Note from Pastor Chip - Hope is what holds us up inside. It's who or what we believe makes life worth living. It's our earnest expectation and future desire that " if fulfilled " will bring the happiness and satisfaction we are seeking to experience. Paul teaches us to beware of false hope.. in religion, in your performance, In what you can accomplish. In comparing yourself w others. It is guaranteed to disappoint , to not satisfy, to leave you empty and longing even if you're supremely successful. Real hope that will never disappoint is not a future that you control or achieve-- it's a gift.. it's a person to be known and loved by. Jesus will never leave you and never let you down.
Spend a minute bragging about yourself (or about your spouse/significant other if present). Some suggested questions to ask are:
- What is an accomplishment you really proud of?
- What is something really cool about you?
- What is your best quality?
- Philippians 3:1-7 reminds us that only God, not human effort or accomplishment, can save us. How does this make you feel?
- Why do some people gravitate to human effort, rather than God’s grace, for maintaining closeness with Him?
- Review Paul’s boasts in Phil. 3:4-6. His boasts here are very culturally specific. Think of some boasts that fit our culture that carry the same weight as what Paul expressed in these verses.
- Read Philippians 3:7-8. What does Paul mean when he says that he counts everything a loss, trash, for the sake of Christ?
- Do you view your achievements, degrees, and accomplishments as trash (for the sake of Christ) in comparison to Christ? why/why not?
- If you have been a Christian for some time, are there ways you have taken your Christian walk for granted? If you are a newer Christian, are there things you have a hard time considering “garbage” from your old way of life?
LIVE IT OUT
How can you use your credentials and achievements to show others the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as our master? Share one or two examples that come to mind.
Try an experiment this week... Plan a specific way this week that you can declare how high of a privilege it is for you to know Jesus Christ as your master. Share this with your group so they can ask you about how it went next week.
Pray today asking God to reveal areas where you are boasting in impressive credentials rather than bringing attention to Christ. At our core our identity is one of “Christian”. We must be vigilant to ensure other credentials don’t come first.
- Written by Michelle Smith
Spend time each day this week in personal study digging deeper into Philippians 3 and how Jesus provides real hope.
Day 1 -
- In Philippians 3, Paul is addressing “Judaizers.” “Judaizers” were those in Paul’s day who taught that salvation required a combination of God’s grace and human effort or ceremony, specifically, circumcision. What are some examples of this in modern-day church?
- In what ways have you believed that your human effort was necessary for your salvation?
Day 2 -
- Read Psalm 35:9-10. The command, “Rejoice in the Lord” appears here, just like in Philippians 3:1. How are the two commands similar?
- Per Psalm 35:9, what are we to delight ourselves in?
Day 3 -
- Read Isaiah 31:1-3. How are these verses similar to Philippians 3:1-7?
- Both pieces of scripture address “evildoers.” Evildoers are those who put their faith in something other than God—either the strength of their government (Isaiah 31:1-3), or ceremonial rituals (Philippians 3:1-7). What are some things that you see people putting their faith in, besides God?
- What are some ways to insure you remain faithful to God, rather than other things?
Day 4 –
Read Philippians 3:4-6.
- In what ways does legalism seem to contradict God’s mercy and grace?
Day 5 –
Read Philippians 3:5-6.
- To understand Paul’s reference more thoroughly, it’s important to know that Benjamin was Jacob’s youngest son and before he died, Jacob gave Benjamin his blessing; However, the blessing had a dark side, since in the blessing Benjamin was compared to a “ravenous wolf.” From what we know of Paul, how was Paul (Saul) once a “ravenous wolf” prior to coming to Christ in “persecuting the church?”
- How have traits from your family of origin both positively and negatively contributed to your faith?