Pacific Daughter is a Christ-centered blog that provides devotionals, encouragement, and thoughts on topics like faith, life, and culture.
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27 “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in...
27 “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”
Jesus greatly exemplifies this to us. He is the suffering servant that bore the cross for God’s ultimate purpose. God calls us to a life of suffering not to burden us but to find satisfaction in our following in the life of his son. In love, Jesus was sent to join in our human suffering, taking on more than we will ever have to because of what he did on the cross. Paul is mirroring Christ’s actions in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prays that God would relieve his suffering but ends with praying that the Father’s will be done and not his own. In the same way Paul concludes that while he has a desire to be relieved from his suffering, his ultimate desire is to do God’s will. God doesn’t promise that we would not experience suffering, we should expect it, but trust that even in suffering, he has a redemptive plan for us in Jesus.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:1 In Colossians 4, Paul gives his final instructions to the church encouraging them to continue in their growth. He says to continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Giving thanks seems to be a very important theme in the book of...
2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
In Colossians 4, Paul gives his final instructions to the church encouraging them to continue in their growth. He says to continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Giving thanks seems to be a very important theme in the book of Colossians and Paul continues to emphasize its importance in the very last chapter.
In every chapter of the book of Colossians Paul instructs the church to be thankful (Colossians 1:12, 2:7, 3:15-17, 4:2). In most instances, this command seems misplaced considering book’s over-arching theme of spiritual growth and maturity. He goes on long discourses on who we are and how we are to behave in light of our standing with the sovereign Lord.
What does thanksgiving have to do with spiritual growth?
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Thanksgiving is not only the fruit of our spiritual growth, it is also a tool given to us for our growth.
If we are truly made alive in Christ, then through his power we would bear the fruit of a grateful heart. We would exemplify all the attributes we find in Col. 3. Paul mentions thanksgiving often but he isn’t simply reminding us, he is applying the tool of gratitude. We are to give thanks in the moments of struggle and growth. Thanksgiving is a precedent for godliness. When we give thanks despite what we are going through and how we feel, our hearts are drawn to who God is and what he has done rather than ourselves. It changes our perspective from or limited human view to God’s sovereign and holy perspective. We are reminded of the truth that we have a reason to be forever grateful no matter what and in all things. We have Christ who has made a way for our salvation. In the light of who Jesus is, all other struggles fade away and our hearts are drawn to a position of humility that prepares and spurs in our spiritual growth.
3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who...
3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
In Colossians 3, Paul calls the church to put away past sins and seek the things of God. He says that since we have been raised with Christ, we must seek the things that are above, where Christ is. He gives a brief list of the earthly things we must put to death. They once walked in them but now they are to put them all away and put on their new self.
When I reflect on the list of earthly things that we are to put to death, I realize how impossible it is for me to completely eliminate them all from my life and behavior. Maybe the first list could be somewhat doable, but he includes things I struggle with almost everyday in the second list. He includes things like anger, obscene talk, and lying. Even the most godly person I know has gotten angry. How do we carry out the call to set our minds on the things that are above and not these earthly things? My initial response to this call would be to shut myself away from the world. If I am physically separated from everyone and anything that could tempt me to sin, then I’d be safe. But this is not what God expects of us and it is obvious in his commands to go out into the world to spread the gospel. He doesn’t expect us to hide from the world and temptation in our own security and works. He expects us to hide ourselves in him.
We can place all of our sins onto him, he takes them all. Paul uses the imagery of taking off and putting on clothing. We are to strip ourselves of immorality and be clothed with grace. Our sins were placed on Jesus and buried with him. Our new selves, our new clothing, is placed on us by Him and we are made new and alive in His resurrection.
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
There is a common misconception that when we hand our lives over to God we will be giving up all the fun parts of our lives that we enjoy and will then have to live a life of boring, righteousness to pay him back. Seeking the things that are above is seeking Christ, because that’s where he is. Paul gives a picture of what it looks like to seek Christ and his life for ourselves. He doesn’t just stop there but he tells us why: because we are his chosen ones, we are holy and beloved. God loves us and knows, better than we do, what’s best for us. He doesn’t simply want to give us behaviors that just look good but he wants to give us the life that he knows we will enjoy the most. Ultimately, he offers us a life of peace, joy, and harmony, all bound together in his love.
What is not to desire about that? Why wouldn’t we seek these things? Without Jesus our sin looks good to us. It feeds our flesh and makes us feel temporarily good on the surface while it eventually destroys us. Paul reveals in his letter to the Colossians that our sin is not good for us. Jesus died so that we could have the power to have it destroyed and that we could receive a better life in Him. Everyday is a taking of our old selves, our flesh, and giving them over to Jesus and putting on our new selves. Paul says that this new self is still being renewed in the image of its creator. We are not as perfect as Christ yet. But everyday as we take off our old selves, placing them on Christ, and put on our new selves, our lives are being hidden with Christ in God and when Christ who is our life appears, we also will appear with him in glory.
My Last Post: A Life Alive in Christ
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of...
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Our gift in Christ is not just a measly gift, It is a treasure; the ultimate treasure. Paul poses a good question and one I think is helpful for continuing in our spiritual maturity. Are we living as if we are alive in Christ? The fruit of spiritual maturity is living the way God called us to. This does not end with following God’s rules. In fact, Paul says to not let others disqualify our faith through burdensome religious laws. Walking in the light of Christ means we will not only live righteously but that we will live joyfully. A spiritually mature Christian “reaches the riches of full assurance of understanding of God’s mystery, which is Christ in whom are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” The knowledge and wisdom of God has been revealed to us through Christ and it is not only a gift but a treasure.
