1. Last week, Jeff began a series in Philippians, entitled, "To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain". When you think of that title, how does it immediately strike you? It is from Philippians 1:21, which we will look at today in the sermon, but what are your initial thoughts? Jeff said last week, "It takes courage to be a Christian, and we get our courage from Christ." Would that mesh with the thoughts of 1:21?
2. Read 1:6. The idea of completion Paul talks about has to do with Greek sacrificial rituals, language this Greek city would have been familiar with. The language used for "begin a good work, and perform it (or complete it)" had to do with sacrificing something. Here, God does the sacrificing, and who is the sacrifice? Yep! You and me! How do you feel about that idea? Its a good work for God to sacrifice you - it takes you someplace you might not go on your own (see Romans 12).
3. If God sacrificed His own Son, what might He want with you? Paul emphasized this idea of living sacrifice (Romans 12), old man dead, rising as new man (Romans 6), crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). Now look at 1:12, "I want you to know that the things which have happened to ME..., have worked for the furtherance of the gospel" We have a saying, "It is what it is..." I've thought a lot about that statement since first hearing it. Its always bugged me, but I used it along with everyone else. I'm not sure everyone had the same fatalistic bent to them that I can have, but it really seems a hopeless statement, used to express exasperation with situations that seem beyond our control. While Paul could certainly say of his imprisonment and shipwrecks and trouble that, "It is what it is," it seems that over and over again, Paul says something more like, "It is what God wills," or, like Joseph, "what you meant for harm, God has used for good." The things that have happened to you - are they useful to God? Have you let go of them sufficiently for Him to grab hold and make beauty from ashes?
Have a great week!
Peace in Christ,