Staying Watchful In Our World (Colossians 4:2-6)

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A couple weeks ago I was walking in the church building. I opened the door entering into the children’s wing downstairs, and after taking a step I noticed a snake in the hallway. Now you have to realize I’m a pastor, which means 3 things

  • I am aware satan is personified as a snake (Genesis 3).
  • I am aware Jesus crushed the snake’s head (Genesis 3:15).
  • I am aware of where the B&G Team keeps the shovels!

And ever since, I am more vigilant walking through hallways and opening doors in the church building. To be vigilant means to watch carefully, especially in danger or difficulty; to be alert and attentive. We have phrases like “eagle-eyed,” or “staying on your toes” to reflect the idea of vigilance.

Generally, we become vigilant when we are more aware of the danger/difficulty around us.

  • We become vigilant of our garden when there are animal nibbles on fruit.
  • We become vigilant of our roof shingles when a wet ceiling stain appears.
  • We become more vigilant of diet when multiple family members have heart attack, cancer, etc.
  • When a friend has a house fire, you check batteries in smoke detector and trim candle wicks.
  • We become more vigilant when a neighbor is robbed at gunpoint or shares a human trafficking story.
  • Soldiers stay vigilant because of their training and innate desire to protect.

Today’s message will examine 2 Actions To Stay Watchful In Our WorldWhy We Pray - 2018

EXAMINE           Colossians 4:2-6

Colossians 4:2-6
2  Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
3  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—
4  that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
5  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.

 

We must pray persistently.

Paul’s instruction to the Colossian church was to be devoted/earnest/steadfast and continuing in prayer. The command is a common theme in Paul’s letters

  • Rom 12:12 “be constant in prayer”
  • Eph 6:18 “praying always”
  • 1Thess 5:17 “pray without ceasing”

Prayer is the pattern for the early believers (Acts 2:42; etc.).[1] Today, prayer is the most talked about but it is often the least practiced. Reflect on our own church’s prayer events and see they are the least attended (ouch!). One of the great preachers of the last great revival era noted, “If the spirit of prayer is not with the people… it cannot expect success. There may be in that church wealth, talent, labor, and many outreach efforts, but the Lord is not there. Prayer is as sure evidence of the presence of God as the rising of the thermometer is evidence of an increase in temperature. If God is near a church, it must pray.”[2]

The notion of persistent prayer as determined devotion, tireless, tenacious and relentlessness to seek the Lord in prayer is absent in the modern church. We have lots of good priorities but far too many exceed the passion to prayer.

  • Tools to pray persistently: alarms, calendars, pic cards, etc.
  • Illus: Our cell phones lose battery life the more we use them. However, our prayer life gains power the more we pray. We see greater works of God when we spend time praying with thanksgiving, seeing God’s activity around us. God is always at work… this is the first key to “Experiencing God.”

The enemy knows our neglect to pray. It’s why Paul called us to be vigilant or watchful[3] (γρηγορέω). And guess where Paul learned the importance of vigilance? Our Lord Jesus! The vision of Christian vigilance is the return of Jesus Christ.

  • Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” (Mat 24:42)
  • “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Mat 25:13)
  • “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Mat 26:41)
  • “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.” (Luke 12:37)
  • “If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know what hour I come against you.” (Rev 3:3)
  • “Behold I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed.” (Rev 16:15)

 

Relating this discipline spiritually, vigilance is essential to our faith. Some suggest the habit of watchfulness is the spiritual discipline that keeps all the other faith practices sharp.[4] The discipline of watchfulness is like a home security with all the components: security cameras, motion sensors, floodlights, electric locks, high-decibel alarms, prevention traps. In spiritual terms, there are several habits we must employ to keep our heart vigilant: repentance, accountability, meditation, memorization, study, prayer, worship, etc. Yet, the key to watchfulness is not merely keeping an eye on sin, but keeping our eyes on the Savior. For every review of a sin habit, we must multiply the number of reflections on the cross, the grace, and the holiness of Jesus Christ. Our watchfulness must be more on what is factual and wholesome, than on what is false and harmful (cf. Mat 12:35; Rom 8:5-6; Php 4:8; Col 3:2).

