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Paul’s Example in Colossians for Us as We Pray for Other Believers September 26, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Colossians, Prayer, Religion, Sermons.


This prayer was a pastoral prayer. Paul was not the pastor of the Colossian church. He did not know most of the believers in the church. He had never been among them (Colossians 2:1). Yet he thanks God for specific working in their live and prays for them in very specific ways.

I cannot often identify myself closely with Paul but as I begin today as pastor of the Grace Bible Church, I find that… although I know most of you superficially because there has been a lack of opportunity and none of you outside of my family do I know well …I find that Paul’s example serves me well and I trust that you will indulge me copying him. In fact, I hope that, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you will join with me in copying Paul.

1. I am thankful for your initial response to the gospel (verses 3-7). I am glad that you are saved. I am thrilled that God has called each of you who are saints and faithful brethren (verse 2) (and if you have trusted Christ, you are both) to be a part of this organism we call the Body of Christ, to be born into this community we call the Family of God.

A. You have responded with a confident (hope) faith (verses 4a, 5-6). It is important to notice that they responded to the truthful word of the gospel of grace. The Colossians had heard the good news of Jesus Christ. They had heard the God had shown grace to humankind through Jesus Christ. The question is not if they would respond. The question is, would they respond in faith or in rejecting Jesus Christ. Those are the only two responses once you have heard the truth. Once you know the good news, you must either believe it totally or on some level reject. Some try to pick and choose what they would like to believe but that is not an alternative. Jesus Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life. No man comes to the Father but by me.”

I am thankful that you have responded to this truth, that is what faith is, responding to that which you are confident is true. This confidence is described as a hope laid up in heaven. This is important. It may not seem like faith in Christ is worth very much in this world but He is our hope for the future. That is what Paul tells us in verse 27. Christ living in me is my hope in glory. I have no confidence in my flesh, it will die. I have no confidence in my friends and family. They also will die. I have no confidence in my wealth. I cannot take it with me and it is easily lost. It must be hoarded or perhaps invested with risk in order to be kept. I have no confidence in my talents, they will fade. I have no confidence in my legacy. The libraries are full of forgotten legacies. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” “My hope in the Lord, who gave Himself for me; and paid the price for all my sin on Calvary.”

Why am I thankful? Because we share that hope, we share that faith, that confidence in Christ, we are faithful brethren, that is brothers and sisters through faith in Christ.

B. You have responded with love for other believers (verses 4b, 6a, 8). This may seem a strange reason to be thankful but there are a couple of reasons why Paul expressed this as a specific reason for thanksgiving. Paul knew what churches were like that did not love each other. Paul had spent much time trying to eliminate the divisions that had caused such chaos in the Corinthian church. About the time of this letter, we know that Paul was addressing through other letters like Philippians and Ephesians the disunity that often comes into churches. Certainly, a love for the saints by the Colossians was a reason for thanksgiving.

I think though that there is another reason why Paul was thankful for their love for each other. The first fruit and the most important effect of the gospel in the life of a believer is the love it produces in that believer for other believers. Jesus said to His disciples in John 13 that the mutual love between believers would be proof to the world that they were truly His disciples. Colossians 1:6 mentions that the gospel produces fruit and verse 8 indicates that the fruit is their love in the Spirit. Paul teaches in Romans 5:5 that the love of God is poured out into the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit. Peter also indicates in 1 Peter 1:22 that love for other believers is directly related to obedience to the gospel of Christ.

Paul heard that these people loved each other and loved other believers and immediately thought, “Yes, these are true believers.” No doubtful statements like he made to the Corinthians when he twice asks, “Are you not carnal?” Are you not behaving like mere men, giving yourselves up to your animal appetites, biting and slashing at each other. That is not the way of true believers in Christ.

