COLOSSIANS 1- 2:19

Colossians 1:1-8

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. 3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

What Do You Think of Me?

Have you ever sat down for a job review with your boss at work? Or have you had your talent and skill critiqued by a coach or teacher? Has your spouse ever evaluated your relationship? Sometimes, the process begins with a long dance around the questions that may be eating away at you. “Just tell me! How am I doing? What do you think of me?”

1st Century Christians in the city of Colosse received a letter from the apostle Paul and Timothy, his assistant. What would they say about how the Christians in Colosse were doing? What did Paul and Timothy think of them? As we peek at the opening lines of this letter, we notice that Paul doesn’t waste time on pleasantries like, “How are you doing? This weather has been crazy, hasn’t it?”

Paul started his letter with the main topic—God. He started by reminding them of God’s grace and the peace God’s grace worked. Then, Paul quickly told them how they were doing. Paul was thankful for their faith in Jesus and their love for all the saints. Paul thought of them often. Paul told them that he regularly prayed for them and thanked God for their faith and love. And it wasn’t just Paul who was pleased. God was happy too. God loved them.

“How am I doing? What does God think of me?” Do these questions ever pop into your mind? Would you expect to get a letter with a glowing report like Paul sent to the Colossians? Truly, you and I, and even the believers in Colosse must recognize that we deserve a bad review. Instead of love, we hate. Instead of faith, we worry or complain against God. Instead of the good fruit God desires, we produce sin. How can we be anything but worried, doomed to a bad review by God?

Go back to Paul’s opening words: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father.” God’s undeserved love, his gracious heart and saving actions are yours. You have God’s grace. The Father loved you and sent his Son. Jesus loved you and he lived, died and rose for you. God loves you and forgives you. You have peace with God through Jesus.

What does God think of you? He loves you and has given you eternal hope! Now, how are you doing?

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for clearly telling me what you think of me in your gospel. You love me through Jesus. Thank you for your grace and peace. Increase my faith and love. Amen.

Colossians 1:9-14

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may 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, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints 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.

Are You Qualified for Heaven?

Before teams or athletes are allowed to participate in the Olympics, they need to qualify for Olympic competition. Individual athletes need to beat out the competition from their own country and also meet international qualifying standards. Teams often need to navigate through qualifying tournaments. You can’t just sign up to compete in the Olympics as if it were a local 5k race.

Are you qualified—not for the Olympics, but to go to heaven? In our section of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colosse, Paul mentions some things God desires from us. “Bearing fruit in every good work.” “Growing in the knowledge of God.” “Having great endurance and patience.” “Joyfully giving thanks to the Father.”

Admittedly, we have to confess that we haven’t done those things according to God’s standards. We haven’t done every good work. When going through hardship or stressful days, we don’t always have “great endurance and patience”—not with God and not with others. When we think life has handed us a bunch of lemons, we don’t always raise our voices in joyful thanks to God. We just don’t meet God’s qualifying standards (and these are just a few of the many areas.)

Thankfully, Paul clearly tells us that it is GOD who qualifies us for heaven. Paul wrote about God’s saving work for us in several different ways. He mentions that God the Father “qualified you to share” in heaven. God “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” God has redeemed us. God has forgiven our sins. What’s the point? GOD has qualified you for heaven!

If you qualify for the Olympics, you’re probably not going to quit training. You hone your skills, train your body and prepare mentally for the competition. You keep working hard. Only now you’re not training hard to qualify for the Olympics…you’re already going.

Through faith in Jesus, Christians are already qualified and are going to heaven. But this doesn’t mean Christians quit working hard. Why do we keep on doing “every good work”? Why are we interested in “growing in the knowledge of God”? Why do we strive to have “great endurance and patience”? Not to qualify for heaven, but to live in joyful thanks because God has given us so much!

Prayer: God, our Father, you rescued me when I was lost. You qualified me for what I do not deserve—forgiveness and heaven. Thank you! Let my life be filled with joyful thanks, good works, and great endurance and patience. Amen.

Colossians 1:15-20

[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And 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. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

A Peace Offering

Have you ever had to make a peace offering? Maybe you said something to a loved one that you really shouldn’t have said which caused some hurt feelings. Maybe a discussion with a coworker turned into a heated argument and things in the office became strained and awkward. Unfortunately, our words and actions get us into trouble and we need to make things right again. So, the husband brings flowers home for his wife and the employee brings donuts to the office. These peace offerings seek to restore some semblance of peace and harmony to the damaged relationship.

