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Posts tagged ‘Epistle to the Colossians’

Changing the human heart…

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“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 3:15

The world that Jesus was born into was quite violent. War was constantly in the air. The Israelites, the Jewish people who were occupied by the Romans, were talking constantly about rebelling against the most powerful and ruthless empire at that time in history. There was injustice and many hurting and broken people. Ironically, religious leaders often hurt the very people that they were supposed to help. So, Jesus enters into this world to bring peace.

I wonder, now, do we live in a peaceful place now that Jesus has come? Even if there were no North Korea launching missiles, no Arab Spring, no political differences, would we, then, have peace?

Do people live in peace, today, surrounded by others but still lonely, constantly living in fear, living paycheck-to-paycheck, working jobs they don’t like, with cell phones ringing and in-boxes full, living in what Thoreau called “quiet desperation”?
Those things won’t change until we change. Jesus came to change human hearts because he knew that, if people had peace on the inside, there would then be peace everywhere else.

This Christmas, remember that Jesus came to be our Prince of Peace.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for filling my heart with a peace that passes understanding. Help me to be authentically peaceful and, thereby, an example of your peace to others. Amen.

Devotion: How might you, through encouragement or example, bring peace to the hearts of others?

Write It Down.

Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth.
1 Chronicles 16:12

Recommended Reading
Psalm 77:11-12 ( )

You take a trip — a trip that you have been anticipating for a long time. You pack your essentials: clothes, toiletries, maybe even a camera. But you forgot to bring a notepad and pencil to keep a journal of what happened through your thoughts. Tragically, your camera breaks a day into the trip. Far too soon you realize it’s almost time to return home to your normal life and to leave the best trip of your life. The one thing you brought along to remember the trip is no longer functioning. Now you wish you had brought a backup plan — a journal.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( )

Journaling is a good way to remember the details of a special vacation, but it is also a wonderful way to recall God‘s faithfulness.

The Bible is filled with instructions for us to make remembering things or people a high priority. “But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings” (Hebrews 10:32). A journal is a great way to keep track of what happens daily in your walk with God and to record your prayers and thoughts. It’s a way to remember God’s words to you that day, and to bring to mind His goodness and mercy when you recollect that day.

Recall God’s faithfulness — write it down!

Colossians 1-4

By David Jeremiah.

Why is Reading the Bible so Important?.

Is it not remarkable how often Jesus settled great issues with a reference to reading? For example, in the issue of the Sabbath he said, “Have you not readwhat David did?” (Matthew 12:3). In the issue of divorce and remarriage he said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:4). In the issue of true worship and praise he said, “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes you have prepared praise for yourself’?” (Matthew 21:16). In the issue of the resurrection he said, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’?” (Matthew 21:42). And to the lawyer who queried him about eternal life he said, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” (Luke 10:26).

The apostle Paul also gave reading a great place in the life of the church. For example, he said to the Corinthians, “We write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end” (1 Corinthians 1:13). To the Ephesians he said, “When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:3). To the Colossians he said, “When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16). Reading the letters of Paul was so important that he commands it with an oath: “I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren” (1 Thessalonians 5:27).

The ability to read does not come intuitively. It must be taught. And learning to read with understanding is a life-long labor. The implications for Christians are immense. Education of the mind in the rigorous discipline of thoughtful reading is a primary goal of school. The church of Jesus is debilitated when his people are lulled into thinking that it is humble or democratic or relevant to give a merely practical education that does not involve the rigorous training of the mind to think hard and to construe meaning from difficult texts.

The issue of earning a living is not nearly so important as whether the next generation has direct access to the meaning of the Word of God. We need an education that puts the highest premium under God on knowing the meaning of God’s Book, and growing in the abilities that will unlock its riches for a lifetime. It would be better to starve for lack of food than to fail to grasp the meaning of the book of Romans. Lord, let us not fail the next generation!

Taken from “A Compelling Reason for Rigorous Training of the Mind” by Desiring God Ministries (used by permission).

John Piper

The Nine Guys Who Missed Thanksgiving (1 of 4).

