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How to Pray for Other Believers — Part 10

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).

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

E. Being Strengthened with All Power to Endure! (v. 11)

F. Giving joyful thanks to the Father who has qualified us as holy people (v. 12)

G. He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness (v. 13)

Let’s notice an eighth and final request Paul makes for these believers —

H. He brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (vv. 13-14)

I’ve never been part of a monarchy! Have you? What better monarchy than the Lord’s? We’re children of the King! And we have already been brought into His kingdom. And what’s the first thing Paul gives as a benefit to being in His kingdom? “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”!

Challenge: What would it look like today if you and I acted as children of the King, already in the Kingdom? Redeemed and forgiven?

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2021 in Colossians 1

 

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Join Us in Our New Study? (Saved! Rescued from God, by God, and for God)

Friends: A small group of serious Bible students will be completing our study of the book of Job (entitled With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness) on Sunday, October 18th. We’ve gone through study questions and have discussed the entire book of Job. But we’re ready for our next study together.

That next study will be my short book Saved! Rescued from God, by God, and for God. It is available on Amazon here. I will send a pdf version of it to any who email me and ask to be included in the study.

The book has seven chapters plus an epilogue — so we will meet for eight Sunday nights. I’m not sure when the course will start (maybe in a couple of weeks) and we will meet every other Sunday night when the course starts. We will have a one-hour Zoom session to discuss the assigned chapter. There is no charge for the course, although gift cards to Outback are welcome! Join us? If so, please email me at: theoprof@bellsouth.net and indicate your intention.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2020 in Bible study

 

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Uploaded Video for My Kirkland Students — Soteriology!

Friends: Due to the Coronavirus I am not allowed to meet face-to-face with my Kirkland cohort (many are lifers) for the next few weeks. I’m providing a couple of videos for them to watch. And you might like what I’ve done! This one is about 15 minutes long. Let me know what you think! Dr. D.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2020 in salvation

 

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Colossal Truths from the Letter to the Colossians! Pictures of Our Salvation!

As we continue looking at prominent themes in the epistle to the Colossians, we move on to Chapter 2. There we read —

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Do we think too much about our personal salvation? Or too little? This paragraph focuses on what it means to be right with God through the Lord Jesus. Notice the several images Paul uses:

1. Circumcision/Uncircumcision: This is a painful image for guys, but a powerful sign for the Jewish nation. Paul uses this picture to speak of spiritual circumcision and how we needed Christ to do that internal work in us (note in verse 11 that we were circumcised by Christ!). Before conversion we were DEAD in our sins and in the uncircumcision of our flesh.

2. Life/Death: We were spiritually dead before God made us alive with Christ. Do most people recognize that they are spiritual corpses before salvation? No life in them. No ability to do anything good to save themselves. Just waiting for the funeral service. And notice that we have been “made alive with Christ.” We have been raised up with Him!

3. Forgiven/the Debt Cancelled: We read that “He forgave us all our sins.” Not just the big ones. All our sins! And He cancelled the bill! He not only took the bill away, He nailed it to the cross! What an amazing statement! Jesus did some nailing of His own when He was on the cross.

4.Disarming the Powers and Authorities: The area of “spiritual warfare” (how we relate to the demonic world) seems to be a prominent focus in Colossians. We know that the devil and his minions are the enemies of the believer. What has Christ done about that? He has disarmed them. He has also “made a public spectacle of them” and has triumphed “over them by the cross.” This dimension of reality — of angels and demons — may not be overt to us, but it is real and Christ has won!

If we could only look behind the scenes, if we could only have a bit of God’s perspective on how lost we were before Christ saved us, we would appreciate our salvation so much more. We were not in a spiritually-neutral position before God. But Christ’s redemptive work changed all that!

Savor those truths today — and perhaps share with someone else what an incredible gift salvation is!

 

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2019 in salvation

 

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Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #14): Chapter 13- “Jesus’ Grace”

As we continue in the second half of Martin Thielen’s book What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?, we are looking at the question Am I accepted? Thielen points out in this chapter that the unique feature of the Christian religion is . . . grace! He defines grace as “God’s unconditional love and acceptance of us just as we are.”

He refers to Anne Lamott’s story of feeling that God couldn’t love her with all her shortcomings and sins. An Episcopal priest said to her, “God has to love you. That’s God’s job.” Thielen then tells the well-known Tony Campolo story about Campolo throwing a birthday party for a prostitute in a diner. When asked what kind of church he attended, Campolo said, “I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning.”

Jesus loved sinners, Thielen says, and “refused to judge and condemn them. Instead, Jesus saw them as beloved children of God, created in the image of God, with great value and worth. Obviously Jesus hoped they would change for the better” (87) In short, Jesus offered grace. Thielen quotes John 3:16-17 and says that grace does not mean that we can accept God’s grace and then live any way we please (“cheap grace,” according to Dietrich Bonhoeffer). “As we say in the United Methodist Church, we must move from ‘justifying grace’ (grace that makes us right with God) to ‘sanctifying grace’ (grace that leads to spiritual maturity).” (89). The bottom line, Thielen says, is Even with our  flaws, Jesus loves and accepts us as beloved children of God. (90).

MY RESPONSE: I am not really looking to find errors in Thielen’s chapters. And it is hard to disagree with this chapter on grace. My only concern is that we can confuse creation and redemption. What I mean is that creation (being made in God’s image) does not equal redemption (being “saved” or forgiven by God). The expression “children of God” can refer to people being created by God or to those who have repented of their sins and have trusted Christ (John 1:12). I wish Thielen were clearer about this distinction.

I would also point out that Jesus said that He would judge those who rejected Him. While His primary desire is to save, Jesus says the Father has given all judgment into the Son’s hands (John 5:22) and He will be the One who will separate the sheep (those who are saved) from the goats (the lost) at the end of time (Matthew 25). And that’s not grace — that’s holy wrath!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2019 in grace

 

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How Should I Pray for . . . Others? (A Study of Colossians 1:9-14) Part 11 (Conclusion)

We’ve looked at the seven specific requests that Paul makes on behalf of the Colossian believers in Colossians 1. We see how committed he was to interceding for them. If you are at all like me, you need to grow in your praying for others.

Paul’s strategic commitment to pray for them is in 1:9 as he says “we have not stopped praying for you . . . we continually ask God to fill you . . .”  The specific content of his prayer in verses 9-12 includes the following requests: that they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will (v. 9), that they would live a life worthy of the Lord (v. 10), that they would bear fruit in every good work (v. 10), that they would grow in the knowledge of God (v. 10), that they would get strong in living out the Christian life (v. 11), that they would endure when life gets rough (v. 11), and that they would live joyfully with a thankful heart (v. 12).

But how does Paul conclude his prayer?  After seeing —

I. His Strategic Commitment to Praying for Others (v. 9) and

II. Paul’s Specific Content in His Praying for Others (vv. 9-12)

may I suggest we see —

III. Paul’s Satisfying Conclusion in His Praying for Others (vv. 12-14)

Paul mentions four amazing actions which God has taken on our behalf:

A.  He has qualified us to share in His inheritance (v. 12)

B.  He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness (v. 13)

C.  He has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves (v. 13) and

D.  He has redeemed us and given us the forgiveness of sins (v. 13).

What a fantastic summary of salvation!  We have been qualified, rescued, transferred, and redeemed!  If you’re not (at least emotionally) jumping up and down in joy right now, check your pulse.  You might be dead.  Or you need another cup of coffee.

We will resist the temptation to post on each of these four incredible actions by God on our behalf, but let’s think about them for a few minutes in this concluding post.  He has qualified us.  We were completely unable to qualify ourselves.  He has rescued us.  We were drowning in our sin and He gave His life to save us.  He has transferred us.  He “brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.”  We’ve been moved out of darkness into His kingdom of light!   He has redeemed us by forgiving our sins.  The thrice-holy God took care of my sin problem!

What a satisfying summary of what we enjoy as believers.  And those truths ought to motivate me and you to pray, I mean, to seriously pray, for others.  [I just prayed for someone I love to realize those four amazing actions of God on their behalf.  Your turn].

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2018 in praying for others

 

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Keys to Living Out the Christian Life! (A Study of Galatians 2:19-21) Part 4

Here in Galatians 2:19-21 we learn a number of truths that will help us navigate this thing called the Christian life.  These “keys” are not automatic or easy.  But they are essential IF I am to live out my new life in Jesus.  Let’s look at our text once more:

What have we seen so far?  We’ve seen that the first key in verse 19 is that I must have a proper relationship to the law. The law brings death and I have died to it. The second key is that the old me is dead! We read in verse 20- “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live.”  The third key that impacts me here is this: There is a NEW ME who is to live by faith! (v. 20). I have not ceased to exist.  But now I can live a new life by faith in the Son of God.

There is a fourth key that I see in this passage and it is this:  I have been paid for!  Please notice the expression in verse 20- “the Son of God . . . who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Theologians refer to this as the doctrine of substitutionary atonement!  [We get paid by the big words].

Notice two truths in this expression “He gave Himself for me”:  First, He gave Himself.  Jesus said, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” (Jn. 10:18).  Jesus voluntarily sacrificed Himself for me.  Notice also that the verse says “He gave Himself for me.”  Jesus’ death on the cross was intensely personal and specific.  It is hard to believe — but we must — that the Second Person of the Trinity had me in mind when He went to Calvary!

