Posts Tagged ‘Philippians 3:10’

A Holy Passion

March 17th, 2017

May your supreme passion be to know Jesus intimately

 “That I may know Jesus in the power of His resurrection.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a holy passion.”

Life is meant to be passionate. Life is less when passion is lacking or absent. As passion lessens, a marriage weakens. Where passion suffers, achievements diminish. When meaningful interaction is less important, friendships weaken. More importantly, spiritual life declines when priorities are misplaced. Most people do not intentionally choose that loss of enthusiasm. Without care and attention, it just happens in ways too small to notice. Passion is often more misdirected than reduced, displaced on things other than where it should have remained.

By the Holy Spirit, I feel challenged daily to pursue and preserve an authentic relationship with God and others. Here is the challenge. Apart from the Holy Spirit, a holy passion is not normal to our nature, nor easy to sustain in an oppositional, secular culture. Yet, spiritual passion is the only way you will truly know God in a depth of experience that is releasing and transforming. Do not indulge lesser passions to diminish a holy, empowering passion for Jesus.

The Church in the ancient city of Laodicea was described by Jesus as, “lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold.” Lukewarmness is not a tolerable option. See Revelation 3:14-22 NIV. How could this have happened to those loving, Christ-followers in contrast to what had previously been true of them? Their passion diminished because they described themselves as, “rich, and have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” They became wrongly content, foolishly self-satisfied, and seriously mistaken.

Writing to the church at Ephesus, Jesus praised their zeal for matters of righteousness, but judged their loss of passion in their love for God. “You have left your first love . . this is what I have against you: you do not love Me as you did at first.” Revelation 2:4 NKJV/TEV. Did you notice the description – left, not lost? That happens more easily than you recognize and more quickly than you notice, always with the same tragic result.

If you can remember a time when your passion and priority for Christ, the Word of God, and worship alongside others was more than today, you have lost your “love as at the first.” Repentance is in order immediately and sincerely. The remedy is simple enough, “Look how far you have fallen from your first love! Turn back to Me again and work as you did at first.”  Read Revelation 2:1-7 NLT.

By commandment, Jesus established this fact: wholehearted love for God is non-negotiable. Jesus required that your love for God must be comprehensive, “. . with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 NKJV. Notice the absolute inclusiveness of Jesus’ words. Love God with everything you are and have, in every area of your abilities and personal resources.

There were seasons in my life when lesser passions competed for my focus and energies. Automobiles, tennis, golf, travel, business, and such trivial matters vied for attention at one time or another. In their proper place, such pursuits are fine. But if they at all supplant His place in your heart and life, they are too costly. As I grow older, my marriage and family, ministry, and friendships have owned more of my loyalties. Since college, my lifelong passion remains, “That I may know [Jesus] in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings being made conformable unto His death.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV. May your passion be to know Jesus intimately.

Today, I pray for your love to be fervent about Jesus and inspire others to do so.

Christian Communications 2017

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Now What?

April 11th, 2015

“Did not our hearts burn within . . while He opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32 NKJV.

It is possible to know the apparent facts without recognizing the applicable truth.

My thoughts and comments today ask, “Now what?”

Horrific things can happen in life. At times, you may have more questions than answers; questions that are disconcerting and most begin with, “Why?” The more you struggle to make sense of the inexplicable, the less they do. At such times, it seems like every plan you previously made is now in disarray. What you once were sure about feels uncertain. Life doesn’t always go smoothly and tomorrows are rarely what you expect. Bewildered and shaken, you might ask yourself, “Now what?” Maintaining emotional and spiritual equilibrium is essential when life seems uncertain.

Days earlier, churches gathered somberly but gratefully to honor the sacrifice of a sacred life, and then days later gathered in celebration of our Savior’s miraculous resurrection. Before dawn, Gayle and I joined thousands of worshippers for an Easter service on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s Capital. The songs, prayers, and sermon were even more inspiring than the radiant sunrise over the Capitol. But Easter Sunday has passed. “Now what?” Dare we return to life as usual?

With your heart, feel Paul’s spiritual  passion as he penned the words, “That I may know Him in the power of His resurrection.” Philippians 3:10. Since college, that has become my “life verse,” and sincere prayer. I hunger to know God to the extent of my ability and His grace. Be assured, Paul is passionate about a personal, experiential knowledge, well beyond mere intellectual information. Intellectually, Paul knew about Jesus and thought Him troublesome. But on the road to Damascus, Paul discovered the Lord Jesus Christ in a more transforming and personal way than he ever knew was possible. Read Acts 9:1-9/18.

