Sunday, June 1, 2014

God's Will: Fulfilled in Christ (Colossians 1:3-1:14)

“Paul, an emissary of Jesus the Anointed serving at God’s pleasure, along with our brother Timothy  to you, dear holy and faithful brothers and sisters in the family of the Anointed who live in Colossae. May grace and peace from God our Father [and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One envelop you.  As always, we’ve been praying for you, thanking God, the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed,  ever since we heard of your faith in Jesus the Anointed and your love for His holy ones—  a faith and love that emerge from the hope you have heard about in the word of truth—the gospel—the very hope that awaits you in heaven.  
The same gospel that was brought to you is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has been growing among you since the day you heard and took in the truth of God’s grace from our beloved fellow servant Epaphras. (He is a faithful minister of the Anointed on our behalf.)  He was the one who told us how you demonstrate your love by the power of the Spirit. Since the day we got this good news about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We ask: 
‘Father, may they clearly know Your will and achieve the height and depth of spiritual wisdom and understanding.  May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what’s more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work and growing in the true knowledge that comes from being close to You. 
Strengthen them with Your infinite power, according to Your glorious might, so that they will attain every single thing they need to hold on and endure hardship patiently and joyfully.  Thank You, Father, as You have made us eligible to receive our portion of the inheritance given to all those set apart by the Light.  You have rescued us from Dark and brought us safely into the kingdom of Your Son, whom You love and in whom we are redeemed and forgiven of our sins [through His blood].’” (Colossians.1-13, The Voice)
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Paul prayed that they would find God's perfect will. What does that look like? What is God’s will for us? For you? For some, the lack of clarity almost freezes them. What if they choose the wrong career? What if they marry the wrong person? On the other hand, some just don’t care. They grow skeptical about “hearing from God” (whatever that means) and just do what the feel like doing.  So is there a way to know what God’s will is for your life? Yes, in fact, there is. It’s right here in Paul’s greeting.

“Do every good work” (v.10).  
“May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what’s more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work…”.
 You can gave tremendous confidence that you are living in God’s will if you delight him by living well. It’s what the Bible often calls “bearing fruit.”  Notice, however, that this is not the fruit of legalistic good works. This is the fruit that God brings through His Spirit and through Christ when we commit our lives to him: 
  • “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,..” (Galatians 5:22)
  • “May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation--the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ--for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” (Philippians 1:11)
  • “For the fruit of the Spirit produces all goodness, righteousness, and truth.” (Ephesians 5:9)
 We delight God in doing good because the Holy Spirit has brought about in us a genuine desire for surrender and service to Christ and others.  These passages do not suggest we always want to do so in the sense that we are emotionally happy; it may be that we want to do good deeds because doing so delights God and benefits others. We may want to do good deeds so that we live as a particular kind of person. We can give a genuine act of loving service to Christ even as we genuinely battle our selfish nature within.

 I’ve heard people say, “If I act good when I don’t want to act good I am being a hypocrite.” I don’t think that’s true. If I stay calm talking to my kids when I want to yell, does that make me a hypocrite? If I act loving when I don’t feel loving, does that make me a hypocrite?”

Maybe it just means I am committed to living a particular way even when I don’t want to.  I want to act a particular way because I want to honor God.  In my soul, I want to honor a commitment that’s bigger than what I want in the moment. So this is the first part of God’s will: Give Christ your life; God will give you His Spirit, and you will begin to produce goodness, righteousness , truth and character that brings glory to God and life to those around us.  

“Do every good work and grow in true knowledge.” 

“May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what’s more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work and growing in the true knowledge that comes from being close to You.”
 Commentators note that this phrase seems to be a parallel statement to “doing every good work,” as if the action of doing good works is in some fashion the same as growing in true knowledge of God. We become what we repeatedly do. I like what Jim Rohn said: “First we form habits, then they form us.”  We see this in sports, music, farming, dancing, martial arts, construction work, marriage… we can’t just study it if we want to understand it. We have to do it.  It’s no different in our walk with Christ. Learning and living are inseparable.  

