Friday, September 15, 2006

Proverbs 15 - 17
A pattern emerges - a Life Plan

Gentle answers, commending knowledge, healing words, accepting correction, seeking righteousness, wise words, prayer, discernment, a cheerful heart, fear of the Lord, a meal made with love, patience, understanding, listening to wise advisors, pure thoughts, hating bribery, cheerful looks, humility -- This is what Solomon says is good in Proverbs 15.

Proverbs 16 tells us that while man looks at what we do, God looks at our motives and what is in our heart. Solomon tells us to commit our plans to the Lord and he will bring success to us.

3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.

4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends—
even the wicked for a day of disaster.

5 The LORD detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.

7 When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD,
he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

Solomon then continues with the list of things that should be included in our life plan -- righteousness, honesty, wisdom, humility, listening to counsel and trusting the Lord, discernment, pleasant words and patience. These are things we should pursue.

The beginning of Proverbs 17 uses contrast to demonstrate what we should be doing -- comparing a sparse meal that is served with love, with a feast in a house full of strife. Solomon also reminds us that even a servant who is obedient will be better off than the son that doesn't heed what his father says and that in fact the inheritance is at risk if you disgrace your father. Verse 12 says that it is better to meet a grizzly robbed of her cubs than a fool that is hellbent on folly.

Much of chapter 17 is about how we behave in community:

5 Whoever mocks poor people insults their Creator;
gloating over misfortune is a punishable crime.

... and in business:

15 Whitewashing bad people and throwing mud on good people
are equally abhorrent to God.

Verse 17 talks about how we should behave with our friends and family.

17 Friends love through all kinds of weather,
and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.

but the "life list" is the same.....

Peace, wisdom, honoring parents and grandparents, eloquence, truth, overlooking offenses, cherishing friendship, faithfulness, being cheerful, perception, justice and mercy. These are the things that we should pursue.

Lord -- give us your Spirit so that we can easily conform to your life plan. We need you.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Proverbs 12-14 - The idea is clear - Serve God and live

Discipline, a life rooted in God, justice, sensible talking, hard work, kindness to animals, good conversation, taking good advice, being truthful and seeking truth -- these are just a few of the things that Solomon admonishes us to seek after.

The alternatives? Refusing correction, scheming, corruption, death, contempt, starvation, ruin, trouble, deceit, lies, distortion, laziness, worry, misfortune, disaster.

Whew..... when given the option, what choice would you make?

Practical wisdom. That is what Solomon provides for us. A guideline, a roadmap, a book that shows not only what to do, but the consequences of going our own way.

Personally, while I'm enjoying reading Proverbs, I am missing reading about Jesus! It had to have been a bit overwhelming in Old Testiment days to have to live up to what Solomon wrote about without the hope of the help from the Holy Spirit and the gift of mercy and grace of Jesus' life.

Their only hope was to keep company with the Godly, the wise. Proverbs 13 says:

20 Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces. 21 Disaster entraps sinners, but God-loyal people get a good life.

And verse 34 in Chapter 14 says:

34 God-devotion makes a country strong; God-avoidance leaves people weak.

Today, choose whom you will serve. Devotion or avoidance. The choice is yours.

Chicke Fitzgerald
Chicke Fitzgerald

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Proverbs 10-11 Signs on the Road of Life

Proverbs 10 lists all of the wise things to do and their results, as well as the foolish things and their consequences. This is like having road signs and stop signs on the road of life.

If we follow the wise path, we will reach a good destination. Without good direction, people lose their way.

Proverbs 11 begins with a discussion of the virtues of honesty and integrity.

5 Moral character makes for smooth traveling;
an evil life is a hard life.

It also talks about what is at the end of the road.

7 When the wicked die, that's it—
the story's over, end of hope.

Yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of September 11th. Many people died in the terrorist events of that day. For the wicked that were among them, there is no hope. For those that lived for the Lord, or met him in a smoky stairwell or in a wall of flames -- there is not only hope, but it is just the beginning of an eternal story.

