We have all had the experience of telling someone we would be praying for them and then forgetting to do so. There are times when we really don’t know how to pray or even what to pray for someone. Paul’s prayer for the Colossian believers is an example of the kind of prayer that we can always pray for one another.
Colossians 1:9: For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
God has a very specific plan for our lives. His plan is not so mysterious that it cannot be known. Paul’s prayer makes clear that God can and will make known His plan for each of our lives.
There are some things God has told all of His children they should do. This would be things like prayer and Bible study, attending church, loving God and loving people. We might even call these kinds of commands God’s general will. Paul’s prayer for the Colossians touches upon God’s specific plan for His children. God has a purpose for your life. His purpose for you is unique. He has been and will continue to prepare you to accomplish His purpose.
This brings up one of life’s most important questions. Why am I here? We know that God has commanded, let me say that again, commanded all His children to make disciples. We are all in the ministry of making disciples. Someone once said, “The purpose of your life is to find out where you fit into the Great Commission process and do that.”
When we are praying for each other, we should pray that God will reveal to each of us where we fit into God’s Great Commission plan and then pray that we will be faithful in doing that.
I had to laugh when I realized that the last time I posted a blog was on June 5 and the subject of that blog was commitment. Now, well over a month later I am posting again. Now that’s commitment…ok, maybe not.
I want to share with you how God has been working in my life lately. In the last few weeks I have experienced times of abiding peace and joy. I also have felt the sting of discouragement and disappointment. When I think back over these fluctuations I can say without doubt that I know one key component that led to the down times and that brought back the blessed times. That key component was my thoughts.
During a period of the down times, I listened to a sermon that rebuked me and helped me. I would encourage you to listen. (Overcoming the Mind of the Flesh) The message challenged me to consider my position “in Christ.”
The phrase is found over 70 times in our New Testament. This truth was a recurring theme in the writing of the Apostle Paul. He uses the phrase multiple times in all but two of his epistles. I think Paul wanted the people reading his letters to meditate on what it means to be “in Christ.”
Well, what does it mean? When you were growing up, did you for whatever reason, ever think to yourself, “I’m in trouble now?” What did you mean by being “in trouble?” You weren’t in a geographic location called “trouble.” You may have wished you were in a different geographic location when your parents found out about the trouble you were in but that’s beside the point. You were in a condition of trouble. Being “in Christ” describes our condition rather than our location. In Christ we are a citizen of God’s kingdom. In Christ we are the recipient of God’s unchanging love. Being “in Christ” describes our standing with God.
Over the course of several blog entries we are going to focus on Colossians 1. In that text Paul discusses who we are without Christ and who we are “in Christ.”
For now let me leave you with these thoughts.
Justification is a gift of God’s grace received “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:24
There is no condemnation to those in Christ. Romans 8:1
Nothing, I mean nothing, can separate us from God’s love that is found in Christ. Romans 8:39
The veil of spiritual blindness in lifted in Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:14
Those of us who are in Christ are never the same. 2 Corinthians 5:17
It is in Christ that God reconciles sinners to Himself. 2 Corinthians 5:19
We become children of God by, and only by, faith in Christ. Galatians 3:26
All spiritual blessings in this life and in eternal life are the result of being in Christ. Ephesians 1:3
The dead in Christ rise first at the Rapture of the Church. 1 Thessalonians 4:16
These are just a few of the New Testament passages that speak of being in Christ; but if we spend time thinking about what these verses teach we will be lifted out of discouragement and disappointment and brought to a place of joy and peace.
My family and I have been in church planting for about nine years; more if you count the time we spent raising the funds to be able to begin the ministry here in Georgia. Over the years, both the church and I have gone through many changes. I say sometimes (jokingly, of course) that I am pastoring my fourth or fifth congregation in nine years.
There are many personal lessons God has taught me. He has also taught me many lessons about His Church. I don’t claim to be anything near an expert but there is one thing I more convinced of now than ever before. We must be more concerned about God’s business than we are our own. In other words, we are to “seek first the kingdom of God.” That which is most important to God should be most important to us.
The last words of our Lord before He went back to His Father; the last words He ever spoke to His disciples are recorded in the first chapter of the book of Acts.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
We often consider a person’s last words to be of vital importance. This is certainly true of our Lord. We are to be His witnesses. We are to be involved in carrying His Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. We get our English word martyr from the Koine Greek word that is translated witnesses. Being a martyr demands the highest level of commitment to a cause. This word certainly has a great deal to teach us about the commitment we should have to the cause of Christ and His Gospel.
