Saturday, March 21, 2020

"I Always Pray with Joy" [Matt's Messages]

“I Always Pray with Joy”
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
March 22, 2020 :: Philippians 1:1-11

I took a poll when I was making calls this week and asked whether folks would more appreciate the normalcy of continuing our study of the Gospel of Matthew this weekend or a special message that speaks directly to what we are all experiencing right now.

And most of you asked for a special message of encouragement and guidance during these disrupted days. So that’s what I decided to do.

But next week, Lord-willing (and it’s important to say that, isn’t?! Lord-willing next week), I want us to return to the Gospel of Matthew see what our Lord endured for our salvation.

But right now, I want us to consider Philippians chapter 1.

Philippians is a letter sent from the Apostle Paul to the church family at the Greek city of Philippi.

Paul knew these people personally. In fact, this church had supported him in his missionary work.

And Paul was writing them back to give them a missionary update and to encourage them in the gospel and to give them guidance for some of the problems they were experiencing.

I’m going to read the whole thing (vv.1-11) to you, but I want to tell you the title of this message first so that you can listen for it as I read the passage to you.

I’ve entitled this message, “I Always Pray With Joy.”

Doesn’t that sound good?

Paul says that he always prays with joy, and then he gives some really good reasons for rejoicing.

And I think that we all need that today.

I have three things I want to emphasize in this message and apply to our church family scattered throughout the area, in our own homes.

And all three are reasons to rejoice.

Reasons to always pray with joy.

Especially the first two.

Here’s the first one.

I always pray with joy because of our:


Philippians is a very relational book. Paul is leaning heavily into relationships.

Look again at verse 1.

“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons [the whole church and the church leadership]:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Boy, we need that today, don’t we?

Grace and peace!

Grace and peace!

Paul blesses them with a blessing from the gitgo.

And then he blesses them with a thanksgiving. V.3

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy...”

That’s a lot of ALL isn’t it?

Every time.
All my prayers.
All of you.
Always joy.

Paul was constantly thankful and joyful for these precious people.

Why? V.5

“...because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now...”

Now, that word “partnership” might sound kind of “stuffy” for us today.

The Greek word is “koinonia,” and it’s often translated, “fellowship.”

But that is kind of “fuzzy” for us today.

When we say “fellowship,” we often think coffee and donuts together.

But the word is stronger than that.

It’s maybe a bit more like being on the same team or “team-ness.”

How do you like for a new word–teamness.

Or if that sounds too much about sports.

It’s more like “in it togetherness.”

We are in this together.

That’s what “koinonia” means.

It means sharing something vital that brings us together and makes us one.

And what is that thing that makes us one? V.5

“because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now...”

Paul and the Philippian church were in the gospel together and had been since day 1.

They had the gospel in common and were working for the gospel together.

The gospel of Jesus Christ.

The good news of Jesus’ life and death and life again.

And the salvation that He gives.

They were “in it together.”

And you can guess I why I picked this passage for us this weekend.

Because this gospel is what binds our church family together, as well.

We are centered together on the goods of Jesus.

The gospel is our middle name.

Long ago, we learned to say, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is the Gospel.”

And, friends, we are in it together.

Even if we can’t be together!

Paul was not together with the Philippians.

He had to be apart from them.

And so he used the technology of his day–pen and ink!–to express his love for them.

Look down at verse 7 and see how strong he felt. V.7

“It is right for me to feel this way about all of you [thanksgiving and joy], since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains [he was in prison at the time] or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. [The word for “share” there is based on koinonia.] God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”

By the way, verses 3 through 8 are one long convoluted sentence in the original Greek!

Paul says that he has these precious people in his heart even when he’s apart from them.

And we can do that do that, too. We can have each other in our hearts even during this time of social distancing.

That doesn’t mean that have to like it!

Paul was longing for being together with them again.

He calls God as his witness! V.8

“God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”

The word for “affection” there is literally “entrails or bowels.”

Paul is saying that he loves them with all of his Christ-given guts.

And he wishes they could be together in person.

But whether they are or not, they are in-it-together in the gospel.

I think the application is obvious for us. We should give thanks for each other and pray for each other with joy every time we think of each other because our fellowship in the gospel.

We should long to be with one another because we share in God’s grace.

But whether we are together or not, we should give thanks and pray for each other with joy.

I do that for you.

You do that for me.

