1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Pastor Chris invited us to gather online at this unique time when we help one another to stay healthy by practicing social distancing and remaining at home. He began by asking, “What can we do to discover joy in knowing Jesus.” Our anchor for this pragmatic walk with Christ is following the example of the Apostle Paul (formerly Saul, the Pharisee) who had many reasons to boast of his religious devotion to God. He sacrificed all that he had trained for (among many sacrifices) to follow the radical teachings of Jesus. Knowing his Lord and Savior became Paul’s penultimate focus of his redeemed life. Here’s how it becomes ours, too.
Believers Who Commit to Jesus in these 4 Ways Experience Full Joy
- The Joy of Giving Up (v. 8) – Paul gave up everything he once held dear, family, friends, position, health, and freedom
- The Joy of Knowing Christ (v. 9) – For Paul, the most fulfilling journey was truly knowing God
- The Joy of Knowing the Power of Christ (v. 10) – means that you live a resurrected life
- The Joy of Sharing in His Sufferings (v. 11) – the fire of trials strips us of relying solely on ourselves
John 10:27 (ESV) …My sheep hear my voice…
John 17:3 …this is eternal life, that they know you….
1 John 5:20 …we know that the Son of God has come…
Philippians 3:9 …be found in him…
Jeremiah 9:23–24 …let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me…
Philippians 3:10 …that I may know him and the power of his resurrection…
Philippians 3:10-11 …and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Chris provided insight about Paul that for him the most fulfilling journey was truly knowing God. To “know” Christ means to know “experientially” or “personally.” He offered these simple, but important ways:
How Do We Know Christ better?
- Study the life of Christ – read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
- Study all the New Testament references to Christ – read of His example to His followers
- Let the Holy Spirit remind you of Christ’s words – in worship and prayer
- Take up Christ’s mission – preach the Good News through acts of service
- Read the Word of God at least 4 times a week – (Benefits: Feeling lonely drops 30%, Anger issues drop 32%, Bitterness in relationships drops 40%, Getting drunk drops 57%, Spiritually stagnant drops 60%, Viewing pornography drops 61%, Sex outside of marriage drops 68%, Gambling drops 74%, Sharing your faith jumps 200%, Discipling others jumps 230%, Memorizing Scripture jumps 407%)
- How do we really know Jesus, not simply our ideas about Him?
- Giving up: In your life do you feel more like “Dory” or “Marlin?” (from the movie Finding Nemo) For extra credit, what’s your “Whale?”
- Chris said, “When we go through the fire of trials, we are stripped of the opportunity to rely solely on ourselves.” In what ways have you shared in Christ’s suffering? How has this helped you know him more?
- Why do you think reading God’s Word has such a profound impact on dropping certain bad behaviors and making good behaviors jump?
- Is there anything you need to give up to know Christ fully? (Setting aside more time each day for prayer and study of the Word? Your friend’s approval? An unhealthy relationship? Some of your plans or pleasures?)
- Commit to reading the Bible at least 4 days this week. Consider tracking the concerns in your life that “drop” and those that “jump” as a result.