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?
The 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!
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!