Facing the Mountains
Text: Colossians 4
Proposition: God has given each of us a ministry and a call to grow in our faith that we face in each day like a mountain to climb with Him in front of us.
Introduction: Sometimes the mountains that we face are everyday kind of mountains, they don’t block the way so much as they are the way. The path leads up the steep slope, not around it. Jesus once spoke about mountains being moved because of faith. It was on mountains in the wilderness that His faith was tested by Satan, mountains were where He was transfigured, where He fed five thousand, where He preached truth about the kingdom of God and eventually it was on a mountain that He was crucified. It is on Mountain called Olivet that He is going to return. Much of Jesus life involved the difficulty of facing mountains. When Paul was writing to the Colossians he wanted them to recognize that being a Christian meant that we too face mountains everyday. In the last chapter of this book Paul is going to talk about some ‘every day’ kind of mountains that we need to face. As you read these verses it’s likely that you’ll recognize these as some of your mountains too, mountains that you are facing even today. Turn to Colossians 4.
I. Prayer, a Mountain To Be Climbed Everyday.
What do you believe about prayer? I assume that if you are a Christian that you believe certain things about prayer. You believe in prayer as a way of talking directly to God, that prayer is what God longs for us to do as we open our hearts to Him in praise, thanksgiving, requests for others and the confession of our sin. You might believe that prayer is the way that we react to the spiritual realm that engulfs our world and that by prayer we arm and protect ourselves in that spiritual realm. You might even believe that prayer is what God will use to direct your life even as much as He uses Scripture, preaching or the events of life to do that. It’s my guess that you believe all of these things and more about prayer.
Look at what Paul says in Colossians 4;2, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving…”. The simple truth is that we know about prayer but the actual act of praying is like a mountain to us. We start to pray and in one minute we are finished. We start to pray and our mind drifts off to something else. We start to pray and the phone rings, we start to pray and we fall asleep. If we were to survey our own prayer patterns what would they look like?
When do I pray, is it in the morning, evening or when I remember to?
When I pray is it for 1-3 minutes, 5 minutes or 10 minutes or more?
Who do I pray for, is the circle of people about six, ten or twenty people or more?
When I pray am I more drawn to request things from God or to speak directly to Him about where I am, what I long for, what I fear?
When I pray do I speak to God directly about Who He is and what He seeks to do, about the salvation He has given in Christ, about the glory of His kingdom come?
I don’t think we ever arrive at being accomplished enough in prayer, it’s why Paul exhorts us to ‘continue earnestly’ in prayer, to be ‘vigilant’ in prayer. He begins by inferring that prayer is foremost a conversation with God and then it becomes a conversation about the people and plans of God. So he says, “At the same time, pray also for us…” . As you vigilantly make sure that you don’t get distracted from prayer and are earnest in your conversation with God, remember us. He even goes on to say that if there are opportunities to reach people with the truth of Jesus Christ it will often be because God used prayer to create that door. He will even use prayer to be the way that He guides us with the very words we use. So the prayer of righteous man does accomplish much, we believe that but we are also assaulted with distraction, business and unbelief. We are, that’s just the truth and it’s evident in the way we treat prayer. In that sense prayer is a mountain that we face every day. Let me encourage you to see prayer not as a duty but as a conversation. As you get up in the morning and step out of your bedroom what would you say if you met another family member? You’d greet them, you’d say ‘Good morning’. Try greeting the Lord with that same warmth and love tomorrow morning. What about having breakfast with Lord, thanking Him for the food, commenting on the beauty of the day, the health that you experience, the work that you will do, they all come from His hand. Like two friends who are on a long walk together, there will be times of conversation, times of silence but always they will be in each other’s presence. Let prayer be like that, a never ceasing presence that gives rise to conversation about the things of joy and concern on each heart. Let belief replace unbelief as you pray, let the holiness of God stir you as you pray, let it expose your sin as you pray, let it move you to forgive, let it teach you about grace as you pray. Prayer is a mountain to be climbed everyday but it’s on the mountain, even on its slopes that we meet with the Lord.
II. Time, A Mountain to Manage Every Day.
Paul writes, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” This is not just about making the most of every opportunity as you manage your time. It’s directly related to the subject of prayer. We pray that God would use our day, use our thoughts and hands and feet as we meet people who are ‘outside’. They are outside the safety of the blood of Christ, outside the forgiveness of sin that God intends for them in Christ. To walk in wisdom has the intent of helping them to find the way inside the mercy of God. That will take time which is the soil from which opportunity grows. So redeem the time, redeem basically means to pay a price in order to recover something or someone from the power of another. To redeem anything will cost, a price has to be paid. To redeem the time means that it will cost you in not spending the time on one thing as you now spend that same time to help those find a way in. That’s a mountain to face because time is a finite commodity, there’s only so much of it. Controlling your time so that eternal consequence is achieved is not an easy thing. It means I need to be more wise, it means I will have to make some changes. John MacArthur once wrote, “We have only the time allotted by God, and none of us knows when it will run out. Every Christian life runs by His divine timetable and against His divine clock. We do not know how long He will hold open the door of a given opportunity or of our entire time of service. God gives us many things without limit – His love, His grace, and many others. But His gift of time is strictly measured.”
So to the thought of redeeming the time Paul adds, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” To be seasoned with salt infers that grace makes everything taste better. If we intend beforehand to move with grace the words we use will be heard. The strange thing about grace is that it has this incredible capacity to carry wisdom. Would you like to be thought of as wise, then set your heart to move with grace and the Lord through your prayer will help you to know what and when to speak. Redeeming the time, it’s a mountain that we face every day but as we do the grace of God will reach those who are yet outside.
So with the thoughts on prayer and the responsibility to speak well to each other Paul concludes with the commending of a number of people to them:
Tychicus will speak words of comfort from the heart of being a fellow servant.
Onesimus a runaway slave returning home speaks the details of a grace received.
Aristarchus, a man choosing to be with the imprisoned Paul, greets them.
Mark, a man whom Paul had once considered too weak, he now commends.
Justus, another Jewish believer he too has spent the time to be with Paul.
Epaphras, once the pastor of Colossae, now stays with Paul but prays fervently for them, especially that would stand mature and complete in the will of God.
Luke, the physician and Demas, who went to be with Paul, possibly bringing the Book of Acts there as a friend of the court, Luke sends greeting.
To Archippus, a man in the Colossian church, Paul now exhorts, ‘Take heed to the ministry to which you are called, fulfill it’. Don’t delay, don’t procrastinate.
To everyone, read this letter aloud in the church, read it in Laodicea and the letter Paul sent to Laodicea, read that here in Colossae. Read the Scripture aloud to one another. In prayer remember my chains. In everything know that the grace of God is with you all.