Category: Colossians (Page 2 of 10)

Your Life is Changed

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” ~Colossians 3:1-4

Paul is still talking about baptism here and being identified with Christ. You died, he says, and your life is now in Christ. Christ is your life, he writes. He says a similar thing to the Christians in Galatia: I have been crucified with Christ and I don’t live anymore; Christ lives in me. He tells the Philippians, “To live is Christ!”

When you are raised in Christ, your old life dies and your new life in Christ — Christ in you, the hope of glory — comes alive. You begin to realize all the gracious blessings you’ve received in Jesus, all the merciful gifts outlined in the first two chapters of Colossians, and you begin to think more like Jesus. You begin to see people and things like Jesus does. You realize more of what God has done and is doing through Jesus, you understand the bigger picture of the inevitable realities, and it shows in your changed life.

When someone hits you, you don’t fight back, you turn the other cheek. When someone sins against you, you don’t seek revenge, you forgive unconditionally. When an evil person does you harm, you don’t retaliate, you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Not so these bad people can turn nice and leave you alone. That rarely ever works! No, Jesus says you turn the other cheek, you forgive without limits, you walk the extra mile, give up your coat, and love your enemies because that’s the way God is.

When you are raised with Christ and filled with the fullness of God, your life is changed. It’s not new rules to follow or new commands to obey, it’s a changed life. The Bible always emphasizes what a Christian is, not what a Christian is supposed to do. But that changed life will show up in the ways you think and behave. What comes up in the bucket is usually what’s down in the well.

“This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life.” ~1 John 5:11-12

Maybe you don’t feel this new life. You might not be so sure about the reality of God’s transforming power in your life. I get it. What you believe in your head and what you feel in your heart are sometimes two very different things. It’s like a football player who suffered a terrible ankle injury but has undergone successful surgery. He’s still favoring the repaired ankle and it’s hindering his performance on the field. He still limps because he remembers the terrible pain. He’s not 100% sure his ankle is totally recovered.

Maybe you’re walking through life with that same kind of limp. You might not believe God can really change your life. There’s too much history. Too many bad things. Too much pain.

You died. And your life is now secured, it’s safe, with God. Christ is your life. Give yourself totally to him, completely to him, and allow the transforming power of Jesus to reveal the reality that your life is changed.

Peace,

Allan

Your Location is Shifted

When we’re at the house and about to go somewhere together as a family, I’ll do the courteous thing and give my wife and daughters the little reminders. “Twenty minutes!” “Ten minutes!” It feels like courtesy to me, but they may not experience it that way. “Five minutes!” Then, when it’s time to go, I’ll announce loudly to everyone in the house, “I’m in the car!”

But I’m not in the car. I’m standing in the living room. I say “I’m in the car” when I’m not.

The girls will call me on it. “No, you’re not!” Occasionally, our youngest will shout, “Liar!” from her bedroom.

Is it a lie? What do I mean when I say, “I’m in the car” when I’m not?

I mean, “I am on my way to the car and nothing can possibly stop me.” It’s inevitable. It’s imminent. “I am going to the car and nothing will keep it from happening.” It is so absolutely certain, so undeniably guaranteed to happen, that I’m speaking like it already has. My being in the car is going to become a reality very soon, so I’m speaking and acting like it has already occurred. And, you’d better adapt yourself right now to that reality. Don’t wait.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” ~Colossians 3:1-4

Since you have been raised with Christ… what? Since you have been raised with Christ… everything has changed!

One of the main things that’s changed is your location. Just like with real estate, the key to your salvation is location, location, location. And your location has shifted. You’ve been moved. When you participated in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus — when God fully identified you with his Son — you weren’t just saved. You were transported to live on another plane. Christ Jesus has been raised from the dead to sit at the right hand of God in heavenly glory. And that’s where you are, too!

Your life is now hidden with Christ. It’s held or secured in Christ. It’s safe. You are in Christ and the fullness of Christ is in you. So your location is shifted. This same writer, Paul, said the same thing to the Christians in Ephesus.