If this is indeed true — His death was voluntary and it was for me — how could I ever doubt His love for me?  How could I ever look at my life as insignificant?  How is it that I can choose at any one moment to live for myself, instead of for Him?

But we do, don’t we?  Today’s challenge: Focus today on Jesus’ giving of Himself for you.  Thank Him for His sacrifice.  And ask Him not how you can repay Him (an impossibility), but how you can moment by moment live for His glory.  Today. (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2018 in CHRISTIAN LIVING

 

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What Did Jesus Pray About? (Part 8)

We are continuing our study of the real Lord’s prayer here in John 17.  And the topic for the next several posts is WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THE BELIEVER?  Jesus uses the word “world” 17 times in His prayer, a word which can mean (1) the physical planet; (2) the people of the planet; or (3) the pagan system opposing God and the things of God.  Let’s read over John 17 once again — and notice the second use of the word “world” (or cosmos).

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2017 in the world

 

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Time for a Great Commercial: “Aren’t You Going to Fix It?”

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Imagine sitting in a room with Jesus.  He is holding your hands and He says, “___ (insert your name here), you have a real problem with SIN!  You are a sinner by nature and by practice (I could give examples, if you wish).  Your sin separates you from God, from me!  Okay.  I’ve got to go now.  I’m glad we could have this talk.”

You would be devastated!  Jesus doesn’t just inform us of our sin — He pays the debt we owed a holy God because of our sin!  He fixes the cavity of sin by His self-sacrifice.  And that is far more important than, “Lunch?”

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2016 in salvation

 

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Back to Basics (A Study of Titus 2): Part 12

We continue our study of the Christian life as we look at Titus 2:

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 8.15.29 AM11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

We have seen that God’s grace is a SAVING grace (v. 11).  It is also a TEACHING grace (v. 12) that helps us learn what to deny and what to affirm.  We have also seen that God’s grace is a WAITING grace (v. 13), assisting us to wait for God the Son to return for us.  In thinking about the Son, we have seen that He is the One who gave himself for us (v. 14).

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 7.15.29 AMBut why did He give Himself for us?  The text is quite clear: to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own . . . (v. 14).  We needed REDEMPTION!  The term λυτρώσηται is from a word group that means “to release by paying a ransom, to redeem.”  It is used three times in the New Testament:
(1) In Lk. 24:21 we read of Jesus meeting the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  They were devastated because their Rabbi had been executed.  They say to the risen Jesus (not knowing that He had conquered death): “we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel . . .”

(2) In I Pe. 1:18-19 we read: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

(3) Here in Titus 2:14 we read that Jesus “who gave himself for us to redeem Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 6.24.37 AMus from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own . . .”

Slaves get redeemed.  Those who don’t see themselves as slaves don’t need redemption.  Jesus declared in John 8- “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (v. 34).  That includes everyone.  Everyone is a slave to sin — and needs to be redeemed out of that slavery.

Notice:  He redeems us from all wickedness.

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 6.54.56 AMThe term ἀνομίας is a simple word meaning “no law.”  It can be translated as “lawlessness” or “iniquity” and describes the condition of one without law, either because ignorant of it, or because violating it.  The term is used 15 times in the New Testament.  Here are a few of those uses:
Mt. 7:23-  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ οἱ ἐργαζόμενοι τὴν ἀνομίαν (literally, “the ones practicing the lawlessness”).
13:41- The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. καὶ τοὺς ποιοῦντας τὴν ἀνομίαν (literally, “the ones doing the lawlessness”).
Rom. 4:7- “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered. Μακάριοι ὧν ἀφέθησαν αἱ ἀνομίαι καὶ ὧν ἐπεκαλύφθησαν αἱ ἁμαρτίαι, (“transgressions” [literally, “lawlessnesses”] can be forgiven!
2 Cor. 6:14-  Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  Μὴ γίνεσθε ἑτεροζυγοῦντες ἀπίστοις· τίς γὰρ μετοχὴ δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ἀνομίᾳ, ἢ τίς κοινωνία φωτὶ πρὸς σκότος; (here the term is translated as “wickedness”).
Heb. 10:17- Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts
 I will remember no more.” καὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν καὶ τῶν ἀνομιῶν αὐτῶν οὐ μὴ μνησθήσομαι ἔτι·  (here the term is translated as “lawless acts”).
I Jn. 3:4- Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.  Πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν καὶ τὴν ἀνομίαν ποιεῖ, καὶ ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνομία. (literally, here we are told that everyone doing sin is “also doing lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”).

In our text, the expression is ἀπὸ πάσης ἀνομίας and can be translated as “from every lawless deed . . .”

One of the questions that occurs to me is this:  Is Jesus redeeming us from the wickedness of the world — or the wickedness in ourselves? (to be continued)

 

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2015 in Titus 2

 

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