PART 3: JESUS OUR MINISTRY

colossiansTree[5971]PART 3: JESUS OUR MINISTRY- COLOSSIANS 4: 10-18
“10 Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. 11 Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been! 12 Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. 13 I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas. 15 Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters[a] at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house. 16 After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them. 17 And say to Archippus, ‘Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.’ 18 HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL. Remember my chains. May God’s grace be with you.” COLOSSIANS 4:10-18 New Living Translation

 

RECAP
*These final paragraphs in this letter are not an afterthought. While they might at first seem to be a random collection of greetings and references to people, there is a common thread. They illustrate real life for those who trust the full revelation of God in Christ and the finished work of Christ on the cross. They remind us that the Christian life is about living together as a community of believers. Chapter 4 shows life has its struggles and problems (for example, Paul’s imprisonment(4v3), and the implicit challenge of speaking to non-believers in 4 v 5-6. Last week we considered two of Paul’s Gospel fellow workers, Tychicus and Onesimus. Today we finish this amazing letter considering the rest of Paul’s “community”, where Paul acknowledges his need for friends and colleagues. 4V11

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READ COLOSSIANS 4:10-11

  1. Aristarchus show us the radical commitment of discipleship. He’s in prison with Paul at that moment for his ministry for Christ.
  2. Mark shows us the power of Christian reconciliation. He had at one point fallen our with Paul (read Acts 15:37-39), but he’s now commended by Paul- and even described as a comfort to him in verse 11.
  3. There is real confidence- confidence that praying to God makes a difference. (v 2 and 12), and confidence that Christian ministry is in essence, about serving the “kingdom of God” v11.
    REFLECTION: What can we learn from them?

 

Read COLOSSIANS 4:12-13
1. Epaphrus (already mentioned in 1:7-8) shows us how to pray. He ‘constantly wrestles in prayer for you’ NIV; ‘constantly struggles for you in prayer’ ERV. This literally means agonising for the church in prayer.
2. Most significant in light of the whole letter is the subject of Epaphras’ prayer in 4 v12: Epaphrus teaches us what to pray: ‘that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured’ NIV; ‘asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God’ NLT. It was precisely this assurance that the Colossian false teachers undermined; and it is precisely this assurance that Paul sought to bolster and stabilise by writing to the Colossian Christians. This is the priority for the church. (read Col 1v7, 1v29-2v1)
REFLECTION: Put into your own words of how the prayer of Epaphrus sums up the big message of the letter to Colossians.
Read Colossians 4:14
A warning – Demas proved unfaithful in the end. (read 2 Timothy 4:10), hence the importance of faithfulness (read Col 1v7, 4v7)
Read Colossians 4:15
Nympha, most likely a woman of means, who hosted the local church in her home, shows us the importance of generosity and hospitality.
Read Colossians 4:16-17
A second warning- Archippus was also, like Demas, in danger of not holding out in his service of Christ. Long-term perseverance is a key quality to look for in role models.
REFLECTION: Paul’s description of his friends (Col 4 v 10-17)focuses on their hard work and service for the gospel. How can we encourage one another to persevere in our service of the Lord, His people and those who do not yet know Him?

 
Colossians 4:18 ‘HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL. Remember my chains. May God’s grace be with you.’
‘The gospel is so clearly Paul’s priority over everything, even his own personal comfort and security. But this hardly means he would not prefer freedom. The request in v 18 to remember is presumably a plea for prayer and solidarity- for how easy it would be for the Colossians to allow shame at his imprisonment to create a reticence to identify as Paul’s brothers and sisters.’ Mark Meynell

CONCLUSION
The following is a concluding quote from Mark Meynell, from his book, Colossians For You. He summarizes the letter beautifully:
‘ GRACE BE WITH YOU. Paul’s final statement might sound like a standard, and even hollow, farewell. But after all we have learned in Colossians, it is far from that. For we have travelled far in the realms of Christ Jesus, the Lord of all. But he is no dictator Caesar, who simply demands that his followers die for him to sustain his reign. As we saw in the introduction, Caesar claimed to offer forgiveness, peace, and provision, and in a limited sense he was able to do that. But Christ actually delivers it– for all eternity. He is God’s King, who was crowned on a cross. His victorious death brings complete forgiveness for every sin, ushers in eternal peace with our Creator, and lavishes upon us the treasures of His heaven. Having reconciled us to our Father, He reconciles us with one another. He truly showers us with his grace.
God’s grace can only provoke our gratitude to God. And our gratitude must surely work out in graciousness to one and all, whether to those who are part of the body, or towards outsiders who ply us with questions.
Grace. Gratitude. Graciousness. This is lordship the like of which the world has never seen. What an extraordinary privilege to know it first hand. So as Christ has shared His grace with us, we, with Paul, share grace with all.’
PRAYER (from Colossians 2:6-7)
Dear Lord, and now, just as we accepted You as our Lord, help us to continue to follow You. May our roots grow down into You, and that our lives will be built on You. Cause our faith to grow strong in the truth we were taught and that we will overflow with thankfulness….in increasing measure. For Your glory and our good, AMEN.
* (Thank you to Andy Mason for his material in Colossians: Alive in Christ, and Mark Meynell for his material in Colossians for You, and Colossians- Confident Christianity, of which a large part of today’s study has been taken)

