Always our access to God is contingent upon the propitious sacrifice and poured out blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s Cross…
The Truth about the Gospel and Christ
“It is not until a man finds his faith opposed and attacked that he really begins to think out the implications of that faith. It is not until the Church is confronted with some dangerous heresy that she begins to realize the riches and the wonder of orthodoxy.”
— William Barclay
In Colossians chapter 1, Paul tells the Colossian believers:
Timothy and I are pleased to hear from Epaphras that the gospel which is growing all over the world is bearing fruit in your lives as well.
Because of this, we constantly pray that you stay focused on God’s will so that your lives will be pleasing to Him.
Remember that Jesus, our Creator and Reconciler, deserves absolute supremacy in absolutely everything.
I endure suffering and hard work on behalf of Jesus and His church to bring believers to maturity.
Here’s the backstory:
From a prison cell in the year A.D. 60, a man who wore both the mantle of an apostle and the shackles of a prisoner wrote a letter to a group of believers he had never met.
Paul wrote the Colossians the truth so they would not be the victims of false teaching.
While Paul was in prison, Epaphras, one of his most faithful coworkers, visited him and brought him a report on the congregation at Colosse.
In many ways the report was good, and for this Paul was thankful (1:3-8).
As we read the letter carefully, we detect a sharp note of alarm and concern as well.
This letter is written as a piercing rebuttal to the alluring enticements of theological and practical heresy.
The heresy running rampant in Colosse attacked and undermined the identity and sufficiency of Jesus the Christ.
Knowing the truth about the power of the gospel and the person of Jesus Christ is the believer’s best protection against deception.
God’s grace and peace in a person’s life comes from knowing the power of the gospel.
The city of Colosse was 100 miles east of Ephesus on the Lycus River.
It was not as influential as the nearby city of Laodicea, but as a trading center it was a crossroads for ideas and religions.
Colosse had a large Jewish population—many Jews had fled there when they were forced out of Jerusalem under the persecutions of Antiochus III and IV, almost 200 years before Christ.
The church in Colosse had been founded by Epaphras (1:7), one of Paul’s converts.
Paul had not yet visited this church nor met these people. His purpose in writing was to refute heretical teachings about Christ that had been causing confusion among the Christians there and to show how new life in Christ should affect people living in the Roman Empire.
After Paul’s initial introduction, after having greeted these saints in terms which have become the watchword of Christianity, the apostle does something else which is very characteristic of him—he falls to his knees in thanks and prayer.
It seems that the apostle always began his prayer with praise to the Lord, and this is a good example for us to follow.
His prayer is addressed to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Prayer is the unspeakable privilege of having audience with the Sovereign of the universe.
But it may be asked: “How could a mere man dare to stand in the awful presence of the infinitely high God?”
The answer is found in our text.
The glorious and majestic God of the universe is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The One who is infinitely high has become intimately nigh.
Because as believers in Christ we share His life, God is our Father also (John 20:17).
We can draw near through Christ.
Praying always for you.
Taken by itself, this expression does not seem remarkable, but it takes on new meaning when we remember that this describes Paul’s interest in people he had never met.
We often find it difficult to remember our own relatives and friends before the throne of grace, but think of the prayer list the Apostle Paul must have kept!
He prayed not only for those he knew but also for Christians in faraway places whose names had been mentioned to him by others.
Truly Paul’s untiring prayer life helps us to understand him better.
He had heard of the Colossians’ faith in Christ Jesus and of their love to all the saints.
He first mentions their faith in Christ Jesus.
That is where we must always begin.
There are many religious people in the world today who are constantly talking about their love for others.
But if you question them, you find that they do not have any faith in the Lord Jesus.
Such love is hollow and meaningless.
On the other hand, there are those who profess to have faith in Christ, yet you look in vain for any evidence of love in their lives.
Paul would likewise question the sincerity of their faith.
There must be true faith in the Savior, and this faith must be evidenced by a life of love to God and to one’s fellow man.
