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All We Need is (Real) Love

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
May 6, 2024 12:00 am

All We Need is (Real) Love

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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May 6, 2024 12:00 am

In this lesson from Philippians 1:8-9, Stephen Davey explores Paul's remarkable prayer list for the Philippian believers. Discover how to cultivate an overflowing, passionate love for God and others, fueled by biblical knowledge and godly discernment. As Paul delves into his prayer requests, he reveals God's desire for us to grow in our understanding of genuine love and apply it to every aspect of our lives.

Key takeaway: True love, guided by God's Word, will transform your relationships, your outlook, and your purpose.

Want to learn more? Head over to Wisdom Online (https://www.wisdomonline.org) for additional resources and deeper exploration of God's blueprint for a life of love.

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Dr. Stephen Davey

The truth is, unless you believe correctly, you cannot behave correctly. So Paul is praying that we might possess the truth, knowledge, and then that we might practice the truth, discernment. See, the problem with the average Christian isn't that we don't know enough of the truth. It's that we don't want to apply the truth we know.

So the solution isn't just learning more, it's doing what we are learning more often. Do you ever struggle to do the right thing, even when you know what the right thing is? As Christians, our battle isn't usually trying to figure out what's right and what's wrong.

It's usually having the discipline to do what we know is right. Today, Stephen Davey is going to apply that principle to love. We know that we are to love one another, but it isn't always easy. Today, Stephen's going to take you to God's word and help you pursue real love.

This is wisdom for the heart. We're continuing our series from the early verses of Philippians, and Stephen's calling today's lesson, All We Need Is Real Love. I have lived long enough to have outlived some faithful prayer warriors, people that once worshiped in here with this assembly who said, I'm praying for you, and I knew they meant it.

People with names like Brinker, and Horace, and Melba. In fact, the older you get, the more you realize how significant and precious it is to know people who, when they say to you, I'm going to pray for you, they mean it. For every believer, if you're sitting there thinking, I wish I had somebody like that, let me give you this wonderful promise that at least one person is praying for you every day with intensity and love.

We have sung about him. His name is Jesus Christ. Paul would write in Romans 8 that even now he stands at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for you. He is praying for you. He knows every need.

He knows your name, and he's interceding. How wonderful is that? But isn't it wonderful, in addition to that, when somebody on the planet models the Savior? Somebody in your world made out of the same cloth, who makes the same mistakes, probably has similar needs, who needs the same grace, says I'm going to pray for you every day. They put a face on interceding grace that you can see.

How wonderful is that? It occurs to me in this opening paragraph that Paul is putting flesh and blood behind his prayers. He's giving them a body and a face, and he's putting a body and a face on the activity of Jesus Christ. The first thing he does in Philippians chapter 1 as he begins his opening comments in verse 3 is he tells him, look, I'm praying for you, and it's obvious he knows many of them by name. They're on his prayer list. He's already informed them. They're on his mind, verse 3.

He's informed them. They are on his heart, verse 7. He's effectively coming opposite way to each of them by means of this letter and saying, I want you to know I'm going to pray for you every day for the rest of my life, and he means it. If you pick up the letter with me at verse 8, he does something rare. Notice he says, for God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

Paul is effectively making an oath to something he rarely did. He wants to drive home their understanding of his intensity, of his concern. He says, I'm calling God as my witness here.

How passionate is that? He writes, I yearn for you all. God is my witness. I yearn for you all with the affection that is the same affection of Christ Jesus.

The same longing he has for you, I have for you. I long for your best like Jesus longs for your best. Now that alone would be encouraging enough, wouldn't it, for them to receive this letter and to hear this news? That's typically where a prayer warrior will stop, but not Paul. I mean most missionaries send out prayer letters, my parents have done it now for 58 years, so that their supporters can know how to pray for them.

That's wonderful. Paul is sending this supporting church his prayer list so that they can know how he's praying for them, which is very unusual. Not for Paul, though. Paul is literally opening his prayer journal.

He's showing them, look, this, this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and that. That's exactly what I'm longing to see happen in your life. These are the same things, by the way, that God longs to see happen and develop in your lives today. You could read this, as it were, from the very prayer list of Jesus Christ, who doesn't need a list, being omniscient. You would find the same elements, though, in his longing and affection for them.

