The Joy of Overcoming

Philippians 3

Paul is one of the few people who can write “Finally” and continue on writing for the same length that he had just written! He writes two chapters, puts “finally” and writes two more. Inspired as he is, obviously Paul thinks of most of what he writes from Philippians 3:1-4:7 as all one idea. To be fair, as you are reading today, he uses “finally” in chapter 4 as well. It reminds me of a “midwestern goodbye;” he keeps trying to end his conversation but doesn’t want to say goodbye just yet.

While Paul starts his writing in verse one on the happy note of “rejoice” in the Lord, he quickly moves to talk of things that we need to beware of and, I think, overcome. That means we need to live differently, have victory over, and to not be defeated by. 

Overcoming Others

In two places in this chapter, Paul discusses two kinds of unfaithful people and the way they live. First, there are those whom he calls “dogs” and “evil workers”. These are both the Jews and the Judaizing Christians who believe they follow God because they are circumcised on the outside and think all must follow them. However, their pride and focus on the law is actually showing that they have a false circumcision (3:2). Paul says that we are the ones who truly follow God, who follow him with a “circumcised” (or pure) heart. 

Secondly, there are those who have never come to faith of any kind. Instead of even trying to honor God through false rules and regulations, they focus on fulfilling their own desires, whether that is food, drink, or sex. They worship those desires as their god. Even, (maybe especially) in our world there are those who glorify their appetites that they indulge as “healthy”, “not-repressed”, and “liberating”. However, Paul weeps knowing that their end is not life, not joy, but destruction. (3:18-19)

Overcoming Ourselves

We need to not be like either of those groups, but that means overcoming ourselves. True, we need to overcome the teachings of those who say following God is keeping a bunch of rules and regulations, but it is easy to feel good about ourselves because we did keep God’s word. It would be easy for Paul, for example, to glory in who he is. (3:4-6) He fulfilled all the credentials of what a successful Jew would be. But he considers it “dung” (skubala) if he might instead have Christ. He would count all these things rubbish in order to have the far greater, far surpassing righteousness of Christ. (3:7-9)

Once we know that our best attributes are only dung in comparison to Christ, we may say we might as well live terribly because we can never measure up. But Paul encourages us to strive to live rightly. Ever upward into the call of God in Christ. He says, though we will never be perfect, let us keep living by the same standard to which Christ has raised us. (3:12-16)

How to Hupernikao (Overcome)

How are we to overcome? How are we to not fall into the traps of being legalistic or being completely wild with our living? We need to live LIKE CHRIST! That should sound familiar! If we live like Christ, forgetting what lies behind and pressing on ahead (12-16) then we will be conformed to him. We will suffer the way he suffered, being mistreated on both sides. We will sound to0 gracious to the “judgmental” and too judgmental to the “gracious”. We won’t look like those who are legalistic and believe that rule following will save them. But we also won’t look like those who believe that everything is OK and permissible.

But this is the way Jesus lived. He was a friend of tax collectors and sinners and yet told them they needed to stop sinning. If we live like him, we will face the suffering he faced, we may even be conformed to him in death. (3:10) But the GLORIOUS news is that if we are connected to him, believe in him, and live like him, we will ALSO be raised with him. If we die with him, we will also live with him. (3:11, cf. 2 Tim. 2:11-13)

It is because we have a savior who will raise us up, and glorify us as he rules over all things that Paul can say, in Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.” Because we have a savior who will redeem us, we can rejoice in the Lord and we can be the joy of those who have trained us in the way we should go. 

May you, my brothers and sisters, overcome those who tell you to be more strictly following all the right rules that only they seem to know. 

May you overcome those who say live with abandon and do whatever it is that makes you happy and fulfills you. 

May you overcome the desires in yourself that push in you in those directions. 

May you instead be conformed to the life, suffering, death, and ultimately resurrection of Christ, as you seek to live like him. 

May you forget what lies behind, press on ahead, and retain the standard, while only trusting in Christ’s sacrifice to save you. 

