I could’ve guessed what Stephanie’s life verses are, because it doesn’t take long in knowing her to see that the most precious thing in her life is Jesus. One thing I love about what she shares is that it’s always centered on God’s Word and a greater understanding of it, and it’s always authentically worked out in the arena of her life.
This post from her Philippians series is a favorite of mine, as she offers part of her own life’s story to lift up God’s story. I love Philippians 3:4-8 right along with Stephanie, and I know you’ll be challenged by her insights and the questions she asks us to ponder in this post from March of this year. Hear her heart as she shares that there is nothing more important than knowing our Jesus!
Philippians ~ Losing & Winning (originally posted at stephanieshott.com Mar. 2, 2011)
If you’ve ever received an email or snail mail from me, you know my life verses are Philippians 3:7-14. Today’s text is Philippians 3:4-8. So, as you can see, we’re just getting our feet wet in the verses I live to define my life by.
As I was preparing for today’s lesson, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes. It’s by Jim Elliot:
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Our text today will echo that same sentiment!
Take a few minutes and read Philippians 3:4-8. I’ve provided a link so you can read it in several versions.
Paul certainly came from quite the line, didn’t he! If he was a horse, we would have called him a thoroughbred.
He had a past to be proud of. It distinguished him as a religious leader. A Pharisee. With Jewish blood flowing through his veins, his lineage could be traced back to Benjamin. In fact, Paul takes us back to his own infancy to prove his strict adherence to the Jewish Law. He was circumcised on the eighth day in strict compliance with the Law. A Hebrew of Hebrews – a declaration that his father adhered to the Jewish Law, as well.
He was an educated man, who knew the Law of God. He sat at Gamaliel’s feet as he learned from a man whose teachings are still celebrated in the Talmud today.
His pedigree was certainly something to brag about. But that wasn’t Paul’s intention.
He stated his family tree as well as his credentials to make a point. No blood line, no educational background, no religious position and no amount of good deeds can merit the salvation that is found in Christ alone. We are saved because Jesus saved us.
Paul’s list of reasons to boast was proof that nothing entitles us to receive salvation. As Paul so aptly said, “We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort.”
1. Read Ephesians 2:8-9. Based on these verses, how are we saved and why is there no room to boast?
2. In Philippians 3:7-8 (NKJV), Paul uses the word “counted” three times. Fill in the blanks for each use.
I have counted _____________________ for ______________________
I count _______________________ for ________________________
I count _______________________ for ________________________
3. According to Jeremiah 9:23-24 what are we to boast about?
I was married in January of 1987 and saved in October of the same year. My husband and I met in a bar and partying was a way of life for us. When I became a Christian I knew I might lose him. He married a girl who would go to the bars with him and drive him home when he was too drunk to drive; one who would have a great time hosting a keg party in the back yard.
And although I really didn’t know everything that would happen when I surrendered my life to Christ, I did know that my life would change. I don’t know how I knew, but I did.
I also knew the minute I said the eternal “I do” to Jesus, that my husband may not be too thrilled that the woman he married no longer existed. But I remember knowing that I would have to stand before the Lord one day on my own…that my husband wouldn’t have to answer for my life, I would.
And so, one sweet October day, I looked at my husband and told him that from that day forward, not he nor the children nor anyone else was going to be more important to me than Jesus. Jesus died for me and I was going to live for him.
It may not have been a pedigree ancestry, it wasn’t a long list of educational degrees or theological training – but in that moment of time, I counted it all loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord. Knowing Jesus became more important than anything else I held dear – and today, knowing Jesus still is.
We, who have been born again by the Living God, have all come to that place where nothing can compare to the matchless love of God and we surrender all we are to all He is. He becomes our everything.
But, from that day forward, it’s game on. Things begin to compete for our attention. The enemy tries to keep us distracted from the greatness of who He is. We allow life to become more important than the One who gave it to us in the first place.
It’s funny how in our Christian walk, we can let things edge their way into positions of importance that are reserved for Christ alone. We sometimes get so wrapped up in our circumstances that the thrill of knowing Him – the pursuit of an intimate relationship with Him – gets put on the back burner of our lives.
You see, when we are saved, we are made brand new – perfect in His eyes because we have received the Son of God and have been cleansed by His blood. But we still live in this flesh and in this world, and both vie for our attention and our affection. But Christ, alone is to be the object of our affection – the focus of our attention.
Today, let’s examine our lives.
4. What is it that is competing for your attention and your affection?
5. Do you count everything loss for the infinite value of the knowing Christ Jesus, the Lord?
6. What do you need to do in order to count everything loss for the infinite value of knowing Christ?
7. Take a few minutes and journal your heart. Write out what you have put before your relationship with Christ, your heart of repentance from doing so and what you plan on doing to make knowing Jesus the passion and pursuit of your life.
Knowing Him. There’s nothing more valuable than that. Absolutely nothing!
Today, we treaded some pretty deep waters for some girls who only got our feet wet. I pray the Lord will use this as a reminder of how sweet it is to know Him. Losing everything, but gaining so much more!
Oh, how great the Father’s love for us that we should be called the children of God! Treasure that truth today, sweet sister!