Paul implies it, doesn't he? These deep longings I have for you originate in Jesus Christ. So if you ever wanted to know what Jesus might be praying for you, this is it. This is the prayer list. There are at least nine different elements on his heart for them, there in Philippi, and certainly on the heart of God for all of us.

We'll cover a few of them today. I wanna recommend you circle or even write these prayer items into your own prayer list for family members, believing friends, for pastors, elders, those in the assembly, teachers, those that you know are influencers, those who are serving, who are volunteering. Pray for the entire church family in this manner, as Paul is for the church in Philippi, and pray them for yourself.

If you wanna know how to pray prayers for yourself that matter, pray for these things. The first prayer request Paul prays for with regard to the Philippian believers is their passion in life. Their passion in life.

Look at verse nine. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more. The word abound in the present tense is progressing in its thought, it's expressing the continual overflowing of your love. This kind of love isn't like a tap.

You turn on and you turn off. It isn't the kind of love that has some warm fuzzies that might be here today and gone tomorrow. It is the word agape for deep, undying commitment. In other words, Paul is saying, I'm praying every day for you, and praying every day for you that this kind of commitment will overflow the banks of your life.

And just sort of touch everybody. I want your life to become a Niagara Falls of rushing overflowing cascading commitment. I've gotta point out here the fact that agape has no object in this text. Paul isn't saying, I'm praying that your love for me may abound.

You could almost expect him to say that and that would be fine. He doesn't even say that your love for God will abound or your love for each other or your love for your family or your love for the world or your love for the word may abound. Paul doesn't specify the object of love, which means Paul could actually be implying that all the above would be true. In other words, in every dimension of life, listen, wouldn't that first prayer request just sort of end all of them?

I mean, where do you go from there? If you really love God, if you really love each other, if the overflow of your life is this kind of commitment, I mean, doesn't that just kind of cover everything? Wouldn't you then, as you go through the list, wouldn't you be pure and holy and blameless and looking for the day of Christ and fruitful and praising of God as he includes in his list? I mean, listen, if we love each other and God and the word and the world, as Paul is going to exhort the Philippian believers often, doesn't that just kind of cover everything?

It depends how you define love. Paul is referring to the kind of overflowing commitment that takes up residency, that has no back door, that settles in to a family or a relationship or a church, rolls up its sleeves, endures the heat of disciplines and discipleship and servanthood. Paul is very aware that if he simply tells us to effectively abound in our passionate love commitment to God and others, we might come up with a variety of our own misconceptions. So he basically adds to his prayer list some things that take us a little deeper in defining love and life, for that matter. Paul not only prays here for the believer's passion in life, he's going to also pray for their progress in life. Paul says, notice, I'm praying for your love to abound more and more, now notice this, with knowledge.

You got to understand the right kind of love, if you're going to call it love. The word used for knowledge is used without exception in the New Testament for spiritual issues, the knowledge of God, the knowledge of truth, the knowledge of doctrine. It's a knowledge that comes from the study of God's word, so it is knowledge that we are gathering based not on what we feel, but on what God has said. In other words, Paul wants these believers to learn more about God, spiritual knowledge about him, about one another, about truth, and if they do, they're going to love him deeper, aren't they? We're going to love each other differently, aren't we?

It'll be much more gracious, and it'll be richer and deeper. Paul is also saying to the Philippians, effectively, I'm longing for you all to develop in the knowledge of what love is, not just whatever you think love might be, what other people call love. I want you to have true, knowledgeable, spiritually originating from God love, which would mean that love isn't blind. It's actually learning with its eyes open, which is why Paul naturally follows up the idea of overflowing love with the idea of love being defined by biblical knowledge, and this is beyond love.

This would extrapolate out into all of life, but certainly love. Listen, no matter what your feelings tell you, no matter what your culture approves or applauds, no impulse, no inner feeling or passion that leads you to violate God's definition of love can be blessed by God, no matter how convinced you are that God is blessing you. True love does not argue with the truth about love that comes from the Creator of love. In other words, any so-called love that denies God's word isn't love. God's word, by the way, condemns so much of what is called love today, sexual activity, that beyond love expressed between a husband and a wife, for that bed is undefiled, Hebrews 13.4. Anything beyond that is masquerading as love.

