We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
I want you to notice in verse three as you look in your Bible that he says “we give thanks to God praying always.” So his thanksgiving is a part of his private prayer time. A portion of Paul’s prayer time was consumed with expressing thanksgiving. Now don’t miss that. Don’t jump over that. Look at your own individual prayer time and ask yourself “am I more thankful for possessions or people?” Think about that. Think about what you articulate in your own private prayer time. Everyone, consider your own private prayer time. Everyone consider what you pray about on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Do you find yourself expressing more thanksgiving over possessions or people? Think about this idea: Am I more concerned over that which is temporal or that which is permanent? Do I thank God for Who He is? Do I say “God, You are awesome; You are incredible. You are worthy. I just want to thank You, God.” Do you articulate personal thanksgiving to God about these things: your property, your home, your possessions, and your health? All those are fine, and you should thank God for those things. But fortunately our health is temporary. If you have arthritis, you are thankful that it is temporary. If your grandmother or grandfather have Alzheimer’s, like mine do, you are thankful that it is temporary. You are thankful that they are not going to have to deal with that the rest of their lives, that when God gives them that resurrected body, they’ll be done with that.
So I want to make sure that if I look at my own private prayer time, if Sean Harris analyzes his own private prayer time, I make sure that it is more time thanking God for Who He is and for His work in and for God’s people.
Paul’s concentration in his prayer time was always what God had done for others followed by his continual thanksgiving for God’s grace. Paul never got over the fact that God saved him. He never got over that. If you know anything about the Apostle Paul, you know that on a regular basis in his letters to the churches he continually expressed how thankful he was that God saved him. Paul did not come from a self-righteous perspective that,” God, You got it right when you saved me.” Paul always put things in perspective, and he could not get over the fact that a rebel like him, a person who persecuted Christians, who fought the Gospel, who just was out to destroy the Kingdom of Christ was instead radically changed by the power of the Gospel. And so on a regular basis, Paul would pour out his heart to God and thank Him for saving his soul. So I want to ask you when was the last time you got on your hands and knees before God and said, “God Almighty, thank You for saving me from my sins?” When was the last time you said “Jesus, I can’t believe You saved me?” When was the last time you said, “You are awesome, God?” When was the last time you poured out your heart and said, “God, You are incredible? You didn’t have to save me. You didn’t have to send Your Son. You could have let it all go, but You took the initiative! God, I just want to tell You that I love You.” Do you know that will do your heart good? If you start your daily devotional and prayer time like that, if you just start praying and naming off people, I promise you if you get down on your hands and knees, (if you are still able to and praise the Lord if you still can), it will change your focus for the day. Because when we pray about possessions we start a possession focused day. But when we begin our day focused on people and God’s work in people, it will change your day. You will have a much harder time gossiping about your preacher if you pray for him. That is a fact. It won’t come natural.
Several lessons can be learned from Paul’s prayer life.
He had a regular prayer life. It was a continual part of his life.
The church was regularly in Paul’s mind.
It involved thanksgiving.
He interceeded for others on a consistent basis.
Finish this sermon at http://bbcfnc.org/docs/Harris052409.pdf