Faith Bible Church of Lake Charles
Pioneers Wanted - Part 3
- Pioneers Wanted - Part 3What’s the most important thing in life for you?--A young man learns what’s most important in life from the guy next door.--It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.--Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days. "Jack, did you hear me?" "Oh sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said.--"Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ’his side of the fence’ as he put it," Mom told him. "I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said. "You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life," she said. "He’s the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important...Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral," Jack said.--As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.--The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time. Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture....Jack stopped suddenly.--"What’s wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked. "The box is gone," he said. What box?" Mom asked. "There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ’the thing I value most, ’" Jack said.--It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it. "Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said.--"I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."--It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read.--Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. Mr. Harold Belser" it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside.--"Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life." A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these word s engraved: "Jack, thanks for your time! -Harold Belser."--"The thing he valued most...was...my time."--Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. "Why?" Janet, his assistant asked. "I need some time to spend with my son," he said. "Oh, by the way, Janet...thanks for your time!"--What’s the most important thing in life for you? Let’s think about that this morning as we unpack these verses.Because of the Apostle Paul’s single-minded passion, he knew what was most important. This in part was Paul’s crisis. Let’s read...19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.Because of Paul’s chains, Christ was known (Phil. 1:13), and because of Paul’s critics, Christ was preached (Phil. 1:18). But because of Paul’s crisis, Christ was magnified! (Phil. 1:20) It was possible that Paul would be found a traitor to Rome and then executed. His preliminary trial had apparently gone in his favor. The final verdict, however, was yet to come. But Paul’s body was not his own, and his only desire (because he had the single mind) was to magnify Christ in his body.--In our text this morning we see two things we should be living for. The first is...Living to Magnify Christ19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.As a man of convictions, Paul shared his assurance that his chains would eventually result in his deliverance in v. 19. The Greek word translated “deliverance” here was used in different ways in the New Testament. It often meant spiritual deliverance—salvation, being born again. Here (v. 19) Paul used the word to refer to either the final stage of his salvation (cf. Rom. 5:9) or future vindication in a Roman court. It seems unlikely that he had his release in mind since in the next two sentences he wrote of the real possibility of his near death.--Paul was not sure whether he would experience release or martyrdom for his faith. He was certain of one thing though, that he wanted Christ to be magnified in his body either way (cf. “in the body,” vv. 22, 24). This was Paul’s expectation and hope. The apostle also knew full well that it would take courage to face death with the proper attitude. “Earnest expectation” is the translation of a unique word. It describes straining one’s neck to catch a glimpse of something that is ahead. (Apokaradokia, a noun, is used only here and in Rom. 8:19.) Paul’s concern was not what would happen to him but what testimony would be left for his Lord. Release would allow him to continue preaching Christ. But martyrdom would also advance the cause of Christ.Does Christ need to be magnified? After all, how can a mere human being ever magnify the Son of God? Well, the stars are much bigger than the telescope, and yet the telescope magnifies them and brings them closer. The believer’s body is to be a telescope that brings Jesus Christ close to people. To the average person, Christ is a misty figure in history who lived centuries ago. But as the unsaved watch the believer go through a crisis, they can see Jesus magnified and brought so much closer. To the Christian with the single mind, Christ is with us here and now.--The telescope brings distant things closer, and the microscope makes tiny things look big. To the unbeliever, Jesus is not very big. Other people and other things are far more important. But as the unbeliever watches the Christian go through a crisis experience, he ought to be able to see how big Jesus Christ really is. The believer’s body is a “lens” that makes a “little Christ” look very big, and a “distant Christ” come very close.--Paul was not afraid of life or death! Either way, he wanted to magnify Christ in his body. No wonder he had joy!