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Week 2 • December 10 - 16

Quarterly Theme:

The Macedonian Call

A Love Affair

Memory Verse

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment."
Philippians 1:9, NKJV

Lesson Text
Philippians 1:1-11

Key Terms
Knowledge — A clear and certain perception of that which exists, or of truth and fact.
Discernment — The power or faculty of the mind, by which it distinguishes one thing from another, as truth from falsehood, virtue from vice; acuteness of judgment; power of perceiving dif­ferences of things or ideas, and their relations and tendencies.
Servant — A person, male or female, that attends another for the purpose of performing menial offices for him, or who is employed by another for such offices or for other labor, and is subject to his command.
Outreach — Reaching out to others, or becoming involved in a community or effort.

Suggested Emphasis

Emphasis 1—The greatest is a servant.

The New Testament church had structure and leadership. There were leaders and new converts. Paul was an apostle but mostly identified himself as a servant. The truth is that the most powerful people in any ministry or church in the world are indeed servants. They take on the powerful mantle of the Chief Servant, Jesus Christ. Let us be clear. A servant is a slave. This is someone whose sole purpose is not his or her own happiness, vision, or goal in life. A servant's sole purpose is to tend to the needs and whims of the master. Apostle Paul's life and ministry was impactful because he identified himself and patterned his life as a mere servant. Those that seek to be served are ultimately rendered insecure and lack real influence. They have impacted very few lives; thus they reap very little fruit. They have not sown; they merely have been eating fruit. Soon enough, the fruit dries up.

Conversely, the servant reaps a continual harvest. Indeed the world belongs to the servants. This is why Jesus said that the Lord will say in the end, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of the Lord" (Matthew 25:21). Those who are wise in their mission in life understand that the authority belongs to the servants.

It is impossible to have healthy, substantial, impactful growth and influence without being a true servant like Jesus was. This is especially true in these days when the society is becoming more and more hostile toward the church. We must serve those who are difficult to love, sinful, resentful, and calloused.

The apostle Paul took pride in being a servant to people whom he led to the Lord. Remember he started a church with a businesswoman (Lydia), a previously demon possessed girl, ex-cons that he met in prison, and a law enforcement officer and his family. These people morphed into one of the greatest churches that Paul ever planted because he served them until they grew, and ultimately they served him when he was in need.

Emphasis 2—The Bond between Saints is beautiful.
The apostle Paul was in love with the saints. We must remember that the Bible reminds us that "love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:8). The absence of love in a relationship, church, outreach, or ministry renders it totally ineffective. Not only did Paul love those he led, but he "liked" them. It is amazing how little time Saints of God spend together socially today. They go into the church to worship and then go home and live in isolation. Many do not even know each other's full names, goals, dreams, home addresses, etc. Isolation leads to destruction. However, Paul gives us an apostolic model of love. The bond between him and the saints in Philippi is amazing and the reason that they could take the city.

He says many wonderful things about the saints of God, such as
"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you" (Philippians 1:3).
"Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy" (v. 4).
"I have you in my heart" (v. 7).
"I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ" (v. 9).

This man was not afraid of sharing his deep feelings of love and concern for the saints at Philippi. It is not difficult to follow a leader who makes it clear that you are loved by them. Too many today think that their lofty positions cause them to be a boss. They act like prime ministers. When my church first grew to 500 people, I was advised by some people that I should not get too close to people; instead, I should leave after service and delegate the talking to people to others. They argued that I was drained from teaching and preaching in three services, and I should get rest. I literally became angry at this advice and rebuked those men, who no longer belong to my church. We have grown to
over 2,500, and I still enjoy loving on everyone children, teens, young adults, adults,
everybody! It is this bond that makes my church very strong. No one is there out of compulsion; we are there because we are genuinely a family.

The example of Apostle Paul shows us that leadership in the nations should be based in love. It is easy to love the Saints of God, especially ones whom you have personally led to Christ!

When we love people like Christ loves them, they give us permission to speak into their lives. They also accept correction and rebuke because there is a true relationship that precedes correction. The enemy knows this and fights true relationships in the church. We must be diligent to build relationships with the Saints of God. This way, the world will see God in great ways. This is why Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 15:12). It is not an option for us to love one another... it is a commandment! I used to incorrectly say in church that God did not care if we were friends or not, but this is not true. If God chose to be our friend, we should choose to be one another's friends.

Emphasis 3—We want the best for the people that we love.

Apostle Paul gave us great example for the expectation that we should have for Saints that we love! He said, "And this I pray that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ." (Philippians 1:9­10, NKJV). He prayed that they walk in love. He prayed that they would increase in knowledge of the Word of God. This way, the more they knew God, the better they were to serve. He prayed that they would have discernment so that they could be clear and not surprised by the attacks of the enemy. He prayed that they would continually walk in sincerity, thus never becoming hardened by the things of the world, but having proper motives. Additionally, he prayed that they go without offense, which meant they would not be arrogant, prideful or haughty, but humble servants walking in God.

Additionally, he continued, "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God" (v.11) He looked forward to their having great works in their lives. He was not jealous, wanting to be the only superstar. He understood that the higher the disciple the higher the teacher.

We can learn greatly from Paul's expectations. We should want to push people's lives forward and upward. People should be better off after interacting with us. There should be value added into their lives. Those whom we serve should supersede our example! Thusly, Paul wanted the best for those he loved.

Missions Application Questions

How do you deal with the temptation to reject being a true lowly servant?
How can you enhance the "love affair" with Saints of all ages, especially those you
do not know well?
What good things do you wish for some of the people of God? Be detailed as you
dream for others' lives.
Create a prayer list for those you serve, asking God to bless them in ways just as Apostle Paul did for those in Philippi.

World Missions Prayer Points
Let us pray that God will give us the humility to be true servants expecting no accolades or admiration.
Let us pray for God to open our hearts to creative ways to show and demonstrate love to the Saints of God that we serve (in our churches, jobs, families, neighborhoods, or anywhere we are planted).
Let us pray that the church grows in love for one another.