Be Thankful Someone Shared the Good News with You! Praise God!

How would you describe your church leaders, your pastors or priests? In Colossians 1:7-8 Paul described who was doing what in the Colossian church. “You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.” Paul praised Epaphras for his faithful delivery of the gospel message and how he communicated their love for each other to him. From his prison cell, Paul was able to understand the work the Holy Spirit was doing among them through Epaphras’ genuine and faith-filled words.

What a wonderful example of God’s work among believers. Epaphras was a converted pagan who loved the Lord Jesus and wanted others to share in this love, forgiveness and salvation. He was serving in the cause of Christ as he told others of Jesus and showed them God’s love. It was evident that the Holy Spirit was at work there in Colossae. What about you and where you worship and serve? Is your service done there out of habit or are you serving so you can show Jesus to others? Is your service faithfully done or is it haphazardly executed as time allows? What should be our motivation for serving and telling others about Jesus? Several things come to my mind: so others can experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus, so others will have eternal life in heaven, so the quality of their life here on earth will be abundant and filled with hope and love that only God can give, so that others will come to know God in a greater way, so that others will glorify God in their faith and life. The good news of Christ is indeed good news and transforms the life of each one who embraces and believes. Shouldn’t we want to share this wonderful transforming news with others? Epaphras, Paul, James, Titus, Peter…. and the person who told you about Jesus all shared their love of Jesus. Each one of us comes to faith through the telling of Jesus’ story somehow. Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

As you meditate today on this passage, give praise and thanks for the ones who led you to faith, in my case it was a Sunday School teacher. Give praise and thanks for those who faithfully give out the Word of God each week at your church. By doing so they are helping you to grow and mature in your Christian faith. Epaphras did both of these for the church he planted in Colossae and Paul was eternally grateful for his work in the name of Jesus. Let us give thanks today for those who brought us to faith and those who endeavor to show us areas where we can grow more and more like Jesus as we seek to know Christ and walk with Him daily.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can live a life that grows and matures in God’s love and can have an eternal effect on others.

Linda

You and Christ- is it spreading outward?

Colossian 1:6b tells us what the Colossian Christians did with the hope they received from Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. “Indeed, just as in the whole world the gospel is constantly bearing fruit and spreading [by God’s power], just as it has been doing among you ever since the day you first heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth [becoming thoroughly and deeply acquainted with it].” Amplified Bible

This verse shows the power of God to transform a world with the good news of Jesus. His death and resurrection turned the world upside down. The fruit he speaks of is the transformed lives of those followers that want to grow more and more like Jesus. They want to show His love to the world. John 13:34-45 tells us what happens when one embraces the Spirit of God “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” Love as the world had never known began to spread throughout the world. Just think, Jesus started with 12 disciples and then the news of the redemption, love, forgiveness and atonement of Jesus for the world began to spread. Amazing in a day with no internet, no phones or modern transportation, and yet God provided a way for the word of His Son to spread.

Who have you told lately about Jesus? Do you salt your conversations with words telling others of how God has blessed or guided you? How will someone know unless you tell or show them of God’s love? Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a living and vibrant grace-filled faith to share with the world.

Linda

Hope-safe and secure, Share it now!

Today’s verse from Colossians is very empowering and brings great assurances for our faith. Colossians 1:5-6a “the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.” Paul was praying and praising God for the Colossian believers and said that their hope, that they so readily shared with everyone around them, is rooted in Christ. Their hope is stored up, saved for eternity, preserved, untouchable by sin and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.

This is a truth that we can claim in our lives too. The faith we have in Christ and the love He has for us and us for Him gives us eternal hope! It is a hope that can never be taken away! What a wonderful blessing we have from Him! Thank you Jesus. This truth is also found in Titus 1:2 “in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began“. This hope of faith is eternal in nature and comes from a God who does not change or lie. Romans 5:2-5 “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. This hope is eternal and God uses it to bring about change in our character for our good and His glory!

As you ponder your faith in Christ and God’s immense love for you, think about 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” You have the hope within you—- be prepared to share it with gentleness to a hurting world.

Linda

1st Sunday of Lent, Reflect on Truths uncovered and the Goodness of God!

This first week in Colossians brought us significant truths from just the first 4 verses. Meditate on them again as you consider Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His victorious resurrection that made all these things possible through Him. Then ponder David’s amazing words of praise to a God who is always good in Psalm 34:1-10.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can trust that all things that happen in my life will be used by God to bring good to me and glory to His name. Colossians 1:1 Thank you Jesus.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I, as a saint, can know and experience God’s grace and peace in my life because of His faithfulness to me. Colossians 1:2 Thank you Jesus.

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can pray with a thank-filled heart and experience the love of Jesus in my life through and with other believers. Colossians 1:3-4 Thank you Jesus.

