Title: A Pastor’s Heart
Series: Philippians (3/20)
Reference: Philippians 1:3-8

So we have been studying through the book of Philippians on Sunday mornings.  If you are just joining us you really haven’t missed a whole lot, but you actually kind of missed a lot.  We have only done two verses in Philippians but there is a whole lot in that, there is a lot of background to that so, some really good stuff.  If you are just joining us and you think man, I don’t know if I want to take the time and go back and listen to the last two messages, I want to encourage you to do that.  Not because the messages were good or something like that, but I just want you to have the background.  I want you to have the background information leading up to as we continue and as press forward with this study.  So take the time to do that.

Today we are looking at verses 3 through 8.  The title of today’s message is A Pastor’s Heart, a Pastor’s Heart.  So Bibles open to Philippians chapter 1.  I am going to begin reading with verse 3.  I am going to ask you if you are physically able, let’s all stand in honor and reverence for the reading of God’s holy word.  And the Word of God says in Philippians chapter 1, beginning with verse 3:

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now for I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all because I have you in my heart since for both in my imprisonment and in defense and confirmation of the gospel you all are partakers of grace with me.  For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” 

Father, would you add your blessings upon the proclamation of your word.  It is in Christ’s name we pray.  Amen.  You can be seated.

Those of you that were here last Sunday, I told you that down through the history of Christianity the book of Philippians has developed a few nicknames.  One of those nicknames was called the letter of joy, the other nickname was called … anybody remember?  Okay this is your moment to show me that you pay attention, that you are in tune and that you are remembering , and you know exactly what the answer is so on the count of three I want you to just shout it out, alright.  The first nickname is the letter of love, second … opps!  I just said it didn’t I!  I just said it.  Man!  Hey, that’s what a lack of sleep will do for you.  Alright!  I just blew it.  I just blew your opportunity.  Don’t worry, I will give you another one next week.

So two nicknames, letter of joy and then the other one was called the letter of love.  Paul’s love letter and we said that because there just seems to be this special connection between Paul and this church.  Paul started the church on one of his missionary journeys, we read about that in Acts, chapter 16.  You will remember that he came to the city of Philippi, he was boldly preaching the gospel, sharing the gospel, so it seemed to be almost supernaturally birthed by the Holy Spirit, saved by God’s grace, and then this really amazing movement of God the church in Philippi was birthed, it was established.  And Paul would go on from there, he would go on to other cities, he would go on to establish other churches, but he doesn’t talk to any other church with the tenderness and the affection that he talks to the believers here in Philippi.  There seems to be something special about this group of believers.  He would minister to them, they would minister to him, they would send gifts to him, support him financially, prayerfully when other churches seldom would do that.  They gave to his work, to his missionary endeavors when that was not an easy thing for them to do.   Do you remember when we were taking up the special building offering and we talked about the believers in Macedonia and how they were afflicted with great poverty and had this great tribulation.  Remember that?  Well that’s Philippi, that’s these believers and yet they gave sacrificially to Paul.  And so here in this context, in the context of Philippians as a whole, they hear he is in jail, they take up a gift, they take up a love offering, they send it to Paul by way of a messenger, Paul receives the gift and, in turn, he writes what you and I have come to know as the book of Philippians.  And here in this opening section of Philippians, I mean there is no way you can read this without sensing his love for these people.  There is no way you can read even these first 8 verses without sensing something of his affection for the believers in Philippi.   And the amazing part about all of this is, as I have mentioned a few times already, Paul writes this while he is in jail.   He mentions that for the first time in verse 7, look at verse 7b, Paul says since both in my imprisonment, right, he’s in jail.  He mentions it again in verse 13 so that my imprisonment, again in verse 14, most of the brethren trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment.  I mean Paul is in jail awaiting the very real possibility of death for him.  Like this could be the end for Paul, yet he has an opportunity to write back to these people that have supported him and encouraged him, these people that will stand behind him, they will go to war with Paul, alright.  Yet, the focus of the whole letter is not about him, it is about them.  He says beginning in verse 3:  I thank my God in all my remembrance of you always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now for I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all because, Paul must have been from the south, right, you all, he says it all the time, because I have you in my heart, verse 8 for God as my witness how I long for you all.  Now look, this is just amazing, he is in jail yet the focus is not me, the focus is you.   Look, I hope that I never end up in jail, but I guarantee you if I do and you get a letter from me, it is going to be something like this:  Ahhh!  Get me outta here!!!  Right!  That will wake you up, right!

