“For me, to live is Christ to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
What a powerful verse. In this passage, the Apostle Paul is in jail (yet again) and is writing to the church at Philippi. His discussion here is that should he be allowed to live, it will continute to be for Christ, but should he die, his gain is heaven. Paul is actually torn about which he should hope for. As we read in verse 22-23, “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.”
Paul realized the importance of his time here on earth spreading the gospel. In fact, he referred to his imprisonment as being in chains for Christ. Author C.S. Lewis offers this quote, “The glory of God, and, as our only means to glorifying Him, the salvation of human souls, is the real business of life.” Both of these men understood that the “purpose” of our lives is to live for Christ, advancing the Gospel and spreading the message of Salvation. How much more focused on Christ would our lives be if we had this outlook. That even in the direst circumstances, of awaiting potential death like Paul, we can stand and say, “For me, to live is Christ to die is gain.”
There’s no doubt these are becoming increasingly difficult times. Economic uncertainty, jobs are lost, retirements disappearing, the list goes on. But like I mentioned yesterday these are NOT times of fear. I want to follow up on that thought with a verse from Psalm 11:3-4
“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? The LORD is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them.”
What this verse says is that when all around us is falling apart, the “righteous” should look to the Lord. We will see Him on His heavenly throne watching all that is happening. He sees our struggles and He is unaltered. There is no panic by God. Picture this: Peter sees Jesus walking on water and calls out to Him, “Lord if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus called to him; Peter stepped out of the boat and began walking towards Jesus. But as the winds picked up, Peter lost faith and began to sink. He cried out “Lord, save me!” “Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?'” Matthew 14:28-31 Unwavering, unaltered, Jesus lifted up Peter. He will do the same for us.
Look to the Lord in your time of need. “In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: Flee like a bird to your Mountain.” Psalm 11:1
In 2008, Chad Pennington revived his NFL career and was rewarded with his second comeback player of the year award. After 8 up and down seasons with the New York Jets, Pennington was cut prior to the ’08 season and was signed by the 1-15 Miami Dolphins. Pennington displayed his strong leadership skills by orchestrating an 11-5 record and a trip to the playoffs. But it wasn’t this change of scenery that led to the resurgence of him and his team. It was his total submission to God. A local newspaper Daily Mail near Chad’s alma mater, Marshall University, details a radio interview from Sports Spectrum last week where Pennington shared the following, “I have been playing football a long time and I have considered myself a Christian for a long time,” said Pennington. “But this season is the first season that I felt like I totally let go of my career and let the Lord have control of it. It was the most rewarding year I have had in the NFL because I felt I grew closer to the Lord.” Chad realized it’s not enough to just be a Christian without fully trusting in the Lord. In our lives it’s often easy to say, “I am a Christian”, while still selfishly having our own agenda. It’s only when we submit to the will of God that we are truly able to move forward and grow spiritually. What are you holding on to? Wouldn’t it just be easier to let go and turn everything over to God? Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”