Today’s selected passage is found in the first chapter of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Colossae. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first fourteen verses of the first chapter. When the first chapter of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote to the saints which were in Colossae opens it we find the apostle Paul greeting this church together with Timothy who was his spiritual son in the faith and partner in the ministry. Before I move any further in this particular passage of Scripture I feel the great need to touch on the relationship with the apostle Paul had with Timothy, for it was a relationship that I myself have long been envious, and perhaps even jealous of. If you read the New Testament book of Acts, as well as certain of the epistles which Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Asia, you will find that there was a special bond and a special relationship that existed between the apostle Paul and Timothy. It was a relationship that transcended many of the superficial relationships we have within our lives. One thing I have learned when reading the New Testament book of Acts, the various epistles which Paul wrote unto the churches, as well as the two epistles the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, this young man was not only a spiritual son in the faith, but he was also a partner together with Paul in the ministry. I have to admit that I absolutely love that Timothy was more than simply a son in the faith who Paul took under his wing and under his care, but he was actually a partner together in the ministry. What’s m ore, is that when you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in certain of his letters you will find that Timothy was in all reality a fellow labourer, and a fellow soldier in the spiritual conflict the apostle Paul waged in the supernatural. I absolutely love the relationship these two men had, for it is a relationship that I have long coveted. I feel the great need to be incredibly vulnerable right now and speak of something that has long been in the very depths of my heart and soul—the need for relationship and fellowship. What’s more, is that I have long desired for someone who I can truly partner together with in the ministry as the apostle Paul did with Timothy. If you read the New Testament book of Acts, and the various epistles the apostle Paul wrote you will find that the apostle Paul didn’t simply partner together in the ministry with Timothy alone, but there were various other individuals whom he partnered together with in the ministry—individuals such as Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla, Titus, Luke, Barnabas, Silas, and countless others.
I have to admit that I am both amazed and envious of the relationship Timothy shared with Paul—not even necessarily because of who the apostle Paul, but because of what that relationship entailed. There is not a doubt in my mind that Timothy and the apostle Paul shared countless hours together in fervent prayer and intercession—not only for each other, but also for the churches. In fact, if you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the beginning of this epistle you will find that twice within the first fourteen verses the apostle Paul references his continued prayer(s) for and on behalf of the saints which were at Colossae. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the third verse of this first chapter: “We give thank to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you” (Colossians 1:3). Consider also the words we read in the ninth verse of the same chapter: “For this cause we also, since the day we heated it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). What’s worth noting in each of these verses is directly connected what we find and read in the first verse, for it’s in the first verse we discover who was with Paul at the time of this writing: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and TImotheus our brother” (Colossians 1:1). From the very outset of this chapter, and ultimately the epistle we discover that Timothy was present with the apostle at the time of this writing. When we come to the third and ninth verses and read the words and language that is contained therein we do not find the apostle Paul declaring that it was he alone who gave thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather, the apostle Paul used the word “we.” It’s absolutely incredible and necessary that we pay close attention to the use of the word “we,” for the apostle Paul was referring to more than just himself. When the apostle Paul wrote “we give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying for you always,” he was including Timothy in that statement. Please don’t miss or lose sight of this reality, for when we consider the fact that the apostle Paul and Timothy were partners together in the ministry, we must also understand that their partnership together in ministry went beyond just what we witnessed in the natural and physical realm.
IT is absolutely true that the apostle Paul and Timothy were partners together in the ministry of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ, but what we must recognize and understand concerning that partnership, is that it wasn’t simply a partnership in what we read about in the public sense, but also a partnership in the private realm. I am convinced that it is incredibly easy to partner together with another individual, or perhaps even partner together with multiple individuals in the public scene which is before the eyes of men, but it is something else entirely to partner together with someone in the private and unseen realm. When I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this opening chapter of this epistle I am absolutely and incredibly gripped with the reality of a partnership that not only existed in the Spirit, but also a partnership that existed in the personal and private realm. When I consider the ministry which Jesus Christ Himself called the apostle Paul to, I can’t help but get the strong sense that the apostle Paul needed more than those who would partner together with him in the physical, the natural and the public sense. I am utterly and completely convinced that what the apostle Paul desperately needed were those individuals who would join together and partner together with him in the personal and private realm of prayer and intercession. What we read here in these verses concerning the apostle Paul and Timothy praying always for the saints of Colossae, and not ceasing to pray for them speaks to and suggests the powerful reality—not only of prayer, but also intercession. What’s more, is that every word we find written and recorded in the canon of Scripture was divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, which means that the Holy Spirit would not allow anything to be written and recorded in the Scripture if it weren’t in fact true. With that being said, it is worth noting that if it weren’t in fact true that the apostle Paul and Timothy did in fact continually pray and intercede on behalf of the saints which were at Colossae, the Holy Spirit would not have allowed such words to remain and be present within this epistle. If the apostle Paul and Timothy did not continually pray for and intercede on behalf of the saints which were at Colossae, the Holy Spirit would not have allowed or permitted the apostle to write such words within this sacred text.
PARTNERS IN PRAYER! PARTNERS IN INTERCESSION! I remember the four years I spent attending Bible college at the turn of the century, and four five years after the fact. If there is one thing I always remember and will never forget when considering the time I spent attending this Christian college was the amount of time I would spend in the prayer closet. I will never forget all the time I would spend in the prayer tower privately praying by myself, I will never forget all those times when in the privacy of my dorm room I would have the opportunity to pray with those who were the closest to me. While attending college there were two specific individuals—one who’s name was also Steve, and the other who’s name was Russ—who I constantly prayed with. There were countless times when we would be in my dorm room, or Steve’s dorm room, or even Russ and Shari’s apartment, and we would pray and intercede with each other. I remember those times when we would have specific times of prayer and intercession in our dorm rooms and there would be others who would be included. In fact, one of the things I greatly miss about being in college was the amount of time and freedom I had in praying together with fellow colleagues and friends. I remember all the time I spent praying together with other individuals, how much I greatly enjoyed and appreciated those times. I am sitting here writing how I greatly miss these times and opportunities, and the church that I am presently attending has a house of prayer which has sets during the morning and during the evening each night during the week, and even again on Saturday. In addition to this, there are small groups which are also held each night during the week, which provide additional opportunity for fellowship and community. Every third Wednesday of the month there is a special event called “The Merge,” which is essentially when all the various life groups come together as one and share a meal and time fellowshipping with one another. This time also includes a brief word and prayer with each other, which doesn’t always happen in other churches or assemblies. What’s more, is that the fourth Friday of every month there is what’s called “Night Watch,” which runs from 10:00 PM Friday night and continues through to 7:00 AM the following morning. This is essentially a time that is set apart and devoted unto God to spend a night in prayer and intercession.
As I am sitting here right now I have to admit that I feel something stirring within my heart and spirit—not only for prayer, but also for intercession. There is something stirring in my heart and spirit for fellowship and community. There is something stirring within the depths of my heart and spirit for a partnership with others—not only in ministry, but also in prayer. I can say that I miss the various times I had to pray with other individuals while attending Bible college all I want, but the truth of the matter is that I have been given an opportunity—perhaps not to directly mirror what I had in college, but something that is available for the here and now. I have been given a tremendous opportunity to gather together with fellow soldiers and fellow believers—not only in prayer and intercession, but also in fellowship and community. I continue to come back to the words which the beloved physician Luke records in both the second and fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. Consider if you will the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the forty-first verse: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in reading of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they continuing daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. ANd the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41-47). Later in the fourth chapter of the same New Testament book we find the following words written by the apostle: “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold t hem, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of Consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:323-37).
I feel strongly impressed right now to again be vulnerable and admit that over the past several years—perhaps ever since graduating from Bible college—I have shied away from, and perhaps even avoided any opportunities for Christian fellowship and community. In fact, I can’t look back and point to any time since graduating from college where I was consistent with gathering together with the saints—either in Prayer or fellowship. What’s more, is that I am convinced that I have spent a great deal of time running from, avoiding, hiding from, and even shunning any opportunity to gather together with other individuals for fellowship, community, prayer and intercession. There have been countless prayer meetings that I have avoided and chosen not to attend—and if I’m being honest with you who would read this, I avoided them because I was being incredibly selfish and self-centered. Did you know that it is possible for you to be selfish, self-centered and even self-seeking with your time? In all reality, I am convinced if we believe the lie that the time we have been given in a given day belongs to us, we can be selfish, and even stingy with that time. If we believe that the hours, the minutes and the seconds we have been given in a day belong to us, then it is easy to be self-centered, self-seeking and even self-serving with that time. If, however, you view the time you have in any given day—every hour, every minute, every second—not as belonging to you, but as belonging to the true and living God, then it will be incredibly difficult to be selfish and self-centered. While I do believe that it is possible to be selfish and self-seeking with that which belongs to someone else, I am firmly convinced that if we truly believe that the time we have been given in any given day belongs to Jesus Christ rather than us ourselves, than we would dare not set forth to be selfish or self-seeking with that time. In fact, we would do anything and everything we can to ensure that we do with that time—not what we desire and what we please, but rather, what Jesus Christ who is our Lord and Master desires. I can’t help but be reminded of the parable Jesus taught to the masses concerning the talents which were bestowed upon three different servants prior to the master departing on a long journey. If you read the parable you will find that a certain master had three servants, and to each servant he gave a certain measure and portion based on their individual skill and ability. To the one servant he gave five talents, to another servant he gave two talents, and to another servant he gave one talent. Consider if you will the account of this particular parable which Jesus told while upon this earth:
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and dogged in the earth, and his his lord’s money. After a long time the Lord of those servants cometh, and recokoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enterthou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:14-30).
