Need an Adjustment

As I have been studying through the book of Philippians for the third time now, God still amazes me.  In church this past Wednesday I preached from chapter 1 verses 20-26.  It’s taken us 3-4 weeks to get this far.  What has amazed me this time through is how Paul dealt with circumstances and how he maintained his grip on the reality of the Savior in his life.

I opened the service with a statement, a question really; who here has ever just felt like saying “God, just take me home now!  I am a mess and I just want to end it!”  I would like to say that I’m surprised by how many raised their hands.  I was one of them.  I think that we all have times when we are so down, either because of circumstances forced upon us, sins against us, or sins and messes of our own making that ending it seems like a viable option.  It isn’t.  In studying Paul’s life and work through this book we could clearly see that there were times that even the great Apostle had moments of darkness in his life.  One has only to read the book of Acts to see how much this man went through, and then in 2 Corinthians we get just a glimpse into his mind.

2 Corinthians 7:5  For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.

True in this passage Paul was speaking of the comfort that God sent to him via Titus and a good report, but it also shows a very transparent Paul.  He reminds us that God is concerned with His children and comforts all that are cast down (himself included).  At the risk of sounding like another Jesus is a crutch writer I believe that Paul understood the importance of receiving that comfort and hope.  Comfort and hope lead to a greater witness, a greater testimony and great glory for a great God!

Following the message I received wonderful feedback thanking me for the message.  I think that one of the things that people were most impressed by was the transparency of Paul the Apostle, the others that raised their hands and my own.  The next day after preaching the message I was doing some research online and found the suicide note of a brilliant young man who died this past January.  He left a 4000 word letter detailing how he felt.  It may become one of the most helpful things I have ever read outside of the Bible.  It is a view inside the mind of depression and heartache.  One thing that stood out was that he felt so alone, though he was surrounded by friends. The other was that he felt so evil and hurtful and the opposite was expressed by those that knew him best.  His perception wasn’t reality, he needed an adjustment.  I don’t really know if he knew Jesus, God knows.  The sad thing is  that he felt utterly hopeless.  There is great truth in the idea that we are evil, we are sinners, but that truth without the hope of a God that loves us is a killing truth.  Sadly he grew up in what seems to be a church that emphasized just how disappointed God must be in everyone and everything.  The word love was spoken and even taught, but not necessarily emphasized.  I have visited the website and found that there are many well written articles concerning the Christian walk etc… and yet there was a disconnect with this young man.  The truth is that we will all be saddled with the presence of sin until we hit the grave, but the equal truth is that we have a God that considers us of great value even with the stain of sin for that stain of sin is under the greater stain of the blood of Jesus.  His love is embodied on the cross.  His love for us exceeds His hatred of our sin.  It is my fervent hope that churches everywhere and in every denomination with preach the truth of sin, but to never preach that truth without preaching the wonder of the cross and love of God for the sinner, yes even the saved sinner!

As I studied chapter one the phrase that caught my heart and taught me that Paul had learned to adjust his perspective was… “to live is Christ to die is gain”.  This was Paul’s perception and priority.  When your life is a shambles and you feel like it isn’t worth it, why not give your life to God here and now?  To live is Christ.  Let him have you and use you to lift others out of the depths of sin and depravity.  Let Christ fill your vision!  Let the death you are considering embracing be the death to self and let God use your mortal frame to His glory! The outcome of that is a life that will bless others.

As we begin to understand that to live is Christ then even when we fail or trials and tribulations come our way, we can shout that it is for Christ, let Him have it for his own glory.  When you sin… again… instead of accepting depression; accept forgiveness, get up and move forward learning from God the lesson He is trying to teach you  Hebrews 12 teaches us that God is chastening us to our profit.  Instead of being angry and bitter when men do all manner of evil against you, allow Christ to live through you giving love to your enemies.

To live is Christ…  when you find that you are the end of your rope… let go.  Recognize that to live is Christ.  End your life of… whatever it is that brought you to that point and get tuned into Christ.  Stop living… for yourself.  To live is Christ.  Before Jesus, there was no life.  The devil has us coming and going.  He tries to convince us that without Christ you can really live!  But without Jesus there is no life!  The cross God calls us to bear is one that brings us life! When we lose our lives to Christ we find them in Him!  Only better.

So when everything is coming undone, when the attack is hard and heavy, when you are the culprit and have only yourself to blame…. when these times come upon us we need to have a perspective adjustment.  We need to remember that the life we now live, we live through the faith of Christ Jesus.  He is our priority,  He is our life.

One last thing… to live Christ is to MAGNIFY CHRIST!  Philippians 1:20

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

This verse brings it all into perspective… listen to Warren Wiersbe’s summation of these points “When we take Christ into every circumstance, we will have joy. Paul was not the prisoner of Rome; he was the “prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:1; 4:1). The soldiers chained to his wrist were not guards; they were souls for whom Christ died. Paul had a “captive audience,” and from 1:13 and 4:22, we conclude that he won some of them to Christ. The single-minded Christian does not allow circumstances to overcome him; he or she turns those circumstances into opportunities to magnify Christ and win souls.[1]”  – Wiersbe

“For to me to live is ———————— and to die is —————————.”  Fill in the blanks yourself.

“For to me to live is money and to die is to leave it all behind.”

“For to me to live is fame and to die is to be forgotten.”

“For to me to live is power and to die is to lose it all.”[2]

Let the Great Physician give you a spiritual alignment and adjust your perception for His glory and your joy!

Let us remember that the challenge isn’t ‘you should be alive to spiritual things’ it instead is ‘you are alive to spiritual things, now reckon (or realize) it… adjust your perception!  God bless!

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (561). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Php 1:20). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

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