Kevin A. Pierpont
Higgins Lake Baptist Church
“John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave.
A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present—but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station.” (Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 18)
During our last couple of studies we’ve seen Paul’s ability to remain joyful in the midst of problems like prison and difficult people. Today I’d like to look at Philippians 1:19 where we’ll see another reason for Paul’s joy in the midst of difficulty. Paul was confident and assured that his difficult circumstances would result in deliverance. But how could Paul have such confident assurance?
I want you to see that Paul’s confidence was a result of the power of prayer and the provision of the Holy Spirit. Look at Philippians 1:19.
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
Paul was convinced that his deliverance would take place. He was confident that the situation he was in would turn out well. As we’ll see in studies to come, he knew that whether he was cleared of the charges and set free or whether he faced execution, he would be delivered. In verse 20 we’ve seen that whether in life or death, Christ would be magnified. That was all that really mattered to Paul as we see reflected in his words in verse 21, For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. The words he had penned to the Romans recorded in Romans 8:28 weren’t merely words to him. They were true words that he believed and practiced in his own life.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
He knew God was working his situation for good.
As John MacArthur points out Paul’s phrase, For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance is a quote…
“directly from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), citing Job’s reply to Zophar: “This also will be my salvation” (Job 13:16). 1
Paul understood that his circumstances were temporary. He knew whether in life or in death he would be delivered. Paul could say with confidence, “I know that this will turn out for my deliverance.” The first reason that Paul could be so confident was that he had assurance of deliverance through the prayer of the Philippian believers.
Assurance of Deliverance through Prayer
You can never underestimate the importance and effectiveness of our prayers on behalf of those in ministry. C. S Lewis said,
"God could have chosen to do His work on this earth in any fashion He wanted, but He chose in His sovereignty to do it in response to prayer." (C. S. Lewis)
God was at work in Paul’s life in response to the prayers of the Philippian believers.
It’s a tremendous encouragement to anyone in ministry to know that prayers are being offered in their behalf. Paul understood the important relationship between God’s work in his life and prayers on his behalf.
Samuel Chadwick said,
The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.
Prayer is vitally important in the life of the believer. When we are engaged in ministry not only do we need to be engaged in prayer but we also need the prayer support of fellow believers. As believers we each have the precious opportunity to be involved in upholding others in prayer. I can think of no higher privilege in supporting the ministry of Higgins Lake Baptist Church than that of prayer. For some who no longer have the physical ability to be involved in certain types of ministry, prayer is often the best way for them to be involved. And I’d rather see a church full of praying people who couldn’t give big than a church full of big givers who didn’t pray.
James 5:16 tells us, The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Or as the NASB puts it, this kind of prayer can accomplish much.
Paul understood this. He understood how effective the prayers of the Philippian believers were on his behalf. He understood that deliverance would come through their prayers.
“In 1923 Helen Mollenkof, as a teenager, attended a Keswick Conference in New Jersey. The speaker was L.L. Legters, who along with Cameron Townsend many years later would found Wycliffe Bible Translators.
God had given Legters a deep burden for all the indigenous people of Mexico and Central America without the Bible in their language. Speaking at the Keswick Conference, he challenged the young people to take the name of one language group in Mexico and pray for that people—that God would open the doors so His Word could be translated into the language of their heart.
Helen Mollenkof was one of those who answered the challenge. She stepped forward and picked the name of a people she'd never heard of before: the Mazahua. She wrote the name on the flyleaf of her Bible. Then, closing her eyes, this teenaged girl promised the Lord she would pray for them until they had the Bible translated into their own language.
Helen went ahead with life. She graduated from school, became a nurse and joined the Women's Union Missionary Society. Then she was sent to India, where she served as a missionary for the next thirty-five years. One of her ongoing prayer concerns was for the Mazahua people.
In 1967 Helen returned to the States to retire in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Some time later, for some unexplained reason, she felt free to stop praying for the Mazahua people.
Then in 1981 she picked up her local newspaper and read an interview with Pat Hamric who, like herself, was a long-term missionary. As she read she discovered to her amazement that Pat along with Hazel Spoils and Don and Shirley Stewart had been Bible translators among the Mazahua people.
Overjoyed, she found Pat's address and wrote to her: "I thought you might be interested in my contact with the Mazahua Indians through prayer."
She told Pat about the Keswick meeting, how L.L. Letgers had challenged them to take the name of one language group in Mexico, and her commitment to pray.
Pat replied. "The New Testament is complete. It was dedicated in January of 1970!"
Helen realized that January 1970 was the very time the Lord lifted her burden to pray! (Pirolo, Neal. "Prayer Support" in Serving as Senders. Blue Letter Bible. 5 Dec 2003. 17 Jul 2004 http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/neal_pirolo/sas/sas5.html)
I’m certain that Helen Mollenkof was convinced of the effectiveness of prayer. Are we just as convinced of prayer’s effectiveness? Do we live as if we’re convinced of the importance of prayer? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 commands us to pray without ceasing. Instead of worrying or fretting when difficulties arise we must pray!
If we wish to succeed in the work God has for us here at Higgins Lake we must be committed to prayer as a church. We must be committed to prayer as individual believers. Prayer is effective! Prayer is powerful! Prayer makes a difference in our lives and in the lives of those for whom we are praying. We must heed the words of Colossians 4:2 and devote ourselves to prayer.
I’m always greatly encouraged on Wednesday evenings when we gather to pray together as a church. What a privilege it is to pray with and for one another.
