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.
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.
Just like after John’s birth to Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph had a naming and circumcision ceremony on the eighth day. They named him Jesus as that was the name the angel gave them even before His birth. Luke 1:31 and Matthew 1:21 Then the Jewish law required the couple to wait 40 days before presenting their child in the temple for dedication to the Lord. On Jesus’ dedication day God prepared yet another confirmation for Mary and Joseph that their child was from God. Here is their encounter with Simeon and his words about Jesus.
Luke 2:25-35 “At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. 30 I have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared for all people. 32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
33 Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Wow! What confirmation from this godly man that Jesus was going to provide salvation for all people and bring light into the world. Bringing salvation– Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.” and Hebrews 5:9 “In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.” Bringing light– John 8:12 “Jesus said to them, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” and 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” Simeon also blessed them and spoke words for them to treasure in preparation for the future that God has planned for their child. Saving the world and giving light to all was not going to be an easy pathway as He would face opposition and many hearts would be effected, even theirs.
What encouragement do you find in this story of Jesus’ dedication? It confirms to me that God is Sovereign and Omniscient. He knows all that will happen and had a plan to redeem mankind. It shows God is Merciful, Gracious and Compassionate as He sent His Son to bring light into a dark world and provide salvation for all. God is loving and keeps His promises just as He kept his word to Simeon that he would not die before seeing the Savior. He also prepared Mary and Joseph for the coming life their son would lead, one that would to be filled with godly purpose. God knows each of us as He did Simeon, Joseph and Mary. He knows what we need and His timing is perfect. Reflect today on how God’s timing has been perfect in your life. How has God fulfilled his promise in Romans 8:28 to you? “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. I can attest to God’s hand in my life even in the darkest times. Even those tough times produced growth and experiences that God has used many times over to help others, to build my faith and produce results I had never envisioned or dreamed possible. God is indeed Sovereign and can and will use all things for my good and His glory as I walk with Him.
Today’s verses are some of my favorites as they give me a clear picture of who God is, His power and might, and they list some of the reasons for my thankfulness. David’s psalm resounds with praise to God because He is so thankful for what God has done for him.
Psalm 103:1-5 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
David desires to praise God with all his being because God has forgiven his sins. David had a heart for God but also was chief among sinners. He lied, cheated, committed adultery, stole another man’s wife and then had the man killed. David knew the forgiveness of God from first hand experience. He had also experienced spiritual healing, and seen physical healing. He had seen and felt God’s rescue and protection as he fled from Saul for 14 years even though he was anointed by God to be king of Israel. He had experienced the love and compassion of God and the satisfaction of knowing Him as His God. David had known the renewal only God can bring into his life when he was desperate, alone, forsaken and depressed. Knowing what he knew about God and being fully aware of what God had done for him, his only response was PRAISE!
What about you? What do you know about God? How has He dealt with you? Have you experienced His Grace, His Providence, His Redeeming power, His Love, His Protection, His Joy, ….? Remember, and let these thoughts lead you to join David in praising Almighty God today. He is worthy of all our praises.
It could be said that attitude and actions are an essential part of our walk of faith. Our attitude and actions towards God and our fellow man show the true nature of our faith. In today’s verses, Jonah has had a readjustment of his attitude towards God and it has changed his future course in life.
Jonah realized placing his faith in worthless things, including his own pursuits and desires, was futile. The only hope he had was in the Lord who always brings salvation. He was now willing to shout and proclaim with a thankful voice that God is the Lord. What about you? Are you like Jonah experiencing an attitude adjustment caused by circumstances of your own making? Are you running from God or trying to put up barriers to protect yourself? Jonah turned back to God with thankful heart.
God told Jonah to go to pagan Nineveh and preach a message of repentance. Jonah did not want to go so he decided to run. He caught a ship leaving port and got onboard. They were stuck by a terrible storm and Jonah revealed to the crew he was running away from God and told them to toss him overboard. In the depths to the sea, he was swallowed by a big fish. After 3 days in the belly of the big fish, he prayed to God with a repentant heart. The circumstances reshaped his thinking and attitudes and lead him to pray as he realized it was wrong to run and to not do what the God he believed in asked him to do. His willful attitude was changed. Jonah 2:8-9 “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
God showed his grace and mercy to Jonah by saving him. He deserved to be lost at sea, BUT GOD saved him. Do you see God’s grace in your life today? Jonah responded with thanksgiving and praise. Will you praise Him with a thankful heart today for how God has rescued you? Take heart from Ephesians 2:5 “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” and Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”
Thank you Jesus for saving me and changing the course of my life. Will you join me in thanksgiving and praise for God changing the course of your life?
