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Intro: Becoming a Christian is about the easiest thing a person can do. After all, all the work has already been done! Jesus died on the cross to pay for sin. He rose from the dead to give life. He ascended back to Heaven to make intercession for us before the Father. The Father accepted the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross. He sent the Holy Spirit to draw sinners to Himself and when sinners do come, He gladly receives them and saves them by His grace. All the sinner has to do is believe - Acts 16:31; John 6:40. However, after we are saved, then is when the struggles begin!

Before I was saved, I never understood the struggles and confusion that Christians are forced to deal with on a daily basis. I mean, here we are, saved, ready to go to Heaven and be with Jesus, yet we are expected to live in a sinful world. Here we are surrounded by temptations and trials all around and at the same time, God expects us to be busy working for His glory. Oh, it is the best life possible! I wouldn't trade one hour of Christian life for 1,000 years of a life of sin. This is far better, but you have to admit that at times, we all just want to go home! That is the problem Paul faced. He has reached a point in his life when he just wants to go be with Jesus. I suppose he was tired of the trials and longed for that happy city of rest where he could be with the Lord he loved so dearly. After all, he is in prison when this letter is being written. I think Paul suffered from the same mixed emotions that many Christians feel in our day and time. That is what I would like to address tonight. I am going to preach for a while on this thought, "Ready For Heaven, But Needed On Earth."


A. According to Paul's own testimony, he is in a "Strait". This word is used to describe some pretty colorful situations.

1. Used of a besieged city. (Ill. The idea is of a city surrounded with no aid in site. The people with are trapped and desperate for aid. They long to be liberated.)

2. Used of a strait between two points that forces a ship into a narrow channel. (Ill. Here, the current moves faster and the waves are far more violent in their attack on the ship. It is a dangerous place for ships to be. There is always a danger of being thrown onto one shore or the other.)

3. Used of a cattle squeeze, that pushes in on each side, forces the animal to be stationary while the farmer applies medication. (This carries the image of having to endure trying times and go through things that are truly painful, but of not being able to escape them.)

4. Used of a prisoner, who is unable to go as he pleases, but is confined within the walls of his cell. (Ill. Here is a man who is locked up. He still has the desire to go and be free, but he is hemmed in by the walls of his prison.)

B. When Paul uses this word, he is telling us that he feels like a prisoner in this world. In other words, his body is here, but his heart is elsewhere. He feels the pressure of this life and longs for the freedom of Heaven.

C. How many of us, if we were honest, would have to admit this evening that we long to be in Heaven? How many would have to say, "Preacher, I feel like I am trapped by circumstances and situations beyond my control and I just want to be free."? I know that there are times when I experience that same sort of feeling. I just want to go to Heaven, but I know I am stuck here for as long as the Lord desires.

D. This is Paul's Dilemma, now let's spend a few minutes breaking it down.

I. Paul's Dilemma


(Ill. Paul's longing is twofold.)

A. Paul Longs For Liberty - Paul has a desire to be free from the bondage of the prisons he is in. There is the Roman prison and there is the prison of his flesh. Both hinder his liberty and hold him back. His desire is to break free of them both.

(Ill. I feel the same way! I have never been in prison, but I do feel trapped in this body at times and long to break free of its confines. This was Paul's heart as well.)

(Paul Expresses his desire by using the word "Depart." Isn't it interesting that death held no fear for Paul? We often face the hour of death with fear and dread, yet when Paul considered his leaving this world, he simply said that he had a "desire to depart." Allow me to spend just a few minutes on this word and the wonderful truths it expresses. This word was used in that society in four primary ways. They are as follows:

1. It Was A Military Term - It was used of soldiers taking down their tents. This is a glorious picture of Christian death. When we leave this world, all we really do is fold up this tent of flesh and go to be with Christ, 2 Cor. 5:1-8.

2. It Was A Sailor's Term - It meant to loosen a ship and set sail. That is what happens when a Christians comes to the end of the way. We just loosen from the moorings of this old world and sail off the glory to meet Jesus.

3. It Was A Farmer's Term - It was used to refer to taking the yoke off of oxen at the end of the work day. What a picture for the child of God! One day our work will be finished and the yoke of service will be removed from our necks and we will enter His rest.

4. It Was Traveler's Term - It was used by travelers to speak of putting the horses into the barn at the end of a long journey. Again, this speaks volumes about us as Christians. We travel through this world in all kinds of situations and circumstances. One day, however, the journey will end and we will be at home with the Lord.

