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I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ

 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ”
Philippians 3:8 NIV

When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he was sitting imprisoned and in chains, but the loss he was describing in Phil. 3:8 was not the loss of his freedom, but the loss of his self-righteousness. Before Paul met Christ on the road to Damascus, he had been a Pharisee who focused on righteousness gained through personal means, such as following laws and performing rituals. According to his description in Philippians, Paul had originally thought he was blameless through these actions, but then he learned that there is no such thing as self-justification. When Paul found Jesus, he realized that he was a sinner and could only be saved through the grace of God. This is what he meant by the loss of everything else to gain Christ. In fact, rubbish in this context meant dung or manure. He gave up his self-righteous past that focused on material, man pleasing pursuits, to turn toward a relationship with Jesus—the only thing that matters. This is why he could sit imprisoned and say that it was his past in the glory of men that was rubbish. He knew that with Christ in his heart, he could find joy in any circumstance.

This last summer I went on a cruise in the Caribbean. At the time, I was also working on a Philippians Bible study, so I decided to find a spot on the boat each day to get some work accomplished. One day I was sitting in a cushy chair at the deck railing, with an umbrella over my head, when I came across this verse. It was such a contrast to read about someone sitting in prison and writing about rubbish as I sat with my feet propped up,overlooking the view of the water. I thought about the boat and everything on it and realized that it too is rubbish compared to Christ. Everything on the cruise— the food, the pool, the entertainment, the marble floors— is all material. Yes, it is relaxing and fun to get away, but anything designed to impress men is meaningless if Jesus isn’t first in my life. A few verses later, Paul explained that “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Phil. 4:12 NIV). Whether in prison or on a cruise ship, if Christ is in my heart, I can find joy in all circumstances, because everything else is rubbish.

In Christ alone,

Erin Tabor

Photo Credit: my own photo

Pondering Proverbs: A Pig’s Snout or a Precious Jewel? (Part 5)

“A gracious woman gains respect.” 
Proverbs 11:16a NLT

As I close out this series of doses from Proverbs, I would be amiss if I didn’t cover one of the most recurring themes that I discovered – WOMEN! Whether it is a lengthy passage, or a single verse randomly placed within its pages, it is fascinating to read the diverse descriptions and details written about the female gender. To make it simple, most of the references about women fall in one of two categories – the good or the bad.

We’ll start with the ‘not so desirable’ grouping and work our way to the good. In the beginning chapters of Proverbs, one can read explicit details about the dangers and the pitfalls of falling for the seductive adulteress and the wiles of the harlot (for more on that check out Part 3 of this series). How any man could not heed the warnings of this kind of woman is beyond me! Solomon’s advice is loud and clear.

Throughout its thirty-one chapters, the Proverbs include other detrimental descriptions of women such as foolish, contentious, evil, cunning, lacking discretion, boisterous, rebellious, and unstable.  At all cost, let’s avoid these character flaws. Proverbs 11:22 sums it up with a graphic word picture.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without good sense. (NRSV)

Let’s focus now on some of the good things we find about women in the Scriptures. If you are unfamiliar with the Proverbs 31 woman, you definitely need to check her out. Verses 10 through 31 give an in depth look at a most remarkable lady. I think it only fair to assume that the lengthy description covers many years of her life as she learned and matured in her walk with God. There’s not enough room in this short devotional to list all the outstanding traits she possessed. Whether you are male or female, I trust you will take time to acquaint yourself with these verses and put into practice some of her worthy actions.

It is refreshing and encouraging to study the beneficial qualities and behaviors of a godly woman. Throughout Proverbs you will find her described as worthy, wise, prudent, excellent, virtuous, gracious, strong, and God-fearing. She attains honor; she builds her house instead of destroying it; she is the crown of her husband; she is worth more than jewels – diamonds, rubies, or pearls!

To all our female readers out there, what kind of woman do you want to be? The choice is yours. Make a wise one!                                                                                                                                 [Digging Deeper – Proverbs 12:4, 14:1, 19:14, 23:27-28, 27:15-16, 31:10-31]

His priceless jewel,

Beverly <><

 

 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of www.freeimages.com/photo/pot-belly-pig-2-1464076

Courtesy of Pixabay.com/jewels-jewelry-necklace-broach-396441

 

 

Pondering Proverbs: Les Miserables – The Miserable Ones, The Poor Ones, The Victims (Pt.4)

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” 
Proverbs 31:8-9 NIV

When a new musical movie version of Les Misérables was released in December of 2012, I made a point of seeing it on the big screen. Set in France in the 1800’s, the story is a gripping tale of an ex-convict, Jean Valjean, who finds redemption following his parole from 19 grueling and bitter years in prison. Becoming a prosperous factory owner, he spends his life as a force for good to the poor and wretched of society. The movie does an incredible job of depicting the horrible treatment the afflicted and needy endured at the hands of the wealthy upper class.  Valjean’s goodwill, however, is a poignant tribute to a life transformed by the power of God.

Valjean is a perfect example of our theme verse today. Written in the imperative, these two verses demand our attention. Inactivity is not an option. We are to speak up, stand up, and defend the rights of the deprived and poverty-stricken.

Proverbs goes on to applaud and bless those who care for the well-being of the less fortunate. Those who are gracious to the poor will be happy and blessed, as well as honored and repaid by God Himself. (Prov. 14:21, 31, 19:17, 22:9) Even a king (or anyone in leadership) who judges the poor with truth will find his throne established forever. (Prov.29:14) That’s powerful!

On the flip side, woe to those who would oppress and mock the poor or ignore their cry. To do so is to taunt God and find oneself in poverty with no one listening or caring. (Prov. 14:31, 17:5, 21:13, 22:16) To shut your eyes to the reality of the down and out will result in a life filled with curses (Prov. 28:27b) That’s scary!

As God’s beloved, I pray you will let God move your heart to always be sensitive to the needs of others, especially the underprivileged, the sick, the impoverished, the lowly. Let us strive to imitate the actions of the godly woman of Proverbs 31:20 (NIV).

            She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

[Digging Deeper – Proverbs 22:22-23, 28:27a, 29:7, and 30:14]

Willing to help,

Beverly <><

 

 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Pixabay.com/hands-poor-human-refugees-help-1005412