November 2, 2008

Philippians #2

Phlippians 1:9-11

Paul told them that he is praying for them back in v. 4. He told them that every time he prayed, he made request with joy for them.

Let's pause a moment here to make a point. There are folks that we are able to pray for with joy, but there seems to be far more that we remember in prayer with sorrow; with concern; with saddness; with heartache. There are folks we know who desperately need our prayers, but as we think about those people, it is not with joy. But there are others who we are able to remember with joy.

How do others remember us in prayer? With joy? with sadness? with concern?

V. 9, Paul is telling them what he is praying God for in their behalf. I pray for you, and as I pray, this is what I am asking God to accomplish in you.

9 And this I pray.

First, he tells them that he is praying for them. This should be an encouragement for them to do their very best.

To know that others are praying for us should be strengthen and encourage us to fulfill God's plan in our lives.

Second, he tells them he is praying for them in v. 4, then in v. 6, he expresses his total confidence that God is going to preform His good work in them. Paul fully expected God to answer his prayers for these people.

God help us to pray with this kind of confidence in what God can and will do in our lives and in the lives of others.

Do you suppose that lack of confidence may be a reason that very few of our prayers get answered?

How many of our prayers are only rituals that we go through because we know we should pray? We need to pray, even if it is a ritual to us. But if it is a ritual, we need to confess this sin to God, and ask Him to make it real to us. Prayer is the very real act of talking to our Heavenly Father and telling Him what we need in order to serve Him effectively. As we see here, prayer is also the very real act of taking our concerns about others to Him for His intervention into their situation.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Matthew 7:7 ¶ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Luke 18:1 ¶ And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

The purpose of this parable was to encourage us to continue in prayer, though the answer may be slow in coming.

Illustration:

My mother attended classes at a church in Indianapolis to help her better carry out what was called, "Backyard Bible Classes" for the neighborhood children. She made a real good friend with the wife of the teacher of the young adult SS class, and they were the "sponsors" of that age group. He was the college Bible Doctrine teacher.

When I got out of the service, I started attending there because of her friendship with them. My mother died soon after I got out of the service. Sometime after she died, I got involved in that church as a layman. I made a profession of faith during that time, and later went full time on the staff.

After I became seriously involved in the church, the lady told me that my mother had prayed for me for years to get straightened out with the Lord, and after many years, the Lord was now answering her prayers.

God promises to answers, though the answer may be long in coming. But we must be careful what we pray for.

Turn with me to Psalms 106:1-15

Sadly, I think that Christina's situation today is a result of her mother's prayers, for even wrong prayers have results. She prayed for all of Christina's life that she would "be her own girl."

Third, the apostle's love for these people is obvious all through this book. His love translated into genuine and sincere prayer for them.

If our professed love for others does not do the same, there is something wrong with our love. Do we consistently hold them up to God in prayer?

Fourth, notice what he did not pray that God would provide for these people. He did not ask that God would provide any worldly wealth for them, not riches, nor prosperity.

3 John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

We see that the apostle John did desire that these folks would prosper physically, but this was even as thy soul prospereth.

If our prosperity is not as our soul prospers, we will not be worth shooting. We all know people who have prospered financially apart from their soul prospering. Their spiritual prosperity did not keep up with their material prosperity. That material prosperity was their downfall.

Proverbs 30:8, 9. Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

I think we must admit that we have about what we can safely handle, maybe a little too much at times. If we watch ourselves, we can usually come up with what we need. I'm inclined to think that it takes more character for someone with means to remain faithful to Christ than it does for folks like us.

As Christ-like characteristics are developed in the individual, and that person applies them to the situations around him, God prospers them. Matt. 6:33.

In Philippians 3:13-15, Paul tells them to seek the mind of Christ, and if in any area they are not according to His mind, God will show even that to them.

Notice the four things here that he is asking God for in these folks behalf.

1. That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

2. That ye may approve things that are excellent;

3. That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

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

We will look at these one at a time. They all have some excellent points in them.

Now for the first thing he prays for God to accomplish in them.

That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.

Love toward God;
love toward one another;
even love toward all men.

Is there concern enough to try to reach them for the Lord? And as I think about it, love will also try to institute godly principles into society, because they are the only kind that will work.

