David Jeremiah - Wisdom and Understanding
Almost 60 years ago, a young missionary named Raymond Edman staggered in from an Ecuadorian jungle, desperately ill. "He'll be dead by morning," the doctor predicted. Edman's wife dyed her wedding dress black so it would be ready for the funeral, because in the tropics you have to get buried right after you die, and she wanted to be proper for his funeral. However, thousands of miles away a friend of Raymond Edman, by the name of Joseph Evans, interrupted a prayer meeting he was attending, and just out of nowhere said, "I feel we must pray for Raymond Edman in Ecuador right now".
And the group prayed earnestly until Evans, who was leading the group, cried out, "Praise the Lord, the victory is won". And the rest is the oft repeated history. Raymond Edman recovered. His wife's dress did not, but Raymond Edman recovered. And he went on to become the President of Wheaton College and served for another 40 years in his life. The story tells us about the power of intercessory prayer, praying for other people. Quite simply, intercessory prayer is praying on behalf of others. And intercessory prayer is not just a special talent that God gives to super Christians. God has called all of us to be interceding for others, to praying for others.
I would imagine this week you prayed for somebody, maybe somebody who's sick. You interceded for them. You prayed for them. You asked God to help them, to heal them. What a wonderful and exalted privilege we have to be able to come boldly before the throne of Almighty God with our prayers and our intercession. So, in verses 9 through 14 of Colossians 1, Paul gives us a model for our intercessory prayers, as he prays for the Colossian believers. Paul prayed for the strength and growth and development and endurance and all of the things we're going to study. First of all, we notice about his prayer that he was very persistent. The persistence of Paul's prayer, verse 9, he says, "For this reason, we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask".
Paul's prayer for the Colossian believers was tireless. If I've got this figured out right, by the time he wrote this letter, he could have been praying for them for nearly 10 years. He never ceased praying for them, just like Jesus taught. You know, Jesus taught us to be tireless in our prayers, in numerous places. For instance, he told a parable once about a neighbor who was asking for bread at midnight. And the unprepared host asked his neighbor for bread repeatedly, despite the fact that the man explains that he and his family are already in bed, and basically said, "Go away and leave me alone". In a later parable, a woman receives justice from an unjust judge, only after persistent petitions.
Jesus concludes in his teaching that God will be far more willing to bring about justice for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night. God honors persistent prayer, and the Bible says Jesus told this parable to teach his disciples that they should always pray and not give up. John Wesley once put it this way. "Storm the throne of grace and persevere there, and mercy will come down". How many of you have started to pray for someone or something that was out of perspective, maybe somebody you know had gotten into a sinful relationship, or somebody who was going through a trial, and you pray for a little bit, and God doesn't do anything, so you quit? Isn't it easy to do that? We're so instantaneous. Everything is right now.
You know, we pray; and if it doesn't happen the next day, we figure God must not be listening, and so we go on to something else. But the Bible says we should always pray and never stop until God does what we ask him to do. You say, "What if he doesn't"? That's not your problem. Your problem is to pray, and keep asking, and keep asking all the time. It's always too soon to quit, folks. What Paul is teaching us here is you may not get the answer you want; but remember, God lives outside of time. God isn't affected by time. And if he tells us to pray and always to pray and never give up praying, that's what we should do. And Paul's a great example. He'd been praying for the Colossian believers for 10 long years.
Now notice what his petition was. What was he praying for? What was he saying to God that he wanted God to do for these Colossians? Verse 9 says it this way. He says, "I pray, God, that you might fill up these people with your knowledge in all wisdom and spiritual understanding". That's a mouth full, and it is so wonderful, if we understand it. Paul's prayer for the Colossians actually goes back to verse 3 of chapter 1, where Paul says, "We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you". And his prayer continues all the way to verse 14. In reality, there's only one petition in this prayer, and it's here in the 9th verse.
