Thursday, September 13, 2018

Colossians 3

We as believers  in the Lord Jesus Christ have died to sin through Christ's death on the cross.  We have been transferred from Satan's kingdom to Christ's kingdom.  Our old sinful nature still tempts us to sin, however, and we need to do all we can to rid our lives of sin.  We can begin to do this by setting our "hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God."  Colossians 3:1-2 goes on to tells us that we need to set our hearts and "minds on things above, not on earthly things."  We must remember that our citizenship is in heaven and not on earth.  Our lives on this earth are very brief and transitory in comparison to eternity.

Because we are united to the Lord, the living Christ, we are raised to a new life in Him.  Our new lives in Christ must be lived out in practical righteousness in our daily walk in this world.  We need to reflect Jesus  in our lives and in our actions and speech.  Our affections must be centered on the Lord and not on earthly things or earthly relationships.  We must never forget that our purpose for being on this earth is to bring glory and praise to our Lord.  For we died to sin through His death, and now our new lives in Christ are "hidden with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:3b)

When Christ returns someday we will be with the Lord Jesus Christ forever!  Because of this blessed certainty of being with the Lord forever and because we are "hidden with Christ in God," we can and must seek to rid our lives of whatever is sinful.  Colossians 3:5 tells us that we must "put to death" anything in our lives that belongs to our "earthly nature."  We must "put to death" anything that belongs to our unregenerate state before we knew Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Colossians 3:9-10 further reminds us that we must take off the "old self" of sin, evil desires, and self-absorption; and we must "put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."

As God's precious and chosen people Colossians 2:12 tells us we must clothe ourselves with "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."  We must seek to be godly and holy in all areas of our lives.  We must seek to be patient with other people's faults and sins, and we must be forgiving.  The Lord forgives us of all our many sins. Therefore we need to be willing to forgive others for the sins that they commit against us.  The magnitude of our sins forgiven by the Lord far outweighs any wrong things others may commit against us.  Finally, Colossians 3:14 tells us "over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

We also need to allow Christ's peace to rule in our hearts and lives.  We were called to Christ's peace in our lives.  We can have peace with God, peace with each other, and peace in our souls.  We are able to experience peace no matter what is going on in our world around us, because His peace is not dependent on circumstances!  When the Lord rules in our lives and hearts we can have a peace that the world can not understand!  Peace and security is found only in Christ Jesus.  It is His gift to us, His children.

We further must have a thankful heart and a heart that is full of praise for the Lord.  Because of all He has done for us we must live our lives in gratitude to Him.  Colossians 3:17 tells us "whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name if the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  Whatever we do must be done for the glory of God.  Our love for the Lord must show in our relationships in our family, in our work, and in all areas of our lives.  Our love for the Lord must show in our thoughts, attitudes, and in our actions.

Colossians 3:24b says to us, "It is the Lord Christ you are serving."  We must be putting off our old sin natures and clothing ourselves in our new lives in Christ.  It must become our passion and joy to bring glory and praise to the Lord in all areas of our lives!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Colossians 2

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."
Colossians 2:6-7

It was Paul's heartfelt desire that all the Colossian believers and all believers in Christ Jesus everywhere would reflect Jesus in their lives.  Paul's desire was that they would practice their faith in their attitudes and actions.

According to Colossians 2:2 Paul's first desire was that Christians would "be encouraged in heart."  God does not want us to become discouraged in our walk and life lived for Him.  Life tends to have many obstacles and difficulties at times, but we belong to the Lord for time and for eternity.  Therefore, we need not become discouraged!  If we are daily spending time in God's Word and resting in His promises, we can "be encouraged in heart" no matter what our circumstances.  The secret to a joyful life according to Colossians 2:3 is resting in Christ Jesus "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."  We must get our wisdom from the Lord through His Word.  The world's "wisdom" may often sound logical and good, but it will fail us every time.  The Lord's wisdom may be laughed at by the world, but His wisdom will never fail us!

It was also Paul's desire and is God's desire for us that we do not just receive the Lord Jesus as our Savior.  We must also grow in our faith.  We need to practice as well as possess our faith. In order to do this we need to grow in our personal love relationship with the Lord.  Colossians 2:6b-7 tells us that we need to "continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith."

We need to "live in Him."  We need to have an intimate, living, and spiritual relationship with the Lord.  Through this intimate spiritual union with Christ we need to be growing in our faith every day.  We also need to be "rooted" in Him.  Just like a plant can not grow well without deep roots, we too can not grow spiritually without being deeply rooted and foundationed in the Lord.  Just as a plant reaches down through its roots to the source of its needed supply of nutrients, so we need to find our source of strength in the Lord alone.  We need to be deeply "rooted" in the Lord.  One way we do this is by feeding on the Word of God.

