Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: James 1:19

Monday, February 1, 2010

Paul's prayers for the Philippian believers

Philipians 1:3-11

3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,

This is the first of many times Paul used the word joy in his letter.  The Philippians were a source of joy when he prayed.  By helping Paul, they were helping Christ's cause.  The Philippians were willing to be used by God for whatever task he had in store for them.  When others think about you, are you a source of joy for them?

5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 

The Philippians first heard the Good News about ten years earlier when Paul and his companions visited Philippi (during Paul's second missionary journey) and founded the church there.

6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

The God who begins his good work in us continues it through our lives and will finish it when we meet him face to face.  God's work for us began when Christ died on the cross to forgive our sins.  His work in us begins when the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts, enabling us to be more like Christ every day.  Paul is describing the process of Christian growth and maturity that begins when we accept Jesus and continues until Christ returns.

Do you sometimes feel as though you'll never make progress in your spiritual life?  When God starts a project, he finishes it!  As with the Philippians, God will help you grow in grace until he has completed his work in your life.  When you are discouraged, remember that God won't give up on you.  He promises to finish the work he has begun.  When you feel incomplete, unfinished, or distressed by your shortcomings, remember God's promise and provision.  Don't let your present condition rob you of the joy of knowing Christ or keep you from growing. 

7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye are all partakers of my grace.

When he said "in my bonds," Paul was probably referring to his imprisonment in Philippi, recorded in Acts 16:22-36.  In verses 13 and 14, Paul speaks of his Roman imprisonment.  Wherever Paul was, even in prison, he faithfully preached the Good News.

8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 

Have you ever longed to see a friend whit whom you share fond memories?  Paul had such a longing to see the Christians at Philippi.  His love and affection for them was based not meerely on past experiences, but upon the unity that comes when believers draw upon Christ's love.  All Christians are part of God's family and thus share equally in the transforming power of his love.  Do you feel a deep love for fellow Christians, friends and strangers alike?  Let Christ's love motivate you to love other Christians, and to express that love in the way you treat them. 

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in the knowledge and in all judgment;

Often the best way to influence someone is to pray for him or her.  Paul prays for the Philippians to prevent any disunity.  Their love was to result in greater knowledge of Christ and greater "judgment" (insight or moral discernment).  As we grow in Christ's love, our hearts and minds must grow together.  Is our love and insight growing? 

10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

Paul prayed that the Philippian believers would 'approve things that are excellent" - in other words, they would have the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, good and bad, vital and trival.  We ought to pray for discernment so we can avoid the criticism of unbelievers by maintaining our Christian morals and values (Hebrews 5:14)

11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. 

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