Monday, January 21, 2013

“Stand Firm” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 27, 2013
Purpose: To recognize that Christ's resurrection means power for us in the present and hope for the future

Scripture Text: Philippians 3:12-16

Philippians 3:12-16 (CEB)
(12)It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. (13)Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. (14)The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus. (15)So all of us who are spiritually mature should think this way, and if anyone thinks differently, God will reveal it to him or her. (16)Only let’s live in a way that is consistent with whatever level we have reached.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This week's lesson continues Paul's thoughts on the power of the resurrection, and it appears that Paul considered obtaining that goal as the ultimate for this earthly life. Paul begins this portion of scripture as asserting “resurrection” was a goal that he had not yet attained. Paul further implies that only resurrection will make us perfect.

Most of us today do not spend a lot of time thinking about our “resurrection.” However, perhaps we should, because when we understand the power of the resurrection, our lives should be changed.

Consider for a moment all that went into Christ’s resurrection. The second most powerful agent, (the devil) did everything within his power to keep God's Son, in the form of man, Jesus the Messiah in that tomb. On Friday of that week the devil thought he had won, the Son of God, was dead and buried, mankind's hope was shattered. I can imagine the jubilation that the devil and his imps were having. I can also imagine all of the forces that had been assembled to make certain that Christ remained in the tomb. This gathering of evil continued through the Sabbath, and the victory celebration was probably loud and boisterous. The former archangel, along with a third of all the angels, had been removed from heaven for wanting to be God, the devil and his rejected angels seemed to be relishing the victory. Too bad for them Sunday morning came, and all of their celebrating, and victory dances were all destroyed. That is the power of the resurrection that Paul was trying to attain.

The good news for all of us today is that we can call on that power for our daily living. Most of us will never attain the perfection that comes from a resurrection, but all of us can strive to attain the power of the resurrection in our lives. That is beauty of being conformed to Christ is this life. The more we follow the example of Christ in our lives the closer we come to obtaining “resurrection power” in our lives, and the closer we come to achieving perfection.

The hope for all Christ followers is that through the resurrection we might join Christ in eternity, but the reality is we can enjoy the power of the resurrection today as we struggle here on earth. As Paul proclaimed, “live or die” it is all good. (Philippians 1:21) says, “Because for me, living serves Christ and dying is even better.”

Paul's final thoughts from our lesson text tells us we have not all received the same amount of light, or commitment to living a life that is seeking to follow fully in Christ's teachings and example, Paul tell those in Philippi that the important thing is live according to the light you have received, be consistent in our walk and our talk. Whatever level we are at, our goal should be to move up, keeping pressing on, the old hymn “Higher Ground” comes to mind.

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

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