Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi. More specifically, today’s reading is found in the first eleven verses of the third chapter. When we come to this particular passage within the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippians we find him preparing to bring this letter to a close. The apostle Paul begins the first verse of the third chapter with the word “Finally, this indicating final or concluding remarks being written unto the saints were in this city. What’s more, is the apostle Paul goes on to instruct and encourage these saints to rejoice. It’s actually quite remarkable that when you come to this particular passage of scripture you first find the apostle Paul instructing these saints to rejoice, but then in the midst of that rejoicing they were instructed to beware of dogs, as well as to beware of the concision, or those who would seek to put grievous and laborious restrictions and limitations upon them—whether it be burdens within their bodies and upon their flesh, or burdens upon their souls and minds. If there is one thing you will learn and encounter when reading the New Testament book of Acts, it’s that the followers of the Way of Christ found themselves experiencing a tremendous amount of opposition and resistance to their faith. As you read the New Testament book of the Acts of the apostles you will find that the followers of Jesus Christ were constantly in danger of false brethren and those who would resist the way of Jesus Christ. In fact, when you come to the tenth chapter of the book of Acts you will find a small dispute and debate taking place in the city of Jerusalem because the apostle Peter went in among Gentiles and ate with them. Even when you read the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Galatians you will find the apostle describing how he withstood Peter to his face because he withdrew himself from Gentiles and Greeks when certain of those in Jerusalem came unto him. The apostle Paul openly and publicly withstood Peter because of his error in thinking among the brethren.
When we come to the third chapter of the apostle Paul which was written unto the Philippians congregation we come to a passage are the apostle Paul begins to set forth the clear distinctions and differences between boasting in the flesh and boasting in Jesus Christ. If you read this third chapter which is found within this epistle you will find the apostle Paul describing those things within his life which he once thought were gain, and immediately transitioned and set them against the only thing that matters in this life. THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS! As we read the words of the apostle Paul within this passage of Scripture it is absolutely imperative that we recognize and understand that he was seeking to set forth very clearly and succinctly the reality that he out absolutely no glory in the flesh. The apostle Paul put absolutely no stock in the credentials of the flesh and those things which most men would naturally glory and boast of. Did you know that it is in our nature to glory in our strengths, and to glory in our flesh? Did you know that it is in our nature to boast and become arrogant over those things of the flesh which countless others around us out stick in? No one has to teach us how to put stock and boast of resumes, and titles, and positions, and various other realities we out weight and stock in. If you go into any doctors office, or you go into any dentists office you will undoubtedly find a number of plaques on the wall which house their chariots degrees—degrees which they obtained through years of study and practice. Now, on the one hand walking into such an office and seeing such degrees proves that the individual you are working with has put in the time, the effort, and the practice to learn the skills which are necessary to perform that for which you have come to them. Such degrees and plaques prove to us that we are essentially I good hands, and that we can trust those whom we have come to work with. On the other hand, however, I am convinced that we can be so caught up with boasting of our own accomplishments and our own merits that there is absolutely no room left for the strength and person of Christ.
As I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi I can’t help but hear within my heart and spirit the overwhelming question which pertains to our arrogant boasting, the confidence we place in the arm of the flesh and the strength we believe we possess in and of ourselves. The more I consider and ponder the words of the apostle Paul within this passage the more I am absolutely and completely gripped with and by the reality that there are a number of men and women who place so much confidence in the arm of the flesh that there is absolutely no room or place for the strength of Christ within their lives. I can hear the Spirit of Christ right now asking men and women a very pointed and powerful question—the questions that asks what need there is for Him within their lives. If such individuals are going to put such an overwhelming amount of trust and confidence in the arm of the flesh, what room is possibly left for the strength which is in Christ to be manifested and present within their lives. If the only confidence and trust that is needed is in one’s own ability, merits, strength, and the like, what need is there of Christ in their live? Perhaps these words directly apply to you at this moment within your life. Perhaps you are an individual who places and abundance of merit, stock, trust and confidence in the arm of the flesh and in human strength that there is absolutely no room or space left for the person and presence of Christ. There is a growing tendency within our hearts and lives to place an exorbitant amount of merit and stock in the arm of the flesh, and even in the strength and might we think and believe ourselves to possess. There is a great temptation within our hearts, within our minds, and within our lives to completely abandon any trust and any confidence in the person and presence of Christ, and to rely solely on the arm of the flesh and our own strength and merit. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the prophet Zechariah prophesied unto Zerubbabel in the prophetic book which bears his name. Consider if you will the words which this ancient Hebrew prophet proclaimed unto this governor of a returned and restored people: “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it” (Zechariah 4:6-7).
