Be Tenacious

t’s officially spriiiiiiiing! [Even though it doesn’t feel like it to those in the northeast who are experiencing all those crazy winter storms happening – stay safe and warm!] With this fresh season comes a new Bible study to tuck under your floral belt (I hear florals are all the rage in fashion this year). Divinely Interrupted is a blog designed to encourage, sharpen, and inspire those who have devoted their ordinary, everyday life to Christ. Notice the words ordinary and everyday. That’s because sometimes life is beige. It’s “eh.” It feels a little blah, blah, blah. But those average moments multiply and begin to formulate our lives as believers. Therefore, we must stay in our lane and run hard. Be tenacious. This means "not readily relinquishing a position, principle, or course of action; determined." So, let’s start tenacious living today and remember this goal as we study Colossians! [As a reminder, you can follow @divinelyinterrupted on FB and IG.]

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

-        Since email wasn’t mainstream in 63 A.D., and finding the writer’s name at the end of a paper scroll would’ve been annoying to fumble with, the author was typically identified at the beginning of the letter. That’s why many books begin with upfront identification.

-        Paul is still under house arrest in Rome during this time. He was a busy fella writing during his imprisonment, and in this letter, he writes to the church at Colossae. It’s unlikely that Paul had visited this city, based on his reference in the beginning of chapter 2 (“…I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally”). Don’t lose sight of this as you study through Colossians. Paul writes with deep love and concern to the believers at Colossae whom he (most likely) doesn’t know. Think about this for a moment: How hard is it for you to love those you have met and know personally, let alone those you haven’t?   

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

-        Second word of verse 3: always. Always seems like an exaggerated word to use here, right? But Paul attended the school of hard knocks and he knew that regardless of the circumstances, thanksgiving was paramount. He weaves this “thanksliving” lifestyle into his prayers by reminding the church that when he prays for them, he always thanks God because they love the same God he does. This is a great approach to model in our own prayer lives. Let’s strive to find commonality, not differences.

-        Paul talks about a familiar triad in verse 5: faith, hope, and love. These were not simply words to Paul, but they consumed his thinking. When I think about what I think about, I can confidently say faith, hope, and love do not dominate my thoughts. It’s typically “when’s my next meeting, what’s for dinner, and how are the hubby and boys doing?” We can all take a lesson from Paul when it comes to disciplining our minds.

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

-        This is my absolute favorite prayer in the Bible, and it’s one I’ve prayed over my husband and boys for years. It’s underlined, circled, and dated in my Bible, but it’s also spoken over my “manly men club” on a weekly basis. If you’re wanting to deepen your prayer life, this is a super easy place to start. Pray it over yourself, friends, family, co-workers – there’s no going awry when we pray what’s directly lifted from Scripture. Here’s some high points:

o   “Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying…” Paul instructs us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 that we should rejoice always and pray unceasingly. It’s clear that he not only encouraged this discipline, but he lived it.

o   “We continually ask God…” Jesus tells us directly in Matthew 7:7 to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Of course, He’s not speaking about asking for that awesome ride you’ve been drooling over on the showroom floor or the dream home you saw up for sale last week in a ridiculously expensive neighborhood. Jesus tells us in Matthew – and Paul speaks about it here in verse 9 – that we can continually ask for what’s in alignment with His nature. Knowledge, wisdom, understanding from the Spirit – each of these are fruit-bearing characteristics that we can continually ask God to instill in us.

o   “Please Him in every way…” So often people will ask, “What’s God’s will for my life?” or “I don’t know if I am doing what pleases God.” These next several verses are descriptors of what a righteous life looks like: “bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father…” If this is the epitaph people would believe when reading your headstone, then you are likely living a full life in Christ! For me, God has more work to do.

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

-        These several verses are power-packed, but we need to unpack them and clearly appreciate what’s being taught to us:

o   “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Paul’s point here is that Jesus was not merely like God, but that He was the manifestation of God. Arthur Peake once wrote, “God is invisible, which does not merely mean that He cannot be seen by our bodily eye, but that He is unknowable. In the exalted Christ the unknowable God becomes known.” That’s profound, but it’s worthy to gnaw on.

o   “For in Him all things were created…” I’m not much of a science nerd, but it blows my mind some of the scientific facts about space. For example, we have eight planets in our solar system, but there are thousands of other planets. Thousands. Or how the earth travels around the sun at 67,000 mph (and you said you didn’t like to ride roller coasters!). It’s not just about intelligent design, it’s about a Christ-centered universe. “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” That puts new meaning to it all.

o   “…and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things…” It’s clear that we have nothing to do with the reconciliation formula. It didn’t say, “and through Him – with the help of you being a good person – He reconciled to Himself all things.” God didn’t need your help – that was Jesus’ purpose and He accomplished it Himself. Just live thankful He #tookcareofit.  

 24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

-        As we noted earlier and in the last two Prison Epistle studies (Philippians and Ephesians), when Paul talks about “sufferings” it’s because he’s under house arrest for preaching the gospel.

-        One of the beautiful characteristics I love about Paul is that he knew who he was in Christ. His core identity and ultimate purpose was unshakably rooted in the commission God gave. Every fiber of Paul’s being existed for the cause of Christ. What potency this could have if we genuinely allowed God to be all. My prayer for myself – and for you – is that we would proclaim, admonish, and teach everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end, may we strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in us. You know what else is cool? We can keep praying this prayer because it’s in alignment with His word. Let us do so unceasingly. Amen.