I have YOU in my Prayers
INTRODUCTION: Would you once again turn with me to the New Testament Book of Philippians and follow me as I read Chapter 1:8-11;
“For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. (9) And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; (10) That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; (11) Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”
The other day I turned on the TV and in the news I heard the prayer being given by the Chaplain of the United States Senate. That brought back a flood of memories having done that myself over the course of 13 years in both the House of Delegates and the Senate of the State of Maryland. I mention this bit of history to make a point.
Question: How many of you really pay close attention to the public prayers of your pastors, or to others who pray out in public? How many of you have read prayers given by great individuals or by others who have either said them or written them?
Possible Answers: Pastor, a prayer is just a prayer. Pastor, a prayer should be given from the heart and not read. Pastor, that's nice that someone prayed but that was a prayer between them and God. Pastor, maybe they touched upon my needs or the needs of others in general, but it was said and that was that.
You would agree that very few people are remembered for their prayers. Yet millions of prayers have been uttered.
Some have been profound.
Some have been articulate.
Some have been inspirational.
Others have been tremendously thought provoking.
However, in this message I ask, “Can you quote one prayer of any person you have ever heard?”
There are some exceptions. In the eternal Word of God you do have the prayers of David, Solomon, some of the prophets, and those of the Lord in the gospels. Before us this morning, is one of the prayers of the Apostle Paul. He prayed on behalf of the congregation of the church at Philippi.
Last Lord's Day we looked into the heart of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:3-7. In this passage, Paul was THANKFUL, PRAYERFUL and JOYFUL for the congregation’s involvement in the fellowship of the Gospel.
Paul now opens another window in his heart and gives us insight into his prayer life. As you study this prayer, you will soon discover the "ACCENT OF HIS PRAYER IS ALWAYS ON THE SPIRITUAL." In fact as you read all the prayers of the Apostle Paul, you will find he was always praying for the spiritual needs of the people. Not the physical, but the spiritual needs.
In our day there is a tendency to concentrate our prayers and requests upon:
The physical needs of the sick and people in the hospital, or
The temporal needs of people, or
The political needs of our state, nation and world, or
The financial needs that we or others have, or
The social and moral problems that we have in our society.
There is nothing wrong with praying for those needs. We are to bring all our needs, problems and situations in life before God's throne. Afterall, we read in Philippians 4:6; "…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." But, as you study all the prayers of this mighty servant of God, the "ACCENT OF HIS PRAYER IS ALWAYS ON THE SPIRITUAL."
Someone said, the lesson we ought to learn from this is, "When man is right spiritually, he is right in every other area of his life. Not only so, but when you find a person who is right spiritually, that person can cope with all the physical and temporal problems that come His way."
Now with that in mind, I want to touch upon this prayer of the Apostle Paul, as he touches upon the spiritual needs of the people in the church at Philippi. You will notice in verse 9-10, the word "That" is used three times:
"That your love may abound yet more and more…"
"That ye may approve things that are excellent."
"That ye may be sincere and without offense…"
Now in these three uses of the word "That" coupled with verse 11, we have FOUR specific requests Paul makes on behalf of the believers. Listen to the heart of Paul as he prays for these believers to grow:
In Spiritual COMPASSION, "That your love may abound yet more and more…"
In Spiritual CONVICTION, "That ye may approve things that are excellent."
In Spiritual CHARACTER, "That ye may be sincere and without offense…,"and
In Spiritual COMMITMENT, "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness…"
Number 1: Paul prays that these believers may have growth in Spiritual COMPASSION, "That your love may abound yet more and more…" No matter how much the believers of Philippi showed love, Paul prayed that their love would deepen and intensify. He wanted them to go from the POSSESSION of love to the PROGRESSION of love.
Now in the New Testament there are two different Greek words for the English word "knowledge."
For the most part the usual word is "geonis" meaning a natural knowledge. This is something we know from our natural resources. However from time to time, the writers used another Greek word "epi-geonis" meaning "a knowledge gained by experience." This would be a supernatural knowledge, a knowledge that comes from another sphere.
Paul is saying, "I pray as a result of your contact with supernatural knowledge, which the WORD OF GOD happens to be. It’s a divine revelation, a supernatural revelation from God to us, I trust that something might happen in your life. I pray that a love may develop in your life that isn't just a common kind of love found anywhere in the world."
There is a second word of interest. I call your attention to the word "judgment." This word has to do with "moral discernment" based on the Word of God. This is recognition of what God in his holiness LOVES and what He HATES.
By studying God’s Word, which is His divine revelation:
We should have greater insight into what God is like, much more so than the person who never studies this book.
We should have greater insight into what human nature is like, as we discover "the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked.”
We should have greater insight into what we ourselves are like.