 

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman, contributor for today’s blog post

This marks the conclusion of COLOSSIANS: ROOTED. Thank you for all the contributors who led us in teaching, and for you, the participant, for joining in to learn to know God better and love Him more through the study of His word and friendship with others in our church community.
Please stay tuned in through the summer on Grace Place where we will be reflecting on what we have learned in Colossians (and other bits and bobs, no doubt). AND, please be praying for Sharon Durant and the team as they prepare for next school year’s study. In the meantime, our love and prayers are with you as we all move forward in these strange times. Remember, in God’s economy, NOTHING IS WASTED!
Lots of love,
Kathy

PART 2: COLOSSIANS 4:7-9

colossiansTree[5971]PART 2: JESUS OUR MINISTRY- COLOSSIANS 4:7-9

READ: Colossians 4:7-9

“7 Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord’s work. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. 9 I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that’s happening here.” Colossians 4:7-9 New Living Translation

*These final paragraphs in this letter are not an afterthought. While they might at first seem to be a random collection of greetings and references to people, there is a common thread. They illustrate real life for those who trust the full revelation of God in Christ and the finished work of Christ on the cross. They remind us that the Christian life is about living together as a community of believers.

Verses 7-9 we learn about Paul’s fellow gospel workers who are being sent to Colossae by Paul.
1. Tychicus comes highly recommended and had been sent to encourage the Colossians (also by delivering Paul’s letter to them). He is described in verse 7:
‘beloved brother’– gospel workers aren’t meant to be rivals nor professionals but a network of brothers and sisters working together in love for each other.
‘faithful helper’ [ minister]- (read also 2 Timothy 4:12) – Faithfulness is the characteristic of ministry which comes through time and testing. Tychicus proved this in the long term.
‘serves with me’ [fellow servant] – ‘Servant’ is better translated as ‘slave’. Paul and his team of gospel workers didn’t see themselves as celebrity speakers but as people owned by the Master.
2. Onesimus, although he is a slave (see Philemon), is treated by Paul in the same way as his own associates in ministry- and is more importantly, described:
‘faithful and beloved brother’ – Here we see the radical effects of the gospel on relationships and social status. (Read also Colossians 3:11 and 3:22-4:1) The marginalised and disregarded become our brother and sister in Christ. Being converted to Christ changes everything about who we are.
REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
1. What do these verses teach us about how to pray for our spiritual leaders?
2. Are there believers in your context who you might not treat as dearly loved brothers and sisters? How might you change that?
Prayer: Thank you for Lord for giving us these examples in the scripture today to teach and remind us that we are to live out our lives for Christ with other believers. Help us to be faithful to the gospel by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. Help us pray for one another as live counter-culturally for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

*(Thank you to Andy Mason for his material in Colossians: Alive in Christ, of which a large part of today’s study has been taken)

 

8 BIBLE STUDY AND NOTES- COL. 4:5-18 PART 1: JESUS OUR MINISTRY COLOSSIANS 4:5-6

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman, contributor for today’s blog post

8 BIBLE STUDY AND NOTES- COLOSSIANS 4:5-18
PART 1: JESUS OUR MINISTRY COLOSSIANS 4:5-6

For the last few weeks, Victoria has led us beautifully with what Paul is teaching about building authentic Christian communities in Colossians 3:16-4:1.
Last week, Paul turned his attention to prayer within the context of community and ministry in sharing the gospel(Col 4:2-4). Victoria concluded ‘to pray for one another to be prayerful in our relationship with God, to be readers of the Word and sharers of the Gospel, like Paul’. If you have yet to read and ponder these studies, I would encourage you to do so. It is clear and very helpful in understanding and applying what Paul is teaching us in this amazing letter. They are on this CBC Grace Place Website, under the heading of 2019-2020 Colossians: Rooted. 

Paul is drawing the letter to a close. When the Gospel bears fruit in our lives we will be dependent on God through prayer, as we learned last week. We need to keep this in  mind as Paul continues to write that, as we depend on God, we are encouraged to actively seek opportunities to proclaim the gospel to the world around, working together and standing firm as a body of believers.

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[seasoned with salt], so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6 New Living Translation

Most believers spend large amounts of time with people who don’t believe in Christ, and so these verses about how we’re to live among outsiders are immediately relevant for our day-to-day lives. These verses come right after Paul has been speaking of his mission to declare Christ (4:3) – with the point being that believers are also called to declare Christ.

1. Be Wise and Recognize the Sense of Urgency – read also Colossians 1:9-10, 2:3, 2 Peter 3:9

Wisdom is summed up in Christ. Paul prays that the Colossians might have wisdom to live lives worthy of Christ. Being wise toward unbelievers then, involves putting Christ on display as we live for Him. What does that look like? Mark Meynell: “That must in part mean being sensitive to the circumstances and concerns of those we are seeking to reach. Of course many of us (myself included) find it much easier to do this than to ‘make the most of every opportunity.’ We can use our sensitivity as an excuse to overlook the opportunities that come our way.” This is not an easy thing to do; that is why we need each other to encourage, pray, and spur one another on in sharing Christ. Paul wants us recognize the sense of urgency and ask the Lord for these opportunities.

