4 Oct 2020


The Maturing Disciple is a ceaseless prayer intercessor

Speaker: Ps Daniel Tan
Sermon Title: The Maturing Disciple is a ceaseless prayer intercessor
Scripture Text: Colossians 1:9-14

 

Prays for applied knowledge (v9-10)

 

Prays for persevering power (v11)

 

Prays with thankfulness for being redeemed sinners (v12-13)

 

Concluding Reflections

  • As we struggle with our prayer life, how can our thanksgiving to God be our motivation?
  • What would change in our intercessory prayer if we prayed according to Colossians 1:9-14?
  • Colossians 1:12-13 gives us biblical assurances of salvation. Are these assurances a deep reality in your life? If so, how might a fellow Hermonite observe it?
Scripture: Colossians 1:9-14 (ESV)

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

TRANSCRIPT

Introduction

Blessed Sunday to all. I trust that we are experiencing God’s grace and mercies in our lives daily.

We have not been able to meet as a whole church since April this year. It’s been 6 long months. I pray that we are all missing the weekly interaction we enjoyed as a faith community.

To help bring back some normalcy, we are now going to have live preaching during the in-person service.

So for all who are watching this online, it will continue to be pre-recorded. But if you are in service, we will pause the service video and all our internal preachers will share from God’s Word in person.

It’s our prayer that in-person sermons, together with Holy Communion and the meeting of 50 other Hermonites, would make the service even more meaningful for all of us.  

I’m sure by the time we meet again as a whole church, (hopefully by Christmas), we would be pleasantly surprized at the growth of some of our young children.

For many of us, I’m sure, we haven’t seen (except through social media), the children born to our members, during this pandemic.

Speaking about children, both biological and spiritual. For us as parents, grand-parents, aunties, and uncles, what would be our heartfelt prayer for them? What would be on our lips before God each time we remember our children?

I’m sure it will be to grow well! That they grow physically, psychologically and most importantly spiritually. I’m sure we want in every aspect, balanced or all-rounded growth.

I’m sure too that we do not just pray when they are 1 month old, but we constantly remember them in prayer throughout their 1st year, when they are 10, 20 and even when they are 30 or 40 years old.

We are constantly being their prayer intercessor.

To the young church in Colossae, Paul was their prayer intercessor as well. Paul was their spiritual parent in the Lord. He discipled Philemon and Epaphras, who were key leaders in the church in Colossae.

And so last week we read from v3 Paul says ‘we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.’

As we do not stop praying for our children whatever age they be, Scripture teaches us that as Christians, we do not stop praying also for our brothers and sisters in Christ no matter their spiritual maturity.

We are family, we are all travelling along this same journey of life. And we know we will never be perfect till we meet Jesus face to face.

Because the journey is tough, I’m sure like me, all of us want to be constantly assured that we have the prayer support of our fellow Hermonites.

As we look at today’s text, we will find that verses 3 to 14 are connected. This is because thanksgiving book-ends them. Thanksgiving to God begins v3 and v12 repeats the same idea.

Last week, we learnt that a maturing disciple is a thankful believer. I submit that thankfulness to God is the motivation for the reason we pray for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Because we are thankful to God that he speaks clearly to all believers, this motivates us to pray that through Scripture we will all be filled with the knowledge and understanding of God’s will. 

Because we gain constant assurances, knowing our standing before God, this motivates us to pray that believers will always remind ourselves that we have been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of Christ Jesus.

Because we are encouraged by the evidence of Gospel Fruit amongst us, we will be motivated to pray that we will daily walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.

Church, this means, if we are lacking in the motivation to pray for one another, maybe its timely we re-examine our attitude of thanksgiving.  

Let’s now go into the details of what it means to be a prayer intercessor.

Prays for applied knowledge (v9-10)

Col 1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Since we have already gone through two other prison letters, let’s recap what Paul said there about prayer:

Eph 1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,

Phil 1:4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy

Paul is a prayer warrior isn’t it. Though Paul’s in prison, yet he is remembering the various churches in prayer. And according to Philippians, he is at the same time, even sharing the Gospel with the guards.  

Paul must truly be thankful to God for all that He has done, to have such motivation towards ceaseless prayer. 

Remember last week, we saw that Paul’s thanksgiving centered around the Gospel. So that means, the good news of Jesus Christ was his motivation. Is it ours today?

I believe, if I preach the gospel to myself more regularly, it will motivate me to be a ceaseless prayer intercessor.

I’ve titled this first section, the prayer for applied knowledge.

Firstly we see that Paul prays that they be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

So what does Paul mean by the knowledge of God’s will? Based on the first 8 verses, we see ‘God’s will’ being mentioned already in v1 – God’s will, is that Paul has been appointed an Apostle of Christ Jesus.

I’m sure we would also all agree that knowledge must be associated with truth which v5 explains – ‘the gospel is the word of the truth’. And v6 says this same gospel is the ‘grace of God in truth’.

And since we have already gone through Ephesians, let’s recap more details about God’s will –

Eph 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

God’s will then, is to unite everything in Christ. And to be filled up with God’s will, I quote means ‘being deeply affected by the reality you know.’ The impact of what it means to know Christ in every aspect of our life’s journey.

