24th January 2021

Life and More Life

 

Sermon Notes

Greetings in the wonderful and powerful name of Jesus Christ who is the resurrection and life.

In January 2000, leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their favourite son, Billy Graham, now 90 years old, to a luncheon in his honour.

Billy Graham initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson's disease. But the leaders said, 'We don't expect a major address. Just come and let us honour you.' So he agreed.

After wonderful things were said about him, Billy Graham stepped to the dais, looked at the crowd, and said, “I'm reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honoured by Time magazine as the Man of the Century. Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets.  It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it.  Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn't find it.

The conductor said, 'Dr. Einstein, I know who you are.  We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket.  Don't worry about it.'

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, 'Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry, I know who you are no problem.  You don't need a ticket. I'm sure you bought one.'

Einstein looked at him and said, 'Young man, I too, know who I am.  What I don't know is where I'm going.' "

Having said that Billy Graham continued, "See the suit I'm wearing? It's a brand new suit. My children, and my grandchildren are telling me I've gotten a little sloppy in my old age. I used to be a bit more demanding. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion.  You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I'll be buried. But when you hear I'm dead, I don't want you to immediately remember the suit I'm wearing.

I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am... I also know where I'm going."

 

I have titled my message as “Life and More Life”  

Hope you remember that we are learning from the book of Philippians.

It’s interesting to note that everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die?

Mom – Appointment and Joining order – Death The author to Hebrews says in 9:27 “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, “

Death is unavoidable, you are no exception to it, Death has no discrimination of rich & poor, educated or illiterate, young or old, discrimination on basis of caste, creed and colour, and you die only once

Death is not the end, it’s a door to your destiny on the basis of your choice  -

Auto writing – once death for those who are born twice and twice death for those who are born once

For a follower of Christ, it’s all about life and more life. We don’t need to say life and death but life and more life that’s what Jesus has promised – the everlasting and eternal life.

That’s why for a believer of Jesus Christ it’s the end but just beginning of celebrating more life with God.

I am sure we all would have visited or seen a tomb stone where words would have been written and especially you would have noted the date of birth and date of death. But have you noted a small dash that we see between birth and death dates which tells you about how long the person has lived on earth and not how they lived. But remember that small dash is important and matters for everyone.

Live your dash – make every minute matter so that your life after will be joyful.

Ecclesiastes 3:11, "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end."

"God set eternity in our hearts and even the fallen man searches for an object worthy of his love."  A. W. Tozer.  Everyone looks for a purpose to live for. Otherwise life seems to be meaningless.

Because of Jesus not only our beginnings & our ends have meaning but our little dash too. He lets me live in Him and through Him – Abide in me John 15

 

Let me read the passage for today – Philippians 1:19-26

From the passage we can learn/understand four lessons for living the small dash;

 

I. Purpose of life which is expressed in Paul’s Confidence

During this lockdown many have lost their jobs and when you get up in the morning, there is no motivation to get up as you don’t have anything to look forward. So people do came up with some creative ideas to be occupied. We think our occupation is the purpose of life . Not, it can be a vehicle or just tool to achieve the purpose of life.

Our purpose of living is bigger than our occupations or job.

Apostle Paul had a purpose so clear, so definite, and so profound that it permeated everything he said and did and gave him hope in the darkest moments of life. He had his own occupation as tent maker. But his purpose was entirely different.

Paul’s purpose is from Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Many of us might know this verse by heart and we have recited it again and again. But do we really mean this in our day to day living.

“To Me to Live is _________________.”

If we are asked to fill in the blank of “To me to live is .......” what would you like to write? For a student, it might be clear his exams, for a sports person may be winning and medals, or to a business professional may be profit.  No one leaves that sentence blank. Everyone finishes it with something.

Philippians 1:18b-20  “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 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

Being in Roman jail waiting for the trial before Caesar, how can Paul be so happy? He didn’t know what would happen next. Yet he says, “I will continue to rejoice.”  He’s not thinking about getting out of jail, but about God vindicating him—whether in chains or as a free man. The Living Bible says “This is all going to turn out for my good.”  

Please note Paul talks about exalting Christ in or through his body. A life that is lived to exalt Christ was Paul’s purpose.

This theme of exalting Christ is reflected in many of his letters to different Churches like Corinth or Colossae or Ephesus.

1 Corinthians 10:31 he writes “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

But how can we consciously live out the purpose our day today living?  

Paul says that he is depending on two things: 1) The prayers of his friends, and 2) the work of the Holy Spirit on his behalf.

I depend on the community that God has given me to support me in this journey of life and I depend on the work of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of my life so that my whole life and every aspect will be for the glory of God.

The prayer was very specific in verse 20 we understand his prayer;

A. That he might never do anything that would bring him shame (no regrets later)

B. That he might never lose his courage (always bold to stand for truth)

C. That Christ will be exalted in his body (living out Christ visibly)

Paul has come to the place where he can say, “The only thing that matters is that Christ be magnified in my life. And it doesn’t matter whether I live or die as long as Christ is magnified.”

On January 8, 1956, 28-year-old American missionary Jim Elliot was martyred, along with four missionary partners and friends. He was survived by his wife, Elisabeth, and their 10-month-old daughter Valerie.  October 28, 1949, to be exact—that Jim Elliot penned a journal entry: One of the greatest blessings of heaven is the appreciation of heaven on earth. He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

The Apostle Paul would agree. Once you decide that your life won’t last forever, you are free to invest it in a cause greater than yourself. You give up what you can’t keep so that in the end you gain what you can never lose. This is what Paul meant when he said, “Whether by life or death.”

