03 February 2011

True Joy is Magnified Through Life or Death

Phil 1:18-23

What does it mean to magnify something? Take a butterfly for example!! At first glance they are beautiful with colour and patterns.....But as soon as you put them under the microscope. You see the detail....the texture.....the pigment of different colours that are almost impossible to reproduce!! We have camera that can zoom in from hundreds of yards away to make an object or a person seem closer. We have gun company’s make scopes that can bring the animal in closer to make it easier to shot. We have microscopes that can help us see things that we could never see with the naked eye. We have eye glasses to help some people to read that really small print in books or labels. By definition according Wikipedia........."Magnification is the process of enlarging something only in appearance, not in physical size. This enlargement is quantified by a calculated number also called "magnification". When this number is less than one it refers to a reduction in size, sometimes called "minification" or "de-magnification". Typically magnification is related to scaling up visuals or images to be able to see more detail, increasing resolution, using optics, printing techniques, or digital processing. In all cases, the magnification of the image does not change the perspective of the image." All those things help us to magnify what we are seeing.......Why? So that we can see the object or person we are observing with greater detail. As I mentioned earlier about the butterfly! So let me ask that same question again, but I want to add something to it! What does it mean to magnify the Christian life? How do I Mike Andrews, magnifying Christ in my life? because Paul said in 2Cor 4:8-11 “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” In Rom 14:7-8  he said “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.” The Psalmist said in 70:4 “Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, "Let God be magnified!" ..............Be magnified.......make much of Him for it’s Him who wills and works through us” Paul says the same thing here! He says something that really makes you stop and think! Especially as he is penning this in a Roman’s prison cell! (Look at v20) Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” What is Paul saying? Even through my bodily suffering Christ shall appear more glorious, even if I die! Apart from Christ as the desire and central part of my being ........I’m nothing without Him. See Paul’s philosophy of ministry wasn’t to make money, fame or pleasure........his life was to be completely devoted to love, worship and serve Christ......That’s what it means to magnify Christ in my body! Paul’s goal in life was to magnify Christ to a broken and fallen world. How can a person find true joy in amities of suffering.....brokenness......or a fallen generation? Through Christ and His blessed Gospel! To magnify Christ in our lives as if a person was looking at you through the most powerful telescope in the world. To magnify Christ in your present situation of life ......This is how God looks at each and every one of us on a daily basis....Through His telescope, which is way stronger than any telescope invented my man.......which to date is the Hubble, launched into orbit in 1990. This is how we are to live our lives...consciously under the microscope of Jesus Christ and His finishing work in our lives. Paul didn’t want to be ashamed of his testimony.....He wanted to live a life of integrity, this should be our heart desire as well!! Whether by life or death Christ will ultimately get the glory in and through my life.....He gets glory in my life by serving Him and others with the Gospel.......He gets glory in my death to the proclamation of the Gospel at my funeral!! I don’t know about you! But the last thing I want to see happen to my life and my family and yours is to be ashamed when I stand before Him, as John said “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” 1 John 2:28.....because I truly believe that I'm going to be ashamed before Him!! But I know I'm able to stand because of His grace and mercy which is only found in Jesus Christ! This verse is very sobering and every single Christian should be greatly concerned about this part of their lives. This is what Paul is referring to when it comes to magnifying Him through our bodies! It’s that worker (Christian) who needed not be ashamed as we stand before the presence of Christ one day. William MacDonald says in his commentary “to magnify doesn’t mean to make Christ greater. He is already great, and nothing we can do will make Him greater. But to magnify means to cause Christ to be esteemed or praised by others.” Guy King said “.......magnified by lips that bear happy testimony to Him; magnified by hands employed in His happy service; magnified by feet only too happy to go on His errands; magnified by knees happily bent in prayer for His kingdom; magnified by shoulders happy to bear one another’s burdens” You look into the person of the believer and see Christ is the most important person to you whether by life or death. Paul explain what magnifying Christ means to him in the following verses (v21-v26). It’s interesting to note that the verb “is” (is italicized) ........which means it’s not in the original, but has been put in to make the meaning clearer........(v21) actually or literally says “for me to live Christ and to die gain”. The local church always talks about duty....service....but never really wants to talk about how much Christ truly means to them or how important that communion or fellowship with Him means to you! Again true joy begins and ends with our relationship we have with Christ.....Are people around you rejoicing because they see your passion and love for Christ? Or do they see a Sunday Christian who only magnifies Christ on that day? Because if that’s true in your life ......I’m afraid that you will stand before Him ashamed at His coming as John talked about in that verse. The Christian life is not a game or a laughing matter!! He sees’s everything; He knows your heart and its motives. He knows what is being magnified in your life and I’m sure if we went around the room we would find He is not pleased with our behaviour and devotion to Him. Remember our witness and our character is to make much of Christ while we are here on this earth (period).......The true fellowship we have with Him supersedes everything else! Have I reached that level yet in mt Christian walk? The answer is absolutely NO! But this is something I desperately am striving towards, because I know He is everything to me and if He is everything to me I must make much of Him. How? “By magnifying Him in and through my life minute by minute....hour by hour” We need to make much of Him in every situation and at any cost because He is worthy of our praise and adoration.

