By Mary Parker
Have you ever been devoted or deeply committed to someone or something? It may be work, school, family or even a hobby or a cause you adamantly support. Being dedicated to your passion is one thing, but being driven by salvation through Jesus alone is a completely different story.
In his letter to the people of Philippi, Paul writes that he once had every reason to have “confidence in the flesh.” He was circumcised according to Jewish law, was a well-known Pharisee and even proclaimed to be a zealot for God, and under the law, “faultless” (Philippians 3:4-6). In short, Paul has more reason than anyone to be committed to his faith through good works and the law.
Faith in himself however, didn’t save him from the temporary blindness he experienced through a personal encounter with Jesus. Because Paul was so dedicated and committed to the law, Jesus had to take extreme measures to meet him and change his life according to the real will of God, not just by abiding the law. Once Paul recognized Jesus’ holiness, he submitted himself and completely turned his life around, literally changing the world for God by taking the gospel across the Roman empire. Pursuing a relationship with Jesus often means changing our commitments, and- more importantly- your direction.
Even though Paul endured great trials of faith for his commitment to Jesus, he lovingly writes that everything he once prized, his good works and commitment to the flesh, seem to be “garbage” compared to a life following Jesus (3:8). I’m not suggesting that your family or hobbies should be discarded, but perhaps we all should take a minute to compare the temporary, worldly possession and pastimes we enjoy to the eternal salvation we have in Jesus. He has rescued us from the murk and mire so that we don’t have to endure suffering forever! That’s something to really prioritize and value.
As Paul experienced a transformation of the heart upon meeting Jesus, he turned his commitment from worldly pursuits to Jesus and “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:9). Paul works diligently throughout the New Testament to help people, walking firmly in the direction of Jesus. “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (3:12-14).
God used Paul’s gifts, especially his passion and thirst for righteousness, to change the world. But the biggest shift was Paul’s focus from worldly desires to relentlessly and unapologetically pursuing Jesus.
How can we follow Paul’s example and use our gifts to reach others for God?
What things in your life overshadow devotion to God? How can we relinquish the hold on us and give in to faith in Jesus alone?
Lord, You are so holy and mighty. You are eternally loving, sovereign, and gracious. I am so quick to lose sight of who You are, and how much greater You are than anything else in my life. Help me to set aside all else for the sake of knowing You. Remind me of Your goodness and mercy today. Amen.
Mary Parker is an Air Force wife who works as a public relations writer. A South Carolina girl at heart, she and her husband have recently relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska. Mary spends her spare time honing exercise and cooking skills, and is a self-proclaimed DIY addict. You can read about how faith and hope shape military family life, and check out Mary's latest projects at her blog, Mary's Mischief.
“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2-5).
Remembering how God pulled me out of a pit of despair in order to grant me new life helped me understand this truth: God saved me for a purpose! God gives us a new blessed life in free of fear and worry. He brings us from deep darkness into marvelous light. Putting that sharp contrast into perspective
reminds me to be thankful, no matter the circumstances.
I am alive in God! I am whole in Christ! I am redeemed and set free! I am forgiven! I choose not to live in fear!
Dear Sister, as you walk through today- potentially a difficult path where you feel the pain of every step- I ask you to remember where you have been and how God’s love has saved you. Cling to the truth of His salvation: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23). Remember Jesus’ sacrifice and hold onto the hope of salvation. Know that as our circumstances change, our God stays the same, and He wants to redeem you today!
Your Sister in Christ, Mary
Mary Parker is an Air Force wife who works as a public relations writer. A South Carolina girl at heart, she and her husband have recently relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska. Mary spends her spare time honing exercise and cooking skills, and is a self-proclaimed DIY addict. You can read about how faith and hope shape military family life, and check out Mary's latest projects, at her blog, Mary's Mischief.
“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
Laura is a Christ-follower, Navy wife, mother to one toddler, writer, and coffee drinker. She writes about Faith, Military Life, and Motherhood at her blog, Embracing this Life.
By Molly Huggins
On a recent Sunday, between training a reluctant first grader to sit still in church and keeping the new babe quiet, I managed to hear our pastor preach on Romans 12:1. This is a miracle. I rarely hear more than brief phrases in the chaos of our Sundays. I heard these words:
But--and pay attention here, this is big--we are set free by the mercies of a just God. And every thought, word, and deed we have in this lifetime is a response, sacrificial or selfish, to the grace we’ve been given.
Sisters, there is mercy for you in the dark days. And even in the moments that seem to break us, gratitude flows with grace, a living sacrifice to the Father who freed us.
Stop today, and practice giving thanks. Meditate for a moment on the blessings God has given you. Jot down a few. What can you thank Him for today, regardless of circumstances?
Heavenly Father, thank You for being a giver of good gifts. Even in brokenness, and tiredness, and stress- You are good, and what You do is good. Today I choose to set aside my thoughts of self and to praise You with an open, joyful heart. Fill me up with the knowledge of Your grace and truth today. Open my eyes to the gifts all around me, so that I might live with a posture of gratitude toward You. Amen.
Molly Huggins (All The Grace Between) is an Army bride, one-time helicopter pilot, compulsive writer, friend seeker, and lover of color and all things textile. Her current occupation is ringmaster of the Huggins family circus (party of five). She has a B.A. in English from Covenant College and a passion for meeting other women right in the middle of their own messy stories. Pull up a chair at her virtual beat-up kitchen table, listen to her stories, and maybe even tell her yours.
I recently walked through a season of loneliness while my husband was away frequently, and lived far from family. I learned a lot in the last few years about who I am and how God works in a heart. I also learned that nothing He brings us through is without purpose. He always has a plan, and He has proven himself trustworthy during years that were difficult.
We recently moved to a different duty station and I’m thrilled about this one. Beforehand, I didn’t know we were going to move close to family. I was convinced we would find ourselves in another location far from our loved ones. But God blessed us and brought us to a place of rest, and I am delighted! He is faithful to care for us, and in this change of seasons, I’m learning He knows us well and delights in blessing our families. But, I’m aware in order to grow we have to go through times of trial.
“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
I don't know what difficult season you find yourself in. Maybe your spouse is away, or the work hours are long and you are desperate for a break. Don’t give up. Stand firmly in Christ, being confident that God is going to keep on working in you and through you, no matter what circumstances you might face. Trust that God will be faithful to your family, and that this season is part of His amazing plan for you.
He will use this experience for His glory and your good.
Am I trusting the Lord in every area of my life?
What things do I struggle to trust Him with?
Where have I seen God’s faithfulness in my life lately?
Father God, You are true and faithful. I know that You promise to continue working in me and through me, even in difficult times. Help me to trust You for that. Give me eyes to see Your goodness today, so that I might live a life of praise and not a life of complaint. I trust Your plan, because You are good. Use me today to build Your kingdom. Amen.
Laura is a Christ-follower, Navy wife, mother to one toddler, writer, and coffee drinker. She writes about Faith, Military Life, and Motherhood at her blog, Embracing This Life.