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?

Legalism and God – 1 Timothy 4:1-5

Everything God Created Is Good

1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

Demonic Deception

The devil has been at it since the beginning.  He has some direct responsibility with the fall of man, and continues to lash out at God in the only way he knows how – by interfering in the lives of the very beings that God created to bear His image.  Not every spirit is of God, and many have fallen prey to the teachings of evil spiritual beings.  Even now, people struggle with spiritual strongholds in their lives because they have believed something that is not true, and hold to those teachings as truth.

For instance, baptism is an ordinance of the faith.  This is something that disciples should very much desire to do.  However, baptism as an act is not required for the salvation.  Even Abraham, the first patriarch of God’s people, was shown to be saved by believing God which was credited to him as righteousness.

Heretical Hypocrites

Many who are misled are now misleading others, convinced that they alone have the true interpretation of scripture (because it is at odds with what others are saying, therefore everyone else is wrong…).  While we are all sinners, and each of us has a sin nature that impedes our ability to properly and completely follow God (rather than our sinful desires),  this can lead to a life of hypocrisy.  It is very dangerous to lecture people to do something, and then do the exact opposite in private (or worse, publicly!).  And while each of us struggle with the sinful weakness that is within each of us, we must be honest with ourselves and others lest we pass ourselves off as someone who has overcome when we have not.

Many areas of life are affected, and many deceptions are being taught even today.  Cults have arisen around people who say that marriage is evil, and that everyone should stay celibate.  Others – in Paul’s day – were Jews who were still adhering to the Levitical practices of abstaining from eating food that was deemed unclean.  Even Peter was called on this when he had a vision from God in preparation for accepting the Gentiles as being called by God.

But there is the other end of the spectrum where people believe that they are now free to do anything that they want because grace will cover any wrongdoing.  This does not take into account that we are responsible for what we do in the flesh.  We are given grace to give us time to learn the ways of God, not as an excuse to gratify our sinful nature with its desires and the resulting serious consequences.

Thoughtfully Thankful

Paul understood that we are to receive all things with thankfulness, rather than to impose the ceremonial law on them.  Elijah was a prime example.  When sequestered during the great drought that he had announced, God provided him with bread and meat from ravens (unclean creatures under the ceremonial law) to eat every day as he bid his time at the brook in the Kerith Ravine.  We are to have hearts of contentment and thanksgiving, for it is God who provides for all of our needs.  Regardless of the size and type of bounty, we can be assured that God is the one who has provided for our needs.

Created and Consecrated

Paul tells us that we should do all things in thanksgiving to God who created all things as good.  We can enjoy what God provided to us in thanksgiving, not concerning ourselves with ceremonial law.  We need to keep in mind that we are still responsible for what we do.  Paul elsewhere has said:

I have the right to do anything,” you say — but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”-but I will not be mastered by anything.

It is important to realize that although we have freedom in Christ, we are not to abuse this freedom.  We are still to conduct ourselves in a righteous manner, for we are image-bearers of God.  Paul also has said:

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” – but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

If in doubt, ask yourself “Is what I am about to do/say/think going to honor and glorify God?”  If you cannot answer “yes” to that question, then why should you do it?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I doing all things with thanksgiving to God, for His glory, in light of His mercy and grace?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have provided all things for us to enjoy.  But even as You instructed Adam to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, keep me now from anything that would cause me to stumble.  Help me to accept that all things were created by You are good, and that while some things may not cause others to stumble, they may cause me to trip and fall.  Give me wisdom and discernment to abstain from anything that would cause me to stumble, and to accept their use by others.  Provide me with the strength and character to ensure that I am not mastered by anything, but rather that through self-control in submission to the Holy Spirit all things that I do, with thanksgiving to You, would be to Your glory.  And if I find that after a period of abstinence that something still has too great a hold in my life, help me to remove it or seek Godly council for help to stay away from whatever may cause me to fall.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Give Thanks to God – Psalm 136:1-3

Always Give Thanks To God

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

Thoroughly Thankful

In this Psalm, the author stresses that we should give thanks to God.  Everyone benefits from God’s grace and mercy whether they realize it or not:

  • Every breath is a gift from God
  • The sun rises on the good and the evil
  • He causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust
  • Every good giving and every perfect gift is from God.

