Philippians 1.2-5 – Return on Investment

After greeting the believers in Philippi with his typical grace and peace, Paul explains that he is filled with joy when he prays thanks to God for them all (vv.3-4). How wonderful; Paul is filled with joy when he prays for this church.

In v.5 we see why Paul is filled with joy at the thought of this church and its people,

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

Paul is filled with joy because the church at Philippi had partnered with him in his work for the gospel. It is likely that this took multiple forms; in prayer, in friendship, in support, in fellowship, and in finance (Acts 16.25, 16.32-34, 2 Corinthians 8.1-7, 9.1-4, 11.9).

I read recently that the church at Philippi ‘…didn’t wait to see if Paul was a “winner” before they supported him. They got behind Paul and his ministry early.

For you and me today then, who can you get behind? Who can you support with your prayer, friendship, fellowship, and finance? 

Paul was filled with joy when praying for this church, and just think – by supporting someone in their work for the gospel you will fill them with joy when they pray. What a great return on your investment! 

So, go, get behind and support someone today!

Pray BIG Prayers – Wisdom

How often have you found yourself wondering what to do in any given situation? Maybe it’s parenting, or when you’re at work, or just trying to navigate all that life has to offer.

We read in James 1.5 that if we are lacking in wisdom, let us ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given [to] him. Great, so we’ve got some wisdom-from-above. This should help us make wise decisions, shrewd moves, and successful choices. Right?

I’m convinced that the wisdom that God gives generously to all without reproach is the first step in the process of being wise. 

Yes, Scripture clearly says that if we ask for wisdom in faith it will be given, but what do we do with it? How do we learn to apply it? Is it just downloaded to our brains and off we go? 

Some people won’t like this, but, Scripture also says that we are to think. Some may say ‘Well, I just pray about it.’, and that is good. Prayer is good. That’s not an incorrect statement to make, but it is a little incomplete. 

We read in Scripture that we are to think over what is given to us (2 Timothy 2.7) and then, after the thinking, the Lord will give you understanding in everything. 

What has been given to us, what are we thinking deeply about in order to best apply our prayer-given wisdom? The Word of God. The Word of God, useful for every possible situation we may find ourselves in (2 Timothy 3.16-17).

So, a process emerges:

  1. Encounter something difficult 
  2. Pray for wisdom (James 1.5)
  3. Search Scripture for similar circumstance (2 Timothy 3.16-17)
  4. Think over everything (2 Timothy 2.7a)
  5. Put it into action (2 Timothy 2.7b)

Today’s BIG prayer is the second step in this.

Father, I thank you that your Word teaches that Divine wisdom is available to me. As I am struggling to work through …… would you please help me to see this situation from your perspective, in the light of your revealed Word, and would you empower me to think over all of this so that I may know what to do. 

I pray, and know, that whatever course of action you direct me to take will glorify you and be the best possible outcome for me, and even if I don’t see it initially I trust you to guide me with your wisdom. 

Pray BIG Prayers – Help

Many of us have grown up in a culture where being self-sufficient is prized. The idea that you need to ask anyone for help is anything from slightly frowned-upon to outright taboo. 

Where would you put yourself on that scale? Do you feel strange asking for help? Dare you even ask anyone for help with anything, ever?

So much of our Christian faith (which, at it’s most basic, is believing that Jesus rose from the grave) is about admitting that we need help. We admit that we cannot do anything in the here and now to influence where we spend our eternity. We admit that we cannot guarantee our eternal destination by anything we do from our current earthly station. 

When we do it’s liberating, it’s justifying, and it’s saving. 

When we move away from self-sufficiency to dependency we are freed from the pressure of advancing our own little kingdoms. We take the burden off ourselves, and give it to someone else. We realise that as a stream, we are fed by a spring.  

Asking for help from a God who created the world, from a God who raised Jesus from the grave, from a God who is still present and active in the world today is not weak. Giving Him the burdens you carry, the worries you feel, the outcomes of your life is not weak. Admitting that you need help is not weak, it is quite possibly the strongest decision you can ever make. 

Modelling this for us, Jesus prayed many times for help (see John 17 for example). Today’s BIG prayer is asking for help.

Father, I know that nothing I can do in my earthly station can influence at all my eternal destination. This, along with all my fears, worries, and anxieties I give to you as a declaration that I need help. I cannot change the things that truly matter in my life, and I need you to help. I give you my life, all of it, and ask you to help me to use it well and that you would guide me to a path that leads to life everlasting.

Pray BIG Prayers – Service

John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address challenged every American to contribute in some way to the public good,

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” 

We are often told that we ought to be serving God (Deuteronomy 11.13, Joshua 24.15, John 12.26, Hebrews 9.14). But, have you ever stopped to think how or why?

Think of a spring of water, gushing forth from the land. Then think of the stream that comes from the spring. What serves what? 

The spring serves the stream in that it empowers the stream to be all it can be, all it is. Springs don’t need streams, do they? Streams do need springs, though. 

The same is true for you and God; He doesn’t need you to serve Him (Acts 17.25), but you do need Him to be able to serve Him (Philippians 2.13), you see?

So how and why do we serve? We serve filled with all that He wants to bless us with. We serve because He has blessed us with so much. 

We are the stream, 

He is the spring. 

Simply, we need Him to be able to serve otherwise we are left to pour out of our own resources and strength which, if we are honest, are very limited and superficial. 

Today’s BIG prayer then is to understand and apply how and why we are serving.

Father, as you said through the words of your Son, you came to serve, not be served. We know that without the life-giving spring that you are, we will never be the abundant and glory-giving streams we can be. 

Would you help me to see the truth in my service; that I can only do it when empowered by you and I should only do it to glorify you…full of you and for you. 

Pray BIG Prayers – Sin

Sin is not a popular word really, is it? It’s often associated with some Bible-wielding angry-faced shouty-street preacher. You know the type; perhaps wearing a sandwich board and shouting about how you are going to hell if you don’t repent and turn to Jesus in faith to save you from the consequence of your sin. Whilst they are actually 100% correct in what they are teaching, their delivery can often turn people away.

Sin means, in the Bible, to miss the mark. Think archery. You’ve aimed at the bullseye but yet your arrow flies somewhere miles past the target or falls limply between you and the intended target. You’ve missed the mark. In Christian-ese language then, sin is to miss the mark set by God’s Holy and perfect standard. To be really frank, we are all sinners (Romans 3.23). Whether we know it or not, whether we sin intentionally or not, sin has a consequence (Numbers 15.22-31, Hebrews 9). So, you have sinned, I have sinned, we have sinned. Have, do, and will. 

Today’s BIG prayer then is about sin and is twofold. First, for our eyes to be opened to where we are unintentionally sinning. Second, a heartfelt and sincere thanks that there is opportunity for them to be covered, cleansed, and the consequences cast upon One who bore them.

Father, would you show me where in my life I am missing the mark. Show me through the complete and comprehensive teachings and revelation of your Word. Show me where am I erring from your good and perfect plan for my life.

I thank you that even those sins which I am unaware of are graciously forgiven at the cross, where He who knew no sin became sin in order that I may be righteous in your eyes.