Paul speaks of faith as being in Christ Jesus.
It is very important to notice this.
The Lord Jesus Christ is always set forth in Scripture as the Object of faith.
A person might have unbounded faith in a bank, but that faith is only valid as long as the bank is reliable.
The faith itself will not insure the safety of one’s money if the bank is poorly managed.
So it is in the spiritual life.
Faith in itself is not sufficient.
That faith must be centered in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Since He can never fail, no one who trusts Him will ever be disappointed.
The fact that Paul had heard of their faith and of their love shows that they certainly were not secret believers.
In fact, the NT gives little encouragement to anyone who seeks to go on as a secret disciple.
The teaching of the Word of God is that if a person has truly received the Savior, then it is inevitable that he will make public confession of Christ.
The love of the Colossians went out to all the saints. There was nothing local or sectarian about their love.
They did not love only those of their own fellowship, but wherever they found true believers, their love flowed out freely and warmly.
This should be a lesson to us that our love should not be narrow or limited to our own local fellowship, or to missionaries from our own country.
We should recognize the sheep of Christ wherever they are found, and manifest our affection to them wherever possible.
It is said of Paul that from the first time he had heard about these dear saints at Colosse and their faith, love, and hope, the apostle had made it his practice to pray for them.
First, he prayed that they might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
He did not ask that they should be satisfied with the boasted knowledge of the Gnostics.
He would have them enter into the full knowledge of God’s will for their lives as revealed in His word.
This knowledge is not of a worldly or carnal nature; it is characterized by spiritual wisdom and spiritual understanding—wisdom to apply the knowledge in the best way, and understanding to see what agrees and what conflicts with God’s will.
There is a very important connection between verse 10 and verse 9.
Why did the Apostle Paul want the Colossians to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will?
Was it so they might become mighty preachers or sensational teachers?
Was it so they might attract large followings to themselves, as the Gnostics sought to do?
No, the true purpose of spiritual wisdom and understanding is to enable Christians to walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him.
Here we have a very important lesson on the subject of guidance.
God does not reveal His will to us in order to satisfy our curiosity.
Neither is it intended to cater to our ambition or pride.
Rather the Lord shows us His will for our lives in order that we might please Him in all that we do.
Being fruitful in every good work.
Here is a helpful reminder that although a person is not saved by good works, he most certainly is saved for good works.
Sometimes in emphasizing the utter worthlessness of good works in the salvation of souls, we may create the impression that Christians do not believe in good works.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
We learn in Ephesians 2:10 that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.”
Again, Paul wrote to Titus:
“This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works” (Tit. 3:8).
Not only did Paul want them to bear fruit in every good work, but also to increase in the knowledge of God.
How is this done?
First of all, it is done through the diligent study of God’s word.
Then it is also found in obeying His teachings and serving Him faithfully.
(The latter seems to be the prominent thought here.)
As we do these things, we enter into a deeper knowledge of the Lord.
“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord (Hos. 6:3 KJV).
Notice the repetition of words dealing with knowledge in chapter 1 and realize that there is a definite advance in thought with each use.
In verse 6, they “knew the grace of God.”
In verse 9, they had “the knowledge of His will.”
In verse 10, they were “increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Perhaps we could say that the first refers to salvation, the second to study of the Scriptures, and the third to service and Christian living.
To sum it up, sound doctrine should lead to right conduct, which expresses itself in obedient service.
Let us each day put on the Mind of Christ and give Him permission to use us as His conduit, so that He may channel His love and His light into all the dark places of the world.
It’s through the Gospel message, God provides salvation for anyone who will take it.
God doesn’t require that we know hidden secrets or certain inside information to accept Christ’s message and enjoy eternal life.
When God chose to reveal Himself, He did so through a human body.
The tongue that called forth the dead was a human one.
The hand that touched the leper had dirt under its nails.
The feet upon which the woman wept were calloused and dusty.
