Fruit and a Smile

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you … 10 … will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work … (Colossians 1).

When we call ourselves Christians we are bearing His name and thus representing Him in life. Is it therefore too much to ask that we bear that name in a good way—that we “walk in a manner worthy” of Him? To walk in a worthy manner simply means trying “to please Him in all respects”—in everything we do.

And just what pleases our Lord? “Bearing fruit in every good work.” How interesting it is that sin began when Adam and Eve took and ate forbidden fruit, and yet its effects are shown to be reversed when we produce “fruit” to be given back to the One from whom it was first stolen.

Lord, help us This Day to walk in such a way that brings you fruit and a smile. Amen.

A Grand Junction

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding … (Colossians 1).

True spirituality ends in the heart, but it begins in the mind with “knowledge … wisdom and understanding.” The word “understanding” literally means “a flowing together”—such as in Grand Junction, Colorado, where the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers come together. In this case, it is the flowing together of knowledge and spiritual wisdom. Thus, spiritual understanding comes when spiritual knowledge joins with spiritual wisdom. 

We talk a lot about loving God with our hearts, yet forget that we are also to love Him with our minds (Matthew 22:37). Too often we pray only for people’s hearts, when by all means we should be praying for their minds. New followers of Christ especially need to have their minds filled with biblical truth.

I remember as a new believer how for the first time in my life I began to fill my mind with the Word of God. I could not get enough of the Bible, spending at least 3-4 hours every day just reading it. I had never been introduced to such knowledge before, and it changed my whole life. Even while taking a heavy load in college sciences (19 hours), I spent at least as much time (if not more) in reading the Bible than studying for my classes. God blessed me, too, for I also made my highest GPA during those final four college semesters.

Lord, fill us This Day from Your Word with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Amen.

Influence

7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit (Colossians 1).

The name “Epaphras” means “lovely”—so isn’t it fitting that the thing he wanted to make sure Paul knew about the Colossian church was their “love … for all the saints” (vs. 3), as well as their “love in the Spirit.” Actually, it is likely that it was Epaphras—and not Paul—who introduced the gospel to these people. How fitting then, that the one overarching quality of their fellowship was love, having come from a “lovely” man.

This is a good reminder that our greatest influence upon others is that which is the greatest influence upon ourselves—how that which is deemed most precious and important to us will be communicated and received as most precious and important to others.

Lord, help us This Day to influence others with principles founded in the gospel of Jesus. Amen.

Gospel Fertility

5 … the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth … (Colossians 1).

In the mid-nineteenth century a plant called Kudzu was introduced from Japan to the United States, and in the first half of the 20th century it was distributed as a high-protein content cattle fodder and particularly as a cover plant to prevent soil erosion during the Dust Bowl. One cannot help but notice its presence along the vast highways of the South. In fact, it has been called “the vine that ate the South.”

Yes, I am indeed comparing this vine to the gospel, but of course not in a negative sense. But like the gospel, “it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing” all over the world. Even as Kudzu is increasing 2,500 acres each year, so is the gospel growing and taking hold of thousands upon thousands of lives each year. So, the next time you take a drive and notice Kudzu along the road—think of the gospel.

Lord, we thank You for the fertility of the gospel. Help us This Day to walk in it, grow in it, and spread it. Amen.

Perspective

4 … since we heard of … the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you … (Colossians 1).

A true “hope … in heaven” will change how we treat people on earth—especially those with that same hope. Why? Because we understand that heaven is a holy community of the kind of people we rub shoulders with in worship, and the love we show them now is simply the beginning of what we will experience forever above.

Believers who are not loving one another have their eyes fixed on earth rather than heaven. While focused on earthly desires and goals, they do not see their brothers and sisters in Christ as such—but rather as competitors and sometimes even enemies. But if their hope is fixed on heaven, their perspective is changed so that they see that “the word of truth, the gospel” does not take sides among those who believe. It will take every single one of us to heaven.

Lord, help us This Day to hope in heaven, so that we might love the brethren. Amen.

Second-Best Good News

3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints … (Colossians 1).