5. It Was A Political Term - It was used to speak of setting prisoners at liberty. Perhaps this was the image Paul was intending to convey by using this word. After all, we are prisoners in these bodies and in this world until God cuts the golden thread and allows us to come home. The day will come when God will open our prison doors and we will be free.

B. Paul Longs For The Lord - Paul sums up his desire to depart by saying that he longs to be "with Christ." I believe this is the heart's cry of every believer! Ever since the day God saved my soul, there has been a desire to see Jesus and one day, I will see Him. I look forward to all the sights of Heaven and I look forward to seeing long gone loved ones and the saints of old, but my heart longs to see the One who climbed Calvary and took my sins upon Him. I want to see Jesus! Jesus Christ will be the single greatest sight in glory. There will be many who never praised God in this world, who never got excited about anything spiritual. Yet, they were still saved. When they see Jesus on that Heavenly shore, they will literally come unglued and will praise His lovely Name. Perhaps it will be the marks of His love that will draw out their shouts of praise, Rev. 5:6.

(Ill. Paul says that this is "far better." What he means is this: When you get Jesus, you also get Heaven! Think about it, we will get to see the Lord who died for our sins and we will spend eternity enjoying His presence - 1 Thes. 4:16-17. Just think for a minute about Heaven. Thank God, over there, there will be none of the problems and pains of this life. It will be a different type of existence over there. Notice Rev. 21:4, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." None of those things that hems us in down here will exist over there. No wonder Paul said what he did in 1 Cor. 2:9, "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Sounds just like the place I want to spend eternity.)

(Ill. Do you ever get homesick? One day, the wait will be over and we will be home. I long for that day!)

I. Paul's Dilemma

II. Paul's Desire


A. Here is the flip side to Paul's coin. Though he was tired from his labors and longed to be free from his prison and go to be with Jesus, Paul realized that he had a debt of service to perform form the Lord. Paul wanted to go to Heaven, but he knew he was needed right here.

B. Paul knows that he the conduit through which God is channeling His message to the church. Paul knows that he is being used of the Lord to do great things. There is no pride in his statement, just fact. He is grateful for all that the Lord has done in his life and he wants to do his part for God while he has life in his body. He wants to be a blessing to the saints as well, 25-26.

C. There is a valuable lesson here for every child of God. While our harts are being tugged homeward, surely there is the realization that there is a great work to do here on the earth. Obviously, God isn't going to use any of use to write books for His Bible, but the work we can do for Him is just a important and just as necessary. 2,000 years ago, Jesus pointed out to His Disciples the need for workers in the harvest, John 4:35. If the need was great then, how much greater is it today? Here are some truths that we need to come to terms with:

1. God Saved Us To Work - Eph. 2:10; James 2:17-18.

2. Every Saint Of God Has A Job - 1 Cor. 12:7; 11.

3. Every Saint Of God Has A Debt - 2 Cor. 5:14; 1 John 4:19.

4. Every Saint Of God Will Be Rewarded In Proportion To His Labors - 2 Cor. 5:10.

5. We Live In A World That Is Hell Bound - Psa. 9:17.

(Ill. You and I have been given the greatest message and mission that the world has ever known. It is our duty to take it to a world that is wallowing and perishing in sin. We have a duty to serve the Lord with all our hearts while there is breath in these bodies. We owe it to Jesus, we owe it to the lost, we owe it to the saints of God and we owe it to the church. Our highest duty is to do our duty before the Lord.)

(Ill. Paul felt the weight of this debt. He knew that he had a service to perform for the glory of God and was willing to forgo his home going to get the job done for Jesus. I challenge all of us tonight to look into our hearts and see whose agenda is top priority in our lives. Let it be Jesus and His will above all other desires and dreams.)

Conc: Paul was willing to say these things because he possessed the right kind of outlook on life. He sums his philosophy of living up in verse 21, where he says, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Paul could honestly say that his life was a true reflection of Christ on earth. He knew that while he lived, others could see Jesus living in and through him. However, he knew that if he were to die, then he would be the better for it. To Paul, he was a winner either way.

If you were called on the write this verse, how would you have to do it? "For me to live is_______ and to die is _________." How would you fill in the blanks? I think that anyway other than Paul's way is a flawed philosophy of life. We must bring ourselves into line with God's perfect will for our lives. We must realize that while we are ready to go to Heaven, we are still needed here on the earth.



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