Paul then adds that God’s will can be known through spiritual wisdom and understanding. Thus, it’s not something humanly possible but it’s spirit-filled understanding.

Of the Messiah, Isaiah describes –

Isa 11:2  And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

In our Lord Jesus Christ, the Spirit of wisdom and understand is found. This means then, that it is through our relationship with Christ that we will be given spiritual wisdom and understanding.

In the light of the challenges the Colossian believers were facing in Colossians 2, this surely is a very needed prayer for them. In the light that we still face the same challenges today, this is surely also a very needed prayer for one another.

Secondly, (and here is where the word ‘applied’ is relevant), the purpose and the goal of knowing God’s will is so that we walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

I often repeat this phase from another pastor ‘God’s word applied changes lives’. The diligent study of God’s word is necessary and good but it will all go to waste if we do not apply it.

The illustration of Joseph with Potiphar’s wife is an apt one.

Gen 39:6 Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

Joseph knew as a believer, what was God’s will and he obeyed it even when it might cause him, his life for disobedience.

Paul thus elaborates for us what it means to walk worthy of the Lord.

Firstly, it means pleasing to God. Importantly it means not pleasing to me, but what is pleasing to Christ.

Secondly, bearing fruit in every good work. There must be visual evidence of tangible effort on our part for the Lord.

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

So Scripture implies, it’s our duty to seek God for the good works he has prepared for us. And may I submit that these good works surely will include all the practical applications Colossians 3 and 4 will inform us of.

Finally, increasing in the knowledge of God. God is so infinitely wiser and higher than any of us.

The more we know him, the more we realize that we know so little of him. And this should encourage us to continue to seek to know God more.

Don’t you think that God’s will is so refreshing? Just based on what I’ve already learnt, I’ve come to realize that God’s will is always relevant even through my different life stages.

The truths from God’s will, can be applied whether in my 20s, 30s, and even now in my 50s.

And God in His graciousness, continues to reveal Himself more and more to me, the longer I journey with Him.  

Church, let’s all be maturing disciple that ceaselessly prays for others to have greater applied knowledge of Christ.

Prays for persevering power (v11)

Paul continues his prayer for the Colossian believers and v11 says,

Col 1:11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;

Power is something we are familiar with. Without electrical power, nothing in our homes will work.

Our fridges will not be cold, our laptops will not be charged and our lights will not turn on.

If you are an athlete, then power is needed for you to hit harder in tennis, jump higher in badminton and swim faster in the pool.

Even in the workplace, we seek power too. We seek power in the points we are making in our presentation. We seek the power to influence the direction of the team.  And we may even seek the power of the office position to effect long-lasting changes.

So Paul says, pray too that fellow believers will be strengthen with all power according to his glorious might.

But what is the difference? In society, power is never equally distributed, its usually binary. Either one party has it and another doesn’t.  

However in the faith, God’s power is available for all. All believers have access to it.  

We see here, Paul pre-empting the issues of chapter 2. False teachers will always say, there is a special set of skills or knowledge needed to receive the power of living well.

But Paul says, no, the power is available to all already.

The false teachers, together with our society, would also imply that the power to live victoriously is found within us and can be achieved by our own efforts.

Scripture teachers, no, to live the Christian life is impossible to do by our own efforts. The source of power is external to us. The power is from God – his glorious might.

And since we have journey through Ephesians, let’s see what this glorious might is:

Eph 1:19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

God’s power raised Jesus from the dead and seated him on the throne in heaven.

That’s a power source like no other. That’s a power source that will never fail. That’s a power source that will never run dry. That’s a power source available to all believers.

So may we be ceaseless in praying that we will all experience God’s glorious might in our daily lives.

I’ve entitled this second point ‘persevering power’. And this is because God’s glorious might, has a specific goal.

Earlier, we saw that to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, is to result in us walking in a manner worthy of the Lord.

Here, to be empowered by God’s glorious might, is to result in us having endurance and patience with joy.

This, to the world would be an anti-climax. Why would we want power so that we can endure and be patience with joy?

Because, for the believer, we desire to walk worthy of the Lord and not to follow the world. And so we are to have endurance to walk in the path of righteousness.

It’s to turn the other cheek when we have been attacked. It’s to seek to mend strained relationships in the church as Paul asked the Philippian believers to do.

To live pleasing to the Lord is to have patience. It means to have forbearance, to be long-suffering of others.

Endurance I submit would be how we relate to our situation. While patience would relate to responding to the people within our situation.

Philippians instructs that we are to have the mind of Christ.

Phil 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

So the mind of Christ means we are forbearing and patient with others because we look into their interest.

Now, are Christians to just grit our teeth and soldier on? Are we to say in Malay to just ‘tahan’? 

Is God’s power for us just to bear it, to become resigned to the fact and to just to tolerant the situation or the people?  

In case we think it is, Scripture says we are to endure and be patient with joy. And that is the key attitude.

Happiness is based on circumstances and emotions. Joy instead is deep seated delight and gladness that does not depend on circumstances.

How might joy look like?

Picture this – the apostles had been thrown into jail for preaching the gospel. They were threatened by the Jewish leaders not to speak any more of Christ. And Luke wrote of them:

Acts 5:41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

That’s endurance and patience with joy.

Picture this – Paul and Silas were at Philippi and they healed a demon-possessed girl. For that they were beaten and thrown into jail.

Acts 16:24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,

That’s endurance and patience with joy.

I’m sure in Hermon, we do also have such encouraging testimonies of endurance and patience with joy. Let’s share them in our CGs so that we can continue to encourage one another.

Church, let’s be maturing disciples who ceaselessly prays that, we will all be empowered by the Lord, for all endurance and patience with joy.

Prays with thankfulness for being redeemed sinners (v12-13)

Remember I shared at the beginning that for Paul, thanksgiving is the motivation for intercessory prayer.

And so Paul nicely brings us back to thanksgiving in v12.

Col 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

What we have in these verses is an expansion of the thankfulness that Paul has touched on in v3-8. These verses tell us what is meant by the Gospel, which is the grace of God.

The first thing we note here is that there is nothing we can do to earn it.

4 phases show us that. ‘Has qualified’, ‘has delivered’, ‘has transferred’ and ‘have redemption’. These things are being done to us, we have no power to qualify ourselves, we have no way to deliver ourselves and we surely have no means to redeem ourselves.

That is why Jesus Christ is the Good News. We cannot save ourselves, but God did, by the death and resurrection of His Son.

So last week we sang –

My heart is filled with thankfulness, To Him who bore my pain;
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace, And gave me life again;
Who crushed my curse of sinfulness, And clothed me in His light
And wrote His law of righteousness, With pow’r upon my heart.

As we think deeper about this idea of qualifying for our inheritance, we will note that in Col 2:18, Paul will tell the believers, with regards to the false teachings, ‘let no one disqualify you’.

So here in Col 1:12, he is giving the confidence to the believers. In Christ, there is the sufficiency to qualify. Nothing else needed. Don’t believe the false teachings, for there is nothing you lack.

Now Jews understand inheritance. In the Old Testament it was the promised land of Canaan.

The significance now, is that even the Gentiles qualify to be partakers of this inheritance, when they too, put their faith in Christ Jesus.

So Christ Jesus is the key to qualification and Christ is sufficient.

The question then is this inheritance earthly or spiritual?

In Colossians, Paul gives the short answer it is ‘in light’ which means it is spiritual in heaven.  If you want the long answer, we can reference Eph 1:11-14.

To qualify us, pertains to what God has done for each one of us as individuals.

Each of us have been qualified in Christ to receive God’s inheritance kept for us in heaven. And Ephesians tells us the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance.

Remember, salvation and our relationship with God is personal but not private. It is not sufficient to say, everything is between me and God.

No, because at the same time, Scripture teaches us that God delivers us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.

The picture of God sending Moses to free the Jews from Egyptian slavery, is the earthly illustration for the bigger spiritual and cosmic picture of transfer. And this significantly includes Gentiles of every tribe and tongue.

So we give thanks individually for being qualified for spiritual inheritance and we give  thanks as a group, for being placed into a spiritual community.

And finally, to make sure we know that all this is made possible only by the Cross of Jesus, Paul ends with ‘in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’

For sin to be forgiven, for sinners to be redeemed, there must be the shedding of blood. The cross was where our sinless Saviour died in our place.

Church, till we realize afresh that we are sinners, we will not be thankful for our redemption.

Let’s realize afresh –

It was my sin that held Him there, Until it was accomplished,

His dying breath has brought me life, I know that it is finished

When this is our reality, then we will be eternally grateful to Jesus for what He has done not just in our lives but also in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Church, let’s be maturing disciples who ceaselessly prays that we will remember, we are redeemed sinners.

And may I add, the outcome of this prayer is realized when we all come regularly to commemorate Holy Communion as one family.

Conclusion

Church, we have so much to be thankful for right! We are so thankful to God that we cannot help but be ceaseless prayer intercessors.

The theme focus we are using for Colossians is ‘A maturing disciple’.

A disciple is one that follows after the master is it not? And so, may I hold up Jesus as our great mediator and intercessor.

1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Heb 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Through the cross, Jesus redeems us to be part of God’s kingdom. Now Jesus, seated at God’s right hand, as our divine intercessor.

Church, when we become a maturing disciple who is a prayer intercessor, we are becoming like Christ our Master.

Let’s allow Scripture to motivate our hearts to be more like our Master. May God’s word guide our prayer life and through our intercessions, may God be pleased to build up His body here in Hermon.

Let’s pray – Almighty God thank you for giving us your word. Help us to receive it with gladness and in obedience. May we develop this aspect of being ceaseless prayer intercessors as we grow in spiritual maturity. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Concluding Reflections

As we struggle with our prayer life, how can our thanksgiving to God be our motivation?

What would change in our intercessory prayer if we prayed according to Col 1:9-14?

Col 1:12-13 gives us biblical assurances of salvation. Are these assurances a deep reality in your life? If so, how might a fellow Hermonite observe it?

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