Theology & Doctrine Absent Prayer & Intercession

Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Colossae. More specifically, today’s passage of Scripture is found in chapters one through four of this New Testament book. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Colossians 1:1-2). When you come to the epistle written unto the Colossian saints you will find the third epistle which the apostle Paul wrote from the city of Rome where he was a prisoner—and not only a prisoner, but a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ. If and as you read the words which were found written and recorded within the New Testament epistles which the apostle Paul wrote from prison in Rome you will find him emphatically and boldly declaring that he was not a prisoner of man, but rather he was a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, it would be in the third and fourth chapters of the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus you will find this reference to his being an epistle—not of man, but rather of the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought not and must not miss the incredible importance of this, for although it was man who indeed arrested the apostle Paul, and although it was man who imprisoned Paul, he viewed himself not as a prisoner of man, nor by the will of man, but by the Lord Jesus Christ. What a stark contrast to that which was found in the gospel narratives concerning John the Baptist, and how John the Baptist sent messengers unto Jesus inquiring whether or not He was indeed the Messiah, or if they should look for another. The one fundamental difference was that after Jesus had died on the cross and been crucified by the Romans, and after Jesus was buried in the tomb and raised from death to life and ascended unto the right hand of the Father in heaven there was absolutely no doubt that Jesus was indeed the Christ and that He was indeed the Messiah. Of course there were instances and occurrences within the earthly life and ministry of Jesus when men realized and acknowledged that He was the Messiah, however, it wouldn’t be until after He was raised from the dead that men would begin speaking of Him as Jesus Christ. In fact, this title and terminology would be used heavily by the apostle Paul in his writings and epistles.

            Perhaps one of the awesome and incredible truths surrounding the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote from prison is that he did not view himself as a prisoner of man, nor did he view himself as being imprisoned by and according to the will of man. The apostle Paul was indeed a prisoner in the midst of Rome itself, and yet not once do you, nor will you ever find him referring to himself as a prisoner of man. That which we find within the prison epistles which were written by the apostle Paul is a powerful understanding that he was indeed a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is important for us to realize and understand, for it seems to suggest that if the apostle Paul was in prison for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of the name of Christ, it wasn’t man’s doing, nor was it man’s desire and intention, but it was the doing of the Lord. To write such epistles as those which were written unto the saints at Ephesus, the saints at Philippi, and now unto the saints which were at Colossae and speak of himself as a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ suggests that the apostle Paul was not his own, and that he did not belong to himself. The apostle Paul recognized and understood that he was indeed a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that it was the Lord Jesus Christ who would indeed permit and allow him to be a prisoner. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we do not miss and lose sight of this, for it calls our attention to how much control and how much authority we think we have within, over and upon our lives. For the apostle Paul to make the declaration and statement that he was the prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ is a powerful statement to his recognizing and understanding that his life was not his own, and that it was the Lord who had complete and utter authority and dominion over his life.

            I absolutely love reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote in these prison epistles, for the words and language we find within these epistles not only confronts the truth that the apostle Paul would suffer with Christ and would be a partaker in His sufferings—thus joining in the fellowship of His sufferings—but it also confronts the fact that the apostle Paul was indeed a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ rather than man. This truth appears to be directly linked and connected to the words which Jesus spoke concerning our not fearing, nor our being afraid of those who can kill the body—and even imprison us—but rather to fear Him who not only has the ability to destroy the body, but also has the ability to cast the soul into hell. Jesus prepared His disciples and His followers to be hated of all nations for the sake of His name, and for the sake of His gospel. Jesus prepared His disciples to be delivered up unto governors and unto kings and rulers, as well as to be scourged and persecuted by. We must make absolutely no mistake about it, for when reading the gospel narratives we find Jesus emphatically declaring that in this world we shall and we will have many trials, many troubles, and many tribulations, but to not fear, nor be overwhelmed, for He had overcome the world. When the apostle Paul wrote these epistles from prison in Rome he was indeed writing from a place of absolute and complete surrender before the Lord Jesus the Christ—and not only a place of complete and utter surrender before the Lord, but also from a place where he recognized and understood that whether in prison or in freedom his life did not belong to himself and belonged to the Lord. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must ask ourselves is whether or not we can serve the Lord Jesus Christ in prison as well and as much as we would in freedom. Are we able to serve and follow Christ as much in trial and tribulation as much as we are in peace and rest? Are we able to walk with and follow Christ as much in chains and bonds as much as we are moving freely about within and throughout our daily lives? I am absolutely and completely convinced that one of the greatest tests within our lives is whether or not we are able to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as freely in suffering as we are without, outside of and apart from suffering.

