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Colossians 1:1-15

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Colossians 1:1-23

Walk worthy of the Lord…that seemed like a good working title. It is what is printed in your bulletins, But, he more I say it, the more unattainable it feels. Understand when I chose it, I had been examining, really immersing myself in the prayer Paul prayed for these guys, and part of that prayer is found in verse 10 Col 1:10
Colossians 1:10 NKJV
10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
That is a cool prayer, and it is my prayer for you and for me, but I thought as a title, it was a little intimidating, and also gave a sense of being able to walk worthy of the Lord as in I deserve or have earned what I have received from God. So, new title, something way easier for us, not to lower the bar too much, but I have changed the title to

Colossians 1:1-23

Much easier task ahead of us this morning, I hope you are all now much more comfortable. Just so I know that we’re communicating and on the same page…how many of you in our audience this morning have ever asked either of these two questions, “How do I know God’s will for my life, or… How do I know God’s will for this decision I have to make?
OK, the majority of you have asked the question, I’m confident that if you’ve asked the question, you all know the answer, so this should be an easy passage for us to go through, and Growth Group homework should be a breeze. Let’s pray…and lets pray for the brand new Christian, or maybe the folks that are joining us on line that don’t know the will of God in every little nook and cranny of their lives...
I’m glad Pastor Jim is in the book of Philippians at the same time we are in Colossians, not just because he covered all the hard parts about the theology concerning the Preeminence of Christ that I was going to talk about today, but because the two letters are written to two very different audiences. The city of Philippi was a Roman colony, in many ways it was considered a miniature of Rome, very culturally advanced, especially in comparison to the other ancient city around it. Paul planted the church there, spent time there, we know of at least two confirmed visits there and there were probably more.
The Letter that we are beginning this morning was written to the church of Jesus Christ in Colossae, to a church that Paul did not plant, and we find out latter in the letter that Paul had never even been to. And if you turn to your maps in your bible, if you have some of Paul’s missionary journey’s, or maybe a big blown up one of Asia Minor, you probably won’t see the city of Colossae. If you look on the map at what is now modern day Turkey, there is a section of the land on those Bible maps called, fri·jee·uh, Spelled Phrygia.
What I love about that, is that this little church mattered to Paul, and more significantly, mattered to God so much so that the letter has been retained in Scripture throughout the ages. Thee most super simple outline I can give to the book is that the first two chapters cover doctrine, and the last two, chapters 3 and 4 are all about practical living in light of that doctrine.
Pastor Jim talked some about the theology and deity of Jesus Christ. God becoming man or what theologians call the incarnation. What we need to understand is that in the incarnation, there is no loss of deity, only the addition of humanity. In the incarnation, there is no loss of deity, only the addition of humanity. Jesus was no less God when He walked on the earth. 100 Percent God, and 100 Percent man. You say, your math doesn’t add up pastor, and I say I know. I know the truth of what God said and did, I don’t know how He did it other than He is God.
So, Pastor Jim also talked about something called the Kenosis. Or the “self-emptying” of Jesus, or probably better described as his setting aside his heavenly privileges like veiling His glory, it’s different than setting aside His deity or His Godliness, Jesus did not do that. Always remember Biblical theology tells us that in the incarnation there was no loss of deity, only the addition of humanity. Philippians emphasizes the Kenosis, or the self-emptying of Jesus to come and be the servant King to mankind.
Colossians emphasizes what theologians call the Plee-Rome-a (Pleroma) Meaning that in Jesus we have the totality and fullness of the Godhead in Jesus Christ. In chapter 2:9 we read…Col 2:9
Colossians 2:9 NKJV
9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
For for a tiny little letter, to a tiny little church that Paul never even went to, there is some huge theology here. Rather than get bogged down in it for our Sunday morning Studies, we will hit the issues as they come, why we try to emphasis what it means for us today. One other thing of importance to mention is what some of you may have heard referred to as the Colossian Heresy.
There is all kinds of speculation on what exactly that was. Many say it was Gnosticism. I won’t go into detail on what that was, but think of it as a separation of flesh and spirit. The flesh is bad and the spirit is good, the flesh is separate from the spirit, so it doesn’t matter what evil you do in the flesh, it is inconsequential in the spirit world. It is a lie from Hell. Some put a twist on it in a form called Christian Gnosticism, it is just a bigger and more deceptive lie from Hell.
Truthfully, we really have no idea what the deal was in Colossae, we know there was some theology that was messed up, probably some form of mysticism, and or legalistic Judaism trying to be blended with Christianity, all we have here is the solution, not the problem.
