Month: April 2018

When Scripture is a mirror! (1 Kings 1-2)

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We are exhorted in Ephesians 5:10 to ‘find out what pleases God’!  Much of Scripture helps us with that pursuit and yet some passages, some whole sections or even books are less about an example but more like a mirror.  There are many passages, many characters in the pages of Scripture that are not an example of the life God desires for us or from us but are a mirror into which we can look to see how not to live.

As we read the books of 1&2 Kings we will come across a great number of kings who are the exact opposite of what God desires for our lives or from our lives.  And when we do come across them, we are to consider Scripture as a mirror.  

Is there anything in their bad example that reflects our lives, our hearts or our thinking in some way?

The context for 1&2 Kings is 1 Samuel 8 that moment in Israel’s history when the people clamoured for Samuel the prophet to give them a king so that they could be like all the nations around them.  They weren’t satisfied with God as their King, they wanted an earthly king….

God warned them through Samuel, that this was not a good request, that it was not good to reject God and to put their faith in man in God’s place, God warned them of all the hardship and evil a human king would bring to them…but they would not relent and so God gave them king Saul.  And from this very first king hardship and pain came to God’s people, followed by David who made many errors and the nation suffered rebellion and wars and death as a result.  As we come to 1&2 Kings we will encounter a total of 40 kings (over Judah & Israel) and the BIG IDEA is that on the whole the kings despite some exceptions were a huge disappointment.

In 1 Kings, king David is dying and even before he is dead his son Adonijah is jostling for position trying to become the next king Israel by scheming and posturing, positioning himself.  And yet, God had told David that his son Solomon was to be the next king and was to have the honour of building God’s temple (see 1 Chronicles 22:6-10).  

So David acts to quell the rebellion of Adonijah and appoints Solomon as king and charges Solomon to ‘walk in God’s ways’ to keep God’s commands so as to see God’s blessing on his life and on God’s people , to see God establish his kingdom (see 1 Kings 2:1-4)…

But the very next thing they do together is to plot revenge for things people did during David’s reign (1 Kings 2:5-9) and then spurred on by this bad example Solomon spends the remainder of 1 Kings 2:10-46 having people murdered to establish his kingdom!  

Solomon doesn’t do what he was charged to do – to obey God and then trust that God would establish his kingdom, NO, he decides to do it his own murderous way.  And so, 1&2 Kings is off to a rollicking bad start.

What relevance does this have for you and me in 2018?

How are you living?  Are you living with the exhortation of Ephesians 5:10 pulsating through your life?  Is it your desire to live in such a way that your life pleases God? (which was the charge David gave Solomon)  Is that a motivation that’s central to your life?  

If it is – then you know that you love God (1 John 3:10).  And you can be assured that God will keep you safe to the very end (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).

Or is there something God has promised you that has not happened yet (like Solomon) and you feel tempted to ‘make it happen’ in your own strength?  Something you feel tempted to do something God’s not told you to do – to ensure it happens…?  

Don’t make the mistake Solomon made. 

Intro to 1&2 Kings (May’s Bible Read Plan)

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This month, we are reading the books of 1 & 2 Kings. These books trace the very sad story of God’s people from the end of David’s life through the various kings of both Northern and Southern Israel and traces the interactions between these mostly ungodly kings and God’s agents the prophets. In the end both North and South are exiled and the books close with a question; HOW WILL GOD FULFILL HIS PROMISES TO ABRAHAM & DAVID & HIS PEOPLE? As we read, all along the way there will be things to apply into our lives!

Although there is more reading this month than you might be used to, it is narrative and so the way you read it is different to the way you would chew on one verse in Romans for example.  So read through the whole section assigned and then maybe just come back to the parts you feel God is highlighting to you.

Here is a great little annimation explaining 1&2 Kings –

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qc6sqfroi7stsok/Read%20Scripture_%201-2%20Kings.mp4?dl=0

May you be blessed and hear God speak to your through this month’s readings.

Agents of God in the World (Colossians 4:5-6)

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Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:5-6)

Burk Parsons said; “God calls us out of darkness and into his marvelous light and then calls us to walk right back into the darkness and shine.”We are God’s agents in the world!

Scripture describes us as God’s fragrance, ‘the aroma of Christ’(2 Corinthians 2:15) amongst unbelievers and Jesus called us ‘the salt of the earth’(Matthew 5:13) and Scripture also describes us as ‘ambassadors for Christ’(2 Corinthians 5:20).  More than all of these you and I are also the sonsand daughtersof our heavenly Father (1 John 3:1)!

