October 8 – A Joyous Hope to Hold

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

Let’s consider again a verse familiar to many. The Apostle Paul, summed up his life in Jesus Christ; Christ was his reason for being. Back in the Old Testament, King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes “The day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.” Life was so meaningless to him, he expressed it in this way. However, we who by faith believe in Jesus can say this because we have the hope of heaven, a hope of rejoicing. This joy is what Paul was expressing; joy and wonderful hope. What is it that can make death joyful? It’s the prospect of heaven. We who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ have a promised eternal dwelling place the Bible calls heaven. Heaven is uniquely God’s home. And though He is everywhere at all times, the very unique place of His abode, is heaven. God our Father is there, Jesus our Savior is now there, saints of Old Testament and New Testament times are there, our name is there, our inheritance is there, our reward is there, our treasure is there, our citizenship is there. Heaven is our home, and we’re only sojourners in this life.


October 4 – Discernment Now and Always.

“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” – Hebrews 5:14 (NASB)
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,” – Philippians 1:9 (ESV)

So suppose you are on a journey in a country you don’t know like your home country. On the road before you are crossroads. Without a map or anyone to ask for help. You must now discern to the best of your ability what the best choice is. Discernment is sometimes a fearful thing because it requires one to think of what the options and outcomes are before them. But discerning the right way to live is an important step in toward making the best choices. In our Christian lives, we are called to be discerning. But doing so requires more than going according to our feelings. Using emotions as a guide is not the best way. That is why the writer of the book of Hebrews boldly told his readers that it takes solid spiritual food to gain the maturity to know God’s Word. Mature believers practice discerning good from evil.  So the Apostle Paul encourages us to work toward abounding in Christian love more and more with knowledge and all discernment. Without the process of discernment, a good amount of knowledge and wisdom is overlooked. Let’s discern the wisdom of his words and follow it.


October 1 – Choosing Good Thinking

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

It’s a wonderful verse packed with encouragement and sound advice. What we think about makes a difference. Our thoughts shape our attitude of ourselves and of others. We might say that our thoughts have significant bearing on our attitudes toward God and His Word. Today look at only one of the eight suggestions the Apostle gave us. Honor or honorable. Honor is a virtue and it is often included in the motto for schools, clubs, fraternities, and social clubs. What does it mean? Let us submit that the person who is honorable is one who behaves with dignity. When used of a person’s character in the Bible the word is translated “dignified” (1 Timothy 2:2; 3:8; 3:11, Titus 2:2). Faith believers are to show honor to others. Today it’s more about what we spend contemplating or pondering. We may think we don’t have time but we do. We each have the very same amount and not every minute is dedicated to our responsibilities. We can choose what we think about. Paul says to spend some of that thinking time and ponder things we know are honorable. And as a result, strive to show honor in our words and actions.


July 16 – Choosing Between Blessings Conundrum

“with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. … But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.” – Philippians 1:20b, 22 (NASB)

Yesterday we looked at verse 21 bracketed by today’s passage. Let’s understand that Paul is in prison in Rome. He knows he may lose his head at Caesar’s will. He does not fear death. Paul’s life or his death was 100% in God’s hands. This is true for all of us. Frequently I hear faith believers mention what they want from this life before they die, before heaven. This is thinking they will miss whatever it is when they are in heaven. The won’t, not a bit. If we never get to do, see, have, experience whatever our heart desires before we die, we will never experience that loss when we are in the very presence of God the Father. Paul the Apostle knows this. That is what he is saying. If God wants him to remain on the earth and gives him the opportunity, he will do the work he has been called to do joyfully. The result will be fruitful labor for Jesus – a good blessing. But he also knows the glory and promise of heaven is always an even better blessing. Next, he’ll tell us how he processes this “conundrum” he faces.


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.


July 4 – Forgetting and Pressing On

“Brothers, I do not count myself yet to have laid hold. But one thing (I do) forgetting what lies behind (me) and eagerly straining forward to what lies ahead I am pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14*

Mentioned before, the Apostle Paul was very good at loading much into long complex sentences. This larger passage is another example. Paul continues sharing how deeply moved he was because he knows the pressures on the fellowship of Christians in the church at Philippi. There were those in the congregation who professed perfection. So Paul describes his thoughts. “As a believer in Christ alone, I for one am still far removed from the goal of spiritual perfection. Whatever anyone else may claim, I have not yet laid hold on it.” Paul, not despairing, instead is running in a race, while pushing himself to the limit to reach the goal. To be successful in this he has to do one thing; focus his concentration on completing the race to reaching the goal. Forget the past, strain forward for the future promises. What promises? The prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. The Christian running the race stays the course with full commitment forgetting all past failures and past successes to reach the goal and the prize. The goal is heaven. The prize is awarded only where it is truly a prize, with Christ in heaven.

*(Translation from: William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Philippians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 5: 174.)


July 3 – What We Long For

“…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and (the) fellowship of his sufferings becoming increasingly conformed to his death if only I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10-11*

We’re staying with the promises found in Philippians 3:10-11. All who have accepted by faith the righteousness of Christ imputed to our account will experience a longing to know Him, to know God who has made us righteous in Christ. That desire is a reason we have been given the faith and gift of Christ’s work on the cross. Paul says that he longs for an ever-increasing supply of the power that proceeds from the risen and exalted Savior. When the Father raised the Son he thereby proved his acceptance of the ransom paid by Christ as full satisfaction for our sin. Yet we want more. More of the power which comes only from Christ’s resurrection. Like Paul we long to know and participate more and more fully in even the reproaches and afflictions of his Lord and Savior. Paul confesses that sharing in Christ sufferings results in us increasingly conforming to Christ’s death (see Romans 6:4-11). Paul stresses a longing and a striving to be raised completely above sin and selfishness, so that he can be a most effective representative for the salvation of men to the glory of God. But there is more in verses 12-14 next.

*(Translation from: William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Philippians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 5:169.)


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.)


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.)


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.