Reflection Questions:

How can unbelievers see the wisdom of your life today? What will draw them to Christ through you?

What practical steps can we take to ensure that we pray with these priorities? That we are proclaiming the mystery of Christ clearly?
2. Conversation: Full of Grace- read also 1 Peter 3:15
“The key thought is grace: for if the message is one of grace, then the way it is communicated must be characterized by graciousness.”Mark Meynell. It may be helpful to look at what conversation would look like if it were characterized by the opposite of grace. Some expressions may be ‘know it all,’ sarcastic, arrogant, critical, flippant, self seeking…..even unkind and angry. These expressions are not the fruit of the message of the gospel. We need to speak in a way that engages people and the excitement of the good news. Our conversation is the medium for the gospel message. How we converse also conveys the gospel message. People need to see the freedom we increasingly have in Christ, not a killjoy! This is indeed a challenge. We need to remind each other this: “God is the one who opens doors (v3). God is the one whose message is being preached-He kept it secret until the right time to open up the mystery of Christ’ to the Gentile world (v. 3); He gives the opportunities to proclaim it (v5) and by implication is the one who provides answers to every question. (v 6)” Mark Meynell Thank you Lord!

Reflection Questions:
What do you spend your time talking about with unbelievers?

What practical steps can we take to ensure that we fill our conversation with the salt of grace?
Prayer: Thank you Lord, that You give us everything we need for life and godliness. Forgive us when we are not wise and gracious in our conversation and dealings with unbelievers. Continue to make us more like our Lord Jesus Christ and that you so capture our hearts to be able and willing to share the hope and freedom we have in Christ. Amen.

PRAYING THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS PART 3

vicky kelly

Victoria Kelly, Contributor for this month’s Colossians study 

Praying the Good News of Jesus (Colossians 4:2-4) Part 3

‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 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. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.’ (Colossians 4: 2-4)

Over the past few weeks we have looked at Jesus, being the true focus for our lives here on this earth (and with eyes upward to Heaven also) and therefore the impact this should have on how we do our daily lives with those in our household and beyond. We do this by being in the Word (v16), but now Paul instructs us to be equipped by also praying. We are in a relationship with our Father, and we are called and instructed to talk to him.

We all have relationships in our lives. Whether that is being a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, an auntie, a niece, a friend. Due to our current circumstance of the Corona virus our relationships have potentially been tested as we have been cut off from many of the people (friends, family, colleagues) that we would normally see and socialise with. I don’t know about you, but I find that hard. Where I would normally take for granted that I would see certain people for play-dates, birthdays, at church on a Sunday or a bible study on a Monday, Wednesday or whenever it is you meet, this has been cut off. The physical meeting of people has had to stop. And I’ve hated it. I’m incredibly close to my sister so not seeing her has been tough. I’ve missed my niece’s 1st birthday and my sister had a potentially devastating accidently when she fell down the stairs holding her baby. I wanted to be there physically to support her and the family, but this virus has meant we haven’t been able to. But my relationship with her and the family and my friends who I would meet with for bible study or play-dates, hasn’t changed. Why? Because, thank God(!) we live in a day and age where we can talk to each other. Whether it is by Zoom or text message or a phone call or even by… Post (who has enjoyed receiving or sending good old snail-mail over this time?). If anything it has made me appreciate the relationships more and I’ve wanted to invest time into communication, especially because I cannot see them…

Enter Paul with his wise imperative and to deepen our relationship with the MOST important one above all. Paul delights in his relationship with God and he wants us to do the same. He tells us how to pray and what to pray. He starts the verse by telling us to ‘devote’. It means to give all or most of our time to something/someone. Oh! A challenge straight away at the first word in the verse. This is to be steadfast and persistent. We will always give time to what we think is important. It will be effortless,it will be intentional. As we are a changed people because of Jesus, prayerfulness will be motivated by the response to God’s grace (Col 3:16-17). Are we being intentional to pray to grow our relationship with Jesus? In Romans 12:12, Paul says that we should be, “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, [and] devoted to prayer.” We can be thankful in our prayers in any circumstance, because we are thankful for the gift of salvation and that Jesus accomplished everything at the cross for us.
We are told to be watchful prayers too. To be alert in our prayers. To be equipped. Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us to put on the full armour of God (I’d encourage you to read it out loud and imagine putting on what it tells us… It gets us ready for the very real battle we face spiritually – daily!).
Peter tells us to be on alert for the devil is ready to devour us like a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8). If we are complacent and drop our spiritual weapons (prayer and the Word) it is far easier for the enemy to attack and defeat. We are called to be on guard and prayerful and alert, so when he attacks, we are ready. But Jesus himself warns of our weakness and why we should be alert in our prayers also, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41).

