Text: Colossians 1:9-12
Date: Sunday September 3, 2023
Opening Illustration: Saturday Pancakes: I have learned to love my Saturday mornings with my kids. One thing we will often do together is that make some kind of simple breakfast, pancakes or French Toast. My wife, in essence, cooks the other 20 meals a week, and so Saturday morning is a chance for me to bless her. Pancakes are not difficult to make. But they become far more difficult when you invite your kids to make them with you. Somehow every ingredient ends up all over the kitchen. Just recently my oldest has upgraded to doing some of the flipping of the pancakes. This was a big upgrade which has come with its own new messes. Why do I let them participate when I can do it so much quicker and so much cleaner. Because I love them. Because I want to have this experience with them. Because I know their love for me develops as we cook together and laugh together.
Personal: This is in many ways, what prayer is like. God entrusts us with the very tools that change lives, that move the arc of history. He puts the spatula in our hands. The difference is we’re not dealing with pancakes. Life is hard. We live in a sin filled world. We ourselves have sin filled hearts. The last few months this Church has experienced tremendous trials. And every person in this room knows intimately the hardships of life. Many of us will often times say to someone who has shared something difficult, “I’ll pray for you.” But not only do we never pray, we don’t have the faintest clue just what it means to pray for someone. The power that God has assignged you, Christian, is remarkable.
Context: Today, we kick off a two week series that I have titled The Rooted Community. While there are many topics of Biblical community that I cannot touch upon in two seeks. I’d like to focus this week in on answering the question ‘How are we to pray for one another?’ And next week I’d to answer the question ‘How are we to comfort and care for one another?’ The text for today is Colossians 1:9-12, and this is actually a prayer that the Apostle prays over the Church that meets in the city of Colossae. From this short prayer, I will draw out three ways that deeply rooted churches pray for each other.
Colossians 1:9-12 “9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
Meaning & Application
I PRAY THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW HOW TO APPLY GOD’S WORD WITH WISDOM IN THEIR LIFE
First, deeply rooted Church pray for each that each person might know how to apply God’s Word with wisdom in their life. Look at how Paul begins this prayer
Colossians 1:9 “9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,”
A We Have Not Ceased to Pray For You: First, I want you to notice what Paul is doing here. He’s received a letter that has shared how well the saints in Colossae are doing, and that letter than spurs Paul on to pray ceaselessly for them. This is fascinating. Normally when we hear that people are doing well, we stop praying for them. I can say that for me at least, that the people that are on my intercession list are typically those who are struggling, those who have some challenge. But Paul uses the great report of their spiritual condition, to begin praying ceaselessly for them. That means regularly lifting them up in prayer, remembering them in his prayers.
B Knowledge of His Will (Passive): Specifically he prays that they would “filled with the knowledge of God’s will.” First notice that this prayer of his is in the passive voice. He says that you might “be filled.” He doesn’t say, “that you would fill yourselves.” This is actually very important. Paul is beseeching God to do a supernatural work in their lives filling them. He’s calling on the same God who saved them, who gave them faith in Jesus Christ, and he’s asking that that same God would now fill them.
C To Know God’s Will Is to Know His Heart: Filled with what? With the “knowledge of God’s will.” To know God’s Will is to know God’s heart. That’s why the very next phrase is “in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Wisdom is the ability to see the world, and all of your circumstances through God’s eyes. To have His understanding on things. And as a result to be able to make godly decisions, decisions that bring blessing into their life and everyone else’s life.
D How Do You Become This Person: Pause there, how does that happen in a person’s life. How does a person become the kind of person that sees all of life through the lens of God, and navigates all decisions—big and small—in a way that reflects God’s wisdom. The answer, is that a person immerses themself in God’s Word. This is why the Apostle Paul later says that “all Scripture is God breathed” (2 Tim 3:16). Scripture is God’s Mind, God’s Heart, revealed in clarity. And so the more our minds are shaped by the Word of God, the more the “knowledge of his will” becomes the way that we think, and the way that we see things around us. To put it another way, a person who knows very little of God’s Word, will not have the knowldge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that Paul is praying for them.
