#160 – REJOICE IN LIFE OR DEATH (31/7/20)
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‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.’ (Philippians 1:21-26)
i) Death is an open door to joy
Joy in uncertain times comes through ‘standing’ on what we know. Paul knew that death was an open door to greater joy that would eclipse all experiences of suffering. He rejoiced in the fact that ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.’ (1:21) and ‘I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far’ (1:23).
Many of us can stand on the fear of death. None of us knows the length of our lives. Like Paul, we can stand on what we know, and can say, “I know I’m justified, have peace with God, will be with Him when I die.”
ii) Life is an open door to fruitfulness
The second thing that Paul knew from today’s text, is that all the while God gifts us with physical life, we have opportunity for fruitful service. He knew ‘If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me.’ (1:22)… I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith (1:25). If you’re alive, you have gift and opportunities for other’s ‘progress and joy in the faith’. Don’t fall into the doldrums of questioning if you are useless! Don’t compare yourself to others! Take the opportunities and use the gifts that you have for ‘fruitful labour’.
Joy comes from standing on what we know, and we know that life and death are doors to joy and service. Here are two texts to meditate and pray out of,
‘I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.’ (Romans 8:18)
‘Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.’ (1 Peter 4:10)
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY – JOY IN UNCERTAIN TIMES COMES FROM STANDING ON WHAT YOU KNOW
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Have you ever had the experience of having to stand on/hang on to something that you weren't completely sure about?
Introduction - please share in your group
Joy in uncertain times comes through ‘standing’ on what we know. There are lots of things that can cause us worry and concern, too often we stand on these, fixate on them and lose hope. However, as Christians, there are wonderful truths that we know, can stand on and rejoice in.
Please read Philippians 1:18-26
Paul knows and rejoices in the fact that he can pray and be prayed for; the availability and the strengthening of the Spirit of Jesus; his salvation (a better translation of deliverance); that death is a door to joy, and that life is an opportunity for fruitful service.
Do you regularly rejoice in these truths? Which of them do you least 'stand' upon?
The practice of reading and stopping to pray out of what we are reading is very important. It's only as we do so that we will rejoice in and stand on the range of topics that the bible addresses.
How are you doing at reading, meditating, praying and worshipping out of the bible?
Discuss/share/pray in smaller groups:
1. What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about (maybe from Sunday's message or your bible reading this week)?
2. What will you do in response?
3. How can we pray for you?
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