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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 6

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

B. To please Him in every way (v. 10).

C. Bearing fruit in every good work (v. 10).

Let’s notice a fourth request Paul makes for these believers —

D. Growing in the knowledge of God (v. 10)

When we get saved, we come to know God. But we must grow in that knowledge! And that, my friends, is a life-long quest for we will never reach a full understanding of God Himself.

J.I. Packer’s Knowing God is a must read for every believer who wants to grow in his or her knowledge of God. Packer writes, “How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each Truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.”

What truth have you learned about God recently? Is it leading you to prayer and praise to Him?

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 5

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

B. To please Him in every way (v. 10).

Let’s notice a third request Paul makes for these believers —

C. Bearing fruit in every good work (v. 10).

We are to be fruit-bearers! We are not simply decorative trees that take up space! We are to bear fruit. We are not to live for ourselves but are to look for opportunities to be fruitful in the works that we do. Our faith is not solely verbal. We are commissioned to do good works (Eph. 2:8-10).

What good work can you choose to do today that will bear fruit?

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 4

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

Let’s notice the second specific of Paul’s prayer. It is that —

B. To please Him in every way (v. 10).

Wow! What a request! The Christian life is far more than doing the right things or thinking the right thoughts. It is asking, everyday, “Am I pleasing the Lord?”

As grandparents of seven, we try to encourage our grandchildren to be “please and thank you” people. But Paul’s request goes way beyond being polite and grateful. This one question — “Am I pleasing the Lord?” — is huge and is guaranteed to recalibrate our choices and priorities every moment we ask it!

For whom should you pray today that they will seek to please the Lord in every way?

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 3

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

We’ve noticed two parts of my outline of this challenging text:

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

We’ve also seen —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our prayers are to be for the critical issue of others knowing God’s will and growing in the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives.

Let’s continue our study and notice —

III. The Specifics of What We Should Pray for Others (vv. 10-14).

How easy it is for us to pray for each other’s health, job, family, choice of college, etc. So what makes Paul’s list as he intercedes for these believers? He prays —

A. That They Would Live a Life Worthy of the Lord (v. 10)

Can any of us do that? Really? It must be possible if Paul invested time in praying precisely for that need for these Colossian believers. But what does it mean to “live a life worthy of the Lord”?

To do anything worthy of another means that we are meeting their expectations, their best desires for us. Of course we are not worthy in and of ourselves, but we have hundreds of choices every day to honor Him and make Him proud of us. I’m reminded of a great story about worthiness. The late Dr. Howard Hendricks, beloved Dallas Seminary professor, asked a student to open the seminary class in prayer. The student prayed, “Lord, we know that we are worthless servants and . . .” Dr. Hendricks interrupted the student and said, “We are not worthless, son. We are unworthy. You may now finish your prayer.”

Are you and I living a life worthy of the Lord? How can we tell? (Comments welcome below)

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 2

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

We’ve noticed part 1 of my outline of this challenging text:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

We’ve seen that Paul’s praying for these Colossians is not described as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. And we asked, for whom are you continually praying?

Let’s continue our study by looking at —

II. The Primary Purpose in Praying for Others (vv. 9-10)

Paul writes: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . .”

Our purpose in praying for others (at least in this text) is to ask God to fill them with the knowledge of God’s will. And that will is not discovered by human ingenuity, but “through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.” The divine third member of the Trinity is intimately involved in helping those for whom we pray to know and do God’s will.

How easy it is to spend our praying moments on issues like money and jobs and food and the incidentals in life, rather than on the macro-matters of God’s will and wisdom and Spirit-given understanding! As you pray for others today, what specifically are you asking God for?

 

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 1

Prayer — Such a mysterious habit for the believer in Jesus. Maybe you don’t struggle with the discipline of prayer, but I do. I often treat prayer as a last resort, when I’ve run out of humanly-produced options, when I’m helpless and can’t solve my own problems. It’s like I have God on speed dial and His only number is 9-1-1. What a poor view of prayer!

And how often — when I do pray — are my prayers for me and mine? What about others? I’m slowly learning that God expects and invites me to intercede for others, to put their needs ahead of my own, to bring them before the throne of God and to earnestly pray for them.

I’ve recently been challenged by Colossians 1 and Paul’s prayer for those believers. Here’s what we read:

Here’s part 1 of my outline of this challenging text:

How to Pray for Other Believers (Col. 1:9-14)

I. The Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

Paul makes it clear that he began praying for these Colossian believers from the day he heard about them. And he doesn’t describe his intercession for them as something he started to do, but as something he would not stop doing. He emphasizes His continual asking God to fill them with the knowledge of His will. There was a beginning point to Paul’s praying for these believers — but no end point. No indication that he would cease praying for them and move on to the needs of other believers.  That’s commitment!

In our next post on this topic we will notice Paul’s primary desire for these believers in verses 9-10. But for today may I ask you (as I ask myself), for whom are you continually praying? Would you say you are committed to continually lifting them up before the Father?

