Summary: Inductive sermon outline ideas for Colossians 1:9-14.

The following notes reflect ideas based on the homiletics in "Preach with No Pants" ( It proposes an inductive-deductive five-point outline: Trip, Tension, Twist, Truth, Triumph.

In practice, you would need to add illustrations and subpoints that are relevant to your own heart and audience. If you have additional ideas, or if you try such an outline, please add your thoughts in the "Comments" for the encouragement of others.

Colossians 1:9-14


Paul prays that the Colossians grow in the knowledge of God's will so that they live worthily resulting in bearing fruit, in a growing relationship with God, in being strengthened, and in joyful thanksgiving.


Pray for and strive for the "God life" not the "good life."

Or, Find abundant life in pleasing God not yourself.


* The "good life" on earth is NOT the abundant life Jesus talked about.

We, humans, find it very hard not to think that a better earthly life is a better life. We automatically value circumstances over character, externals over internals. We believe the things on the outside make us happy on the inside.

Our usual prayers reflect that impulse. In this passage, the most startling idea to me is how much Paul's prayer differs from our prayers. Our prayers are usually "anti-prayers." "Lord, keep 'trouble and suffering' far away from me and mine." While not unbiblical, prayers in the Bible far more often deal with our attitudes and our character, spiritual not earthly things. Likewise, our purpose in life should concern our character far more than our circumstances.


Trip (Upset)

What are you feeling when you begin each day? What is your wish for the day? Isn't it usually for bad things NOT to happen?

We think that is what the abundant life is, more money, better health, a good job, a happy family, all the difficult people in my life to be gone. But would that really deliver the abundant life we want?

Tension (Provoking the Questions, Opposites of the Truth)

Let's think about the usual thoughts bouncing around in our heads all day. Our lives and even our prayers usually focus on the "good life."

* We spend a lot of time on movies, music, sports teams, social media, on people and their troubles (gossip). We have to spend a lot of time on our jobs (1:10).

* We are uncertain about life. How many times have you said, "Lord, what is your will?" (1:9). We sing with tears in our hearts the Third Day song. "My uncertain...broken...losing hope...Give me a revelation. Show me what to do...I haven't got a clue."

* How many times have you asked God, "Why?"

* We can't seem to please our spouse or kids or boss or ourselves either (1:10).

* We say, "Doesn't God want me to be happy?" and perhaps also say, "This sin makes me happy." (1:10).

* Deep down it's, "I want what I want, and I want it now." (1:11).

* We feel like we're drowning in the overwhelming worries of life (1:11).

* We feel like we deserve the good life and whine because we don't have it (1:12-14). We may worry about being a nobody, about finances, our health, the uncertainties of life, and the evil in the world.

Twist (The Most Startling Idea)

Maybe we have an emaciated, sickly life instead of the abundant life because we're turned around, facing the wrong direction. Have you thought about how different our usual prayers are from the Bible's prayers? It's not wrong to pray for good health and better finances, for example. But we too readily think externals make the internal good, that better circumstances make me happy.

Let's take a look at prayer God really wants to answer. Moreover, this prayer is a great definition of the abundant life as opposed to those wishes bouncing around in our heads.

Truth (Preaching the Bible's Solution)

Make this a prayer for yourself and for others. Also, make it the goal of your life.

We can know God's will. This prayer expresses God's will. Since God does not want puppets, we need "spiritual wisdom and understanding" (1:9).

We need to please not ourselves or other people but him (1:10a). Acts 10:38 says Jesus "went around doing good." Some people just "go around."

By the way, good mental-emotional "boundaries" means we do not please others in a way that is contrary to God's biblical principles as in Galatians 6:2-5, for example. See Cloud and Townsend "Boundaries" books.

That pleasing life results in four experiences. First, like a fruit tree, your life yields more and better fruit of the Spirit in character and conduct (1:10b).

Second, your relationship with God grows deeper. This is not, of course, an intellectual, secret knowledge of God, like the Gnostics claimed, but a personal one, a greater sense of God's love and our enjoyment in him (1:10c).

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