This morning I am still in Colossians. This time it is chapter 1 and just a bit of chapter 2. I read a devotional by Oswald Chambers from his book “Utmost for His Highest,” Prayer in the Father’s Honor, for August 8th and it touched my heart. It reminded me of the joy and privilege of prayer.
The verse that brought me back to Colossians was Colossians 1:24 that Chambers referenced near the end of his devotional. It was part of a series of questions posed by Oswald Chambers in the closing paragraph of his devotional.
“Is the Son of God praying in me, bringing honor to the Father, or am I dictating my demands to Him? Is He ministering in me as He did in the time of His manhood here on earth? Is God’s Son in me going through His passion, suffering so that His own purposes might be fulfilled? The more a person knows of the inner life of God’s most mature saints, the more he sees what God’s purpose really is: to “…fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” (Colossians 1:24). And when we think of what it takes to “fill up,” there is always something yet to be done.” From <https://utmost.org/>
I read that, and I had to go back to Colossians. The things that Chambers was saying. Who is really in charge in my life? Have I fully surrendered to the indwelling Holy Spirit? Am I listening or simply dictating a list in my prayers?
Colossians 1:15-20 The Preeminence of Christ
Once back in Colossians I went to chapter 1 verse 15 and read thru 20. I love this passage. As I read it, I thought of the opening of the Book of John and Genesis where Jesus and His glory are described.
Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV) The Preeminence of Christ
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 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.
Paul has already given the Gospel to the Colossians, but because of others trying to deceive them he is reminding them of His wonder and Glory and the gift that they have in him, but he does not stop there. He goes on to remind them of how far they have come in verses 21-23.
He reminds them that they were alienated and hostile to God but were reconciled.
Colossians 1:21-23 (ESV) 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Paul reminds them that his task was to bring them the Gospel and their task is to believe and hold fast to that which they have learned.
Colossians 1:24-29 Paul’s Ministry to the Church
I continued in Colossians 1:24-29 thinking about was Oswald Chambers had said… “there is always more to be done. I read Paul’s job. He was to preach. That was what he proclaimed.
Colossians 1:24-29 (ESV) Paul’s Ministry to the Church
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
It was clear that he was talking about himself, but something kept nagging at me. It was a passage about imitating Paul, but I could not pull it back, so I googled it. It was 1 Corinthians 11:1 so I looked it up and read a bit in 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 10:31 – 11:1
The passage that got my attention was 1 Corinthians 10:31-11-1. It spoke of my role of imitating Paul.
1 Corinthians 10:31 – 11:1 (ESV) 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
The thing that got me about this passage was that Paul did all things to the glory of God. His goal was that they may be saved. He explained his example was Jesus and ours should be the same through his example. We all need to share this wonderful news that we have been given. Now we are not all Paul, but neither were the people of Corinth or Colossi, but all that received the message, in their way, could share it.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 One Body with Many Members
As I read through 1 Corinthians, I could not stop thinking about this charge to be imitators of Paul. Then I came to chapter 12:12-13 and I paused here for a while.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (ESV) 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
I read this passage over and over. There is one church and one Holy Spirit and all who believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for my sins and was raised from the dead, and sits at the right hand of the Father…
3 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
The indwelling Holy Spirit of Jesus, our Helper, will guide and direct us to bring glory to the Father if we listen and obey.
I look at all these scriptures and the questions raised by Oswald Chambers devotional, and it all is very humbling. Christ promised the Holy Spirit would come and explained it in Acts of the Apostles. But for us to be effective we must listen and obey. I know there are times when I am unwilling to relinquish control, and I dictate demands more than listening for direction. This occurs most often when facing a challenge or conflict, but Jesus told us in Luke and elsewhere that we need not worry.
Luke 12:11-12 (ESV) 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
I know this passage is true. I know the Holy Spirit had given me words to say when I had no idea what to say. I need only to listen and obey rather than dictate. The same is true of sharing the Gospel. If I listen the Holy Spirit will guide me through what may seem awkward and uncomfortable at first but, He who is in me REALLY is bigger than he who is in the world. I can trust Him… I MUST trust Him.
Heavenly Father, forgive me those times when my pride gets in the way of my prays and my ears closed and my will takes center stage. Forgive me for assuming that I know what I need Father.
Lord, I thank you for your patience with me and your gift of repentance and grace. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for guiding me through the Word to reveal what I need each day.
I pray Lord that today my actions and thought might bring glory to Your Name, and it is in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that I pray, Amen!