“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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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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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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Choose the right clothes

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience.”
(Colossians 3:12)

Reflection:
We are God’s chosen people! We are not beggars tagging along behind His cavalcade, hoping to scavenge some of the left-overs. We are there in the midst of His people, personally selected and called,

  • “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you.”  (John 15:16)
  • “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”   (Romans 8:29-30)

As God’s chosen people, His sons and His daughters, we are “dearly loved”, loved to the full extent of Christ’s enormous sacrifice – and even more if that were possible. There is nothing lacking in God’s great love for us. Having called us to Himself we are made holy by and through our association with Him, and because we are now, spiritually, in Christ and He in us. We have been set apart by God, for God, for eternity. We are His.

Paul urges us to see this more clearly, to recognise and accept our new identity and relationship, and to clothe ourselves accordingly. As we are now a part of Christ, members of His body, we can relate to and more fully acquire the things that characterise Him. So we can reach out, take hold of, and make these characteristics a part of our own lives because they are so much a part of His – “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” They are not to be merely superficial ornaments, like decorations on a Christmas tree, but deeply embedded in our lives. To make the point other translations say,

  • “Put on therefore, as God’s elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering…” (ASV)
  • “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline…” (MSG)

Because we are God’s, and may rest secure in that knowledge, we can be less worried about ourselves and more concerned about the lives of others. We have something of great value to share – the love and peace of God Himself, in and through Jesus Christ.

Response:
They are not just words to read but steps to take. Dress yourself properly, and consciously, now and every day. Do not let anyone, or anything, undress you! Not even your own sins or insecurities – they are not you!

Prayer:

Loving Father, please help me to leave behind the garments of insecurity and selfishness, and to put on those of love, peace and blessing – in Jesus name, Amen.

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Living gracefully

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
(Colossians 3:17)

Reflection:
Thinking and praying about my sermon for a funeral service I was again reminded of the awesome privilege of being allowed into people lives, and to minister, on such occasions. I was also very aware that what everyone needed was not my ministry but that of the Lord – both through and around me.

For the Christian, every moment, every deed and every relationship – no matter how casual – is a ministry opportunity. It is an opportunity for us to show how intentionally we live for the Lord and, therefore, do our best as if it were an offering to Him. It is also an opportunity for Him to reach from us into the lives and needs, very often hidden, of those around us. To do something in Jesus name is to do it on His behalf and in His way, and in the belief that the Holy Spirit will guide, empower and bless it and the people involved.

Paul highlights this when he says, “whatever you do…do it all in the name of the Lord ..” He does not use words lightly, so his “whatever” means whatever and his “all” means all – not just funerals. It is very challenging to think through and yet, if our love for the Lord is real, then it should be a far more natural approach. It is also one way of showing our understanding of what He has done for us, and our appreciation of the tremendous sacrifice that was involved.

So, from washing dishes to leading the affairs of state,

“whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Response:
Examine today and plan tomorrow with this in mind.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, You have done so much to glorify God and to bless me. Please help me to live as a blessing to You and to others, Amen.  

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Uncover your treasure

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.
When a man found it, he hid it again,
and then in his joy went and sold all he had
and bought that field”
(Matthew 13:44)

Reflection:
Hidden somewhere in the darkness of a fallen world is a glorious treasure. He knows that it is there and He knows that He wants it – but to all intents and purposes it is dead and buried to Him. Separated from the Vine of Life it has withered and died – but still He wants it for He knows that He can cleanse it, heal it, and give it new life as He restores it to its place in Him.

So He came to seek and to find, to save and to redeem, to restore and to cherish, to transform with a new Spirit into a new Life and Love. And He found it – and having found it He gave everything that He had so that He might own and possess it. He gave His life, He gave His future and He gave His divine inheritance.

We are that treasure – individually and collectively. We are His beloved, created to be like Him and for Him. We are the children of the Father, the bride of the Son and the temples of the Holy Spirit. We are the focus of His love, the recipients of His grace and the reflection of His beauty. And if we have not yet seen it in ourselves it is because we have yet to truly see it in Him for we can only love because He first loved us. He can only be our treasure when we have discovered that we are His. We can only seek first the kingdom of God when we appreciate that He has first sought and found us.

Having discovered this for himself Paul would first exclaim and then pray,

  • “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ .. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:8-10)
  • “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

You are not what the world makes you – in Christ you are a child of the Most High God.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine”

(Isaiah 43:1)

Response:
Buried within you is a great truth. Dwell on God’s love and word – until it resonates within you.

Prayer:

Father I so want to know more of Your love and light and life – help me please to receive what You have for me and to treasure it even as You treasure me. Amen.

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