Paul makes three things front-and-center in what he is looking for in churches:
1. Faith in Christ Jesus
2. Love for all the saints
3. Hope that is laid up for us in heaven
Much of my praying as of late revolves around how God sees his church in the Nicola Valley in this regard. Please apply this to the one body of Christ in your community as well. There is so much dishonor to faith, love, and hope, so much growth in faith, love, and hope, and so much invitation and encouragement to seek these no matter what.
Where God has me this morning is in the awareness that there will be that moment very soon where Jesus suddenly appears, the trumpet of the archangel will blast, and it is too late.
Yes, let that sink in, that very soon the trumpet will announce the end of the battle. It will announce Jesus’ victory is done. The saved are saved, and the damned are damned. NO ONE gets a chance to repent and be saved!
This morning I am called to focus on, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…”
This is difficult for the simple reason that Paul was referring to real people in churches that had a testimony of being exemplary in faith, love, and hope. His praying, remembering, and giving thanks, were all arising from his joy that the churches in question were showing such evidence of the Spirit’s work in them.
On the other hand, Paul’s letter to the Galatians shows how he had to write when faith, love, and hope were being lost. The first of the seven letters to the churches in Revelation show us Jesus’ response to a church that has lost its first love.
Anyway, that is what I am grappling with, and will continue to do so. My prayers include this focus:
1. That in God’s kindness he would bring the whole church of the Nicola Valley to repentance for any ways we are sinning against faith in Christ Jesus, love for all the saints, and hope laid up for us in heaven
2. That in God’s grace he would unite the whole church of the Nicola Valley to rise up to full maturity in our faith in Christ Jesus, our love for all the saints, and our hope laid up for us in heaven
No favoritism. No partiality. No waiting for family. No accommodating friends. No staying home until our parents have died. No demands on God that our faith, love, and hope must fit in with our jobs, careers, vacation plans, family time, worldly interests, or anything else that is us telling God how he must do things.
Instead, we attach to the reality of denying ourselves and being crucified with Christ; we take up the cross of our salvation today as the only basis of our relationship with God our Creator, and we follow Jesus Christ in obedient faith so that we truly experience Christ living in us to the glory of God.
Join me in praying following Jesus’ model prayer from his Sermon on the Mount:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name in (your community) with the repentance of your church in every way we fail to live by faith in Christ Jesus, to show agapè-hesed-love to all the saints, and to live based on our hope laid up for us in heaven, and in your one-body-of-Christ rising up to shine in faith, love, and hope.
May your kingdom of faith, love, and hope come to (your community) in such power and glory that every child of God who is sinning against you in these realities would experience your kindness leading them to repentance, and every child of God who is pursuing agapè-hesed-love in faith and hope would be encouraged and built up and empowered to do so more and more!
May your will for our faith in Christ Jesus, our love for all the saints, and our hope laid up for us in heaven, be DONE! In your kindness, lead every believer in (your community) who is sinning against your will for this faith, this love, and this hope, come to repentance in Jesus’ name! In your grace, O God, lead us to be so satisfied in knowing and doing your will in faith, love, and hope, that our earthly (and even bodily) needs would pale in comparison.
Give all the saints in (your community) our daily bread using whatever relationships of faith in Christ Jesus, love for all the saints, and hope laid up for us in heaven, to enable us to “sell” what we can to give to the provision of your whole church throughout this whole community.
Forgive all of us believers in (your community) our sins against you and one another in all the ways we transgress the law of faith in Christ Jesus, and sin against the law of agapè-hesed-love for all the saints, and violate the realities of our hope in Christ Jesus, just as we also forgive all those who repent of sinning against us with their lack of faith in Christ Jesus, their unloving expressions towards us, and by withholding from us the encouragement of their hope in our eternal inheritance in Jesus’ Christ for the church.
And, our Father in heaven, lead your whole church in (your community) not into the temptation to forsake our faith in Christ Jesus, or to deny our agapè-hesed-love for all the saints, or to denounce our living hope laid up for us in heaven, but deliver us from the evil one’s attempts to steal the fellowship of our faith in Christ Jesus, to kill our agapè-hesed-love for all the saints, and to destroy our hope that is laid up for us in heaven.
And we pray for you to be glorified in the growth and maturing of our faith, our love, and our hope, for yours, O God, is the kingdom, and yours, our Father, is the power, and yours, Triune God, is the glory, forever and forever…
And we give our “AMEN!” to this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!!!
Now, any questions on why Paul would “not cease to give thanks for you,” when faith, love, and hope were evident, while “remembering you in my prayers,” that these realities would keep increasing?
Let us surrender to Jesus Christ in the mentoring of Paul and the other apostles, that we would value faith, love, and hope as they did, and pray whatever repentance and faith is required for us to fully join God in what he is doing.
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)
 These are made very clear in Paul’s praying recorded in Ephesians 1:15-23; in the introduction to his prayer in Colossians 1:3-8; in I Thessalonians 1:2-3 and II Thessalonians 1:3-4, and also in his focus on Love in I Corinthians 13 that ends with, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (vs 13).
 Not only to what we often call our “local church” that is really just part of the local church of our community!
 Matthew 24:29-31
 Ephesians 1:16
 Revelation 2:1-7
 Luke 9:23 in fellowship with Galatians 2:20
 Matthew 6:9-13
 Following Jesus’ expression in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”
 Following the example of the early church that people were willing to sell property in order to contribute to the daily bread of their fellow believers who were in need (see Acts 4:32-37).