In Colossians chapter 1 Paul is giving thanks to God for the church that is growing in strength. He makes the statement that the gospel of Jesus Christ is bearing fruit and growing throughout the world and it’s all due to one thing found in verse 6, they truly understood God’s grace. In fact this letter was written because there were false teachers encouraging the church to worship angels and follow special rules, regulations and ceremonies.
This teaching is not confined to Paul’s days but even today the enemy is trying to add to the gospel. The truth is there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. That is why our faith has to be in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Through His death and resurrection we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins.
Verse twelve has a powerful statement that is worth writing on the tablet of your mind: He had qualified you! There is nothing that you have to do or could ever do that will make you more fit to share in the inheritance we have with Him. Only faith in Christ Jesus and the work he did for us on the cross enables us to receive our eternal reward that is stored up for us in heaven.
Paul is saying he gives thanks to God because of this truth. That faith springs eternal in our hearts and we in turn have a love for God’s people. All that because we know that we have been saved from the dominion of darkness and our destiny is in heaven. God is the one that has qualified you, and that we receive by faith, so give thanks.
(Read chapter one and meditate on it while we share more thoughts on the chapter.)
In verse nine of chapter one Paul says that he has not stopped praying for them and that he continually asks. Here are two key principles! The first is ‘never stop praying’. Prayer makes a difference but we must persevere in prayer. James 5:16 states that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Then it goes on to reference Elijah. When he was praying for rain to come he prayed and looked to see if there were any results from his prayer. He didn’t stop praying because he couldn’t see anything happening but kept praying until a small cloud the size of a man’s fist appeared on the horizon. Prayer requires perseverance. So keep on asking, knocking and seeking!
But there is a second key to praying. Ask but ask specifically. Paul in this prayer for the Colossians was asking that they would be filled with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives. Paul knew what he was asking for. Be specific and ask. James says you have not because you ask not. So ask and keep asking until you see the fulfilment of your prayers.
When our children were growing up, I constantly asked that they would grow in wisdom, in stature and in favour with God and with man, just as Jesus did as stated in Luke 2:52. I didn’t stop asking, because I knew that God would hear and answer my pray.
What is on your heart? We serve a great God and He is attentive to the voice of His people. So ask Him and believe for the impossible to be released in your midst.
Colossians 1:9 states: “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
Paul continually asks God to fill their church with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. Why?
It is important to note that spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and understanding only come from the Spirit. Worldly thinking and spiritual thinking are poles apart. In Is. 55 it states, ‘My (God’s) thoughts and ways are not yours’. So we can’t continue to have the same thinking that the world does and assume that thinking is from God. In Romans 12:2 it says do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.
That is why it is vital to pray this prayer just as Paul was for the church at Colossae. The pattern of this world is not God’s and we are called out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light so we can show forth His light to the world. However, to know God’s will for ourselves we need to be transformed in our thinking.
God is at work in each of us to will and to do of His good pleasure it says in Philippians. His desire is that you be filled with the knowledge of His will – in other words - the very Spirit of God would come upon and impart to you wisdom and understanding.
Begin today by making Paul’s prayer your prayer for you, your family and your church.
Colossians 1:10 - 12 “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” When you lead a life that is pleasing and worthy of the Lord there are four outcomes that Colossians 1:10-12 states will be displayed in your life.
Firstly, you will bear fruit in every good work. When I was a child, my family lived on an apple orchard for many years. Those trees never lifted a finger to produce all the tons of apples that came off of them. However, my father worked hard: pruning, watering, protecting and picking. And so it is with our lives! This very analogy is used in John 15. We see that the Father is the gardener of our lives and he knows exactly what we need to produce the best fruit.
One thing we need to recognise is the times and seasons of our lives. With the apple trees the winter season didn’t look pretty, just dead. There will be times in our lives when the Father is at work in you even though you feel dead. For He knows what is coming and what is necessary to bring about fruit for the next good work.
When you are in a winter season it is important to stay plugged into the Lord. Keep your roots covered in Him or you’ll not survive. I remember being in such a season and the last thing I wanted to do was go to church. However we went. I remember Jim and I taking long walks and praying. Everything felt dark and hard but then “suddenly” the Spirit of God hit me. And I truly felt like I was born again, again. Song of Songs says, “the winter is past, the spring has come”. It was a “suddenly” but I still had to live through the darkness.
God is at work in you because His desire is for you to be His planting and a display of His splendour. If you find yourself in a winter season rest in the fact that it is for a “time” and spring will come.
The second result that will be produced in your life is that you will grow in the knowledge of God. This is so vital to our spiritual life because we have an enemy that will constantly question God to us.
In the garden the serpent came to Eve and said, “Did God really say?” The more we get to know the very nature of God the easier it is for us to surrender to His will and ways. Over and over in the Old and the New Testament God’s character is revealed and confirmed. Ps 103:8 states that the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. 1 John 4:16 says, ‘we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love’.
I love that we can rely on this one thing – that God loves us. His love is not judgmental it is not conditional and it is not finite. It never wears thin and it never runs dry. In fact, His love never fails, it says in 1 Corinthians 13.
