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A Brief Checklist for Believers, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
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April 7, 2022 7:05 am

A Brief Checklist for Believers, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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April 7, 2022 7:05 am

Jesus Christ, Our All in All: A Study of Colossians

Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
Our Daily Bread Ministries
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Dana Loesch
More Than Ink
Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

Reality check. Let's admit it. Sometimes our prayer life falls into a pattern that's predictable and even obligatory. We know we're supposed to pray, but we're not especially good at it.

At a loss, we search for the right words and often fall back on cliches. Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll is teaching from Colossians Chapter 4 and a section of Paul's letter that should restore our prayer life. Passion for prayer. This is message number 9 in Chuck's 10-part teaching series through Colossians. He titled today's message, A Brief Checklist for Believers. We're reaching near the end of our time in the little letter to the Colossians as we arrive in this fourth chapter. This verse 2 through verse 6 section is a bit of an interlude.

It's quiet. It's before Paul's magnificent conclusion to his letter where he names any number of people and finishes his letter with, Remember my chains. May God's grace be with you. Easy to forget, isn't it, that entire letter is written while he is chained to a Roman soldier at his side. He's under house arrest. He has no idea what his future holds.

But there is not one word of pity. He doesn't even ask that we pray that or that they would pray that he would be released. What he prays and asks prayer about is the opportunity that is his.

Now he is sitting alongside this one soldier after another, day after day, month after month. Chapter 4 verse 2, Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ.

That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not believers and make the most of every opportunity.

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. You're listening to insight for living to search the scriptures with Chuck Swindoll. Be sure to download his searching the scriptures studies by going to inside world dot org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck called a brief checklist for believers. Never underestimate the power of small things, little things, little in size, but not little in significance. Small words, words we speak that may seem unimportant, but sometimes they have the ability to change the whole course of our lives. Small deeds, actions that we are involved in that gain no applause and often will not even be seen by others. But all the difference those actions can make.

Sometime blending the small words with actions that seem insignificant result in phenomenal change. Two lives come to mind that are so different. They lived separate from each other, but a small world, a small word changed everything. Amelia Earhart wanted to be an aviator, but two obstacles stood in her way. Number one, she lived in the 1920s. It was an era when there was great prejudice against women doing much of anything outside the home.

They were considered frail and weak and fragile and really not that competent. Secondly, she was a woman. And because of that, she didn't have what some would call the stuff necessary to fly a plane. She couldn't make her living as a pilot and so she took a job as a social worker. One day out of the blue, the phone rang and the person on the other end of the line offered an offensive proposition to her. He said to her, we have someone willing to fund the first female transatlantic flight.

Our first choice backed out. And so we've come to you. And we've decided to ask if you would do it.

But you need to understand the details. You won't actually fly the plane. You'll sort of be along for the ride. Two men will be sent on the flight as your chaperone. They'll fly the plane. We'll pay them a lot of money.

We won't pay you anything. She now understood why the first person didn't choose to say yes. Oh, one more thing, they added. You very well may die while on the flight. There's a very real possibility the plane will not make it across the Atlantic.

Well, guess what? Amelia Earhart said the little word. Yes.

Changed everything. Not in that flight. But in less than five years, she became the first woman to fly solo, nonstop, across the Atlantic. And later became one of the most famous and respected people in the whole world. All because of one little word.

Yes. Ruben Hurricane Carter lived in the 1960s. He was a prize fighter at the top of his game, if you will.

His career took off in a meteoric way, and he was known all over the country as the best among the boxers in the middleweight class. However, he was wrongly accused of a horrific crime he did not commit, a triple homicide. There was a rush to judgment. He was put on trial in front of a prejudiced judge and prejudiced jury who came up with a bogus verdict that he was guilty. Three life sentences in prison were leveled against him.

It was a dizzying sudden fall from the pinnacle of success and fame and fortune he had known and earned. Carter could have accepted his fate with a shrug and spent the rest of his years behind bars. But he decided he would not live the rest of his life as a victim, and he used the little word no. As the basis of his belief, I am not guilty. I do not deserve this verdict.

I won't accept this fate. And he did something about it. He spent his time and energy reading and studying law and history as he planned his own defense. He refused to believe that they had ruined his life. They had merely put him in a place he didn't deserve, and he wouldn't let that ruin his life. He determined he would one day leave the prison, walk out an innocent man, a better man, and an improved man.

It took 19 years and two lengthy trials to overturn the verdict. Ultimately, he walked out of that prison and resumed his life, all because of a little but not insignificant word for my strong determination, the word no. I'll repeat my opening line, never underestimate the power of little things. I agree with the American author Bruce Barton, who later became a congressman. Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I'm tempted to think there are no little things.

By the time I'm through, I hope you will feel the same way. All of us tend to sell little things short. We think talk is cheap.

