Our goal is not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of our mind. We are to make Jesus proud of our life. But how can we do this? How can we abound in His ways, in His love?
Blessings to all of you as we make our way into a new year. Wow. Can you believe it? We’re already into the second Sunday of 2022. Our series is Abound. It’s the word for the year for our church, something we want to see God do in all of us. You know, I want to talk to you. And the time that we have here together about how to, how to live the abounding life, how we can just grow and overflow.
And I guess, you know, even now, Lord, I just asked for this blessing over all of us who are joining together right now, wherever you are near or far, you know, my online friends and community, the church, this gathering spread all over all, not only this nation, but all over the world, we’re here together right now and ask for the blessing of Jesus to be upon us.
Let’s start again with our verse and read it through this key verse. Philippians one nine, the apostle says, and it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment. So our goal is a flourishing, expansive, you know, life of faith and love. That’s my goal for the church.
That’s, that’s, that’s my goal for all of us. This is my goal for me too. I want to grow. I want the, I want to have my life with Jesus, filled with colors and beauty, not drab and, and language and dead and dying and withering. I want it to be alive. And I want that for you. I really do. I want us all to abound more and more in the love of God.
with all knowledge and discernment. You know, I realize that, uh, we are living in some complicated and confusing times. I’m not, I’m not trying to pretend that everything’s great. I know, I know some things are still challenging and hard. I get it. It still doesn’t mean we can’t abound because as some of you know, I talk about this all the time.
All adversity contains opportunity. All adversity contains opportunity. And something else I like to say, something good for us to remember. If we have to go through it, we might as well, what? Grow through it. If we have to go through it, we might as well grow through it. Why not? We get to decide, there’s an opportunity there for all of us.
Let’s begin this week, then. I want to read the opening verses in Philippians one from the message translation. It’s a little bit different. And I want to share some ways that we can be encouraged to abound and flourish. Let’s read. Paul and Timothy, both of us committed servants of Christ Jesus, write this letter to all the followers of Jesus and Phillip -pi, pastors and ministers included.
We greet you with the grace and peace that comes from God, our father and our master Jesus. I love the way this is rendered. Every time you cross my mind, he writes to this church that he loves so much. I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. Wow. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.
Ah, isn’t this Paul says, you know, I, every time I think of you, my heart comes alive and then that moves me to want to pray for you and I found myself touched by that. I mean, one of the things that God really does want, is for us to abound, I hope, we see this loved ones is prayer, prayer, especially for the people we care for.
Maybe it’s good for us. I’ve been trying to do this. I’ve been trying to do this, actually even way more than I would have in the past. These last two years, I try to, when someone says, Hey, would you pray for me? I tried to. Uh, pray immediately. It may be small. It may be just a text, but I like to do it.
Some of you, you can post prayers and others can be encouraged by them. I just want to encourage all of us to be a people who share prayers. They don’t have to be long. They don’t have to be lengthy. They don’t have to you know, be something that we pull aside, even to do it in a, you know, like carved out 30 minute fashion.
I’m not saying there aren’t times where we can, we can pray longer. But what I am saying is that some of the best prayers are just quickly sent prayers that come out of the heart and are a quick response because we feel that we want to do more than just say, “Hey, I’ll pray for you.” We want to actually send a short prayer.
That’s a good thing to do, a good practice. I want to encourage you to consider doing it, doing that as we make our way into the year. But, um, you know, some of you, how can I say this? You have so much love inside of you.
I mean, you care, you care so deeply. And I think I heard it said. Like this. I think I remember hearing this. If you care, don’t forget the prayer. That’s pretty good. If you care, don’t forget the prayer. It’s one of the ways that that Christian love shows up in the cool thing is, it can be written. It can be spoken.
It, it, it can be delivered in a number of different ways. Don’t be afraid to pray, pray for healing. Don’t be afraid to, to pray for breakthrough. Don’t be that even to pray for miracles, little miracles, big miracles. Listen, Jesus taught us that sometimes we have not because we ask not, you know, I was talking to a young man a few months ago, a young man that I hold in high regard.
