Date: August 7, 2022
Speaker: Trent Thompson
Scripture: Philippians 1:3-11
Series: Praying For Your Church
Good morning. Summer is winding down. Do you feel it? The collective groan Wow. All right, started off on the wrong foot today. Philippians chapter 1, if you got a Bible Philippians chapter 1, you’re turning now there, I’ll tell you a story. I was years ago training for a marathon. I lived in Chicago at the time, and a Saturday and I worked at church on Sunday. So I needed to do my long run had to happen on Saturday. So I need to do a two hour run that day. If you’ve ever trained for a marathon, or any kind of thing like that, you know that like the longer stuff, you got to get it in when you can get it in, right, because you got a lot of other responsibilities and things to deal with. So I was alright, so I have to do that this morning. I strapped on my shoes, and I went out. Illinois is really flat. So storms just roll in quick. This is pre smartphones, where you have like the forecast right available to you, you know, sort of deal. I was also young just didn’t bother to look at stuff, right? So I went out for a run. I got out. As I started I mean, the drizzle just started a little bit, right. I thought well, I like running in a drizzle. It’s kind of nice. It’s a warm time of year anyway. So I’m running, but I’m seeing the ominous clouds in the distance, and I’m feeling the direction the wind is blowing. I’m thinking this might not go well. So I’ve got a decision to make. Do I turn around and figure out another time to try to fit this in? Or do I just keep going? I decided to do what? What do you think? Yeah, keep going because you know how dumb your pastor is sometimes. So I just decided to keep going. I mean, I’m 10 minutes into a two hour run, and the heavens open up. It is a torrential downpour, and it does not let up for the entire two hours of the run. ut only well I’m already out here might as well keep going. I’m pretty sure cars going by were aiming at the puddles to splash me. You know, at some point, I’m just like, my shoes weigh 15 pounds each because they’re so waterlogged. People are looking at me, I’m seeing the looks of the people driving on the cars, like what is he doing? I don’t have a hat on, nothing to protect me from the rain. I’m just getting soaked. I mean, absolutely. So this is one of those moments where I just did not like the rain, you know, have you been caught in a rainstorm, you’re like, I just do not. Like if I could just get rid of anything right now it would be the rain. Let’s take that same rainstorm. Just imagine that it’s a Saturday morning. But instead of needing to do a two hour run. It’s a Saturday morning where you’ve got nothing on the agenda. You’ve got a good book that you’ve been reading, you know, maybe you’re 50 pages in, and you just start hitting the stride in the book. So you grab yourself a good warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate, whatever your thing is, you know, and curl up under a blanket. You just enjoy listening to the rain on the roof isn’t that a great sound, joy, listen to the rain on the roof and just kind of cozy. It’s really nice. I mean, just when you spend two hours not running, but just enjoying the rain. Now, what is the difference? Between those two scenarios? What’s the difference? Location, location is the difference. In one you’re out running, and you’re in the middle of the storm. It’s just not enjoyable at all. In fact, it feels a little dangerous, you’re not sure you should even be there. Then the other, you’re inside warm and protected, and you’re enjoying the pitter patter of the rain on the roof. It’s just so enjoyable. The difference is completely location. Here’s what I want to tell you location changes perception, location changes perception. That’s not just true of rain. It’s actually true of what we’ve been talking about. Now, over the last several weeks, as we’ve been doing this study on how do we pray for one another. I told you in advance, so you know what you’re getting when you come that the application of every sermon is going to be what? Pray, pray for one another. That’s my hope. That’s my sole agenda. I got nothing else that I’m trying to get you to do, other than pray for one another. Is that fair? That’s all I want from you. In these weeks, I want you to learn to pray according to God’s word for one another, that we might be transformed and change the church and all the way God wants us to be. So when I say location changes perception, I say that applies to prayer as much as it applies to, to running and rain and all that sort of thing. Here’s what I mean by that. I figure I might want to return to answering this question. We’ve been in this series now for several weeks. And I don’t want to lose sight of why would we spend time talking about praying for one another? Why is it that we need to pray for one another? There’s a lot of answers to that question, but I’m going to give you two to remind you of them and they have to do with this idea of location changing perceptions.