Amazing, how is this kind of perspective even possible?  How do we explain this?  Well, here in this opening section we actually get a glimpse into the heart of the apostle Paul, a pastor’s heart.  And so  this morning I want us to do a little open heart spiritual surgery.  I want to take a look at the apostle’s heart, make some observations, and my prayer as I read through this passage over and over last week as I thought about it and I turned it over in my mind, my  prayer became God, make my heart like this heart.  That’s my prayer, God, make my heart like this heart.  Do you want me to tell you something, that ought to be the prayer for all of us.  Right?  For all of us.  I pray that his heart might be true of every father who stands as a spiritual leader in his own home.  I pray that this heart might be true of every pastor who serves in this church, whether a worship pastor, a senior pastor, a youth pastor, children’s pastor, whatever, I pray that this heart may be true of every deacon that serves in this church.  This heart be true of every Bible study leader, every Sunday school leader, life group facilitator, I pray that this heart might be true of every nursery worker, every greeter, I mean everybody, every man, every woman, every father, every mother, every student, every grandfather, every grandmother, every widow.  What we see in Paul’s heart ought to be true in every single believer that makes up the body of Christ.

So if you are taking notes this morning, let me share with you five observations about the heart of the apostle Paul.  Five observations about the heart of Paul.   Number one:  As we open up this man’s heart, this man of God, and we see what his heart was made of, the first thing that jumps out here is that he has a thankful heart.   He has a thankful heart.  Paul writes in verse 3, and he says:  I thank my God, look at this, in all my remembrance of you.  So Paul looks back on his time with the believers in Philippi and as he begins to recollect those memories and recall those times together as a family of faith, he just says I thank God for you.  I thank God in all my remembrances, everything that I remember about you, I thank God for that.  Now that’s not to say, we know this is not true, we know it is not true that everything was coming up roses in Philippi.   We know that because, well, nobody is perfect, no church is perfect.  Every church has problems to overcome.  Every church has difficulties that they must rise above.  We know from reading this letter, if you will remember from reading the survey of the book that Paul calls for unity, he calls for them to work together for the gospel.  Here in the first chapter, in verse 27, Paul says he wants them to come together in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.  In chapter 2, verse 2, Paul tells them to be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  In chapter 4 he basically calls out those two ladies that apparently were fussing and fighting in the church and he was just saying will you two ladies just get on the same page for crying out loud.  So this was not a perfect church.  This was not, everything was great, everything was coming up roses, everything was fine in Philippi.  I am sure like every other church I am sure Paul did some things that hurt them and disappointed them and I am sure they did some things that hurt Paul and disappointed Paul and yet the amazing thing was when Paul looks back and he begins to recall all of his memories in Philippi, he says I just thank God in all my remembrances of you.   The grumbling and the griping did not did not take away from his gratitude for the grace of God that he saw evident in the believers life in Philippi.   What about you?  What do you chose to recall?  What do you chose to recall when you think about your brothers and sisters in Christ?  Do you think about the poor decisions, do you think about the insensitive words, do you think about the ugly attitudes, well, yeah, I do because they hurt me.  They offended me.  They were wrong, what they did said, what they did was totally out of line.  Well, maybe so but look, there is manure in every meadow, right.  There is manure in every meadow but do you really want to stomp around in that junk for the rest of your life?   What do you chose to recall when you think about your brothers and sisters in Christ?  Rather than jumping to the negative, rather than dwelling on the bitter, we ought to be people like Paul who chose to be thankful, who chose to look for the good, to remember the good, who praise God for the good.  It has been said that thinking, t-h-i-n-k-i-n-g, thinking leads to thanking, t-h-a-n-k-i-n-g.   What are you thinking about that leads you to thank God for.  Let’s be a people, let’s be a church who think about the good things, who think about the evidences of God’s grace that we see all around us, even in the people that drive us crazy.   Like there are people, there are some people you think about or you see and you think, oh thank God, and then there are other people when you see them you think thank God, you know.   Like it is Oh God, no, not them.  But let’s think even in those people, those irritable people, the grumpy people, the people that just rub you the wrong way, let’s be intentional about thinking about how God’s grace is working in their hearts and let’s give thanks to God for that grace and for them in each of our lives.  A thankful heart.  So we open up the heart of this man of God what do we see, we see a thankful heart.

