Archive for the ‘Colossians’ Category

Colossians 4

Colossians 4 has Paul ending his letter to this church. He emphasizes just how important prayer is.  “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving”.  Paul doesn’t just tell them to pray, but rather to ‘continue steadfastly’. The ancient Greek word translated continue is built on a root meaning ‘to be strong,’ it implies persistence and fervor.  Prayer isn’t something that should happen when we think about it or it fits our schedule or needs.  Prayer should be a priority – not focused on what we want or need – but on the goodness of God and His blessings.  It is an act of praise and needs to be focused on God, not us.  Prayer is about getting on His page, not trying to get Him on ours.  It is us lining up with His agenda, not trying to force Him to make our agenda His own.

Paul goes on to say “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time”. Life as a Christ Follower isn’t only lived in the prayer closet. There also must be practical, daily, well lived life with those who are not necessarily believers.  There is one fact that is equal for all of us no matter our faith – the reality of the limits of time.  Every person on the planet gets the same 168 hours each week.  If we are going to walk in wisdom, we have to be intentional in how we use that time, making sure we are ‘making the best use’ of each precious hour.

Paul tells us how we should engage with every person we meet.  “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person”.  Scripture often talks about our role as Christ Followers to be salt and light.  He tells us to speak with grace – where we speak and cultivate the gift of pleasant and wise conversation – but at the same time speaking with words of salt that challenge the status quo and draw those we talk with to a desire to learn more about Jesus Christ because of our words and how we live our life.

Paul wraps this letter talking about his team.  It’s a list of faithful fellow Christ Followers who have or are helping Paul with the ministry of the Gospel.  While Paul was an Apostle and has to be toward the top of the list of great men in all of the Bible, he certainly doesn’t tackle the work of the ministry on his own.  He not only involved others to work beside him, he also gave praise and honored them as not only part of the team but as key partners in doing what God had entrusted him to do.

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Colossians 3

Colossians 3 is filled with Paul’s direction for how we should live as Christ Followers.  “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God”.  We need to keep our eyes looking up, not at the world around us.  He goes on.  “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”.  We let the world drag us down – we have to stay focused on the things of God and that starts with how we think.  Why?  “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory”.  Jesus is our life if we are a Christ Follower.  We need to keep our eyes on Him.

What’s that mean?  “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry….you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth”.  How we live matters – we need to push aside the things of the world – the sin that we are so prone to falling to.  But in order to put something off, we need to replace it with something good.  “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of  its creator”.  We must put aside sin and put on Christ.  We can’t just leave a void – we must fill it with God’s ways.

So how do we do that?  “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony….let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts….be thankful”.  We need to put off the things listed above and replace them with these Godly traits.  He goes on to tell us “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God”.

Paul wraps up this chapter with four simple verses that pretty well give the ground rules for all our relationships:

  • Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord
  • Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them
  • Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord
  • Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged
  • Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters

Five simple statements that if lived, would completely change relationships for most all of mankind.  Paul simplifies it down to the one key thing we need to do.  Pray about those that fit your situation.  Are you truly living the way Paul directs?

Colossians 2

Colossians 2 has Paul encouraging the church at Colossae to focus on their walk with Christ.  “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving”.  We need to do a much better job in helping Christ Followers understand what it means to truly walk in Him.  Becoming a Christ Follower is not a point in time event – sure it happens at a point in time – but it is the beginning of a lifetime relationship where He not only has become Savior, but also Lord of our life.  We receive Jesus and need to root down in Him, but also then work to build up our faith which we do for the rest of our life.

Growing as a Christ Follower is critical to keeping us on the right path.  The world is filled with tools the enemy uses to try and drive us into the ditch.  “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ”.  There are many false teachings and deceitful traditions that will lead us astray if we aren’t rooted in the Truth.  But Jesus alone is the answer.  “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority”.  There is no other book, no other source of truth, than Him alone.

When we receive Christ and follow in believer’s baptism, we are “buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead”.  Baptism is the symbolic public expression of our faith in Christ, where we put off our sin as we go into the water and are set free through His cleansing grace as we come up from the water.  Jesus has already won the victory over sin.  But as humans, we certainly have not, and need the saving grace God offers us through Christ’s death on the cross to set us free from the penalty of our own sinful nature.

