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Beginning a Weekly Series through Philippians – Praying for One Another July 13, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Philippians, Prayer, Religion, Sermons.
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PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER

Philippians 1:1-11

Whether or not we pray says something about our confidence in God. More telling, however, is what we pray for when we pray. As we look at Paul’s prayer for the Philippians, there are two questions I would like for us to ask ourselves. Our answers to these two questions will reveal much about us.

QUESTION # 1:

Are we thankful for each other (verses 3-8)?

Our thankfulness is based on our knowledge of each other (verse 3). Now the word here is “remembrance” but Paul is not saying, “As I run through my prayer list and I look at your name, I am thankful for you. The basis of his thanksgiving is much deeper than that. He knows where God brought them from. He remembers the young maiden, who was demon possessed and God miraculously cast the demon out of her. He remembers Lydia and her faithfulness to worship God and how that she and other devout women embraced Christ as he preached to them by the riverside. He remembers the Philippian jailor jumping into his cell and asking, “What must I do to be saved?” Over the years he has kept up with these people. He has seen them grow in grace. He has labored together with many of them. He knows what obstacles they have overcome and what victories Christ has won through them. That is the basis of His thanksgiving.

Our thankfulness is based on our partnership in the gospel (verse 4-7).

Their partnership included financial giving.

Their partnership went beyond financial giving. In Philippians 2:25 we find that they sent one of their own, Epaphroditus, to aid Paul in his missionary work.

In 1:29-30 we find that their partnership in the gospel of Christ had even resulted in persecution.

Our thankfulness for each other corresponds to the deep love Christ has for us (verse 8).

Their partnership went beyond the task of reaching the world with the gospel, although that was an integral part of their task.

It even went beyond the natural love that was felt between Paul and the Philippian believers.

Paul’s thankfulness was rooted in the love of Christ. He was obedient to Jesus commandment recorded in John 13:34-35, “…love one another; as I have loved you…” Now Paul was convinced that there was no higher calling than to boast in Jesus Christ. Look at Philippians 1:20. That word “magnify” means to make someone or something large, to build up so that everyone will recognize and respect. There are a lot of ways to magnify Jesus Christ but there is no greater way than to reflect His love toward us to our partners in Christ and to a lost world that is greatly in need of the gospel.

QUESTION # 2:

What is the goal of our requests for each other (verses 9-11)?

“Often we simply don’t know what to say when we pray. I’m thinking especially of those moments when we begin to pray for others beyond our most intimate circle. What do you do when faced with a prayer list of friends, loved ones, neighbors, co-workers, missionaries, and others whom you hardly know at all? Our usual response is to pray like this: “Lord, uh … uh … uh … bless Sally.” Then we go to the next name: “Lord, uh … uh … uh … please bless Bill.” Then we go to the next name: “Lord, uh … uh … uh … I ask you to really bless our missionaries in Ghana.” And on it goes. As one man remarked, if you took the word “bless” out of our prayer vocabularies, most of us would never pray again.” From Ray Pritchard.

An abounding love that is governed by discernment (verses 9-10a). Many of Paul’s prayers include a request for love in the lives of the believers for whom He is praying.

1 Thessalonians 3:12, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,” (See also Ephesians 3:17-19).

Love, however, without discernment “…is blind..” Love without discernment will not look beneath the surface and see the danger that is lurking there. Love without discernment will not see that are some good things that I may love that should be sacrificed for the sake of better things. This passage, however, points out specifically that we need to recognize and discern the best things in life. We as believers in Christ love many of the things that are better but do we recognize and love what is best for us. That brings us to Paul’s second request. What are the best things in life?

A discerning life that is filled with the best things (verses 10b-11).

The best things in life are sincere, that is, pure. Those things that when they are brought out into the sunlight look just as clean and pure as they do in a dimly lit room. In those days, when potter wanted to show that his wares were without cracks, he would hold them up in the sunlight to show the perfection of his pottery. That is the life that we need to be praying for in each other. Another word for this is blamelessness. Purity and blamelessness are not a goal for heaven but for this life.

Paul admits in chapter 3 that he himself had not fully attained all the best things in life but it is imperative that we strive now for those best things. If we do not, then the next description of the best things in life will not be true of our lives. The best things in life do not cause others to stumble. The best things in life are profitable to others and remain profitable to others until Christ comes. There are some who start well but then they choose the good and the better things over the best things and prove to be a hindrance to others. That is what Paul is referring to when he says that all things are lawful but not all things are helpful. Paul’s life was governed by the recognition that he was a conduit of the gospel and that the best way to get the gospel to the world was to get rid of even the good things and the better things that might keep him from accomplishing the best things in his life.

The best things in life are abundantly fruitful. Now all believers in Christ bear fruit. In God’s kingdom there is no such thing as a tree not bearing fruit. Evil trees bear bad fruit and good tree bear good fruit. There is no mixing of the two from God’s perspective. However, not every good tree bears fruit abundantly. It is disappointing to have an apple tree with four or five apples. What we want from an apple tree is an abundance of good fruit. Now those four or five apples may be fine apples but the purpose of an apple tree is an abundance of apples, an abundance of fruit. Now there are many types of spiritual fruit, fruits of righteousness and Paul does not bother to tell us what they are but it is clear in the context that He is talking about our character in Christ.

The best things in life enhance God’s reputation in the world.

Next Week: Philippians 1:12-30 Cats Have Nine Lives; Christians Only Two

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Comments»

1. Ray Pritchard - August 20, 2008

Robert, glad you could use that quote. Paul’s prayer from Philippians 1 has become one of my favorites. Trust you are doing well. Always great to hear from you. Blessings, Ray


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