Alright, number two, we see a joyful spirit.  A joyful spirit.    Paul says in verse 3:  I thank my God in my remembrance of you; in verse 4: always offering prayer with joy, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, so the word of always refers to the frequency of his prayers, he is always praying for them, he was always mindful of them.  No matter what city he would go to, no matter what church he would be involved with, no matter what task he would give his heart to, Paul said I am mindful of you, I am praying for you, he said it is my joy, I am praying for you with joy.  It is joy to pray for you.  It is not a burden, it is not a hindrance, it is not an inconvenience, it is not a weight that I feel like I have to carry around and I have got to do, like this is my duty as an apostle to do, it is my joy and I am always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all.  And the word prayer here, in my every prayer, this is the word with petition.  This is the word for prayer that is asking God to move in someone else’s life for their benefit, for their good.   Right, so we are not asking God to get them.  We are not asking God to zap them, like to pay them back, make them pay God, punish them.  Get them, hurt them God for hurting me, like give them hemorrhoids or something, like Paul’s praying for their good.  He says I am always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer, every petition for your good, your benefit, your blessing, your well-being.  You can read what Paul was praying down there in verses 9 through 11.  We will get to that in the coming weeks but I just want to see this act, this act of praying for the good of someone else for praying, not for your wants, your needs, your desires but for others.  This is a manifestation of joy.  Joy, listen, Holy Spirit wrought joy is less about you and more about others.  Holy Spirit wrought joy tends to be captivated not with what I have or what I need but in God moving and doing something great in the life of someone else.  As long as you are focused on self, you are going to lack joy.  As long as your life, and your prayers, your focus, your attention, as long as it is about your stuff and your problems and your calendar and your lack and your need and your plan, when life is all about you, you are not all about Jesus and it is going to show up.  Somehow, someway in your life in a lack of joy.  You are going to be irritable, you are going to be grumpy, you are going to be short, you are going to be hot on the fuse, you are going to be dogmatic, you are not going to be sensitive to other people, it is just going to be uncomfortable and restless, you may not even be able to put your finger on it but something in your spirit is not quite right and you don’t know what it is but when life is about you, you are not about Jesus and it is going to show up, it is going to manifest itself, come through a lack of joy.

I once heard someone spell joy, J O Y.  J is for Jesus, Jesus first.  O is for others, others next, and Y is for you, you are always last.  You are always last.   That just lines right up with the message of Christ, doesn’t it.  He who wants to be first is to be the servant of all.   If you want to be great in the kingdom of God then learn to put other people before yourself.  It lines up with Philippines, chapter 2, have this mind in yourself that was in Christ Jesus who although he existed in the equality, he didn’t think of that as something to be held onto but he emptied himself and he became obedient, obedient to the point of death, he became a bondservant.  Became obedient, right, even to the point of death on a cross.  And the Bible says have that mind in you, let that mind be in you, put other people above your own comfort.   So joy, Jesus first, others next, you are last, that’s the key to experiencing and living in joy.   Any time that priority system is out of whack you are going to feel it, it is going to manifest itself in you through a lack of joy.  Joy, joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  You guys know that, right.   Joy is naturally produced in your heart as you are in right fellowship with God.  It is just a natural fruit of the Holy Spirit when you are rightly related with God, walking with God, right.  David, the psalmist, says in your presence it is fullness of joy, joy just comes to the heart that is rightly related to God, that is walking in step with the Spirit, and when you are not doing that, there is a lack of joy.

A thankful heart, a joyful spirit. 

Number three, look at this one.  A gospel focus.  A gospel focus, verse 4 Paul says: I am always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view, look at this, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.  So Paul says part of the reason why my heart, it just wells up for joy for you, your participation in the gospel.  Paul says you are partners with me in the gospel.  That word participation, that is actually the same word that is often translated fellowship.  Maybe in some, does anyone have a translation that says fellowship in the gospel?  We have some, yeah, good.  Same word translated as fellowship.  They have a part in the gospel.  Right, fellowship.  I heard someone say fellowship is defined as two guys in the same ship.  Right, fellowship, two guys in the same ship.  There is a lot of truth to that.  It is two guys, in agreement, working together, being together, doing life together, sharing lives, its fellowship.  Paul says in view of your fellowship in the gospel, your participation, partnership in the gospel.  Essentially what Paul is saying is that you guys are all about the gospel.  That’s any pastor’s dream is to have a church that is all about the gospel.  And Paul says from the first days you guys are spreading the gospel, sharing the gospel, living the gospel, giving so that others can be reached with the gospel, Paul says you guys are a gospel focused people and he says you have been like that, verse 5b, from the first day until now, that is to say from the first day that you met Christ.