I appreciate the added clarity of the Amplified Bible, “[My determined purpose is that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and clearly], and in that same way, come to know the power outflowing from His Resurrection, [which His Resurrection exerts over believers].” Philippians 3:10 AMP. You can only know Jesus intimately and fully when profoundly experiencing, “the power outflowing from His Resurrection.” Also Read 1 Peter 1:3-9 NIV. His Resurrection truth will impact your life now and eternally.

The very afternoon of Jesus’ resurrection, two discouraged disciples left Jerusalem, returning home to Emmaus. They heard the reports of the empty tomb, but could not reconcile the facts they knew with the truth of His Resurrection. Read Luke 24:13-35. The events of the past days were devastating. The One they had loved and followed had been cruelly crucified and privately buried in a guarded tomb. They must have wondered, “Now what?”, as they wandered back to their old lives and livelihood.

It is possible to know the apparent facts without recognizing the applicable truth. The truth and power of His Resurrection had not yet dawned in their hearts. Life without resurrection life is woefully inadequate. “While they conversed and reasoned, Jesus drew near . . but their eyes were restrained, so they did not know Him.” Vs.15-17. The facts they knew blinded them to the truth around them. When Jesus was revealed to them, they said, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He opened the Scriptures to us?” Vs 30-32. Truth abounds in the infallible, eternal Word of God. Read John 8:32-33.

Truth is transformational. “That very hour they returned to Jerusalem saying, ‘The Lord is risen indeed.’” When truth grips your heart, you want to share it with others. Vs. 33-35. Where truth is celebrated, there Jesus appears. “Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them and said, ‘Peace to you.’” Vs. 36-49.

Today, my prayer for you is that you know and love the truth that releases life abundant and eternal.

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Spiritual Intimacy

November 14th, 2014

“That I may know Christ.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV.

Relational integrity is essential for spiritual intimacy.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual intimacy.”

Life requires purpose and a superceding objective. Your purpose has to be consequential enough to weather the demands life will require of you and influential enough to empower you to give the effort necessary to achieve and excel. Any person is insufficiently inspired who lacks an objective worthy of the sacrifices needed. The greatest purpose is knowing Jesus Christ in a practical, personal, and intimate way. His intent is that you, “. . know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Read Ephesians 3:17-20 NIV.

Intellectual knowledge alone is inadequate for the personal and experiential knowledge of Christ that Paul sought. He desired a transformative experience of soul and spirit that redeems the heart (See Romans 7:15-26 NIV) and forever alters the desires and direction of one’s life. Read Acts 9:1-6. Subsequently, Paul pledged a devotion to Christ that did not exclude the most severe of mortal threats. “None of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself . .” See Acts 20:22-24.

Relational integrity is essential for spiritual intimacy. Information without corresponding experience becomes intellectual, without relational integrity. As I intend, “relational integrity” describes a commitment to absolute authenticity in relating to God or others. Authenticity is the only enduring basis for real intimacy. Worse yet, intellectual information without corresponding, spiritual experience immunizes you from a real and vital relationship with God.

As a young, college student preparing for ministry, I prayed that Paul’s passion for Christ would be my passion as well. “That I may know [Christ] and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10. This verse became, and remains today, my “life verse.” Paul’s words describe my purpose and objective. I am committed to daily experience an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Paul’s passion to “know Christ,” expressed an unparalleled intimacy, with disregard for suffering or sacrifice. The same expression is found in the Old Testament, “Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived . .” (Genesis 4:1), as well as in the New Testament, describing Mary’s incredulity at the angel’s announcement, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Luke 1:30-38. The word expresses experiential knowledge that forcefully creates and releases new life. Do not be content to know about God, without experiencing Christ personally and powerfully. Anything less is inadequate.

Passionately, Paul desired an encounter with Jesus that releases God’s power and new life, in and through him. Such spiritual intimacy evidences itself in a power for life that is linked to and sourced from the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. See Ephesians 1:17-21 NIV. Nothing you encounter will ever prove His Resurrection power insufficient. In Jesus’ resurrection, God turned apparent defeat into glorious triumph.  Whatever is broken in your life can be fixed. What seems listless and lifeless can receive life abundantly.

If you desire anything more than Him, then your passion to know Him as He desires to be known is lacking. Jesus was clear, “And this is the way to have eternal life – to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You have sent to earth.”  John 17:3 NLT. There is a depth of relationship that results from intimate fellowship experienced with God through Christ. Only then will you know the power that flows from His Resurrection into the very circumstances where you walk and live every day.

Today, my prayer for you is to know Jesus to the extent you could never again be the same.

