God’s Will

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 8:1-4 (day four)

As Jesus came down from the mountain, He was met by a humble leper.  The leper demonstrated some unusual qualities.  Whatever Jesus chose to do, this leper was willing to accept.  Sounds like three other men in Scripture…Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael.  These three friends of Daniel’s were going to be thrown into a fiery furnace unless they bowed to worship king Nebuchadnezzar’s gods.  In Daniel 3:17-18, these men said, “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire, …but even if He does not, let it be known to you O king, that we are not going to serve your gods…”

Do we have such faith?  Are we willing to follow Christ, even if we don’t get what we want?  Do we demand the ‘correct’ answer to our prayers?  May our faith match that of Daniel’s friends and of this leper…whatever your will is, Lord, I accept it!

Temptation

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 4:1-11 (day four)

Today is Thanksgiving!  It is a day in our nation when families gather and usually share a meal together.  And this is not just any meal…it is generally a feast of major proportions.  It is difficult for us to comprehend what Jesus must have felt after 40 days of fasting and then becoming hungry.  [Esau was willing to trade his birthright for a bowl of stew after only a few days of hunting.]  Humanly speaking, Jesus was at a very vulnerable time for temptation.

Satan is a formidable enemy.  He knows when and where we are the weakest in dealing with temptation.  We may be at a spiritually high, mountain top spiritual moment and we don’t even recognize the temptation…and think we are invincible spiritually.  Or, we may be at our lowest spiritual moment when we have what seems to be no hope at all.  Exhausted, busy, trying to make a good impression…wherever our weak point is, that is where Satan will strike.

When temptation comes, claim 1 Corinthians 10:13.  If Jesus lives in you…you can resist the temptation!

Encouragement

Re:Verse passage –Colossians 4:7-18 (day four)

Tychicus was a trusted friend.  Paul was sending him to the church at Colossae to deliver the letter and to share with the church about Paul’s circumstances.  Now, if it were me sharing the circumstances (hardships, chains, imprisonment), there would be an element of dismay or ‘poor me’ syndrome.  I would want my fellow believers to be praying for delivery from my miserable conditions.

Verse 8 says, “For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that he may encourage your hearts;”  Encourage?…Paul’s perspective was much different than mine would have been.  He did not want to include them in his misery, he wanted to encourage them. {Barnabas, who is mentioned later, in verse 10, was the ‘Son of Encouragement’} Paul begs the question, “Do we encourage others?”  Do we want to drag people down or build people up?  Are people blessed by our words or do we add to their burden?  Strive to be the source of encouragement in someone’s life today!

First Prayer

Re:Verse passage – Colossians 4:2-6 (day four)

Pride can sometimes keep us from asking others to pray for us.  We want to project the appearance that everything is going great in our lives.  Paul…who some consider a super-Christian…was not ashamed to ask for prayer.  If an apostle the stature of Paul will ask for prayer, shouldn’t we follow his example?

Notice that Paul, writing from prison, does not ask that God would get him out of prison.  (Often, our first prayer is for our own comfort and protection.) Paul asks that a door for the word will be opened.  His first priority is for his ministry of the gospel.  We have seen this in modern days in nations where the church is under great persecution.  Believers who are imprisoned for their faith will endure torture and isolation and yet, see a great harvest for the gospel within the prison walls.  We are challenged by this selfless display of courage that first and foremost desires to see others come to a saving relationship with Christ!  What is your first prayer?

For the Lord

Re:Verse passage –Colossians 3:18-4:1 (day four)

How do you work when nobody is watching?  Maybe you are disgruntled with your employer…or you feel like you are in a dead end job…or you believe that your co-workers have it much better…or your job does not meet up to your dreams.  A lot of factors can influence your attitude toward your work and your performance and diligence in getting the job done.