Can you imagine Lydia, like the first day for Lydia.  Do you remember at the riverbank having that woman’s Bible study and the apostle Paul like walks right up on the Bible study and he begins to connect the dots for her and it makes sense and she realizes that Jesus is the sacrificial lamb that forever takes away our sins and from that moment on Lydia was about the gospel.

What about the demon possessed slave girl.  Do you remember her first day?  The first moment when she came to faith.  She was being used, she was being abused, she was being extorted by these selfish and arrogant owners who would run her around like some kind of freak at a circus show and Paul walks up on her and in a moment of Holy Spirit power he calls out that demon, she comes to faith in Christ and every since that day she was about the gospel.

The jailer and his family.  Like this amazing story about how God brings them to faith and from that day forward they were all about the gospel.

The reality is, every church, every church must have a gospel focus or it is only a matter of time before that church becomes a social club.   Did you realize that every year, every single year, 1,000 Southern Baptist churches close the doors.  Every year 1,000 Southern Baptist churches, churches just like us, every single year they close their doors.  No longer effective for reaching people, no longer effective for kingdom growth, no longer effective to even pay the bills.  Every church must have a gospel focus or it is only a matter of time before it morphs into something else that is not kingdom minded and they are going to just line up with that 1,000 churches every single year, that close the doors.   And I realize there are probably some exceptions, there are probably some unique circumstances that cause some churches to close their doors.  But I want to tell you, by large, the majority of that 1,000 churches that will close their doors this year and the Southern Baptist Convention it is because that church has lost its gospel focus.  That church, somewhere along the way, has lost its sense of mission, has lost its sense of urgency of reaching people for Christ.  Somewhere along the way that church turned into nothing more than a gathering of the good old boy club rather than a soul saving, devil chasing, sin defeating, Christ exalting church who is desperate to see God do something in their city.  When a church loses that outward focus everything becomes inward.  It leads to stagnation.  And there is either revival, we don’t  use that word a lot anymore in American Christianity, do we.  There is either revival or there is going to be a funeral.  And that is it, when you have reached stagnation in a church, alright, even in your life, as an individual follower in Christ, there is either going to be a revival or there is going to be a funeral because there is no life there.   Back in Southwest Kansas we would be driving around the country and you would see all these tell water pits, and when there was a lot of rain, a lot of water in the land, and those things would fill up with water, and you would think, you would think, driving down the road and you would see one come up or you would see one kind of off the road down there you would think, oh man, I wonder if there are any fish in there.   Right, that’s what I thought.  I wonder if there are any fish in there.   And you kind of go over there and you check things out, I mean, there is nothing there.  And it is because in those tell water pits, all those things are is a gathering place for water, that’s all it is.  Excess water goes there, that is all it is.  Water comes in, it never leaves.   Water comes in, it is always coming in, it is never, it is never going out.  It is only collecting, never outpouring and the place, I mean if you want to talk about a nasty smelling, filled with bugs and odor, I mean no life at all, it is those tell water pits in Southwest Kansas.  I mean there is nothing there.  And that’s what happens to a church, or even to an individual Christian that loses its gospel focus.   When we are all about receiving but never responding, when we are all about gathering but never going, and I realize there has got to be a healthy balance, the church gathers for equipping, for exalting, the church scatters for evangelizism.  I realize those are both part of the equation but do not get confused on this issue.  There is only one mission for the church, and that is the mission to go and make disciples.  All that other stuff has a part in the puzzle but there is one mission, one mission only, and that is to get out of these four walls and to go and make disciples of all the nations.

