One thing have I asked of the Lord,

that will I seek after:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord

and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter

in the day of trouble;

he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;

he will lift me high upon a rock. [1]

 

Prayer is as essential to Christianity as breath is to life. The Christian religion is a religion of prayer. We depend upon God for all things. By faith, we are justified and continue to trust that God will provide. Prayer is that bridge which connects us Heaven and Jesus is the Mediator who holds the bridge in place. Every time a child of God approaches God’s throne in prayer, the Savior is glorified by holding the two together. Sadly, prayer is one of the most neglected jewels of the Christian’s treasures.  “The average clergyman (according to a survey) spends an average of four minutes a day in his own quiet time. And we wonder why the church is powerless!The original purpose of deacons was to give the apostles time to pray and preach. ‘Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word’ (Acts 6:3–4). Listen to these words from Martin Luther’s journal: ‘I have a very busy day today. Must spend not two, but three hours, in prayer.’ John Wesley arose every morning at 4 a.m. to spend two hours in prayer—alone with God.[2]

The glory of Christ is proven again as God’s people give thanks to the Father in prayer. These prayers demonstrate the Christian’s total dependence upon God, trust in God, thankfulness to God, awe of God, and praise to God.

 

We thank God in Prayer—Colossians 1:3-8

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you” Paul wrote. There is always something for which we can be thankful. Here Paul was constantly praying for his church family. Everyone with a family knows that family can be difficult. Still yet, Paul was thankful for his church family. Instead of running away from problems, Paul focused on the good while also addressing those things which needed to be changed. Christians, we need to be thankful for our church family. There is good in every congregation of God’s people. There is good in each of God’s children.

 

What makes others thankful for us?

Paul listed some of the great attributes the Colossians displayed for which he was thankful. His prayer of thanks came “since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (Colossians 1:4-5). These Christian virtues characterize the Christian life. We are most familiar with them in a different order in 1 Corinthians 13, but they are found throughout Paul’s writing. First notice that Paul was thanking God because he had heard of their faith. A faith that is true is one which must be demonstrated. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:24). In Mark 2:5 Jesus described faith as something which can be seen in the actions of individuals. Let’s pray that our faith may be seen by others.

Faith is believing, trusting, and yielding to God. “Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”[3] “Faith” also refers to the entirety of Christian doctrine or the Christian system (Jude 3). How wonderful to be blessed with faith! By faith we are justified, find confidence, have hope, have peace that passes understanding, and look to the ultimate redemption of all things.

Paul was also thankful for “the love that you have for all the saints” (Colossians 1:4). This love is the decision to sacrifice and welcome others. This love is manifested perfectly by God. He sacrificed his own Son so that sin may be covered with his blood. He chose to forgive while his people were still sinners. He chose to forgive a debt which could never be paid by humankind. He chose to welcome his people home when we had decided to rebel and leave like the prodigal son. He chose to bless repeatedly those who had refused to honor him appropriately. This is the love that Christians are to share. The Colossians had this love for all the brethren. They were unwilling to become divisive or have favorites and ignore others. They loved “all the saints.”

That love for God and for God’s church was so prevalent “because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (Colossians 1:5). We must remember that God has saved us so that we might love Him and love one another. 1 Peter 1:22-23 tells us that each Christian has “purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” Paul noted two things which should cause us to love one another: 1): we have purified our souls, and 2): we have been born again. The purpose behind each of these great events is love of brethren. Let us learn to love our brethren with the love of God. This love will make us to be dedicated to God and his people. This love will make God and his people the priority of our lives and ambitions.

 

We can grow in grace by depending on the gospel

Paul was able to speak of them so positively because their lives had been built upon “the word of truth, the gospel” (Colossians 1:5). The one who hears the words of God and acts on is the wise man who builds his house on the rock. The Colossians had build there lives on the word of God and were able to prosper and grow because of that foundation. The gospel had been preached to the Colossians by Epaphras (Colossians 1:7-8). We should be thankful for the Word and for those who have taught the Word to us. Because in that teaching, we can have life.

Without the Word taught we would all be lost and pitiful (Romans 10:14-17). Thankfully, we have the Word and have teachers who explain the Word to us so that we will be able to have life. John said, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31).

Application of the text

I hope that we can be people who cause others to give God thanks. Too many give cause for grief, why should God’s people not because for glory? We can become those people in Christ. God wants us to be people of that quality. That is why he gave us the word of truth, the gospel. God said that his word is able to make us “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). Let us be devoted students of God’s Word and benefit from our prayers and the prayers of others.

 

We Seek Progress in Prayer—Colossians 1:9-14

Paul was thankful for what the Colossians had begun to do for God’s glory. Because they had that great foundation, there was a tremendous potential. Anytime we lay a solid foundation of faith in God and good works, there will be an even brighter potential future for his glory. Paul’s prayer for the Colossians will help us to grow by being filled with the knowledge of God, walking as he would have us to live, being strengthened by his power, giving thanks to him, and by submitting to his reign.

