Summary: Open Doors Getting Started, part 1
Getting Started, part 1
September 29, 2013
Take out a piece of paper and write down a couple of dates, the year in which you were born, then three dashes and then at the end of those dashes, write down 20_?_, which represents the date of your death and we don't know when that will be. So those two numbers represent your birthday and your death. We celebrate the one and avoid the other. You cannot control the first date nor the second date but you have lots of control over those dashes which represent your life. You decide what you are going to do with the dashes. But here is the catch, the older you get the faster time moves and you cannot get it back.
This is why the psalmist prays, 'God to teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. ' It is a prayer to live wisely. How many of us today want to live wisely, to invest our lives well. As followers of Christ then walking in wisdom means to walk in light of the gospel. Life is very temporary and that the most important matters in life are eternal matters, like heaven and hell. And that this life is very fragile; we do not know when our last breathe will be and it could be sooner than we think. When we die we either spend eternity in unfathomable joy or unfathomable torment. Paul had these same kinds of thoughts on his mind when he was in a prison cell, not knowing whether he was going to live or die, so he asks the Collossian church to pray for him. He does not ask for his safety or his freedom but that God would open a door to declare the gospel. On his mind in prison is the fact that people are lost and facing a Christless eternity.
So today we begin a new series called “Open Doors.” Open doors is a metaphor in the New Testament describing how God opens an opportunity for the gospel to be shared. Today's passage can be divided into two sections. In the first section, which we will look at this week, Paul asks for prayer for an open door for the gospel. Then in the second section, which we will look at next week, Paul generalizes the principle showing how walking in wisdom can open a door for the gospel.
Open Doors Begin with Prayer
You have heard me say that prayer breaks down when we use it like a household intercom for our comfort when it was designed to be used like a walkie talkie to call for resources and reinforcements for the spritual ground battle. Prayer is the link between the trenches of war and the command headquarters for strategic input and unlimited firepower. This comparison helps to capture the spirit of prayer. The chair and the intercom and the remote control are dangerous because they undermines all kinds of possiblities – for ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, our community, and the world. Before we see how Paul tells us to pray let's think about why he would even tell us to pray? Before we think about open doors for the gospel we need to think about the door to our hearts. Are our hearts open before him? Do we recognize our neediness and weakness before him? And then have we so experienced his grace that our hearts are open to the needs of others around us? Prayer is the heart's to the work of God's grace in our lives; our prayer life displays our faith life. Prayer is where we connect with our father who is also the King who rules the universe. So now let's look at how Paul tell us to pray.
First, he tells us to pray persistently. Prayer is the opposite of the way cell phones phones work. We charge them up and as we use them the signal goes in or out and and their battery power is drained. But prayer never loses its signal and actually increases in power as we use it. Soldiers keep walkie talkies with them all day long ready to use them at a moments notice for resources and reinforcements for the ground battle. Prayer recognizes that the world, including me, needs grace and God is the great dispenser of grace.
Second, he tells us to pray watchfully. The enemy wants to distract us, fill the air waves with static, fill our lives with non essentials, discourage us into thinking that the battle is lost, or that the walkie talkie just does not work. The way to overcome that attack is to be watchful, to be alert to the reality of the attack. And those attacks start in our minds – confusing our thinking about reality, about circumstances, or tempting us to taking offenses, etc.