Summary: In this one-off message, Dave uses a passage in Philippians 1 to explain his prayer for the people of Wildwind.
My Prayer for You
Wildwind Community Church
August 9, 2009
Philippians 1:3-11 (NIV)
3 I thank my God every time I remember you.
4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy
5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me.
8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,
11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.
This is my prayer for you and it's what I want to talk to you about today. The first thing I want you to see is the tenderness in Paul's word to the church at Philippi. The Philippian church was special to Paul. It was located in Greece, in the province of Macedonia, in southern Europe. You can read through Paul's letters in the New Testament and see how often Paul refers positively to the churches of Macedonia, which were the Philippian churches. They were generous to him. They loved him and cared for his needs while he was on missionary journeys and while he was in prison. Philippians is probably the last letter Paul wrote, as it is believed that he was executed not long after he finished it. In fact he wrote it from a prison in Rome.
So there's Paul sitting in a Roman prison, knowing that time is probably running out for him. He has had a long and productive ministry, planted many churches, raised up many pastors and missionaries, and left a legacy far bigger than he could have known at the time. Paul was an amazing man, but was still a man. As such, it is safe to say this letter was written with some measure of fear. Certainly in loneliness and longing, as Paul himself says. Remember that Paul was unmarried, so he had no wife, no children -- he had only the relationships he had formed with those in his churches, and the leaders he had built from the ground up. As such, Philippians is a goodbye letter. Paul expresses an awareness that there's a good chance he'll end up dead. But he also expresses the hope that he'll get to go back to those he loves, those who had been so generous in sharing their love and their lives with him.
It is brief if you compare it to Romans or the books of Corinthians. Nowadays some guys do body-building when they're in prison. They have nothing else to do. Well, Paul wrote letters. Ever wonder if those letters would have been written if Paul hadn't spent so much time in prison? Hmmm...
See, we cannot understand this letter if we do not understand Paul's situation, and his relationship to those to whom he was writing. Can you place yourself in a similar situation? Imagine that you are in prison, with its terrible conditions. You have no spouse, no children, thus no one coming regularly to see you. You have only your friends, who are now hundreds of miles away; perhaps people in your small group -- who have cared for you and loved you as family. You have a bad feeling about how this is gonna end, so hour after hour you sit there thinking of your loved ones, missing them, longing for them, writing to them. Those memories bring joy to you, but also moments of pain as they contrast with the cold stone and steel that surrounds you.