STAND FIRM

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1

“Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm then in the Lord, my beloved.” (Philippians 4:1)

Paul had a special place in his heart for the Philippians. He prayed regularly for them — “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (1:3,4). Paul was a role model for the Philippians — “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (v. 17). He had reminded the Philippians about their true citizenship — “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 20). He also told them about the power of Christ — “who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself” (v. 21).

Paul was preparing the Philippians for the battles they would face in this world. Therefore he wrote these words — “Stand firm then in the Lord, my beloved.” Paul loved these people. Look how he addressed them — “my brothers,” “whom I love and long for,” “my joy and crown,” ” my beloved.” Because he loved them so much, he wanted them to know that life in this fallen world is filled with temptations, disappointments, difficulties, and suffering. So, he wrote to them — “Stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.”

We must realize that we too will face times of uncertainty and disappointment. We must be prepared for the battles we will face. We must stand firm in the Lord no matter what comes our way. Remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is omnipotent! He is our fortress and our refuge.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

Lord Jesus, I know that I will face temptations and spiritual battles this day. Let me stand firm in You. I know that You are all powerful. You are with me and You will defend me and give me strength to face whatever comes my way this day.

Standard

THE OMNIPOTENCE OF CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20,21)

What enables Jesus Christ to transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body? The answer is — “by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” Jesus Christ is omnipotent,that is, all powerful. His power enables Him to subject ALL THINGS to Himself. Nothing is more powerful than the power of Jesus.

It was the power of Christ that brought about creation — “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). It is the power of Christ that holds all things together in the universe — “And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

It is the power of Christ that has disarmed Satan and his evil forces — “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him” (Colossians 2:15). It is the power of Christ that will defeat all the enemies of Christ, including the last enemy, death — “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (I Corinthians 15:25,26).

Let us never underestimate the power of Jesus Christ. His power is available to us, especially in our weakness — “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9). When we are weak, He is strong. He comes to our aid. We have nothing to fear for the all powerful Lord Jesus Christ is with us always.

Lord Jesus, omnipotent God, how comforting to know that You are all powerful. Nothing and no one can stand up against Your power. You subject all things to Yourself. I have nothing to fear, for You are with me. You will protect me, defend me, and deliver me. I rest in Your all powerful hands.

Standard

TRANSFORMED BODIES

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20,21)

Paul is referring to our glorification in this passage. Glorification is the future tense of salvation. It occurs when Jesus returns to earth again. At that time there will be a resurrection of the bodies of those who have already died. Their resurrected bodies will be reunited with their eternal souls. Paul describes these resurrected bodies in I Corinthians 15 — “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body” (I Corinthians 15:42-44).

But, what will happen to those who are still alive when Christ returns? The answer is found in our passage — “(Christ) will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” When Jesus returns, He will transform our earthly bodies and make them like His glorious body — “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (I Corinthians 15:51,52).

We will live forever as citizens of the new heavens and new earth, the new Jerusalem. We will have bodies that are healthy and that will not age or experience any form of suffering and pain. We will have physical bodies and we will live on the new physical earth. “Death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Our true citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a glorious future in store for us! Thus, we eagerly await the return of our Savior.

Lord Jesus, thank You for the hope that we have. I know that I am destined for glory. One day I will see You face to face. I will be given a body like Yours and live in the new heavens and new earth with You throughout all eternity. I eagerly await Your return!

Standard

HEAVENLY CITIZENSHIP

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20,21)

We must remember where our true citizenship is — “But our citizenship is in heaven.” We must not forget that we are but sojourners and exiles on this earth — “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (I Peter 2:11). Our time on earth is limited. We are destined for an eternal home with the Lord.

As long as we are on this earth, we are in hostile territory. We have three powerful enemies — the world, the flesh and the devil. On this earth we will face spiritual battles. We must always be alert and resist the temptations that will come upon us. We must be prepared for battle. We will also face disappointments, difficulties and suffering while we are here.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is from the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions — is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:15-17). We must remember that this world is passing away. We must not get too comfortable in it.

