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Session 9 - 1 Peter 5:8-9 - Alert Living - Day 3

Posted on October 25, 2016 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Session 9 - 1 Peter 5:8-9 – Alert Living – Day 3

 

1 Peter 5:8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 9 Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.

 

Although we can rest in God’s sovereign care, we must not become complacent. We must be vigilant and diligent in spiritual warfare. It seems we keep circling back to the armor of the Lord (Ephesians 6:10-20), but every Christian must remember that we are not only God’s children and precious jewels, but as long as we remain on planet earth, we are His spiritual army fighting battles against Satan. In order to successfully combat temptation and live victoriously as believers, we must abide continually in Jesus and His word.

 

Struggles against sin and suffering for the faith are not unique to me. They are experienced by Christians everywhere, just check out www.persecution.com for examples of other believers facing persecution. Our difficulties are not really directed at us but are aimed at God, Satan’s attempt to get to the Lord by being aggressive and harmful to His children. If Satan can keep us discouraged, defeated, and despondent, we are less effective in our witness for Christ. However, Satan is a frustrated foe, knowing that he cannot keep us from entering the kingdom of Heaven. So, he tries to prevent us from living effectively in order to harm our witness to others who are still in his camp. We must not allow him to do this! We must dig our heels in and stand firm in the assurance that God is with us and that ultimately God wins, and thus, so do we!

 

Chew on this: We are to be as vigilant as a soldier on guard duty. We guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus by bathing ourselves in prayer and soaking in the word of God. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to thy word.” Psalm 119:9 (KJV)

 

Session 8 - 1 Peter 4:19 - When Ridiculed - Day 5

Posted on October 17, 2016 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Session 8 – 1 Peter 4:19 – When Ridiculed – Day 5

 

1 Peter 4:19 So those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.

 

It is hard to take – my suffering may very well be God’s will for me at that time. I believe it and accept it because the word says it, but I do not pretend to always understand. Many times we cannot understand what God is doing until we are looking back. I love the allegory “The Horse and His Boy” by C.S. Lewis. In it the boy questions the great lion Aslan (who represents Jesus) as to why he was roaring and nipping at his horse as he fled along a mountain road. Aslan takes the boy back to the place and shows him that had he not scared the horse back onto the path, they both would have plunged down a cliff to their destruction.

 

God may be using suffering to move us along the path to His purpose or to prevent us from a destructive choice. He may be forcing us to learn to trust Him more, to fully rely on God.

 

We are reminded of the wisdom of the Proverbs:

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 (HCSB) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; 6 think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.

 

Chew on This: My friend, Melissa, decorated her special needs Sunday School room with frogs. I thought that a weird choice until she explained the acronym:

 

Fully

Rely

On

God

 

We can trust our Creator-Sustainer completely with every aspect of our well-being.

 

Session 8 - 1 Peter 4:17 - When Ridiculed - Day 3

Posted on October 17, 2016 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Session 8 - 1 Peter 4:17 – When Ridiculed – Day 3

 

1 Peter 4:17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?

 

God judges the church, not in the sense of pronouncing judgement but with the end result of purging, purifying, and perfecting His people. Jesus judges the church, His bride, out of love in order to present her pure and blameless.

 

Ephesians 5:27 (KJV) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

 

God also treats us as His beloved children.

 

Hebrews 12:6-7 (VOICE) For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He corrects each one He takes as His own. 7 Endure hardship as God’s discipline and rejoice that He is treating you as His children, for what child doesn’t experience discipline from a parent?

 

If we, God’s chosen children, endure hardship and judgement, what must be the result for those who do not trust in Jesus, those who never believe? Into the lake of fire, with their father Satan, they go. They are judged guilty of rejecting the gospel and endure suffering eternally. God did not do this TO them. They chose to reject His Son and His message; and in so doing, they rejected God the Father.

 

Question: Are you enduring the painful process of being refined by fire or having the Father chisel away that which is not honoring to Him, and therefore, not best for you? It is better to be saved and go through the process of sanctification – being molded into the image of Christ – now than to suffer eternal punishment for rejecting Jesus. Give thanks for the lessons the Lord teaches even when they are difficult to learn.

 

Session 8 - 1 Peter 4:15-16 - When Ridiculed - Day 2

Posted on October 17, 2016 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Session 8 - 1 Peter 4:15-16 – When Ridiculed – Day 2

 

1 Peter 4:15 None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a meddler. 16 But if anyone suffers as a “Christian,” he should not be ashamed but should glorify God in having that name.