When you pray. The location of your relationship with one another is changed. Instead of relating to one another here, in a sort of face to face earthly way. We begin to relate to one another in the presence of God. When you pray for one another, you change the location of your relationships with one another, you take them up into the presence of God in Christ. That changes some things pretty radically. Let me point out a couple to you. The first is that when we take one another into the presence of God, when we take the location of our relationship with one another, in prayer, we bring that into the presence of God. One of the things that does for us is it reminds us, it changes the way we relate to one another. See in prayer, we cease relating to one another in animosity, we cease relating to one another in competition, we cease relating to one another in insecurity, we cease relating to one another, in all those myriad of ways that we’re prone to. When we take our relationship into the presence of God through Christ, what happens is, we begin to perceive each other rightly, again, I see you, as I should see you, when you see me as you should see me, and it changes the way that we relate to each other. But if you don’t change the location, from here to there, that change can’t happen. We must pray for one another. Because that location change changes the way we perceive each other. We relate to one another accordingly, I cannot take you before the presence of God, and still relate to you in insecurity, I cannot take you into the presence of God, and still relate to you in jealousy. Does that make sense?
The second thing that we do about that location change of taking one another up into the presence of God, is not just that it changes my perception in the way I relate to you. It reminds me of the purpose for which I relate to you. Let me remind you of this, you do not perceive any relationship in your life rightly until you perceive it in Christ. Say that, again, you do not perceive any relationship your spouse, your kids, your friends, your co workers, you don’t perceive any relationship rightly, until you see that relationship in and through Christ. That’s why bringing one another now we’re we’re talking about praying for one another, specifically, we’re talking about praying for other believers, for those who share our faith, in particular, our church family, we’re saying, when I pray, here’s what happens when I change the location. I’m not just relating to you here, but I’m taking you there. In the presence of God, I’m engaging about you with him. I don’t just relate to you differently, I’m reminded my very purpose for relating to you is nothing less than the glory of Christ. I relate to you for that end, and to that end, and it changes the low thinking that I sometimes have about maybe relating to you to get something from you, or relating to you because I just I need a friend who will just be my buddy, or relating to you for any number of other things. Some not great and some fine, nothing wrong with relating someone to have a friend Yes, nothing wrong with that. But ultimately, that is not my aim. When I take you up into the presence of Christ, I’m reminded that there’s a greater purpose for which I relate to you, which then changes the way I relate to you.
So why do we pray for one another? Because location changes perception? Now, the simple question we’re gonna ask today as we look at Philippians 1 one same question we’ve been asked every week is how does this passage teach us to pray? That’s the simple big idea. How does this passage teach us to pray? So Paul writes to the Philippians, who begins this letter, it’s often called the Epistle of joy. Epistle means letter. It’s the letter of joy, because Paul is gushing with thanksgiving and love for this group of believers. He expresses that again and again. It’s a really, it is a joyful book of the Bible to read. It’s an encouraging book of the Bible to read. So there are two ways that this these verses Philippians 1, verses 3 through 11, where he opens his writing to them with a prayer, there are two ways that he’s going to teach us to pray for one another. Let me give them to you now you can jot them down, and then we’ll elaborate on each one. All right. So the first one is that he teaches us that we should give thanks for one another. That’s the first thing that he teaches us to give thanks for one another. Now, my hope today is that you don’t hear that as sort of Oh, yeah, sure that makes sense. Kind of a cliche version of that. We want to go deep into that. Because I want to show you had a deeper thing. It’s it’s not just a formality, that Paul says, I’m thankful for you to say what he gives thanks for or why he gives thanks for them what it means to give thanks to God for one another, so that we might learn to give thanks to God for one another. That’s something we must do in prayer. So agenda number one today is that you would leave this place and all week long, you would give thanks for one another to God for one another. Then the second thing that we see in this text about how we pray for one another is that we want to pray for one another to have the highest quality of love, the highest quality of love that we can have not a low love, but a high love. So those are the two things, highest quality of love giving thanks for one another, we’re going to tackle each one of them. Let’s get our eyes on the texts.
