The Christian’s Work

Title: The Christian’s Work: Prayer & Proclamation

Text: Colossians 4.2-6; Ephesians 4-6

CPT: Paul’s mission and the Colossians’ evangelism efforts begin and are sustained through prayer.

CPS: Attentive Prayer (talking to God) is foundational to Our Mission (preaching to people) and our ministry (conversing with outsiders).

Introduction: We’re in Colossians 4.2-6; We will also stroll through Ephesians 4-6;

I remember as a kid hearing about the Cowboy’s Philosophy. I’m talking about Randy White, Roger Staubach, Walt Garrison, Bob Hayes, Lee Roy Jordan, Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones, Harvey Martin… I believe it was Harvey Martin who said it: The Cowboys never lost a game, we just ran out of time.

I guess most games are like that. I went to Leighton softball game a couple of weeks ago. I thought the game was timed at an hour. I told Lisa I’d be home by this certain time, because the game was sure to be over. If I had been right, Leighton, your team would have won. But, I was wrong and it lasted an hour and a half. That extra 30 minutes was what the other team needed to come back and win. I guess they were thankful for the extra time.

Time is an interesting commodity we possess. And, we have a limited amount of it. Someday, it will be gone. Someday, time will come to an end, just like it had a beginning.

But, in a very real sense, it runs out on us and we miss finishing what we were supposed to be doing. Like in a game, like when dinner was supposed to be ready, like when the teacher says, “ok, time’s up! Put your pencils down and pass your papers forward.” I can almost hear the groans of the students…

I feel that most mornings Sunday mornings when I preach. I’m not really under time constraints, not really. But in some sense, I am. Lisa, John and Robert are, too – with teaching. I’m sure they feel that pressure. Gaynette, I’m sure does with the children and the time she has with them.

You feel it, too, don’t you? When you’re under the pressure of the time clock. It raises your blood pressure. It’s creates that anxious, panicky feeling inside.

Transition: So, what do we do with the time we’ve been given. Let’s not waste it!

Here’s the Big Idea for the Day: The Work of the Christian is attentive prayer and it is foundational to our Mission and our Ministry. Attentive Prayer (talking to God) is foundational to Missions (Great Commission) and Ministry (conversing with outsiders).

But we only have a limited amount of time to get this done. And, with the way our world is today, I’m thinking this time is shorter than most people imagine.

Two commands in our text: Busy yourselves in prayer (2)and Walk in Wisdom(5).

Let’s look at these two commands as we consider the Work of the Christian:

  1. The Command to Pray (How to talk to God)

exp.: rd 4.2; actually, the command isn’t prayer, it’s busy yourself.

How: 1st, busy yourselves in prayer; illustrated: being watchful; this is really an illustration; these words are the words used to describe a watchman on the tower; the idea is to stay awake and alert;

ill.: did you guys know that Hamas has been launching 1,000’s of rockets into Israel? Israel has an army of watchmen who are keeping an eye in all directions for incoming rockets. They have been for years. What would happen if those at the tower fell asleep? People would die.

What would be your thoughts if the Mexican Cartel decided to wage war on the US? Really, I think we’d be in trouble because I’m not sure our current leadership would do anything to protect us! But, you’d hope we would set up defenses and start an offensive against those who would hope to destroy us!

I wonder how many planes the terrorist could fly into the Government buildings in Jerusalem and succeed? I would wager not a single one!

app.: Israel is acting like any normal country would. I’m not sure we’re normal anymore. When you think of this idea of prayer – think of Israel. You’ve got to be awake and alert like your enemy is out there and wants to destroy you. He wants to create division, He wants to create dissension, he wants to create distractions so that you’ll focus on other concerns and not concern yourself with the task ahead.

Transition: How to pray? Busy yourselves in prayer, and you do this like a watchman on the tower – stay awake & alert;

exp.: What to pray? Rd 4.3a; Pray for your preachers; 1st, that God would open a door for the Word;

This is really good advice! Pray for doors to be open! I think this takes wisdom and insight on the part of the preachers to discern open doors. Add that to your prayers: Lord, open doors for our preachers to preach your Word and grant them the discernment to know when that door is open.

I love this phrase he uses – to declare the mystery of Christ. Paul is still in the relationships mode.

Do you remember last week how I spent some time on how the Trinity is the perfect example of relationships, demonstrating for us how roles and relationships work? Listen to Paul in Ephesians: 5.28-33; Husbands love your wives; there is a mystery to it all – most people don’t get it. But, it has been revealed and that is what we proclaim – the mystery that has been solved, if you will. This is what Paul declares to the People. This is what we declare to the people – the mystery of Christ.

So, 1st, pray for an open door for the Word to be proclaimed; and 2nd, rd the last part of v 3 –  on account of which I am in prison. Perfect Voice – a present state because of a past action; If I said, “I am running” – that is present tense. But, if I said, “I am running from the law” you get the idea that it is something I’m doing because of a past action. One more item concerning this phrase: the literal translation is on account of which I am in chains/bonds. Same idea, but you really see his suffering in the literal.

