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"The Cost of Discipleship"

Date published: 02/22/2016
Philippians 1:22-24 “If I (Paul) am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?  I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (NIV) 

   The last four weeks has enlarged our understanding of being fruitful for God.  The question was asked, “What is your call to action?” Today we will look at one of the New Testament’s best examples of responding to God’s call to action in Paul. Today’s passage demonstrates some key things about Paul: He knew his call; he knew his response to that call; he could see the fruit being born from his response to the call; he was more committed to Christ and His call than his own life. What a powerful testimony about bearing fruit! Paul connected his obedience to Christ by being fruitful.   

   The book of Acts gives a wonderful testimony of Paul’s quest to being fruitful. Here are five attributes Paul exhibited in being fruitful: 1) Acts 26:28-29 demonstrates how Paul preached Christ regardless of the circumstances, “Then (King) Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’  Paul replied, ‘Short time or long — I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.’” (NIV) Paul was in prison . . . talking to a king; yet he boldly professed Christ, thinking not of himself, but the unsaved. 2) Paul obeyed even when the circumstances threatened his life. In Acts 18:9 you see how God assured Paul to continue being bold, “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.’” (NIV) 3) Living out God’s call does not always fit neatly into your plans. Acts 19:8-10 showed Paul’s commitment regardless of cost, “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God . . .  some became obstinate . . . they publicly maligned the Way . . . This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” (NIV) 4) Continue to press on. Acts 20:1-3 shows Paul’s relentless pursuit to God’s call, “When the uproar had ended . . . set out for Macedonia . . . finally arrived in Greece . . . stayed three months. . . the Jews made a plot against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia.” (NIV) 5) Obedience is not always risk free. Acts 21:12-14 shows how Paul was faced with the decision to continue to obey or not obey God, “When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Paul answered, ‘. . . I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’” (NIV) God desires you to be fruitful, but His call is not always easy. Deep roots in Christ (intimacy with Christ) equips you best in accepting the call to be faithful to God. Will you answer God’s call in your life? 

Philippians 1:20 “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (NIV) 

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Here are some Bible studies from Growing in Christ to help your transformative experience: “God’s Purpose For You” and “Knowing God’s Will.” 

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