Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from December 5-11 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who serves as the Fenway site pastor of Symphony Church in Boston. Shan, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Jenny, who recently gave birth to their first baby Tyler.
Devotional Thought for Today
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
If someone came to you today and said, “You can have either a brand new BMW or a brand new Mercedes Benz for free, as my gift to you. You just have to pick one.” You, in theory, would have a dilemma on your hands, trying to decide between the two cars; but either way, it’s a win-win situation, right? No matter what you choose, you get a free luxury car. It’s not often that we encounter a win-win situation. Most of the time, life can feel more like an endless stream of lose-lose situations: If we choose this particular career path, we make less money, but if we choose this other career path, we have less time with others. If we live in this city, we’re too far from home, but if we live in this other city, we have fewer opportunities. It can sometimes feel like no matter what we choose in life, we’re missing out on something.
When we look at what Paul says here in Philippians though, there is no fear of missing out at all. It seems that each and every day of his life was a win-win situation—if he dies, he gets be with Jesus, but if he lives, he can keep on laboring to help others grow in their faith. To Paul, this was a dilemma, but either way—if he were to live or to die—it was a win-win situation.
It can be hard to see life as a winning situation and/or death as a winning situation. We might think that if we live, we have hard lives and difficult situations before us. But if we die, we miss out on life itself. So why was Paul able to feel like this about life and death? Simply, Paul understood his identity and purpose. He was able to look at his life and know that he had a purpose to live and labor for the sake of Jesus. And at the same time, he was able to look at death and call it “gain,” because he knew that as a child of God, regardless of what he was able to accomplish, his life was in the hands of Jesus. Either way, his life was about Jesus. And so when we struggle to see the wins in life or death, we need to make our lives about Jesus, to know our identity and purpose in Him. When it’s about Jesus, it’s always a win-win!
Prayer: Jesus, help me to make my life about You. I pray that instead of being wrapped up in the things of this world, my life will be wrapped up in You alone. Help me to understand my identity and purpose in You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 28
Lunch Break Study
Read John 14:1-4: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
Questions to Consider
- According to Jesus, how do we find hope in the midst of trials?
- What does it mean that Jesus has prepared a place for us?
- How is your heart troubled right now? How can you find hope in Christ today?
- Jesus tells us to believe or trust in Him when we find ourselves in difficult times. We can trust in Jesus, because He tells us that there are many rooms in His Father’s house, where He has prepared a place for us; and He Himself will take us to that place.
- It means that we have a room in heaven waiting for us. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we can have an eternal life with Him and the Father in heaven.
- Personal reflection question.
Paul says, “For me to live is Christ.” Is that how you would define your life? If you’re like me, there are probably at least a few other things competing to fill in that space. Take some time to reflect on those other things that seek to define you, and spend time repenting and putting your whole life in the hands of Jesus.