July 15 – Living to Gain by Death

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21 (NASB)

It’s a very short verse for today with two statements by the Apostle Paul. Paul declares that this was his way of thinking – the center of his convictions. Paul’s main purpose in living was to glorify Christ. Christ was the essence of his life. That’s the meaning of the first statement: “to live is Christ.” There is nothing lost to those whose lives are fully dedicated to serve their Lord Jesus Christ and there will be much to gain. Perhaps in the days ahead we might look at more fully at this attitude. Paul’s second statement, again very personal, was: “to die is gain.” This might cause some to pause for a moment. But Paul was not morose, not clinically depressed. He had endured many physically difficulties and suffered for Christ and likely experienced periods of being emotionally down. Even so, Paul never lost his will to live – it was for Christ, remember? Not suicidal or suffering PTSD from his beatings and shipwrecks and imprisonments. Paul anticipated his death would actually relieve him and let him focus totally on glorifying God. That was the gain. He looked to gain fulfillment of God’s promises. Promises God made for all who believe.

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July 2 – Given, Accepted, Never Earned


“…in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him. not having a righteousness of my own, legal righteousness but that (which is) through faith in Christ. the righteousness (which is) from God (and rests) on faith” – Philippians 3:9*

There is a purpose for us to also toss all our self-effort to please God on the refuse heap. This is a warning from the Apostle Paul for any who would think and expect that their own good deeds were in any way a righteousness that counts before God. Such “good works” will never be regarded as true righteousness. We’re to never expect God to accept us into His Kingdom based on how good we have been in life. Those that do will be disappointed. Some receiving this letter by Paul may have been offended by this. Paul says accomplishments which conformed to the Old Testament Law of Moses and the myriad of additional interpretations and traditions built up by the Jewish religious authorities since Moses. Yet it applies to any self-effort to please God and any effort by us to be righteous by following any set of laws. The only righteousness which is through faith in Christ has any value. By faith our hand extended to receive God’s free gift. Only righteousness that is imputed to the us sinners as God’s free gift is how we obtain this righteousness. Not earned, for a gift is never earned.

*(Translation from: William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Philippians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 5:164.)

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July 1 – Counting By Value


“Yes, what is more, I certainly do count all things to be sheer loss because of the all-surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For whom I suffered the loss of all these things and I am still counting them refuse. in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” – Philippians 3:8 *

The conversion of Saul, who came to be called Paul, happened one day on the outskirts of Damascus which was first mentioned in Genesis 14 and the account of Abraham’s rescue of his nephew Lot,. Saul of Tarsus had in this case ,signed letters of approval from Jewish leaders in Jerusalem to arrest all Jews in Damascus who were found to be “of the Way.” At that moment God interrupted Saul’s life and informed him of His plan for his life. It changed everything about Saul’s life. That instant Paul came to count all accomplishments in his life as lost and worthless. In our verse today, Paul strengthens his statements, (v.7-8). First, he underscores what was implied and what he counted as loss at the moment of his conversion, he is still counting to be loss. Secondly, Paul affirms that he still considers the status points mentioned in verses 5 and 6 to be a detriment and liability. Paul wishes to make Christ more and more fully his own. As long as one keeps clinging, even in the slightest degree, to his own righteousness, he cannot fully enjoy Christ’s. The same goes for all believers even today.

*(Translation from: William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Philippians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 5:164.)

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June 30 – The Means of Attainment


“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” – Philippians 3:7 (NASB)
…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10-11 (NASB)

These two passages bracket a list of many blessings which are ours by promise if we pass on the trusting of our own self-effort to be good enough. Paul, declares these after listing his good behavior as a student and follower of Jewish Law. In that respect he had done everything necessary and was highly regarded. However, all his Jewish religious credentials that he thought were in his profit column, were actually worthless and damning. Instead, he put them in his loss column when he saw the glories of Christ. In Philippians 3:8-11 Paul described the promises and benefits that accrued to his profit column when he came to Christ. Importantly, in verse 8 Paul doubles down on how he despised what he once held dear. Paul now calls all his accomplishments that he worked so hard for to be “rubbish.” The Greek word refers to garbage or waste, and can even be translated “dung” or “manure.” Christian believers, we are found “in Christ.” Our union with Christ is a promise and possible only because God has imputed (credited) Christ’s perfect pure righteousness to us so that it is now reckoned by God as our own.

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 October 3 – Live or Die Is Christ’s

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. ” – Philippians 1:21 (NASB)

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3 12 (NASB)

We hope in earnest that each of us can affirm the statement Paul made in the first of our chosen verses today. Our world believes and practices that to die is a loosing thing. It is for all those who die without believing in the person and words of Jesus Christ. To die without having believed is to die without eternal life with God. It is to die and end up in a state of separation from God. That is the final and permanent death. Paul the Apostle proclaimed that He lived in Christ and dying was a benefit he yearned for. But he also cautioned that he had not yet obtained that which is gain. He says he will “press on” which is a Greek word used of a sprinter, and Paul is referring to aggressive, energetic action. Paul pursued sanctification with all his might, straining every spiritual muscle to win the prize. “Lay hold” means “to make one’s own possession.” Christ chose Paul and us for the ultimate purpose of conforming us to His glorious image (Romans 8:29), and that is the very goal Paul pursued to attain.

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February 24 – A Win-Win Outcome

“Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:20b-21 (NASB)


The Apostle Paul dedicated his life to work for the exaltation of Jesus Christ from the moment of his conversion to believe Jesus was the promised Messiah. Another version uses the word ‘magnified’ to describe Paul’s main purpose – the glorification of Christ. So Paul could say “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” After years as a prisoner in Rome, his appeal was still pending before Caesar, he was at a fork on the road in the journey of his life. On one hand, he knew he could be martyred. He was ready for that. Or, he might gain his freedom (we don’t know the details). He did not fear martyrdom and saw benefit for others if he remained. Paul declared in either outcome, dying or living, Christ would be magnified. Both of these options, continuing to live for Christ, or gaining his access to glory through dying would result in Christ being glorified. This is to what God calls us in our lives. As believers we are promised that dying is a glorious thing, and remaining alive on earth is opportunity to bring glory to Christ through our obedience and service. It is a win-win situation.

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