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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Colossians - Put Off the Old and Put On the New

Colossians – Put Off the Old and Put On the New
Today we are continuing with our study of the book of Colossians.  And we will be studying Colossians chapter 3: 1-17 which is teaching us that when we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are to live differently.  We didn’t have the power on our own to live differently before, (Colossians 2: 11 & 13) but now with Christ’s power we can be new persons in Him! (Colossians 2:14)
After we have believed in Christ we have His power to “put off” our old sins and to “put on” our new graces!  Or to take off our dirty clothes and put on our clean clothes.  Christians have the power now to change but we have to go ahead and use that power given to us by Christ.  Today our Scripture verses in Colossians deal with this issue:  We will be reading Colossians 3:1-17.
Colossians 3:1-17
“Since you were raised from the dead with Christ, aim at what is in heaven, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.  Think only about the things in heaven, not the things on earth.  Your old sinful self has died, and your new life is kept with Christ in God.  Christ is our life, and when He comes again, you will share in His glory.
So, put off bad things from your life, sexual sinning, doing bad things, letting bad thoughts control you, wanting things that are bad, and being greedy.  This is really serving a false god.  These things make God angry.  In your past life you also did these things.  But now also put these things out of your life: anger bad temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and using bad words when you talk.  Do not lie to each other.  You have left your old sinful life and the things you did before.  You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you.  This new life brings you the true knowledge of God.  In the new life there is no difference between Greeks and Jews, those who are circumcised and those who are not circumcised, or people who are foreigners, or Scythians.  There is no difference between slaves and free people.  But Christ is in all believers, and Christ is all that is important. 
God has chosen you and made you His holy people.  He loves you.  So always do these things: Show mercy to others, be kind, humble, gentle, and patient.  Get along with each other and forgive each other.  If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you.  Do all these things: but most important, love each other.  Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking, because you were all called together in one body to have peace.  Always be thankful.  Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly.  Use all wisdom to teach and instruct each other by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  (Colossians 3:1-17)    
The End.
Paul contrasts two ways of living: the old way and the new way.  And Christ makes the difference.  The first four verses in the third chapter of Colossians (Colossians 3:1-4) is all about the believer’s relationship with Christ.  We died with Christ. (verse 3a) We live in Christ. (Verse 4a) We are raised with Christ.  (Verse 1a) We are hidden in Christ. (Verse 3b) We are glorified in Christ. (Verse 4b).  Colossians 3:1-4 further clarifies Christ’s role in the believer’s life.
Sadly, some Christians remain baby Christians and never grow up and mature in Christ.  As Christians we were meant to live good lives and do good things.  As Scripture says: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.”  (Psalm 23:3) God leads us into good paths with good work, but we must follow.
 We have the spiritual power to “put off” the earthly, selfish greedy desires that want to control us, because we have “died with Christ.”  (Colossians 3:3) But we must use this new life we are given in Christ.  Paul calls this “reckoning” ourselves to be dead to sin but alive in Christ. (Romans 6:11) Jesus didn’t come to give us a lot of information or make us super religious.   He came that we might undergo a transformation in our lives.  That we would change.
Not only are we Christians supposed to “put off” the old sins that cling so closely to us.  But in Christ’s power we are told to “put on” the new life that Christ has given us.  In our Bible readings today (Colossians 3:12-14) we are instructed to “Put on” eight “graces”.  We are to: (1) Put on tender mercies. (Col. 3:12) And (2) Put on – kindness. (Col. 3:12) (3) Put on – humbleness. (Col. 3:12) and (4) Put on – meekness. (Col. 3:12) (5) Put on – longsuffering. (Col. 3:12) And (6) Put on – forbearance. (Col.3:13) (7) Put on – forgiveness. (Col. 3:13) And (8) Above all put on – love. (Col. 3:14) 
We are always called as Christians to “Be thankful and let the peace of God rule our hearts.” (Colossians 3:15) To sing praises and songs to God.  And to “let the teachings of Christ live in us richly.” (Colossians 3:16) And everything we do or say, we are instructed to do in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God.  (Colossians 3:17) God meant for our human relationships to be filled with righteousness.  We must hold fast to Christ our Savior and through Him we will be doing a lot of “putting off” and “putting on”.  





