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Posts Tagged ‘Philippians 2:13’

“This is the property,” his agent told him, as they flew over a great swath of swampy real estate—about 43 square miles worth.  “What do you think?”

The passenger, W.E., smiled with satisfaction. He hardly noticed the scrub pines, cypress groves, and marshy ponds dotting the landscape. In his mind’s eye he saw beauty and grandeur. “I like it!” he cried.

Ground view of the kind of landscape W.E. saw that day

Within days, W.E. and his associates were arranging to purchase the land from the various owners. The final price tag: five million dollars (the equivalent of about 43 million today).

That was in 1963. In 2011, the property was estimated to be worth over 1.3 billion dollars, because of W. E.’s vision and his ability to accomplish what he started.

Development of the property began in 1965. It took thousands of workers and six years to complete the initial phase of W. E.’s plan.

First, the acreage had to be cleared, then lakes dredged as well as canals built in order to control the flow of water. Before the first foundation could be poured, the land had to be elevated. Millions of trees, shrubs, and plants were also installed.

Some might say what followed was pure magic, as the massive project resulted in Disney World. And ever since its opening in 1971, the visionary genius of Walter Elias Disney has dazzled the senses of visitors.

Someone else sees value in places where most of us don’t. The King of the universe recognizes worth in you and me, scrubby and nondescript as we might be. In fact, he smiles with satisfaction on his people of faith, because what he envisions is the beauty and grandeur of what we’re becoming.[1]

The Apostle Paul explained it this way:

And what does God’s good work include? Here’s a partial list:

  • He guides us to know what’s right and then empowers us to do it
  • He creates the desire within us to follow his way of wisdom
  • He draws us toward a heavenly perspective that impacts our choices and motives
  • He grows our love for one another
  • He develops godly traits that minister to others and provide us satisfaction as well
  • He transforms us, day by day, into the beauty and grandeur of Christ’s character[2]

“The life of a Christian is a series of miracles” wrote Charles Spurgeon—miracles that include wisdom, love, godliness, power, and more. Such transformation is much more spectacular than turning swampland into a stunning park. And God will never stop developing his miracles within us until we’re home with him.

Our challenge is to submit to his work.  

God wants to dredge self-centeredness from our spirits so rivers of living water can flow freely. Then we’ll enjoy the continual, life-giving spring of contentment he provides.[3]

God wants to place us on the foundation-rock of his Word, providing peace and security—especially when the storms of life threaten to overtake us.[4]   

God also wants to establish us like trees planted by water. Then we won’t fear the heat of difficulty or a drought of deprivation, because our roots grow deep into the river of God’s delights—delights like His love, his truth as found in the Bible, his strength and presence.[5]

Walt Disney and his team did accomplish incredible feats of innovation, design, and technology. But God shaping us into beautiful, joyful, purposeful people?  That’s mind-boggling miraculous.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Thank you, loving Father, for continuing to grow me in your grace until your task within me is finally finished. Thank you for never giving up, for completing what you start. May I be an enthusiastic participant in your good work!

Sources:

https://dozr.com/blog/building-disney-world

https://d23.com/we-say-its-disney/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/megandubois/2021/09/23/looking-back-at-50-years-of-walt-disney-world-history-and-business-strategy/?sh=a0fc33fff209

https://www.themeparktourist.com/features/20140323/17091/making-walt-disney-world-20-amazing-photographs

Notes:


[1] Psalm 147:11

[2] Psalm 119:33-37; Philippians 2:13; Colossians 3:2; Philippians 1:9; Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Corinthians 3:18

[3] John 7:37-39 and footnote to v. 38, The Woman’s Study Bible

[4] Matthew 7:24-27; Psalm 119:24

[5] Jeremiah 17:7-8; Psalm 36:8; Ephesians 3:16-19

Photo credits: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net; http://www.wikimedia.org; http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.rawpixel.com; http://www.flickr.com.

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“Here’s what I’ve been looking for!” My husband propped his walking stick against a forest tree and pulled from the underbrush a straight, stout branch about my height. With his pocketknife he whittled off several small branches and gifted me my own walking stick. “Try this, “ he coaxed. “It really helps.”

I’d been groaning through the incline portions of our hike in the Appalachian foothills. Yes, exercise and walking were part of my routine at home, but we lived in the flatlands of Florida at the time. The upward slopes of this footpath were causing my leg muscles to complain loudly.

What a surprising difference that branch made!  Swinging it ahead helped propel me forward. I felt more stable in the uneven and slippery places with the walking stick to provide balance.  And leaning into it as I hefted myself up steep inclines did take some of the stress off my aching legs.

That experience brings to mind a familiar truth tucked in Psalm 23:

 

 

Your rod and your staff comfort me.”

 

Just as that walking stick gave me relief on the trail, the staff of God’s Word has offered much relief on the path of life.

For example:

As a young wife and mother, discouraged by the mindless repetition of housework, I came across this staff of scripture to propel me forward:

 

 

The realization dawned that taking care of my family was equivalent to serving him. And though it would be a lie to say from that day forward I happily swept, scrubbed, and sanitized, I did carry with me a new perspective.

