Wednesday, November 25, 2015

*Mid-Week Message: Week 4

How is your study going?  How has God's Word been speaking to you this week?  Today I will share what I saw as I walked through this passage.  For time's sake, there will be no video this week...



Scripture this week is from Colossians 4:2-6

We have learned such deep truths to living a life which radiates gratitude, no matter our circumstances.  Where do we go from here?  How do we bow out of this study in a way which resonates? More directly:

How can we pray steadfastly in thanksgiving and, as the result of our prayers, seek open doors where we might be salt and light?

As is typical with most Epistles, and especially Paul's, he closes his letter with greetings and/or a call to pray and some prayer requests.  Here, in keeping with the thankful message, Paul adds a measure of gratitude to the mix:

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2

In case you are wondering, be watchful is a common exhortation in Paul's closings, reminding believers that someday Jesus will return and we ought to be ready at every moment.  Steadfastly is also a regular theme which reminded believers to not give up, not cease.  It is also seems to be a reflection of Paul's do everything statement in Colosisans 3:17.  But most importantly in this little verse is HOW the believers were to pray.  Not just steadfastly, not just being watchful but with Thanksgiving.  

Imagine the life of these first century believers, which we have discussed extensively for the past 3 weeks.  If you remember, it is quite reflective of our own: a licentious society given over to idol worship and condemnation of those who aren't.  How do you walk thankfully in an oppressive society where different is... well... different and not well accepted.  Our Salvation, our growth and being rooted in Christ, our New being as a result, create the groundwork of our gratitude.  Paul seems to point out here that all these things are wrapped up and tied together through our steadfast prayers being made in thanksgiving.

What do we thank God for?  Well, all the afore mentioned blessings in our weeks of study... and anything else we just might have left out.  Whether it is the air in your lungs or the weather on your way to work or errands.  Thankful things aren't worse (because they always could be) or that things are better.  Thankful that Jesus will someday be coming back and that all of this life is temporary and passing.  Thankful to realize that even the best day here pales in comparison to what heaven holds when we eventually meet up with Jesus.

Some days, before my husband accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, I couldn't imagine life being any worse.  Thankfully, my husband never hit me... but some days I wished he had and just got it over with... that is how bad it was.  I have lived in physically abusive relationships, I endured many years of verbal abuse as well from hubby B.C. (before he accepted Christ) but still... I was able to be thankful.  Thankful for hope and knowing life wouldn't always be that way.  Thankful it would pass and thankful for the little things I did have in the mean time.... like my children, my home, food and adventure.  

There is always something to be thankful for if you stop and pay attention to HOW God is using your situation.

As a result of praying in thankfulness, Paul shows the believers what comes next:

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison-- that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
 Colossians 4:3-4


Pray for others and, as a precursor to his next statement, he shows how he is looking for opportunities to share about Christ, even from prison, that God would give him Words and he trusts the concerted prayers of believers will help.  Then... he calls them to do the same:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. 
Colossians 4:5-6

If he can sit in prison, praying with gratitude, encouraging and teaching believers and looking for even more opportunities to do so.... then surely so can the rest of the believers.... so can we.

  • Be wise toward outsiders - unbelievers
  • Make good use of the time - literally buy up the time like people buying up a product at a good price.  Christians are to buy yup ever opportunity God gives to share the good news and serve others.
  • Practice gracious speech - re-consider Colossians 3:12-14.
  • Seasoned with Salt - a sub-heading to gracious speech (see Monday's historical note) Rabbis of the time would also use the term salt to refer to wisdom

WHY does Paul tell them to do these things?  So that the believers would know how they ought to answer each person.  Without consistent prayer, in thanksgiving, focusing their hearts on the goodness of God and eternity vs. the deprivation of man and the broken lostness of the temporal, an ability to respond wisely was difficult at best.

Is it not the same for us now?



Measuring gratitude, practice thanksgiving each and every day of our lives is not only critical to our personal walk with Jesus Christ, but it is also imperative to reflecting Him and hearing His guidance as we seek to speak truth to others in a way which is uplifting and draws the lost to being found in Christ.

I pray you will find these truths planted deep in your heart as the Thanksgiving season passes and all other days follow behind.  To make a habit of counting blessings and expressing gratitude... especially when it is hardest to do so!



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Also, take time today and for the remainder of this week to reflect on how you you can be thankful through prayer and in what ways you can be prayerful in sharing your faith and your hope with others.  

If you want, you can print the leaf document below and fill them out with gratitude reflections.

http://faithandhome.com/images/Documents/leaves.pdf

I pray you will carry this spirit of gratitude beyond this Thanksgiving season.
 
Blessings,







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