“OPEN LINES, OPEN DOORS, AND OPEN LIVES”
(A Series on Colossians)
Westgate Chapel 11/28/93 a.m. Colossians 4:2-6
PROPOSITION: The believer has the personal choice to make himself open to the presence and voice of God through prayer, to look for open doors for the message of Christ, and to have open lives revealing Christ to the non-Christian.
- THE letter of Paul to the Church in Colosse was written to a battle-weary group of believers who were being shredded by their neighbors and work associates and contaminated by false doctrine from within.
- THEY were under attack on all fronts and were fighting for their very survival physically and spiritually.
* Many had lost their jobs and could not work because of economic pressure against Christians who were seen as bad for business.
* Most had lost their reputation and standing in the community and were being openly ridiculed since there were many lies circulating about Christians.
* They were viewed as traitors towards the empire and anti-social because they wouldn’t participate in the festivals of the gods.
* This was a first generation Church, so most new converts had been cut off from their families when they were baptized.
- NO one was exempt.
- FOLLOWING Christ was costly in those days.
- JUST getting through a day required spiritual warfare.
- AND after a few years of this kind of opposition and front line spiritual warfare in Colosse...I am sure that the natural response of the Christians that remained faithful was to become closed and retreat.
- YOU didn’t need Dean Sherman to come to town and tell you what it is like....it was fight or die every day.
- AND they were tired AND MANY WERE BECOMING CLOSED.......
* To the Lord.
* To speaking the Gospel.
* To sharing their lives and their faith.
- IT happens when you are under constant attack....YOU BECOME CLOSED AND RETREAT.
- SOME of us here are under that kind of attack today....and are at the point of closing up right now.
- BUT for others of us in America the fighting of spiritual warfare is too removed.
- WE are like the French Troops on the Rhine River bordering Germany in 1940.
- THE battle had been going on in other places and their front yard was pretty peaceful.
* In May of 1940, when the combined might of the Nazi war machine rolled into France, the vast majority of the French forces had been sitting idly on their border for at least four years doing absolutely nothing.
* Some French soldiers had faced Nazi soldiers across the Rhine River for so long, without engaging them in battle, that they had gotten acquainted with each other, were on a first name basis, and were actually swimming together in the river.
* By the time the enemy finally attacked France, their soldiers lacked discipline, they lacked training, they lacked morale and that keen edge and fighting spirit needed for victory.
- THOSE French soldiers were CLOSED to the battle but for different reasons than the Colossian believers.
- WHEN inactivity on a "quiet" front leads to poor discipline, poor morale, and even fraternization with the enemy, you become a prime candidate for defeat when the battle breaks open in your sector.
- IN the book of Colossians Paul has reminded the believers of the greatness of Jesus Christ, of the power of the Gospel to change lives....and now he closes his letter with a challenge to STAY OPEN AND ADVANCE in three major areas.
ii. open lines
- TURN with me to Colossians 4:2,
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
- WHEN the battle is its fiercest and it looks like you are losing ground...that is when your prayers don’t “feel” like they are getting through and you want to close up shop and quit.
- WHAT is the remedy?
- TO allow yourself to be distracted from prayer by competing pressures?
- TO get discouraged because your prayers don’t seem to be answered?
- TO allow unbelief and self-pity to get its claws into your spirit?
- OR if it is not the battle but the lack of it that has caused you to close up shop and shut down the lines of communication between you and God.....because you have become lethargic and detached from His heart?
- WHAT are you going to do?
- ARE you going to stay closed for business?
- PAUL would likely never see these battle-weary believers in Colosse in this life. He would likely never write them again. This was his last chance to share eternal truth with them.
- AND he tells them three critical things about keeping the LINES OPEN WITH GOD,
A. “Devote yourselves to prayer....”
- DON’T close down....OPEN up the lines to the throne room of God.
- JUST like we wait for and long for our loved ones to open up with us.....He is waiting for those intimate times with you.
- DEVOTE yourself to prayer.......”be earnest and unwearied.” (Weymouth)
- WEBSTER’S says that when you devote yourself to something you “give yourself up for that pursuit.”
- DEVOTION goes beyond feelings of fatigue, or inconvenience, or competing interests. Those things pale by comparison with devotion.
- SATAN is out to make us careless in prayer, to distract us, to dull our minds and our understanding.
- THIS calls for disciplined attention....for devotion.
B. “Be watchful.....”
- NASB translates it “be alert.”
- NO military assignment will be successful without posted guards and vigilance concerning enemy activity.
- THE enemy is not always going to wear red uniforms and march in single file formation towards you in an open field.
- THERE will be times when he slides around in the dark and will come in on you undetected if he can.
- SO let your praying be with a watchful attitude....alert to what is going on in the heavenly realm and in your own heart.
- JESUS said it in Matthew 26:14,
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation.”
- IT is the same theme found in Isaiah 62:6-7,
“I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.”
- A WATCHMAN is one who guards the city from a high vantage point.
- THAT is the role of prayer in the life of the believer and the Church.
C. “Be thankful.”
- THIS is one of the main ways that you and I stay OPEN in prayer.....when it is done with a thankful attitude.
- THE spirit of praise and thankfulness is to prayer what gasoline is to an open flame.
- THANKFULNESS remembers God’s past faithfulness and blessings and creates a joyful heart in prayer.
- IT also increases the kind of faith that makes prayer persevering.
- A COMPLAINING spirit closes the door to prayer.
- THANKFULNESS brings a freshness to prayer.
- IT is an antidote to sluggishness.
- SO, open the line of communication between you and God.
* Be devoted to it, earnest and untiring.
* Be watchful in it, alert.
* Be thankful in it.
- SO, keep your prayer line OPEN.
iii. open doors
- SECONDLY, keep the doors open to speak freely about the wonders of Christ.
- PAUL writes in Colossians 4:3-4,
“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”
- THERE were lots of things that Paul could have requested prayer for;
* Freedom from the chains.
* More liberty to move around.
* Better treatment in prison.
* Improved physical health.
* Recovery from all of the abuse he had so unjustly suffered.
- BUT even though both he and the church in Colosse is facing opposition that makes our lives look like the “lifestyles of the rich and famous”....he asks prayer for two things...
A. “May God open a door for our message.”
- HE was concerned that his incarceration was limiting his ability to speak the message of Christ.
- HE remembered the days when with Barnabas and then Silas he had traveled to places like Ephesus and Lystra and had preached the Word in the demonstration of the power of God and churches had been established everywhere he went.
- SINCE then he had spent several years in prison for the Gospel and now he wanted an open door to speak the liberating message of the Gospel.
- THERE are obstacles to the Gospel that must be removed...and this is done only by prayer.
B. “May I proclaim the message clearly, as I should.”
- PAUL is aware the simply relying on human faculties when speaking of the treasure of the kingdom of God was not enough.
- HE asks for prayer for supernatural anointing to speak when the doors are opened for him.
- MINISTRY of any kind requires prayer. Without prayer it is busywork.
- THIS is not the time to be closed for business and retreat from the world...no matter how filthy or hostile it is getting.
- NO! This is the time to be open for business and to ask God for open doors and anointing for clarity.
iv. open lives
- OPEN lines.
- OPEN doors.
- LASTLY, this morning, Paul encourages the believers in Colosse to live OPEN LIVES before the unbelieving world.
- COLOSSIANS 4:5-6,
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
- THREE things in having open lives.
A. “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders...”
- WE talked last week about the verse in I Corinthians that says you and I are epistles read by everyone.
- SO be wise in how you act,
* At work,
* With unbelieving family members and friends.
* In the restaurant.
* At the Huskies game.
* In the neighborhood.
- THERE is also a wisdom for our dealings with unbelievers that comes from above and has nothing to do with what makes sense to us in the natural.
B. “Make the most of every opportunity.”
- THERE is an urgency in these words.
- THE power of the devil was really obvious in those days....as it is for us today.
* Dale Turner column in Saturday’s Seattle Times, Religion Section.
- THE Colossian believers never knew from one moment to the next when they would be alive or dead....neither do we.
- THEY never knew when another wave of persecution would further limit their freedoms....neither do we.
- FOR them the days were extremely evil....they are for us too.
- CHRISTIANS were falling left and right....they are in our day too.
- THEY believed that Jesus would return soon....if that was true then how much more is it the case today.
- SO, make the most of every opportunity that God gives to witness for Him....AND HE IS GIVING THEM TO EACH OF US EVERY DAY.
C. “Let your conversations be full of grace, seasoned with salt....so you can give an answer for your faith”
- GRACE...the atmosphere in which you and I live and move around.
- THIS will influence;
* The content of our speech, using words that edify those around us...and avoiding those words that are unworthy of Jesus.
* The spirit of our lives, moving and acting in humility because each one of us is a debtor to God’s grace.
* Our approach to unbelievers, in sensitivity and gentleness and love.
- THIS alone will answer most questions about our faith.
- OPEN lines of communication to heaven.
- OPEN doors for kingdom business.
- OPEN lives before the world.
- THIS is not the time to close up shop.
- IT is time to be OPEN for business.