Prayer and the Spirit Part 6

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Text: Colossians 1:9-14 (NIV) 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Introduction

  • Paul is in prison, but he is writing to and praying for Christians he had not met but had heard of through his fellow worker Epaphras.
  • His prayer can become our prayer at many levels.
    • On Mother’s Day, it can be a mother’s prayer for her children.
    • Our Elders’ prayer for the church they lead.
    • A minister’s prayer for the people they serve.
    • Our prayer for one another as members of the body of Christ.
    • A personal prayer.

Read and Explore the Text

Paul Prays that We Might Know God’s will Through the Holy Spirit (9)

  • Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.
  • We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,
    • Knowledge of God’s will is a crucial idea in Col. 1:28; 2:1–3; 3:10.
    • Paul knows God as a Person, the Creative Source of our personhood, who wills and acts.

This Knowledge Can Change our Lives (10a)

  • So that you may live a life worthy of the Lord & please him in every way.
    • Comprehensive—across all of life and every relationship.
    • This is not a shallow, well-managed life of public impressions.
  • Paul connects our knowledge of God’s will to a quality of life with God.
    • This is not just a matter of knowing doctrine (a shallow substitute).
    • Personal-relational knowledge of God as a person who wills & acts.
    • Practical knowledge of how to live an abundant life with God: a way of life designed for us when He created us.
      • This way of life is rooted in the structure of creation and in who we are in our essence.
      • This way of life is not a set of arbitrary rules that are socially negotiated and can be renegotiated at our convenience.
    • This idea stands in sharp contrast to the modern idea of a self that you can and must design on your own to be authentic.

Four Indicators of Growth in Our New Life (10b-12)

  • Paul does not leave this ideal hovering at a high level of abstraction.
    • When a pediatrician evaluates a child’s development over the first few years, certain aspects are considered essential.
      • Not an exhaustive list: four qualities of healthy spiritual life with God.
    • In Chapter 3:1-17, he describes the path that develops this new life.
  • Bearing fruit in every good work,
    • Every good work does not mean only things that appear religious.
    • Our life in and with Christ changes everything—all things hold together in him. See Col. 1:15-20.
  • Growing in the knowledge of God,
    • Note the emphasis on the knowledge of God as you read both Col. and Eph.
    • Our culture treats spirituality as a private, subjective experience, primarily about feelings.
    • In Scripture, Jesus, Paul, and others are convinced that we have well-founded knowledge of a reality not created or invented by us.
      • This knowledge of God should also shape our emotional life.
      • It must also change the way we think.
      • We often turn upside down Paul’s challenge to take every thought captive to obey Christ. Instead, we try to capture Christ in our familiar and preferred cultural ways of thinking.
    • Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,
      • God does not leave us to our own resources to do his will.
      • What God asks us to do with him, he will strengthen us & help us.
    • Giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
      • Our lives & happiness are not determined by what happens in this world.
      • We know that the dark world around us is not ultimate, the light of Christ shines in the darkness, and He is our hope.
      • This awareness leads us to rethink & understand our suffering and allows us to have grateful hearts for our inheritance in Christ.

Strange things begin to happen in our lives as this prayer is answered.

  • Larry Souder’s interview of Mary Craig as one who was physical & sexually abused and deeply wounded by life for many years
  • God reached out to Mary in her job at a local store in Madison.
    • Billie Pilkington did not simply reach out one time in love, but every time she came into the store.
    • God got Mary’s attention about visiting Madison Church, a church unfamiliar to her.
    • When she came, she was to find Billie there, the woman who had constantly spoken with compassion and concern in a store. Billie introduced her to other women like Melna Fulbright, Jo Ann Westerfield, and others who received her in love. Increasingly Madison felt like a safe place.
  • Mary’s story of God’s still small and persistent voice telling her to go to a specific restaurant. She listened and obeyed.
    • While there, she saw a woman come in with bruises on her.
    • Mary bought her lunch and spoke with love and compassion.
    • No contact with that woman since, so we do not know how that woman’s story ends.
    • Just as Billie had no idea about the consequences of her kindness to Mary in a store, Mary does not know the consequences of her kindness to a woman at a restaurant. Our task is to hear and obey God and leave the consequences to Him.
    • As we begin to know God’s will, we must act so that his will is done on earth as in heaven. We are to be light and salt in the world for Him. We are to become those who listen to Him and receive a word of encouragement that sustains others and gives them hope.
    • We do not determine the results of our acting with Jesus: Our joy is to hear his voice and trust that he knows what needs to be done next.

Conclusion

Jesus: The Reason for Our Confidence in Prayer (13-14, 15-20)

  • For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
  • All things hold together in Him.
    • For many, life is falling apart because they do not accept that our lives are designed to be renovated and integrated around Him.
    • When we run life on our terms, we damage ourselves and others.
    • Others also try to run life on their own terms and that can damage us.
    • A moment comes when, like the son in Lk. 15, we realize that we have been running away from the One who loves us, is the source of our true joy, and whose presence creates our experience of being “safe-home” in the universe.