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Janet's Corner

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A Heart of Purpose

Colossians 1:21-2:5

 

Paul has challenged us to allow God to fill us with a heart of thanksgiving, a heart seeking the knowledge of God’s will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding, and a heart that exalts Jesus. Today he speaks to the point that no matter where he is, free or in prison, his heart is filled with the same purpose – that his aim – his purpose - is to be used by God to present everyone perfect/complete/mature in Christ.

 

Let’s read Colossians 1:21-2:5.

 

Remember we are looking to understand Paul’s purpose of heart no matter what his circumstances are.

 

Look at Colossians 1:28-29  “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” Even in prison Paul was struggling with the strength of God to present everyone mature in Christ. We’ll see what this entails later in the lesson.

 

He says it another way in Colossians 2:2…”My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.” He wanted them to know and understand the riches of who Christ is.

 

Paul addresses how he accomplishes his purpose in the verses we read today.

 

1:21-23

 

Preacher: Sharing the gospel

After a wonder-filled expression of the truth about who Jesus is as supreme and sovereign Lord and King, Paul reminds them how God looks at them -  who they were and what Christ had done for them and what they have become. They were separated from God and enemies of God, with evil behavior. But God didn’t leave them to their own ways – God reconciled them, making peace with God, through Christ’s death on the cross. His fleshly death is emphasized here because of the false teachers’ denial of the incarnation of Jesus. On the cross he bore our sins in his body (I Peter 2:24).  In verse 19, we see that reconciliation also happened through the blood of Jesus. Those reconciled to God through faith in the work of Christ were presented to God as holy (set apart) and blameless (without blemish) and without reproach (free of accusation and were encouraged to continue to remain steadfast and firm in their faith. Paul establishes the message and himself as a messenger of this life changing gospel.  Paul says this is how God sees you! Reconciled – set apart, without blemish, free of accusation! How do you see yourself and others? Do you keep reminding yourself of your past? Or others of their past? Through faith in Christ we have been made holy, blameless and without reproach in God’s eyes!

 

 Is this the gospel that your life preaches? Remember what you believe effects what you do – how you live.

 

Paul has a message that gives him purpose. Paul is also suffering for the gospel.

 

1:24-27

 

Prisoner: Suffering servant of Christ:

Paul says he is rejoicing in his suffering because it has purpose. 

Paul identifies himself as a minister or a servant of Jesus by God’s call and equipping in his life (vs 25). Remember he had never met these people personally and was establishing who he is. The false teachers would even use his imprisonment to cast doubts in the mind of the believers.

Paul identifies his suffering as that which benefits those who hear the message - for the sake of the body – the church. Those who hear will be more “filled with knowledge, and ready for service."

 As we read verse 24, we need to understand the sufficiency of Christ’s death on the cross. Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross was sufficient for the sin of the whole world. The NIV Study Bible explains this: “Paul is suffering affliction because he is preaching the good news of Christ’s atonement. Paul filled up Christ’s affliction by experiencing - in his flesh - the added sufferings needed to carry this good news to a lost world.” That word affliction means “pressures of life.” He has not only experienced imprisonment, but beating, all kinds of weather, hunger, danger. Talk about pressure! They are listed in I Corinthians 11:16-33.

His suffering is for those who need to hear the mystery that God has kept hidden in past ages and generations, but is now being shared with believers They are pressures that are experienced because of Paul’s mission (vs 26-27) – revealing the mystery of God to the saints and the Gentiles. A mystery, as referred to in scripture, is a concealed truth known only to God which God alone can reveal. This mystery which God chose Paul to reveal is the truth of who Christ is and includes the hope of God being manifested in the world around them - that Christ would live in each of them in all his fullness! Christ in you, the hope of glory!

 

Romans 8:17 says as believers we will share in his sufferings and share in His glory – eternally! We may all experience suffering for Christ in someway – whether it be an insult to what we believe or a rejection or actual physical suffering for His sake and the rest of the body.

 

 And if you, personally, have not experienced suffering in the name of Jesus, as members of the body of Christ, we suffer as others suffer, for as one part of the body suffers, others suffer as well. (I Corinthians 12:26)

Paul was a preacher and a prisoner carrying out his purpose, even if it meant suffering for the advancement of the gospel.

And he was.

 

1:28-2:5 Prayer-warrior: Struggling for the saints

Struggling – what does Paul mean? Read verses 1:29 and 2:1. This word used twice here in this passage, refers to the strenuous effort put forth by a runner to run a race. So Paul was striving, making a strenuous effort to fulfill his purpose.

The finish line was to present everyone mature in Christ. And how was he struggling, making this effort to win this race?

In prayer: We’ve already seen his prayer for these saints in the beginning of this letter.

In proclaiming, admonishing and teaching We also see that he was proclaiming, admonishing and teaching the saints through this letter, as well as spending time with Epaphras in Rome and others who would carry this letter and personally contact this group of believers.

What about this goal of presenting everyone complete in Christ. The influences of pagan religions were teaching that you would be considered perfect when you received special knowledge or secrets. As a believer, when we believe in Christ, we are without blemish as a newborn baby, yet we must mature to our full potential as Christ works in us overcoming our sinful nature. So we are in a process of maturing. This is Paul’s call and purpose of heart.  Paul wanted them to discover and know this hidden treasure in Christ, receiving his wisdom and understanding, so that no fine sounding arguments or persuasive arguments would derail their faith. Back in 1:23, he relates his desire for them not to be moved from the hope of the gospel, to be established and firm in their faith.

In God’s strength: Whose strength is empowering him? Verse 29 says it clearly – it is Christ’ strength powerfully working within him.

II Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”  You and I are containers for Christ- like jars of clay the word says. And God has chosen to use these weak, breakable, marred vessels, so that others will see the greatness and goodness of deeds done in Jesus name are done through Christ’s strength, not the strength of the vessel. Have you ever tried to do Christ’s work in your own strength? Ask God to help you see the difference between your strength and his and to remind you to rely on him.

Paul is struggling for them even in jail - with all Christ’s strength – to present each of them mature in Christ. How about you and me – is seeing others mature in Christ a purpose in your life?

Take time to consider how this purpose is working out in your life

How do we see the truth of this passage working out positively in your life? Perhaps you’ve been aware of God’s presence and wisdom as you’ve encouraged someone in a struggle they are going through. You recognized God as the source of wisdom as you spoke to that person. This is a chance to rejoice in what God is doing!

How do you fall short of the truth of this passage? Maybe you tend to rely on your on strength and wisdom rather than on Christ’s as you give others help or advice. Or maybe you are a better mouthpiece, than a model of truth.

Paul lived what he preached!  Do you?

 

Is seeing others mature in Christ a purpose in your life?

 

Memorize Colossians 1:28-29, taking time to meditate on it everyday, allowing God to work its truth into your mind and thus your life, giving you a heart of purpose.