I confess that I do get too comfortable at times here. I forget that I am but a sojourner and exile on this earth. My days a limited here. There is nothing wrong with enjoying life on this earth, as long as we remember that God has something far greater in store for us. We should eagerly away the return of our Savior, for He shall usher in new heavens and a new earth where our eternal citizenship is.

Lord Jesus, I long for the day when You return and usher in the new heavens and new earth. You have so much in store for me, things I cannot begin to imagine. I am grateful for my citizenship in this country, but let me keep in mind that it is temporary. My true citizenship is in heaven where I will spend eternity with You. Don’t let me get too comfortable here. Enable me to fight the spiritual battles that come my way. I know that I am in hostile territory. But I also know that I am more than a conqueror through You.

Standard

ROLE MODELS

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:17-19

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Philippians 3:17,18)

We all have people we admire, people we want to be like. They become our role models. We need role models, but we must be careful that we choose the right ones, those who will encourage us in our spiritual development and not hinder us.

Paul was a role model to the Philippians. He said to them, “Brothers, join in imitating me.” He did not say this in some prideful way. He had a realistic view of himself and he wasn’t afraid to tell others about it. He knew he was a sinner saved by grace. He admitted his failures but quickly reminded people about God’s grace. Remember some of the things he said about himself — “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (I Timothy 1:15). On another occasion he called himself “the least of all the apostles” (I Corinthians 15:9). This was not some kind of false humility; he really believed these things about himself. Yet, he knew that Jesus loved him and died for him.

Paul understood that the gospel both humbles us on the one hand but gives us great value on the other hand. He knew that he was loved and accepted by God because of Jesus’ work on his behalf. Therefore, Paul lived out his brokenness and was able to grant grace to others. This is gospel living. We need role models who are living out the gospel.

Unfortunately many people have chosen the wrong role models — those that don’t reflect the character and teachings of Jesus. We must be careful to choose the kind of people we want to be like. We need role models like Paul who lived out his faith before others.

One other thought is worth mentioning. We need to be careful that we are good role models ourselves. What kind of example are we setting? Can we say with Paul, “Join in imitating me and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us?”

Lord Jesus, I am so thankful for the role models that I have had over the years. You have always given me men that I respect, men that I want to imitate. I pray that I will be a good role model to my children, grandchildren and others. Enable me to live out the gospel before them in such a way that I can say to them, “join in imitating me.”

Standard

SINGLENESS OF MIND

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:12-16

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13,14)

Paul had singleness of mind — “But ONE THING I do.” His goal was to become more like Christ. It was the driving force of his life, the single most important thing to him. He constantly kept his goal before him. He was clear about what he wanted to achieve.

In order to achieve his goal, Paul knew he had to forget certain things. He had to develop a discriminate forgetfulness of the past. It had to be discriminate because there were certain things that he must never forget. He could not forget his experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus. He could not forget the Lord’s grace and mercy that had been lavished upon him. He could not forget Christ’s love and faithfulness. And he could not forget what he had learned throughout the years about suffering, pain and sorrow.

But there were things that Paul needed to let go of. He did not need to dwell on his past failures. He needed to learn from them, but he did not need to let them hinder him from moving forward. He also needed to let go of some of his past successes. Failing to do so could cause him to be satisfied with his accomplishments and not push forward to greater achievements. He needed to forget his past sins. He was a forgiven man. He had to let go of any guilt because he had been abundantly pardoned of all his sins.

Once he had forgotten these things, Paul could press on toward accomplishing his goal — “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This was his goal, his ONE THING. He wanted to gain Christ, to know Him and to honor Him until he was called to glory. The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with the question: What is man’s chief end? The answer is: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Paul’s words here remind me of David’s words — “ONE THING I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4). Paul and David were seeking the same ONE THING. They both wanted to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. What is your ONE THING?

