22 Mar Pray. Encourage. Give.
The book of Philippians is one of my favorite books of the Bible. It gives us so many great truths about the work of Christ, and how we are to live as those in Christ! One of the other great things about Philippians is we see the framework of what it meant to be a church (people) who supported Paul in his missionary journeys. Through his writings we see they prayed, encouraged, and gave so the Gospel of Jesus would be spread throughout the region and the world.
They prayed – in his opening statements in chapter 1, Paul recounts his imprisonment and how Christ is being proclaimed through even the most difficult of times. In verses 18b-21 Paul writes,
Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (ESV)
Paul does 2 things here. First he uses a word for “prayers” that acknowledges a humble request for provision of need. In humble prayer, the church of Philippi was interceding on Paul’s behalf through prayer that God might meet all of his needs while on the journey. Second, he connects these prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Christ intimately. The two things (prayers and provision) are not working independently of one another, but in harmony. As the church prayed, the Spirit provided. Within the next few weeks we are planning on having prayer teams established for each part of Sparrow Missions’ work in Honduras. These teams will be given specific prayer requests from the team in Honduras, and will be interceding to God on behalf of those areas and people. Be on the lookout for these new prayer teams to be announced, and prayerfully consider where God would have you focus your prayers for His work in Honduras!
They encouraged – in chapter 2:25-30, Paul tells the church at Philippi he is sending a man named Epaphroditus back to them. We learn from the end of verse 25 Epaphroditus was “your messenger and minister to my need.” Paul also says at the end of verse 30 Epaphroditus “nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.” It is generally considered that Epaphroditus not only came to work alongside Paul for the Gospel, but that he also brought encouragement, and personal greetings to Paul from others at the church. Today we do not need to send one person from a specific location for the purposes of encouragement, for through email and social media such as Facebook and Twitter we can instantly provide encouragement to someone thousands of miles away. I know in my life there have been moments where I received an email or a word of encouragement via social media that came to me at just the right time. When the Spirit prompts you to do so, we encourage you to respond to that prompting! Someone in Honduras may be needing that specific piece of encouragement at that precise moment.
They gave – since returning to the States from Honduras and working alongside Bo Cracraft, one of the duties I have taken on is the recording of financial donations to Sparrow. It has been amazing to see the number of people and churches who are faithfully supporting God’s work in Honduras, and the different geographical areas this support comes from! In Philippians 4:18 Paul gave thanks for the monetary provision from the church for his work –
I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. (ESV)
One of the commentaries I read concerning this passage states – This is much more than a financial transaction between 2 parties. A third party, God, is involved. Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians 9:7 that God loves a “cheerful giver”, and as we give to works like Sparrow Missions our joy in giving is pleasing to God. One anonymous person wrote, “Giving isn’t God’s way of raising funds. It is his way of raising children whose hearts are rich towards him.” Thank you for giving, and for continuing to give to support Sparrow Missions in Honduras!
As I wrap this post up, I want to thank you for being people who pray, encourage and give! Although we did not get to stay in Honduras as we planned, we learned quickly the value of those 3 things for our lives. Serving so far away from family and friends is not always easy, even when it’s service you know is unto the Lord. Sparrow is blessed to have so many of you who pray, encourage and give, and I encourage you to not only continue in these faith driven actions but to share with others and invite them into the work as well!