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A PRAYER OF A COMMITTED MAN. The commitment of a family member to his church family An example of commitment. INTRODUCTION. Basic Ingredients for Christian Life: Wk G + Wd G + C P + F P + B O + T i + T e = Growing Spiritual Life
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A PRAYER OF A COMMITTED MAN The commitment of a family member to his church family An example of commitment
INTRODUCTION Basic Ingredients for Christian Life: WkG + WdG + CP + FP + BO + Ti + Te= Growing Spiritual Life Work of God + Word of God + Commitment + Faith + Believers + Time + Testing Commitment is crucial to living a Christian life – the life lived by someone who loves and follows the Lord Jesus Christ. But we feel over-committed. And commitment costs. What are the ultimate commitments we should make?
Cost of Commitment for Signers of Declaration of Independence The cost of commitment: Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence for the American colonies, five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army. Another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the war. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships sunk by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in poverty. At the battle of Yorktown, the British General Cornwallis had taken over Thomas Nelson's home for his headquarters. Nelson quietly ordered General George Washington to open fire on the Nelson home. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and mill were destroyed. For over a year, he lived in forest and caves, returning home only to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion. Kenneth L. Dodge, Resource, Sept./ Oct., 1992, p. 5
Philippians 1:1-11 1Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: 2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
BIG IDEA Prayerful commitment to abounding love, discerning wisdom and God’s energizing power will result in right choices and actions, leading to God’s glory in our lives and in the lives of the church.
CONTEXT OF VERSES Letter is written to a church much like this one. • Followers of Jesus • Members of same God-people contract • Part of a community – body, family, church Main point is just as applicable to this church. Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel , 1:27 Paul’s commitment is seen in how connected he was to them. • In his mind, 1:3-6 • In his heart, 1:7-8 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown… 4:1 • In his prayers, 1:9-11 (Note what he prays for… so different from today.)
I. COMMITMENT TO WHAT GOALS? 9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God. A. In context of sentence: God, his glory B. In context of letter: church, unity for gospel What are your ultimate commitments – that ultimately dictate your choices?
II. COMMITMENT TO WHAT PATH? A. Abounding love And this is my prayer: that your love may abound… 1:9 What are the objects of this love? " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' “ Luke 10:27 1. God a. What is love? b. Then, loving God means something like this: --the Point, the Purpose, the Focus, and the Essence of it all….It was rooted in the very essence of what God is in himself. He is glorious, beautiful, and magnificent in his manifold perfections. They are infinite, eternal and unchanging. They are Truth and Justice and Goodness and Wisdom and Power and Love. Flowing out from what he is in himself comes the purpose for our existence. God’s passion for his glory gives birth to ours. That is the single, all-embracing, all-transforming reason for being: a passion to enjoy and display God’s supremacy in all things for the joy of all people. God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of , but to make much of him in every part of our lives. John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, p. 37
II. COMMITMENT TO WHAT PATH? A. Abounding love And this is my prayer: that your love may abound… 1:9 What are the objects of this love? 1. God 2. church family If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil 2:1-4 …But, the motivation of love is not enough… Love, unguided by wisdom can be destructive.
II. COMMITMENT TO WHAT PATH? B. Discerning wisdom – only way to mature love And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. 1:9 Love without understanding is at best sentimental and at worst destructive. 1. toward God – can’t really love Him without understanding Him and His ways a. understand His love If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?... 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 b. understand His work
II. COMMITMENT TO WHAT PATH? B. Discerning wisdom – only way to mature love 1. toward God – can’t really love Him without understanding Him and His ways a. understand His love b. understand His work – What’s he doing in all the pain? Ecclesiastes: Life seems to be a riddle, full of darkness, chance and sorrow But the God behind the riddle is wise, good and just. Trusting him is the key to a beautiful life in a dark world. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30 Why all the pain? God lovingly brings “all things” into our lives for the purpose of our ultimate good.
Since Eden and until Christ returns, God has entered a battle with a vision for what he intends to accomplish. The battle is not to improve our circumstances, to supply us with money, to protect us from suffering, to keep us safe from pain and struggle, or to quickly fix whatever problems develop in out bodies. We are encouraged to pray for all these things, but we must always finish our prayer with that wonderful caveat that in our immaturity we find so annoying: if it be your will. Isn’t it his will that his children enjoy the blessing of healthy bodies and pleasant circumstances? Apparently not. At least not in this life. In his old age, Peter said we were called to suffer well. He later admonished us to not be surprised when painful trials come our way as though something unexpected were happening (1 Peter 2:20-21; 4:12) God will one day wage war against every reason for tears, and he will win. But for now he is fighting a different battle that, as it is successfully fought, leaves plenty of reasons for tears. Until we go home, we can count on God to lead us into battle against soul disease. …It is the battle to trust God when he doesn’t seem trustworthy, to hope in him when complaint seems more justified, to draw near to him when he seems indifferent. In a phrase, the battle is to develop a good relationship with God. (Len-the struggle we have with not knowing God, not loving him, not believing him, not obeying him). Larry Crabb, Connecting
II. COMMITMENT TO WHAT PATH? B. Discerning wisdom – only way to mature love 1. toward God – can’t really love Him without understanding Him and His ways 2. toward the church community – how do we love the church? “To dwell above with saints we love, ‘twil be a wondrous glory. But to live below with saints we know, ah, that’s another story.” a. loving unity is crucial to the testimony of the church (gospel impact) "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:20-21 Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life… Philippians 2:14-16 b. We need discerning wisdom to have loving unity. Understanding like…
We need discerning wisdom toward the church. 1. To be unified, the church community needs an accepting atmosphere where truth and practice can be worked out in humility and community Community understanding ofhow to study and interpret the Bible Commitment to love, grace, humility, loyalty 2. We are to die together so that we can live together (not literally). Christianity is about the life of the Triune God released in human community. But the doorway into that life is death, and death is always painful. When Jesus died, he died alone. There is no greater pain. When we die to ourselves, we are to do it together, in community. There is no stronger bonding. Larry Crabb, Connecting, p. 95 Death== putting God and others first. To do this in community requires open and honest communication in the context of loyal love.