This world desperately needs to see Christ in:

• My Love for Him
• My Love for His word
• My Marriage
• My children
• My life
• My church
• My community

When I’m or a person is filled with this kind of joy, it’s impossible to stop when it hits the heart of those around you. The joy found in Christ transforms lives because it’s the Gospel that gives hope and most of all joy that only can be found in Christ. But it starts here! A deeper passion to make much of Christ.....An attitude that says “to be with Christ is far better than to be here”.........it’s better than family (and I really love my family).......it’s better than money...sex....entertainment....video games....stuff......praises from men..... Or what else this world has to offer!! Because in reality this world offers nothing! Other than to promote our self worth!....and all that does is “magnify me”..........“To man be the glory for great things we have done!” But Paul says “no thank you!!” “My desire is to depart to be with Christ which is far better” (v23) But as long as I have breath I will magnify Him in and through my life! This is more fruit for my labour because my fruit belongs to the Lord. (v24) Which means? I get the opportunity to magnify Christ in my body! Despite what life throws at me....whether it’s a fast ball or a curve ball, I will always make much of Him in and through my life. But the sad reality! James Boice said “how unfortunate it is that many Christians go through life with somber faces! They know the facts of Christian faith and they trust Christ for their salvation, but there is no joy. There is nothing that gives evidence of God’s presence in the midst of life or in tribulations. This should not be so. The presence of our Lord brings joy. And if there is no joy (or peace, or longsuffering, or patience, or any other Christian virtue for that matter), the cause may well be a lack of fellowship with Jesus.” The Lord knows we are always in need of more help in this area of life! That’s why we read the life stories of Abraham.......the barren wives........Job.........the nation of Israel......the prophets pleading for the nation to repent.......the doubt of the apostles.......the scattering of the saints......the life of the earlier church to today.......Why are they written in the Scripture? So that we too can find confidence and joy in every situation of life! I find great encouragement when I look into the face of people in our church that are:

• Dying with cancer despite the unbearable pain
• Those who find joy with having MS despite the pain and suffering
• Those who are survivors of breast cancer despite change in appearance
• Loss of limbs despite the ability to run or jump
• The testimony and passion for Christ because He saves to the uttermost
• A love for the gospel and His word and for a lost community

Our situations in life are not by accident or coincidence......this is how God uses each and everyone of us to magnify that He is worthy no matter what happens! That we can find joy in middle of suffering.....in the middle of persecution as our dear brothers and sisters around the globe!! (v25-v26). If we are today! It is because we are here to fill each other with the joy that can only be found in Jesus Christ. So that we can share that joy with the broken community of Moosehorn Manitoba......Whether by life or by death Christ will be and always magnified by my life......Because He is worth it!! Ask yourself these questions and answer them truthfully from your heart this morning! If I am to magnify Christ in my body (whole body)!!!

• Am I magnifying Him with my entire mind?
• Am I magnifying Him with my eyes?
• Am I magnifying Him with my hands and feet?
• Am I magnifying Him with my tongue?
• Am I magnifying Him with a completely surrendered life?

Remember the world is not supposed to see you or me!! They are supposed to see Christ. As a one saint said “my body will be the theatre in which Christ’s glory is displayed.”

“True joy comes from a life that magnifies Him as extremely valuable, because we know our salvation was purchased at such a high cost!”

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