In all three of these passages we are not likened to these things but rather described as being them. These things are not something that’s merely metaphorical or just aspirational but is in fact a statement of what is true of us, it is in fact who we are.

And for that reason Colossians 4:5-6 instructs us to walk with wisdom, to really think about how we live out our lives and interact with those who are not yet Christ followers. It is assumed here that the church will not be some holy huddle excluding itself from the world, we are to engage with live amongst, reach out to people who are not Christ followers. We are those to whom God has entrusted the message and ministry of reconciliation – the good news that God wants to reconcile all people to Himself through faith in His Son, Jesus!

We have a high calling, we represent God in the world. In politics or business, an ambassador for a country or a brand has a real responsibility to represent his/her nation/brand well in all they say and do. Such a person is not just a free agent, they have responsibility, how they live and talk really matters.

Similarly, for us as Christ followers we are urged here to deeply consider our lives and our speech and to consider whether we are living and speaking as we ought to – with wisdom and with grace. Our ‘salty’ speech should preserve peace and should point people to Christ. God wants us to be able to answer people’s questions about life or faith or God – to give dignity to them by really considering their question and giving answers that serve them and illuminate the path to faith in Jesus.

These are easy things to write, easy things to read about yet difficult to do! I am freshly convicted of my need to wake up each day and to mentally put on this role God’s given – ambassador, representative! What an honour we have. May I, may we serve those who don’t yet know Jesus as Lord and Saviour by the way we live and speak – may we truly be the aroma of Christ and salt and light in the world for His sake and the sake of those who don’t yet know Him.

What can change today if you go into your day with this fresh realisation?

Pray & keep praying… (Colossians 4:2-5)

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Consider this for a moment.  Apart from a mother in the throws of child-birth or the patient receiving some excruciatingly painful physiotherapy – people do not normally need to be encouraged to keep breathing.  

That’s because Breathing is essential to life.  Any kid who has tried to hold out on their parents request or instruction by holding their breath – goes red fairly promptly and then gasps again for as they resume breathing again.  We breathe continually because it is essential for physical life.

And yet our connection with God our Father in prayer, or with the Holy Spirit for His enabling power in some situation is really as essential as breathing.  So;

  • We pray because we know we can call out to our Father & because we know He loves to answer (see Psalm 18)
  • We pray because we know that we have the Holy Spirit as our Helper, who is ever-present & ready to respond.  
  • We pray because we know Jesus ever lives to pray with us and on our behalf, making intercession to the Father for us
  • We pray because we know that we don’t have the resources, wisdom or capacity we need in any given scenario and we know that God does
  • We pray because, when we pray, we are humbled & helped and God is exalted as the all-sufficient, loving God.

“Prayer is weakness leaning on omnipotence.”  W. S. Bowd

Colossians 4:2-5 urges us strongly to be consistently diligent in prayer.  We are urged to saturate our prayers with thankfulness, to be watchful in prayer, to be alert and to keep awake, to be vigilant in our prayers and vigilant enough to pray.  So, be vigilant (to pray) remembering that you have an enemy who wants to stop you from praying wants to disconnect you from God.  Be also vigilant in your prayers, be consistent, don’t be caught off your guard having been prayer less, and lastly be alert regarding HOW you pray or even WHAT you pray for.

I urge you to take this opportunity to reflect on your life rhythms and patterns and ask yourself whether your prayer life can be described in this sort of way.  If so, then the encouragement of Scripture is to keep being consistent in this diligence.  And if not, then I urge you to make some changes in order to make constant communication with God your life-pattern.

Consider: what does ‘being watchful’ in prayer mean?

Lastly, note how prayer unlocks mission!  Prayer unlocks Gospel advance and kingdom breakthrough.  That is where this appeal from the apostle Paul comes from.  Make it a life-habit to not only pray about personal needs or those of close loved ones, but pray in ways that release mission and cause Gospel and Kingdom advance.  Your prayers unlock situations for churches and ministries, open doors and release things.  So pray, and keep being diligent in prayer.

