Thursday, February 21, 2013


For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21

What would you do if you were offered your dream?  A dream vacation, a dream of millions in cash, a dream to have prime seats at a sports championship, all of us have dreams.  Again, what would you do if you were offered your dream?

Everyone wants some sort of reward in life.  Napoleon noticed this when he said, "A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon."  Each of us has a different idea as to what is really important to us, but whatever it is, we will often work diligently to get it whether it is good or bad.  However, what happens when the needs of another interfere with our plans?  Will we selfishly meet our own need first or consider the need of the other individual?  This was the very situation that we find the Apostle Paul in here in the Book of Philippians.

It is greatly evident that Paul lived a cross life.  His first concern was a vertical one.  He wanted ongoing and lasting fellowship with God.  However, Paul also had a horizontal concern.  He was constantly ministering to the needs of others.  This left Paul and his wants in last place.  He always put Christ and others first!  It is greatly evident that Paul lived a cross life!

Paul also wanted a reward.  Yet Jesus said, "...If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)"  Paul's idea of importance was to be with Jesus, and all of his effort was placed into reaching that goal in Christ.  However, the needs of the Philippians interfered with his plans.  Would he selfishly meet his own need or first consider their needs?  Paul's situation with the Philippians led to a great and sacrificial choice.

The apostle was offered his dream.  It was not a dream vacation, the dream of temporary pleasures from money, nor a dream of ringside seats at the Colosseum.  So what did he do when he was offered his dream?

Paul put Jesus first, Others second, and himself last.  It seems that the apostle could have saved himself more pain and problems with the choice of going on to his reward in Heaven.  Let his words sink in, "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better...(Philippians 1:23)."  In essence he is saying he had a choice of leaving the struggles of this life to be with Jesus (what close fellowship he must have had to be given this choice) or to stay and suffer more while ministering to the needs of the church at Philippi.  It was a painful choice.  For several more years he would be persecuted for his choice and ultimately face martyrdom in Rome.  He put himself on the cross and suffered after the example of his Savior.  "Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:24)"

As most do, I distinctly remember many of the songs I learned as a child.  One was about the true source of joy for a believer.  It went like this:
Put Jesus first,
and Others second,
and put Yourself at the end of the line.
Then you will find true joy and happiness through
J O Y!

Are you living the cross life so that when Jesus, who is Soon2Come, arrives, you will wear a crown?