And His tears . . . oh, don’t miss the tears . . . they came from a heart as broken as yours or mine ever has been.
So, people came to Him.
My, how they came to Him!
They came at night; they touched Him as He walked down the street; they followed Him around the sea; they invited Him into their homes and placed their children at His feet.
Because He refused to be a statue in a cathedral or a priest in an elevated pulpit.
He chose instead to be Jesus. . . . There were those who revered Him.
But there was not one person who considered Him too holy, too divine, or too celestial to touch.
There was not one person who was reluctant to approach Him for fear of being rejected.
Remember. It is man who creates the distance. It is Jesus who builds the bridge. (From God Came Near by Max Lucado)
Wednesday, May 11
Kenneth Copeland Ministry Blog
HOW TO GET THE DIRECTION YOU NEED FROM GOD
by Kenneth Copeland
Do you need direction from the Lord concerning a specific situation but don’t know how to receive it?
Do you desire to hear the Lord answer you whenever you pray?
The good news is that you can have the answers you need and the rewarding prayer life you desire.
When you pray, you can be confident that you will be able to identify the Holy Spirit’s voice and that you will receive the answers to your prayers.
Colossians 1:9-10 reminds us that a rich prayer life is possible:
“So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you.
We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.
All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.”
The Apostle Paul wrote this passage to the church at Colossae to tell them exactly how he was praying for them. He wanted them to experience the same depth and richness that he and other believers experienced. He asked that they would have:
Complete knowledge of God’s will
Prayer is one of the best ways to receive these spiritual treasures.
In Jeremiah 33:3, God promised,
“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.”
Those “remarkable secrets” are “complete knowledge of His will, and spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
Gaining these spiritual treasures requires tenacity. It takes more than simply bowing your head before your meals or sending up a quick prayer when things get tough.
It requires seeking the Lord continually.
Below are three habits to help you receive the direction you need every day.
1. Set Aside a Designated Prayer Time
This means keeping regular prayer times and studying the Word habitually.
Setting aside daily prayer times allows you to focus on the Lord and your relationship with Him.
Instead of simply coming to Him with a list of demands, you develop a relationship, and studying the Word helps strengthen that relationship.
Through His Word, you begin to understand God’s will and His ways better as you strengthen your faith.
You also allow Him to speak to you through His Word.
So often, people want to hear from the Holy Spirit without spending time developing that relationship.
They want to treat God like a spiritual ATM. They’d like to drive up, punch in what they want, grab it and be on their way.
But relationships take time. As you begin to commune with the Lord regularly, you begin to recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice more easily and hear Him more clearly.
If you want to develop your prayer life, begin by setting aside a designated prayer time.
If you keep a calendar, then make an appointment with yourself.
In addition to thanking and praising God for allowing you to come boldly before Him in prayer (Hebrews 4:16), begin praying Colossians 1:9-10 over yourself.
Ask the Lord to “give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding” so that you “will always honor and please [Him]” and that your life “will produce every kind of good fruit…”as you learn to know [Him] better and better.”
2. Spend Time Reading God’s Word
During your appointed time, spend time in God’s Word.
Read a chapter or two and stand in faith, believing that God will give you the revelation you need.
Slow down, listen and tune in to what the Holy Spirit may be saying to you.
This isn’t a time to rush. This is a time to focus on the Lord and listen to the Holy Spirit.
3. Pray in Faith
After you read the Word, pray for a while in the Spirit and with your understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15).
Pray in other tongues, and ask God to give you the interpretation.
He’ll do it if you ask Him in faith.
You might not always get the interpretation immediately, but if you will pray with expectation, it will come eventually.
It might come as you’re driving to work or while you are at work. Or it might come gradually to your spirit over a matter of weeks, but one day you will have the answer to the situation you’ve been praying about.
Mark 11:24 promises,
“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”
As you begin praying in faith for the direction you need, it will come.
Trust God that His Word is true!
Come join the Adventure!