In Reconciliation Road Church we have the following prayer meetings you could commit yourself to (apart from your own personal prayers times):

  • Men’s Prayer Meeting (Tues 5:45am-6:30am)
  • RRC Prayer Meeting (Thurs 10am-11am)
  • RRC Prayer Meeting (Thurs 5:30pm-6:30pm)
  • RRC Prayer Meeting (Sun 8:20am-8:40am)
  • RRC Prayer Meeting (Sun 4:45pm-17h10pm)

Join us!

Employment issues… (Colossians 3:22-4:1)

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Although there is no time here to extensively address the issue of why it might on a superficial reading of Colossians 3:18-4:1 appear as if Scripture were condoning the slavery (as we understand it in the 21st century) let me make some brief comment before we get to applying this passage to our lives.

Yesterday’s devotion made it clear that the foundation for these imperatives for godly living was that Jesus is now our Lord, our King and this is what His kingdom ought to be like. Does that mean then that slavery is endorsed as part of Jesus’ kingdom?

No. As the ESV translators have said in the preface to their translation; “A particular difficulty is presented when words in biblical Hebrew and Greek refer to ancient practices and institutions that do not correspond directly to those in the modern world.”

Translators seek to translate the original words into the modern equivalent in English and yet sometimes that English word can contain (as does the word ‘slave’) modern meaning that is distracting from what the original meaning was to the original hearers.

Here in Colossians ‘bondservants’ (in the ESV translation) is the word used to translate the Greek word, ‘doulos’ (which can mean either slave, bondservant or servant). In the Roman Empire, a bondservant was someone who was officially bound under contract to serve his/her master for seven years, when the contract expired the person was freed.

Scripture instructs ‘bondservants’ (ESV) or ‘slaves’ (NIV) to ‘obey’ their earthly masters and to work hard, to work as if they are working not just for their earthly masters but for the Lord ultimately (see 3:22-25).

The question is how does this apply to the present day since employment practices have changed so dramatically? The most obvious ‘hermeneutic bridge’ to the present is surely the issue of employment and being an employee or an employer.

Employees have ‘masters’ or ‘bosses’ whom they are contracted to work for. And as Christ followers we are to be the most incredible employees (Colossians 3:22-25)! We are to work respectfully, to work harder than anyone else because in fact we are working for our ultimate Master – Jesus. We are therefore those who are looking not just for the reward of a salary but looking for His reward in eternity for how we worked.

In Colossians 4:1 the instruction turns to those who are called ‘master’ by others. These are the equivalent of employers in our day. And to such people the instruction is clear and bold. Masters are to treat those who work for them in a manner that gives dignity, honour, value & proper respect (see the general instruction in 1 Peter 2:17).

Christ followers who employ other people are to know that their King requires that their faith and their belonging to His kingdom must impact their treatment of others in all spheres of life. And so, those who employ others are to be just and to be fair in all their dealings with their employees. They are to pay fairly and justly, they are to be like their Master, Jesus is towards them.

Finally, they are to keep in mind that they will appear one day before their Master, Jesus and will give an account on that day for how they treated those who worked for them.

What we see in this section of Scripture is that Jesus’ kingdom rule impacts every sphere of life. Employees for whom Jesus is Lord become the best employees on the planet and employers likewise have their employment practices transformed by the Lordship of Jesus so that they become blessing to those who work for them. Nothing in life is untouched by our followership of Jesus.

So in closing; whether you work for someone or whether you employ anyone in any context, contemplate for a moment whether your attitude, your thinking and your treatment of others in those contexts is godly?

Are you treating others (employers or employees) as King Jesus wants you to?

What might need to change?

Life that flows when Jesus is Lord (Colossians 3:17-4:1)

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The little section (3:18-4:1) that follows Colossians 3:17 expands on what it looks like in a number of life-spheres, to have Jesus as our Lord. What it looks like to ‘do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus’, to live a life that is ‘fitting in the Lord’ (vs18) and a life that pleases God (vs20).

Now some of a section like this might ruffle your modern-day feathers and ways of thinking but before you baulk at anything in this section it’s worth noting something…

This section of Scripture is not an appeal to some societal norms at a point in history. Why do I say this? Simply because in just nine verses the imperatives are rooted in the foundation of Jesus being Lord (or some similar phrase) seven times!

This is not some out-dated teaching, but is rather instruction regarding the type of life that is worthy of someone who has been saved by Jesus Christ and who has professed Him as their Lord.