Love fulfills both the law and the gospel towards all,

Rom. 13:8-10. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Also, even though Paul compliments these people on their love for God and all people, he still prays that their love will increase.

Thus, no matter where we may think we are spiritually, we need more. Those who think they have arrived are in bad shape. We could safely say here that the more a person might think they have in an area, the worse shape they are in.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Your love may abound is the first thing Paul mentions. I have no doubt that proper love for God and for our neighbours is the most needed in our own personal lives as well as in those we come into contact with.

Not only is it the most needed, but the enemy works overtime to hinder proper love from being developed. A proper love for each other and for our community would turn our area of the world upside down for Christ.

Paul doesn't leave us with a simple command to love, but he continues it on with, in knowledge and in all judgment;

Knowledge here is precise and correct knowledge of things that are ethical and divine.

This love is not to be a blind affection, but an intelligent love, based on a proper view of the things in the light of God's word. Things ethical — that is, love according to the ethics established by God's word.

And in all judgment. Margin – sense [good common sense]. Our love is to abound in common sense. We are to grow in the knowledge of God's word, and our common sense will mature.

Psalms 119:98 ¶ Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.

God tells us what to love and how much to love it, and what to hate.

Paul prays that they will grow in knowledge of God's word, and then in the practical, common sense applications of his word.

(Audio 11/2 #3)

V. 10.

That ye may approve things that are excellent;

Approve [Mar. try] .. It means to test, examine, prove, scrutinize, as one would examine precious metals to prove they are true.

 

Excellent [Mar. differ] ... In the context here it means to be able to rightly distinguish between good and evil, lawful and unlawful.

Rom. 2:18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;

Not only is Paul praying that their love would abound more toward God and others, he prays that they would be better able to have the common sense to discern what is right and wrong according to God's word, including the right and wrong kind of love.

Each of us need discernment to know if our attitude is proper in all areas.

Yes, we are to love our families but that love can not that priority over God.

Our love toward another cannot override our responsibility to do what God tells us to do.

We should love our jobs, but that love cannot override our responsibility to God and to our families.

Some folks love sports but if that love hinders them from fulfilling their responsibilities in their service to God and in their families, that love is sin.

Our love in all areas must be according to the priorities that are established by the word of God.

The value of the object loved must be determined by the word of God. Is that object worth dying for? Is it worth living for? How much sacrifice does the word of God call for toward the object loved? If that love for that object hinders our service to God, we are idolaters.

2 Peter 3:11-18. Peter warns us of the errors of the wicked that are so prevalent and persuasive, and easily led Christians astray. There are always various false doctrines appearing—that is, the old false teachings in a new dress. We need to continually grow in the knowledge of God's word so we can recognize them.

We need the wisdom and knowledge of God's word to determine, to try or to approve the things that are excellent and biblical. The object of our love is to be tied in the light of God's word (as metals are exposed to trial in order to test their nature) to see if that object is of real value.

Love is great, but if it is sensual love or is directed toward the wrong thing or if the priority is wrong, then it is sin. Is the love genuine? Our emotions or ideas cannot make that determination; only the word of God can.

Anytime our love for something compromises our responsibilities to God, it is the wrong kind of love.

Paul is praying that these people would be able to see the situations around them in the light of the law of God.

To say the least, we are in a day of massive confusion. If ever we needed this knowledge, today is it. We must have the wisdom of God's word to have the common sense to apply it to every situation.

Can we observe the things around us and see the Biblical principles involved in the various events? Such as women in places of authority?

God's people must be a discerning people. We can be because we have His word. There is no reason for us to be caught up in things that will harm us spiritually. There is no reason for is to get involved is embarrassing situations. Before we approve anything, we are to examine His mind on it.

Sincere. That is, found pure when unfolded and examined be the sun's light;

The word literally means without wax. The picture being honey which is pure and transparent as it is held up to the sun. You hold it up and look through it and there is no impurities to be found in it.

Applied to the Christian, it means a life and spirit which is not deceitful, vague, hypocritical. It means that which is not mingled with error, worldliness, and sin; that which does not proceed from selfish and interested motives, and where there is nothing disguised.

The greatest compliment that can be paid to a Christian is that they are sincere.

They are truly converted, and not putting a the Christian act.

Pure motives, and not doing Christian activities out of pride, jealousy, spite nor contention.

Sincerity. The conduct is free from double-dealing, tricks, and cunning. He is above-board at all times.

