December 11, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Philippians 1)

Submitted by Carol C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Philippians 1:9-11

  • Consider what Apostle Paul prayed for the Philippians as a prayer that the Holy Spirit would pray for me.  Am I in agreement that this is what I would want more than anything that the world can give me? 

As Apostle Paul prayed for the Philippians with much yearning and affection, so the Holy Spirit prays for me that my love may abound more and more with knowledge and discernment so that I 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. The Holy Spirit knows that my inclination is toward lovelessness with self-centeredness and selfishness so that I may approve what is comfortable and convenient for me and so be tossed back and forth in my desires and constantly guilty about the tensions, filled with lies and wickedness that comes through Satan, to the misery of self and alienation from God. This is why He prays for me to grow and mature starting with love, knowledge, and discernment – love for Him and others which always has room to grow, knowledge of the truth and discernment of what is good and right according to His will. Sometimes I want circumstances to change – for life to get easier, for people to read my mind, for my child to be healthy and well-behaved – for things to go well for me, but when I think about this before the cross, more than these things, indeed, what I need is for my love for God and others to abound more and more, to get out of myself and remember that I’m in a spiritual battle in which Satan wants to incapacitate me by overwhelming me with a sense of lack which drives out any room for others. Exposing more of Satan’s schemes as well as understanding and embracing my identity and calling, and learning to sort out my thoughts to see that I am not a victim of my circumstances, but can be someone who can share in others’ burdens and do life together with others and not just feel overwhelmed alone leads me to repentance of my Herod-like desire to be king of my small domain where everything’s under control and to my liking. Then can I affirm what is excellent – to live a surrendered life, giving up my rights and being motivated by love rather than by selfishness – and be a blessing to others that will, in turn, bring honor to God, not myself.

  • What phrase would I like to claim as something I particularly need?

I particularly need my love to abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment. Bringing glory and praise to God ultimately starts with love and being someone who is performance-oriented and unrelational, it’s love that I need to grow in. I am happy and proud when my son learns something new – when he learned to crawl, when he started to learn to associate words with actions like waving when I say hi or bye. But just as I don’t want him to stop there and stay at that level but keep learning more and more, love is something that God wants me to keep learning and abounding in more and more. I might have learned a little bit about love over the years – how to notice other people and initiate conversations rather than waiting to be talked to, saying thank you, apologizing which is often still hard – but I’ve only scratched the surface; there is still so much more to mature in. As I get older, I can’t expect to just receive the service, care, and sacrifice of others. To strengthen our relational bonds and grow in love for them means taking greater ownership of our ministry group, of the college department, of our church and not just be narrowly concerned with my life or my life group. The Holy Spirit is praying for me that I would lose myself and die to myself as I abound in love more and more and find life and bring glory to God. In all of my relationships, I can grow in love, being more mindful of my leaders, older brothers and sisters, my husband, my peers, the people I’m ministering to by placing myself in their shoes so that I can become more others-centered and be moved by compassion to act in love.

Submitted by Richard T. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Philippians 1:9-11

·       Consider what Apostle Paul prayed for the Philippians as a prayer that the Holy Spirit would pray for me.  Am I in agreement that this is what I would want more than anything that the world can give me?

I am in agreement that this prayer would be what I would want more than anything the world can give me. Apostle Paul’s prayer contains a description of the life that God wants for me, and this picture is the opposite of what living as the world prescribes would lead to. The worthy and profitable life from the world’s perspective is essentially to live for myself. It means abounding in love for my self-interest, and loving the things that satisfy my personal desires. It’s growing in knowledge and discernment to maximize my own opportunities and potential in my career, relationships and personal ambition. These would be done to acquire what is most excellent to satisfy my personal goals and desires, without regard to purity and blamelessness. Righteousness and God’s glory are farthest from the world’s concerns because these involve acknowledging a higher authority than the self and submission to a higher standard. Ultimately, this kind of life is insular and self-absorbed. Although the path to that kind of life is filled with some measure of delight and satisfaction, these are temporary, and the end result is a life that is small, narrow and devoid of true meaning and purpose. If I were to pursue this kind of life, I would end up alone and empty, frustrated at the many things that I thought would satisfy the deeper desires of my life, but that left me feeling empty. For me, I have experienced this as I think about my life now and the past 10 years. As I think about the choices I’ve made since I graduated, I recognize that the ones that I’ve made to increase in my love for others and invest in the knowledge and discernment of God–going on the mission field, ministering to students, prioritizing my relationship with God, being generous with my time, money and energy–have given me more life than the choices I have made to live selfishly. As I think about guys around my age, I see how they’ve advanced in their careers, accomplished much in a worldly sense and live comfortable, lavish lives. But as I talk to them, I see dissatisfaction and uncertainty that haunts them. In various aspects of their lives, I see what my life would have been, and I recognize that God’s way for my life is far better. For me to abound in love more and more, to be filled with God’s knowledge and discernment so that I can approve what is excellent, desire purity, blamelessness, righteousness, and glorify and praise God–this is far better than the selfish and empty way of the world.