  • ….wives.,submit to your husbands and husbands are to love their wives with gentle affirming love – as this is fitting in the Lord (vs18-19)
  • Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord (vs20)
  • Bondservants (employees), obey…fearing the Lord (vs22)
  • Whatever you do, work heavily, as for the Lord… (vs23) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance (vs24)
  • You are serving the Lord Christ (vs24)
  • Masters treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven (4:1)

Jesus as our ‘Lord’ can also be understood as Jesus being our ‘King’. In a king’s kingdom, it’s the king that determines the way that life will be lived out, what will be prioritised and what will be outlawed. When we accept Jesus as our Lord, Jesus becomes our King and our whole lives need to then be lived out according to His plans and purposes, His ways.

Jesus’ kingship over us impacts marriage, family, the workplace, all aspects of our days and lives regardless of what we do for a living. We are not to resemble the world and its ways, we are to be a different people, walking to a different drum beat to that of the world around us.

So read and re-read this passage as a wife or a husband, as a child or parent, as an employer or and employee and whatever you do, whatever is your life situation – do everything remembering that ultimately; “You are serving the Lord Christ” (vs24) as you obey these instructions.

So read and re-read and ask Your LORD and Saviour to speak to you personally about anything you need to be challenged on or anything that needs changing.

 

What a church! (Colossians 3:1-17)

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In Colossians 3:1-17 we find a vision for an incredibly amazing church.  A church where the people are living out holy lives in response to the wonder of the Gospel of Jesus.  They have and are putting to death old sinful life-patterns which affect their attitudes, actions, speech & behaviour (vs5&7-9).  They are living in a right reverent fear of their awesome God who is holy and yet their Father (vs6).  These people in this church have put on the new nature that is theirs as the children of the living God – they are beginning to look more and more like their Saviour – Jesus.

This church is a multi-cultural church, a community of faith that has formed because of the Gospel.   They have come from all walks of life but have all been united in their common need and their common faith in Jesus who answers all their sin-problems (vs11)!

These people know that God literally chose them to be His beloved children, His holy ones on the earth (vs12).  They live with this truth shaping their thinking and their lives.  They were chosen to be holy ones, chosen as sons and daughters of the most High God.  And because of this knowledge, these people live differently!

They are confident because of God’s love and yet humble and compassionate & kind because they know God loved them when they were unlovely.  They love others, are gentle, patient and forbearing with one another because that is how God has treated them (vs12).  They don’t hold on to wrongs done to them but forgive one another because they know that they have been forgiven (vs13)!

This church is characterised by love, pulsing through everything that’s done and said and this results in a deep community and a deep unity and peace in their community in spite of their diversity (vs14-15).  The people of this church are characterised not by anxiety and worry but by peace that comes from knowing that your Saviour holds the whole world in His hands (Colossians 1:15-20)!

These people are a gospel-centred people in that they are supremely grateful to God.  Thankfulness saturates everything because they keep looking back at who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for them and that discipline fills them continually with thanks and praise and faith for the future, that thanks glorifies God and fuels their worship and the lives (see thanks 3x in vs15,16,17).

They are a Scripture-saturated people!  They love God’s word, read and honour God’s word by obeying it.  The Scriptures form the basis of their conversations, their relationships, their counsel and their worship.  They aren’t just taught by preachers but in fact they all teach each other continually from the Scriptures in TRIO’s and Community Groups(vs15-16).

Worship, songs of thanks, songs that tell of the greatness of God and express praise that makes Him the centre and their preoccupation are forever in their hearts and on their lips (vs16).  In fact they’ve turned anything and everything in their life into worship as they do everything from a place of wanting to represent Jesus, to bring Him honour – whether they are employing people, studying, working for someone, being a husband or a wife or a neighbour…  They do everything for Christ and in the power of Christ knowing that they are His ambassadors in the world (vs17).

What a church!  Where do I find such a church?  

You don’t find one, you and I all make one!  You and I and others all saved and rescued by Jesus together form a community, work out our salvation, keep Jesus the centre, saturate ourselves with Scripture, and keep being transformed by the incredible power of the Gospel and then this is the type of incredible church that will form!  Don’t look for a church like this – play your part in making one!

Look up! (Colossians 3:1-4)

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The letter to these believers in Colossae (and now to you and I) is about to take a turn towards exhortations on how we should live out our response to the risen LORD Jesus. In these verses 3:1-4 the apostle is changing gear as it were, setting up what he is about to exhort us to do, the godly practical life instruction he is about to give…

But before any life instructions are given, Paul calls us to look upwards again, to consider our great and glorious Jesus again.

May Jesus fill my vision, fill your vision. May who He is and what He has done for us captivate us and motivate us to live our lives in a life response that is fully pleasing to Him and is worship to Him (Colossians 1:10).

What is happening or has happened in your life that is filling your vision, your thoughts?
What can you do practically today to fix your eyes again on Jesus, to look up and not down, to worship not worry?

In all the imperatives to godly living that are about to follow in the letter, need something IF they are avoid just becoming like the rule-keeping rituals & regulations of the false teachers that Paul has warned us of in Chapter 2.

You see it is not just what we do, but why we do what we do that matters!

The motivation behind all the instructions for godly living needs to be our love for Jesus. Otherwise these things will become just another religious list like that of the false teachers.

But when we continually contemplate, meditate on Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross, then we are filled with the desire to please Him and when we are filled with the desire to please Him with all of our lives then moral instruction like we have in this letter will not shut down the life of God in us but will stimulate & instruct us on how to live in a manner that is fully pleasing to God – the very thing we want to do.

So, set your mind on Jesus, worship Jesus, love Him more and more and you will want to live the life He wants you to live.

Good News not Good Advice (Colossians 2:16-23)

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Religion is both hard work and useless! False teachers had come into the community of believers in Colossae and were spreading false teachings that seemingly urged the believers to live an ascetic life, to give up all sorts of God-given pleasures or joyful things. Their teachings came with rules about special days and ceremonies and rules and regulations that were essential for spiritual growth according to them.

But the Gospel is good news not good advice! Advice requires you to DO something to achieve something, news is hearing about something that has been DONE already. The Christian life is not about list of things we must DO (observing special rules and rites and filling our calendars with special days and traditions…) so as to please God. No the gospel is the good news that God is pleased with us already not because of anything we did but because of what Jesus has DONE for us!

So hold on to Jesus (vs19)! Don’t let anyone who has been taken in by false religious teachings rob you of your joy in Jesus or your freedom in Jesus.

After all, false religion is both hard work and just plain useless! It can appear so intensely spiritual (such people are always so intense) but in fact it’s nothing of the sort. False religion’s foundation is not Jesus but rather self-righteous, prideful, worldly thinking (20-22). Religion and legalistic rule-keeping don’t have any ability to produce true godliness in us or to restrain our sinful desires, such thinking doesn’t bring any freedom or produce any spiritual growth (vs23).

Only trusting in Jesus, responding to the glorious good news of what He has DONE for us at a heart level, only loving Him back and letting His love for us melt our hearts so that our desires change from the inside out, only that will produce true spirituality and godliness.

For sure, the Christ follower’s life does get totally transformed, everything changes as we shall see in the rest of Colossians, but it’s so important to not slip into religious thinking, to not get taken in by false teachings that have the appearance of spirituality but in fact in the end do not help us at all to worship Jesus more fully and live the rest of our lives as a worshipful response.

So don’t let anyone tell you, now that you’re a Christ follower you HAVE to do this or that!

If you’re truly a Christ follower and you’ve seen what He has done you’ll WANT to make changes in your life, you’ll WANT to press in to Jesus and so you’ll do all sorts of things, but you’ll do them from a place of worshipful joy and not duty, you’ll do them because you’ve been accepted and loved by God not hoping that your activity will earn God’s acceptance and love.

But God… (Colossians 2:13-15)

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Although I am a devoted Christ Follower, I am not a good person in and of myself! There are plenty of people who are more loving, more generous, more patient , more kind — than I am sadly. There are far too many times when I don’t like who I have become in this scenario or that one, when I’m provoked or prodded.

But then a passage like this one reminds me, that I was hopeless without Christ. I was more than hopeless, I was DEAD, living breathing but spiritually DEAD before I came to the point of trusting in Jesus and asking Him to be my LORD and Saviour (vs13).