What did he pray for? He prayed that the Colossian believers, and he prayed for us in the process, that we might be filled with knowledge. And the word for knowledge is the Greek word epignosis, which conveys the idea of a full and complete and accurate knowledge. In other words, knowledge of the truth. And this knowledge that Paul desires for the Colossians has two qualities. Listen carefully. It is to be knowledge that contains wisdom and understanding. Someone has defined wisdom as knowledge using its head. To have knowledge with wisdom is to be able to perform what you know. There are a lot of people who know a lot of stuff, but they don't know how to use it.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's not enough just for us to know the Bible. We need to know how the Bible works, how it functions, how it works in our lives, how we apply it to our lives. Have you ever noticed that knowledge doesn't always translate into wisdom and understanding? I mean, I once heard an intellectual described like this. He had so many degrees, he no longer has a temperature. You ever hear anybody like that? Sometimes really smart people have difficulty navigating the simplicities of everyday life. Stories abound.
I recently read an article that asked readers to report the dumbest thing that the smartest person they know ever did. It's quite a read. One person reported, "My brother-in-law's a pretty clever guy. But one day he started a bath for his kid and couldn't get the water to turn off. In panic, he called a plumber, asking him to come quickly, or the house was going to flood. And his plumber friend simply said, 'You could just pull the plug.'" Another guy wrote, "My brother has a Ph.D. in bioengineering. We were on a call one day, and he was saying, 'I can't find my phone. Probably my kids took it.' He didn't realize where his phone was until I told him he was using it to talk to me".
And finally, "My dad's an actuary, basically a cross between a mathematician and an economist. I came home many years ago to hear a video game blaring. That was odd. I went downstairs to find him playing the game with headphones on, but the headphones were unplugged, and he had the sound turned up on the speakers, because he couldn't hear it over the headphones. To top it off, he had the headphones on backwards". And that's just the beginning. And, you know, when we say that, we have to admit we've all done something stupid.
I was reminded this week that when we first moved here, our family was young, and we had gone to the fair in Delmar, and our children were with us. And all of a sudden, I turned to Donna, I said, "Where's Jennifer"? She said, "She's on your shoulders". So, you know, I'm not making fun of anybody else. I'm saying sometimes what we know doesn't always translate into how we live. One may have intellectual attainments. One may have a store of learning without being wise. There are learned fools, and there are ignorant fools, and the knowledge of God's will, both wisdom and insight are required. So, Paul is praying for these Colossians, and he's saying, "I want you to be filled with knowledge, but I want it to be knowledge that works, knowledge that makes a difference in your life".
So, that's the petition of his prayer. Now, in these next few words, Paul is going to motivate the Colossians to be an answer to his prayer. He's going to talk to them about the things that will happen to them if they are filled with knowledge and wisdom and understanding. We call this the possibilities of Paul's prayers. The argument of the passages concluded with Paul's lofty presentation of the things that can happen to us when we are filled with the knowledge of God. There are five things here. If you're taking notes, you can just write them down. These five things follow if we are filled with the knowledge of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
Here's the first one. We can please God continuously. Notice verse 10, "that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him". Listen to what Paul is praying. "I am praying for you, that you will be filled with knowledge that contains wisdom and understanding, that you will ably walk worthy of the Lord and please him all the time". The idea of a worthy walk is found in three other pieces of Paul's writings. Ephesians 4:1 speaks of the prisoner of the Lord beseeching you to walk worthy of his calling. Philippians 1:27 says, "Let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ". 1 Thessalonians 2:12 says, "Walk worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory".
What does it mean to fully please the Lord? That's something that we can translate into the everyday language of our life. Paul says you can live your life in such a way that you know that what you're doing is fully pleasing to the Lord, that he is pleased with your life. The worthy walk is defined by Paul as a walk that pleases God. When we study the Word of God, we develop an understanding of what pleases God. This knowledge enables us to walk worthy of the Lord by putting it in practice. Listen to me. Here's the principle. The better we know the Lord, the better we know what pleases the Lord. Have you ever had somebody tell you they're gonna do something, and they don't think God cares? And you know, well, if you read the Bible, you'd know better than that.
If you read the Bible, you know what pleases the Lord. And what you're about to do is not pleasing to the Lord. None of us, as Christians, want to go out and deliberately displease the Lord, but we do it. Sometimes we do it because we don't know enough about what the Lord is like, that we know how to please him. When we started our first church back in Fort Wayne, we built a little house right across the street from the church. During those early days, we had no staff at the church, and I worked a lot of hours every day.
