Philippians 1:21 “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”
Paul penned these words to articulate the importance of living life completely for Christ. Paul, once a persecutor of Christians, spent his entire converted life enduring the same suffering he previously desired for others. At the time of Paul’s letter to the Philippi church, Paul was imprisoned and conflicted regarding the direction his life should take. For Paul, dying meant being with Christ, something he desired more than anything; but continuing his ministry meant bringing more people to Christ, his ultimate purpose. Paul was crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20), giving up complete control of his life – allowing Christ to live in him.
God uses many techniques to help people understand His direction. One of them is through confirmation of many sources. It never ceases to amaze me that God will point everything in His particular direction. Unfortunately, for me, there has to be a lot of repetition before I finally catch on! Lately, God has been directing me towards a better understanding of Paul’s ministry and a greater appreciation for Paul, himself. The verses above have been recently discussed in church sermons, Sunday school, Christian books, and through songs on the radio. To make matters even more clear, children’s Sunday school has focused on Paul for a while now – both his conversion and mission trips. In the midst of this, my son was singing a song on his MP3 player that I wasn’t familiar with. It turned out to the Apologetics song “I Love Apostle Paul” (sung to the tune of Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll”). So, it shouldn’t have surprised me that when the women’s ministry was discussing Bible studies for the fall, God led me to one of Beth Moore’s early studies. It is appropriately named “To Live is Christ – The Life and Ministry of Paul”. What better way to become closer to God than study His Word, and what a great way to study His Word by focusing on the apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament!
“To Live is Christ” is more than a history lesson about Paul – it provides amazing hope and encouragement for every woman. Paul reminds us that God doesn’t care about our past; his mercy will overcome any sins we have committed. If God will use a self-absorbed, persecutor of Christians, who allowed the law to become his god, then He wants to personally call each of us to be His disciple. Paul was a passionate, unashamed man, who persevered through countless trials. He was faithful to God despite the constant opposition he faced. Everything in Paul’s life and ministry is as relevant today as it was during his lifetime. There is so much to take from this study, including (but by no means limited to): raising Godly children, dealing with temptation and difficulty, witnessing to non-believers, Godly relationships and mentoring, and even how to avoid being long-winded (uh-oh). I encourage you to commit to attending this awesome 12-week Beth Moore study on Sunday nights. There will be surely something for everyone, in addition to the opportunity to fellowship and discuss scripture with other women! What an inspiration to all women to learn about the man who gave his entire existence to God’s will after his conversion along the road to Damascus. Paul demonstrates that God’s power can and will overcome human weakness, if we allow Him to take control of our lives.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:2-4)