“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” ~Ephesians 4-6

The Bible doesn’t say God will raise us with Christ in the heavenly realms, it says he already has! It’s already happened! You’re already there!

Since you’ve been raised with him, and since he’s in the position of eternal authority at God’s right hand, you have total access to this glory, you have free admission into the presence of God. This is where you live now. Your location has shifted. Nothing can possibly prevent it from happening. And you should adapt to that reality right now.

Peace,

Allan

Hope in What’s Up

“We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints — the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the Gospel that has come to you.” ~Colossians 1:4-6

It’s interesting that Paul tells the Christians in Colosse that hope is the source of their faith and love. Their hope doesn’t come from their faith — it’s the opposite. Their faith is grounded in their hope. That means hope, at least in this setting, is not about their mood or their attitude. It’s about the thing that is hoped for. It’s the thing that is stored up in heaven. This future glory with Christ, these eternal promises of God we know are coming true.

Not hope in the things of this world. Not hope in our careers or family, not hope in degrees or scholarships, not hope in elections or supreme courts, not hope in science or technology — hope in what God is holding for us in heaven. That kind of certainty is what gives birth to a faith in Christ Jesus, a faith that our God has acted decisively in his Son as our Savior. It generates a deep love for all the saints, a love that’s increasingly for others instead of self. This kind of biblical hope is a strong knowing, a confident conviction that impacts our every thought and deed.

Christian hope is not blind optimism with no foundation to it. It’s not, “I hope the Cowboys win the Super Bowl.” That’s just baseless positivism. Like when George Lloyd addressed the House of Commons on Armistice Day in 1918: “I hope we may say that on this fateful morning came an end to all wars.” That’s just wishful thinking. It just means, “I hope so.” It’s not really based on anything concrete.

That’s what led Alexander Pope to write: “Blessed is the one who expects nothing for he shall never be disappointed.” In other words, don’t get your hopes up and you’ll never be let down.

For Christians, our hopes are always way up! We expect everything!

We expect that our God is at work in this world through Jesus Christ and that he is reconciling all people and all things together in himself. We expect that God is right now fixing everything that’s broken and making right everything that’s gone wrong. Our hope is secure because God himself has sealed it by placing his Holy Spirit inside us.

“All over the world, this Gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” ~ Colossians 1:6

That Christian faith and that mutual love and that common hope is changing our lives and changing the world and connecting us together forever.

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Whitney and I took a quick road trip to Austin over the weekend to see our nephew, Isaac, play cornerback for the Brentwood Christian High School Bears. We also paid our respects at the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue at Auditorium Shores, ate some famous Austin barbecue at Oakwood BBQ, cruised the shops on South Congress, climbed Mount Bonnell for the amazing views of the Colorado River, and enjoyed a pre-game meal at the Chuy’s on Lamar. Isaac dominated and the Bears beat some Catholic school 24-0.

 

 

 

 

 

That’s a good weekend.

Go Cards.

Allan

Carriers of Hope

Social distancing. Flattening the curve. Sheltering in place. We’re physically keeping our distance from others right now to avoid spreading infection. We don’t know if we ourselves are carrying the coronavirus or not. We don’t know who among us is a carrier of this dangerous disease and we don’t want to find out by catching it ourselves.

Are you a carrier? What are you carrying?

Colossians 1 says that God has made the glorious riches of the mystery; this is his holy will for Jews and Gentiles; this is the thing he wants for all people; this is what God has been working on for everybody: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The image of God in you, the likeness of Christ in you is about hope. That’s what’s inside you. That’s what you’re carrying. Hope.

And right now I believe the very best thing we can share with those around us is our Christian hope.

Now, “hope” is a funny word. When we say “hope”  in our ordinary English language, we don’t mean something that’s certain. We usually mean it like a wish. We want something to happen, but it might or might not.

“I’m going to the store and I hope they have toilet paper.” They probably won’t.
“I hope it’s going to be a nice spring.” It might.
“I hope the Cowboys win the Super Bowl this year.” That’s just delusional.