Lord, be with those that lost friends, colleagues and family to terrorism that day. Keep us safe, guard those that we love. Thwart the path of those that would wish to bring destruction and continued terror on the US. Teach us to walk in the path of wisdom and to see the warning signs when we get off your road. Thank you that there is hope at the end of our story!

Chicke Fitzgerald
Chicke Fitzgerald

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Proverbs 7-9 Discipline is at the heart of the story

Proverbs 7 covers the now familiar story of the man being seduced by the temptress. If the repetition of this theme in the first 7 chapters of this book is any indication, this must be one of the most important things that Solomon wanted to get across to men! Again, as a woman, this doesn't resonate with me, but I do need every day to look at the things that seduce me away from the path of seeking what is pure and right.

To me, it all boils down to discipline and holding on to what is right. My graphic today is supposed to represent a treadmill. It is a little tough to see in a thumbnail view of the art, but to me, a treadmill embodies discipline.

I am in Colorado on business today and when the wakeup call came at 645a, I had to decide whether to embrace discipline and get up and go to the gym or whether to sleep another half hour. Fortunately discipline won out and I worked out for 30 minutes and before my meeting, am getting my blog done (although I somehow missed that we started on September 1 with a Proverb a day, so I'm catching up here!).

In Proverbs 8 Solomon says that discipline is a good thing!

32-36 "So, my dear friends, listen carefully;
those who embrace these my ways are most blessed.
Mark a life of discipline and live wisely;
don't squander your precious life.
Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me,
awake and ready for me each morning,
alert and responsive as I start my day's work.
When you find me, you find life, real life,
to say nothing of God's good pleasure.
But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul;
when you reject me, you're flirting with death."

Chapter 9 begins with an invitation to a magnificent banquet. Verses 5 and 6 say:

"Are you confused about life, don't know what's going on?
Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me!
I've prepared a wonderful spread—fresh-baked bread,
roast lamb, carefully selected wines.
Leave your impoverished confusion and live!
Walk up the street to a life with meaning."

I am happy to be invited to this table. I yearn for a life with meaning, even more so as each year passes. The mundane holds much less interest for me and small talk is as noise.

Verses 9-12 of Chapter 9 talk about how true wisdom is in the fear of God and that our lives will get deeper and richer if we embrace and know God.

Save your breath for the wise—they'll be wiser for it;
tell good people what you know—they'll profit from it.
Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God,
insight into life from knowing a Holy God.
It's through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens,
and the years of your life ripen.
Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life;
mock life and life will mock you.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!". I want the rich, deep life and I want wisdom to permeate all that I do and say.
Have a super Saturday.

Chicke Fitzgerald
Chicke Fitzgerald

Friday, September 08, 2006

Proverbs 6 The Six Things that God Hates

In Proverbs 6 Solomon outlines many things - laziness, hanging around with riffraff and rascals and once again adultery, but the most important in my estimation are in verses 16-19:

16-19 Here are six things God hates,
and one more that he loathes with a passion:
eyes that are arrogant,
a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent,
a heart that hatches evil plots,
feet that race down a wicked track,
a mouth that lies under oath,
a troublemaker in the family.

Lord, may my eyes be humble, my tongue filled with your truths, may my hands do good not evil, may my heart only seek after you, may my feet do your will, may my mouth sing your praises and may I bring peace to my family. Be with them while I travel - keep them safe and keep them healthy.

Chicke Fitzgera
Chicke Fitzgerald ld

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Proverbs 5 - Faithfulness in marriage

This chapter is an admonition for men to stay away from adultery. To be fair, women should as well, but Solomon knew full well that he needed to stress this to the young men first.

3-6 The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet,
her soft words are oh so smooth.
But it won't be long before she's gravel in your mouth,
a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart.
She's dancing down the primrose path to Death;
she's headed straight for Hell and taking you with her.
She hasn't a clue about Real Life,
about who she is or where she's going.

