SCRIPTURE: Philippians 1:3-11
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. 7 So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. 8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. 9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
As we stated in the first message: Paul had great affection for the two churches in Macedonia, Thessalonica and Philippi and for good reason. These churches were good to Paul. They showed the sincerity of their love by supporting him financially for the rest of his life. Paul would not have been human had he not had special feeling for these two fellowships. We will see this in tonight’s text.
I. FIRST PAUL SAYS, YOU HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY MIND
Notice how he begins this section in verse 3, “Every time I think of you…” Do you enjoy being thought of? Would you prefer to be forgotten? I don’t think anyone wants to be forgotten. This is the great value of cards, letters, calls, texts, emails and visits. It lets people know that we have not forgotten them. Right now, I need to visit the nursing home. I have not been in over two months, perhaps longer. Do you think the people there may be wondering if I have forgotten them. I have not but do they know that I have not? I would imagine that everyone in the congregation, everyone in the world would like to know right now that someone is thinking especially of them. So Paul begins by telling the Philippians that He is thinking of them and when he does…
- He gives THANKS for them. Now it is one thing for a person to be thinking of us but for that person to be thanking God for us is even better. Are you thankful for every person that crosses your mind. Be honest, some people don’t bring thanksgiving to mind but Paul was thankful for the Philippians.
- He PRAYED for them. To have someone thinking about me is one thing but to have them pray for me, wow, that is awesome. I am a prayer glutton. I love hearing that people are praying for me.
- He rejoiced when he thought of the Philippians. He rejoiced that they were his partners is spreading the gospel. He rejoiced in the fact that He knew what God had initiated in them, He was going to consummate. I absolutely love Philippians 1:6…And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. What an encouraging verse.
II. NEXT PAUL SAYS: YOU HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART
Notice verse 7…. So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. Loyal friends are hard to come by. He is not poor who has a loyal friend. Joseph didn’t have one even among his brothers. Jesus didn’t have one, everyone deserted Him. Jeremiah had one, possibly two: his secretary Baruch and a black eunuch named Ebed-Melech. Most of us probably don’t have as many as we think but we must appreciate those we have. I came to Danville over 35 years ago and I would not have survived a decade had it not been for two men that proved to be loyal friends. These men put other friendships at risk to stand with me. You have to appreciate friends of such caliber. Most people are not going to stick their neck out for a preacher and there may be some reasons for that but to have folks lay it on the line for you in an humbling and moving experience.
I could tell you that I treat everyone the same and I do try but God knows and so does any reasonably intelligent person that some people have a special place in my heart and like Paul, it is those people who have proved the sincerity of their love. Paul said, “God knows how much I love you and how I long to be with you.” Is it a sin to want to be with people who love you. Is there something wrong with a man who had rather dine with supporters than be in the company of critics? Paul was human and like the rest of us, he longed for love and acceptance.
III. LAST BUT NOT LEAST: PAUL HAD THE PHILIPPIANS IN HIS PRAYERS
Paul said, “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” First of all, Paul prayed…
- For love to overflow more and more. This word overflow, translated abound in NASB means to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure. It’s like pouring a bushel an a half in a bushel basket. It was a good place for Paul to begin praying: what an incredible difference it would make if our love was overflowing: if we had an abundance, more than needed.
- For them to continue to grow in knowledge and understanding
- For them to understand what matters most
- For their sanctification that they would not be a disappointment to Jesus
- For them to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit
- For righteous character to be developed.
- For them to bring glory and honor to God.