Conversations with God - Content Objective


Sermon Summary

This message concludes the “Conversations with God” series by looking at the prayer Paul and Timothy prayed for the church at Colosse. Pastor Larry mentioned several background details concerning the situation surrounding the writing of Paul’s letter to them which help interpret the meaning and urgency of Paul and Timothy’s prayer. One of these details was the heretical Gnostic teaching that there was a secret knowledge only a few “special” people were privy to. There were people who claimed to have special visionary revelations of the future from various spirits and pagan gods. These people were prideful and felt their special knowledge made them better than others. Paul, on the hand, attributed his apostleship to the calling of God, and considered other believers as brothers in Christ with the same access to God’s will and wisdom as himself. In fact, in their prayer, Paul and Timothy ask God to show the people of the Colossian Church His will so they can please Him by living a worthy life, bear spiritual fruit, grow in their knowledge of God, and do these things with His strength. These objectives should be a part of any conversation with God.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. When you have a conversation with God, what are some of the typical objectives you have for that conversation?

2. Paul mentions the importance of seeking God’s will for one’s life. Why do you think God has a will for us and what do you think His will looks like?
Col 1:9  For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Col 1:10  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

3. What would you say are some of the main differences between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world? Also, does your source of wisdom effect the fruit you bear and why?
James 3:17  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
10 and find out what pleases the Lord.
11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.


4. The last objective discussed in the message is actually the key to living a life worthy of the Lord and is also the key to bearing fruit. What is that key?
Col 1:11  being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully
Col 1:12  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Col 1:13  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
Col 1:14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

5. Bonus Question: How does God bring His strength into our life?

Galatians 5:22 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.


24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.


25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Full Sermon Notes

When we allow The Holy Spirit of God to invade our hearts, our minds, our thoughts and our lives, we are ushered to a unique place where conversations with God are made possible! Someone might well ask the question: "Why would want to talk with God and why would He want to talk to me?" Today we're going to look at the objective of contact with God. Why do we talk to Him and what should be the content of such a conversation? We've already invited God's presence to be in this place through our worship music. Let's take it a step further and have a conversation with Him before we begin our study today. Let's pray!

Father God, Thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit to walk with us and to teach us. There are so many reasons for us to pray to You, not the least of which is to just let You know how grateful we are for all You have done on our behalf. The fact that You desire to talk with us on a personal level is amazing. It is truly amazing that we can bring to You any and every concern, problem, hurt, need, and even our dreams and desires! Help us to never forget what an undeserved  privilege that is and let us never take it for granted! Having said that, I will now take advantage of the privilege I've been given and ask You to help those in our church family who are facing uncertain health issues, family issues, financial issues, and other difficulties. Help them have Your grace and peace as well as Your divine wisdom and strength. Your presence alone brings each of these things.Teach us that truth today as You allow the glory of Your message to shine so brightly that the messenger fades into the background! In Jesus name I pray and believe! Amen

When I was thinking about the objectives behind our contact with God in conversation I began thinking about an old English class lesson I'm sure I had years ago. I asked myself what the possible objectives are in any conversation, whether with God or someone else. How many different kinds of basic sentences are there?
What would you say? Two, three, four, ten, twenty, or hundreds?
At first I was thinking two: you either make a statement or you ask a question. But I had forgotten that sometimes a person makes a command and sometimes a person doesn't just make a statement, but they make an emotional statement!

Ok, I hope my English teacher of old, is listening and will be proud.
These four type sentences are known as:
Declarative - making a statement
Interrogative - asking a question
Imperative - giving a command
Exclamatory - saying something with emotion

God may use all of these in His conversation with us. It is appropriate for us to use only three. We don't issue commands to God! We can cry out to God with great emotion, but we don't have the authority to command God! Today, we are going to look at a passage of The Bible that deals with the objective of contact with God.

Paul's words found in his letter to the Colossian church have been described like this...

Colossians is both a theological feast and a spiritual tonic!

Let's open our Bibles and feast. We're going to start with Colossians 1:1. I'm going to read these verses one at a time and discuss the background because it's going to be important if we are to understand the objectives when we have contact with God!
Let's get started...

The Background

Colossians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

Why did Paul say he was an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God? Because there were heretics who were pushing a philosophy called Gnosticism. They believed they had special knowledge they had attained by their own efforts and they believed that knowledge made them better than other people!

Paul was quick to say his apostleship was not of his own doing or something he gained by special knowledge, but that he was called of God. He served at the will of God! He then mentions Timothy and calls him a brother.

Paul was letting others know that he was not the only one called by God! Ministry is not a solo endeavor, it is all about team! He goes on to say...

