Devotional for the week of February 25, 2016
On February 11, we looked at Philippians 1:7-8 and considered Paul’s affection for the Philippians. Today, Paul completes his prayer for his friends.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and maybe pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.
Last week I lost my voice. When I first saw a specialist, he thought I had somehow damaged my vocal cords so I went home and rested both my voice and my body. One of our Associate Pastors, Robb Lapp, graciously preached for me, and I brought 3 by 5 cards with answers to questions.
Of course, many church members asked me how I was doing as an expression of their love for me. I always appreciate the attention that followers of Christ have given me over the years. But there were two moments of prayer from last Sunday that I will never forget.
During the Adult Sunday School class that I teach on the Book of Revelation, members of the class gathered around me, laid hands on me, and prayed for me. Dr. Gary Smith, a friend from Grove City, PA, was present and gathered our requests with prayer. Later in the afternoon, I recalled when I was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor and the church leaders laid hands on me. I felt loved. And I felt like I was challenged to grow in my love.
Then during the Contemporary Service at our church, an elder, Kathy Risley, had church leaders lay healing hands on me again, as well as Marie who is on her way to Asia. And once again, God’s Spirit confirmed with me a complete awareness of love.
In these verses, Paul is praying for the Philippians in such an earnest way that their love might abound more and more. I think all of us need that kind of prayer! Further, Paul wants the church in Philippi to grow more in knowledge and depth of insight. In his commentary, Karl Barth calls this growth to be clarity of thinking and capacity for practical, concrete judgment (21).
Paul concludes his prayer by urging them to be filled with the fruit of righteousness. Earlier in his writing ministry, he names the fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. John Stott calls the list of nine qualities “…a cluster of Christian graces…” (Only One Way, 148).
That’s what I felt when the two church groups prayed for me last Sunday! They were giving me some Christian graces! Let us pray for each other that our love may abound more and more that in turn we can give grace to each other.
Father in heaven: grant us the courage to grow in the likeness of Christ and then discover the power of love. Amen.
From now until Easter, I’ll be posting the Weekly Devotions for the Daily News and Announcements from St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, North Carolina. On either Wednesday or Thursday of each week, you will find a new entry about the Book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul’s letter of joy. I’ll be using the NIV (2011) translation.
See below for the current week’s devotional. You can also find a full archive of this devotional series by clicking here.