Summary: Advent 2(C) - We offer up prayers of thankfulness for Christian fellowship and prayers seeking a continuing faithfulness.
OFFER UP PRAYERS OF THANKFULNESS
Philippians 1:3-11 -- ADVENT 2 -- December 4, 2005
* * * * * * * * * *
Dear Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
In this season of Advent it is easy, as we listen to our readings and look at the cover of our bulletins, to see the emphasis of each Sunday. Last Sunday we watch; this Sunday we watch and prepare. One way to prepare is through prayer. Nowhere in Scripture as you study it will you find the Lord saying, "You have prayed enough; you don’t have to pray anymore." Rather, as we search the Scriptures, we soon learn that the Lord has to remind us time and time again to pray continually, pray without ceasing, to offer up prayers all the time for all the saints. Sadly the Lord knows that we do not make the best use of our time in dedicating ourselves to praying, as we really ought.
As we recently studied Martin Luther we saw all the things that he was able to do by God’s grace: the books, the hymns, and the confessions he wrote. He lamented that sometimes he was so busy that he could pray only two hours a day. So imagine that! Luther spent at least that much time in prayer each day. Taking all that time for prayer the Lord was still able to bless his work. The Lord gave Martin Luther the ability and the strength to carry on in the face of danger and even death itself.
So this morning, as we get another week closer to Christmas, (we are half way through Advent already), the Lord says we can offer up prayers of thanksgiving. Our God encourages us to pray, because he wants to hear our prayers and answer them. Jesus says: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:7,8). Our God says this again to us this morning. Paul, as he begins this letter to the Philippians and talks about the prayer he has for believers, reminds us as believers to
OFFER UP PRAYERS OF THANKFULNESS
I. Thankfulness for Christian fellowship; and, II. Prayers for a continuing faithfulness.
I. THANKFULNESS FOR CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
Philippi was the first congregation that was founded in Europe by Paul. By now you have heard of the account of the Macedonian call. Paul was in Asia Minor and wanted to go across to Europe but was not allowed to until the man from Macedonia called, "Come over and help us." They went the next day. Philippi was a big, bustling city but there was no synagogue there. There was no place of worship for the true God. Paul went down to the river to see if there were any believers there. Believers had the custom, if they could not meet in a building, to go down to the river on the Sabbath and gather together. There Paul found the few believers in the city gathered together. From those few believers grew a congregation, one of many in Paul’s second missionary journey.
You begin to understand, as Paul writes this letter, the joy he has for them. "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy." Paul was thankful that God’s Word, which had been planted in their hearts, continued to stay there. He was filled with joy, because no longer were they held captive by the false gods of the day. These new believers no longer worshipped things that would lead them to eternal destruction, but instead they believed in the Lord Jesus Christ who lived and died and rose again for their sins.
So Paul says, "In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy." He prays for them. Paul continues: "because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. Paul, who used to be called Saul, realized the importance and the power of God’s Word. For the first part of his life, Saul sat in darkness until the Lord came to him and miraculously called Paul out of that darkness into his marvelous light. Saul became Paul, the great proclaimer of Christianity. Whenever there were others who would come out of that darkness into the light of the Gospel, they shared, as Paul says, a partnership in the Gospel. Paul was filled with joy that there were more people who were no longer lost and condemned creatures, but who were now found and redeemed creatures by the blood of Jesus. That is the prayers of thankfulness and joy he offers.