Sometimes we look at people and think they’re ok, they’re not that bad really. But Scripture never allows for that false perspective – outside of Jesus we are all DEAD in our transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1 & Colossians 2:13), without hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12), not one of us is righteous enough (Romans 3:9-12), everyone of us is morally corrupt and bankrupt (Romans 3:23). I was, we were or still are in a bad situation…

But God. “God made us alive together with Him” (vs13)! God forgave us all of our many sins, God cancelled the long list of all my, all our wrongs against Him and against others (vs13). What good news this is for a person like me, like you. God set aside our sin, by nailing it to the cross when God nailed Jesus to the cross, so that Jesus could pay the punishment for our sin (Romans 6:23) so that we could be ransomed, set free from the consequences of our sin.

And so now, I am free from sin’s consequences and I am free to love and obey and follow God, I am not under the control of sin or the devil anymore (like I once was – see Romans 6:15-23) but am under the loving command and control of Jesus Christ my LORD.

I still mess up, but praise God I am forgiven and I am able to continually keep becoming more and more like my LORD and Saviour Jesus, keep becoming more loving, more kind, more generous and patient…

But only because I have been ‘made alive together in Him’ (vs13) and because of that I have the life and the light of Jesus in my life which keeps having the effect of transforming me daily. Thank you Jesus!

Warning: Don’t get taken in… (Colossians 2:8-12)

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As believers we need to be on our guard, careful not to be distracted or distorted by every wind of teaching that blows through town, or the internet or social media…

We as believers need to ensure we aren’t gullible, aren’t easily impressed, impacted or taken along with teachings or ideas that have their basis in the empty thinking of our age.  Such philosophies can sound so persuasive (certain issues pertaining to gender, sexuality, freedom, life’s purpose…), so clever, but in the end they are devoid of God’s eternal truth as they don’t line up with Scripture and they aren’t centred around the biblical revelation of Jesus Christ and the Gospel!

We on the other hand are to look to, to focus on the man Jesus, the One in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form.  Focusing on Jesus, trusting His ways for our lives regardless of whether such ways seem popular or are even despised by our popular culture has a resultant effect.  Our lives become filled to the brim – no lack at all.  Jesus + nothing is what you and I need.  There is no lack in Him and there will be no lack in us as we look to Him and trust Him and His ways as revealed in Scripture for ALL of life.

So, is there anything?  Any worldly thinking that’s actually at odds with the revealed will of God in Scripture, with which you might have been taken captive or allured by?  Ask God to reveal anything like that, that’s in play in your life or your thinking…  And if God shows you anything I urge you to repent of such empty thinking that has its foundation in the emptiness of the world’s thinking and choose now to place Scripture over all other philosophies and to fix your eyes on Jesus + nothing.

Walking with & Rooted in Jesus (Colossians 2:6-7)

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Colossians 2:6–7 (NLT): 6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. 

Faith in Jesus is more like a journey than an event.  There is a day when we cross the line of faith, we put our trust in Jesus and so we receive Christ Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.

The ESV at this point says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him…”  Before the day we put our faith in Jesus we are journeying towards faith in Jesus, but after that day we are journeying with Jesus.

The day of our salvation therefore is not the end.  It’s the end of one chapter but it’s only the beginning of our journey following Jesus for the rest of our lives!

So I urge you to follow Jesus, to keep walking with Him every day, asking Him for His direction and guidance in every situation you face, looking for Him, listening to Him…

Verse 7 in the NLT urges us saying; ‘let your roots go down into Him, let your lives be built on Him’.    What a lovely word picture!

A person who’s roots are firmly secured, embedded in Jesus.  Roots provide stability to withstand the storms of life, they also provide nourishment for the life of tree and make leaves, fruit & flowers possible.  A person who is continuously following Jesus and letting their life roots go down into Jesus will be a person who is secure and stable, a person with evident health and fruit in their lives.  Who doesn’t want that?

Take some time now to think about what this could look like practically – to let your roots go down into Jesus.  How can you ensure that the roots of your life are firmly in Jesus?  What life rhythms will help this to be a reality for your life?

Mystery & Treasure (Colossians 2:1-5)

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WhatsApp Image 2018-04-09 at 17.28.34As people we are inquisitive by nature.  You can see this clearly in children, the desire to know, to understand propels learning and growth.  Many people love riddles, or stories with plots that unfold, mysteries that need resolving, that draw us in as they press on our desire to know more.

This passage describes Jesus as the mystery of God!  The God of the Bible is so much bigger, more loving, more magnificent, holy, wrathful against sin, just, holy, righteous, powerful, gracious…. than we could ever imagine.  What we know of God, just reveals how little we truly know of God.  What we know of God simultaneously satisfies us and stirs up within us an insatiable desire, an inquisitiveness wanting to know more of our glorious God.

