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Which way do I go?

"21 For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again."
Good Morning Beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
Is it just me or is this a great day to rejoice in the Lord?
As we come to worship the Lord today and begin our study of His Word, I'd like to share with you a message I received recently. First, let me give you a little background to get the circumstances set in your minds. As any pastor knows, there are times when we feel like messages we preach are falling up the deaf ears of the world around. Often times, even those in our own families and circles of friends. Times where we begin to question ourselves, asking God, "Am I doing something wrong? Have you taken away my anointing?" And so we begin to pray.. asking for the answer.

I have been extremely blessed throughout my ministry, with a wonderful church family, both near and far, and an astonishing relationship with Christ, which has never let me down, one of which I am in awe. Because I am no one really, my earthly accomplishments are in no way superior to anyone else's. My best preaching, is seldom heard by anyone, and I'll explain that in a moment. However, my God is Someone, in fact, He is Everything~ Not only has He continuously answered my personal prayers, more times than I am able to count, and far more than I deserve. But He has also continuously answered my pastoral prayers. 

After praying, as I mentioned earlier, while patiently awaiting an answer, okay, well maybe not so patiently, but it's really patiently, if you knew the old me. I received a note from someone, who I'll simply identify as "D," who was the answer to that prayer, but completely restored my commitment to ministry. Now, as a matter of respect and privacy, I'll not go into all the details of the message, I will share with you some of it's highlights.

"Hello sir, I was right. You are a preacher. After I commented on a post you shared, I took a look at your page and spirit was right, you are the truth...... your word because it’s much needed in the society we live in today.... and your one message made me think about that. Thank you sir, you made a difference for me ... God bless you"

"D," if you happen to be reading this from wherever you are in the world, God bless you and thank you for such a wonderful, spiritually uplifting, word of encouragement. I hope it's okay that I've shared a small portion of your note. 
"It is my prayer, that you will continue to be richly blessed by the truth and encouraged through God's Word. May you continue to be strengthened  in your daily walk with the Lord, and it is an honor and my great privilege to be a small part of that journey. You are in my prayers."

What a wonderful Word of affirmation from God! What a GREAT God we serve! Amen?

So, about my best preaching not being heard statement, when I write a sermon message, it is some of my best preaching, and then, I deliver to all of you. However, what ends up happening during that process, is as I'm delivering the message, I get sidetracked with other crucial points, various parallel Scriptures and never get to the rest of the message. But on paper, man, you guys would really be amazed at how just good I am. ha ha ha
All right, we'd better get started or you'll not get any of today's lesson. 
First let us bow our heads in prayer, giving thanks unto the Lord for all He has done in and through our lives.
Heavenly and Gracious Father,
We humbly thank you for this wonderful, rich portion of Your Word. In You, we crave it, but never from lack, as we are given in abundance, we simply hunger for more, and more. I speak only for myself, when I say, it is an insatiable hunger, a thirst unable to be fully quenched. The more You teach and instruct me, the greater my desire. Father, thank You for such a loving and loyal flock, I couldn't have hand picked any better than You have given me, so kind, generous and enduring my sometimes long, and lengthy teaching.  

Lord, You know my heart, You know my desire to serve and please You, You even know the insecurities and doubts that the enemy tries to use from time to time, in attempts to silence Your Word. For I know, it is never about me, I am just Your humble servant, but it's about You and Your truth. Father I ask in the name of Christ, do a Mighty work in and through me today, as You grant us revelation through Your Holy Spirit, and tightly bind it to our hearts. Help us to walk worthy and confidently and boldly, proclaiming the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Remind us, to set aside our desires for earthly comfort, worldly acceptance and popularity for the advancement of the gospel, shining the Light of Truth, to a broken and fallen world, lost in depravity and darkness.

Lord, we pray that You would reach down through Your spirit, touch the hearts and minds of those who might hear the truth, with an acknowledgement of their sin, and in repentance, surrender their life to the One, before whom every knee shall soon bow. 
It is in His precious name we pray,

Today's Message: Which way do I go?

Open your Bibles with me if you will and turn to the book of Philippians chapter 1. We are now a little more than halfway through this wonderful rich portion of God's Word. I always feel that no matter how much great treasure we uncover, we haven't even begun to scratch the surface. But let's dig in and see what God has in store for us today. I would like to encourage you to follow along with me as I read, to get the text set in our minds. Philippians 1:21-26.

"For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again."
When we begin living with an eternal perspective, that means we're refusing to get sidetracked in your faith by petty disagreements with other believers. When you understand there is room in the kingdom for people who worship in different ways but who still love Christ then you will be freed to focus your attention on more important matters, Christ.
In his wonderful epistle to Philippi, Paul gives us some incredibly inspiring words to live by.

Verse 21: "To live is Christ, to die is gain."

In other words, Paul is saying, "It’s all Christ, so it's all good. If I’m living, I’ll be walking with Christ and being strengthened by the Holy Spirit. I’ll be bringing praise to Him with what I do. If I die, I’ll be in heaven receiving my eternal reward. So, it’s all good!"