Series: The Optimism Factor
Pastor Chris Brown
Luke 17:11-19

Luke 17:11-14

– What does it take to get you to use your “Master” Card?
Luke 17:13

– Obedience always precedes God‘s blessings.
Luke 17:14


1. It’s a decision and an action.

Luke 17:15, Philippians 4:4-7, Colossians 3:17

2. It’s an act of humility.
Luke 17:16, Deuteronomy 8:11-17

3. It draws us closer to God.
Luke 17:12 and 16, Psalm 100:4, James 4:7-10, Romans 1:21

4. It’s God’s will.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, Ephesians 5:19


1. We’ve all found ourselves at some point falling into the trap of not showing gratitude just as the nine lepers did. Which of the following gratitude roadblocks could most likely become a barrier for you?
– Not realizing all I have been given
– Taking for grant …

Religiosity hurts…

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
Colossians 2:8

At some time in your life, you may have been hurt by religiosity, Bible thumping, misuse of scripture. So many people have. I certainly have been, at times. It’s a part of a religious life experience.

My mom grew up in a very strict household. I remember a story she told me about when she was a little girl, walking home from school, stopping at a house where, through a window, she could see little girls doing ballet. She realized at that moment, that she could never be a ballerina because, at her church, they were not allowed to dance.

One day, when my mom was older, she was playing on her record player the song, “It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers. My grandma, walking past in the hallway, thought she heard the lyrics as “Itch your thing.” Concerned, she came in, grabbed the record, and broke it, causing my mom to cry. My grandma, who is one of the sweetest, most godly, incredible women you’d ever meet, told me, “You know, back then it was just so different.”

However, that religiosity still lives on today in the way some people treat others, getting in the way of true understanding. That type of knee-jerk judgment or made-up rules can really hurt a person, changing their view of God, sometimes for a lifetime.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I don’t want to pull away from you just because someone else’s view of Christian living is different from mine. I know what you’ve called me to be. I will draw closer and, thereby, become more and more like you. Amen.

Reflection: Has anything another person has said or done to you ever negatively affected your relationship with God? How did you overcome that hurt?

Purifying people…

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Colossians 4:6

Jesus says to us that, if we are salty, we are valuable, purifying people who give flavor to life.

One thing that I want to point out is that Jesus does not say you WILL BECOME the salt of the earth. He does not say once that you WERE the salt of the earth. He doesn’t even say if you follow me and do everything I tell you to do, you will become salty. What does he say? You ARE the salt of the earth.

Jesus is speaking this over people that don’t even realize how salty they are. He’s just saying to be yourself. Be your salty self. He’s like a Rafiki going to Simba and saying, you’re a lion. He’s like Morpheus going to Neo and saying, you’re in the Matrix. Are you following any of this?

Jesus is going to people that are already salt, trying to wake them up, saying, snap out of it. You are salt. Be who you are. Don’t lose your saltiness. This is important.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you that you have designed me to use my natural, inborn abilities and unique personality to be used by you to help others in the kingdom of God. Amen.

Reflection: Which of your “salty” abilities has the Lord used the most to help others?

Ten Steps to Prevent Ministry Burnout.

Ava Pennington

September may be back-to-school time, but kids aren’t the only ones whose schedules gear up in the fall. Summer vacations are a memory. Businesses focus on projects that languished over the summer. Churches mobilize their ministry programs. Families turn their attention from vacations to home repairs and major purchases.

If that isn’t enough, toss in the holidays. Halloween is just around the bend, Thanksgiving a mere four weeks later. Then there’s the final lap into Christmas and New Year’s Day. Four months of non-stop activity with barely a moment to catch our breath. September isn’t just another month on the calendar. It’s the starting line of a marathon.

September is also when I return to teaching an annual Bible study. Nine months of volunteering to teach a weekly class of 180+ women. Nine months of training a group of leaders to lead in their respective roles. Nine months of study and preparation, only to begin again the following year.

It’s easy for me to feel like a ministry machine or a plane on autopilot. It’s also easy for the leaders who work with me to think about passing on their commitments. A reduced ministry with a smaller bite out of their schedules can look very attractive at the start of a new year.

Maybe you’re also thinking about stepping away from a commitment you’ve made as you face a new ministry season. Before you do, keep reading.

I’ve learned from experience that combating ministry burnout is a combination of stepping out andleaning in. But the stepping out isn’t what you might think. Consider these ten steps to turn ministry burnout into ministry joy:

1. Step out of ministry motivated by guilt.

Lean in to ministry motivated by gratitude.