Lord Jesus, enable me to have a discriminate forgetfulness of my past. Let me forget my past failures, sins, and successes. Let me press on toward the ONE THING of glorifying You and enjoying You forever. Give me singleness of mind. Enable me to live faithfully for You. Let me keep my eyes on You, Lord Jesus, and strive for what is ahead.

Standard

PRESSING ON

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3;12-16

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12)

Paul had a strong desire to know Christ. He wanted to be in constant fellowship with Him. His desire was to know Christ intimately and fully — “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in death” (v. 10). But Paul knew that he had not fully achieved these things. He knew that we was not mature in his faith.

Recognize who is saying this — the Apostle Paul! Surely he was a man of great faith. He certainly knew Christ, but he was not satisfied with where he was spiritually. He wanted to know Christ better and he wanted his life to be shaped more and more into the image of his Savior.

Once Paul acknowledged that he had not arrived at the place he wanted to be spiritually, he pressed on in his spiritual growth. He knew that Jesus had taken hold of him, but Paul wanted to take hold of Christ. This reminds me of the Old Testament account of Jacob wrestling with God (Genesis 32:22-32). Jacob wanted to take hold of God; he did not want to let go of Him until God blessed him. Paul wanted to take hold of Christ in order to know Him better. He wanted to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. He wanted to know all he possibly could about Jesus.

I question that I have the same zeal that Paul did about his spiritual growth and maturity. I know that I am not as close to Christ as I want to be. I don’t know Him as I should. It would be foolish to deny that we all want to know Christ better. Christ has taken hold of us; but have taken hold of Him? Do I have the zeal to press on toward spiritual maturity? I may fail Jesus many times, but He has hold of me and He will not let go. Knowing this makes me want to press on to know Him better and better.

Lord Jesus, I know that You have taken hold of me. You will not let me go. Enable me to press on to take hold of You. Enable me to grow in my faith. Give me the desire to know you better and better, and to be like You.

Standard

I WANT TO KNOW CHRIST!

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:7-11

“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10,11)

Paul takes us to a deeper level in his quest to know Jesus Christ. He knew that there was no greater value to him than that of knowing Jesus Christ. In fact, he considered everything else a loss compared to “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” (v. 5). He realized that through faith in Jesus, he obtained “the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (v. 9).

Now Paul takes us deeper in his desire to know Jesus. He says that he wants to know the power of His resurrection. We have that power available to us. The omnipotent God is our Father, the One who raised Jesus from the dead. He will strengthen us and deliver. We have the power to overcome sin and to live faithfully for His glory. He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9). While we may be weak, we have His power which enables us to overcome our fears and anxieties.

Paul goes on to say that He wanted to have the fellowship of sharing in the sufferings of Jesus. In other words, he wanted to know and experience suffering so that he could know Jesus better. Jesus suffered tremendously and when we suffer we can share in a small way what Jesus experienced in His sufferings. Picture Christ as He was being rejected and abused. Think about the rejection and disappointment He felt when Peter denied Him and the disciples left Him. Imagine the pain and suffering He experienced when He was beaten and mocked. The Scripture says of Jesus — “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not” (Isaiah 53:3). When we experience sorrow and grief, and rejection and loss, we get a taste of what Jesus suffered. Peter tells us — “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed” (I Peter 4:13).

Paul concludes by saying — “becoming like Him in His death.” Obviously none of us quality to become an atoning sacrifice for sin. Jesus alone qualified to be our substitute, for He was sinless. Jesus Christ bore the wrath and displeasure of a holy God because of our sins. While we cannot do this, we can face death in perfect peace and with dignity, for we know that God has something far greater for us when we depart this earth. We will attain to the resurrection from the dead when Jesus returns. We have a glorious inheritance awaiting us!