So God’s will: Give him your life; He will give you His Spirit, and you will begin to produce goodness, righteousness , truth and character that brings glory to God and life to those around us. And as we engage in life with Christ – his actions, his priorities, his speech, his sacrificial life –that we begin to really know Christ.

Do every good work and grow in true knowledge by the power of God. 

“Strengthen them with Your infinite power, according to Your glorious might, so that they will attain every single thing they need to hold on and endure hardship patiently and joyfully.”
 We are strengthened with dynamis, “power through God’s ability.” It’s a word that is used in the Bible to refer abilities, miracles, and even money. There’s all kinds of power, but it’s all from God. It’s not that we do every good work and gain true knowledge because we have awesome will power or ability. Whatever we have is a gift. If someone says to us, “You are such model of the Christian life,’ our response should be, “It’s a gift.” If someone says, “Wow. You really know God,” our response should be, “It’s a gift.”

Why does God give us this power? So we can “attain every single thing we need to endure hardship patiently and joyfully.”  The Greek means literally getting every single part of us that makes up the whole of who we are. God isn’t planning to just generally empower you. He plans to empower every single part of you – because life is going to be hard.

When we talk about God’s will for our life, we are very good at claiming promises anywhere in Scripture that involves God’s will intersecting with our lives in such a way that it’s always Christmas but never Winter. But Winter is Coming. It’s inevitable. God’s will is to prep you so that you can endure it patiently and joyfully with His help.

God's will is that we give him our lives; He will give us His Spirit and His power, and we will begin to live a life that brings glory to God and blessing to those around us.  As we do this, we begin to really know Christ and be able to face the challenges of life.

Do every good work and grow in true knowledge by the power of God, in the Kingdom of God.”

“Thank You, Father, as You have made us eligible to receive our portion of the inheritance given to all those set apart by the Light. You have rescued us from Dark and brought us safely into the kingdom of Your Son, whom You love…”
There are some really inspired chalk artists who have created some phenomenal images on sidewalks and streets. As you approach their painting, it seems so incredibly real. It’s not, of  course. It’s a very clever fake. If you approach it from the other side, it just looks silly. As your perspective changes, you see the drawing for what it really is.

We were pulled from the kingdom of darkness, sin and death and into the Light. As the Holy Spirit works in us to increasing our fruit and knowledge, and as god empowers us, we see with more clarity what we have been pulled from and what we have been drawn to because of Christ. Jesus has brought us into His Kingdom of redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

An old hymn begins, “I was in sin’s prison, oh so dark and cold.” One sign that the Holy Spirit is at work in us is that we begin to see the Kingdom of Darkness for what it is. The Holy Spirit works in us a change of perspective.  We used to approach sin the same way we approach the front of the chalk drawing. It looks really compelling. Now, we see it from the other side.

We see greed, and pride, and lust, and anger, and gossip, and selfishness as they really are. They are tricks, facades, things that promise excitement and life but leave us empty and a little more cynical and jaded every time.
God's will is that we give him our life; He will pull us from the Kingdom of darkness, give us His Spirit and His power, and empower us to live a life that brings glory to God and blessing to those around us.  As we do this, we begin to really know Christ and be able to face the challenges of life.

Do every good work and grow in true knowledge by the power of God, in the Kingdom of God, through the work of Christ."

“..in whom we are redeemed and forgiven of our sins [through His blood].’”
It’s all about Christ. In the end, all of this rests on the person and work of Christ.
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So what is God’s will for your life? 

If you mean where you should work or go to school, or who you should marry, or what you should do with that extra money, or how you should spend you summer, or what kind of career you should pursue… I don’t know. Pray for wisdom to see where your passion, skills, and opportunity intersect, and ask some friends for advice. Make the best decision you can and go do something. God gave us common sense and good friends for a reason.

On the other hand, no matter what you do, I know God has this in mind for you: Do every good work and grow in true knowledge by the power of God, in the Kingdom of God, through the work of Christ, in whom we are redeemed and forgiven of our sins.

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