Perhaps the second best thing to hearing and receiving the Good News (Gospel)—is hearing of others receiving it. I saw a preview recently of an animated motion picture depicting the Christmas Story, the beginning of the Good News. And what made it especially moving to me was a part showing some “bad guys” and their lives being turned around—which is exactly why Jesus came! I cried, and it was just a movie!

But the tears did not drop for an animated figure on a screen. They fell for the idea of the freedom and redemption found in Christ. To me, the best stories are the ones about redemption, especially the ones where people change from despising Christians to loving them—when they change from having a love for themselves to a love “for all the saints” in Christ. I love this story, because it is my story, too.

Lord, thank You for changing our hearts so that we love other believers. Help us This Day to pray for them and to do good to them. Amen.

Never Too Much

2 … Grace to you and peace from God our Father (Colossians 1).

I hesitated at first to isolate this phrase, thinking Paul’s salutation might be worn and overused. But then I thought perhaps we foolishly brush it aside much like a child does her doting mother’s kisses. The truth is, we can never have too much “grace … and peace from God our Father” through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We will all need to draw from the river of grace today, likewise, we will all benefit from basking in the waters of God’s peace—for we can never experience too much of either. By God’s grace we have His peace, and then that peace slows down our hectic lives so that we can notice His grace.

Lord, we all needed to see this salutation once again. Help us This Day to walk in Your grace and peace. Amen.

Saints and Brethren

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae … (Colossians 1).

Paul included Timothy in the salutations of five other epistles he wrote: 1 Thessalonians, Philemon, Philippians, 2 Corinthians, and 2 Thessalonians. Why? It was not just that he was like a “beloved son” (2 Timothy 1:2) to Paul, rather, it was because Timothy was a faithful brother who labored alongside him in his gospel ministry.

Likewise, in Colossae Paul had not left them without teachers to continue the work among them. Indeed, there were both “saints” as well as “faithful brethren” who labored alongside them, teaching and encouraging them in the faith. Every healthy church has both saints as well as faithful brethren who minister to them. Together they are “in Christ” and for His gospel.

Lord, thank You for the faithful brethren You supply in our churches. For those of us who are counted among them we ask for Your grace as we serve the saints This Day. Amen.

By the Will of God

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God … (Colossians 1).

Paul’s apostleship was grounded on “the will of God” and nothing else. It didn’t matter that, being a pharisee, he was religiously qualified as a professional. It didn’t matter that, being both a Jew and a Roman, he was socially qualified to bridge the gap between those two groups. No, in the end, all that mattered was that God Himself had called him.

As it was with Paul’s apostleship, so is it also with our salvation and calling as “a holy priesthood” who “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Yes, we may indeed have talents or experiences that would lend themselves to good service, but the only thing that really matters is that we have been called of God to know Him and to serve Him. We did not choose God—He chose us.

Lord, thank You for Your calling in our lives. Help us This Day to fulfill this calling and live according to Your will and not our own. Amen.

Two Faces

19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. 21 Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren. 22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you (2 Timothy 4).

Before signing off with a final blessing, Paul finishes his list of people to mention. He begins with Prisca and Aquila, a faithful couple he first met in Corinth and shared ministry with while on his second missionary journey. He ends with four new friends—Roman believers (all have Latin names) with him in Rome. Stuck in-between are Onesiphorus, who had often visited him there in prison (1:16), and two others, Erastus in Corinth and Trophimus in Miletus.

But in the middle of all of these is an interjection which seems to blurt out on the page: a plea for Timothy to come soon. It’s as if Paul’s subconscious suddenly reminds him of that imminent “departure” he anticipates, so that he reaches out to Timothy to come before winter makes travel impossible. Oh, how he wants to see Timothy’s face just one more time! 

Perhaps for all of us there will be two faces we will long to see at the end of our lives: the face of the closest living loved one, and the face of Jesus on the other side.

Lord, thank You for all the good people (both family and friends) You have placed in our lives. Thank You most of all for Jesus. Help us This Day to appreciate and love them all. Amen.