We need to know who God is so that we can trust him with what is happening in our lives. He loved us while we were yet sinners. Once we are born again of the Spirit of God we become sons and daughters.
We need to see the love God has for us. How do we learn and grow in that love? We read the word, we listen to the word, we ask the Spirit to reveal the love of God to us and we listen to others’ testimonies of how this great love has touched their lives.
As we grow in the knowledge of God we can be assured of what God does say to us and about us. So, when the enemy comes prowling around your door you can resist him, stand firm and rely on the love He has for you.
The third result that will be produced in your life is being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience is the third effect of asking God for spiritual wisdom and understanding. We need to be strengthened by the Spirit of God on a regular basis. Ephesians 5 says, ‘Be filled with the Spirit’. What the verb tense is really saying is, ‘keep being filled with the Spirit’. Jesus told the disciples to wait for the gift the Father would send and that you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. How encouraging! Who doesn’t need the power of God being activated in our lives?
But there is also a purpose in receiving strength. Through it we will be able to endure and be patient. I personally do not enjoy either of these words, patience and endurance. We live in an instant society where patience is not seen as a virtue. We do not like waiting for anything. However, this is not the way of the Spirit.
James 1 says that we will have trials of many kinds that will test our faith. This testing develops patience or perseverance. It goes on to say that this patience is working in us to make us mature and complete, lacking nothing.
The picture that I see in this process is one of making bread. The yeast causes the bread to rise but it needs to be kneaded down. As it rises it is punched down so that the bread can have the right texture and taste. In the same way patience is worked into us through believing God in the midst of life’s trials. Yeast silently goes about the business of producing dough. You can’t hurry the process you just have to let it do its thing.
Patience is the quality of suffering without complaint. It bears the troubles of life without complaint in looks, manner or speech. I don’t know about you but there is one thing I don’t tolerate very well and that is whining. Who likes to be around people that are always complaining? But patience is the result of what the Spirit is doing in your mind and soul.
Endurance on the other hand not only bears suffering and hardship with determination and firmness but requires physical stamina as well. No wonder we require strengthening with His Mighty Power!
The final outworking of the Spirit that Colossians speaks of is joyfully giving thanks. To me this is interesting because just saying thank you without saying it from a heart of gratitude are very different. You can see this truth in children and hear it in their tone of voice. Thankfulness comes from a heart of gratitude. Give a gift to a child that doesn’t have much and you will hear gratitude. On the other hand give a gift to one that has everything and you may get a “gee, thanks”
An attitude of gratitude needs to be cultivated in our lives. I Thessalonians 5: 16 and 17 says, “Be joyful always: pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. This is an interesting statement. It’s not saying, “If you feel like it be joyful”. It says be joyful always! That means we have a choice. I know this is true in my life. There are days when I don’t feel much joy and I have to make a decision. Am I going to let self-pity lure me into “feeling” depressed or am I going to choose life and be joyful?
The way to be joyful is to give thanks. We have SO much to be thankful for. When we do that we are saying, “God, you are bigger than my problems and you are in control. Your love never fails and so I give you thanks.”
Thanksgiving coming from a joyful heart pleases the Lord in every way. Do a check up from the neck up and if you have forgotten to give thanks say, “Sorry Lord, please forgive me”. Then give thanks because He is a loving God, gracious and compassionate. He has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints. For that we are very grateful and so we give thanks!
Colossians 1:13 “For He rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.”
The word rescue means to set free from danger, imprisonment or evil. When some one or something has dominion over you it means they have control or authority over you.
What Jesus did for you and me is set us free from the control the enemy had over us. We were imprisoned because of our sin and in great danger of going into eternal damnation.
Jesus came with this one purpose in mind and that was to destroy the works of the evil one and set us free from Satan’s authority over us. But he didn’t only rescue us out of the enemy’s grip but He brought us into His kingdom. This kingdom is about love, freedom and a new authority that is in you not over you.
What a clash of Kingdoms! Thank God we are rescued.
Colossians 1:14 “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Redemption is such a great word. Redemption is the act of redeeming or the state of being redeemed. Redeem is a verb and action word meaning to buy back, to pay off, to recover or set free from captivity by paying a ransom. Redeem means to free from sin and its consequences!
Wow! How does God redeem us? By forgiving our sin. How do we get this forgiveness and redemption? We ask or confess our sin to the one that loves us. We cannot escape the consequences of our sin, which is death, without asking. The book of Romans states that the wages of sin is death. The only way to receive life is through the blood of Jesus Christ and we do that by asking.
According to Ephesians 1:17 this redemption is the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. This grace is unmerited favour. Something we do not deserve. We deserve the consequences of our actions…death! But God in His great love has poured out His mercy, His grace, and His love. It’s something that as a human with a carnal mind we cannot comprehend. In our humanness we see someone receiving a consequence for something they did and we think they deserve it. But God has a greater grace for us. He lavished His grace on us. That word lavish is like a downpour. It’s excessive, abundant and bountiful. Some may even say it’s wasteful. You cannot stand in a downpour and not get soaked.
I have been caught in a downpour without an umbrella or a raincoat. The rain has soaked me thoroughly. And so it is with God, He doesn’t just rescue us but He also soaks us with His bountiful grace.