·       What phrase would I like to claim as something I particularly need?

I want to claim abounding in love more and more. Thinking about my life, I recognize that there are many things that compel and motivate me to act, even good things. As a minister, there are many things that I need to do in order to show love to others, but I recognize that it’s not always love that motivates me to do these things. At worst, there are selfish, self-seeking motivations. Sometimes, it’s just duty and obligation. But as I minister to more people, take on more responsibility, and increase in my burden for others. I see how genuine love for God and others is really the only enduring motivation that brings the highest blessing to others and enriches my life. It’s the highest virtue and the thing that God wants most for me. I want to claim this phrase to overcome whatever hesitation I feel in serving others and obeying God. To abound more and more in love is what I hope will mark my life next year. It forms the foundation for the most important and meaningful aspects of life and even if I fail in other areas, I hope that I will have grown in my love for God and others.

Submitted by Lawrence W. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Philippians 1:9-11

  • Consider what Apostle Paul prayed for the Philippians as a prayer that the Holy Spirit would pray for me.  Am I in agreement that this is what I would want more than anything that the world can give me? 

Apostle Paul in his prayer at the beginning of Philippians prays for them on many different spiritual levels. He prays that their love abound all the more, that it would abound with knowledge and all discernment, that they would approve what is excellent, that they would be pure and blameless on the day of Christ, and that they would be filled with the fruit of righteousness. None of the things that Apostle Paul prays for are physical or material blessings. Reading Apostle Paul’s prayer though has a calibrating effect on me this morning. Instead of praying for say success and promotions in my job, the Holy Spirit is crying out for me in these ways, that I would become a more loving person, a more holy person and essentially a person that God can be used as his instrument of righteousness. So the goal isn’t necessarily material blessings even though these might come but rather the goal is shaping and maturing into a person of greater love.

Every believer should desire these things and it reminds me what I should be filling the content of my prayers for myself and for other believers with. In my mind, I agree that being filled with the fruit of righteousness and abounding in love should be my highest desire for myself as this is God’s desire for me. I’m thankful for this reminder and recalibration because in the midst of busyness of life, it is easy to forget that these spiritual blessings are my greatest need. As a person that is by nature worldly, having lived 20+ years according to the ways of the world, I need to know that God is praying in the same way for me as Paul cried out for the Philippians. It is ironic that the things that I would normally stress out about on a day to day basis are not the things that Paul would pray for. We have needs but it’s clear that as I read his prayer again that people’s greatest need are these spiritual blessings. God’s highest desire for me isn’t necessarily to have the most successful career (which is what I am worried about in the workplace) so much as to learn how to still be a loving person despite having to work full-time and also learning to grow in the fruit of the Spirit like patience.

People say you can tell a lot about a person by looking at what they spend money on. That’s true but I think you can also learn much about someone through what they spend their time praying about. What I pray about really does reveal what my true desires and values.

  • What phrase would I like to claim as something I particularly need?

I need to claim Paul’s prayer that “your love may abound more and more.” This is one way I can know that I am growing as a Christian: that I am loving God and loving other people more and more. This goes back to fulfilling what Jesus said were the first and second greatest commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39) The world that I live in hungers for love and it is amazing that I can play a role in filling that need by loving others. I also have to remember that love shouldn’t stop at mere words nor does it describe mere romantic love but the love that Jesus speaks of is a higher form of love, entailing some sacrifices. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) This is the type of love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross where He did not hold anything back but was willing to literally die as an innocent man for the sake of others, so that man’s sins can be forgiven. And this is God’s desire and command for me too, to deny myself, take up my cross daily, and follow him. This is a claim that I need to hold in my heart as I go into a season where ‘active ministry’ may slow down as the students I am ministering to return home for the winter break. Even though they are on vacation, that doesn’t mean I now have a license to take a vacation from loving them. Winter break is a potentially spiritually perilous time and one concrete way I can love the students God has entrusted to me (and others) is to pray for their needs. Prayer is a very real way I can love them as I intercede to God on their behalf. During the last session of class discipleship, Pastor Ed talked about the Koinonia cross and how it is so important to have a balanced cross that is filled with people: those more mature than you who can lead you, peers to run this race alongside with, those you can minister to and disciple and shape and also a spouse to love. But in thinking about the plethora of relationships God has blessed me with, it is quite clear that there are always people that I can concretely love.

This is my greatest need. My greatest need isn’t a comfortable life, enough savings nor anything of that sort. But my greatest need and God’s highest desire for me is to be a greater person of love which money cannot buy.

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