So what do we pray for? Pray for God’s kingdom to expand through the spread of the gospel. Notice how Paul, although in prison, he is wanting to spread the ‘mystery of Christ’ (not that it is mysterious, but how it once was hidden and now has been revealed): the good news! He isn’t reflecting on the depravity of the situation he is in, but is Heaven focused. This doesn’t mean we cannot come to God in prayer with the small details of our life, he cares about those. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Yet, the primary focus for Paul isn’t self focused, but Jesus focused and this means spreading the gospel. So we too can pray for this. For those on the frontline of spreading the good news of Jesus around the world but also for ourselves too, as we evangelise with friends, family and colleagues in our own mission fields. Paul is also asking for those opportunities of ‘open doors’ (v3), but he recognises it is not in his strength. It is God who opens the door and we are the ones to walk through it and seize the opportunities to share the gospel. In Romans it says, ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.’ (1:16) It is our duty out of love for God and love for the truth that we share the gospel which will enable people to hear of salvation and therefore turn to God.

Finally, Paul asks for clarity in his talk, ‘Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should’ (Col 4:4). Clarity in presenting the gospel to those who are yet to hear and understand the message of Christ. The gospel is no longer a mystery, but a clear message (Col 1:26) and he wants to share this without confusion and complication. The Word of God, is clearly his treasure. Is it our treasure? Are we as keen to protect it and therefore pass it on to those around us and beyond?

Let’s pray for one another to be prayerful in our relationship with God, to be readers of the Word and sharers of the Gospel, like Paul.

Questions for reflection

1) Paul leads by example when it comes to praying. What are the main ways Paul reveals to us when it comes to HOW to pray? WHAT are the key things he prays for?
2) Despite the costs involved, why can we be confident when we share the gospel with others? (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2: 8-9)
3) How can we devote ourselves to prayer? What practical things can we put in place to ensure we do this?

Our team is praying for you as you get with your study buddies to dig through these treasures in His Word. See you next week!

Acting with the Good News of Jesus (Colossians 3:18-4:1) Part 2

Victoria Kelly, contributor for this month’s Colossians Study

Last week we explored the good news of Jesus living in us and us in him. Now our hearts are full of thankfulness and love because of the understanding of who Jesus is and what he has accomplished for us. This should then overflow into every area of our lives.We are saved by grace, so let’s live by grace.

This week we are looking at Colossians 3:18-4:1 and I’d encourage you to read this now.

Before we look at the relationship groups Paul discusses, let’s look to Jesus and what he tells us in John 13:3: ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. So I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ So whilst we may be able to disengage from some of the groups mentioned, for example if we aren’t married or maybe we are not considered a master or a parent, we still have a responsibility to love. To love how Jesus loved us: sacrificially, servant-hearted, humbly, unconditionally and all consuming.

Jesus conquered the law when he died for us on the cross. So we are no longer shaped by rules, BUT shaped by a Ruler. We have been bound to Christ and therefore it should shape every aspect of our lives. How can we achieve this? With the help of the Spirit shaping us through being in the Word; but we can actively and practically choose and take responsibility for our relationships and those around us too. Paul here gives us wisdom into how to do this with specific relationships and to live as a redeemed family.

Firstly, notice the pairings: wives and husbands; children and parents; slaves and masters. A relationship isn’t one sided, it has 2 sides and both are to take responsibility within their relationship, all the while doing it ‘in the name of Jesus,’ (3:17). And they only work properly when they both fulfil their roles.
Context for Colosse. Women, children, slaves were possessions to the master of the house. If you were one of these groups, you were owned by the man, the husband, the father. He had absolute authority, he was the head of household.

VKWhat is significant when Paul addresses the groups, is the less powerful group is addressed first: women, children, slaves. This would have been revolutionary for the time in Colosse, but Jesus’ teachings were revolutionary and Paul was following the example of Jesus (Matthew 20:16). All people were created in God’s image so all have importance and all have responsibilities.

Now there is new meaning to everyone’s roles as they are not only serving their counterpart, but Jesus!

The gospel gives us a new motivation and inspiration which transforms the ‘done VK 2thing’ into done for the Lord.

1) Wives and Husbands

‘Wives submit to your husband as in fitting to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.’ (Col 3:18-19)

Submission is to put yourself under someone’s authority. I don’t know how you feel when you hear that? For some women this may be a challenge, particularly in today’s society when women are allowed to be driven, successful and independent. And to be submissive doesn’t mean you can’t be these things. What it does mean, is when it comes to it, we are to be submissive to our husbands ‘as in fitting to the Lord’. So out of true love for Him, when we submit to our husbands, we are submitting to the Lord.

Interject the husband’s challenge to love his wife. When you look at the statements together it makes more sense. When the husband truly loves his wife, a love like Jesus loves (a sacrificial, unconditional love that took him to the cross), then it is easy to submit to him. When God grants authority, he does it for the love and protection of those under authority and never for the advantage of the ones in authority. Notice how neither statement follows ‘once your husband/wife loves you, then submit or love’. We are instructed to do it regardless.