            Permit me to be bold here within this writing and ask you if you are able to glorify the living and eternal God in your suffering as much as you are in your peace and in your rest. One of the greatest challenges we face within this life is being able to serve the Lord with and through our suffering as much as we are able to serve the Lord through our times of quietness and relative calm. There are a number of men and women who are able to worship the Lord Jesus Christ when everything is going well within their lives, however, where the rubber meets the road is whether or not they are able to worship the Lord Jesus Christ when all hell is breaking loose against and upon their lives. What I so love and appreciate with the words the apostle Paul is that he was one who was absolutely willing to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in His sufferings as much as He was able to serve Him in his times of peace and prosperity. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this reality, for it is not only expressed in the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi, but it was also found in the words which he spoke unto the saints which were at Ephesus. You cannot read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi and not also be directly confronted with and by the words the apostle Paul wrote in the second epistle which was written unto Timothy who was his spiritual son in the faith. In fact, it’s actually quite interesting to read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture, for they bring us face to face with the tremendous reality that the apostle Paul was willing to glorify the Lord with his sufferings as much as he was willing to glorify the Lord with his peace and rest. The apostle Paul was willing to serve the Lord as much in his bonds and chains as he was in his afflictions—and not only this, but I would also argue that more often than not we serve the Lord Jesus Christ best within and through our sufferings.

            We would like to think that we serve the Lord Jesus Christ best during times of relative peace and rest, and yet the truth of the matter is that more often than not we serve the Lord best during times of intense suffering and persecution within our hearts and lives. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truth and reality, for it calls and brings our attention to the truly wonderful and powerful truth that there are times when we serve the Lord the best through our suffering and through our afflictions. I am absolutely amazed and captivated with and by the fact that although the apostle Paul was a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ in the city of Rome he was still concerned for the churches—and not only was he concerned for the churches, but he routinely and regularly made mention of them in his prayers before the Lord. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for it would be through these prison epistles the apostle Paul would glorify the Lord Jesus Christ whom he was not only willing to suffer with, but also suffer and die for. Oh I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly gripped and captivated by the fact that there is an intrinsic link between suffering with the Lord Jesus Christ, and our suffering for the Lord Jesus Christ. While there is indeed an apparent and intrinsic link between these two realities we must needs recognize that they are indeed and altogether different. We must needs recognize and understand that suffering with Christ literally means inviting Christ into our sufferings and walking with Christ within and through those sufferings. To suffer with Christ literally means we allow Christ to enter into our sufferings and to walk with us—and not only to walk with us, but to actually be touched with the feeling(s) of our infirmities and our sufferings. Perhaps one of the greatest truths we must needs recognize and understand is that we have indeed and have in fact been called to suffer with Christ—to invite Jesus the Christ into the midst of our sufferings and to allow Him to experience and walk in them with us. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we understand and come face to face with this truth within our hearts and lives, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that there is a great need to not only walk through our sufferings alone, but to actually walk in our sufferings with the Lord Jesus Christ—to truly suffer with Christ.

            As I sit here today I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that our suffering with Christ invites and allows Christ to enter into our sufferings—and not only to enter into our suffering, but also to walk with us as our great High Priest. I absolutely love what the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and how He is not a high priest who cannot be touched with and by the feeling of our infirmities, but can indeed and can in fact be touched with and by them, and can still feel the sorrow, the pain and the deep anguish that surrounds that suffering. Although  it is true that Jesus the Christ can no longer experience and feel the physical pain of our suffering we must needs recognize and understand that He can indeed and does in fact feel every ounce of the emotion(s), the feeling(s) and the thought(s) which are connected to our suffering and affliction. How absolutely wonderful and beautiful it is to think about and consider the fact that Jesus the Christ is not seated at the right hand of the Father now completely and utterly removed from our suffering, from our infirmities, from our afflictions, from our trials, from our troubles, and from our tribulations. In fact, what we find is that when writing unto the saints in Corinth the apostle Paul wrote unto them how the Lord Jesus appeared unto Him and declared unto Him that His strength was made perfect in his weakness, and that His grace was sufficient for him. Although Jesus would not deliver the apostle Paul from his suffering, he would indeed deliver the apostle Paul through his suffering, through his affliction, and through that which he faced within this life.

