“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)

Reflection:
There came a point in our life’s journey where our path intersected with that of Christ Jesus, and we responded to His call to come to Him and follow Him.

 Now we are called to remain with Him, all the time. Our relationship is to be so close that spiritually He is in us and we are in Him. So Paul directs us to ‘continue to live in Him’ – in this very close and personal relationship. He goes on to relate it to being ‘rooted’ in Christ. This reminds us of Jesus story of the Vine – with Him as the Vine and us as the branches. The only way in which we can receive the new life-giving sustenance is through Him, The only way in which we can bear abundant and Godly fruit is through the power and creativity that flows from Him. The extent of the life that flows from Him to us is dependent upon the quality of our relationship with Him – the larger the join of the branch to the vine the more that flows into it. It is from Christ that we receive our spiritual strength and deepening faith – not from ourselves or from others. He, and He alone, is “the Life” (John 14:6).

What a wonderful privilege it is to have been called by Christ from darkness into light, from judgement into salvation, from separation into this glorious relationship as the sons/daughters of the Lord God Almighty. We can only be eternally and deeply thankful and grateful that we are no longer the ‘enemies of God’ but are now His ‘treasured possession’ in whom He ‘delights.’

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
you are mine”
(Isaiah 43:1)

Response:
Thank God – and spend a moment dwelling on these wonderful truths.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit, please deepen my faith and help me to appreciate the wonderful privilege of being an eternal child of God. Amen

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Treasures on Loan

“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”
(Colossians 1:16)

 

Reflection:
All things were created By Him and for Him. He made everything that has been made – and it belongs to Him. That is important for us to remember when we seek either consciously or unconsciously to claim anything as ‘mine’ – including material possessions as well as spiritual gifts and talents. David had it right when he acknowledged,

“For all things come from you,
and of your own have we given you”
(I Chronicles 29:14 ESV)

The Lord has created not only the natural world as we know it – the visible – but the spiritual world as well – the invisible. In these worlds He also made structure and rules for their security and good order, as well as for our security, order and well-being. If we operate within the structure then good will follow – but if we choose to ignore it then we find the reality of the ‘law’ and the consequences.

An example is the law of gravity. If we ignore the directions and walk off the edge of a mountain then we discover both the law and the consequence of ignoring it. In the same way if we ignore the command not to steal we will likely discover why it exists and what breaking it can do to our relationships with God, others and ourselves.

God made what was ‘very good’ and specifically designed and intended as a blessing. We cannot complain if our contrary actions bring different results.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time”
(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

God gave directions suitable for His creation and for those to whom He gave it. Neither as the fallen nor as the redeemed should we hope for blessing if we ignore them. But if we live as He intended then there will be blessing.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.” 
(Psalm 19:7-11)

Response:
Which commands do I keep and which do I ignore?

Prayer:

Lord You are God and Your Ways have to be the best. In fact in the Lord Jesus we see the Way, the Truth and the Life. Help me Lord to commit myself to You and in faith to walk in Your ways. Amen.

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One more step forwards

“being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might
so that you may have great endurance and patience”
(Colossians 1:11)

Reflection:
Paul prays that through God’s power we may have “great endurance and patience.”

If we are to live a life worthy of God then we must be prepared for all stages of the journey, some of which will be more challenging than others. There are two aspects to bear in mind as we look at such a life. The one is doing the things that the Lord wishes us to do, and the other is avoiding the things that the Lord does not want us to do. Both involve endurance and patience – sometimes great chunks of it!

To live out the Lord’s commands to love and to serve, after the model of Jesus, is not easy. There will be days when we want to withdraw from such ministry, to avoid the needy person lying in our path, to lay down our responsibilities, and to focus instead on our own sores, needs and sensitivities.

There will also be times when we get tired of avoiding temptations, when we try to rationalise our desires and weaknesses and to take the easy escape route from our pressures just one more time. The call to be holy by avoiding certain things can seem too much of a burden and a bother – and it is easier to give in and to deal with any guilt or shame later. After all, “everyone else” seems to do it!

Much of the Christian life can be similar to a journey through desert lands – where the scenery does not change much, the dryness wells up within us, and the appeal of the wayside attractions grows greater. However, our journey is forever forward, it is going somewhere and, whether we are aware of it or not, it is sowing and watering the areas through which we travel – for better or for worse. We need endurance and patience as we continue to do the things we know God wishes us to do – and to avoid what He wants us to avoid – trusting Him that there is good reason for it all, and that He will bring good fruit out of it, both for us and for others, in terms of His kingdom.

Don’t give up or give in. Keep going, He is with you and is at work within and around you. He is faithful. He provides endurance and patience, particularly to those who ask.

Response:
Our lives are lived for God, not ourselves.

Payer:

Father please strengthen me when the journey gets dry and dreary, and my strength both to do and to avoid begins to fail. Please know my heart that I do wish to be the person whom You desire. Amen.

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In Christ Alone

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”
(Colossians 2:8-9)

Reflection:
The world is full of theories, philosophies, and get-rich-schemes – and the world is not in a good place. The people of the world are poverty stricken – physically, mentally and emotionally. Fantasy and escapism, through sport and entertainment, sex, drugs and alcohol are huge attractions – but they don’t last. Again and again the world persists in believing the lies of the devil, with which he distracted Eve and Adam originally – that to ignore and disobey God would set us free and make us like Him. They didn’t, and they don’t. They still lead to death – physically, emotionally and spiritually. 2000 years after Christ died on the cross for us, the world still wants to do everything ‘my way.’

