Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Focuses on the gifts God gives us, rather than the gifts of the world.

I’ve got a question for you: Have you made your wish list yet? It’s that wonderful time of year, when retailers are bombarding us with ads and messages that are more than happy to point out what we’re missing in our sad little lives and just how happy we can be if we get that new gadget or toy. It’s always kind of amusing to me to think about how toys have changed and progressed through the years. Some of you grew up in the days of Barbie, Mr. Potato Head, Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs. Others of you might have played with the Spirograph, G.I. Joe, Lite-Brite and Hot Wheels race cars. My generation grew up with video games – first it was the Atari, then the Nintendo and Game Boy systems. But there was also Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pok√©mon and Beanie Babies. In the new millennium, the Wii, Xbox and PlayStation video-game systems took over the market. But Dora the Explorer, Harry Potter and Elmo-Doing-Anything-Depending-on-the-Year made nondigital splashes.

But it’s kind of sad the lengths some people will go to in order to get that perfect gift. It seems as though every year a parent brawl at Toys “R” Us makes headlines. Remember the reports of parents trampling each other or offering $1,000 bribes to get a Cabbage Patch Kid? The Tickle Me Elmo rage created mob scenes reminiscent of Depression-era bank runs. Can you begin to imagine a world where parents showed equal passion to secure emotional well-being and spiritual development for their kids? I suppose that’s too much to ask for.

Instead of merely developing our Christmas wish-lists, what about focusing on a Christ-wish list? In our passage today, Paul gives us a couple of ideas that we could ask for from the giver of all good things, who is God Himself. He also talks about the greatest gift ever given. As we enter this season that our society marks with commercialism and greed, we would do well to focus on the gifts that God desires to give us.

The Gift of Knowledge (vv. 9-10)

Every believer needs to have “the knowledge of His will.” There is always more to learn about God and His will for our lives. No Christian would ever dare to say that he had “arrived” and needed to learn nothing more. The will of God is an important part of a successful Christian life. God wants us to know His will. God is not a distant dictator who issues orders and never explains. Because we are His friends, we can know what He is doing and why He is doing it. As we study His Word and pray, we discover new and exciting truths about God’s will for His people.

The word filled is a key word in Colossians. In the language of the New Testament, to be filled means to be “controlled by.” When we are filled with anger, we are controlled by anger. To be “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18) means to be “controlled by the Spirit.” Paul’s prayer, then, is that we might be controlled by the full knowledge of God’s will.

But how does this take place? How can believers grow in the full knowledge of God’s will? Paul tells us: “through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives”. We understand the will of God through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit teaches us as we submit to Him. As we pray and sincerely seek God’s truth, He gives us through the Spirit the wisdom and insight that we need.

The general will of God for all His children is given clearly in the Bible. The specific will of God for any given situation must always agree with what He has already revealed in His Word. The better we know God’s general will, the easier it will be to determine His specific guidance in daily life. Paul does not encourage us to seek visions or wait for voices. He prayed that we might get deeper into God’s Word and thus have greater wisdom and insight concerning God’s will. He wants us to have “all wisdom”—not that we would know everything, but that we would have all the wisdom necessary for making decisions and living to please God.

The Gift of Strength (v. 11a)

God offers an ongoing gift that accompanies us in living out our lives here and now: his power making us strong. God will strengthen us in places of our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and in our inner lives (Ephesians 3:16). God wants us engaged with and dependent on him when anxiety, depression, stress, doubt, frustration, cynicism and bitterness conflict with who he wants us to be. God’s invisible power brings us interior strength. We believe it’s available to us by faith so we might experience it in tangible reality.

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