Number four, a certain hope.  A certain hope.  Paul says in verse 6, for I am confident of this very thing, I am confident in it, his very thing, I am confident, this is a settled conviction, this is a settled assurance, I am not wishy-washy, I am not hoping, I am not guessing, this is not wishful thinking, I am confident of this very thing, that he that began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  Now the good work that Paul is talking about there is salvation.  And Paul say I am confident, look, you are saved.  If you have received Christ, like that first day, like Lydia, the slave girl, the jailer, the first day that you received Christ, Paul says that I am confident that God started a good work in your heart on that day, and I am confident, I am assured, I have this settled conviction that he is going to perfect it, that means that he is going to mature it, he is going to bring it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God, unlike our government, unlike us, finishes every single thing he starts.   And aren’t you glad.  God finishes what he starts.  The question is, have you started it? Have you started?  Paul talks about, back in verse 5, he talks about from that first day you have been gospel minded, from the first day.  Has there been a first day in your life?  A first day of salvation, a first day of repenting of your sins, trusting Christ and Christ alone for your salvation.  Paul says that first day is the guarantee that you are going to make it to the last day.   In a couple of weeks we are going to come back to this verse, we want to take a whole message on verse 6 and we are going to talk about this doctrine, what Paul is saying is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.  In Southern Baptist language we call that eternal security.  What, you say are you saying that once saved, always saved?  I am saying once saved, always saved, if you are truly saved.  We are going to talk about that in a couple of weeks but Paul is saying that first day is the guarantee that you are going to make it to the last day, the day of Christ Jesus.  That is the day that we will see Christ Jesus and we will be changed to be just like Jesus because for every work that God starts, he always finishes.  You see, we have a tendency to think that salvation is about what we do, it is about what we contribute and what we bring to the table and clearly there is a sense of cooperation.  Right, it’s like the little boy who was standing on the seat in church and the mother looks at him and says get down.   He sits down and then a few minutes later he pops back up and the mother looks at him and says sit down.  Like she talks without ever even moving her lips, its amazing, and the little boy sits down.  A few minutes later he jumps back up and she stands up and grabs his arms and says I said sit down.  He sits down and in a couple of minutes he looks at her and says I may be sitting down on the outside but on the inside I am standing up.  (laughter)  She takes that little boy outside right now, right now.  Who’s boy is that now.  That is not the kind of cooperation we are talking about, right.  Like there is a cooperative work and in the big process of sanctification God has a part and you have a part.  And your heart, as a child of God, is to do your part.  Your heart is to long for righteousness, to long for holiness, that is your nature, that is the new heart in you.  And you are going to go this way because God has put that heart in you to go that way.  But look, it is God’s work, it’s God’s work, to get you there, to ensure you get there, to make sure you get from point A to point B.  That is God’s work, you can see that from the language here.  Paul says here in verse 6, I am confident of this very thing, that He, that “H” should be capitalized in your Bible.  It shows divinity, God, we are talking about God.  He who began a good work in you, will perfect it.  Who began the work, God.  Who is going to perfect it, you?   Are you going … having begun, Paul will say to the Galatians, having begun in the Spirit are you going to continue on in the flesh?  You couldn’t get yourself saved, how are you going to keep yourself saved?  You can’t, its God.  It’s all about God’s work from the beginning to end, salvation is God’s work.  Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 8 says: for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works.  The very next verse, Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 10 says:  for we are his workmanship, salvation is not about my work, it is not about your work, it is about God’s good work.  The only role I play is to receive.  When it comes to salvation I like to say this, God sought us, Jesus bought us, the Holy Spirit drawed us, the Devil fought it, but praise God, I got it.  Amen!  God sought us, Jesus bought us, the Holy Spirit drawed us, the Devil fought it, but praise God, I got it.  And if I got it, if I have had that first day, that first day is a guarantee that I will have that day of Christ Jesus, when I see him I’m changed to be like him.

And now the fifth, let’s not skip past this.  Verse 6: For I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work, where?  In you.  In you.  Where is God doing a good work?  Somebody tell me.  In you.  I don’t think your neighbor believed you so turn to your neighbor and say: God is doing a good work in you.  I don’t think they really believe you, come on now.  You have got to convince them, God is doing a good work in you.  Tell them, tell them.  Hey, hey, even though you are stubborn at times, even though you are hard-headed at times, even though you are stiff, as Moses said, a stiff-necked people at times, God is doing a good work in you.  And this is why, this is why Paul could be thankful about all the believers in Philippi when not everything that happened in Philippi was so pleasant.  You remember, unjustly arrested, beaten, right, beaten for that horrible crime of talking about Jesus, stirring people up in their faith, thrown in the inner prison, put in stocks.  Not everything about Philippi was like just great memories that you just want to talk about all the time, but Paul could be thankful and he could be joyous.  He could maintain that gospel focus despite all the discouraging things happening all around him, happening around this church, because he realized we are all a work-in-progress, and when I look at your life, I don’t give thanks because you are perfect, I give thanks because the grace of God is evident in your life.  You see the difference, this is why church we ought to be able to look at, like even the person you accidentally run into at the store and you want to turn around and go the other way.   You don’t want to talk to them, you hope they didn’t see me.  You guys do that too.   This is why we ought to be able to look at that person and we thank God, right, not that they hurt us, not that they disappointed us, not that they rubbed us the wrong way, not that they offended us, not that they are perfect, we thank God because God is doing a good work in them.  In them.  And this is why Paul was thankful.

