And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.’ — Mark 8:34-38
"Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation" Psalm 85:6-7
Hey everybody! Having just finished the study through the book of Colossians, I feel like it’s an opportune time to share some new ideas and new directions that have been marinating in my mind for a little while now as to how to see this blog grow in fruitfulness and effectiveness, as after a couple months in the books it’s becoming apparent that this blog is pretty one-dimensional and, I dare say, a little boring. Maybe it’s just me, but this blog feels pretty stagnant as a result of my weird desire to bombard you all with unnecessarily long essays on unnecessarily short portions of Scripture over and over and over. All kidding aside, I’d like to see this blog more multi-dimensional, Lord willing, because just as Jesus didn’t limit His ministry to weekly, emotionally-detached theological speculation, there’s no reason why 66 Books can’t evolve into something more Spirit-led as opposed to routine-driven. So, here are some things to watch out for that I’ve been thinking and praying about in regards to what this change might practically look like:
"…Remember my chains. May God’s grace be with you." Colossians 4:7-18
Life as a disciple of Christ is hard. When Paul says, “Remember my chains” (v.18), he’s making clear the fact that Christianity is not a bandwagon you jump on in order to become a better, happier person. Instead, it is a cross to be borne, with endurance, perseverance, and passion, day in and day out. Yet, it is not a cross borne without reason, as Paul’s chains are evidence that the blood of Christ is worth something, and for Paul, that something is his livelihood, comfort, security, and reputation. Paul could have been a very wealthy, pampered, and influential man as a Pharisee, yet he chose a life of poverty, hunger, and persecution, not in spite of good things he could have had, but as means of pursuing what he was convinced were even greater things. The obvious question is: why did he believe this? For what reason? Also, how was he able to endure with not just determination, but with light-hearted joy?
"Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about His mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone." Colossians 4:2-6
I’ve heard it said before that in nearly every Biblical account in which there was a great movement (like the growth of the early church in the New Testament or in territorial acquisitions in the Old Testament), the movement began always with an act of prayer. For a quick example, in Acts 4, believers in the early church met together and prayed for courage to spread the Good News (Acts 4:24-30), and from there went out and “preached the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31), which set in motion the spread of the Christianity that still continues today. This illustrates a Biblical theme that is almost so simple it seems obvious, but it needs to be said. It is this: pray, then do. Yes, I know that sounds like 2nd grade Christianity, but how often do we get caught in a bind when we act impulsively without first bringing our desires to God in prayer? On the other hand, how often do miss opportunities because we pray, then just sit on our hands waiting for a sign and let time pass by? In today’s verses, Paul gives us the command to pray, then do, and he even more shows us how to pray and how to “do,” so I’d like to focus on this and use Acts 4 as a positive example to see how things happen when prayer and action coexist as God intends.
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites. Masters, be just and fair to your slaves. Remember that you also have a Master — in heaven. Colossians 3:22-4:1
I have a theory that there is an echo of the great Biblical fall that is present in today’s world and tangibly proves the sinful nature of man, and it is the fact that we all seem to have this strange innate and ingrained need to complain about work. Do you know what I mean? It’s this weird generally accepted thing that it’s cool to bash on your boss and your coworkers and your duties at work, no matter how good your boss, coworkers, or duties actually are. Now I know there are exceptions, and I’m not saying I don’t do this by any means, but in general the reason I say this is because we tend to have a pessimistic, lazy, and entitled attitude towards the jobs we are actually fortunate to have, and this is contrary to Scripture so it presents an opportunity for us to repent and change so that the Gospel can saturate all of life — including our work lives — instead of filling only our falsely-compartmentalized “religious” lives.
"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged." Colossians 3:18-21
I’m not even going to pretend like I’m qualified to talk or teach or give advice about marriage and leading a Godly family, which for the most part is what today’s verses are about. So, in an effort to prevent myself from saying anything naive, misleading, or just plain wrong, I’m going to keep this post short, sweet, and to the point. So here goes:
“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” Colossians 3:16-17
My goal for today is that through a little discussion on these two verses, we would be assured of a simple truth and inspired to live according to its implications. I don’t want to lose on us an enjoyment of what is written here, as the verses alone are beautiful and sweet, and it is very great privilege that we get to rejoice in the beauty of Scripture as a great and wonderful gift. I am motivated though to dig down to the root of the matter here, as the root—though maybe not quite so beautiful and sweet—is generally where the real faith-sustaining nourishment resides. That said, the simple truth I want us to know is this: It is better to live for someone else than it is to live for yourself, but it is greater still to live for Christ.
" Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful." Colossians 3:12-15
The desire to live a morally irreproachable and upstanding life has been the prerogative of most Christians from the day Christ began His ministry up to the very days we live in. It is a very good desire, to be respectable — the Bible encourages it, our consciences obey it, and our laws and regulations command it — and there has been no lack of sermons given and books written about how to attain it since there have been languages and mediums through which to convey it.