His words do not have double meanings. They are honest at all times. They express the true sentiments of the heart.

Proverbs talks about the words being smooth as butter but lies and deceit is in the heart.

The sincere person is true to his word and faithful to his promises.

The sincere person is always what he professes to be.

The sincere Christian can bear to have the light of the sun and the light of the SON upon him at any and all times. The emotions and motives are pure and open to the Lord and to others at all times.

Paul said in ACT 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.

Not injuring others in property, feelings or in their reputation.

To say the least, this is a tremendously difficult area for most of us to control. This calls for not injuring anyone. This includes:

Not injuring others by our words, by our actions, example, opinions, conversation (manner of life).

Not doing injustice to another's motives; not wounding their feelings; giving no occasion for hard thoughts.

The thought here in Ph. 1:10 is that we are not to give the slightest opportunity for offence of any kind. We, by the power of the Spirit of Grace, are to live a life above reproach, which is without offence, above blame.

Both sides of the coin apply. Not easily offended and living a life which gives no offence.

How long are we to live the sincere life without offending others?

Until the day of Christ.

JUDE 24, Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

Next:

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

The sincere Christian desires that to be filled with the fruits of righteousness. These fruits do not make one righteous but come about as a result of righteousness.

These fruits are not restricted to obedience to what we call the ten commandments. We saw in Galatians 5 that the fruits of righteousness also covers the attitudes.

The desire of the apostle is that these fruits would be evident in their lives for all to see. In this we see that genuine righteousness will be evident for all to see. We won't have to tell others anything, they will see it.

Also observe, filled with. No matter how many of these fruits we might feel we have arrived to, there is still plenty of room for many more.

I used to worry that if I shared everything with people, I would be left with nothing. I found just the opposite true.

And we don't have to worry about using them all up. We can safely say that the more we use what God has provided for us for his glory, the more there will be to use.

This is like love. The more there are to love, the more love there is. Children are a good example. I saw a program in the motel room while at the Preachers' meeting, called "17 and counting." It followed a family with 15 children in their daily routines. The parents made it clear that there was enough love to go around.

Paul was praying for these fruits to be developed in them.

We should pray that the Lord would develop these fruits of righteousness in us. Now, the problem is the methods which the Lord uses is not always to our liking.

If I had my way, I would pray and all these of righteousness would, like magic, appear in my life. I'm afraid that He doesn't work that way. Far more often than not, these fruits are developed through the school of hard knocks. I don't like that school any better than you do, but it is the most effective of all classes. In this, the more responsibility the Lord gives us, the harder these knocks.

Paul was praying that God would develop these of righteousness in these Christians.

We should be praying for others, that the Lord would develop these fruits of righteousness in them. Don't forget, God works through tribulation more often than not to develop these things, so pray that He will also provide the needed graces to see them, and us, through whatever He might have for them to go through, to develop the fruit of righteousness in them.

Again, note Peter's encouragement, 2 Peter 3:18: But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Grace is God working in one both to will and to do his good pleasure. God's grace must come first, before one can increase in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I have found that no matter how we might try to lead others to increased knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, unless the grace of God is at work, they will not be led to the Saviour.

It takes different things for different people for God to be able to develop these fruits. We dare not compare ourselves to them and what they are going through.

Which are by Jesus Christ. These fruits are a result of His work of grace in us.

The world has it's imitation fruit. We want that which is developed by Jesus Christ. We want the right kind of fruit in others. Of course, if one isn't saved, the fruit which looks like the real thing must be an imitation.

I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE: I had the fruits, but not the Saviour.

Therefore, we need to pray that it will be the proper fruits, that which are by Jesus Christ, that which is developed by His Spirit.

Unto the glory and praise of God. It is easy to make claims of our love for and desire to glorify God, but the discipline which develops the true fruit isn't easy. These fruits of righteousness are open for all to see. Matt. 5:16 tells us that as these fruits are developed in us, others will see this and glorify the Father in heaven. (Also Jn.15:8)

It is not enough to honor God with our lips, He requires our every action.

I Pet. 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

I Pet. 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.is also along this line.

Conclusion:

Christians are not only to have a good profession with their words, but they are to be above reproach and be filled to overflowing with the WORKS of righteousness which obviously point to and bring glory to the Father in heaven.

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