Ephessians 5:22-33 gives a more detailed account of how husbands and wives are to respond together in love (I’d encourage you to read this now). Jesus always sets our example. He sets the example of how a husband should love his wife by how he himself loved the church. The church hasn’t always been the most beautiful bride, but he still loves it enough to die for it (Romans 5:8). So what about for those of us who are wives. What does it really look like to be submissive? Well, Jesus is our example too. Though he is equal to God, Jesus willingly submitted himself to the cross so that Satan’s dominion would be broken. The wife therefore, though equal to her husband, submits to him to reflect God’s image and to fulfill His purpose of dominion over satan.

Day to day, what does this mean? A submissive wife isn’t a meek wife who goes along with her husband, while keeping her thoughts and feelings to herself. This creates distance in the relationship. Or seemingly go along with what the husband says but on the inside is defiant, with a grudging compliance. That’s not Godly submission.

Close relationships are built on truthfulness and openness in a context of love (love being a verb, an action – something we do, not just feel). True submission and true love is communicated by actions and attitudes. A wife can be strong, but still be submissive in spirit if she respects her husband and backs his Godly leadership. A husband can love his wife because by doing so he is obeying and loving God. Tim Keller explains: The tender, serving authority of a husband’s headship and the strong, gracious gift of a wife’s submission restore us to who we were meant to be at creation.

A wife should submit to a disobedient husband except when she or the children are in danger or when he commands her to do something against God’s Word. 1 Peter 3:1-2 ‘Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.’ This means being a Godly example in the face of ungodly behaviour. Whatever his response, she will know that she is pleasing the Lord.

2) Children and Parents

‘Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.’ (Col 3:20-21)
As with the husbands and wives, you shouldn’t dislocate verses 20 and 21. Of course children should take their parents’ authority seriously, but how much more is the family home filled with love and joy and willingness to obey when the children are not discouraged or aggravated. Children should honour and obey their parents (it is one of the commandments after all: Exodus 20:12). Jesus submitted to his Heavenly father who is perfect, but he also submitted and obeyed his earthly parents, even though they were imperfect (Luke 2:51). So even if it is hard to obey your parents, you can do it for the Lord and know that He is pleased with you.Obeying cheerfully, not begrudgingly.

So what about parents? ‘Embitter’ can be anger/aggravation. It is the idea of motivating someone to negative actions/words. How can parents do this? By being unreasonable and not listening to a child’s explanation or considering the circumstance before passing judgement; unfair treatment – giving harsh punishment for a minor matter; being unpredictable – a child not knowing if a parent is going to blow up over a minor incident or even letting a major offence go by; breaking promises – a child can’t trust what a parent says. The list can go on. Does our Heavenly father deal with us in these same ways? No. We should aim to raise our children in the same way that God our Father relates to us: ‘The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.’ (Exodus 34:6). It should be descriptive of every Christian parent. God isn’t passive or abusive. He is just and patient. He takes the initiative to establish and provide a relationship with us. Our children are a blessing and he has entrusted us with them for a short while, to train them by example and by precept and we are accountable for this.

Of course discipline is a natural part of parenting. On more than one occasion, my children have decided to not look before crossing the road when they are running ahead of me (it doesn’t matter how many times I tell them to wait on the pavement for me and we will check cars together). In that split moment when you see a car hurtling towards them, of course I am going to react. I shout to get their attention and I will rebuke them for not listening to my instructions. But it isn’t out of annoyance that I shout at them at that moment. It is out of love. Love allows for correction and warning.

So our goal as parents should be to motivate children to be all that God wants them to be. To do that we need to let them know they are valued and loved. When they come into your presence let them feel that you were glad to see them, embrace them, play with them, serve them gladly, and speak kindly to them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matt 19:14. As always, Jesus is our example of how we should be as parents and as children.

3) Slaves and Masters

‘Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything… Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.’ (Col 3:22-4:1)

Slavery is probably not really in our day-to-day encounters in Corsham. And when we hear the word ‘slavery’ we might question why Paul didn’t start by rebuking masters for having slaves at all. Ultimately, Paul’s approach was to lay down universal principles which undermined the evils of slavery and eventually would lead to its demise. But in the meantime, Paul addressed the slaves first, elevating all work (Roman slave owners had come to view work as low and degrading). ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord not for men.’ (v23). As with the previous statements the verses go hand in hand. The words of wisdom are not just for the slaves to do their work well, but in fact for their masters to treat them with fairness and reminding them they also have a master who is master above all!

The slaves, who would have been seen as last in society are addressed first. He tells them they are actually serving a higher authority, God, and ‘will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.’ (v24). Wow. So the treatment, however harsh, however inferior they were made to feel won’t last forever. We might consider the modern day equivalent (although not exactly) to be an employee and employer. So what can we take from this?

Verses 22-24 make it clear that Christ is the Lord of the workplace (whatever you consider your work to be). ‘Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.’

It is a heart matter how you work. The Bible tells us to work with sincerity and with reverence (fear) for the Lord, for he is watching. Matt 10:30 tells us that ‘even the very hairs on your head are all numbered.’ Our God is all knowing. This isn’t supposed to be threatening or discomforting. But actually God’s grace should encourage us and motivate us to do what is right, because our eyes are Heavenly focused.

