Where do you turn for strength, wisdom, and understanding when times get tough or … confusing?
For me I turn to God through the book of Colossians. Today is one of those days. I could go on by describing the oddities that have happened in the past 24 hours. I could explain the source of tension and confusion over the past several weeks. I could, but does any of that matter? We each face trials, and successes, when we must count on wisdom and direction that is far beyond ourselves. My own circumstances aren’t important, what is important is the message God conveys through His Word.
Consider the words from Col 1:9-13:
Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we have continued praying for you, asking God that you will know fully what he wants. We pray that you will also have great wisdom and understanding in spiritual things so that you will live the kind of life that honors and pleases the Lord in every way. You will produce fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God. God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient. And you will joyfully give thanks to the Father who has made you able to have a share in all that he has prepared for his people in the kingdom of light. God has freed us from the power of darkness, and he brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
All too often I find myself depending on … myself. There is always balance I need to use the gifts, strengths, and talents that God has given me; yet I also need to count on His wisdom, understanding, and strength. Through prayer we should be asking that for ourselves and for the believers we are surrounded with. God has put us strategically in places that he can use us to expand His Kingdom.
Prayer. So based on those verses how should we be praying? Perhaps something like…
Lord, I pray that you continue to fill your followers with a knowledge of your will. Give us enough wisdom and understanding to see the daily actions we need to take. Give us understanding to know where we need to wait. Give us your strength to endure and persevere; knowing that we are indeed doing your work at following your timeline. Remind us that we belong to you and are part of your kingdom.
I find the reminder of our underlying calling so important in Col 1:28-29
So we continue to preach Christ to each person, using all wisdom to warn and to teach everyone, in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature person in Christ. To do this, I work and struggle, using Christ’s great strength that works so powerfully in me.
As we live, performing the daily tasks ahead of each of us, these verses remind me that His intent is for us to continually be expressing His message. His message of joining His Kingdom, then growing in maturity; all through His power. The words also remind me that it isn’t easy, there will be work and it will be a struggle.
I work at Compassion International and like any organization we have great advantages and disadvantages. We work well in some areas and struggle in others. One thing the organization is focused on right now is developing unity by considering how we can be ONE on purpose. Colossians reminds us that our unity comes from Christ, as we pursue Him.
I want them to be strengthened and joined together with love so that they may be rich in their understanding. This leads to their knowing fully God’s secret, that is, Christ himself. In him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are safely kept. I say this so that no one can fool you by arguments that seem good, but are false.
… Be sure that no one leads you away with false and empty teaching that is only human, which comes from the ruling spirits of this world, and not from Christ.
It is tough to stand firm in the belief that prayer can and will bring unity. Paul reminds us that we will face arguments that will seem good, but are false. Again we need to trust in God’s wisdom to discern that is true. Then have the strength, and guts, to stand for what we believe is true.
The result is our lives should appear drastically different as we live each moment. People should see the reflection of Jesus in our actions, our words, and even our thoughts. The prayer that we started with becomes transformational and we become the loudest Gospel message anyone has heard.
Consider the verses from Col 3:8-17.
But now also put these things out of your life: anger, bad temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and using evil words when you talk. Do not lie to each other. You have left your old sinful life and the things you did before. You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you. This new life brings you the true knowledge of God. In the new life there is no difference between Greeks and Jews, those who are circumcised and those who are not circumcised, or people who are foreigners, or Scythians. There is no difference between slaves and free people. But Christ is in all believers, and Christ is all that is important.
God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So you should always clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. Even more than all this, clothe yourself in love. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity. Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking, because you were all called together in one body to have peace. Always be thankful. Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and instruct each other by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Everything you do or say should be done to obey Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus.
I am continually reminded how I’ve been redeemed, or saved, by Jesus, but I also realize how far I am from being sanctified. God’s spirit continues to work in me, often through the tough and confusing times to draw me closer to Him.