I think highly of him actually. And, uh, he has made a courageous decision to step up in his church and he lives out of state, but I’ve known him to be sincere. And, uh, almost this is how I’ve experienced him almost reluctant to step forward in leadership because he holds it, Christian leadership, especially because he holds it in such high regard and understands the responsibility that goes along with it.
So he was reluctant to step, step up. But the pastors of the church challenged him this young man to step forward. And he, when he felt led to do so. And so they told him that I told them he was going to be given two responsibilities, told him this was basically a job title with two different sides to it.
He says one, they said, they told them is for you to lead the college ministry and the other. And I just loved this is to be the church janitor. How’s that? I mean, I had, I had to go as a pastor myself. I had to tip my cap and go now. Wow, I’m impressed. I’m impressed. You guys have amazing pastors, but this young man who, by the way is not given to spiritual hyperbole.
If anything, he undersells. Um, he told me how the church he was in was challenging their people to pray more in faith. To pray, even for people who were in need of healing. And he says, that’s something that the whole church was being challenged around. And anyway, it was during last year, I was last year during a service where after he had made an announcement, he was doing his other duty, taking out the garbage into the alleyway.
And he told me, he says, I spotted another guy, spotted, a spotted. He was a young guy. He was in pain and he was leaning against the wall. He was kind of moaning. And when I looked at him, when I got close, he said, I saw that he had a severely injured leg. And so the young man I was talking to, who’s now in ministry, he said, I asked the guy, said what happened to you?
And he said, and he said, the guy told him I got hit by, I got hit by a car. But then, then the leader said, man, you, you, you need to get to a hospital. You don’t look good. Ah, something’s wrong. You, why aren’t you there? What are you doing here? And he said, the guy told him, he says, I can’t go. I don’t have any insurance.
He goes anyway. I’m all right. I, I just, I just need some help. I feel like I just need to get into service and the young janitor, who I was talking to, who I hold in such regard, uh, told me. He said, I looked at him and he looked at me, we looked at each other and he said, you know, our church has been asking us to pray for people.
So he said, I said, well, this is how he told it to me. He says, and I just said to him, well, maybe I should pray for you. Should I pray for you? And, and the guy who was injured said, yeah, why not? That would be good. And so then. He prayed for healing. He prayed for healing. And then, and the, the young man after he finished praying for him, the guy who had been hit by the car, who’d been leaning against the wall who has said, yeah, go ahead and pray for me.
After they prayed a prayer of faith, what happened was, and he says, he, he said, he told me, and he says, I’m feeling a little better right now. And then. And then he says he stood, he started kinda jumping up and down on his leg that had been injured. And, and this is the only way to know how to describe the janitor leader was taken aback.
Almost troubled, kind of shocked because he said nothing like that had ever happened to him before. And even though he thought it could happen, he didn’t think anything would happen when he prayed forah him, that I go, that’s like totally honest. I know exactly what you’re talking about. I mean, even though I thought like something like that could happen, I didn’t think anything like that would happen.
And so he’s actually been processing through what exactly happened when he prayed for this guy who was, who evidently was really touched in his body and felt much better after the prayer. And, uh, we had a conversation around it and he said to me, he said, Hey, what do you think? Do you think it was just that guy’s faith?
Cause I, I didn’t like feel like I had a lot of faith in that moment. I did it because I felt like it was the right thing to do. And we had all been praying more and that was what our church was being asked to do. So I thought, why not? And I said, It’s possible that it was his prayer of faith or his faith
that was an agreement with your prayer. But, but I said, Hey, you prayed a prayer of faith in Jesus name. And I have found over the years that sometimes it just hits, it hits in the spirit. If I can use that spiritual descriptive. So, you know, I don’t know sometimes we pray and, and things don’t seem to happen.
Nothing seems to move, but then there are other times where we’re praying and I can’t even say our faith is, is like, like strong. We just we’re doing it because it’s the right thing. We feel like we should do it. And we, we pray. And then things move. What do you do with that? You know, I was, uh, I was reminded of the old Wayne Gretzky quote, that hall of Famer, that hockey player,
we miss a hundred percent of the shots we never take. We miss a hundred percent of the shots we never take. Could that be applied to prayer as well? Hmm. Let’s pray more. That’s what Paul would say. Let’s pray for the lost to come to Jesus. Let’s pray for the prodigals to come home. Let’s pray for healings.