So if we have a mean boss, know we have a ‘big boss’ who sees this. Your earthly boss is no longer your ultimate supervisor, Jesus is. Therefore your work should take on a new dignity. So whether we are an employee or an employer or even a stay-at-home mother (like me), we are to work with a positive attitude, producing quality work and obeying our master with reverence for the Lord.

Thinking back to last week, our hearts should be so full of gratitude and love and joy that it motivates us to want to love/act in a way that Jesus does. But we can only understand and know that if we are rooted in Him and if the Word dwells in us. Only then are we able to love others and serve others in a way that doesn’t require their love/service back. But when both counterparts work as the way God intended it, love and service is equal and perfect.

Questions for reflection

1) Read Colossians 3:17 and discuss how this verse is a guiding principle for Colossians 3:18-4:1
2) How does the christian attitude to relationships differ from modern views about personal rights?
3) What does “submission” and “love” in marriage look like? (Consider the wider context of the new life we are to live in Christ in Col 3:12-14)
4) What are the hardest aspects of your work and what about it makes it so difficult? Now, how might the reality that you are working for Jesus, not man, impact this aspect of your work? Be specific. Imagine yourself doing that least favourite part of your job for Jesus. How might it look different? (Psalm 100:2; Romans 12:11; Hebrews 6:10; Galatians 5:13; Colossians 3:23-24)

7 BIBLE STUDY AND NOTES: COLOSSIANS 3:16-17 PART ONE

vicky kelly

Victoria Kelly, Contributor for Study 7 in Colossians Series

Study 7: Living, Acting and Praying the Good News of Jesus. Part 1

To start with, I want to start by recapping. Some good news. Something that is true in the face of uncertainty; what is good in a world that is filled with bad; what is exciting in the confusion; and what is our hope in the midst of cloud and chaos.

‘But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.’ Titus 3:4-7

We are saved, redeemed, justified and now part of God’s family. As we’ve studied Colossians this year, we have been looking again at this good news, but building on it to get us so deeply entwined with the living word of God that it consumes us. Over the next few weeks we will be expanding on this knowledge of Jesus and applying it to our lives… From the inside out! We will be focusing on: 1) Living with the good news of Jesus; 2) Acting with the good news of Jesus; and 3) Praying the good news of Jesus.

Living the good news of Jesus.

‘Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 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.’ (Col 3:16-17)
In order to enjoy the fullness of the Spirit, we must be filled with the WORD of God, which is the message of Christ. The whole bible points to Jesus. We are instructed to have the word of God embedded in our life: richly – meaning a lot! ‘Dwell’ means to live there, we are comfortable and it is familiar. It is our home. So is it?

treeThe roots are what Col 3:16a is talking about. The shoots (the rest of the passage of Colossians 3) are going to be the evidence of us deeply in the Word. If we have a firm, deep, solid foundation of the living word and therefore the true knowledge and understanding of the salvation to be found in Jesus, then the tree, your life will be fruitful. Therefore how we go about our life and how we approach others will be different. The importance of these roots in God is so you can live out the life that God intended for you. To worship Him fully and to love others properly. So what happens when our roots aren’t in the word?

We may appear a strong, fruitful tree. But the roots of a tree are to hold it up structurally and also to feed it, giving it all the minerals and nutrients it needs. If these roots are cut off, ultimately you are not being fed, the tree will turn corrupted and rotten and eventually die. If the structural root is cut off, the tree will also die as it will easily fall to the ground, snapping the ‘feeder’ roots that were keeping it alive. It may not happen overnight, but over time, without the roots attached to the ground deeply, it will weaken and it will break away. So when turmoil crashes around you in your life, when there is chaos, storms, illness, devastation, to not be rooted in Jesus and the Word means damage will occur. Which is why it is so important we point each other constantly to the Word, the message of Christ and to dwell there.

By being in God’s word, we will know we have the gift of God’s grace; this undeserved, unconditional, sacrificial love and it changes us, because God’s grace changes everything. When we truly have this knowledge we will then be thankful. As God’s people we should be marked with thankfulness. As well as what we read in Col 3:12 where we should be clothed with, ‘compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’, we are told to be thankful people. Verses 15-17 it is mentioned 3 times:

And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 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.

Our motivation for what Jesus has done for us should be JOY, so we give thanks to Go and we can share that message boldly with our brothers and sisters in Christ. V16 says we must ‘teach and admonish one another’. To teach means we are communicating doctrine or biblical precepts. To admonish one another -give correction/warning. But this shouldn’t come out of a place of superiority, but out of love and care for our Christian brothers and sisters. We are to lovingly point them back to the gospel, to what the bible says is right – we need Godly wisdom to do this, which we can only get when we are in the Word ourselves.

And as we continue to live out the good news of Jesus, we are now so thankful we are bursting into song as verse 16 continues: ‘through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.’ It is like the very core of us cannot contain our gratitude and praise any more. It is to our God! With singing we are sensing his majesty, but at the same time realising our own frailty and sinfulness. Worship is the result of this. We see it time and time again in the bible where people sing songs to God, in all situations (2 Samuel 6:14-15; Luke 1:46-55; Acts 16:24-26; Philippians 4:4).