Before knowing God we were dead in our sin and through Christ we were made alive through the forgiveness of our sins. Religiosity is not the sign that we have been made alive in Christ. He is not saying, “You have been made alive in Christ, now live it by following the rules and denying yourself so that you can make yourself “righteous” in your own eyes before God.” He is saying, “You have been made alive in Christ, now live it by treasuring Christ and the knowledge that your old self has been buried with him and you have now been raised to life. You are a new creation in Christ. Do not let anyone burden you with the idea that you can find life in yourself or anyone/thing else, but hold fast to Jesus, the head of the body, who will grow you with a growth that only comes from God.”
A life in Christ is a rich one in which we are continuously rejoicing in his life, death, and resurrection. Religion and legalism is a spiritual struggle and one of the most deceiving ones because it looks like righteousness. But God has disarmed the spiritual authorities and rulers by canceling our debt and nailing it to the cross. Satan lies to us by saying that we are still the accused, that we are still guilty. He makes us think that we need to atone for our own sin and get rid of our shame. But Jesus did this for us and we need to live like it. We need to rejoice, we need to give thanks, we need to treasure Jesus. This is essential and foundational to our spiritual growth. If we can’t find joy in our spiritual walks we are missing the crucial point. Jesus does not give us a new burden, he has lifted it. Let us reflect on the fact that we are made alive in Christ and now let us live like it.
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“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out...
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” –Ephesians 2:1-10
Christmas is known to be the season of giving and in an effort to bypass secular holiday traditions Christians are always reminded to make Jesus the reason for the season. How are we to use this holiday to highlight the gospel truth of Jesus? We are reminded that the point of Christmas is not shopping for gifts to share with one another but to reflect on the gift of Jesus Christ coming into the world.
Paul explains to the Ephesian church that they were once dead in their sins. Being in that state they walked in the fruit of sin; following the course of the world and carrying out the desires of the flesh. In our sin, we are children of wrath. He then says that God saved them from this state and brought them into a new one by raising them to life through Jesus because of his rich mercy and love. Paul explains that God has given this gift of salvation that cannot be earned through works. He has freely given immeasurable riches of grace and kindness in Jesus. He is our gift.
This passage gives us insight to help us reflect on the gift of Jesus during this season. Paul says that salvation through Jesus is the gift of God, which is enough to let us rejoice and give thanks but he elaborates on our gift even further. The richness of the gift does not end with our salvation from our state in sin. The gift is not merely an avoidance of punishment but it is everything we have received in Christ. We are also saved from the fruit of sin and have been given the gift of walking in Jesus. Paul explains that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. We were created to walk in the things of God and through Christ we have the gift to freely walk in the things that we were destined to but unable to do because of sin. God has given us the gift of freedom. Jesus does not just give us an example of this but he is the vessel and power by which we can walk in it.
Sometimes, we forget that sanctification (the process of becoming more holy) is part of the gift that we can receive in Jesus through the Spirit. We have been rescued but we are also being restored. Without this perspective, holy living can be motivated by guilt. We rely on ourselves to make it up to God for our great gift of salvation, but everything we are called to be cannot be achieved without God. He is the great giver of gifts. Sometimes Christmas ends up being a time for Christians to reflect on how to give back. We think things like, “How can we be better at doing the things we haven’t been doing all year for the sake of Jesus?” or “What can I present to God to show my appreciation like the Wise Men in the Bible?” But just like the rest of the year, Christmas is not about giving, it is about receiving.
This Christmas let us reflect on and rejoice in the fact that God has given us the most precious gift in Jesus Christ and all we are called to do is receive it.
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9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and...
9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
What does it take to become spiritually mature in Christ? Scripture is clear that we are called to become mature Christians and gives a plethroa of descriptions of how we should behave. But how are we to achieve spiritual maturity?
Paul lets the Colossians know that he prays that they will continue to mature in the Lord and lays out what that looks like. Maturity means knowing the will of God; which is to walk in a manner that he sees fit. God calls us to behave a certain way as Christians and Paul elaborates on what that behavior looks like. We are to bear good fruit and increase in our knowledge of God, be patient and joyful in endurance, and give thanks to the Father.
The church in Colossae were dealing with false teachers that taught that wisdom and power could be achieved elsewhere. Upon reading Paul’s desire for them to grow in wisdom and power, they had every temptation to rely on false teachings and even themselves to achieve the lifestyle that Paul said they were called to live.
Like the Colossians, we are susceptible to think that we can rely on the strength and power of others or ourselves to live the way God has called us to live. We strive to live out passages like these and treat them as grocery lists of good behavior, thus breeding in ourselves self-righteousness or self-defeat. When we rely on ourselves to become spiritually mature, we miss the point of what God is calling us to in the first place. This is why Paul does not just give us a list a rules but expounds, quite poetically, later through the chapter on the supremacy of Christ (Col. 1:15-23).
Paul says that we must give thanks to the Father because he has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. As believers, we are not only saved be grace from wrath but we have gained an inheritance. This inheritance includes the ability to walk in the light of Christ, in a manner that is worthy of and pleasing to the Lord. God does not burden us with rules that we could never achieve on our own. He invites us to share in the inheritance of holiness. Spiritual maturity is not a goal but a gift. It is the fruit of a life rooted in Christ that we are able to enjoy with God.
God does not give us a list of behaviors that we must achieve in order to be worthy of him, he gives us Jesus who through the power of the cross is able to deliver us from the domain of darkness and transfer us to his kingdom.
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Paul assures the Colossians that if they do not shift from the hope of the gospel, then they are able to live in the way that God has called them.
In the same way, we are called to walk in a manner that is pleasing to God. We have the example of Christ in scripture to show us what that looks like. But we must not forget that we are only able to do it through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let us not grow weary in our striving toward spiritual maturity but give thanks to God that through Jesus we have received the gift of righteousness.
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