On one occasion, that I have never forgotten, Donna and I had a dinner appointment with some friends. And we had hired a babysitter, and I told Donna I had an appointment late in the afternoon, and I would be home just in time for us to make our dinner date, and she should be sure to be ready 'cause it would be close. It was winter time in Fort Wayne. Winter time in Fort Wayne was bitter, and it was very cold. And I had just gotten the heater in the car fired up, as I pulled into the driveway of our little house, and I beeped the horn of my car. I thought she would pop out the front door, get in the car, and we'd be on our way. But that did not happen. I waited, and finally I couldn't wait any longer, and I finally went into the house to check out what was going on. She was ready all right, sitting on the couch in the living room with her winter coat all buttoned up, and her scarf around her neck, and her arms folded across her chest. And she just looked at me and said something like, "I don't do beeps. I don't respond to beeps".
Now, I learned that day what I had just done did not please my wife. And I could give you a list of things over the long time we've been married, but I'm just going to give you this one. You'll have to think about the others. And you know it's been almost 50 years since that happened, and I've never done that again, not one time. I've never done that again. Because, you see, the better you know somebody, the better you know what pleases them. Do you get it? That's knowing God and knowing your wife. Both work, the better you know someone. So Paul said, I want you to know God with all wisdom and understanding, so that you can know how to please him, so that every day, as you get up in the morning, you know what to do and how to live in such a way as to please God. You can't know how to please God if you don't know God.
So, the first characteristic of that kind of a life is you can please God continuously. Here's the second thing Paul tells us. You can produce fruit constantly, verse 10. He says you can be fruitful in every good work. Now, we're to bear fruit in every good work. That means we're to be productive as Christians. We're to do what God calls us to do. We're to produce. We're to be, we're to be difference makers in our world. And, you know, sometimes people say, "Well, what does it mean to be fruitful"?
There are five New Testament examples of fruit bearing, where the word fruit is actually used in the text, and I'm going to give them to you. There's a little paradigm that I put together that helps me remember them. First of all, fruit is character. It's what you are. Galatians 5:22 says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. If any of those things are true in your life as a Christian, and some of them should be, perhaps all of them should be, that means you're being fruitful. You're being fruitful in your character.
And then if you keep reading in the New Testament, you come to Romans chapter 6 and verse 22, and you discover that fruit is not only character, what you are. It's conduct, what you do. But now having been set free from sin and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness. Paul told the Romans that by their holy living and their conduct, they were being fruitful. Fruitfulness is what you do. It's not just who you are. It's what you do.
And the third one is conversation. This is getting a little closer to where all of us live. Fruit is character, what you are. It's conduct, what you do, and it's conversation, what you say. Hebrews 13:15 puts it this way. "Therefore by Him, let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God", now watch this, "that is the fruit of our lips". Did you know that what you say and the words that come from your mouth, that's being fruitful. And the words that are used here in Hebrews are in the context of praise and worship, so that when you come to church as you did today, and you sing praise to God, that's being fruitful. That's an evidence of fruitfulness in your life. When you sing in the choir, and you lead others in praise, that's a fruitfulness in your life. And we're building this little picture here that fruit is character, what you are. It's conduct, what you do. It's conversation, what you say. Here's one every Baptist preacher likes. It's contributions, what you give.
Now, I'm not making this up. Listen to Philippians chapter 4. Paul wrote to the Philippians, and he said, "For even in this Thessalonica, you sent once and again for my necessities, not that I seek the gift," Paul wrote, "but I seek fruit to abound to your account". In other words, when Paul was writing to the Philippians, he said, "I'm really glad that you sent me a gift to help me in my ministry". He was a missionary. He didn't have any, he worked a little bit on his own, but he needed support of the people. But then he went on to say, "I'm not as glad that I got the gift as I am to know that because you gave it, it put fruit in your account. You are fruitful in your giving". The picture is growing. It's what you are. It's what you do. It's what you say. It's what you give.
