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
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 words that Paul wrote to encourage the Church at Colossae are just as true today as then. Receiving Christ as our Savior is the first step in our journey to heaven. The next steps are allowing Him to be Lord of our lives as well. When we were saved, we received the Holy Spirit as an earnest of the fulfillment of the promises God has made to His children. He lives in us, therefore we live in Him. We need to become rooted in His word so that our lifestyles will reflect His examples and give Him glory. We need to study His word and meditate on it daily. We need to spending time talking WITH Him, not just to Him. After we have thanked Him, given Him praise and laid our petitions before Him, we need to sit quietly in His presence and see what He has to say to us. There is always a word from the Lord, if we listen for it. We need this time in His presence early in the day to prepare ourselves for the spiritual battlefield. Jesus gave up His place in glory and lived as all man to set the example for us. He set the example of spending time alone with the Father so that He would be strengthened for the battle. He lived a perfect life and has been restored to all His glory and made ruler over all things. We can’t be perfect but we can have a full and true life if we follow His example on a daily basis.
41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. — Luke 22:41-43 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Although James addresses this letter to the “twelve tribes”, the Holy Spirit included it in the Bible for our benefit as well. We are brothers and sisters of the Christian Jews, James and Jesus Christ. It emphasizes the statement that Jesus made when He said “in this world, you will be offended”. Troubles will come our way, of that we can be sure. There is a reason God allows trials and temptations to come into our lives. God knows our maturity level and what decisions we will make in those trying times. He allows those times so we will know where we are spiritually. Most of the time, if not all the time, we find that we have a long way to go to get to where God wants us to be. When the trials come, do we whine and complain or do we accept the situation realizing that God has put us here so we learn to depend on Him? There is nothing more sobering than when we realize that we have done what Peter did when he said he didn’t know Jesus. Oh, I am sure that we would never verbalize that, but what do our actions tell those around us? Like Paul, we should always realize that we are not there yet, but we should be focused on getting there.
We must understand that God disciplines us because He loves us. Just as we discipline our children for their benefit. If we don’t discipline our children then they grow up to be disobedient. An undisciplined lifestyle brings trouble and chaos to their lives as well as ours. The problem is that our human discipline is imperfect and doesn’t always bring about the desired results. Sometimes that is true because proper discipline takes a lot of time and must be reinforced over and over. As humans we sometimes fail at this, But God is not restricted by time and He loves us perfectly, so His discipline is perfect. He is patient and continues to discipline until we get it right. As Joyce Meyer says; “You can choose to obey or you can go around the mountain one more time.” No matter how God chooses to discipline us or how often, we can be assured that is the proper amount and the right kind. It will bring about the desired results. God is “the author and the finisher” of our faith. And He won’t stop until we are a finished product. That doesn’t mean that we will reach perfection here on earth but it does mean that we must stay on the path to spiritual maturity.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
We hear it almost every day. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do good things happen to bad people? Truth is that good and bad things happen to good and bad people. Is God still in charge? Why does God allow these seemingly paradoxical things to happen? Of course, God is still in charge and yes He does allow bad things to happen in good people’s lives. We can look at Job and see that this is true. God knows where we are spiritually at all times. I believe that God allows tests in our lives so that we can know where we are spiritually. The one thing we can know for sure and hang onto is this: Whatever God allows in our lives is for our benefit. Our experiences are how we learn and grow. We can be assured that God will not allow any temptation that we can not overcome and He always provides a way of escape.
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.–1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
God sends rain on the just and the unjust. It is not our business to determine who gets what, when or why they get it or don’t get it . Earthly stuff is temporary, we are to work to lay up rewards in heaven. The rest is God’s business and He always takes care of His business.
