Colossians 1:11a

The Purpose of Divine Strength

 

Strengthened With All Might


1. A worthy walk is characterized by divine strength.

a. “Worthy” means “of equal weight, value, or worth”

b. A walk worthy of the Lord is a walk whose moral quality and weight is equal to the Lord Himself!

c. If God is infinitely holy (and He is) then how could our walk ever be worthy of Him?

d. If God’s calling is as high as heaven (and it is) then how could we ever live up to it?

e. If God demands that we be holy as He is holy… what chance do we have? The demands are impossible.

f. The answer is that the God who makes the impossible demands also backs them up with His own omnipotence… for those who are willing to trust in Him.
» When He tells the children of Israel marching around Jericho to blow their trumpets, He causes the walls to fall down.
» When He tells the children of Israel to march through the Red Sea, He opens up the sea.
» When He tells Peter to walk on water, He holds him up.
» When He tells us to walk in newness of life, He provides the power of the resurrection to do so.
» When He tells us to love our enemies, He backs that command up with omnipotence.
» When He tells us to love as Christ loved us – He backs that command up with His omnipotence… so that we are strengthened with ALL MIGHT to do what God has commanded.

2. God provides all might for the weak, but trusting sinners to be able to walk worthy… to walk in newness of life…

a. Strengthened with all might according to His glorious power. (Col. 1:11)

b. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. (Eph. 1:19)

c. That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. (Eph.3:16)

d. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. (Eph. 3:20)

e. Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (Eph. 6:10)

f. God’s power is available to be operative in us… but only when the vessel is emptied of self and full of HIM. Then His power operates in and through us…

g. And ALL MIGHT is available… the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available… omnipotence…

h. All the power we need is available to us to walk a worthy walk… to please Him…

i. It is divine power that enables us to be FILLED with the knowledge of His will. It is also divine power that enables us to FULFILL His will… to walk in obedience to His known will… the only way to please Him.

3. According to His glorious power…

a. We are strengthened (continually—present participle—as we abide in Christ the Vine, we are strengthened… as we hold the Head, we increase…
» This strength is steady; consistent; abiding; continuous.
» God does not zap us with power on Sunday, which power is supposed to last us all week… like charging up a battery!
» Rather, God’s power is more like the continuous supply of electricity—but requires the lamp to be plugged in… for a moment by moment supply.
» That’s how God supplies our power… as we abide in Him.

b. According: in accord with; that which corresponds to; equal to;
» Note that the strength supplied is not in accordance with our need, but rather is in accordance with HIS power…
» In other words, when we face a trial that would require, say, 10 pounds of strength… it is not that God makes exactly 10 pounds of strength available to us… that would be strengthened according to our need.
» Rather, when we face a trial that demands 10 pounds of strength, God provides the power of His glory to us… His omnipotence is made available to us… that’s how we can REST as we face our foes!
» God’s method of enabling us to face our foes and to face adversity is not to give us what we think we might need… but rather He provides overwhelming force… that which is supplied is not in accordance with what we need… but with what God has!
» The branch that is abiding in the Vine has access to ALL the strength and nourishment and power of the Vine!
» There is no measuring the amount of strength God provides when we trust in Him.
» The strength supplied is = the power of His glory!
» This means that there is no trial, no circumstances, no foe, no battle with the powers of darkness that could ever force a trusting believer to fall.

c. As we walk by faith – no fiery dart of the wicked one can harm us. We are protected by omnipotence. This is an awesome thought!

d. Thus, the expression teaches that we have an unending, continual resource of unlimited power to enable us to walk in His will, produce fruit, grow spiritually, and please Him.

4. A literal rendering of this phrase: according to the power of His glory.

a. There is power associated with God’s glory… God’s glory can have a powerful effect on the believer. That’s the point here.

b. But what IS God’s glory? It might sound a bit nebulous to some…
» It is the sum of His divine attributes and excellencies: His majesty, His infinite holiness, purity, dazzling brilliance, righteousness, omniscience, His everlasting love, grace, mercy, and especially here, His omnipotence… power to the degree of infinity!
» That’s God’s glory. Everything about Him is glorious.