A point to notice also, there are different types of songs mentioned: ‘psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit’. Which is good news for the different requirements the worship team have to encounter!! We all have preferences and all are needed! But even the fact we are instructed to sing in the first place, shows its importance. It is an outpouring of love for what He has done for us, recognising his majesty and headship.

But worship isn’t just about singing songs, it extends to all areas of our lives. Verse 17 says, ‘Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus’. ‘Whatever’ is not a flippant word how we may deem it today, but more like an open-ended, expanse. ALL we do. Remember we are sinners saved by grace. This should shape everything we say and do. We are living for Christ the King. As Jen Wilkin in her book ‘In His Image’ explains that:

‘Holiness (and holy living) permeates the entire Christain calling. It lies at the very center of the gospel. We are not merely saved from depravity; we are saved to holiness… Christ’s sacrifice grants us positional holiness before God. We are set apart as his children, but the Bible describes practical holiness too.’

This means that we are saved by grace and made right before God. Nothing to do with anything we have done and achieved. This is the gift of salvation. However we should act in response to this. 1 Peter 1:14-16 says, ‘As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ We have a duty, and are called to conduct ourselves differently.

Some of you may know that my husband is in the reserves. I know he takes his role seriously. There are certain expectations of how to conduct yourself, things you can say and do or things you shouldn’t. When Paul puts on the uniform he is bearing the name of the Queen and country. He would bring dishonour to her if he was to not follow instructions or act unruly. In the same way, when we are followers of Jesus we are to wear the uniform of His name. We are representing Him in EVERY WORD AND DEED! So we need to think about this in our lives. Ask yourself, can you freely, honestly, confidently do/say________ bearing the name of Jesus as you do it? If you can’t, then don’t do it. If you can and it brings honour and glory to God and is in line with His word, then do it joyfully and thankfully!

colossiansTree[5971]Questions for Reflection: 

1) What is the message of Christ? What does it mean to you personally?
2) How do you respond to the suggestion ‘let the message of Christ dwell among you richly’? What are some practical ways we can dwell in the Word?
3) Look at the different bible passages and see how/why these people worship God in song. How is this similar/different to how you worship God in different circumstances?
a) David bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:14-15)
b) Mary’s song of praise: The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)
c) Paul in prison (Act 16: 24-26; Philippians 4:4)
4) As you live life, making decisions each day, how does v. 17 help guide you as you make those decisions?

Please take time to pray together over what you have learned- that it will go from your head into your hearts and change the way you live.

See you next week for part 2!

Study 6- Colossians 3:11-15: What a Church Should Actually Look Like

colossiansTree[5971]READ Colossians 3:11-15 What a Church Should Actually Look Like

“11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile,[a] circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized,[b] slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
“As member of God’s people, we must treat one another as Christ has treated us. This means that a church that is seeking to follow the Lord we will be people growing in Christ-likeness, filled with truth and love. And with absolutely no partiality along racial or social lines-because in His choosing of people, God shows no such distinction. Such a community is truly evangelistic! It is difficult to set our minds on things above, isn’t it? The heavenly worlds seems unreal because it is invisible. So a Christian needs constant reminders to see beyond the material and visible- reality is much bigger than what we see or feel! We need the Bible’s reminders, but we also need the challenges of fellow-believers who live lives that demonstrate a different set of values to others around us. Seeing someone resisting worldly ambitions or influences for the sake of Christ can make a profound impact. Solving problems of disunity must start with ourselves-are there people we need to forgive or treat gently and kindly? We must avoid being quick to assume that divisions are other people’s fault! Thinking like that could actually be part of the problem! We need to first change our own lives, rather than push the blame elsewhere.” Mark Meynell

Reflection: Are there any relationships where you know you need to put on forgiveness or patience at the moment? Who in our church needs your proactive and practical love?

Sisters, I hope this gives you a bit more insight into our study 6 for this month. We encourage you to keep setting aside time to ponder this beautiful letter.

Next week, we will go on to Study 7: Living, Acting and Praying the Good News of Jesus. Victoria Kelly is our contributor for the next three weeks. I urge you to get with your study buddy on Facetime, WhatsApp, or whichever online technology you are comfortable with. Study together the passage of scripture in Colossians 3:16-28 and 4:1-4. This will be done in three parts.

So watch this space! May we all grow to know Jesus better and love Him more!

PART 2 COLOSSIANS 3:5-9

colossiansTree[5971]READ Colossians 3:5-9 Giving Up the Old Way of Life
In this section, there are many expressions that talk about giving up the old way of life. (Put to death, used to walk, rid yourselves, taken off) Take time with your buddy to reflect on what these mean.
V5 makes it clear that we can’t both have life in Christ and life in sin. It doesn’t say So “negotiate with sin” or “procrastinate with sin”. No, it is drastic! Put to death! These sins listed here are out of control and tracing it to worshipping idols. When we replace the living God with idols, our life spins out of control in sin. These don’t bring life, but God’s anger. In vv8-9, there is a practical outworking in our all of our relationships. The way we deal with people is massively changed. These have no place in the Christian life. In v 9, it makes sense for us to be truth telling people since we live for Christ, who is the TRUTH.

