A Passage and A Prayer 1/4/18

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again (Philippians 1:21-26).

In 2019, our First Immanuel family conducted 31 funerals for brothers and sisters whose earthly journeys drew to a close.  In the Christian funeral service we comfort those who mourn the loss of a loved one, but we also celebrate the fact that those who live and believe in Jesus receive the gift of everlasting life.

St. Paul was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The ruling Roman government prohibited the preaching of Jesus, because He was proclaimed to be the only God and Savior of all humanity.  The Romans found this offensive in the face of their many “gods” as well as a breech of their law, which proclaimed Caesar the only Lord of the Roman citizens. 

While in prison, Paul considers his options.  He will either be executed and go to heaven to be with Jesus, or he will be released to continue to share the Gospel with a world of need.  Paul concludes that going to heaven would be better for him, but continuing his missionary journeys would be better for others.  This leads Paul to hope that he can bring Jesus to more people.

We might see the execution of Paul as the greater sacrifice, but Paul sees his continued work as the greatest sacrifice.  He is willing to set aside his eternal comfort in heaven  so he can serve more people with the Gospel.  In other words, heaven can wait—but not because he is not ready to die, but because he doesn’t want others to die without the Lord Jesus in their hearts.

In what manner will we sacrifice for the good of others in this new year?  Perhaps we should answer these questions to determine our personal sacrifice:

  • In what way will I demonstrate my faith to my family?
  • How can I partner with my church in missionary endeavors?
  • Which friend/family member, who is unchurched, will I invite to worship with me?
  • How can others see Jesus through me in my daily living?

These are the sacrifices the Lord calls us to make for the sake of others and to His glory.

I give You thanks, gracious Lord, for the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life with you in heaven.  Give to me Your Holy Spirit that I may live my life in such a manner that I will be a living sacrifice.  I pray this in Your powerful name.  Amen.

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