Devotional # 146. 7/20/15. Colossians 1:11-14.
Intro. Last week and the week before we went over verses 9 & 10 separately but really they should be read in context with vv. 11-14. Remember in verse 9 we made the amazing discovery that the Holy Spirit gives a gift of His “knowledge” only knowable from Him? But then in time He also gives the gift of spiritual wisdom which is knowing when and how to use the “knowledge of His will”. Then in verse 10 we learned a little more. Spiritual “knowledge” and “wisdom” weren’t the only gifts given to Christians. “Being fruitful” was the first step in pleasing God, and then comes “knowledge” then the “wisdom” to use these things. Again, we remember these aren’t things that we achieve on our own but instead are gifts of God. What is God preparing us for? The next verses starts off with that reminder…
v. 11. As I just mentioned this verse starts with the “strength” that we’re given “according to His glorious power.”
But why are we given this “strength”? Well, it’s bittersweet. It is for us to get “patience” and “joy”. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Ah, but it’s spiritual “patience” and “joy”, and how do you learn “patience”? By being tested. And how do you receive this “joy”? By suffering for a long time (“longsuffering”). So our physical body, our flesh wants to pull away from the difficulty but our spirit, our eternal nature, delights in the peace and happiness.
So let’s go back to what the “strength” that is preparing us for suffering and annoyance looks like. Interestingly I can’t really find any Scripture explaining how God gives us strength. But I think a great description of what His “strength” feels like, comes from Habakkuk 3:19: “The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” So when our troubles have made us clumsy and klutzy the Lord steadies our feet so that we can gracefully glide over our problems. And when we are scared of heights and afraid of being alone and stumbling off a cliff of spiritual warfare, He is there and gives us strength to continue the ascent. And in Isaiah 40:30-31 we are reminded that kids who never seem to get tired eventually do get tired and can fall down but the Lord will strengthen the elderly in the same way as a child, as long as they trust in Him. The way he strengthens is to “renew” their strength. Since He gave us our strength in the first place he can also renew and refresh that strength in Him (in a little bit we’ll talk about the “re” at the beginning of words like “renew”…keep that in mind). Are we sure these aren’t just words? Can God really back up His claims of “strength” and “renewal”? Yes, David experienced this “strength” as he tells us, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him” (Psalm 28:7). OK, but maybe that was just in the Old Testament, after all 4,000 years can be a long time. Maybe God got tired of helping humans. What about Paul? He is the author of Colossians that we’re going through right now and of Ephesians and Philippians that we just went through and his experiences seem to relate to us now. So what else does he tell us about his experiences? “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV).
So the strength is continually given and growing in us. God is faithful that when we need His “renewed” strength, it will be there. In fact others may look at us as if we have done something incredible by beating the odds but to us it wasn’t that big of a deal because God gave us a better pain threshold or calm mindset to get through it. Just a couple weeks ago we studied that “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13, Devotional # 139).
vv. 12-14. As we mature and realize that God has given us His “patience” in the face of annoyance and frustrating circumstances then we will “give thanks to the Father.” Yet again, we are reminded to be thankful for the blessings we are given. This isn’t just appropriate but it also helps us remember that we haven’t done anything on our own but it has all been God. But beyond that the Father has “qualified” us by the blood of His Son so that we can go to heaven. Romans 8 talks about this “inheritance.” In Romans 8:14-17 it says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons [and daughters] of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
We’re reminded how we were saved and what we were saved from. It can be good to be reminded of what our lives were like before we started following Jesus. It helps us appreciate what we have now.
A lot of time people think when they’re taught dogma in the church it can be tedious and boring. That it’s not as exciting as the historic battles or the personal application or hearing a topical message that leaves you with warm fuzzies. But although vv. 13-14 are dogmatic (the most important truths about God) I think this section is also very beautiful, and applies personally to our lives. If you are a Christian than you know what Paul is talking about here. And if you’re not a Christian, or you had thought you were a Christian but these things don’t sound like they happened to you, then at least think about them for a couple of minutes.
Paul says that there is a “power of darkness” and that we have “sinned” – sometimes that’s the hardest thing to acknowledge and actually agree with. But when we do recognize that we’ve all done bad things and although we’ve tried to stop we are powerless to do so, then we do feel that burden.
Did you notice that the “darkness” (v. 13) we were rescued from is in contrast to the “saints in the light” (v. 12). Light and dark. We’ve talked about it before but it’s one of the best analogies that I know of, and that’s probably why God uses it so often! We were once completely happy in our filth and darkness but then once we have the light of Jesus shined on our lives, it’s blinding. We can’t escape it. I was talking with a friend about this yesterday and he reminded me of the scene in the movie “God’s Not Dead” where Mina’s mom says, “sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn’t want them turning to God. Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to leave. The door’s wide open. Till one day, time runs out, and the cell door slams shut, and suddenly it’s too late.” This is so true, but if you let that light in then you can walk out of that cell and you can be saved from your sins. If you haven’t seen the movie you really should watch it.
So acknowledging that darkness and sin you’ve lived in is the first step towards heaven. Next, you must confess that you have done those bad things and that you don’t want to do them anymore, that you want to walk away from that life. And lastly, you must believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins and ask him to be the Master of your life. That is how we receive the “redemption through His blood.”
We’re almost done but I want to talk about “redemption” and the word “redeem” for a minute. This week as I was driving my son to tae kwon do he asked about words that start with “re” and what it meant. I told him the prefix “re” meant “to do again.” Like when you REturn a video, it means you’ve already been there and rented it, now you’re going back again. To REmodel a home means that the house was already there and now you’re doing it again. So if we’re REdeemed what does the last part of the word mean? Well, actually the “eemed” at the end has it’s roots in the Latin word “emere” meaning “buy” (Source 1). So all of us were owned by Satan and sin previously but then we were RE-bought…bought again…by Jesus! And not just paid for with a dirty bill or even a treasure chest of gold but with the precious blood of God!
Conclusion. We started off with talking about “reminders” (interestingly that’s another of those “re” words! To have known something then to hear it again) like how it’s God who gives the “fruit”, “knowledge” and “wisdom” to use them. With that as our background we just read through vv. 11-14 which talked about God’s strength for us to receive His patience and longsuffering but also His joy. We also talked about the sin and darkness we were saved from and that it was only through Jesus’ blood. A lot of times we don’t think about the past in that way and then how far God has brought us into a maturity in Him. Be encourage for this week because although your patience may be tested God is faithful to give you the strength to continue to mature.
Source 1: “redeem” etymology: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=redeem%20etymology