We also need to be "built up" in Christ.  We need to be "built up" into Christ-likeness.  We must  increasingly be reflecting Christ-like attitudes and actions in our lives.  To be able to do this we must be "strengthened in the faith."  Jesus Christ must be our source of strength in all things.  We must not depend on human resources for our strength.  We must depend on the Lord alone.  Finally, Colossians 2:7b tells us that we need to be "overflowing with thankfulness" in our lives.

Jesus Christ is God Himself.  Colossians 2:9-10 says, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ."  In Christ you and I have been given everything we need for time and for eternity!  Our sins have been forgiven, and according to Colossians 2:12b we have been "raised with Him" through our faith "in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead."  We are alive in Christ and have a totally new life in Him!  Now we must seek to be truly living in Christ, rooted and foundationed in Him, and built up and strengthened in Him.  Our hearts must be overflowing with thankfulness to Him, and this thankfulness must show in our lives.  We must in thankfulness seek to live our lives for His glory! 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Colossians 1:15-29

"so that in everything He might have the supremacy" Colossians 1:18b

Jesus Christ is supreme in all things.  Jesus is supreme in His revelation of God to us.  Jesus Christ is God Himself.  Colossians 1:15 says,"He is the image of the invisible God."  God is invisible; but Christ, the eternal Son of God, also became man.  Jesus Christ, as God and man reveals God to us.

Jesus Christ, who is God Himself, is also supreme in all creation.  Colossians 1:16-17 says, " For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him, and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."  Everything was created by Jesus Christ and was made for His glory.  The Lord Jesus Christ also continues to sustain all of His creation by His mighty power and control!

Jesus Christ is also supreme in the church.  He is the head of the church.  He is also the beginning and foundation of the church.  By His death and resurrection Colossians 1:18b says He is "the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy."  It was Jesus Christ who saved us from eternal death in hell by His atoning sacrifice on the cross.  He made us to be at peace with God and no longer separated from God by our sins.  Colossians 1:20b says that Jesus Christ did this "through His blood, shed on the cross." Once we were enemies of God.  But now, according to Colossians 1:22b, because of Christ's death we are "holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation."  We now have a righteous and holy standing before God because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross!  When God looks at us He sees Christ's righteousness and not our sins!

Our righteousness standing in Christ, however, must also be increasingly shown in practical holiness in our lives.  We need to increasingly grow in our faith and in our love and obedience to the Lord.  We must increasingly grow in our desire to reflect Jesus in our lives.  We must increasingly grow in our desire to rid our lives of sinful attitudes and actions.  Colossians 1:23 reminds us that we must also persevere in our faith and continue in our faith "firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel."

Christ must become supreme in every area of our lives.  Our lives must be built on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Nothing in our lives should come before the Lord.  In order for this to happen we must spend time each day in prayer and Bible reading.  We also must be submissive to the Lord's working in our lives even in difficult times.

There is no greater joy than having Christ in the center of our lives and living our lives totally devoted to Him.  Nothing on this earth can compare to the joy of belonging to the Lord!  Colossians 1:27 tells us that to us, His children, He has chosen to reveal His "glorious riches" which is Christ living in us, "the hope of glory."  Our salvation in Christ, His presence and protections in our lives, and an eternal future with the Lord are all ours in Christ!  In thankfulness let us truly make Him Lord over over area of our lives!  Jesus Christ already has supremacy and glory in all things.  May our lives reflect His glory! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Colossians 1:9-14

Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  We are filthy in our sins and can do nothing to bridge the gap between God and ourselves.  We can do nothing to even contribute to our salvation.  We stand in holiness before God only because of Jesus' atoning blood on the cross.  As a redeemed child of God, however, we now need to also grow in practical holiness in our lives.  In our Scripture passage today, Paul prayed for the Colossian Christians.  Paul prayed for practical holiness in their lives.  Paul's prayer in Colossians 1:9-14 is a beautiful example of the type of prayer we should pray for ourselves and for others.

Paul prayed that the Colossian believers would be filled with the knowledge of God's will and purpose.  Paul's prayer was that their understanding of God's will and purpose for them according to Colossians 1:9b would come through God's "spiritual wisdom and understanding."  Godly knowledge must not just be a possession of facts.  Rather, Godly knowledge involves a practical change in our lives.  Godly knowledge results in a change in our attitudes.  Godly knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in our lives involves our giving up our selfish "me" centered attitudes and being clothed with Christ-like attitudes.