For centuries sinful man has tried to make peace offerings with God, except that flowers and donuts don’t get us anywhere. We didn’t just damage our relationship with God—we destroyed it. Through sin we shattered our relationship with our heavenly Father and there is no hope for us to repair it—no way for us to reestablish harmony with God.

We needed a peace offering to give to God, but we were powerless to provide one. Paul reminds us that God provided the peace offering. How remarkable is that! He was wronged. He was hurt. He was the one who was betrayed and offended by our sinful behavior and yet he took steps to reconcile us to himself. He made the peace offering.

And what a peace offering it was! Infinitely more powerful than flowers or donuts, God’s peace offering lasts forever and it covers over a multitude of sins. Paul says that God reconciled us to himself through Jesus “by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Flowers would not cut it. Good works were of no help. The only peace offering that could make us right with a holy God was the blood of his eternal, almighty Son, Jesus Christ.

Give thanks today for the only peace offering that you will ever need with God: a Savior who was willing to shed his blood so that you could be at peace with God. Give thanks today that you now have a new relationship with God. Jesus, our peace offering, has brought us back to God. He has wiped away our sins and given us new life. Enjoy the peace and harmony that you now have with God and look forward to the day when we will all enjoy perfect harmony in heaven.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, thank you for making the only peace offering that could bring me back to you. Help me to live today in a way that shows I appreciate what you have done. Amen.

Colossians 1:21-23

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Reconciled

Have you ever wanted to go back to the way it was? You and your dear friend were so close and you did everything together. In fact, people thought you were inseparable. Then one day it all changed. Some harsh words were spoken and things escalated; feelings were hurt and suddenly a once tight relationship was now hanging by a thread. You desperately wanted to take things back so you could go back to the way it was.

Ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, sinful mankind has been trying to get things back to the way it was. We bargain with God. We offer our good works still tainted with sin. We try to pile up enough good to offset all the bad. Even as we try to make it right, we keep on sinning at the same time. God’s relationship with his people used to be perfect. He and Adam were inseparable. Sin changed all of that for every one. Paul says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” Try as we might, we can’t get it back to the way it was.

That’s where God stepped in. His word tells us, “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” God has reconciled us to himself through the death of Jesus on the cross. By his death in our place, Jesus has erased our sins, and in God’s sight we are holy. Our close relationship with God has been restored: He is there for us. He is with us always. He loves us and cares for us. He makes everything work out for our good.

Through faith in Christ, we will experience the “hope held out in the gospel” that in heaven we will live in perfect harmony with God, forever. Praise and thanks to our God who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus!

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, help me to appreciate the new relationship that I have with you through Christ. Lead me to live in thanks for the harmony I have with you. Amen.

Colossians 1:24-29

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

Teamed Up for Victory

James Longstreet was one of the most capable and qualified corps commanders in the Civil War. He quickly rose to the rank of Lieutenant General, fighting valiantly and leading bravely. But James Longstreet rose to second in command to General Robert E Lee, fighting on the losing side of the Confederacy in the Civil War.

It can be difficult for all of us to come to grips with who we are. In our natural condition just as human beings, we’re on the wrong side, the losing side, of a much more significant conflict. The apostle Paul reminded us that we, just like the Colossian Christians, were at one time lined up as enemies of God. We were rebels, acting in spite against the Creator and Redeemer of the world. It doesn’t matter if we were doing it out of ignorance or willfully. We were actively opposing the good purposes of our God. We hear God’s law and we cover our ears. We learn of God’s commands and we pretend we are immune. We may be fighting bravely, but we’re fighting on the wrong side.

That’s the beauty of learning from someone like James Longstreet. He survived the Civil War. Once peace was achieved he embraced the new reality of the reunited union, endorsing equal rights for African-Americans, and supporting reconstruction efforts to bring the former Confederacy back into the Union.

That’s the beauty of your new status in Jesus Christ. In the body of Jesus Christ, you are reconciled to God. God has brought you over to the right side, the salvation side through the death of Jesus. Rather than embracing a political agenda, God embraces you as holy for the sake of his Son. Your former offenses no longer stick to you. Your tainted nature is not counted against you as the spiritual war criminal for which you deserve prosecution. You share in Christ’s victory. Now you too can strenuously contend to make known the glorious riches of Christ and God’s revealed wisdom of salvation!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I thank you for your work of reconciling me to God through your sacrifice. I thank you also for all those who labor on the side of the gospel, for those who work to share your good news with me. Use me in service on your side so your gifts may come to many more souls. Amen.