 

No Christian should be suffering the consequences of wrong-doing because we should not be engaging in such abhorrent behaviors. A Christian may already be suffering the consequences of his choices before he knew the Lord but should cease from things that deserve such penalties once the Holy Spirit has entered her. Most of us will not commit murder, steal, or participate in gross evil. However, we had to look up that word “meddler.” Another definition was “busy-body.”

 

John MacArthur Study Bible:

4:15 busybody in other people’s matters. Someone who intrudes into matters that belong to someone else. Peter is dealing with matters that would lead to persecution, such as getting involved in revolutionary, disruptive activity, or interfering in the function and flow of government. It might also refer to being a troublesome meddler in the workplace. As a general rule, a Christian living in a non-Christian culture is to do his work faithfully, exalt Jesus Christ, and live a virtuous life, rather than try to overturn or disrupt his culture (2:13–16; cf. 1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:11; see notes on 1 Tim. 2:1–3).

 

We, as believers, do need to be a positive force for change. However, we must be careful to voice our concerns without being disruptive or resorting to ungodly tactics.

 

If a person suffers persecution or ridicule because they are following Jesus, he should feel blessed rather than ashamed. Jesus was mocked and taunted after His arrest. We should not be embarrassed to suffer as He did. I (Susan) was teased and tormented in high school for trusting Jesus and feeling called to attend Oral Roberts University. At the time, I didn’t know how to count the suffering as a privilege and an honor. I just couldn’t understand the value or the reason for the pain. However, the struggles made me stronger. We need to pray to be able to have the attitude of the apostles:

 

Acts 5:41 (KJV) And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

 

Question: Are you being treated unjustly because you take a stand for the Lord? You can trust that He is perfecting the image of Christ in you. Give Him praise and glory even in the middle of your trials. Easy to say and hard to do, but it will be a testimony and encouragement to all who are watching.

 

Session 8 - 1 Peter 4:12-14 - When Ridiculed - Day 1 - Christian Suffering

Posted on October 16, 2016 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Session 8 - 1 Peter 4:12-14 – When Ridiculed – Day 1

 

Christian Suffering

 

1 Peter 4:12 (HCSB) Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you.

 

The fiery ordeal is not burning to destruction: it is burning to purification. In fact, one of the ways Strong’s defines the Greek word used here is “smelting,” as in a refiner’s fire.

 

Malachi 3:3 (KJV) And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.


Trials serve to strengthen our faith and to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). How does the silversmith know when the silver is pure while heating it over the fire? He knows all the impurities are gone when he can see His own reflection in the liquefied silver. Jesus tempers us through trials until we look more and more like Him, so that others see the image of Jesus when they look at us. We reflect our Maker as we become more and more like Him.

 

Sometimes we feel like we are the only ones who suffer. The Enemy wants to make us feel that we are totally alone, abandoned by the Lord. But we are not, because Jesus is right there with us.

 

Psalm 23:4 (CJB) Even if I pass through death-dark ravines, I will fear no disaster; for you are with me; your rod and staff reassure me.

 

Jesus did not promise believers freedom from strife and problems. In fact, He said quite the opposite:

 

John 16:33 (KJV) These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

 

1 Peter 4:13 Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. 14 If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

 

What should be the Christian’s response to trials, to being tested in the Refiner’s fire? Our response should be rejoicing, living the reality that we are clothed in God’s glory when we do so. Rejoicing even while we are in the middle of the trial? Yes. It’s an incredibly difficult principle to live by and can only be done in the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

The word goes on to say we will rejoice at the revelation of His glory, as in when He returns in power and splendor. When Jesus presents us as His spotless bride, His perfected, polished, precious jewel, in our glorified bodies, our earthly sufferings will pale in comparison.

 

Romans 8:18 (NIV) I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

 

We are blessed when people degrade us because of our faith in Jesus. It certainly may not feel like a blessing at the time, but I believe the Scripture more than I believe my finite, human emotions in the moment. Peter was writing to the persecuted church exactly what he had been taught by Jesus Himself.

 

Matthew 5:10-12 (KJV) Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

 

Remember that the Apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote the following words:

 

Philippians 4:4 (KJV) Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

 

Question: Do you feel like you are suffering unjustly because you choose to follow Jesus? Are you able to rejoice even when things are tough? Trusting God in the middle of trials is not easy, but it is worth it. The capacity to do so is in us since we have been made new by Jesus, and His Holy Spirit resides in us.

 

"Joy is a pursuit and a conviction, not an elusive emotion."