E Not Just Gentleness: I fear that many people think they have wisdom, when in fact they don’t at all. A wisdom not deeply rooted and flowing from God’s Word is not wisdom. You may have your life in order from an earthly perspective. You may be quite good at your job, and help others make decisions that seem helpful and simple. Yet not have wisdom. The Apostle writes,
1 Corinthians 3:19 ESV "For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,”
Paul is praying that their minds would be fueled and filled with God’s will.
E Ben Stuart Quote
This summer in our men’s group, we were reading an author who was discussing how it is that the Holy Spirit leads a person. He wrote,
“How do we discern the voice of the Spirit? He will sound like everything you hear Jesus say in the Gospels. The Spirit wants us to know the mind of Christ. The spirit of God loves the Word of God… If you want to hear the Spirit’s voice, soak your mind with the words he inspired.”Ben Stuart, Rest and War
F Applying It: Notice, the point I’m making is not just that we know God’s Word, but that we know how to apply it. As we pray for each other, and we see the circumstances that we are facing, and there are many. Yes, we can pray, “God might you heal.” Or, “God might you reconcile.” Those are wonderful prayers. But we can also pray, “God, this person is facing hardship. Would you lead them through your word, so that their mind would be filled with Your Word, so that they can process this trial of theirs through your Word.” Oh what a prayer that would be.
II PRAY THAT THEIR LIFESTYLE WOULD INCREASINGLY REFLECT THE OVERFLOW OF THE GOSPEL IN THEIR LIFE
Second, deeply rooted Church pray that each person’s lifestyle (keyword here, lifestyle) would increasingly reflect the overflow of the Gospel in their life.
Colossians 1:10-11 “10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;”
A Their Lifestyle: Notice here how I spoke about a “lifestyle.” I’m drawing that out of verse 10 where he begins, “so as to walk…” First of all the “so as” connects us to verse 9 which was all about being filled with the knowledge of God’s will. The idea here is that as they are filled with that knowledge their lifestyle is adjusting accordingly. Paul wants the power of the Gospel to get far beyond their mind, and to sink down into their hearts and affections, so that they live as those who have been truly changed by the Gospel.
B Eight Prayers: In those two verses, I count no less than eight separate ideas about their lifestyles.
You Must Experience First: But before you can pray these ideas into someone else’s life, you yourself have to be experiencing them, at least in some degree. Could you imagine, a man who spends zero minutes in the Bible each week, praying fervently for another person, “O God, may you so grant Peter to delight in your Word, to so enjoy your Word that he would set time apart each day to dwell in it, and reflect on it.” That’s not going to happen. And so I want to use Paul’s eight lifestyle prayers as a way of testing our own hearts. These eight descriptors are natural outworkings of a person who truly understands what Jesus has accomplished for them through his death and resurrection. As we go through, ask yourself, are these in you and your lifestyle in some degree, if even as seedlings. Secondly you can ask if this is how you pray for others.
Worthy of the Gospel: Is your life worthy of the Lord? Don’t just nod your head. This is a diagnostic of your soul. The Gospel is that Christ died to forgive your sin. The Gospel is that Jesus rose from the grave to defeat sin, satan, and death itself for you. The Gospel is that God loves you so much, and Christ’s death was so powerful, that if your faith is in Jesus nothing could ever separate you from the love of God. The Gospel is that when you believed in Jesus, you were given a new nature.
Galatians 2:20 ESV I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Consider your life. Your coming and going. Your thoughts. Your attitudes. Your passions. Your leisure. Is your lifestyle worthy of the gospel?
A pleasing life: Second, he prays that their life would be pleasing to God. He loves God, and he loves these fellow believers, and he wants God to look down on their lives and say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” This is speaking about our obedience to God’s law and design.