            I firmly believe with all my heart that one of the greatest truths we must needs encounter and come face to face within our hearts and lives is that we have great need to glorify the Lord Jesus through and in the midst of our suffering(s). The underlying question we must ask ourselves is how we indeed glorify the Lord Jesus through our suffering, and how He can indeed and can in fact be magnified within our suffering, within our affliction, and within our trial and trouble. There is not a doubt in my mind that we not only glorify the Lord within and through our sufferings when we choose to suffer with Christ rather than suffering without and apart from Christ, but we also choose to suffer with other brothers and sisters throughout the world who are experiencing the same afflictions within their lives as we ourselves are. It is truly something worth noting and pointing out when reading the epistles written by the apostle Paul that he sought to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ as much in his afflictions and bonds as he did in his freedom and liberty. For the apostle Paul there wasn’t one level of service before the Lord in suffering and affliction and another level of service before the Lord in freedom and liberty. For the apostle Paul there wasn’t one way to be a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ in bonds and chains and another way of being a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ outside of a dark prison cell. What we must needs recognize and understand when reading these words is that we must needs find this same place in Christ within our lives—that place where we can freely serve and walk with the Lord Jesus in our afflictions, in our chains, in our sufferings, in our bonds, in our trials, in our troubles, and in our tribulations. We must needs recognize and understand that there can be no distinction nor any differentiation between how we walk and live as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ in freedom and liberty and how we do so in suffering and affliction. There would be those who would think they can indeed and can in fact separate how they walk and live as disciples of the Lord Jesus the Christ in suffering versus in times of peace and prosperity, and yet the underlying truth of the matter is that this simply is not and must not be the case. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi, the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in the second epistle written unto him, as well as the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts:

            “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy and faith; that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again” (Philippians 1:12-26).

            “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:8-12).

            “Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangelth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:3-13).

            “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of knowing of whom that hast learned them” (2 Timothy 3:9-14).

            “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but also unto them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

            “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jeruslaem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:22-24).

            “…Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:11-13).

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found within these passages of Scripture, for these words bring us face to face with the awesome truth that the apostle Paul was indeed ready and willing to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ within, through and by his suffering(s). The apostle Paul counted not his life as so dear unto him that he was not willing to offer it up before and unto the Lord as a living sacrifice, which was holy and acceptable in His sight. The apostle Paul emphatically declared that he was ready to be poured out as a drink offering before the Lord, and to even give up his life if that was what the Lord required of him. Oh one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to serve the Lord as much within and through our death as we are within and through our life. There are those among us who think and believe that we can only serve the Lord Jesus the Christ through our life and not also through our death, and the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand we have not only been called to suffer with Christ, but we have also been called to suffer for Christ in this life—and not only this, but to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ through our sufferings. Perhaps the single greatest truth we must understand is that just as the Lord Jesus showed no distinction between how we love our neighbor and how we love our enemy, so also there is no distinction between our discipleship in liberty and freedom and that of bonds, chains and afflictions. There are those among us who would like to separate their discipleship before the Lord Jesus Christ in suffering from their discipleship in times of peace, blessing and prosperity, and yet the truth of the matter is this simply is not and must not be the case. There can and there should be no distinction made between how we live for and serve the Lord Jesus Christ in our suffering versus how we live for and serve the Lord in our freedom and liberty. I am absolutely convinced that what the world needs in the upcoming days we are about to face are those wo are not only willing to suffer with Christ, but those who are willing to endure suffering, hardship, trials, trouble and tribulation as a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more, is the world has a great need for men and women who are willing to suffer with Christ and who are willing to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ as freely and as passionately in their suffering as they do in their times of blessing, prosperity, peace and rest.