 

Rev. Susan Slade

Precious Jewels Ministries

 

Session 7 - 1 Peter 4:1-2 - Equipped to Live - Day 1

Posted on October 9, 2016 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Session 7 – 1 Peter 4:1-2 – Equipped to Live – Day 1

 

1 Peter 4:1 (HCSB) Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve—because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin— 2 in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will.

 

Therefore – in other words, because Jesus conquered death and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father with unlimited power, we are equipped to serve Him. If you are a believer who has trusted in the fact that Jesus suffered physical death on the cross on your behalf to destroy sin, that sin no longer has ruling power over you. In the limitation of His earthly body, Jesus endured beatings, humiliation, and death. In His spirit, He suffered the weight of sin heaped upon Himself, the sinless final sacrificial Lamb.

 

How do we “equip ourselves?” First of all, salvation. Then we immerse ourselves in the word of God and prayer. More specifically, each day we don the “armor of God.”

 

Ephesians 6:10-18 (HCSB) Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore,

 

with truth like a belt around your waist,

righteousness like armor on your chest,

15 and your feet sandaled with readiness

for the gospel of peace.

16 In every situation take the shield of faith,

and with it you will be able to extinguish

all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

17 Take the helmet of salvation,

and the sword of the Spirit,

which is God’s word.

18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

 

We must pray within the will of God, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, not out of our human desires alone. Our prayers need to be within the boundaries of His divine insight and perspective. This is what is meant by praying “in Jesus’ name.”

 

What does Peter mean by saying the one who has suffered is “finished with sin?” Through His death on the cross, Jesus paid the ransom that humanity could not pay to deliver us from our sin nature. We are now free to say no to temptation and yes to God’s will and ways. That does not mean we always consistently exercise that freedom. In other words, we are not “sinless.” The Father sees us as we will be in Heaven – sinless because of Christ. That is our position, but our current condition is still a daily surrendering our own desires to what God desires for us.

 

Challenge: Begin each day this week by asking God to help you decide throughout the day to follow His way rather than your own. Be conscious throughout each day of the small decisions you make between what you want to do and what is best for you according to the word and the Holy Spirit within you.

 

Session 6 - 1 Peter 3:17-18 - Always Ready - Day 3

Posted on October 4, 2016 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Session 6 – 1 Peter 3:17-18 – Always Ready – Day 3

Fire Refines

 

1 Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

 

It is logical that one would suffer when they do wrong, but many times Christians are persecuted when they have harmed no one. How can that be God’s will? What is good enough for the Master is good enough for the bond-servants. The Father did not spare His Son; so, therefore we can expect to suffer trials as well.

 

Acts 5:41 (NASB)So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

 

Romans 8:18 (NASB) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

 

James 1:2-4 (NASB)

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

We live in a fallen world, so those who follow Jesus will be persecuted as we stand out from those who do not. However, God uses our suffering to make us more like Jesus and stronger in our faith. Every time we suffer for the name of Jesus, we are being tempered as gold or cut and polished as a precious jewel. The fire burns, and the chisel wounds, but ultimately we are made more like Jesus and, therefore, made beautiful. When we suffer for doing good, we are not alone, for the Lord is right there with us, His Holy Spirit encouraging us from within.

 

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.

 

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is all that is needed to reconcile man to God, to pay for our sins. No further sacrifice is needed as He was the final, perfect Lamb of God. He was not only “good” but was perfect!

 

Hebrews 9:12 (NASB) …and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

 

Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, He extinguished the power of death in the flesh. He vitalized, energized, and infused the realm of the Spirit in those who believe.

 

Romans 8:11 (NASB) But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

 

Ephesians 2:4-5 (NASB) But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…

 

Chew on this: The apostles thought it a privilege and honor to suffer due to their faith in Jesus. James said to count trials as joy. Wow. To live that way is a conscious, deliberate choice. Seeing things from God’s perspective rather than our limited earthly view is something we must purpose in our hearts to do.

 

Session 6 - 1 Peter 3:13-14 - Always Ready - Day 1

Posted on October 2, 2016 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Session 6 – 1 Peter 3:13-14 – Always Ready – Day 1

 

Fear Not But Prepare Now

 

1 Peter 3:13 (HCSB) And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed…

 

Is Peter saying that as long as we live and act righteously, no harm will come to us? I wish, but no. The only guarantee in this life is Jesus. If we accept God’s gift of salvation, we are secure in Him. And we will suffer because our Master suffered, and we are not greater than Him. I suppose we are less likely to be harmed by authorities if we are doing good, but the fact is that some in authority are evil and persecute those who live for Jesus as you know if you are a student of Scriptures, history, and current events about the treatment of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. Do we need to fear those who might harm us? Not according to Scripture:

 

Psalm 56:4 (KJV) In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

 

Luke 12:4-5 (KJV) And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.

