How is your study going? How has God's Word been speaking to you this week? Today I will share what I saw as I walked through this passage....
Following are my notes which I was reading from at various points in this video:
11May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13He 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.
- Colossians 1:11-14
Paul knows the believers are struggling to understand... to choose between tradition and submission. Paul wanted them to have the proper theology and he wanted to help them understand how to put it into practice. So where does he start? Salvation. Let's break this down:
Verse 12 = the believers could thank God because HE made it possible for them to go to heaven and be like the saints (aka the good guys of the old testament).
Verse 13 = it wasn't anything they did.... God did it all, HE delivered them from dark and dreary places into hope and, someday, they will be spending eternity in heaven with Jesus.
Verse 14 = through Jesus they are redeemed/let off the hook from paying the price of sin, which is death, they are forgiven!
Paul goes on in verses 15-21 to draw out the powerful character of Jesus, God incarnate. You almost get the sense he is indirectly saying: what power can man have or do that can compare?what power on earth can produce anything even close to the Almighty? Let's take a look at a few of these verses:
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him.
17 And 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, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Verse 16 = EVERYTHING, including the positions of people, were created through and for Jesus.
Verse 17= in Jesus it is all tied together, it all runs to Him
Verse 18 = Jesus IS in charge... not was but IS. Everything else runs from Jesus. Basically, man has NO authority that doesn't come from Christ first. So now we see that not only is all of life tied to him but also, everything that is to come, comes from him. With him is beginning and end.
What does it all mean? Within these 3 verses we get the sense that Paul could be saying, in the face of the Judaisers trying to mislead the believers, that NOTHING they do, no amount of energy to create any sort of pattern or routine means anything unless it starts with or leads to Jesus. Observances, traditions, rituals.... those were created for man and are there for man... they do nothing to bring people closer to salvation in Jesus. Verse 20 seems to back this up by stating how peace was made by the blood of the cross. NOT by the work of man.
So what did this mean to them then? Well, we can only guess, and we are only just getting started, but look again at verses 11-12:
11May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Because of the power of the cross (salvation), and the power of Jesus Christ, the believers can be strengthened to endure the debates and the problems which abounded in a first century secular society which worshiped multiple gods and clung deeply to traditions and rituals. As a result of their faith in
Christ they could also give thanks to God.
Christ they could also give thanks to God.
So how does this all apply to us today and this study on How To Be Thankful? After all, you tuned in today NOT for a lecture on how Jesus saves by faith instead of works.... but that is just it. The first century Christians knew this too, but they struggled against the false teachings of a group of traditionalists who I believe threatened their sense of Joy and Gratitude by suggesting salvation required more than it did. Why else does Paul repeat the idea of giving thanks so many times in this letter? True gratitude and salvation are linked. As a matter of fact, I believe the first step to true gratitude is salvation. Without salvation, we have no true eternal reason to be thankful. When we reflect on the power of Jesus and what he has done for us, so much of this earth seems fleeting in comparison. Everything else is temporal, passing, and when it passes, so does our thankfulness. But a gratitude placed on eternal things? How does that ever run out?
There is nothing wrong with tradition, so don't cancel Thanksgiving dinner on a misunderstanding! The Bible speaks often about remembering and the festivals that existed for this purpose. As a matter of fact, Jesus used these occasions to deliver some of his messages: "I am the light" spoken during I, personally, think there is a lot to be said for tradition, and especially the tradition of giving thanks... when it is done with a right heart: seeking to dig deep into a meaning which can not only cause us to pause in reflect, but also to project and grow into the days/weeks/months that follow. BUT, we must guard against a simple tradition of JUST BECAUSE, and make ready for something deeper and much more profound each and every time... perhaps even being ready and willing to make/allow changes when need be (even if it means things won't be done like they have always been done).
Please take time today and for the remainder of this week to reflect on how your Salvation has given great cause to be thankful. What are some things God has delivered you from by offering his grace over your circumstances and choices? If you want, you can print the leaf document below and fill them out with gratitude reflections.
Also, I hope you will shine your light and hope to others by sharing some of these deep-heart gratitude reflections on Facebook or your blog and be sure to link back here in the comments below or on my Facebook page so we can celebrate together!
I pray this devotion is already drawing you closer to a deeper walk of gratitude through Jesus Christ.