Tag Archives: fruit

Colossians: Pray and Keep on Praying

Standard

Colossians 1:3-14

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,[a] who is a faithful minister of Christ on our[b] behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[c] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[d] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

I did not write the lesson on this section in Colossians, but I would love to share some thoughts concerning this passage. I would encourage you to read through the passage above and record your own observations (noting key words, admonitions, tone of voice, connectives, and so on).

The first thing I noticed this time around is Paul’s very friendly and encouraging tone toward the Colossians. It reads quite differently from his letter to the Galatians for example. He also introduces us to a new name, Epaphras. New names immediately pique my interest and result in me following a rabbit trail that takes me hours to get back to my original path. In order not to take you on too many rabbit trails, I’ll simply choose a few ideas from the passage I found interesting (trust me when I say this is very hard to do for me. I’d like to pick apart every. single. verse.).

If we look at this section of the letter very broadly, we would note his common habit of giving thanks and praying for the recipients. It is a beautiful way to start a letter. I find that Paul teaches me about being thankful and how to pray for others simply by the way he writes his letters.

As I mentioned he’s very encouraging toward the Colossian believers, noting their faith and their love (v. 4, 7) which is a result of the hope (v. 5) they have in Christ {hmm…where have I seen those three qualities together before??}. He also comments on the gospel bearing fruit and increasing among them since the day they heard it and understood it (v. 5-6). I find the idea of an inanimate object being able to bear fruit very fascinating. The good news (gospel) which Epaphras spoke to the Colossians continues to produce good things among them.

I would like to look closely at the idea of faith. Webster’s 1828 defines it as “a full and affectionate confidence in the certainty of those things which God has declared and because He has declared them.” Another way to put it is an “affectionate, practical confidence in the testimony of God” or a “firm, cordial belief in the veracity of God, in all the declarations of His word.”

Perhaps it is best to point out that the power of faith depends not on the person who has the faith but on the One in whom the faith is placed. Christ is the object of our faith. Our faith has power because it is on Him, and He does not fail. C.F.D. Moule wrote this:

Regardless, the issue is not just the presence of faith, but a faith that resides in Christ. It gives the thought of reliance going forth to Christ, and reposing on Christ, so as to sink as it were into Him, and find fixture in Him; as the anchor sinks to the floor of the sea, and then into it, that it may be held in it.

To recap, Paul gave thanks for their faith and love because of hope (and this hope does not disappoint because it is also in the person of Christ who has secured glory/heaven for us). One of the ladies I teach with said this, “The validity of faith is not the fervency with which you believe, but the degree to which the object of your faith is true.”

It is in verse 9 when he switches to praying for these people he’s never even met. He asked that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. I couldn’t tell you how this happens, I only know that if he asks for it, it must be something that can happen to any believer. We can know God’s will for our lives. Isn’t that such a comforting thought? I also happen to love that he prays this for them as a father would pray for his own children to know God fully.

Hopefully you had a chance to read my post detailing the background of Colossians. You see, there was a threat of false teaching in Colossae, and those opponents were promising spiritual fullness with things that were not Christ. Paul tells the believers that true spiritual fullness can only be found in Christ alone. Just look at these verses in the letter about fullness or being filled:

1:19 For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell

1:25 …to make the word of God fully known

2:2 …all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,

2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

2:9 For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

2:10 and you have been filled in Him…

4:12 …stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

Christ is sufficient. (more on this later!)

Now on to verses 10-11. Paul had spoken of the gospel which was bearing fruit in the lives of the Colossians and now in verse 10 he tells them to walk in a worthy manner, being pleasing to God, bearing fruit in every good work…. One of my favorite teachings of Jesus (and which Paul continues) is this idea of the Vine and branches. We abide in the Vine (which is Christ), and He produces fruit in us (fruit of the Spirit for example). I realize this can be a touchy subject since too many people believe they must work really hard to be “good” and accepted by God (or whoever it is they believe they need to work for). I would clarify that it’s not so much that we work for God but that God works in us. {I feel a blog post bubbling to the surface so I had better stop at that.}

In verse 11 Paul tells them their strength comes from God. The words for strengthened and power come from the same word in our English language for dynamiteDunamei means “to make strong, strengthen” and carries the idea of making something strong that is inherently weak. Paul says this power helps us to endure and have patience with joy. Again, this is his prayer for the Colossians and gives me such encouragement knowing this can happen for me as well.

