what’s the answer?

We hold fast to the Word of God. We hang on tightly to His promises. But we don’t grip the message of life with selfish fingers. We do not keep it close to our chest. We hold it out.

We stretch out our arms and we hold out the Word to the wounded. We hold out promises of the One who comforts and redeems.

By holding out and not just holding on, we say to another soul I see you. I see you. And, more importantly, He sees you.

How do hurting people help hurting people? What can one scarred soul do for another? We can hold out the Word of life. We can throw them a lifeline of promises spoken from the very heart of God.

We can hold out hope.

~~~

Previous posts in the Pondering Philippians series:
Day 1: God is Not Through
Day 2: Your Painful Purpose
Day 3: The Gift of Suffering
Day 4: Humility and Honor

Humility and Honor

Pondering Philippians (Day 4): Chapter 2, Verses 1-11

I don’t want to put you first. Can I be that honest? It just is not my flesh’s first inclination – to think of what you want or need before my own wants and needs. And, let’s just be real here, you do not want to put me first either.

You and I live in a world that wants us to believe that it is all about us. Every man for himself, right? And, in reality, that would be a much easier way to live. But it is not the way of Christ.

…but in humility count others as more significant that yourselves.  – Philippians 2:3

That just flies in the face of our natural instincts, doesn’t it? How does that even make sense? What if I put you first and you do not put me first in return? Admit it, we have all thought that.

Here is what I have come to realize. I can put you first. I can see your need and try to meet it even if you do not return the favor.  You know why? Because God has my back. I do not have to look out for myself because He has His eye on me. I can focus on you because He is focused on me.

Humility and obedience are two sides of the same coin. I simply cannot be obedient to the life God has called me to unless I am a humble person. You want to know why? Because you are going to hurt me. And I must love you anyway. You are going to turn a blind eye to my need. And I must help you anyway.

Humility reminds me that we are only human and that I could do the same thing to you. And I, at some point, most likely will. I will hurt and disappoint you. And I need you to love me anyway. I will, either knowingly or in ignorance, turn a blind eye to your need. And I need you to help me anyway.

Our humility leads to our obedience. And God honors obedience.

Therefore, God has highly exalted him… – Philippians 2:9

Therefore, in this passage, refers to Christ humbling Himself and becoming obedient to death on a cross. God honored Christ’s humility and obedience.

And He will honor yours and mine.

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Previous posts in the Pondering Philippians series:
Day 1: God is Not Through
Day 2: Your Painful Purpose
Day 3: The Gift of Suffering

Your Painful Purpose

Pondering Philippians (Day 2): Chapter 1, Verses 12-18

Have you ever experienced something so painful that you swore nothing could be worse? Maybe you’re there now?

Whatever trial you currently find yourself facing, according to Paul, there is something worse. Your pain could be in vain. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he wanted them to know that there was a purpose behind his suffering.

Let’s face it. Everyone has pain. Maybe you are just entering a very dark season. Or, maybe, you are finally able to see some light. Either way, you need to know that your pain has a purpose.

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. – Philippians 1:12-13

Painful Purpose #1: Point a lost world to Christ

Your pain can be used to advance the gospel. When you hurt, there is a lost world watching. They are looking to see if your mountaintop faith works in the valley. Paul, in the midst of suffering, was very quick to point others to Christ. Sometimes, when pain comes, it is easy to have a big ol’ pity party and invite all your friends. If you do this, however, you are the guest of honor and it is all about you.

Paul reminds his readers that even his pain is all about Christ.

And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. – Philippians 1:14

Painful Purpose #2: Encourage fellow believers.

Even in pain, you do not walk alone. Other Christ-followers walk the path beside you.

When your fellow believers see you continue to praise Christ in the midst of your pain, it gives them strength to carry on. They see you trust Him for deliverance and they have the courage to do the same.

Paul says that it was because of his very imprisonment that other believers were empowered to preach the gospel. Talk about purpose!

There is no avoiding pain. This is a fallen, broken world and it hurts.

Don’t let your hurt be in vain.

Use the devastation to advance the gospel. The world is watching and they need to see Him.

~~~~~

*Previous posts in the Pondering Philippians series:
Day 1: God is Not Through

God is Not Through

Pondering Philippians (Day 1): Chapter 1, verses 1-11

There is something you need to hear. Are you ready?  God. is. not. finished. with. you. He just isn’t.

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6

You may look at your life and see mistakes and missed opportunities. The Creator, however, sees the creation that He smiled upon and deemed very good. He sees the end from the beginning and you are somewhere in the middle and He is not through.

You have been knocked down and face flat in your own sin. It would seem that you have taken yourself right out of any good plan He may have had for you. Oh, but you could not be more wrong. For He is the God who picks up the fallen and the broken.  He puts together what the world has shattered and there is beauty in the cracks.  And there will be beauty when He is through.  Give Him time. He is not finished with you.

You may be in a valley so deep that you can not see your way out. That is okay because He sees you. The trial is terrible and the fire is hot, but He is bringing you through.  The Potter is gently molding the clay. He still counts tears and redeems pain. His timing is not yours and you do not understand His ways but He has begun a good work in you and He is not finished.

But He will finish.  He will leave nothing incomplete and that includes you.

Do not give up.

God is not through.