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Bloom Where You Are [9-3-23]


September 3, 2023

Philippians 4:4-9

“Bloom Where You Are”


Here’s a paraphrase from a devotional I read from August 9, 2021. It was posted under #christianliving:

Far down a quiet desert road, away from the people crowding Bryce and Zion in Utah, we pulled over and got out. Beneath us was parched ground, above us a vicious sky, before us a towering cactus. And there…there before the sharp thorns, we gazed at the bright beauty of gentle, precious flowers. We saw flowers in the desert that told of the might of their Maker.

  • Show Picture {Desert Flower in Utah}

God has created this world in such a way that there is some kind of flower that blooms in almost every kind of condition. We are never far from displays of His beauty…And just as God suits flowers to every climate, He suits Christians to every circumstance. No matter what unfolds around us and no matter what is done to us, we are able to bloom for Him – to display the truest love, the greatest gentleness, the highest reaches of

Christian character.

Like flowers in a botanical garden…we bloom in times of tender care and great ease. When all is well, we display the goodness and glory of our God.

Like flowers in the desert, we bloom when it seems we have been abandoned. Even when circumstances are as sore as we can imagine, even when it seems like we are being deprived of the very stuff of life, even when our very souls feel dry and barren, we continue to serve and to worship.

Like flowers on a mountaintop, we bloom in circumstances where it seems like the conditions must surely be too harsh. Far beyond the point where it seems that spiritual life should be sustainable, far beyond the point where hearts break and faith fails, we survive and even thrive.


Listen to Philippians 4:4-9:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.


Let’s now finish the devotional:

Like flowers along the edge of a landfill, we bloom even when surrounded by the muck and mire of the world. Just as a flower can remain bright and unsullied by the mess around it, we can remain unstained by the anger, clamor, and filth of a depraved world. Though we may be growing in a landfill, we are never of that landfill.

Like flowers on the edge of a volcano, we bloom amidst the heat of the most fiery trials. With eruptions of persecution exploding around us, with the hot lava of reviling flowing beside us, still we think God’s thoughts, still we speak God’s words, still we act as god’s emissaries. Still we are faithful

and true to Him.

God has created flowers for the forests and the jungles, the mountaintops and wetlands, the plains and deserts, the peaks and valleys. Everywhere they declare His glory. And just so, God has saved His people to display His glory and sing His praises in every time, every trial, every situation, every circumstance. No matter our surroundings, no matter our context, no matter our joys or sorrows, we must, and by grace we can, bloom for Him.

-Tim Challies


All of this grows out of what Paul writes in verse 6:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Do not worry…do not be anxious…do not fear. Who walked into worship this morning worried about something? Anxious? Fearful? Paul’s command is to not let those things overwhelm or overtake your life. And Paul is simply expanding essential teachings from Jesus:

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

  • Luke 12:32

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

  • Matthew 6:25-34


So, here’s a little thought experiment. Imagine you will not worry about anything for the rest of your life. Think about it. When you wake up in the morning, no worries. When you drift off to sleep at night, no worries. Would this be hard or easy for you?


What was Jesus saying in Matthew and Luke? What did Paul build on from Matthew and Luke? Don’t worry…don’t be afraid…don’t be anxious. God is sovereign. God has taken care of everything. So work on…it is work…so work on not being afraid.


We know, life has it’s ups and downs. It is fraught with dangers, toils, and snares. But these facts are no excuse for not taking Jesus at his word. Do not fear. Do not worry. We know how the story ends. We know who is in charge. So lift up your heads. Rejoice always. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything.

Here’s something you might want to write down:

WORRYING IS DIRECTLY OPPOSED TO TRUSTING IN GOD.


So let’s go back to our exercise in imagination. We know we probably won’t ever be worry-free 100% of the time. We’re fallen people living in a fallen world. But that doesn’t mean we should not press on toward the goal. As Paul said in Philippians 3:12-15:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way.

Reality will never completely yield to the ideal, but if we are committed to pressing on, reality will pale in comparison to the ideal.


As Paul says in verses eight through nine, turn your worries over to God.

Pray. Don’t be anxious. Pray. Do not be afraid. Pray. Turn it all over to

God. Lose the arrogance. That’s what worry, fear, anxiety are, after all. You think you can fix something. You think your worry or fear are going to solve your problems or bring your problems to resolution. Au Contraire, Mon Frere.


With thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Did you catch what word comes before making your requests known to God? Thanksgiving. But doesn’t it make more sense to wait to be thankful until after I see the results? God is always working His sovereign will in your life. God works all things together for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. So you absolutely give thanks before praying. Trust God. He’ll take care of it. God has got you covered.


Finally, as Paul writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”


There is a constant battle going on in your mind. What will you think

about? Will you dwell on your problems and your trials and your worries and your disappointments and your cares and the things that hurt you and cause you pain, or will your thoughts be occupied by the love and grace and mercy and forgiveness and promises of God? Which is it going to be? That’s the battle. How are you going to train your mind?


Here’s something else to write down:

GOD WANTS HIS CHILDREN REJOICING.

God wants us in His grace, rejoicing in all things. No matter what we experience or go through in life, God wants us to rejoice. And He wants our lives to reflect where our hearts and minds are. When you are in a state of worry or fear, are you projecting where God wants you to be? Are you living out of where God wants you to be? Then keep your mind on whatever is honorable and just and pure and lovely and commendable and praiseworthy. Let those thoughts push fear and worry out of your life. Dwell on the positive, helpful, affirming things of life.


Let’s close with a simple story.


A young boy was out playing in his yard when the next door neighbor

pulled into his driveway with a brand new pickup truck. Admiring the truck, the boy asked the man where it came from. The man said that his brother bought if for him. The boy thought for a moment and then said, “You know, someday I want…” {the man was certain the boy was going to say he wanted a brother like that} but he said, “You know, someday I want to be a brother like that.”


“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”


God says stop worrying. Do not be afraid. Stop thinking you’re going to fix everything. Just be God’s beloved child. Rejoice. Enjoy God’s grace. Play in the splendor of God’s creation. Simply turn all your worries and cares over to God. And while He’s working out His perfect will for your life, keep on rejoicing and dwelling on the things that are true, honorable, right, lovely, pure, excellent, praiseworthy. Let your thoughts drift to those things.


Let’s Pray:

HEAVENLY FATHER, HELP US TO REST IN YOU. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS THIS WEEK, HELP US TO REJOICE IN YOU ALWAYS. YOU ARE A GREAT AND WONDERFUL GOD. WE REST COMPLETELY AND FULLY IN JESUS’ PERFECT NAME. AMEN.










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