There is a passage found in the sixteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles, which I feel needs to be inserted in this writing concerning the tremendous danger in placing trust and confidence in the arm of the flesh, and in the strength of man. If you read the first six verses of this particular chapter you will find a recounting of the reign of Asa king of Judah. Consider if you will the words which the author of the book of Second Chronicles wrote in the first six verses of the sixteenth chapter: “In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the kings’ house, and sent to Ben-Hadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha k ing of Israel, that he may depart from me. And Ben-hadad heartened unto Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel; and they smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abel-maim, and all the store cities of Naphtali. And it came to pass, when Baasha heard it, that he left off building Ramah, and let his work cease. Then Asa the king took all Judah; and they carried away the stones of Rama, and the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha was building; and he built therewith Geba and Mizpah” (2 Chronicles 16:1-6). Within this particular passage of Scripture we read that in the thirty sixth year of the reign of Asa king of Judah Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah. The king of Israel did so with the express purpose that he might not let any go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. As you read the account of Asa king of Judah you will find that instead of, and rather than placing trust and confidence in the strength, in the might, in the power of the living God, he instead took of the silver and gold from the Temple of the Lord, and even from the king’s own house, and sent them unto Ben-Hadad king of Syria who resided in Damascus. The entire purpose and intent of Asa’s actions was to bring the king of Syria to his aid to help him rid the kingdom of Judah from the threat of Baasha king of Israel. The account goes on to describe and reveal how Ben-hadad did in fact hearken unto Asa, and not only broke his league with Baasha king of Israel, but also came with his armies and captains against Baasha and the northern kingdom of Israel. This passage goes on to describe how the captains and armies of Syria not only smote Ijon and Dan, but also Abel-maim, and all the store cities of Naphtali. It came to pass as a result of this action that Baasha left off building Ramah, and caused his work to cease.
Now, while on the surface this might not seem like a significant passage of Scripture as it pertains to placing trust and confidence in the arm of the flesh and in the strength of man, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we continue reading within this passage. If you pick up and begin reading with and from the seventh verse of the sixteenth chapter you will find that at this particular time—during a time of perceived peace, safety and security during the days of Asa—the Spirit of the Lord raised up a particular seer to bring unto him a very specific message. Consider if you will the words which are recorded in this passage of Scripture beginning with the seventh verse of the sixteenth chapter: “And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thout hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars. Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time” (2 Chronicles 7-10). Within this passage of Scripture it is worth noting that when Hanani the seer came unto Asa king of Judah, the very first words out of his mouth were “Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God.” It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the tremendous significance of these words which the seer spoke unto the king of Judah, for not only did he declare unto him that he relied on the king of Syria, but he also did so instead of and in spite of relying on the Lord. Within the words of this particular seer we encounter the tremendous reality that within and throughout our lives we are faced with a very clear decision on how we are going to act, and how we are going to proceed—either we are going to trust in and rely on the Lord, or we are going to trust in and rely on the arm of the flesh and in human strength
As you read this passage of Scripture it is worth noting that in addition to the seer Hanani declaring unto Asa king of Judah that he relied on the king of Syria rather than relying on the Lord of hosts, the host of the king of Syria was escaped out of his hand. What’s more, is this particular seer brought Asa face to face with a previous event which took place during his reign. The prophet seer asked Asa king of Judah concerning the Ethiopians and the Lubims, and how they were a great host which marched against them with great number and force. The seer went on to declare unto Asa that because he trusted in and relied upon the Lord of hosts during this time, the Lord delivered them into his hand. Despite the fact that they were a huge host and came with many chariots and horsemen, because Asa trusted and relied upon the Lord his God for the battle, the Lord delivered this huge host into his hands. The seer went on to make one of the most profound declarations that is found in all of Scripture—one that I am convinced is grossly and widely misused and misquoted. IN the ninth verse of this particular chapter the seer Hanani declares unto Asa that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). We have often read these words, and we have often quoted them with great ease within our hearts and lives, yet I am convinced that we fail to understand exactly what the seer was declaring unto Asa. It was true that Hanani declared unto Asa that the yes of the Lord do in fact run to and fro throughout the whole earth in order that He might shew Himself strong, but the reality of the matter is what the Lord is actually looking for when He scans the face of the whole earth. The seer Hanani goes on to reveal exactly what the Lord of hosts was looking for when He scans the face of the whole earth, for he looks to shew Himself strong on the behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him. Did you know that it is the desire of the Lord to shew Himself strong on your behalf? Did you know that it is the desire of the Lord to shew Himself strong within your life? Did you know that it is the will and desire of the Lord to shew Himself strong regardless of whatever situation and circumstance you face within and throughout your life? With that being said, did you know that even though the Lord desires to shew Himself strong on your behalf, He displays and shews His strength when your heart is perfect toward Him.