Let’s pray for life to flow. Why not? Let’s pray for miracle turnarounds, relational, uh, breakthroughs and, and let’s pray for our church to be a faithful witness in this great city and beyond. Let’s do it. Let’s pray. Okay. I want to go ahead and you what I’m saying, but I want to continue reading from the passage and just, you know, pushing forward a little bit more again, from the message translation.
Uh, Paul writes to the church of Philippi. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s message from the day you heard it right up to the present, there has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work and you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ, Jesus appears.
Now the ESV renders the six verse like this. I am sure of this, that he, who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the, at the day of Jesus. And so, as I sat with those verses, especially that sixth verse, I was reminded of what Paul was saying. He’s saying live with spiritual confidence.
And so that’s a reminder for us, isn’t it? That we are to abound come on now in the confidence of God’s faithfulness to sustain us. And maybe for some of us, that’s a word right now, we need to abound in the competence of God’s faithfulness to sustain. Come what may, until that day when we leave this world or when he returns, I don’t know which one, his faithfulness is greater than our sins.
It’s greater than our shortcomings. It’s greater than our unfaithfulness. That’s right. His faithfulness. And this goes back to the whole idea of praying sometimes without great faith, but out of obedience and a little faith. But his faithfulness is greater than our doubts. And even our unbelief, his faithfulness is greater than our mistakes and our regrets is greater than all of those things.
Um, listen, unless, how can I say it unless I tell him to get away and that I don’t want Him anymore in my life. And even then he’ll fight me. I think he will. With a good shepherd, according to Jesus, he’ll never leave us. I was reminded of the last half of the, the shepherd song, 23, even though I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me, your rod and your staff.
They comfort me. Right? And then you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows, and run -ith over right. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. What a, what a promise?
What a faithful God we serve. He is the way maker, the promise keeper, light in the darkness. I know that is who you are, Lord. That is who you are. So drawing from these verses that we just looked at. What are some things that we can abound in as we start into this new year, how can we, about how can we live the flourishing life, the abounding life?
Well, one thing we’re invited to abound in and we’ve been talking about is we can abound in prayer. Like we can, we can pray more. I talked about how we can do that in small and little way, split in consistent, meaningful ways in adventurous ways, in daring ways. Sometimes with shaky faith. But we pray, right?
We pray. The other thing we can abound in is we can abound in confident assurance of his faithfulness, the sustaining power. So I’m really summarizing the two things that we opened up talking about abounding and prayer in a bounding, in confidence, in the confident assurance of his faithfulness and sustaining power at work in our lives that even when we think we are not able, he is able to do an exceeding and abundantly more than we can think, or ah, imagine.
And then also a third one. If we’re going to look at, we can abound in loyalty, loyalty to God and to the special people in our lives. Look what Paul writes and let it sink in. He says this in verse seven. It’s not all, at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality.
You have again, he right writing the church of Philippi you have, after all stuck with me. Talk about loyalty. You stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial and came out of it in one piece, all along, you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. He knows how much
I love you and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly. Wow. About you as Christ does. You think about what Paul is saying, man, he loves this church. I mean, he was overwhelmed I think by their loyal love. And part of it is I think he felt the sting of abandonment. So it made their loyal love even more meaningful than it, to him.
He, he says. You never abandoned me. He had churches that had abandoned him. He had people who were close associates turn on him. He wasn’t the easiest one always to get along with, but he had been stung. He had felt maybe not Judas’ kiss like Jesus, but he had felt being forsaken and demons, he said has forsaken me, having loved this present world.
Paul knew what it was like to be hit, when he was down, the pep-, people were pointing at him and saying, oh, how can he be blessed of God? Look what’s happened to him. Right? But he says, I, I had, Paul’s just overwhelmed with the love for them because he says I had nothing to give. And it would’ve been so easy for you to walk away from me.
But you stayed faithful. I mean, you never deviated and I love you for it. I suppose that’s what this word is saying. That’s what he’s writing. He, again, he had felt that the sting of disloyalty, he had known what it was like to be forsaken and to see them stick when others slid or turned away. Aha. Well, man, it just, it made his heart leap with gratitude.
