Today I started a study on the book of Colossians - what a powerful book of the bible! This study is the second part of the Kay Arthur study I mentioned my small group was doing a while back, called "That I May Know You." It includes a study on both Philippians and Colossians. (There is one available for every book of the bible - for only about $8 or $9 at cbd.com!!) This has definitely forever changed the way I will study and work to grasp God's Word. When you start to really read passages over and over, digging deep into the purpose and context of what they are all about, you quickly realize how often our Christian culture has taken verses out of the context they were written in. Both Philippians and Colossians are letters written from Paul while he was in prison...literally suffering in chains.
I am already loving studying Colossians, after just carefully reading through it a few times, in a few different versions. I was especially convicted and challenged today by the prayer Paul told those at Colosse that he was praying for them in verses 9-13. Paul says he is praying this in response to hearing about their love in the Spirit upon their hearing and embracing the gospel.
"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he love, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Col. 1:9-13
Wow. I love that God even blesses us with the access to His power which strengthens us in this way. A strength that we so desperately need. I also got on blueletterbible.org and read the New Living Translation, and I loved verses 11 and 12: "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."
Then, at the end of the chapter I loved verse 27 - "And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory." (NLT) The NIV says, "God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of the mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." I love that!! How often do we need to be reminded of the glorious riches that come from the awesome privilege of Christ living in us!!! He is the "hope of glory," which is to come when our temporary time on this often painful and confusing earth is done. In our darkest moments we must remember that we have a hope beyond anything we could imagine. This is what should drive us to share the gospel eagerly and urgently. Right when I read this phrase it brought to mind a song that I have been listening to often lately and that I love called "Everything" by Tim Hughes. I do long for God to be my everything; I am so grateful that He has been so faithful and has promised to be faithful through everything in my life.
When I was searching for the song, I saw a clip of Craig Groeschel speaking at a Hillsong conference in 2009 and he said, "I choose, I force myself to choose, the pain of obedience rather than the comfort of disobedience. When you suffer for the glory of the One who suffered and died for you, embrace it, take it in. Don't whine about it but say, 'I praise God in heaven that I get to suffer ever so little for the glory of the one who suffered and died for me." WOW. That is some powerful stuff that pierced me straight in the heart this morning. This song and the verses I shared are my prayer today; I hope you are encouraged by this today too!!