Lesson on Joy’s riches

Philippians 3:1-21 http://www.bible.com/bible/59/php.3
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

One of the most incredible truths we can ever understand is that our earthly life can never truly satisfy any longing we have. No amount of wealth will ever be enough. No level of health will ever keep our bodies from growing old and dying. No extent of fame or power is ever enough to place us at the top. No percentage of approval from others will ever satisfy our souls with enough acceptance. When God created us, He did so in His own image, and now only He can ever truly fulfill the desires He created in us – not with things of this world, but with Himself.

But how do we truly count everything which is considered earthly gain to be loss for the sake of Christ? Is the Bible saying we are not to have jobs or careers or seek to develop the gifts or abilities God has given us? The answer is, no, this is not what the Bible says. Let us turn to a story of a young man in the Bible; his name was Daniel, and we read his story in the book named for him.

Daniel was a young man of privilege who was stolen from his family and shipped off to a different country where the king determined to educate him in the ways of this new country. He would be given all the education, wealth, good life, and power he could ever want. But Daniel said no to all these things and determined to follow God no matter what it cost him. As you read the first 6 chapters of this book, you find Daniel always chooses God’s way rather than the way offered by others. His choice even got him sentenced to die in chapter 6.

God’s blessings for Daniel’s faithful choices were far more than Daniel could ever have imagined had he stayed in his own country living the life he could have had there. God never promises us earthly wealth and fame and health and riches – He promises you much better things for eternity if you allow Him to make you what He created you to be.

*Have you cultivated the habit of asking yourself, “Will this matter 100 years from now?” when you set priorities and make decisions? How would living with eternity’s values in view be life-changing?

Lesson: Joy’s sharing

Philippians 2:1-30 – http://www.bible.com/bible/59/php.2
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.
20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.
21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.
23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me,
24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

Our verses today show another face of joy – sharing. Paul loved Timothy like a son. We would not think badly of Paul if he wanted to keep this much-loved young man near him during this time of his own imprisonment, so Timothy would be able to encourage him. Instead, Paul wanted to send him to the Philippians with a message from himself, so Timothy could be a joy to them and also bring back good news to Paul of how these beloved friends were doing in their faith in Jesus Christ. Timothy would be sent in Paul’s place just as soon as there was news to be passed on, so these friends would also know how to pray for Paul.

Sharing the good things God gives us with other believers is an important part of being a Christian. In Hebrews 10:25 we read that we are to gather together as believers, and sharing the good and the bad things happening in our lives is an important part of such gathering. We share the bad things which happen, as Paul did here with the news of those who had left him because they were no longer faithful, so others can join us in prayer for such people or events. As the united body of Christ we must never forget the power of prayer (James 5:16). We share the good things in our lives because they bring joy and encouragement to others.

It is also a fact that God uses others in our lives to help us see where we cannot see clearly – when we are too close to our problems to see a solution. Another believer can often see a way out or through which we might not have considered. We are His gift to each other to help all of us grow stronger in faith and more effective in ministry in His kingdom. We will see more on this in the next lesson.

*When you ask others to pray, share specific details (without gossiping or slandering) so those who pray along with you can thank and glorify God with you when He answers. This is one reason God wants us to pray specifically … even though He already knows all the details!


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