As this pandemic has endured longer than I ever imagined possible back in late February and March, I have been in need of words of encouragement. I focused on the book of Philippians as Paul focused on joy in that letter. Other areas where I am in need of encouragement are hope, assurance, fellowship, diligence in prayer, strength from the Word and peace. As I reflect upon each of these, I am stuck by how each will come to me more readily if I develop and mature my attitude towards thankfulness. In future blogs I will delve into these topics as they relate to thankfulness and see what encouragement God has for me and hopefully you from His Word.
Each day during November, I will seek to leave you with a verse or verses about thankfulness and how it brings us all the things we need. Today I will leave you with the verse from 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. This is my go to verse this year as I face the difficulties of isolation, fear, helplessness, and even regret. Knowing that whatever may come, God has my back and has enough grace to cover me. That gives me hope and I am thankful for His wonderful care and love. Knowing that God has this and that in my weakness, He can be made strong helps me to develop an attitude of thankfulness for His complete control and sovereignty!
May you be lifted up today and let’s look forward to a November filled with Thankfulness and power, through the name of 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.
My plan to blog through the entire book of Ephesians during Lent was off by only 1 day. Here are the concluding verses of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
21 “To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work.22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.
23 Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness.24 May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 6:21-24
What did Paul send to his friends that lived in Ephesus? He sent an actual person to deliver the letter. Besides the written words of Paul, they would have Tychicus to talk to about Paul, so they could personally find out how he was doing physically, the conditions he was living under, how his ministry was going, etc. All of this Paul knew would be an encouragement to his friends. Then he ends with a final blessing to all who read this letter- peace, love filled with faithfulness and eternal grace (God’s undeserved favor) upon all who believe and follow Jesus. Each of us can receive Paul’s blessing and know that he meant the peace, love, and grace to be ours in Jesus, too.
Paul’s letter started with praise and thanksgiving for the faith of the Ephesian believers and ended with his desire that they continue to walk in faith filled with Jesus’ love and peace for themselves and towards others. Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead,I can be blessed by His peace, love and eternal grace and I can share these blessings with others in His name. Thank you Jesus.
In today’s passage Paul exhorts believers to be wise, make the most of every opportunity to witness for Christ, be thoughtful, temperate with our drinking, filled with the Holy Spirit and always have an attitude of thankfulness. Does that describe you?
“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.16Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:15-20
Do you look for opportunities to tell others about Jesus? Are you prone to overindulgence or letting addictions control your actions? Or do you rejoice with other Christians in singing, worship and studying together to bring praise and honor to God. Are you thankful in all circumstances? The pressures of life pile upon us each day, and it is how we handle those pressures that counts. Do you turn to God for help, assurance or courage? Or do you try to go it alone with an ‘I can do it attitude’? Dependence upon God is not weakness but an opportunity for His grace to abound even more. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he (Jesus) 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.10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Our weaknesses allow Him to show His strength through us. His grace, his undeserved favor, is enough to cover all situations.
Paul is serious about how we live our lives and the impact we have upon those around us for both believers and non- believers. It matters to God how we live and work in the world. It matters to Him as He desires the best for us which is only available through Christ. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, how I live my life for Him matters.
Let His grace abound in your life today as you strive to glorify Him in all you say and do.
Ephesians 4:4-7 is a beautiful passage to be cherished by believers. We are all called to be a part of God’s family and share in what we have in Christ, and yet God sees us as individuals with different needs.
“For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. 7 However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.”
God, the creator, who is Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient is our Heavenly Father. He is in everything we do, everywhere we go and in every action we take. We are to be in His presence daily, walking with Him and letting His Holy Spirit guide and direct us. I love the fact that we are individuals before God. He gave us special gifts through Christ when we became believers. Each one of us is seen as useful and productive for the kingdom and are given gifts so we can successfully work and live for Him.
Do you feel isolated or a part of the body of Christ? Are you connected in meaningful ways to other believers? What about your gifts? Are you using your God given talents to accomplish work for the Lord? Lent is a time of reflection. Ponder what your gifts may be, read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11to seek clarity about gifts, think about the things you do for others in Jesus’ name- what brings you the most joy and peace? Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,we are one in Christ, specially gifted through His grace.
May you be lifted up as you pray and meditate on the power of God’s family in your life and your gifts. Be encouraged as God has special gifts for each of us though the grace of Christ!