What Really Matters

Today in Phillippians 3: 4-11, we see Paul talk about what really matters:

4even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.  If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Cross_in_sunsetPaul in this part of Phillippians is talking about how he (and we) have to trust more in the grace of Jesus than we should in our own works.  He is talking to a group of Christians that are tempted to rely more upon their works and the law than they are on Jesus.

So, Paul lists off all the stuff that he has done.  Stuff, that if you could earn your salvation by what you have done, would surely earn him a place in eternity.  Look at what he has done.  He was as righteous in the law.  He had done all the “right” things.  Paul was about as holy as one could be by the law.

And look at what he says – he considers that all rubbish when compared to knowing Jesus.  He has found in Jesus a righteousness that he could have never found through the law.  He discovered a salvation that doesn’t come from one’s works but comes only through the gift of God’s grace.

He wants to know Jesus.  To know His life.  His death.  And His resurrection.

Paul found this.  He found what really matters wasn’t what he had done.  What really mattered was what Jesus had done.  When compared to the goodness of God, the grace of God, the power of God, the life of God, the stuff of earth just can’t compare.

Paul learned grace.  And here’s what’s cool about grace, especially in the world we live in.  In this world of pressure and work and stress and results and performance reviews.  Grace is not about you.  It’s about Him.  And we can rest in grace.

Rest.  In grace.

Rest.  In Jesus.

Rest.  In His power.

You are loved.  Not because of anything you’ve ever done.  But because of all that He has done.  Paul considered everything rubbish compared to knowing Jesus.  He wasn’t saying that was bad.  He was saying that Jesus was better.

Paul found what really matters.

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Faith versus works. That’s an inside baseball, church phrase and argument.  It’s one that Christians have fussed about and struggled over for many, many, many centuries.

And its one that we struggle with, even if we don’t know it.  What do I mean by that?

It plays out in our lives when this happens.  When we think to ourselves, if I just do this, God will love me.  I have done some many things wrong, I know God can never forgive me.  I’m not good enough to go to church. I’m done too much. I can’t earn it.  I’ll never get it.  Surly I’m not good enough.

All those thoughts make our faith about what we do.  And that is wrong.  Our faith is not about what we do. It’s about what He has done.

Our faith is not about works. It’s about grace.  Listen to what Paul writes today in Romans 3:21-25

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

grace_candle_logoWe are all equally broken and sinful, we have all made mistakes in our lives, fallen, stubbled, made messes.

And God equally loves us.

And our salvation rests not upon us, what we have done, what we are doing or going to do, our salvation rests upon Him.  Upon what He had done. Upon the cross and the empty grave.

And our response, our only response is this. To believe.  To have faith.  To take that step.

We are saved by grace through faith. That’s it. That’s the list.

You don’t earn it.   You receive it.  Remember that.  Never forget that.  Cling to that.

And let that change your life.

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Listen to Ephesians 2:8-10 this morning:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

faith_works_landscapeWe are not saved by works. But, we are, however, saved for works.

Wait, what?

Yep. We are not saved by our works. There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves. Our works aren’t good enough. We can’t “do” enough to save ourselves, our good will never outweigh our bad, and even the good we do will most times be plagued with pride and other sin.

It’s not that we are the scum of the earth, it’s just that we are prone to choose wrong. You are, I am, we all are. That’s ok. It just who we are.

And that’s what Jesus came to save us from. And this salvation doesn’t come from anything we “do” but what He did. We aren’t saved by our actions, but we are saved by believing by faith, which is given to us by grace, in Jesus Christ.

You don’t have to earn it. You can’t earn it. Just accept it. God loves you. Believe that. Your works to earn that.

Ok, so salvation through faith. Not works.

But, look at what it says today in verse 10 – we are created for good works. So our works don’t save us. But, when we are in Christ, we walk in faith, and good works follow.

So, there’s nothing you can do (or not do) to make God love you any more (or less). He just loves you.

But, He has made you for something. You are created for something. You were made to be faithful. To serve. To love. To be salt and light. To make a difference. To live in love, grace, mercy, and truth. That’s through Him. By Him. For Him. In His grace. For His grace. For His glory.

You aren’t saved by your works. But, His grace in you will call you to be more faithful.

You are His workmanship. You are His master piece. Today, through grace, may His love flow through us. And may all folks come to know how good He is, through His grace in our lives.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

One of the constant battles, struggles, whatever word you want to use, that we face sometimes as Christians is this struggle between faith and works. We are saved by faith, right?

And if we are saved by faith, then our works don’t matter at all. For our works don’t save us, they don’t make God love us, they don’t do any of that.

So, we have no reason to worry about our works or really even focus on our works in any way at all, right? Our works, the stuff we do, they just don’t matter.

Well, that’s not quite right. Listen to how Paul talks about all this today in Galatians 2:15-20:

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

cart-before-the-horsePaul says, yes, we are justified or “saved” by faith, not by works. Our salvation occurs not because of anything that we have done, but totally because of what God has done for us in Christ. As he says in, because by works of the law no one will be justified (saved).

But then, after that Paul reminds us, that we if we have saved, then it is Christ who lives within us. And we die to ourselves, our desires, our flesh, our sin. Our stuff. Our works don’t save us. We are not saved by what we do or not do. We are saved by what Christ has done.

But, it is Christ that now lives within us. And if we lives within us, then it will change our lives. It will change our thoughts. It will change who we are.

We aren’t saved because we “do” stuff. But, because we are saved we “do” stuff. We put the cart before the horse. We want to get clean and then get saved. And we get frustrated because we are never clean enough.

Don’t worry about cleaning yourself. Come to Jesus. And He will clean you. He will wash it all away. He will take care of it.

Don’t put the cart before the horse. Focus on Jesus. And He will take care of your actions. For we are saved by grace through faith.

But that salvation will truly change us.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones