Teddy Roosevelt Get Action. Do things. Be sane, don t fritter away your time. Create, act, take a place where you are and be somebody. Get Action.

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1 Colossians 1:9-14 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Following Jesus Essentials for a Spiritual Journey A massive study from the Pew Research Center shows that nearly 56 million Americans now consider themselves spiritually to be among those who claim to believe nothing in particular or nones. That appears to indicate people are more conscious of what they are moving away from than what they are moving towards. The purpose of our present study Following Jesus is to identify and understand some of the issues at work in our culture that are causing many who formerly claimed some affiliation with Christianity to turn away for some people that means turning to another religion, but for most today, it means turning to nothing in particular. In these opening words of Paul s letter to the Colossian church, he speaks to a vital aspect of the Christian life and one of the most distinctive aspects of our ministry here at L2 personal or individual mission. Here he describes what he expected to be the essential part of every Christian s life. That they have a clear understanding of the unique design of their lives and clarity of purpose that would enable them to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (v.10). One of the more popular sayings of president Teddy Roosevelt was very similar in instructing Americans about living a life that was active as opposed to being lethargic and without meaning: Teddy Roosevelt Get Action. Do things. Be sane, don t fritter away your time. Create, act, take a place where you are and be somebody. Get Action. In these verses, we find some essential and incredibly practical advice for every Christian who is embarking on his/her faith in the gospel: 1. The Essential Objective of the Journey 2. The Essential Outfitting for the Journey 1

2 1. The Essential Objective v.9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding From the time that Paul first learned about the Colossian church, his incessant request to God was that every person in the church be filled with a clear sense of his will/direction for their lives. The practical nature of his request is something that each of us is familiar on a day-to-day basis when we take a vacation, engage a business endeavor, enter into a relationship, or even declare a major at school we always do the best we can to assess the situation in order to identify what we are trying to accomplish and what it is going to take to accomplish those objectives. As essential as that seems, one of the most common questions for many Christians is, What is God s will for my life? The term that Paul uses for will referred to more than just a hope or wish as it referred to the broader idea of design and purpose. In other words, Paul was asking that they each possess a deep understanding of who they were and what their purpose was in life. Our discipleship program here at L2 Redemption Class is designed around this important aspect of personal mission as it focuses on knowing yourself well in order to identify your purpose. Paul s description tells us that there are three elements that are necessary for us to grasp God s will for our lives: 1. Knowledge Throughout the Bible, whenever the combination of knowledge and wisdom is used it typically refers to the distinction of factual knowledge (e.g. 2+2=4) that is simply true and wisdom that refers to the skill to apply it in the tremendously diverse circumstances of our lives. A good example of that distinction is found in Proverbs where we are told, Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes (Pro 26:4-5). Both statements are true factual knowledge yet it requires wisdom to discern which one applies to the particular circumstance that we are in. The type of knowledge of God s will that is essential to us living our lives well is more than the factual knowledge that does not vary from 2

3 person to person some of us are male and some female, some are single while others are married, some are managers and others are subordinate to management. The type of knowledge that is described here can only be discovered in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Ultimately, the practical knowledge that is necessary for each of us to live well is of a spiritual nature and only presents itself to us when we develop wisdom and understanding. 2. Wisdom As mentioned above, the term for wisdom refers to the ability to apply knowledge or factual truth to everyday circumstances. Throughout the Old Testament, the term literally meant skill. 3. Understanding To the combination of knowledge and wisdom, Paul also adds a term translated here as understanding which literally meant, a sending together or union as in the joining of two rivers and carries the idea of insight that further enables us to understand aspects of our lives in such a way that we are able to easily apprehend how we should think and act in such a way that what we believe to be true is blended together with our conduct in our everyday life. In the experience of my own faith and dealing with many other Christians, I have found that this is one of the more glaring deficiencies in our understanding of Christianity. Having a knowledge of God s will in our lives is much more than adopting political attitudes and behaviors that we learn from our church cultures that oftentimes merely cause is to sound irrelevant to non-christians mystical and churchy language that is vague and even misleading. Instead, this kind of knowledge is spiritual in the sense that it is grounded in our understanding as Christians of God s purpose to bring redemption into every aspect of our world. Understanding God s purpose in the gospel is much more than churchy language as it is intelligently grounded in our understanding of how God has perfectly created each of us to join him in that redemption process in the lives that he has given us rather than merely retreating into religious subcultures as it transforms what we think about things as they are and how they should be. What this tells us is that no spiritual journey can be successful without first identifying the objective that emerges from a clear understanding of who we are and what our purpose in life really is and that needs to be augmented with spiritual wisdom and understanding. 3