Paul wraps up this section in verses 12-14: we give thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in His inheritance, He has delivered us from darkness and transferred us to His Son’s kingdom, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Now those verses are truly packed with some dynamite!

What I learned from this passage is that the words used for delivered and transferred give the idea of military conquest. In Biblical times it was common to take a people who had been defeated, uproot them from their culture and environment, and re-root them somewhere else. That is exactly what God did for us! He broke the bonds of our past life (out of darkness) to assimilate us into a new life with Him (His kingdom of light – see also 1 Pet 2:9). It’s His grace to us, because we don’t deserve a single thing He did in those verses. We have been qualified, delivered, transferred, and redeemed.

Advertisements

The Flow of the Gift

Standard

Gift receive

I kinda feel like I should apologize for my lack of posting in a verrrrrry long time. I fell into a rut, and I think I’ve finally climbed back out of it with some boosts from beneath. You see, I have so many thoughts about so many different things, that I could literally post something every day. It may be only one sentence, but sure enough, I could fill up a quota for the whole week. But my problem is that I don’t want to give anyone fluff. I guess that’s not a problem though. You don’t need FLUFF! (unless it’s in the form of whipped bubbles, because who doesn’t like playing with foamy bubbles?) What you need is God. And I need Him. In fact, I am a complete mess without Him.

So all of these thoughts, where are they? I certainly haven’t filled this blog with most of them. Here’s the rut: I began thinking that what I’ve had mulling over in my mind is not that important. In the grand scheme of things, I realize I am a drop in the bucket, no one of significance. But here’s the catch. In God’s kingdom, there’s no such thing as an insignificant person. Truly, He’s the most wonderful God for so many reasons, but to think that He gave every believer gifts so that we can all benefit one another is absolutely amazing. It’s Grace. Each one has a role to play. Each one is significant. And it’s because He says so, not the world, and not me.

What’s a girl to do with the gift? I can tell you what NOT to do. The gift was not given to wear as a badge for all to see how great YOU are (or how great I am). At Christmas time, when you receive a stellar gift, you wouldn’t immediately begin boasting about how wonderful of a person you are for having received such an amazing gift. No, you (hopefully) would immediately and profusely thank the one who gave you the gift. In fact, you might feel very humbled at receiving such a nice gift whether it was because of the extremely high cost or of the high value placed on the gift. No, the gift is not for use to puff us up. It’s meant, first, for His glory.

Likewise, the gift was not meant for you or me to keep for ourselves. Whether or not you do this out of fear or out of selfishness, the fact remains that this gift was meant for the greater good. Not for me to set it aside. It’s meant, secondly, for the edification of His church.

Let me tell you something. When you belong to God, He’s prepared good works for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). He is the Giver of all good things (Matthew 7:11; James 1:17). In fact, I’ve come to realize that He gives way more than I ever imagined! Seriously take some time to think about the things He gives, just in the spiritual sense (I’m not even talking about material things). You have a unique personality with unique gifts of the Spirit, and then on top of that, as you abide in Christ, He also produces fruit of the Spirit in you. You could in theory always be overflowing with God’s grace to others because of the way He’s poured His grace into you. A constant flow from the Father to you to others, resulting in His glory, flowing right back to Him.

What’s holding you back in living out these good works which God prepared for you and equipped you to fulfill (2 Peter 1:3)? Many times it’s just believing that it’s true! Will you believe God’s word about yourself and about Him? May I encourage you today that you are an important member in God’s kingdom, designed to edify His church and bring Him glory. Think of all the times you’ve needed to know you are loved, and someone calls you up just to chat. That was Him, using one of His people, to show you love. Or the time you felt like a failure in any area of life, and a random person “just happens” to tell you how good you’re doing in that very area. It blows my mind that all of this that is for His glory actually benefits us too in the process! Only this gracious God could make it so. To be so jealous for His name and glory while still managing to bless us as we seek to bring Him this glory is truly a thing of beauty and grace. Do you see what I mean by His lavish gift giving?

Here’s your pep talk then. You feel like telling someone you admire her courage in speaking up about her faith but you think it’s might sound silly. Do it anyway. You never know when you might be His voice to that bride of Christ.