When I was a teenager, I helped my uncle out on his hog farm. He had a long farrowing house with room for around twenty sows and their litters. After the little pigs would get to a certain age, I would hold the little pigs for him while he snipped off their tails and then put medicine on them to prevent infection. He said that if you did not do that, they would nip at each others tails and that the wounds would get infected and the piglets would die. You see, that is the only way to stop them, cut off their tails.

But a believer in Christ has the love of God poured out into his heart through the Spirit of God and will restrain himself from nipping at his brother and sister in Christ. Instead he or she will show love to their siblings in Christ. This thrilled Paul to hear because he knew through their love that they were true believer. We need to thrill also when someone shows through their love for other believers the reality of their faith.

2. I am praying for abundance in your lives (verses 9-12). Paul was not just being thankful but he was also praying for these believers who he did not know. He was just asking for the Lord to bless them but to abundantly bless them because they needed the abundant blessing of God on their lives.

A. You need an abundant knowledge of God’s will (verse 9). Abundant blessings are not careers and money and health and family. Those are good to have but a believer in Christ might have to get along without them. A believer in Christ though cannot get along without an abundant knowledge of God’s will.

We are going to talk about this in detail in the weeks to come but I want you to know right know what God’s will is that you need to intimately know. It is found in verses 19-22. It is God’s will that you be reconciled to Him through the death of Christ so that you might be presented blameless before God. That is what you should live for, yearn for, and learn for. That must take priority above all things, to understand fully what it means to be a trophy of His grace, a part of His beautiful bride. God wants more than to save you from hell and take you to heaven, He wants to present you for all eternity as the culmination of His work, the product of the death of His Son.

B. You need a walk worthy of that abundance (verses 10-12). It is good to look forward to such a glorious eternity but God expects us to live that reality now, to live in a manner that fits our eternal destiny. Now how do you do this?

1. You continue your walk in Christ as you began it (verse 10).

A. You are constantly producing good works (verse 10a). Just keep loving your brethren and as your love your brethren, you will begin to produce the joy and the peace and the longsuffering and the humility and all the other things that a walk with God should produce, yea, must produce. You are fruitful.

B. You are constantly responding to the knowledge of God’s will (verse 10b). The knowledge of God’s will is like combustion in a gasoline engine. If you put the right mix of gasoline and air and spark in that engine, it will drive that engine and the more you increase that mix the faster that engine is driven and the faster the vehicle will drive. Knowing God’s eternal purposes, God’s will, will drive you to love other believers and experience the fruit of the Spirit in your life and the more that knowledge increases, the more your love for your brethren will increase. The formula is actually simple but too many of us try to push the car to higher speeds without any combustion in the engine. It just will not work. The best you can do to reach high speeds is push the car off a cliff but that really is not the same as driving a car.

2. You continue your walk in Christ through strength from God, especially during the difficult days (verse 11). There are days when even love for your brethren in Christ taxes your spiritual strength. There are days when our knowledge of God’s will and our wonderful, future in Christ do not move us. There are days when our circumstances and the people around us seem unbearable and we want to strike out at them. On those days, we need God’s power. Paul understood that these people were no better than the factions in Corinth or the ladies in Philippi who could not get along. He knew that they needed help and that help can only come from God.

3. You continue your walk in Christ confidently thankful in the knowledge that your hope is made certain by the Father (verse 12). How do I know that Christ will strengthen me in my walk? How do I know that a more intimate knowledge of God’s purposes will cause me to produce the fruits of love and patience and longsuffering with joy? How can I be confident that God will answer my prayer and cause you to grow in the knowledge of Christ and in the love for your brethren and in the power of His might? Because that is His plan and has always been His plan.

God never intended for believers, as individuals or as a body to struggle in mediocrity. He wants us in our spiritual passing gear. That is how we should pray for each other, that these three elements: knowledge, love, and power. The power is available, the knowledge is to be gained, and the love is to be practiced. Let us become together a church whose prayer requests daily go beyond the common needs that we have and ask God to make us a people worthy of His will.



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