And finally, fruit is converts who you win. In other words, if you win people to Jesus Christ, that's being fruitful. Proverbs 11:30 says, "The fruit of the righteous is the tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise". And Romans 1:13 says, Paul writing, "I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you, but was hindered until now", and then he said, "that I might have some fruit among you, just as among the other Gentiles". Paul said, "I want to come and preach here; because if I come, some people are going to hear, and they're going to get saved, and that'll be fruitfulness". And fruitfulness is, if you're a Christian, you help other people become Christians, and you become fruitful.
I remember having the opportunity to lead a man to Christ back when we lived in Fort Wayne, and I have to tell you this man was one of my favorite people of all time. He was the biggest man I ever knew. He was 6'9", and he weighed over 300 pounds. I baptized him and learned a lesson of water displacement in the Baptistry. This man's name was Gene McCoy, and he was my wonderful friend. I led him to Christ. It was a wonderful experience. His wife became a Christian, his children. One night, at one o'clock in the morning, I got a phone call from him. And when I picked up the phone, he said, "Pastor". I said, "Yeah"? He said, "This is Gene McCoy. Congratulations, you're a grandfather". I said, "What"? He said, "Yeah, it's true, you're a grandfather".
I tried to think about that for a few moments, and then he said, "You know, you led me to Christ a few months ago. Today, I led a young lady to Christ. And since you're my spiritual father, I guess that makes you her spiritual grandfather". Well, that's kind of a strange way of explaining it. God doesn't have any grandchildren, obviously. God only has children. But when you lead someone to Christ, and they lead someone to Christ, you end up being their spiritual grandparents. When we're Christians, and we produce ourselves in the lives of other people, if you've ever led anybody to Christ, whether it's your children, or your friends, or maybe your spouse, that's an evidence of being fruitful.
So, let's go back and just for a moment review. What does it mean to be producing fruit constantly? Paul said if you're filled with knowledge and wisdom, here's one of the things that will happen. You will become a fruitful Christian. It will be who you are, and what you do, and what you say, and what you give, and who you win.
Now, here's the third thing. It says you will progress in knowledge consistently. Once again, verse 10, increasing in the knowledge of God. How many of you know that the best way to grow as a Christian is to get busy serving God. I don't know very many people who really grow, who are not serving. That's why, when I talk to you about what it means to be a really plugged in person at Shadow Mountain, I tell you three things. Come to church, get in a small group, and serve. You don't really start to grow as a Christian until you start to serve. Because when you serve, you end up with all these questions.
Somebody once told me, if you want to learn the Bible, be a teacher. What they meant by that was if you're a teacher, you may not know very much, but the first time you go to class and you get all these questions, the next week you'll be smarter than you were that week 'cause you'll go learn. You grow as a Christian when you serve. Simply the same principle that you can't really be healthy if you have no exercise at all.
So, when I encourage you to serve, I'm not just saying we need you to come and help us. We do. But what I'm saying, that's one of the keys to your spiritual vitality and your spiritual growth. It's to serve. Paul saw this dynamic connection between action and knowledge. He knew that as they continued bearing every good work, they would naturally open themselves up to growing in the knowledge of God. One begets the other in this upward spiral. So, the one who truly serves God is the one who truly comes to know God, because you get involved in the Bible calls you fellow servants with Jesus Christ.
So, if you are filled with all knowledge in wisdom and understanding, you can persevere under pressure cheerfully. We've all been under pressure. We've all been in this situation where we weren't sure what was gonna happen next, and we still don't know for sure what's gonna happen next. But listen to what Paul says in verse 11. He says, "When we live this way, with knowledge, filled with wisdom and understanding, we will be strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power for all patience and longsuffering with joy".
Now let me unpack that for just a moment. The word "all" is a marker of the highest degree, strengthened with all might for all patience and longsuffering. That means complete or unlimited. We could paraphrase the first half of the verse this way: "Strengthened with the greatest strength imaginable". Now, I don't know about you. When I see a verse like that, I think, "Oh, yeah, man, I need that strengthen and that power. I need that might because I'm gonna face some really big deals here". I'm gonna have to stand up for what I believe against people who don't believe it, or I'm gonna have to face a decision. And so I always think of power, might, and strength as what you need for the big decision, but I've learned lately that it's not that way at all, and this verse proves it. You don't need power, strength, and might for the big challenges of life. You need power, strength, and might for the long haul of life.
