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Colossians 2:20 – 4:18

COLOSSIANS 2:20 – 4:18

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Extra Credit

Imagine the scenario. You’ve just finished taking a big test. Your semester grade hangs in the balance. You studied hard, but you’re not sure how well you’ve done. Thankfully, your teacher had mercy. He included some extra credit questions on the test, and you’re sure you’ve answered those questions quite well. In fact, your answers to those questions might mean the difference between the semester grade you need and the one you’re praying you don’t get. Extra credit can be a beautiful thing.

Every day we take a kind of test from God, one with only two questions. He says, “Do you love me above all things? Do you love your neighbor as much as you love yourself?” (Matthew 22:37-40). What should we do with such hard questions?

Some people try to help their chances by looking for extra credit. They make extra rules and restrictions about what people can eat or drink, extra rules about how to behave. They say, “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” They make rules God hasn’t given in the Bible, and they hope God will give them extra credit for keeping them.

Not only is this not extra credit, it is sin. If such people truly loved God, they’d stick to the questions on his test instead of inventing their own. If they truly loved their neighbor, they wouldn’t be so obsessed with how good their own behavior looks.

It’s good to set high standards for ourselves, but isn’t it easy to start thinking that we’re earning extra credit with God? Listen to God’s warning in these verses from Colossians. You can’t cover up your sin with extra credit. Trying only makes things worse.

God has given you something infinitely better than extra credit. God has provided a proxy to take your test for you. God has given you his Son. Jesus loved God above all things. Jesus loved his neighbor as himself. Jesus aced God’s test, and it all counts for you. Are you looking for a good grade on life’s report card? Forget about extra credit. You have Jesus!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for acing God’s test for me. Amen.

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Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Baptism

By definition, the name believer says that you depend on things you can’t see or feel. The Bible says that “nothing good lives in our sinful nature” (Romans 7:18), but it might not seem so to us. The Bible says that “Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:2), but we might not feel forgiven.

Sin and forgiveness aren’t the only things hidden from our eyes. In today’s reading, the apostle Paul states that a believer’s whole life is now hidden with Christ in God. Paul is saying to believers, “Everything you do looks holy to God. Everything that ever happens to you is to your benefit. God has blessed you with an entire life of uninterrupted spiritual success.” Paul is also saying, “This life is hidden.”

It sure is. When we reflect on our efforts to live the way God wants us to, we see consistent failure. When a pile of trouble hits us, it can feel very much like we’re being punished. Believers who see and feel such things may even begin to wonder, “Am I really a believer?”

The apostle Paul pries our eyes away from what we can see and feel, away from earthly things, and speaks God’s Word to us: “You died…” he says. “You have been raised with Christ.” Paul is talking about Baptism. Baptism is God’s Word and promise of forgiveness, connected to water. Through Baptism, God works faith in our hearts and connects us to Jesus, who by his death and resurrection has taken away our sins. Baptism is a drowning of the sinful nature, and a resurrection to new spiritual life.

Paul says, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” Looks can be deceiving, and feelings can’t always be trusted. God has given us something better, something that will never change because it comes from him. When believers struggle with guilt and pain, God invites us to look past what we can see and feel. Our baptism tells us who we are.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, set my mind on things above. Amen.

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Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Put Down Sin

Your dog is fifteen years old. She’s been the family pet since she was a puppy, but she’s sick and she’s in pain, and the vet says there’s nothing more to be done for her. You know what you have to do, but it won’t be easy.

In today’s reading, the apostle Paul tells us to put our sinful behavior to death. He’s telling us to confess our sins to God and to beg for mercy. We know he’s right. On some level we all know that our sins deserve God’s wrath. Still, it isn’t easy to put our sins down. In a sense it’s like losing a pet. We’ve grown attached. When you’re a sinner, sinful behavior feels good.

We need more than an encouragement to confess our sins. We need someone to take away our sinful desires. We need someone to take away our sins. We need Jesus. Jesus put himself under the wrath of God that we deserve. Jesus suffered and died in our place. Jesus has taken our sins away.

It’s true that when you’re a sinner, sinful behavior feels good. When you’re used to wearing dirty clothes, dirt doesn’t bother you. Things change when your sin is forgiven. Paul says, “You have taken off your old self…You have put on the new self.” Forgiven in Jesus, you are a new person. Forgiven in Jesus, you can see your sin for what it really is. Sin is not man’s best friend. Sin is mankind’s worst enemy.

So, goodbye, sin! We won’t miss you. God has clothed us in Jesus’ righteousness. God has given us better things to do.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me fight against my sins. Amen.

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Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Chosen

If you are reading this devotion in the morning before you go to work, or school, or run errands, here’s the amazing, beautiful thing about your day–-you leave your house a chosen, holy, loved child of God. And if you are reading to this devotion at night, you can expect it will be the same for you tomorrow morning.