1 Samuel 15:22 “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”
Do you long to obey God’s commands? Does that concern you? Do you look into the Scriptures, or hear a sermon, and think am I obeying that in my actions, in my heart, in my motivations? And then when you find inconsistency are you repenting and coming in line with God’s design. That pleases God.
A fruit bearing life: Third, he prays they would have a fruit bearing life. He’s speaking of spiritual fruit. Is your life the kind of life where others are brought closer to Christ, encouraged in Christ, deepened in Christ because of you. Where you go, the Kingdom blossoms because you are there. In your homes with your families. At your workplace and the opportunities God opens there, not only to speak about God, but live fruitful lives for all to see.
An increasingly knowledgeable life: He prays for an increasingly knowledgable life. We’ve already seen this today, but do you hunger for knowledge of God’s Word? Do you believe in your soul, that you alone without God’s Word are not to be trusted. There is too much sinful nature in you. You need God’s Word to live. You need God’s Word to guide your families. Husbands to lead your wives.
Powerful Life: How about the fifth marker, a powerful life. A memory verse for me has been Hosea 4:15 which reads,
Hosea 14:5 ESV I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
The image is that God will be like the dew in your life, covering you every morning, and causing health to flourish through you. Two things happen. First, if this is happening you will blossom like the lily. Second, you’ll take root the trees of lebanon. The cedars of Lebanon are famous for their size and strength. These are the trees that David bought to help his son build the temple. They are rooted and powerful. They don’t fall over easy, or get dismayed easy. They are steady spiritually. Is your life powerful in this way? Are you easily swayed?
Enduring Life: How about number six, an enduring life. The Christian life is to be one of consistent steady growth. There may be seasons of backsliding, seasons of being stalled, but that is not the norm. An enduring life, endures the gospel and in the hope of the Gospel. I was talking recently with Pastor Joe about a number of folks who were once leaders in the Church, leading small groups, and exhibiting signs to us that the Gospel had indeed taken root, but now they are barely recognizable. They become so worldly. If you’ve truly come to know Jesus, that Gospel power will endure to the end.
Philippians 1:6 ESV And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
A patient life: Then he finishes with these last two words, “a patient life.” Patience because so much of Christianity is hodling onto promises while you wait for God to deliver on the goods. So much of Christianity is knowing God’s goodness, clinging to His Word, and navigating the hardships of everyday life with a patience that though it cannot see the end of the trial, is confident that God is present, that he is good, and that He will see you through.
A joy filled life: And eight, a joy filled life. “With joy,” he says. Christian are you joyful. Does the gospel just make you want to shout? Make you wanna sing, halleluja! Do you ever just have moments where you say like Paul, “Heaven is going to be so good, but Lord I’ll stay here as long you need me.” That’s joy! Are you joful, and does that joyfulness flow from a fountain of the Gospel pervading your life?
D Practical Uses
Inward First – The Gospel!: If these lifestyles and values are not true of you, you are missing out on the full Gospel life that Jesus offers you. Christ defeated death itself, not to give you a life that barely makes it through. Christ defeated death to grant you the life that is truly life. Never settle as a Christian, just thinking, “Well, that joy abounding, enduring, powerful Christian life must be somebody else call, I’m just a regular guy.” No! If you’ve believed in Jesus and you’ve been filled by the Spirit, you are not a regular guy. You are stamped in the blood of the lamb. You have a new nature about you, that is good.
Outward: Secondly, I’m teaching you to pray. We must pray this into each other’s lives. And I want you to know I’m praying this for you, as our Pastor. I want this for each of you so bad.
III PRAY THEY MIGHT WALK IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES WITH A SPIRIT OF THANKFULNESS
Thirdly, pray for a spirit of thankfulness. This might sound simple, and in one way it is. But there’s some depth to it as well.
Colossians 1:12 “12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
You want to pray powerfully for others. Pray that they would have an overwhelmingly thankful spirit. Not just any kind of thankfulness, but a thankfulness towards God for what He has done for them.
