Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
As we continue in our Week of Prayer both individually and corporately what is your greatest desire and longing? The desire and longing that really matters, that really counts? The desire and longing that will drive you to your knees to plead with our heavenly Father with prayers and petitions that he will surely answer because they are the desires of his heart also? The desire and longing that makes you want to join brothers and sisters in prayer whatever the cost to yourself in time, travel and inconvenience?
I want to suggest to you this morning that in this regard, and indeed in many other ways, we need to learn from Paul whose great and overwhelming desire was that in everything the gospel should be pre-eminent.
You will know his situation. He is in prison. His ability to move from place to place encouraging churches and planting new ones, taken from him. What a frustration for him, unable to do what he wanted to do above all else! But he is not in despair. He is not downhearted but rather he rejoices that in his confinement a whole new mission field has been opened up for him as the ‘whole palace guard and everyone else’ knows that he is in this place and situation ‘for Christ’. Why is this so important for him? Because above all else he is gospel hearted, gospel centred and gospel focussed.
In their email yesterday the CFC Elders gave us, among others, this focus for our prayers.
- That through this time we would not be distracted from our task of serving him and making disciples
As we pray today lets hold that challenge firmly in our minds for in so doing we have the mind of Christ and of our heavenly Father who ‘is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.’
That is to be Gospel hearted. That is to put the Gospel first. Doing that together is to unite us because if we understand the gospel properly then our desire to share the good news rightly will cause those things that are secondary, those things that divide us, to become insignificant and not worthy of a place in our thinking.
That is some focus for our praying today.