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I will never forget the moment when I began to preach to an empty room when we recorded the 2020 Easter sermon. It was surreal! Everything was changing for the next few months — so we thought! However, the global pandemic continues to impact our lives, and we continue to learn how to survive and thrive with each a new challenge.
A few months ago, I preached a sermon series called, "Take Back Your Life." The series was a response to the corporate lament I was seeing in the body of Christ. Laments are a part of life for every believer. The Psalms even provide guidance on how to lament well. We should all be good at lamenting by now! We have all had a lot of practice! One weekend, we talked about the importance of prayer as we navigated the chaos. In Colossians 4:2, Paul gives the people of Colossae three exhortations as they do life together.
First, he challenges them to “continue steadfastly in prayer.” I was told by my doctors to stay home for an extended time during the summer of 2020 because of some health issues. I worked in my backyard most of the time, and I found myself in the Psalms, focusing on prayer more than any time in my life. That season of lament has changed the trajectory of my relationship with God. The busyness of life had dissipated and the discipline of prayer flourished. As we transition out of this season, my prayer is that our desire to spend time with God in prayer does not get crowded out with the busyness of life. The next exhortation for the church is to “be watchful.” These two words give us insight into the oppression present in this first-century culture.
These words were a call to boldness in their prayer lives. Paul finishes up with a call for thanksgiving as they prayed. They were to pray with an attitude of gratitude, recognizing that God was in control in the high-stress situations they engaged every day. Sound familiar? When I read Paul’s exhortations to the churches in his letters, I am always interested in the “Why?” In Colossians 3, the “Why?” of Paul’s exhortations is found in the middle of the chapter (3:15 – 17). In these verses, Paul is calling the people of the church out of the stress of the chaos that surrounds them and into a peace that only Christ can offer. After he had challenged them to “let the peace of Christ rule in their lives,” he presents three crucial priorities in every believer’s life: discipleship, worship, and Christ-like behavior. When I read these passages, I see the call on all our lives in this season of constant change. Paul’s words call us to prayer, seasoned with urgency and gratitude. There is also a call to authenticity as believers in Jesus, and a declaration that engaging God’s peace is realized in a recognition of God’s sovereignty in every moment of our lives. So, take back your life by making your prayer life a priority in your walk with God, knowing that He Who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6).
God bless you! Pastor Chuck,
First Baptist Church is located at 1808 N. 19th St., Allentown, PA 18104