Read: Philippians 1:19–26 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 50; Hebrews 8
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
Dr. William Wallace was serving as a missionary surgeon in Wuzhou, China, in the 1940s when Japan attacked China. Wallace, who was in charge of Stout Memorial Hospital at the time, ordered the hospital to load his equipment on barges and continue to function as a hospital while floating up and down rivers to avoid infantry attacks.
During dangerous times, Philippians 1:21—one of Wallace’s favorite verses—reminded him that if he lived, he had work to do for the Savior; but if he died, he had the promise of eternity with Christ. The verse took on special meaning when he died while falsely imprisoned in 1951.
Paul’s writing reflects a deep devotion we can aspire to as followers of Jesus, enabling us to face trials and even danger for His sake. It is devotion enabled by the Holy Spirit and the prayers of those closest to us (v. 19). It’s also a promise. Even when we surrender ourselves to continued service under difficult circumstances, it is with this reminder: when our life and work end here, we still have the joy of eternity with Jesus ahead of us.
In our hardest moments, with hearts committed to walking with Christ now, and with our eyes firmly fixed on the promise of eternity with Him, may our days and our acts bless others with the love of God.
Make of me, Father, a willing servant in times of weakness and times of strength.
Sacrifices offered to God are opportunities to showcase His love.
When a believer dies, we often comfort the grieving with these words: “He/she is now home with the Lord.” Paul affirmed this same certainty when he boldly declared that when he dies he will “depart and be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23). Paul’s assurance is built upon the very words of our Lord Jesus. As Christ was dying on the cross for our sins, He promised the believing thief, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
What do we know about heaven? Paul saw it, but wasn’t permitted to say anything about it (2 Corinthians 12:3–4), and John saw it but only cryptically described it in Revelation 21–22. But when Jesus described it as “my Father’s home” (John 14:2 nlt), He spoke of the welcome, warmth, and intimacy we’ll find there with Him.
For further reading on heaven, see Our Eternal Home at discoveryseries.org/rd911.