Is it hard to believe–-chosen, holy, loved by God? Yes, it can be. Rejected, wretched, and unworthy feels more like it. As a sinner, you know how depressing it can be to leave the house, knowing that you are going to live another sinful day. Shamefully, that’s the reality of being a sinner in a sinful world. But what a difference Jesus Christ makes!

You are chosen because of grace in Christ. You belong to God, not because of something good about you, but because of something good about him. You are holy because of the life Jesus lived for you without any sin. You are loved because of the death he died on your behalf for your sin. These blessings are yours through faith in Jesus, and what you do with these blessings today is your great joy.

Connected to Jesus, your Savior, it is your joy to treat anyone and everyone today with the virtues listed in our reading: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness patience…bearing with each other, forgiving and loving one another. The power that enables you to live each of these virtues is the humble knowledge that Jesus lived each of them perfectly for you. Then he died the painful death on the cross to take away the many times you have failed to put those virtues into practice as God wills. Jesus endured such pain with a selfless love unlike any other love—love for you!

Therefore, extend a helping hand to others as Jesus has extended his helping hand to you. Look out for the benefit of others. Treat people with care. Reconcile whatever stands between you and another. Love all people, even the unloving and unlovable. Why? Yes, don’t forget the why. You are a chosen, holy, loved child of God in Christ. It’s the best part of your day.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to see that how I treat others today is simply my joy of living Christ’s love. Amen.

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Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The Peace of Christ

In a world of sinners, people sin against each other. Christians do too. Even in church, we often give and take offense. How do we handle this? Ironically and pathetically, often with more sin. With bitterness and grudges. With spats and quarrels. With name calling and gossip. This can happen in the Christian home too.

But Christ did not die for us in order that we might live in hostility toward each other. He gives us a better way. The better way is the peace of Christ that removes conflict and renews relationships.

When you have conflict in your life, do you seek resolution or reconciliation? Do you even realize there is a difference? Take these two examples: 1) Divorce might seem like it resolves conflict, but it fails to bring reconciliation; or 2) disgruntled church members might transfer their memberships to a neighboring church to remove themselves from the fray, and they might think that resolves the problem, but reconciliation never takes place. Now do you see the difference? If God thought to resolve our sin by quitting on us and walking away from us rather than removing what separates us, imagine where we would be!

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” seeks reconciliation. Like an umpire or a referee, the peace of Christ makes the call for every conflict, seeks to remove whatever stands between the two conflicting parties (usually sin), and strives to bring together again. Just like Jesus did with us and God.

Our sin caused conflict with our holy God. It stood between us. But Jesus removed that conflict with his death. His death removed the hostility and made peace between us and God. It is amazing the relationship that we can share with God as a result. The peace of God has been established in our hearts through God’s word—his good news of salvation through Christ. Given the wisdom that Jesus is our peace, we now teach it, live it, and share it in church, at home, and even in our community.

And in everything we are thankful to God. Because when the peace of Christ reigns, harmony reigns.

Prayer: Gracious God, heavenly Father, lead us to be ambassadors of Christ’s peace. Amen.

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Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism. 1 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Relish Your Role

In the United States a distinction is made between an individual’s status and role. All Americans enjoy an equal status. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “All men are created equal”. As a result, all Americans enjoy the same voting privileges and equality under the law. In this way we are all equal.

But the roles of individuals in our country are not equal. For example, my role is not the same as that of the President of the United States. As a result, I can’t go into the White House whenever I want. I am not an elected official, so I can’t vote on legislation. My role is that of a common citizen and in that role to vote for candidates who are running for election and to obey the laws laid out by our government.

Again, we all have equal status, but different roles in our lives.

As followers of Jesus, we also enjoy a wonderful status. Each one of us is a child of God through faith in Jesus. God loves each of us unconditionally. Each one of us is completely forgiven by God. Each one of us looks forward to an inheritance from God in heaven. God doesn’t care where we come from, what our skin color is or what we do for a living. God sent Jesus so that by faith all people could be his children.

But as we follow Jesus, we have different roles. To his Colossian readers, the apostle Paul spelled out some of those roles. Some of them enjoyed roles as Christian spouses. Others were Christian parents and children. Still others had a slave and master relationship. No matter what the role of the individual, God’s message was clear, “It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

In the past 2000 years some roles have changed. Thank God that slavery has been abolished in our country. But some things haven’t changed. One of them is the status of God’s children. Because of Jesus, you are just as loved and forgiven by God as the people to whom this letter was originally written. The other thing that remains the same is that God wants you to use your life’s role to serve him and others.

What role do you have in life? Are you married or single? Are you a boss or an employee? Are you a parent? Whatever role you play, use it to show the love of Christ in your life. Remember, it is the Lord you are serving.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for making me your child through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. No matter what role I have in my life, help me to use it to serve you. Amen.