Colossians 2:2 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

Now it was one thing to call Timothy a brother, but to call the people of Colosse brothers was quite another. They were Gentiles not Jewish. And he called them holy and faithful! You see, our holiness is not given to us by virtue of our physical blood line, but is given to us when we are born again spiritually!  And you've got to catch this: when he says grace and peace to you from God our Father, he is using the customary greek and jewish greetings. The greeks used the greek word for grace "charis" which carried the idea of favor. It was like they were saying "may the god's smile upon you today!" And when he used the word peace, he was using the common greeting from the Hebrews which was "Shalom!"

But Paul offers grace and peace to them from God our Father! Not the pagan idea of many supernatural entities, or even the Jewish understanding of a God whose personal name, Yahweh, they were not even allowed to speak or write, but from God our Father! Now that's getting personal! Let's read on and how about a few less interruptions from me… Verse 3-6...

Colossians 1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints —
5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel
6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.

Paul says we always thank God, when we pray for you. Paul and Timothy obviously knew the importance of praying for others and a part of their prayer each time was thanking God for the faith and the love of the Colossian Church. Paul acknowledges that the source of their faith and love originated not from superstitious human philosophy, "profitless speculation, or the empty deceit of pagan visionary 'revelations,'" but from the blessed hope they had discovered in the gospel, the word of truth, the good news of Jesus Christ! This good news had come to them and was bearing fruit and growing just as it was in other places around the world! It was bearing fruit and growing ever since the day they heard, and understood God's grace in all its truth!

That's what happens when you discover God is a real person, and you can personally talk to that very real God! And here's an awesome thing: Paul didn't start the church at Colossae. One of the people Paul had led to Jesus at Ephesus was Epaphras shortened from Epaphroditus. He was from Colossae around 100 miles from Ephesus.
He went home and started the church and evidently was it's pastor because Paul wrote in verse 7&8...

Colossians 1:7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf,
8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

That's some pretty interesting background stuff. Good stuff!! Now you have a little background for the contact objective! Paul has just told the people of the Colossian church that he and his young apprentice were praying, having conversations with God on behalf of the Colossian Church.

Contact Objective

What you are about to learn is both theological and at the same time extremely practical. By the way, the definition of theology is pretty simple, it's what you think about God. What you think about God is your theology. My goal, each and every week is to help you develop your theology based on the unchanging truth of God's Word and not the ever changing winds of popular opinion, or the instability of what you feel about things.


So let's look at the content of the prayer Paul and Timothy prayed for the Colossian Church and see if we can discover their objectives. Colossians 1:9ff...

Colossians 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Objective 1
Be filled with the knowledge of His will!

When you have a conversation with God it's always important to make the declaration that you want to know God's will. Then use an interrogative sentence and ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will! How can we know God's will? It's through spiritual wisdom and understanding. What does that mean? Spiritual wisdom and understanding? First, let me tell you what it's not. Spiritual wisdom is not understood through feelings! Feelings are not bad and they are not necessarily wrong, but you can't go by feelings. Feelings are subject to emotions, circumstances, what other people say and do, and they are in a constant state of fluctuation. Second, spiritual wisdom is not to be found in the wisdom of the world! The world is motivated by self, and leads to selfish decisions and actions. Spiritual wisdom that comes from God is motivated by love and leads to selfless decisions and actions.  

So when it comes to God's will you need the objective truth of God's Word to guide you. And if you don't understand something don't be afraid to seek Godly counsel. Also, ask God to let His Holy Spirit guide your heart and mind. Let me share a few words of spiritual wisdom from God's Word on this matter...

Proverbs 3:1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.

And by the way, God is not promising that you will become filthy rich! When God meets your needs, is that not prosperity? Is it not even more important that we prosper in our marriages? Our family life? Our work life? Our spiritual life? And what is the teaching we're not to forget and the commands we're supposed to keep in our hearts? Prov. 3:3ff

Proverbs 3:3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.

Now here's some of the big questions so many ask me. "Just what is God's will anyway?" "How do I know what career God wants me to pursue?" "Which job offer am I supposed to take?" "Which house am I supposed to buy?" We find the answer in the next objective in Paul's prayer.

Colossians 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way:

Objective 2
Live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way!

God's will is that we live a life worth living! A life lived according to Godly principles and Godly motives will please God. So it's not as important what job you do, or what city you live in, as it is the kind of life you live wherever you live. Don’t worry about the details, God will make sure you’re where you’re supposed to be. Trust Him to guide your circumstances.
And, God's not talking about trying to live a good life in order to earn your salvation. That's impossible! He's talking about living a life of gratitude because of the gift of salvation God has freely given you! Listen to Paul’s words to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 2:12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught
by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

Now you might say this: "Pastor Larry, I'm human and I make mistakes and I don't know if I could ever live a life worthy of the Lord!!" To which I would reply…"You're absolutely right! You or I could ever live a life worthy of Christ!" And you would be justified in asking this question: "Why would God ask us to do something we can't do?"

My answer to you would be Galatians 2:20-21...