Guilt can be powerful. However, when it comes to ministry, it’s the wrong motivator. Guilt is effective in the short term because it causes us to seek the approval of others, including God. But guilt leads to resentment. Ministry that flows from the wellspring of gratitude encourages both us and the people we serve.

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28 ESV).

2. Step out of serving on autopilot.

Lean in to being intentional about ministry activity.

When I first began driving a car with manual transmission, I learned the advantages of coasting in neutral gear. But coasting in ministry means we’re not fully engaged. God uses ministry as much for our own spiritual growth as for the growth of others. Are we willing to intentionally press on?

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1).

3. Step out of seeing ministry as a task.

Lean in to focusing on the people for whom Christ died.

Someone once said this Christian life would be a piece of cake if it weren’t for all the people. People can be difficult, needy, and messy. It’s simpler to view ministry as a series of tasks—items on a to-do list—rather than a process of growing relationships. But then I remember that it was for messy people, including me, that Christ died.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

4. Step out of cutting corners to make ministry convenient.

Lean in to remembering who you really serve.

Who’s going to know? That’s the whisper of my heart when I’m tempted to take a short cut in my ministry. People may not know or care, but ultimately, I’m not serving them. God knows…and He cares.

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (Ephesians 6:7).

5. Step out of relying on past Bible study or studying only in preparation to lead.

Lean in to a daily time of refreshing as you meet God in His Word.

I have bookshelves bursting with reference volumes. My computer contains files filled with previous lessons. But if I don’t continually spend time in God’s Word for my own growth, the well will run dry and I will have nothing to offer those I teach.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2).

6. Step out of criticism for those who lead you in ministry.

Lean in to praying daily for your leaders, for God to equip and direct them.

Criticism comes naturally, doesn’t it? It’s easy to point out another person’s flaws, especially if they’re in a position of leadership. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for honest, gracious feedback. But let’s start with prayer and forgiveness before we “speak the truth in love.”

“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).

7. Step out of thinking what you share applies only to other people.

Lean in to applying your teaching or other aspects of your ministry, to your own life.

How many times have we heard a message and thought, “I wish ______ heard this!” Fill in the blank: parent, spouse, sibling, child. We can fall into a similar trap when it comes to our own ministries. Truths and applications aren’t just for those we serve. I’ve often found God uses the material I’m teaching to speak to my own heart before I present it to others.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher”(Luke 6:40).

8. Step out of allowing ministry to consume you.

Lean in to being a good steward of your health and your family.

But it’s for the Lord! Aren’t we supposed to put God ahead of our family and our health? Yes, God should be our first priority, but God and ministry are not the same. When we place Him first, He will show us how to balance our time and our attentions to ministry, health, and family in the best way to glorify Him.

“The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights…” (I Kings 19:7-8).

9. Step out of drawing on your own reserves.

Lean in to depending on God to strengthen you for your task.

Christians often speak of relying on the Lord. We quote verses such as Philippians 4:13  “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (NLT). But saying it isn’t enough. True success in ministry rests on our dependence on the One who calls us, equips us, and sustains us.

“God, the Lord, is my strength” (Habakkuk 3:19 ESV).

10. Step out of pride.

Lean in to humility.

Pride is often described as the first sin. It’s one of the sneakier sins, too. People will tell us how wonderful we are to serve the Lord despite the sacrifices. They’ll thank us for allowing God to use us. They will tell other people about our ministry. Problem is, we find ourselves puffing up a bit more with each new compliment. The antidote to pride is simple. Remember that Christ didn’t just die for other people’s sin—He died for your sin and mine, too. There is nothing more humbling than that.

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 ESV).

Of course, God knows we’re often motivated by reward, so He has that covered, as well. The writer of Hebrews tells us:

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10 NIV).

Following these ten steps (and remembering the reward, too!) helps maintain contagious joy in ministry. It also refocuses our perspective on the privilege of serving the Savior who first served us. May these steps be helpful to you as you enter a new season of service.

Ava Pennington teaches a Bible Study Fellowship class. She is also the author of Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, published by Revell Books and endorsed by Kay Arthur.

Publication date: September 27, 2013

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