12 The wicked plot against the godly; they snarl at them in defiance. 13 But the Lord just laughs, for he sees their day of judgment coming –Psalm 37:12,13 (NLT)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
1 The Lord said to Moses,2 “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. — Leviticus 24:1 NLT
Consider the olive. The tree grows in stony soil where other trees cannot grow. A new tree is started with a seed or a cutting and then transplanted.It grows for seven years before it has any berries on it and it is about fourteen years before the crop reaches maturity. In Old Testament times, the fruit was harvested by shaking and beating the tree with a reed or a stick. This injures the tree so much that it will only produce fruit every other year. Once it starts to produce fruit, it will continue to produce fruit for centuries. After the fruit is harvested, it is pressed to get the oil from it. This oil was then used to keep the light in the Tabernacle lamps burning continually. Jesus said that we are now the light of the world. For us to be the pure light that we should be, we must go through much of the same process as the olive. God transplants us from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light and we start on a journey. It will take some time for us to mature and produce fruit. We need to be shaken at times to get us out of our comfort zones. We need to be disciplined at times to get us back on the straight and narrow path. We have sinful, fleshly desires and those desires are not going to go away without a fight. So, God allows us to be pressed down until there is nothing left but a heart with pure motives. Then and only then are we able to be the light to the world and deliver it from the darkness of sin.
8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.– 2 Cor. 4:8-10 NLT
7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him — Hebrews 5:7-9 NIV
Jesus suffered many things in His walk here on earth. He was exposed to every temptation that we are exposed to but never sinned. Again, we sometimes forget that Jesus was completely human when he suffered these temptations. We need to be very careful in assuming that Jesus did not sin because He was all God as well as all man. He suffered as a human. His sufferings taught Him obedience because he was totally submitted to the will of His Father. We might say that Jesus knew He was going to be tempted and suffer here on earth, so He had an advantage. But if we read, study and really believe the Scriptures, we also know that we are going to suffer. The difference is that we often give into the desires of the flesh rather than trust our Father to deliver us. Suffering is not to let God know what our response will be, He already knows. It is so that we will know where we are in our walk with God. Our sufferings are not to be avoided, they are to be embraced. Testing and temptations are stepping stones to maturity and to help us become more intimate with Jesus.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4 NIV
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
1 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. 2 You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.—Hebrews 6:1-3 (NLT)
Paul is again emphasizing that even new Christians should understand that salvation requires repentance, which is more than turning away from sin, it is also turning to something new and that is Jesus. We are saved by grace through faith in God. We know that we should be baptized as an outward representation of what we believe in our hearts. It is symbolic of dying to sin and our fleshly desires and being resurrected to a new life in Jesus. We understand that after the resurrection, some will go on to eternal life with Jesus and others to eternal life in hell. What we need now is to understand what Jesus wants us to do until the time of our physical death. He wants us to follow His example and lead a lifestyle that draws others to Christ. He sent His Holy Spirit to lead us “into all truth”. We should be like the Psalmist I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 (NLT)
1 Finally, we couldn’t stand it any longer. We decided to stay in Athens by ourselves 2 and send our friend Timothy to you. He works with us as God’s servant and preaches the good news about Christ. We wanted him to make you strong in your faith and to encourage you. 3 We didn’t want any of you to be discouraged by all these troubles. You knew we would have to suffer, 4 because when we were with you, we told you this would happen. And we did suffer, as you well know. 5 At last, when I could not wait any longer, I sent Timothy to find out about your faith. I hoped that Satan had not tempted you and made all our work useless-1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (CEV)
As Paul shows us here, it is our responsibility to encourage new converts. Their hearts are tender toward God and ready to receive instruction in His Word. We must be consistent in mentoring new converts. They are eager to learn more and if we leave them in a vacuum, satan will step in and use the persecution to discourage them from God’s work. While we want them to know about God’s love, we must also be sure they understand that offenses will come. God allows those things to happen in our lives for our benefit. He already knows what our response will be, but He allows them so that we know how much we have grown spiritually. We must pray and study so that we, like Paul, can learn to be content in all situations. In good times and bad times, we must never allow our faith to waver.