            I absolutely love the willingness of the apostle Paul to glorify the Lord Jesus through his suffering, and how he recognize and realized that his suffering wasn’t even about him. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible it is to reach the point where you understand that the suffering you face and experience has absolutely nothing to do with you, and isn’t even about or for you. What I so love about the writings of the apostle Paul is that not only was he willing to glorify the Lord within and through his sufferings, but he was also willing to encourage, strengthen and support the saints of God in Christ Jesus through and by His suffering. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and wonderful truth, for it brings us face to face with how we treat, how we view, and how we walk in the midst of suffering within our hearts and lives. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the absolutely awesome and powerful truth that there is a great need for good soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ in the upcoming days—those who are ready, willing and able to bear up under and in the midst of suffering without murmuring, without grumbling and without complaining. What’s more, is there is a great need for men and women who are able to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ within, through and by suffering. OH how imperative it is within our hearts and lives as saints and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ to recognize that there is a purpose in our suffering, and there is a purpose in our affliction, and a purpose in our bonds. We must needs recognize and understand that we have a great need to not only see Christ within our sufferings, but we must also be ready, willing and able to see the purpose within and behind the suffering(s) we face within this life. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing and remarkable reality, for it brings us face to face with one of the greatest needs in discipleship and walking as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

            As I read the words which are found in the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote while in prison I can’t help but be gripped and captivated with and by the awesome truth that when writing unto the saints which were at Philippi, and when writing unto the saints which were at Colossae the apostle Paul was sure to include Timothy in the opening and greeting of the epistle. This is something that is worth making not of and pointing out, for even when writing individual letters to Timothy the apostle Paul would write and make mention of how Timothy was witness to everything he experienced in Lystra, in Iconium, and in Antioch. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for with these words the apostle Paul reminds Timothy of everything that he witnessed, and everything he beheld within his life as a disciple, as a follower, and as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is truly something remarkable and necessary to call and draw our attention to the fact that here we have the apostle Paul writing unto specific churches from prison in the midst of Rome, and it would be as he wrote unto the churches there in Rome he would specifically mention Timothy as being with him. I am absolutely convinced there is something that so absolutely necessary when reading and considering these words, for what we find within these passages of Scripture is a powerful picture that despite everything Timothy witness and beheld within the life of the apostle Paul he continued to walk as a faithful disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was now the third epistle which we find written by the hand of the apostle Paul from prison in the city of Rome, and it would be the second epistle where we specifically find Timothy being mentioned in direct connection and relation to the apostle Paul. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how truly awesome and powerful this is, for it brings us face to face with the wonderful truth that Timothy witnessed and beheld the tremendous affliction, suffering, persecution and opposition the apostle Paul faced, and despite witnessing and beholding all of that he still continued to walk with the apostle Paul—and more importantly continuing to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ as a disciple.

            Upon reading the words which are found in the opening chapter of the epistle written unto the Colossian saints you will find the apostle Paul once more writing concerning his constant and continual making mention of the saints and churches in his prayers. It would be when writing unto the Philippian and Ephesian churches the apostle Paul would make mention of his prayers for them, and now here we find him once more writing from prison—and not only writing from prison, but also making these saints aware from the start how he prayed and interceded for them. Stop and consider how truly fascinating this is, for in the midst of and in spite of the suffering, the afflictions, the bonds, the trials, the troubles and the tribulations the apostle Paul faced there was nothing that could or would stop him from continuing to support and encourage the churches. What’s more, is that even though the apostle Paul was indeed in chains and in bonds there in the midst of the city of Rome he would still put the churches above himself—not only through writing epistles unto them, but also making mention of them in his prayers. It would be incredibly easy to think and consider that the epistles which the apostle Paul was the greatest gift and the greatest benefit that was afforded unto the churches, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. What we must needs recognize and understand is that the single greatest gift found within these epistles is not necessarily the theology that is contained them, but the prayers that are found within them. It would be very easy to think that the theology and the doctrine that was found within these epistles was indeed the greatest importance and necessity within the epistles, and yet the truth of the matter is that you can have all the theology and all the doctrine you want, and if there is no prayer or intercession connected to it you might have and hold your theology and doctrine in vain.