Colossians 2:1-5

I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

Help with Secrets

A chief in the African country of Malawi came up with a unique way of overcoming a uniquely Malawian problem. Women in that culture do not feel comfortable discussing pregnancy and health issues related to pregnancy. It is a very personal topic. Plus, shadows of superstition keep them in silence. They are afraid that once their pregnancy becomes public knowledge, someone may pronounce a curse on their unborn babies.

The traditional beliefs have led to some tragic results. Without being free to talk about the pregnancy, most women don’t receive the medical care they need. Sometimes they deliver at home or on the way to the hospital. Many mothers lose unnecessary amounts of blood in delivery, and tragically lives are lost.

So one chief has come up with a society of “secret mothers.” They are respected female elders of the village. They can approach women in private and ask some personal questions. They can give directions and advice that will improve the lives of the mothers and the health of their babies.

The apostle Paul adopted a similar, yet more important role with the Christians in the city of Colosse. He was working with them, struggling on their behalf. He wanted them to have health and safety for their souls. He realized it could only come by helping them understand the good news of Jesus.

So Paul reveals the mystery of Jesus Christ. The mystery of Jesus isn’t a secret God only wants a few people to know about. In Jesus we discover the mystery of God’s loving plan to rescue all humanity imperiled by the fear of sin and death. God fully accomplished his plan by sending his Son to become one of us, suffer for us, and die in our place. The good news is no longer a mystery, but a treasure for those who believe in Jesus. We treasure the wisdom of God that accomplished our salvation from sin’s curse of death and eternal destruction. We treasure the knowledge God gives us that Jesus our Savior is our health and safety for this life and forever.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for those who, like the apostle Paul, care enough to share the mystery of Christ. Thank you for making that good news plain on the pages of Scripture. Help me to find spiritual peace, safety, and life through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Colossians 2:6-8

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Live Free in Christ

It was a harrowing story with a happy ending. It’s no wonder they made it into a movie! Captain Phillips struck box office gold as it told the story of the title character’s real life kidnapping at the hands of Somali pirates. Captain Phillips’ ship was boarded by the pirates and he was taken away and held captive on one of his own ship’s lifeboats for five days. Had it not been for a successful rescue mission by US Navy SEALs, who knows if he ever would have been freed?

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul warns his friends about being taken captive. Even though both Paul and his friends in Colossae were no strangers to sailing the open seas, his warning was not against pirates. It was against even more dangerous people—false teachers. He warned that false teachers and the false teachings that they profess are dangerous to believers. If you listen to them, they can take your mind and heart captive!

There are too many such false teachings to list them all, but we are surrounded by them each day. The worldly principle that self-promotion is the only way to get ahead, the dog-eat-dog philosophy of life, and the “just do what makes you happy” counsel that many people freely give are all at odds with the message of Holy Scripture to serve one another and glorify God. Worldly mindsets are so pervasive that they hold us hostage.

But for the times that we are too much “of this world” we have a Savior who never caved to peer pressure, who never indulged, not even for a second, into self-gratification. He always remained our pure and holy and spotless Savior. He lived perfectly so that he could die innocently for everyone. He resisted temptation, but then allowed himself to be taken captive and killed on Calvary’s cross for you and for me.

Jesus’ life and death and resurrection are your firm foundation and solid ground. When the wind and the waves of doubt and fear come your way, when the perils of false teachers attack your faith, when your confidence begins to get rattled, trust in the Lord. Remember that you live in him! Rooted and built up and strengthened by him and in him who has set us free, you too can overflow in thanksgiving!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for grounding our faith in your love. Strengthen us to see your protection and cherish our foundation in your truth. Guard us from false teachings and take us one day to safely be at your side in glory. Amen.

Colossians 2:9-12

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

Jesus—True Man and True God

Our Savior Jesus defies math! If you are student who is struggling through Calculus, hold on a second, let me explain. Though our Savior loves math and has given us the blessing of intelligence to see order and logic in Creation, yet he defies math. He cannot be explained by it! No formula will get us to a better understanding of who he is and it certainly won’t show us what he’s done.

One of the best examples of Jesus’ being bigger and better and wiser than math comes from these words: “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” Jesus is 100% man and 100% God. That answer would be 100% wrong on your math test, but in Scripture it’s rock-solid truth. Though we cannot explain and it defies logic, Jesus is 100% man and 100% God. There’s no debate if you let Scripture speak plainly.

Just as fully true as that statement is, so true is the next: “you have been given fullness in Christ.” The one who is fully man and fully God, makes us to be “full” as well. He provides for our needs and wants. He gives spiritual protection and causes spiritual growth. He purchased us with his blood and freely forgives us through his death on the cross. He gives us an inseparable connection to him through Baptism and thereby washes us clean from every spot and stain and wrinkle and blemish of sin. He enables us to do what we could not do before–-put off the old sinful nature that once controlled us. By God’s grace, that ball-and-chain of sin is removed. We are set free and redeemed.