c. There is a POWER to God’s glory… it can and should have a powerful effect on the believer.
» Moses sought to know more and more of God’s glory.
· He got a glimpse of God’s glory in the burning bush… and realized that he was then standing on holy ground.
· Ex. 24:20 – God called Moses up in the mount with Him.
· Ex. 24:16-18 – Moses went right up in the midst of the visible manifestation of the glory of God—for 40 days and nights.
· II Cor. 3:7 – the children of Israel could not look at Moses’ face when he came down—because spending time in the glory of God caused Moses’ face to radiate… it had an effect on him!
· Ex. 33:18 – Moses later sought to know MORE of God’s glory.
» John got a glimpse of the glory of the Risen Christ too. (Rev. 19:17)
· Why was John given a glimpse of His glory?
· John was an old man at this time… and exiled to a lonely rock pile for his testimony for Christ.
· To encourage Him and embolden him to continue on standing for the truth, Christ appeared to him as He is in His Risen state…
· John needed strength to continue…
· A glimpse of the glory of God provided that strength…
» Paul got a glimpse of His glory and was transformed… he never recovered! It transformed his life. Acts 9:3-6
· It emboldened him to speak up for Christ… to live for Him… to endure much suffering… and never give up.
· Paul got a glimpse of God’s glory from which he never recuperated…
· A vision of the glory of God so GRIPPED Paul’s heart, that it motivated him… and emboldened him… and strengthened him to endure nearly unbelievable circumstances.
· Acts 9:15-16 – and he would NEED this divine strength in his inner man to face all the trials and sufferings that God had planned for his life.
· If Paul was going to endure… and suffer long… he would need divine strength.
· This vision of God’s glory had a strengthening effect on him.

5. The glory of God can have a powerful effect on believers today too…

a. We will never SEE a vision of the glory of God pass by us as Moses did in the cleft of the rock… or as Isaiah did when he was before the throne high and lifted up… or as Paul did on the road to Damascus… or as John did on the isle of Patmos.

b. BUT — we CAN get a glimpse of the glory of God in His Word… and it CAN get a hold of our hearts in such a way as to be life transforming… and strengthening in the inner man… so that we too are never the same!

c. II Cor. 3:18 – this is the kind of strength and growth that is ours as we BEHOLD the glory of the Lord…
» As we behold the glory of the Lord in the Scriptures… and it grips our hearts… we are transformed… into that same image…
» To really BEHOLD it is to be gripped by it! How could it be otherwise?
» As God’s glory grips our hearts and minds… it has a strengthening effect on our lives.
» This work of transforming a sinner into the image of Christ is the greatest demonstration of divine power…
» As this process occurs, believers are strengthened with ALL might… and this strengthening is in accord with the power of His glory…
» When grasped and seen for who He really is—the glory of God has a life transforming effect on the believer.
» There is a direct connection here between power and glory.
» And note here that we are to behold the Lord Jesus Christ… in His glory!
· Not the weak Jesus of the gospels… who hungered and wept, and died…
· When it is comfort we need, God emphasizes this aspect of Christ’s earthly ministry. (Heb. 2:17-18)
· But when it is strength we need, we are to behold Christ in His glory… the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Savior in heaven!
· That is the “vision” that transforms us… and strengthens us with might in the inner man…

d. As believers, it is possible to hear certain truths repeated hundreds of times, before that truth really sinks in…
» Most believers in sound churches would agree on paper that bringing glory to God is the main purpose for our lives.
» If we were all given a multiple choice test, virtually all believers would get the right answer… because we have SOME understanding of its significance… we have it in our heads.
» But when it sinks deep down into our hearts, and grips our hearts, and dominates our thoughts… and overshadows all other motives in life… THEN it changes us forever… when we REALLY get it…
» Pastor Carlton Helgerson from The Church of the Open Bible used to say, “If they only knew who God is…” I think what he meant by that was exactly what Paul states in different terminology in Col. 1:11 – “the power of His glory…”
» God’s glory IS who He is… and when we know God that way… when who He is really sinks in—when His glory grips our soul… it has a strengthening and life transforming effect on the believer…
» Sometimes folks sit under such teaching for years and never get it… it never sinks in… and other times, it DOES sink in… from the head to the heart… and sets that believer’s life ablaze for God.
» God’s revelation of Himself to us is the source of our strength.

e. Paul prays for this for the Colossians… that the POWER of God’s glory would be like DYNAMITE in their inner man!
» In the phrase “strengthened with all might” strengthened and might are the same root… (verb and noun)… and it is the word from which we get our English word “dynamite!”
» What an awesome prayer… that the believers would behold the glory of God in such a way that it have POWER over them… and be like dynamite in their inner man…
» Strengthened—because they got a glimpse of who God is… of His glory… His majesty… power… truth… sovereignty… grace… omnipotence…
» Once you get a glimpse of who God is, you’re never the same again…
» Let’s pray that each one of us here would come to know God this way… and be moved… challenged… changed…strengthened… and transformed by that vision.
» As the hymn writer wrote: Be Thou my vision!

