Gaining Christ {Philippians 3:7-11}

Read Philippians 3:7-11

Prior to coming to Christ, I lived a pretty indulgent life. I drank nearly every day, went shopping every week, spending most of the money I earned on food, booze, and clothes. And by clothes, I mean very expensive, beyond my means type of shopping. As in I went to NYC with friends for a week, opened a Bloomingdale’s card, and within seconds had racked up over $1,000, on two items: Chanel glasses and Louis Vutton purse.

I lived in the moment, for the moment.

My life was all about having fun, living wild, and buying whatever I wanted.

Until I came to know Jesus.

I came to know Jesus after losing my earthly father unexpectedly. We lost him in a moment, he was driving home and had a heart attack and in a split second was gone.

Me & Dad

It turned our whole world upside down. This kind of loss shakes you to the core. It makes you rethink everything – everything you’re doing on earth and everything that you think about Heaven. It made me question my existence, my time on earth, who God is, and what happens after you die.

It was from this loss that I gained Christ.

I understood that all of these material things I had didn’t matter one bit in light of Christ. I realized that losing my earthly father, though painful, hard and awful, was nothing in comparison to gaining a Heavenly Father.

Something changed. While I once had so much freedom to spend my time however I wanted, I realized my time wasn’t my own. I once would spend money on anything and everything I wanted, I realized it wasn’t my money. I lived my life for myself, and realized my life was meant to be lived for Him.

I stopped spending my money and wasting my moments, and started giving. I stopped living for myself, and started to live with an eternal perspective. Because encountering the Living God will do that to you. What you once thought was important, fades in comparison to the beauty of Christ.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” (v.8-9)

While I wish my story was written differently, I learned this foundational truth about God and His kind of life through this tragedy:

It’s in loss that we can truly gain Christ and be found in him.

1. What are the things Paul says he gains in Christ?

2. What does the word righteousness mean? How do we gain righteousness?

3. In comparison to all that you have or all that you’ve lost, is Christ your greatest treasure? Are their things that keep you from knowing the power of God and being found in Him?

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” -Jesus (Matthew 16:25)

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Confidence in the Flesh {Philippians 3:1-6}

Read Philippians 3:1-6

Can you imagine standing before God for the first time ever, face to face, in heaven, and reading off a list of your credentials as to why He should let you into the Kingdom?

Starting with your childhood until now.

Mine would read:

I got straight A’s in elementary school.
I was bilingual, I spoke Spanish and English fluently by 6th grade.
I won the Hazelton award, twice (what’s that you ask? Only the most prestigious award at my elementary school!).
I was the princess at the school play.
I was on the varsity softball team in high school all four years.
I once did 3 pull ups in a row, nailing my PE test.
I was the first person in my family, on both sides, to go to college.
I was in my career and married by age 23.
I was paid twice by strangers as a child for behaving so well in public.

I mean talk about confidence in the flesh, right??

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Image Credit: Brad K., Creative Commons

 

That’s kind of what Paul is doing here. He is saying, listen, if anyone has the credentials to get into heaven based on how good they are, it’s me. But in comparison to who God is and His standard for perfection, it all looks a little silly, kind of like my list.

Though I think you get crown jewels in heaven for being bilingual, I’m not sure?

If I’m honest, it’s not just my past behavior that I think earns me affection from God, it’s my present. I sometimes think if I just “do more,” I’ll be loved more. Yet, that’s not how it is with God. He can never love you more or less in Christ. He loves us in spite of our lists. In fact our lists are nothing in comparison to the gift of Jesus.

So be honest, do you have a list? Are you still trying to go to God with good behavior to earn extra favor? Let’s lay our lists down today and rest in His already soul-satisfying love.

1. List what Paul says of himself in verses 5-6.

2. What does it mean to have “confidence in the flesh”?

3. Are there things you do to try and have “confidence in the flesh” instead of confidence in the finished work of Christ? Are there “good things” you do with wrong motives?

 

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Friendships {Philippians 2:19-30}

Read Philippians 2:19-30.

Friends.

How many of us have them?

If you remember from Chapter one, you can feel Paul’s affection for his Christian family. He longs to be with them, he is thankful for them in his prayers, and is grateful to have someone to share in grace and in his suffering.

Friendships can be hard. Friendships can be messy. Friendships can be one of the greatest blessings on this Earth.

I have friends that I have known since high school, friends that speak truth in love to me, friends that make me laugh, friends that will sit with me in pain, friends that are a season ahead of me, friends that are a season behind me. Each of these friendships adds value to my life.

Image Credit: Iryna Yeroshko, Creative Commons

Paul mentions two of his friends in this passage:

Timothy, who was like a son in the faith to him.

Epaphroditus who Paul says was a brother to him.

Both fellow workers in the faith, whom he encouraged and whom he was encouraged by.

Notice how Paul refers to his Christian friends? He uses the terms son and brother. He considers these fellow workers, one he was discipling and training up, and the other who was ministering to him in his time of need, to be like family.

Again, the Christian life is not meant to be lived alone. We are to have others around us to sharpen us, encourage us, and challenge us. I think it’s important to note that Paul didn’t just have friends that were in the same season of life as he was, either. He had Timothy, who was younger and less mature in the faith and he had Epaphroditus who was a fellow worker and encourager. He had someone behind him and someone beside him.

What about you? Do you have a Timothy, someone you’re pouring into? I think we can learn from Paul and see that while we think discipling someone takes much from us, it really in the end adds to our life and fills us. Consider finding someone a season behind you to pour into and then grab some friends to run alongside you.