 

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 3

I suffer from a poor view of prayer. I do. I look at prayer as a last resort, a kind of 911 approach to the Lord. When all my efforts have failed, then I pray.

I don’t think I’ve scratched the surface of what prayer ought to mean to me — individually. I have not because I ask not. I rely on my own strength and lose my battles time and time again. The “I-can-do-it-myself” childish protest keeps me from expressing daily trust in the Lord and relying on His strength and wisdom. I’ve got a lot to learn about my personal need for consistent, disciplined, personal prayer.

But what about others? What obligations do I have to bring others before the throne of grace, to intercede for them, to present their needs before the Father? What responsibility is mine to envision where they should be spiritually and to help them get there by talking about them to my Heavenly Father?

The Apostle Paul sets the example for us here in Colossians 1. Let’s look at the words he uses to bring these believers — and their most critical needs — before the Lord:

I can’t help it, but I’m always thinking of the question, “Will this preach?”  So, here’s the beginning of a draft outline I’m working on.

I.  Paul’s Strategic Commitment to Pray for Others (v. 9)

Paul uses expressions like “we have not stopped praying for you” and “we continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will . . .”  Persistence in prayer — for others — is the point here.  I’m reminded of Luke 18 and what we saw in a previous post about a widow’s need and an unjust judge.  A couple of posts back we wrote:  A widow desperately needs the help of a judge who neither feared God nor cared about what people thought. She pesters him with her request, to the point that he says, “‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

Jesus says, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” (v. 7).  Jesus told this parable “to show them that they should always pray and not give up (v. 1).  Have you started praying for others?  Be persistent and don’t give up!

But what constitutes Paul’s prayer here in Colossians 1?  What are the specific requests which he makes of the Father for these believers?  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2018 in prayer

 

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Some Thoughts about Church Membership – Part 1

Friends: I’ve been asked by the leadership of Cedarcroft Bible Chapel in New Jersey to help them think through a more defined understanding of church membership.  Among the so-called Plymouth Brethren assemblies (such as Cedarcroft), church “membership” has been more implicit than explicit.  Those who attend regularly are considered members, but often no formal declaration of their “joining” the local church is made.  Only occasionally will a church membership class be offered.  It seems to be more an issue of faithful attendance than any specified or organized process that is followed.

There are some good reasons why the Brethren assemblies have resisted more formal church membership.  Some would say that it is difficult (if not impossible) to find verses that support the traditional view of church membership.  Second, as a whole the Brethren have typically resisted some of the practices of the so-called “denominations.”  A third reason would be what some would see as the abuse of church membership (that is, some think it is salvation-bringing).  It has also not gone unnoticed that few churches purge their membership roles due to non-attendance or unrepented-of-sin.

But, properly defined, biblical church membership offers some genuine advantages to less formal ways of looking at one’s involvement in a local church.  Let me suggest four advantages to a more formal — and more biblical — way of looking at one’s connection to the people of God.

First, a membership document (“covenant”) provides the spiritual leadership with the opportunity for spelling out expectations of church involvement (the need for church offices, such as elders and deacons; respect for leadership; concern regarding spiritual gifts; commitment to service; process of necessary church discipline; etc.). There is a great advantage to the congregation’s publicly reading aloud this church covenant every time new members are received.

Second, a membership covenant explains possible situations in which the congregation of members is asked to vote for or against certain proposals.  Being on a formal membership “role” helps identify those who have the right to vote in the congregation.

Third, a membership covenant spells out the process of discipline the spiritual leaders will follow in serious situations. Therefore, the “members” are aware of the process (perhaps lessening the likelihood of lawsuits in cases of unrepentant members).  Further, it is difficult to “discipline” someone who is merely an “attender” at the local church’s services.  Membership means something and loss of membership ought to be a serious consideration in the Christian’s life!

Fourth, it could be argued that the absence of details about formal church membership in the New Testament is simply due to the fact that the uninvolved, non-serving believer is not considered a viable option in the Word! (“God has no sons who are not servants!”). (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2018 in church membership

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 119): Part 8

ח Heth

57 You are my portion, Lord;screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-5-35-47-am
    I have promised to obey your words.
58 I have sought your face with all my heart;
    be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 I have considered my ways
    and have turned my steps to your statutes.
60 I will hasten and not delay
    to obey your commands.
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
    I will not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks
    for your righteous laws.
63 I am a friend to all who fear you,
    to all who follow your precepts.
64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord;
    teach me your decrees.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2017 in promises

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 85)

Psalm 85

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

You, Lord, showed favor to your land;screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-6-43-30-am
    you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people
    and covered all their sins.
You set aside all your wrath
    and turned from your fierce anger.

Restore us again, God our Savior,
    and put away your displeasure toward us.
Will you be angry with us forever?
    Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
    that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, Lord,
    and grant us your salvation.

I will listen to what God the Lord says;
    he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
    but let them not turn to folly.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
    that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
    righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
    and righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 The Lord will indeed give what is good,
    and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him
    and prepares the way for his steps.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2017 in christian life

 

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