Sin is a big deal.  In our modern world, sin is downplayed as a ‘poor choice’ or ‘no big deal’.  Not so in God’s eyes.  “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross”.  Truth is we are dead to God because of our sin.  He can’t just look the other way.  His holiness and righteousness demand that He deal with sin in our life.  That’s why Jesus went to the Cross.  There has to be a payment for the sin we commit, and Jesus paid that price once and for all at Calvary.  All we have to do is receive that free gift of grace and mercy and make it our own.  We can go from dead to eternally alive by choosing to make Jesus our Savior and Lord.  Have you done that?

Colossians 1

Colossians 1 has Paul writing to the church at Colossae.  As with other churches, Paul is connected with the leaders on the ground and in this church, it was Epaphras.  Paul got the report on the church and says “we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven”.  These Christ Followers are focused on loving each other and living in the light of the future – eternal life that will be lived out in heaven.  Forever is a very long time, and while we live it may seem like a long way out, in reality our day before God’s judgment seat to determine where we will spend forever will be upon us sooner than later.

Paul shows us how to pray for each other and sets the example of the power we have through prayer.  “We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light”.  Paul specifically asked without ceasing for these things for the church:

  • may be filled with the knowledge of his will
  • spiritual wisdom and understanding
  • walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
  • fully pleasing to him
  • bearing fruit in every good work
  • increasing in the knowledge of God
  • strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might
  • for all endurance and patience with joy
  • giving thanks to the Father
  • share in the inheritance of the saints in light

That is quite a list of things Paul wants Christ Followers to live and obey.  We need to pray this for others in our patch, and focus on being this kind of follower of the Master.

Why should we put so much focus on Jesus?  Paul reminds us of God’s plan for the world through Christ.  “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross”.  Jesus is God’s answer to the sorry state of mankind and our sin.  Jesus was there in the beginning and has been part of history since the beginning of time.  And Jesus is the only answer to our need for reconciliation to the Father because of our sin – which happened when He carried those sins and bore them on the Cross.

What’s the outcome of us putting our faith in Christ?  “He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed”.  Our faith in Christ will allow us to stand before a Holy and Righteous God at judgment as someone who is holy, blameless and above reproach – not because we are on our own merits because not one of us will be – but because of what Christ did for us.  Faith is the solution to our sin problem.  We need to find faith, and then continue in it being stable and steadfast as Christ Followers who walk daily in obedience to the gospel Scripture gives us.  God’s given us an amazing opportunity to be free for eternity from our sin, but it requires us to make Jesus Savior and Lord in our life! 

Colossians 4

Colossians 4 is the final chapter in Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae.  He begins reminding masters to “treat your slaves justly and fairly”.  There is a principle here for bosses to understand.  We have a responsibility to the way we treat those who work for us.  While we don’t call employees slaves today, the principle of fairness and justice applies here anyway.  We must not show favoritism and mistreat folks who work for us.  We have a job to do – to lead our employees well.  It is not a situation where we can do whatever we want.  We will be accountable to “the Master” who will require us to give account for how we have treated those in our employ.

Paul goes on and gives direction to the church in how they should live.  He lists a number of things the congregation should be doing:

–       “Continue steadfastly in prayer

–       being watchful in it with thanksgiving

–       God may open to us a door for the word

–       to declare the mystery of Christ

–       that I may make it clear

–       which is how I ought to speak

–       Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders

–       making the best use of the time

–       Let your speech always be gracious

–       seasoned with salt

–       so that you may know how you ought to answer each person

We need to be in prayer with a thankful heart seeking the opportunity to speak truth to all God allows in our patch.  We need to season our words with salt – which makes people thirsty – and will draw them to the “living water” of God’s Word.  How we interact with others matters – we are His representative and speak His truth.  We need to be gracious and have an answer to the questions that others may have.  If we don’t know the answer – we need to seek the Truth from His Word and find it so we can provide them direction.  Paul also challenges us to make the best use of time – time is precious and there is a limited amount, so we need to use it wisely.