Godly knowledge also involves Christ-like actions in our lives.  Paul continued to pray for the Colossian believers in Colossians 1:10-11. Paul prayed that they would "live a life worthy of the Lord" and that would "please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might."

This must be our prayer and passion also!  Our lives must be lived not for ourselves, but for the glory of God.  This is the purpose for which we were created.  Our lives must show spiritual fruit and evidence that we belong to the Lord.  The only way this can happen is if we are "growing in the knowledge of God."  We can only live for the Lord if we are immersing ourselves in His Holy Word, and we are seeking the Lord and His will with all our hearts.  Our lives can only be lived for the Lord through His power residing in us.  As believers we have in our possession the Lord's resurrection power in us!  This resurrection power gives us the potential and power to live for the Lord!  As believers, however, we must make the conscious and willing choice to walk in Christ-like attitudes and actions.

Paul also prayed that the Colossian believers would be strengthened with God's power and might, so that they according to Colossians 1:11b would "have great endurance and patience."  God's power in us is sufficient for us to prevail in patience even during those very difficult times in our lives.  We have God's power in us to not only endure these difficult times with gritted teeth, but we can even go through these times with a joyful and thankful heart.  We can in all things have hearts filled with praise, because we belong to the Lord for time and eternity!

Colossians 1:12b-14 reminds us that as children of God we "share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."  Jesus Christ has rescued us from the "dominion of darkness" and sin. Christ has delivered us from Satan's kingdom to His kingdom of righteousness.  He has done this for a purpose, however, and that purpose is so we can live as trophies of His grace and for His glory.  God has given us His resurrection power to live for Him.  It must be our choice and responsibility, however, to resist sin and the devil and to pursue His holiness and His will in our lives.  May it be our consuming passion to live for the Lord!  May it be our consuming passion to grow in practical holiness in our lives!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Colossians 1:1-7

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints-the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven."  Colossians 1:3-5

In Paul's letter to the Colossians Paul refers to the Colossian believers in Colossians 1:2 as "holy and faithful."  Because of Christ's sacrificial death on the cross they were holy in their standing in Christ.  These believers were now wearing the righteous robes of Christ's righteousness.  They were not holy  and righteous in themselves, because every human being is filthy in their own sins.  They, however, were now clothed in Christ's righteousness.  When God, the Father, looked down on them; He no longer saw their sins.  Instead He saw Christ's righteousness and holiness.  This is true of believers today also.  We are righteous and holy in Christ's atoning blood alone.  A new life in Christ, however, brings about growth in practical righteousness and holiness.  A new life in Christ brings about a growth in Christ-likeness in our day to day lives.

In Colossians chapter one Paul lists several characteristics in the lives of the people in the church in Colosse for which he was thankful to God.  Paul was thankful to God for these characteristics, because all evidence of spiritual growth and spiritual fruit in a believer's life comes from God.  These were characteristics in the believers' lives which showed a growth in practical holiness and a growth in Christ-likeness in their lives.  These are characteristics of growth in holiness that should be increasingly evident in our lives as believers today also.

Faith and love are the first two characteristics Paul mentions.  Faith is trusting and leaning our entire personalities on the Lord in absolute and complete trust.  It is trusting the Lord for everything we need for time and eternity.  Faith is trusting in God's wisdom, power, goodness, and faithfulness.  Love encompasses love for God and for others, especially our fellow believers.  This kind of love extends even to those people who are sometimes not loving to us.  It extends to those who are unlovely or difficult.  It is easy to love those who are pleasant and loving to us. It is much more difficult to love those who are sometimes insensitive and unloving to us.  The Lord loved us, however, in our sinful and unlovable state.  We need to show that same love to others.

Hope is another characteristic of a spiritually growing Christian.  The word "hope" in the Bible does not refer to something for which one might wish but is uncertain.  The word "hope" in the Bible refers to the absolute certainty of the promises of God which have not yet fully been attained.  It is an anticipation of the glories of our rewards in heaven.  It is also a willingness to cling in faith to the Lord in times of trial.  It is a willingness to cling in joyful anticipation to His precious promises of victory in our lives as children of God.  It is a willingness to wait for the Lord's perfect timing for all the events of our lives. 

Fruitfulness and faithfulness are two other characteristics of a true child of God.  Children of God will show the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  They will show that they are children of God by their lives and words.  They will be spiritually fruitful in their attitudes and actions in their lives.  They will also be faithful in their service to the Lord to the very end.

We need to examine our lives to see if we are growing in holiness and Christ-likeness in our lives.  We need to be growing in faith, hope, fruitfulness, and faithfulness.  We need to be growing to become more like Jesus every day!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Psalm 84

"My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."  Psalm 84:2b

Psalm 84 is an expression of deep longing for the house and presence of the Lord.  The psalmist said , in Psalm 84:2, "My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."  Do you and I long for time alone with the Lord in our daily devotions?  Do you and I long for the presence of the Lord in our daily activities?

Even the restless sparrow found rest and a home for themselves at the Old Testament alter of God.  So we also can find rest and peace for our souls in the presence of the Lord.  He alone can fill the longing and emptiness of our hearts with His joy.  The Lord alone provides for our salvation; and He alone meets our every emotional, physical, and spiritual need.  The psalmist said to God in prayer in Psalm 84:4, "Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they are ever praising You."  Yes, blessed and joyful are we who are secure in the presence of the Lord!  Blessed and joyful are we who are drinking in the blessings of His grace!

The psalmist went on in His prayer.  He said in Psalm 84:5-7, "Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.  They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion."  Blessed and joyful are we who find our strength in the Lord.  When we pass through the valley of weeping, trial, and difficulties in our lives, the Lord gives us His strength.  The Lord is our sustainer.  Not only does the Lord sustain us during difficult times, but He makes even the difficult times "a place of springs" in our journey through life.

Even the trials of life are transformed into blessings under the Lord's direction, as we submit to Him!  Hence, even the valleys of life can be turned into valleys of praise to the Lord!  A child of God goes from "strength to strength" and from victory to victory until he or she "appears before God in Zion."  Paul tells us in Romans 8:37, "in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."

We must be busy serving the Lord in our small corners of the world.  It is not important that we are significant or popular in the eyes of the world.  What is important is that we are experiencing fellowship with the Lord and are serving Him.  Psalm 84:11 says, "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless."  The Lord is our sun directing us on the paths of life.  He shatters the darkness all around us.  The Lord is also our shield.  No one or nothing else can provide us better protection than the Lord.  He gives us all we need, and He gives us only what is for our ultimate good.  Blessed and joyful are they whose trust is in the Lord!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Psalm 71

"For You have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth." Psalm 71:5

"But for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more."  Psalm 71:14

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with a new and major crisis in your life today?  Do you feel overwhelmed with just the accumulation of small daily problems and responsibilities you face today?  The Lord wants us to come to Him in prayer with all our needs.  The Lord is our only true resource for all our needs.

In Psalm 71 David, the psalmist, prayed for help in his old age.  His enemies were threatening him, and his strength was declining.  David prayed in Psalm 71:3, "Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress."  In spite of David's appeal for help from God in this Psalm, David was also expressing his trust and confidence in the Lord.  God had been David's refuge and help in the past, and David knew God would be his refuge in the present crisis.  In Psalm 71:5-6 David continued to express his confidence and trust in prayer.  David said, "For You have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.  From birth I have relied on You; You brought me forth from my mother's womb.  I will ever praise You."

The longer we serve the Lord the more clearly we see the Lord's continual faithfulness to us in past problems.  Then we also begin to grow in our trust in Him to sustain us in the midst of our present problems and needs!  We need to contemplate the Lord's faithfulness in the past; so that we can proceed in faith, trust, and peace in facing today's challenges and problems.  Our constant prayer must be that no matter what circumstances the Lord allows in our lives we will continue to say to Him, "I will ever praise You."  May our lives be filled with praise for the Lord every moment both in pleasant times and in difficult times.  This is possible, if we are truly trusting that the Lord is leading and guiding our lives in faithfulness.

In Psalm 71:9 David went on to pray to the Lord.  David prayed, "Do not cast me away when I am old; do nor forsake me when my strength is gone."  David was facing a new major crisis in his life.  In this new crisis in his life David needed a sense of the Lord's presence even as he was growing older.  David then went on to say in prayer in Psalm 71:14, "But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more."  David knew with an absolute certainty that God had been with him in the past.  David also knew that the Lord would be with him in the present crisis in his life!  Notice that David was also praising God in the middle of his crisis!  We must do the same.

We can praise the Lord in all circumstances, however, only if we are trusting in God's complete faithfulness and guidance.  David said in Psalm 71:19-20, "Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You have done great things.  Who, O God, is like You?  Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter.  You will restore my life again."  Then in Psalm 71:23 David prayed, "My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to You-I, whom You have redeemed."

Because of the Lord's past faithfulness to us, we can trust Him for today's challenges and problems.  We can also trust Him for the future challenges and problems we will face.  We can do this with a joyful heart and with a heart full of praise, because our God is a faithful God!