The apostle Paul was under guard in chains in Rome when he wrote the letter to the church in Colossae of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey about 120 miles east of Ephesus). He was concerned about the heresies that were making inroads there and sought to keep them centered on Christ. In the fourth chapter, he called for prayer: "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak" (Colossians 4:2-4). We, too, need to be concerned about the deceitful philosophies of our own day that would lead us away from Christ and take heed to answer his call for prayer.
Be Earnest – be diligent in prayer (Luke 18:1). Be devoted to prayer. Persevere and continue in prayer (Rom. 12:12). Never give up on prayer; never quit praying (1 The. 5:17). I pray all the time, but I knew one preacher who said it was just a psychological exercise. Prayer to God is our access to the greatest source of power (Jam. 5:16). It acknowledges our complete dependence upon God and demonstrates our faith in Him to provide all things good and needful (Mat. 7:7-11; 1 Cor. 4:7; Jam. 1:17). To give up on prayer is to give up on God.
Be Vigilant – be watchful, alert, on guard in prayer (1 Pet. 5:8; Mat. 6:13). Beware and awake to the dangers of temptation and sin. Some close their eyes to this reality of life. They are blind to what is really happening in their marriage, with their children, in our nation, in the church to destroy them. When we fail to bring prayer to these things, we fail to bring God to these things.
Be Thankful – be grateful in prayer (Eph. 5:20; Phi. 4:6-7; 1 The. 5:18). Thankfulness reminds us of God’s answers in the past and assures us of His answers in the present. We must not neglect thanksgiving when looking to God for our needs.
Paul asked for prayers for himself and his fellow workers. But his request was not selfish. He asked prayers for an opportunity to tell the gospel, although he was presently being persecuted for that very thing. He would rejoice to share in the sufferings of Christ if it was necessary to save souls and glorify God. He asked prayers that he might speak clearly, plainly, convincingly, persuasively, courageously, in a way that the gospel might be understood, believed, received, obeyed, upheld, and furthered.
Prayer is a blessing and privilege God has given us to help us accomplish His will and purposes for His glory (Mat. 6:9-10, 13; Jam. 4:3; 1 John 5:14-15). This is best seen in the practice of our Lord Jesus Christ while on earth in the flesh. He constantly prayed demonstrating His dependence upon His heavenly Father. In the garden before going to the cross we especially see His earnestness, vigilance, and unselfishness in prayer, while His disciples kept falling asleep (Mat. 26:36-46). It was that night in prayer that Jesus won the battle against the flesh so that He went to the cross with courage, faith, and determination to do His Father’s will. Let us never take prayer for granted but follow Christ’s example, that we, too, might accomplish God’s will for us (1 Pet. 2:21-25).
We all get scared. Maybe it’s a terrible weather event. Or, it could be you have lost your job and don’t know what to do. Perhaps, you just found out you have cancer. Then there is the pandemic. The many violent acts of terrorism around the world and here in America are very scary, too.
When Isaiah prophesied, it was a scary time for Israel. Many had forsaken God’s law. There was much injustice in the land. They suffered famine, pestilence, and war. Their future was dark. It is then that Isaiah gave these very encouraging words from the Lord: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
Here’s why we don’t have to be scared!
God is with us. We are not alone.
God is our God. He is on our side. He will fight for us. He will protect us. He loves us. He cares for us.
God will strengthen us. We are scared because the fears we face look very powerful, but God is stronger. He is greater. He will strengthen us in our weakness so that we are able to overcome our fears.
God will help us. Unable to deal with our fears alone, He stands by us to share the burden and help carry the load that would destroy our confidence. So, with God’s help we are able to face our fears with courage.
God will uphold us. Even when we are ready to give up and lay down in defeat, He is there for us to support us. When we are falling, He is powerful to stand us back up again.
Yes, our fears are real, but so is God. So, don’t be scared.
Today, I will… thank God for being there for me and look to Him for the courage to overcome all my fears.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-7, Paul instructs us to pray “first of all” (v. 1). The first thing and the most powerful thing we can do is to pray. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Paul tells us how to pray, who to pray for and why we need to pray.
How? Pray with “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks” (v. 1).
Who? Pray “for all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (vv. 1b-2a).
Why? Pray “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (v. 2b) and for “all men to be saved” because “Jesus… gave Himself a ransom for all” (vv. 3-7).
How many of you have a hard time letting go of a grudge? You deeply resent someone for something they said or did, and you refuse to forgive that person. You can’t forget it. You keep talking to others about it. You plot to get even.
Herodias held a grudge against John because he had pointed out sin in her life. “Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him…” (Read Mark 6:17-28).
Maybe none of us would go as far as Herodias with our grudges but often they cause us to live with great bitterness that causes us to lash out at others. How many relationships have been destroyed? How many times have we destroyed another’s character or reputation? Why? Because we would not let the thing rest until the opportunity to get even finally arrived.
