Finding joy in prayer
Paul faced challenging circumstances: resistance, small team falling apart, imprisonment. And yet the gospel was moving into Europe: from East to West. God is on the move in AD60 - and now!
We experience joy when we discover things we enjoy in common. But God has something even richer and better: fellowship and union with Christ.
A. The gospel creates fellowship
We are servants, saints and partners together ("koinonia" - fellowship + partnership)
If we are servants first, we will be freed of competitive spirit. We serve the Lord, not anyone else. No matter what rank or station in society, we serve alongside each other. John Chrysostom: "There is a great honour to be a slave of Christ - to be one."
If we are saints first, we are not the spiritual elite who pray or serve more. We are all described 60x as "saints" (only 3x as "Christians"). Saints are people who are united with Christ. Q: Who are you? A: We are in Christ. The saints in Philippi include: a servant girl, wealthy businesswoman, a jailer (what an unlikely crew!).
If we are partners first, we are not transactional business partners. We are connected in Christ - in prayer, discernment and desire to advance and enjoy the gospel in all of life. Our countries (be it US or M'sia) are awash in racial tension. But we can participate with God at work: prayer gatherings, journeying people in grief. We can be agents of reconciliation, redemption and comfort where we are.
B. The gospel creates finishers
The goal of the gospel is to get us to the finish line: holy, pure and blameless with Christ and with all of God's people. The gospel preserves us until the day of Christ, enables us to pray together and invites us to praise God together.
In this way, the gospel safeguards us from the problems of world and struggles with faith can cause us to question.
Let us not "lowball our prayers." Besides praying for health, let us pray for complete holiness.
When we look at an ugly and plain chrysalis, let us ask ourselves: "What colours are going to emerge from this ordinary sack?"
Our primary identity is one day like a gospel-transformed butterfly. Why? Because God will finish what He starts.
Let us actively pray with joy for one another. And pray for joy
- small groups: covenant group & bible reading groups
- thank God for members of our church who are linked to Christ
- the painful tensions in our country