As Paul finishes his letter, we glean confirmation that he is in prison for his faith and witness. Yet he is not despondent, but full of hope and sees opportunity. He has good reason, for the chapter demonstrates a range of names, e.g. Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristartchus and Nympha to name just a few. This is a network of believers and co-workers, people on the same task of bearing witness to Jesus.
Sunday, 5 December 2021
Challenge: Pray for as little as one person/family, ask God for the next step
Sunday, 28 November 2021
On Saturday about 17 of us got together to Study Colossians (first 3 chapters). We did this split into 3 groups, and worked through 4 sessions. The idea was for each to share what God was saying to us through the passage. What follows is a broad summary!
In session 1 we loved the prayer of Paul, how he is praying for 'Spiritual fullness' in the lives of Colossian believers, praying for 'great endurance and patience'. God spoke to us about how patience is active - a walk in patience with God. Yet that walk becomes a state of being, being in the presence of God.
It was clear that the letter is about the spiritual, and so let us learn to pray in the spiritual realm, with the practical flowing from it. Let this become our norm! As a practical tip, use verses of scripture when we pray for people. Remember your status in Christ: rescued from darkness into His Kingdom, so we can pray with confidence from the throne room of God.
In session 2 we moved to Jesus Himself. We were struck by the phrase 'He is the image of the invisible God'. God is ... even if non-believers can't see it. We can, because we look to Jesus! So this is God in the spiritual breaking in to the physical (His own creation), but people can only get this by having spiritual sight. Sadly the devil does a good job of blinding people - their hearts might be open, but minds are blinded ... yet that doesn't put them beyond the reach of Jesus.
Christ reigns supreme, all things created through Him and for Him. That supremacy comes right into our lives, with the promise of Christ in You. He has done enough for each to be reconciled, our bodies now holy in His sight. By this stage we could see 2 clear principles emerging shared between the 3 groups:
- It is about Jesus and the spiritual ... which will have practical outworkings
- It is about the Big Picture of God and His plans - remember where you are in the Big Picture!
Ploughing on through chapter 2 into the 3rd session, Paul writes of Jesus' death and resurrection, and the implications. God spoke to us about rules, how they can set unnecessary expectations, but they are external constraints. Discipline, however, is intrinsic, it comes from our spiritual walk and the Holy Spirit working within. Our call, therefore, is to live by the Spirit.
The language is rich: with covenant marks of circumcision (Old Covenant) and baptism with faith (New Covenant). The rules do not save us, but faith expressed in baptism does! It saves us to Freedom in Christ, learning to live by the Spirit. To do that requires us to stay connected to Jesus the Head, and to be supported by the wider body of believers.
So let us live in freedom! Don't judge, and don't be judged. In everything put your faith in Christ. The alternative - unbelief - is death!
Our final session looked at chapter 3, applying what was read in the morning into real life. The key message for us was: Change your clothes! This is an active ongoing daily process of being renewed and transformed. Note the call is not written as a legal code, it is written as a choice - a faith response to what Jesus has done. Lose, get rid of, trash, put to death ... and put on the new. When you were physically born, you were born naked and were then clothed. Now you are 'born again', lost the old clothes (be naked again!), and be clothed by Christ, with His new clothes, worthy and appropriate for the Kingdom.
So learn to live Christ-centric - see it is all about Jesus! He is supreme (chapter 1), He is completely God, the Spiritual into the physical (chapter 2). Christ is all and in all. So when you see someone (perhaps someone who is 'far off'), learn to see what is of Christ in them, and respond to them as Christ would respond to them.
My own final thought was that this was a great day. Even a primary school age child could positively listen and contribute. We were able to have God speak through us. We read some serious stuff, e.g. chapter 3 covers immoral behaviours, but we weren't led to simply try and map 'Christian requirements of moral behaviour onto the world'. Instead the emphasis was seeing Jesus more clearly ourselves, and then helping others see Jesus!
Sunday, 21 November 2021
Climate change has obviously come to the fore with the recent COP26 conference, with national pledges, campaign groups etc. At our level we should seriously ask is it just for governments or other 'important people' to make their 'big decisions', or is it something for each and every one of us to think how we are living. What decisions can we take?
Sunday, 7 November 2021
Last week Paul seemed to blow away all notion of living by law or rules, describing it as 'mere elemental'. Paul now writes 'Since then ...' - but the 'then' actually refers back to earlier in chapter 2. In fact all the way back to 2:6 'just as you received Christ as Lord, continue to live your lives in him ...' and 2:12 'your self buried with him, now raised with him through faith in God who raised Jesus'. For Paul this is all the same thread, all back to putting our lives in Christ - to us dying with Jesus (who himself died on the cross) and being raised with Jesus to a new life.
Sunday, 31 October 2021
Paul has written to the Colossians about their faith in Jesus. He prays for them, and then talks about Jesus being fully God and fully man. He talks of a 'mystery revealed', which is Jesus coming so that through faith we can live in Christ and have Christ in us. Yet at the end of chapter 2 he writes things that shake things up. Words that challenge long held assumptions.
Challenge: Identify the good habits and support structures for your walk with Jesu
Sunday, 17 October 2021
In Luke 18 there is an episode where people bring young children or babies to Jesus. The disciples of Jesus get uppety about this and want to put a stop to it. But Jesus corrects them, using some interesting words that should make us think about people come into the presence of God.
Sunday, 10 October 2021
In the British Army special forces (SAS) the soldiers are willing to face unspeakable risk, hardship and danger all for the cause, all to 'get the job done'. Yet it is not done in a vacuum - it is with incredibly high comradeship, knowing that on mission your fellow soldiers will be there for you whatever happens. They also know that the unit will equip them and back them with whatever they need.
Sunday, 26 September 2021
In trying to understand God, we have to come to terms with the fact that God is Spirit - He isn't someone or something that we can just see, touch or grab. God to the human eye is invisible. So we can't make an image of God, like ancient people would carve a bull and then bow down and worship it, because that would be just a physical thing and of course not God at all.