Gift

Re:Verse passage – Colossians 2:16-23 (day six) 

…going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head… Colossians 2:18b-19a

God always intended to put His revelation down on paper. Something we could hold in our hands, read with our eyes, and come back to time and time again. The written Word is a thousand times more valuable than visions. I’m certainly not saying God doesn’t use visions, at least historically. What I am saying is God knew what He was doing when He put His Word in a book.

You can’t cross reference visions. You can’t know which one is from God, and which isn’t,… unless you check it with God’s written Word. This is why Paul warns against so called visions that originate from the minds of men, and he points us to Jesus, the Head (notice the play on words, mind and Head).

Be grateful for God’s gift of revelation in His written Word. It will never mislead or misdirect, and even when we get it wrong, it will always correct us.

 

Liberation

Re:Verse passage – Colossians 2:8-15 (day six)

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Colossians 2:15

Paul now turns to empower the Colossians, quite literally. No longer are they push-over plebeians beholden to rulers and authorities of known or unknown realms. By faith, the power of Jesus has given them new freedom, new life, and a new identity. For the first time they are liberated to live full and restored lives, without shame or fear before God or humanity.

This matters. Sometimes we can live as if we are still enslaved to sin, cultural demands, even someone else’s condemnation or expectations. Paul would remind us those things have no hold on us, they have no authority over us; we are truly free in Jesus, fully belonging to a God who has redeemed us. Not only, but He also disarms and puts them to shame. 

If God is for us, who can stand against us? Romans 8:31

Knitted

Re:Verse passage – Colossians 2:1-7 (day six)

We can forget this a letter. It’s not a treatise. It’s not a manifesto. It’s not a blog, or editorial. It’s a Holy Spirit-inspired letter, personal and historical, intended to be read by a small group of people in a small town in Asia Minor, and now us. When Paul writes, “being knitted together in love,” his letter was exhibit A. Even though he had never laid eyes on this small church, he had a deep abiding affection for them, in the same way a grandfather has for his grandchildren. It was with this connectedness and love that Paul writes to them, reminding them, encouraging them, challenging them, longing to protect them.

With this letter Paul models what we must do for one another, being knitted together in love. And what Paul did from afar (in a letter) he expects us to do face to face.

How knitted are you? Or maybe a better question, do you long to be knitted in the way Paul hopes for us?

On Message

Re:Verse passage – Colossians 1:24-29 (day six)

Paul expresses the mission of the church when he wrote, “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, the church.” Of course, we know there is no lack in the Cross (Jesus’ death) to forgive sinners, but there is lack in the spread of its message. Paul was fulfilling what Jesus had commissioned him to do from the beginning, to extend the message of Christ’s afflictions beyond Jerusalem into the rest of the world.

And yet, there is still more to be done.

Just like Paul, we have been commissioned to finish the task. We must extend the message of the Cross far and wide regardless of cost, until every tribe and tongue has had a chance to glory in the power of the Cross.

What part does FBCSA play in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions? What part do you play?

Contrasts

Re:Verse passage – Colossians 1:20-23 (day six)

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,…Colossians 1:21

The contrast is stunning and clear. Jesus is God of very God (v. 15-19), and we are hostiles with an appetite for evil deeds. Paul seems to have three objectives for this contrast. Portray the deep chasm left in the wake of our sin and rebellion, draw attention to our desperate need, and most significantly, illustrate that Jesus alone is capable of meeting that need and bridging the chasm.

Why go to anyone  else? He is the image of the invisible God who takes away the sins of the world, yours included, not to mention He alone can get you where you want to go.

Paul would remind us to stick with Jesus.

Gigaparsecs

Re:Verse passage – Colossians 1:15-19 (day six)

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. Colossians 1:19

“The radius of the observable universe is estimated to be about 46.5 billion light-years and its diameter about 28.5 gigaparsecs (93 billion light-years, 8.8×1023 kilometers or 5.5×1023 miles).”