There is a passage found within the Old Testament prophetic book fo Isaiah which helps describe this particular reality as it was manifested and demonstrated within the heart of Hezekiah king of Judah. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the thirty-sixth chapter of this book you will find the account of Sennacherib king of Assyria coming up against Hezekiah, Jerusalem and all of Judah threatening them with war, devastation and destruction. Consider if you will the account as it was recorded by the prophet Isaiah: “Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them. And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field. Then came forth unto him Eliakim, Hilkiah’s son, which was over the house, and Shebna the scribe, and Joan, Asaph’s son, the recorder. And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? I say, sayest thou, (But they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war: now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. But if thou say to me, We trust in the Lord our God: is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and said to Judah and to J erusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar? Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? And am I now come up without the Lord against this land to destroy it? The Lord said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it” (Isaiah 36:1-10). As you continue reading this particular passage you will find that Rabshakeh went on to deliver even more threatening and alarming words unto those within the kingdom of Judah. Consider if you will what is recorded beginning with the fourteenth verse:
“Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you. Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith he king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and e very one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern; until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The Lord will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyira? Where are the gods of Hamath and AR-had? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? And have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not” (Isaiah 36:14-21).
This particular passage is actually quite remarkable and astonishing when you take the time to read and consider it very carefully, for within this passage of Scripture we find an opposing and threatening force coming up against Hezekiah and the entire southern kingdom of Judah. The king of Assyria sent a great host unto the city of Jerusalem, and even sent a specific emissary and messenger unto Judah with words of submission and surrender before and unto them. As you read this particular passage you will not only find the king of Assyria declaring unto them that their trust and confidence in Pharaoh and the host and army of Egypt was futile and vain, and that they could not trust in and rely on Pharaoh or Egypt, for Egypt was a like a broken reed upon which if they leaned themselves on it, it would pierce them. What’s more, is the king of Assyria even declared unto them that their trust and their confidence in the Lord was misguided and misplaced, and that they were not to even place any trust and confidence in the Lord. Should they choose to trust in the Lord rather than trusting in the arm of the flesh and the strength of man, the king of Assyria declared unto them that such was futile, and that it was misguided. The king of Assyria not only threatened their trust and their confidence in the arm of the flesh, but he also threatened and assaulted their trust and their confidence in the Lord of hosts as well. We dare not, we cannot, we must not miss and lose sight to this reality, for the king of Judah was faced with essentially three choices and three decisions which needed to be made. On the one hand the king of Judah could have chosen to trust in and rely on the arm of the flesh—trust in and rely on Pharaoh and the host of the Egyptian army to deliver them out of the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyira. On the other hand the king of Judah could trust in and rely on the Lord to bring about deliverance out of the hand of the king of Assyria rather than relying on the arm of the flesh and the strength of man. The third and final option the king of Judah faced and could have chosen was to submit and surrender to Sennacherib king of Assyria and to give in to his threats and demands. There was a great danger in two of these realities, for one choice would have most certainly caused them to become slaves, servants and vassals of the king of Assyria, while the other choice would have caused them to place their trust and confidence in the arm of the flesh, and in the strength of man. If you continue reading the account of Hezekiah within the prophetic book of Isaiah, you will find that Hezekiah took all the words of Sennacherib which Rabshakeh had set forth before them, and placed them before the Lord of hosts in the temple of the Lord. As a result of Hezekiah’s decision to place his trust and confidence in the Lord for deliverance, the Lord sent the prophet Isaiah to declare unto him that Sennacherib would not launch a single arrow within and against the kingdom of Judah, and would not bring Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah under his control.