A He Has Qualified Us: Paul says, “We give thanks because God has qualified us.” What does that word ‘qualified’ mean? We know that means. You qualify for a loan means you meet the requirement to get the loan. You qualify for a race, means you meet the requirements to participate in the race. Paul says that “the Father has qualified us for an inheritance with the saints.” See, in order for this idea to generate a true spirit of thankfulness in you, you must know and be convinced of two things. Both, what you have been gifted, and what you’ve been saved from.
B Illustration – Prince & Two Wives: Perhaps I can explain it this way. Imagine for a second that Prince who was soon to be King were to get married. If that King married a princess from another nation, a young woman who was raised in royalty. Certainly she would be excited. But, what if that same prince fell in love with a poor girl from the outskirts of the nation. A girl who’s parents had been abusive towards her. A girl who worked tirelessly and never had enough. A girl who all her life knew her place. Now if that girl, with that background married the prince, her excitement would far surpass the first woman. Because she knew the hopelessness of where she came from.
Your Debt: Friends, you have been gifted an inheritance that far outweighs any earthly prince’s inheritance. But you for to you appreciate it, for you to leap with the kind of joy that you ought to leap with when you think about this inheritance, you have to know where you came from. I was reading an old author this week who was describing our nature before we believed on Jesus. He was describing the soul’s condition of a nonbeliever. Pages and pages he wrote of the hellishness of sin in our lives, even among those who seem the sweetest on the outside. He wrote,
”You have not only enmity against God in your nature, but have revealed it by actual sins, which are, in His eye, acts of hostility. You have brought forth your lusts into the field of battle against your sovereign Lord. And because you are such a criminal, your condemntation is just… You are guilty of high treason and rebellion against the King of heaven. The thought and wish of your heart, which He knows as well as the language of your mouth, has been, ‘No God’ (Psalm 14:1). You have rejected His government, blown the trumpet, and set up the standard of rebellion against Him… You have striven against, and quenched His Spirit; practically disowned His laws proclaimed by His messengers… You have conspired with His grand enemy, the devil…”Thomas Boston, Human Nature in its Fourfold State
O Christian, pages upon pages of this. This is who you were. And your punishment was wholly justified by a righteous judge. You were godless. Your greatest acts of kindness were all judged by God as if they were filthy rags, because without the motivation of godliness, they were all ultimately aimed at pleasing the enemy. Hell was your destiny.
Your Reward: But God the Father in his infinite mercy, sent Christ. Christ came to take the entire penalty that was yours for breaking God’s commands, and to take it upon himself. Christ bore the curse of the law in your stead. And what Paul is saying in this verse is that by faith in Christ, you not only have your sins forgiven, but you have an inheritance you didn’t earn. Your eternity is secure. Rather, than an endless season of anguish, loneliness, and darkness. You have awaiting you an endless eternity of joy, community, and light. The Apostle Peter says,
1 Peter 1:3–4 ESV Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
C Inward Reflection: And so again I want to first look inwards. Do you have an overwhelming sense of thankfulness to God for your secured eternity? Does thoughts of heaven often make its way into your soul, and cause you to fall back on the goodness of the Gospel and just say, “thank you God for sending Christ to take my place underneath the wrath of God, and to grant me salvation.” Do you ever read the Sciptures, and so see your own story in the foolishness and wickedness of the characters on the pages of the Bible, and think, “God has loved me and I don’t deserve it. God has forgiven me so much.” Church, this cannot be pasted on. You’ve got to press into the Gospel.
D Pray For Others: And as you press into the gospel, we pray this into each other fervently. And what we discover as we pray for each other this way, is that our roots are becoming entangled, and they’re growing deep together. Our lives are beginning wrap around each other in a way that makes dependent on one another, and hopeful with each other, and bearing with one another. We begin to look like the Church.
A Recap: Three ways to pray. 1 Pray that they might know God’s Word and how to apply it. 2 Pray that their lifestyle would increasingly reflect an overflow of the gospel. 3 Pray for a Spirit of thankfulness.