He goes on to talk about Tychicus and other faithful men who have been with him as he writes this letter.  We can learn about the key characteristics that God is excited about through Paul’s praise here:

–       “beloved brother

–       faithful minister

–       fellow servant

–       encourage your hearts

–       struggling on your behalf in his prayers

These men are focused on serving and ministering through prayer and encouragement.  What will people say about your life and the impact it has had.  Will you even be mentioned if someone writes about the people who have made a difference?  We need to really get focused on living like Paul and these fellow ministers of the gospel.  It matters how we live.  Are you walking this way?  Will others call you someone who is struggling in your prayers on their behalf?  We need to realize the power we have to make a difference if we live as true Christ Followers and walk with Jesus!

Colossians 3:16-25

Colossians 3:16-25 contains a couple very important topics that Paul addresses.  The first is a list of how we need to live together in harmony in the body of Christ.  Paul tells us to:

–       “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly

–       teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom

–       singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs

–       with thankfulness in your hearts to God

Scripture needs to dwell richly in us.  That means we need to be in God’s Word, know His truth, meditate on it day and night, and have our lives totally consumed with knowing Him through His Word.  Once we begin to know and understand His Word – we need to teach others what it says.  We need to spew truth to all in our patch, and then admonish them to live it daily as their life.  We need to push each other to be Christ Followers.  We can do it in a happy way as we sing songs and hymns, which also normally reinforce God’s Word.  It is another way for us to get deeper with God as we worship through music.  And then we need to express thanks to God – not just quietly – but express it so all can see.  These four things are critical in helping to grow the Body of Christ and to encourage each other in our walk as Christ Followers.

Paul then continues and gives some strong advice for how things need to work in the family and workplace.  These are not suggestions, but they are God’s very plan for how things need to happen, and because we fail here, families are flying apart all over the place.  Look carefully at Paul’s direction here:

–       “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord

–        Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them

–       Children, obey your parents in everything

–       Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged

–       Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord

This is some tough medicine for many to follow.  But there is a reason for God’s design for the family.  There is a reason Paul calls out these specific areas because this is where things break down.  Women don’t want to submit, men don’t want to love and lead, kids don’t want to obey, fathers don’t train up their kids in love, and slaves (workers) don’t obey with a sincere heart.  So things fall apart.  The family and workplace disintegrate and bad things happen.  Paul gives us the bottom line no matter what our place is today: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ”.

We don’t work for anyone but the Lord.  He has given us clear instruction in how we are to live in the home and at work.  He has given direction on the attitudes we must have.  When we refuse to obey – when we do it our way and not His – we cannot blame anyone but ourselves when marriages fail, kids rebel, jobs end or other bad outcomes occur.  These are not suggestions on how to live.  These are God’s design.  They are the way things are intended to happen.  When we insist on doing things our way – we get our results – and those are nowhere close to what God intended.  Are you living God’s way at home or at work?  If not, there is no one else to blame than the person in the mirror!

Colossians 3:1-15

Colossians 3 is full of powerful direction for our lives a Christ Followers in a short 25 verses.  There is so much here we will address it over two days.   Paul begins by admonishing us to “set your mind on things that are above”.  He goes on later to tell us to “put on” these characteristics:

–       “compassion

–       Kindness

–       Humility

–       Meekness

–       Patience

–       bearing with one another

–       forgiving each other

–       put on love

–       let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts

–       be thankful

And Paul also gives us a list of things we need to put off and not think about – he tells us to “put to death” these things:

–       “sexual immorality

–       Impurity

–       Passion

–       evil desire

–       covetousness

–       idolatry

–       anger

–       wrath

–       malice

–       slander

–       obscene talk

–       Do not lie

Paul gives us great direction – in order to success with this we have to “put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator”.  We can’t just stop doing things.  We have to replace the things we are trying to stop with things that we need to add.  So often we just try to stop doing things, but that seldom works.  We have to replace bad habits with good ones.  We have to put on something to replace what we intend to put off.  Paul gives us two important lists here.  We are a new creation in Christ – our lives should reflect that clearly.  Are you putting on what God has called us to do?

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