You feel like telling that girl who is always dressed so beautifully that she is beautiful and reflects Him but you think it might be awkward. Do it anyway. Be the voice.

You feel like helping out behind the scenes but you think that they don’t need your help or that it won’t make a difference. Do. it. anyway. Use the gifts.

Whatever it is that you feel like or you know you should be doing, do it! What’s flowing into you and how can you pour it out as a beautiful offering back to the One who gave it?

P.S. If you have no idea what I’m talking about when I refer to “gifts” that are spiritual in nature, feel free to visit this website to learn more about spiritual gifts: http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com/.

Evangelism 101: Out of the Mouth of Babes

Standard

matt 18-3 child

{Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3}

Humbled is the only word to describe it.

I have shared before that I’m a very private person. I get into the store on my mission to get out as quickly as I can, and this usually involves the duck and run method (if I don’t make eye contact with people, I won’t have to talk to them and waste precious time). But then you throw 3 boys into the mix, and well, things just don’t go as planned…ever. My oldest in particular is very sociable. He will introduce himself to anyone! He has no problems striking up a conversation with anyone of any age. It’s one of the things I like most about him because I’m just not like that. At. All.

So you’ll understand my rising anxiety when we pull up to the park, and I see a van parked there already. Sure enough, there’s a lady with 3 boys and a baby plopped down at one of the picnic tables. I quickly correct my thought process of “oh no, I might have to talk to them” to “oh good, the boys will have some friends to play with.” Because, let’s face it, that first thought is ALWAYS what comes to my mind. Don’t get me wrong, once I’m in the inevitable situation, I can manage just fine and usually end up having a great time! I have come to realize that my boys can bring such joy to people in ways that I never knew was possible. I’m learning to seek out ways to serve and be a blessing to complete strangers because I’m so often the recipient of these kinds of blessings. It’s just that it means I have to raise my head up and see people, even look them in the eyes. It means I have to get out of my selfishness and intentionally speak truth over people. And let me tell you, that’s challenging!

Back in my car, I’ve given the older boys their food to go off and find a table for us while I get the baby and the rest of our things gathered. I watch as my oldest walks straight up to the lady at the table and introduces himself (not surprised) and proceeds to ask, “do you know Jesus Christ?” My eyes grow wide.

Excuse me. What just happened here?

Did my 6 year old just start sharing the gospel before I could even unbuckle my 1 year old?

Just like that?

I am in disbelief and yet a smile comes to my face, and I lean in to try to hear her answer and his response to it. But no, I couldn’t hear anything but her response which was, “I know who He is.” That kind of struck me funny. If she really knew Jesus, I would think the answer would be much different than that. My stomach does a flip. Does this mean I’m going to end up sharing about Jesus with this woman? My oldest son made it look so easy. And this is why I’m so humbled.

I didn’t teach him this. I swear it. I never once told him, when you’re at a park and you see someone, you should ask her if she knows Jesus. It was God using a 6 year old to speak truth into a complete stranger. And bless his heart, he simply did it! No questioning if it’s the right thing or wondering if it would be awkward or worrying that he might say the wrong things. It was as natural as him asking what they were having for lunch.

Later in the car he told me that he asked her if she knew Jesus Christ because if she didn’t it would mean she wasn’t going to heaven, “and we don’t want that, because if she died, she wouldn’t go to heaven.” Uh. yeah. That’s exactly right my dear one. And why do we lose sight of that?

I wrote a post on spiritual gifts, and I know that there are people who are gifted in evangelism. I for one am not gifted in this, but I am still called to tell the story. My oldest may just have this gift, and I’m going to find every way I can to cultivate it! Just because you’ve been given a gift doesn’t mean you should throw aside the other gifts as useless in your spiritual closet. Let them challenge you as you grow more well-rounded in your faith.

I realize that it’s not completely true that we have never taught our son to share Jesus with other people. We talk to our kids about Jesus and our need for Him because we are sinners and that Jesus is the Savior. We tell them that no one can go to heaven unless they know Jesus as their Savior. We’ve given them the gospel, and God has already allowed that seed to land in fertile soil and go forth to others. Humbled.

So I guess it is that simple sometimes. Who knew that those conversations in the car could turn out to be so fruitful? Momma, keep giving them the truth. Dad, keep giving them the gospel. It doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, it can be as simple as finding out what someone is having for lunch.