Friday, October 8, 2010

Colossians 1:28–29

"So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That's why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ's mighty power that works within me."

Paul was very clear about his mission. Because of this, he was able to work hard even as he depended on God's mighty power. Here is the formula: you know clearly what God wants you to do. You depend on his power as you pour all your energy into what you set out to do. You believe he gives you the power, and you move ahead in that power, keeping your eyes on the vision (in this case, it was of perfecting his listeners' relationship to Christ). What mission has he given you? Pray for clarity and then proceed in power!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jeremiah 5:23–26

"'But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
     They have turned away and abandoned me.
They do not say from the heart,
     "Let us live in awe of the LORD our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
     assuring us of a harvest when the time is right."
Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings.
     Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.
Among my people are wicked men
     who lie in wait for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind.
They continually set traps
     to catch people.'"

Sin robs us of good things. Certainly our own sin robs us of blessings, but the sin of others also does so. We all affect and are affected by other people. So, if you're suffering, if bad things rather than good things characterize your life, take some time to prayerfully ask God why. Is there any sin you are committing? Any area you are trusting self rather than God (which amounts to idolatry)? Ask God to show you your heart. Is your suffering because of other people's sin? What can you do to remove yourself from the bad influences?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Colossians 1:22–23

"Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

"But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God's servant to proclaim it."

The glorious truth is that we can live in the presence of God, blameless. To fully experience this truth, we must continually remind ourselves of it and stand in it firmly. Notice it says, "Don't drift from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News." Drifting is not a conscious act. It happens when we simply lose our focus. Sharpen your focus today on the Good News that you live in God's presence, holy and blameless, reconciled to God because of Christ's work.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Colossians 1:19–22

"For God in all his fullness
     was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
     everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
     by means of Christ's blood on the cross.

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault."

Ponder what Jesus accomplished on the cross: He reconciled everything to himself. And Jesus is the complete fullness of God, the exact image of God. Now in Jesus you are reconciled with God. Once you were estranged, but now you are counted as friend rather than enemy! You can live in his presence and stand before him completely shameless, without fault—not because of one thing you have done, but because of what Jesus has done. Go forth today, knowing that you are in the presence of God at all times.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Psalm 77:2, 5–6, 10–14

"When I was in deep trouble,
     I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
     but my soul was not comforted.
I think of the good old days,
     long since ended,
when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
     I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
And I said, 'This is my fate;
     the Most High has turned his hand against me.'
But then I recall all you have done, O LORD;
     I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts.
     I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
O God, your ways are holy.
     Is there any god as mighty as you?
You are the God of great wonders!
     You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations."

The psalmist is really wrestling here—wrestling with the disparity between his own experience of deep distress and feeling abandoned, and the God he thought he knew who is holy, mighty, loving. A God of miracles and blessings. Yet this God seems to have abandoned the psalmist. So he wrestles for faith. And so do we at times. Like the psalmist, we need to turn to the facts of God's past deeds and wait in hope that he will again bless us. We must never let our feelings inform our faith. Let faith be the last word.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Colossians 1:15–17

"Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
     He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
     in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
     and the things we can't see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
     Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
     and he holds all creation together."

An Eastern view of reality says that creation is a manifestation of God, but it does not posit any God above and apart from creation. The Bible says that everything in the physical realm has its source in a nonphysical reality, including Jesus. But Jesus is over all of creation and, in fact, holds it together at every moment. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, and the author of all that is, visible and invisible. He is the One who created it all and holds it all together. It's all about Jesus!