low things and high things

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low things and high things

Colossians 3:1-17 (JDV)

Colossians 3:1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the high things, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on high things, not on things of the land.

Colossians 3:3 You see, you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:5 Therefore, consider dead your parts which are on the land: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:6 Because of these, God’s wrath is coming,

Colossians 3:7 and you once walked in these things when you were living in them.

Colossians 3:8 But now, put away all these: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth.

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old human with its practices

Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.

Colossians 3:11 In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, [1] Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.

Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, devoted and dearly cared about [2], put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.

Colossians 3:14 Above all, put on care, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also invited [3] in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or in achievement, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

low things and high things

Yesterday’s text warned us not to get caught up in human religious traditions that are actually unspiritual, temporary and without value. Today’s text speaks to those who would think that means Christians do not have to grow, because we already have everything we need in Christ.

Yes, we do have all the benefits of what Christ did for us. We need not go to the cross and die for our sins. Jesus did that.

But we need to work on the benefits of Christ in us. We need to seek the high things, which are the character traits of God and Christ fleshed out in our everyday lives.

Seeking the high things means putting to death the low things: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, greed, anger, wrath, malice, slander, filthy language, lies, ethnic pride, pride of social and economic status!

In their place, we need to seek the high things: equality, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another, forgiving one another, care for one another, peace with one another, thankfulness, the word of God, the shared worship of God, the name of the Lord Jesus!

Lord, help us to die to the low things, and keep seeking the high things.

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[1] βάρβαρος = barbarian (using unintelligible words) Acts 28:2, 4; Romans 1:14; 1 Corinthians 14:11; Colossians 3:11.
[2] ἀγαπάω = care.
[3] καλέω = invite.

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unspiritual super-spiritual

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unspiritual super-spiritual

Colossians 2:6-23 (JDV)

Colossians 2:6 So then, in the manner that you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him,

Colossians 2:7 being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.

Colossians 2:8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ.

Colossians 2:9 You see, the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ,

Colossians 2:10 and you have been filled by him, who is the head over every priority and authority.

Colossians 2:11 You were also circumcised in him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of Christ,

Colossians 2:12 when you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the achieving energy [1] of God, who raised him from the dead.

Colossians 2:13 And when you were dead in violations [2] and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses.

Colossians 2:14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:15 He disarmed the priorities and authorities and disgraced them publicly; he triumphed over them in him.

Colossians 2:16 Therefore, don’t let anyone condemn you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.

Colossians 2:17 These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is Christ.

Colossians 2:18 Let no one condemn you by delighting in ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm. Such people are inflated by empty notions of their unspiritual mind.

Colossians 2:19 He doesn’t hold on to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, grows with growth from God.

Colossians 2:20 If you died with Christ to the elements of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations:

Colossians 2:21 “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”?

Colossians 2:22 All these regulations refer to what is destined to perish by being used up; they are human commands and doctrines.

Colossians 2:23 Although these have a reputation for wisdom by promoting self-made religion, false humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value in curbing self-indulgence.

unspiritual super-spiritual

Colossae had its share of people who were super-spiritual – people who spent all their time looking down their noses at the riffraff and condemning them for not following the latest religious fad. Paul had a word for these kinds of people. He called them unspiritual.

He explained to the Collossian Christians that they already had all they needed in Christ. In fact, anyone who insisted that they needed some kind of supplement to the holiness they already possessed were just adding onto a list of temporary things that will not last into the coming kingdom. Those man-made regulations are destined to perish by being used up. God’s grace is free, and it is the only thing that will last.

Thank you Lord, for our wholeness and holiness in Christ.

_____________________________

[1] ἐνέργεια = energy.
[2] παράπτωμα = violation.

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what sharing Christ entails

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what sharing Christ entails

Colossians 1:24 -2:5 (JDV)

Colossians 1:24 Now I celebrate while I suffer for you, and I am finishing in my flesh the balance of Christ’s afflictions for his body, that is, the congregation.

Colossians 1:25 I have become its assistant, according to God’s business plan [1] that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known,

Colossians 1:26 the mystery hidden for ages [2] and generations but now revealed to his devotees.

Colossians 1:27 God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Colossians 1:28 We proclaim him, warning and teaching every human [3] with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Colossians 1:29 I labor for this, striving with his strength that achieves [4] things powerfully in me.

Colossians 2:1 You see, I want you to know how greatly I am struggling for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me in person.

Colossians 2:2 I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in care, so that they may have all the riches of complete understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery – Christ.