Now look with me Philippians chapter one, verses 3 through 11. We’ll have the words on the screen. If you don’t own a bible of your own, we’d love to give you one, check in with one of our folks in the green T shirts before you leave today. We’ll hook you up, we’d love for you to have God’s Word in your hand and bring it with you. So you can you can just get your eyes in it. Alright, here we go. Philippians chapter 1, verses 3 through 11 says this, I thank my God, in all my remembrance of you always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now. And I’m sure of this, that He who began a good work and you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way 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. Now, I hope you see that up to this point, all of that is just thanksgiving, you see that all of it is I love you. I’m thankful for you. Now here comes the first request. It is my prayer, that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. That’s the prayer that Paul opens this letter to the Philippians with and as I said, I’ve got two things. So let’s take a look at the first one, the first thing he does in prayer is he gives thanks for the Philippians. We find this in verse five, and six and seven, which we’re going to get into in just a moment. But the first thing I want to help us see is we ask why do we pray for one another? Can I ask another question? It’s why do we give thanks for one another when we pray, like why is that something that we would take time to do? We’re gonna give you a couple of thoughts about that. The first is found? Well, let me make a distinction. Why would we go to God and say, I am thankful God for Joe? Like, why would I say I’m thankful God for Ashley? Right? I would thank him for them. Rather than go to Joe and Ashley and say, Joe, I’m thankful for you, Ashley, I’m thankful for you. That’s good to do. Yes, we should tell one another. We’re thankful for each other. Would you agree? Yeah, absolutely. There should be more of that we should have bound in that we shouldn’t be telling one another. We’re thankful for one another all the time. But it’s a very different thing for me to say, Ashley, I’m thankful for you. It’s a very different thing to say, I go to God and tell him, I am thankful for her. Does that make sense? That’s two different things. And there’s a reason why we give thanks to God, in prayer for one another. Here’s the first reason when we carry one another into the presence of God in prayer. We thank God for each other. The first thing that that does, is it reinforces the gospel in us, right. So in other words, what I’m saying is, it’s one thing to say, I’m thankful for this thing about you. But when I say I’ve gone to God and thanked him for you, what I’m reminding both you and myself is that the thing that I’m thankful for, it’s not ultimately something that is good in you. It’s something God did in you. That reinforces the gospel of grace. It is grace upon grace, that that thing exists in you. It’s not demeaning to say to someone that only exists in you because of the grace of God. We all know that, yes. Any good thing in me as a result of the gift of God, and His grace. So we don’t want to be a people that reinforces self righteousness, this sense of hey, as I thank you, if I only think it’s possible to all I do is reinforce a sense of you know, I am pretty good. I am someone who should be thanked for who I am. But when I say I thank God for you. What I’m saying is, he’s the one that gets the things. He’s the one that’s done the work. It is evident in you that encouraged the heart and it takes the pressure off of performing. Sometimes when you have you ever been thanked for something about well, that creates pressure to keep doing that thing? What the Gospel of Grace says is that thing is a result of the work of God in your life. When I thank God for that thing, not putting any pressure on you to keep performing. I’m saying God is good and worthy of thanks. Isn’t that good? The other thing, the other thing that when we thank God for one another it does is it just creates a heart full of gratitude in us, I have yet to meet the person because you know the aim, my aim when it comes to my heart is to have a calcified heart in different heart. That’s what I’m aiming for. Anybody want to raise your hand, say I’m the first that’s what I’m aiming for? No, nobody aims for that. Nobody says that’s what I want. I want a heart this indifferent towards my spouse, my kids, my neighbor, I just want a heart. That’s kind of hard. That way, I don’t have to feel stuff. That’s what I’m shooting for. Now, everybody says, of course, I want a heart that feels deeply. That’s kind of interesting, because we know that will come with pain when loss happens. Yet we want it. Because we recognize that the only way to be truly alive in Christ, Jesus is to feel deeply and to love deeply. So when we give thanks to God in prayer for one another, it softens our hearts. It fills us with gratitude. It’s the heart that’s full of gratitude that is tender before the Lord and is led by Him and follows him experiences the joy of relationship and him. So we give thanks for one another because it fills in gratitude. We give thanks for that, because it reinforces the gospel of grace. The last thing I’ll say is what verse eight says, The reason one of the reasons we give thanks for another is? Did you notice that he says, I yearn for you all, in verse eight, a yearn for you all, with the affection of what have who have Christ Jesus. Now, that’s what we call a possessive genitive, if you’re a grammar hound, all right. What that means is, Are you like, nope, not me. It’s a possessive genitive. And what that means is, the one who comes after the other is the one who possesses the thing before the other. So when he says, the affection of Christ Jesus, he’s the owner of the affection. So what Paul is writing is, I don’t yearn for you with my own affection. I yearn for you with his affection. Our ambition is to be a conduit of the affection of Christ Jesus for one another. So I go and give thanks for you in prayer, because I’m going to the one who is the source, the owner of the affection that I need to be the conduit of. So when I go to him, I am going and saying, now, give me more of that affection. So that I might pour it out on the person if I don’t pray. I’m not going to the source of the affection. The one who owns it, who possesses it, and who can give it make sense. That’s why we pray for one. That’s why we give thanks for one another specifically. That’s why we prayed that way. One. Now let’s ask the question.
