Summary: God opens doors as we pray and act with wisdom and grace toward unbelievers.
Trinity Baptist Church March 9, 2008
Against the Tide
Godï¿½s Open Doors
This week I read about a new book which has been on best-seller lists recently. The book was written by a pastor and his wife -- its title is Thirty Days to Live. Apparently it examines the idea of ï¿½what would you do?ï¿½ and ï¿½how would you live?ï¿½ if you knew you only had a short time left.
Our paragraph this morning suggests a similar question to me. It goes like this: If you knew you only had a few weeks or a few months, what would you communicate to people you most care about? What would you leave with them, as kind of a legacy of what matters most to you? What would you say -- about issues that have steered your life and kept you going?
As I read and re-read Paulï¿½s words in this paragraph, I get a strong sense: itï¿½s the sense that as heï¿½s winding down this letter to Christians heï¿½s never met, these are some of his final thoughts. We know that heï¿½s either under house arrest or in a Roman prison. Itï¿½s unlikely heï¿½ll survive the Roman justice system. After this paragraph, he will end the letter by describing faithful people -- in his life and in the Colossian church. Essentially, these are some of Paulï¿½s final thoughts.
So whatï¿½s on his heart to convey to his readers to remember? More importantly, whatï¿½s God saying, to Christians in all generations, through this man whose life will likely end soon?
Weï¿½ve heard him tell of the glories of Christ. This letter includes more grand Truth laid out about Jesus Christ than any other book. If you want to know Christ deeply, Iï¿½d suggest strongly that you spend serious time studying, maybe memorizing Colossians.
Paul has told his readers Jesus Christ is supreme and without equal -- He is the Creator and therefore He is Sovereign over every spiritual and material realm. Every authority -- whether itï¿½s human, angelic or demonic bows to the rule of the Living Christ. No authority operates outside His ultimate sovereignty.
Paul has taught us that when Jesus was nailed to His cross, all our sin and all our sinï¿½s resulting condemnation was nailed there with Him. And so when Jesus died, sinï¿½s horrific penalty was paid -- fully, finally and freely. The astounding result is -- every one who trusts in Christï¿½s death is made free; your debts are paid, your future is secure and your hope is glorious. Colossians said, if you trust in Him, you died with Him and you also were raised up with Christ. Whatï¿½s more -- you now have a share in the inheritance of the only King and Son Who took you in and made you part of His Kingdom. God declares, your past was irrevocably changed, your future is as secure as His Son can make it.
And what about your present? Colossians has challenged us to allow the reality of being in Christ to transform the present -- to live life worthy of who and what God made you be because you know Christ. Paulï¿½s gotten to the nitty-gritty of changes that need to happen -- everyday issues like how we talk and act toward each other. Those need transformation. And, transformation also has to impact the closest relationships -- husband and wife, parent and child, worker and supervisor.
In verses 2-6 here in chapter 4, Paul lays another challenging relationships before us:
this one we have with people who donï¿½t know Christ. First, he says,
1. Give yourselves to prayer. (4:2-4)
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;
3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word,
so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;
4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
First, an observation. Notice he doesnï¿½t ask for prayer that heï¿½ll get out of prison, he wants them to pray the gospel will get out. Philippians and this letter indicate thatï¿½s precisely what happened. People in prison, imperial guards chained to Paul -- all kinds of people -- heard about Christ through Paul. Prison didnï¿½t curtain the gospelï¿½s proclamation. He says,
be people of prayer. Like him, they have adverse circumstances. The church is threatened by the pagan culture and false religious teaching. The need is to pray. How? And about what? Verses 2-4 give us some insight into Effective prayer:
He says first, Be devoted. Devote yourselves to prayer. Devotion to prayer isnï¿½t the first thing that most of us think about as American Christians. Weï¿½re activists -- we want to get busy with something. God says, hereï¿½s the pathway to ministering in your world. Be devoted to prayer.