Daily Update #323

COLOSSIANS 1:10b-12a  

“…bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father…” (N.I.V.)

If we knew that St. Paul was praying regularly for St. Johns Church – I wonder what we might ask him to pray about?…….

“We have several sick people among us, but we also deeply grateful for healing that we have seen. 
As lots of families begin their summer holidays, we would like their children to stay safe.
The P.C.C have some important decisions to make.
The Covid pandemic is still causing anxiety.”

No doubt you could add several other areas of concern to our “shopping list”!  

Of course, our requests would be unlikely to reach Paul in time to be relevant.     Without the benefit of mobile phones or zoom, and waiting for a long distance visit from Epaphras or some other messenger, information about temporal concerns were unlikely to arrive very fast!   

Aside from that though, Paul’s priorities were much deeper and more long-term.  He was interested in their spiritual wellbeing, with good reason because the external climate in which the Colossian Church existed would very easily have drawn them astray.        As an apostle, Paul wanted to ensure that they clearly understood the Gospel message and were growing in the faith.   He might well have similar concerns for us today.    

Today’s passage, though slightly longer than Mike’s yesterday in which he spoke about living worthy of the Lord, follows on and outlines four key areas:

  1.  “bearing fruit in every good work” (1:10b)   “But doesn’t the Bible say that we are saved by faith and not by good works?” you might ask.   Yes, it does say that, but the evidence of our salvation lies in the way we live it out, with lives changed by God.  If He is at the centre it ought to show in what we do and are, so that others are drawn into God’s Kingdom.  
  2.  “growing in the knowledge of God” (1:10c)  It is very important that we know our Bibles and are developing in our understanding, but this isn’t just about head knowledge.  It is even more important that we know the God of the Bible – the One of whom it speaks.   Our relationship with Him through prayer and loyal commitment need to keep on growing.  
  3. “being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience..” (1.11)  In the middle of life’s problems it is easy to forget that we belong to God and that His infinite power is available to help us.   This is the real test for Christians.   We need to rely on Him as we develop endurance when circumstances are unfavourable, and patience when people around us irritate.   
  4. “joyfully giving thanks to the Father, …..” (1.12a)   The reason is because of what Jesus has done for us, which will be further explored tomorrow.   In spite of whatever difficulties we may encounter, Christians can be joyful because we know that the things of this world are not all that there is.   Beyond all that we see and know here, we belong to an eternal Kingdom and have a heavenly Father who is constantly watching over us. 

The ability to stand fast in spite of life’s difficulties with an underlying joy and hope, as well as caring for one another is very impressive to outsiders.   In New Testament times the Early Church witnessed powerfully to God through their joy filled demeanour, when they were going through turbulent times.  
I said earlier that Paul wasn’t so concerned with the everyday issues of the Colossian Church.   It isn’t that these are unimportant.   God is interested in every small detail of our lives and loves us to go to Him regularly so that He can bless us.  We can trust Him to provide our needs.   But our underlying confidence in God, our relationship with Him and seeking to please Him need to be regularly fed and kept in balance with our intercessory prayers.      Paul’s concern for us would be for the building up of our spiritual foundation.  If that goes we have nothing left.  

If you were to travel to Turkey today you would not see a Colossian church or several of the other Churches planted by Paul those many years ago.   It makes you think!
May I suggest that we use the above 4 points as a spiritual check-list today?  I have to say I feel challenged.   

“Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Wil your anchor drift, or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll;
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.”
(Priscilla Owens, 1829-99)

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Tomorrow’s Reading: Colossians 1:10a