All of that to say, 2nd, pray for your preachers who are being persecuted. Pray for those guys in Canada who are being imprisoned for allowing their churches to gather. Pray for other pastors/preachers around the world who are persecuted for their preaching. Pray for me. Pray for an open door, pray for the persecuted and 3rd, pray the preacher would present it in a clear and understandable way. Rd 4.4

app.: consider yourselves sentries or guards who have been situated in the watch tower, keeping watch, staying awake and alert; busy yourselves with prayer for those who preach God’s Word. Think of missionaries, of which Paul was one. Think of pastors and their responsibility to proclaim God’s Word. Pretend that their success is all on you.

Ill.: Lord of the Flies: Jack took his boys hunting and let the fire on the hill go out. A plane came by and they missed being rescued! What’s even sadder is that Jack volunteered his boys!

t.s.: Now, Paul turns the tables and informs the Colossians, that missions isn’t only someone else’s job… which brings us to #2…

2. How to talk to your neighbors about God

exp.: rd 4.5

Paul’s conclusion to his letter to the Ephesians is similar to the letter to the Colossians; read 4.2-6;

I mentioned last week that the Ephesian letter is a twin letter to this one. It’s like Paul wanted to share the same information with both churches. But, here is a major difference: Ephesians is so much more in depth. Let me show you what I mean. Keep your place here in Colossians 4. Ephesians 6.18-20; Look at 5.15f;Turn to Ephesians 4. Walk (παριπατέω) in:

Then, after challenging them to ‘walk’ in these different ways, Paul concludes this challenge with the call to walk in wisdom, redeeming the time (5.15f). The same challenge he has offered to the Colossians. But it is interesting here – Paul has couched his conclusion statement with the Household Code and the Armor of God.

In our text, Paul has been talking to the Colossians about their relationships, too. Now, he tells them why these are all important. This is the message in Ephesians, as well.

Their Mission is the same as his: to reach lost people with the Gospel (and this means using their words which match their walk).

How, you might ask? Rd 4.5b – lit.: by redeeming the time. This word appears 4x’s in the NT. All 4 by Paul. Here, Ephesians and 2x’s in Galatians: 3.13 – 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” and in 4.5, let me begin in v 4: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Lit.: In wisdom walk toward those outside, the time redeeming. It is that same feel of the watchman – staying awake and alert – don’t fall asleep and waste the time you’re at your post. Make the best use of your time.

2nd, rd 5.6a; that is, let your word always be filled with Grace. Let your conversations be grace laced. This sounds like you are gracious in your conversing, but that isn’t it. Grace fills the word you speak. It isn’t your attitude toward your neighbor. Verse 6 doesn’t have a verb – so in English it is an incomplete thought. To make sense, we have to supply the verb. The verb comes from 5.5 – Walk. How do you walk? Redeeming the time, grace fills your word, seasoned with salt; that’s a metaphor – the word you speak is the meat – grace is the salt you spread on it. What a great picture!

And finally, rd 5.6c – so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Just like Paul – it is the same wording here as in v 4; Paul has the same expectations on the Colossians as he does himself, the preacher.

ill.: Do you ever look back and think about a time you wasted? You didn’t do what you were supposed to do?

For me, her name was Michelle. It’s funny that I’ve never forgotten her name. I was traveling each week to Dallas from San Antonio and taking classes all week at Seminary. Each week before I got on the plane to fly to DFW or to return home, I would pray for the person God wanted me to sit by. God never disappointed. I either had presented the Gospel to someone or I was an encouragement to a believer who was down.

Not this particular night: I can’t even remember why I was down or mad or whatever, but I told the Lord in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t talking to anyone. Leave the seat empty! But he didn’t. He put me next to this girl, about my age. Her name was Michele. She was searching. She was hurting. She was inquisitive – all of the components you look for when presenting the Gospel to someone. But no, not me. I would have none of it. I wasn’t mean. We talked for the whole 45 minute flight. But God wasn’t letting me off the hook. I rode the shuttle from the Airport to the Seminary. She lived a couple of blocks from the Seminary. Guess who was on the van and who I ended up sitting next to on the van? That’s right.

She asked me all kinds of questions – leading questions that were underhanded pitches for me to hit. But I wasn’t swinging. I was showing God who was boss. I never told her the one thing she wanted to hear. I never told her about Jesus.

app.: That was almost 30 years ago and I still relive that night in my mind from time to time. And I still have the deepest regret for not redeeming that time. I always end with a prayer that God would send someone who was obedient to Michele – to share the Gospel with her. I pray that she has come to faith in spite of me. And I repent – again, in shame.

t.s.: people, Walk in Wisdom by redeeming the time God gives you with outsiders. And let your word be smothered in the grace of God. And you know that grace, because it is what you’ve experienced it yourself…

Conclusion: So, what are our take-a-ways for the day…

  1. Pray – prayer is the foundation for all we do. Will you commit to pray like a watchman on the tower, protecting this body.
  2. Pray – like the success of our mission is all on you! Even though you know nothing good will happen without the hand of God at work. Pray like it is all on you!
  3. Pray – to walk in wisdom (redeeming the time; conversations that are grace laced; and knowledgeable responses)
  4. Pray specifically…

Let’s pray… We’ll have a time of invitation… Come pray, commit, surrender – let the Lord have his way in your life today.

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Filed under Christian Living, Colossians, Ephesians, missions, Prayer, Scripture, Sermon

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