It's not cheap at all. We think words are often throwaway words. Very few are throwaway words. We're to learn from these lives that our yes should be yes, leading to what may be real possibilities, and our no needs to be followed with strong determination that will result in a very significant set of things. The things we say and the things we do mean a lot. The Apostle Paul would certainly agree with that. In these five simple sounding verses of Colossians chapter 4, he underscores the importance of the simple word, small but not insignificant, pray, and also the importance of a simple but not insignificant action word, walk. In verses 2, 3, and 4, we look vertically into the Lord's face as we bring to him our prayers, and he spells what that would include. And then in verses 5 and 6, we look around us at those who were on the outside. So if you will, verses 2, 3, and 4 are addressed to the insiders, and one of the most important things we can do, however, our best work in it is not done around anyone else. You don't pray and call attention to yourself. You don't pray using words that are impressive or complicated, but we pray in all sincerity to a God who hears us, and we await him for an answer.

And then when we walk, we walk in such a way that those on the outside become curious and cannot ignore the fact that we are different from the average individual they live around. We'll look first at the vertical, 2, 3, and 4, and we will learn about praying among and for insiders, and then we will look at verses 5 and 6 at the way we walk. Look at how Paul writes of this. First, he writes a prayer with a word like devotion. Devote yourselves to prayer.

The Greek says continue watching in it with thanksgiving. There's passion in the statement. Prayer is active, not passive. Prayer is bold, not weak.

Remember Hebrews 4? We are to come boldly before the throne of grace, not in weakness, not pleading, not begging, not hoping we're going to be heard, but boldly, walking boldly into the presence of God, yet humbly acknowledging that he has the right to answer however he pleases. We are to pray with an alert mind and with a thankful heart. We're not to be dreamy and wandering in our prayers.

We are to have a series of thoughts that are expressed devotedly. In today's terms, I would use the words get with it. When it comes to prayer, get with it. Don't mumble the prayer.

Don't come half-heartedly, but come with vigilance, with a mission in mind. Devote yourselves to pray with an alert mind and a thankful heart. I'll be honest with you, I don't know of any harder work than prayer. Devoted prayer, passionate prayer, prayer that's uttered behind the scenes with confidence, speaking to someone you cannot see, counting by faith on something you have not felt or heard, and yet it's there. It's claimed by prayer. And he says in this also, not only to be devoted to prayer, but to be visionary.

Look at how he puts it. Pray for us too that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. I like it that Paul doesn't hesitate when he says, pray for me. I don't know why we're like this, but sometimes we're hesitant to say when someone says, how can I pray, to answer pray first for me. Pray for me.

Let me tell you what my needs are. I will often have thoughtful people ask me, what are two or three things I can pray for you about? I always appreciate that. Paul doesn't wait to be asked. He offers what they can pray for. Pray for us.

How do we pray? Look at what it says that God will give us many opportunities. Literally that God may open to us a door of the word. Every day we live, we face closed doors. We face obstacles. We stand in front of what appears to be a shut opportunity that we would wish would open. That's what we pray about. Pray that there might be an opening that God can bring. It may seem closed to us, but to God there is no such thing as open or closed. And in his own time and in his own way, he opens the door. Now, in the apostles case, he says, pray that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. Have you stopped to think about where Paul was? He was in a house in Rome, chained at the wrist to a Roman soldier. What a terrific opportunity.

I call that a captive audience. He can't get away. He's chained up to me. Pray that I will have the words to use, that I will have the approach that would be appropriate. Pray that I might make inroads into his thinking, because all of his life he has been a Roman. He has been taught all the mythology of the Roman world.

He has been reared by parents who are pagan. And this soldier sitting by me is an open door opportunity. Pray, as he puts it, that I may make the message clear. Look at how he says it. Verse four, pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. In fact, the sentence before that, that's why I am here in chains. Did the Lord know what he was doing when he put Paul there?

Absolutely. If they won't come to Paul, the Lord will make it possible for them to chain themselves to him. And once they are chained to him, he will have the opportunity to make Christ known.

Was it effective? Go back to Philippians. One book just before Colossians. Go to Philippians 1. Look at verse 12. You will see in verse 12 a reference to the same situation. This is one of the prison epistles, they're called. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, all four of them written under house arrest while Paul is chained. You and I might be there irked at the fact that we're not able to be out on the streets making Christ known.

Paul isn't. He realized God is sovereign. He has me here for a purpose. And so he tells us in Philippians 1.12, I want you to know this, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the good news.

Read on. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God's message without fear. How great is that? Do you think the Praetorian Guard would have ever sent out an invitation and said to Paul, Paul, come in to the palace and let us know about Christ? They wouldn't do that. So the Lord takes one soldier after another and plants him next to Paul for an extended period of time.

The soldiers would rotate. Oh, hi, Rufus, how are you? I haven't met you before. Well, let me tell you why I'm here. Yeah, I wonder why you're under arrest. Well, now that we're sitting here, let me tell you. The guy might want to yank away. He's chained.

He's not going anywhere. It's like witnessing to somebody on a plane. Sixteen hours. I mean, they've got an opportunity.

Sixteen hours. You imagine now how we do it is important. You can turn people off in a half a minute and they don't want to listen to another word.

So you need to know how to do it. That's why Paul says, help me to make it clear. Help me guard against using words that will be offensive or confusing or over their heads.

C.S. Lewis writes, any fool can write learned language. The vernacular is the real test. If you can't turn your faith into it, then you either don't understand it or you don't believe it.

I like the way that sounds. If your words are so confusing and so high and mighty, you don't really believe them. You're just mouthing empty words. See, Charles Haddon Spurgeon put it well. Christ said, feed my sheep, feed my lambs. Some preachers, however, put the food so high that neither sheep nor lambs can reach it. They seem to have read the text, feed my giraffes. You're not giraffes. You're sheep. I'm a sheep. So I deliberately keep it at the base level. I'm not to insult you.

As a matter of fact, that's a compliment. I don't want you to miss one main word of what we're reading. So that's the reason we break it down to simple. The only reason I mentioned the Greek is to add color, not to impression. On the contrary, is to help you realize there's color in these words.

There's meaning behind them. And Paul says, because of this opportunity, because of my imprisonment, verse 14, Philippians 1, most of the believers here have gained confidence. So not only did he impact the soldiers who had been lost and were now born again, but the other people around him that had visited were gaining confidence. If Paul could do it and change, my goodness, I ought to be able to do it as a free man or a free woman.

Now back to Colossians. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. So what have we learned? What have we learned to those who were on the inside? Look closely. We've learned to pray continually.

See how he puts it? Devote yourselves to prayer. Pray continually.

We've learned to pray passionately, not dreamy little needless words drifting off and on, but pray passionately and to pray specifically. Pray for me. Pray that I will make the most of the opportunity.

Pray that I will be clear. That'll revolutionize your prayer life. Let me tell you a quick story on me, because so many prayers are memorized.

And I'm a believer in memorizing. I love to memorize the hymns that we sing. I love to memorize verses of scripture, but I don't memorize prayers.

That habit was broken in me by my older brother, who loved the Lord long before I did. And when we were growing up as kids in the Swindoll family, our parents wanted to train us in prayer. And so they would ask different ones of the three of us to pray.

Sis, why don't you pray? And she would pray. And Orville, why don't you pray?

And then when they ran out of kids, they asked me. And they said, Charles, why don't you pray? And here was my prayer. God bless his food and make us strong and free that we may use our health and strength and serve his Lord to thee. Amen. And I prayed it just like that. God bless his food and make our bodies strong and free that we may use our health and strength and serve his Lord to thee.

Amen. Pass the gravy, pass the potatoes, pass the liver or whatever we were having that night. Don't pass the liver. And my brother looked at me one time and he said, Charles, when are you going to learn to pray? I mean, really pray.

My first thought was, how quickly can I cut his lips off? Not being very teachable since he was an older brother. But he was right. I don't know how to pray. That wasn't prayer. A memorized prayer is not answered. Doesn't mean a blessed thing, but going through the motions. It's like praying or like painting within the numbers.

That's not painting. I wasn't praying. You begin to pray when you use original words.

When you do it spontaneously, when you don't care what someone else may be thinking because you're often doing it alone. You're listening to insight for living. Chuck Swindoll titled this section of Colossians a brief checklist for believers.

And there's much more ahead. Earlier, you heard me talk about these searching the scriptures study notes. When we're in the middle of a study like today's, it's the perfect time to point you to this helpful resource. Once the program is finished, this interactive study tool is intentionally designed to help you dig deeper on your own so that the truth of the Bible becomes alive to you.

If you haven't already done so, check out this creative resource by going to insight world dot org slash studies. Soon we'll conclude this brand new 10 part teaching series on Paul's letter to the Colossians. And while there's still time, be sure to take advantage of two helpful books Chuck has written. Both of them tie in naturally with our study in Colossians. The first is a full length commentary on Colossians, Philippians and Philemon. And the second is a captivating biography on the apostle Paul. It's titled Paul, a man of grace and grit.

Both of these books, the commentary on Colossians and the biography on Paul are available for purchase when you call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or by going to insight dot org slash offer. Finally, when you give a donation, you're empowering us to provide a constant source of Bible teaching for you and for countless others who've come to rely on Chuck as well. Today, Insight for Living is broadcast on over 2,600 radio stations in 50 plus countries and in eight different languages. So, thanks for doing your part in making these daily programs possible. To give a donation right now, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. That phone number again, 800-772-8888.

Or you can also give online at insight dot org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll describes what he calls a brief checklist for believers. Friday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, a brief checklist for believers, was copyrighted in 2014 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-10 21:27:11 / 2023-05-10 21:36:16 / 9

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