Friday, September 28, 2007

The Seventh Thing to do for Jesus

7. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17NIV).

Thinking about all that we do in the grand name of Jesus causes us to ask some questions about how we spend our day. How can I do my job or serve my family in the name of Jesus? Is there a way my recreation can be done in Jesus’ honor? Analysis of our daily actions and a regular check on our priorities will go a long way in helping us obey. Personally, I have a hard time wrapping my brain around this one—whatever—do all. Does this mean we even do our dishes in the name of the Lord?

One of the most wonderful things about Jesus can be found in the fact that while attempting to serve him by doing these seven perfect things, he provides the strength we need to do them. In God’s amazing grace, he continually turns the blessings back on us. Simple, consistent obedience on our part delivers satisfaction beyond our wildest imagination. Let’s work together doing perfect things for a perfect God.

I hope you have enjoyed this seven-part article. Colossians sure has inspired me. I have another idea brewing that I will share with you soon. Always Listen, Susan

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Number Six

6. “. . . and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16NIV).

I’m not a singer, but I love to pray the words of hymns. And haven’t we all experienced comfort in troubled times while reading, praying and singing Psalms? Our contemporary spiritual songs have a lot of repetition. Some of us may not like singing the same thing over and over. Most of the time, I don’t mind repeating choruses, but recently, while studying the book of Revelation, God corrected my thinking on the matter.

In chapter four of Revelation, John describes four living creatures who surround the throne. He wrote:
“Day and night they never stop saying:
Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come”
(Revelation 4:8NIV).
Imagine that! Day and night the same chorus. Apparently, singing is a huge part of heaven. I get the feeling it would be a good idea for us to start practicing down here to get ready for our arrival.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Thing No. Five

5. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom. . . ” (Colossians 3:16NIV).

We are able to let God’s word live in us if we remain faithful to our Bibles. Making a goal to spend time in God’s word daily brings a richness to our spiritual lives that Paul wrote about here. All of us are challenged with the discipline of daily study. Having an accountability partner, who will ask regularly about our study, helps us meet that challenge. Whatever it takes for us to keep our appointment with God is worth it. The rewards are innumerable.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Fourth Thing to Do For Jesus

4. “And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15NIV).

Sometimes we erroneously think we have to be thankful for every good and bad thing that comes our way, but this is not true. God is not asking us to be thankful that our dog died or that our daughter wrecked her car, he is asking us to be thankful in all circumstances. No matter what happens to us, we can find something to be thankful for, the biggest being our salvation.

According to a recent article[1] I read, new scientific studies have proven that an attitude of gratitude benefits our well-being in many ways. To name a few, we have more joy, more energy, are more optimistic, and have fewer illnesses. With God, this is not new science at all. He has always known that when his people fill their hearts with gratitude, their souls are restored and lifted to a higher level. I’m reminded of an old song that cheers my heart: “Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings see what God hath done. . .”

[1] Deborah Norville, How the New Science of Thank You Can Change Your Life (Reader’s Digest, October 2007), 147-151.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thing No. Three

3. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Colossians 3:15NIV).

Like forgiving others, letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts is easier said than done, but not impossible. Doing so calls for a conscious decision to guard our hearts. According to Ephesians 6:16, protecting our hearts requires us to hold up our shield of faith, with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

If our arms feel weak, we can follow the example of the disciples and ask Jesus to increase our faith. Growing faith strengthens spiritual muscle and causes us to stand firm. This allows God’s peace to permeate not only our hearts, but our minds also.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thing No. Two

2. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossian 3:13NIV).

How do we forgive as the Lord forgave us? Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, God has forgiven us completely of all sins, past, present and future. As Paul reminded us in verse 12 above, this makes us chosen, set apart, and loved. These graces bestowed upon us bring a solemn responsibility to forgive others.

As we forgive, it’s important to remember that forgiveness does not condone the offender’s bad behavior, but brings healing and restoration to the one harmed by evil and hurtful actions. Forgiveness is a strange gift that can only be opened by giving it away.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Seven Perfect Things To Do For Jesus

We are studying the book of Colossians in my Sunday School class. As I prepare to teach my lessons I am inspired to write about them. The first one I want to share with you is on Colossians 3:12-17 I found seven perfect things we can do for Jesus there. I want to share one "thing" a day with you until we are done. Here we go:

The moment we belong to Jesus, the Holy Spirit sparks a desire in us to serve him in some way. We often struggle, however, knowing exactly what we should do. I know I did. I started out by saying “yes” to every opportunity that came my way and, boy, did I get tired and discouraged.

We tend to complicate things. Jesus simplifies them. When asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28-29NIV). Did you notice how he changed works to work? Can our work really be that simple?

Jesus gives us numerous ways to show we believe in him—following Paul’s teachings represents but one. Tucked away in the book of Colossians, six jam-packed verses provide good reason to believe in Jesus and can keep us busy for the rest of our lives. And to think, we have the whole Bible!

Colossians 3:12-17 gives us seven perfectly simple things we can do, day in and day out, that are guaranteed to put a smile on our Savior’s face.

1. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. . . And over all these put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12 & 14NIV).

As God’s chosen people we are all dressed up and have plenty of places to go. Anywhere we go clothed in the attributes of Jesus will make a huge difference in the lives of others. Who around us needs compassion? Kindness? Humility? Gentleness? Patience? Love?

If we take the time to notice, people who need a lift are all around us. How about writing a note to an employee’s supervisor who provided that rare commodity, excellent customer service? Or hugging that hard to love family member? Our possibilities here are endless.

As we go about our day dressed in our Jesus clothes, blessing others, we can rest assured that God will bless us in return for he said, “Blessed is he who stays awake and keep his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed” (Revelation 16:15NIV). Don’t leave home without garments of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Are You Blessed?

"Jesus replied, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it' " (Luke 11:28).

The Greek word for blessed is makarios which means supremely blessed; fortunate, well off-blessed, happy.

Oh Lord, am I truly listening to your magnificent voice when I read your word? Am I obeying the instructions I find there? You often speak a verse straight to my heart. I so desire to follow where you guide. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. So I'm holding on to your promise that your amazing grace is sufficient for me, for your power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). In the powerful name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why be accountable?

Why should we have to answer to other people? Why is depending only on the television for church not o.k.? The answer to these questions is clearly laid out in Hebrews 3:

So watch your step, friends. Make sure there's no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it's still God's Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn't slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we're in this with Christ for the long haul.
Hebrews 3:12-14 The Message

Do you have someone to keep you on your toes when it comes to spiritual things? I pray you do. Even though we may think we can stay on track without the help of someone to be accountable to, most of the time, regular time alone with God in the word doesn't happen by accident. Discipline is tough and there are lots of things tugging at us, diverting us from the living God. If you haven't done so already, ask God to lead you to a partner who can encourage you to stay on your toes. You can do the same for them. The results are amazing. I know. I have experienced them for myself.