Hope in the Bible is not wishful thinking. Christian hope is when God has promised that something is going to happen and you put your trust in that promise. Christian hope is a confidence, a certainty, that it will come to pass because Almighty God promised it’s going to come to pass.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power.” ~1 Peter 1:3-5

You have been born into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus. You have that hope inside you. And God gives hope to people through you. People place their hope in God after an experience with you. You are a carrier! When you walk into a room, the others around you sense that you’re carrying something, not because you’re coughing or sneezing or because your eyes are red, but because you are kind and gentle and compassionate and forgiving and full of grace.

Our steadfast hope is anchored in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We are holy carriers of that blessed hope. And that hope compels us to live courageously and to act boldly and for the sake of others, in the face of whatever comes our way.

Peace,

Allan

One Word

A lot of the time it only takes one word.

Jesus would say just one word and people would be healed. He heals the deaf and the mute by just saying, “Open.” He stills the storm by just saying, “Peace.” He just said “Come” to a guy named Peter and that guy wound up walking on water. One time Jesus was going to a soldier’s house to heal his servant when the soldier stopped him and said, “You don’t have to come to my house; all you have to do is say the word and my servant will be well.”

You just have to say a word.

Your saying a word has the potential to eternally change the lives of the people you know and love. The Holy Spirit puts the person directly in front of you, the Holy Spirit tells you what to say, and the Holy Spirit does with your conversation what’s going to be best, what he’s already planned. If we’ll only trust the Good News.

Colossians 4 says “Pray that God will open a door; pray that we proclaim Christ clearly; make the most of every opportunity.”

Peace,

Allan

Shared in Community

“Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners?” Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'” ~Luke 5:29-32

Let’s get this straight: Jesus made followers because he made friends. And that made waves.

Why did Jesus go to Levi’s house? To make more friends!

The religious people didn’t like the people Jesus hung out with. It ate them up. So they called Jesus names to try to intimidate him to bring Jesus back to the old traditional path. They called him a drunk and a glutton, they called him a friend to sinners. They couldn’t stand it. They despised Levi and his friends because they figured God did, too. God doesn’t like those kinds of people! What are you doing with those kinds of people?

A lot of us have got God wrong. We’ve had him wrong for a long time.

God wants to be friends with everyone. Jesus did not come here to change God’s mind about us; he came here to change our minds about God. God does not exclude anybody from his invitation to salvation. Not anybody. The Gospel is for all. If you read anything in the Bible that excludes anybody from the Kingdom of God, you’re reading it wrong.

Our Father loves everybody and he wants everybody to be saved. And community leads to conversion.

The Willow Creek folks up in Chicago did a study years ago that showed a brand new Christian will invite twenty people to church in the first year he’s a disciple. In the second and third years of being a new Christian, they invite around a dozen to church per year. And that number keeps going down the longer a Christian is a Christian. By year seven or eight, the new Christian is inviting one or fewer people to church each year. If you’ve been a Christian for twenty years, the numbers say you haven’t invited anybody to church in over a decade!

Is that you? Why?

The research indicates it’s because Christians who’ve been Christians for a while have only Christian friends. They’re so engaged in church and church programs and church socials and church camp and church retreats and church basketball and church movies and church schools, they don’t have any non-church friends.

Every follower of Jesus is a missionary. And every missionary has non-church friends. We have to! Missionaries leave their comfort zones and engage a different culture so the people in those cultures can become members of the Kingdom of God. That’s exactly what Jesus did. Instead of ignoring the people at work or the people on your street, how about engaging them? Those people could use a friend who doesn’t cuss.

When Jesus calls us to be salt and light, when he tells us to condition the world we live in,  he says salt is worthless if it loses its saltiness. Well, salt is just as worthless if it’s never used. Salt that’s never shaken at the dinner table is ready to do its good work, but it may as well be locked up in a museum if it’s going to have contact with and absorb into the food it’s meant to condition.

“Pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ… Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let you conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” ~Colossians 4:3-6

Pray that God will open a door. Pray that we proclaim Christ clearly. Make the most of every opportunity.

Peace,

Allan

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