When you’re building something important, something that you want to last, it is absolutely necessary to start with a BLUEPRINT. We don’t begin important projects haphazardly. We begin with a plan for what we desire in the final product. If we don’t, we will end up with the attitude of Aaron who testified to Moses,“I threw [the gold] it into the fire, and out came this calf!” Exodus 32:24.
In his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey expressed the importance of planning this way,“begin with the end in mind.” ( Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (Rosetta Books, Kindle Edition, 2013), 104.
Another way to picture the importance of planning is in what I call the Lego Principle. There are TWO ways to build with Legos. One way is to put the pieces together in any fashion that comes to mind. The other way is to follow the direction. If you want to build a pirate ship or space station, you have best follow the directions.
TODAY we return to Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians.
The prayer began in verse 3.
Colossians 1:3 “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,”
After reminding them about the GOSPEL, and Epaphras who shared the Gospel with them, Paul continues his prayer.
This prayer reflects Paul’s desires for the believers.
“Here is what I desire in your lives. This is what I am laboring for!
THIS IS THE PRAYER that supports Paul’s work among them.
Colossians 1:28–29 “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”
He is praying so that they may “live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way” (Col 1:10, NIV)
The phrase “life a life worthy of the gospel” centers on the Greek word which can be translated “to walk.” Here it is referring to “the walk of Life.”
This is the idea in Romans 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
1 Thessalonians 2:12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
WORTHY OF THE LORD. This is the goal of our walk. God is worthy of our best! Psalm 96:4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
PLEASE HIM IN EVERY WAY! God desires that our actions are pleasing to him!
Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.
Ephesians 5:9–10 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord.
So, What is Paul praying for in their lives? What is he working toward?
The answer is found in four Participles contained in Colossians 1:9-12
These words describe the goal of the Christian life. Norm Giesler, a prominent New Testament scholar wrote this about these four participles: “Paul made it the ambition of his life to please God ….Four things, given in participles, result from such a God-pleasing life:” (Norman L. Geisler, “Colossians,” BKC, 671).
We should examine our lives to see if these characteristics are there.
But I want us to also examine our SPIRITUAL LABORS to see if our labors are producing these characteristics in the lives of others.
This is what Paul was praying for in the lives of the Colossians.
Each of these participles are in the present tense, indicating ongoing action in our lives to achieve these noble goals.
1. BEARING FRUIT. Ministry to others that produces evidence.
a. Matthew 7:16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
b. Galatians 5:22–23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
c. JESUS gave us FIVE REQUIREMENTS for his disciples.
i. True Disciples Bear Fruit. John 15:8 “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
ii. True Disciples Take up their cross and live for Jesus. Luke 9:23–25 “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
iii. True Disciples put Christ before self, family, and possessions Luke 14:25-27 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. ”
iv. True Disciples Love others disicples. John 13:34–35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.””
v. True Disciples Abide in Christ’s word. John 8:31 “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,”
These are the words of Jesus.
Before calling yourself a disciple evaluate your life
Before calling yourself a disciple-maker, evaluate your product!
2. GROWING. Ministry to others that produces growth.
a. ESV “increasing in the knowledge of God”
b. Ephesians 4:13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
c. 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.
3. BEING STRENGTHENED. Ministry to others that produces strength.
a. From the Greek dunamis
b. SPIRITUAL STRENGTH
c. 2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
d. Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
4. GIVING THANKS. Ministry to others that produces thankfulness.
a. Just Like PAUL gave thanks for them!
b. Ephesians 5:20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
c. “Disciple making should be installed at the heart of the church, and the commanded product of the church is a fruit-bearing believer called a disciple.” (Bill Hull, “The Disciple-Making Pastor, 50)
This type of spiritual maturity occurs by knowing God’s will.
Colossians 1:9 “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,”
This means that we mature spiritually when we grow in our understanding of the Word of God, and apply the truths that we learn into acts of obedience in our lives.
When we do this, we will discover a a FULLNESS from God that surpasses what the world offers
Spiritual wisdom. First of six times sophia (spiritual wisdom) is used in Colossians.
WHAT DOES THIS SPIRITUAL MATURITY PRODUCE?
The Blessings of a changed life. 1:12
Colossians 1:12 “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints
1 Peter 1:3–4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,
1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Discipleship is MORE than teaching truths about the Bible.
It is being involved in peoples lives.
1. Getting to know people beyond a surface relationship
2. Joining with them in their struggles, joys, difficulties and triumphs
3. Confronting the worldly philosophies that they do not recognize in their lives.
4. Serving with them side by side
5. Working together as part of a local church and under the leadership of its pastors
Making disciples is more than a catch phrase
To know if we are doing it well, we should BUILD from a good blueprint!
The Lord gives us this blueprint, in the form of exhortations to grow, and to help others grow in spiritual maturity.
The Blueprint is found in the example of Jesus.
He discipled 11 who changed the world.
He commands us to make disciples, repeating the process that he first began in the lives of his own disciples.