Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom...." Colossians 3:16
Have you ever noticed that you start to act and talk like the people you hang around? If you have been married for several years, you might even hear, "You and your spouse look alike!"
Paul talks about the old self and the new self in this portion of his letter to the Colossians. He says you and I need to put to death our sinful, earthly ways and put on the new ways of Jesus. Over time, spending time in God's Word and packing His truths in your heart changes the way you act, talk, and look.
The word dwell in this verse does not mean to just let God's Word "hang around" in your mind and heart, but to let it influence the way you live, which in turn will influence those around you.
What are some ways you can begin to cultivate the Word of God in your heart so that it influences your behavior and the behavior of those around you?
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, "Where is your God?" These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, with the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival." Psalm 42:1-4
Monuments are structures built to help remember and celebrate significant people, places or events that have impacted history. In this passage, the psalmist is looking at a desperate world, realizing his desperate need for God and hearing the mocking of his culture, but he is not shaken. Why not? Because he is tapping into the spiritual monuments of a good and faithful God in his life. "These things I remember," he says.
In the life of a Jesus follower, no matter how desperate the times get, what our culture says, or how bleak the situation is, we must recognize our desperate need for Christ and remember the faithfulness of God. We must have confidence in Him because of what He's done!
When was the last time you took time to think about what God has done for you, and used that fact as a monument to minister to yourself?
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?" Hebrews 12:7
Have you ever experienced going to a restaurant to enjoy a quiet meal, only to be seated next to a family with an undisciplined child? If so, you may have overheard this common threat, "I'm going to count to three and you'd better..." Worse, you may have actually listened to the parent count to three, only to realize that nothing happened after "three" was reached. Often, a child's behavior can escalate to the point of the parents giving up and giving in to the child.
Unfortunately, in our culture this kind of capitulation is becoming the norm. Discipline is often seen as too harsh and even damaging to a child's self-esteem. However, God doesn't see it that way. God wants us to be centered on Him and not centered on ourselves, and delivering discipline is one way He does that for us. Our God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14) and He loves us too much not to discipline us, and too much to leave us alone in our sin. As Jesus followers, it's important that we understand that God's discipline is for our good.
How is God disciplining you right now? How is He using His discipline of you to grow you in your faith?
"...for by grace you have been saved through faith." Ephesians 2:8-10
You are saved from spending an eternity away from God's presence when you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is His grace that reveals this fact to you, and that moves you into confession and belief -- you cannot get there on your own.
When Jesus asked the disciples who He was, Peter answered rightly, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!" Jesus immediately responded to Peter that he could not have learned that from another human, but only through the Father revealing it to Him (Matthew 16:16-17).
It is God's grace that saves us. It is God's grace that keeps us. It is God's grace that spurs our faith on to believe. Have you ever asked God for just His grace?
"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:10
Ever wondered why you have the ability to love God? It's simple: we love God because He loved us first. Humans do not have the ability to desire or turn to God first, and God knew that, so He came to humanity in the form of a man. God's offer not only meant that He was willing to humble Himself to give humanity a chance at relationship, but it also meant that He was willing to give up His sinless Son to do it. And He did.
John uses a word translated as "propitiation" here. To propitiate means to remove wrath by the offering of a gift, and that is what God did for us through Jesus. Acknowledge before the Father right now that you would never have loved Him without His having sent Jesus to die for you, and give Him thanks.
What are several evidences of God's love for you in Christ?