Lord Jesus, it is easy for me to ask to share in the power of Your resurrection. But, it is difficult for me to desire to share in Your sufferings. I acknowledge that I have come closer to You during the difficult times I have experienced. Enable me to rejoice when I suffer because through my suffering I can experience a taste of what You suffered for me. Grant me grace to face death in perfect peace because I know that I will see You face to face in glory and I will receive my promised inheritance from the Father.

Standard

RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH FAITH

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:7-11

“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes through the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Philippians 3:8,9)

For a period of time in Paul’s life, he trusted in his own efforts to gain righteousness through attempting to keep the law. It was a legalistic righteousness, also known as self-righteousness. This type of righteousness is man’s attempt to earn God’s favor by works of the law. It is a form of self-salvation. It was the righteousness taught by the Pharisees. Self-righteous people are proud of their morality and religion. They trust in their own moral efforts and religious traditions to save them. They also look down their spiritual noses at other people. Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax gatherer in Luke 18:9-14 is an illustration of the pride that self-righteousness produces in a person.

The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself — “God, I thank You that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get” (Luke 18:11,12). On the other hand, the tax gatherer stood at a distance, beat his breast and prayed — “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Jesus said of the tax gatherer — “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14)

The problem with legalistic righteousness is that our greatest efforts cannot save us. We are all sinners like the tax gatherer. We have all failed God. No matter how hard we try, we cannot become righteous by works of the law — “For whoever keep the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). We will always struggle with self-righteousness, for it is our default mode.

Paul wrote — “That I may gain Christ 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 and is by faith.” When we are justified through faith in Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven and the perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. It is Christ’s righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

What kind of righteousness are you trusting in — your own self-righteous efforts or the imputed righteousness of Christ? We must constantly be aware of our tendency to resort to self-righteousness. We must repent of our self-righteousness and turn in faith to Jesus Christ who has given us His perfect righteousness.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for trusting in my own religious efforts to gain Your approval. Forgive me for my self-righteous tendencies to look down on others who are not just like me. Let me look to You alone in faith, for I know that true righteousness that pleases God is not from me but is from You alone.

Standard

KNOWING CHRIST JESUS

Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:7-11

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7,8)

Paul learned that he could not put confidence in his family heritage or religion (vs 4-6). He came to the place of brokenness. None of the things he had trusted in to give him value worked. Paul realized the surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ. Nothing else mattered to him after he discovered the wonder of having a relationship with his Savior. In fact, he considered all things he had been trusting in to be rubbish.

There is nothing greater than knowing Jesus Christ. I do not mean knowing about Jesus Christ; I mean knowing Him on a personal and intimate level. Many know something about Jesus, but they do not have a personal relationship with Him. The only way to get to know a person is to spend time with him or her so that you can really know the person. There has to be communication between the two that involves being open and honest. The same is true with our relationship with Jesus. We need to spend time reading His Word and meditating upon it. Jesus reveals Himself to us through the Scriptures. Read the gospels and get to know Him better.

We get to know Jesus when we communicate with Him through prayer. He reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures. When we get to know Him, we can talk to Him and tell Him how much we love Him. He wants us to be honest with Him and cast all our cares upon Him. He is there for us and He will never leave us.

Paul said that he considered everything a loss compared to “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” When we enter into a growing relationship with Jesus, we will find that our priorities and the things we value most will change. We will find incredible joy and peace when we spend time with Jesus and we will come to realize that we are significant to Him. He died for us! As we get to know Him better and better, we will delight in serving and obeying Him. Nothing matters more than gaining Christ, for in the end that is all that matters.

Lord Jesus, how grateful I am that you have revealed Yourself to me. I know that I am never alone for You are always with me. You love me and want Your best for me. I want to know you better and better. I want to spend time with You and seek to grow in my walk with you. I want to consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing You. I confess that I still put other things before You. I have my idols and often want them more than I want You. Please forgive me and draw me closer and closer to Yourself. Enable me to count all the things I cherish so much as loss compared to having a deep and intimate relationship with You.

Standard