Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
July 11, 2016
- First reading and Psalm
- Alternate First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
Colossians 1:1-14 | New Living Translation (NLT)
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.
May God our Father give you grace and peace.
We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.
You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
Over the last week we have watched tragic event unfold in our nation. Actually, these tragic events have been happening for quite some time. However, it seems like the frequency is increasing – and the violence is increasing. It seems there is no end to the violence in our nation. As Pam and I were discussing it this evening, she shared with me this thought. It really is the depravity of the human race. We were born with a natural bent to doing things our own way. For some reason, we have a natural tendency to stray away from our Creator. Even in the Garden of Eden we see that. Adam and Eve were offered a choice and they decided that they knew better than God. Yes, they were deceived and yet the point is still – they chose.
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he writes, “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. This is the hope that our country and our world needs. Over the last day or two, God has impressed on my heart that we need to pray – that we need to pray for revival – pray for renewal – pray that people would come to Jesus. Paul writes, “For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus…which comes from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.” It is our faith in Christ that gives us hope. I don’t know about you, but at the moment I don’t have much confidence in our government – at any level. But I do have great faith in Christ. It is he who gives us hope. Our world – our country – our states – our counties – our cities and villages – need hope.
The Good News that Jesus came to dwell among us – to shed his blood for our sins – that he rose again to free us from the bondage of sin – that He is coming back again – needs to be told – because it has the power to transform lives. One of the tag lines currently for The Wesleyan Church is “made new.” When people have an encounter with the Good News, we are made new! The Good News of Jesus, bears fruit by changing lives writes Paul. Paul writes about the change that he saw in the lives of the church at Colossae. The Good News bears fruit. The Good News changes lives.
I think this next this is key. The Good News gives us love for others. I have struggled with this for quite some time – why is it that the very ones (those who follow Christ) seem the least likely (at times) to love their neighbor (or to love one another?) This is part of the great commandment. We are to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength and we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. I’ve said this before, “Just think of what our world would look like if we loved the world, like Christ loves the world.” What if we could have that perfect love? The scriptures tell us that this love is possible.
Paul prays for the church – not only for the church at Colossae, but for us to have a complete knowledge of his will and to have spiritual wisdom and understanding. Why? Because then we will live in such a way that honors and pleases the Lord – we will produce every kind of good fruit – and we will know God better and better.
Paul also prays that that they would be strengthened with God’s glorious power. This power that rose Jesus from the grave – this power that saved us from our sins. Why? This is the power that will give us endurance in these days – these days that make us wonder is there any hope? Let’s pray for this glorious power to give us endurance. Let’s pray for this power to give us the patience we need. Sometimes we are so quick to spout off. I know that I have been having trouble with this. Patience is one of those fruits of the Spirit. When we have the endurance to run the race, when we have patience to endure – then we will have joy – which is another of the fruits that the Holy Spirit gives us. The Holy Spirit also gives us power to love others.
As Paul concludes the introduction, he instructs the church to always thank the Father – we should always be thanking God the Father for the work that He has done in our lives. Why? He has enabled us to share in the inheritance. We who were not worthy, through the power of the work of Christ, are worthy and can share in the inheritance as sons and daughters.
God has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness – we’ve seen quite a bit of that lately – and he has transferred us into the Kingdom of Light – the kingdom of Christ – God’s dear son. Jesus has purchased our freedom and has forgiven our sins – Christ has made us new. Let’s live in the power that God has given us.