How to Walk Like Paul Walks – 6-29-22

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Philippians chapter 3 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

All for Christ

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship [a]God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain[b] to the resurrection from the dead.

Pressing Toward the Goal

12 Not that I have already attained,[c] or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have [d]apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already [e]attained, let us walk by the same [f]rule, let us be of the same mind.

Our Citizenship in Heaven

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Footnotes

  1. Philippians 3:3 NU, M in the Spirit of God
  2. Philippians 3:11 Lit. arrive at
  3. Philippians 3:12 obtained it
  4. Philippians 3:13 laid hold of it
  5. Philippians 3:16 arrived
  6. Philippians 3:16 NU omits rule and the rest of v. 16.

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Acts 4:12-

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.”

When addressing a strong and mature Christian audience – it is ok to repeat things. It’s not that it is tedious, it’s not that they aren’t getting it, it’s not that God isn’t working these things in them – it is that some of these things are so important that it bears repeating. Some of these things are so deep, you need to hear them a few times to catch the layers of revelation the Lord has for us. Never stop being open to reading the same verse or the same passage or the same book over and over – because each time God can show you something new.
Paul is saying that he wants us to pay attention, even though we have heard this before, because there is more revelation in this. I know I always start our Bible reading with the same Pauline prayer for understanding and revelation but today it’s extra important – so much so, that he prays for our revelation again in chapter, specifically in relation to the state of our hearts to receive something new from God and be able to discern and avoid evil.

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!”

I know many of you who “like” these posts regularly have been doing so for a year or more… I pray you have grown into a more mature Christian during that time. This is NOT just for the mature believers. Because if you just got here, if you started believing today, and if you’ve been believing for a long time and struggling to grow – this is for you. And let God meet us all where we are at with the lesson we need to stretch and grow a little closer to Him today!

We have discussed the shaking in the church, the judgments of God falling starting in the house of the Lord, which we see has begun. We have discussed the separation of the goats and the sheep, and the other passage which says the goats and the sheep and the sheep. I have heard people share dreams and visions of the shaking of the tree with the leaders in it and certain branches breaking. And another of running a race and the earth begins to crumble and swallow people up while there make it across the divide. And my own dream I shared part of before of the earth splitting open and everyone choosing a side, while those who didn’t choose fell into the black dark canyon that split the two sides. And last year we read Ezekiel 34 – and now it is here upon us. And not a bit of any of that is scary for those who are in love with Jesus and in a relationship with God through Jesus and obeying the will of our Father.
I bring it all up because the overturning of Roe v. Wade – is like a spiritual earthquake, according to my pastor and ALL of this came to mind. And I watch everyone pick a side and the divide grows dark and deep. And those in the middle better scurry to a side or they will be swallowed up.
We know who the dogs are for the most part. Jews of that period called the gentiles dogs as a derogatory slang, because dogs were thought of as unclean and impure. Paul is a Jew and he is writing to a mixed group of Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ. He MOST CERTAINLY IS NOT calling the gentiles in the group, dogs. Paul’s flare for sarcasm, is using the meaning of the slang and turning it back upon the unrighteous who use that term. Beware of the leaven, the unclean that can get you dirty, or the wolves in sheep clothing. (To go deeper, see also Matthew 15:26-27 and Revelation 22:15 and think about the distinction between unclean and clean food in relation to people.)
Evil workers get exposed eventually but we do need discernment. This is the same term as “deceitful workers” which we studied in 2 Corinthians 11:13. False teachers, those who knowingly take advantage of the flock as well as those who themselves are deceived and deceive others but with good intentions, which we see a lot of these dark days that we live in. AND…
What are the mutilation? Other translations say “the mutilators”. It is Gentile derogatory slang of it’s time against the Jews who circumcised their boys as a badge of honor.

Today starts off with quite a bang – things escalated quickly when by verse 2 Paul is throwing around derogatory slang in a sarcastic tone right out of the gate! We start with rejoice in the Lord and beware of…. I mean literally Paul himself IS a “mutilator” so what on earth is he saying?! AND THEN… he admits he is one of them, after saying beware of them and even more confusing he calls the believers (Jews and Gentiles at Philippi) mutilator as well:
For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”

Paul literally juxtaposes all the nonsense of the various schools of thought in the early church in one seemingly confusing sweep. Until we step into the sarcastic tone, step back to see the whole paragraph, and step back into history. The early church had a problem with people pushing circumcision on the Gentiles. Since the Jew’s path to Christ was first through Judaism they felt everyone should meet Jesus that way. And we discussed before that ALL the elders and disciples and apostles of the early church got together and decided no one had to come under the law to then be freed from the law. We cannot trust the flesh – but if you are not there yet and do not yet understand why we can’t trust the flesh, trust Paul – because he was circumcised and has the experience and knows what he is telling you.

Circumcision was a sign of a covenant between God and Abraham. Jews had to keep that covenant. BUT that has nothing to do with being saved. So these dogs, evil workers and mutilators were distracting and confusing the simple and pure salvation message and imposing rules that infringe on the freedoms that we have in Christ.