Paul wrote to the Colossians, reminding them that the object of their work was the Lord.  When no one else recognizes or appreciates the job you do, God does.  Our diligence is an act of obedience and may bear fruitful rewards in the future that we cannot possibly foresee.  Maximum effort in whatever we do is about our relationship with the Lord rather than the circumstances of our surroundings.  Will we choose to obey and honor the Lord or will we offer less than our best because we feel we have been slighted in some way?  It is your choice!

Transformed

Re:Verse passage – Colossians 3:10-17 (day four)

This passage has a familiar picture in Paul’s theology…a transformed life.  When we are in Christ, we are a new creation.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  We cannot have Christ in our life and stay the same.  His Spirit cannot abide with our old sinful self.  His presence will produce Christ-likeness in us.

What do people see in your life?  Are they seeing a transformed life or are they seeing a selfish, self-centered individual?  Do they see compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience?  If we are in Christ, the life that people see will look completely different than the life without Christ.  The picture we paint to the world speaks volumes about where our life originates.  To be ‘in Christ,’ will give us a whole new perspective on relationships, attitudes, and priorities.  Where are you living?

Hidden in Christ

Re:Verse passage – Colossians 3:1-9 (day four)

Our life is hidden with Christ’…this is especially true in the eyes of the world.  The world cannot even comprehend the understanding we have in Christ.  We see everything through a different lens.  We see through the lens of the Holy Spirit.  Scripture does not make sense to the unbeliever.  Until a heart is born again in Christ, there can be no truth.

Romans 8:6-8 says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

Unless God draws a man to Himself, salvation cannot come.  We cannot debate a person into heaven and we cannot present a convincing, logical argument to accept Christ that can change a heart.  Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, man cannot know the Truth!

Warnings

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

Legalism, mysticism, asceticism…all dangers to be alert for.  In our passage this week, Paul begins to address some of the problems that precipitated his letter to the church in Colossae.  He is issuing warnings of danger ahead…pitfalls that can sidetrack their/our relationship with Christ and take them/us down a path that can render them/us ineffective and valueless.  Paul speaks of being defrauded…deceived from what is rightfully ours in Christ.

What would Paul warn the church today of?  Where have we been deceived and sidetracked?  Would he caution us about the prosperity gospel?  Would he write to tell us not to place our hope in political parties or candidates?  Would he warn us to focus upon the Word of God and sharing the gospel message?  In today’s cultural and political climate, we can easily get deceived to champion causes that are valueless.  Guard against the perils of Satan’s deception and keep your eyes upon Christ!

Christ’s Example

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

Satan does not exercise a lot of creativity when it comes to temptation.  He has been using the same lies since the Garden of Eden.  He wraps them up in a different wrapper, but they are the same seductive snares.  Sadly, they continue to effectively draw us away from God’s perfect plan.

One of the well-worn enticements is to do God’s work, but in our own practical, efficient way.  Jesus faced this temptation in the wilderness.  God does not necessarily value efficiency as much as obedience.  Paul cautioned the Colossians to avoid the deception of the world and follow our example in Christ.  In our short, 8 verse passage, Paul references our relationship with Christ thirteen times.  {In Him…with Him…He (meaning Christ).} Our example to follow is clear.  Assignment:  Circle or underline these references in your Scripture, but more importantly, underline them in your life and follow the example we have in Christ!

Wealth

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

Attaining to all the wealth..” verse 2Does this passage support the prosperity gospel of today’s TV evangelists?  No…this reference has nothing to do with material gain.  Wealth relates to the invisible characteristics that are ours in Christ.  Kindness, love, understanding, wisdom, knowledge, peace, faith, humility, gentleness, patience…all of these qualities are available to us through Christ.

Romans 2:4 says, “do you think lightly of the riches…?”  We settle for so much less when we focus on material gain.  It is trading fresh, flowing water for broken, stagnant cisterns. (Jeremiah 2:3)  Paul longed for the Colossians to know all of these characteristics of Christ and for them to grow and mature in their lives.  A relationship with Christ is not complete if we just know Him.  Growing in Christ-like character is essential for life…a life that is healthy and pleasing to God.  Go back to Paul’s prayer in chapter 1…”so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.”  Are you?