Philippians

ihavelearned

 

I just finished Philippians. I’ve been taking it one chapter a week, asking God “What does this look like for my team? What lessons are for me in this?” Ask and you shall receive, He said, and I’ve seen the lessons popping out at me ever since. For your sake I will keep it to a minimum, just highlighting a few from each chapter, but I’d like to encourage you to take this on for yourself. Pick a book and ask Him to speak about it, about what was going on when it was written, and what it means for you today. So here we go!

Chapter 1: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”  Phil.1:6 

This was a big one for me, as I look towards leading this team (with my beautiful Anna, of course). First of all- God is the one who began the good work among the Philippians, not Paul. Even though Paul was doing the “dirty work” of discipleship, God is the one who begins it, and therefore: He is faithful to complete it. God isn’t someone who does things halfway. If we only learn a lesson halfway, it’s because we didn’t push through to the other side, not because God deserted us in the process.

Another major point I took from this verse is something that I gleamed from my own outreach to Papua New Guinea in 2011. Paul was separated from the Philippians, he isn’t able to be with the people who bring him great joy because of his suffering for Christ. That means that he was shepherding them for a time and then had to leave before he saw their transformation completed. What does that mean for me? For our team? Well #1 it means that the students, as well as me, will be learning lessons that may not be fully understood while we are together. The learning process will continue after the outreach, and I may not be around to see it. Will I be ok with that? And for us as a team, we will see issues that we won’t like. We’ll see corrupt orphanages, street children, a devalued nation and it will break us. There’s no way we’ll be able to “fix” it all in 11 short weeks. Will we be strong enough to walk away, after pouring out our hearts, even if we don’t see the change?

Chapter 2: “Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” Phil 2:2

Unity is something our team is striving for, yet isn’t something that can be forced. Unity comes when we are honest with each other, when we repent together, when we lay down our desires and hopes for this trip, and we come together and ask God for His heart, His vision, and His plans for us. Unity comes when we work together to pursue God, because all good things come from Him. Paul is pleased when the people work together, pursuing love together, being Christ-like together. Our team will have a lot going on, but we will be together, and that is one of the most important things.

“Though He (Jesus)  was God, He didn’t think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave.” vs. 6&7

This one hit me. Big black letters are scribbled in my journal, simply saying “Sam, lower yourself.” I am here to serve- serve Him, serve my team, and serve Togo. Sometimes I catch myself thinking I deserve a special acknowledgement, I mean “I always serve…” but that’s my job. Do you congratulate your washing machine when it washes your clothes? No- because that’s it’s job. My job is to serve, and if Jesus Christ, our LORD, could lower Himself to a person who couldn’t even control His own bladder (an infant), I need to lower myself. I need to serve my team, and treat them with love and respect and admiration. Samantha Nicole- get over yourself.

Chapter 3“I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” Phil. 3:10-11

I want to know the mighty power!! Yes Lord! Pick me! I want to see miracles, I want to see you raise the dead. I want, I want, I want. But do I want the suffering that goes with it? I’m reminded here to be wise with my prayers- I want to see miracles, but I never finish the verse. Am I as eager to suffer as I am to see His glory? This was definitely one that I had to double check with my spirit, because to be frank, I’m a selfish person. What do you think about this?

Chapter 4: “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” Phil. 4:11

This one especially makes me stop and think, mainly because I don’t think much about this verse until my “rights” have been exposed as “privileges.” Will I be ok in 3 weeks when I don’t have internet in the palm of my hand, when I can’t text my mum real quick, or send her a photo of those sweet babies immediately after I take it? Will I be ok when I have to sleep under a mosquito net, or when all we have to eat is starch and water? Will I be content when I have to hand wash my clothes and limit my shower times? What about when my team gets on my nerves, or we’re short on cash, or our transportation is uncomfortable and my head hurts? Will I be content?

Will I be content when “all I have” is Christ? When all the comforts of this life are stripped, and what’s left is my mess of a heart and what little knowledge I have of Him? Will I be content? Would you?