Now Paul will continue to use his experience as a guide for us. Not that we need to be shipwrecked a few times and beaten and thrown in jail. But my trials, which are different form your trials, which are different from Paul’s trials are what GOD needs to refine us so He can tell His story through our lives. Therefore what things we have by way of experience and trials (the things we learned and grew from and give us gain and the eyes of man) are a loss for Christ and what we lose through those experiences are God’s gain!

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ”

We have heard this before – not so much with the letters to the immature Corinthians. But in the die to flesh letter to the Romans and the kingdom of heaven minded Thessalonians and we will see it again in scriptures.
God’s ways are not our ways and what MAN sees is now how God sees any of this.
I have shared, maybe overshares my trials as examples so you can apply scriptures to your selves, as I try to do as well. And now I can look back at some of those troubles and thorns and struggles and I see a lesson I was never looking for, never saw while I went through it, and never even realized I was learning. And it is lose to me – but glorious gain for my Father and His Kingdom plan.

and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;”

Not having my own righteousness, but through FAITH – Paul is quoting his letter to the Romans.

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,”

Paul NEVER took his salvation or his relationship with God for granted. He always kept at the front of every claim of his salvation, the fact that it is only because of Jesus. His focus was ALWAYS to “know Him and the power of His resurrection”. He looked at every problem, obstacle, struggle (or suffering) as not just comparing and getting an understanding of Jesus’s struggle – but sharing, communing and fellowshipping in Christ’s work. In all things Christ was made man and understands us – and we can share His experience for His glory when we have the revelation that this is MEAT! It may be breaded with savory seasonings we all love and nibble on… but get into the meat as well.

11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Did you catch that? If he may reach the Goal. Did Paul doubt that he was going to heaven? Doubt is the wrong word. Paul knows firsthand how easy it is to run the wrong course, zealously chasseing the will of God. IN EVERY LETTER we see warning about not being fooled. Jesus said it will be worse in the perilous end times (which we are in). The point is NOT to doubt that which the spirit bears witness to – the point is to fight to hold it, to examine yourself daily, to let God continue to guide you. That point is – we are still human and make mistakes – so make sure your mistake isn’t to rebel against God’s will by following a lie.

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”

I love how human Paul is – and the fact that even those of us who have been in this for a while need to be reminded. If we become complacent, no longer guarding our hearts, minds and salvations that we can end up finding ourselves lost and at the wrong side of this divide that is happening, or worse, by not attaining what the Lord has for you for all eternity.

13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul is merely reminding us to stay focused on Christ. To seek first the Kingdom and all things are then added to us. Our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is all about relationship. But Paul also compares it to a walk with someone, a race with a prize, and something to hold onto, protect and fight to keep.

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.”

God will reveal it. It is my Job to tell you, to teach. But it is only through Christ’s revelation will you learn. Those who know, know. And the rest will find out. Not only do we have to trust God and obey him in actions – but we must trust Him with the results – which we may never see. God’s word finishes what it started. God is able to handle His story. God can do what He does. And even as God is growing us and maturing us…

16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.”

We must remain humble in Him and in unity with each other.

Paul’s metaphor changes from a race to a walk here – as he continues to teach on HOW to walk this thing out. How the fact that we have a relationship with God changes everything about our behavior and being in all things. What does it look like when we surrender completely to God?

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.”

Paul lives it as an example.

Now, remember Paul is just writing this out as a reminder. It is the deep things to know how to do this. When we are new in Christ we learn as we go, and now we are able through our experience to understand (while those who are still newer, can take this and tuck it in their hearts in hope of obtaining the deep understanding faster).

Of course remembering these lessons will make us sad about those who did not hold on and slipped away. Those who walked away.

18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”

Yeah – it is NOT even the enemy of our souls, but our own flesh and desire that slides us away.
I had reconnected with an old ministry leader I knew as a child. They are still in ministry, in another state. So I had no visual clues just written words on a screen – so I called to at least hear their heart. Nothing is more beautiful than the heart of those who love the Lord. But a sneaking kind of pride answered. Not the braggadocios kind.  The kind that is wrapped in criticism and is always better than. Over the course of the time we were reconnected, slowly sins immerged that were justified – just small ones. Then they stopped speaking to me all together and I learned they had an affair that destroyed their marriage and their church. I am sure their decline started long before we had reconnected – but the decline did not start with the big bad sin, it started with pride – thinking you are way too mature to slip up and compromise. And that is the POINT of this whole chapter. Beware of Dogs.

20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

When we focus on this planet we live on, our flesh can lead us astray. If we reject the citizenship of this planet and put all our hopes, effort and energies into the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN and being a good citizen of heaven – then there is less a chance of being led astray and more of a chance that we will accomplish the Lord’s will.

Be wise and careful. Examine yourself and draw close to God. Ask God to help show you how you can walk MORE like Paul walks. Not with a limp or in his mechanics – but in the spirit with Christ-like mannerisms and love.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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