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The Futility of Our Efforts to Save Ourselves: Devotion for Lent 5

Today we focus on the Epistle, Philippians 3:4b–14, with a devotion from A Year in the Word.

Scripture Readings

Isaiah 43:16–21
Psalm 126
Philippians 3:4b–14
Luke 20:9–20

Read the propers for today in Lutheran Service Builder.

Devotional Reading

If ever there lived a man who, on the basis of personal merit, could inherit heaven, it was the apostle Paul. He could boast of righteousness, of ceremony, of ancestry, of orthodoxy, and of zeal. But he wrapped it all together and labeled it “useless stuff.” Why? He met Jesus and was captivated by Him!

In Christ Paul found everything he had tried to find in his former religious life and could not. Plagued by a restless conscience, he tried to silence it by fanaticism and persecution of the Christians.

Then he met Jesus, and the folly of his past efforts became clear. Now he knew what it meant to be at peace with God, to have the voice of conscience silenced because of sins forgiven.

Millions have had the same experience since Paul’s day. They, too, have gladly let go the “useless stuff” for the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus [their] Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

How grateful we should be that heaven is the gift of grace! If heaven were based on merit, there would be so much spiritual snobbery as to make living there insufferable. Imagine someone singing, “To me, who lived a good life, who kept the Law, who had a good conscience, who had good ancestors, who did lots of church work, to me be glory!”

The only song the entrants to heaven can sing is “To Him that loved us and washed us from our sin.”

Devotional reading is adapted from A Year in the Word, page 207 © 1999 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.


Hymn “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” is © 2018 Concordia Publishing House.



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