            THEOLOGY ABSENT PRAYER! DOCTRINE APART FROM PRAYER! THE GREATEST GIFT THE APOSTLE PAUL GAVE UNTO AND OFFERED THESE SAINTS WAS NOT NECESSARILY THE DOCTRINE AND THEOLOGY, BUT RATHER THE PRAYER(S) AND INTERCESSION(S) HE OFFERED UP FOR THEM The more I read the words which are found within these prison epistles the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous importance that while the letters which were sent by the apostle Paul unto these churches contained a tremendous amount of theology and doctrine, there was something else that was of greater value and more importance to and for these saints. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible truth, for more often than not we think that our theology and our doctrine is the most beneficial and that which is most necessary unto the brethren and the churches. The truth of the matter, however, is that found within these letters is something the apostle Paul would and could offer them that was not readily experienced, heard or felt by them, but something that was just as important and necessary. I read the words which are found within these epistles and I can’t help but be drawn into the awesome truth that although the apostle Paul would and could not be present with these churches in physical body and form he could minister unto them from a distance—not only with his pen and his words, but also with his prayers. I would dare say that the words which the apostle Paul wrote within these epistles would not have as much weight, significance and meaning for these churches were it not for the knowledge and understanding that the apostle Paul prayed and was praying for them. If we are truly willing to be honest with ourselves and with the Lord we must needs admit that there are times when the greatest thing anyone can offer us is their prayers and their intercession. There are times when that which is most needed and that which is most beneficial is not necessarily words, but rather prayers. With this being said, however, I feel it absolutely necessary to declare that I am in no way suggesting that the words which are found within these letters has no weight or value, and was somehow insignificant.

            When I write and make the declaration that more often than not the greatest gift, the greatest work and the greatest ministry we can do for others is prayer I am stating that it was the prayers which the apostle Paul prayed for these saints and for these churches that gave weight and stood as the foundation for the theology and doctrine he would present unto them. If and as you read the words which are found within these epistles you will notice that the apostle Paul did not and would not even begin writing concerning the theology, the doctrine and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ without first confirming, affirming, and declaring unto them how much he devoted and committed himself to them in prayers. As we read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture we must needs encounter and come face to face with the fact that at the very heart of the gospel which the apostle Paul preached was Christ and Christ crucified, but at the very heart of his epistles was that of prayer and intercession. There is not a doubt in my mind that you cannot and must not seek to understand the epistles and writings of the apostle Paul without and apart from first understanding them in light of the prayers which he was willing to pray for them. I would argue and contend that the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches did not and would not have as much weight and meaning without and apart from that which he was willing to pray for and on their behalf. We must needs pay close attention to this and consider it very carefully, for it brings us face to face with the undeniable truth that at the very heart of the words which the apostle Paul would write unto the saints and the brethren was a heart of prayer. Even if the words which the apostle Paul wrote were weighty and heavy he would not write them without and apart from a heart of prayer and intercession for and on behalf of the churches. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found in the following verses beginning to read with and from the third verse:

            “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth. As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declare unto us your love in the Spirit” (Colossians 1:3-8).

            “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 joyfulness; giving thank 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: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature; for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by him, and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:9-20).

            SINCE WE HEARD OF YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS, AND OF THE LOVE WHICH YE HAVE TO ALL THE SAINTS! SINCE THE DAY WE HEARD IT! WHAT IS BEING HEARD CONCERNING YOU? WHAT IS THE REPORT THAT IS BEING SPREAD ABOUT YOU? WHAT IS YOUR TESTIMONY AMONG THE BRETHREN? WHAT IS YOUR TESTIMONY AMONG THE SAINTS? ARE YOU WELL SPOKEN OF BY THE BRETHREN? ARE YOU WELL SPOKEN OF BY THE DISCIPLES OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST? [WHO HATH BELIEVED OUR REPORT?] WHAT TESTIMONY DO YOU HAVE IN THE EARTH? WHAT TESTIMONY DO YOU HAVE AMONG THE GENTILES? WHAT IS YOUR WITNESS LIKE OUTSIDE THE FOUR WALLS OF THE CHURCH? WHAT IS YOUR WITNESS LIKE WITHIN THE FOUR WALLS OF THE CHURCH? THE WITNESS OF FAITH AND THE TESTIMONY OF LOVE! [SINCE WE HEARD OF YOUR FAITH AND YOUR LOVE] BY THIS SHALL ALL MEN KNOW THAT YE ARE MY DISCIPLES, IF YE LOVE ONE ANOTHER! THE REPORT AND RUMOR OF LOVE! THE REPORT AND RUMOR OF FAITH! WHAT IS BEING SAID CONCERNING YOUR LOVE? WHAT IS BEING SAID CONCERNING YOUR FAITH? IS YOUR LOVE OF SUCH A NATURE THAT IT’S BEING TALKED ABOUT AMONG THE BRETHREN? IS YOUR FAITH OF SUCH A CALIBER THAT IT’S BEING TALKED ABOUT AMONG THE CHURCHES? (WHEN SINNERS AND SAINTS ALIKE SPEAK ABOUT YOUR FAITH! WHEN SINNERS AND SAINTS ALIKE SPEAK ABOUT YOUR LOVE!) HOW INCREDIBLY INTERESTING IT IS THAT THE REPORT CONCERNING THE COLOSSIAN SAINTS WOULD INSPIRE PRAYER AND INTERCESSION WITHIN THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE APOSTLE PAUL! THE APOSTLE PAUL WOULD HEAR THE RUMOR AND REPORT OF THEIR FAITH AND LOVE, AND IT WOULD COMPEL HIM TO PRAY FOR AND SEEK THE FACE OF THE LIVING GOD AND OF HIS CHRIST CONCERNING THESE SAINTS! THE APOSTLE PAUL WOULD HEAR THE REPORT CONCERNING THE SAINTS OF GOD IN COLOSSAE AND IT WOULD THRUST HIM INTO THE PRAYER CLOSET! I HEAR THIS ABOUT YOU, BUT MY PRAYER IS MORE! MY PRAYER IS INCREASE! YOU HAVE THIS, BUT MY PRAYER IS THAT YOU EXPERIENCE SO MUCH MORE!

            The more I read the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth of just what was being said concerning the church which was at Colossae. It is as you read the words which are found within the opening chapter of the book you will be brought face to face with the tremendous truth of that which the apostle Paul had heard—and not only that which the apostle Paul had heard, but also that which the apostle Paul was hearing concerning this particular congregation. Within the opening chapter of this prison epistle you will find the apostle Paul writing concerning how report concerning this church and congregation had reached him all the way in the city of Rome, and how it was reported concerning this particular congregation of their faith in Christ Jesus, as well as the love which they had to all the saints. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly awesome and powerful truth, for it is something quite astonishing to think about that which is found written concerning this congregation, for the apostle Paul had not only heard of their faith—for the just shall live by faith, and faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, and without faith it is impossible to please God. The apostle Paul was a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ in the city of Rome, and yet even there in that prison cell he would hear reports concerning this congregation and how they had wholeheartedly given and devoted themselves to faith, to trust, to confidence and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul would hear of their faith in Christ Jesus, and how it would be that faith in Christ Jesus that would lead them to and would produce within them the love which they had to all the saints. Oh please don’t miss the awesome and incredible truth surrounding these two statements, for these are essentially the core of the gospel—and not only the core of the gospel, but also the core of our relationship and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. If you were to be truly honest with yourself and with the Lord you would have to admit that the greatest necessity within your heart and within mine is an unwavering and unshakeable faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is evidenced and manifested in the opening chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John, for the apostle John wrote how as many as believed in the Lord Jesus Christ it was given unto them the Lord gave them power to become sons of God. It would be their belief that would be the foundation and the catalyst of their becoming sons of God in the earth.

            I find it absolutely astonishing and remarkable when reading the words which are found within the opening chapter of the epistle written unto the Colossian saints, for what we find here is the foundation of them as a church and as a body of believers. It is both necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to these two manifestations within their hearts, within their souls, and within their lives, for that which propelled them to live godly within the earth was indeed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it would be that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that would enable them to possess a love which they would demonstrate and manifest toward all the saints. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand just how incredibly important this truly is, for I am convinced that the foundation of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and the foundation of our walking with Him as a disciple and follower is our trust, our belief, and our confidence in Him. He who is truly a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ is one who truly believes in and believes upon Him. When writing unto the saints which were at Corinth the apostle Paul wrote and spoke of faith, hope and love, and how the greatest of these was love, however, what we must needs recognize and understand is that at the very heart of our love for the saints is an underlying faith and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. He who loves well and he who loves much is one who believes much and believes most in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must needs recognize and pay close attention to this, for at the very heart of our love for the saints—and not only our love for the saints, but even the love we have for our neighbors, as well as our enemies—is a true, a genuine, an authentic and powerful belief and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh that we would truly recognize and understand this truth, for we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the awesome truth that at the very heart, at the very core, and at the very foundation of our love for the saints and our love for others is the belief we have in the Lord Jesus Christ.

            If you continue reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints and church which was in Colossae you will find that while it was true he heard of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and while it was true that he heard of their love for the saints in all places, there was so much more that was available unto them. Upon reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that the foundation of their walk with the Lord Jesus Christ was indeed their faith in Christ and their love for the saints, however, there would be so much more that would be built upon that foundation of faith and love. As you continue reading the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring unto them that it was for this reason and for this cause he ceased not to make mention of them in his prayers both night and day—and not only pray for them, but desiring them that they would be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. What’s more, is as you continue reading you will find the apostle Paul also praying for them that they might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing—and not only walking worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, but also being fruitful in every good work. Moreover, the apostle Paul would go on to write concerning them and how he prayed that they would be increased and would continue increasing in the knowledge of God, and that that they would be strengthened with all might. FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL! WALK WORTHY OF THE LORD UNTO ALL PLEASING! FRUITFUL IN EVERY GOOD WORK! INCREASING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD! STRENGTEHENED WITH ALL MIGHT! OH please don’t miss the wonderful truth that is found within these verses, for while their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and while their love for the saints was indeed the foundation of their walk and journey with the Lord Jesus Christ, they would be the catalyst that would lead to so much more being manifested within and among them in this life. We dare not and must not miss that which is found here, for the apostle Paul heard one thing concerning these dear saints and fellow brethren in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it would be that report which would be heard concerning them that would propel him to pray that their walk and relationship with the Lord would indeed increase in greater measure.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the truly amazing words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the truly wonderful truth that the apostle Paul diligently prayed for these saints and prayed for these believers—and prayed that they would be filled, that they would be increased, that they would be strengthened, that they would walk worthy of the Lord, and that the would be fruitful. There is not a doubt in my mind, nor any doubt within my heart that their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ would catapult and launch them into a place where they would faithfully and wholeheartedly love the saints and the brethren, and it would be upon this foundation the apostle Paul would pray that this would be but the beginning and the foundation that was present within their hearts and lives. The apostle Paul continually prayed that their relationship, their walk, their journey and their fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ would increase in even greater measure—not only in knowledge of the will of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also being fruitful in every good work. Not only this, but the apostle Paul would also pray for them that they would walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing. Oh please catch that which the apostle Paul was writing and speaking unto the saints which were at Colossae, for that which the apostle Paul prayed for them was that they would know the will of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they would walk worthy of the Lord according to the knowledge of his will, and that as they walked worthy of the Lord in the earth they would please Him. What’s more, is that not only would the apostle Paul pray that they would know the will of the Father and of his Christ, but in knowing that will they would walk worthy of the Lord according to that will. Oh dear saint please recognize and please understand this, for there is an intrinsic link and connection between our knowledge of the will of the Father and our walking worthy of the Lord, for we dare not think we can walk worthy of the Lord without and apart from our knowing the will of the Father in this life. Not only this, but we must also understand and recognize that directly linked to this walking worthy of the Lord is the manifestation of bringing pleasure to the Father as we please Him in all things—and not just pleasing Him, but also being fruitful in every good work.

            WALKING WORTHY OF THE LORD UNTO ALL PLEASING! BEING FRUITFUL IN EVERY GOOD WORK! ALL PLEASING, EVERY GOOD WORK! Oh we must needs pay close attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for when we speak about knowing the will of the LORD within and for our lives we must needs recognize and understand that our knowledge of the will of the Father is more than simply a mental assent and acknowledgement of knowing that will, but it actually carries with it responsibility to what we know within our hearts and our spirits. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand that to the degree and measure we know the will of the Father we must needs respond to that knowledge—not only by walking worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, but also that we would be fruitful in every good work. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must ask ourselves is not necessarily whether or not we know the will of the Father, for mere knowledge of the will of the Father is not enough. It is not enough to merely state that we know the divine will of the Father if we are not willing to walk worthy of the LORD in all pleasing and in everything we do. What’s more, is that our knowledge of the will of the Father is the very foundation of our being fruitful in every good work which we endeavor to take upon ourselves within this earth. What we must needs recognize when reading these words is that not only did the apostle Paul mention walking worthy of the LORD unto pleasing and pleasure, but rather the apostle Paul made mention of them walking worthy of the Lord unto and in all pleasing and pleasure. Not only this, but the apostle Paul would go on to write unto them concerning their being fruitful in every good work. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of what is being written and spoken here unto these saints which are found in Colossae, for it serves as a foundation for our own walk and relationship with the Lord. It is truly something worth noting and pointing out that we have not only been called to fruitful in a work, nor even fruitful in some works, but being fruitful in every work. What’s more, is that we have been called to be fruitful in every “good” work. Oh that we would recognize and understand that there is a vast difference between those works which we think we ought to engage ourselves in and those works which are good and pleasing in the sight of the living God. The apostle Paul prayed for these saints that they would walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing in everything they did—and not only that they would walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, but also that they would be fruitful in every good work.

            As you continue reading the words which are found within the words which the apostle Paul prayed for these saints you will find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring concerning them the reality and manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ, for he would go on to write of that great work the Lord Jesus did within them, and how they were made to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, how they were delivered from the power of darkness, and how they were translated into the kingdom of the eternal Son of the Father. What’s more, is the apostle Paul would also go on to write and reveal unto these saints how they in Christ they had redemption through His blood, and even the forgiveness of sins. This is truly necessary and important for us to realize and recognize, for the apostle Paul would write and speak unto them concerning who they are in Christ, and what Christ did for them, however, the apostle Paul would go on to write and speak concerning Christ. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints of Colossae in this particular epistle it’s that he sought to continue to reveal unto them the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and reveal unto them who Jesus Christ truly was. You cannot read the words which are found in the opening chapters of this epistle and not be brought face to face with the wonderful truth concerning Jesus the Christ, and how even from a prison cell in the city of Rome the apostle Paul would continue to teach concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Although he could not be with them in physical form and person as he would preach concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, he would and he could write unto them concerning the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh it is absolutely critical that we recognize and understand this particular truth concerning the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, for one of the greatest needs we have within our hearts and our lives is our knowledge of and our knowledge concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul wrote concerning their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as concerning their love for all the saints, and the truth and ultimate reality is that these saints would have a deep and abiding knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot read the words which are found within this epistle and not only encounter two realities concerning the Lord Jesus Christ in direct relation to these saints—the first being that which the Lord Jesus Christ did for them through His blood and through His cross, and the second being who the Lord Jesus Christ is. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the opening chapters of this epistle beginning to read with and from the twelfth verse of the first chapter:

            “…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: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead: that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:12-20).

            “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:8-15).

            As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in this second chapter, for the words which we find here in the second chapter serve as a strong and powerful warning and word of caution unto us as the saints of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of God the Father. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the words you find in the second chapter of this New Testament epistle are absolutely necessary for us within these days and within this generation, for while I am absolutely convinced that while we are going to enter into a period of intense suffering and persecution in the coming days, I am also convinced that there is a great need to guard our hearts and our minds against all manner of deception that is already swirling all around us in this world—and not only in the midst of the world, but also in the midst of many of our churches and Christian circles. We must not be so naïve to think and consider that there are not dangers and threats from false teachers, from false preachers, from false apostles, and even from false brethren which can and will seek to creep in among us that they might destroy us from within. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the words which the apostle Paul wrote and spoke unto the Colossian saints, for the words which we find in this second chapter stand and serve as a powerful warning and word of caution unto us in this life. I am absolutely and completely convinced that two of the greatest tools of the enemy and adversary in the last days leading up to the glorious appearing and returning of the Lord Jesus Christ are rampant and widespread deception, and intense persecution. You cannot read the words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and not encounter and come face to face with Jesus’ words and warning concerning the last days and how those days are going to be filled with deception, with persecution, with the love of many waxing cold, with betrayal, with offense, and with all manner of evil that can and will seek to destroy the saints of the most High God. Oh if we are going to continue walking in the days in which we are living we must needs recognize that as much as we need endurance to bear up under and in the midst of suffering and persecution we also need discernment to know and understand that which is false, and that which is not of God. It would be these realities that would even be expressed when speaking unto the seven churches in Asia, for if you consider the letters which were sent unto the seven churches in Asia you will find the Lord Jesus Christ calling them into a place of overcoming (endurance) and hearing what the Spirit is speaking unto the churches (discernment). With this in mind I leave you with the following words which are found in the second chapter concerning this strong and powerful warning that is so absolutely critical in the days in which we are living:

            “…And this I say, lest any man should BEGUILE YOU WITH ENTICING WORDS. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rotted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:4-7).

            “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain decet, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:8-15).

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bangs having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the ruidements of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh” (Colossians 2:16-23).

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