He loved them. How beautiful. Listen to me. You guys, how beautiful to the soul is faithful love. How beautiful to the soul is faithful love. What a gift, come on now. Come on now, is this not the spirit of Jesus? Who said I will never leave you nor forsake you lo I am with you always, to even unto the ends of the world.
And I look at verse nine, so this is my prayer. Just read this through that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much. But you would love, well, learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent. Not sentimental gush live a lover’s life.
Oh, circumspect and exemplary, a life jesus will be proud of, bountiful in fruits from the soul. Making Christ attractive making Jesus Christ attractive to all getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. Oh boy. Look at that I love that. I mean, isn’t that awesome? We talked about this last week.
God’s desire for all of us loved ones is that we may abound in healthy love. May we not only love much, but may we love well, appropriately, with knowledge and discernment. But look at this, listen to the words: live. I know you heard it, too. Live a lover’s life. Live a lover’s life. He’s talking to followers of Jesus about following the Lord with a -bounding love, live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary.
Uh, a life, Jesus, our man, let it hit us, a life Jesus will be proud of, never forget. And I, the reason I, I, I caught myself there is because I can go Lord. There have been times where I know I haven’t lived in a way that you would be proud of. I haven’t always hit the mark. I haven’t always honored you the way that I should.
And I haven’t always spoken the word that I should’ve spoken or stood the way I should’ve stood I’ve but I want to live a life that you’re proud of. Ah, Lord Jesus? I do. I do. You never forget we, those who follow Jesus or who had followed Jesus, our love is never to be defined by the dominant culture’s
definition. Which I think a lot of us understand it sways with the wind, like, like a tree, like a reed in the wind, the culture’s definition, uh, of love is constantly changing, shifts on social, social whims and politics. Listen, our goal is not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind and in Christ.
And we are to seek to make, come on, as we are to seek, to make Jesus proud of our life. So what I want to. I remember Gordon McDonald, one of my favorite writers. You know that many of you, not everyone would, but I refer to him periodically more than a few times. I have these past few years, but Gordon McDonalds, I remember him sharing candidly as an older man, in his book called a Mid-course Correction.
And he wrote these just utterly honest words. He said this, he says, I have failed in certain working relationships. I have failed to live up to an intellectual standard I once set for myself thus far. I feel as if I have failed to achieve the level of spiritual maturity, I believe right for a man my age, but I will not permit these failures to stop me from a continuing reach to grow and overcome the limitations
my failures have disclosed. Well, what McDonald’s was reminding himself of was to keep contending for the abounding life of love, not to be defined or stymied by past, or even present failures or what could have been, or what should have been, not going to go back and live there. I’m going to focus on the opportunity in the now and in the days ahead that I can prepare for, and at least position myself for.
So if we’re younger, you know, or if, if we’re young or younger commit to living a life that would make Jesus proud, come on now. And if we’re, we’re no longer younger. Let’s commit to a life of growth in Christ. A life that is characterized by a bounty of full fruits of the soul and a desire, and a desire to make Jesus attractive to all.
I liked that phrase, bountiful, bountiful, fruits of the soul, and the desire to make Jesus attractive to all. Lord, let that that be the case in all of us. I do pray it. You know what I mean? I’m actually going to leave and come back around. I have, I have a couple of just real practical things I want to share with you about, how, how to commit ourselves to the abounding life.
We’re going to have a song first, but before we even get there, I just wanna remind all of you this time. I get to do it about, about our giving, to give our tithes and offerings. And like I said, many of you have just been just moving like the Philippian church, just outstanding in every way. You’re ah, loyal love demonstrated in tangible, real ways.
As it relates to honoring God with the first fruits of your life. Remember, you can give, uh, by sending it in, you can give directly online, or you can give through our app, but like, I always say always first, give your heart. Right? And don’t even, you know, every now and then attach a prayer to what you’re giving, say, Lord, may this be used for the advancement of your work for the, for the changing of someone’s life forever, for the faithful witness of this church in this city, for the greatness of your purpose in all the world?
Yeah. That’s our prayer. So here we go. Song to share, and then I come back around.