READ PHILIPPIANS 1:9-11 –So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but 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, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
Roy Regals was a center for the University of California in 1929 when they went up against Georgia Tech at the Rose Bowl. The game was scoreless when he picked up a fumble from the other team, and headed for the end zone—the wrong end zone. A teammate chased him and tackled him with one yard to go, but on the next play, Regals’s quarterback got sacked in the end zone for a two point safety. When the game was over, his team had lost by one point. Thus, Roy Regals has been known ever after as Wrong Way Regals.
Regals later said he had heard his teammate behind him yelling, “You’re going the wrong way,” but thought, What’s wrong with him?
One author said of Regals: “He had instincts without direction.”
We’re all like that. Sometimes we have the right instincts, but we go in the wrong direction, and it’s dangerous.
Citation: Lee Eclov, pastor of Village Church of Lincolnshire, Lake Forest, Illinois; from his sermon, “Safety Zone
TODAY WE ARE GOING TO TALK ABOUT DIRECTION & WHICH WAY TO GO.
I LOVE HOW PAUL APPROACHES THE PHILIPPIANS AND THEIR DIRECTION—
TOO OFTEN—WE FOCUS ON THE NEGATIVE—GLASS HALF EMPTY.
WE SPEND SO MUCH OF OUR TIME FOCUSED ON IMPROVING THE NEGATIVE THAT WE MISS OUT ON STRENGTHENING THE POSITIVES.
HE PRAYS FOR THEIR STRENGTHS. HE PRAYS FOR WHAT HE SEES IN THEM.
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH AT PHILIPPI
–PAUL IS IN ROME IN HOUSE ARREST
–THEY HELPED PAUL WHEN HE WAS IN PRISON—PHIL 4:13-14
LOYALTY TO ROME—PERSECUTION B/C OF CITIZENSHIP—JESUS IS LORD
–GREETINGS FROM CAESAR’S HOUSEHOLD
–EUODIA & SYNTYCHE—STOP FIGHTING!!
1) PRAY FOR THE RIGHT THINGS
IN V4, PAUL TELLS THEM HE PRAYS FOR THEM AND NOW HE IS REVEALING WHAT HE PRAYS FOR THEM.
PAUL DOES NOT SAY A LOT OF THINGS. HE DOES NOT SAY THAT YOUR CHURCH DOUBLE IN SIZE. HE DOES NOT SAY THAT THEY RAISE $100,000.
HE ASKS FOR TWO THINGS
A) HE PRAYS THAT THEIR LOVE MAY ABOUND YET MORE & MORE. .
–SOBER KIND OF LOVE—LOVE IN THE SENSE OF PLACING A HIGH VALUE ON A PERSON OR THING.
–FOCUS ON BEHAVIOR THAT IS BOTH PURE & BLAMELESS.
–THAT THEY BE CHARACTERIZED BY LOVE LIKE GOD IS.
B) KNOWLEDGE & INSIGHT—AN INCREASED KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IS NEEDED IN ORDER FOR THEM TO WALK WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL.
PAUL HAS EXPERIENCED THEIR LOVE—HE JUST WANTS THEM TO GROW IN THE LOVE THEY ALREADY SHARE.
HE PRAYS FOR WISDOM IN HOW THEY MAKE DECISIONS AND HOW THEY LIVE A CHRIST-LIKE LIFE.
HARRIET MCCARTER– WROTE EACH OF HER 2ND GRADE STUDENTS LONG LETTERS AT THE END OF THE YEAR DESCRIPTION OUR CHARACTER AND WHAT SHE SAW OF OUR FUTURE. 30 YEARS LATER, SHE IS DEAD ON.
I DON’T CARE HOW MANY DEGREES YOU HAVE OR HOW OLD & EXPERIENCED YOU ARE—WE ALL NEED GOD’S WISDOM & INSIGHT IN HOW TO WALK.
2) PRAY FOR WISE LOVE.
WHY DO THEY NEED AN EVER INCREASING LOVE AND AN EVER-INCREASING KNOWLEDGE AND INSIGHT—IN ORDER TO DETERMINE WHAT REALLY COUNTS.
THIS LOVE PAUL FOCUSES ON IS ONE THAT MUST FASTEN ITSELF ON TO THINGS WHICH ARE WORTH LOVING AND IT CANNOT DO SO UNLESS WISELY DIRECTED.
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT DIRECTS LOVE IS KNOWLEDGE.
PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE—THAT INFORMS CHRISTIAN LOVE AS TO THE RIGHT CIRCUMSTANCES, AIMS, WAYS, AND MEANS IN WHICH IT IS TO BE APPLIED IN THE CONCRETE SITUATIONS OF LIFE.
–KNOWLEDGE CONTROLS LOVE AND IS LEARNED BY HAVING AND RESPONDING TO THE TRUTH OF GOD AS GOD’S MINISTERS CONSTANTLY AND CAREFULLY TEACH IT.
WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE, LOVE CAN EASILY BE MISDIRECTED.
DEPTH OF INSIGHT—ABILITY TO MAKE PROPER MORAL DECISIONS IN THE MIDST OF A VAST ARRAY OF DIFFERING AND DIFFICULT CHOICES.
