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196 - The Model Prayer

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
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May 20, 2024 4:04 pm

196 - The Model Prayer

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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May 20, 2024 4:04 pm

Episode 196 - The Model Prayer (18 May 2024) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.

Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, so when people pray for other people, what do you hear? Oh, sometimes you hear, oh God bless them, God bless us, everyone, like Tiny Tim from Christmas Carol. Tiny Tim, that's the minimal prayer. But Paul goes well beyond that today, doesn't he, in Colossians?

Oh my goodness, his prayer for the Colossians is one we can learn from. Very rich, and we're going to read it today on More Than Ink. Well, good morning, and welcome to our dining room table. This is More Than Ink, and I'm Dorothy.

And I'm Jim. And we are today starting into an actual conversation about the letter of Paul to the Colossians. Well, because last time. Right, last time we read through it, without stopping, just all in a piece, the way it would have been presented to the Colossians when Paul sent it. Yeah, right. And so now we begin to work our way through it in a little bit more in depth. But I just want to say to you all that our purpose is not to present you, our listeners, with an in-depth study. No, no.

But to help you begin one and just give you some pointers, what to look for, what to listen for. Because at this beginning we're going to take some kind of big chunks. Yes, yes, we would normally go slower. But, you know, this is the beginning of your exploration into Colossians. Right. And, I mean, just to tell you just a quick little story. When I first became a Christian, six months later, I flew on the other side of the world and started living there and met this guy who was my first youth pastor. And he's the one that taught me how to study the Bible. And the first book of the Bible he taught me to study was Colossians.

Oh my gosh. And so I made notes in my Bible I had at the time. And, unbelievably, I had not seen him for 50 years until six months ago.

And we met all the way across the world in Southeast Asia. I brought that Bible with me. I showed him where I had made notes in it, underlined things and circled things. And I said, Charlie, I did this when you taught me this book 50 years ago. Well, you'd think if you studied it 50 years ago you'd be done studying it, right?

Nope, here we are still looking at it. And it's got that much depth to it that today may just be your starting point like it was for me 50 years ago. Well, that's interesting that you would say that because that just reminded me that for me, too, as a very young believer, probably within the first few months, the church that I was attending at that time, they began teaching Colossians on Sunday morning. And in the Bible that I was using at that time.

I also have notes. This is mature stuff, but it is accessible for new believers. That's what's cool about it. You can be a new believer and you can still catch what's in here and it's still mind-blowing, so much so that you want to go back and say, let's read that again. So we're back reading it again and we're delighted to do it.

This is not our first time. Okay, and we're going to tackle all 14 verses of the introduction of the letter. Paul's introduction, his greeting, and then this amazing prayer. Yes.

That he prays for the Colossians. It's the coolest thing. Yeah. Yeah. If you're a pastor and you're going through this passage, you take about half a dozen verses.

Oh, we could probably do a half hour program on each of these little segments. So with that in mind, don't get tripped up if stuff doesn't make sense. But here we go. We're jumping into Colossians 1 for the first time.

Colossians 1, 1. You want me to read? Yeah, go ahead. Because I have a more of an apostle voice. And I've done some talking already. Yeah, okay.

So there you go. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God and Timothy, our brother. To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ and Colossae, grace to you and peace from God our Father. He starts a lot of his letters just like that. Yeah, that's very Paul, right? That's very much the way he says, here's who I am. And he always says something about being an apostle by the will of God, right?

This wasn't my doing. This is something God did. Yeah, yeah. And then he tells who he's writing to. Yeah, it's just like the front of an envelope.

You get the front and the two on it. And his address, right? To the holy ones, the set apart ones, the full of faith ones, brothers in Christ. Right, right.

So these are the followers of Jesus. And by the way, too, we suspect that he's never been to Colossae. We don't know for sure.

We don't know for sure. He was in the neighborhood, well, nearly all of his three journeys we know about, he was in the area. But we're not sure he was there. But I mean, because in chapter two we'll get to, he talks about the fact that some other people in the area had never seen him.

So we think, well, maybe the Colossians neither. And also, and we talked about this last time, he's actually writing from jail. Right, right. And he'll tell us that in the last chapters, like two, three times he'll mention, you know. In fact, his parting phrase is, you know, remember me in chains, basically. So he's writing from prison, presumably a Roman prison. So here he is in a Roman prison writing to some people who very likely he's never met. And if that's the case, it makes this even more of an endearing kind of letter as he writes to the folks in Colossae.

Oh, he clearly loves them. Yeah, yeah. So just to get your geography right, Colossae is smack dab in the middle of Turkey. If you can see Turkey in your mind, that gigantic peninsula state kind of, almost right in the middle. If you know where Ephesus is on the coast, on the western coast, it's Ephesus. If you take one of the principal valleys inland toward the east, you'll hit Colossae.

So it's in the neighborhood. But that's where we are, we're in the middle of Turkey right now to these believers that are in Colossae. And it looks like they have some doctrinal problems that he's going to try and solve by really focusing in on the person of Christ. Yeah, and those problems will become clearer as the letter goes on.

But we're just going to begin with his prayer, which starts in verse three. Yeah, well, why don't you read that? It's great. It's so amazing.

It's really great. Okay. He says, we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you've heard before in the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing, as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He's a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the spirit.

Okay. So he hasn't quite gotten into the prayer yet. This is kind of his lead up to the prayer. In fact, what you read in verse three, he says, we always thank God. He's going to tell us what he's thanking him for at the end of today in verse 12. And then he says, and I pray for you. And what's he going to pray for you? Well, he'll start that in verse nine.

It's interesting that when you are beginning to do an in-depth study, you always want to look for the words that are repeated or the words that are emphasized for one way or another. So just on this reading, it jumps out at me. And then verse four, he says, he talks about faith, love, and verse five, hope. Faith, love, and hope. Now, that's a famous triad. Those three things show up together in a lot of places.

Right, right. Paul wrote about it, faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. So the Corinthian church, he wrote that. And that is a theme, that's kind of a triple theme in almost everything Paul writes is faith, hope, and love. And the more you read Paul, the more you understand the difference between the three of those. But Paul, he's going to talk principally here about the fact that the evidence of their faith, of their belief in Jesus, is their outward love, and he'll talk about that over and over.

Okay. And he mentions the word of truth, the gospel. The gospel. Again, that's going to come up again and again, the gospel, the good news, the message that they've heard that caused something to happen in them when they believed it.

Yeah, yeah. The good news is the news that's received that people embrace. So he said in verse four, since we heard of your faith and your love and your hope, it's very likely that he heard about their faith, hope, and love from this guy named Epaphras that he mentions here. So a lot of people speculate that Epaphras came to Paul while he was in the Roman prison, what prison he's in, and relates to them. Basically Paul says how things going back over there where you come from because Epaphras is from Colossae.

And he says, let me tell you. And so he tells them, and then this is Paul's response, since I heard of your faith and of your love and the hope that's laid up in heaven for you. And of this you have heard before in the word of truth, the gospel. So where did they hear the gospel? Because what if Paul wasn't there? If Paul hadn't been there.

Yeah. And Paul heard from Epaphras. So Epaphras is kind of a key figure in this, and he'll come up a couple times as we talk about their faith that's there in Colossae. And Paul's just thrilled. He's thrilled about what he's heard from. And he's also, if you look in verse six, he's thrilled at what the gospel does all by itself. It's going through the world and it's bearing fruit and it's increasing. The gospel is like unstoppable. And it's doing something in you, right?

I love this phrase. He says, since the day since you heard it, and you understood the grace of God in truth. You grasped the reality of the message. And that's an important distinction. We get in discussions a lot with people around here about who Jesus is and people will say, well, we don't believe in a different Jesus. And historically, historically that's true. However, who Jesus is, is different in terms of being the Son of the Father and all that kind of stuff.

But that's not the point. When it comes to understanding the gospel, it's not understanding necessarily who the true Jesus is, but understanding that the grace of God embodied in Jesus. And once you get the grace of God, that changes your understanding of the gospel, changes your understanding of who Jesus is, what he did on your behalf.

That's why I really like how he said that. When you heard it, you understood the grace of God in truth. In truth. In truth. So that kind of begs the question, what is truth? Well, truth is the nature of things as they really are. As they really are.

Not as though you think they are, not what somebody has told you they are. What is true? There is such a thing as absolute truth.

Yeah, right. And you know, all of my professional training is in science. And in science, that's just to give everyone. Everyone in science agrees there's only one reality. What we're doing is we're trying to take steps at what we think it is, but there's only one reality. That's a fundamental belief. There is absolute truth. There is absolute reality of the one thing that really is, even if our understandings are faulty. So the Colossians, in hearing the gospel, and we'll circle back to the gospel in a minute, grasped, they bit down on the reality of the message they were hearing. Yes. And believed it.

Yeah. And there's nothing quite as transforming, I think, when I've shared the gospel with people is when they suddenly grasp that God is offering you a gift. That's what grace is. It's a gift you can't earn.

And you certainly don't deserve, you can't earn it in any way. But when they grasp this idea that God has given to you something of such great importance so that you can have fellowship with him, when they get the grace of God, then the jigsaw puzzle pieces start to come together. Then you see why Christ had to die.

I mean, you understand so much. And that the point of this salvation is being reconciled to God. So the grace, you understood the grace of God in truth. I just love that phrase.

They grasp that and everything changed after that. And so here comes the prayer, verse nine, 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, 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, being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father who's qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Well, there's a mouthful.

My soul. Yeah. So this is what he was saying when you go back to verse three, he was saying, and when we pray for you, we pray for you.

Yeah. Isn't this nice? He says, we pray for you, and you go, well, thanks a lot. Then he says, well, let me tell you what we're praying for. Because he didn't say, I just pray, God bless them. Right, right.

He's very specific. Yeah. And when I've taken this habit on myself, when I tell people I'm praying for them, I say, look, I've been praying for it. Let me tell you what I've been praying for, or I'll write it down and send it to them, which is exactly what he's doing here. Yeah. I frequently text prayers to people, so then they have it, they can reread it.

Yeah. And then they say, well, I'm praying for you. And so Paul does that here.

Great encouragement to do it this way. I'm praying, verse nine, and so from the day that we heard, again, maybe from Epaphras, I don't know, but he got worried about what's going on in Colossae, from the day we heard, we haven't ceased to pray for you. And doing what? Well, number one, there in verse nine, being filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Yeah, in spiritual wisdom and understanding, right, that you would grasp it from a spiritual point of view, how life with God works. Right. And understanding, how do you evaluate how this life works?

Yeah. What is life tomorrow like in light of what has happened to us? And it's not being just let in on, it's being filled, it's being filled with. And that filled word is not used a lot, you're filled with the Spirit, but really the emphasis is everything that you are inside and out is filled with this. And so life tomorrow with Christ is a life of being fully filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

So full that it oozes out through your pores and affects the way you live. Right, right. Because that's why he says, why he prays that they may be filled up, verse 10, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, right, so that you're so full inside that it begins to affect the way you live outside. Yeah. And I think for a lot of believers, they just want to have a few tips on the will of God.

You know, I've got most of this figured out, but I've got to give me some clues like about my future, because I don't know much about that, or how I deal with this tough relationship. So a lot of Christians settle for just having some tips of things that they are not capable of. I hate that expression. I know. It just trivializes the whole thing.

It does. It's a way of saying, God, I've got this life together, I've got it figured out. But there's a few things that I don't have under control, so can you, but he says here, but this is not what he's talking about here. He's talking about actually replacing all of your sense of how to live life with all of his will. That's completely different. He's going to mention twice in this prayer, the knowledge of God, meaning kind of a knowledge that powerfully influences how you live.

Yeah. It's not just something you know in your head. It's because I know this, I walk in a certain way. So you know, when he says to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, well then he does give us a list, actually. He does. There are four things that he says. Go ahead.

But before you go there, I just forgot to say this. When you get to the end of verse nine in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, if I was writing this myself, I would have just stopped with spiritual wisdom, which is great, you know, because it means the knowledge of the way things truly are is transforming what you do. That's what wisdom is. But then he says understanding, and I really appreciate that because he doesn't want us to be clueless about what's going on. He wants us to understand the dynamic of how life works. He wants us to understand.

And you know, it takes me back to that Psalm 32, I always forget, 32, 33, 34 where he basically says I don't want you to be like a mule or a donkey with the bits in your mouth and you pull left on the reins, you go left, you pull right on the reins. He says I don't want you to be like that. He says I want you to understand. And so here God is saying I want you to be filled with the knowledge of his will and all spiritual wisdom, yes, but with full understanding. I want you to understand why what's going on is going on around you.

I think that's cool. And that makes the connection between what you know and believe in your head and your heart and then have insight into how, why and how that works out in life. Why God has led me in this direction, yeah. And because there is a transformative component to understanding and walking in the will of God. You actually learn about who God is, but that understanding is what allows you to understand who God is. Well, and the understanding is not complete unless you are walking it out.

Right, right. That's an important part that Paul has in view here. So go to the walking.

You started that in 10 because this is a great section. You know, Paul uses this expression to walk in a particular manner quite frequently in his letters. He's just describing daily life, right, putting one foot after another.

Walk is what you do tomorrow. Fully pleasing to the Lord. Okay, so let me just list the things that I discovered.

Here's what walking in a manner worthy, fully pleasing to God looks like, bearing fruit in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his might for the purpose of endurance and patience with joy, and then giving thanks to the Father who's qualified you to enjoy all those things. So you know, we just spend a little time just kind of talking about those, bearing fruit in every good work. Well, what's he talking about? Yeah, fruit is the final outcome of a fruit tree. Right. So there's a long process involved. Yeah, it's the wonderful outcome that's connected deliberately to the character of the tree.

So you know, I use this all the time. We used to have fruit trees in our other house, and in the wintertime, they don't have leaves or fruit, so you can't really tell them apart, but the nature of the tree has not changed, and when the fruit comes out, you see the nature. So the fruit is actually a reflection of the internal stuff, and I was thinking back in John 15.

That's why I'm just open to it. Well, why don't you read it for us, because, well, I've got it written down. He says, if you abide in me, this is John 15, seven, and eight. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, it means they live in you, then ask whatever you wish, and it'll be done for you. By this, my Father is glorified, that it's made known who the Father is, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. Okay, but before he said that, back up in verse four, Jesus said, abide in me, and I in you, as the branch can't bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine. You are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him bears much fruit.

Apart from me, you can do nothing. So that's the groundwork from which Paul is praying. That section in John 15 is the keystone in understanding fruit, any time bearing fruit is mentioned in the Bible. Go to John 15. And as Jesus elaborates in John 15, it becomes clear that the particular fruit in view there is love, is love. And Paul's actually going to go there too, but it's interesting in Galatians 5 when Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit, the first thing he names is love. And he had already mentioned in the Colossians your love in the Spirit. He recognizes that they love, and that's an evidence of the Spirit of God working in you.

Well, yeah. And in John's little epistles, he writes basically the same thing about it's a big deal in terms of our actions of love and how they reflect who God is, they reflect that God is in us. And he says, if we don't see love coming out of you, well, you know, we kind of suspect that you may not have God in you. So go read, it's in 1 John, read that because he makes a big point about that.

I don't have any quotes here for you. But the issue is that when you see love coming out of a person that's extraordinary and supernatural, then what you're seeing is the outworking of God's Spirit in that person into this evidence of love. Okay. And we're not just talking about a feeling of love. We're talking about love as an expression of what benefits an other.

Yeah. A total... A self-giving. I won't say obsession, but it's a total turn away from ourselves to what's best for another person.

It's a very willful thing. It's not as much emotion as it is willful in the New Testament. And that's just an obvious sign of not only God being in us, but who God himself is because John's also the one that says God is love. So if that's an essential character point about God, that when it exhibits in us, people are actually coming to understand who God is through the love that's manifesting in us. And so when Paul sees it here in the Colossians, he says, God's in you. So it's interesting that we might zero in on the fact that bearing fruit in every good work. We might immediately think, oh, that's a lot of good stuff we have to do. But later on in the letter, Paul's gonna say, no, in whatever you do. Whatever you do.

Do everything. Yeah. To the glory of God in Christ Jesus. Yeah. Interestingly enough, as you walk in that way, look at the end of verse 10, you increase the knowledge of God. Yes. So coming to a knowledge of God is something that you actually walk out in life and learn about who he is as a result.

That's a fascinating thing. As you gain understanding in how life works when walked in relationship with God, that is an increasing and ever increasing process. Yeah.

And life's gonna be hard. In verse 11, he says, you know, you're gonna be strengthened but for the point of endurance and patience. That's right. But strengthened with the power of God's might.

With God's power. Yeah. Exactly. He's gonna give you what it takes to endure these things because it's gonna be a hard life.

Okay. So endurance and patience with joy. Endurance is staying the path. Not running away. Steadfast. I'm on this path.

I'm putting one foot after the other in this direction. And patience has to do with waiting for something that's coming. With joy. Because there's a joy in this even though there may be hard things to be endured.

Yeah. Because there's something at the end of this tunnel. And so that last thing on the list is giving thanks to the Father. Because he's qualified you to share in this inheritance. And aren't you glad it's not something you had to achieve?

Oh my gosh. This inheritance. Inheritance is a great word to use in terms of what we gain after death basically. But it's not something you earn.

It's not like a wage that you earn. It's something that's coming to you because you're in a particular family. That's inheritance. That's given to you because someone else who went before you gives it to you.

Yeah. And the Father's the one who's qualified you. It reminds me of the places where Paul talks about the fact that we're adopted children. He qualifies us because we weren't qualified before.

Before adoption. Now we're adopted. We're children. He's qualified us. The inheritance about what's in heaven and being with the Father is part of what we can enjoy as a result. And it's something he does.

He qualifies us. We're going to say this a hundred times probably in Colossians. It's not the result of something you do to earn. Right. And that is so clear right here. So we give thanks to the Father because he qualified us to participate in this great joy that we participate in. And not only that.

Verse 13. Well, okay. So he's going to kind of turn away from praying and begin talking about the person of Jesus. Yes. Right? The beloved Son. This is kind of a segue.

Transition into what we'll talk about next week. Yeah. But verse 13.

But it's part of his thankfulness. Oh, yes. This is key.

This is key. He has, not us, he has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have redemption and forgiveness of sins. He has picked us up and taken us out of one thing and put us into another. Well, the difference between being in a domain under somebody's thumb and moved into a kingdom where there's an identifiable king is a beautiful picture. And if you just think about a kingdom, life in any kingdom is determined by the quality of the character of the king. Who's over in charge. Right.

That person who is present ruling. Yeah. And he's in this kingdom.

It's the beloved Son who has redeemed us and forgiven us. Yeah. Yeah.

What king dies for his people? Right. Yeah, exactly.

Yeah. And not only dies, but pays the price. I mean, the idea is that when we're in the domain of darkness, we are actually enslaved there and couldn't get out on our own. And think of slave, but you could be purchased out of slavery. And that's what redemption is. When you see the word redemption, it's always about a payment.

It's always about a payment. And that payment, if you read 1 Peter, is the blood of Christ. It's not something like silver or gold, but it is a payment that he's made on our behalf in order to pay for our being taken out of the enslavement of sin, redemption. So there, that first 14, how did we get transferred in the kingdom of his Son? Well, he paid our debt.

That's what he's saying in 14. And he's also forgiven our sins, which is, that word's a great word because it means to send something away or to release it or to let it go. Yeah, to let it go. To let it go. So he's paid the price in redemption and he's also let go of our sins, which had been a barrier between us and God. And now he's let them go. They're not in the way anymore.

They're not between us anymore. So there's no barrier to our living in the kingdom under the gracious rule of the beloved Son. That's right.

Because he's bought us and forgiven us. Yeah. This is the best big picture I know of to talk about when someone gives their life to the Lord and I said, do you realize what just happened?

Yeah. You just didn't believe something. You have now believed what Christ has done on your behalf. You've come to an understanding of the grace of God and as a result of that, he has pulled you out of this domain of darkness, you know, and then he's taken you and put you into the kingdom of his Son.

You are now a citizen in a place you never were a citizen before. That is the hope of the gospel. That's the hope of the gospel.

Right? That's the hope of the gospel. And many times I ask people about salvation. What are you saved from? They'll say, oh, I'm saved from my sins. That's the domain of darkness.

But then they forget about the second half of the story. What are you saved to? I'm saved to being a citizen in the kingdom of his beloved Son. That's what's so extraordinary about the gospel is that what he has done, he has qualified us to take part in that inheritance. And Paul comes right out of the shoot here in chapter one and says, that's what you've experienced. That's what life is all about. And that's understanding the grace of God and truth. Exactly.

This is what has happened to you. Celebrate that. Yeah. Well, we're totally out of time.

Completely. We could have talked for a couple of more hours, go back and read more of it, but we're glad you're with us as we take a look at this wonderful little letter of Colossians. I'm Jim. And I'm Dorothy. And we'll see you next time here on More Than Ink. There are many more episodes of this broadcast to be found at our website, And while you're there, take a moment to drop us a note.

Remember the Bible is God's love letter to you. Pick it up and read it for yourself and you will discover that the words printed there are indeed more than ink. Hello. Oh, there you are. Wiggles in the timeline. I'm here. Okay. This has been a production of Main Street Church of Brigham City.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-20 16:17:29 / 2024-05-20 16:30:59 / 14

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