Colossians #17 Colossians 4: 2-4

 


 Colossians Chapter 4

Colossians #17 Colossians 4: 2-4

 Before our exploration of the last chapter in Paul’s letter to the folks in Colossae there are some gems for Chapter 3 worthy of review.  Paul is giving us guidelines as to the types of behaviors that are expected once you have been received into the Kingdom of God.

 God’s master plan involves the salvation of humanity.  The reason this world is full of trouble, hardship, suffering, evil, and death is because of sin.  That’s the biblical explanation for the mess we are in.  Everyone is born into this world estranged from God and left to their own devices.  We live by trail and error, we live by doing what we want, when we want, regardless of the consequences our actions may cause.  Even those more civilized and think of others more than themselves are stuck in this trap.  God’s master plan is one of deliverance from this situation.  Jesus, God incarnate, dies to make an atonement for sin.  God pays the price to correct his ultimate creation, humanity.  When we exercise faith in what God has done for us, He reconciles us to Himself.  The way we exercise faith is to acknowledge that our lives are a mess and we are strangers to God.  We believe that Jesus can redeem us from this mess and set us right with God.  Acknowledging and believing we commit ourselves to be followers of Jesus and in doing so, we are forgiven of all our sins, reconciled to God, and begin to live the life we were created to live, life to the full.  If this is something that you desire, all you need to do is ask God, it’s a gift He wants to give to everyone who want to receive it, everyone who wants to become part of His never ending Kingdom, everyone who wants to work to further His plan.  If that’s you, please let me know. I’m sure you’ll have many questions that I can help you discover the answers for.

 

Here are some thoughts to put into practice from Chapter 3:

1.      Your life is to be full of loving actions. Deeds of love are characteristic of a disciple. 

 2.     You are empowered to change. There are habits, attachments, addictions, attitudes, and things of the heart that are unworthy of a Christ follower.

 3.     Behaviors of the old way of life that are inconsistent with following Jesus, have to go; likened to filthy rags that are to be stripped off and burned.

4.     A new wardrobe is laid out for you, those new clothes consist of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23 (NLT).

 5.     You get dressed from the inside out.  Transformation starts inside and works itself out in the things you do.

6.     Once you have bent your knee to God, there is work to be done. 

 7.     A theology nugget is that there is a grace gift that declares us to be righteous called justifying grace, and there is a grace gift that empowers us to grow deep, grow up, and grow fruit, to become like Jesus, called sanctifying grace.

 8.     If you are not changing, not growing, and are not becoming more like Jesus, you need to ask yourself why. 

 9.     Transformation is hard work, but you have every resource you need to become the person God created you to be.

 10.                          Every cultural barrier that separates people disappears in the Kingdom.

11.                         Your new wardrobe is hand made by God so that you can thrive. 

12.                         There will always be areas in your life that need to be changed.

13.                         The peace of Christ “empowers the desire to live in unity and harmony with all and especially with the citizens of the kingdom, your brothers and sisters in Christ.

 14.                          If you can’t ask or don’t suspect that your thoughts, words, or behaviors can’t be blessed by God, then don’t do it. 

 15.                         One of the indicators that you are making progress in this spiritual journey is the degree of thankfulness you walk around with every day. 

16.                        The Kingdom has a revolutionary message “reciprocal obligation” and “mutual responsibility” especially within the family unit. 

 Receive these truths, put them to work in your life, and you will thrive. 

As we enter our examination of the 4th chapter in this letter we will be considering prayer as a reciprocal obligation, the need to stay alert, and the need to continually cultivate gratitude.  It may interest you to know that in original language there was no chapters, no verses, no punctuation, these have all been added for our reference;  just a trivial pursuit tidbit.

 The Apostle Paul writes:

Colossians 4:2-4 (MSG)

Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. 3 Don't forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I'm locked up in this jail. 4 Pray that every time I open my mouth I'll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.

 Pray is a constant through scripture.  There is a heavy emphasis on praying for one another.  We call our prayers for others intercession.  Intercession is presenting another’s case to God and asking for divine intervention.  The word disinterested means I have no stake in the situation, I have nothing to personally gain with an affirmative answer to a request.  Disinterested intercession is powerful.  You ask for the welfare of another with no benefit for you other than the satisfaction of seeing God’s intervention.

