Pray like an apostle 3.0
This is the third time in 3 weeks we have got a glimpse at an apostle’s prayers. Here we can see Paul always thanks God when he remembers the Philippians. Praying for them is a joyful thing to him because of two things. Firstly their partnership in the gospel, which leads Paul to a lot of people’s favourite Bible verse!
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion at the day of Christ Jesus”
That verse tells us that our faith starts with God working in us, carries on with God working in us and is guaranteed to be completed, because God is working in us. What the Calvinists call “perseverance of the saints” is not because we persevere, but because God does. God works in us.
Secondly Paul’s prayers are joyful because he holds them in his heart – he really loves this church!
Then we see what Paul is praying for them other than thanking God for them. His intercession is that their love would abound more and more and that they would get more knowledge and discernment. Love, knowledge and discernment. Why? so that they will do what is excellent and be pure and blameless on Christ’s return.
I’m always looking for gold!
When I’m coaching church planters I tell them when they find a vein of gold, to keep digging that seam until you have exhausted it. For a season in the Gateway, we found a vein of gold with the young language assistants that used to work with Jane. We mined that seam until the schools stopped hiring them and many wonderful friendships and opportunities for the gospel resulted. We have veins of gold with junior doctors coming in each year and have seen many discipled and others getting saved and even married! Every time we find a vein of gold, we will keep digging!
I also talk about looking for the gold in people and situations. What is the best I can find in someone or a situation? For sure gold dug out of the ground is dirty and impure, but people dig it out for the gold, not the impurities – their eyes are on the prize!
In v12,13 Paul is digging for gold in both those senses. He has found the gold of the situation he is imprisoned in. The guards changed to him on shift are a captive audience for the hearing the Gospel. They have to be chained to him while Paul shares the Gospel. He has found the gold in the situation. He has a captive audience! But who is the captive!!!
In the other sense, he has found a vein of gold in the Imperial guard – they keep getting saved, so he keeps going until “it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard.”
To live is Christ, to die is gain
That is digging the gold out of life now. The best life is Christ and when we die it just gets better. That’s a glorious truth, so Paul urges them to “live in a manner worthy” of it. That’s a similar phrase to the other day’s reading in Ephesians. Here Paul talks about that being standing firm in unity, striving in faith and not giving in to fear. Game on.