For those of us that are not tempted by adultery, but who are seduced by other things in our lives, we need to remember the previous chapters of Proverbs that tell us to seek Wisdom and to surround ourselves with the counsel of the wise, lest we be tempted.

Of course my favorite part is verse 18 where he encourages men to rejoice in the wife of your youth. Well, I have to be careful here, because Michael and I didn't get married until I was 33 - hardly considered a youth!

This chapter ends by reminding us that the Lord is watching and pays attention to all of our choices. Here are verses 21-23 in the New International Version.

21 For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD,
and he examines all his paths.

22 The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him;
the cords of his sin hold him fast.

23 He will die for lack of discipline,
led astray by his own great folly.

Lord, give us a thirst for wisdom in our choices and help us to be more disciplined in all that we do. Give us special appreciation for our spouses - a new love reminiscent of our youth.

Chicke Fitzgerald
Chicke Fitzgerald

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Proverbs 4 - The Map to Righteous Road

Lest we be confused about where Solomon stands, this chapter reiterates over and over that we must seek Wisdom in all that we do.

Verse 7-9 Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life;
love her—she keeps her eye on you.
Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom!
Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!
Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won't regret it;
never let her go—she'll make your life glorious.
She'll garland your life with grace,
she'll festoon your days with beauty."

Solomon lays out a clear map for us to follow:

10-15 Dear friend, take my advice;
it will add years to your life.
I'm writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way,
I'm drawing a map to Righteous Road.
I don't want you ending up in blind alleys,
or wasting time making wrong turns.
Hold tight to good advice; don't relax your grip.
Guard it well—your life is at stake!
Don't take Wicked Bypass;
don't so much as set foot on that road.
Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth.
Make a detour and be on your way.

And at the end of the chapter, he reminds us that our heart is our compass on life's road:

23 Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts.

Many things come at us, to distract our heart from staying on task. We get discouraged, angry, frustrated and distracted in the course of each day as various things come at us. Solomon's final advice to us in this chapter is:

24 - 26 Keep your eyes straight ahead;
ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
leave evil in the dust.

Lord, keep me focused on you today and on the path that you have set for me. Keep the kids safe and healthy. Show us your heart and teach us how to love.

Chicke Fitzgerald
Chicke Fitzgerald

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Proverbs 3 - I'm holding on to the promise of an afternoon nap!

If you read my post from yesterday, you will know that I've been praying for direction in our business. I woke up today with an email from a dear friend that told me to pray without ceasing and that God would do amazing things in my life and in our business.

Then as I read this third chapter of Proverbs today, the first passage that hit me was:

Chapter 3: 5-9 Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all.

It would be such a relief to just do this -- to stop taking responsibility for the business myself. I have been going through a time of feeling really overwhelmed lately, so now is the time for me to heed what Solomon is saying here.

Verses 5 and 6 may be more familiar in the New International Version:

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Let me back up now to verses 3-4

Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
in God's eyes and the eyes of the people.

These verses build on what was said in Chapter 2 about integrity and also about surrounding yourself with people that will provide sound advice -- love and loyalty are essential to keep the right people around you and then as a result of doing so, a solid reputation will ensue.

Following these passages, Solomon throws in some wisdom about tithing and also about accepting God's discipline.

10-12 Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline;
don't sulk under his loving correction.
It's the child he loves that God corrects;
a father's delight is behind all this.

Well, we don't have a barn or wine vats, but I'm ready for our bank account to burst and our wine cellar to be full! In fact, the New International Version says it will be new wine, the good stuff. Bring it on! May my heart be as ready for God's loving correction when I don't listen to His word!

Chapter 3, verses 13-20 remind us that Lady Wisdom is the tree of life and that "Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her."

