God’s Word is amazing, powerful, relevant, convicting and encouraging. We turn to it in tough times, make wall plaques, posters & t-shirts of our favorite verses. We memorize some of it and quote it to each other. Still, other parts seem strange, old fashioned, and just boring. We are tempted to skip over them in our personal study. This week’s passage is kind of like that.
But buried in this final paragraph of Colossians is an astounding verse that will reignite any Jesus’ follower’s prayer life. After you work through the conviction of it, it can renew your passion and sharper your focus in prayer. Let’s take a look:
Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.
Stop reading and let these three words sink in:
…Always laboring earnestly…
…Always laboring earnestly…
…Always laboring earnestly…
…Always laboring earnestly… WOW!
Col. 1:9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…
We all have something at the center of our lives that drives everything else. It might be an unstable shifting center. It might be rock solid. We might be very aware of it or it might be somewhat hidden & unknown to us. Can you see why this might matter? Life could be very frustrating if something is driving you without you being aware of it. It could be more frustrating if you are aware but naïve as your core driver is actually leading you to spiritual danger. Think Captain Ahab!
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. Prov 4:23
When our 18th street facility was being built. Used to walk and pray over the site frequently. I mostly prayed that it would be a place where Jesus is always be honored, where the gospel is proclaimed, His word always taught and lives would be transformed. As long as I’m here, I will work towards that end.
Life change through Jesus’ word is a core mark of any who follow Jesus. In fact Jesus says that without it you aren’t really one of His followers. That was the focus of last weekend’s lesson. Here are the core points.
John 8:31-32 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
2John 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.
BOTTOM LINE: Following Jesus Includes a Life-long Commitment to Learn & Live His Word.
John 10:27-28 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them…
Whether we know it or not, we all follow something in life. What that is might be fuzzy or clear, conscious or subconscious, a person or value system. It might come from inside us or outside us. It could be temporary or long term. But we do follow something.
What we follow shapes who we become, what we experience and where we end up. So who do you follow? That makes it a critical question to answer. It is even more important to know why you follow what you follow and understand the true potential of where it will lead. The reason you follow also makes a difference in the quality of your experience.
I am very excited about our renewed focus on worship in the church-wide series. Will you worship. Our hope is that all of us will take a real, God-led step forward through this. I can’t think of anything more beneficial to our spiritual health & growth than simple genuine worship of Jesus.
Let me ask you to consider taking specific steps in three specific areas: Attendance, participation & focus.
ATTENDANCE: Increase your commitment to attend gathered worship of Jesus.
If you barely attend, why not give it a try for this series.
If you are not regular, choose to attend as a habit.
If you are regular but not frequent, increase your frequency to a weekly commitment.
PARTICIPATION: Actively love God with your heart, soul, mind & strength.
If you are unwilling to participate, ask God to soften your heart and make you willing to worship Him.
If you are just a spectator, why not join in with prayer, singing, listening for God, taking notes & responding to Him. The Psalms say make a joyful noise not an awesome noise. So go for it!
If you are going through the motions but bored, intentionally engage your heart & mind. Jesus is present, give yourself to Him.
If you are focused on yourself: what you get, what you like, what you will & won’t do. Repent of worshipping yourself and focus on Jesus.
If you are focused on others: judging or critiquing them repent of sitting in God’s chair, remember your own weakness and focus on Jesus.
If you are focused on others: trying to get a date, worrying about who is watching you and what they will think if you let loose in expressing your worship. Repent of worshipping others and focus on Jesus.
To focus on Jesus make the intentional choice to enter the room expressing praise & gratitude to Him.
We have much to thank God for. The fact that worship does not come easy and is often squeezed out betrays the true sinfulness and selfishness of our hearts. Let’s fight through this together and raise the level of our worship.
May the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in His sight!