The reason I chose to include such references found within the Old Testament is to set forth two examples of the tremendous danger of placing our trust and confidence in the arm of the flesh and in the strength of men. What’s more, is that there is a great danger in our trusting in the arm of our own flesh, as well as the strength which we think and believe ourselves to possess. The apostle Paul was a man who made it his singular life ambition and desire to place absolutely no trust and confidence in his flesh, nor even to rely upon his own strength. In fact, there are two specific references found within the second epistle which he wrote unto the Corinthian congregation which must be considered in light of this reality found within the Philippian epistle. The first is found in the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints beginning with the twenty-second verse: “Are they Hebrews? So am I? Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am i. Are they ministers of Christ? (I spake as a fool) I am more; in labour more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watching often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak ,and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities” (2 Corinthians 11:22-30). Within this particular passage of Scripture the apostle Paul sets forth the various conflicts, the various struggles, the various trials, the various troubles he faced within and throughout the course of his life, and then when it was all said and done, he concluded by emphatically and boldly declaring that if he needs to glory, he would glory of the things which concern his infirmities. This declaration of glorying in his infirmities perfectly sets the stage for what we find and read in the very next chapter, for it is in the next chapter where we find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring unto the Corinthians his refusal to put any trust and confidence in the flesh, and His complete and sole trust in the person and presence of Jesus Christ:
“Of such an one will I glory; yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thin I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I will take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:6-10).
The words we read and the words we find in these two passages within the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints are absolutely and incredibly necessary for us to understand when reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian congregation. In the third verse of this passage the apostle Paul declares and makes no apology that we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. The apostle goes on to declare that though he could indeed and could in fact have confidence in the flesh—perhaps more than any other man who would dispute that reality. In the fourth verse the apostle Paul declares that if any other man thinks that he has reason and merit to place confidence in the flesh, he has all the more reason to glory in his own flesh. The apostle Paul would go on to write of himself that he was “circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:5-6). What I so absolutely love about the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture is that even though he could in fact Place confidence in his flesh, he would choose to abstain and refuse to do so. What’s more, is the apostle Paul would go on to declare that what things were once gain to him, those things he counted as loss for Christ. As the apostle Paul looked back over his life—over everything he had accomplished and everything he had amassed in his life prior to and before Christ—he determined that everything before Christ was of no worth, was of no value, and was of no gain to him. The apostle Paul had determined and made up in his mind that the only thing that mattered within his life was “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). What’s more, is that when you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this particular passage of Scripture you will find that it was for the sake of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord whom he suffered the loss of all things, and did count them but dung in order that he might win Christ. What I so love about the apostle Paul, is that not only did he choose not to place any trust, any confidence, any merit in the arm of the flesh and in the strength of man, but he also counted all things before Christ as loss and dung. It was this apostle who wrote and declared that if any man was in Christ, that man was a new creation, for old things have passed away, and behold, all things are and have become new, and this reality includes those things which were once gain unto him.
