Wednesday July 28th, 2010
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you with all joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and the confirmation of the gospel, you are all partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.
Paul loved the church in Philippi. He prayed for them every time he thought about them. There are certain people that are like that to us in our lives. Some that we pray for in joy, like Paul, and some that we pray for in trepidation. (Don’t feel bad if you have to look this one up, Wanda. I had to look it up to. (After I wrote it.)) There are people who we pray for because we fear they are choosing the wrong path. We pray that God would show Himself clearly so that they could simply choose. Life has a way of creating a haze around the simple truth of God and sometimes God needs to disrupt our lives to clear the haze. But I hope that people don’t have to pray for me in that way. I would rather them pray for me with joy. I would rather pray for others with joy. If I could encourage you to do one thing today, Wanda, let it be that you live your life in a way that causes people to pray for you with all joy. Don’t be a burden on others and their prayer lives. If you need help, by all means, ask for help, but don’t think that you can have someone pray that you’ll be “safe” and go on continuing to live in a way that is opposition to God. (And remember that you are either for God or against Him. There is no other option.) There are people that I pray for, and I ask that God would smack them. (Not smite.) I want God to shake them up so much that they fall to pieces and the bit of ground that God does have in their hearts, which is unshakable, would remain. (Check out Hebrews 12:27) The fear I have for their lives is that nothing will remain because they are so living a rebellious life that I cannot be certain that there is any ground.
Now a note on rebellion. It does not always look like rebellion. It does not always look selfish, but rebellion is always selfish. You want to do things your way. You want to be the hero. You want to change the way things work so that your view is accepted as the superior view. What makes rebellion fun is that it speaks to that part of your nature that was implanted into Eve and Adam through the lie of Satan back in the garden. Satan doesn’t care what you rebel against, as long as you rebel. There is no rebelling against Satan because Jesus said that, “if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25) We are called on to resist the devil (Check out James 4:7) not rebel. Rebellion brings about passion and anger and a lot of people say that it’s a righteous anger. People quote Psalm 4:4 at me which says, “Be angry, and do not sin” to justify their anger over any particular topic. That actually makes me angry, that they would twist the Word of God to justify their own passions. What does the rest of the verse say? “Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.” If they would be angry and go and meditate within their hearts and be still, then I would have less of a problem with it. Instead, that verse is used to justify many unrighteous acts of slander and violence. People call Jesus a rebel, but He never broke any laws or rules. Hm driving people out of the temple was not a rash decision, but calculated to turn the Father’s house back into a place of worship. After He cleared it, He sat down and taught. If you are looking out to pour out God’s wrath on people, you need to be rebuked by Jesus, for you do not know of which spirit you are of. (Check out Luke 9:54-56) Instead, be wronged. Turn the other cheek, live at peace with all men. God claims vengeance as His own. It is not our job to fight. It is our job to stand. (Check out Matthew 5, Romans 12, and Ephesians 6.)
Now back to the passage: Paul is thanking God for the fellowship in the gospel of the Philippians. Notice that it’s fellowship in the gospel. It’s not the fellowship of the pool hall or of the pot luck or of the ring. It’s the fellowship of the gospel. If you are building fellowship with people around anything that is not God, it will not last. If you are not building up those around you and encouraging them in the Word of God, you are not investing in an eternal relationship. This doesn’t mean you have to quote scripture all the time, but you can encourage them by living a life that gets them to thank God for you and pray for you with all joy. A tree is either growing or rotting. Which are you? There is not other option. When you get together, let it be for the glory of Christ. You can still go bowling or golfing or whatever it is that people with extra time do, but do it all for the glory of Christ. Let people look at your life and praise God for you. Can you live that way?
I know what you’re thinking, Wanda. You’re thinking that it’s a lot of work to live right. There are so many things that you’ve done that you are so used to doing that it’s hard to stop. And on top of that, there are a lot of things that you should be doing that you’re not and it’s hard to start. You’re right. It is hard. But that’s okay. Do the hard things. Read Philippians 4:13 and be encouraged. But remember that it is Christ who is working it all out to perfection and He will never stop until the work is done. Just don’t give up. Persevere. Endure. Last until the end. If you do, it will be a good ending. (Check out Revelation 2:10)
Paul was imprisoned for the gospel, and everyone who prayed with him took part in that suffering. They all suffered. The victory of Paul’s perseverance was awarded to them all. If I could encourage you to do two things, Wanda, the first would be to live a life which causes others to pray for you with all joy, and the second is to pray for others with all joy. Take part in their sufferings for the sake of the gospel and praise God for them. Pray for their strength to come from the Lord and pray for them to endure to the end. And you, through prayer, endure with them.
God knows how much we love. He is my witness to any who ask about me. If you wonder if I love you, ask God. He is my witness. I love many of you, but I’m not holy enough to love all of you, although I know that I should love everyone. One day, I will be. One day, God’s going to complete the work He’s doing in me. He is, after all, faithful.