I’m almost overcome with amazement at the timing of God in our lives with events upon the earth and the study of the scriptures. You and I live in a very different climate than we did this time last week. Our Supreme Court made a ruling that signifies a profound change within the landscape of our day. Now more than ever, friends, we must be alert and watching for the return of our Savior. Now more than ever, we must be diligent to serve Him and make the most of every opportunity we have to share the Good News. Now, more than ever, we must love with a love that costs us everything. Over the past week that I have been studying these scriptures in Colossians 4, God has given me several opportunities to encourage people with these very words. There is profound insight to be gained as we close our study on Colossians here in week 12. I pray that Paul’s words will fall on good soil today. We live in, I believe, such a very significant hour on God’s Kingdom calendar. We certainly live in a weighty time in God’s calendar concerning the United States of America. No time has ever been more important for His Bride to wake up and go to work in the harvest fields. In 6 months, friends, I believe with everything in me that we will be living in very different circumstances as Believers. Wake up today, be alert, the Lord is coming soon! Please open your bibles to Colossians 4:2-18. Here is the link to your notes and 5 days of homework: Col PN 4.2-18
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
- Pray steadfastly with thanks, being alert
From the Greek definition of “Steadfastly in Prayer”:
to adhere TO PRAYER, to be devoted TO PRAYER
to be steadfastly attentive TO PRAYER, to give unremitting care TO PRAYER
to continue all the time in PRAYER
to persevere and not to faint IN PRAYER
to show one’s self courageous for PRAYER
to be in constant readiness for PRAYER, wait on constantly IN PRAYER
Greek Definition: “Be Watchful in Prayer”
to keep awake, spiritual alertness, be vigilant; to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one
This definition just gets me! Keep awake, be alert, be vigilant in prayer. There are things that we must fight for in prayer. Our enemy is coming at us with a force we have not yet seen. He intends to undo the very fabric of our society with intense deception. Also, our God will send judgement on a nation that will not cease turning her back on Him. It is His way, He is mighty and Holy and is incredibly patient. He sends warning after warning to nations who pridefully shove Him away. It is highly likely that there will be calamity after calamity that befalls the USA unless we pray. PRAY!!! Pray for revival among the people who call upon His Name, pray that the church would wake up and DO what God has told us to do. Love Him with everything we have, love our neighbors as ourselves, and go out into all the world and make disciples. None of that happens without total dependance upon God in prayer.
This same word for “be watchful” that Paul uses in verse 2 is used by Jesus here:
Matthew 24:42-43 ESV
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
The King James says, “Watch therefore…”
The NASB says, “Therefore be on the alert…”
If you and I will tune-in to what the Holy Spirit is saying, and how He is moving, we will have insight that we could NEVER have otherwise. He is the Helper. Oh that we would receive the help we need from Him as we pray. Lord, help us to be alert, watching, being vigilant in prayer and watching for the Lord.
The next word we see in regard to prayer is “with Thanksgiving.” Such a strong theme in Colossians, I believe this is the 6th time Paul commands thankfulness in 4 chapters! Do not miss the significance of this theme of gratitude just because Paul keeps repeating it. Do not let repetition lull you to sleep; allow his repetition of calling us to thankfulness wake you up. Take heed! Be thankful! It changes everything.
Then we go right into verses 3 & 4:
At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
- Pray for others, for open doors for the Word, and for God’s message to be made clear by whoever is speaking it.
One of the biggest cliché’s among Christian is “When God closes one door He always opens another.” And it’s a cliché because it’s true…He does it all the time! We can trust Him! He does not leave us in the hallway forever. But, here, Paul is asking them to join him asking the Father to make a way for the Gospel to move forward. To bring Gentiles into the fold in order to make Jews jealous (Romans 11:11), the mystery of Christ had to be made plain.
Paul needed incredible stamina and boldness in order to declare the truth, sometimes in very hostile situations. This mission is WHY he was sitting in prison. And just look at what doors opened up for YOU & I to hear the gospel message because of Paul’s willingness to serve the Lord while behind bars. If Paul had not been locked up, who knows if he would have taken the time to sit down and pen these letters the Holy Spirit spoke through him to all of us today. It’s a total wonder, and I am amazed continually at God’s providential brilliance. We are living proof of the answer to this prayer, y’all. I don’t know if that completely overwhelms you or not, but I challenge you to let it. Let God’s sovereign power engulf your mind and heart.
He is a God who calls us to pray and then delights to answer our prayers! The fact that we are called into partnership with Him astounds me. God knows everything, He knows if and when we will pray, He knows what we will say, and yet it is His joy that we call out and cry out and converse with Him continually because prayer changes US. Prayer changes things, situations, people, outcomes, timing of events, focus, and mostly it changes us. Prayer is a lifeline to the only One Who knows what is best.
