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Graduation Sermon 2018

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Paul tells the Philippian church "To live is Christ and to die is gain."

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Life slaps (mom’s slap)
Talk about my graduation experience and moving away to college.
Talk about my graduation experience and moving away to college.
May 1996 it was on, I was done with High School
August 1996 on my way to Southern Union, living in Auburn, riding in a 1994 Ford Ranger.
My buddies joining me, Patrick Fuller, Randall Murdock, Brian Hale, Greg Ling, Adam Blasmauh, and my self in College Park II in the middle of deepest, darkest, and foulest place on this earth “Auburn.” Could not wait to leave.
Of course our moms were there stocking our cabinets , fridge, and cleaning the entire apartment.
Within a week the food was gone and we were stuck with pretzel and mustard sandwiches and clothes pilled up to the sealing.
But I was free, “thank God almighty I was free at last!!!!!”
Then something stopped me in my tracks, the words of my granddad flooded my thoughts, and I heard him saying, “Son you will never know how good you got it until it’s gone.”
In my mind: For me to live was freedom and to leave my parents house and live on my own was gain.
In reality it was went something like this, For me to live was mom and dad and to stay at home was gain.
At this point I had no idea how to live on my own. I had no idea what I was to gain by living on my own, all I knew was the context of what me and my buddies thought about, “we are about to live in freedom.”
We completely took the phrase “to live” out of context. We had no idea what living was all about.
Sometimes things aren’t what they seem. I thought by moving out of mom and dads house was freedom. I thought this is how I became a man. In my mind I now got to make my own choices and no one could tell me how to live my life.
Well some of that was true. I did have freedom, and I did not have mom and dad telling me what to do everyday, even though they did check on me daily to make sure I was doing my school work, which I was not doing. It was like I took what I thought I knew and took it out of context. In other words it would have been like me reading the side of a coffee mug that said, “ true freedom is moving out of your parents house.” Taking things out of context can get us into trouble.
I don’t like it when people take bible verses out of context and slap them on coffee mugs, put them on bookmarks, put them on bumper stickers.v Philippians is the book of the Bible that has the most “life motto” verses that get taken out of context. Think about all of the verses that come from Philippians:
“ Do not be anxious about anything.”
“ Rejoice in the Lord always.”
“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (One of my favorites that is out of context)
“To live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Philippians is full of these verses. We are actually going to memorize one of these verses today, because it’s our passage. So you can go home and tell your friends, “I memorized a Bible verse in church today.”
Philippians 1:21 ESV
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Repeat after me: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”
One more time: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Most people hear that verse or see it on a coffee mug and think, That's a great life motto, I'm going to live by that. But we need to hear the context in which this was first spoken.
The Apostle Paul is in prison in the city of Rome, facing trial, knowing he's going to be executed for his faith in Christ. So he writes a letter to the church in Philippi, and tells them, "This is what I believe: to live is Christ and to die is gain." This is a man facing execution. We've got to wrap our heads around what he's saying.
Nero was the emperor of Rome at this time. Paul would have to stand before Nero and give his defense for why he came under charges.
Besides being put to death, the Christians were made to serve as objects of amusement. They were clothed in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs. Others were crucified. Others were set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed.
Christians were being killed for no other reason than the emperor did not like them. This is how Christians were being put on display in Paul’s day.
This is what's going on in Rome when Paul wrote, "To live is Christ, and to die is gain." There is an emperor who is torturing Christians to satisfy his own wicked desires. This is the guy that Paul is going up against.
So now lets go put that verse on a coffee mug!!!!
Everyone of you seniors and everyone in this building has to answer the questions:
“What is life?”
“What is death?”
Some may say “to live” is to:
“to Live” = Achieve good Karma “to die” = is hope for a better reincarnation
“to live” = Allow your good to outweigh your bad “to die” = is to achieve a personal paradise
“to live” = is self (that’s the world’s view) “to die” = is loss
The average person or teenager has the “world view” “to live” = self and “to die” = loss
In other words life is all about self and to die is to lose everything. This is very different from what Paul is saying in:
Philippians 1:18–30 ESV
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
Philippians 1:18-30
Remember, Paul is in prison in Rome, and he's writing to this church he loves in Philippi. And he says, "I don't know how this is going to turn out. I'm in prison. My trial is coming up. I don't know if I will be found guilty and executed. But if I die, I count it as gain because I get to be with Jesus, and I really want that. Or maybe they'll release me instead. If they release me, that's great, too. Because I get to be with you. I'll come to Philippi, I'll see you, I'll encourage you. But no matter what happens, I want you to continue moving forward in the faith, advancing the gospel."
As we look at this passage, we’re going to dissect this passage word for word and find out exactly what Paul means when he says, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
We live in a world to revolves around “self,” our dreams, our hopes, our ambitions, and our plans.
G.K. Chesterton told a parable about a boy who was given the magical opportunity to become small or big. Predictably, the boy chose to be made gigantic. And in a matter of three minutes, he could stride across North America. He could go up to Mount Everest and kick it over like a sand castle. But after a few days of this he got bored because the whole earth felt as big as his back yard. There was no one to play with and nothing to do. Had that boy instead chosen to be made small, his back yard could have been like the Amazon rain forest. He could have spent his whole life exploring just his back yard, just his neighborhood.
We like to make ourselves big. We place ourselves at the center of the solar system. But I really want to get smaller as I get older, not bigger. I want God to be bigger so I can get lost in who he is. There is a lot of superficial Christianity in the World today. This is because Jesus is merely added to our lives. We stay at the center of the universe, and we ask Jesus to orbit around us. We say:
"I like Jesus; he's great.”
“I want some Jesus.”
“I want some Christianity.”
“I want some church.”
“But I'm going to stay at the center of my life. Jesus, you orbit around me. I'll see you every time you come around.”
That’s most of our mindsets and if you seniors take this mindset into your next journey of life, you will get so worn out from trying to please your will “to live,” all you will do is try to make yourself happy with wordly things.
You will focus on idols like:
If we are honest those 4 idols are the basis of how the world says “to live”
Notice: what Paul said, “To live is Christ.” Paul said nothing about:
“to live is comfort”
“to live is approval”
“to live is control”
“to live is power”
No!! he said “to live is Christ”
You will make yourselves IDOLS when you live worldly. Everything you do in college, sports at the next level, job, or what ever it is, living for yourself will be your focus.
ou make ourselves IDOLS when you live this way. Everything you do rather it’s college, sports at the next level, you will lose the context of what the Apostle Paul is trying to tell us.
So today I want to show you what it means “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
So lets break it down.
Philippians 1:21 ESV
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
But before we do lets go back a revisit this verse. There were 2 key words i left out on purpose. Can anyone tell me what they were?