–PRAYER FOR THE FACULTY FOR MAKING PROPER ASSESSMENTS ABOUT WHAT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL REGARDING LIFE IN CHRIST WILL INCREASE AS WELL.
THROUGH OBEDIENCE WE LEARN ABOUT GOD’S WILL FOR OUR LIVES.
Erik Weihenmayer is blind, yet on May 25, 2001 (Nepal time), he reached the peak of Mt. Everest. Suffering from a degenerative eye disease, he lost his sight when he was 13, but that didn’t stop him. On a mountain where 90 percent of climbers never make it to the top—and 165 have died trying since 1953—Erik succeeded, in large measure because he listened well.
He listened to the little bell tied to the back of the climber in front of him, so he would know what direction to go.
He listened to the voice of teammates who would shout back to him, “Death fall two feet to your right!” so he would know what direction not to go.
He listened to the sound of his pick jabbing the ice, so he would know whether the ice was safe to cross.
When we take a perilous journey, listening well can make all the difference.
Citation: Bill White, Paramount, California; source: Time (6-18-01)
AMY—I THOUGHT I KNEW AMY—I KNEW FACTS ABOUT HER—BUT TRULY DID NOT KNOW HER FROM EXPERIENCE UNTIL WE GOT MARRIED.
3) PRAY FOR THE RIGHT OPTIONS—V10
PAUL PRAYS THAT THE PHILIPPIANS LOVE MAY BE A CONTROLLED AND DEVELOPING LOVE FOR 2 REASONS:
A) THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CHOICES POSSIBLE
B) THAT THEY THEMSELVES MIGHT BE THE BEST PEOPLE POSSIBLE.
–DISCERN—MEANS APPROVING—SOMETHING BY PUTTING IT TO THE TEST.
–ULTIMATE PURPOSE FOR PAUL’S CONCERNS—THAT THEY MIGHT BE “PURE AND BLAMELESS UNTIL THE DAY OF CHRIST.”
–PURE—without mixed motives—pure lump of dought—unmixed with leaven—purity of motive in terms of relationships within the community.
–BLAMELESS—not offending or not causing someone else to stumble.
–Paul’s prayer is that when they stand before God at the end is key. The behavior of some appears to have “mixed motives” or at least is a potential source of offense.
POLICE LINEUP—WATCHING COP SHOWS—VICTIM LOOKS AT THE LINE UP AND SAYS IT IS NOT HIM—LOOK CLOSER—ALL OF THOSE CHOICES—THE CRIMINAL HAS TO BE IN THAT LINE UP. HE IS NOT THERE.
FOR TRULY CHRISTIAN LIFE, SOME THINGS MATTER & OTHERS DO NOT.
TWO CHURCH LEADERS ARE FIGHTING—PAUL IS EMPHASIZING—REALIZE WHAT MATTERS & WHAT DOES NOT MATTER. THEIR CHOICES WERE CAUSING OTHERS TO STUMBLE.
THEY WERE NOT BLAMELESS—THEY WERE CAUSING CONFLICT IN THEIR CHURCH. BLAMELESS HERE MEANS—IN THE SENSE OF NOT OFFENDING OR NOT CAUSING SOMEONE ELSE TO STUMBLE.
4) PRAY FOR GOD GLORIFYING DECISIONS
WHEN ONE IS FILLED WITH THE FRUIT OF THIS KIND OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, THEN ONE’S LIFE IS CHARACTERIZED BY THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT (GAL. 5:22-23), WHICH MEANS IN PART, AND NOW BACK TO OUR PRAYER, THAT HAVE ONE’S LOVE OVERFLOW.
WE MAY MAKE GOOD DECISIONS BUT ARE THEY GODLY?
THEY MAY MAKE US LOOK GOOD BUT ARE THEY ETERNAL?
MARKS THINGS—THIS WILL BURN.
WHAT DECISIONS ARE YOU MAKING THAT IS ETERNAL?
ALL OF THIS SO THAT GOD MAY GAIN GLORY THROUGH THE WORK THAT HE IS DOING IN THEIR LIVES.
LOVE THAT REFLECTS GOD’S OWN LOVE IS THE ONLY RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COUNTS—THE ONLY RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS TO GOD’S GLORY AND TO HIS PRAISE.
In For the Time Being, Pulitzer Prize winning author Annie Dillard writes:
In Highland New Guinea, now Papua New Guinea, a British district officer named James Taylor contacted a mountain village, above three thousand feet, whose tribe had never seen any trace of the outside world. It was the 1930s. He described the courage of one villager. One day, on the airstrip hacked from the mountains near his village, this man cut vines and lashed himself to the fuselage of Taylor’s airplane shortly before it took off. He explained calmly to his loved ones that, no matter what happened to him, he had to see where it came from.
Citation: Dave Goetz, Wheaton, Illinois; source: Annie Dillard, For the Time Being (Knopf, 1999), p.204
WE MUST BE SO PASSIONATE ABOUT LEARNING ABOUT THE DIRECTION GOD HAS FOR US THAT WE STRAP OURSELVES TO HIM AND HANG ON TO HIS DIRECTION.