Reflection: Why do these things not fit with life in Christ?

6 BIBLE STUDY NOTES

Hi sisters!

The entirety of the notes have been downloaded on GRACE PLACE under the heading of Colossians Rooted 2019-2020

I would encourage you to do a bit at a time with your study buddy which I am outlining beginning today! Be blessed!

Colossians Study 6 – Focusing on the truth, remembering who we are and living it out
This month’s passage builds on the teaching Kathy gave us last month: we are complete and united with Christ, we need to add nothing. Christ is our reality and this frees us to live in Him. You need to bear this in mind as it is the foundation of this month’s passage which starts “Since…”
“SINCE / BECAUSE / DUE TO THIS”: Our passage only makes sense in light of the truth that he has just stated.; that Christ has done everything we need to be reconciled to God through his death on the cross.

(Note 1: It would be a great idea to read through Colossians again up to this point. The wonder of all of this is our HEARTS are changed. Our MOTIVES change. Our IDENTITY is changed. That is the only way the rest of this makes sense and is even possible!
Note 2: The following notes are in great part provided by Mark Meynell, Colossians: Confident Christianity, and Colossians and Philemon for You)

Summary:
“Being rescued by Jesus and having complete assurance as the result of His finished reconciling work is no excuse for an unchanged life. He is now our Lord. He did it all in order to restore everything in the universe to its rightful place under His authority (compare 1v18). We have been raised with Christ and therefore need to live lives that reflect that (3v14). For this to happen, we need to depend on Christ all the more and work hard at serving Him and His people through everything.” Mark Meynell

READ Colossians 3:1-4 What Has Already Happened to Believers

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honour at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your[a] life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.” NLT 

This is so profound! Really take time to reflect on this! It is the driving force for our thoughts and actions. In chapter 2, Paul outlines the finished work of Jesus and the confidence a Christian can have as a result. In chapter 3, he spells out the implications this must have for everyday living. That can mean anything -from our texting, commenting on FB, how we drive our cars, how we are with others in the queue in Sainsburys, how we bring up our children, how we treat people with irritating jobs like telemarketers or airport officials. There is no part of our lives which is “hidden in Christ” that is excluded in our everyday lives.
Because we have been raised with Christ, (3v1), we should raise our sights to where He is and where one day we will be. Then we will inevitably want to live in a way that reflects where we belong (in heaven, not in this world) and to whom we belong (Jesus Christ is our master- no one else is). It is possible to know that a Christian has already been raised with Christ because of what happened at the cross and resurrection. It is now as if there is a seat reserved in heaven for each person in Christ and marked with each person’s name (3v3-4)Of course we can’t see it yet-but we trust in God’s promises supremely because of his track record in Christ. So this is the big perspective which shapes the rest of what is said in this chapter. What wonderful news! Everything in our lives is affected by this massive change in WHO WE ARE. We are called to live out a new life in Jesus Christ, both as individuals and as a church. These verses are so full of confidence and comfort in the implications of Christ’s work on our behalf and in our union with Him! So what does this look like in our everyday, Covid-19, self-distancing lives? Well I came across this explanation of “being hidden with Christ”, which I found very helpful and want to share with you:
“At the cross, the full, unbridled wrath of God came down upon Jesus, and, in that moment of judgement, there was nowhere for Jesus to hide. No fig leaves or shade trees. No mercy, no grace, no compassion. Jesus, for us, is exposed to the all-consuming expression of sin’s cruelty and the wrath of God. No friends come to defend Him; no lamb is offered in His place; no one negotiates His release. Clothed in our shame, crowned with our thorns, and exposed to the judgement of God that we deserve—Jesus is our hiding place. Outside of Christ, there is no safe place to hide, but being found in Christ there is peace and safety. ‘Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.’” Eric Watkins -Ligonier Ministries

Reflection: Are there any routines you could develop that might help you to refocus regularly on the life that you have in Christ?

See you next Thursday with our next portion of study. XO

CBC WOMEN! A SHORT NOTICE

colossiansTree[5971]Dear Sisters.

Tonight at 7:30pm, 30 March, we would have met together for our monthly Bible study, Colossians: Rooted where we share in friendship and God’s word. Of course, in the current crisis, this is not able to occur.

I thank the Lord, in this context, that we have social media/internet to stay connected and to “spur one another on in love and good deeds”, albeit in totally different ways! That being said, we encourage you to do your bible study with your buddy via phone or social media. Also, we will be providing “notes” which will contain a summarization along with assistance to understanding and application. We pray you will find it helpful and will initiate fruitful dialogue with your study buddy/family.

These notes will be downloaded on GRACE PLACE in the next few days. So watch this space!

So until then, I want to leave with you a prayer that Christ may be revealed to you this week.
“Offer to God the places of your day, the people you will meet, and the ways you will spend your time, that God may be glorified, and Christ revealed, in all you are, and all that you do.”

“Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in all the hearts that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
Amen”

From all of us at CBC women’s ministry, our love and prayers, as ever