 

When distraught over my faults and deficiencies, God handed me this walking stick of relief:

 

“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…

For it is God who is working in you,

enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”

–Philippians 1:6; 2:13 HCSB

 

 

What a loving, attentive Father he is, day after day working out his plan and blessing upon our lives, slowly but surely transforming us into our best selves.

 

When distraught over election results, I leaned on the comforting truth of Daniel 2:20-21:

 

 

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and

power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and

raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise

and knowledge to the discerning.”

 

What a relief to know he is sovereign over the universe, and everything is under his control.

 

When I was heartbroken after a young friend died as the result of a car accident, I desperately wanted to know why. Why didn’t God answer the prayers of countless people and bring her out of the coma?

Shelly was a talented pianist with a short-term missionary assignment pending. Why didn’t he save her?

God gave me the stabilizing staff of Romans 11:33-36, to help me walk through my questions and grief:

 

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?

Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?

For from him and through him and for him are all things.

To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

 

 

Those last two statements brought sudden clarity. Everything—even painful eventscome through God first before they touch us. And somehow it all has potential to bring him honor and praise. The answer to my question why isn’t necessary.

 

“Each of us may be sure that

if God sends us over rocky paths,

He will provide us with sturdy shoes.

He will never send us on a journey

without equipping us well.”

–Alexander MacLaren

 

And with those sturdy shoes of equipping, praise God he also provides walking sticks of stability, support, relief, and comfort in his Word–if we keep a watchful eye.

 

 

What walking sticks in scripture have offered you stability, support, relief, and comfort?  Please share in the comments section below!

 

Photo credits:  http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.heartlight.org;  http://www.canva.com (2); http://www.wikimedia.org.

 

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personal-trainer-t-shirt1

 

Many people these days hire personal trainers to help them achieve their fitness goals. The benefits they site include:

  • Motivation and encouragement
  • A personalized routine, designed to produce maximum benefit for the time and effort invested
  • Injury prevention
  • Up-to-date information on health, nutrition, and fitness

Actually I have a Personal Trainer (you do, too) but for a far more important aspect of life than physical fitness. God is at work to “enlarge my heart.”

 

Pressing-toward-the-goal 

 

“I shall run the way of your commandments,

for you will enlarge my heart.”

Psalm 119:32, HCSB

 

In other words, God is working in me (Philippians 1:6) and with me (Psalm 23:4a) to develop my faith and mold my character into his likeness.

I do need his help to “run the way of [his] commandments,” just as the psalmist wrote eons ago (quoted above). Too often I’m side tracked onto self-chosen paths.

But how does God enlarge my heart to run his way?

First he initiates a change of heart.

 

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And one day he will complete the process. We will be like Jesus (1 John 3:2). Can you imagine? One day we’ll finally become the holy and perfect people we’ve always wanted to be!

In between initiation and final transformation, we run:

The Christian life involves effort on our part, much as physical fitness requires effort. Just hiring a personal trainer won’t get us healthy and strong; we must take responsibility to follow the trainer’s instructions.

Similarly, while being responsible to exercise diligence and discipline in order to become spiritually mature, we also depend completely on what God supplies.

 

“We must work out what God has worked in.”

–John MacArthur

 

And what has God worked in? Everything we need for life and godliness:

 

2-Peter-1-3-His-Diving-Power-Has-Given-Us-Everything-green-copy

 

 

Yes, even our faith comes from him (Hebrews 12:2).

Now perhaps you’re one of those who have experienced the euphoria of being in “the zone,” during your workout. Once your heart rate is up, the blood is pumping, and your muscles are executing every move with precision, you experience a surge of energy and great pleasure in the activity.

I have never experienced that zone. My daily workouts involve uncomfortable huffing and puffing, aching muscles that beg me to “Stop with the push-ups already!” and downright boredom. (After decades of jumping jacks, they’re getting a bit old.)

 

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But it’s the results we’re after, isn’t it, including better heart health.

The function of our spiritual hearts is also improved by the application of exercise in the form of difficulties, hurt, illness, discouragement, and more.

Wait a minute! How does hardship improve spiritual heart health?

God uses such circumstances to produce such results as fully developed maturity.

 

“When troubles of any kind come your way,

consider it an opportunity for great joy.

For you know that when your faith is tested,

your endurance has a chance to grow.

So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed,

you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

James 1:2-4, NLT

 

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I may never experience the euphoria of the zone during physical exercise, but James’ assurance here promises a zone of joy as I allow God to enlarge my heart and choose to persevere through the challenges of life his way.

Talk about perfect results!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Heavenly Father, I praise you for working into my life everything I need in order to become “perfect, complete, and needing nothing.” With your gracious provision, may I pursue the way of your commandments, and experience your euphoric joy!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.tampabayathletics.com; http://www.successandfailure.net; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.knowing-jesus.com; http://www.321delish.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

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