Colossians 2:3 In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Colossians 2:4 I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with arguments that sound reasonable.

Colossians 2:5 You see, I may be absent in body, but I am with you in breath, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.

what sharing Christ entails

For Paul, each congregation of Christian believers is a part of his body – a manifestation of his presence. It is not a contradiction for that body to both suffer and celebrate, because Christ did both. Sharing Christ entails both.

Paul’s urge to proclaim Christ everywhere is also a part of that drive to share him. The mission of our covenant with Christ involves proclaiming the gospel and planting congregations everywhere, so that the whole world will get the chance to experience him – through us.

That drive to share Christ creates a tie with every congregation, even the ones we cannot be physically present in. Christianity is a global movement, making Christ known in local communities.

Lord, show us how to share you with everyone we can.

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[1] οἰκονομία = business plan.
[2] αἰών = age.
[3] ἄνθρωπος = human. Colossians 1:28; 2:8, 22; 3:9, 23.
[4] ἐνεργέω = achieve.

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he is the priority

 

he is the priority

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Colossians 1:15-23 (JDV)

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the unseen God, the firstborn over all creation.

Colossians 1:16 You see, everything was created by him, in the sky and on the land, [1] what can be seen and what cannot be seen, whether thrones or dominions or priorities [2] or authorities – all things have been created through him and for him.

Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.

Colossians 1:18 He is also the head of the body, the congregation; [3] he is the priority, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.

Colossians 1:19 You see, God was delighted to have all his fullness dwell in him,

Colossians 1:20 and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on the land or things in the sky, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Colossians 1:21 Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds expressed in your evil achievements.

Colossians 1:22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you devoted, faultless, and blameless before him –

Colossians 1:23 if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under the sky, and I, Paul, have become an assistant of it.

he is the priority

All of life is a juggling of things that we deem important, or even urgent. We choose our friends and associations based on the things that we feel are important, and we choose who to listen to, and who to ignore based on those personal choices. The lesson of the New Testament is that Jesus himself is the priority. It was that lesson that Paul was reminding the Colossians about.

Even churches can get sidetracked here – which is why Paul had to bring this up to the Colossians.

Lord, ground us in yourself as our first priority. May we focus on keeping your covenant, following your commands, and obeying your great commission.

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1 γῆ = land. Colossians 1:16, 20; 3:2, 5.
2 ἀρχή = priority. Colossians 1:16, 18; 2:10, 15.
3 ἐκκλησία = congregation. Colossians 1:18, 24; 4:15-16.

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time capsule

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time capsule

Colossians 1:3-14 (JDV)

Colossians 1:3 We are always thanking God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, while we pray for you,

Colossians 1:4 because we have heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and about the care [1] you have for all the devotees

Colossians 1:5 because of the hope reserved for you in the sky. [2] You have already heard about this hope in the word of truth, the gospel

Colossians 1:6 that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and came to truly appreciate God’s favor.

Colossians 1:7 You learned this from Epaphras, our dearly cared about fellow servant. He is a faithful assistant [3] of Christ on your behalf,

Colossians 1:8 and he has told us about your care in the Breath. [4]

Colossians 1:9 For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his preference in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,

Colossians 1:10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good achievement [5] and growing in the knowledge of God,

Colossians 1:11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, joyfully

Colossians 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the devotees’ inheritance in the light.

Colossians 1:13 He has rescued us from the dark domain and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he cares about.

Colossians 1:14 By him we have release, the forgiveness of failures. [6]

time capsule

I was thinking last night (while not sleeping) that I actually engage in a bit of time travel with these devotionals. This one was written seventeen months before it was posted. So, even though it is not exactly time travel, each is a kind of time capsule. I am sharing my thoughts today with the world of the future.

Paul’s prayers also travel into the future. He can speak of his confidence that the Colossian Christians will inherit the hope that is reserved for them in the sky. But he can also pray that they stay strong and grow in their walk and work in the present. He acknowledges that they need God’s help to continue sharing the light of the gospel in the dark domain of the 1st century Roman empire. But he can also confidently assert that they have been rescued out of that dark domain and transferred into Christ’s kingdom.

We are in two realms simultaneously: the current dark domain wants our allegiance, but we are promised to a kingdom to come.

Lord, may we stay true to the king of eternity, though we wrestle here in the dark domain.

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1 ἀγάπη = care. Colossians 1:4, 8, 13; 2:2; 3:14.
2 οὐρανός = sky.
3 διάκονος = assistant. Colossians 1:7, 23, 25; 4:7.
4 πνεῦμα = breath. Colossians 1:8; 2:5.
5 ἔργον = achievement. Colossians 1:10, 21; 3:17.
6 ἁμαρτία = failure.

