Lent Devotion for Sunday, March 13
“I want to know Christ…”
Reader: “This is God’s word from the Apostle Paul.”
Response: “These are not just any words, they are God’s words.”
SCRIPTURE: Philippians 3:4b-14
Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!
5 I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. 6 I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.
7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Reader: “This is the word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
How often we have heard the phrase, “She is such a good person” or “He has so much character and integrity.” Then there is the phrase when someone dies. “Our loss is heaven’s gain.” In the above passage, Paul addresses this issue concerning the validity of personal effort in being acceptable to God. Many people in your world and mine are trusting that if they do enough good and aren’t a “bad person” as they define it, that they are acceptable to God and don’t have to worry about “getting into heaven.” You have only to recall New York City former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent comment, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.” Perhaps Bloomberg should read Philippians. Paul goes into detailing his religious credentials. At every point, according to the Law, he had an A+. He was zealous in doing what he believed to be right in God’s sight. (v.4-6). Then in verse seven he puts human effort to be righteous in context. He says all his previous righteous acts are now counted as (the actual word) excrement (v.8). Good living, even the best works don’t cut it. Righteousness before God only comes through faith in Christ. We are made righteous only by God’s way. Human effort to be righteous contaminates the process. Paul goes on to write that he wants to know Christ and experience his power in his life. Living this life is a process of knowing Christ better and better. Notice how forward-looking Paul is. “Forgetting the past I look forward…” The season of Lent is about forgetting the past and pressing on with zeal to experience the person of Christ today. Press on my fellow pilgrim, press on!
HYMN: “I Will Arise and Go to Jesus” Irish setting of this song by Liam Barr
PRAYER: Now take away, Father, we beseech Thee, the undergrowth that blocks our forward progress. Remove the obstructions that choke the trail. Slash and prune and trim with the machete of Thy Word; so might we freely tread the shining path that leads unto the perfect day, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. -Anonymous