Patience and Longsuffering


PATIENCE

1. For what purpose is divine power made available to us?

a. If one looks to the charismatics, one might assume that God makes His power available to us that it might be displayed in some magnificent and miraculous way for all to see… perhaps speaking in tongues… raising the dead… making the blind see… and the lame leap…

b. If one looks to the Catholics one might assume that God makes His power available so we can see a picture of Mary suddenly appear in a cloud formation… or on a factory wall…

c. But if one looks in the epistles addressed to us… the church… one finds God’s power is made available UNTO patience…longsuffering… and joy… in other words—it is ours that we might produce fruit…

d. God’s power is manifested in Christlike character… not Christlike miracles!

e. UNTO = in that direction; patience is the goal of the strength…

2. Patience:

a. Defined: hupomene…
» hupo = under; mene = remain; abide; hence, to abide under… to remain under…
» It speaks of one who remains under pressure; under a heavy weight.
» He doesn’t quit… he doesn’t cave in… he doesn’t turn back…
» The term means endurance… patient, steadfast endurance… perseverance…

b. Charles Spurgeon wrote that it was this kind of perseverance that enabled the snail to make it to the ark…

c. As Christians, we are to run the race with patience… (Heb. 12:1)
» This is why Divine strength is provided. Not so that we can raise the dead or walk on water… but rather so we can run the race with patient endurance… and not quit.
» And how much power is made available to us for this race? The POWER of His glory… ALL might from the Almighty…
» And HOW are we to run? Looking unto Jesus… the heavenly, resurrected, ascended and glorified Savior… as we behold Him in His glory… we are strengthened to continue running with patient endurance…
» There is a connection between power and beholding the glory…

d. Spiritual strength is given that we might STAND… and withstand in an evil day… against spiritual opposition… and when the battle and the conflict is over, to remain standing…

3. ALL patience.

a. Consider the “alls” in this prayer: all wisdom; all pleasing; all might; and all patience…

b. All patience speaks of endurance that perseveres through ALL of life… all of life’s trials and troubles… all of life’s difficulties…

c. And we are able to have ALL patience because we have ALL might!

d. Therein lies the real power of Christian testimony… endurance…

e. Anyone can muster up a flash of strength here and there. But the power of God available to the one who abides in Christ enables us to endure through ALL… through everything… through anything… without quitting.

f. Winston Churchill spoke at his alma mater, Harrow University in his older years. The old man stood up to make his speech and said, “Young gentlemen, never give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never, never, never.” And then sat down.

LONGSUFFERING

1. Longsuffering defined: makrothumia; long fused; self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate.

a. Trench distinguished the two terms this way:
» hupomene = endurance without succumbing
» makrothumia = endurance without retaliating

b. Another Greek scholar made this distinction:
» patience/endurance (hupomene) or endurance relates primarily to patience with trying circumstances
» longsuffering relates to patience with trying people

c. Self restraint when provoked; not striking back; not complaining

d. It takes divine power to demonstrate these qualities in our fallen hearts, doesn’t it!? This is a far greater display of Divine power than walking on water.

2. Here Paul says that longsuffering is characteristic a walk worthy of the Lord.

a. Eph. 4:1-2 – it is characteristic of the walk that is worthy of our high calling in Christ.

b. I Pet. 2:19—20 – God is pleased when believers patiently endure through persecution… through trying circumstances and trying people!
» Even when doing well, we may suffer… wrongfully…
» When we suffer for well doing and take it patiently…longsuffering… without blowing up… without striking back… but willing to take the abuse and even turn the other cheek…– this is “acceptable” to God (grace; pleasing).
» This IS fruit… (Cf. vs. 21-23 – Christlike behavior that pleases the Father!)

c. This is a walk worthy of the Lord… worthy of our high calling… one that is “unto all pleasing”… and fruitful…
» This is NOT the way the flesh wants to react. The flesh says, “I’m not going to take it any more! I’m going strike back… I’m going to seek vengeance… I’m going to get even… and then some!”
» The walk of the flesh is proud, self assertive, demanding, short fused, putting self first, and disruptive.
» The worthy walk is with “all lowliness, and meekness with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” (Eph.4:2)

d. That’s why it takes the power of God working in us to produce a Christlike response to evil and to mistreatment… Christlike behavior is UNLIKE us…
» It is a demonstration of the power of God…and a manifestation of the indwelling LIFE of Christ…
» And how practical and helpful when this spirit is demonstrated in the home!
» How many arguments and fights could have been avoided with a little longsuffering… a longer fuse… how many hurtful things were said that could have and should have been left UNSAID…
» What awful examples we set for our kids when we choose to blow up at our spouse right in front of them… rather than rely upon the power of God to strengthen us UNTO all patience with longsuffering!
» The power of God is not just for Sunday morning when you teach a Sunday school class or sing in the choir; it’s available to us every day of the week, because we NEED it every day of the week!
» We need it at home… with our kids… our spouses… we need it all day long in the office… during the commute… we need it with our relatives…
» We need it in the local church… to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace!” (Eph. 4:3)
· There will be times when folks right here in the local church will rub one another the wrong way… step on toes… perhaps gossip… offend… hurt feelings…
· How do we deal with that? The flesh has its way.
· God provides POWER… divine power whose purpose is to bring us UNTO all patience and longsuffering!
· God provides ALL might that produces ALL patience… patience to enable us to endure the most difficult circumstances… longsuffering to enable us to endure the most difficult people…