The next one is for what does Paul give thanks? What is worth giving? Thanks for so we need to give thanks for one another, we should probably ask him. Okay, do I just give thanks for any old thing. Paul’s gonna give us some priorities in thanksgiving here. It’s fine to give thanks for numerous things. Paul highlights a handful. Here they are look with me, verse five. After saying, I give thanks for you. Can I just highlight by the way, the number of times Paul says all of you, and in all my remembrance in this in other words, what he’s saying is, don’t you imagine the flipping church is full of people who had personalized that Paul loved and maybe some people who rubbed them the wrong way, probably full of people who are walking in maturity and other people who are not so much walking in maturity. Yet Paul makes a point to say I give thanks for mature ones, the super Christians, the ones who are doing the stuff I want them to do, what does he say to you, thanks for all of you. You want to be challenged, that might be all the challenge you need right there. Give thanks for all the body of Christ, for all of your church family. So then he comes to verse five. He says, I’m making my prayer with joy. Then he says, Why? Because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day, until now, from the first day, until now and then later, we’re gonna come back to verse six, but just jump down to verse seven, real quick. He says, it’s right for me to feel this way 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. So he’s talking about being imprisoned, and the confirmation of the gospel. Paul is writing this letter from prison. As he’s writing it, we know that because of what happens in chapter four, something he says in chapter four, about their partnerships that they’re supporting and financial, the way prison worked, it was it would have been house imprisonment, Paul would have been kept there. The government of Rome was not paying for his food or his well being. So he needed other people to provide for him. He couldn’t go out and work because he’s under house arrest until his trial comes and so he needs someone to support him so that he can have his basic necessities, food, clothing, and so they are the Philippians are part of his support. They are partaking with him in his trial. So that’s part of what he means when he says I am thankful for your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now, in other words, what Paul is saying is, from the very first day you trusted in Christ, you joined with me in the work of helping others know about Christ. Now, let me point out a couple of things about them. He’s giving thanks for this gospel partnership. Now, it looks like what does that partnership looks like sharing trials, and then which we talked about his imprisonment. The other thing he says, the defense and confirmation of the gospel commentators, when looking at that phrase, say that it means essentially, in a simplified way, it means removing obstacles to belief in Jesus. I love, that’s a beautiful picture of evangelism of sharing our faith with others, is not hounding people. It’s not trying to not trying to cajole or convince them, but it is saying, what’s the obstacle? How do I get it out of their way, I want to do anything I can do to get the obstacle out of the way so that they would know the truth about God in Christ. That’s what he means when he says, You’ve been my partners in the defense of the gospel in the confirmation of the gospel. Now, there’s something really obvious here that we should probably point out and it’s this, it’s that if you don’t spend your life, making gospel partnerships, trying to advance the kingdom, trying to help others, have obstacles removed to knowing Jesus, you’re not going to have this ability to give thanks. Let me let me ask it this way. Is there anyone right now that when they think about you could say, I thank God for your partnership in the gospel? So anyone who would say that about you? That listen, if the answer’s no, and it’s got to be No, for some of you, I’m very aware of that. Yes, there’s gonna be no for some of you. My encouragement to you is this not to come down hard on you, but to say you are forfeiting the kind of thankfulness and gratitude and relating to one another that you could have if you made the pursuit of the spread of the gospel, your ambition. If you understood that as the purpose of your life, it will revolutionize your relationships. It’s Paul’s first thing that he says that’s what I’m thankful for. Not thankful because we share the same hobby. I’m not thankful because we both love to do this, because our personalities are alike. That’s kind of fun, and I, I connect with you real naturally. It’s not any of that. What he’s thankful for is that they are spending their lives for the same thing. It’s the thing of first importance and most importance. The deepest relationships will ever experience or those spent in Gospel partnership. I was thinking this week, just reflecting back on my life, and I was thinking about where we were my deepest relationships with. At every turn. They are people who I stood shoulder to shoulder with and served Christ’s had a great experience of that this week. We have Vacation Bible School here at church this week, I had the privilege of serving I was leading a third grade group. You know oe of my favorite