Think

It is hard to believe but with all of the technology that has been created in our world to make things better, it has also given us the ability to go through life without having to do much thinking. We have smart phones and smart televisions, and so many other appliances, cars, etc…. are all designed for us to not have to think. While this makes life much more convenient, it has also driven us to laziness when it comes to our mind, and sadly, it can make us much more shallow. Think about the purpose of the television. It is there for our amusement which is a word that literally means “without thinking.” In Colossians 3, Paul encourages the believer to spend your day thinking about spiritual things. How much harder is that today since our culture does not like to think, let alone thinking about spiritual things. Yes, it is a discipline that God wants us to develop in our lives. He wants us to focus our minds on how our decisions align with the will and plan of God. This will take an effort on our part and a quiet time alone with God each morning spending time in His Word and in prayer as we begin our day. Let’s be know, not only as people who think, but as ones who think spiritually.


Released

Imagine that you were arrested and charged with a crime that carried a life sentence, and then you are convicted and sentenced with no hope of parole. What a hopeless feeling. Yet, we don’t have to imagine because that is a picture of what we were before we met Christ. In Colossians 2, Paul reminds us that we were spiritually dead and the charges against us were insurmountable. However, Christ took all of the charges against us and nailed them to His cross. He paid for your sins! We have been released from the tyranny of sin and it can no longer control us, unless we want it to. Daily victory over sin does not come from doing our best to keep the rules, but rather from a vibrant walk with God. Consider this great quote from Alexander Maclaren: “There is only one thing that will put the collar on the neck of the animal within us, and that is the power of the indwelling Christ.” If you have been released from the power of sin, keep living your life in the freedom that you have in Christ and don’t go back to the prison to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.


Labor

Too often people think that the Christian life should be a little bit easier than the life of the non-Christian. After all, we have a loving heavenly Father working on our behalf. Yet as we study the Scriptures, we see that most of those who were faithfully walking with the Lord had more troubles than most others.
 
Paul explains in Colossians 1 that as we serve the Lord we participate in the sufferings of Christ. We have entered into the work that He began and we should expect to receive the same type of welcome that He received. Paul said that He was glad to have suffered for Christ, but it seems that many of us are frustrated when we suffer for Him. Something is clouding our perspective.
 
In verse 29 Paul explains that He works and struggles hard in his ministry, but he is entirely dependent upon the mighty power of God that is working inside of his body. He reminded the Corinthains that as we serve the Lord, our labor is not in vain.
 
Are you laboring hard for the Lord in service to Him, or are you longing for the “flowery beds of ease” as the songwriter put it?


Contentment

Living a life of contentment has always been difficult. In our modern, materialistic world it seems as if so few of us have learned the art of being content. In Philippians 4, Paul explains that he had learned how to be content in every situation of life. He writes this from a prison cell. How did he learn contentment? He had his spiritual eye focused upon God’s plan for his life and he meticulously followed it. He knew that if he was where God wanted him to be, doing what God wanted Him to do, then God would provide all of his needs. Paul had resolved that his wants were not important. He knew the secret of a life of contentment; even in prison. O what a marvelous gift. Paul then encourages us that God will also supply for each one of our needs and He is able to do it because of His vast richness. He created and owns everything. Be content with what you have because God also promised in Hebrews 13 that He would never, never leave us; no, He will never, never forsake us!


Boasting

In 2 Corinthians 11-12, Paul explains that there was a time in his life when he boasted about a lot of things that he either accomplished, or things that he was by his heritage. When pride comes into your life, it is such a difficult week to remove. Paul had a tendency to default to that boasting. Let’s not be too hard on him because we default there as well.
 
What Paul came to understand is that boasting is not the problem; as long as the boasting is in the power of Christ, not in our own power. He shows us that we can and should rejoice in the work of God in our lives through His amazing grace. I can brag all over God for the work that He did and continues to do in my life because He works miracles despite my utter failures and weaknesses. It is truly a strong position to be in when we realize how we that we are, and how strong our God is. There is no boasting in self, but there should be a great desire to boast about our marvelous God.


Comfort

If you have ever been in pain (physical, emotional, or spiritual) and someone has come alongside you to help, you understand the idea of comfort. It is something that people do for you. It can be through a spoken word or a caring act, but sadly it is becoming a lost art in our world, and even more tragically, in the church.
 
What a wonderful thing to realize that God is our great Comforter, and in fact, the Holy Spirit was given that title. No matter what you are going through, God wants to stand beside you and help you through your difficulties.
 
The interesting thing that God tells us in 2 Corinthians 1 is that He comforts us, so that we can comfort others. There are times that God allows you to go through a difficulty so that you can minister to someone else who is facing the same thing one day.
 
I have written a name of a lady in my Bible who demonstrated this type of comfort to my wife and I when we went through the loss of a baby during my wife’s pregnancy about 17 years ago. I still remember the care and the kindness that she showed us. She had been through it herself and she held our hand as we endured the pain. What a ministry. God wants all of us to do the same as we face dark times in our lives. Let the Holy Spirit use you to minister to someone else.


Love

Clearly the best description of love anywhere in the world is found in 1 Corinthians 13. We are reminded that love is not merely action, but the motivation behind the action. What a difference between a nurse who cares for a difficult case out of duty and one who does it with love. The word that God uses in this passage is the love that comes from Him – agape or self-sacrificing love. It is a fruit of the Spirit of God that He implants into the heart of the believer. Therefore, if I am walking in the Spirit, this character trait will shine through my life. Sadly there are days where the best Christian is not all that loving which means that we need to run back to Christ and ask Him to restore the joy of our salvation. We have let something get between us and Him.
 
In this passage, Paul reminds us that love is patient and kind, which means that when I am walking the way God wants me to walk, and when I am fellowshipping with Him like I should, I will be patient and kind. Spend some time thinking about how patient and kind you are with your family and the public in general. We all want to be known for being loving, but the truth is that our actions speak louder than our words.


Teamwork

The church is a unique creation of God. He puts groups of people together for the purpose of worshiping Him, encouraging one another, reaching out to the lost, and building up the believer in their knowledge of Him. The interesting thing is that the Spirit of God equips each believer with a spiritual gift to be used in His church. While some believers seem to have more gifts or at least more prominent gifts, it can be discouraging to the one who feels as if their gift is insignificant or unimportant. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul explains very well that it is God Who has chosen our giftedness and it is God Who put the church together. His plan is that all of the believers should work together as a team through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we do that, God works in amazing ways. Teamwork is a concept that applies to every area of our lives, but it is so vital if we want our church to thrive. There are no insignificant people in the kingdom of God; we are all vessels that are to be used for the glory of God.


Unity

God loves unity! Just think about the nature of God – three persons, yet one God. The Godhead functions in perfect unity in every way. There has never been an argument or a disagreement between the Father, Son or Holy Spirit. This is certainly not typical of the world in which we live today, nor since the beginning of time. Don’t forget that the sons of Adam and Eve had a disagreement and Cain killed Abel. How tragic. We see on the news each day the chaotic results of disagreements almost everywhere you turn.
 
In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul is encouraging the believers to be unified with one another and in their relationship with God. When the world sees unity and genuine love, it speaks volumes. The world does not have too many places where they can find these traits, and they should find them in the church. When they look in the church and they don’t find those traits, it can cause eternal damage to that soul.
 
God is not asking us to like everything that we see done, nor to be best buddies with all in the church, but we must understand that we are all on the same team and we must be willing to link arm, be unified, and serve Christ together. God loves unity, and because of that, we must love it too.