Monday, April 23, 2007

For Me To Live is Christ!

I am currently preaching through Philippians. It is a great book. In chapter one, we see Christ is our life, in chapter two Christ is our mind, in chapter three Christ is our goal, and in chapter four Christ is our strength! Of the 103 verses, Jesus is mentioned over 70 times! He truly is the theme of this epistle.

This last Sunday, I preached in chapter one verses 12-30. (Please read those verses.) Here are some thoughts from the message:

Within our text, we have a very powerful statement, which sums up the entire reading, or even the entire epistle. The statement says, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” The Apostle Paul truly lived this. In the previous verse, verse 20, we see Paul’s purpose for his life, which led to this statement. Paul’s purpose was that in whatever he did, or whatever happened to him, he would magnify Jesus Christ. If we have this same purpose in our life, we too will be able to say “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” The only way you will be able to say this is if the truth of verse 20 is true in your life.

Now, before we look at this purpose in Paul’s life, I would like to ask you, what is the purpose for your life? What is it that you live for? Some live life without purpose and this is a waste. They simply live for whatever the day brings, without any real direction to their life. Many today are hedonistic. They live for pleasure. Their sole purpose is to do whatever pleases them. They live for sex, money, bigger houses, boats, cars, etc… This too is a wasted life, which is vanity (Ecclesiastes). Some live for pride, to build a name for themselves. This too is vanity. For the Christian our purpose is to be that same as the Apostle Paul’s. Even in our text (verses 27-30) we see Paul’s life purpose was to be the purpose for all those who named Christ.

Consider Paul's circumstances. Paul was in prison and more than likely had a guard chained to him 24/7. Other preachers were talking bad about him. Some preachers were trying to elevate themselves, since Paul was in prison (12-18). Yet, Paul shows no bitterness, no anger, no malice, and no disappointment! Within the text, we see he is filled with Joy! Why? How? You see his life’s purpose truly was to magnify/glorify Jesus Christ. As long as this was being accomplished, he had joy. Why? Because magnifying Christ truly was his life’s purpose. Let's look at verses 20,21 and think on these words in relation to Paul’s current situation:

Philippians 1:20,21 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

That Christ would be magnified was his life’s purpose! (To magnify here means to make bigger, glorify, honor, or to increase.) Thus, as long as Christ was being magnified, as a result of his life, he was willing to endure hardness, to suffer, to endure persecution, etc… What is it that you live for? What is your purpose in life? What are you willing to suffer for? What are you willing to endure for? Many will work 80 hours a week to buy that new car or boat. They will endure the long hours to fulfill their pleasure. What are you willing to endure for Jesus Christ? Is Jesus Christ your purpose in life?

When your purpose in life is to magnify Christ you learn:
1) To have joy in suffering.
2) Christ name means more than your name.
3) Christ’s ministry is more important than “your” ministry.
4) Life is about God!

Today, as we see the purpose in Paul’s life, you need to ask yourself, if Paul’s purpose is your purpose for your life, if this is what you are living for. Magnifying Jesus Christ, is the only purpsoe that matters on this earth. There is no other purpose that can be compared to it. I would like for all of us to determine to make this purpose of glorify Christ our life’s purpose. That we too can say with all boldness, “for me to live Christ and to die is gain.”

Friday, April 13, 2007

Youth meeting - "Sak"

Sorry I have not posted sooner. I should be back now to posting at least one post a week, Lord willing. I have had many things going on the past few weeks. I preached a youth meeting, in which one made a profession of faith. The meeting went pretty good with around 35 youth attending, most of whom have already made a profession of faith. The youth here have a very difficult time making a true commitment to Christ. There are many things pulling them. I preached a series of messages on being resolved to serve Christ.

The last Sunday, I had an interesting event occur. I was dropping off a family at the end of the village. The man asked me to stop at certain location so he could get a “sak.” In the tok pisin language he asked. “Stapim ka, mi laik kisim wanpela sak bilong mi.” I assumed he meant some type of basket, but I was wrong, very wrong. I stopped and let him out, and I could not see where he went, as he went into the bush. A minute or two later he returns with a SHARK! It was not a sak he was going to get; it was a shark! He was trying to say the English word, and I thought he using the village language, when he first told me what he needed to get. The shark was a black-tip reef shark. The man, who caught it, caught it standing of the beach with a fishing line wrapped around his hand. The villagers do not have “fishing poles.” They just wrap the fishing line around their hand, a bottle, or a small plastic device designed for it. The man was simply throwing his line into the ocean from the beach when he caught the shark. Our waters are very plentiful so there are many sharks in the waters.

The shark of course was dead. He had gutted it, and then cooked it whole in the ground. They call this a “mumu.” When they cook here, almost all of their cooking is done in this “mumu” style. They dig a hole; light a fire, then put big rocks on top of the fire, many big rocks (rocks about the size of a softball). They then wrap the food in banana leaves and place it on top of the rocks and then put more rocks on top of the food. A few hours later the food is ready to eat, and it is cooked thoroughly. This shark was going to be the family dinner that night. Since there is no electricity, thus no freezers, everything will be eaten in one sitting with others in the village.

Every week brings something different here. I never know what to expect next.

(The picture is of Levi trying to “help” Heather with her school work.)