 

If I am martyred, killed, for my faith, then what? The enemy has inadvertently caused you to be ushered into the arms of Jesus. You will take up the position reserved for you in heavenly places.

 

Ephesians 2:5-7 (NASB) …even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 

At that point, no harm can come to you ever again!

 

Peter tells us we are blessed, happy, when we suffer in the name of Jesus. These believers were being persecuted, and Peter himself would eventually be martyred. So, he was not speaking hypothetically! Peter had a difficult assignment, to write (preach) to these people and motivate them to keep living according to God’s will and ways. I believe we will find ourselves in a similar place sooner rather than later! But Peter urges them and us not to be afraid. I hope that in the midst of persecution, we stay the course and finish well. We can and we will by the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Matthew 5:10-12 (KJV) Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

 

Challenge: Is there any way to prepare for persecution? So glad you asked. Study the word daily, intently, thoroughly. Hide God’s word in your heart, so that if all Bibles are confiscated, you will have internalized it. Live each day in the light of His presence now! There is no way to “cram” for the day persecution visits us.

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 17 - Lesson 3

Posted on July 17, 2016 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

In This World, Not Of It


John 17:11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

 

As Jesus prays prophetically, “Now I am no longer in the world, and I come to You…,” He sees His earthly mission as being accomplished. He has reflected and exalted the Father and revealed Him to His disciples so they believe His word. Jesus asks the Father to keep His disciples eternally secure by the power of His name. We do not earn salvation, nor do we have the power to keep ourselves “saved.” The Father holds us firmly in His grasp and will not let us go (John 10:29). The key to immeasurable joy is to live intimately connected with the source of all joy. It’s Jesus’ personal joy to give us oneness/ecstasy with the trinity. Jesus desires His church to be one with Him in an unbreakable unity as exists between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

John 17:12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

 

Again Jesus spoke prophetically, for as we will see in John chapter 18, Jesus made sure that only He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. He guarded His disciples physically and spiritually. Only one soul was lost, Judas Iscariot, who did not believe and repent. Judas could have had the same forgiveness as the thief on the cross if he would have come to Jesus in repentance and asked for it. As Jesus protected the disciples, the Father continues to keep us in His care while Jesus intercedes on our behalf.


John 17:13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

 

Jesus demonstrated faith that the Father would give Him the power to overcome. Jesus trusts His Father’s plan is best even though it is difficult in His humanity. Difficult may be an understatement. Stay with us through the rest of the story to see why I say that. He knows He is soon to be back in the Father’s presence. He has prayed for the unity of His disciples, that they will experience oneness with the Trinity and with each other. Being intertwined with God will bring them fullness of joy for as Susan said earlier, He is the source of joy.

 

John 17:14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

 

We grow in our new life with Christ through reading the Bible. His word centers us so we are not like the world seeming to be a roller coaster or yo-yo (up and down). The word of God targets our thinking and renews our minds to think like He thinks. Jesus’ words gave the disciples strength and sustained them through persecutions. However, it was their trust and adherence to Jesus’ teachings that placed them in the position of being persecuted, hated by the world. Even so, by the power of the Holy Spirit within them, they were able to stand firm after some initial fear when Christ was arrested and crucified. The world hates Christians because Christians’ values differ from those of the world. Since Christ’s followers don’t cooperate with the world by joining in their sin, they are living accusations against the world’s immorality.

 

Q – Have you ever just wanted the Lord to take you right out of this world and into His presence? I remember when my dad was dying of cancer, one night after a particularly bad bout of pain, he turned to me and said, “Beam me up, Scotty.” I told him he could beam up any time he was ready, but he wisely replied, “You can’t beam up until the Captain gives the order.” Our Captain is God the Father and until He calls you home, He has left you here for a purpose. There will be trials and even persecution in this world, but Jesus prayed for the Father to sustain us while we are serving Him here. We all desire to go Home to be with our Lord, but He calls us to minister here for now. Study the word to be encouraged and pray to the Lord to strengthen you to face each new day.

 

Philippians Chapter 3 - Lesson 1

Posted on February 11, 2016 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Philippians 3:1(NIV) Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.

 

Where does your joy emanate from? The Lord! The fact that God has adopted us into His forever family gives us the ability to rejoice regardless of outward circumstances. Paul's own situation is proof positive of this fact since he was writing this letter from prison!