Saturday, August 18, 2018

Colossians - Holy Tightly to Christ, the Head

Colossians – Hold Tightly to Christ, the Head
We will continue our Bible study of the book of Colossians, which was written by Paul, probably from his prison cell, to the Colossian Church during a difficult time.  The Colossian Christians had been infiltrated with false teachers who were laughing at them for believing that Christ was the Son of God and Savior and trying to teach their false religions.
The new Christians in Colossae were becoming confused.  So, Paul writes this letter to them praying that it will build up in their Christian faith.  God speaks through Paul and challenges these new Christians to cut through all the bogus and fake spiritual clutter of their culture and make Jesus Christ the center of their faith. We need Paul’s challenge today because there are false teachers among us as there were among the Colossian Christians so long ago.  Today we will study Colossians 2:11-23. 
Colossians 2:11-23
“In Christ you had a different kind of circumcision, a circumcision not done by hands.  It was through Christ’s circumcision, that is, His death, that you were made free from the power of your sinful self.  When you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and you were raised up with Him through your faith in God’s power that was shown when He raised Christ from the dead.  When you were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, God made you alive with Christ, and He forgave all our sins.  He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow.  He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross.
God stripped the spiritual rulers and powers of their authority.  With the cross, He won the victory and showed the world that they were powerless.  So, do not let anyone make rules for you about eating and drinking or about a religious feast, a New Moon Festival, or a Sabbath day.  These things were like shadow of what was to come.  But what is true and real has come and is found in Christ. 
Do not let anyone disqualify you by making you humiliate yourself and worship angels.  Such people enter into visions, which fill them with foolish pride because of their human way of thinking.  They do not hold tightly to Christ, the head.  It is from Him that all the parts of the body are cared for and held together.  So, it grows in the way God wants it to grow.
Since you died with Christ and were made free from the ruling spirits of the world, why do you act as if you still belong to this world by following rules like these: “Don’t eat this,” “Don’t even touch that thing”?  These rules refer to earthly things that are gone as soon as they are used.  They are only man-made commands and teachings.  They seem to be wise, but they are only part of a man-made religion.  They make people pretend not to be proud and make them punish their bodies, but they do not really control the evil desires of the sinful self.”   
(End of Scripture Reading)
Paul compares our faith in Christ as Savior and Lord as a “different kind of circumcision – not done by hands”.  (Colossians 2:11)   Our salvation was not done by human hands – it is a supernatural act that was done by God!  This verse in Colossians compares Christ’s death as a “circumcision” and then goes on to say that through His death we are made free from the power of our sinful self!  We are to put off or die to our old sinful self – and live in the new self we inherit in Christ, which Christ gives us when we believe. The next verse (verse 12) says that we are buried with Christ, but we are raised up with Him through our faith in God’s working.
Our amazing salvation is described here in these verses and the mystery and wonder of this gift from God - our circumcision not made with human hands, - is more than our little minds can completely understand. We are told here that we were spiritually dead (Colossians 2:13) because of our sins, but God has made us alive with Christ, and He forgives all our sins. With our salvation, God has “stripped the spiritual rulers and powers of their authority.  And He has canceled our debt, taken away the record of our wrongs with its rules against us, and nailed it all to the cross.” (Colossians 2:15)
The fact that God “canceled our debt and took away the record of our wrong doings which caused rules to be broken and then He nailed them all to the cross” (Colossians 2:15)  It reminds me of all the debts and negative records we can run up in this earthly life that are sometimes never canceled. Personally, our credit report was slightly damaged some years ago because just once over a period of thirty years, my husband and I were nine days late in paying one of our many bills.  The records were still there years later to prove our mistake and lower our credit score!
And several friends of mine have shared with me that even though all those years they lovingly did their best to be a good parent, their beloved adult children were angrily holding something against them.  Carrying a grudge over a mistake they made decades ago. If we live long enough, we humans will all make mistakes.  Even with the people we love best.
 In this life, even when we spend years faithfully and lovingly serving and doing our best, years later just one mistake can be held against us, with careful records to prove that we were wrong!  We humans hold grudges, but I am so glad that God, our heavenly Father, doesn’t hold grudges! He forgives (and forgets) all our sins and cancels all our debt and takes away all our bad records with the rules we have broken, and He nails them all to the cross!   And we, His children, are commanded to do the same in our relationships with one another! 
In our Scripture reading today, Paul tells the Colossians to “hold tightly to Christ, the head.  It is from Him that all the parts of the body (the church) are cared for and held together.  So, it grows in the way God wants it to grow.” (Colossians 2:19.)
 Do we forget that Christ is the “head” and we, His followers, are the “body”?  That Christ places us in His body and gives us a part to accomplish.  He holds us all together, so we can all grow.  Otherwise the Christian Church would never have lasted down through the ages. Underneath are the Everlasting Arms.  Earlier in our studies of Colossians we read that “In Him (Christ) all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17) Do we realize that Jesus Christ holds our lives and our faith and everything together?  
In our readings in Colossians today we see that Paul is trying to show the Colossian Christians that all that they need is Jesus.  He warns them that false teachers will come along tempting them to turn away from their simple trust in Christ.  Or insisting that they must follow man-made commands for salvation. Paul’s warnings are not only for the Christians living two thousand years ago, but also, they are meant for Christians living today.
We must remain on high alert and stand firm in our faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.  It is easy for well-meaning Christians to become sidetracked by the exotic claims of religious cults and forget that Jesus is the only Way. (John 14:6) We must remember that Christ came to set us free. Rely on God’s indwelling Spirit to be our Counselor and Guide.  And remember to always hold tightly to Christ, the Head of the Church and our Lord and Savior.   
Some of the ideas from this blog were taken from Max Lucado’s book, “Colossiand and Philemon”  and “The Wiersbe Bible Study Series”