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

God won’t ask us to do anything that He won't give us a way to do it!
Ready for Objective 3?

Colossians 3:10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

Objective 3
Bear fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God!

Paul prayed for the people of the Colossian church to live lives that would bear fruit and grow in their knowledge of God! God has a grand purpose for your life! It's a purpose that you can feel really good about. God wants your life to make a difference, an eternal difference! He wants you to know just how much your life matters. Jesus spent a lot of time talking with His disciples teaching them how important it was that they live fruitful lives. And He encouraged them to continue growing in the knowledge of God, because if they ever stopped growing in their relationship with God they would cease to bear fruit. He put it this way...

John 15:4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself;
it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him,  
he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

When you walk with God on a daily basis and ask The Holy Spirit of God to help you remember the teachings of Jesus, you will begin to bear fruit.
I know someone out there has got to be asking the question, "What on earth are you taking about preacher? Fruit? I'm supposed to bear fruit? Mind telling me what kind?"
Fair enough! How about I let God's word speak to your question. Paul put it this way in his letter to the Ephesians...

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
10 and find out what pleases the Lord.
11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

So the fruit you are to bear consist of goodness, righteousness and truth!
Ok, I hear you! You want specifics! Got it! Galatians 5:22-25...

Galatians 5:22 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.
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Now someone might be thinking, "patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…sorry I asked for specifics!" I can promise you you won't be sorry if you get connected to Jesus the true vine and if you begin bearing the fruit of The Spirit, because your life will change for the better!

And you might even bear another kind of fruit which is extremely prized! You just might have someone see the spiritual fruit in your life and decide they need to give this Jesus a try and you may just save a life, and parents, that life may be the life of your child!

Ok, now that we're talking, it's okay to keep asking questions, and I know some of you are! Just know this, I've got limited time so I'm only going to take one more question. You're thinking, this all sounds so good, but I just don't know if I have the strength to bear that kind of fruit. I trip and stumble a lot. I'm spiritually clumsy and weak!
God knows! Paul understood weakness and one of his objectives in his conversation with God dealt with this. In our text, Colossians 1:11, we find objective 4, which is...

Objective 4
Be strengthened with His might to endure with patience and thanksgiving!

Colossians 1:11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might
so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

When you have a conversation with God, declare your need for His strength, His power, and His glorious might so you may have great endurance, patience and joy!
Humans can endure a lot. History is filled with examples of people who survived some pretty horrible and tough circumstances. But I believe a person who is willing to have a conversation with God almighty then that person can find a patience and joy even as they go through the tough times. While others fret through the storms of life, the one who keeps his or her eyes on Jesus in the storm has a peace the world envies!

And believe it or not, a true believer will even give thanks in the storm because they understand God is right there with them in the storm and that storm can't take them out unless God is ready for them to come home. And guess what, a disciple of Christ still has peace because they know The Father has already qualified them for eternity! And how did He do that? Listen...

Colossians 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Let me end with this, then we'll pray. There are many prayers in the Bible with additional objectives. But let's think of the four found in Paul and Timothy's prayer…
1. Be filled with the knowledge of His will!
2. Live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way!
3. Bear fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God!
4. Be strengthened with His might to endure with patience and thanksgiving!

You might be thinking this. "I just wish God would show me exactly what I'm supposed to do in the future and what's coming up next so I could have a heads up and prepare!" The truth is this, if God showed you everything that's coming you would probably take a detour to miss the hard stuff.And if you did that you would miss the growth opportunities. You would miss the opportunities to bear the fruit of righteousness in the midst of the troubles, like patience, long suffering and self control. You would miss the opportunity to show others how God can get you through anything. You would also miss the opportunity to experience the love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness that make life worth living! It's like this: When I left Pleasant Grove Alabama to move to Slidell, back in 2001, if I had known about Katrina, don't you think it would have influenced my decisions.
Yes it would have. Like where I bought a house etc. But I'll tell you this, Katrina is one storm I would never want to go through again! But I'll also tell you this, the lessons, the friendships, the growth, the joy of helping others and the joy of seeing others reach out to help my family, and being a part of a community and church that bounced back stronger than ever, that's priceless! And the experience of God's strength and provision through it all, made me a better person.
So in my conversations with God I still pray like Paul...
Fill me with the knowledge of Your will to live a life worthy of the You and to please You in every way!
I want to bear fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God!
I want to be strengthened with Your might to endure with patience and thanksgiving anything this old world throws at me!
Because I know nothing catches you off guard! Nothing! And while I may not see clearly what's coming down the road in my life, I trust my life into Your hands and I know you will guide every step along the way, because that's the kind of loving God You are!
Please be anyone here today who needs to experience Your strength, Your forgiveness, Your presence, Your grace, Your peace, Your love! Help the people of Northshore Church live lives that will change the world one heart at a time! In Jesus Name I pray and believe, Amen!