 

Paul had given them previous instruction on dealing with their opponents, those who espouse false teaching, but he says it is no trouble to reiterate those truths. He does not want them to fall prey to Judaizers and other false teachers.

 

Jews often refered to Gentiles, who they thought beneath them, as dogs. Dogs in those days were not housepets or handbag poodles. They were mangy mutts who roamed the streets scavanging for food among the garbage. Even Jesus, when dealing with the canaanite woman, said it was wrong to throw the children's bread to dogs. She replied that even the dogs were able to eat the crumbs that fell from the master's table. She was acknowledging that Jesus was LORD. (read Matthew 15:21-2) In this case, Paul is referring to the Jewish teachers who would require Gentile believers to adhere to every tenet of the Law, including circumcision, in order to be saved, as dogs and evil doers. Salvation is by grace alone and requires no such thing. This is why he refers to them as "mutilators of the flesh." Circumcision would serve no true spiritual purpose for the Gentile believers and therefore would only be a mutilation.

 

We are not saved by any type of works or obedience to the Law of Moses. We are saved by faith through the grace of God. (Ephesians 2:8-9) However, the evidence of our inward change will be outward works.

 

Q - Should we require new converts to totally "clean up their act" before being accepted in the congregation? Did Jesus tell the father of the demon possessed boy to go give him a bath and make him behave before casting the demon out? (Matthew 17:14-21)

 

Philippians 3:3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

 

Those whose hearts have been circumcised, cut around, by Christ are the true believers. Jesus removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19-20). Jesus cuts into our hearts in order to sew Himself into us so we can be one with Him. Jesus wants us to like Him and the Father, that we may be one as He and the Father are One. (John 17:21-23)

 

Philippians 3:4b If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

 

Paul states that we cannot depend upon the works of our flesh, our good deeds, our obedience to the Law to earn our salvation. Then he makes the case that really great in the eyes of man is not good enough at all by presenting his own pedigree. Paul was a circumcised Jew from the same family line as the first king of Israel, Saul. He was a Pharisee, a group well known for adhering to the letter of the Law but not necessarily the heart of it (See Matthew 23:23). He was such a zeolous Jew that he persecuted the Christians before he became one! He would be found blameless as far as his obedience to the Law.

 

Q - Even if we could compare in greatness to the Apostle Paul would that be enough good works to get us a ticket into Heaven?

 

Philippians 3:7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

 

Q - What do you count as loss, as garbage, compared to knowing Jesus?

 

Paul says that he considers all these worthy deeds as refuse, actually cowpatties, dung, or as we would say in my house, poo-poo. What we consider to be greatness means absolutely nothing! Paul counts all this loss compared to the extravagant, superlative, insurmountable value of knowing Christ. Paul realized he could never be righteous enough in his own efforts to merit salvation. We only enter into the presence of the Almighty, All-knowing, All-powerful Lord of the universe because He extends grace to us and enables us to believe on the Lord Jesus by faith.

 

Q - Is there something that you believe makes you "worthy" of Salvation?

 

Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

 

Paul wants to know Jesus intimately, tapping into His power, almost as if they are moving as one heart. And they are by the Holy Spirit. Paul wanted to understand Jesus from all facets of His life, the good and the bad. That is the only way you truly know a person is to take not only their best, but the good, the bad, the ugly, and the unmentionable as well. Paul is willing to suffer because of his affiliation with Christ. He wants to be intertwined with Jesus to the point of following Him in death. Paul knows that if his body dies, he WILL be resurrected, but he wants to get to that point triumphantly, standing firm in the Lord all the way. It does not matter to Paul HOW the Lord gets him to the point of resurrection, just that He does.

 

APPLY THIS TO YOUR LIFE:

 

1. When new believers join the church do not expect them to instantly change what may be seen as offensive behaviors. Pray for the Lord to change them inside out. Offer to spend time discipling them and let the Word of God do the convicting.

 

2. Our good works will never earn us a place in Heaven. Only trust in Jesus can get us there. Be sure you are not measuring yourself compared to others instead of compared to the perfect life lived by our Lord.

 

3. In a study on Philippians taught by my former singles' minister, we were handed a single sheet of toilet paper. He read us the passage about counting it all as dung and said, "Whatever you might think is good enough, whatever achievement you are most proud of in your life, write it on this toilet paper and place it on this page of the Bible to remind you that it is dung compared to knowing Jesus." My (Susie's) paper with "intellect" written on it is still there. I challenge you do to the same.

 

4. Are you willing to identify with Jesus, not only in His power, but in His suffering? Pray the Lord would work this intimacy with Him into your life.