Vs. 2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” As Paul is closing up his letter to the Colossians, he is reminding them of one of the main things they can do: Pray. Question: Why? Because it simply works. The more we pray, the more we depend upon God rather than our own abilities. There was both a corporate prayer request as well as a personal one (vs. 3-4). I think it’s important to see that Paul was not hesitant to ask for people to pray specifically for him. As we transits to the final greetings section, we are reminded that Paul didn’t do alone (vs. 7-18). If Paul had the technology of our time, I think he would have had quite a number of Facebook friends. Notice how socially connected Paul was, but this was all for the sake of the Gospel!
Regarding application…Grace-Filled Conversation. Vs. 6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Question: How do you communicate to others? This was a very convicting passage for me as I reflect upon the last couple of weeks. The Holy Spirit has been convicting me of not complaining in the Philippian sermon series and then this past Sunday the application to the message was about rejoicing. I’ve been more aware of my own conversation and also how others converse. It’s surprising how unseasoned our conversation can be! Let us be people who have exercise grace in all that we say and do. Not for the praises of men, but because we honor the Lord Jesus when we live in such a way.
Vs. 1, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Question: What does it look like to live a Christian life? First, Paul makes is very clear that even the way we think and feel (vs. 1-4) should be different now that we have put to death our old sinful nature (vs. 3). Even though our sinful nature is now dead, we must also ensure that we put to death the way we also used to live (vs. 5-9). I like how Paul reminds us that it is not about our culture that defines our identity (vs. 11). Paul then continues on to share the way we should now live as new creations (vs. 12-17). It is not a coincidence that we are exhorted additionally to ensure we are living as good examples of the faith to the people that we live with (vs. 18-25). It’s important to understand that Paul was not advocating slavery, as much as he was instructing how one should respond in their life situation (vs. 22-25). Whether your were a slave or a slave-master, there is a appropriate way to respond. It is the Lord who is in control (vs. 24).
Regarding application…Why Forgive Others? Vs. 13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” We forgive because Jesus forgave us. Before Jesus shared the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18), Peter came and asked Jesus how much he should forgive someone. Three times was customary, so for Peter to suggest to forgive up to seven times was showing certain godly grace. Yet, we are reminded the importance of why we must forgive. Question: Are you forgiving others? Is there any bitterness in your heart towards anyone? Certainly people have hurt us in our lives. Let us extend forgiveness as Christ forgave us. Yet, if a person has no desire to ask for forgiveness, than it would be hard to extend it. In the end, we should be seeking to ask for forgiveness as well as extend forgiveness in the relationships we have here on earth. Remember, generally there are two sides to as story so if there is a dispute, we should consider what we may have done to hurt the other party too.
Vs. 6, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him.” The key to this admonishment is “in him.” Salvation and knowledge cannot be obtained outside of the Lord. Remember, the Colossians were dealing with a great heresy in Gnosticism: belief that the material world was evil and salvation would be achieved by attaining “special” knowledge of spiritual realities. God has given us a mind to comprehend and think intellectually, but there were those who were perverting the truth (vs. 1-8). Both the philosophy and traditions (vs. 8) were trumping the knowledge of God in Colosse. Some of the believers were putting back on their sinful nature and had forgotten the new creation Christ gave us (vs. 9-15). The false teachers had put on quite a show to convince the young and naïve of their supposed genuineness (vs. 16-23).
Regarding application…Rooted in Christ. Vs. 7, “rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” The ministry I have the privilege of serving is called “Roots Community Church” under the umbrella of Bell Memorial Church. The name has grown on me. I’ve moved enough now in my years to know that there is only one place I can put my roots in: The church. Yesterday’s passage reminded us that Christ is the head of the church (Colossians 1:18). Question: Where are you putting your roots in? I tried putting it in careers (Banking, and even attempted law enforcement). I tried putting it in hobbies. I tried putting it in relationships. But, the more I walk this life, the more I realize that nothing else can come close to the joyful and adventurous life in Christ! When we are rooted in Christ, He gives us a whole different heart and eyes to see the world as we should. This is a place that longs and hungers for love. Let us be people who are strengthened in faith in the church to make a difference in this world!
Vs. 15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Paul is writing back to defend the truth of what lies in the Gospel. He reminds the Colossians that God had appointed him an Apostle with authority to share the truth (vs. 1). Paul then goes to his customary thanksgiving and appreciation for the Colossian church (vs. 3-13). Bear in mind, not everyone believed these heresies. Paul reminds us how important it is to encourage even in the midst of tough admonishment. Part of this Colossian heresy was the denial of the deity of Jesus Christ (vs. 15-23). The heresy of mixing in Eastern religion and Jewish legalism was literally rocking the faith of the young Colossian Christians. The enemies of the cross were probably pointing out to the Colossians that Paul was in prison and defeated. But Paul refutes such negative thoughts (vs. 24-29) as he rejoices!
Regarding application…Christ is Supreme! Vs. 18, “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” Don’t even think about it! That’s what Paul was basically saying. Jesus is supreme, numero uno, ichiban, #1 period! A couple of days ago, the Olympic Basketball team for 2012 began to trash talk (Kobe Bryant) how their team could have beaten the 1992 true Dream Team. Charles Barkley and most notably, Michael Jordan begged to differ. Which team would have won? While there certainly can be healthy debate (though the 1992 Dream Team would have demolished any team), regarding who is supreme. There is no debate whatsoever when it comes to our esteem of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! Question: Is Christ Supreme in your life?
Colosse was located in the same area as the 7 churches addressed by Jesus in the book of Revelations. It was a city near Laodicea. While Paul was the author of the letter to the Colossians, Paul had never visited them. Epaphras, a convert when visiting Ephesus during Paul’s three year ministry, returned home to Colosse and planted a church. As the years progressed, there was a growing heresy: Gnosticism. It is believed Paul wrote the letter of Colossians and Philemon together while in prison in Rome (60-62 AD). Gnosticism was the belief that the material world was evil and salvation would be achieved by attaining “special” knowledge of spiritual realities. This was certainly a heresy, for Jesus came physically as a human. The book of Colossians is refuting these false heresies and focusing on supremacy of Christ.
***We will be staying in the New Testament with the book of I Thessalonians***
Vs. 2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” A timely reminder of the importance, especially after such an amazing retreat! Paul continues the application on how to be effective witnesses for Christ. We should watch & pray for opportunties in the daily lives we live! I like the fact that Paul exhorts us to be wise with every opportunity the Lord gives us! Paul goes on to give encouragement to the many people who continued back then to do the work of the Lord! It shows that even Paul needed the help of others to do the work of the Lord. The responsibility never just lies in the Pastor or Youth Pastor, it is a responsibilty that all of us should realize.
Regarding application…Ready to Answer. Vs. 6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Question: Ready to answer what? Ready to answer people when they ask you about God, Jesus, Bible, or anything related to such things. As wonderful as it is to gain personal knowledge in His Word…we now see another reason! We must always be ready to answer people! When we are at school, when we are at work, when we are hanging out…it’s these moments that we can be a salt of the earth to the lost of the world. Don’t forget this very simple fact: You will not be able to answer if you don’t know His Word! We will never have all the answers to appease everyone’s questions…but we want to be able to give a answer that can help them in their questions! When you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know, it’s okay to let them know that “you don’t know”, but at least give them options…try to find the answer from those who may know, or better yet…use that opportunity to bring them to church =)