Paul is saying, "I pray as a result of your contact with the Word of God that you may have not only greater insight:
Into what the lost are like and their needs, and
Into what you are like as a believer, and
Into the heart of those who need to be lifted up and loved, but that
Your moral discernment and your understanding of the heart and needs of men, And your love for them might abound."
Listen, "Supernatural Knowledge" and "Supernatural Discernment" can be likened to two banks on either side of a river, between which flows the love of God. The deeper those banks, and the wider those banks, the greater the flow of that love. Your love should "ABOUND" in its extent, and do so "MORE and MORE" in its effectiveness as a result of your supernatural knowledge and discernment
And so, what I am saying is: the greater your contact with the Word of God, and the more time you spend in God's divine revelation –
The greater will be your love for the unsaved world, especially in your desire to bring them to Christ, and
The greater will be your heart of compassion toward those in the family of God, and
The greater will be your love for God and the things of God.
I got to thinking about this. In this cold, hard, sinful, pain-filled world, there is:
More heartache than peace,
More failures than success,
More sorrow than joy,
More machines doing work than the touch of humans,
More, “Don't bother me, I'm too busy,” coldness.
It appears to be a fact that the more fundamental we are in our beliefs, the less compassionate we are. Don't you find that to be true? Somehow,
We have stopped being the healing agents. We no longer wrap ourselves around the wounded, like the Good Samaritan did. We have chosen to place more emphasis on proclaiming and defending and less on repairing and restoring. We have sought to be the "super-pious know-it-all Christians," instead of the believers who reach out to pick up and love the fallen for Christ's sake.
It's for those reasons that my prayer for the people of this church is:
That we will dig deeper and deeper into the supernatural revelation of God's eternal Word. That we will come away with a greater moral discernment of what is right and wrong. As a result, we will become overflowing with a greater love and compassion for those in this assembly as well as all those God brings across our paths who need to see and feel the love of God in our hearts toward them. Amen!!
Number 2: Paul prays that these believers may have growth, in Spiritual CONVICTION, "That ye may approve things that are excellent." Now let me use another word here which might help you understand what the writer is saying, "That you may approve things that DIFFER."
It doesn't take much wisdom to select the GOOD instead of the BAD, but choosing between the BETTER and the BEST requires that we know how to test each choice. In this request, Paul prays "that these Philippians may choose the things that are not just good but those which are better."
He well-realized that people may focus their INTEREST, ATTENTION and AFFECTION on things of secondary importance and inferior worth. Therefore, Paul's prayer is that they will have the discernment to focus their attention, not on the secondary, but upon the primary things. For example:
I don't need to ask God, "Now Lord, you show me what I should do. Should I come to the house of God on the Lord's day, or should I stay home relaxing in bed, drinking my coffee and watching TV?" I don't have to ask God that. The Bible says in Hebrew 10:24; "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together…" It's as simple as that, I know what I ought to be doing.
On the other hand, there is a difference between coming to God's house PREPARED and just coming to the house of God. Some folks just come to the house of God. They get up, bathe, get dressed, get in the car, walk in and just sit their bodies down. The pastor is supposed to whip everything into shape for another week.
Those folks don't come prepared MENTALLY. Saying, “With God's help I am going to learn something this morning, and with God's help I am going to do His will when I leave. I am going to put into practice what God’s Word spoke to my heart about.”
Those folks don't come prepared SPIRITUALLY. They haven't prayed for the service. They haven't prayed to ask the Holy Spirit to give the preacher the power to preach. Nor have they asked the Lord for "ears to hear” His personal message to them.
Those folks don't come prepared FINANCIALLY. They don’t give tithes or offerings, as God commands upon the first day of each week.
Those folks don't come EXPECTANTLY, to receive revelation from the service.
It is definitely GOOD you are here in the house of God, but it's BEST when you come prepared for worship. Please understand that:
I am not denouncing our folks, because I believe many people come to this place Sunday after Sunday faithfully prepared.
I also believe if a blessing comes to you from the singing of the choir, the special music, our fervent prayer, and from the message, it's because you prayed for this service and what God will give you through it.
I am not just saying that. I truly believe with all my heart that you prepared this service for the blessing that you yourselves receive.
Paul is praying that you may be able to DISCERN the things that DIFFER. That is, discern what's GOOD, what's BETTER, what’s BEST, and then, GIVE your life to that which is BEST!
There is a book entitled, "The Borden of Yale." It is about a brilliant young man who was heir to the great Borden fortune. He felt so compelled of God to give his entire life as a missionary on a foreign mission field, that he turned all of his money over to the work of God. He prepared, studied, and went to the field. There, while still a young man, he died. Just before his death, he wrote these words,
"God has His BEST for those who leave the choice with Him. And God has His SECOND BEST for those who will not have His BEST. I want in this brief life of mine as much as can be pressed of service true to God and to man. O' God, I pray, help me to have Thy BEST."
