Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Whether by Life or Death

Today's Reading:
2 Chronicles 1:1-3:17
Philippians 1:1-26
Psalm 111:1-10
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Focus Verses: Philippians 1:19-21
19 ...for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.


Paul was in prison and facing the real possibility of death. He wasn't sure whether he would be released and given more opportunities to minister, or whether he would be silenced by long-term imprisonment or even death. His faith in God was so much deeper than his fear of circumstances that he could imagine how God might use either possibility to accomplish his will. Paul could entertain the possibility of dying for Christ as easily as living for Christ.

Paul believed that by the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and through prayers of his Christian brothers and sisters, God's purposes would be accomplished. Paul was convinced that he personally would not be ashamed in either outcome—death or in life. For Paul, to live meant fruitful labor for God, and to die meant the great gain of being with the Lord.

Response and Action:
I want the driving motivation in my life to be centered on serving God's purposes and bringing glory to God. I want to draw so near to God, and be so convinced of his provision and good will, that I am willing to risk all and face anything. I want to grow so deep in my faith that I see every moment of life as the opportunity to serve and honor God, and see the possibilities and realities of death as gain.

O Father, help me to live for you and through you in thought, word, and deed. Help me to seize every opportunity to know you, serve you, and love you. Give me a heart that seeks your guidance for life, and trusts your provision and promise in death. Help me to know you and experience you so deeply that I am able to say with Paul, "To live is Christ, and to die is gain." Give me eyes to see how you are able to make all things work toward the ultimate good of your redemptive and saving will. Help me to remember that there is more to life than my circumstances, and that life in Christ is bigger and truer than death. I pray all this in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Romans 8:38-39
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
by N. T. Wright

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