Saturday, June 11, 2016

"For Me to Live is Christ, to Die is Gain" - Apostle Paul

Readings for the Day
Song of Solomon 5-8, Philippians 1

Verses for the Day
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 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! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Thoughts for the Day
Paul begins his letter to the church as Philippi, a church he is very fond of. He is in prison, but he wants to let his situation be an encouragement to them, as they face their own trials. Philippians is a short letter whose focus is on joy in the midst of difficult trials. The word joy or rejoice is used 16 times in this short letter, as they face these trials.

The above verse give a short summary of Paul's life and his deep commitment to Christ. Paul wants his life to be a model for them as they grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. This will lead to deeper and more abounding love for each other, as a further witness to their relationship to Christ. Paul is giving the vision of what every Christian community and church should look like. At its core is each person's commitment to Christ and willingness to sacrifice all for him and others around them.

For Paul this is summed up in his life motto, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Paul reasons that if he is alive he gets to serve Jesus, but if he is dead he gets to be with him. Though he wishes to be with Jesus, he knows that until God is ready to call him home, he can labor for Jesus with the churches God which he leads with his love for them.

Hearing Paul encourage the Philippians is not only a great statement of who he is his life and calling, but inspires me to want to give my all for Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus seeking His will, but I am surely challenged by Paul's statement. It is easy for me to get distracted by many things that may or may not be what Christ wants me to do.

How about you? As you think about Paul's statement, where are you at in your relationship with Jesus? Are you living for Him alone? Do you start each day surrendering your life to him asking the question, "Jesus how can I live my life today, as you would if you were me." Paul acknowledges this is a process when he states, "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it" 1:6 It is not as much me trying harder, as allowing Jesus and the Holy Spirit to do their work in me one day at a time.

A friend of mine gave me what he calls the "Apprentice Prayer". An "apprentice" is another word for disciple. Someone who is under another training to be like him.

The Apprentice Prayer
Jesus, I love you! Father, I adore you! Holy Spirit, I rely on you!

"Lord Jesus, I seek to live as your apprentice in all that I do today. My life is your school for teaching me. I relinquish my agenda for this day and I submit myself to you and your kingdom purposes. In all situations I abandon outcomes to you, praying, “Your will, your way, your time.” (Written by Bucky Dennis/Bill Gaultiere)

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