Paul then asks for prayer that he would make it clear, which is how he ought to speak. I heard a lady shout out during a live-streamed sermon I was watching recently from Revive Indiana, “Make it plain, Preacher!” And you can imagine it said with the best Jesus-lovin’, southern, beautiful black woman’s voice. It was precious and it was biblical! Then the best part was the preacher looked at her and replied in a laugh, “I’m tryin’!” And it was hilarious, and it was good. She wanted clarity and he was trying to deliver it. And all the while, it was exactly what Paul was asking the Colossians to pray for him.
I want us to read Colossians 4:2-4 in The Message:
Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. 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. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.
Oh, Lord Jesus, help us live our lives in a way that makes Jesus plain as day to people. And speaking of how we should live, let’s go to verse 5 now.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
- Walk in wisdom, don’t waste time, recognize opportunities to show non-believers who Jesus is
You have likely heard someone say, “You may be the only Bible someone ever reads.” That is what I thought of when I began studying Colossians 4:5. There is a great passage in 2 Corinthians 3 that speaks of this very idea. We are letters from Christ Jesus to the world. The world is literally dying without Him, and we carry the Good News within us every single day. Oh God, that we would let our light shine among men, so that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).
2 Corinthians 3:2
You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Y’all – people need Jesus. America needs Jesus!!! And the only Bible many people have read or even seen is either being lived out by you…or not lived out by you. I just recently spoke to a church planter’s wife in Ft. Collins, CO and she shared with my friends and I how we could pray for this area they serve. Very, very few people have a relationship with Christ Jesus. The average home price in their community is $360K and they are just as lost as the homeless people on the streets of Dallas. She, her husband, their 4 children, and Living Rock Church are the only exposure some of these people have ever had with the Gospel. They are the letter of recommendation that people can read, written by the Spirit of the Living God. Are you?
A.T. Robertson in Paul and the Intellectuals says,
Every occasion is an open market of opportunity for Christ. It is so easy to let opportunities slip by unused. John A. Broadus used to say that opportunity was like a fleet horse that pauses for one moment by one’s side. If you fail to mount him in that moment, you can hear the clatter of his hoofs down the corridor of time. That opportunity is gone forever. One has to pay for what he buys in the open market when others bid for the privilege.
“It will sometimes cost selfish ease, personal convenience, comfort, reputation, money; in any case, in every case, however, they are to pay the price, purchase for themselves the opportunity, and save their unsaved neighbors or friends.” (Alexander)
We live in a world of lost souls drowning in a sea of lies. Yet, we have the greatest news of all human history. Is it worth the loss of our ease to share the Good News with someone today. But, we have been trained by the world of political correctness to keep our mouths shut. And look where we are…mouths shut in fear of offending, few bringing the Good News for decades, God continually being asked to leave our schools and government offices, trading the truth about God for lies. Oh God have mercy on us! Oh God, make US the letters of recommendation for Your Great Name! Help us, Lord! Give us opportunities today to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with someone, and give us the guts to stick our foot in the stirrup grab the saddle horn and swing up on the back of that horse of opportunity.
Our time is so short, we MUST make the most of every opportunity. Get outside the safe walls of our churches and engage people in life. Show them Jesus, take Jesus to the outsiders so they can become insiders!
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
- Speak graciously, know how to answer anyone who questions you
If we are going to make the most of our opportunities with unbelievers, then we must speak graciously, seasoned with salt so that we can know how to answer each person. One commentary I read says that “seasoned with salt” is a metaphor for Christians giving a powerful and attractive testimony to non-Christians. Let’s look at what Jesus said in Matthew 5:13:
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
The commentary in the ESV Global Study Bible says, “As salt is beneficial in a number of ways (preservative and seasoning, etc.) so are disciples of Jesus who influence the world for good.”
It may feel at times that the message of Jesus Christ is being trampled under people’s feet in the world today, especially in our country. But, remember what Jesus said to us! We are the salt of the earth. If those of us who are willing to stand up and be counted as a follower of Jesus Christ, unwavering in our faith will be worth our salt. Oh how I pray that more and more of us will!
Now, let’s look at “knowing how to answer each person.”
1 Peter 3:13-17 ESV
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
If you are worth your salt, and you do take a stand for Jesus, chances are that you will be questioned at some point. Now, since we live in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt, it is unlikely that any of us have faced much questioning and certainly unlikely that we’ve faced persecution in the past. However, I believe wholeheartedly that days are coming in which we will. I believe that we will face more and more questioning and persecution as time progresses in the climate of our culture. I believe that you and I will need excessive wisdom and grace with which to answer those who question our faith and our stance for what the Bible says. We must return to the truth of Colossians 4 and 1 Peter 3:15. We must be prepared! And how do we prepare? We pray. We watch and we pray. We walk in wisdom making the most of every opportunity and we speak with grace.
