A New Heart
My sister and I regularly make creative things for each other, recently she made the attached ‘new heart’ for me to enjoy 😊
(Thoughts in this blog are taken from Session 1 of Nicky Gumbel’s series – ‘A Life Worth Living’ which is based on the book of Philippians in the Bible)
Question: Which Christian, living or historical, known personally to you or not, do you most admire and why?
Key Point: God is continually at work in us
Just to give a little background to the book of Philippians – Philippi was a strategic city in its day which is why Paul chose to plant a church there. His heart to reach as many for Christ was his passion and there were many nationalities – Jews, Greeks & Romans.
Paul was writing his epistles from prison around 62AD and the word JOY is found 8 times throughout (according to the AMP version) Paul’s Joy is undeniable in his letter and it’s that same joy that he wants his recipients to understand and possess!
Paul’s affection for these people is clear throughout as he shares about God’s Grace, peace, mercy, and forgiveness.
Some years back I had experienced anger at a set of circumstances that were not in my control, and I was obviously showing it outwardly (very badly) but God graciously opened up the opportunity for me to housesit a friend’s home while they were overseas on a missions trip. In that time, while I was on my own, (as my husband stayed at home for work plus getting our children to school each day) God spoke and showed me the most amazing things - along with speaking thru different girlfriends I invited to come to pay me a visit and stay overnight on and off. I believe during that time, having intimate prayers and conversations with my heavenly father was a huge boost to my spirit to understand the importance of leaning on Him only. I was rather awe-struck by God’s ability to tailor to me specifically what I needed to see and hear during that season!
For example: - on one of those days I was randomly flicking thru a pile of home magazines couple had on floor next to their coffee table and right in middle of the pile was a book by John Bevere ‘How to Respond when you feel Mistreated’ – this was the best ointment at the right time for me, as I believe it was initiated by the lord.
1. HEART OF CONFIDENCE - Be Confident in God’s Power (v.3-6)
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” (v.6 from MSG)
The Church in Philippi was very obviously established by God’s power:
We read in Acts chapter 16 where Paul was pursued by a fortune-teller in Philippi, Paul commended in the name of Jesus Christ for the evil spirit to come out of her (Acts 16:16-18)
The fortune-teller’s owners were furious she had lost her powers (means of income) so Paul and Silas were put in prison (Acts 16:19-24)
While they were in prison, praising and praying an earthquake shook the foundations miraculously releasing them (Acts 16:25-28)
The jailer fell down in fear and said ‘sirs, what must I do to be saved? – the jailer believed, and his household converted (Acts 16:29-36)
As he writes to the church in Philippi, Paul has great confidence in what God is capable of doing and he is seeing God do it with his own eyes.
It makes sense: God wouldn’t pursue a relationship with us, forgive us, convert us, take us through so many adventures, then suddenly drop us! We can have confidence in His LOVE for us.
I was sent by the Lord on a mission trip to Sri Lanka in 2008 (while that country was still in civil war) along with a team of others and although I was not that confident, I had to go knowing that my Heavenly Father was the initiator of this trip and believe He was with me and going to step in when necessary. On every occasion when preaching I had interpreters translating, so I had to believe/have confidence that the interpreters were saying the same thing I was sharing!
Application: Also keeping a journal of my own “journey in faith”, jotting down answers to prayer and times when I have seen God at work does really help me in my confidence with the Lord. Just recently at the beginning of 2021 when writing blogs on my web page – God was passionately impressing things on my heart to write and as the months progressed, I went through a very nasty and invasive set of circumstances (financial crimes accusations – for more info read my book ‘Fragrance’) that by looking back in my notes discovered God was talking to me about that very thing – it most certainly confirmed for me that my heavenly father is very interested in every aspect of what we are going through!
2. HEART OF COMPASSION - Build Relationships with other Christians (v.7-8)
7 How natural it is that I should feel as I do about you, for you have a very special place in my heart. We have shared together the blessings of God, both when I was in prison and when I was out, defending the truth and telling others about Christ. 8 Only God knows how deep is my love and longing for you—with the tenderness of Jesus Christ. – (TLB)
Paul has a deep love for the Christians in Philippi;
Shared love for Jesus and shared experiences of God’s power at work in our lives provides a great foundation for genuine friendship – my husband and I run a connect group for the church we attend in our home and the fellowship and community we have with the majority of them is because we regularly share personal experiences together.
We can be intentional about treasuring and furthering the most mature of Christian friendships by beginning joint projects together and challenging or mentoring others like stepping out to pray for others’ needs, delivering meals to those unwell, and joining volunteering groups in the community.
I remember working in a Christian College administration some years back and the role I was given meant I was sitting in a room with 2 to 3 others (depending on the days of the week) but the one that was more senior to me had a way of speaking down to me, which in fact was a ‘Bullying’ attitude and I really struggled with this for a time – not understanding why in the ‘Christian’ environment I was in that it was allowed or how I should even respond to it! I must admit I was very tormented by the comments and process, going to the Lord all the time, asking him how best to show God’s Love, Grace, and forgiveness to them. As time went on, I eventually left that job for another role and only a short time later discovered that colleague attended my church one week and went out for prayer for healing, and I sat with them after for a coffee to hear their story and had the opportunity to love on them and pray with them over the coming weeks as not long after they passed away. We need to constantly be humbling ourselves in every situation as God knows much more than we do.
Application: I find that by spending regular time with the Lord he drops people’s names on my heart, which in turn encourages me to get in touch with them again and find out how they are… generally the prompting from the Lord is because they are in need because of ill health or other circumstances so I can step in to pray and help them out. Staying in tune with the Lord every day is his ‘Compassionate’ heart for us to be a blessing to others if we are willing!
3. HEART OF CONCERN - Pray for Personal Growth (v.9-11)
9 My prayer for you is that you will overflow more and more with love for others, and at the same time keep on growing in spiritual knowledge and insight, - (TLB)
Paul prays for the Christians in Philippi: “And this is my prayer...”
a) LOVE - “that your love may abound more and more”
b) UNDERSTANDING - “knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best”
c) WISDOM - “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God”- James 1:5
d) HOLINESS - “may be pure and blameless...filled with the fruit of righteousness”
Florence Nightingale died at 91 years old but was known for her dedication to reforming health care in her lifetime, starting with the ‘Crimean War’ in 1854 This portion of the obituary for Florence Nightingale appeared in The Times on August 15, 1910 - ‘But her zeal, her devotion, and her perseverance would yield to no rebuff and to no difficulty. She went steadily and unwearyingly about her work with a judgement, a self-sacrifice, a courage, a tender sympathy, and withal a quiet and unostentatious demeanour that won the hearts of all who were not prevented by official prejudices from appreciating the nobility of her work and character.’
Application: After reading this blog, I would encourage you to take some to write down a particular person or situation where you want more love, understanding, or holiness. Take your time to give that person/situation over to the Lord and see what He will do for you!
Prayer: Lord today, I invite you into my life to make the changes necessary in me, that I may see others through your eyes, and I may show your amazing love to them in all I do and say - AMEN