3 Days of Prayer and Fasting (2020/12)

Philippians 1:27-2:18 (ESV)

1 27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Day 1: Loving God

Reflect:

It says in verses 12-13, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” There is a sense in which Christians have already been saved, we have been justified by Christ (Titus 2:11). We are also being saved, we are being sanctified by the Spirit (Titus 2:12, 14). We also will be saved, when we are glorified by the Father (Titus 2:13). So our salvation is past, present, and future. And believers have a part to play in the present. Our future salvation is not something we can take for granted, but rather, something that we must work out with fear and trembling,” lest we fall short of the goal!
 
But this doesn’t mean that our salvation ultimately depends on us. Verse 13 says, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” We work, because God works. God is the one who enables us to believe and obey, to will and to work for his good pleasure, so that ultimately salvation is all of Him and from Him (1:28)! He not only helps us to do what He wants, but also helps us to desire what He wants, to will it. And this is all the more reason for us to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling.” Without God working in us, it would be futile, there would be no point, but since God is working in us, we work even harder to win “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). Precisely because it is God who enables us to will and work, the more we persevere in our faith and obedience, the more we are assured that God is and will save us.

Pray:

  • Thank God for your justification, how He has declared you righteous through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.
  • Pray for your sanctification, that you might grow more childlike in your dependence on God and more Christlike in your relations with others.
  • Pray for your glorification, that God would fill you more and more with the Holy Spirit and enable you to persevere in faith and obedience until the end.

Day 2: Loving One Another

Reflect:

It says in verses 1-2, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” We find a close parallel to verse 1 in 2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” To these Trinitarian comforts, Paul adds a fourth item, “any affection and sympathy.” This is the only item on the list that does not have a modifying phrase like in Christ,” “from love,” or in the Spirit,” and is likely transitioning to the relationship among believers, the “affection and sympathy” that the Philippian church had for one another and for Paul. So, then, Paul writes, if you have experienced even a modicum of the blessings and comforts of being a Christian, do this, verse 2, “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” The word “mind” is repeated twice in this verse. They are to have “the same mind,” and be of one mind.” This doesn’t mean that they have to have identical opinions on everything, but it means that they should have the same mindset or disposition. Similarly, they are to have the “same love,” extending the love that they have received from God the Father to one another.
 
More specifically, Paul says in verses 3-4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” This is essentially Paul’s version of the second greatest commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Paul is not telling us to compare ourselves unfavorably with other people. Rather, he is telling us to forget ourselves in the service of others, to lose our selves for the gain of others. Think about it this way: The fact that there are more important people in the world doesn’t ever stop us from thinking of ourselves first and foremost. The fact that there are more knowledgeable people in the world doesn’t ever stop us from giving the greatest weight to our own opinions. The fact that there are busier people in the world doesn’t ever stop us from valuing our time more than theirs. The fact that there are more needy people in the world doesn’t ever stop us from thinking first of our needs. That’s because selfishness is in our sinful, human nature. But Paul is telling us that as people who have been united with Christ, we ought to count others more significant than ourselves, consider others’ interest before our interests. What we naturally do for ourselves, loving ourselves, we should do for others, love our neighbors as ourselves. The Greek word translated “look” here is where we get the English word “scope.” It means to look out for something, to pay careful attention to something. We are to be on the “look out” for others’ interests, pay careful attention to their interests.

Pray:

  • Pray that God would fill you with affection and sympathy for other members of the church.
  • Pray that God would grant our church the “same mind” and “same love”—the humble mind of Christ and the sacrificial love of Christ.
  • Pray that our church would be characterized by humility, and that each member would count others more significant than themselves and look out for others’ interests.
  • Pray that God would make us a church that seeks only the glory of God, and not empty glory for ourselves.
  • Pray for a long-term, suitable, affordable meeting space for our church.

Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors

Reflect:

Paul further unpacks what it means for us to “work out [our] own salvation” in verses 14-16, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” The command to “shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life,” likely an allusion to Daniel 12:3, which speaks of God’s judgment day, when “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars.” There is also an allusion here to Deuteronomy 32:5, where the “grumbling” Israelites (Exod. 16:12; Num. 14:2, 27-30) are condemned as a “blemished,” “crooked,” and “twisted generation.” This continues the theme of God’s judgment. If we given into our prideful, rebellious impulses and grumble against God and dispute with one another, we will be unable to “shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.”

Pray:

  • Confess to God any grumbling or disputing that you have been engaged in.
  • Pray that God would enables us to “shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life,” speaking the gospel and doing good works.
  • Pray that God would save our neighbors, so that they might worship the true Lord, Jesus Christ.
  • Pray for protection of our neighborhoods and cities from the spread of COVID-19, during the Christmas break.
  • Pray for revival in Cambridge/Boston and New England, that the Spirit of God would move powerfully in our region.

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