Summary: Paul has addressed our personal lives, church life, family life. These are introverted concerns, about us and those we are close to. As he concludes his letter, he wants to make sure we also transition to an extroverted focus.
Developing the Outward Focus
1. I have my taxes all done. I am one of those persons who gets stressed up by paper work and red tape, so I found it stressful just preparing my stuff for the tax preparer. So I have to tell an IRS joke.
2. The pastor got a call form the IRS. “Did John Atkins donate $50,000 to your church this past year?” The pastor said he would check, and he called the financial secretary and then made another call. A few minutes later, he returned the call to the IRS.
3. “This is Pastor French,” the minister explained. “You had called and asked if John Atkins donated $50,000 to the church. The answer is: he will!”
4. Although most of us dislike paying income tax, it is a necessary evil. We are part of a society — a county, a state, a nation. We want plowed roads, police protection, and a strong military. It all cost money, so we all have to do our part, and that requires sacrifice.
5. But the Kingdom of God is about voluntary compliance. You don’t get fined for showing up at church late, and there are no prayer police out there. If you don’t read your Bible, you will not get your photo in the Perspective. If you treat others rudely, you might get an evil eye or perhaps be cursed out, but you won’t have your wages garnished. You are not coerced, but must freely offer yourself to God’s service.
Main Idea: Paul has addressed our personal lives, church life, family life. These are introverted concerns, about us and those we are close to. As he concludes his letter, he wants to make sure we also transition to an extroverted focus.
I. Becoming Prayer Warriors for MISSIONARIES and Burdened for Outreach (2-4)
By praying specifically for those who serve, we partner with them!
A. The general command: continue STEADFASTLY in prayer
1. It is difficult not to waver in our prayer lives
2. We need to accept that we will often not feel like praying
3. Praying for specific missionaries, nations, and persecuted believers
4. Our HPC website includes prayers for mission agencies and all the nations
B. Being WATCHFUL
• Two opposites: head in the sand (ignorance/obliviousness) and denial
• We are watching against the attacks of the enemy (church, missions, lives)
• Now is a great time to pray for the believers in the Ukraine
• Now is the time to pray for the brother/sister who is straying from the Lord
• Nehemiah… trowel in one hand, weapon in other
C. With THANKSGIVING
• It is amazing how emphatic Paul is about this; harps on it (badgers)
• Thankfulness a best friend…keeps from paranoia, leads to godliness
• Romans 2:4 “… God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
• True worship: sincere Thankfulness that affects our character/walk
• I don’t know if it is personality or it is learned, but many people think it is cool to complain and express discontent, but uncool to express gratitude…like I am settling for less than the ideal… [greed]
D. SPECIFIC ministry-oriented requests
1. OPEN doors of ministry
Years ago, the Word of Life organization led a prayer bombardment of the Soviet Union, a nation that persecuted believes…
The Good News Clubs…AWANA… Boris Goldin…Youth Group
2. Serving WELL
As a pastor, I appreciate your prayer support; it takes the Holy Spirit to make the preaching of the Word effective… the idea of fellowship is teamwork…prayer
The same is true with our missionaries…
We need to get out of our shell and become extroverted in our prayers…
II. Impacting the PEOPLE We Meet (5-6)
These two verses are sub-categories of wisdom, prudence, discretion
In other words, we impact people by being WISE
A. The General Command: Walk with WISDOM
1. To be wise, you have to think about it, consider (biggest failure)
2. The Golden Rule
3. The Book of Proverbs is an untapped resource [if you think you are gullible, naïve, or don’t understand people after memorizing/studying Proverbs, I’ll give some credit, but not before]
4. We tend not to think of social skills and people skills as spiritual matters.
5. A continuum… some lost people are loving… bold… disciplined prayer lives…
6. Some naturally social, others socially awkward/uncomfortable (stay home)
B. Making the most of the TIME
1. Possibly a midrash on Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
2. Part of this involves time management, but much this is about priorities…
C. With GRACIOUS speech
• This is not just about outreach, it is also about ethics
• Opposite of gracious: abrasive, judgmental, rude, impatient, unforgiving
• If you use the wrong, can’t take it back (e.g., need instead of want)