I am not quite sure all that fullness means, but it surely encompasses the unimaginable. Consider for a moment the size of the observable universe. Even traveling at the speed of light for a 100 billion years you would never, ever reach the edges of the observable universe, ever, because it is always expanding. Not to mention all the matter between here and there, and the complexity of life on earth. Now, think on this. The mind and heart behind its creation dwells fully in Jesus. This puts a new perspective on “God with us.”

You want to know what else is impossible? You could never think too highly of Jesus. Ever. Our failure to fully comprehend God, much less a gigaparsec, is not a failure of God’s, but ours, our finiteness, compounded by our spiritual blindness.

The fight of faith is the daily battle to expand our understanding of the true nature of Jesus, to know the one whom he sent. (John 17:3) Paul was convinced this kind of personal knowledge would change everything. It did for him.

Praying

Re:Verse passage – Colossians 1:9-14 (day six)

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking… Colossians 1:9

Paul’s prayer is rich, but I don’t want to write about its content. What I find compelling is he tells the Colossians in detail how he is praying for them. I think Paul sets a good example for us. We often tell a friend or acquaintance, “I’m praying for you.” That’s a good thing to do, of course, if we actually pray for them, but we don’t often tell them how we are praying; we don’t tell them the content of our prayer. For Paul, and us, telling others how we pray serves a variety of purposes, but mostly it reminds the recipient of the truths and promises of God. When we vocalize our prayers, or tell our neighbor how we are praying, it moves past just providing information and becomes a spoken or written blessing. That is invaluable.

Try it sometime; I will. If you have committed to praying for someone, tell them how you have prayed. It will do both of you good.

Have Faith, Will Travel

Re:Verse passage – Colossians 1:1-8 (day six)

Here’s the truth: the Gospel always travels, because Jesus said so.

Jesus wasn’t joking or using hyperbole. He meant it when he said, “All authority in heaven and earth have been given to me. So, go…” Jesus has the authority to both command and fulfill the great commission. Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae is evidence of that truth.

Colossae is 1000 miles from Jerusalem. By the time the Gospel had made its way there, almost all of Asia Minor had heard the good news about Jesus (Acts 19:10). What’s even more incredible is, it wasn’t Paul who delivered the news, but Epaphras. Epaphras heard the Gospel through Paul, believed, and then he took it home to Colossae, and a church sprung out of fertile ground.

That’s the great commission at work; that’s how the great commission works.

Can’t Help It

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 28:18-20 (day six)

But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20

John and Peter were picked up, jailed and beaten, and then commanded never to talk about Jesus again. They were living the Great Commission, even at great cost to themselves. What I find interesting is their response to their captors. They couldn’t help but speak of what they’ve seen and heard.

This begs a lot of questions for western Christians who clearly struggle with telling others the story of Jesus, for somehow we can help it, at least more often than not. Why exactly is that the case? Of course, our schedules are busy, and some feel ill equipped; many of us are just scared or it simply doesn’t cross our minds. But what if the most important reason is, we simply have seen and heard so little of Jesus in our own lives, he has become inconsequential? He’s an occasional thought, or a tiny blip on the radar of our lives, but not enough to shape the stories we tell; we literally have nothing to say.

That can change, you know? Jesus is speaking; he is at work, you only have to listen and watch.

Fear and Loving

Re:Verse passage –Matthew 22:35-39 (day six)

If we are honest, commanding love offends our American sensitivities.  You might be able to ask for someone’s love, certainly hope for it, but you never demand it. Truly, who has the right to demand love from someone? God does, according to Moses and Jesus.

God also demands that we fear him, but not the kind of fear “that flees from his presence, but the kind that longs to do his will.” (John Sailhammer). The greatest commandment, the call to love the Lord your God, further defines fear. What God is commanding is an authentic response to his oneness; our total awe and devotion. God can demand our love because He alone is worthy of it, and He alone is our greatest good.

When God demands from us, He never takes, He always fulfills. You are never left with less; you always have more.