And let’s all do it for one another!

This week, we sent out the 2020 Church Family Directory.

Let’s use this church directory to pray for each other and to stick together during this difficult time. Pick out some people in the directory that you give thanks for and remember them in your prayers.

And maybe drop them a line that you miss them and love them with all of your Christ-given guts. Or however you want to say it!

We are in this together.

Number Two.

I always pray with joy because of the:


I skipped verse 6 before. Let’s go back and look at it.

This is one to have memorized if you haven’t yet.

“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

What a great promise!

Paul does not just have joy. He has confidence.

Paul has confidence, faith, that God will unstoppably act to complete His good work in the Philippian church.

Everything God was doing in them, He was going to finish.

And nothing could, would, or will stop Him.

So many things have ground to a halt this week.

All of our plans have been altered.

Everything has changed and then changed again.

We’re still reeling from one change and then another one gets thrown at us.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been pretty overwhelmed.

I’ve even found myself weeping at times. Just on overload.

But here’s a reason to rejoice:

God’s gospel work is unstoppable.

What He has truly begun in you and me cannot be stopped by any force on earth.

No silently attacking virus.
No governmental turbulence.
No economic upheaval.
No spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms!

God’s gospel work is unstoppable.

Until Jesus returns!

“...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Until we go to Him or He comes to us!

What we talked about last week with return of Christ.

And what a day that will be!

Do you have that confidence, friends?

That no matter what, God’s work in you and in us and in the church will be completed?

Remember, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. [That prediction is coming true!] But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

This is a promise you can take to the bank.

Think about it every day this week.

Memorize it.

Preach it to your own heart.

God’s work in you is unstoppable.

If He’s begun it.

Someone listening right now might not yet have surrendered to God’s work in their life.

You can only be a partner in the gospel if you have put your faith in it.

Have you put your trust in Jesus Christ and what He did on the Cross?

That’s where it all starts.

Paul was in prison for “defending and confirming the gospel,” for telling people this message that Jesus “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...” and that all who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Repent and put your trust in Him, and He will begin an unstoppable work and carry it on to completion until the day He returns.

That’s a reason to rejoice!

One last one.

Here’s exactly what Paul prays for the Philippian church, and when God answers it, it’s a reason to rejoice.


“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.”

Wow. What a prayer!

Paul prays for what I call “smart love.”

Love that abounds more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.

We don’t normally put those things together do we?

We think of love as being hot or cold.

Or last week, deep or shallow.

But Paul prays for their love to be smart.

The word for “abound” there in verse 9 is the same root word for when I poured the water all over the floor in the auditorium.

Overflowing is the idea.

Paul prays for overflowing intelligence in their love.

Why do you think that is?

I think it’s because loving someone is not always easy to do.

It requires wisdom.

Have you ever wondered, “How do I love that guy? How am I supposed to love that woman?”

It’s not always easy.

Paul says in verse 10 that we need to discern what is “best.” Not just good or better, but what is the best way to love someone right now.

I think we need these kinds prayers during this time of crisis more than ever.

Because it’s not always apparent how to love others these days.

We need new and fresh wisdom to love others well.

- How do we talk to people in public and on social media?

- What do we buy? Where do we buy it?

- How do we stay in touch over distances?

- How do we treat others?

We need new and fresh wisdom to love others well.

Can I encourage you in your home after you watch this video to have a discussion as a household how you can exercise more discernment and wisdom in how you love your neighbor and your church family during these disrupted days?

Every Christian needs this kind of smart love.

That’s why it’s here in our Bibles.

Because when we love like that, we grow in godliness.

Paul says in verse 10, we pray for smart love so that you “...may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ...” There’s that day again!

“...filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ– to the glory and praise of God.”

And that’s what it’s all about; isn’t it?

So that God gets the glory!

When God answers that prayer, we will all rejoice.

Brothers and sisters and friends,

I thank my God every time I remember you in all my prayers for all of you.

All of you!

I always pray with joy.

Because of our in-it-together partnership in the gospel, because of the promise of God’s unstoppable work, we pray for smart love.

And we always pray with joy.

“To the glory and praise of God.”


Thank you! Pastor Matt What a wonderful privilege we have to pray for one another. It is a joy to know that God's work is unstoppable and we are in it together. I will pray for Smart Love and will ask him to show me what is best to bring glory and praise to God.