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A Christmas Prayer from the Christian Heart

(3)

Sermon shared by Gregg Bitter

December 2009
Summary: As the Apostle Paul prays, his heart goes out to his fellow Christians. What can we learn for our prayer-life from the Apostle? Parts: A. Remember the deep bond of fellowship in Christ Jesus. B. Pray that love overflows in knowledge.
Denomination: Lutheran
Audience: General adults
Sermon:
Text: Philippians 1:3-11
Theme: A Christmas Prayer from the Christian Heart
A. Remember the deep bond of fellowship in Christ Jesus
B. Pray that love overflows in knowledge
Season: Advent 2c
Date: December 6, 2009
Web page: http://hancocklutheran.org/sermons/A-Christmas-Prayer-from-the-Christian-Heart-Philippians1_3-11.html

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit points us to Jesusí great compassion is Philippians 1

"I thank my God in all my memory of you, always in my every petition for all of you joyfully petitioning regarding your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, since I am convinced of this very thing, namely, that the One who began a good work in you will fully complete it up to the day of Christ Jesus -- even as it is right for me to be mindful of this on behalf of you all because I have you in my heart. All of you are my fellow sharers of grace both in my bonds and in the gospelís defense and confirmation. For God is my witness how I long for you all with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is what I pray that your love still more and more increase in knowledge and all insight so that you can test what is superior, in order that you may pure be and blameless on the day of Christ, having been filled with the righteous fruit that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God." (Philippians 1:3-11)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

Christmas is full of memories. The smell of pine and Christmas cookies. Family coming home, the warmth of a fire. Childrenís gleeful shouts, Christmas programs, presents, carols, falling snowflakes, the night in jail . . .

Well, hopefully that is not part of your Christmas memory. But that was part of Paulís memory of his time in Philippi. He and Silas had been stripped and severely beaten by the authorities. Bloodied and bruised, they spent half the night in prison, praying and singing hymns until the earthquake came.

Yet he reflected on his memory of Philippi with thanks and great joy as he prayed for all the Christians there. Why? Because of the wonderful work the Lord had begun to do among them and continued to do. We can learn much for our own prayer-life from the Apostle Paul, especially as we approach Christmas when our thoughts turn to the spiritual. Use Paulís prayer as a model for a Christmas prayer from a Christian heart, from your heart, dear friends,. Thatís our theme this morning.

A. Remember the deep bond of fellowship in Christ Jesus
1. Where did Paulís emotion in his prayer come from?

Paulís heart flows into his prayer. Sometimes conservative Lutherans are portrayed as emotionless, stone-faced, and stoic. Dare we even smile in church? But emotion fills and drives Paulís prayer. "I always pray with joy" (Philippians 1:4 NIV). "It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart" (Philippians 1:7 NIV). "God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:8 NIV).

But where did this emotion come from? It certainly wasnít that Philippi had been such a good time. A public beating will quickly drive that kind of joy out of you. It certainly wasnít family affections or childhood
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