Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 23, 2014

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishop and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel thus about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:1-11

Over four decades of serving in local churches I have discovered nothing more wonderful than a church than is unified around Christ. Such a health fellowship can transform lives and change circumstances for the glory of God. Being united around God's purpose unleashes His Spirit's power among those people!

Unfortunately, I have also seen the destruction caused  by a church that is not unified. The disunity is often caused by members of the church who attempt to make the church about themselves and their preferences rather than about God.
The great Apostle Paul here demonstrates strong leadership by sharing his passion for the Church at Philippi while also casting a vision for what a Christian community should look like! He mentions three significant dynamics that unite a church and can keep it united.

In verses three through six, Paul declares, "I have you on my mind!" In verses seven and eight he affirms, "I hold you in my heart!" and in verses nine through eleven reminds them, "I have you in my prayers!" 

Over the next several days we are going to take a look at those unifying attitudes and consider how they can impact the growth and development of FredWes.

Paul is writing from the prison where he is held captive because of his zeal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, "I have you on my mind"!

The old saying goes, "Out of sight out of mind" but that is certainly wasn't true of Paul! The people of this church he had planted were continually on his mind! While they may have stopped thinking about Him, he had not stopped remembering them in his thoughts and prayers!

You would think someone suffering in prison would want people to be thinking about him and his needs in a cold damp prison cell. But not so! He had them and their concerns on his mind!

In verses three and four he declares, "I am thinking of you in my prayers!" 

Some people are really worried about what other people think about them when in fact, people aren't thinking about them at all!

But Paul WAS thinking about them and praying for them - often! He had genuine prayer and concern for the people in that church!

Can you imagine how much better a church could be if it's members spent as much time being truly concerned for others as they are about themselves?

Who are you thinking about? 

Not only did Paul think about them but he was thankful for them when he thought about them. He found joy in remembering them. He expressed that in verse five.

You like to be remembered don't you? It means a lot when you know someone is thankful for what you mean to them!

What do you suppose it means to others when they know you are thankful for them? Imagine a church fellowship where the members find joy in thinking of each other and express that thankfulness to each other! Wouldn't that be a powerful fellowship?

In verse six he says, "I am trusting with you." - "And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

In other words, what he is saying is, "When I think of you I think of someone who is going to make it because God is at work in you!"

Imagine a church like that where the believers not only believed in God but they believed in God at work in each other!

Faith is wonderful. Sharing the faith walk with others who believe in you and believe with you is amazing!