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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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Time for a Great Quote: J.I. Packer on the Main Business … to Know God!

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2019 in knowing God

 

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A Great Quote from J.I. Packer: Knowing (or Knowing about) God?

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2019 in knowing God

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 7

On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you rate your growing knowledge of God?  Just acquaintances?  Strong friendship?  Deep connection and relationship?  Believers should not be content with just being saved and being in God’s family.  The Bible is clear that we ought to be growing in our knowledge of the Lord!

The reason I bring this up is because of Paul’s specific prayer request for these Colossian believers.  We’ve seen his strategic commitment to pray for these believers in Colossian 1:9.  We then began noticing the specific content of his prayer in verses 9-12. We’ve seen his first request for them and it was that they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will (v. 9). His second request was that they would live a life worthy of the Lord (v. 10).  His third request was that they would bear fruit in every good work (v. 10).

Please notice with me Paul’s fourth request for these believers. It is that they would —

D. Grow in the Knowledge of God (v. 10)

Our world scoffs at us for thinking that we “know” God, but that’s the biblical promise, isn’t it?  Paul declares in Philippians 3- “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”  We can know God!  And we are to grow in our knowledge of Him!

Are you and I praying for others that they grow in their knowledge of God?  Scripture is clear that God can be known and our knowledge can increase.  We can learn more of His attributes, His character, His ways of working in our lives and in this world.

I’ve been greatly helped by J.I. Packer’s classic Knowing God.  [There’s a special place in heaven for those who have read that entire book.  It’s challenging!].  J.B. Phillips’ Your God Is Too Small and Mark Buchanan’s Your Good Is Too Safe are also quite helpful in deepening one’s walk with Him.

Pray for someone else today that they would grow in their knowledge of the Lord.  And not just in their head knowledge of Him.  But that their relationship with the Lord would deepen!  [I just took my own advice.  Your turn.]  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2018 in praying for others

 

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Major Themes in the Book of Galatians (Ch. 4 Part 1)

Here in Galatians 4 we see several critical themes that will necessitate a number of posts.  Let’s look at the 1st half of chapter four this morning.

Here we have a discussion of being an heir, being subject to a guardian, and being underage as a slave.  But at the right time God sent forth His Son to make us His sons!  We have now become heirs (v. 7).

Although there is much here, let me suggest that Paul is relishing in the theme of a personal relationship with the living God (vv. 8-11).  He describes the Galatians’ lives as: formerly when they did not know God and were slaves to idols.  And now when they can be described as knowing God (but tempted to turn back to slavery) (v. 9).

What an amazing expression: “But now that you know God”!  I know God.  You know God. Everyone who has come to faith in Christ “knows” God!  Wow!  John Piper was right to write a book with the title God Is the Gospel!

But Paul interrupts himself with what I call a theological afterthought. He says, “Now that you know God — or rather are known by God” (v. 9).  What’s more important in the universe than my knowing God?  His knowing me!  This is the language of personal relationship!

How personal are you going to be with the Lord today?  Remember, He knows you!

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2018 in Galatians

 

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Back to the Basics: Theology Proper #15 God’s KNOWABILITY! (Part 2)

The God who created us is knowable!  But there is a world of difference between knowing that and knowing . . . Him.  We can know facts about God, but not become familiar with Him.  We can learn information about God but fail to develop intimacy with Him.

The God of the Bible wants to be known.  He is a relational God who does all that He can to develop personal connections with His children.  Here are a few verses which emphasize this truth of knowing . . . Him …

Exodus 33:17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

1 Samuel 3:7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Isaiah 11:9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 19:21 So the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the Lord. They will worship with sacrifices and grain offerings; they will make vows to the Lord and keep them.

Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.

Jeremiah 2:8 The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.

Jeremiah 9:24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

There’s a special reward in heaven for anyone who has read this classic!

Jeremiah 22:16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 24:7 I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Jeremiah 31:34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Ephesians 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Philippians 3:8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ . . .

Colossians 1:10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God . . .

2 Thessalonians 1:8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Hebrews 8:11 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

2 Peter 1:8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Exodus 5:2 Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.”

How do we know God personally? We learn the following truths from these verses:

1. We can know God by name. This is much more than a belief in His existence. It is personal.  Frederick Buechner puts it this way:  “Buechner is my name. It is pronounced Beek-ner. If somebody mispronounces it in some foolish way, I have the feeling that what’s foolish is me. If somebody forgets it, I feel that it’s I who am forgotten. There’s something about it that embarrasses me in just the same way that there’s something about me that embarrasses me. I can’t imagine myself with any other name Held, say, or Merrill, or Hlavacek. If my name were different, I would be different. When I tell you my name, I have given you a hold over me that you didn’t have before. If you call it out, I stop, look, and listen whether I want to or not. In the book of Exodus, God tells Moses that his name is Yahweh, and God hasn’t had a peaceful moment since.”
2. There is a stage in our lives which could be called “pre-knowing” the Lord. Samuel is a case in point.
3. We can have “knowledge of the Holy One” which will lead to understanding.
4. One day the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea!
5. The Lord wants us to know and believe Him and understand Who He is.
6. It is possible to be a religious leader and not know the Lord!
7. We need the Lord to give us a heart to know Him!
8. We also need the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to know Him better.
9. Do I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord?
10. We can grow in our knowledge of the Lord!
11. Punishment awaits those who do not know God or obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
12. We are not to be ineffective or unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
13. We are challenged to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (= God).
14. There are those (like Pharaoh) who proclaim “I do not know the Lord . . .”

