Make Requests of God, with Joy! A sermon on Phil. 1:2-11

Making Requests with Joy!
Phillipians 1:2-11

I.H.S.†

May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ surround you with such peace, and such confidence, that it is a joy to place others into His hands, knowing His love for us all!

Making Requests…how?

So, we have this page that gets stuffed in the bulletin this week, one of the tasks that Dane does so faithfully. It was once the front half of a half page of paper, and then it grew, and we made the print smaller, and then we put it  both sides of the piece of paper, and we again had to make the print smaller,and then earlier this year, we went to a full page of paper, both sides, and on some days, we still have to make the print smaller.

You get to hear me say almost all of the names every week, and the list of players is almost as many words as this sermon. (999 to 1004 this week)  These are people who know one or two of us, or some are known to all.  They arepeople our hearts hurt for, that we worry about, some of us are on this list,and for good reasons.

We deal with life, and with grief, with cancer and other illness, with familyproblems, work problems, other problems we can’t even go into… and we workthrough the list together, giving the people into God’s hands.

Some of us, and Nancy is the obvious one who comes to mind, pray this listevery day, with many of the names coming up during the day….

It takes a while, and it may cause a tear or anxious moment or two, or fifty.

The challenge is to pray these, the way Paul does.  In our epistle reading today, he wrote to us,WheneverI pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy,” even as he notesthe partnership, the fellowship, the relationship he had with them, just likethe people we pray today, and I pray that we pray for every day, confident ofGod’s care for them, and therefore laying these requests out with joy

So how does this happen, how can I pray for you, making my requests for youwith all joy, and how can you do that for others?

Confident of God’s work – cause we can’t do it

Having that kind of faith in God, that leaving people we love, and thesituations they are in, in the hands of God takes great faith.  It requires confidence in God, the kind ofconfidence in God’s love that allows Paul to boldy say,

Iam certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his workuntil it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

That’s where our faith in God begins, knowing that what He began when the Holy Spirit worked through the word of God, which we’ve heard, and brought us to faith.  And what the Holy Spirit started with, will keep going through our life.

When we think about that, the first thing that comes to mind is that if we need to be worked on, (from the inside out) that means we must have been broken. 

That’s what sin does, more than anything. It breaks us, internally as we have to deal with guilt and shame, externally as sin harms the relationships we are in, including the relationshipwith God.

And God goes to work on us, a job that is more important to Him than sustainingthe universe, for it is for the relationship He wants with us that thisuniverse exists.

And so, we pray for people, confident in God’s work in their lives, some todraw them to faith, others to draw them deeper into a relationship with Him,causing us to rely on Him more, to trust Him more.  That’s what starts in our baptism, as we areunited to His death on the cross, the death that takes our sin onto Him, andallows us to be born again, to be raised with Him, and made His own.

If God loves people enough to do this for any and all then we can entrust theminto His total care, rejoicing because we know He loves us.

What that looks like

So what does it look like, when we pray for people?  What happens?

Well, Paul prayed that their love would overflow, that it would flood our communities and our lives.  And so, be a surprise when we pray, that we weep and laugh with those we are praying for. 

And we grow in knowledge and understanding of God and of His love, and what the sacrifice of Jesus means in our life.  For that is what really matters, that is what makes the biggest difference in our lives.

That difference leads to us living lives that are pure and blameless, words that have the picture of outshining the sun, of being glorious in their purity and unable to even cause another person to stumble, that our very lives draw people to God, not away from God.

That is what this work of God does in our lives, as we are made to reflect the image of Jesus into this broken world. This doesn’t happen in a second, but it takes our very lives to accomplish, but that is the promise that God makes to us.

We will be finished products, completely healed, completely made new…on the day when, Christ returns and completes the work began at the cross, when Hecompletes His labor of love.

And until that day, we can dwell in a peace that surpasses all explanation, apeace that even includes giving God everything that stresses us, and with greatjoy, entrusting everyone and everything that concerns us.

For we know Him, and His love for us. AMEN!

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on December 9, 2018, in Devotions. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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