Do you want to have an impact for the cause of Christ? Commit yourself to prayer for those involved in this ministry. Pray for those who teach in Sunday School and Junior Church. Pray for your trustees. Pray for your Deacons. Pray for those preparing for VBS. Pray for those who lead you in worship. Pray for your pastor.
And I think you should tell those you hold up in prayer that you are praying for them. Of course, then you had better be faithful in prayer. I can think of no greater encouragement than to know that there are others praying for me, praying for my faithfulness, my strength, my wisdom. Pray for one another and the work God wants to accomplish through their faithfulness to Him.
Paul had the assurance of his deliverance and he understood that it was a result of the prayers of others.
Assurance of Deliverance through the Provision of the Holy Spirit
Paul also understood that his deliverance would come through the provision of the Holy Spirit. Look at verse 19 again.
Philippians 1:19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
Commenting on the phrase the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ Warren Wiersbe says,
The word supply gives us our English word chorus. Whenever a Greek city was going to put on a special festival, somebody had to pay for the singers and dancers. The donation called for had to be a lavish one, and so this word came to mean “to provide generously and lavishly.” Paul was not depending on his own dwindling resources; he was depending on the generous resources of God, ministered by the Holy Spirit. 2
Paul knew that he had the lavish resources of the Holy Spirit available to him as a believer in Jesus Christ.
There’s a wonderful example of this in John 14:16-17. Look at Jesus words.
John 14:16 "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever;
v17 "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Paul had the Holy Spirit living in him. The Holy Spirit was with Paul and it was the provision or supply of the Holy Spirit that would bring about Paul’s deliverance. Whether he was set free or had to face execution, Paul knew that deliverance would be his. In either case the Holy Spirit would be there providing for Paul so he could glorify Christ in life or in death.
Oswald Chambers said,
Call the Comforter by the term you think best — Advocate, Helper, Paraclete, the word conveys the indefinable blessedness of his sympathy; an inward invisible kingdom that causes the saint to sing through every night of sorrow.
Certainly it was the power of the Holy Spirit working in Paul’s life that enabled him to maintain his joy in the midst of difficulty. Paul was confident of his deliverance because of the work of the Holy Spirit in his life.
But you say, “Well, that’s nice, Paul could be joyful in the midst of difficulty because he knew he had the Holy Spirit to provide for him. Well, that and Paul was a spiritual superhero.”
No! Listen—the same Holy Spirit who was working in Paul’s life and was living in him and helping him, is the same Holy Spirit who indwells you if you have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. Whatever difficulties you face, you can be assured that the Holy Spirit is with you to comfort and guide you just as He was with Paul. We are not alone! We have the gracious provision of the Holy Spirit in our lives to help us in our weaknesses.
Whatever God wants to accomplish through you for his glory and the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ can be accomplished because it’s God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). Don’t underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish great things through the life of a believer fully yielded to His good pleasure—His purposes.
Paul had confidence in his deliverance from his trying circumstances because of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. And these same resources are available to each follower of Jesus Christ today. The question is are we truly following Christ?
D.L. Moody once said…
If we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and self-seeking and pleasure and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God, and I believe many a man is praying to God to fill him when he is full already with something else.
Maybe you’ve been guilty of being filled with something other than the Holy Spirit. Maybe you’ve been guilty of quenching the Spirit. We’re told in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 not to quench the Spirit, so we know it’s something we’re prone to do if we aren’t careful.
F.B. Meyer said…
God does not fill with his Holy Spirit those who believe in the fullness of the Spirit, or those who desire him, but those who obey him.
It may be it’s your desire to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life for God’s glory. But you might be thinking, “how do I do it—how do I get filled with the Holy Spirit? How do I experience the power of the Holy Spirit?”
I want to share with you a wonderful quote that will help answer those kinds of questions.
Dr. Stanley Toussaint of Dallas Theological Seminary says if you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, after believing in Jesus and confessing your sin, you must,
Trust in Christ. Begin the day by saying “Lord I can’t live this day by myself. I’m trusting in You.” …When you trust in Christ, God the Holy Spirit loves to go to work.
And second, He says,
The results of being filled with the Spirit are parallel to letting the word of Christ richly dwell within you. …It means you have a heart of simple submission and obedience to God’s Word.
So if you put the two together, you can see that when you (1) trust Jesus Christ and (2) obey the Scriptures, that is when God the Holy Spirit goes to work.
And he says it’s not just for “Super Saints”.
We can be filled with the Holy Spirit. All of us are to be filled with the Holy Spirit; it is a command. The filling of the Holy Spirit is the chassis – the drive train – of our Christian experience. (Dr. Stanley Toussaint, Th.D., Veritas Vol. 4, No. 3 July 2004.)
All who trust Jesus Christ and obey the Scriptures will have the filling—the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Young and old, new believers and seasoned saints can each experience the filing and power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul was trusting in Jesus Christ. He was living an obedient life. He wasn’t quenching the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was working in his life and he was confident of his deliverance through prayer and the provision of the Holy Spirit.
Paul wasn’t concerned about his future. He had a confidence about him that was the result of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. What a difference prayer and the Holy Spirit made in Paul’s ministry. What a difference prayer and the Holy Spirit will make in our lives when we are obedient to Him! What a difference prayer and the Holy Spirit can make in our church! Let’s commit ourselves today to prayer and living lives that are filled with the Holy Spirit and let’s experience the joy that follows as a result.