How do we know that objectively? We know that because it is a love that goes beyond the boundary of knowledgeable love communicated by God's word. It might be called love, like in Paul's day.

It might be called storge, which is a love with strong familial or family feelings. It might be philia, a love of deep affection and commonality, popular in Paul's day. It might be eros, no doubt the most highly prized word in Paul's day, a love driven by sexual desire. These were extremely popular concepts for this idea of love. Paul uses agape here in this text.

It is the highest form of commitment and fidelity, which then serves as a boundary for allowable sexual intimacy and family commitment and even deep affection. You see, Paul knew that the Philippian culture would know all about eros, a word never used in the New Testament. He knew that that world would know all about the concepts of philia and storge that have their benefits. Most people forget that Paul would understand these expressions. In fact, most people think Paul lived in a day when I guess you drag women around by the hair. Back in the Stone Age, he would never have any idea of a sophisticated culture like ours. Listen, our world is becoming more and more like the world he knew all the time. Adultery, the acceptance of mistresses, polygamy, pornography, homosexuality, promiscuity, a one night stand between virtual strangers, all kinds of fornication.

All of these sexual experiences and experiments were applauded by the Roman Empire. Paul doesn't stick his head in the sand either. He knew his generation and the Spirit of God through him would have to learn the boundaries of a kind of a love that secular writers sort of, well they knew little of. Aristotle considered agape to be a cold and lifeless word. One of the primary reasons you have little use of agape by secular writers in Paul's day is because they would choose these other concepts with more fire and interest and personal gratification. You come to the New Testament and the word agape is used over 300 times. It's the word used to describe God's love for the world, for God so loved the world, agape.

John 3 16. Agape is used to describe a husband's love for his wife and Christ's love for the church. In Ephesians 5, husbands love agape, your wives, as Christ loved the church. It's the word used to describe God's love for the sinner. Romans 5 8, that even while we were in the act of sinning, God showed his love for us. Romans 5 8, agape is the word used of God's love for the believer. Romans 8 35, what can separate us from the love of God through Christ? Answer, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Romans 8 39. Listen, the truth is, left alone, left without knowledge, I can come up with all kinds of conceptions about love and feel incredibly passionate and convinced regarding it.

I might even think that God is blessing it. I've had couples in my office who've told me, Steven, we know we're not married and we're living and fornicating sin, but we have never felt God's blessing like we feel it now. We pray together, we read the Bible together. See, their love is not according to knowledge, the knowledge of God's word. Paul understood we would have to, in our own nature, when we come to faith in Christ, we would have to be re-taught. Our nature would have to relearn. It would have to reconstruct, to redefine, now that we've been forgiven, what love is.

Much of what we've been forgiven of because our lives revolve around relationships, have been in loving the wrong way. No wonder Paul is straining forward and praying that these believers, and certainly believers today, I'm praying he effectively says with every ounce of strength I have and every fiber in my being, that you will progress in knowledge, that you will learn how to love and how to live according to biblical truth. Thirdly, Paul is also praying not only about their passion in life and their progress in life, he's also praying for their practice in life.

He becomes even more specific. How are they going to handle the daily issues and pressures of life biblically? Paul writes, look at verse 9 one more time, it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge. You're not making it up yourself, it's according to God's Word, and all discernment.

Here's his third prayer request. For us to be discerning. There's ever a day when we need to be discerning, it is today. What does it mean to be discerning? Well that word used by Paul never again appears in the New Testament.

It's the word isthesis, it gives us our word transliterated aesthetics, sensitivities, sensibilities. It's a word that broadly refers to the application of biblical knowledge, which makes sense then in Paul's progressing prayer list. Paul is praying they'll learn biblical principle and from that biblical practice. The truth is, unless you believe correctly, you cannot behave correctly. So Paul is praying that we might possess the truth, knowledge, and then that we might practice the truth, discernment. See the problem with the average Christian isn't that we don't know enough of the truth, it's that we don't want to apply the truth we know.

