Weekly Devotional – Week of Monday, September 21, 2020
Opening Prayer (from the Book of Common Prayer, Occasional Prayers)
Almighty God, we thank you for the gift of your Holy Word. Come now through the power of your Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds that we may receive your truth for our lives today. Draw us ever closer to your throne of grace that we may receive help in this our time of need. Amen
Bible Reading – Philippians 3:8-16 (English Standard Version)
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, 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.
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Devotional – The Gain Outweighs the Loss
I am certainly no financial expert. I admit I read the headlines every day about the state of the Stock Market, but truthfully I do not really understand much of it. But there is one thing that even someone like me can understand, it is good news when the financial gains in the market outweigh the losses. I am pretty sure that this is the goal of every Financial Advisor. Their job is to manage your money in such a way that when the time comes your money has gained over the years much more than it has lost. The good news for them is that history has shown that this is almost always the case. As wonderful as financial gains are, the reality is that there will always be periods of loss. This is why my financial advisor Father-in-law always preaches the importance of investing for the long haul.
In this week’s reading from Philippians, Paul uses this language of gains and losses in describing what a life in Christ looks like. For a Christian, following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior means to lose everything. When Jesus called His first disciples, He invited them to leave their old lives behind and follow Him. Paul tells us that as a follower of Jesus, he lost everything he had before held most dear. Now Jesus and Paul are not telling us that we must walk away from our families and our friends, but they are telling us that we must lose the thing that we consider to be the most precious of all our possessions. The thing we hold most precious in our lives is ourselves. There is nothing more important to us than our own wellbeing, our own freedom of choice, and our own will to self-determine our destinies. This is the sinful nature that is at work in all of us. We long to be in control at all times and decide for ourselves what is good and right.
Paul made it very clear that in becoming a follower of Jesus Christ he had to first suffer the loss of this most precious of all possessions. The reason of course was because the thing he held most dear was the very thing that separated him from God. The wages of sin is death, which is an eternal separation from God. Paul had spent his life trying to earn God’s favor through his own acts of piety and righteousness. He thought that if he could do all the right things and try hard enough, then at the end of his life God would be pleased with him and grant him his reward. But by the grace of God, Jesus intervened in his life and that grace changed him forever. What Paul found in Jesus was a righteousness (right standing with God) that was not his own. When Jesus intervened in Paul’s life, He made Paul His own. Paul did not earn this grace; it was the free gift of God for his salvation. All Paul could do was to accept the gift by faith and receive the promise of eternal life won for him by Jesus on the cross and through the empty tomb.
Life is about losing ourselves to Christ and in the process gaining His righteousness and His resurrection from the dead. In many ways it hurts to lose ourselves, the process of letting go of our own sin and rebellion is often painful. But one thing is for certain, the gain we receive in Jesus far outweighs the loss of our own sinful nature. Jesus lost everything, including His own life, so that we might gain everything through faith in Him. What we have in Jesus is a stock that has eternally lost nothing and gained for us everything forever.
Closing Prayer (from the Book of Common Prayer, the Collects)
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and as we are sorely hindered by our sins from running the race that is set before us, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen