The Family Memo: May 19, 2017

Info: upcoming events

Six Flags Trip:
Date; May 30
Time; 8 am – 10 pm
Arrive @ the Bus Barn @ 7:30
Cost; $40 per person

Vacation Bible School:
Registration coming soon!
Dates; June 5-9
Time; 9 am to Noon
Theme; “Maker Fun Factory- Created by God, Built for a Purpose”
Please see Jennifer Graham to sign up to serve as a Crew Leader and Nursery Worker.

Kid’s Camp:
Dates; June 12-15
Theme; LEGO – Wise Master Builder 1 Corinthians 3:10-11
Who; 3rd-6th graders
Where; Camp Baldwin again in Orange Beach, AL
Cost; $200 per child ($150 per child if multiple children attending camp).
Money and registration will be due Sunday, May 21.

D3 Youth Conference:
If you have not done so, please go online to fill out the Medical Release for Boyce College.
Conference Dates; June 19-22, 2017
Balances due Sunday, May 21.

CEF Community Service Week:
What: Bible Clubs for children @ East YMCA, King Hill Community Center, and Hopper Gardens.
When; July 17-21
You can still get certified to serve! Please see Teree Solomon, or Reid Ward.

Upcoming Calendar:
Fuel: Notes

Introduction:
So, when we are on our knees in prayer, what are we? What we are is determined by the content of those prayers. All praying presupposes an underlying theology; our theology will have a decisive influence on our praying, and our praying will also influence our theology. That is why prayer is not only one of the foundational steps in knowing God, but also one of the basic demonstrations that we do know God. In order to avoid being spiritually stunted in our growth, we have set out to find practical advice on praying by looking at some of Paul’s prayers, so that we may learn what to pray for, what arguments to use, what priorities we should adopt, what beliefs should shape our prayers, and much more.
The first two weeks, we found a framework and goals for our prayer in 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12, and a passion to fuel our prayer in 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13. This week, we must ask ourselves how far the petitions we commonly present to God are in line with what Paul prays for, because if the center of our praying is far removed from the center of Paul’s praying, then even our very praying may serve as a testimony to the fact that we think too little of God, and our relationship with him sometimes centers around us, not him. The prayer before us this week, in Colossians 1, provides us with lessons in two areas; from the Context of the prayer, and from the Content of the Prayer.

I. Lessons from the Context: 1-8
Paul, was qualified to write this letter of instruction to the Colossians, though he had never met them personally, because he was an apostle. It is likely that Paul himself had never visited the city, but writes to them as brothers (verse 9). In the first three prayers we examined, Paul was praying for Christians whom he personally knew. But here, Paul is writing to a church he had never even visited. Though he had never met most of them, the faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae were on Paul’s prayer list. He prayed for them not only often, but always. We have come across this element of Paul’s prayer life before, remembering that he does not mean constantly, but consistently; as a pattern of regular prayer. Paul is telling the Colossians that since hearing about them he has made it a point to intercede with God on their behalf in his disciplined, regular prayer times; he has “not stopped praying” for them.
The city of Colosse was is not even mentioned in the Book of Acts, and is probably the smallest and least important city that Paul ever wrote to. Paul apparently thought the “The Colossian Heresy” (a corruption made up of elements of mysticism, Jewish legalism, and gnosticism) was important enough for his attention. However, as we will see in the content, it was not some particular circumstance that motivated his prayer for them. Paul didn’t need to see or meet or directly know these Christians in order to love them and be concerned for them. As Paul prayed for the Colossians, he did so full of gratitude; thankful for their faith in Christ Jesus, for the hope laid up for them in heaven, and their love for all the saints. These were not merely theological ideas to Paul; they dominated his thinking as a Christian. Paul was thankful that the gospel was bringing forth fruit over all the world, even while Paul was in a Roman prison.

II. Lessons from the Content: 9-14
Paul links prayers of thanksgiving to prayers of petition. Once again we observe that Paul’s petitions are in some ways linked to his thanksgiving, as the kinds of things for which Paul thanks God are the kinds of things for which Paul asks. Because we have observed this link in two of Paul’s prayers already, I do not want to dwell on the same point. Rather, I want to observe that these links between Paul’s thanks to God and his intercession before God drive us to an extremely important conclusion. While we are to pray for people and situations that may be special or even desperate, it was Paul’s more common proactive to pray for ongoing concerns. The frequency with which he links to his thanksgiving for signs of grace in the lives of this group of believers with his petitions for more signs of grace and the lives of the same believers cannot be accidental. This reminds us that Paul was not so much concerned with circumstances, but with what God might be doing in the heart of the people. What is it that Paul again and again gives praise for on behalf of the believers, as if the supply must be constantly renewed?
In this prayer there’s one thing, followed by a statement of its purpose & a description of the way God’s answer to the petition works out in daily life.