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My understanding of prayer for my own wants seems to be constantly changing.  My prayers that bring connection and communion have remained the same, but when it comes to asking God to do something for me, my expectation of a magic zap has changed.  In my latest thoughts, and again this is from my experience, I think of prayer as preparatory.  At one time I believed that pray was asking God to do what I wanted.  Only in the beginning of my spiritual journey did those kinds of prayers find answers in the direction I desired; now, not so much.  I currently see prayer as preparatory, a spiritual communication that empowers me to go to work, asking for God to provide everything I need to bring about what I am asking.  Of course there are some things that I will not be able to do, what I am incapable of bringing about then prayer opens a door for God to directly intervene.  So when I pray I am also going to involve myself in what I am requesting to happen. 

 Let’s say I ask God to make me financially independent.  If I expect that a letter from a lawyer letting me know that I have inherited a massive estate from a long lost relative is the answer to that prayer, experience has informed me that my expectations will meet with disappointment.  If you want to be financially independent, pray to formulate the right plan and to make the right decisions that will result in no money worries.

 In my heart I have prayed for God’s healing of Grant; a complete restoration of all that was stolen from him because medical staff were not paying attention.  It has not happened.   What has happened is finding the strength to do everything I can to make sure that Grant gets the best care he can get.  What happened is hope, hope that keeps me keeping on.  What happened is assurance that neither he nor I have been abandoned by God.  What happens is God sends an encouragement right at the time I am falling into despair.  Prayer “functions as the vital channel of communication with [God].” (James D. Dunn, NIGTC, Colossians, p 262).  Even when my heart’s desire doesn’t find resolution I know that I am not abandoned by God.

 Enough of my personal ramblings.  Paul tells us to pray.  Be diligent, that sounds that prayer is so important that you should never do anything without it.  Recall that Paul has called us to mutual reciprocity and reciprocal responsibility.  In the beginning of his letter, he told the folks that he was praying for them.  “Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings” (Col 1:3 (MSG). Now Paul is asking that the folks pray for him.  That they intercede that he might have everything he needs, every opportunity available, to carry out his mission of spreading the gospel.

Did you catch that Paul is in jail when he wrote this letter.  He wrote: “I'm locked up in this jail.”  Great circumstances.  Yet Paul doesn’t ask they pray for his release, he asks that they pray for his effectiveness in carrying out his mission in the midst of dire circumstance.  If you find yourself in dire circumstances pray that you can carry out your mission “in spite of.”  Part of living your life to the full is the power to live “in spite of” (E Stanley Jones, Victorious Living,  p.94).  “This power to go on when life is dead set against us is the deepest necessity of our lives” (ibid.).  With “in spite of power” we learn to mold the life around us instead of allowing circumstances to mold us (Jones, p.94).  With “in spite of” power we keep on keeping on, we refuse defeat, we are proactive, and we fight the good fight.  

 When you diligently pray, that connection with God, imparts “in spite of power.”  If you want that “in spite of power” ask a brother or sister to intercede for you, asking God to give all you need, exercise faith that God will answer their prayers

Then return the favor, and intercede for them.  That’s an example of mutual reciprocity and reciprocal responsibility.

 Paul encourages us to stay alert.  Be aware of the needs of others and intercede for them.  As we pray we are to develop a heart of gratitude.  When we are in dire circumstances, we can at least be grateful that “in spite of power” is God’s gift to those who ask for it.  When we intercede for someone, we can be thankful  knowing God will provide everything that person needs to keep on keeping on.  The healing may not come, the windfall my fall away, the storm in the night may be long, the heartbreak crushing, but the great gift of sensing “God with Us” will be yours.  We come to the realization that God trades beauty for ashes, and can bring good out of every situation.  A son driving home is killed by a drunk driver, what good can come out of that?  Mother’s Against Drunk Driving.   Good comes out of the bad and out of the evil when we take the love lost and convert it to action so that whatever happened will not damage another soul, that justice roll down like rain (Amos 5:24).  

 Here’s a truth to walk away with:  It is the duty of every Christian to pray for the welfare of others.  We are to be diligent in our intercession requesting God to bless those we see in need.  Our intercession is also to have feet.  We pray first, then do what we can to meet the need.  That’s love, a love which is your universal garment. 


 


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