Dear Members and Friends of IBCZ,
If ever there was a year when we needed the good news of Easter, surely it is this year. The COVID19 virus has not only upended our lives and routines, but it has brought all kinds of hardship, suffering, and even death to thousands, along with grief to all their friends and loved ones. Not only have so many people died so unexpectedly, but we are surrounded constantly by the reality of death as the daily news reminds us of the rising death toll, complete with charts, statistics, and breakdowns for each country as well as the whole world.
Into this atmosphere of death and fear, God declares a great reversal. While death is still an enemy to us in this fallen world, it is now a defeated enemy. Death has given way to life – eternal life. Jesus declared in Rev. 1:18, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
We do not live in denial of death, nor of the tragedy of our present times, but as Christians, that is not what determines our state of mind. Rather we live with the sure conviction that death has been defeated by the One who was dead but now is alive – Jesus Christ our Lord. He holds the keys of death. In Scripture, keys often symbolize authority. Thus, Jesus has authority over death, and by His authority death has no lasting claim on us. Because of Easter, death is not the end but a passageway by which we enter the presence of the Lord of all, and forever we will rejoice in His loving presence. So, thanks be to God for the truth of Easter!
And now to Philippians. I hope that during this past week you were able to read and reflect on Phil. 1 (where Paul alludes to his Easter faith when he wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”). This week, let’s focus on chapter two, which fits right in with Holy Week as it speaks of the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus. A few questions to consider:
- (Vs. 3-4) What helps you or hinders you in looking out not only for your own interests, but also the interests of others? When was a time when someone put your interests ahead of their own?
- (Vs. 6-8) How does it make you feel knowing that Jesus put your interests ahead of His as He became your servant, even dying for you?
- (Vs. 12-13) What is a practical way that you can “work out your salvation?” (Not work for your salvation, for salvation is a free gift, but work out or live out your salvation.)
Grace and peace,