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Overcoming Obstacles to Rise Above the Circumstances

(Philippians 1:18-29)

Lesson 9 -- third quarter 2010
August 1, 2010

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2010

Introductory questions to chew

Do I rejoice at Christ being preached, no matter how He's preached?

Am I depending on the prayers of others as well as the provision of God's Spirit?

Have I made my body available to Christ, so by it He may magnify Himself?

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" -- seriously? How so?

What am I willing to endure for the "furtherance and joy of faith" of others?

My life; the Gospel of Christ -- how well does the former fit the latter?

What are others hearing of my standing in and relationships with my home congregation?

Believing on Christ and suffering for His sake -- can I learn to see them both as gifts from God's hand?

Why live?

"Life is meaningless." Words like that haunt me and I fret about anyone who would utter such a statement. I worry about the evident absence of hope, purpose, contentment and peace. Even so, I think I can understand exactly.

When I get to the end of the day and I'm not sure that I got anything done, the meaning of living somehow seems to escape me. When relationships sour and problems mount, I wonder about the real significance of life. When the last four weeks were so much about meeting expenses and satisfying creditors, I have little doubt that life has got to offer more. So, while I may philosophically disagree with the life-is-meaningless sentiment, I find that in the daily crucible of experience, life can be shallow and insignificant.

"I am alive and that sure beats the other alternative!" Such words don't haunt me; they bug me. I struggle to overcome a certain smugness and self-righteousness in comparing such an expression with Philippians 1:21. Even so, I know precisely what people mean when they say that.

I may be buried in stress and strain, but at least I'm not six feet under. I may be in a bind, but at least I'm not in a casket. I may still be feeling ill after six months, but at least I'm still feeling. So, I don't like it when Christians seem to make light of their less-than-Philippians-one-twenty-one disposition, but I am definitely glad not to be dead myself!

Back to the question: Why live? Often we are glad to be alive despite it all, and that seems reason enough to live; besides, who wants the alternative? Then we have those times when life just doesn't seem worth the pain, and at those times we may easily question the value of our particular life.

Time to work on our focus and values! Start with Philippians 1:21 -- "For to me to live is Christ." God has left the choice to us. We can live as the unbeliever, or we can live for Christ, by Christ and because of Christ. The meaning, purpose and depth of living become the natural birthright of those who make the right choice.

I challenge you to seek out the real-life applications and outworkings of that familiar expression: "To live is Christ." Having done that, make your choice. Every day. In everything.

Would Jesus live in me?

"The senator is coming to town! We must get the main streets resurfaced and the street lights fixed. We don't want him to be uncomfortable or ill-at-ease during his two hours here." The city fathers don't want the candidate to get an unfavorable impression of town conditions. Up to this point, they have been unable to get important repairs and improvements done, but let a major politician plan to come around . . . and their inability becomes ability at the drop of a peso. (Oooops. Now I revealed that this is a true-life story!)

I often marvel at such a mind set. It makes more sense to me for the politician and potential benefactor to see my need . . . so he can help me. To put on like I have no need makes it very unlikely that he will offer to help me.

Sometimes we feel so imperfect, and we are right. We believe we are unworthy hosts for the Son of God, and we are right. We want to improve ourselves before asking Him to come into our lives, and we are wrong. No matter how flawed I may be, Jesus will live in me, provided I allow Him to bring about the Father's big improvements in me.

This concludes my comments based on the passage for the International Bible Study. To read my comments on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications, click here: Equipped for Difficult Times.

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