If we do not stay watchful, then guess what the enemy will do to our prayer life? The enemy knows the power of prayer. He will try to use a signal jammer to our prayer walkie-talkie weapons, by causing distractions over non-essentials. He will seek to knock down communication lines by creating relational conflicts. The enemy’s goal is to attack and overwhelm central command – the heart – in order to gain victory. We must be watchful!

Paul elaborates further how we may be watchful – “with thanksgiving”. Gratitude glorifies God and it defeats the devil. Thankfulness stems from a surrendered life to God. In another letter, Paul commands believers to not grumble/complain, and by doing so they will shine like lights in a dark and depraved world (Php 2:14-15). If we think of thanksgiving as a wartime weapon and strategy connected with prayer, we would not use it merely with focus on personal comforts but on battle strategy.

  • Give thanks for shots at the enemy’s soldiers – trusting God to do our battles rather than our arguments and personal bitter conflicts.
  • Give thanks for blowing up enemy bases and stations – seeing God teardown strongholds rather than our enabling prolonged strongholds of secret sin, unforgiveness, myths & lies about God’s design, and evil practices.
  • Give thanks for healing of wounded allies – seeing the broken returning to God’s body rather than the church being the only army that shoots its own wounded.
  • Give thanks for rescue of captive POW’s – laser mission for the salvation of souls more than insider focused.
  • Praise for accomplishments, recovering territory, advancing forces, and war victories.

 

Paul asked “pray for us that God may open for us a door for the word… of which I am in prison.” Many who pray for open doors are asking for advancing personal causes rather than God’s gospel. Paul is in prison and isn’t asking for an open door for his release, but instead for the mystery of the gospel to go forth (cf. 2Tim 2:9 Paul chained but gospel free). How many of us have considered that sometimes God’s open doors are not necessarily better opportunities but openings for the gospel so that in the midst of suffering people see Jesus sustaining you – which speaks to them in a way that personal success cannot.[5]

  • Acts 14:27 open door among Gentiles but brought Jewish controversy and conflict.
  • 1Cor 16:9-10 Paul had an open door in Ephesus “but many opposed him”
  • 2Cor 2:12 Paul had an open door in Troas but there was unrest in his spirit in the midst of Satan’s schemes.
  • Rev 3:8 Jesus opens doors no one can shut while Philadelphian church is tested from synagogue of satan
  • Detours are part of God’s design; interruptions can be divine appointments.
    • Paul’s life and ministry involved both planning and readiness for the unplanned. It’s why he exhorted believers to have shoes of readiness to share the gospel (Eph 6:15).
      • Anybody on a several month/year unplanned detour in life? God isn’t surprised, so put on your gospel shoes and get moving.
      • Proverbs 16:9 “man plans his way but God establishes steps”

 

  • What doors is God opening in your life that are not “positive opportunities” but still prospects for advancing the gospel?
    • Persecuted or wrongly attacked? Respond with grace and leave revenge to Lord.
    • Neighbors odd or mean? Praise God for surrounding you with sinners in need of hearing gospel.
    • Teachers unfair or hostile to faith? Embrace learning apologetics like Daniel in Babylon.
    • Cancer? Share gospel with nurses and doctors.

 

Open doors in SP will still come at a cost.

  • Home door with neighborhood.
  • Work places
  • School volunteering
  • Personal tragedies: pray & listen…
  • National disasters
    • Ellicott City / Carolina
  • TL/AH
  • International…

 

We must walk wisely.

Paul’s second action command is to walk in wisdom. Walking is a metaphor for a way of life going in a specific direction; it’s living for the glory of God and not the celebration of the crows. And to walk wisely is to live with discernment – like the men of Issachar understanding the times (1Chron 12:32). Walking with wisdom implies being able to see the significance of καιρός moments and the wider impact of world events in the midst of eternity. This is why Paul references making the best use of the time – literally “buying up” or “redeeming opportunities,” or people may say “carpe diem” or don’t waste any moment or squander this life season to live boldly for the glory of God! Every day has the potential to be life-changing and soul-saving for the people you encounter. Our mission is to be “outsider” focused.