And verses 21-28 is where Solomon makes my favorite promise:

Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life;
don't for a minute lose sight of them.
They'll keep your soul alive and well,
they'll keep you fit and attractive.
You'll travel safely,
you'll neither tire nor trip.
You'll take afternoon naps without a worry,
you'll enjoy a good night's sleep.
No need to panic over alarms or surprises,
or predictions that doomsday's just around the corner,
Because God will be right there with you;
he'll keep you safe and sound.

Since I travel constantly, the promise that I will travel safely and neither tire nor trip has special meaning. It is actually funny, as this past week when I was in Mexico, I actually did take an afternoon nap after my meeting with my client. I didn't do so without worry though, as I really needed to be working on writing a business plan! So I was missing an important ingredient -- common sense told me that my body (and my spirit) were really weary and that I needed to trust that God would refresh me and inspire me, keeping me safe and sound, not only physically but in our business as well.

The last part of Chapter 3 deals with generosity, being straighforward and wise living. Yesterday in church, we were reminded that ministry begins with giving a cool cup of water to someone that is thirsty. Verses 27-28 say:

Never walk away from someone who deserves help;
your hand is God's hand for that person.
Don't tell your neighbor "Maybe some other time"
or "Try me tomorrow"
when the money's right there in your pocket.

We have been greatly blessed financially and are generally quick to write a check when there is a need expressed. I pray that I will be as quick with my hand and a cup of cool water, when that is what is needed.

I will switch to the New International Version for the end of this study:

33 The LORD's curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.

34 He mocks proud mockers
but gives grace to the humble.

35 The wise inherit honor,
but fools he holds up to shame.

Righteousness comes from making right choices. As for me and my house, we will choose to serve the Lord.

Grace is given to the humble, but thankfully the promise given to us by the death of Jesus on the cross is that grace is ours - we don't have to earn it.

Lastly, when we demonstrate wisdom, we inherit honor. I don't know anyone who would choose shame over honor.

Lord, let me hear your Word today and really listen to what you have said. May I find new rest in your guidance and act responsibly with what you have blessed us with. Be with our children today in school and continue to work in their lives -- teaching them not only about math, science and language arts, but about what is truly important in life. Seeking you and trusting you.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Chicke Fitzgerald

Monday, September 04, 2006

Proverbs 2 - Lady Wisdom and the journey of life

In Proverbs 2, verses 10 and 11, it says

"Lady Wisdom will be your close friend,
and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion.
Good Sense will scout ahead for danger,
Insight will keep an eye out for you."

If we are going on a journey, who better to accompany us than Lady Wisdom and her friends Brother Knowledge, Good Sense and Insight.

In the early part of this chapter Solomon talks about how they keep us on the right track, versus others who will try their best to detour us from this path -- traveling paths that go nowhere,
wandering in a maze of detours and dead ends.

Have you ever been on a trip without a map or a GPS system? As you travel the road you thought you knew, you find only detours and dead ends. Frustrating isn't it? Particularly if you were seeking advice and got poor directions.

This chapter is about surrounding yourself with good advisors. Listen to those that are Godly and can provide not only information, but can translate that information into wisdom. Look for those that use good sense and can provide insight into the natural things that happen in your life -- those that look to the end of the journey, not just the fun along the way.

There is always a path between two points that is the fastest and that path is generally straight, although there may be deviations that are necessary to get from point A to point B (such as going around a mountain). There are times when it is ok to take the scenic route (when there are no time pressures), and there are other times when you must just take the fastest route because time is of the essence.

There is also the issue of your skill level in how you get from one point to another. A mountain climber might elect to go over the mountain, whereas someone who didn't know how to safely repel and climb or who didn't have the right equipment (e.g. adequate oxygen) should take the longer way around.

In any event, to sum up Solomon's advice in Chapter 2:

20-22 So—join the company of good men and women,
keep your feet on the tried-and-true paths.
It's the men who walk straight who will settle this land,
the women with integrity who will last here.
The corrupt will lose their lives;
the dishonest will be gone for good.

