Thursday, October 02, 2014

A Prayer For The Saints

September 28, 2014Colossians 1:11-14
A Prayer for the Saints

Intro.: Oswald Smith

The year was 1920. The scene was the examining board for selecting missionaries. Standing before the board was a young man named Oswald Smith. One dream dominated his heart. He wanted to be a missionary. Over and over again, he prayed, “Lord, I want to go as a missionary for you. Open a door of service for me.” Now, at last, his prayer would be answered.
When the examination was over, the board turned Oswald Smith down. He did not meet their qualifications. He failed the test. Oswald Smith had set his direction, but now life gave him a detour. What would he do? As Oswald Smith prayed, God planted another idea in his heart. If he could not go as a missionary, he would build a church which could send out missionaries. And that is what he did. Oswald Smith pastored The People’s Church in Toronto, Canada, which sent out more missionaries than any other church at that time. Oswald Smith brought God into the situation, and God transformed his detour into a main thoroughfare of service.i
  1. During the next few minutes I want to spend a few minutes speaking about a prayer – a specific prayer.
  2. Let me read to you a passage from the book of Colossians that includes Paul's prayer for that local church.
Read: Colossians 1:9-14


Trans: I sometimes like to read prayers.
  1. Most often this will be the short prayers found at the bottom of the page of a devotional.
  2. But sometimes I like to thumb through a book of classic prayers from some of the world's great believers – men like Augustine, St. Francis, John Calvin, John Wesley, or Billy Graham.
  3. Many believers have said they would like to have heard Jesus, Peter or Paul preach. But it would have been awesome to hear them pray as well.
  4. We can't hear them pray, but they have been kind enough to include some of their prayers in their letters to the churches.
  5. Such is the case for the passage we just read.
  6. Colossae
    1. was a small agricultural village in what is now Southwestern Turkey. As best we can tell, Paul never had the chance to visit, though he writes to Philemon a bit later that he really would like to.
    2. Their major commodity were the unique woolen textiles that came from the region.
    3. The town no longer exists, but archaeologists have discovered ruins that are certainly part of the infrastructure that was part of the community.
    4. But to Paul it was not the agriculture or the textiles that made Colossae stand out – rather it was there faith.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
    1. So as we open up Colossians 1:9-14, we look at Paul's prayer for this group of Christians
    2. let's see what it can teach us

T.S. Let's look at the three main parts of Paul's sermon.

  1. Part 1 of the prayer – asking God to fill the church with His will
(Ill.)     David Slagle, a pastor in Atlanta, GA, told the story of a friend of his. few years ago, I got a call from a girl in my church who said her car had broken down and left her stranded about two miles from the office. So I drove over there and found her leaning against her car, looking flustered.

            I asked what happened.

            “Well, I was just driving down the road, and the car quit running,” she said.

            “Could you be out of gas?” I asked.

            “No, I just filled it up.”

            Well, that one question pretty well exhausted my automotive diagnostic abilities, but I persisted. “What happened? Did it make any noise?”

            “Oh, yeah,” she replied. “As I was driving down the hill, it went brump, brump, brump, POW!”

            I asked, “When was the last time you changed the oil?”

            She said, “Oil?” As it turned out, she had owned the car for a year and a half and had never changed the oil.
    1. Just as our cars need to be kept full of oil, we too need to be full.
    2. Normally we think of the word “full” when we speak of the Holy Spirit
    3. But here Paul's prayer is that the church will be full of God's will
    4. My prayer for you, as was Paul's for the church at Colossae, is
that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
  1. Paul also wants the Colossian church to experience God's power – all of it.
(Ill.) Are You At Wit's End Corner?ii

Are you standing at “Wits End Corner”
Christian, with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?

Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember at Wits End Corner
Is where God’s power is shown.

Are you standing at “Wits End Corner”
Blinded with wearying pain
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain.

Bruised through the constant suffering
Dizzy and dazed, and numb
Remember at Wits End Corner,
Is where Jesus loves to come.

Are you standing at “Wits End Corner”
Your work before you spread.
Or lying begun, unfinished
And pressing on heart and head.

Longing for strength to do it.
Stretching out trembling hands
Remember at “Wits End Corner”
The burden bearer stand.

Are you standing at “Wits End Corner”
Yearning for those you love,
Longing and praying and watching,
Pleading their cause above,

Trying to lead them to Jesus
Wondering if you’ve been true?
He whispers at “Wits End Corner”
I’ll win them as I won you.”

Are you standing at “Wits End Corner”
Then you’re just in the very spot.
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who faileth not!

No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved
But only at Wits End Corner
Is the God who is able, “proved.”

    1. Paul said it this way:May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
    2. And that is my prayer for you as well.
  1. The third part of Paul's prayer is a prayer of thanks
      giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
    1. And it seems to me that this is where this morning's hymn comes in.
    2. Charles Wesley is saying thank you for all that God has done:
(Ill.)     The hymn that we know as Amazing Love or And Can It Be was written by the prolific hymn composer Charles Wesley. I read varying accounts to the number of songs attributed to him, but it appears to be well over 5000.

            Charles and his brother John were both ordained ministers and founded a holy group called "The Methodists" because of their methods of rising early and strict Bible study. Yet they were both caught in the trap of legalism. A mission trip to the American colony of Georgia proved to be disastrous and Charles came home broken and ill. After his return, both he and his brother made the acquaintance of Moravian Peter Bohler, who urged Charles to look more deeply at the state of his soul and who taught them about true evangelical Christianity.

            In May of 1738, once again ill, Charles read Martin Luther's book on Galatians and was convicted. He wrote, "At midnight I gave myself to Christ, assured that I was safe, whether sleeping or waking. I had the continual experience of His power to overcome all temptation, and I confessed with joy and surprise that He was able to do exceedingly abundantly for me above what I can ask or think."

            He also journaled, "I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ. I saw that by faith I stood." Two days later he began writing a hymn that many believe to be And Can It Be (Amazing Love). The hymn's words bear this theory out, especially the words of verse four.

            Let me add one more fact about this hymn – it is said that “And Can It Be” is also known as Billy Graham's favorite hymn. Perhaps it is yours as well.
    1. As we sing our final hymn, we, too, need to be thankful for what God has done for us when He sent His son to the cross.


i Brian L. Harbour, "Rising Above the Crowd" quoted in Galaxie Software. (2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.Page 3. Exported from Logos Bible Software, 7:46 PM September 26, 2014.

ii Galaxie Software. (2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.

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