The Apostle Paul thought it serious enough to address and clarify Christian doctrine, so that is what we have here.
So, beginning in verse one with Paul’s greeting to the church. Col 1:1-2
Colossians 1:1–2 NKJV
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul, never having been to this church begins with giving the authority under which he writes, he is an apostle of Jesus Christ, not by election of man, but by the will of God, and Timothy, a young Pastor they had probably met or were familiar with as it is likely that Timothy had visited the church. To the Saints and faithful brethren, grace and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…as an apostle, Paul is a spokesman for God and give a greeting from God. Leading us into verse 3…Col 1:3
Colossians 1:3 NKJV
3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
Now, again, I don’t want to get buried in the weeds here, but when you consider the theology of this letter and the issue that may have been at hand, Paul is dropping a sledge hammer that could easily be missed here in that he is giving thanks for them directly to God the Father, the Gnostics didn’t believe that you could address God the Father directly, so as he’s greeting them, he’s also tweaking some of them a little bit, doing this as an apostle by the will of God. But notice how much this little church matters to Paul, he doesn’t just say, hey I heard things were a little bit of a mess over there.
He says, we give thanks for you and we are praying for you always. Why is Paul so thankful for this little church he has never been to? Look at verse 4 with me. Col 1:4-8
Colossians 1:4–8 (NKJV)
4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints;
5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,
6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;
7 as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf,
8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.
Your faith in Christ Jesus, a genuine faith in Jesus should result in a genuine love for all the saints.
Now in verse 9 we come to what I want to focus on for us today. Paul begins to tell them about his prayers for them…Col 1:9
Colossians 1:9 NKJV
9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
He says we do not cease to pray for you and ask that you won’t need the armor of God to stand in the battle....I don’t cease to pray for you that you won’t have any problems, any ailments, and all elections would go exactly as you want them to. No, Paul asks God that they may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding! In verse 10 Paul tells them why? Or he begins explains to them if they can know God’s will experientially, and walk in His will, then there are four things that they can expect to see in their lives.
The first one, verse 10 Col 1:10
Colossians 1:10 NKJV
10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
That you may walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in every way. If I am a follower of the Lord, shouldn’t that be the goal? That someday when we are face to face with Him we hear Him say, this is my son, or this is my daughter in whom I am well pleased? Well done good and faithful servant? That’s what I want to hear!
Then the second part of this verse, says, that we would be fruitful in every good work. That good stuff would happen because Jesus saved you. That our lives will have mattered, that fruit will have been established. That the Kingdom of God will have grown, and be blessed, because of the work that we do as a result of knowing the will of God and walking in it.
The last part of our verse increasing or growing in the knowledge of God. See there is a cyclical component to this…the more I walk in God’s will, the more I know God and His will. I know it sounds like I got the cart before the horse there, but ask God reveals His will to us, and we then walk in it or obey it, do what He is telling us to do, then the next step comes. When God reveals a little bit of His will to us, and we don’t move, or don’t do because we want to know the plan from beginning to end, He often times doesn’t give us the next play. Why would He, when we haven’t obeyed what he has given to us.
I used an example of a parent and a child a few weeks ago, where the child continued to violate curfew over and over again and then is asking the parent where they should take the car tonight, to a party down at the beach that will go late, or to an after hours concert in across the state line…the answer is what car, you aren’t getting any car…in the same why would God continue to reveal His will when we have ignored what He has already given us. For example 1 Thes 4:3
1 Thessalonians 4:3 NKJV
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;
You don’t abstain from sexual immorality in all of it’s various forms, why would you expect God to reveal more of His will to you?
So the Key to knowing God’s will is walking in what He has already revealed to us, particularly in His Word, and obeying it, or walking in it. I know that might sound simple. But the secret to knowing God, is not studying theology, or and listen to all of what I say, before you flip out by what I say. The secret to knowing God is knowing His will and walking in it, and in that often through His Word, He reveals more and more of Himself to us. It is not just in becoming a Bible Scholar. I’m a fan of studying the Bible, I’m working on a Masters Degree in Biblical Studies and theology, but you need to know that there have been several Bible scholars that know all kinds of things about the Bible, but they wouldn’t know God, from a hole in the wall.
The key to knowing God is knowing His will and walking in it, and as we do, He reveals more and more of Himself to us. I said there was four, again
That they would walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him.
2. That we would be Fruitful in every good work.
3. That we would be increasing in the knowledge of God.
Verse 11… Col 1:11
Colossians 1:11 NKJV
11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;
That we would be strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy. So Paul’s prayer, for this little church with some kind of messed up theology or heresy was just that they would know God’s will. Because if they could just know God’s will, then they will see these four things occurring in their lives and everything else will work itself out.