How many of you know the Christian life is not a hundred-yard dash. It's a marathon. And you need the strength and the power of God to stay on message and be the person you were called to be. Paul uses two words here to describe what he wants us to be. One of them is the word endurance and the other is the word patience. Endurance and patience are two great words which often keep company with each other. Endurance is not just the ability to bear things, but the ability in bearing them to turn them into glory. It's a conquering endurance, the ability to deal triumphantly with anything that life can do to us. And the basic meaning of patience is patience with people.
Oh, my goodness. It is a quality of mind and heart which enables us to cope with people in such a way that their unpleasantness or cruelty will never drive us to bitterness, that their unwillingness to learn will never drive us to despair, that their folly will never drive us to irritation, and their unloveliness will never alter our love for them. That's the way the Christian's supposed to live. We're not supposed to get ticked off because somebody else gets ticked off at us.
So, Paul prays for endurance, which no situation can defeat. And patience, which no person can defeat. He said, "I want you to be the kind of people who no matter what you're going through, you go through it... it's not unreal. You don't just blow it off. You go through it. You're in the middle of it. But in the middle of it, you're different than other people are". You're in a situation where you have difficult people. And how are you supposed to act like that? Are you gonna be difficult back to them? Are you gonna be nasty to them? The Bible says that if you are filled with knowledge and wisdom, and understanding, you can live in the midst of these situations and be a redemptive person. He prays for the endurance which no situation can defeat, and patience which no person can destroy.
Now, when we think of patience, who do we think of in the Bible? Job. When you think of endurance, maybe you think of Jeremiah. But when you think of patience and longsuffering with joy, you think of Jesus. Patience and longsuffering without joy are cold and unattractive. There's a stern kind of stoical endurance of suffering that, well, you might look at it and be admired. It repels people. Some people just, "Yeah, I'm in the middle of it, and I'm gonna do my best, and live for Jesus as tough as it is". And you walk away. What kind of victory is that? We hear a lot about resignation, and that's only partially a Christian virtue, too little of an active delight in God's will.
Beth Logans is someone who has endured the worst in life with joy. She's a 48-year-old wife, mother, and grandmother who was diagnosed in 2018 with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a fast-spreading form of blood cancer. The news came as a terrible shock, and she started chemotherapy immediately. At one point, the drug sent her into liver failure, and the doctors told her she had only a 15% chance of surviving. Then came a bone marrow transplant, which involved many long trips to a hospital in Detroit, but now she calls herself a survivor. What's truly incredible is her attitude.
She told her local newspaper, "I have so much to be thankful for. I'm thankful that God brought me through this, and I'm thankful to the Lord Jesus Christ for his comfort and his calming of my fears, and I'm thankful for my family, and I'm thankful for the people I have met because of my illness, and the doctors, and the nurses, and fellow patients, and their families, and I'm thankful for the prayers of the people from many churches, people I don't even know".
And then she said this, and this tells you why she could be the way she was. All of us say, "Well, that's wonderful. How could she do that"? Well, here's how she did it. She said, "I determined to choose joy. I'd say to anybody in a similar situation, 'Chose joy.'" It's a choice we make, isn't it? Am I gonna be grumpy, and grouchy, and grind all the way through this situation? Or am I gonna choose joy. And, you know, it's not always easy, but the Spirit of God is the Spirit of joy. And when you choose joy, no matter what you're going through, everything is different. First of all, you are better. But secondly, the people around you, they sigh a sigh of relief. And all of a sudden, in the midst of whatever you're gong through, there's this God can only do it kind of joy in your life.
We do a lot to prove to the world who we are when we go through things, don't we? I mean, anybody can be happy and full of joy when life is good, and, you know, all the bills are paid, and nobody's sick, and all the kids are doing pretty good. Everybody can be filled with joy. But when we have joy, in the midst of the troubles that come to us periodically, we prove the difference. We show people who Jesus is, because only Jesus can do that. We can't do it in our own strength. I mean we can choose joy in the power of the Holy Spirit, but we can't choose joy in our strength. But when we have joy, when everything around us is crumbling, people see that.
