27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. — Colossians 1:27 (emphasis mine)
Just as Jesus suffered, we, His followers must also suffer. All the disciples and early followers of Jesus were persecuted. Christ is still suffering through His body, the church. Just as Paul was given a special work to do in revealing the message of God to the Gentiles, God has given each of us a work to do in revealing His plan to those that are placed in our paths each day. The secret is not that Jesus would come as the Messiah; it wasn’t that Jesus would die on the cross, be buried and be resurrected after 3 days. Then He would ascend into heaven to remain in God’s presence interceding for us. All these things were prophesied and well-known. The secret was that He would abide in those who believed on Him. His Holy Spirit would dwell in us all the time. He ascended, yet He is here living in each of us, giving all believers that hope of eternal glory. This is what we are to teach in order to bring each Christian into maturity in Christ Jesus. Just as the Creator suffered, so will we suffer as we are faithful to spread the Good News. We will struggle, but we have access to the strength and power that resurrected Jesus from the dead. We are never alone.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
This may well be one of the best known and most repeated verses in the Bible. What exactly does God want each of us to take away from this verse? Does it mean that we should realize that God is much more intelligent than we are? He is, of course, but is there more here in this verse? Could it be a rebuke to all of those self-help programs that people spend so much time, effort and money on only to find that when they have finished those programs nothing has really changed? Is this verse a directive that says, you can’t help yourself, you need Jesus? Could it be the first step in our coming to salvation? After all, if we could help ourselves, if we could clean ourselves up, then it would have been totally unnecessary for Jesus to die. Jesus died on the cross to accomplish for us what we can never do for ourselves. The natural, carnal mind will never understand this. We must be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us to have faith in God and to trust Him with all of our hearts. Without the Holy Spirit’s guidance we will never understand the depth nor the width of what God wants to do for us and through us. Our understanding is a broken reed that will support little or no weight. God’s wisdom is a staff of strength that will bear up under any burden. Learn to lean on Him, His wisdom and His understanding in the good times as well as the rough patches.
11 You will make known to me the path of life;In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. — Psalm 16:11 NASB
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. — James 4:6-9 NIV
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14 NIV
We are saved by grace through faith and Jesus wants to continue to give us grace upon grace.
16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. — John 1:16 NASB
It is this continued gift of grace that allows us to overcome the flesh and submit oursleves to God. Without it, we would be like the religious leaders of ancient times and become so full of pride that we would be useless in spreading the word of God. There is nothing in this world that is worthy of praise when it is compared to the joy and the hope that we have through Jesus Christ.
30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” — 1 Cor. 1:30, 31 NIV
If anything or anyone in this world brings us greater joy, pleasure and happiness than knowing Jesus, then we are double-minded. We should mourn and wail while asking God to forgive us and bring our focus back on Him and Him alone.
Paul expands on the difference in attitude and lifestyle that he, Apollo, and Peter have as compared to the Christians in Corinth. They have given up all their earthly possessions and now they do not have an extra set of clothes nor a home of their own here on earth. They work hard physically so that they will not be a financial burden on the new converts. They respond to cursing, persecution and slandering with blessings, kindness and patient endurance. They are willing to be treated as the lowest form of life here on earth so that God might be glorified. Is it necessary for all of us to go through this kind of treatment? No, but we must have the attitude and the willingness to do it, if that is what Jesus calls us to do.
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.—Romans 5:3-5 NIV
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.—Romans 8:18 NIV
Because of His great love for sinners, such as us, God made His salvation plan very simple and free. Just believe! Once we are saved, we start on a journey that will require everything and every part of us. It is not easy to love all of God’s children. Even so, it is not a choice we can make, it is a command given to us by our Father. Then we must learn to obey His commandments. This obedience and faith in the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we can become overcomers. The flesh alone can not defeat satan in the smallest battle, we have to depend on Jesus to fight our battles. Our job is to “trust and obey”. Instead of worrying and being filled with fear, we just need to lean on Jesus. The world says “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Jesus says something totally different.
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”–Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us, just rest in His arms and praise Him!
Once we have shared the Good News of how Jesus died and rose again for our sins, there will be those who accept it and there will be those who don’t. To those who refuse to accept the Good News, we are to go on showing them the love and mercy of Jesus. But the ones that do accept Jesus are to be treated like babes, in the sense that they have had a “new birth”. We cannot expect them to understand all the ins and outs of living a Holy lifestyle right away. They have just started on the road that we have been traveling for some time. We should not be a burden to them, but we should instruct them, comfort them, and encourage them just as a parent would do for their own children. We are not only to preach the Good News, but we are to make disciples. Making disciples takes a lot of time, patience, and love. We are not to grow weary of doing good. Always remember that we were once in the same situation they are in now and someone cared enough to shepherd and mentor us in spiritual growth. We, ourselves, are still learning to walk uprightly and we will always be learning as long as we are in these tents of flesh.
In the Old Testament, God established certain traditions and feasts for His people to observe at specific times of the year. He had very specific rules as to how the sacrifices were to be prepared and offered. These things were shadows of the sacrificial work of Jesus in the New Testament. But as time went by, the ruling religious class added thousand of rules to what God had given. These additional rules are why Jesus rebuked the Sadducees and the Pharisees. They laid too heavy a burden on the people. Jesus fulfilled the law and many of the prophecies of the Old Testament. We are no longer required to observe all the feasts and traditions. Jesus gave us a very simple plan of salvation. But, just as corruption came into the old law because of prideful humans, it has crept into the plan that Jesus gave us. False prophets have arisen and they go about preaching all kinds of requirements that Jesus does not place on us. Study and meditate on the Scriptures daily so that you are not taken captive by such drivel. The path is narrow and the way is straight, stay on the true path guided by God’s Holy Spirit.