We need discerning wisdom toward the church. 3. We are to live together in loving commitment to strengthen, encourage, and heal each other -- to be God’s tool for good. a. “one another” passages b. Enter the battle for each other’s soul like a physician battling to save life. 1). Get mind off self. 2). Ask – What is the most critical battle being fought in his/her soul? The battle is to trust God when he doesn’t seem trustworthy, to hope in him when complaint seems more justified, to draw near to him when he seems indifferent. In a phrase, the battle is to develop a good relationship with God. The community of God has no higher calling than to seize the opportunity to experience God. Our fiercest battles are fought when we seek with all our heart to trust God so fully that we see every misfortune as something he permits and wants to use, to know him so richly that we turn to no one and nothing else to experience what our souls long to enjoy, to love him so completely and with such a consuming passion that we hate anything that comes between us and eagerly give it up. That’s a battle we cannot win alone. I need a community that is waging the same kind of war and will include me in the fight. I need a community that will enter my battle and help me recognize what it is so I don’t spend my life fighting lesser ones…
We need discerning wisdom toward the church. 3. We are to live together in loving commitment to strengthen, encourage, and heal each other -- to be God’s tool for good. b. Enter the battle for each other’s soul like a physician battling to save life. 3). To enter the battle: • Start with a few people. • Listen; be willing to enter an “open door” to listen to the struggle. • Focus on the deeper issue behind outward problems: the battle of knowing and believing God. • Let them know you want to struggle with them. I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, Colossians 2:1-2 • Enter as a companion, not as a rescuer or solver of problems. • Enter as a Christ’s representative communicating that we delight in them as Christ does.
We need discerning wisdom toward the church. 3. We are to live together in loving commitment to strengthen, encourage, and heal each other -- to be God’s tool for good. b. Enter the battle for each other’s soul like a physician battling to save life. 4). Be ready to enter the battle of physical aging and death: The fight is a fight against lost hope, not lost health…. The fight is a fight of faith….It is not a fight to get out of bed, but to rest in God… It is not a fight to keep all the powers of youth, but to trust in the power of God…The race is run against temptations that would make us doubt God’s goodness…It is a fight to stay satisfied in God through broken hips and lost sight and failed memory. John Piper We die because we have lived. We live in order to know and love the God who made us. In dying we become more alive that we ever can be while part of this sorrowful world, because we are going to be with the God we want to know and love in a fuller way. I will die someday, and so will you. And that is a good thing. (based on writing of Daniel Taylor)
We need discerning wisdom toward the church. 4. How can we develop this discerning wisdom? In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:12-14 a. Study God’s truth. “O God, I’m tired. Help me. Please, open my eyes so I can see wonders in your Word. O God. Mighty God! Maker of heaven and earth and all the galaxies of the universe. That you should lend an ear to me in this little room half awake. That you should occupy yourself with me while millions of your people pray, and all the while you hold New York and Tokyo and Paris in the palm of your hand. That you should call this tempted flesh the temple of the Holy Spirit. That you speak to me from this page as personally and powerfully as thought you sat here on the couch and talked. O God, what condescension. What unalterable mercy to attend to a little ant like me. Help me believe, O God… John Piper, b. Read good books: Larry Crabb, Connecting Finding God John Piper, Desiring God Don’t Waste Your Life c. Practice: and
II. COMMITMENT TO WHAT PATH? A. Abounding love B. Discerning wisdom – only way to mature love C. Jesus’ power “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ…” “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:29 Lord, only your life touching this person’s heart can do what needs to be done. My skill, my cleverness, my knowledge add up to nothing if your life is not the energy controlling everything I do. Father, I am overwhelmed by what this person is facing. I am afraid. But I also have the peace that comes from knowing the power of your grace. Reveal your Son through me that I might be a powerful instrument for good in your Spirit’s hands. Larry Crabb, Connecting, p. 171 D. Continual prayer (Paul had his people in his mind, heart, prayer) I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy… Phillipians1:3-4 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Colossians 1:9
Some ultimate things to commit to: • Pray this prayer regularly: before any church meeting for self and church • Make the battle for your soul to believe God more important than a comfortable life. • Enter the battle for the souls of other people.
The Man of Galilee They say I am a dreamer, blind and cannot see, That life consists of living, only to earn money. Well if that’s what I am Lord, won’t you care for me. I only want to be like the man of Galilee. I want to be like, I want to hear like, I want to see like the man of Galilee. I want to walk like, I want to talk like, I want to be like the man of Galilee. They say I am an idealist, blind and cannot see, That the principles I cling to, won’t stand reality. Well if that’s what I am Lord, won’t you care for me. I only want to be like the man of Galilee. I want to be like, I want to hear like, I want to see like the man of Galilee. I want to walk like, I want to talk like, I want to be like the man of Galilee.