What’s It Worth To You?

I’m warning you from the start that this blog is thick with scripture and very little of my own commentary.  I’ve been meditating on the Apostle Paul’s words to the Philippians, specifically chapter 3, and I’m greatly challenged by his sharp focus and dogged determination to leave everything behind in order to truly know Christ. I hope this stirs you as much as it does me.  So, without context or an appropriate intro or conclusion, let’s dive in…

“…But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless.” Philippians 3:7 CEV.

The Amplified version of this same scripture, “But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as [one combined] loss for Christ’s sake.”

Paul goes on to tell us that everything in which he could put confidence or dependence upon in the flesh: “outward privileges, physical advantages and external appearances, he chose to count as rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that he might gain Christ, the Anointed One.” Phil. 3:8b AMP.

EVERYTHING was counted as loss compared to the “possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him.” Phil. 3:8a AMP.

Paul’s emphasis in this chapter is to recall the confidence we place in our own achievements, and to instead place our confidence only in the pursuit of knowing Christ. He urges us to leave everything behind, count it all as trash, in order that we may know Him, the Christ, the Anointed One.

“And that I may actually be found and known as in Him, not having any self-achieved righteousness that can be called my own, based on my own obedience, but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through FAITH in Christ…”

“[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power out flowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] that if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].” Phil. 3:9-11 AMP.

That I may actually be found in Him…That I may know Him…That I may share in his sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness…That I may perceive, recognize and understand the wonder of his Person more strongly and more clearly…wow, wow, wow.

Do you want this? Is it appealing to you to know Christ and the wonder of his Person? In the grand scheme of things, does knowing Christ really matter?

What’s it worth to you?

A Statement About Identity

As a believer in Christ, one must remember that a new identity is held by, and because of, faith in Christ Jesus.  This new identity that is accepted by faith takes the predominant place in the life of the believer; it takes the chief place, the principal place, the leading place, the primary place.  It also means that the new identity applied to the believer by faith in Christ is the foremost identity; it trumps, or outranks, the identity the person holds as male or female, white or black, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, married or single, straight or gay.

Galatians 3:28 describes the new identity in this way, “There is [now no distinction] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

This scripture is speaking to the person who is a believer in Christ and who has put faith in Christ, there is now “no distinction,” there are no borders, limits, or classifications other than Christ.  Christ becomes the brand-new identity for the believer.  And in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Now, and because of this new identity, the things that the believer seeks, wants, pursues, holds dear in this life become different than they were before believing in Christ, because now as Colossians 3:1 puts it, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.”

The believer now “sets his/her sights on the realities of heaven” and pursues and actively lives life in a brand-new way, with a brand-new focus, with a brand-new purpose.

There is in effect, a new operating system for the believer, or a new modus operandi, e.g., instead of disliking or hating others for differing opinions, or being hurt or bitter toward those who seek to exclude the believer for whatever the reason might be, we can look to the following scriptures for guidance:

1 John 4:7, “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God.”

Romans 12:18, “If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people.”

Colossians 3, “Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.”

Romans 14:13-15: “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.  I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother or sister is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.”

This last scripture is key, Paul makes a remarkable statement: “…there is nothing unclean of itself….but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.”

Wow.  This is something to consider as each one of us endeavor to live our life in truth, or in the best way, or in the freest way.  The passage goes on to say in essence, if we push our freedom in someone’s face all the time, demanding our rights and trying to persuade someone that our way is “ok” – then we step out of love and into a place of destruction.

We never want to use our freedom to hurt another brother or sister.

Romans 14:22, “You may know that there is nothing wrong with what you do, even from God’s point of view, but keep it to yourself; don’t flaunt your faith in front of others who might be hurt by it. In this situation, happy is the person who does not feel guilty when they do something they judge is right!”

At the end of the day, follow love and pursue peace with everyone.   The identity that the believer holds in Christ trumps all other identities and is the way to love in every situation.

Peace.

Love Extremist

To forgive the same person…for the 34th time.

To trust again when you’re still bleeding from the last infliction.

To give freely without keeping track.

To overlook a suffered wrong.

To make others look good, even though they don’t do it for you.

To hold secrets told to you in confidence.

To protect and cover people who “should know better.”

To be vulnerable with others even though you fear being hurt again.

To show true impression when others succeed before you.

To forgive yourself.

To appear naïve.

To never give up; to never stop believing; to always show up.

LOVE TO THE EXTREME.

Restoration

My partner, Marsha, owns a painting and wallpapering company in Tulsa.  For over 20 years she has fielded calls and emails that ask her to “restore” the old to make it new.  Whether it’s just a fresh coat of paint or new drywall, she approaches each request with personal attention to the individual and to the process.  And the restoration process almost always begins with needed repairs to the existing condition.  Sometimes she fixes cracks in the wall, or sands down areas that needed to be painted over.  She can never make anything look new without first fixing the old.  If she did, it would fall apart and, over time, look exactly like it did when she started.

The same is true in our relationship with God.  Many of us have wandered away, did our own thing, and in doing so we might not have done the necessary maintenance on our spiritual lives to keep it in good shape.  The good news is that with one call, God will come in and personalize your restoration based on what you need.  But don’t think for a minute that He’s going to come in and make things like they used to be.  Oh no!  He cares for you much more than that.  He knows that doing so would lead to cracks in the relationship and He doesn’t want that!  Instead, He’ll come in and fix the cracks; sand down the areas that need smoothed; soften your heart, and wrap you in His arms.  Whatever you need before that fresh coat of paint.

And just like Marsha’s clients must be ready for the restoration before contacting her, you will know you’re ready when you cry out to God.  He’s waiting for your call.

“Croutons!” An Evening Meditation

Nobody wants stale bread unless it’s a crouton!  People are made to be hungry every single day and I always say, “Healthy people are hungry people.”  It’s true!  We are hungry physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually and not just once per day, but multiple times per day we reach for substance to fill us up.  And yesterday’s bread just won’t satisfy!

Jesus prayed a famous prayer that contains these words, “Give us this day, our daily bread…” (Matt 6:11).  And in Matthew 4:4, Jesus said, “People do not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.”

Jesus is the ultimate Word that proceeded out of the mouth of God.  John 6:63 says, “The Spirit alone gives eternal life.  Human effort accomplishes nothing.  And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

The words of God are important to our daily life.  Without God’s Spirit-Words quickening our spirits and bodies, we are simply existing and not really living.

As the day comes to a close and the evening begins, what are you hungry for?  How will you fill the healthy hunger in your spirit, soul and body? Choose fresh bread and don’t settle for the croutons.