June 2004


INTRODUCTION – The crucial and perhaps most neglected  rule of thumb for studying the Bible – The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. (Explanation) Colossians has many wonderful verses and concepts in it. Many Christians are aware of at least a few of those. Few understand how those parts contribute to the whole. 

Losing the forest for the trees – – how Bible books were written

My rivalry with Will McCabe in basketball – need to strengthen my calves and thigh muscles  – – so I often sprint up and down Rodman Street…

My experience on Rodman Street in Cabrillo Estates: 

Family of 6 pushing a 2004 S600 Mercedes Benz Sedan

Twin turbo charged – 5.5liter 36 valve V-12 engine!

493 horse power @ 5,000 rpm  for only $123,620.00

Why are you pushing this car?   Because we need to get it home and we live at the top of Rodman.

But this is one of the most powerful elite cars on the market today. It was designed to  take you any where you ever need to go.  All you have to do is….   And they interrupted me – Look sir, we have done this many times before. It just requires some patience, but we know we can do it.

Do you have keys to this car?  Oh yes of course. We couldn’t get our things out of the car when we get it home if we didn’t have the keys. 

 But one of those keys is designed to start the engine under your hood, which is far more powerful and able to get this car to the top of the hill than any combination of humans you could ever find!

Yes we know that one of the keys will start the engine, but what if the engine blew up or misfired. What if the key got stuck in the ignition??  We would not want the founder and owner of Mercedes Benz to be angry with us or take the car away from us.

Have you not read your owner’s manual??? The founder and owner of Mercedes Benz has given a personal guarantee to everyone who buys one of his cars that he will personally reimburse them if anything ever goes wrong, or he will see to it that the car is fixed at no charge to you. When you purchase a brand new Mercedes Benz from the dealer you join one of the most amazing families on the planet – it is the one car you can drive with total security and peace because you know the founder and owner of the company is personally committed to the health and upkeep of your car and to your driving satisfaction.

No we haven’t read the owner’s manual. But we have seen other families pushing their Mercedes; ;like I said we have pushed ours many times before,  and we know this works. 

Bill, please listen to me – this car was designed for your family to be able to ride in it together. All six of you can sit in these seats, and you can actually enjoy one another’s company while you go from place to place. This car is so well made that you could drive through a war zone and still hear one another’s conversation, and be able to respond to what is being said. And…

Friend, I appreciate your concern. But this is the way we have always done it. This is the way we intend to do it. Good day.

Well if you haven’t figured it out yet, that car is a metaphor for the kingdom of God.  It is loaded with every possible resource and blessing you can imagine!  And the family of six pushing it is a metaphor of  the church.  And that story really is the story of much of the church today – blessed with amazing resources in Christ – members of a kingdom that is embued with all authority and power – – and yet we can be found on many occasions – pushing and straining with our own strength and self –will and human wisdom, resulting in discouragement and disillusionment and deep disappointment and the lack of fruit that remains.

This was certainly true of the church in Colossae – – and I would like for you to turn there as we try to see how we – the church – were meant to pull off this amazing and daunting mandate we have been given to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom, to live the gospel of the kingdom,  and to make disciples for this kingdom and its King even unto the ends of the earth.

The church at Colossae was a wayward church in that because they had a weak view of Jesus Christ, and all the resources they had in Him and how to tap those resources – they were turning to man made rules and requirements to meet their spiritual needs and to accomplish their mission.

Overview – Chps. 1, 2 = Christ’s life in you;         Chps. 3,4 Christ’s life through you

                        Doctrine & what to believe                 Many commands – what to do about                                     very few commands/ more truths       what is true of you

                        That are foundational – truths that     How what is true of Christ and us 

                        We must be grounded in to be able     should manifest itself in our personal

                        To be who God has called us to be     lives and in our relationships.

                        And do what He has called us to do

Chapter 1 – we are introduced to the founder and owner of this Kingdom. I’ve entitled it – Christ the King and His Kingdom. We learn in this chapter that it is in Christ the King – that we have forgiveness of sins. (vs. 14) We learn that He is the very image of the invisible God. (15), He is the creator of all things. (vs. 16) He is eternal & He holds all things together.(vs. 17).  He is the head of the church! (vs. 18) All the fullness of deity dwells in Him. (vs. 19) Reconciliation with God comes through Him (vs. 20). And thus Paul says towards the end of the chapter – We proclaim Him and Him alone.

Now, You can’t go wrong with a founder and owner like that, and yet for most of us – all you have to do is tweak our circumstances a bit – maybe mess with our bodies or our health, or mess with our cars, or mess with our jobs, or mess with our finances or mess with our church’s finances; or mess with our church’s structure – – and you would think our owner and founder has long since deceased. How is it that the church can have such an amazing founder and owner; how is that the kingdom of God can have such an amazing King – – and yet we live as if He is still in the tomb??

Chapter 2 – O.K., alright. I agree Jesus Christ truly is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He truly does reign supreme over all – especially His kingdom, which He is continually expanding. But how does that affect me and my little measely life? 

Well in chapter two Paul builds on the truths of chapter one by exhorting the Colossians to pursue this King and all the wealth that is encompassed in Him. He reminds them that because they have placed their faith in this amazing King, everything that He is has become theirs. In vs. 10 Paul declares that because they are in Christ, which is another way of saying Christ is in them – they are made complete or filled up with all His fullness. Everything they could ever possibly need or want is found in Him; and because they are now His royal subjects or sons – His resources immediately become theirs. He then goes on to warn them against man made rules and regulations and rituals and formulas – that are not focused and centered in Jesus Christ.  If chapter one is about 

Christ – the King and His Kingdom – I suppose you could say chapter two is about the Believer’s Position and Resources in that Kingdom. If chapter one is about the Supremacy of Christ, then chapter two is about the Sufficiency of Christ.

He & His life are truly sufficient for anything and everything we will ever face or ever be called to be or do, and yet how often do we look at ourselves and conclude, God you have the wrong man. You don’t understand my limitations because of my past, or my lack of education, or my lack of up front spiritual gifts, or my lack of support in my family, or…..you fill in the blank.

Chapter 3 – Knowing our tendency to not understand or see how truth affects our every day existence – –  in chapter 3 Paul begins to explain how all of this truth and all of these resources that we have in Christ should affect our daily lives and relationships. I suppose you could entitle this chapter – The Believer’s Practice in the Kingdom. In this chapter Paul wants us to know in clear terms how this new life and position can and should manifest itself in our character (vs. 1-8), in our relationships with the church (vs. 9-17); in our relationships with our families (vs. 18-21); and in our relationships at work (vs. 22 – 4:1). Paul wants us to know that the power of the evil one and our flesh that resulted in all kinds of pain and grief and crud in our former years, has now been broken, and that if we will keep our hearts and minds focused on Christ and our standing with Him – we can experience His kingdom power and life in our personal life behind closed doors,  as well as in all of our relationships, no matter how difficult they may be in the present.

Because of the transforming life of Christ that resides and wants to bust forth in us, we can experience peace and harmony and fruitfulness in any and every relationship, and yet…. For many of us it is here where we so quickly and so often stumble.  Why is it that we so often feel that we don’t belong, or aren’t understood or appreciated, or that a certain relationship is a dead end street?  Why is it that we struggle so much to be real and transparent in relationships?  Where is that power to hold our tongues and let go of resentments and presumptious judgments of people?  Will I ever come to a place where I can see on a daily basis the transforming life of Christ flowing through me and affecting every relationship I have –whether it be in the church, or my family or my relationships with my co-workers or my neighbors…??

Most of us in this room are already aware that Jesus Christ is the Eternal Creator and King, & that He rules over a kingdom that we are a part of – and that this same Creator and King lives in us by the Holy Spirit, and that we have His amazing resources at our disposal…. But living moment by moment in this reality is so darn difficult. How can we get to a place where we no longer feel like we are pushing a Mercedes up a hill?  How can we  enjoy and experience the purr of that twin turbo charged 5.5 liter 36 valve V-12 engine?? Well I believe Paul knew at this point we desperately need an honest answer to that question. So by the Holy Spirit’s direction he pens in chapter 4 vs. 2 these words, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”

Devoted Prayer is the key that starts that engine folks; Devoted prayer is the oil that lubricates that engine; Devoted Prayer is the gasoline that fuels that engine. Devoted prayer is what makes all those amazing resources we have in Christ kick in. Devoted prayer sets us free from self effort, and the disillusionment and disappointment that comes from human wisdom – not to mention the hurt and grief our human wisdom and self effort causes others.

Do you struggle to keep the glory and majesty and supremacy of our great King in plain view when your circumstances go upside down?  Devote yourselves to prayer.

Do you struggle to believe that everything you lack – you have in abundance in Christ? Devote yourselves to prayer.

Do you struggle to experience the liberating transforming life of Christ in your relationships in the church, in your immediate and extended family, and at your place of employment?  Devote yourselves to prayer.

Now before we go too far with this, please tell me – who was this command given to?  An individual??  One of the reasons I believe we struggle so much in our personal prayer lives is because we have not experienced the lift and encouragement and enlightenment that comes from corporate prayer.   I can’t tell you how many times over these last 10 years I have gone to an LOCF prayer meeting and on the front end pretty much totally lost sight of the Supremacy of My King, and the sufficiency I have in Him for my personal life as well as for my relationships. But by the end of the meeting much of my spiritual sight, perspective and faith had been restored. Sometimes in corporate prayer meetings I have seen something for the first time as a result of what someone else said or prayed, or a scripture they read or perhaps a direct word from God to me – but it came in the context of being with His other kids.

By the way, did you note in this verse how we are to devote ourselves to prayer??  Thanksgiving!  Last week I tried to emphasize that biblical prayer is not always asking for things. Sometimes it is expressing to God how much He means to us and how thankful we are for what He has done for us.  I don’t know of anything that can cloud our perspective more than ingratitude and complaining. If devotion to prayer is the key that starts the engine, and the oil that lubricates it and the gas that fuels it, then thanksgiving is the radiator that cools it. When I thank the Lord for specific things out loud with the brethren regardless of what shape my circumstances are in, it keeps the engine from over-heating – or it keeps me from losing perspective and getting all hot and bothered about things that are totally under the control of the King.

Devotion to prayer with thanksgiving – especially with the brethren and the sistren, enables us to have a fresh vision of the King and His glorious Kingdom and our part in it. That’s why Paul, after giving this command that I believe is the fulcrum or hinge on which this whole book swings, goes on to talk about our mandate to spread the gospel to those who do not yet believe. It would be foolish of him to lay down this mandate any earlier. For if we are not experiencing the life of Christ in our personal life and character and in our primary relationships through the power and perspective released in prayer, we have little to say to those who are outside the church. Nor will there be any power behind our words. Nor will we even care about those who are giving their lives to win the lost and make disciples and plant churches among the unreached, which is what Paul was doing when he asked for them to pray for him in vs. 3,4.  Does it boggle your mind at all that the mighty apostle Paul was in some degree limited in his ability to pull off his ministry by whether the church in Colossae devoted themselves to prayer or not for him?

The exciting thing to me about this is that our little church in off the beaten path Los Osos has the potential as we learn to devote ourselves to prayer to literally see doors opened all over the world and the message proclaimed with clarity and boldness as we pray for our missionaries.  God has so designed it, that little churches like ours can be God’s instrument to cause His mighty hand to open doors in big nations like China, Mongolia, India, Africa, Peru, Israel, etc. 

A Word to our Church Leaders:

Col. 1:9-12 – The necessity of Apostolic prayers for us

Col. 4:12 – The necessity of Pastoral prayers for us by our leaders

Only when we see all of these aspects of devoted prayer functioning will we really begin to mine the depths of our great King and His kingdom. 

How can we become the kind of church that truly devotes itself to prayer?

  1. Find some time some way every week to pray with the brethren and sistren. Reminder of Wednesday evenings – this week at Ruddells. First two meetings have gone very well.
  2. Expect resistance!  “Nothing in the whole Christian religion is so difficult and rarely attained as a praying heart.”  Charles Finney – the great evangelist 

A bit negative. God is going to make us a praying church. But the enemy will not give up ground he has taken easily. It would be wrong and unrighteous for God to reveal His purposes to His church and not reveal the way to experience His power. 

      3. Expect God to make it happen. He will complete that which He has begun in us. Refuse to get discouraged or disillusioned. Discouragement is never from God. It accomplishes nothing in the kingdom of God. Expectation and faith on the other hand as expressed in prayer move the hand and heart of God Himself.

      4.  Start today. Why not carve out some time this afternoon or evening to pray? What about right now?

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