What steps will you take today to really KNOW . . . the Lord?

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2018 in doctrine of God

 

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Back to the Basics: Theology Proper #10 God’s JEALOUSY!

One of the many attributes of God which is seldom preached on — is His JEALOUSY!  But, wait a minute!  Isn’t jealousy as SIN?  How can it be right for God to be jealous and for us not to be?  As with all other questions, we need to ask not what we think, but what does the Bible actually say?

Here are some texts on the jealousy of God:

Exodus 20:5 – You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

Exodus 34:14 – Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:24 – For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 32:16 – They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols.

Psalm 78:58 – They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols.

Psalm 79:5 – How long, Lord? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire?

Ezekiel 16:42 – Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.

Nahum 1:2 – [ The Lord’s Anger Against Nineveh ] The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies.

Zephaniah 1:18 – Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath.” In the fire of his jealousy the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth.

Zechariah 8:2 – This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.”

James 4:5 – Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?

There is no doubt that God is a jealous God, that idolatry makes Him furious, that His jealousy is intimately connected to His anger and vengeance, etc.  We even read in the book of Numbers about a law of jealousy:  Numbers 5:15 – then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.

However, believers are told in Romans 13:13- Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. We also read in 2 Corinthians 12:20 – For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.  The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:2 – I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.

How are we to understand the jealousy of God?  The answer, I believe, is that there is a godly jealousy.  Just as there is a godly hatred and a godly anger, there is a godly jealousy.  How can jealousy be a virtue in God and a vice in men?

  1. Biblical statements about God’s jealousy are anthropomorphic, i.e. descriptions of God in language drawn from the life of man. In reading anthropomorphisms, we need to remember that man isn’t the measure of his Maker, and that none of the limitations of humanhood are implied. Consequently, God’s jealousy isn’t tainted with frustration, envy and spite, but is a zeal to preserve something precious.
  2. There are two kinds of jealousy among men. One says, “I want what you’ve got, and I hate you because I haven’t got it.” The other is manifested in romantic relationships, and is the fruit of marital affection. This sort of jealousy is a positive virtue, as its aim is to keep the marriage intact.

John Stott says, “In the second commandment God goes on to describe himself as ‘a jealous God’. There is no need to be disturbed by this. Jealousy is a resentment of rivals, and whether it is good or evil depends on whether the rival has any right to be there. Since God is unique, and there is no other, he has the right to ask that we worship him alone.” (John Stott, from page 96 Christian Basics, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969).

J.I. Packer in his Knowing God put it best:  “But there is another sort of jealousy—zeal to protect a love-relationship, or to avenge it when broken. This jealousy also operates in the sphere of sex; there, however, it appears, not as the blind reaction of wounded pride, but as the fruit of marital affection. As Professor Tasker has written, married persons ‘who felt no jealousy at the intrusion of a lover or an adulterer into their home would surely be lacking in moral perception; for the exclusiveness of marriage is the essence of marriage’ (The Epistle of James p.106). This sort of jealousy is a positive virtue, for it shows a grasp of the true meaning of the husband-wife relationship, together with a proper zeal to keep it intact.”

Are you thankful for God’s JEALOUSY today?

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2018 in doctrine of God

 

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Back to the Basics! Bibliology #1 The Logic of Revelation!

“You’ve made God in YOUR image! That’s what you’ve done!”, my friend John said to me. Rejecting biblical Christianity, he charges followers of Jesus with fashioning a god in their own likeness, with qualities they would wish in a deity.

I’m not sure John is all that wrong. It is certainly possible to think of God as WE want Him to be, rather than as He discloses Himself in the Scriptures. But when Christians think clearly, they recognize that God is not created, but discovered. Better put, God reveals Himself to us. We wouldn’t have the sense to search for Him.

Logically, if we have been made by an infinite, personal Creator, does it not make sense that He would want to communicate to His creatures? And that is what biblical Christianity claims. God has communicated Himself to us in the Bible.

The idea of revelation is that God gives us a massive amount of information about Himself and His ways in the literature of the Scriptures. If we want to get to know God, we must get to know His Word!

If someone really wanted to get to know me, they could talk directly to me. They could interview my wife. They could ask questions of my friends. And, if they were, for some inexplicable reason, really desperate to get to know me, they could read the books I have written.

The God of the Bible can be known!  He is not some deistic deity who wound up the world and then went away on vacation.  He is intimately involved in His world and wants to be intimately involved in my world.

The Apostle Paul prays in the book of Ephesians: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Eph. 1:17)  Are you seeking to know Him better?  Are you praying for others to have the same goal?

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2018 in bibliology

 

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