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Colossians - Keep your Roots Deep in Christ

Colossians – Keep your Roots Deep in Christ
We will continue our Bible study of the book of Colossians, which was written by Paul, probably from his prison cell, to the Colossian Church during a difficult time.  The Colossian Christians had been infiltrated with false teachers who were telling lies and laughing at them for believing that Christ was the Son of God and Savior. 
These new Christians in Colossae love Jesus and love one another but they are becoming confused.  Paul is worried, so he prays constantly for them.  He wants to build them up in the Lord so that their faith will be strong enough to withstand Satan’s heresies and lies.  Paul writes  this letter to the Colossian church, which is God inspired.  Today we will read Colossians 2:1-10. 
Colossians 2:1-10
“I want you to know how hard I struggle for you, and for those in Laodicea, and others who have never seen me.   (2) I want you all to be strengthened and joined together with love so that you may be rich in understanding.  This leads to you knowing fully God’s secret, that is Christ Himself.  (3) In Him all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are safely kept. 
(4) I say this so that no one can fool you by arguments that seem good but are false.  (5) Though I am absent from you in my body, my heart is with you, and I am happy to see your good lives and your strong faith in Christ. 
(6) As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so continue to live in Him.  (7) Keep your roots deep in Him and have your lives built on Him.  Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught and always be thankful. 
(8) Be sure that no one leads you away with false and empty teaching that is only human, which comes from the ruling spirits of this world, and not from Christ. (9) All of God lives in Christ fully (even when Christ was on earth), (10) and you have a full and true life in Christ, who is ruler over all rulers and powers.” 
Paul, from his prison cell, wants the Colossian Christians to know that even though he has never seen them, he still loves them in Christ.  He mentions that there are several other churches, Laodicea being one, that he has never met.  But he deeply loves them too, because they are his brothers and sisters in Christ.  Scripture tells us that believers in Christ are all one Body – the body of Christ.  “For we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
 We believers are all related in Christ and God gives us a special love for one another.  Paul mentions this in verse 2, “I want you all to be strengthened and joined together with love” Our Christian faith isn’t just written beliefs.  It is a “living” faith.  A faith that is alive and receives its’ life from Christ.
 Paul begs the Colossian Christians to “continue to live in Christ”. (verse 6b) And Paul encourages them to “Keep your roots deep in Him, and have your lives built on Him. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always be thankful.”  (vs 7) Other Bible passages picture the child of God as a “tree planted by the rivers of waters” (Psalm 1) This tree’s roots reach deep into the living waters, causing the tree to “bear fruit.” Also, it’s “leaf never withers” and “whatever it does prospers.” (Psalm 1) When our “roots are deep in Him” (Jesus) as our Scripture reading says, our lives will also bear good fruit and we will be constantly watered and fed by the living waters of Christ’s Spirit.   
The “secret” in Colossians is for us to “live” in Christ.  To “keep our roots deep in Him.” Paul challenges the Colossian Christians to give their lives totally to Christ.  And that is our challenge too.   The Lord isn’t interested in having part of you or having just a lukewarm Christian.  He gave His all for you and He asks you to give your all for Him -He expects you to be hot. (Revelations 3:16) We are to give Him all our love and all our cares.  All our pains and all our problems.  And all our anger and all our bitterness too. 
We are to forgive all those who persecute us or harm others. Give them all to Him.  It isn’t our job to carry around grudges. Christ alone can and will take care and deal with these things. (Romans 12:19: Deuteronomy 32:35) He is the ultimate Judge.  (book of Revelations) In our reading of Colossians today, Paul is telling the Colossian Christians that if they will join together with love for each other, they will become richer in understanding.  And Christian love and understanding will lead them deeper into enjoying God’s secret gift –the gift of Christ Himself!  (verse 2)
Paul is saying that love is all important, isn’t he?  And then he goes on to mention the importance of giving thanks to God.  “Always be thankful” he says in verse 7 of our Scripture readings today.  I have found that when I stop and thank God for the good things in my life, it always changes my attitude.  I can start out irritated and upset, but then when I stop and start praising and thanking God for all the good things He has given us, soon a peace and joy come over me.  All through Scripture, as well as in Colossians, we are reminded of these two things, to love one another and to be thankful to God. They make such a difference! 
  Paul goes on saying that “In Him (Christ) all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are safely kept.” (verse 3) Jesus is all we will ever need.  Paul keeps coming back to the same theme: Christ is enough.  There is no higher truth.  No other source of fulfillment.  Only in Christ do we find the answers that our souls crave.  The search for satisfaction ends at the feet of Christ.  And our Scripture lesson today in Colossians ends with: “And you have a full and true life in Christ, who is ruler over all rulers and powers.” (verse 10)
Many of the ideas in this blog were taken from Max Lucado’s book “Colossians and Philemon”, and “The Wiersbe Bible Study Series.”