A. The Thing? We often use the expression “praying for God’s will” in terms of some impending decision, or our future. This focus is often misleading, and maybe even dangerous, because it encourages me to think of the Lord’s will primarily in terms of my future, my vocation, my needs. That is often a pious sounding form of self-centeredness, and even worse, it leads me away from a conscious understanding of the dominant ways in which the Bible speaks of the will of God. (Psalm 143:10; Romans 12:2)
So then, it is foolishness to pretend to seek God’s will for your life in terms of relationships or vocation when there is no deep desire to pursue God’s will as he has already graciously revealed it in his word. The knowledge of God’s will is more than knowledge of a certain set of doctrines, it consist of wisdom and understanding of all kinds provided by the Spirit himself. Paul prays that they may be filled with the knowledge of the will of God, a knowledge that consist of wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that they will be able to withstand the pressures of their surrounding pagan culture.
How else will they genuinely bring their minds, hearts, and conduct into conformity with God’s will?
Is there anything that our generation needs more urgently than to bring our minds, hearts, and conduct into conformity with God’s will?

B. The Purpose? The purpose of Paul’s prayer is that believers might be pleasing to the Lord.This is not cause, but effect. Because we have favor with God we in a manner pleasing to Him. Paul’s motive for praying is always growing christlikeness in the believers to whom his message is being delivered. Here, it is specifically that they might live a life worthy of the Lord and may be pleasing to him in every way; in thought, word, and deed in action and reaction. If we are to join Paul in the content of his prayers, we must again, align ourselves with his motives. We must be set on praying for godliness; for ourselves and others.
How can we can be fully pleasing to God and have a worthy walk?
Is this the motive of our praying for ourselves, and for others?

C. The Fruit? Now we have a description of the way God’s answer to the petition works out in daily life. We cannot begin to be pleasing to Jesus unless God fills us with the knowledge of his will. Also, the knowledge of his will is not an end in itself but has as its goal a Christian maturity that’s deepest desire is to please the Lord Jesus. Therefore, Paul goes on to describe what it means to be pleasing to the Lord, sketching it in terms of four characteristics of what a life pleasing to the Lord looks like.
1. We are to bear fruit in every good work. When God answers our prayer for godliness, the first result will be the produce of spiritual fruit in our lives. (John 15:7-8) Therefore, though we can not produce this fruit apart from the work of the Spirit in us, we are to be about being fruitful in every good work.
What might this look like in our lives?
John 15:9-10 tells us, it looks like obedience to the commands of God.
We must each ask ourselves, what would God have me to do? What is speech or conduct worthy of him? What would please him the most? Rightly pursuing these simple questions will transform our labor, what we do with our “free time,” how we talk with our friends and families, what responsibilities we take on in our church, what we read, watch, and listen to, how we treat one another and our neighbors, and what we do with our money.
2. We are to grow in the knowledge of God. First, Paul prayed that they would have a knowledge of His will, informed by a true spiritual understanding. Now, Paul prays that we might increase, or grow in that intimate knowledge of God; thus growing in wisdom and understanding of all kinds provided by the Spirit himself.
3. We are to be strengthened to display great endurance and patience. When God answers our prayers for godliness, we will be strengthened by his Spirit, with all power; it is a great comfort to us that he who undertakes to give strength to his people is a God of power and of glorious power. We are mightily strengthened, or strengthened with might derived from another, with all might that we are in need of; that grace which is sufficient for us in all the trials of life and able to help us in time of need. (James 1:4) As we walk worthy of the Lord, his strength is there to help us meet all of life’s challenges, and to endure and overcome problems with patience, and long-suffering with joy.
4. We are to give thanks to the Father. When God answers our prayer for godliness, the final result will be thankfulness to the Father, and the scope of our thankfulness here includes the entire span of his plan of redemption.
a. We are thankful that he has qualified us. It is the Father who qualifies us, by the giving of his Son, not our own works. We are qualified by the imputed righteousness of Christ. We gain this as an inheritance, instead of earning it as a wage.
b. We are thankful that He has delivered us. It is the Father who delivers us a domain darkness into a kingdom of light. We were captive in the darkness of sin, but were rescued by a sovereign power and transferred from the conquered empire of Satan, completely to the conqueror’s land.
Paul says we have been conveyed into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. It is in him that we have, not only an inheritance of imputed righteousness, but also our release by a legal ransom paid by the blood of Jesus, and the sending away of our sin and guilt, because of what Jesus did on the cross for us, so that they are no longer barriers that separate us from God.

Implications:
This is our thanksgiving to God, when he answers our prayers to be filled with the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of his will, so that we may walk in a manner worthy of him, pleasing him.
Apart for Christ, we have access to none of this, not deliverance, redemption, forgiveness, knowledge of his will and wisdom. We are left in the domain of darkness, in our sins, deserving of only death and hell. We must look to Christ and cry out to God for his mercy and grace to save us by faith in Christ alone.
If we be in Christ, but are not praying for and pursuing godliness, then we can be sure that we are not producing spiritual fruit, or growing in the knowledge of God. Therefore, we will not be fully strengthened to display great endurance and joyful patience. The result is that we will not be as thankful to God as we outgo to be, because we have not fully realized all that he has accomplished for us.
And so, we come back around to the unceasing thankfulness of Paul in his prayers. Is this the content of our prayers?

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