Year C – Second Sunday of Advent – Philippians 1:3-11

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11)

Summary—As he wrote this letter, Paul sat in a prison cell, awaiting his fate from the Roman emperor. This tyrant would either show Paul mercy and free him, or he would convict him of treason against Rome and have him killed.  From this cell, we get today’s text.  Paul, in this section, thanks God with a heart filled to the brim with joy for his Philippian brothers and sisters in Christ.  Here we get a great example from the apostle on how to pray in any situation.

Insight—What would you do if you were locked away in a smelly prison with no hope of escape and little hope of freedom?  Would you fall on your knees and ask God for help?  Would you cry out to Him for rescue?  That’s not what Paul did.  He didn’t care what the emperor was going to do with him.  Rather, he cared what the King of Glory had already done for him and how God was building up the believers in Philippi more and more in faith.  Paul’s prayer teaches us that we are to come to God with more than urgent calls for help with our immediate needs.  Notice two reasons why Paul prayed like he did.  For one thing, he understood that his calling was more important than his circumstance.  Paul was called to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the gentiles.  The Philippian church was his first stop on his missionary journey to Europe.  As they prayed for Paul, as they gave what they could to keep his ministry going, Paul could thank God with joy for their participation in this mission.  He knew that no prison cell could stop what God was doing in his church.  When you pray, do you look to your own struggles first, or do you see how God is using your church to extend his kingdom to the nations? 

There is a another reason why Paul prayed like this.  He trusted God to come through on His promises.  God started a good work in the Philippian Church and He will complete it to the end.  Jesus Christ is working a good work in you and is making you more and more like himself.  He promises you that he will finish what he started.  This is our hope in the advent season.  He promises that he will come back a second time to get us and finish what he started.  Let your prayer life reflect this hope.   Pray in all things with thanksgiving and joy.    

Child Catechism—Q: How did Paul teach us to pray? A: With thanksgiving and joy.

Discussion—What situation do you think would be too horrible that would cause you to pray without thanksgiving and joy? 

Prayer— Father in heaven, teach us how to pray with glad hearts and thankful minds.  Let us see more clearly how you are extending your kingdom and give us willing hearts to rejoice at all times.  We rejoice in your Goodness.  We rejoice in your faithfulness.  We ask all these things in the name of your glorious son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Contributed by Mike Fenimore

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Year C – Second Sunday of Advent – Ps 72:1-7, 18-19

Give the king your judgments, O God, And your righteousness to the king’s Son.  He will judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.  The mountains will bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.  He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, and will break in pieces the oppressor.  They shall fear you as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.  He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing, like showers that water the earth.  In His days the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace, Until the moon is no more. . . . Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things!  And blessed be His glorious name forever!  And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.  Amen and Amen.

 

Summary – Another messianic Psalm, Psalm 72 as a Psalm of David, looks to Solomon in the near future as a type of the Ultimate “King’s Son” (vs 1).  This Son will judge people righteously, and we recall the story of Solomon and the two women arguing over the child (1 Kings 3:16ff).  This Son will have dominion “from sea to sea” (vs 8), and Solomon indeed ruled all the land from the “River” to the sea (1 Kings 4:20ff), the allotted portion of Israel.  This Son would receive gifts from the “Kings of Sheba” (vs 10), and the “gold of Sheba will be given to him” (vs 15).  We remember the Queen of Sheba’s visit of course, in which she gave Solomon 120 talents of gold (1 Kings 10:10).  Solomon was however, as a typological shadow of Christ who was to come, an imperfect fulfillment of this Psalm.  Only Christ could be feared “as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations” (vs 5).  Only Christ’s Kingdom can encompass the whole earth (vs. 8) and have “all kings” bow before Him (vs 11).  Only Christ could save “souls” (vs 13).  The final refrain of the Psalm in vss. 18-19 indeed points to the Lord alone as the doer of “wondrous things.”  Solomon was the second step in the line of David’s throne and kingship.  But we see here again, like we saw in Psalm 122 last week, that David’s throne came with an inherent aspect of longevity and eternality.  Christ the true Son of David is the ultimate fulfillment of that great line.

Insight – Does you ever feel like the world is ignoring God?  People try to take the meaning of Christmas away, and ignore Jesus’ coming, but King David tells us about the “king’s Son” who is expected.  This son of the King will become king and will be followed forever.  He was promised to be like rain that waters the earth, and would bring righteousness and peace.  As we look forward to Christmas, this promise about Jesus’ coming should give us great hope!  Jesus is “living water” (John 4:10) who “waters” those who have faith in Him, and the night of His birth, angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).  Though many people ignore the true King Jesus, His kingdom is everlasting and will finally submit all nations to it.

Child Catechism – How long will Jesus’ kingdom last?  Forever.

Discussion – How does Jesus “bring justice to the poor of the people”?  How does He “save the children of the needy”?

Prayer – Father God, God of Israel, who only does wondrous things, blessed be your glorious name forever.  This Advent season we earnestly pray that the whole earth be filled with your glory.  Amen.