For Me:

If we just lived on the words of ,”to live is Christ and to die is gain,” it would be great words to live on but that’a all it would be. It’s just a “good motto,” it’s a “good slogan”, it’s a “good banner” to put around our football field and softball fields it’s nothing more than just words on some meaningless thing.
But when “For me” is added to it, it changes the entire context of the passage. Now it’s personal!!!
Paul knew that Christ is better than the idols we bow down to everyday. Paul knew the Christ is better than comfort, He’s the one who comforts.
He knew that once you accepted Christ as your on personal Lord and Savior, He’s the one who gives approval!
What about power/control? Paul also knew that Christ is the one who holds the universe in His hands!!
Paul didn’t live by a “motto or slogan,” he made it personal. He did not live a life pursing comfort, approval, control, or power. He said “for me” I’m going to live for Him and he will fill the gaps of all of the other things we put before Him.
Guys it has to be personal for you. You can’t just live on motto’s, slogans, and your idols going forward. You have to make a choice like Paul did.
Luke 9:23
Luke 9:23 ESV
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Lets put this in other words, “for me” I will deny myself and take up my cross daily and follow him.
That’s another slogan to live by, but when you put “for me” in front of it, it becomes personal.
Will you make it personal!!
The next part of the is:

To Live:

In order to grasp this fully, you must ask yourself 3 questions:
What is living?
How do you live?
Why do you live?
We covered the last one
If we are truly honest with ourselves we can sum all three of those questions into what we just talked about.
Do we live for “Comfort”
Do we live for “Approval”
Do we live for “Control”
Do we live for “Power”
Paul could have easily chosen to be with Christ and as a matter of fact if we look in we see Paul desired to do just that.
Philippians 1:22-24
Philippians 1:22–24 ESV
If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
Paul’s flesh wanted the “idol of comfort” but Paul devoted his life “to live by the spirit and not by the desires of the flesh. ()
His flesh desired “comfort,” look at what he says in (v.23)
My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
What Paul desired was not a bad thing. He desired to be with Christ at that moment, but He also knew God had a will for his life. So Paul chose to “walk by the spirit,” and allow Christ to guide him.
Paul made a choice “to live” for Christ no matter the circumstances.
When I decided to join the Air force, I made a choice that no matter the circumstances I was willing to do what ever it took to help defend my country, if it ment going overseas I would go, If it ment spending months away from my family, I would do it, if it ment dying for my country, I was willing.
The point is I made choice not to “live in comfort,” or to live for myself so other could enjoy the freedom that me and others who served fought for.
Paul is doing the same thing but he was fighting for their eternity. He was willing “to live” for the sole purpose of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What will you live for?

To Die:

Is Christ:

Who is Christ to You?
Is he just a good man in the bible?
Is he just someone people talk about in order to make us live the way they want us to?
Who is he?
Is He someone of interest to you?
Is He someone you have a relationship with?
Is He someone who you can’t wait to spend time with everyday?
Who is Christ?
For Paul he was everything. Paul was willing to go on living no matter the circumstances. Paul was willing to be crucified, Paul was willing to be their slave, Paul was willing to be put on fire so that the night sky could illuminate. In Paul’s eyes Christ was everything, He was Paul's personal Lord and Savior.
Who is He to you?
Does Christ control your thoughts?
Does Christ control your desires?
c Do you want Him more than anything else?
Do you care enough about Him, when you arise in the morning, He’s the first person on your mind instead of the people on your social media account?
Who is Christ?
To me He is everything, I want Him in my life, I want Him to feel my desires, I want Him to guide my steps and thoughts. I would not be standing before you today if it were not for Jesus Christ!!
So before you leave the halls of your schools and the comfort of your parents home, You need to ask yourself:
Will you
Who is Christ to me? Will Christ be personal to you? Will you put “for me” in front of the verses you see.

To Die is Gain:

Go back to the points on dying:
“to die” = is hope for a better reincarnation
“to die” = is to achieve a personal paradise
“to die” = loss
Paul understood what it meant to die. He knew that it would be much better to die.


"For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (emphasis mine). It's a personal conviction for him. This isn't scribbled on his coffee cup. This isn't a verse he heard about in church. It's his personal conviction—a truth that drives his life. I'm praying for a miracle right now:
Seniors or anyone here today who have not made this the driving force of your lives, I want this to become true for you. I want this to drive your lives. All of you here, this passage is a call to quit living for yourselves.
A lot of you have already answered that call. This is a call to quit living for yourself the way the World likes to live, the way the human heart likes to live, apart from the grace of God. This is a call to turn to Christ and ask him to come into your life and transform you. This is a call to join a mission, to join an army, to love people to death.
The only way to do this is to make it personal and the words “for me” in front “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
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