It’s my prayer that by the end of this school, by the time we land back here in Kona on September 14th, that I will have learned even just a sliver of this, to be content no matter what. Whether I have mum’s home cooking, my single bed, no shower, shelter from the rain, my family, my team or no one at all- I hope to be content. Pray with me?

With Strength that’s not my own, Sam

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Study?

Have you closed the Bible, sat in your chair for a minute, and then wondered what exactly you just read? I don’t know how many times I’ve done that. I’ve read so much, but never understood what I was reading. I’ve always wanted to know though. I’ve made a few weak attempts at “studying” the Bible, but most of the time I just gave up. It was so frustrating! What was the point of reading if I couldn’t understand it?

This week we did -Inductive Bible Study- on the book of Philemon. Now, in our reference guides for our DTS it said we would be doing this, so I had a head’s up. Also, the girls in my flat were talking about it before the lectures started. I don’t know about you, but Bible study hasn’t really been on my personal Top 10 things to do, so I wasn’t too excited about this week. All of these girls though were so excited for Bible Study, and I couldn’t figure out why! So Monday morning comes around, and our speaker hands out these booklets. They have the book of Philemon in it, along with methods for reading the Bible, and a whole load of context about Philemon. He asked us to read the book and summarize what we thought Paul was saying in this letter, so I did. Let me tell you, by the end of the week we had ripped that book to pieces! We learned context, we learned how to read OUT of the passage, rather than read INTO the passage, and we learned what Paul was teaching Philemon, rather than what he was telling him. After this week, I have such a huge desire to know what the Bible is talking about, not just read it. If I’m reading, I would love to be able to get something out of it, and I think that’s God’s hope for me to. SO! I’ve decided to read the Bible in a year. Did you know that only 20% of Christian’s have read the entire Bible? Jonathan, our speaker asked us these questions this week.

Do you believe the Bible is truth? (Yes)

Have you read the whole Bible? (No)

How do you know it’s truth, if you haven’t read the whole thing? He really challenged us to know what we are saying before we answer those questions. So I’m hoping to make it into the 20% category by next year. Want to join me? I’m interested in starting a Bible study when I get back, but if anyone wants to start it before I get there, I’m fine with that too! Message me if you’re interested in either of these things, it doesn’t matter where you’re from! Any church, any town, any age. God wants to impart knowledge to all his children.

So on Saturday we are leaving for our first outreach! How crazy is that? I’ve been here for 8 weeks, and they already want me to do something! Ha, just joking, but really, we leave in the morning, and we’ll be driving about 5 hours north of Townsville to a city called Cairns. (pronounced caans) Cairns is a real tourist city, so we’ll be doing a bunch of evangelism with the backpackers that run through the city and the beach area. We’ve been invited to a few churches and schools also to speak, so I’m getting nervous! In one of the schools though we’ll be making breakfast for the students and then we get to hang out with them and talk to them, so that’s pretty sweet. I’m just really looking forward to seeing the doors that God is going to bust open for us! Oh! And here’s a story to let you in on how crazy our God is! Roger, one of the guys on my outreach team, was stressing out a bit Thursday night because our outreach fees were due Friday. If we didn’t get our money in, we wouldn’t be able to go, and Roger didn’t have any of the money he needed. All glory to God though, Roger made one phone call, and BAM, all of his outreach is paid for!! The couple he contacted told him that God had told them to stop giving money to the church they regularly donated to, and to save it for something, but they didn’t know what. They knew that someone would need that money, and when Roger called them to ask, they felt God releasing them to do that for him! That’s $3500! How awesome is God eh?!

Thanks so much for reading! Don’t forget to drop a comment too, alright? I like to hear your hearts just as much as you like to hear mine, so speak up! Oh, and don’t forget to feed your souls this week!

“The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honour them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation’.”  Psalm 91:14-16

Shine!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam