Gospel devotion - Colossians 4:2-6
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Gospel Devotion – Colossians 4:2-6
Have you ever met a football fan who is so devoted to their favourite team. Maybe they attend all the matches, or watch them on TV, they have loads of merchandise, they check up on the latest news or research the latest signing. At a game, they are singing all the songs, chatting about their team, and nervously waiting for their star striker to score a goal. They support the team, win, lose or draw and their emotions reflect the match results. Joy and tribulation as the team win the league or gain promotion, sadness, and despair as they lose a match or are relegated. I've seen fans being interviewed on TV and heard them on the radio as their frustrations or delight ooze out of them, I've seen grown men cry because their team lost out on winning the league by a point and young kids, so caught up in their love for their team that they break down in tears with their head in their hands, only for the TV camera to zoom right in on their moment of devastation. These are extreme examples but maybe this resonates with you, maybe your football or sports team is a massively important part of your life.
Maybe it's not sport, maybe it is your family, your kids, or your grandkids who you devote all your time and your energy to. Maybe it's your home or garden, got to make it look presentable and lovely for visitors or passers-by. Could it be your work? Are you striving and spending all your time to build an empire to support your family but all the while it is more about your love and devotion to work rather than having enough to live. Think about your own life, what is that takes your time, what consumes your thoughts, your efforts, your finances, what do you want with all your heart?
When I put myself into this thinking, I can feel broken because it is not always God that is the answer, there are so many idols that I can be prone to place before him. Well today we're going to be looking at devotion and how we as Christians should be responding to the amazing grace that we have received.
Devotion to Prayer
At the start of our passage today we are called by Paul to devote ourselves to prayer, to be watchful and thankful. Well let’s split this in to 3 descriptions of how we should pray, devoted, watchful and thankful.
- Devote yourselves
Devote yourselves is just one word in the Greek and can be translated several ways; “continue steadfastly”, “continue earnestly”, “persevere”, “be constant in”. It’s a continued practice that we should have. It’s not saying you must pray before each meal, or you must attend that specific prayer meeting, or you must pray as soon as you get up. These are all good things and yes do them, but Paul doesn’t give specific instructions of when to pray, but our lives as God’s holy people should be always praying daily, not casually but in a real and meaningful way, notice all the words, devoted, steadfast, persevere, constant. This is Paul’s practice which we started with at the beginning of Colossians where he said:
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,
We’ll see next week that it is also leader of the church’s practice:
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
In Acts the early believers practiced it too:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Always, never stopped, continual and devoted prayer with a real purpose is what we should be offering to the Lord. It is a lifestyle, a continual habit. We should be people who lives so dependent on God that means prayer is essential, it is powerful, and it changes situations and circumstances. It should drive us to pray before our meals, in the mornings and to make and get to that prayer meeting because we know the value of it, and it should delight us to come to our Father with our thanks and requests. I have loved Pete’s encouragement to ask one another how we can pray for each other. It is getting involved and caring about our church family, it is a purposeful question that leads to us acting on it, whether right away or later in that day and week. That then leads to us checking in with that person and loving them.
So devoted prayer is an intentional and continual life of praying to God.
The passage also calls us to be
- Being Watchful
Being watchful is not some kind of new revelation that says we should keep our eyes open when we pray. It is about being spiritually alert, praying with a resoluteness that means we are not caught off guard when times of difficulty come. Jesus reminded his disciples of the need to watch in the garden, hours before he was crucified:
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Do you remember what happened though, the disciples were sleeping, three times Jesus came back to them and found them to be asleep, despite his warnings to watch, be alert, be ready spiritually because the trials and temptations are about to come. I wonder if they knew what was going to happen, would they be more alert, would they have been more earnest in prayer?
In the film Groundhog Day, the main character Phil relives a day of his life over and over again. He has the chance to live differently each 24 hours despite being presented with the same situations. Now this is all fiction of course but there is a moment when he steps off the path and into a puddle, he gets soaked. Later in the film, he makes a conscious decision to step over the puddle or go around it. In some ways, in the Christian life, we need to walk through the trials and situations we face but we often wish we could go around them or step over them. We’re not going to be able to see all the situations we will face but I do know that in Christ and through prayer we have a great High Priest who is interceding for us to God the Father. So, Christians, why do we not constantly pray because prayer changes situations and prayer helps us to walk through a situation, no matter how messy it will get, our Heavenly Father is in control and is right there with us.
We are told to be watchful in prayer, because we don’t always know what is coming around the corner but if we are alert, when that trial or situation comes, it will be easier to say, “help me to trust in you in this situation”, “help me to accept your will in my illness”, “help others to see your glory in my time of trial”.
- Being Thankful
We know that our heavenly Father is a God who answers prayers and of course we should go to him with our request, and he will answer them according to His will. However, think of all the wonderful things that God has given us already, it would be neglectful of us not to bring our thanksgiving in our prayers.
We want our girls to grow up being thankful but when they get a pile of presents on their birthday or Christmas, the joy just takes over and they need those gentle reminders to say thank you. Is that like us, we’ve been given so much in our salvation, forgiveness our adoption as part of God’s family, that God is with us, we are loved, He provides for us, gives us our very next breath, he has given us His word and He has given us a hope in heaven to come. Wonderful and incredible blessings let’s be thankful people in prayer.
Paul follows this call of devotion to prayer by requesting prayer for himself and others with him spreading the gospel message. He doesn’t ask for prayer for personal gain, he is asking for gospel opportunities so that they proclaim the mysteries of Christ. Notice that Paul is in prison, he is writing from his cell where he is in chains and his first prayer request is not free me from these chains. It is let the gospel go out clearly to those who need to hear it, despite my situation. He is in the chains because of the gospel, and he does not want to stop, he is devoted to prayer, and he is also devoted to getting the gospel message and call for pray for doors to be open.
Let me ask you Christ Church Riverside to pray for us, pray for those who preach the word of God and speak the gospel, pray for Peter and I as we handle God’s word and preach it on a Sunday because it is not an easy task, we spend a lot of time ensuring we are presenting it in a sound and Biblical way and we are committed to that. Pray for others who teach God’s word, our service leaders and home group leaders but also pray for each other that we would have opportunities to speak about Jesus to others.
Devotion to the Gospel Message
So as Paul asks for prayer that he may have opportunities to speak of the mysteries of Christ, but then there is a shift in his speaking, he also calls the Colossians to make the most of every opportunity with outsiders or unbelievers. This applies to us too, we should be devotedly proclaiming the message of the gospel, so how do we do this?
Firstly, through wisdom. The truth is that like in Paul’s day, we as Christians are a minority in what can be at time a hostile environment. We might not be placed in jail for speaking about Christ, but people can certainly get angry or annoyed when we declare the Jesus is the only way. How do we respond in these situations, well in a wise way, so what is godly wisdom. It is striving to live with the perspective of our Heavenly Father. With his will in mind, not make decisions based on our own whims or wants but for his glory. A way in which we can act wisely is by going back to chapter 3 and acting more like Jesus by putting on his clothing.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Remember the really helpful visual aid that Kay provided in the church family Bible slot as she dressed the kids in different clothes from people in the church family and we were able to guess who they were and then she dressed Lydia in all those attributes I just mentioned and that represented Jesus, they are his clothes and that is how we should be wisely treating outsiders, with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness. Why? Because that gives us the chance to reflect Jesus and grow in holiness and when we have the opportunity give an answer on why, we can declare, all because of Jesus.
- Full of Grace & Seasoned with Salt
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Our devotion to the message of the gospel must be full of grace, we cannot be antagonising or boring in speaking about our greatest joy, our conversations must be seasoned with salt to make it appealing to others.
We have salt on our cabinet next to the table because occasionally and I am careful to say not very often, some food that Lauren has cooked needs a bit of extra seasoning, just to make it taste better, she’ll readily admit that, and I hope is not offended by it. Either way, she’s doing a great job of practically working out our sermon from last week.
That’s the same with our speech for the gospel, as we speak the words of the gospel, we do it with grace but also with joy and winsomely, so it is appealing to others. Think back to the introduction, how quick are we to speak with joy and delight to others about our favourite football team or our job, or our kids or grandkids. Let’s have that much joy and delight when speaking the gospel message to outsiders.
Well Christ Church Riverside, what will it look like for us to be devoted Christians?
The truth is that on that final day, Jesus won’t care about how full your team’s trophy cabinet is, devoted Christians will have full heart for Jesus.
He won’t care about the delight of your nation winning a major semi-final as the tune of Sweet Caroline rings around the stadium, there was a little girl just so captured by that joy and emotion caught on camera and it just summed up the fans and team’s feelings. Devoted Christians will be full of praise and worship for God, delightfully declaring the message we great joy and delight, knowing what victory Christ has won for us.
Jesus won’t care about how well presented your home is or how beautiful your garden looks. Jesus cares about messy lives of the people around you and the beautiful flowers of those saints who turn to Him as Lord. That is where the love of devoted Christians flows out to.
Jesus doesn’t care about how much money you bring home because you dedicate all your time to work and neglect things of God and the family, he has given you. He cares about giving your time to him, he cares about you being here on a Sunday, loving his word and worshipping with his people, he cares about that early morning prayer meeting. Devoted Christians desire to spend time with him above all other things.
Jesus doesn’t care about all the money you have made, or that you left all your money to an animal trust. Devoted Christians are generous, using the resources he has given us for his glory and for his kingdom.
Finally, our families, our spouses, out children, our grandchildren. We should love them deeply and desire most of all that the come to know Jesus. Devoted Christians should have a greater love for our greatest treasure who is Jesus, and that love flows out into all our relationships.
I was so thankful for a Christian sister’s words this week when I tried to encourage her regarding a difficult illness that her daughter is facing, her reply was tinged with sadness but simply said, thank you for your prayer, yes, much prayer is needed, and for her heart to turn back to God. Yes, she wants healing, but she knows her daughter’s greatest need is salvation.
Being a devoted Christian now will result in the greatest joy and most wonderful outcome of heaven, the hope that we have. On that final day, Jesus will look at our lives that we lived here on earth, and I pray that he will see people devoted to prayer, to the word, to one another and ultimately to Christ Jesus himself. Then in turn he will declare, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Gospel Devotion: Colossians 4:2-6
Intro: Where is your devotion?
Devotion to Prayer
- Devote Yourselves
Always, never stopped, continual and devoted prayer with a real purpose is what we should be offering to the Lord. It is a lifestyle, a continual habit. We should be people who lives so dependent on God that means prayer is essential, it is powerful, and it changes situations and circumstances.
- Being Watchful
- Being Thankful
Pray for your leaders who preach and teach the word and speak the gospel.
Devotion to the Gospel Message
- Acting Wisely
Godly wisdom is striving to live with the perspective of our Heavenly Father. With his will in mind, not make decisions based on our own whims or wants but for his glory.
- Full of Grace & Seasoned with Salt
As we speak the words of the gospel, we do it with grace but also with joy and winsomely, so it is appealing to others.
Being a devoted Christian now will result in the greatest joy and most wonderful outcome of heaven, the hope that we have. On that final day, Jesus will look at our lives that we lived here on earth, and I pray that he will see people devoted to prayer, to the word, to one another and ultimately to Christ Jesus himself.
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