Philippians 4- Steven Canfield

Day 1

Read Luke 12:22-31

I wonder how often we pray for specific outcomes and how often that outcome exactly happens.  I can tell you, it is not often.  One of my biggest faith challenges is recognizing that I can not expect to have faith that lives in a crystal ball.  I say I pray for justice to prevail, but in my mind, I played out the perfect scenario a hundred times.  I say I pray for a positive outcome for the health screening, but in my mind I’ve rehearsed how I might tell my family what the worst case would be.  The interesting thing is, if I’m honest, I’m praying for what I want to happen, not the peace to handle whatever comes my way.  

This can get ugly real fast.  And recently, it has for me.  Full disclosure-I’m currently struggling in my faith.  I cannot for the life of me understand why things are happening the way they are in my family, my career, my life.  Has it been like that for you, church family?  The prayer for peace that transcends all understanding is something that is so hard for us to get our minds around.  I can’t wait until I know the why or when I turn the chapter, to pray and seek that peace.  The prayer is for peace now.  Peace when the whole world falls down around you, but you are still standing.  Peace in the valleys, just as much as peace on the mountain tops.  

There are numerous other places in the bible that show us the vastness of God’s creation, find one that further illustrates how little we really even understand of the plans our Father has for us.
When you think of that example, or of the countless lilies and ravens that fly around without a care in the world, how does that change the way in which you pray?

If we continue on this path of not fully ever understanding, how will we know if our prayers have been answered?  Can you give an example from your own life?

How does this become a part of your prayer today?

Day 2

What is one verse you can cling to today to become that mental image of a bouncer protecting your heart and mind?

Day 3

Read: 1 Samuel 14:41-52 & Genesis 7

In preparation for this devotion, I looked up the definition of what it means to be content.  Being content means you are happy with your current state and don’t need or want anything more to maintain your level of happiness.  Sit with that.  I struggled with that. Do you?  Do you have plans this weekend?  Do you live by to-do lists? Do you want/need a raise at work so that you can afford the new car payment or surprise medical bill? What would happen if either of those things didn’t happen as planned or hoped?  Would you still have your same level of happiness?  

Since I struggled, I searched some more.  I realized that being content isn’t just a noun, it isn’t just a state of being.  It is a daily practice-as the verse says, we have to learn it.  Can I be content sitting on the side of the road with a blown head gasket?  Maybe?  But if I am not content each and every time my 13-year-old van turns over and gets me from point a to point b, I surely won’t be content when it seems my ride has met its demise. In thinking of the verses today, what ways did David and Noah have to practice contentment so that they could be prepared for the challenge they were to face?

I read a thought-provoking statement one day and it has stuck with me:  What if you woke up today, with only the things you expressed gratitude for yesterday?  Whew!  Think about that.  What would you have around you?  Who would you have around you?  
Then, think about today.  What was the worst thing that happened today to you, and what small piece of that can you be content about?

How does this become your prayer today?

Day 4

Read:  Luke 12:13-21 & Matthew 25:34-40

I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase, “the u-haul doesn’t follow the hearse.”  When I read the parable, I don’t know about you, but I start to think, “Wow, what a rich fool! Doesn’t he know?”  Then I look around at my beautiful, air-conditioned house, my children playing in the next room, and really just the fact that I can breathe easy.  Then, I take the plank out of my own eye.  Earlier, we talked about contentment and expressing thanks for what we have.  I think that is a humbling first step.  Next, I think after reading these verses, we are asked to do more.  Maybe we sit with those who are struggling, provide service, and provide our testimony.  

Join me in this challenge if you will.  After you have taken stock of all the things you are thankful for, think about those who don’t have those things.  What is one action step you can take today to be in service to those who are struggling?  What can you learn from that experience?  Please take the time to engage with each other, (and me!) to hash out these ideas.  I’m sure it is something that has been on your heart for some time.

If your action step seems small, or you feel a bit confused like I do, I would love it if you would join me in prayer to think about what bigger steps we could take, maybe even together, to serve those who are “the least of these,” around us.

Day 5

Read Philippians 3:1-11

We did it!  Four chapters and we spent 7 weeks studying this little letter that Paul wrote to the church of Philippi.  This series was a last minute addition to a summer that has been just too busy and too full.  That seems to be the mantra of my life and I am slowly giving up the hope of it slowing down any.  It was helpful for me to have an anchor each week that kept us all focused on a certain place for our study.  

But we were not just buying time through the summer.  This text is rich with so much more than we could imagine.  I wonder if I came out of the summer with any more of that “knowing Christ” thing?  It’s even weird to think about it in the idea of quantities at this point in my life.  More of knowing Him?  We spent some time thinking about that idea and Paul thought it worth considering.  So let’s go back one more time and see what we learn.

How has the idea of this chapter impacted your life since reading it?  Was it just a passing thought or has God really been allowed to work something in your heart the last few weeks of this study?

What was the part in this letter to the Philippians that God spoke to you about the most?

Please consider going onto the app and taking a few minutes to share some your thoughts to the above question.

How does this become your prayer this week?

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