Here in Colossians 2:2-3 Jesus is described both as ‘God’s mystery’ and as the One in whom are hidden ‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’.  What an intoxicating combination.  If we want to pursue the mystery of God, then we need to focus on Jesus, and Scripture here confirms that as we pursue relationship with Jesus, we will find that Jesus is the One in whom ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found.

Friend, Jesus is the answer to every problem, every need.  Jesus is the only One who can truly satisfy our souls, Jesus contains the wisdom we need for life and for godliness, for parenting, for our career choices and our relationships…  Jesus deserves not only all our worship but all our reflection, all our attention and as we focus our lives on Him, we discover more and more about God, who He is and what He is like, we discover treasures that will thrill our hearts and satisfy our souls and we discover wisdom and knowledge for life.

Oh may we make Jesus our vision and our pursuit.

How to pray for someone else… (Colossians 1:9-14)

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Paul’s letter reveals a wonderful outline of how you can pray for someone else;

  1. Pray for God to fill the person you’re praying for with the knowledge of God’s will for their life in this moment they are in (vs9)
  2. Pray that they would have not their own wisdom or the wisdom of the world but rather Holy Spirit inspired wisdom and understanding in their life circumstance (vs9)
  3. Pray the above SO THAT the one you’re praying for can walk in a way that honours God (vs10)
  4. SO THAT they may please God in every way by bearing fruit in all they do and (vs10)
  5. And SO THAT they may grow in their personal knowledge of God (vs10)
  6. Pray that they may be strengthened with God’s power in the midst of their current situation not that they just be ejected out of it, pray this SO THAT they may have great endurance & joy in the midst of their circumstances (vs11)
  7. Pray all of this SO THAT they may give thanks to God who qualified them to share in the inheritance He has for us, and give thanks to God who rescued us who believe from satan’s kingdom, and brought us into the Kingdom of Jesus, our Redeemer, the one who purchased our forgiveness…(vs12-13). Amen.

Who can you pray for right now using this passage as your prayer outline?

Transforming Grace (Colossians 1:1-2)

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Today we start our journey through the book of Colossians. There will be times when the reading for the day will only be just a few verses. I urge you in these days, to grow in reading & meditating on Scripture. I urge you to read, read again, to ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you (from even the smallest section), to wait and to listen to the Holy Spirit for revelation about God, about faith or about the implications of our faith in Jesus for our lives. Bless you.


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Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. (Colossians 1:1-2)

‘Paul’

Here in this greeting for the letter, I see a person with a name. Scripture is full of real people, individuals who were rescued by God, with real personal stories to tell, just like you and I. More than that, this letter is written by an unlikely person!

His name was changed, he used to be ‘Saul – the persecutor of believers in Jesus’ but had been renamed by God and became ‘Paul – the anointed preacher, discipler and church planter’. His name used to be feared by believers and yet God had transformed him so that now he was one of the leaders of the early church across the known world. God is in the business of changing people!

How have you been transformed by faith in God?
What change is there that’s still needed in your life?
Is there someone you’ve been praying for that really needs big change?

Remember that change, total transformation is what God does, so be encouraged and call out again to God for your life or the life of someone else.

‘Paul, an apostle’

Paul identifies himself as ‘Paul, an apostle’ (vs1) – what does this mean? At its most basic level it simply means ‘sent one’ or ambassador! Although the term means other more specific things in Scripture just for today I want you to see that this man Paul who did such amazing things for God is no different in one sense to you and I. We too like him are ‘sent ones’ sent by God into our 24/7 lives as God’s agents, God’s ambassadors.

What would change in your life if this truth were more front & centre for you?
Whom has God sent you to?
What are you doing about it?

‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father’

All Christ followers are united in their experience of the grace of God. God saved us not by our own merit but by His grace and God continues then to pour out into our lives after salvation His unmerited favour and blessing.

God’s grace is the very air we breath every day as believers in Jesus and grace not legalistic striving leads to us being at peace with God who has become our Father in heaven. We could never be at peace with God through our own effort, but because of God’s grace we have been reconciled to right relationship with our maker our heavenly Father and so we are a blessed people.

We start the journey with Jesus by grace and grace is what we need everyday to stay on the journey. As the great hymn from 1779 declares;

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun. (John Newton)