Psalm 34:1-10 Taste and See That the Lord Is Good

34 I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

May you know and see God today as you Praise Him, feel His protection around you and taste the goodness of His love as you seek refuge in Him.

Linda

Thankful prayers result in Peace

As is Paul’s custom, he begins his letter to the Colossian Christians with prayers of thanksgiving.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, Colossian 1:3-4

Is thankfulness your first response when you consider your friends of faith? Are you able to focus on how God is using them in His work and thank God for their presence in your life? In Philippians 4:6, Paul puts it this way, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” As we pray for those people in our lives, God wants us focused on being thankful and then asking Him for direction and guidance in our life. Paul wanted to express his thanks to God for these faithful, grace filled co-workers that lived in Colossae. This group of new believers had a special place in his heart as they showed their faith and love actively to other believers. They were living out Jesus command in John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As you begin this Lenten journey, who do you have in your life that you are thankful for? Give Thanks. Who do you serve with at your church or other Christian organizations that you are thankful for their working with you in the cause of Christ? Give Thanks. Who is in the need of prayer? Give Thanks that you can support them in prayer. I cling to the truth in Philippians 4:7. Praying with thankful hearts brings God’s peace and will focus us upon Jesus. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can pray with a thank-filled heart and experience the love of Jesus in my life through and with other believers.

Linda

Which do you need today? Grace, Peace, a Reminder of Sainthood or Faithfulness?

Yesterday we began this letter by examining who was writing, Paul, and by what authority, God’s will. Verse 2 continues the opening as Paul identifies who is receiving this letter.

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. Colossians 1:2

Paul first identifies them as saints. This term is used in scripture repeatedly to name those who believe in Jesus the Son, God the Father and the Holy Spirit. “And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:27 Psalm 145:10 “All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,  and all your saints shall bless you! Proverbs 2:7-8 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice  and watching over the way of his saints.” This seems an old fashioned term but when you ponder it, there is glory embedded with the term. We, as saints, reflect His glory to the world; His light in the darkness.

Paul also calls the believers in Colossae faithful. How would someone describe your faith in Christ? Are you faithful to the truths you find in the Bible? Do you read your Bible daily, pray regularly, and worship Him with a repentant and grateful heart? This time of Lent is one when we can take stock of where we are in our walk with Christ. We can question our devotion to Him, our faithfulness, our reliance upon Him and draw strength from His Word and encouragement through His Holy Spirit. It is a special time for reflection to help us grow deeper in love and dependence upon Almighty God.

Lastly, I want to mention the blessings Paul wished to bestow upon the readers. This blessing was not just for those in ancient Colossae but for us too. Grace is God’s unmerited favor and Peace a state of mind and being brought to us from Jesus regardless of our circumstances. What amazing truths these two words convey! Grace– I can trust His grace at all times. 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” There is sustaining power in God’s grace! Peace- John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” The peace Jesus gives will bring focus and hope not fear.

Such powerful words- saints, faithful, grace and peace. Let the truth of these soak into your soul today. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I, as a saint, can know and experience God’s grace and peace in my life because of His faithfulness to me.

Linda

Called? An example of God’s Providential Care at Work!

Paul begins his letter to the Colossian Christians by stating who he is and by what authority he writes to them. He did not know them personally as he was not the one who brought the good news of Christ to them. Epaphras his friend and a man he led to Christ in Ephesus was the one who delivered the good news of Christ and helped them establish a group of believers in that city. Epaphras was concerned about problematic ideas that had entered their thinking so he journeyed to Rome to get advice and encouragement from Paul. Paul wrote this letter for Epaphras to take back to them.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, Colossians 1:1

Do you think of yourself as doing or being in a particular place at a particular time by the will of God? The key idea here is God is Sovereign and all things happen by God’s direction. It is called the Providence of God. There is no luck involved in the coincidences of life as life is designed by our sovereign God. A recent definition I found for the providence of God is this: God has a plan and a purpose for the world and governs history such that everything from the least to the greatest contributes to the achievement of that plan and purpose. God’s providence is the active outworking of God’s Sovereignty in everything. Paul was not in a Roman prison by chance nor did Epaphras journey there by accident. God used both Paul’s imprisonment and Epaphras’ desire to know truth to lead him to find Paul in that prison cell. Paul is stating here that God intended for him to be a witness to the gospel of Christ, met him, led him and was using him to tell others the good news of Jesus. What is happening in your life that you feel God is using you for His purpose? Often times when things happen, we quickly question God, why? At those times, we need to remind ourselves of the providence of God and how as Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God can and does use all things in our lives for our good and His glory. Our calling is to walk in trust and faith that God has it all in His control.

