Friday, January 04, 2008

In the meantime, remember this...

Enjoy this week's small group curriculum.

Big Idea:
How should we be living in the meantime; as we await our Savior? Do we strive to earn our salvation? How about kicking back and relaxing? Paul directs our eyes and hearts to Christ as we passionately press on and strain toward our eternal life with our Lord.

Can we do it without Christ; can we make it on our own? In the third chapter of his letter to the Philippians, Paul responds with an emphatic “NO,” and states that apart from Christ we have no righteousness that will lead to salvation. Does he mean that good works and obedience are worthless and wrong? Not at all, but Paul does point out that doing these things solely out of our own strength is of no profit. He goes even deeper by stressing the importance of knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, sharing in his suffering, becoming like him, and ultimately being eternally saved because of him. Paul isn’t saying that he has completely accomplished all of this, but instead of sitting back and just hoping for it to happen he declares that he is pressing on and straining toward what is ahead in order to get this ultimate prize. Paul then amazes us by encouraging us to follow his example. Instead of being enemies of the cross, remaining selfish, and having our minds on the things of this world, Paul is telling us to join him in his pursuit of Christ, to eagerly await our Savior, and to live as citizens of Heaven. Is this what your life looks like? Are you going after Christ with a passion because you know that he is the only way? Are you willing to suffer with Christ, obey him, pursue him, and forsake all others save him? Yes, this is Paul’s story, but it must be our story as well.

Discussion Questions: (read the scripture & discuss)

Note: first read Philippians 3:7-21 in its entirety

Philippians 3:7-11
Knowing Christ involves knowing the power of his resurrection, but also sharing in his sufferings. How do we share in his sufferings? Give personal examples if appropriate.

Philippians 3:12-14
What does Paul mean by pressing on and straining toward what is ahead? What are some examples of “pressing” and “straining” in your life?

Philippians 3:18-21
Paul tells the Philippians to “follow his example”. What is Paul talking about? Can you confidently instruct others to follow you; to imitate you? What should we be doing in the meantime?

Taking Action: Spend this week examining your life. Does it reflect someone who is eagerly awaiting Christ? Are you giving your whole life to gain the prize? Are you living through your faith in Christ and like a citizen of Heaven or are you still captivated by the world?

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