 

By being filled with his knowledge

We first see how that he Colossians were to make progress by being “filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9). What an opportunity we have to be filled with his knowledge. We have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). The ability to know God has come to us through the inspired word (2 Timothy 3:16). We have neglected the inspired word. We should be known as the Bible people. How else can we be filled with the knowledge of his will?

We often deceive ourselves into thinking our will is the same as Gods. If we fail to study and submit to God’s Word, then we will replace his word with our own. God has promised better direction than we could ever provide for ourselves. Isaiah 30:19-21 says,

“For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more, He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.” Let us schedule time to study God’s Word, meditate on God’s Word, and memorize God’s Word so that we may be filled with his wisdom.

 

By walking the way he would have us to walk

When we are filled with God’s wisdom from God’s Word, then we will be able to walk in a Godly way. This is one reason why it is so important to begin your day focused on Jesus. When we begin with Jesus, it will be easier for us to stay with Jesus. “Right knowledge ever does bring forth the right result in conduct. Right conduct cannot be the product of wrong knowledge.”[4] So the song asks us, “Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray?”

Colossians 1:10 tells us that since we are filled with the knowledge of his will that we should “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” The command to “walk” is common in the New Testament and describes the way in which we live before God. The word is defined as “Conduct oneself, live, as a rule more closely specified by the manner of such conduct”[5] Notice though some important applications from the metaphor. First, “walking” implies forward progress. We are always marching forward to God. Turning back is disaster. Going toward him is blessing. Second, “walking” implies continued motion. We may never cease to serve our God (1 Corinthians 15:58). We must keep going.

This Christian walk comes with the highest possible standard. We are challenged to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.”  The word “worthy” is related etymologically to words for weighing and denotes that which brings up the other end of the scales (Foerster 379). In the narrower sense of the word it means equivalent, worthy, appropriate; in a broader sense, it indicates the relationship of two quantities.[6] We must place the weight of God’s glory on one side of the scale and our own character on the other scale. The balance will never be achieved, but we must strive to live as God would have us as he covers us in his grace.

 

Being strengthened

Being filled with the knowledge of God is the source of spiritual strength. The Greek text emphasized the power with which the Christian is strengthened (ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει δυναμούμενοι κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ[7]) this is literally “in all strength strengthened according to the might of his glory.” So God said that when we are filled with his Word, there is no area of our strength which is not strengthened by his glory. There is no weakness of ours which is not supported by his own power. Surely then we would not choose to go through our days weakened by our flesh when we could live strengthened by His glory through His Word.

The purpose of God strengthening us is revealed in the next verse. Paul said that when we are strengthened we are able to live with “endurance and patience with joy.” The cause of many lacking endurance and giving up their walk with God is a demonstration of a lack of God’s Word in their lives. Individuals who go attempt to walk the Christian life without joy present in their hearts and seen on their faces are those who strive to live for God without being strengthened by his Word. When we have God’s Word in our hearts, we can endure with patience and joy.

 

Giving Thanks

Few commands are as prominent and neglected as the command to give thanks. Thankfulness is a direct result of being filled with God’s Word. Paul said that as we are filled with God’s Word and address him in prayer we should do so with thankfulness. Far too often prayers are limited to what we think we deserve or what we would really like to have. Prayers of the faithful should be dominated with thanksgiving for God’s provision.

 

Submission

Submission isn’t popular. Submission is powerful. Paul wrote, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). Each of us has submitted either to Christ or to sin. Romans 6:16 says, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey either of sin which leads to death, or of obedience which leads to righteousness.”

Thankfully, God has delivered us from the domain of darkness. The word “delivered” means “to rescue from danger, save, rescue, deliver, preserve.” [8] It is the same word used in 2 Peter 2:7 which described God’s rescue of Lot from Sodom’s destruction. God has rescued his people from destruction. The harsh reality of sin must be remembered. The great price of atonement must be continually upon our hearts. With those dreadful thoughts on our minds, we will be able to appreciate being freed from the bondage of sin. We will also be better able to appreciate being allowed into God’s service.

God not only rescued us, he also exalted us. God has “transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). Romans 8:28 tells us that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” That great promise rests upon the foundation of God’s exaltation of the Christian. Paul followed Romans 8:28 with equally fascinating promises, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30). In submitting to God, we glorify him. When we submit to God, God glorifies us.

Application

Christian, we must grow. We must “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” To abandon growth is to accept death. We are in awe of God’s glory revealed to us in nature and in the Word. It is only right that we submit ourselves to his work and glorifying him as he has glorified us.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ps 27:4–5.

[2] R. T. Kendall, Understanding Theology, Volume Two (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus, 2000), 446.

[3]John, Calvin. The Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol. 1 (Louisville, Kentucky; Westminster John Knox Press; 1974) p. 551.

[4] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon (Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book Concern, 1937), 35.

[5] Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–), 75.

[6] Ibid., 113.

[7] Eberhard Nestle, Erwin Nestle, et al., The Greek New Testament, 27th ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 1:11.

[8] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 907.

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