Paul's prayer for these folks is that they may DISCERN what is GOD’S BEST and then pursue that. Because, if they do not pursue the best, he is saying in effect they not only rob themselves, but they also grieve God.
Years ago I heard a story of a gang of boys who were ready to do something illegal. All of a sudden, one of the fellows backed away realizing this activity was wrong. Another fellow said, "Are you afraid your father might hurt you if he finds out?" The boy replied saying, "No, that is not it. I am afraid I might hurt him!"
Do you think about God that way in your Christian life? Do you ever fear you might disappoint God or grieve God by taking His SECOND BEST of things that are good? Two thoughts are evident when Paul says, "I want you to approve things that are excellent."
Paul prays that believers may have growth, in Spiritual COMPASSION, "That your love may abound yet more and more…" Here Paul prays for your ATTITUDE, that it may be one of BIBLICAL LOVE, and that your love may OVER-FLOW as a result of your constant and consistent contact with the Word of God.
Paul prays that believers may have growth, in Spiritual CONVICTION, "That ye may approve things that are excellent." Here he prays about your JUDGMENT, that you might discern and pursue that which is best.
Number 3: Paul prays that believers may have growth, in Spiritual CHARACTER, "That ye may be sincere and without offense…"
That you may be sincere as far as you yourself is concerned.
That you may be without offense as far as the brethren are concerned.
That you may do all this until the day of Jesus' return as far as God is concerned.
The word "sincere" is an interesting word, which comes from two Latin Words "sin” and “cere" meaning "without wax." Paul is praying that you may be without wax. To our western minds that means nothing. But if you were living when Paul did, it would mean a great deal.
If the people making pottery in those days would discover a flaw in a finished piece, they would fill it with wax. They would then place that piece of pottery for sale as if it were perfect, or genuine. However, after a buyer had purchased it, and after a few days of usage; the wax would melt, and they would see the flaw.
Those who were dishonest dealers would put a sign right next to their pottery that would say SIN CERE, meaning without wax. The only way you could then discern if it was genuine was to hold that piece of pottery "up to the light of the sun."
This brings out the other meaning of this word "sincere" meaning "To judge by sunlight." Spiritually speaking, "everything we say, everything we do, and everything we are should be judged in the searching rays of God's truth" as we read in John 1:5; "… God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all."
Paul is saying here in Philippians 1:10; "I pray that when God holds you up to His penetrating gaze:
He would find you a genuine article.
He would find you to be REAL, THROUGH and THROUGH.
He would not find you wearing “moral make-up,” acting like some kind of Holy, Spiritually pompous Christian so people think you are something you are not.
He would find you the same on the outside and the inside.
It is my prayer that you, the people of this church, might not have hypocrisy in your life, rather that you would be sincere, without wax. Now please listen carefully,
"If you are not genuine in your Christian living, you are not only an offense to God, but you are a stumbling block to others."
"If you are not a genuine article, you may be able to fool most of the people here at church and even this pastor. But when you get home or around your buddies and take off your “moral make-up” that's an offense to God and a stumbling block to those around you."
My prayer is like the Apostle Paul's, that your character may be without wax, sincere and without offense until the day of Christ.
Number 4: Paul now prays in verse 11 that these believers may have growth, in Spiritual COMMITMENT, "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness…" Here Paul prays your growth will be in Christian commitment and that your lives will be a dedication unto God. Paul is not interested simply in "Church activities," but in the kind of spiritual activity that is produced when you are in fellowship with Christ.
We often hear of people who work with one eye on their work and their other eye on the clock. They are always trying to figure out when it is time to go home. Employers don't like clock watchers. (Pastor's are nervous around them too, by the way.)
However, maybe we ought to be the kind of people, who always have our eyes on the coming of Jesus Christ. We ought to be involved with our hands in the work, but have our eyes always on the coming of Jesus Christ.
At the moment when we all of a sudden hear the words "It's closing time," this age of grace will close, and Jesus Christ will come to take us to be with Himself. In the mean time WE WORK, WE LABOR, WE LIVE, WE FUNCTION for God until the day of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, it is my prayer that you, the people of the Green Street Baptist Chapel, be characterized in the following ways:
In Spiritual COMPASSION, "That your love may abound yet more and more…,"
In Spiritual CONVICTION, "That ye may approve things that are excellent,"
In Spiritual CHARACTER, "That ye may be sincere and without offense…,"and
In Spiritual COMMITMENT, "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness..,."
until the Day of Jesus Christ!
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon “I have YOU in my Prayers” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to email@example.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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