Sometimes we get disappointed with ourselves because we’re believers but our actions (or maybe reactions) aren’t what we want them to be in certain situations. Sometimes we get disheartened because we know God could change some things in us, but He hasn’t yet. Sometimes the battle is an old one-- that “thorn in the flesh.” Sometimes we don’t feel like “more than conquerors”, and yet, we know we have a Champion for whom nothing is impossible and Who is “for” us, not “against” us. Sometimes trying to walk like Jesus walked seems too hard, and it’s easier to say, “I give up” instead of looking up and trying one more time.Negative thoughts and feelings can really discourage us, paralyze us, and drag us into despair. We need to take them captive and bring them to Christ. We are not perfect human beings. We need to confess our sins and shortcomings. We need to accept hardship as the Lord’s discipline, knowing that we’re being changed for the better. Our hearts and our faith are being purified. In the meantime, Jesus says His grace is sufficient for us. God’s Word tells us that He is indeed working in us to will and to do His good pleasure. We’re encouraged to stand firm and to put on the armor of God in Ephesians 6. And in order to think like Christ, we need to meditate on God's Word which contains whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, noteworthy, excellent. (We're told to think on these things in Phil. 4:8) Then we can trust God to take care of our concerns and problems that we’ve laid out before Him in prayer. We can cast all our anxieties on Jesus because He cares for us. We can trust Jesus. But it’s hard to trust Him if you don’t know Him.
Almost a year ago, I placed a card on my refrigerator that had this verse on it: “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [the power it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death.” (Phil. 3:10; Amp)“For my determined purpose” caught my attention when I read it again recently. If I’m going to continue this spiritual walk I’m on, I’ve got to be determined and turn away from anything that would keep me from knowing Jesus my Lord deeply and intimately, as well as knowing His spiritual power. I can’t imagine a better example of someone more determined than Paul, the writer of Phil 3:10 and Phil. 4:8. Beaten, flogged, jailed, chained, chased, surviving shipwrecks, ridiculed, rejected. He must have been determined since he never gave up. It inspires me and convicts me to make knowing Jesus my determined purpose because Jesus went through much worse for me. Beaten, flogged, ridiculed, rejected, spit upon, crucified, pierced. But that wasn’t the end. He had to endure the cup of God’s wrath for the sins of the world in addition to the physical suffering. I can’t even imagine what all He went through for me and for you. And then, victory—just as He promised. Resurrection. Hope. Eternal life.
Paul says something else about his trials as he continued in his determined purpose—“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength….” (2 Tim. 4:17, NIV) We can count on the Lord standing by us. As soon as we cry out, He strengthens us. Jesus loves us with an unfailing, unending, unconditional love. He is worthy of our love, our devotion, our determined purpose to know Him.