things about the week was was every night coming in and seeing over 200 volunteers who were serving shoulder to shoulder to see kids trust in Jesus. It was the best I was blown away every night I walked in. But well, there’s our team, our tech team at the booth. Here’s Tony Trough and a bunch of middle schoolers up here singing their hearts out with silly motions. So that five year olds love Jesus, and see how full of of joy he has over them, and to watch all these leaders investing in lives. Then one of my favorites was to walk out to the games to the game area. There was an army, like 30 people running chaotic games so that kids would have an experience of the love of Jesus. It was incredible. If you’ve never served a VBS you are missing out. It was so fun. You know what we know that 10 kids placed their faith in Jesus this week. 10 kids have now walked out of death and into life, and are your brothers and sisters and will live with you for eternity in the presence of God. He gets more glory and fame because one sheep that was lost was found. Astounding. I just felt so connected to my brothers and sisters. I just this is so rich, so rich, just that we get to do this together. It was so good. At the same time. My wife and eldest daughter were in Honduras, where a number of our children were our students were on a mission trip, and I was hearing from them. There are at least two dozen kids here in Honduras who have placed their faith in Jesus. So we’re partnering across oceans, across continents, and I just thinking to myself, this is incredible. There’s not a better week in the year. So good. Your heart is just flooded with thankfulness. You are connected to one another through that. That’s what Paul means when he says, I thank God, because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first thing to know, Friends, I encourage you become a partner in gospel work. Become a partner in gospel work, you’ll never regret it. And the richness of the relationships that is developed, where you take them up into the presence of God, and you say, I am so enriched by having served shoulder to shoulder with these people. That would be my prayer is that your relationships would be built on gospel priorities.
The second thing that we said he’s praying for here and teaches us to pray is not just thankfulness for one another, we’re praying for the highest quality of love in one another. So look with me down to verse nine. Because the first you know, three through eight, we said are really his thanksgiving. now he comes to his request. he says in verse nine. it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment. So I need to make a distinction here for you. Because when we hear this, it’s kind of parallel to Ephesians one which recite and when he preached on this did a great job of unpacking it for us. There we saw that Paul was praying for a spirit of wisdom and revelation into the knowledge of God. So the prayer in Ephesians one was primarily about men that you would have like eyes to see God for exactly who he is that you’d have this revelation of who he is and you’d be wise as far as result of it. There’s a similar idea here of wisdom, when he says, I want you to have knowledge and discernment, but that knowledge and discernment is not unto itself. It is in service to something else. So what did he actually pray for? He said, I want you to have something that abounds more and more with knowledge, and with discernment. What was that thing that he wanted them to have? Love? I want you to have love that is full to the brim, overflowing with knowledge and with discernment. But the thing I want you to see there, sometimes I think, that we might read this and go, yeah, it’s a prayer to be wise. It’s a prayer to be knowledgeable, it’s a prayer to be discerning, and that certainly is present. But those things, sometimes I worry that we hear that and we we think that that looks like sort of a dry thing. This is mental capacity, and endeavors and intellectual. Yes, I know true facts about God. Knowing those true facts about God. Now, I can say this is right, and this is wrong. That’s certainly part of it. But I need you to see here that the prayer is not first for wisdom, the prayer is for love. So that if this love is served by knowledge and discernment served by wisdom, then what Paul is saying is, you cannot think that you are growing more wise, if you are not growing more loving. There is no such thing as greater wisdom that produces less love. Sometimes I think, well, if I’m discerning, and I’m morally, sort of acute and sharp, which we want to be that somehow that’s going to lead to sort of more black and whiteness, or more, you know, like, I cut this out, rather than which does have that sharpness to it. But it’s always to be filled with love. So here’s the thing, what he’s saying is, I want you to have the highest quality of love. I want you to have the kind of love that knows when that when I want you to have the kind of love that knows when love requires discipline. I want you to have the kind of love that knows when love requires patience. I want you to have a common love that knows when love requires correction, or rebuke. I want you to know when love requires silence. I want you to know when love requires you get the picture. Yes. I want you to have that kind of love this really rich, an overflowing love. So let’s talk from them. About what a love, full of knowledge and discernment looks like now it results in right it results in being pure and blameless the day of Christ, it results being filled with the fruit of righteousness. So there’s this growing righteousness, there’s this growing, purity, growing blamelessness that is present in us. Love is not morally lazy. Love is not indifferent to the moral trajectory of the person we love washing over sin, as if it doesn’t matter. Loving You means just accepting that you’re going to keep going that way that is not love. Love is not morally lazy. It produces blamelessness. It produces the fruit of righteousness in Christ Jesus, Somebody say amen to that.