I actually had a person come up to me once and ask me this question. "Why are you the way that you are"? Those are the kind of questions that ought to be coming to us periodically. And then finally, we can please God continually. We can produce fruit constantly. We can progress in knowledge consistently. We can persevere under pressure cheerfully. And here's the last one. We can praise God correctly. Here it says in verse 12, "Giving thanks to the Father". Paul's writing to the Colossians, who were under stress and going through some stuff in their church. And he says, "Don't forget, in the midst of all that's happening to you to be thankful". And then he gives us a thanksgiving list, so that we can be thankful, as well.
First of all, in verse 12, he says we need to be thankful, because God has remade us, "who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light". Kind of a wordy sentence, but all that means is that we were not capable in our own strength to relate to God, but God remade us. He gave us a new system. When we were born again, we got a new nature. We didn't get rid of the old one, but we got a new one, and God enables us, through that new nature, to approach God and to inherit the things that God wants us to have. So, be thankful that you've been made over. You've had the greatest makeover there's ever been in history. God has made you over when you became a Christian. Amen? He's made you new. The Bible says old things pass away. Behold, all things become new. He remade you.
Here's the second thing. He not only remade you, he rescued you. Verse 13, "He has delivered us from the power of darkness". This deliverance is not an ongoing process. This is not he is delivering us, although that's true. But here in this text, it's saying there was a day when Almighty God delivered you from darkness. When you became a Christian, you were delivered, past tense, final. You were delivered from darkness. When Christ died for us on the cross, he rendered Satan's power over us null and void. We have been delivered from the power of darkness. Never again do we need to be dominated by error and confusion. What a reminder for the Colossians, who were going through this fight with Gnosticism in their church. And what a reminder for us, as we try to negotiate this crazy world in which we live. We have been rescued from the darkness. Hallelujah.
Here's the third one. This is one that kind of surprised me, caught me off guard almost, "and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love". He has relocated us. He's remade us, he's rescued us, and he's relocated us. You say, "What are you talking about here"? Well, he uses a word in this text that is the picture of what happened when an eastern conqueror would come into a place that he had conquered. Oftentimes, they would take the whole population and remove them to another location, so they could never settle back into their old ways, and they would literally be in charge. So, Paul says, "When you were saved, God picked you up and took you out of the kingdom of Satan, and he took you over, and he plopped you down in the kingdom of the Son of his love". That's what he calls him. Amen? Hallelujah.
And then finally, he redeemed us, "in whom we have redemption". Verse 14, "Through His blood, the forgiveness of sin". Redemption and forgiveness are one and the same. Redemption means to be bought back, and forgiveness means to be totally released from whatever it is that you did. You know, oftentimes, we give thanks to God for all the things we have, and we should. We should be thankful for the blessings of God. But Paul wants us to take this a little bit deeper and never forget to be thankful for what God has done for us when he saved us, when he made us new. We're here today in this place because something happened in our lives. God changes us in this miraculous way. And if we're not careful, we allow that to sink into the backdrop, and it's kind of there, but we don't notice it.
And I want to tell you a couple of stories to help you. Never forget this. Lee Horton was released from prison. After 25 years behind bars, he did an interview with NPR, and this is how he described his redemption. Listen to this. "I don't think people understand that the punishments being in prison. When you take away everything, everything becomes beautiful to you. When I got out, I went to the DMV a couple of days later to get my license back, and I stood in line for two and a half hours, and I heard all the stories that everybody was talking about, the bad things about DMV, but I had the most beautiful time. All the people were looking at me because I was smiling and laughing, and they couldn't understand why I was so happy. Just being in line at the DMV was a beautiful thing.
One of my morning rituals," he said, "every morning is I send a message of good morning to every one of my contacts, and that's like 42 people. I send them good morning, good morning, and good morning, and have a nice day. And they're like, 'How long can he keep that up?' But they don't understand, I was deprived, and now it's like I've been released, and I've been reborn into a better day, into a new day, like the person I was no longer exists". Does this sound familiar? "And I stepped through the time machine, and I've stepped through the looking glass into the other side, and everything is beautiful. And even people getting upset to me seems to be very nice. I like to just look at people now and smile and ask myself, 'Do they know what my secret is"?
