Archive for February, 2017
“As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information” (Colossians 4:7).
In the closing section of this letter, between verses 7-17, Paul mentions eleven different names of individuals that are connected to his ministry and work for the benefit of the church in Colossae. Anytime we are imprisoned by thoughts of being alone, or thinking that the life of faith is just a private pursuit of the “inner man,” passages such as these state otherwise. Ours is a shared commission with a common task, and when circumstances seek to overwhelm us, the working of the Spirit and the fellowship of God’s people reminds us that we are never alone.
“Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12).
God is not the author of confusion. When it comes to the certainty of our own salvation, and the availability of salvation to anyone and everyone who would respond in faith and trust to Jesus Christ, he does not want us doubting or second-guessing. This and the pursuit of his glory in all things offers a portrait of what is fully necessary in the pursuit of daily living.
“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:13-14).
Shackled by feelings of inferiority? Many do not like who they are or what they have become. They have suffered from an identity crisis; having lost their sense of destiny. The psalmist offers a simple reminder of our worth; that God was involved in weaving together the material that came out as you and me. Ours is not a biological heritage dictated by genetic predisposition, but a spiritual heritage with limitless possibilities.
“And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).
The confidence of eternal life is based on the work of God accomplished through his Son and not our works of righteousness. To be born again in Christ Jesus, through faith, settles the matter once-and-for-all. The very nature of salvation demands that it be a once-and-for-all experience. Forty-three times the New Testament speaks of salvation as “eternal” or “everlasting” life. If you can have it and then lose it, salvation would be something other than eternal and everlasting. It would have to be “temporary” or “conditional.” We can be thankful for His protective hand.
“Let your speech always be with grace as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 6:4).
Instead of dull and insipid, our conversations of faith should be seasoned in a way that enhances and enlivens. Too often our long faces and sour dispositions betray the confidence, hope, and joy of which we speak. One ancient usage of the word salt was in association with humor. We do well to remember that a joyful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22), especially for those around you.
“Let your speech always be with grace…” (Colossians 4:6).
Paul gives imperative weight to the charge that how we speak is no less important than what we speak. The manner in which address others either validates or invalidates our messaging of the gospel. In a world of extremist views; that speaks only in angry and vitriolic tones; it is the messenger of grace that stands out from the crowd. Grace begets grace. Those who have received it offer it.
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
There is no greater refreshment than the repentant heart experiencing the cleansing and transforming work of the Holy Spirit. The desperation, lostness, purposelessness, anguish, torment, and guilt that overwhelms the human spirit, and brings you to this place turning, immediately gives way to a sense of peace, comfort, rest, assurance, and safety. It’s the sense of well-being often experienced when returning home from a distant journey.
“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him” (Acts 3:13).
Like his first, Peter’s second sermon echoed words that were hard to hear; words that were both convicting and indicting. Such is the nature of biblical preaching and the pursuit of faith. If there is no conviction, there will be no repentance. The absence of repentance is an indication of no relationship with the resurrected Christ. Conviction is an indispensable and necessary tension in the life of faith. Without it, you are only practicing a religion of convenience.
“As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14).
In matters of faith, maturity has little to do with biological years. The very young can possess a spiritual maturity beyond their years, just as older adults can display a childishness that betrays their age. Scripture indicates that the spiritually mature reflect a stability rooted in sound doctrine. They do not live as though untaught, gullible; chasing the popular thoughts and trends of the day. In the light of the One who said he “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), they have found novel and nuanced tangents to be unnecessary.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
Faith initiates a life-changing conversion experience. It is a belief so pervasive and comprehensive that its evidence is borne out in one’s attitude, actions, priorities, and ambitions. Whether age 8 or 80, if there is no change, there has been no conversion.