That is true. Now, here’s what Paul means when he says, I want you to have this loves full of knowledge and full of discernment. The first thing you need to say is that there is no object given to this love. So normally when Paul would write and he’d say, I want you to abound in love, I want you to have love, he would say I want you to have love the love of God, I want you to have the love of others, he would clarify the object, the direction of that love here, he doesn’t do that. Why doesn’t he do that? Because he wants to be ambiguous on purpose. Most commentators think that pause and being intentionally broad, he doesn’t say I want you to love others, or I want you to love God, because He wants you to say, it’s encompassing all of those things. So when he says, I want you to have love, its love of God and His love of neighbor and his love of each other. All of that is encompassed. I want the way you love your neighbor, the way you love each other the way you love God, all to be abounding more and more in knowledge and discernment. So in effect the way you love all of those objects of your love, is that clear. Alright, so that’s the first thing.
Now what does he mean knowledge, you got to come to that word. the word for knowledge here is the word of experiential knowledge. It’s the word of knowing something or someone experientially not just collecting data points and facts about them. It’s the idea of a close personal relationship where you experience what that person is like. So when he says, I want you to have a love that is full of knowledge, abounding and knowledge, what he’s saying is, I want you to have such a close personal interaction with God in Christ, that impacts the way you love everyone, him and others, that there’s a day to day experience of what he’s like. Not just facts about him, but a day to day experience of what he is like. So that you then have your love and formed by that experience of relationship. Marriage is a great illustration of this I was thinking about, in one of my early years here, a very sweet woman lost her husband to his battle with cancer. When she lost him, she I was I got to officiate the funeral got to oversee that and just spending some time with her. One day we were, I was at her house, and she was just talking to me, I always, you know, one of his little Picadillo is one of the things that kind of drove me a little crazy, was that I would cook a meal. Every time I’d be cooking a meal, he would reach over my shoulder and grab part of it before I had a chance to kind of put it all out instead of and I would slap his hand say stop it, cut it out. You know, and it’s kind of like, okay, you know, it’s funny. Then she said, I think it was the day before she said yesterday, I was taking a turkey out of the oven. No one reached over my shoulder. I sat down on the kitchen floor and I bawled. It is the experience of relationship and in in our human relationships. What’s so funny about that is even the little is no sin to pick a little bit of Turkey, right. But even a little picadillo, or a little oddities, or little or little oddball ways of personality quirks, they become reasons, we love one another. Not just a little annoyances, but it’s like the thing that makes you like Amanda and I have a running joke that she can’t close a pantry door, it never makes it all the way closed. It gets two inches away, and it stops. It’s a miracle that she got it on gravity itself should carry it closed, like momentum. But they’re always open, I walk into the kitchen, like every door. I go around and I close them, too. I said to her, you know if you go to be with the Lord, before I do you know what’s going to happen? One day, I’m going to walk into the kitchen, I’m going to see a half open pantry door and I’m going to bawl. Because it’s those little things that make you they become sources of love. Because that’s the experience of relationship with that person. You know them they know you. When Paul says, I want you to have a love that’s informed by knowledge. He’s saying, I want you to have a love that’s informed by that kind of a day to day experience of what God’s like. The same way a spouse has a day to day experience of what their spouse is like, and it makes them love more and how much more so with God and whom there are no faults or flaws. How much more so with God, in whom there are no little picadillo or personality quirks the grace of God that those turn into ways and fuel for love with one another with our friendships with our spouses those things. That’s what he’s getting at. That’s a little different than just have the right data points about God, would you agree? That’s what he’s saying?
