Fervent Day 10 Seek And Save: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

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The Questions

1) What does it mean to be devoted to prayer?

2) Why is Paul asking for open doors, is this something I should do?

3) How do we go about staying alert?

Colossians 4:2-4

“Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.  3 At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains, 4  so that I may make it known as I should.”

Original Intent

1) What does it mean to be devoted to prayer?
The church in Colossae was plagued with false teaching, which was Paul’s purpose in writing this letter. Even though Paul was in prison, he hadn’t stopped caring for his churches and sharing the truth of the gospel with them in writing. Part of the truth, he wanted them to understand was the importance of prayer. In this passage he instructs them to be devoted to prayer. In other words, stick with it, don’t give up, even if the answers don’t appear to be coming. Keep praying anyway! When you are devoted to something you make time for it, giving it priority. Paul is a living example for his readers as he consistently does exactly what he asks others to do; he truly “walks the talk.” Time and time again in his letters Paul tells his readers he is praying for them. Ephesians 1:16Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 1:9, and 1 Thessalonians 1:2 are just a few of the many places Paul insistently reminds his readers of his prayers on their behalf. Being devoted to something means it’s almost always on your mind, it’s something you think about often. By Paul writing so freely and frequently about prayer, it’s easy to see how important his prayer life was to his daily walk with Jesus, one didn’t exist without the other.

2) Why is Paul asking for open doors, is this something I should do?
As Paul writes, he is under house-arrest in Rome. (Acts 28:30) Preaching the gospel of Jesus is what landed Paul in jail, but even in prison, he still trusted there were opportunities to share the gospel. Paul’s life experiences had provided him with many opportunities to discover the importance and necessity of prayer. As a former persecutor of Jesus and His followers, he also clearly understood that no one is beyond salvation when Jesus is involved. So, here in his letter, he asks his fellow believers to pray for open doors to share his story of redemption with others as he fully understands that when the gospel is preached, people have the opportunity to be transformed. (Romans 10:14) Even though he is in prison, Paul has interactions with people every day. (Philippians 1:12-13) He understands that each of these people need to hear about Jesus and how He alone can save their lives for eternity just as He had done for Paul. Reading a couple of verses further in Colossians 4:5-6, Paul instructs his readers to do the same by asking them to “make the most of your timeso that you know how to answer each person”. Paul lived his redeemed life as an example for others to imitate as he kept imitating Christ’s way of engaging people with love and hope. (1 Corinthians 11:1) He urges the church in Colossae to pray in the same way he is and actively look for opportunities to share Jesus and His love with others.

3) How do we go about staying alert?
Prayer must be taken seriously by all Christ-followers. This means being fully awake and focused on the task at hand, which is conversing with the God of the universe! Healthy conversations are a two-way street, which means part of prayer is listening and responding when God speaks to us. Prayer wasn’t intended to be a hard or complicated thing. There are no set words, order, or rules regarding prayer as there once was according to Old Testament Law, which had a rule about everything! A relationship with God isn’t centered around rules at all! Alert prayer leads to alert living with the purpose of sharing Jesus with those around us. Even during Paul’s lifetime there were many things to distract and steal focus, time, and attention away from the focus of sharing the gospel. Some translations use “watch well” in place of the word “alert”. Paul encourages his readers to watch well and pay attention as they prayed. He wanted them to be fully aware of the Spirit’s leading as they encountered people on a daily basis so they could be expectantly ready to share the love of Jesus.

Everyday Application

1) What does it mean to be devoted to prayer?
Devotion is a harder concept for us to understand today than for the ancient world, or even our society a few generations ago. Much of our society is not really devoted to anything or anyone but ourselves. The concept of setting aside time to intentionally pray is, in many cases, a foreign concept. While the word devoted has not changed, the deep understanding behind it has been lost. The meaning of devotion for many has more often become, “I’ll stick with this as long as it’s working out for me, but when it stops, I’m moving on to the next thing”. This leads me to wonder if perhaps a better question for us to ask is why? Why devote so much time and effort to prayer? Surely, God is God and He is going to do what he’s going to do, not to mention that he is all knowing, so does it really matter if I pray? Prayer is the primary form of communication between us and our Savior. Of course He knows what is in our hearts before we speak, but this truth doesn’t negate how our relationship with Him deepens and our faith grows as we speak with Him. As parents, it’s easy to sometimes see when our kids need help, but often until they ask and are ready to listen, offering our help is just an exercise of frustration. Prayer matters because it’s often the method God uses to change our hearts, silence the outside voices and our fears, while focusing our hearts to listen to and rely on God. Once we realize the vital role prayer plays in our faith and relationship with God, it becomes something we long to spend time doing every single day. Devotion comes easier when we long for it as much as breathing.

2) Why is Paul asking for open doors, is this something I should do?
We can learn much from Paul and how he lived his life after his conversion in meeting Jesus. One of the most important is the high priority of prayer in our everyday lives and the practice of looking for “open doors” to share the gospel. Asking God to open doors for us to share is absolutely something we should do on a regular basis. Inviting others to pray for us when we sense the Holy Spirit leading us to share with someone is also a critically important aspect of preaching Christ which Paul modeled for us. We are not in this “sharing the gospel of Jesus” alone! We tend to make things much harder than necessary in our spiritual journeys and sharing our faith is one of those things. I am just as guilty as the next person in this! We listen to lies telling us we need a great faith transformation story or have all the answers to any possible question that may come up, or have a bunch of Scripture memorized. In reality, all we need is to tell and show others what Jesus has done for us. When we pray for, and then look for, open doors, God will be faithful to provide them by putting people in our lives who need to hear exactly what we’ve got to share. Prayer is key, not only to opportunities, but also for boldness, courage, and knowing the right words when the time comes. (Luke 12:11-12) It is totally okay to not know all the answers! People will value your honesty in saying, “I don’t know, but I’d love to help you find an answer.” Remember, none of us have all the answers, but together we are following after the One who does!

3) How do we go about staying alert?
First, we must stop under-selling the importance and value of prayer as if it were an optional “add on” to the Christian life. When we pray, we connect with our Savior, tapping into the power that comes through His Spirit who lives inside all believers. Ephesians 6:17 calls Scripture the “sword of the Spirit”. We must be actively reading Scripture and listening for the Spirit to teach us and hone us as we pray. Prayer and Scripture study go hand-in-hand. Secondly, we must stop going through life on “auto-pilot”, focused on whatever tasks we’ve assigned ourselves on any given day. Jesus’ disciple, Peter, says, “…be ready at any time to give reason for the hope you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) This means we absolutely must take seriously the call to pray for open eyes and ears, so we can see and recognize opportunities to share about Jesus as they arise. Let’s also fervently ask the Holy Spirit to expose any lies we are tempted to believe or fears we would rather cower to than share the hope of Jesus within us! Having done the real work of fervent prayer, we can walk into sharing opportunities with a boldness and courage that comes not from ourselves but from Jesus Himself! Lastly, we must stop making excuses! Paul’s imprisonment seems like a pretty good excuse to me, one he could have easily used, but he didn’t. Instead, he made the most of the opportunities given to him right where he was. As a result, we can read his invaluable testimony in the letters he penned to early churches. Our lives today are radically different because of Paul’s obedience in prison! We can do the same by remaining actively alert and aware of the specific people God has put in our lives right where we are. Start praying with fervor!

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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