Amen

-Jake Ballard

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here Isaiah 13-14 and Philippians 4

The Goal

Psalm 24

Psalm 24 1 NIV

I think the ultimate goal of Christianity is to have a relationship with God. I think this is ultimately the goals of our lives as well if you believe in God. I once heard Pastor Vince Finnegan, Sean’s dad, say that as long as he had his relationship with God nothing else really mattered. He said this years ago and it has still stuck with me to this day. This is crazy because despite my ability to intensely focus on things there are days that I would forget my head if it wasn’t attached to my body.

Back to my point I wanted to open up by reminding you what is the point of our lives.

No one starts out running marathons by just running a marathon or hiking really huge mountains by just going and doing it. You have to start out by training for a marathon or hiking smaller mountains. You need to build endurance to complete formidable tasks. The cost of admission for hiking that larger mountain or running that marathon is rigorous training before hand. If you only do half of the marathon training, you probably won’t be able to run the whole marathon. That’s generally just a rule of life.

The real life long question for me is how can I draw closer to God and I think Ps. 24 lays out a way in which we can do that. You should go ahead and read it all the way through right now then we will talk about it some more.

I love the way this Psalm opens and I think it is super appropriate for what David is going to ask in verse 2 as well. David opens up the Psalm by acknowledging and praising God for his creation. He says that the earth is the Lord’s and all who dwell in it. If you read yesterday’s devo you know I love the idea that all I am and all I have is God’s. “I deserve nothing and I have been given everything” is probably my favorite saying and David’s opening lines feed directly into that. The reason I think it is so appropriate that David opens the Psalm like this is because he is acknowledging the greatness of God. He is acknowledging that we really haven’t done anything and don’t really deserve anything from God.

Verse 3 is the focal point of this psalm. David says “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?”. This isn’t just talking about standing on a hill or standing in God’s holy place just to stand there. And to clarify no one is worthy. Well, except Jesus. Jesus is always the exception and the answer. Haha.

Back to what I was saying before I distracted myself. David isn’t only saying this to proclaim God’s greatness. Ascending the hill of the Lord and entering his holy place are ways in which we can draw close to God. Psst… remember the opening paragraph. So, whatever comes next may be pretty important for us.

Verse 4 says “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, and doesn’t lift up his soul to what is false?” Remember what I was saying earlier about the cost of admission? Here it is. The disappointing part is that even if we cover the cost of admission we still need God’s help to cover the rest of it but that’s in the next verse. So, what do you think clean hands and a pure heart is? I think I can probably define it but I’m gonna take the easy way out with this one and say being like Jesus. Remember the answer is ALWAYS Jesus. So, to define living like Jesus is much easier for me; it’s living a life where from my heart my actions reflect love of God and his people. I just don’t see Jesus getting angry because he had to help another person because his actions where overflowing from a pure heart. The goal here is becoming more like Jesus.

I love the way that David phrases this second part ‘don’t lift up your soul to what is false.’ It speaks of something so true. Anything that we look to for satisfaction from, other than God, is false. We can give it life and make it out to be true but it will not satisfy.

In verse 5 it says that, “He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” It says here that we will receive righteousness from the Lord as well. God is even supplying righteousness in the areas in which we are lacking in order to draw close to him.

Verse 6 gets to the heart of what we have been talking about here. God is looking for those people who will seek his face and draw close to him.

I pray that God will help me to draw closer to Him by cleansing my hands and purifying my heart and helping change my heart. That my actions would be an out pouring of my heart and I could become holy as he is holy and draw closer to him.

Bonus Material: If you wanted to read another Psalm similar to this one Psalm 15 is great as well.

 

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+1-2%2C+15%2C+22-24%2C+47%2C+68&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 89, 96, 100, 101, 105 & 132 as we continue with the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Path of Purity

psalm 119 9

In 1 Timothy 1:5, it talks about living with a pure heart, but what is a pure heart. In Psalm 24:4-5 it says a pure heart is someone who has not sworn deceitfully, or worshiped false gods. Psalm 119:9 says by keeping God’s word, you can have a pure heart. And 2 Timothy 2:22 says you must flee from your worldly desires and chase after God’s word. Overall to have a pure heart we must worship God only, Follow His words and turn from the world and to him. This may seem like a lot but we are constantly doing this, we are on the path to a pure heart.

-Blair Simon