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Rooted and Established

September 13th, 2013

“May you be rooted deep . . and founded securely on (God’s) love.”  Ephesians 3:17 AMP.

Grow a life with depth of character, fidelity of discipleship, and sincere spirituality.

My thoughts and comments today are about “rooted and established.”

There is more than a single dimension to a meaningful life. Everyone wants to reach high and spread wide. A successful life has depth. “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power . . to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV. That’s depth! Shallow living is quickly exposed as inadequate for stability and strength. Growth that is high and wide is external; real and enduring growth is first internal and unseen.

Did you know that a tree’s sustainable growth is symmetrical? The tree that spreads its branches wide and towers heavenward will fall with the first strong wind unless its roots sink deeply into the earth. A strong, healthy tree stands because its taproot reaches deeply in proportion to its height, while its other roots extend broadly proportional to its breadth.The spirit of man is that way.

The Bible describes the person who would be, “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so . .” Psalm 1:3-4 NKJV. And what does that person do differently from others? There are several things a successful person does not do: he does not regard the opinions, beliefs, or counsel of the ungodly; he does not companion with sinners; he does not regard lightly what is holy. Read Psalm 1:1 NKJV.

Even more importantly, this is what a successful person does. He delights in and does what God says, and his life is absorbed with God’s truth. Psalm 1:2 NKJV. Information only takes you so far, however much you gain and however highly you prize it. God’s Word is inspiration, giving a rich depth to your life where you draw strength that nourishes and establishes your soul.

It is not information about God that grounds you; it is your intimate, personal knowledge of God and your relationship with Him that deepen your love for Him. Since college, a life verse of mine has been a cry from the heart of the Apostle Paul, “That I may know Him in the power of His Resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable even unto His death.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV. Power, suffering, death – those are anything but shallow living. The heart with a passion to know Jesus has roots planted deeply where life will flourish for a lifetime.

In His parable about seed and soils, Jesus warned of a sterile, shallow life. “Other seeds fell upon shallow soil with underlying rock. The plants sprang up quickly, but they soon wilted beneath the hot sun and died because the roots had no nourishment in the shallow soil . . the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word.” Matthew 13:5-6/20-21. Go deep. Grow a life with depth of character, consistency of practice, fidelity of discipleship, and sincere spirituality. Attach your life securely to the One who is eternal.

My prayer for you today is that your roots go deeply into God’s character, truth, and love.

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Knowing God

November 2nd, 2012

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 NIV.

Knowing anyone requires significant investments of your heart and time.

My thoughts and comments today are about “knowing God.”

How do you actually get to know someone, really know them? There have been times I thought I knew a person, only to be surprised to find how little I knew them and how little they knew me. Acquaintances are many; friends are few. Facebook reinforces our fuzzy concept of friends. But it takes more than clicking “Confirm” to become a friend.  Friendships are the product of significant investments of heart and time with one another.  Sufficient time and shared experiences are essential to truly know and trust one another and by those, enduring friendships are formed. Relationship is the process of welcoming and sharing life with others.

But my thoughts today are about a relationship unlike any other – a lifelong pursuit of knowing God personally and intimately. Knowing God is so much more than having intellectual knowledge about God. The Bible advises, “Acquaint yourself with [God] and be at peace. Thereby good will come to you.” Job 22:21 NKJV. Knowing God requires time and meaningful interaction; it is more about your heart than your head. There are many who know about God; you can truly know God in life-changing ways. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3 NKJV.

In fact, you cannot really know God without willingness for life-change to occur. From personal experience Paul wrote, “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun. All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to Himself through what Christ did . . for God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 NLT.

God invites you to know Him, “Be still and know that I am God.“ Psalm 46:10 NIV. Time and attention are essential elements for knowing God. God says, “Be still.” See also Psalm 131:1-2 NLT. But our lives are anything but still. The business and busyness of your world competes with the inner poise necessary for knowing God. Knowing God requires slowing your pace deliberately, and hearing God demands the practiced discipline of listening with your heart. Isaiah’s prophetic words are clear, “The Sovereign Lord says, ‘Only in returning to Me and waiting for Me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.’” Read Isaiah 30:15-18 NLT.

In college, my life verse and heart’s cry was and remains, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV. I don’t claim to have achieved that, but I know my heart still yearns to know Him. I want to know God, and I want you to know Him in a real and personal way. See Daniel 11:32 NKJV. Do not be as those Paul describes, “Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live.” Titus 1:16 NLT. Know God and let the evidence be “to walk just as [Jesus] walked.” See 1 John 2:3-6/4:8 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you will invest your heart and time to know God a little more every day.

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