Philippians 1:21-24 “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.“
How many decisions in life come down to a choice?
What are the factors that go into making a good choice?
Paul was in chains for the gospel and was ruminating on his potential death in prison. His desire to be with the Lord in Heaven was reflected in his musings, his understanding of what happens after a believer in Christ dies caused him to be torn about continuing on in affliction.
2 Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
Doing what is right is often not the most pleasant course of action. Doing what is necessary requires knowledge of what necessary really looks like. Some circumstances are quite obvious. A firefighter knows his job is to rescue the family trapped in a high rise fire, but what about the bystander who realizes the emergency crew won’t arrive early enough to save someone and must make a decision that might cost him his life?
Paul knew what his calling was, the Lord had made it very clear on the road to Damascus when on that fateful day Paul was blinded by the light and heard the voice of Jesus instruct him as to what he should do.
It is those Damascus moments that serve as reminders to encourage us when everything else is miserable and you just want it to end.
Proverbs 14:32 “The wicked man is thrown down by his own sin, but the righteous man has a refuge even in death.”
An Eye toward the Prize
Joe Aldrich was the former president of Multnomah Bible College. He submitted a story for a book I mentioned some time ago called “Do you believe in Miracles“.
The story takes place in a village in the mountains of Iran. New believers heard they could find out more about Jesus if they could get the book Christians called the Bible. One night, a man had a dream that if he went down to the highway, some men would come by who would be able to give him a Bible.
The next day, he gathered a little offering of money from among fellow believers in the village, and made his way down the mountainside to the highway. Once he arrived, he sat down on a rock to wait.
Sometime later, two men in a car just “happened” to pick up a shipment of Bibles across the border. They were driving along the same highway when the steering on the car suddenly locked and the car came to a standstill.
They finally nudged the steering wheel just enough to get the car over the side of the road. They got out and put up the hood to figure out what was wrong. A man, sitting on a nearby rock called out to them, “Are you the men with the Bibles?”, he asked.
Stunned that this man should know, they admitted, “Well, yes, we do have Bibles”. The old man gave them all the money he had collected, bought as many Bibles as he could, and made his way back to the village. The men with the Bibles went back to determine what was wrong with their car, but could find nothing. They shrugged their shoulders, got in, and drove away.
It’s not easy exercising your faith when it requires you to make a sacrifice. The Iranian believer knew the spiritual hunger he had for the Word of God and was willing to do what was necessary to attain copies for himself and fellow believers. The Lord revealed how he could acquire those Bibles by showing him in a dream, where to go. The key to God fulfilling these people’s desires was where they placed their hope and their eye was on the Lord and a desire to know Him more. I have yet to meet anyone that has a desire for more of God and God has not fulfilled it.
Counting the Cost
Philippians 3:7 “But whatever was gain to me I count as loss for the sake of Christ.”
The battle everyone endures is between pleasing the flesh versus pleasing God. For the believer, each decision must be weighed with a knowledge of what to expect.
I’m not saying we can know the future, but what we can know is what God has revealed.
God has promised us if we are faithful, He will greatly reward us.
Psalm 31:23 “Love the LORD, all His saints. The LORD preserves the faithful, but fully repays the arrogant.”
The desire for more of God is born from God Himself.
Those who are filled with the Spirit of God are His people. The Spirit glorifies the Son and the Son honors the Father. We, His people, have been pulled into the relationship of the Trinity. Jesus has allowed for His bride to enter into the mystery of the Godhead. The ways in which we see God intervene in our lives, gives us a clue as to who God is. The more we submit to God’s leading, the more we see this interaction take place. This process of ‘submitting’, is the process of obedience.
Jesus exemplified what this means.
Philippians 2:5-8 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Paul understood that fleshly desire does not always correspond to spiritual necessity. The more we live in the Spirit, the more our flesh begins to align with His purposes.
Walk in the Spirit and see where that journey will take you. Every journey of godly obedience ends with Christ waiting at the end.