 

II. Perception of life was expressed in Paul’s Calculation 

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Consider the phrase “to live is Christ.” What does it mean? F. B. Meyer said that Christ is “the essence of our life … the model of our life … the aim of our life … the solace of our life … the reward of our life.” We live in Christ … for Christ … by Christ … through Christ … and from Christ. He is the beginning, the middle and the end of life. He is truly the Alpha and Omega, the A to Z.

How did Paul survive and thrive in a Roman jail? Philippians 1:21 gives Paul’s answer: “Life is wonderful … and it’s gonna get better.”  Every moment I consciously live Christ.

Then he talks about gain. The word “gain” is a monetary term that means to make a profit on an investment.

What you have invested while living, you will be reaping as gain both while living and after  you have gone.

Investment in noble cause by sacrificing your life will definitely reap more gain. Ex – Anderson of MCC and Ida Scudder of CMC. Recently we heard about Dr Shantha of Chennai Cancer Institute.  

Paul was so sure in his computation of life. Death cannot touch you until God is through with you on earth. You cannot die, and you will not die, until the appointed moment comes that God has ordained.

If God is God, you will live as long as the Lord intends, and then you will go home to heaven for enjoying more life.  

The perception of life for Paul was – life while living on earth and more life when you go to your eternal home.

Someone said, for a follower of Jesus Christ who is the resurrection and life, death is not entering the cemetery but entering the sanctuary – entering into the presence of God. That’s more life.  

When Pontius Pilate saw that Jesus would not answer him, he said, “Don’t you know I have the power to put you to death?” To which Jesus replied, “You have no power except that given to you by God” (see John 19:8-11). A few hours later Jesus cried out “It is finished” (John 19:30). He did not say, “I am finished,” but “It is finished,” meaning that he had completed the work God had given him to do. He knew that he could not die and would not die before God’s appointed time.

Last week Malini shared about the missionary in AP who was threatened by the Naxalite and did not fear death as he was so sure unless the Lord permits his life to be over on the earth, nothing will happen to him. Or if the Lord intended for him to die, he was all ready to go enjoy more life.

Many years ago the great Southern evangelist John R. Rice preached in Texas. He preached hard against sin especially against people who were involved in illegal trades. Eventually those people decided that he needed to be silenced. They sent a message to stop preaching or they would kill him. The great preacher replied, “You can’t threaten me with heaven,”.  It’s not just life but I am ready for more life.

It says in Ecclesiastes 8:8, “No man has power over the wind to contain it. So also, no one has power over the day of his death.”

We really don’t have the power to decide whether to live or to die, but we do have the ability to decide what attitude we would take toward life and death, and that’s the perception and holy calculation.

 

III. Pleasure of life was expressed in Paul’s Conflict

A conflict between desire and necessity. A desire for more life but a necessity is for life on earth, in other words a desire to die but a necessity to live.

Philippians 1:22-23 – he says, if I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.

Some people want to die because they hate this life. Or when we face lots of challenges or hear about tribulations or faced with humiliation or defeat, we long for the Second coming. May be a holy escapism.  

But Paul was whole heartedly ready and willing to die because he looked forward to life with Christ in heaven. Paul understood that for the Christians death is nothing more than a change of address, a new destination.

Many people opt for immigration to other countries and they are not sad about it. So death is exactly the same way, moving to different destination.

In the meantime he was willing to remain if he could make a difference in the lives of other people. It was Henry James who declared that “the best use for your life is to invest it in something that will outlast it.” Too many people invest their time and energy in things that won’t last long.   The investment Paul made in people, he was sure that he will reap as gain in heaven.

What are we or whom are we investing while we live here? The money we spend, the time we spend and the talents we spend gives us a clue about our pleasure in life – fruitful labour and also a satisfaction that we will see the fruits of our investment.

The Pleasure of life is in investing in people and God’s purpose while we live and the pleasure of more life while receiving the gains when I reach heaven. Sure there will be conflict but it’s a blessed conflict.

 

IV. Promise of life is expressed in Paul’s Conviction

Philippians 1:24-26: But it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me

In the end Paul concluded that he wouldn’t die just yet, but would be spared so that he could minister to the people.  Even though he preferred to die so that he could see Christ, he put aside his own preferences for the good of others.

The possibilities that he could get while living were;

A. Every day gave him the opportunity to experience Christ in his life. - v 21

B. Everyday gave him the opportunity to fulfil the purpose of God through fruitful labour - v 22

C. Everyday gave him opportunity to help the Philippians grow spiritually.- v. 24-26

Paul is saying, “I can’t lose either way!”

If I die … Gain for me!

If I live … Gain for you!

Someone said, “How do you stop a man like that? You can’t! Go ahead and kill him. He’ll die with a smile on his face. Put him in prison. He’ll preach to the guards. Put him in jail at midnight and he’ll start singing, Amazing Grace. Run him out of town. He’ll just go down the road and start a church in the next village. Stone him and he’ll use the rocks to build a sanctuary.”

I am sure we as the followers of Christ have the true and healthy way to look at both life and death that is life and more life. We can boldly say along with Paul “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”

Only one life, it will soon be past only what’s done for Christ will last. Let’s live for Christ and with Christ.

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