Friday, March 18

Philippians 3:4b-14 (ESV)

 If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake 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, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.  But one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul was the poster child of what a Jew was to be.  He followed the rules, was a Pharisee and was focused on defending the faith by persecuting those who were straying from the faith and following Jesus.  Before his encounter with Christ, Paul’s name was Saul, look at what he was doing in Acts 9:1-2:

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 

Take a look at what Saul did after his interaction with Jesus in Acts 9:19b-20:

For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus.  20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 

Of all people, Paul was proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God.  After he met Jesus, he realized that all else was worthless in life and was willing to suffer everything and sacrifice everything in order to gain Christ.

What are you willing to sacrifice in order to gain Christ?  What would you be willing to suffer for your faith in Jesus?  Are there things in your life that you put before your love for the Lord?  Does your prayer time get squeezed out by other things?  Do you find yourself unable to read the Word because you are too busy?

Heavenly Father, as we near the end of Lent, show us  what must we give up and what might you ask us to suffer for your sake in order to live the life you created us to live.  Help us become more and more like Your Son each day.  Amen.

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