So if Paul thought it was important for this little church to know God’s will, and God chose to include this in our Bibles, so that on October 9th, 2022, our little church in Old Town Maine to turn to this page and read it, it is probably just as important for us.
So what I want to look at today is how do we know God’s will. AND as a foundation for you new Christians and as a reminder to you old Christians, and as just some practical advice to any of you that have ever asked How do I know God’s will for this decision and not received a perfect and complete answer to your question, lets start with this. Three things you should know about discovering God’s will.
Here’s the first one and now, all the x’s and o’s on my slide will make better sense.
God’s will is more like a game plan than a blue print. Now you might remember, a couple of weeks ago when I was teaching through Ephesians chapter 5, I said more than once, that this is God’s blueprint for marriage. He gives us specific instructions on the roles of the husband and his responsibilities and He gives us specific instructions for the wives.
When we were first starting the church, for several years I worked for Nicole’s father in his electrical business. One of my responsibilities was to bid on jobs for the company. As a part of that process, I would get a copy of the blueprints, or the design that was drawn up by an engineer or maybe several engineers in a firm, and along with those blueprints would be a booklet, of even greater detail called the specifications.
If we were bidding on doing the electrical work on a new school building. I couldn’t look at the blue prints and just count up the rooms and say, it looks like there are 27 different rooms in this school. Kid’s go to school in the winter in Maine, it seems like it’s dark all winter, so each room should have a light. So we need 27 lights, the teacher might want to plug in a computer or an overhead projector, so we need 27 receptacles, and that should do it.
No, I would have to look at those plans and read the specifications, look at the lighting control systems, the interior lights, the poles in the parking area, and bid that job fully in accordance to the blue prints and the specifications. Some of us look at the will of God like that, like it is a blue print, with no margins whatsoever. It’s God’s will that I marry this person, it’s God’s will that I work at this place in this position, that I order this for lunch, that I turn right at this intersection, and that I never own a cat.
One of the problems with this type of thinking, when we believe that God’s will is drawn out like blue prints and specifications is that we pray and pray and pray for all the details, God doesn’t reveal them all to us, and we do what? Nothing, nothing at all. We get stuck in analysis paralysis. God, my old car no longer works, I have to work, you’ve given me the financial ability to get a new car, but you haven’t told me what color, or if I should buy, or lease. What size engine, heated seats or not? See that is thinking of God’s will as a blue print rather than a game plan.
How is a game plan different than a blue print. Well with a game plan, there are lots of different options within the rules of the game. I’ve got x’s and O’s on our screens so lets use football as and example. If you are a football team and you’ve got a strong defense and you are facing a really tough opponent, you will study your opponent and might decide that for a game plan you are going to run the ball a lot. You want to try to stop the opposing team as much as possible, but by running the ball you can take time off the clock and just make slow steady progress all game.
That is the game plan…but then what happens when you lose the coin toss, you have to kick and the opposite team gets the ball and runs it all the way back to a touchdown? You get the ball and on second down, you run the ball and it is fumbled, and the other team picks the ball up and runs it back for another touchdown. Not looking good.
You run the ball on your next possession and you lose yardage, they kick a field goal because you never got out of your end of the field. Next possession your fullback fumbles on the hand off and they score again. 10 minutes into the first quarter and they are up 24 to nothing, what do you do now? Shut off the Patriots game right? Just kidding, you change the game plan. It’s time to throw the ball and get some points on the board, call a different play. Stay within the rules, but change the game plan.
Most of the time, God’s will works a whole lot more like a game plan than a blue print. Now there is the exception to the rule when God gives a very specific blue print, or calls a specific play. For example, I know the Lord has called me to be a pastor/teacher, there are thousands of churches that I could work at in this world, but I know that God has called me to Old Town, Maine, specifically to Old Town Christian Fellowship. But most of the time, God’s will is more like a game plan than a blue print. Have you ever heard the expression it is more like a highway than a tightrope?
That is important to know because if we think of it as a blue print and things aren’t going perfectly, we quit, we stop, we back up, we do nothing, when really God just wants us to change the play. There are some examples of this in Paul’s life. I can see that the clock it ticking away on me, so rather than turn there, I’ll tell you about a couple of situations in Paul’s life. The first is found in Acts chapter 13 in the first few verses there…here’s the situation....there are a group of guys praying, in fact they are fasting and praying and asking the Lord what they are supposed to do next.
As you read through I think it is the first 4 verses there they are told really specifically, out of this group of guys, take a small group of guys, actually just Barnabas and Saul, lay hands on them, anoint them, and send them out on a missions trip to this very specific place.
If you turn over a few pages to Acts chapter 16 we have another example, same kind of situation, they are looking for direction from the Lord on where to go next and this is the answer that they get.... ...... ..... where’s my cricket when I need him? Ever get that answer from God? God I need to know your will can read it later, or before your growth group starting in verse 6, chapter 16 verse 6 and it seems like they think they are maybe supposed to go to Asia…but then it says the Holy Spirit forbid them to go to Asia…one of the guys in this group is the Apostle Paul, somebody that aught to know something about discerning the will of God. Rather than tread water in analysis paralysis...
It tells us that they then decided to go, or tried to go to a place called Bithynia....but the Holy Spirit did not permit them to go there…so they go to Troas and in the night Paul receives a vision of a man calling for them in Macedonia…so they decide to try that and to see if the Lord opens that door. Sometimes that’s the game plan of discovering God’s will is simply seeing what doors He opens and which ones He closes.
One more and we’ll look at this one, you may remember it from our study of 1 Corinthians. It’s in the last chapter, chapter 16, and you may not see the hugely relevant connection here, but it is meaningful to me. This is again The mighty Apostle Paul writing here, and not just writing, but understand he is writing Bible. Writing Scripture that is inspired by the Holy Spirit and look at what he writes. 1 Corinthians 16:5
1 Corinthians 16:5 NKJV
5 Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia).
Paul begins here sounding pretty confident in what he is doing and where he is going, and then look at the rest of this with me…1 Cor 16:6-8
1 Corinthians 16:6–8 NKJV
6 And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost.
Far to many of us run into an obstacles and we fear we are outside of God’s will even though we are well within the rules and we just stop. Nicole and I do a lot of hiking together. And we discovered long ago that sometimes on our way back to the truck we are heading uphill. No in a perfect world you get out of the truck, you climb up the mountain, and the return trip to the truck is all downhill. In reality, there is up hill and down hill in both directions and just because we come to a valley on the way up the mountain, doesn’t mean we are heading in the wrong direction and neither does it when we come to a hill, when heading down the mountain., nor does it mean we are out of God’s will.
So the first thing about God’s will was that His will is more like a game plan than a blue print, the second thing is
It is more important how you live, than where you live. Again, there are some exceptions to this. When God says I want you in this church, or I want you to care for you aging parents so you need to move to this place or that place. Or you’ve been sentenced to prison for five years, so I want you to live here, don’t break out, but in a general sense you can live where you want as long as you are being responsible, you are in good fellowship, you’re not neglecting your family responsibilities, or leaving a job without a new job in place, etc. You are following the rules that God has for you. What are the rules? Jesus said if you love me keep my commandments.
Where do we find His commandments? In here, in this book. That is one of the reasons that we teach the Bible like we do here, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little there a little, so we will understand the rules of our Father’s house. It’s one of the reasons we encourage you to participate in Growth Groups so you will grow one another as we hash this stuff out and increase in our knowledge of his will and our understanding of Him...
So live within the rules and do your best to please Him. Proverbs 16:2-3
Proverbs 16:2–3 NKJV
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits. 3 Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.
3. Here’s the third thing about God’s will....a. God’s will is more like a Polaroid picture, than like a snap chat moment.
Now I know some of you may have no idea what a Polaroid picture is. But back when Ron Miller was a boy, they came out with something called the Instamatic camera. You didn’t have to take a picture and then upload them to be developed and wait for them to come in the mail. But these Polaroid cameras worked like this, you would take a picture, and then this thing would pop out of the bottom. It was black on one side and white on the other and anyone remember what you would do with it? Shake it, and at first you couldn’t really tell what it was, but then slowly over time, it would get clearer and clearer as it continued to develop.
How does that work with God’s will? It is not always instantly revealed like a snap chat moment, often times we see just a little bit.
So for us, those things that are really clear. Those things that the bible says we aren’t supposed to be doing....this is the will of God, your sanctification, abstain from sexual immorality, stop doing the things you’re not supposed to be doing. James 1:26-27
James 1:26–27 NKJV
26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Stop the things you should stop, start the things you should start, and like the Polaroid, over time it will continue to develop. Follow what you know of God’s will and instructions today, and He will then give us tomorrows instructions. I said three, but you should also know that God’s will has both a what and a when. Far too often we want the what from God, but don’t wait for His timing. Let the picture develop, don’t run ahead.
Colossians 1:12–14 NKJV
12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:15–18 NKJV
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Colossians 1:19–20 NKJV
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Colossians 1:21–23 NKJV
21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
God bless
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