Lesson 2: Seize the Day

Lessons in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Overview Lesson Index

Lesson Workbook (PDF) Click here



1  To realize that Paul was in big trouble as he writes Philippians, but also joyful
2. To honestly reflect on our reactions to hard times
3. To commit to using the circumstances of our lives as a platform for the gospel to be shared


Apostles, Community, Fellowship, Gospel, Hardship, Joy, Missions, Paul, Persecution, Trials, Witnessing

Scripture Memorization

Philippians 1:21, Philippians 1:27-30

Memory Review
Pass out pieces of paper and have students write one of the verses from last week’s study. It’s the first week, so some may have slacked off. Encourage them to take time to try to memorize this week’s verses.

OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)

GROUP BUILDING (10 minutes)

(Have everyone take a piece of paper and number it one to ten.
Then list the ten largest cities in the world, based on population. (Metropolitan areas)
See how well the class did, chances are very few got more than four or five correct.)

 Rank  City  Country  Population
 1  Tokyo  Japan  32.4 million
 2  Seoul  Korea  20.5 million
 3  Mexico City  Mexico  20.4 million
 4  New York  USA  19.7 million
 5  Mumbai  India  19.2 million
 6  Jakarta  Indonesia  18.9 million
 7  São Paulo  Brazil  18.8 million
 8  Delhi  India  18.6 million
 9  Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto  Japan  17.3 million
 10  Shanghai  China  16.6 million

Source 2010 

GETTING STARTED (10 minutes)

Since Paul was often in chains, I want you to experience that feeling of captivity. For this activity, you’re all going to be bound.

Have all students sit on the floor and put their hands behind their backs. Tie their hands together with rope, zip ties, handkerchiefs, or if they have on long sleeves, duct tape. It’s okay if it’s funny, they’ll get the point as you go along. Get their ankles while you’re at it.

Remember you are bound. If you somehow manage to get loose, we’ll just tie you up again, so don’t even try it. Just sit there tied up and envision what imprisonment must have been like for Paul.

As the students are bound, read Philippians 1:12-30

At the beginning of this passage, Paul writes, “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”

Discussion Questions
1) What happened to Paul? (He is in prison.) 
2) How do we know? (Paul mentions chains, he mentions possible death, he mentions a palace guard, etc.)
3) How long would you be willing to be bound for Christ? (Meant to stimulate discussion.)

(As you untie the students, explain to them that they were only bound for about ten minutes. Ask them to think about what it may have been like to be bound for many days or months.)

DIGGING IN (30 minutes)

Although you were bound physically, that wasn’t the case for Paul at this time. His Roman imprisonment while he writes this book was probably not the same as the one he endured in Philippi, which we discussed last week. However, Paul was probably bound to a guard by a short chain running from his wrist. (Acts 28: 16, 20) 

Read Philippians 1:12-14

Discussion Questions
1. Name two things that Paul points out as positive outcomes of his imprisonment. (Serving to advance the Gospel and encourages his brothers to speak more courageously.)
2. Would Paul have been justified in “shutting down” and feeling sorry for himself? (Despite how he could have felt, he clearly choose to be obedient to Christ and, as a result, it seems like some cool stuff happened.)
3. Could God make a tragedy in your life into a platform for his glorification? (Meant to stimulate discussion.)

Workbook Activity (5 minutes)

Have the students turn to the workbook activity and write out their responses.

1) Describe the toughest thing that has ever happened in your life that hurt or imprisoned you.
2) How did that experience effect your emotions?
3) During the time you dealt with that terrible event, how did you feel about God?

Would anyone like to share that experience and how you felt when it was going on?

I want you to understand that no matter what happens in your life, God can be glorified. It may seem hard—or even impossible—but God’s ways are way beyond what we can dream up. Imagine for a moment what it must’ve seemed like to the Philippians, who no doubt had heard of Paul’s circumstances.

What greater obstacle besides being in prison, other than death, would discourage Paul from preaching the gospel? And yet according to verses 12-14, it seems like the gospel advanced, not only in the ranks of the roman guard, but all over Rome!

Read Philippians 1:15-18

Discussion Questions
1. What do you think Paul means when he says people are preaching the gospel with wrong motives? (Meant to stimulate discussion.)
2. How could such preaching really be encouraging to Paul? (Meant to stimulate discussion.)

Read Philippians 1:19-30

Discussion Questions
1. What does Paul say will be the source of his deliverance? (Prayers and the Holy Spirit)
2. Paul knows he has two options—he’s going to live or he’s going to be executed. What is his goal for each? (That he live a life worthy of the Gospel.)
3. What do you think Paul means when he says “to live is Christ and to die is gain”? (Meant to stimulate discussion.)
4. Based on your current commitment level, how would you handle being punished for your faith in Christ? (Meant to stimulate discussion.)
5. Why is Paul convinced that he will live through this imprisonment? (He still has work to do. See verses  24-25)

MAKING IT REAL (10 minutes)

Lessons in Latin
• How many of you know Latin?
• What Latin words/phrases do you know?
• A familiar Latin phrase represents the challenge of our lesson today. Let’s learn it.

carpe diem (seize the day).

• What does this phrases mean to you?
• Do you think Paul lived this way?
• How can you seize the day for Christ, even in the midst of trials?

I want you to understand something and hear me very clearly: life is hard. I know life is far from perfect for a lot of you. Some of you may doubt this very moment whether or not God even cares. I want to tell you he does, and he can be glorified despite your circumstances.

(You might consider telling a personal story to your group in order to help make the idea of God’s glory in hardship real.)

No matter what our circumstances, we can commit as Paul did. God was glorified in Paul’s life despite his chains, because he was not alone. Again and again people were encouraged by his witness and they in turn encouraged him. We exist to help one another. We are free and together we can seize the day. Carpe diem!

I’ll be praying this week that each of you do that, and I ask you to pray the same thing. Let’s see God’s glory in our midst.

CLOSING PRAYER (2 minutes)

Pray that the students make the most of everyday that God gives them and that they encourage and help one another through the tough spots in life. 

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