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!
As a church we have completed reading Deuteronomy and are beginning 1 Corinthians. I am looking forward to our selections as we wade into the streams God has for us in His Word.
1 Corinthians begins with a typical greeting from the writer, the Apostle Paul, to the believers in Corinth. This was a busy city that bustled with commerce of goods, services and ideas. Many of ideas were in direct conflict with the new doctrines presented in the gospel and Paul uses this letter format to instruct, lead and encourage this early church.
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul begins by reminding them of his commission and call to preach the truth about Jesus. He reminds the believers that they are all sanctified in Jesus and also have a calling. As I meditated upon these facts this week, I thought about my own sanctification and call to faith in Jesus. Do I feel sanctified? The dictionary defines sanctification as being made holy, consecrated and set apart by God. That means that God has set me apart and made me holy through the blood of Jesus. Am I acting like one that is set apart in holiness? Do I take time to realize that God has a plan and a purpose for me as a believer? Through my faith in Jesus, I am to be a light for Him in this world, just as the Corinthians were to be lights of hope and truth in their pagan society. Do I feel called? By virtue of the fact that I profess belief in Jesus, I have made the decision to follow Him- that is my calling. Following Jesus can lead in many different ways and each is unique to us. I am reminded of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God knows just how He will use each one of us. We just need to be open and willing to follow Him wherever and whenever He leads. Are you willing?
Lastly, Paul sincerely wanted the believers to know that he wanted them blessed with grace and peace from God. Do we seek the grace and peace of Jesus towards our fellow believers? Unity of believers was important in Paul’s day and is as essentially important today. We need to stand together for truth, showing grace and peace towards others.
Blessings as we delve into Corinthians together. I have attached some photos of ancient Corinth which was an amazing site to visit.
The last portion of Ephesians 5is a difficult passage as it deals with submission and relationships in the home and in marriage that are to mirror Christ’s love for us. I think the reason these verses cause such turmoil is that they are counter-culture and go against the thinking of today and women’s rights. However, if we look at verse 5:21 and 5:32-33we get to the heart of what Paul was saying. God is a god of order and design. Someone in the home has to make the final decision but any decisions need to be tempered and driven by love, a love like Christ has for us as believers. Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” We submit, yield or seek the approval of one another out of our love for Christ. 5:32-33 “This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” An example of the mystery of Christ’s relationship to believers is seen in the loving, caring respectful relationship of a man and wife. Submission to each other is done because of Christ and our love for Him. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can live lives submitted to one another in love that mirror Christ’s love for us.
Have a blessed day as you consider how you are submitting or yielding your rights to others in Christ like love.
Here is the whole passage –Ephesians 5:21-33 ” Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
What was God’s purpose for Jesus after He died on the cross and rose from the dead? Ephesians 1:20 tells us how and where God placed Jesus, “that (the resurrection power of God) raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. The next verses God tells us of Jesus’ ultimate authority, “21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.” Lastly in verses 22-23God tells us why He placed Jesus there, “God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”
It is important for us to know that Jesus’ work on the cross finished the issue of salvation and forgiveness, but not His work in the world now and in the future. God has a plan for all time that He reveals in the Bible. He refers to all believers here as the church, elsewhere the Bride of Christ. They are a body of believers that are filled with His Spirit, the Spirit that fills all things.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,we are connected with Him and to all other believers. We are all part of His body, the church. Using the analogy of a body for all believers shows were are connected, able to work together, have many parts and each have a unique job to accomplish for Him. So… how are you working within His body, the church, to accomplish what He has set out for you to do for Him? Are you cooperative with fellow believers? Do you work for His glory and not your own? Believers are not perfect, but sinners forgiven, and we need to be filled with His grace, mercy and love as we strive to work with others for the cause of Christ. Remember Christ said in John 13:34-35 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Spend some time in prayer today contemplating your place, work and spirit of cooperation within your local church. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you are doing well and where you need His help to do better. He is faithful and will show you.
As Paul begins his first letter to the Corinthian church, he introduces himself and then proceeds to tell them why he is thankful for them and their faithful witness for Jesus. Walk with me through 1 Corinthians 1:4-9and put yourself in the place of a receiving Corinthian believer and see what Paul is saying to you too.
“I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Have you thought about the gifts God has given you in Christ? Who would give thanks for your serving them with your gifts of encouragement, love, peacemaking, hope, and joy? 5 Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. Okay, how active are you in your church? Do you go there with the intent of serving the body of Christ? 6 This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true.7 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.Knowing you have faith and gifts from God, are you serving with anticipation of His return? 8 He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Through faith in Jesus we have all we will need to keep a steady course and await His return, are you living like He could come today? Are you doing things (praying, studying, worshiping) to keep you strong in your faith?
I thank God for Paul’s ministry, sacrifice and love for others that spills over to me generations later. He was committed and totally living in anticipation of Christ’s return. He wanted to encourage others to follow Christ completely knowing that Jesus equips every believer to complete the tasks He has prepared for their lives. How are you doing in giving thanks for your fellow Christians that serve alongside you at your church, workplace, or neighborhood ? Are you using your God given gifts to support the body of Christ and live a life filled with thanksgiving and praise?
May this November be a time of renewal and praise for you as you consider Christ and all He has done and given you to keep you strong for Him. May it overflow to others daily as you give thanks and serve Him.