4 2. The Essential Outfitting It is fairly common for me to have discussions with Christians that are stuck in their faith and frustrated that they are not seeing more evidence of their faith in their lives. I believe that Paul s prayer was addressing that issue as he simply stated that he longed to see each of them walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him (v.10). Paul give us four essential aspects of the outfitting of our personal mission that enables us to actually see external changes come into our world because of our internal beliefs. 1. The Commitment to Accomplish Something v.10 bearing fruit in every good work Here we are simply told that the outworking of faith in a Christian s life is externalized fruit or production not merely internal understanding and contemplation. Paul was always very careful to explain that our salvation through the gospel is based purely on the grace that God offers us through Jesus Christ. However, like Jesus and many other writers of scripture, he also was equally careful to explain the responsibility that we have in living according to what we believe and thereby seeing our lives actually bring redemption into the world. One of the clearest examples of our responsibility to accomplish something in the world is Jesus words recorded in Luke 13: Luk 13:7-9 And he said to the vinedresser, 'Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?' 8 And he answered him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'" The necessity of consistency between what we claim to believe and how we live is what caused Brennan Manning to conclude: The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable The Practice of Growing in Knowledge 1 Brennan Manning, accessed June 2,

5 v.10 and increasing in the knowledge of God. For any aspect of our lives to develop whether an athletic, academic, business, or even relational pursuit we must be committed to increase our understanding of that space in our lives. Take for instance, a person who decides to play and instrument. If you talk to him five years after he began that pursuit and he still understood the instrument and music the same way that he did in the beginning, you would have to conclude that he really wasn t serious and you wouldn t have any difficulty in understanding his frustration. Paul commonly stressed the necessity of growing in the knowledge of God and of our faith. Perhaps, none of his statements were clearer than what he told the church in Rome, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom 12:2). 3. The Capacity to Accomplish Your Goals v.11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy This is another issue that many Christians struggle with as it deals with our ability to actually accomplish what we setout to do. The original language in this verse reads, in all might being made mighty. What Paul was asking was that every Christian committed to accomplishing something, also be given the power to get the job done. When Paul wrote to the Philippians about how their faith should manifest itself in their lives, he said, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phi 2:12-13). He was promising them that the Holy Spirit would work in them to want the right things and to enable them to do accomplish them. How you understand that has a lot to do with the outworking of your faith. Abraham Kuyper explained it this way, The work of Christ is vicarious [substitutional], that of the Holy Spirit is not. He works in man, but not in his place when the Holy Spirit has furnished everything necessary, then one thing is lacking that he do it and make the work his own. 2 The power of the gospel to work in our lives in order to bring significant 2 Abraham Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1995), p

6 changes in our world is made available to us, but it isn t realized until we become willing to engage that activity. 4. The Proper Attitude Specifically, gratitude that is grounded in where we ve come from. vv giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. That last essential aspect of being outfitted for our personal mission is a deep sense of appreciation of what has happened to us because of our faith in Jesus and the gospel. When Paul says He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his believed Son (v.13), he is not referring to being a part of a murderous band of thieves he is referring to our former lives in which we were enslaved by our love of the world and it s unfulfilled promises of happiness and purpose. From that we now according to the gospel can perceive and pursue that which is truly satisfying and have redemption and the forgiveness of our sins. Ultimately, what is explained here is a life that has a profound sense of awareness of who you are and what your purpose in life is all about. It also explains those things that are necessary for you to hold to a faith that is more than merely internal beliefs as it is one that actually bears external fruit in the world and causes others to see your life as a tremendous benefit to them and everyone else around you. 6

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