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June 10, 2012
Philippians 1:3-6     Today in a message titled “Thankfulness, Prayers and Partnership”   we will be privileged to look inside the great heart of the Apostle Paul and his deepest hope for the people of God in Philippi and the people of God today in Wasilla. Philippians 1: 3-6                                
Paul’s in prison and he has time to reflect on his life and those that made it joy filled and in his stark and harsh surroundings, he remembers a church, people really, because that’s what a church is, people who have come into a relationship with Jesus!
                Paul, not only remembers them but he is thankful. 
I.  I thank God every time I remember you.  
Paul was thankful that God’ believers no longer worshipped things that would lead them to eternal destruction, but instead they believed in the Lord Jesus Christ who lived and died and rose again for their sins.  Paul knew what it was like to live in spiritual blindness until the Lord called him out of that darkness into God’s marvelous light of faith.  Paul was filled with joy that there were more people who were no longer lost and condemned creatures, but were found and redeemed creatures by the blood of Jesus.  That is the prayer of thankfulness and joy he offers.
So many of you have thanked me for coming here to be your pastor and I have thanked so many of you for giving me this awesome opportunity to be your pastor.  Last week you thanked Pastor Winters for being with you as your pastor over the last 4 months, and what did he say? “To God be the glory.”  As we begin our life as congregation and pastor together let us give God thanks daily so neither you or I forget the unusual privilege that God gives us in this blessed relationship. 
II. Paul continues with prayer for his friends:   4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy
            Does Paul pray only for those members who were nice to him, only for those who never did things that made Paul pull out his hair and bang his head against a wall, only for those who made his ministry a joy?  No, he prayed for all of them.  And so, I will pray for ALL of you.  I apologize to you in advance when I do things that may cause you to pull your hair out or bang your head against the wall.   
            Will I pray for you out of tedious obligation?  Will your praying for me be a burden?  No! We pray like Paul, with joy!! 
            It has been two weeks since we celebrated Pentecost.  Do you remember the account of the Pentecost?  Were the apostles “on fire” as it were because of the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word on that first Pentecost?  Yes, indeed.  Do you get the impression in the writings of the Apostles in the Bible and accounts of their lives that the excitement and joy they felt on that first Pentecost dimmed as the weeks and years passed?  No! The Holy Spirit working through the Word continued to keep fire in their hearts to spread it with whomever would listen.  May we as a continuum of those early Pentecost Christians pray: O Holy Spirit, enter in and in our hearts Your work begin/ Your dwelling place now make us.  Sun of the soul, O Light divine, Around and in us brightly shine/ To joy and gladness wake us/ That we may be truly living, to  You Giving prayer unceasing/ And in love be still increasing. 
I certainly pray for you ALL with a joyful heart.  Joyful because of our partnership in the Gospel ministry.                     
            Thanksgiving, Prayer, and notice:
III.  Partnership  : I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
            Paul in his letter to the Philippians feels the joy of a partnership in the Gospel.  The essence of that partnership – we sometimes call it “fellowship” – is a mutual sharing in the blessings of forgiveness and salvation won by Christ and in the new spiritual life the Holy Spirit creates in sinners’ hearts through faith in Christ Jesus.
            Employees of a firm are involved in the business, customers of the business are involved too -- but, partners are committed.  I often think of an illustration about commitment. When we order ham and eggs in a restaurant for breakfast, we can think of the chicken as being involved in the project and the pig as being committed to the project. Partners in the Gospel share a common biblical vision. A passion for the Lord, a passion for the Great Commission, and a passion for ministry, a joyful passion for relationships with fellow believers. 
            In the business world only some employees get to be partners. In the business world most customers do not become partners. In the Church of Christ ALL are invited to partnership. I will ever rejoice that God made us “partners” in this Gospel ministry from the first day, last Sunday.   
            God wants for each of us: “Thanksgiving, Prayer and a Partnership!  I conclude today with my theme  as I begin my service to you with the Gospel, and we will sing many times together in Lappy as God gives us the strength:  Make Me Your Servant.  If you see that I am losing my servant's heart at any time please gently remind me:

Make me a servant, humble and meek
Lord, let me lift up, those who are weak.
And may the pray'r of my heart always be;
Make me a servant, make me a servant,
Make me a servant, today.

“I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”