So the solution isn't just learning more, it's doing what we are learning more often. One commentator writes, this word for discernment refers to a high level of biblical moral and spiritual perception and implies the right application of God's revelation, which then produces holy living. I think perhaps the best synonym for us to have one more hook to hang our hat on with this word discernment might be the word insight. Insight. Even though this word appears one time in the New Testament, it appears in the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint, it appears 22 times in the book of Proverbs.

Go dig in there sometime. There are 31 chapters, read a chapter a day over the course of a month and you will be introduced over and over again to men and women in situations that are demonstrating the practicing of knowledge. They're demonstrating practical truth. They're living it out.

They're living for things that count and things that last. Paul is saying I want you to not only learn but I want you to live. I don't want you to just possess the truth. I want you to practice the truth.

When John Wesley went away to study at Oxford in June of 1720, his godly mother Susanna wrote in one of her letters to him, whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes away the delight for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin. This was her prayer list for her son. I'm praying that nothing will be allowed by you which would weaken your reason, impair the tenderness of your conscience, obscure your sense of God, or take away the delight for spiritual things or increase the authority of your body over your mind. That's quite a prayer list, isn't it?

This is the prayer list here, or the start of it, for you and for me. I close with this interview between Joni Eareckson Tada and World Magazine a year ago. She's lived as a quadriplegic for 45 years now.

Testimony has encouraged every one of us who know anything about it. She reflected in this interview some things I wasn't aware of, but she talked about her life before this diving accident. She said this, as a 14-year-old I embraced Jesus as my savior, but I had confused the abundant Christian life with the great American dream. She said, I was planning to make good grades, get voted captain of the hockey team, go to college, marry a wonderful man and make $250,000 a year, and we'd have 2.5 children.

It was all me focused. What can God do for me? I almost thought that I had done God a great big favor by accepting the Lord, and my boyfriend and I were doing things together that we knew were sinful. In April of 1967, she says in this interview, I came home from an immoral Friday night date and convicted I cried out, oh God, I am staining your reputation by saying I'm a Christian yet doing one thing Friday night and another thing on Sunday morning. I am a hypocrite, and I want you to change my life, do something in my life that will jerk it right side up because I'm making a mess of my faith.

I don't want that. I want to glorify you. She says, three months later I had the diving accident which left me paralyzed from the neck down. In this interview, she says immediately after the accident and for some time, I told God, you will never be trusted with another one of my prayers again. But after struggling with anguish and anger, wanting to die, wanting to die, hating my condition, Johnny said, I finally prayed one short prayer that changed my life.

It was simply this, oh God, if I can't die, show me how to live. She says that was probably the most powerful prayer I had ever prayed. That's the prayer Paul is praying for them. That would be the prayer of Christ for us to overflow and love, to progress in learning biblical truth about love and life, to practice applying what we're learning. If I can put it more simply this way, Paul is fervently praying, Lord, teach them how to love, teach them what they need to know so they can know how they ought to live with love, knowledge and insight, the kind of life that lives ultimately with the prayer, more love to thee, oh Christ, more love to thee. That was Stephen Davey and this is Wisdom for the Heart. Today, you've learned from the apostle Paul that a Christ-centered love is marked by overflowing love, a desire to grow in biblical knowledge and the wisdom to love discerningly.

So the question is how can you grow in these areas? Maybe it's showing extra kindness to someone in need, setting aside more time for Bible study or asking a trusted mentor for guidance. Stephen is currently in a series from the book of Philippians called To the Citizens of Heaven. Today's message is entitled All You Need is Real Love. If it would help you to be able to listen to this message again, we've posted it to our website which is wisdomonline.org. There's much more to the ministry of Wisdom International than these messages. We have Bible study guides that you could use in a class or for personal study. We have a daily devotional. We have other books and materials.

To learn more about all of this, please visit that website wisdomonline.org. The resource that we're featuring during this series is Stephen's commentary through the entire book of Philippians. It's a practical and pastoral look at Paul's letter to the Philippian church.

Get information on how you can get a copy by calling 866-48-BIBLE. We'll bring you the final message in this series next time on Wisdom for the Heart. Thanks for watching. We'll see you next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-06 00:25:39 / 2024-05-06 00:34:55 / 9

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