Paul also includes his co-worker in the cause of Christ, Timothy, in the greeting. Timothy might have traveled to Colossae at some point and was known to some of the believers or perhaps he was helping Paul by scribing the letter. What is known is that Paul and Timothy were a team like father and son working together to spread the gospel. I hope you have friends in the faith that share your love for God and work hand in hand with you to serve Jesus and your local church. John mentions these type of people in 3 John 1:8 “Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.” Supporting each other in ministry brings encouragement and unity to all believers. Say a quick prayer right now and thank God for someone special that works with you to serve Jesus. They are a gift from God to you!

Look for the providence of God in your life this week. Seek Him with faithfulness knowing you are set apart for Him and His work in you. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can trust that all things that happen in my life will be used by God to bring good to me and glory to His name.

Linda

Lent 2021. Please join me as I journey through Colossians

This year the Lord has led me to the book of Colossians for my meditations and writing. This New Testament Letter is short, only 4 chapters, but is powerfully packed with words of strength that we so desperately need in our daily walk with Christ. The passages will give us assurance of our salvation, the work and person of Jesus Christ and the sovereignty of God. This letter was penned by the Apostle Paul and was believed to have been written during his first imprisonment in Rome. He wrote all of the Prison letters (Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon) during this time.

Where was Colossae? This town was located in Asia Minor in present day Turkey. It was a smaller town on a river and lay on the trade route between the Aegean Sea and the Euphrates River. The neighboring towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis were larger. You might remember the church in Laodicea is mentioned in Revelation. It was the church chastised by Christ as being lukewarm-neither hot nor cold in faith. (See map at the bottom)

Why a letter? When Paul was in Ephesus, he lead a young man named Epaphras to know Christ. Later, Epaphras left Ephesus and went to Colossae. He led several people to the Lord and began a church plant there. Later, the Colossian Christians were struggling and were under theological attack so Epaphras journeyed to Rome to see Paul. Paul, who had never been to Colossae, wrote this encouraging, insightful letter seeking to ‘set their thinking right’ and point them to the one and only Lord Jesus.

I pray that our journey through Colossians will help us to focus on the cross, the sacrifice and the hope we have in Jesus. Also, that the scripture will cause us to pause, think, meditate and pray about our own need to repent and walk daily with Jesus. Here is a key verse in Colossians 2:13 for us to look forward to that shows us what Christ did for us! You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

Thank you for coming with me. I look forward to the lessons and truths that we will uncover in scripture that will enrich our lives and walk with Jesus. Because Christ died on the cross and rose again, I have the ability to repent and be forgiven! Praise God and thank you Jesus!

Linda

Lent 2021 Are you ready to begin?

Are you ready to begin your 6 week journey towards the cross? Here are some suggestions by Pope Francis that I found thought provoking and challenging. I’ll begin my blog posts with my journey through Colossians tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, but I thought these ideas might spark your thinking and help you prepare your heart and mind.

Be prepared- pray and think about fasting from one of the above during this Lenten season.

Linda

What Heart Attitudes does God desire?

As we look towards Lent beginning in a few days, I need to ask myself what does God desire of my heart? In my heart search in Psalms I found new facets and attitudes of our hearts showing what God desires.  He desires that we have a bold, teachable, repentant and seeking heart in our interactions and responses towards Him.

God desires that we take a ‘No Fear’ stance in life that depends upon God and not ourselvesPsalm 112:7 “They will have no fear of bad news;  their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Be bold for Him.

God desires that we are open to teaching and examination of our motives.  Psalm 26:2 “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;”  Psalm 139:23 “Search me, God, and know my heart;  test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Be teachable by Him.

God desires a repentant heart, one that is sorrowing over sin, the Bible also describes this as a contrite heart.  Psalm 51:17  “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”   Isaiah also speaks of our need to have a contrite heart in Isaiah 57:15 ”  The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,  the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble  and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.”       God desires us to be repentant so He can restore and dwell with us.  We have to come humbly before Him.   Since living with Him is not just when we die, we need to deal with the sin in our lives.  God living with us is being indwelt by His Holy Spirit begins when Jesus enters our hearts and lives.  Jesus gives cleansing from sin when we come before Him with a contrite heart and ask for forgiveness and restoration. Be repentant or contrite towards our sin.

God desires that I have a seeking heart towards HimPsalm 119:10 “I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.”  Psalm 22:26 “The afflicted (meek) shall eat and be satisfied;  those who seek him shall praise the Lord!   May your hearts live forever!”  Be a seeker of Him.

What is the temperament of your heart today?  Are you trusting, open to teaching, repentant and seeking restoration?  Would God describe your heart as contrite?  Do you sorrow over your sins and desire to walk with Jesus each day?   The opposite of each of the above would be one who is fearful, close-minded, rejecting, proud and arrogant over their sins.  I pray that none of those describe your heart and that you seek to please God.  Micah describes it this way:  “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.   And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy    and to walk humbly with your God
.  Micah 6:8

 May this be the attitude of our hearts as we walk with Him today.

Linda