Through faith, we are connected with Christ in a wonderful way. We are connected to him by Baptism through which our sins were drowned in the forgiving love that he showers on us. We are raised to new life in his Easter victory. Now his glorified body will be ours. His forever in heaven is our future too, all thanks to God’s love for us.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for being my Savior—true Man and true God. Thank you for your love which changes my life here on earth and gives me a sure future in glory. Amen

Colossians 2:13-15

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Canceled

It’s all there in black and white. God’s laws…God’s rules: No hatred. Complete respect for people in authority whether we think they deserve it or not. No greed. No selfish ambition. Always putting others first.

Without a doubt, we have broken his laws and violated his written code of regulations. We fall under God’s judgment and justly deserve his punishment. We can do nothing about it. His law is written on indestructible paper. We can’t rip it to shreds. His law is written in permanent ink. We can’t rub it out with a giant eraser of denial, good deeds, or comparison to “worse” sinners. Nothing we do changes that written code. It silently, eternally condemns us to hell for our violations.

What can we do?

Nothing!

What has God done?

He picked up the law condemning us, and nailed that paper to the cross of his Son. Then Jesus’ bloodied back was pinned against that cross for six hours on a Friday almost two thousand years ago. There Jesus shed his holy blood as punishment for our sins. When Jesus died, they took his body down to bury him, leaving the written code still pinned to the cross.

Now, when the Judge comes to hear our case, he stands next to that cross. He pulls down the written code that condemns us. He looks at the paper carefully; then looks at us. We expect him to sentence us to hell. He holds in his hand all the laws we’ve broken—disrespecting the opposite sex, abusing his name, hateful words, anger, selfishness—it’s all there in the written code.

However, he speaks no word of condemnation. Instead, he declares there are no laws we have broken, no regulations we’ve disobeyed. We don’t understand. How could this be?

Then we see the paper he’s holding. The paper we couldn’t destroy. The inked words we could not erase. The paper is covered in blood—completely covered. No regulations bleed through. No written code shows through. All we see is the blood of God’s Son.

God’s written code has been canceled. Through Christ and his cross, we have been forgiven; we are innocent before God. Jesus’ triumphant victory over the evil powers of hell is ours. Trusting in our Savior we will live with God forever in heaven.

Prayer: O dear God, I plead for your merciful forgiveness, knowing by faith that you grant it through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for me. Amen.

Colossians 2:16-19

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19 He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

All About Jesus

Being a Christian is all about rules, right?

Not really. God’s rules are tools, not reasons for bragging.

In the Old Testament, God gave rules to help his people learn about the coming Savior. For example, God made a rule that his people should not do any work on Saturdays. Every Saturday they rested. This rest for their bodies kept reminding them that God would send a Savior to give rest for their consciences burdened with the guilt of sins. The Sabbath was a “shadow” of the rest Jesus would bring for the souls of all people.

God also uses rules to teach people why we need Jesus. For example, God has a rule that we should love him more than anything else in the world, including ourselves. If I could obey that rule, I would never do anything wrong because what God wants would always be more important to me than what I want. Anyone who knows me, though, knows I have done what I wanted to do, even when it meant breaking God’s rules. God’s rules show me I’ve been disobedient and I need help. God’s rules show me I need Jesus.

God is all about Jesus. Sure he has rules, but he also has a Son whom he wants us to know and trust. He sent his Son Jesus to pay the penalty we owe God for our sins. Jesus humbled himself and was sacrificed on a cross for us. Through Jesus God gives rest for our souls, the peace of the forgiveness of sins.

Christians are all about Jesus. We’re all about his love and his forgiveness for we have been connected to Jesus by faith, and connected to one another. God helps us grow in the knowledge of our Savior’s love. God leads us by his word to humbly follow his rules out of gratefulness for the forgiveness of our sins. We don’t try to draw attention to ourselves. We live to draw attention to Jesus. Like God, we want everyone to know what Jesus has done for all of us. We want people to know that Jesus came and died to give them rest for their souls.

Christians are all about Jesus. What are you all about?

Prayer: Jesus, the message of your loving sacrifice for us, fills our hearts with peace and our souls with rest. Inspire us by the good news of the forgiveness of sins to live humbly for you and to serve our God in grateful obedience. Amen.

Old Testament

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New Testament

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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

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