1. What are some of the characteristics Paul says about these men, his friends?

2. Why do we need friendships?

3. How are your friendships? Do you have friends that are in different seasons or walks of life? What can you do this week to pursue healthy friendships?

Maybe you are Timothy in need of a Paul. The Well has a mentoring program, if you’re interested in being or finding a mentor, you can sign up here: The Well: Mentors

 

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Work Out Your Salvation {Philippians 2:12-18}

Read Philippians 2:12-18.

One of the greatest lies of the enemy is that we are to work hard to earn our salvation. We must do enough good things to get on God’s good side. He makes us believe our behavior is what matters most in God’s sight.

I know I used to believe that. Which is why the Gospel was so confusing to me at first. And why when I compared myself to others who had done heinous things, I didn’t consider myself so bad.

However, we can never earn our salvation. Not one of us can live a perfect life, even the most goodie-two-shoes of us has still had anger in their heart or told a white lie.

So where does that leave us if we can’t work for our salvation?

3049810132_fced7cda1c_bImage Credit: Famian, Creative Commons

It leaves us with Jesus who has done the work for us.

Finished.

Complete.

Done.

We live in light of his death.

Which is why Paul is telling us in these verses to “work out our salvation”. We don’t work FOR our salvation, but once we are saved we work OUT our salvation.

In other words, if we have truly come to understand the meaning behind the verses we read yesterday, and have truly come to understand Jesus and the Gospel good news that he has saved, our lives should look different. We should live differently after coming into right relationship with God. We should care about our morality, we should care about our work on Earth, we should care about the broken, the poor, the hurting, the lost, because Christ cared enough to die for all of these things.

Our good works don’t earn us salvation, but our good works matter. We can’t be any more approved by God in Christ Jesus, and because of that approval our lives should be full of compassion, love, and good work. So much so, that like Paul says in verse 17 we are to be poured out like a drink offering.

When we truly grasp the Gospel, our lives will be forever changed.

We can work out our salvation because of the work God has already done.

We can work out our salvation because it is God who works in us and through us.

We can live our life poured out as a drink offering because Christ’s blood has been poured out as a sacrifice.

With fear and trembling, let’s work out our salvation and point others to the One who saves.

1. What does God to for us according to verse 13?

2. Why is this significant when considering the good works we may do on earth?

3. Are you still trying to earn God’s approval? How can you rest in the finished work of Christ today?

 

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Humility of Christ {Philippians 2:5-11}

Read Philippians 2:5-11

These verses found here in Philippians 2 might be some of the most significant verses found in scripture that tell of Christ’s humanity.

Immanuel
God with us
The Word made flesh
Incarnation

humilityImage Credit: Tony Verdú Carbó, Creative Commons

One of the unique qualities of Jesus, of the Christian faith, is a God who came to Earth as a humble servant.

A God who emptied Himself so that we would be filled.
A God who became obedient to death, so that we could have new life.
A God who was brought low so that we would praise His name on high.
A God who dies in humility and is raised up in glory and honor.

This is our LORD and Savior, Christ Jesus.

A perfect God, living the life you and I could never live and dying the death that you and I deserve.

In all of the ways God could have chosen to reveal Himself, He chose to do so personally. He chose to be known by mankind, by making Himself known.

He chose to dwell among so we could know about.

These verses show his full humanity, which is what makes his death a full satisfactory payment for our sin. If He was not fully human, this sacrificial atonement would not fulfill God’s requirement. We know the penalty of sin is death, and without a perfect sacrifice God’s judgment is not satisfied. Christ Jesus taking our punishment is the ultimate example of humility, love, and service.

Again, Paul is telling us how to live. WE do not live in humility or service to others out of our own strength, but out of God’s love and Spirit, modeling after Him. We are called to reflect our God to the world around us. In order to do that, we must incarnate the brokenness and the pain in our world, we must dwell among the lost and the outcast. WE must love in humility just as our LORD Jesus did.

1. What are some of the characteristics of Jesus based on these verses?

2. In today’s culture, is humility a virtue? Why or why not?

3. Does humility mark your life? How can you better follow after Christ and serve others in humility?

 

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Unity & One Love {Philippians 2:1-4}

Read Philippians 2:1-4

Last week, Paul’s words helped renew my perspective on suffering. This week, we’ll get to see his perspective on how we live the Christian life.

He starts this second chapter, reminding us that we, as Christians, are to be of one mind, under one love, one of our greatest aims should be unity.

IMG_4061Image Credit: Pettann, Creative Commons

I don’t know how much time you spend on the Internet, or reading other Christian blogs, but it is like a blood bath out there. Right now, there is a media storm around a pastor and some of the things he said years ago, and they’re ugly. Awful words that no Christian, let alone pastor should say. But he did. And those who disagree with his theology are sharing every bit of it, rubbing his nose in it, and making sure everyone knows about it.

We all saw the same thing happen with the World Vision controversy. We as Christians can be so mean to one another over our opinions and quite frankly, it’s embarrassing and sinful.

We don’t all have to agree with each other, but we should be able to disagree or confront sin in a loving way. We should hold unity above airing other people’s dirty laundry.

Paul is reminding us of that here, this problem is not new. It’s been around for ages, different camps within theology. However, he encourages us to be unified and to not only look to our own interests but to the interests of others.

These few verses get to the heart of the Christian life, we are called to humility, unity, and serving others. Our calling is to love and service.

We as Christian are to follow after the example our LORD Jesus gives in seeking unity and seeking others’ needs above our own.

Reflection

1. List Paul’s instructions for us as Christians in verses 2-4.

2. Look up the word humility and write the definition below.

3. Do you consider your needs or the needs of others more important? How can you live in a way that helps seek the good of others more than the good of your own self?

 

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