Summary: Philippians - Manual of Joy Confidence to Pray for Spiritual Transformation
Philippians - Manual of Joy
Confidence to Pray for Spiritual Transformation
Last week we saw that the foundation for joy is work of God on our behalf. Our walk as followers of Christ flows out of what God has done on our behalf. All of life is centered on, sustained by, and empowered by God.
Thesis: This week we will see again that Paul is joyful and thankful as he prays for the Philippians because of his confidence in the work of God in their lives. Because he believes God’s promise to transform, he prays that their love will abound more and more so that they will be able to choose the best. It is choosing the best day in and day out which will lead to the fruit of righteousness.
1. Pray with a thankful and joyful heart (3-7)
After his introduction, Paul moves to prayer. Paul is both thankful and joyful in his heart for what God is doing in the Philippians. The two words, thank and joy have the same root word, grace. Both joy and thankfulness flow from God’s grace. Paul is saying that affections are not secondary to the Christian life, but are essential. Joy and thankfulness and love and all such affections necessarily flow from faith that says to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Thankfulness and Joy transcends circumstances
Paul is thankful and joyful even though he is in prison and does not know whether he will get out alive. When we treasure Christ, when we can say as Paul does in 1:21, ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain’ and the intimacy that comes from that, grace flows like a river to give us joy no matter how difficult our circumstances. He had so much unshakable joy in Christ that he willingly gave up health, wealth, and entertainment in the sacrifices of love and ministry. That is a dangerous truth - your joy can be rooted in something greater than the American dream. If you grasp that in your mind and your heart then you can and will do radical stuff giving up health and wealth and entertainment in the sacrifices of love and ministry.
Thankfulness and Joy for their support (v. 5)
Paul is thankful and joyful about their partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. They have been supporting him financially out of concern for Paul and his ministry for about ten years. They also sent Epaphroditus to Paul with the gift of money and he ended up staying and helping Paul in his ministry. Paul also describes it as ‘they are partakers with him of grace, both in his imprisonment and the gospel.’
Thankfulness and Joy For God’s transforming power (v. 6)
Paul is also thankful and joyful because God promises to complete the work in their lives that He started. First, Paul is saying that from the day you said yes to Jesus, God has been working in you. Second, the work of God in you is always good. As a follower of Christ, the work of God in you and the events and circumstances he uses to do this work are always for our good or his good work in us. Third, the good work is an internal work. It is the transformation of our desires, our appetites, what we hunger for. God works on our being so that our doing changes. Fourth, what God starts God finishes. He will bring it to completion on the day of Christ, referring to the return of Christ. You need to know that God is not finished with you and you are in a process of being transformed, perfected until we see Christ face to face. If you are a follower of Christ then you need to know that God is working in you.
2. Pray with Confidence Because of Gods promise of transforming power (vs. 8-11)
Paul prays thankfully and joyfully and confidently because of God’s promise to transform us. He knows that the Philippians are not as holy as they can be and should be and so he prays for them. He knows that the reason we are enticed and awash in sin is that we are not captivated, mesmerized, entranced by Christ.
Pray that love grows
Paul also tells them that he yearns or longs for them with the affection of Christ. He calls God as his witness that the love he has for them is not just human emotion but God given affection that flows from his intimacy with Christ. The love that Paul has is the work of God in him. His affection for them, which is the very affection of Christ in him, flows toward the Philippians. Paul yearns for them with the affection of Christ because Jesus is yearning for them with His affection through Paul. He knows that God promises to work and prayer is the means that God will fulfill that promise for transformation. We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared beforehand for us. We are the work of God in the hand of God.