But as Christ Himself told us,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Human wisdom and ideas will never come up with a plan or scheme that will compete with or replace the will and purpose of God. It will never invent anything that will give all people the potential of peace and everlasting life in the love of God. Only God, our Creator, Redeemer and almighty Father, is able to do so – and He has done it.

  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:13-14)

There is only one way to peace and salvation, one truth in which to believe, and one life that is eternal – and it is all Christ. He has proved His love by His death, proved His power by His resurrection and proved His commitment by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us. The ways of the world just cannot compare or compete with our Saviour, Redeemer and Friend.

Response:
Soak yourself in the Gospels – and what they reveal of God.

Prayer:

Father Almighty, by Your Holy Spirit, please lead me into the Truth, and open the eyes of my understanding, through Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Speak Life

“Let your conversation be always full of grace,
seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
(Colossians 4:6)

Reflection:
We have something so valuable to contribute when we are with others. As people of grace, loved, called and saved by the Lord, we can share aspects of His love and beauty with them.

There is no call for us to enter into conversations of destructive gossip or negativity. With the salvation and hope that we have in Jesus Christ we are the ones to share hope, affirmation and understanding instead.  We have been accepted by God, we do not therefore have to look for acceptance from others by joining them in what they are doing.

As the light of the world and the salt of the earth our contribution in any situation should be positive and uplifting, particularly in what we say and the way in which we say it. Accordingly we must be very careful to avoid deliberate, or careless, criticism or slander of anyone else. Bad language, swearing and blasphemy should not be a part of our speech on any occasion, no matter how great the provocation. If any of this is happening around us, and we do not feel able to challenge it, then we need to consider walking away from it. Failing even that, we can keep silent and pray!

Throughout the day most of us will meet with a variety of people. Some we will know well, others casually and some will be strangers to us. In every case there is the opportunity, in the way that we speak and in what we say, to leave a positive impression. It is often so easy to bring a smile to someone’s face by a deliberate appreciation of something that they have done, even by an acknowledgement of their name and presence. And remember that if someone is angry or critical towards us, either with or without cause, there is no reason for us to become angry and abusive in return. We can choose our response remembering that,

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

If we set out in the morning with the intention of speaking love and encouragement into people’s lives, we will end the day having made a marked difference in many of them. For some it may have completely transformed their day and attitude. Not a bad result!

Response:
Just do it!

Prayer:

Father, I know what a difference it makes in my life to receive affirmation, encouragement and compliments. Help me to be a Love-giver into the lives of those around me – for Jesus sake, Amen.

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Get Wise

“Asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
 (Colossians 1:9)

Reflections:
We are told by Paul that in everything we should present our requests to God. (Philippians 4:6) However prayer should also include our praying for the things that God wants. Some of these are set out for us in the Lord’s Prayer where we can join our desires to those of God.

Now Paul turns his attentions to our individual and corporate growth and maturity – praying that God will fill is with the knowledge of His will – obviously in all things – through our growth in spiritual wisdom and understanding. This comes through the work and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit within us as well as through our growth in knowledge and understanding as we walk with God along the path that He has set for us. The more we know of God and His ways, and the more we get to know Him personally, the deeper will be our understanding of His will and ways in our life situation.

Because we can trust that He is the God of Love we can trust His will and His ways for us. They are designed to draw us closer to Him and into a deeper and more fulfilling relationship.

  • “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)

The purpose of this prayer of Pauls is not only to bless us but to enable us to more readily and purposefully fulfil the will of God both for us and through us.

  • “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may 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 so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” (Colossians 1:10-12)

Response:
We are called to make Paul’s prayer for the Colossians our own prayer for ourselves and our Christian community.

Prayer:

Lord fill me with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that I may live a life worthy of You in every way. Amen.

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Check your Vision

“God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles
the glorious riches of this mystery, which is
Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
(Colossians 1:27)

Reflection:
Christian lives can feel less like that of a soaring eagle and more like being constantly attacked by little black crows. They can irritate us, distract us from our identity and purpose, and even make us sound like them with snappy caws! The temptation is to stay on their level and focus on fighting them, instead of rising powerfully to heights that are beyond them.

Of course they will always be around somewhere. However, our calling is not to concentrate on resisting or fighting them, but to look and live above and beyond them – always moving forward, always drawing closer to the Lord, always crowding sin and temptation out of our lives by the presence of God and the goodness, beauty and activity into which He calls us.

The first step is to remember that God is not ‘out there’ somewhere. He is within His sons and daughters. He loves us, draws us and transforms us from the inside. Our salvation, in the form of our Saviour, has come from without and enters into those who receive Him. God the Holy Spirit has come to dwell within us. We are the people of God not just because we follow Him but because He has entered into us and expresses Himself through us.

Being God’s people means that our focus must always be above the things of the world and on the God and Saviour of the world. Look again at the words that Paul uses – “the glorious riches” so different from the vindictive little black shadows that chase us; “Christ in you” – this is God of whom he is talking – His presence might be a mystery but it is certainly a reality; “The hope of glory” – our sure and certain hope is in the reality of this Christ within us.

You don’t become an eagle by fighting the crows. You soar with God to where the little black shadows can’t go. Cleansed by His blood, with His Spirit within you, the presence of God is where you belong. Focus on Him and trust in the certainty of His love, His provision and His protection. Don’t let sin drag you down, but allow God to lift you up. Trust Him, He will do it. Remember always that although we are physically limited there is no limit to the height to which our spirits can go with the Lord.

Response:
Confess sin, and keep pressing into God.

Prayer:

Father, sometimes I feel as if I am dragging myself through the dust and dirt. Please help me to look from myself to You, and allow Your smile and love to lift me up again and again. Amen.

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