  • Do we (individual Christians and plural Church) have the wisdom to be outsider aware?
  • What is Wisdom
    • Wisdom is a Person (Proverbs 8; 1Cor 1:24)
    • Wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1)
    • Wisdom is knowing what to do and actually doing it.
    • Wisdom is discernment especially in areas of gray or uncertainty of the Lord’s will. Wisdom is knowing when to ask God to guide (James 1).

“speech be gracious”

  • Unbelieving world says, “I’m interested in Jesus bc of how he spoke and lived. But, I’m repelled by Christians bc of how they speak and live.” Christianity today doesn’t have an image concern as much as it does an integrity challenge. Simply put, the problem with Christianity is Christians who are hypocrites. And that’s a fine line, because every Christian is a sinner who will always fall short of the standard of Jesus. Yet, Christians who profess with their lips that Jesus is Lord must be accountable with their life as well. Our gap isn’t so much the standard of perfection as it is the standard of our pride. When we speak arrogantly or sin outward, we must be quick to reflect humility and repent under the grace of Christ.
    • Grace is like fresh water in a polluted world.
    • Grace has an aroma that is sweet in the midst of a foul-smelling world.
    • Grace assumes the best not the worst of people.
    • Love and kindness, even for those with opposing views.
    • Grace is captivating without compromising; it is both pleasant and pointed.[6]

“speech seasoned with salt.”

  • Salt is not bland but bold, pungent and flavorful, appetizing & attractive. There is no value or virtue in being dull or lukewarm with the gospel of Jesus.
    • Layer your life with the goodness and truth of God so that it results in your actions and words.
    • We are saltless when we allow the politics and priorities of earth to overshadow our speech about the benefits and blessings of faith in Christ.

“ought to answer each person”

  • each person is different. Evangelism is not a formula or product; it’s more conversation than presentation. Not everyone learns in the same way. Not everyone has the same starting point with Jesus, the Bible, church, and the things of God. Different people have diverse objections and disagreements, while others are deeply entrenched in lifestyles against God. Therefore, our faith witness must not box out the Spirit of God to lead to a variety of conversations and continued relationship for declaring and displaying the love of Jesus Christ.
    • God puts each relationship in your life to speak Christ.
  • Are you living a questioning life for others to confront you on your purpose and sustaining presence?
  • Does anyone notice your gracious speech and provocative life of faith?
  • Your life may is like a Bible people are reading; are they reading a true reflection of Jesus?

 

APPLY/THINK

Took teens to corn maze… if you ever get lost you’re supposed to hold up flag and the man in the large overarching tower will yell out directions.

  • Many do not know they’re lost so they don’t wave their flag.
  • Only a few will wave their flag, bc they are panicked lost.
  • Christian’s role is not just to go through corn maze and ignore or mock others, but to speak up and help them find their way.
    • Our role is to move the gospel from our lips to their ears. It is God’s job to move the gospel from their ears to their hearts.

 

  • –> We must talk to people about God.
    Who are 3-5 people you will commit to sharing the gospel in the month of October?
  • –> We must talk to God about people.
    Pray Persistently

    • 10AM/PM
      • Personal Spiritual Growth
      • Personal Faith Witness
      • SPBC revival and October 19-21
        • Friday HOP
        • Sat Zume
        • Sun Harvest Day – invite unsaved friend
  • God opened heaven’s door in Jesus… are you walking in our out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2018/09/09/prayer-is-our-duty-book-of-acts/

[2] Charles Haddon Spurgeon, quote.

[3] See also 1Cor 16:13; 1Thess 5:6; 5:10; also Gal 6:1; 1Tim 4:16; along with Peter 1Pet 4:7; and John 2John 1:8, and Heb 3:12; 12:2; 13:17; and Prov 4:23, among others.

[4] See https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/spiritual-discipline-watchfulness/

[5] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/sometimes-god-just-closes-doors

[6] https://www.samstorms.com/all-articles/post/-salty–speech-and-the-salvation-of-souls–4:5-6-

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