Joy in Life and Death

‘This blog series is based on one idea from the sermon each week. This week’s blog is written by DI Murchison. It’s based on the sermon ‘Joy in Life and Death’ which you can download here: https://soundcloud.com/livinghopeinverness/joy-in-life-and-death’

The question last Sunday’s sermon asked us was “What’s the point of our faith?” A question we often overcomplicate and in doing so, fail to understand the simple answer found in the Bible.

Paul’s answer to this question in Philippians 1 comes in two parts – a joy in this life, and a joy in the life to come, perfectly summed up in Paul’s well known statement “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Our faith is, at its core, a relationship. A relationship begun on earth and perfected in the new earth. An imprisoned Paul, bound in crude rusted chains and unsure of what the future holds for him, begins to question the purpose of his existence in such a hostile environment. In this statement, Paul exemplifies the hope of the Christian faith. A hope which urges Paul to live the remainder of his life in service to the Lord, for the sake of other Christians who still need to be encouraged and guided, all the while joyfully awaiting the day he will finally be with, and like, Christ.

Philippians

The second part of his statement raises the concept which, perhaps, most distinguishes Christians from our culture – a joyful anticipation of death. Now, this is not a suicidal or depressed mindfulness which wants the current situation to end, rather it is an expectation, beyond any doubt, that after death will come a life of sinlessness (a world not influenced by death, suffering or pain), and this is what Paul looks forward to – “to die is gain.” The life to come is described in Isaiah 65:17-25.

As Christians do we look forward to life after death? Do we believe that all things will be made new? Is this a source of joy for us in our faith?

The first part of Paul’s statement deals with the present and our purpose of living in the here and now. The reality was pressed upon Paul while in jail – what is my purpose for existence? For many Christians, there is a danger in looking forward to the life to come as they can forget about the life they are presently living. To this, Paul explains his bold statement that “to live is Christ” explaining that our purpose is to become more like Christ, and in doing so, bring glory to God. New life has already begun in us. So although Paul is torn between enduring this life or departing to enjoy fullness of life, the need of his brothers and sisters to progress in their faith gave him the direction he needed to live on.

Do we see the time we have on earth, like Paul, as the time of opportunity to become like Christ and encourage the Church? Do we see working for the kingdom of God as a joyous opportunity or an inconvenience to our lives?

Therefore, as one unpacks Paul’s weighty statement we see two encouragements for our lives:

1 – Our present lives on earth allow us to bear fruit and work for the Kingdom of God.
2 – We can rest in the exhilaratingly steadfast promise of God, that through death we will live the life which was first intended for man, and enjoy an eternity of peace and sinlessness upon the new earth.

It’s those encouragements which fill an imprisoned man with an unquenchable hope.

Joy in Proclamation

‘This blog series is based on one idea from the sermon each week. This week’s blog is written by Jodie Murchison. It’s based on the sermon ‘Joy in Proclamation’ which you can download here: https://soundcloud.com/livinghopeinverness/joy-in-proclamation’

Last Sunday, we seen that the imprisonment of Paul had two different effects on people:

  1. The first was that most of the brothers gained confidence through it. They were more eager and bolder to share the gospel with people – this preaching the Gospel was motivated by love for Jesus. They knew that Paul had been appointed to tell people about Jesus and that due to being in prison that wasn’t possible, so they picked up the slack and got on with the job driven by good intentions of making Jesus known.
  2. The second was that some preached Jesus out of envy and rivalry. The motivation which was behind their proclamation was that of selfish ambition, they wanted to make a name for themselves. They wanted to cause Paul trouble in his imprisonment. It was not motivated by a love of Jesus but instead by a love of self.

Philippians

Everyone when looking at this passage wants to be able to identify themselves with group one, we want to be a people known for proclaiming the Gospel due to our love of Jesus. We want to be known as the people who are emboldened and step up to tell people about Jesus.

However, we also must look at the reaction of Paul to those who are not driven by these desires, instead they do it to harm him and gain a reputation for themselves. Naturally as human beings we would expect to perhaps see some bitterness or animosity from Paul towards the second group of people. Instead, Paul reacts by saying what does it matter who proclaims the gospel, if Christ is proclaimed. He doesn’t offer any scathing remarks towards those doing it out of selfish ambition, instead we see Paul rejoice. He rejoices because people are hearing about Jesus!

The church in Scotland desperately needs more people who have the same reaction as Paul here. Paul is not concerned with gaining a reputation and advancing the ‘church of Paul’, instead he is motivated by his love for Jesus that people hear the Good News regardless of who is telling it. Often, we are so caught up with the name above the door that we forget the point of why we exist. Living Hope Church is not about making ourselves known and gaining renown, instead we desire to be a church known for loving Jesus and wanting to make Him known.

Therefore, how do we put into practice being joyful in the proclamation of Jesus no matter who is proclaiming it?

1 – As individuals, it pushes us to see telling people about Jesus as something to be joyful about – it shouldn’t be something we find as burdensome.
2 – As a Church body, we can learn from Paul to encourage one another by affirming and celebrating when we see people using their gifts to advance the Gospel.
3 – As a church, it calls us to remember that it is all about Jesus and the advancement of his Kingdom. Therefore, we should celebrate when the Church is growing and people come to know him regardless of the name through whom it happened.

Joy in Each Other

‘This blog series is based on one idea from the sermon each week. This week’s blog is written by Pete Rennie. It’s based on the sermon ‘Joy in Each Other’ which you can download here: https://soundcloud.com/livinghopeinverness/joy-in-each-other’

Imagine the people in your church or community group. Picture their faces. Think about their character.

What emotion do you feel? Some of us might be excited, we like those people and can’t wait to spent time with good friends. Others might feel a bit awkward as we think about people we should really know but don’t really.  Perhaps you feel exhausted, drained from trying to serve others? Some might feel anger or bitterness because of something that’s happened in the past.

Philippians

In the first eleven verses of Philippians, Paul (writing from a Roman jail) tells the church in Philippi that he yearns for them all with the affection of Christ Jesus, and that he thanks God every time he remembers them. As Paul pictures the faces of Lydia, the slave girl and the jailer in Philippi (Acts 16) he feels thankfulness and affection towards them. How many of us feel like that towards the people in our church community?

And that affection expresses itself in joyful prayer. A church that takes joy in each other is a church that prays for each other. So, Paul prays for the Philippians:

  • That they would overflow with love for Jesus.
  • That they would grow knowledge and understanding of Jesus.
  • That they would be pure in their obedience to Jesus.
  • That they might become more like Jesus.

Here’s a challenge for you today – think about the people in your church or community group. Picture their faces. Think about their character. Thank God for them. Then take some time to pray those 4 things for them by name. Why? because thats what it means to be a church who takes joy in each other.

Media Update

At Living Hope Church we put a huge emphasis on teaching the Bible. Why? because we believe that God created this universe from nothing, by His word. We are convinced that God’s word is powerful – when He speaks life comes into existence where there was no life before. Today, God speaks life to us through the Bible.

So, we want as many people as possible to hear God speak life to them. And to make this as easy as possible, you are now able to not only download our sermons from soundcloud (meaning that you don’t need an internet connection to listen to it) you can also subscribe to our new iTunes podcast. You can access to all of our Bible teaching using the links below, we hope that God speaks life to you through it:

Soundcoud 

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iTunes podcast

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