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The Journal

Contentment

Contentment Dear Friends, Paul concludes his letter by urging the Christians to find their contentment in Christ - Philippians 4:10-23. It is Christ alone who can satisfy our deepest need to be loved and accepted and forgiven of our sins. If we try to find contentment in other things or people we experience restlessness. Twice in 4:13 and 4:19 Paul explains that Christ alone is the one who can meet our deepest needs. On the cross when Jesus died He carried the punishment for our sins. When he cried out “My God My God why have you forsaken me ? He was not only experiencing the separation from our Heavenly Father that God’s judgement on sin brings but He was also experiencing the frustration of being restless and not content which is a consequence of sin. This contentment in Christ also leads to a deep fellowship or partnership or sharing with other Christians. It is encouraging to know that we are not alone in the Christian life but God provides us with friends and fellow travellers in the journey of faith who share the burdens as well as the joys with us. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Rejoicing

Rejoicing Dear Friends, Paul gives us some very good reasons why we can rejoice. We are not alone because the Lord is near and this means that He is interested in us and he cares about us and He wants to help. Paul also teaches us that because the Lord is near we can be gentle. It is easy when we think that everything depends on us to boss people around or be pushy. Paul is teaching us that we can be gentle because the Lord is near and He helps us and we are given the privilege of casting our burdens on the Lord. We don’t have to carry them ourselves. Notice that the invitation comes with an expectation of giving thanks which means that we trust that God is good and we begin to already see the benefits He provides for us - not least of these is forgiveness of sins and friendship with God and the gift of His church and people. The giving of our burdens to God leads to 2 benefits. One of these is that as we let go of trying to keep control over our problems and hand them over to the Lord and we will find His peace come upon us. Notice that this peace transcends all understand. It is not about manipulating the mind or just the power of positive thinking but a tangible experience of God’s presence touching us personally. We do however still have a responsibility to exercise quality control over our minds. God’s peace is a gift which God gives and this also leads us to ensure that we think about what is pure and good. Conversely if we fill our minds with fear or untruths then it becomes a breeding ground for anxiety ! God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Eyes on the prize

Keep your eyes on the prize Dear Friends, We live in an age of distraction. Technology and multiple options mean we struggle to focus. In Philippians 3:12-4:3 Paul calls us to focus. He reminds us that Jesus has taken hold of us and this power from God at work in us moves us to forget what is behind and strain ahead to the prize we have in Christ Jesus. The prize we have in Jesus is to know Christ 3:10 and be resurrected from the dead where our bodies will be transformed into the likeness of Christ’s heavenly body 3:20. All the parts which don’t work well now will work well again. It is a glorious hope and one which is very encouraging. Paul offers himself as an example. We need good models because the Christian faith is both taught and caught. The importance of examples also reminds us that we need to spend time with God’s people so we can observe how mature and godly Christians behave. It is good to ask ourselves what type of models do I have in my life ? Paul warns about ungodly models in 3:18-19. These are people who are enemies of Christ and they are driven by their stomachs or bodily instincts. They have their minds set on earthly things whereas Paul tells us to have our minds set on heavenly things 3:20. He continues this theme of the importance of models by speaking of a pastoral problem in the church of 2 women who are not getting on well. We don’t know the details of the problem but Paul requests an elder to help them. These women are co-workers with Paul and yet even they have got into problems. None of us are immune from conflict or disagreements and we need godly people who will encourage us to be gracious to one another and forgive one another and choose to have a fresh start with people . Often conflict doesn’t resolve but we still need to forgive ! God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara  

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Right not wrong

Being righteous Dear Friends, We have really enjoyed a number of celebrations recently. There has been a number of birthdays including my own. We also rejoiced with Eva Jones who has reached 100 recently as well as our baptism service with Freddie and Rory. One of the distinctives of the New Testament is that we are to be people of joy and celebration. Today in Philippians 3:1-11 Paul chiefly celebrates the righteousness of Christ which means that before God because of what Christ has done and through faith in Him we are counted as right before God. God sees us as beautiful and perfect because of what Jesus has done. It is hard for us to appreciate this because we are so use to doing things to achieve our value whether in education or work but salvation is totally a gift based on what Christ has done. Paul says this gift is so much more valuable than anything else and he calls it the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus. He says that everything else is a loss compared to knowing Christ. He uses quite strong language to warn the Christians at Philippi to not lose their joy and to warn about people who would change the gift of God’s righteousness into something we achieve or earn by our own merits. He calls these false teachers dogs and he reinforces this perspective by saying that his old life despite the high status he had as a Pharisee and a Jew was rubbish or dung compared to knowing Jesus. This righteousness is won for us by Jesus as we remember that he died on the cross for our sin and carried God’s judgement for our sin and conferred on us the status of being righteous. This is what actually builds joy when we remember this incredible gift of God won at the cost of Jesus’ death and suffering for our sin. This is a precious gift which brings joy to us. We must turn away from all attempts at self salvation where we justify ourselves or find value in what we do as a basis for salvation. We trust alone in what Christ has done ! God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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