Do they know what your secret is? That you've been redeemed, and God has remade you, and rescued you, and relocated you, and forgiven you. Do you think people can see that in you? Because that's what Paul wants us to understand our gratitude for what God has done for us should fill up our minds and never be pushed into the backdrop. It should triumph over everything else for which we're grateful. Because let's face it. if that hadn't happened, nothing else really matters. Paul ends his prayer by rehearsing all that God has done for us. He remade us, he rescued us, he relocated us, he redeemed us. It's so easy to take all those blessings for granted, for them to become smaller in our lives, rather than bigger. I think that's why Paul was always praying for his friends. He wanted the gospel to mean more and more to them with each passing day.
Author Jared Wilson has a book out called "Gospel Wakefulness". For Wilson, gospel wakefulness means that we treasure Christ more greatly and savor his power more sweetly as we know him more deeply. Here's how he illustrates this idea in a graphic illustration. Imagine you're driving down the road, and your car stalls at a railroad crossing. You are understandably nervous, as you try to reignite the car's engine, but you become even more so when you see a train turn the corner in the distance.
The train engine's horn is blaring, and the engineer has thrown on the brakes, but you are too close, and he's coming too fast. You move from trying to get the car to start from trying to unfasten your seatbelt, but fear has made your hand stiff and shake, and the train is rushing forward, and you know you're going to be hit. And you are. Suddenly and from behind, a man in a truck behind you has decided to ram into your car and push you off the tracks, even as he is destroyed by the impact in the very spot you once occupied.
Ladies and gentlemen, that's what Jesus Christ did for us. You get out of the car, shaken and frightened, and you're in shock over your rescuers sacrifice and you're grateful like you've never been grateful before. There's a gratitude in your heart you can't even... it's exploded that you're still alive. Even though you're terrified for what happened to the man who saved you, you are so glad to be alive. You feel woozy, so you sit down on the trunk of your car. Then as you're trying to retrieve your cell phone from your pocket to call 911, you hear a whimper from inside the trunk.
You didn't know that before you left the house, as your kids were playing hide and seek, your youngest son decided to hide in the trunk of your car. As you open it up frantically, and discover that he is miraculously unharmed, you suddenly realize the total graveness of the loss you almost suffered. Your gratitude, your amazement, your new outlook on life takes a giant leap forward. That is the difference between the gospel wakefulness of conversion and the greater wakefulness that often occurs later in life, as we look back and realize what God has really done for us. Many of you were saved out of darkness.
I grew up in a Christian home. That's not my story. But now you realize that because you were saved out of darkness, your children grew up in a Christian home. And maybe now they're married, and they have grandchildren. One of the things that happened to me when I went back to the church we started 50 years ago, was I met people that I had led to Christ, and then they introduced me to their children and their grandchildren and told me what was going on in their family. When God saved them, he saved everything in their wake. When God save you, when he brings you into his kingdom, he redeems everything that is true about you. Don't forget that. Don't forget to look back and be filled with gospel wakefulness.
Rejoice in who you are in Christ. Thank about all the things that are true of you that would not be true of you if Christ had not changed your life and developed a quality of gratitude. Paul was the happiest man who ever walked on this earth, because he was so grateful. He never forgot what happened to him on Damascus Road. He never forgot that one time he was a persecutor of Christians. And because of God's grace, he became a preacher to Christians, and his life, it just exudes gratitude.
Friends, with all that's going on around us, and we have a lot that we can look at and complain about, we really don't have anything to complain about. If you've got Jesus, you've got everything. If you have salvation, you not only have the past cared for, the present cared for, but you know where you're going, and we know that sometime soon, Jesus is gonna come back and take us to heaven. What a wonderful way to live, with that kind of gratitude in our life. So, my prayer for you today is Paul's prayer for you today, that you might be filled with knowledge and all wisdom and spiritual understanding, and that all these things that Paul says will happen to us, if that's true, will happen to you, if it's true in your life.