Summary: Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written while he was in prison. Yet even there he still investing his life for his brethren and continue praying for them. 1.PRAY WITH THANKSGIVING, 2.PRAY FOR A GROWING LOVE, 3.PRAY FOR CHRISTIAN MATURITY
GREAT INVESTMENT FOR THE NEW YEAR
Two old fellows were walking along the shoreline of a lake when a frog came hopping up to them. Creaking with age, one of the old-timers slowly bent down and scooped up the frog in his hands. As he stood there gazing at the frog, fascinated by its ugliness, the frog croaked, “Hey, mister! I’m not really a frog. If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess who will do anything your heart desires.” Startled, the old man slipped the frog into his pocket and headed on down the shoreline. For a while the two continued on in silence. “Well?” his buddy finally blurted out. “You gonna kiss it?” “Naw, I guess not,” the first man replied. “At my age, I think I’ll have more fun with a talking frog.” [PreachingToday.com]
Perhaps some of us are looking at this New Year of 2005 and thinking that we won’t take any risks or new challenges. We’ll play it safe, settle for what is sure. After all, we live in a world that is uncertain and fast changing. Let’s just wait and see what the future will bring rather than giving up what we already know.
Yet some will start 2005 with good intentions of doing better than last year, and making some changes. The question is: What we expect this year – what investment we think for ourselves this year, what we invest for our family and our career this year?
Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written while he was in prison. Yet even there he still investing his life for his brethren in Philippi and continue praying for them.
As we look at the first eleven verses of chapter 1, we see that Paul has invested himself in prayer. While he is not free to go to others, he is still praying for them. And his investment in prayer pays huge dividends.
I. PRAY WITH THANKSGIVING (VS. 3-5)
Paul writes, “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.” [Phil.1:3-5]
Paul keeps them in prayer, rejoicing in the fact that they received the good news of Christ and continue to live in it. He invested himself in their lives by sharing Christ with them, but he didn’t stop there. Paul continued to pray for them. With joy he remembered them in prayer.
Perhaps we need that reminder. It is wonderful to pray for someone to receive Christ, but once they do, we need to continue to pray for them. Having taken the first step in their life in Christ doesn’t mean they have arrived. It means they have begun a journey and need prayer daily. And praying for other Christians is a joy!
Christ will continue his work in us, but sometimes it is the prayers of others for us that keep us walking with Christ. We need others praying and thanking God for us.
Regardless of where, or what circumstances people are in, whether going through hard times or rejoicing in God’s blessings, we have a common bond in Christ. Paul wrote, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” [1Cor.12:26]
Praying for one another strengthens all of us. Praying for one another binds us together in Christ. Invest yourself with thanksgiving in prayers for other believers.
II. PRAY FOR A GROWING LOVE (VS. 10:10a)
Paul specifically prayed for the Philippian Christians “that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight.” [Phil 1:9-10a]
Isn’t that a wonderful prayer? Can you imagine what would happen if each of us prayed daily for others in this congregation, for their love to overflow, to flourish and blossom. And what would happen if each of us became more loving?
There is a story that Michelangelo, the great sculptor and painter, was pushing a heavy rock up a small incline to his work area so that he could do some sculpting. A neighbor watched him for over an hour as he worked to get this rock in place. Finally he asked, “Michelangelo, why do you labor so hard over that ugly, heavy piece of rock?” Michelangelo said, “Because there is an angel inside that wants to come out.” [PreachingToday)
Pray that love will flourish in the heart and life of another, so that “the angel inside can come out.” Pray that they will be set free to love others freely. Pray that love will grow and flourish.
One of the most popular aquarium fish is the shark. If you catch a small shark and confine it, it will stay a size proportionate to the aquarium. Sharks can be six inches long yet fully matured. But if you turn them loose in the ocean, they grow to their normal length of eight feet. That can also happen to Christians. Being a cute little six-inch Christian swimming around in a little puddle isn’t enough. What we need is to see ourselves in the larger arena – the whole world – so we can become what God intended us to be. We must continue to grow in love for others.