Too often for us it is to live is Christ, plus work, leisure, accumulating wealth, relationships, etc.. And if the truth were known, all too often the plus factor has become our primary passion. Christ takes a backseat to the other "more pressing issues" in our lives. Beloved, there is nothing more pressing, more urgent than living your life in obedience for Christ. I live to serve Him, to know Him, to commune with Him, to preach Him, and to love Him. And it relieves me from the burdens of this life, it really makes me free to glorify Him, to preach Him, because it's what I live for!

And that is exactly what the apostle Paul is saying here, "I am so wrapped up in Christ, He is the reason for my existence." What he is not saying is "Christ is my source," though He is, he isn't saying "Christ lives in me," which He does, Paul is saying "Christ completely fills me, my life is Christ, preaching Christ, obeying Christ, living and breathing Christ. It's all Christ! So if Christ is proclaimed, the gospel is advanced, whether I live or die, I'm happy!"

Beloved, unless you can honestly say, "I’m living for Jesus Christ! For me to live IS Christ!" then you are heading for disappointment. For all the other things we pursue will eventually disappoint.

That’s why Jesus said, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL these things shall be added to you."

Though he’s under house arrest, with an uncertain future ahead of him, Paul is still able to be a Joy-Full person, because he knows what is most important. Living for Christ. And he knows that even if the worst happens and he is executed, all that will happen is he will experience gain!

Verse 22, Paul says "Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose."

The key part of this passage that I want you to see, comes from verse 18. "And in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice." That has been the theme of the whole section. Now, I want to remind you, that Paul is writing to the church at Philippi. He loves them, and they dearly love him. They've learned about his imprisonment, they're concerned. They're worried about him. So Paul is writing to say, "It's all good, don't you worry! Because I am rejoicing! So don't be concerned, I have joy!" And he mentions that joy, in chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3 and chapter 4! Now, some of you might be saying to yourselves, "How can he do that?" 

Well, it's actually quite simple, his joy is in spite of, not because of. I believe this is a lesson many in the modern church would do well to learn. You cannot control your circumstances, bad things happen to good people. BUT, you can choose to rejoice in spite of those circumstances! You can choose to be filled with the joy of the Lord, regardless of what you're facing! Nothing or no one can take that away. And that is what Paul is saying, "My imprisonment, my chains, my troubles, do not take away my joy. They are all irrelevant as long as Christ is proclaimed, as long as the gospel progresses. As long as the Lord is magnified. I'm good"  

Verse 23, he writes "I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better—" The Greek word used here is epithumia, which is most often used of a lustful desire for sin. That is not the case here, however, it is rather a strong, unfulfilled desire for something that is right.

So the picture here is, I'm stuck, I'm trapped, immobilized between two roads, and I don't know which way to go. Keep in mind, it's not a matter of one good choice and one bad one, because they're both good. 

In verse 24, "but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you." On the one hand, he wants to help the church, he wants to have fruitful labor to the glory of God. And then, "I have the desire to depart and be with Christ.." Either way, he wins! So Paul is saying, "I have a strong desire to do both, and I can't just choose one over the other. I don't know which I want more." 

That word "depart" is rather a fascinating word, analysai, meaning to unloose for departure. Remember, Paul uses this same word in II Corinthians 5:8, where he is essentially saying the same thing. He wants to know, his readers to know, that absence from the body is "to be at home with the Lord," and that is what he prefers - to depart the body to be in the Lord's presence.

And in II Corinthians 5:1, "For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

In other words, Paul wants to break camp, he is ready to leave this tent that it has been his home, he wants to go and live in the Father's house.

And he uses it in II Timothy 4:6, in speaking of his death, "the time of my departure is at hand."

Beloved, this is the experience every true follower of Christ should have. 

Verses 25-26, "Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again." Paul is showing that he has a strong feeling about which way this is going to go. I'd like you to notice here, that Paul isn't saying that "The Lord has told me that I'm not going to die, so there's no need to worry!" He doesn't say that. If that were true, he could've said that and eliminated everyone's pain and suffering. I believe that Paul simply felt a strong personal conviction, rather than a supernatural revelation. But rather a feeling based upon his calling, based upon his assessment of the needs of the church, and based upon what he feels the Spirit of God is prompting in his heart.

In the Greek, verse 26 reads this way, in the Greek, it reads this way, "In order that your proud confidence may abound, first of all, in Christ Jesus in me." In the latter NASB translation,"so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.

However, in the earlier translation, it puts "in me" before "in Christ Jesus." The Greek does not do that. I believe the order is very important here. To put the "in me" first, it would read "In order that your proud confidence may abound, first of all, in me in Christ Jesus." And in the Holman, "so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again." So order is important, because Paul's point is this, "Your proud confidence will abound in Christ Jesus, who is working in me." That's the point!

In Closing...

I don’t have to be right, or first, or tops, or recognized, or praised, or rewarded. I live by faith, lean on his presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by Holy Spirit power.

I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ!

And when it comes time for me to leave this earth and to be with Christ, whether by rapture or by individual calling, He will have no trouble recognizing me. I will have shown my true colors.

And I pray the same is true for all of you...

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

Copyright © 2019-2020 All Rights Reserved

The Brian Monzon Ministries



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