The list goes on and on.  We are the recipients of a loving and faithful God who greatly desires to pour out His blessing upon us.  We are directed to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for us.  The author then goes on to list some very good reasons to give thanks to God:

God is Good

The first of these is that God is Good.  God is the embodiment of everything that is good.  He is holy – there is no evil or malice within Him.  His holiness is so perfect, that even the angels who surround His throne righteously declare the character and nature of God.  No human being can gaze upon His face without being utterly destroyed.  Moses was only allowed to see His trailing glory, and his time spent with God was so close that Moses’ face glowed, and the people were frightened.  Since God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we can always count on the goodness of God.  And as such, He and He alone is worthy of praise and worship.

God of gods

The next aspect of God that the author takes note of is that He is the God of all gods.  This is not to say that there is any God other than YHWH; this is merely to highlight and denote that God is above all.  Those who worship false gods and idols do not worship the One True God.  There is none like Him.  All power, authority, and dominion is YHWH’s and His alone.  He delegates authority as He sees fit.  But God will not share His glory – for only He is worthy of all glory.

Lord of Lords

The third aspect of God that the author takes note is that He is Lord of lords.  This rightly implies that YHWH is sovereign over all.  No one and nothing is His equal nor above Him in power and authority.  He created all things, and in Him all things have their being.  All authority is invested in Him, and He gives out authority as He sees fit.  He is the ruler over all.  And when the Judgment of God comes, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord:

By myself I have sworn,
my mouth has uttered in all integrity
a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
by me every tongue will swear.

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Lasting Love

Because God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we can count on his enduring love.  God loves us in a way that we cannot even fathom.  Just as God gives parents the ability and desire to rejoice in and see the benefit of their children, God’s love for us – His children – is a million-fold greater.  We cannot even conceive of the love that God has for us.  And when the Son of God comes again in glory, and gathers the righteous to Him and the unrighteous to judgment, we will fully know as we are fully known in love by the One who is God, King of kings and Lord of lords.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I truly have a thankful heart?

A short prayer of preparation:

Lord God Almighty, You are worthy of all praise and worship and glory.  May the meditations of my heart be upon You always.  Help me to cultivate a heart that is thankful in all circumstances.  Help me to always remember that You do not change, and that Your love endures forever.  Give me strength through my trials that I may not falter, but gaze upon Your glory and beauty.  Show me where I need to grow, and provide the necessary circumstances to get me there.  Help me to be thankful through it all, that You may receive the glory that You so rightly deserve.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Thankfulness for God – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

God’s Will For You

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Remember to Rejoice

Rejoicing at all times is not the easiest thing to do.  Pain, misery, and other terrible circumstances can all damper our desire to rejoice.  But we see in the Bible time and time again where God’s people rejoice in times of great difficulty:

Persist in Prayer

Prayer is something that every Christian should be an expert.  We have many examples in scripture to draw upon.  We can openly pour out our hearts to God in praise and petition.  Prayer can be silent or spoken.  The only thing that stops us from praying is ourselves.  We need to take more time to be in the presence of our Almighty God.  As in all things, we need to practice to become good at prayer.  And as we grow, we will notice our prayer life changes from our immediate needs to the needs of others and praise of the One who hears our prayers.

Thoroughly Thankful

Thankfulness is a state of the heart.  It is dependent upon the level of contentment that we experience.  If a person is not content, they will not be inherently thankful.  And when difficulties arise, they will find it even more challenging to be thankful.  It is easy to be content in times of plenty.  Let us practice thankful contentment when we can so that in times of difficulty we can apply ourselves to that difficult task.  Job first set the example:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.