Lord, today may I focus on Lady Wisdom and selecting people who walk straight and have integrity to follow as I made the decisions in the coming days about our business. Give me common sense and insight as I ponder my choices.

Keep your hand on the kids as they continue to pursue knowledge in school this week. Let them hunger and thirst after wisdom.

Chicke Fitzgerald
Chicke Fitzgerald

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Rainy Reflections - Our own personal miracle/breakthrough

For those that have been following my blog, you will know that our kids have been going through a bit of a transition in moving from Montessori environment to a more traditional type of school.

For Sergey, Montessori did not provide enough structure and because they combined 3, 4 and 5 year olds in kindergarten, he didn't get proper training for 1st grade. So this year, he is repeating kindergarten at his new school. Recognizing the situation was the first breakthrough and acting on it, by moving him to a new, more structured school environment has produced his own personal miracle. He is enjoying school and working hard. By the end of this year, he will be ready for the challenge of first grade and that transition will be much easier than if we had ignored the situation and just moved him up.

Kiera on the other hand, loved Montessori and excelled in the less structured environment. Unfortunately, the transition to the new school has exposed the weakness in the old environment where she was "handheld" through much of the learning process and although there are things about Montessori that encouraged independence, it did not produce the kind of discipline that she needs in the new school.

This morning before church, Kiera was having trouble studying and doing her homework. It was as if a dark cloud lay over her. At church I was talking to several people about how hard it was for her and one of our friends, Thristene, offered to pray with her.

On the way home from church, after praying for a breakthrough, Kiera was commenting on the sky (it was raining really hard when we came out) and how grey it was. I mentioned to her that behind it was blue sky, even though she couldn't see it and that it was just like with the homework -- now it seems grey, but with her hard work will come the "A" that is right behind the clouds.

I recall thinking as I said it, that I wished that the clouds would open up just a bit so that she could see the analogy, but thought it was hopeless (as I'm sure Kiera was feeling about learning math and science this week). Just then, our own personal miracle occurred. All over the sky, the clouds just broke up and bright blue sky appeared and the clouds that had been grey, turned fluffy! It was amazing!!!

God is so good. He cares about homework and 8 year old girls and loves to demonstrate His love through His creation.

So let's look at the spiritual side of this life lesson. When we try to do things under our own steam (ie. without God's help), things can look very gloomy and even downright depressing. But when we ask for His insights, he removes the veil and allows us to see clearly.

Lord, this week I ask for your clarity of vision for Kiera and Sergey in school -- that they would remember the things that they have studied and be thankful for the wisdom that you have given to them. Give Michael, Fidelia and I the patience to work with them and teach them all that you want them to know, in addition to what is required of them at school.

Continue to place your hand on our lives and on our business.

And thank you for the sunshine and the fluffy clouds.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Chicke Fitzgerald

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Proverbs 1 - Road Signs for Life

Solomon became king nearly 1000 years before the birth of Jesus. He was the son of David. He was known for his wisdom.

The first and most famous incident of his cleverness as a judge was when two women came to his court with a baby whom both women claimed as their own. Solomon threatened to split the baby in half. One woman was prepared to accept the decision, but the other begged the King to give the live baby to the other woman. Solomen then knew the second woman was the mother.

Solomon wrote Proverbs, as well as Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon.

Proverbs begins with a discussion of wisdom and it lays an important foundation:

Written down so we'll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it's going; A manual for living, for learning what's right and just and fair; To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality. There's something here also for seasoned men and women, still a thing or two for the experienced to learn— Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.

I like that he acknowledges that the young need this, but also for those of us that are a bit more "seasoned". We are fortunate that someone as wise as Solomon took time to write down these instructions for us. If we follow his guidance, we can avoid untold frustration and sorrow. Like the sign in my graphic for today, he is showing us that there will be obstacles in our lives, some even unseen to us, but no less trecherous.

