Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More (from Colossians)

This is written as a bit of a open preparation for preaching this coming Sunday.  Thanks for taking time to let me share what God has put on my heart so far.  Please share what the Lord says to you as you read this by commenting below or by letting me know in another way.
If you have come to know Jesus even a little, there is already so much to thank God for!

If you have a hint of grace or peace, if you know forgiveness in any part of your life, PRAISE GOD!  And if you have learned that all God's mercy comes through Jesus and His world-changing death and resurrection all these words from Colossians 1 apply to you, just as surely as they applied to the Christians who lived at the time of the Apostle Paul:
  ... 2 We are writing to God’s holy people ... , who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. May God our Father give you grace and peace.
    3 We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, 5 which come from your confident hope of what God has safe for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
    6 This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.
YES! From the FIRST DAY you hear and understand the truth of Jesus, your life is changed!  From the first day you learned that you don't need to carry your past along with you like a ball and chain or roll it uphill like Sisyphus, you are SO blessed!  Millions if not BILLIONS of people throughout the world have NO RELIEF from constant struggle and pain.  Praise God that you have come to know the mercy and grace of Jesus that flow from His Cross!

But there is more.  More--not in the sense of leaving the Cross of Jesus behind--but more in the ways you apply specifically Christian and Biblical teachings to every day life.  We see this in what the Lord says to us in the next part of Colossians 1:
9 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, 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 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.
God has rescued us through what his Son has done.  He has brought us out of darkness.  By what Jesus did on the cross we have been forgiven.  But, as we read in what is underlined above, there is more.  More RESOURCES for walking alongside others.  More POWER for making a difference. 

I find, time after time, that this isn't the "normal Christian life" among the Christian people I spend time with on a daily or weekly basis.  My experience is that, at least on the surface, that these Christian people seem rely, in most ways, on their own common sense, with an addition of Christian love and forgiveness, instead of explicitly and openly "running to Jesus" and His Cross and the Word of God.

In recent days I've been amazed at the tender loving care that friends and neighbors in our community have given one another in regard to a particular crisis situation.  That tender care is clearly motivated and sustained by faith.  But there is more.  More power in prayer.  More strength in the Word of God.  More "knowledge of God's will," more "wisdom and understanding that the Holy Spirit gives," more "growing in the knowledge of God and more confidence in "the inheritance of God's holy people in the kingdom of light."

Many times Christian caring is about the same as ordinary human TLC.  There's nothing wrong with TLC, but when it comes to confronting truly dark and powerful spiritual forces and even dark and powerful demonic beings that seem to be at work in our world, we need more. 

Christians can grow.  Christians can change.  Not so much from being "fake" to being "real," but like the people that Colossians was originally addressed to, Christian believers today are so much in need of prayer and regular reminders and in depth teaching about the truth of what life in Jesus is about.

Believers in Jesus, having been set free from their own burdens, filled with Jesus' love... they often do their best to bear others' burdens.  That is a good thing but, as the photo at right illustrates, the weight is often too much even for a community.  What is needed is SPIRITUAL power from GOD.  We need to be FILLED with "the knowledge of God's will" THROUGH ALL THE WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING THAT THE SPIRIT GIVES!

It's all available to us for the asking.  That's why Paul prays as he does for the Colossians.  Let's pray for one another in this way and, according to Paul's example, let one another know what it is we are praying and why.
That's what I've prepared so far.  Come and spend Sunday morning with us to see what else the Lord desires to share with us then.

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