Paul tells us he learned to be content:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I thankfully content, praying continually, with rejoicing?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, may my heart be content with my circumstances, and may Your praise be continually on my lips.  Even in my worst circumstances, You are with me, guiding me and providing for me.  Help me to remember that You are constantly involved in my life, regardless of the pain I feel.  Help me to praise Your name, even if it is with tears, for You treasure them.  And when there are terribly long times of difficulty, with no end in sight, give me the strength to continually praise You, pray to You, and be thankful; for this life is very short, no matter how painfully long it feels.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

 

Combat Training with God – 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Prayer to Provide Potentates with Power and Protection

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Petition for Penitence

Paul urges Timothy to pray for those that God has placed in leadership over us. One of the best prayers that we can pray for ungodly leaders is that God bring them to salvation.  Many people who love God and hate evil have been asking the question, “What can I do?  All of our leaders are evil!”

The best thing you can do is to pray that God would soften their hearts, send faithful people to witness to them, and that they would give their lives to Christ.  It is only then that they can be the servant-leaders that God calls them to be and to do what is best for the people that they have been charged with overseeing.  This is the only way to break the cycle of selfishness where those elected by us seek to enrich themselves through laws that are designed to exempt them (or, as they see themselves, the “ruling class”) from the penalties that any one of us (or, as they see us, the “peasant class”) would be thrown in jail with the key thrown away.  Without the fear of God – including accountability to God – they will continue to do what is best for themselves rather than what is best for those entrusted to their care.

But we must pray for repentance of God’s people FIRST:

 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Prayer for Protection

As in the terrible recent days of violence in the United States of America, we need to be on our knees begging God for protection of those in authority over us.  The assassination of five police officers is a great example of why we need to pray this.  If, for some reason, a person has been treated poorly by those in authority over them, it is all the more important to pray for their protection, as it is a blessing to them.  And we are instructed:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;

If you encounter any message other than what you see above, whether it is from TV, Radio, in person, in a book, on the Internet, or from any other source – know that it is contrary to the Word of God.

The Interruption of Intercession

When we pray for the salvation of others, we are in effect asking God to sovereignly interrupt their life.  This can be quite disconcerting to our leaders, especially if their misdeeds are profiting them greatly, or they have committed acts of treason or treachery against the people.  Imagine what must go through their minds: “I have been sinning!  What will the people think?  How can I salvage my career?  What should I do next?  Should I give back all of the money that I received lawfully but wrongly?  Should I publicly announce my faith?  Will I go to jail for my misdeeds?”  There will be unbelievable pressure on these individuals to either keep quiet about Christ.  If they don’t, they will be eviscerated by the corrupt sycophantic media that not only approve of evil, but cater to the evil whims of the existing corrupt elite.  This will impact their lives for eternity, so any temporary loss now is minuscule compared to the great riches of knowing Christ.

Remember that this will be the most difficult issue they will ever have to face, and they will be doing so as a babe in Christ.  It is incumbent upon us to pray not only for their salvation; not only for their Godliness;  but also for the necessary strength to endure as their lives are turned upside down when they encounter the most cruel and insipid hatred that they will ever have to face.

Thoughtful Thankfulness

And in all things, we are to give thanks to God the Father, for this is His will for us.  Give thanks that God hears our prayers.  Give thanks that God is answering our prayers (in His timing in His way for His purposes for His glory).  Give thanks when our leaders come to repentance before God.  Rejoice as the angels do!  Give thought to your thankfulness so that you can be content in whatever circumstances you find yourself, regardless of who is in authority over us.

The Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I praying for the spiritual success of my leaders or just for their Godly replacements?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are fully just, yet full of mercy and grace.  Please work in the lives of Your people, that we would have revival in the body of Christ.  Help all of us to get on our knees and beg You for forgiveness of our sins.  Help us as a nation to turn from our sins, seek Your face, and confess our wrongdoing to You, so that You can heal our land.  Bless those whom You have placed in authority over us that they would come to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.  Father, we know that this may very well not happen until we as Your people turn away from sin and towards You.  Give the faithful among Your people patience, grace, and peace, as we plead for the rest of the body to come back to reason.  Your blessing upon this country has clouded our minds, and like Sampson, we may go on thinking we are OK but not realize that Your Spirit is departing from us.  Bring Salvation to those in authority over us that Your Holy Name may be praised and blessed by all who hear it.  This we ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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