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT WHICH DOESN’T BELONG TO YOU? Some of you reading this writing right now might be wondering why I would choose to include this particular parable in what I am presenting unto you, however, I am convinced that the question just presented to you provides the explanation needed. When you read this particular parable you will notice that each of the servants was given something that did not belong to therm. To the one servant who was given five talents, those five talents did not belong to him, but rather, he was a steward who was entrusted with that which belonged to his master. To the one servant who was given two talents, those two talents did not belong to him either, but instead belonged to his master, and he was given stewardship over a portion of his wealth. This same reality is true even of the servant to whom was given one talent, for this particular steward—even though he wasn’t given as much as the other two servants—for he was still entrusted with that which belonged to his master in order that he might steward over that which was given him. The underlying question that must be asked when reading the words of this parable which Jesus spoke was what will you do with that which doesn’t belong to you. What will you do with that which was not yours to begin with? What will you do with that which actually belongs to you? These questions can certainly apply to the servants found within this parable, however, I am convinced that these questions can also directly apply to us in this generation as well. I wrote earlier about the time we have been given in each of our days, and I am convinced that even the time which we have been given during an individual day—twenty-four hours, one thousand four-hundred and forty minutes, eighty-six thousand four hundred seconds—does not belong to us. With that being said, the question we must ask ourselves is what we are doing with that which doesn’t belong to us. Did you know that even though you might get paid for the forty or more hours you might work during the week, that doesn’t mean that those forty hours belong to you. Even though man signs the check you have direct deposited into you account, that doesn’t even mean that your time belongs to the one who signs your paycheck. What’s more, is that your time doesn’t even belong to that man or that woman who is the chief executive officer of the company, nor does it belong to any of those who are under them. Your time doesn’t even belong to those managers or supervisors who are over you, but rather, it belongs to the living God. With that being said, the question(s) we must ask ourselves is not only what we are doing with the forty or so hours we work during any given week, but also what we do with the time we are out of work. If the time we get paid for doesn’t belong to us, the same principle and reality applies to the time we don’t get paid for. My schedule is 9:15-6:15 on Monday, 9:00-6:00 Tuesday through Thursday, and 8:00-5:00 on Friday. The question that I am finding myself asking is what I do with the time before my work day begins, and what I do when the work day is over. What’s more, is that I have at least twenty minutes on the train each way, which means I have close to an additional hour each day when I am a passenger aboard a train. What do I choose to do during that time, and how do I choose to spend that time Monday through Friday?
The reason I bring such a reality like this up is because I will be the first to admit that I am incredibly selfish when I come home from work each day. If I am being honest with myself and with you who are reading this particular writing, I have long viewed the three hours I have after work each day as belonging to me, and I have therefore chosen to do what I alone desire to do. Furthermore, I have viewed these three hours as belonging to me and I have made it all about myself and my own agenda, plans and purposes. I have taken these three hours and have used them to accommodate myself and myself alone. With this being said, I have been entirely and altogether unwilling to devote this time to anything else other than getting myself ready for the next day, and spending the remaining part of the evening relaxing. This means that I have been unwilling to devote any time to joining together with others in prayer during and throughout the week. This means that I have been unwilling to put myself out there in Christian fellowship and community at least one night during the week. What’s more, is that even on the fourth Friday of the night when there is the “Night Watch,” I have valued my sleep and my Saturday as being more valuable and more important than prayer and spending together with Christ and partnering together with others in prayer. How selfish can one person be? How selfish can I truly be? How selfish have I been with my time and my schedule? How selfish have I been with my sleep and with my own comfort? If I am being honest, I must say that I have valued my own self-preservation and my own comfort and security more than anything else, and I have not been wise and faithful with that which doesn’t belong to me. I have not been willing to give of that which doesn’t even belong to me in order that I might devote it to the One whom it does belong to. I have been so incredibly wrong and so incredibly foolish with my time—particularly and especially after work during those three hours. It is true that I will start my day and spend the first two hours in the Word reading, writing, meditating and studying, however, when it comes to the latter part of my day, I have been incredible selfish and self-seeking. I know that there has been countless days, and perhaps even countless weeks when I have robbed God—not only of His tithe, but also of His time. Yes, you read that correctly when I wrote “His time.” Consider how vastly different our days would be if we recognized and understood that the time we have been given each and every day does not belong to us, but belongs to the living God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Consider what our days would look like if we asked the Spirit what He would have us do with and He would have us spend our time during each and every day. I know that I myself am being incredibly challenged to give of myself with the few hours I have after work, which includes giving of myself in prayer, in intercession, in fellowship, in community, and the like.
The apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Colossae, first saying, “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, “ and secondly saying, “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” It is absolutely imperative that we recognize and understand the apostle’s use of the word “we” in both of these verses, for the use of this small two letter word suggests that he was accompanied together in prayer by Timothy who partnered together with him in the ministry. There is not a doubt in my mind that Timothy was greatly connected to the various churches within and throughout Asia—not only through the apostolic ministry of the apostle Paul, and not only through potential visits to each of these churches, but also through prayer and intercession. I am utterly and completely convinced that the single greatest partnership that can be manifested and demonstrated within and upon the earth is not necessarily a partnership of ministry, but first and foremost a partnership of prayer and intercession. This reality is powerfully and wonderfully demonstrated in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of this chapter you will find a powerful event which occurred in the lives of two men—Paul and Barnabas. Consider if you will the words which the beloved physician Luke wrote and recorded beginning with the first verse of this chapter: “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the terrace, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separated me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Selucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister” (Acts 13:1-5). It’s important to note within this passage that before we find Saul and Barnabas being separated by the Spirit for the work whereunto He had called them, we first find them ministering to the Lord and fasting. Please don’t miss the significance and importance of this fact, for before we can even think or attempt to partner together with another in ministry, it is absolutely imperative that we first learn to partner together with someone in prayer and intercession. I would dare say that I don’t care how well you might think you can partner together with me in the ministry, or how well you may already partner together with me in the ministry, for if you cannot and are not willing to partner together with my in the personal and private matter of prayer, I am not at all interested in partnership in the ministry.
The apostle Paul—when writing to the saints which were at Colossae—declared unto them that he and Timothy gave thanks to God and the Father of their Lord Jesus Christ, praying for them always, and there is not a doubt in mind that he meant those words. When the apostle Paul declared that he gave thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and when he declared the prayed always for them he actually meant those words. When the apostle Paul wrote and declared that he did not cease praying for the saints of Colossae, I am utterly and completely convinced that he did in fact devote time, effort and energy to praying for these saints. I absolutely love that when Paul prayed for the churches within the province of Asia, he didn’t engage himself in prayer and intercession for these churches alone, but had others who would partner together with him in prayer on behalf of the churches. I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like to pray with the apostle Paul for churches such as Corinth, Philippi, Corinth, Rome, Thessalonica, Ephesus, Colossae, and the churches in Galatia. What was it like to engage yourself in prayer and intercession with the apostle Paul for the churches which had been planted within and throughout the region of Asia? Beginning with the ninth verse of this chapter we learn exactly what the apostle Paul and Timothy prayed for when praying for this congregation: “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long suffering with joyful ness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:9-14). What I so love and appreciate about the words which we have recorded here is that these words powerfully demonstrate the fulness of the reality of Paul praying for this particular church. It’s one thing to make the declaration that he did not cease praying for this congregation, but it’s something else entirely to actually list and describe those things which he prayed for on behalf of this congregation. It’s one thing to simply state that prayed for this congregation, but it’s something else entirely to allow them a glimpse—not only into his heart, but also into his personal closet of prayer.
SEEING INTO THE PRAYER CLOSET OF PAUL! What I absolutely love, and what you will quickly find when reading the epistles of Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians, is that you are given a glimpse into the very prayer closet of Paul. What I mean by that, is that within each of these epistles—not only do we find the apostle Paul declaring that he prayed for these individual churches and congregations, but we also find those things which he specifically prayed for when praying for them. With these three epistles we get a glimpse into the prayer closet of Paul, and that which truly mattered to him as it pertained to the church. Please don’t miss this, for I am convinced that when we speak of partnership in prayer, it is absolutely necessary that we join ourselves together who we can be of one heart and one mind with. When it comes to partnership in prayer it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we allow ourselves to be joined and knit together in the Spirit with those whom we share the same burden and passion. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote when writing unto the Philippian congregation—specifically in the second chapter. When you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this particular chapter you will get a clear and powerful picture of what is absolutely critical and necessary when partnering together in prayer and intercession. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote beginning with the first verse of the second chapter: “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:1-4). When we speak of this partnership in prayer and intercession it is absolutely imperative that we are not only like-minded, but it is also imperative that we are of the same love. What’s more, is that when we speak of this partnership of prayer and intercession, we are of one accord and and of one mind, and that there is absolutely no division. There is perhaps no thing more critical in prayer and in the partnership of prayer and intercession than unity, and that there is absolutely no division or schism. Nothing has been more contrary and detrimental to effective prayer and partnership in prayer and intercession than disunity, division and schisms. It isn’t enough that we partner together in prayer and intercession until and unless we are willing to be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, being of one mind, and being bound together in the fellowship of the Spirit.