From this day forward, I serve God by his Spirit, I boast in Christ Jesus, I put no confidence in the flesh—though I have reasons for such confidence.
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: called to ministry at age 10, valedictorian of my high school class, one of the top 100 graduating seniors in the state of Oklahoma, named the top incoming scholar at my university, academic scholarship, graduated summa cum laude, living my life for Christ, sacrificing myself for others, receiving worldly success and awards along the way.
But, I no longer rest on my laurels or want to live in my fleshly accomplishments. Those things in which I used to pride myself I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage. Living my life in my own power—in the flesh—accomplishes nothing but temporal benefits. I want to live my life in light of eternity! I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal. Instead, this journey has only just begun. I have so far to go, so much to learn! But I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. And, oh the grip He has on me right now! Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: 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.
From this day forward, my old life is crucified with Christ. I quit living life in my own power! I quit parenting my children! I quit working my job! I quit trying to do ministry! It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God—the one who loved me and gave himself for me! I listen for His voice, directing my every step, my every word! I trust Him to take my life, my heart, my all and use it as He sees fit.
I quit living my life for the approval of man. I no longer look for the awards of man or the praise of man. I no longer care how many comments or “likes” I get. I will no longer even look at those numbers because they are meaningless to me. Rubbish! Dung! Instead, I live only for the approval of God! I live to hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
I pray constantly that God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, would give me spiritual wisdom and insight so that I might grow in my knowledge of God. I pray that my heart will be flooded with light so that I can understand the confident hope he has given to all of us—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
I also pray that I might understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. It is unbelievable that the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand is available to me every moment of every day! Why should I be considered worthy to have that power available?
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower me with inner strength through his Spirit. I pray that His power will take my humble attempts at service for Him and transform them into a powerful ministry. I pray that I never operate out of my own human strength again! I pray that Christ will make his home in my heart as I attempt to trust in him every moment of every day. I pray that my roots will grow down into God’s love and keep me strong. And may I have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. I pray that I will experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully so that I will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
WhenI am truly operating in His power and not my own, I know that my God who is able through his mighty power that is at work within me will accomplish infinitely more than I could ever ask or think or imagine! I trust Him to take my insignificant offering, my life, and use it for His glory!
(Dena’s personal paraphrase of Philippians 1:16-20, 3:4-10, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 3:16-20, and other selected passages)