Building the Body – Colossians 1:9-14

Prayer Is The Fuel For Spiritual Body Building

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.

Foundational Fuel

Everywhere you look in scripture, people are praying.  They are praying to worship God in praise.  They are praying to petition God for assistance.  They are praying for God’s will to come about.  And here, Paul and Epaphras are praying that the seed that was planted in the church body located at Colossi would flourish.

Prayer is the fuel and only offensive weapon we have in our spiritual warfare:

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Jesus definitively recognized that His disciples should pray.  Notice the words He uses when He talks about prayer:

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Jesus doesn’t say, “If you pray…”, or, “Should you decide to pray…”, or, “Perhaps you should pray…”.  Jesus says, “…when you pray…”.  One of the reasons that we are so weak is that we are not doing what our body-building trainer tells us to do – P R A Y!

Body Building

In this passage, there are several tips to successful spiritual body-building.  And just as Earthly body-builders need to practice and have workouts to keep their physical bodies in top shape, spiritual body-builders need to complete their workouts to keep their spiritual lives in top shape.  God is all about relationship.  Prayer is communication, which is a vital part of the relationship process.

Here are some of the tips and tricks provided to us to up our game in spiritual body-building from Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ:

Dominion of Darkness

Before God the Holy Spirit revealed Jesus Christ to us, we were in the dominion of darkness.  Satan was our father, for our deeds were evil and we neither sought out God, nor gave Him glory.  The world, the flesh, and the devil were our constant companions and our advisors.  We were born with a sin nature passed down to us from Adam.  It’s no wonder that we were slaves in bondage to sin.

Crown of Christ

Jesus came to rescue us from our bondage to sin and from sin itself, and reconcile us to the Father.  When we confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, we were moved into the Kingdom of Light.  We have been adopted as children into the family of God.  Jesus is our brother; we are his brothers and sisters.

This seems very basic, but it has profound meaning and implication in our lives.  No longer are we prohibited from experentially and relationally knowing God.  No longer do we look in confusion or bewilderment at who God is; God is revealing Himself to us through His Son in His word and through the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

To those who have been given much, much is expected.  How much has God given you?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I being faithful in my spiritual body-building exercises?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, the knowledge that You have adopted me into Your family is too wonderful for me to comprehend.  Just as an orphan is stunned after being adopted into a loving family, I am still stunned as I ponder the implications of being adopted into Your family.  You have done great and mighty things on and for my behalf.  You have given me an eternal future with You, access to You in Your throne room any time I need or just want to be there, and you have given me access to the royal treasury by blessing me with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  You have said that to those who have been given much, more is expected.  Father, what do you expect of me?  Show me that I may do all that you desire for me to do and become in gratitude for all that You have done for me.  Help me to remember my brothers and sisters in Christ, and pray fervently for them that they would be built up in Christ.  Give me Your love, so that it will be on display for all to see.  Help me to yield myself to you completely.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Witnessing for God – Matthew 20:21-25

And They Really ARE Out To Get You…

21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!”

Betrayed by Brothers

Jesus warns His disciples that when they are obedient to His word, they will be betrayed by their very own siblings.  And they won’t just be betrayed – they will be betrayed unto death.  Following Christ as a Disciple, especially witnessing for Christ, carries with it inherent risks.  In Western culture, these risks have been avoided for centuries because the tolerance for others religiously was greatly permitted.  However, since the fulfillment of Scripture of both the reformation of the nation of Israel (1948) and their subsequent independence of gentile control through the Six-Day War (in 1967), there has been an all-out assault on Christianity in the last haven on Earth for them.

It is common in the Middle East nations that have embraced Islam as their core tenet of society (whether overtly or covertly) to ensure that anyone who is caught believing in YHWH and His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, is put to death in a most immediate, public, and brutal way:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Persecuted by Parents

Parents love their children.  Most parents would place themselves in harm’s way to protect their children, even to the point of death.  But once a person becomes a disciple of Christ, that protection is forfeited.  The hatred of God by His enemies is so strong, that parents would betray their children, even allowing them to be arrested and put to death.  In many cultures, especially ones where they strictly adhere to the teachings of Muhammed and the Quran, there is a duty to reveal anyone who does not believe as they do.

Parents turn their backs on their children, and betray them even to death when they are strict adherents to the “religion of peace.”  But even two thousand years ago, Jewish parents would do the same, believing that their children were apostate, believing in false gods.  And the penalty for that was death.

Children will Cross

This was not a one-way street.  If children found out that there parents were apostate, they also had a duty to report them for the very same reason to receive the very same punishment.  The one that is worshiped in the Jewish culture will not tolerate worship of false Gods.  Neither will the fundamentalist adherents of Islam allow anyone who was declared to be Muslim worship anyone other than Al iLah.  Love that would normally bind together families and smooth out differences is not tolerated when it comes to whom or what a person worships.

Jesus warns that this will happen, so be prepared for the consequences of following Him as His disciple.  It very well may mean the difference between physical life and death.  But thanks be to God that He, through the blood of His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, has given His disciples eternal life found in Him.  Regardless of whether we live or die in the flesh, we are spiritually alive in Christ, and will be so for all eternity, starting from when we believe upon His name.  Worry not about whether you are going to be persecuted or even put to death.  You are alive in Christ!

Depart before Destruction

Jesus instructs his disciples to flee persecution.  He does not require His disciples to be doormats for His enemies.  When persecuted, feel free to flee somewhere else where you will not face persecution.

It is truly a sad day for the disciples of Christ that the United States of America, once the bastion of liberty and a nation that permitted the free exercise of religion now openly persecutes and prosecutes those who adhere to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  No longer is their protection to freely worship in public and private.  The state-mandated religion of Secular Humanism is now the religion du jour and the only one fully tolerated by the government (with the exception of Islam being preferred in the background).  Be prepared to lose everything if you decide, as a disciple of Christ, to live by your beliefs in public as well as private.  And now that the last bastion of freedom has vanished, there is no place on Earth where it is safe for disciples of Christ to go and practice their faith without fear of governmental reprisal.

Assault for Association

Jesus warns His disciples that they are not above Him, meaning that whatever mistreatment that He experienced living His life for the glory of God and to His honor, His disciples would endure the same as well.  The student is not above the teacher, receiving preferential treatment and avoiding the costs associated with the learning and practice of that learning in public.

Fully expect that for your identity in Christ that you will be singled out and persecuted if you live your life in the same manner as your Savior.  It is inevitable.  However, in the same way, your identity in Christ brings with it great rewards as well for you are not above your teacher, and will be rewarded for your obedience and submission to Him when God has appointed you to give an accounting for your life.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I fully prepared to suffer the same way that Jesus suffered and for the same reasons?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, please prepare me for what is to come.  For your Son has said that because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of most will grow cold.  Help me to endure to the end that I may be found in Christ.  Give me hope, strength, courage, wisdom, and boldness in life that regardless of what my enemies do to me that I will not flinch but rather be emboldened to speak what I have heard and seen.  Give me courage like a lion that when I am called to account by men I will not shrink back, but rather submit to Your Spirit and thus be used as You intend me to be used.  This I ask in the faithful and precious name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?