--So, are we exalting Christ in and through our life? To exalt Christ means to give Him proper glory, honor, and praise that He truly deserves. And we exalt Him by our attitudes, our actions, and our words. Let us live to exalt Christ in all we are, and in all we do.--And, the second thing we should be living or is...Living to Serve Others21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.In verse 21 Paul says,”For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Most people focus on the second part of the verse, “to die is gain,” and they contemplate the joys of heaven. But, we should not overlook what comes before. The importance of the phrase “to live is Christ” cannot be overstated. In fact, it should be the main purpose of every Christian’s life.--Paul’s main purpose in living was to glorify Christ. Christ was the essence of his life. Yet Paul knew that if he were martyred, Christ would be glorified through the promotion of the gospel which would result from his testimony in death. And Paul himself would benefit, for death would result in his being with Christ (v. 23). The words to die suggest the act of dying, not the state of death.--Paul confesses that he is facing a difficult decision. To remain alive was necessary for the believers’ benefit in Philippi, but to depart and be with Christ was far better.--Notice in your Bible that the verb is is in italics. That means it is not in the original but has been added to make the meaning clearer. The verse is actually, “For to me to live Christ, and to die gain.”This is the philosophy of Christian living: To live Christ; to die gain. Dr. William L. Pettingill used to say that gain is always more of the same thing. If to live is Christ, then to die would be more of Christ. It means to go and be with Him.--We are all familiar with situations that are so dreadful that death is a relief. But Paul is not saying that death is better than the worst of life. He is saying death is better than the best of life. In other words, he was not longing for death as the way out of unbearable circumstances. He was longing for it as the way into unspeakably glorious circumstances.--Paul’s purpose in living here on earth was to serve others. He said in v. 22, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.” It means he would be visiting his Philippians friends again to serve them. Brothers and sisters, there is more to Christianity than just anticipating the glory of heaven. There is a lost world around us. So many people just outside the doors of this church need Jesus. Henry James said, “The best use for your life is to invest it in something that will outlast it.” There is work to be done and Paul shows us by example how to do it. He was committed to serving others while he was here on earth.--That is why he says in verse 23, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” From the standpoint of his personal welfare, Paul would prefer being with Christ. All his problems would be over. No more headaches and no more heartaches. But, Paul is not proclaiming his desire to be with the Lord because he has a hatred of life. His attitude is not an escape from the pain of this life. Rather, Paul has an understanding of his life’s goal. He knows that life is ultimately about living for Christ. So, he is ready to serve others regardless of the outcome.--Paul has a deep longing for heaven yet there is work that needs to be done for the Lord on earth. He knows that God has a work for him in advancing the gospel. So, in v. 25 we see that Paul decided to remain and continue that work. His decision was not based on his own welfare or comfort, but on the opportunity to serve others. In Matthew 20:28, we read that “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” We need to be intentional in serving others because our natural tendency is to be served. We can serve by sharing resources, offering skills, visiting sick, baby sitting, car pooling, sharing the Gospel, etc.--Conclusion:Going back to the question, what are you living for? For Paul, it was Christ. Everything he was, everything he did was Christ. His whole life was wrapped around Christ. Paul was clear and focused on his purpose. He knew what he was living for. He was living to exalt Christ and he was living to serve others.--As Christians, we need to honestly to evaluate our lives in light of this question, What am I living for? It’s easy to fall into living for good things, but not for the best. God has blessed us with our families, friends, homes, possessions, work, etc. But if we are not careful, these good things become the things we live for.--A closer walk with God, consistent quality time with Him, and an attitude of submission to His will can change the way we live our life. I hope and pray that all of us will live to exalt Christ, and to serve others. So, we can confidently say, “For me to live is Christ.”--Philippians 1:21 becomes a valuable test of our lives. “For to me to live is ______ and to die is ________.” Fill in the blanks yourself.“For to me to live is money and to die is to leave it all behind.”--“For to me to live is fame and to die is to be forgotten.”--“For to me to live is power and to die is to lose it all.”--No, we must echo Paul’s convictions if we are going to have joy in spite of circumstances, and if we are going to share in the furtherance of the Gospel. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain!”
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