"…according to my earnest expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness Christ will even now, as always be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I don’t know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake." Philippians 1:20-24
As we look at our verses today we find Paul imprisoned in Rome for his preaching of the gospel. It is clear Paul’s life was at stake as he was facing a trial before Caesar in Rome. Let us recall this is Paul who persecuted the Christians and defined himself In Philippians 3:5-6:
"If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, as in the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gained to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Please take time to read of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9:1-9. It will be well worth your time. Paul was sincere, but he was sincerely wrong; however God sees the heart. Following his conversion, there was such a radical change in Paul’s life as there was in mine. This is the most convincing evidence that Jesus is who He said He was. It is the undeniable power of the Gospel to radically change lives. When you experience the truth of the Gospel in your life, you know it is truth worth dying for and certainly worth living for. Only the Gospel has the power to put our lives in order, and give us each our own personal testimony of that truth. As we focus on Paul’s words in Philippians 1:20-24 realize this should be all of our testimonies.
Do you have a testimony of your love for a Saviour you truly know and He knows you? Can you attest to the difference He makes in your life on a daily basis? If not, you cannot claim Christianity. Multiple times in the Bible we are told by Jesus we will be overcomers by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimonies and by loving not our lives unto death. (Revelation 12:11)
Again, I ask you, do you have a testimony you make known to others as Paul and all the disciples did? We must look to what God’s Word says for truth in order to gain faith and authority in our lives. Let’s look at the sobering words of Jesus to us for such a time as this in Luke 21:12-19
"But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogue and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. But you will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By our endurance you will gain your lives."
I pray you will find encouragement in the Word of God this morning as a true believer. If you are not a true follower of Christ I pray you will hear the truth from God’s Word and become one. Life on this earth is short lived in comparison to eternity. But your daily choices will determine how you will live out eternity when you exit this earth. May we all look to Paul as an example, and pray we too will exalt Christ with all boldness through life and death however it plays out according to His will for our lives. I pray we all truly understand that to live is Christ, and to die is great gain for us. Yes, I too am hard-pressed, desiring to go home where I know I belong with my Father, or to live on as long as He has a use for my life here for other’s sake. When we think of those who are not safe in death, but are going to eternal hell, surely we know another life is worthy of another day on this earth till He brings us home. Hell is as real as heaven, and Jesus spoke more of hell than heaven in scripture to warn us. However, we don’t, and it is to our shame. The Day of Reckoning by God Almighty is coming and every wrong will be made right. There is only One Righteous Judge. I take great comfort in that truth, and I pray you will too as you seek for the truth of God’s Word with all your heart. It is, and will always be your most worthwhile pursuit in this life. Do not be a fool, and reject it.
In His love.
Celebrated the Fourth of July participating with clients in the Independence 1 Mile Downhill/5k Run in Independence, Virginia! They all did amazing! Very proud of them! Afterwards we took in the Independence Parade. Braveheart enjoyed his first parade!