Joyfulness


1. God’s infinite power is made available to us as believers through faith UNTO all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.

a. It takes divine power to enable us to endure difficult situations and difficult people.

b. But it REALLY takes divine power to enable us to do so with JOYFULNESS!

c. If vs. 11 stopped with the word “longsuffering” one might conclude that Paul was promoting a harsh Stoicism… that God’s power would enable us to grind our teeth, bite the bullet, and bear it…

d. The British Isles are known for this quality… keeping a stiff upper lip… not showing any emotion… just grind your teeth and bear it!

e. Stoics pride themselves in their sheer grit to endure… to plow though difficulties… but knew nothing of doing so with JOY.

f. Christianity takes endurance to a whole new level…

2. We have illustrations of the terms Paul uses from the Bible:

a. Job and Abraham are used as illustrations of patient endurance… in spite of all odds and adverse circumstances, they kept on walking by faith… undaunted… unshaken… trusting… faithfully enduring difficult situations.

b. Stephen is a good example of longsuffering… when persecuted prayed for those who mistreated him… that’s longsuffering… not striking back…

c. Acts 16:22-25 – Paul and Silas illustrate for us endurance, longsuffering with JOYFULNESS… as they sang in prison… beaten, bound, bleeding, but buoyant with joy!

d. This is the ultimate example of the power of God operating in the life of a trusting believer… JOY!

e. And what a testimony that was… what power displayed! How different from what people are accustomed to seeing… and what an impact it can have on the lives of others… consider the Philippian jailor!

f. Consider the Hebrew believers: The Hebrew believers took joyfully the spoiling of their goods… knowing they have a better and enduring substance in heaven. (Heb. 10:34)

g. When trials come, we are not told to grind our teeth and bear it. We are told to “count it all JOY!” That takes the power of God…

h. It is not a phony kind of joy—it is not pretending to be happy. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. Fruit! It is not pretending to be happy—

i. Joy is not happiness… happiness is dependent upon favorable happenings… JOY is the fruit of the Spirit… and is not related to circumstances.
» JOY is a deep, settling, stable, contentment, and an inner sense of well being that comes to us by means of the power of God and is based faith in the knowledge of God…
» We can count it all joy KNOWING that the trying of your faith worketh patience…
» The Hebrew believers who lost their earthly goods could have joy KNOWING that they have a better and more enduring substance in heaven…
» We can glory in tribulation KNOWING that tribulation worketh patience and patience experience… and experience hope…
» We can KNOW that God uses these awful situations for our eternal good… and we can KNOW that God will never leave us… we can KNOW that God will provide the grace and strength to endure… and we can KNOW that it will work together for good…
» Hence, we can have a deep, inner sense of well being… KNOWING we are in the hands of our heavenly Father who loves us with an everlasting love… and is shaping us into the image of His dear Son!
» We can JOY, not because God promises to make the trial go away, but because He promises His presence and His power to endure through it all!
» This is a joy that is traced back to God’s power: it is the joy of the Lord!
» God’s power produces joy in adversity; and at the same time, the joy of the Lord has a strengthening effect on us! The joy of the Lord is our strength! (Neh. 8:10)

j. “Oh JOY that seekest me through pain…I cannot close my heart to thee!”

k. God’s power isn’t seen today in the tongues movement, or in the phony faith healers… or in supposed miracles. God’s power is seen in your average Joe Christian who faces the difficulties of life with patience… with longsuffering toward difficult people… and does so with JOY… a supernatural joy that is completely unrelated to circumstances.

l. Even when there’s no fruit on the vine, “yet will I rejoice; I will joy in the God of my salvation!”

m. There isn’t any more powerful demonstration of God’s power… there isn’t any more powerful witness on earth… than the simple believer who trusts God through all the trials of life… and does so with joy—and a peace that defies understanding!

n. That’s real power… that effect demonstrated in the life of the believer is strengthened in accord with the POWER of the GLORY of God!

o. The one whose heart is gripped by the glory of God—like Paul and Silas in prison—will demonstrate patience and longsuffering WITH joyfulness…

IF YOU DO NOT KNOW CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOR…
» You can have this kind of power in your life too…
» But first you must come to Christ in faith—and as Paul said to the Philippian jailor who asked “What must I do to be saved?—BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!


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