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Summary: Have you ever wished you were someone else’s place, or a different place altogether? Have you ever thought what it would be like to be in the ‘perfect place’? What is that place to you? For me, and maybe for you too, it’s in heaven, with Jesus.

August 16, 2009 – Heaven or Here? Philippians 1:12-26

A home-owner was tired of his house. He’d lived there for many years, and he more he looked around at the house, the years, the neighbourhood, the more he wanted to be somewhere else. His critical eyes saw things that needed doing everywhere, and so he decided it was time to sell and move on.

So he hired a professional realtor to come and look the place over, give him some pointers and begin advertising the home for sale, and at the same time asked them to find a suitable new home for him to purchase.

The realtor took some notes, suggested some basic clean-up of the home and then went back to the office to produce the ads that would run in the paper and online. But before they were sent out, the realtor wanted the owner to approve the copy, so she brought a copy of the ads to the home owner for their approval. On arriving to the house, she sat down with the man and read the newspaper ad to him, ‘Spacious home in well looked-after condition, no reno’s required here. Bright rooms, with lots of windows, a comfortable living area, solid foundation, good roof; simple yet pleasant garden and lots of open grassy back yard for the family to enjoy. A lovely deck for evenings of entertaining friends or sitting quietly to watch the sun set over the park. Located in a safe, quiet neighbourhood with all amenities close by. Come and see for yourself all that this home has to offer. Won’t last long on the market, come quickly. Offered at $-----.’ And she gave the price.

“Read it again,” said the home owner…’more slowly.’ She did, and the owner soaked up every word about the house, then told her not to place the ads, ‘That’s everything I’ve always wanted in a home, I’m going to stay right here.’

Have you ever wished you were someone else’s place, or a different place altogether? Have you ever thought what it would be like to be in the ‘perfect place’? What is that place to you? For me, and maybe for you too, it’s in heaven, with Jesus. The apostle Paul thought that too, but he also wrestled with that thought, why? Let’s look at some more from his letter to the Philippians and read about what was going on in his life that made him wonder about such things. Turn to Philippians 1, verses 12-26 with me. (page 830)

Philippians 1:12-26 (New International Version)

Paul’s Chains Advance the Gospel

12Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[a] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

15It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.[b] 18But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[c] 20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

Footnotes:

a. Philippians 1:13 Or whole palace

b. Philippians 1:17 Some late manuscripts have verses 16 and 17 in reverse order.

c. Philippians 1:19 Or salvation

What ‘happened’ to Paul? In verse 12, he says something ‘happened’ to him. Paul was a church planter, a preacher, a pivotal person in God’s plan to have the gospel preached to all nations. Before he became that man though, he was called Saul. Saul was a Pharisee, wise in all the writings of the law of Moses, and a persecutor of these ‘Christians’ who followed the teachings of some guy who called himself the Messiah, the Son of God. He saw to it that they were publicly huimiliated, brought to trial for breaking the laws of the temple and was even pleased to see some, like Stephen (whom we read about in Acts 7), stoned to death for preaching about Jesus. He made it his goal to ‘destroy the church’, throwing men and women in prison for following Christ.

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