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Janet's Corner

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A Heart Growing in the Knowledge of God

Last week we saw that Paul’s heart was spilling over with thanksgiving at the work of God in the believers at Colossae, as he unites them and encourages them to keep God above all else in their hearts and thus their lives. They were being exposed to other philosophies and traditions of men that were removing Jesus from his place of preeminence. To do this would be to destroy the gospel. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

 

There was a facet of people in the Colossae church that were promising believers that they would be “in the know” if they accepted these new teachings. They would be among the “enlightened ones” with special knowledge which ordinary Christians could not gain.  The supremacy of knowledge was one of the primary focuses of this false teaching called Gnosticism. They did not seek intellectual knowledge, but extraordinary spiritual knowledge. Many of the early church were seeking to learn – seeking enlightenment so were becoming confused. As Paul addresses people he has never met in this letter, he continues to encourage them to grow in the knowledge of God and literally prays that they may grow deeply in the truths of God’s will for them.

 

Read Colossians 1:9-12

 

The reason to keep on praying: Paul begins this prayer by saying there is a reason he does not stop praying for them. He knows they heard, believed, and were discipled in the Lord Jesus Christ. They were set apart by God for his work in the world. It is most helpful to look into God’s word when trying to understand a definition of a word. When Paul says “to the saints and faithful” in verse 2, we can look at many verses, but one in particular that helps us understand this is:

 

II Thessalonians 2:10 –“on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people (saints) and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.”

Paul has established that these people he is writing to are believers in Christ. That truth is foundational.

 

Praying: To be filled with the knowledge of God’s will

As Paul prays for these believers who are being confused by other teachings, he uses the language of the false teachers (like knowledge, wisdom and understanding), but his dictionary is different!

 

Paul starts praying that they be filled with the knowledge of God’s will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” The word filled indicates a ship that is already to set sail. It is fully equipped, filled to the full. This idea is throughout Colossians. As you read this week, look for the words complete, full or filled. Paul wants to see each believer equipped with all they need in Christ for the voyage of life. The word knowledge implies a full knowledge  - not just an acquiring of information, but an understanding of this information. We live in an information age – we have so much at our fingertips through media and internets. Look at the facts we know about the war in Iraq – in WWII people went to the movies to watch the news accounts on before the movie to learn about what is happening. There is so much to learn – look at our bookstores, our libraries. But Paul is zeroing in on learning about the will of God above all else – continually – we can always grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. All of us need to continue to gaining a fuller understanding about what God desires for our lives – his gracious design for each of us. By what means do we grow in this knowledge?  We grow in this knowledge in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” – how does it grow? Romans 12:1-2 gives us a clue.

 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

 

Paul says as you surrender yourself to Jesus, don’t be molded into the form of this world, but be changed by a renovation of your mind. That renovation of your mind comes through going deeper into God’s Word. And we understand the will of God through His Word. Don’t get hung up on what you can’t do so you won’t be like the world, but get in the word of God and study it. And be in fellowship with others around the word of God – encouraging your heart with you stories of God working in yours and others’ lives. We will find what is necessary for making decisions and living to please God. We will understand it by the power of the Holy Spirit who is our teacher.

God, through His word and prayer, desires us to know Him and His will – not just about Him, but understanding spiritual truths that would change our lives as these truths renovate our minds. Think about the topics of our small groups…Whether we need to learn about our minds, our mouths, how to love Jesus and others, how to hear God, or how to live a life pleasing to God, it has to be centered in the Word of God. Are you increasing in the knowledge of God’s will for you as you dig deeper into His Word?

 

Why should we seek understanding God’s will? Vs 10 goes onto explain this – “so that you walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in all respects.” If you want to find fulfillment, purpose in your life, live a life that pleases God. The Westminster Catechism says “the chief end (or purpose) of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”  A life that truly represents Him here on earth will be found satisfying. That’s what we were originally created for – to bring God honor! What a wonder that is!! There is a commercial that describes finding out what “wonder” really is, by purchasing and using a specific mattress. I would challenge you that there is a more magnificent wonder  - it is the wonder of an almighty God that intends to use us messed up, mixed up, sinful people for His glory.

As we worship God – surrendering our lives to him because of our love for him, we will walk in obedience to his will…

 

What is pleasing to God?

 

Bearing fruit in every good work: not just the spiritual fruit of the spirit -  love, joy peace and so on - listed in Galatians, but actual good deeds. Ephesians 2:10 shows us that we are created to do these good works and these works were prepared for us to do by God. “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV) Philippians 2:13 reminds of us the source of these good works. “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (NIV) And the natural out flowing of doing good work, bearing fruit, is an increase in the knowledge of God. You see, we are always able to learn more about God!!!

 

Being strengthened pleases God: By whom and for what? Whose strength works in us? Look at vs. 11 “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,…” (NIV). We are made strong, equipped to do good works, by the very presence of God’s presence and love in our lives. We are strengthened with His power – Ephesians 5 says he desires us to know the surpassing greatness of this power, which is like the power that raised Jesus from the dead! It refers to God’s miracle working power, not just the miracle working power that raises people from the dead or divides the Red Sea, but the power that changes our character, giving us great endurance and patience. What do we mean:  the endurance to live through and even above the circumstances in our lives that really drain us, the patience of self-restraint toward those relationships that seem to be those which will break us. Those character changes manifest no less power than the visible miracles that God can perform. One of the Proverbs (16:32) echoes this truth… “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” We see this truth in David’s life when he controlled his temper when being maligned in II Sam 16. This was a greater victory than even the defeat of Goliath!

 

Have you ever been in a place where you are just “spent”, you feel as if you have no strength left, emotionally, physically or spiritually? At this time it is so easy to be filled with the old nature with your self and meeting you needs. God has us just where he wants us – ready to rely on God and his power not our own abilities or strengths or even disciplines of devotion to Christ. Causing patience and endurance to grow in our lives - causing us to rely on the one who lives within us with power and might!

 

The next time  you are at your wit’s end emotionally or just plain beat physically or feeling far from God, ask yourself – “whose strength will empower me?”

 

Whose power are you relying on to affect change in your life?

 

Giving Thanks pleases God:

 

Besides pleasing God through bearing fruit and being strengthened by the power of God, we please him by giving him thanks! Paul seems to have come full circle in this opening prayer for the Colossians - “…joyously giving thanks” to the one who gave us an inheritance! To be qualified relates to the truth of a being made fit or complete, like an athlete for a competition. How has God qualified us – made us complete? He has washed us and sanctified us and justified us in the name of Jesus and the Spirit of God. (I Corinthians 6:11)  We give thanks to the Father because he has enabled us “to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.” (The Message)

Now remember this passage of scripture which we studied is not just for our edification – to know that God desires us to have hearts growing in the knowledge of Him, but to pray for ourselves and others. Have you been praying like this lately? As you pray for others, are you focusing on the spiritual blessings, not just the physical matters or material needs that are wanting? Let me challenge you to take this scripture and pray it for someone or a group of people. If you pray God’s Word, you know you are praying according to his will.

Will you pray like this for you situations and relationships – for not only your spiritual growth and but for the spiritual growth of others?

Let God encourage and unite your heart with others, as he fills your heart with the knowledge of His will.