And what that kind of relationship to inform your love. Then he says and all discernment and when he says I want your love to be full, abounding in knowledge and discernment, that discernment is taking that personal knowledge of God and applying it to every situation. That’s what discernment is, it’s okay, now I faced this circumstance, this situation, what does love exemplified in this personal relationship that I’m experiencing with God in Christ? What does that require of me in this moment? You know, when you’re little it’s easy. It’s simple, because the situations are simple, right? The discernment you need is like, hey, the love of God requires me to share my toys right now. You know, the love of God requires me to say I’m sorry, right now, to admit that I was wrong right now to say Would you forgive me right now the love of God requires me to go do pick up my toys, you know right now. But as we get older situations get more complex, don’t think. How many times do is it so hard to know, what does love require of me right now? This situation is complex. It’s difficult. I need discernment. What Paul is saying is I am praying that you would have that discernment that you’d have a love so informed by the knowledge of who God is in Christ and a daily experience of that, that you would then encounter every situation and have discernment about What to do, about what love requires of you in that moment. That’s how we got to pray for one another. That doesn’t come naturally. I don’t care how much I don’t care how much you collect information, you will never be discerning until it is prayed into you, both in your relationship with God and prayer, and as others pray over you, if you’ve grown wise over the years, then you know that that wisdom has only come through hours spent in the presence of God, both others on your behalf and you in the presence of God, you did not become wise because you collected data points. You’re not wise if you think that by definition, true wisdom recognizes. So friends, that is what he’s getting at is he’s saying I want you to have the highest quality of love.
So my call to you today is this is learn to give thanks for one another for gospel partnership, and because you see who one another will be in Christ Jesus, and then let’s pray for one another to have the highest kind of love, the highest quality of love that it would be an astounding kind of love that we’d be filled with. It comes through prayer. Yes, comes through prayer. So my challenge this week, pick one person, pick one person in this body. If you’re visiting with us, pick one person in your church body. If you’re not a believer, my challenge to you is consider the kind of relationships available to you in Christ. Just let me ask, would this if what we just described would it be superior to the kinds of relationships you’re experiencing right now, I can’t help but think that it would be I mean, I’m totally biased, okay. But I can’t help but think that relationships are taken up into the presence of God, who created all things, and knows all things, and has a kind of love that leads to the cross of His own Son to redeem and save. When that saturates you, it just changes your relationships. So my invitation to you is to come into those kinds of relationships, it begins by giving yourself to Christ. But for those of you who this is your church family, this is it. Pick one, one person this week and pray these things for them, that we might become the church family God wants us to be. So we come down to the table, union table servers if you come. Friends remind us again, the kinds of thanksgiving we’re talking about. It all begins here, we are a people of the cross. It’s only through the cross represented in these elements. It’s only the cross that enables the kind of prayer and thanksgiving and love that we are talking about. This is ground zero for those things. It defines what love is. It makes love possible. That shapes everything about us as a body. And as individuals, that’s our desire.
So if you are in Christ, Jesus, this table is open to you, friends who are not followers of Jesus, I always invite you to just let these elements pass. The reason for that is that we are declaring something we believe in taking the elements we are not simply performing a ritual. We are declaring a faith. So if that faith is not yours, keep journeying with us keep coming along our hope is that you would see the love of Christ for you. The offer extends to you of eternal life, through his cross, His death, His resurrection. That’s our prayer, they can see that but until that day, where you make that decision to say I am Christ, I make him my King and I surrender and yield to him. We’ll invite you to let these elements pass so that you don’t declare with your action, something you have not believed in your heart and in your mind.