The more I read and consider the words of the apostle Paul unto the Philippian congregation, the more am gripped with the tremendous reality of what it is we are pursuing, and what it is that truly does in fact matter to us. The apostle Paul emphatically declared that those things which he once counted as gain unto himself he now counted as loss for the sake of the excellency of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul emphatically wrote concerning our worshipping God in the spirit, and our rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and how such realities make absolutely no provision for having any confidence in the flesh. I absolutely love how the apostle Paul—not once, but twice—declares unto the Philippians that he counted all things as loss for the sake of knowing Christ. What’s more, is the apostle goes on to describe that everything which he held of value and worth in his life before Christ he now counts as dung in order that he might win Christ. Furthermore, the apostle Paul would go on to declare how he desired to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. I am convinced that the excellency of knowing Christ, and the concept and reality of winning Christ in this particular passage of Scripture places squarely and solely before us within our eyes the tremendous reality that there is absolutely no room in anyone’s life for the strength and the person of Christ if they are going to place trust and confidence in the arm of the flesh. I am convinced that if we choose to place trust and confidence in the arm of the flesh, and even in those things which we perhaps haven’t moved on from in our past, there is absolutely no room left for Christ to show up, show off and manifest. Perhaps the single greatest question I can and would ask you right now at this juncture is whether or not there is any room left within your life for Jesus Christ to show up and show off. Is there any room left within your life for the strength of Christ to be made perfect in your weakness, or do you spend so much time, effort and energy—not only trying to live in your own strength, but also boasting of your own strength? Is there any place for the manifestation of the strength, the might and the power of Christ to be manifested and present within your heart and life, or have you completely shut out the provision and manifestation of His strength and might within your life? I am utterly and completely that it is only those individuals who have absolutely no provision and no confidence in the flesh who are able to truly see the manifestation of the strength and power of Christ within their lives.
ARE YOU WILLING TO COME TO THE END OF YOURSELF? I keep hearing in my spirit this truly dangerous question—and by dangerous, I mean dangerous to our flesh. I keep finding myself encountering the question whether or not we are willing to come to the end of ourselves, and even get over ourselves in order that the strength, the might, the power, and the presence of Jesus Christ might be manifested within our hearts and lives. What I so love about the words which the apostle Paul wrote is that the reason he was able to so wonderfully and powerfully see the strength and grace of Christ within his life was because he was willing to position himself in a place that others would despise and reject. In fact, I am convinced that more often than not the apostle Paul found himself in a place and position where he had to come to the end of himself, and where he could not place any trust and confidence in the flesh, for it left him with only one option, and that was trusting in Jesus Christ who was His Lord. Oh, are you willing to come to that point and place where you literally have nothing left, save Jesus Christ and Him alone? Are you willing to come to that point and place where you are completely and utterly out of all your boasting chips, and all the strength you think you possess within your own self? I absolutely love reading the word which the apostle Paul wrote concerning the trials, the troubles, the struggles, the conflicts, the tribulations he experienced, for such taught him that there was absolutely no provision or place for any trust and confidence in the flesh, nor even in the strength of man. I absolutely love reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches, for his words sought to bring them face to face with the reality that only those who have completely come to the end of themselves, and only those who have absolutely nothing left save the person and presence of Christ can in fact experience the true manifestation of the strength and grace of Christ. The Lord could declare unto the apostle Paul that His grace was sufficient for Him, and His strength could be made perfect in His weakness, for the apostle Paul regularly found himself in positions and places where human strength and human might could not sustain him. Oh, are we willing to engage ourselves in those places where there is absolutely nothing of the flesh left, and those places where the only thing that is left is the person and presence of Jesus Christ within our hearts and lives? Are we willing to place absolutely no confidence in the flesh and to count all things before Christ as loss in order that we might know Him, and the fellowship of His sufferings, and the power of His resurrection? Are we willing to lay aside our own righteousness in order that we might receive and obtain a righteousness which is not our own?