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Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

Devote Yourself to Prayer

Jesus is our all-sufficient Savior. With the fullness of God dwelling in him, Jesus offered himself on the cross to reconcile all things in heaven and on earth to God (Colossians 1:19). We have been buried with him in baptism, and raised to life with him through faith in the power of God (Colossians 2:12). Because of Jesus all of our sins have been forgiven, and we are “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)” by our heavenly Father.

How then should we live? The apostle Paul says, “Devote yourselves to prayer.” Live in constant communication with your heavenly Father. Spend your days speaking to God. Prayer allows us to be watchful. It changes our perspective by preventing us from getting all wrapped up in the cares and concerns of this world, so that we can be ready for our Savior’s return. As we pray, we can be thankful for all that God has done for us, and even give thanks for what we know God will give us in answer to our prayers. Consider setting aside a little extra time each day to devote yourself to prayer. Here are some ideas to get you going:

Sunday: Pray that you are given a desire to share your Savior’s love with others (think of specific people).

Monday: Pray that God continues to open doors for our missionaries in places that are hostile to the gospel.

Tuesday: Pray for all those who pay a high price for their faith in Jesus–-teenagers who stand up for what is right, those in prison who follow Jesus, those who work with someone who mocks and ridicules their faith.

Wednesday: Pray that the Lord help you reflect his love in your life at home, at work, in the world.

Thursday: Pray that Jesus gives you a greater appreciation for his forgiveness.

Friday: Pray that the cross of Jesus is seen by all as a place where God’s mercy overcomes his wrath.

Saturday: Pray that the Lord give your pastor a deep understanding of the Savior’s love and the ability to clearly communicate it.

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 412):
Lord, teach us how to pray aright, with reverence and with fear.
Though dust and ashes in your sight, we may, we must draw near.

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Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Attractive Wisdom

I suppose it really shouldn’t surprise us that Christians are often slandered and mistreated in this world. Jesus told his followers, “‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20b).

In the early church, false rumors and lies of all kinds were spread about the followers of Jesus. Some called Christians ‘unpatriotic atheists’ because they refused to burn incense in worship of the Roman Emperor. Others heard believers greet each other as “brothers and sisters” and spread the lie that they were involved in incest. Still others heard about the practice of eating the body and blood of Jesus in Holy Communion and accused Christians of cannibalism.

To this day many in the world around us spread lies about the Christian faith. They twist and distort the truth and ridicule those who follow Jesus calling us ‘ignorant, intolerant, and judgmental.’ So what should we do? How can we possibly overcome the skepticism and even hostility toward Jesus? Paul says the best way for Christians to defeat such slander is by being wise in the way we act toward others and speak with them.

Being wise means loving God and following the example of Jesus. It has often been said that people may not read the Bible, but they will read Christians. God in his grace “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). Now we can live as his children. Even if you don’t notice, others are watching how you live; they are listening to the things you say and observing how you treat others.

Sadly, many have heard the lies and are skeptical about the Christian faith. God gives us an awesome privilege that with the Spirit’s help we can live to reflect our Savior’s love. And as we have opportunity, we can speak about Jesus and answer people with the truth.

What an honor that God uses you and me as he works through his word to change people’s minds about Jesus. Therefore, be wise in the way you live and speak, so that people around you may see the beauty of the gospel and come to know their Savior.

Prayer: O Holy Spirit, help me to live a life of wisdom and love, and speak your word of truth so that others may come to know Jesus. Amen.

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Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here. 10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea. 17 Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” 18 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Filled With Jesus’ Love

Nearly a dozen people are mentioned is these verses, people who were closely connected with the apostle Paul in the work of the Lord. He mentions them by name—they were people who were an encouragement to the first readers of this letter. They were people whose hearts were focused on Jesus so that they gave their lives to the Lord’s service, even if it meant discomfort and trouble, even imprisonment. They were people who loved their fellow Christians, so they prayed for them to stand firm in the will of God, encouraged them in their life of faith, worshipped the Lord with them, and worked hard to help them.

Now for us who read these words many hundreds of years after they were written, the names have changed, but there are still many people who demonstrate Christian love and concern, especially toward their fellow believers. They pray for them in times of need. They are always ready with a word of encouragement to uplift their troubled spirits. They are glad to gather regularly with their fellow believers and worship the Lord together. They are ready and willing to work hard to help others both spiritually and physically.

They do these things, not to get a reward or to receive recognition. They have such love for others because they treasure how much Jesus loves them.

In the same way, Jesus loved you to give himself as the sacrifice for your sin. He loves you in calling you to follow him and gives you eternal life!

Grace be with you.

Prayer: Savior Jesus, fill me with you love! Amen.

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Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

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New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

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About the Bible


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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

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Colossians 1 – 2:19

COLOSSIANS 1- 2:19

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.

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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.

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[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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

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New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

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About the Bible


What is the Bible? Find an answer to this question and more.

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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

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.