This week we've been battling the homework and study challenges at home. Although our daughter is very bright, she is failing at her least favorite subjects -- math and science. To this, Proverbs says:

7 Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;
only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.

8-10 Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you;
never forget what you learned at your mother's knee.
Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair,
like rings on your fingers.

From this, I take away that we should pray without ceasing even when it comes to homework, honoring God and acknowledging that it is only through Him that we can turn learning into wisdom. Also, that we need to remind our daughter to pay attention to what we are telling her, as we've been there before. How different we would treat our parent's advice if it was like flowers in our hair or rings on our fingers!

There is a very important passage beginning with verse 10 that reminds us not to listen to our friends when they try to get us to do things that are wrong. It is easy to relate to this when we think about our children, but is much more subtle when we are adults and are swayed away from what is important by the mundane -- email, a house that needs to be cleaned, finishing up that client project even though it is the weekend.

The rest of the chapter talks about the fools that reject wisdom and learning and how bad choices have consequences. The New International version says:

29 - 31 Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD,

since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke,

they will eat the fruit of their ways

and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.

32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,

and the complacency of fools will destroy them;

But lest we think that it is all hopeless, he continues:

33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm."

So, if we follow the road signs of life and have a healthy fear of the Lord, we will be safe, at ease and without fear of harm.

In these tumultuous times, where terrorists would have us be anything but safe and at ease, it is wonderful to know that in God, we can be at peace -- and become wise!

Lord, show us your ways and help us to desire your wisdom and to be able to pass on that desire to our children.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Friday, September 01, 2006

Philippians 2-4 - What does your jail look like?

Several months ago, after a 3 month recovery period from surgery, I came back to work with a singular thought. I didn’t want to be there!

Now for some, you would just begin looking for other work -- not a problem. For me, it was my company and I couldn’t easily walk away. So I started creating my “get out of jail” plan. Now I wasn’t in a real jail and to be fair, I love my work. But I felt trapped. Trapped by having to earn enough to keep others employed, trapped by a need to “deliver” to my consulting clients on strict schedules and trapped by the sheer demands on my time.

In Philippians, Paul and Timothy are in a real jail. They are trapped by real bars and no doubt by oppressive treatment from their captors. Yet, they take the time to encourage others. Wow.

Looking back to Philippians 1:6, it says “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 finishon the very day Christ Jesus appears.” I don’t know about you, but this week I desperately needed that encouragement. I love the thought of a “flourishing finish” to the work that God has begun in my life.

I love Philippians 2. A very dear friend of mine John Stangle from my early days as a Christian used to sing a song from this chapter. It was a bit of a paraphrase, but talked about how we should think about ourselves as Christians, walking in His image.

Have that mind in you, which was in Christ Jesus
He who was in the form of God, counted it not wrong to be equal with God
But He emptied Himself, becoming a servant

I know that this sounds awfully spiritual and I’m not sure that I even got this before now. The beginning of Philippians 2 in the Message translation says:

1-4 If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand."

Boy, did I need this one this week. Can you think of someone that you need to be deep-spirited friends with? As Christians, that is what we are to be to each other.

In the end of Chapter 3, Paul likens our walk as Christians to a race and he encourages us to keep our eye on the prize. In verse 14 he says “I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.” In beckoning us to Jesus, he is beckoning us to love – to really love.

Chapter 4, versus 6-7 urge us to let go and let God manage our lives. “Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."

Then in verses 8-9, Paul says “Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies."

Sign me up for that! I love to sing and I have always loved singing harmony. I love the fact that if I put Him first in my life and do what He has called me to do, that everything – the good and the bad – will work together for good. My life will be like the most perfect harmony.

And back to being in jail – whatever your jail might look like – Paul admonishes us with his statement “I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

Lord, help me to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself in. Teach me to love.

And now, as you go into the long weekend, I admonish you with what Paul says to the Philippians in verse 23:

Receive and experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus
Christ, deep, deep within yourselves.

Chicke Fitzgerald