Holding grudges can ruin your soul, the soul of others and bring great reproach upon Christ and His church. So, let's learn how God teaches us to let go of a grudge before we do anymore harm.
Be willing to forgive and forget.
Don’t keep a record of the wrongs you have suffered.
Look for good in the other person.
Reject a “get even” spirit.
Repent of your sins.
Go to the person and work it out between yourselves.
Grudge bearing can be serious and has eternal consequences. Let us always give diligence to follow God’s advice and eliminate holding grudges at home, school, or wherever they may exist…”looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Heb. 12:15).
God could have held a lot of grudges against us, but He forgives and forgets it all (Heb. 8:12)! Won’t you receive His forgiveness, today?
(This article was adapted from "Nursing A Grudge" by Darryl Jocheus)
Galatians 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”
There is faith. There is faith working. There is faith working through love. Only the latter can save our souls.
Faith is necessary for our salvation. If we do not believe we cannot be saved (John 8:4). If we truly believe we will trust (2 Corinthians 1:9-10; 3:4; 1 Timothy 4:10; 6:17; Hebrews 2:14) and obey (Acts 5:29, 32; Romans 2:8; 6:16-17; 10:16; Galatians 3:1; Philippians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 5:9; 11:6, 8; 1 Peter 4:17).
Faith working is necessary for our salvation. Faith without works cannot save; it is unprofitable (James 2:14-16). Faith by itself is dead (v. 17). Faith is made perfect by works (v. 22). We are justified by works, not by faith alone (v. 24). It is not our own works that save us (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:3-8) but the work of faith (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11), the obedience of faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26).
Faith working through love is necessary for salvation. We cannot be saved unless we receive the love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Salvation is for those who love the Lord (1 Corinthians 2:9; 16:22; James 1:12; 2:5) and the brethren (1 John 3:10, 14). Anyone who does not love does not know God (1 John 4:7-8). If anyone does not love the Lord, he will be accursed (1 Corinthians 16:22). If we leave our love for the Lord, we will lose our place with Him (Revelation 2:4-5).
What kind of faith do you have?
It was the worst snowstorm in Texas. We were not ready for it. Lives were lost. Many suffered and continue to suffer from it. This all on top of the continuing coronavirus pandemic. If you thought 2021 was going to be a better year, think again.
No, think a third time. Our blessings in Christ are not dependent upon the circumstances and conditions of the world in which we live. Nobody and nothing can take them from us. Unlike the temporal physical and material blessings of life, what we have in Christ is everlasting. Any one of the blessings of Christ is greater than all the things of this world put together.
We have been forgiven and set free from sin. We have been given a new life. We have a new family in the Lord. We have a heavenly Father who is always good to us. We have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who is our Lord but also our friend and fellow brother. We have the Holy Spirit, our helper and comforter, who dwells in us. We have brothers and sisters with whom we share a common faith and love. We have the privilege of prayer 24/7. We have the constant help and encouragement of God’s word and His promises.
This will always be an evil world because it is full of sin and death. It is not the way God made it and it is not what God wants for us. In His love, He sent His Son to rescue us from our sins and to give us eternal life. He will send Him again to bring an end to all things and to bring us home to His Father in heaven. For now, we walk in faith, waiting and watching for His coming.
We are not alone. We are not defeated. We are not without hope. This year, and every year, is better in Christ!
Matthew describes Jesus’ compassion for lost souls: “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
Do you know His compassion in your life? Do you have compassion for those who are lost in sin? Remember dear Christian, you and I were once lost as they are today. It is our job to show them that there is Someone who cares and can help them find their way.
Have you ever noticed how some always seem to be so upbeat and positive? It is not because everything is going great in their life, or that things are necessarily going better for them than everybody else. No, it is because they choose to be that way. They decide to look for reasons to be happy and to focus on the good things. In doing so they attract more of the same. It doesn’t just happen; they make it happen.
This is how Paul teaches us to live our lives. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). As a Christian we have every reason in the world to rejoice; today, tomorrow and every day. If, we choose to focus on the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ. He has blessed us with the forgiveness of our sins, salvation from the bondage, guilt, and condemnation of sin, power over the temptations we face, strength to endure the trials of life, love that surpasses knowledge, peace that passes understanding, joy unspeakable and full of glory, and hope eternal. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
Opening the letter of 1 Thessalonians, you will be immediately struck with one of the greatest blessings we have in Christ – the wonderful family of God!
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God” (1 Thessalonians 1:1-4).
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
We have all been blessed by what we have received from others. Perhaps, it was a gift that came just at the right time, just when you really needed it. Maybe you were surprised by a generous and wonderful gift that you could never have imagined. Or have you ever received a gift and thought to yourself, “What am I going to do with this?”. Even then you might say, “It’s the thought that counts.”
There is a blessing in receiving but according to Jesus the greater blessing is in giving. He said, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135