The Preeminence of Christ
The image of the invisible God-----for by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether throned or domination----all things were created through and for him. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything his supremacy may be seen. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, to reconcile himself all things on earth or in heaven. Colossians 1:15---20
Good morning, my friends,
Today's devotional is found in Colossians 1:15--20. The book of Colossians was originally a letter written between 57--62 AD to a church in Colossae. Although Paul never visited the Christians gathering in this city, scholars believe that he had previously met and ministered to many of them on his travels around the Roman Empire.
During this time, the church at Colossae was under the attack and influence of false teachers who denigrated the deity of Jesus. In the book of Colossians, Paul defends the supremacy of Christ as Creator and Redeemer. It was critical to him that the church cling to the glory and grace of God's mysterious, omnipotent nature.
Today, in its search for clarity and purpose, the world is often misled and distracted by doctrines that oppose the very nature of God as its foundation and the cornerstone (Isaiah 28:16).
But be of heart. The sacrifice and ascendancy of The Messiah establishes believers in Christ. Having given his body and blood on the cross (John 6:53), Jesus promises to send His Spirit a guide us, as disciples, toward what is right and true:
"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift----peace of mind and heart. A peace the world cannot give. So do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (Luke 14:26--27).
God sent His Holy Spirit to abide in us. To lead us away from distorted, fleeting doctrine toward His Son------the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).
In Ephesians 6, Paul encourages the disciples to stand firm, fitted with the readiness and discernment that comes with knowing the Messiah, whose presence protects them from worldly uncertainty and deceit. In verse 10--12, Paul reminds readers that the God is their defence.
Be strong in the Lord, and in his mighty power, put on the full armor of God so that you may take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world.
The world is heavy and dark. Full of a despair we have and will continue to feel. But there is hope in Jesus, "who was with God, who was God, who from whom all things come into being" (John 1:1--3).
John 1 refers to Jesus as the Word. This is why spending time meditating on the Word is vital. Reading the Bible daily is one of the most important things we can do. As it is written in Romans 12:2:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
God wants to mature us in a wholeness, in the holiness of his Spirit. Not simply for his delight, but also your own. So that we may "live as a vessel for honour: sanctified, useful to the Master and prepared for every good work" (2 Timonthy 2:21).
This maturity comes from fleeing immature passions and pursuing righteoussness, faith, love and peace in community with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (v22). Although the maturation process can be hard, suffering draws us closer to Christ, whose love was best seen in his sacrifice and pain. He knows we aren't perfect, but working towards being perfected in grace. As it is written in Ephesians 2:7--8:
God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might display the surpassing riches of His grace, demonstrated by His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. By grace you have been saved through faith, not of yourselves, but in God.
Perfected is a verb given to the subject. It is Jesus who authors and perfects our faith:
So let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, returning to the right hand of the throne of God so that our hearts might be strong in him.
When we fix our eyes on Christ, unseen glories become visible and we see the miracle of our covenant with God: a relationship that is communicative and whole; the nature of who we are transformed by who He has and continues to reveal himself to be.
Colossians 3:10--12 commands us, as believers, to "put on a new self, renewed in the knowledge of its Creator." A self clothed "with hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness." Deeper understandings of God deepens our ability to serve, forgive and discern what is honourable and right.
This is why reading the Word for intimacy with Christ is vital. This is how we grow to situate our lives (and eyes) on the nature of Christ. On what is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
With this in mind pursuit in mind, Paul reflects on ministry.
There is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free, but Christ is all and is in all.
Because Christ is the foundation and Creator of all, our ministry is to make the word of God fully known. As Jesus commanded before his return to Heaven:
Supremacy in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. For surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.
We are called to be a city whose light shines upon a hill (Matthew 5:14). Maybe you're not sure what this look like in your life yet? Don't feel discouraged, my friend. It's alright. I am confident that God will continue to reveal this to you over time. We are all called to embrace the Great Commission, but God gives us the unique gifts, strength and enthusiasm to embark on this worship.
For example, I believe that God is calling me to write poetry and prose-------in blogging, poetry, academic scholarship, memoir and fiction-------that I might use this love as an expression of worship.
What are some ways that you choose to worship? Take a moment to list this in your mind. Thank God for the gifts he has given you, and ask that (in faith) He may continue to perfect them in the nature of his grace.
At times we might not yet know what our gift brings. But I believe that ministry is about an openness to engage, sacrifice and serve the work of God with whatever you have.
(Even in weakness is God's power seen).
Expression is a response. It overflows from a place of communication with God. We must know the Word, and deeply so, in order to defend and explain the nature of His sacrificial love.
My friends, will you pray with me?
God, thank you for calling us from glory into glory, from direction to destinations, towards plans of purpose and hope (Jeremiah 29:11). No good thing do you withhold from those who walk with integrity and seek your face (Psalm 8:11).
Lord, I pray that we may be men and women who recognise your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven above (Matthew 6:10), who worship and embrace your words, who choose to reflect on the Word, who gave Himself upon the cross that we might have communion with the triune you. In your presence, we hear the sound of clarity, hope, freedom and faith. We feel convicted and safe.
In your precious name we pray,
Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.