Let’s look at one more verse in 1 Peter 4:7:
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
I heard a sermon by Francis Chan in January from the Passion Conference in Houston where he taught this passage. Look at what 1 Peter 4:7 is saying. We usually think of prayer as a means to an end. Prayer is the means when we say “God, come fix this or that” and whatever situation He intervenes within is the end. This passage totally flips our understanding of that. 1. Realize the end of all thing is near, 2. be self-controlled, 3. be sober-minded FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR PRAYERS. Your prayer life and my prayer life are dependent upon our understanding of the urgent day we live in, our self-control and our minds being clear and sober SO THAT OUR PRAYER life can be effective! Prayer is the point. Our conversations with God are being stored up in golden bowls. Our conversations with other people who follow Jesus are being recorded! Listen to this:
Then those who feared the Lordspoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.
Just wow. Oh, y’all, let’s pray like we’ve never prayed before! It will be worth it! He longs to pour out His Spirit upon us in these last days. Do not let 2015 be the year where you do not experience Him or have His power in your life because you did not ask Him. He is a good Father, Who knows how to give good gifts to His children!
- Be encouraged, give thanks, and spur one another on in this walk following Christ Jesus. We are in this thing together, side-by-side, the family of God.
Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts,
Who: He gets mentioned in Acts 20:4, Ephesians, Colossians, Titus, and 2 Timothy.
What: He’s a beloved brother, faithful minister & fellow servant in the Lord
Why: to update them about Paul and to encourage their hearts
and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.
Who: Onesimus; Do you know how it is when there is a story with too many details to casually mention. I feel like Paul is saying that here with the subject of Onesimus. It’s as if he can’t get into that right now, it would take him another chapter and he doesn’t have time, he’s pressed in his heart to write a letter to Philemon directly so that Onesimus can get on with his life as a follower of Christ Jesus. I want to know what took place there! Don’t you?! What kind of conversion story must Onesimus have?
What: he’s a faithful and beloved brother, he is a Colossian
Why: he and Tychicus will tell them the whole story
Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you,
Who: Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. Acts 19:29, 20:4, 27:2, and in Philemon he’s mentioned
What: he’s in prison alongside Paul
Why: he wants to greet these brothers and sisters he’s never met
and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him),
Who: Mark the cousin of Barnabas; not the same Mark the Apostle who wrote the Gospel. Not the Mark whom Paul and Barnabas sharply disagreed over in Acts 15:37-39. Philemon 1:24 mentions him as well amongst this same group with Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke.
What: they received instructions to welcome him if he comes
and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.
Who: It’s the only mention of Jesus, called Justus in God’s Word
What: He and Mark, Barnabas’ cousin are the only Jewish Believers with Paul
Why: They have been a comfort to Paul
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.
Who: Epaphras, he’s mentioned in Chapter 1, here and in Philemon
What: He is always struggling on behalf of the Church in Colossae in his prayers; Paul has witnessed his hard work on behalf of them and those in Laodicea and Hierapolis
Why: So that they may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.
Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.
Who: Luke, mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24, the book of Acts chapter 16 when it turns from “they” to “we”, Luke is the narrator for the 1st 15 chapters then becomes an eyewitness in ch.16
Who #2: Demas – mentioned also in Philemon, but by the time Paul wrote 2 Timothy 4:10, “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”
What: They send greeting to the Church in Colossae
Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.
Who: Laodicea is mentioned in 2:1, 4:13-16, Revelation 1:11, 3:14. Nypha is only mentioned here in the Bible. She hosted the church in Laodicea is all we know. Paul sent a letter there, but it was not preserved.
What: Read this letter to the Colossians, then send it to be read to the Church in Laodicea, then read the Laodicean letter in the Colossian Church as well.
And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”
Who: Archippus. In Philemon 1:2b, “…and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:
Why: He is encouraging and propelling Archippus into the ministry that he received from the Lord.
I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
Paul wants them to remember his chains.
Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.
Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American pastor imprisoned in Iran for sharing the Gospel. Follow his story here:
Remember the persecuted Believers around the world in prayer; remember those who are experiencing hardship for the sake of the Gospel.
Open Doors: https://www.opendoorsusa.org
Voice of the Martyrs: http://www.persecution.com/public/newsroom.aspx
As you consider the magnitude of weight this message today holds, be sober-minded and self-controlled for the sake of your prayers. For the sake of your prayers, realize that the end is near. Do not waste time, sisters. Do not be about your own business, be about your Father’s business. And realize this, when He walks into a room (and He delights to do that when you ask Him in prayer) everything changes. His power is overwhelming, His grace is astounding, His mercy triumphs, and His love cures. He is worthy of our very lives poured out as an offering, let that sink in as you listen and worship today…