Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Colossians 3:1-4

Hey friends! I pray your week has gone well, and that the Lord has shown you His presence in your life in a fresh way.

This week's Bible study will focus on Colossians 3:1-4.

These four little verses give us a glimpse into our standing with God, and the transformation we have through our relationship with Christ Jesus.

Beginning with the first verse, let us be ever mindful of the things of heaven. Even though we are called to serve God and serve others in this world, we also must keep focused on God, His ways, and His will for our lives. Verse 2 clarifies this thought by saying, "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth."

Easier said than done at times, isn't it?

Yet Scripture goes on to encourage us in this truth. We are not lost in our woes while enduring earth and awaiting heaven - we have a hope.

A hope!

Our hope is in heaven, and our promise assured. We will spend eternity with Jesus, as we are found in Him. Verse 4 tells us this relationship will be fully revealed in glory.

We learned a few weeks back that we have Christ in us, "the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:28) and in today's lesson, we are encouraged to live in light of eternity; keeping our mind on heavenly things. We are not like the world, and while we are called to share the gospel of Christ with the world, our identity is found in Jesus.

Question: In light of our Christian identity, what are some struggles you face in your community as you live "in" the world, but try not to be "of" the world?

Colossians 2:16-23

Hey! How has your week been? Have you seen the power of God moving in and through your life in ways that has brought you joy, strength and peace? I pray so. God truly does impact our everyday lives -- in major, tangible ways, and in the quiet moments of mundane schedules. We simply need to be on the look out for His imprint on our lives.

With that, we have quite a lesson for this week.

As we read this passage together, many things jump off the page. The overall feel is a distinct separation between the things of the world (tradition, man made rules, self imposed requirements, etc) and what God desires of those who worship Him. May we always be mindful that Jesus fulfilled the Law, and the requirements that were set in place until His earthly ministry.

Now, as we look at verses 16-17, which refer to the traditions of OT faith such as food restrictions or seasonal celebrations, we learn that these are "things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ." (Col. 2:17, NASB)

Before we go any further, think about these two verses. The OT faith and teachings were put into place by God to lead us to Christ (Gal 3:23-26), and Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not negate it. Everything the Jewish people understood and followed before Christ was wrapped up in Him when He became our perfect sacrifice and rose in victory through the Resurrection. God is consistent in all things, and all things previous set the stage for God's purpose -- Jesus Christ our Savior.

Look at the transition of verse 18: "Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshy mind" (Col. 2:18, NASB)

From food and seasons we move to admonishment concerning angel worship and self-abasement. False humility is a dangerous trap that we all need to be careful not to fall into. But look at the rest of this verse - visions from our fleshy minds?!? All these things are alive and well in our world, and even in our religious circles. Setting our minds on ourselves, other created beings, or our imaginations can become an idol - if it takes precedence over God's Word, will, and ways. Why?

Verse 19 explains that these people also are not keeping Jesus as the "head" - the focus of all things, and the authority for life. All of us, and really, all of our worship, is connected through our relationship with Jesus - with Him as the head, and all of us as the other parts of the body that come together to make one complete body.

In and of itself, this must have been a hard teaching for the Colossians. Yet Paul took the time to explain that our relationship with Christ moves us past the "elementary" thoughts of the world and "self-made religion" into the things of God. We are moved by the spirit, and ruled by the authority of the Messiah. Our minds become renewed with heavenly truths rather than earthly logic. We are transformed each day by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit - and that wisdom can only give glory to Jesus Christ and the Godhead...not to tradition, self, angels, or self imposed restrictions.

Glory be to God for His provision of a Savior that would save us from ourselves!

Question:False humility, angel worship and false visions. What do they have in common?

Colossians 2:11-15

Do you listen to Casting Crowns? They have a new song titled "East to West" that talks about someone battling sinful desires and the mistakes they make, and then trying to comprehend "just how far the east is from the west" and then mentioning that it is only as far as "one scarred hand to the other." The love and blood of Jesus truly covers our sins.

Jesus took our sin to the cross. The sin you have been forgiven from, but you can't seem to forget, is nailed to that cross. It's far away. Gone. If you are, at this moment, struggling with memories of a sinful past, of regrets and a returning sense of shame...know that Jesus covers that sin. Just look at our passage for this week!

Not only did Jesus die for our sins, and then raise from the dead victorious over the grave, but through His perfect sacrifice, our sins are atoned for. He has covered our sins with His perfect blood, paying the price for our weakness and bad choices. He's paid the bill in full; cleared the account we have tallied. Jesus, the Son of God, has "canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (Col 2:14)


The magnitude of that thought would take an eternity to fathom. Praise God we will share eternity with Him!

He has taken away our sin, and in verse 13, it mentions that this was done while we were "dead in [our] transgressions" - not when we cleaned up enough to approach God, but when we were still a complete mess. It is a tremendous comfort to know that God provided a way out of our mess long before we knew we needed it - so that none of our works could provide what He has, through His mercy, provided freely for those who would repent and believe. Incredible really.As you go through your week, picture the worst sin of your past, or the worst sin of others, literally nailed to the cross. Left there, never to be re-claimed. Glory to God.

My question to you this week is simple. Do you live each day in light of this truth? Are you walking in victory knowing that while you were a sinner, Jesus died for you, and that your sin is truly nailed to that cross? If not, how can you make practical steps toward living in victory through Jesus Christ?