There is an old children’s song, boy, that just really captures this theology.  I am sure you have heard it.  It goes something like this.  (chuckles and sings)  ‘He’s still working on me to make me what I ought to be, it took him just a week to make the’ … something, yeah, but listen to this course,  ‘there really ought to be a sign upon the heart,  don’t judge her yet, there is an unfinished part.’ Oh man, is that good or what!  That is just great stuff.  ‘There really ought to be a sign upon the heart, don’t judge her yet, there is an unfinished part.  But I will be perfect just according to his plan, fashioned by the Master’s loving hand.’  It is true.  He is still working on me, he is still doing that good work in me, and he is still doing that good work in you, and so as we relate to one another in the body of Christ we give thanks, not that we are perfect, not that we have got everything together, but we give thanks, we show gratitude despite the grumbling for the grace of God that we see evident in one another’s life.  So we are looking at the spiritual harmony in the apostle Paul.  We see a thankful heart, a joyful spirit, a gospel focus, and a certain hope.

The last one, number five, an affectionate love.  Look what it says in the beginning of verse 7.  For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart.  Since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you are all partakers of grace with me.  For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.  Paul says I have you in my heart because you are all partakers, same word as fellowship just a couple of verses up.  Same word as participation, right.  You are partakers of grace with me.  Paul says look, you have been there with me, through all this, through all of my stuff, in my imprisonment, you remember that, in Acts 16.  He says you were there.  When other people did not want to associate with me, or my message because of what happened to me, because of what I had to go through, Paul says you were there, you stood with me, you supported me, you encouraged me, you prayed for me, you supported me through financial gifts, through your presence, through your prayers, and then he says in the defense and the confirmation of the gospel.  In all of those things Paul says you were there with me.  We have labored together for the gospel, we have done this together, we have been on the same team, we have been in the same huddle, working together for the same goal.  Paul says I have you in my heart because he has been with me and then he says this, for God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.  Notice he does not say with my affection but with the affection of Christ Jesus.  He is talking about a supernatural love for the beloved, for the brothers and sisters in Christ that is seated deep in your heart by Christ himself.  I John, chapter 4, verses 20 and 21 will say it like this.  If someone says I love God but hates his brother, he is a liar.  For the one that does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God who he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

We open up the heart of Paul, do a little spiritual observation.  What is it that makes up this man’s heart?  And you know what the big conclusion is?  He must have had a heart transplant, because in this man’s heart is the Lord Jesus Christ.   And it is through Christ, it is Christ, it’s Christ through Paul, it’s Christ in Paul that enables him to have a thankful heart, a joyful spirit, a gospel focus, a certain hope and an affectionate love for his brothers and his sisters in Christ.

Is Christ in your heart?  Is Christ at home in your heart?  Let me pray for you.  Father, thank you for this time together in your word.  Thank you for your spirit that helps us to get it, Father.  I pray Lord that you would help us to do a little open spiritual heart surgery this morning.  Help us to look inside Father, to see if you are even there, to see if we have had that first day.  And if not, Father, I pray that you would give us grace,  give us courage, to stand up and to go and to talk to someone about what it means to have a relationship with you.  And Lord, for those of us who have had that first day, help us to see in truth the condition of our heart.  Help us to look inside and compare what we see with a picture that we see here.   Are we truly thankful for others?  Are we striving to see the good, to see the grace, to see the good work that you are doing in one another or are we quick to remember the offense?  Are we quick to remember the hurt?  Are we exhibiting joy through prayers that are just filled with concern and petition for other people instead of self?  Are we focused on what you have called us to be focused on?  Reaching others?  Are we confident and hopeful that at just the thought of your relentless work in our hearts, do we love one another.  Is that love being demonstrated through our words and through our actions?  Father, what a great picture of what a heart should look like.  Help us to see where we fall short and give us grace to confess and repent, and to turn back to you for we ask it according to the strong name of Jesus.  Amen.

 

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