Is there anyone to whom we are more committed than we are to Christ? Is there anything to which we are more committed than we are to Christ? If we answered yes to either of these questions we have admitted that we have an idol in our life. Is your job your idol? Is your talent your idol? Is your free time your idol? Is your boyfriend your idol? Is your ministry your idol? Are you as committed to your church as you are to your hunting or exercise club?
Just one final thought. If you are struggling with commitment, go to your pastor and let him know that you would like a ministry in your church. Admit to him that you struggle with commitment. Then ask him to pray for you and help you to be faithful to Christ and His Church.
I have not always thought or known that God is good. I had a view of God that was shaped by my experience rather than what God says about Himself. My experience taught me that God is just waiting, almost eager to punish me for my sin. Sadly, at times, I didn’t think that God really loved me. I never really thought of God in terms of His goodness. I knew what the Bible had to say about His goodness but I did not know that meant He was good to me personally.
I am so glad I was wrong about God. He does love me. He always will love me and nothing or no one will ever change that. He isn’t eager to punish me. When I sin, which is far too often, He is a loving Father who is eager for me to repent and come back to Him. He is good. He is always good and He is always good to me. This statement doesn’t seem to fit with some of our life experience. How can God be good when people we love get cancer? How can God be good when I lose my job? How can God be good when my house gets foreclosed? We want to take circumstances that are genuinely hurtful and hard and use those to question God’s goodness.
First, let me say that I don’t have all this figured out but I do know that God is always and only good. The sad truth is, we live in a fallen, sin cursed world. When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden his sin not only brought the human race under the curse of sin but his disobedience brought all of creation under that curse. The reason there are tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, plane crashes, car wrecks, cancer, diseases and so on, is sin. The reason people die is sin. The reason there are hospitals is sin. I do not mean to sound overly simplistic nor do I wish to diminish anyone’s heartache. It is, in fact, the goodness of God that hinders the full force of sin’s horror from being unleashed on humanity. It is the goodness of God that sent His Son, Jesus to deliver sinful man from the curse that sin brings. It is the goodness of God that allows us to experience His presence and comfort in the midst of our personal storms.
My main concern in this blog is to convince you that God is good to you personally. Some of the best news I ever heard was when I worked as a counselor at a summer camp. One of the preachers drilled into us this thought, “God is always good; He will never do you wrong; He only wants the best for your life.” These three power packed little phrases changed my thinking and my life and they can do the same for you. When (notice I didn’t say if) you go through hurt and hardship focus on God and not on the hurt or hardship. Look for the goodness of God in every circumstance and rest your faith and trust in His unending, exceedingly abundant goodness.
This is the time of year when graduation ceremonies fill our schedules. Young people are finishing their high school careers while young adults graduating from college are hoping to begin a career. The two words used to describe these ceremonies conjure thoughts of life lessons.
A commencement is a beginning. As high school and college years come to an end many things in life are just beginning. Some high school graduates will soon begin college studies. They may begin a new job to help pay for those college studies. Today, I attended a graduation ceremony where 14 young people were introduced who will soon begin to serve our country in different branches of the military. College graduates will hopefully begin jobs they spent the last several years preparing for. I think you get the idea.
In essence the idea of the word graduate is to move from one step or stage of something to another. When we speak of college graduations we are obviously speaking of moving from the learning stage of life to the living stage of life. Not that we ever stop learning but I think you understand what I mean.
These two words have significance beyond just receiving a diploma. There will be many new beginnings throughout our lives. Marriage, children, jobs, moving to a new place, new phases of life. Each new beginning will bring new challenges and new opportunities. The beginning can be exciting and at the same time daunting. As we live our life going from commencement to commencement there will be tests along the way. Every new beginning will bring along it’s own unique tests. Then there will be the unexpected exams. We just heard today of a godly young couple who found out that the wife has cancer in her liver. The discovery of the cancer in her liver was made during surgery to remove part of her colon that was cancerous. New beginnings and tests will be with us throughout our life.
Eventually we will reach our final graduation. We will take the final step from this life to the next. Some people think that how well you have done with the tests throughout life will determine where we will spend the next. Actually, this is not the case. You can “pass” all the life tests with flying colors but ultimately fail for all eternity. Don’t wait until graduation day to prepare for eternity. If you have questions about where you will spend eternity let me encourage you to visit Somewhere Forever.