Sunday, October 04, 2009

What works, what doesn’t

Colossians 4:2 – 6
What works, what doesn’t

Sometimes we reduce Christianity to rituals and symbols. Others tend to reduce Christianity to some sort of fantasy religion league where a person earns or loses points depending on what they do or do not do. We reduce Christianity to the latest and greatest, chasing the high, or simply church attendance.

We get frustrated because we don’t feel good, we don’t get what we want, and things do not seem to go the way we want.

Paul gives final instructions to the Colossian church, here’s what works...

I. The FOUNDATION of the Christian life is living in prayerful relationship to God.

A. When we talk to God, it’s called prayer.

1. This is actually “half” the communication process.

a. The Bible is the other half.

b. As important as the Bible is to us, God desires we talk to Him.

2. Prayer is not:

a. Prayer is NOT earning or cashing-in points.

1.) Problem: We tend to give ourselves huge bonus points for obedience.

2.) Problem: We get grumpy when we don’t get rewarded for those huge point totals.

b. Prayer is NOT manipulating God.

1.) We are God’s loved children, not God’s spoiled children.

2.) We are not forcing God to do something God does not want to do.

B. Prayer is an act of the will as seen by three words. [v 2]

1. We must be devoted to the practice of prayer. This puts our level of love and loyalty to the test. You do what you value.

a. To be devoted means to be habitual, persistent, determined, deliberate.

b. Why? Ever notice how hard it is to pray?

1.) It seems we don’t settle down enough to pray.

2.) When we do settle down to pray, every imaginable worry, plan, idea, etc... crosses our mind to distract us.

***** That is the enemy panicking. The devil wants to keep us disconnected from God. When we are disconnected from God we feel spiritually fatigued, our theology goes goofy, and we loose perspective of what is happening. That and the fact that when we pray, we can achieve major victory. *****

c. Faith should not suffer if answers are slow because even in delay we learn lessons.

***** BTW, sometimes delayed answers are due to demonic resistance. *****

“Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. [13] But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. [14] Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” [Daniel 10:12 – 14]

d. C. S. Lewis: four answers to prayer... 1.) Yes, here’s more. 2.) Yes, I’ve been waiting for you to ask. 3.) Wait for the right time. 4.) No, I love you to much.

2. We must we watchful (lit. “keep awake”)

“Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me. [39] Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. [40] Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. [41] "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” [Matthew 26:38 – 41]

a. Notice that Jesus wanted (can we say needed?) His disciples to keep watch... They were not able to even stay awake for one hour. Imagine a church service where noting was played, sung, or said for one hour.

b. The thing about keeping watch in this story is that it means to be silent, in the presence, listening, sharing....

3. We must be thankful.

a. Great things are happening! Paul understood the happened by the power of God as acquired by the prayers of the people.

b. Thankfulness recognizes God as the source of our blessings.

II. Wisdom is the FILTER in living the Christian life in relationship to this world.

A. We are to walk, act wisely, around those who do not know Christ.

1. We are not flawless and to much is made of a mistake. However, we can be examples of people who are putting effort into our relationship with God.

2. When those who do not believe see us transparently and honestly dealing with life, ourselves, and God... it’s called influence.

a. The problem is when we “go spiritual” people will “go deaf.”

b. The reality is that people need to see authentic belief interact with what is happening and drawing on the sense of being different. (Reality check: how many of us can or will live with “I don’t know.”)

B. We are to see, understand, and use the opportunities available.

1. What opportunities?

a. Ask for an “open door.” [v 3] In other words, opportunity to speak to people about Jesus and salvation.

b. Ask for clear proclamation. [v 4] In other words, ready when the opportunity presents itself.

2. Reality is that opportunities are generally very short.

“Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise, [16] making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” [Ephesians 5:15 – 16]

III. Prayer and wisdom are FUSED together in how we communicate.

A. Grace plus salt. Not one without the other!

1. “Grace sweetens, salt seasons.”

a. Grace brings the sweetness of the opportunity offered through Jesus Christ...

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

“Marvelous grace of our loving Lord. Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt. Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured. There were the blood of the Lamb was split.”

“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood? Died He for me, who caused His pain? For me, who Him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”

b. Salt is the flavor, the value (Roman soldiers were paid in salt), and the healing (salt heals wounds)...

“He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, [47] and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” [Luke 24:46 – 47]

2. Grace and salt are about answering...

a. We answer accusations.

b. We answer questions.

B. Refresh:

1. The foundation is prayer. Nothing happens without prayer...

2. The filter is wisdom. A life well lived is lived with the effort of considerable wisdom guiding us.

3. Everything is fused together as we offer grace and salt to a world in desperate need of answers.

No comments: