Colossians 4:2-4 (NIV) – Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 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.
“Paul knows his dependence on God and asks for intercessory help in prayer, just as he has prayed unceasingly for them (1:9-11). He does not ask them to pray for anything that will bring personal advantage to him, his sights remain firmly fixed on his mission calling (1:25). He therefore asks them to pray that God will open a ‘door for our message’ (lit., ‘the door to the word’). Such opportunities exist even in prison.” [David E. Garland, NIVAC, Colossians/Philemon, p.272.]
1. Why do you suppose Paul is asking the Colossians to pray for an open door for the message instead of an open door for himself and his fellow missionaries?
2. In what ways can you make the most of opportunities on a daily basis to pray for the advancing of the gospel through your missional group? Through our churches?
Prayer: Lord, we ask for an open door for the message of the gospel, especially as we are moving forward in this new season, may there be new salvation among us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV) – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
“‘Knock’ includes perseverance in one’s asking and seeking, as when the disciple perseveres in praying for his unbelieving family’s salvation and speaks and lives the gospel throughout his lifetime. Jesus’ disciples are to ask the Father continually as a manner of life, to be constantly responsible in pursuing God’s will, and to maintain an unremitting determination in expecting the Father to answer.” [Michael J. Wilkins, NIVAC Matthew, p.312.]
1. How have you experienced God’s answer to your prayer as you “knocked” at the door?
2. Are you ready to be the one who knocks at the door?
3. What is an urgent prayer that God is putting in your heart today? Take the time to pray and also share with your pastoral or missional group leader what you are praying for.
Prayer: Jesus, I want to ask for determination to persevere in prayer, to knock at the door until it is opened. Please help me to grow more in how to pray until something happens (PUSH). In your name I pray, amen.
Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV) – Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
“Jesus sets his face against any idea that you can simply ‘go with the flow,’ allowing the crowd to set the pace and the direction. You really have to want to get in through this gate. If you just drift, allowing the current to take you where it will, you’ll miss it. But this gate leads to life, and the other sort all lead to destruction. The choice is spelled out at last, and there’s no avoiding it, no softening of the hard line. Choices matter; actions and motives matter. Learning to follow Jesus and to know God as father matter. Eternal issues are at stake.” [NT Wright, Matthew for Everyone, p. 76.]
1. What are some previous examples in your life that you had to make a choice between the narrow and the wide gate?
2. How do you envision yourself following Jesus through the narrow gate at the next challenge that life brings?
Prayer: Thank you Jesus that following you means to go through the narrow gate but it also life giving. Please help me to follow you, especially for the next challenge in my life. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Ruth 4:1 (NIV) – Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down.
The story of Ruth is a wonderful reminder of God’s faithfulness to his people and also to the triumph of his kingdom as evidenced by the genealogy that follows through Boaz and Ruth having a son named Obed, who is the grandfather of king David and so on until Christ. One of the key moments in the story is the negotiation that Boaz has with the guardian-redeemer at the town gate. He masterfully navigates the business dealing with delicate matters of land and taking on of a widow named Ruth. The outcome not only serves to preserve the family line but also continues the lineage of God’s masterplan of salvation.
1. In what ways can daily business deals affect your life, especially your prayer life?
2. How can you pray so that your daily business at work or at home will lead to greater works for the kingdom of God?
Prayer: Lord, let me follow the example of Boaz who worked tirelessly and humbly for your kingdom. In Jesus Christ, amen.
Let’s worship to the song, “No longer I” by Matt Redman.
Joshua 20:2,4 (NIV) – Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge… 4 When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them.
Cities of refuge were the provisions that the Lord gave to the people of Israel in case of wrongful accusations or accidental harm done to a neighbor. The accused were supposed to state their case to the elders at the city gate before being admitted to safety. These were set up in order to protect the people against being avenged without trial and find safe haven. One can see these cities representing a foreshadow of salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection.
1. In what ways has Jesus stated your case before the Father?
2. What happened to all the accusation, all our condemnation at the cross?
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for standing before the Father on my behalf. I no longer stand condemned but I can now live in the refuge of your kingdom. Lord Jesus, I worship you and thank you! In your name I pray, amen.
Ephesians 3:19 (NIV) and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
“Some time ago I was told that a neighbor had spoken negatively about me. I became furious and immediately went to confront, even to fight, that person. As I was dashing off, a scripture I had read came to my mind: ‘Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Heb. 12:14, NRSV). This scripture stopped me in my tracks, and I turned back from what I wanted to do; I went back home immediately. I had decided to obey that word from God and not to fight. I had heard God’s call to be at peace with everyone.” [Fisayo Peters (Lagos, Nigeria) The Upper Room, Daily Devotional, 7.27.18]
In this last verse of this section of Paul’s prayer for the church, he taps into the love that surpasses knowledge. From the wonderful testimony above, Fisayo Peters got to experience something greater than his own passion. What you do think that made the difference? How did this love surpass knowledge for Fisayo? Then, how will you pray for the next time you are faced with anger?
Prayer: Let’s ask for the filling of the Spirit, each day with more so that we can live in the fullness of God. “LORD Jesus may your fullness increase in my life with your love that surpasses all knowledge. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:17b-18 (NIV) And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the LORD’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
“When I worked for a sales company, one of my co-workers was a man who was always smiling, laughing, and pleasant to be around. Everyone loved him for his spirit. One day while I was making a sales call, the person on the phone was disrespectful to me. As I voiced my anger and frustration after the call, my colleague came into my office and said, ‘I’ve had calls like that before. When I do, I quickly pray to Jesus, smile, then make another call!’ It was now clear to me why everyone was drawn to this man. He was bearing the fruit of a deep relationship with Christ, and many of us were hungry for this kind of spiritual strength. Through my co-worker’s example I began to understand what Jesus meant by his words, ‘Each tree is recognized by its own fruit,’ and to think about what this meant for my life as a pastor. As life’s challenges arise, others can see our fruit through the kindness and compassion we show them and by reflecting the peace of God within us.”[Ian Bailey (North Carolina), The Upper Room, Daily Devotional, 8.29.18]
Being rooted and established in love was Paul’s prayer for God’s holy people and that they would together know the unreachable width and length and height and depth of Christ’s love. For the next time you are dealing with anger, what kind of fruit can you envision as you respond correctly?
Prayer: Let’s ask the LORD for this deep rooting and establishing of our lives in Christ’s love, so that all the rest of our lives will be a reflection of His love. “LORD Jesus, I ask for the roots to go down deep in Christ, so that the fruit that I bear will be the display of your unreachable love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:17a (NIV) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
“My good friend Glenn had been diagnosed with leukemia and hospitalized for chemotherapy treatments. As I drove to visit him, I wondered how the visit would go. I have made other trips to see friends who have been hospitalized unexpectedly, and sometimes the visits are difficult. People reacting to the diagnosis of a potentially fatal disease respond in a variety of ways, including anger, depression, and grief. While Glenn had always been a very positive person, I didn’t expect him to be in the best of moods when I entered his hospital room. That first visit — and others over the next few weeks — was an uplifting experience. Most of the time Glenn was upbeat, welcoming visitors and joking with the hospital staff. Although his future was uncertain, he was at peace. As he told me on that first visit, ‘If my time is up, it’s ok. I know where I am going.’” Glenn’s response was a great example of what faith can do.” [John Bown (Minnesota), The Upper Room Daily Devotional, 2.18.17]
The Apostle Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians was that the indwelling of Christ through faith would have a thorough impact in their lives. From the testimony above in what ways was Glenn’s life impacted by faith in Christ?
Next time you are angry, how will you respond differently because of your faith in Christ? Let’s commit this to the Lord in prayer.
Prayer: “LORD Jesus, I ask for the increase of faith that I would know you more and experience the greater effects of your dwelling in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:14, 16 (NIV) For this reason I kneel before the Father… I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
“My life was in shambles. Working three jobs, I still couldn’t support my family. I felt like a failure. At home, my sons had drifted into destructive pursuits. My wife and I barely spoke. I felt isolated and alone. Finally, in despair, I walked into the garage, intending to end my life. Instead, I fell to my knees and prayed, “Jesus, I do not want to die. But, I don’t want to go on living like this either. Take this burden away. Jesus, please save my life!” In a flash, Jesus showed me the difference between his humility and my pride, his meekness and my anger, his faithfulness and my selfishness and deceit. Repenting of my sins, I asked Jesus to transform me — to come into my heart and make me clean. Immediately, rays of hope entered me, and I felt alive again. After that day, my relationship with my family changed. We cried and prayed together. We forgave each other. We studied the Bible and, with the help of other Christians, my wife and I reconciled. Finally, one Sunday, my family and I stood together before hundreds of witnesses and professed Jesus as Lord.” [Stephen Smith (Texas), The Upper Room Daily Devotional, 9.18.17]
When was the last time you knelt before God in humility? Let’s practice this act alone in a private place and spend some time in prayer.
Prayer: Let’s ask the LORD, as we physically kneel in prayer, to transform our hearts with His strength, and end with this prayer: “LORD Jesus I repent of my ways and may your hope and power enter in and give life again! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
James 1:19-20 (NIV) My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. That saying is meant to guard us from the harshness of words. In reality, however, we all know that words do hurt, and they can harm someone easily. A thousand words spoken in kindness can be undermined by one word spoken in anger. A moment’s worth of criticism can overshadow a day’s worth of praise and appreciation. As much as I’d like to think that I am the perpetual victim in the war of words, I realize that I am also the culprit. The words of others may wound me, but I also wound others with my words.” [Chuck Kralik (Missouri), The Upper Room Daily Devotional 10.17.17]
The Apostle James ties the slowness of speech with slowness to becoming angry. In what ways do you believe this will be helpful next time you are faced with anger?
James is not calling for just a behavioral modification, but for a transformation of the heart that reflects outwardly the righteousness that God desires.
Prayer: Let us ask the LORD for the transformation of the heart from anger into the righteousness of God, and end with this prayer: “LORD, we ask for your Spirit’s work of transformation that the words that come out of my mouth will be pleasing to you and encouraging to others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”