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sharing some common ground

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sharing some common ground

Colossians 1:1-2 (JDV)

Colossians 1:1 Paul, a missionary¹ of Christ Jesus by God’s preference,² and Timothy our brother:

Colossians 1:2 To the devotees³in Christ at Colossae, who are faithful brothers and sisters. Favor to you and peace from God our Father.

sharing some common ground

Paul had never visited Colossae. He had heard some troubling words about false teaching there, and he wanted to set that straight. He introduces himself by sharing some common ground that he had with the believers there.

  • devotion to Christ
  • brotherhood of faith
  • God’s favor
  • God’s peace

On the basis of that common ground, Paul and Timothy could share truth that could help the Colossian believers grow.

Lord, thank you for the things we share with other believers everywhere.

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1 ἀπόστολος = missionary.
2 θέλημα = preference. Colossians 1:1, 9; 4:12.
3 ἅγιος = devotee, devoted. Colossians 1:2, 4, 12, 22, 26; 3:12.

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leaders who glorify God

Psalms (book 2) - 1

leaders who glorify God

Psalm 72:18-20 (JDV)

Psalm 72:18 Blessed be Yahveh God, the God of Israel, who alone does wonders.
Psalm 72:19 Blessed be his glorious name forever; the whole land is filled with his glory. Amen and amen.
Psalm 72:20 The prayers of David son of Jesse are concluded.

leaders who glorify God

This section serves as a fit conclusion to this entire collection of psalms, but it is especially fitting here. The psalmist had been praying for the king, but he concludes with a plea for God to be glorified in the whole land. Our leaders are just men and women. Their glory cannot be our ultimate aim. We need to pray for our leaders so that God can be glorified through their actions, so they can reflect his character.

LORD, give us leaders who seek to glorify your name.

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rich and famous kings

Psalms (book 2) - 1

rich and famous kings

Psalm 72:15-17 (JDV)

Psalm 72:15 May he live long! May gold from Sheba be given to him. May prayer be offered for him continually, and may he be blessed all day long.
Psalm 72:16 May there be plenty of grain in the land; may it wave on the tops of the mountains. May its crops be like Lebanon. May people flourish in the cities like the grass of the field.
Psalm 72:17 May his name endure permanently; as long as the sun shines, may his fame increase. May all nations be empowered by him and call him blessed.

rich and famous kings

Psalm 72 is a prayer for the king. What if we prayed like this for our president? Instead of complaining about wealthy politicians, what if we actually prayed for the prosperity and blessing of our leaders? There is nothing wrong with that, as long as we also pray for the people’s prosperity as well (16).

And let us not forget to pray that our leaders become world-famous for empowering the nations (17).

LORD, bless us with godly leaders, and bless our leaders with a positive influence on the world.

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poor lives matter

Psalms (book 2) - 1

poor lives matter

Psalm 72:12-14 (JDV)

Psalm 72:12 You see, he will rescue the poor who cry out and the afflicted who have no helper.
Psalm 72:13 He will have pity on the poor and helpless and save the lives of the poor.
Psalm 72:14 He will redeem them from oppression and violence, because their lives are precious in his sight.

poor lives matter

This psalm is a prayer for the king. It serves as an example for us as we seek to pray for our leaders. The psalmist prayed that his king would have pity on the poor and rescue them from oppression and violence. He wanted a leader who cared about the lives of all his people, particularly those forgotten and potentially abused by others.

As we pray for our leaders, and vote for our future leaders, we need to seek those who will take care of the marginalized among us.

Lord, give us leaders who care for the poor.

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leaders respected by everyone

Psalms (book 2) - 1

leaders respected by everyone

Psalm 72:8-11 (JDV)

Psalm 72:8 May he rule from sea to sea and from the Euphrates to the ends of the land.
Psalm 72:9 May desert tribes kneel before him and his enemies lick the dust.
Psalm 72:10 May the kings of Tarshish and the coasts and islands bring tribute, the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.
Psalm 72:11 Let all kings bow in homage to him, all nations serve him.

leaders respected by everyone

If you have a good and godly leader, you want him or her to be respected and admired by everyone.

The psalmist prayed for his king, and asked for his authority and influence to spread to all kings and all nations.

Our prayers for our leaders should follow suit, especially and ultimately we should seek for God’s kingdom to come, his will to be done on earth as well as in heaven.

Lord, give us godly leaders, and may they be respected by everyone.

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