CHRIST IS ABOVE ALL, Continued – COLOSSIANS 1:18-20

Colossians 1:15-20 is a rich passage of Scripture that tells us so much about who Christ is. Today, we finish the examination by focusing on verses 18-20.
HE IS ALSO THE HEAD OF THE BODY, THE CHURCH;

He started the church. He is the One who sustains His church. He is the One who keeps us to Himself, who holds on to us despite all our sin and all the junk in our lives. He is the head of the body of Christ.

HE IS THE BEGINNING, THE FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD…

Just as the firstborn of creation indicates Jesus’ rank as the One above all creation and the One who owns all creation—the firstborn from the dead speaks to His supremacy in the resurrection. He is the One who conquered death and has ushered in a new after-death existence for those who follow Him. There is no one greater.

SO THAT HE MIGHT COME TO HAVE FIRST PLACE IN EVERYTHING.

Jesus desires to be first in your life, to have first place over everything else. Just as He is the head over all creation, the head over His church, the head over all things, He insists on having first place in your life. He is not content to be something you are into for a season or something you think you will get to later. Christ does not want to be a part of your life, but the King over all of your life. He is not a supplement, something we just add to our already full lives. He is not a consultant to give you advice when you think you need it. He is the King who wants first place in everything. His insistence on being first place in everything is good for you. Because you are giving up less than the best to enjoy Him—who is ultimate.

FOR GOD WAS PLEASED TO HAVE ALL HIS FULLNESS DWELL IN HIM.

Because Jesus is fully God, the holiness, righteousness, power, providence, and sovereignty of God dwell fully in Jesus. The love, mercy, compassion, grace, and kindness of God dwell fully in Jesus. And what is absolutely amazing is that when we become Christians, we dwell in Jesus, too.

How are you living or speaking to defy false perceptions of Christ in our world today?

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CHRIST IS ABOVE ALL, Continued – COLOSSIANS 1:16-17

Understanding who Jesus is and correcting false perceptions about Him is essential to your recognition of Christ above all. Today we continue with Colossians 1:16-17.

FOR EVERYTHING WAS CREATED BY HIM,

Jesus did not come into existence when He was born into this world. He has always existed. He was present in creation. He created the whole world and everything in it. He created the great foods we eat and the sunrise we observe. He created Mary, His earthly mother, and the trees, which formed the cross He would embrace. Everything was created by Him.

IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH, THE VISIBLE AND THE INVISIBLE, WHETHER THRONES OR DOMINIONS OR RULERS OR AUTHORITIES.

The language of “thrones or dominions or ruler or authorities” is used elsewhere in the Scripture, and it describes evil supernatural powers that we do not see (Ephesians 6:12). God created all things, even the evil spirits that seek to deceive and destroy. But understand this: the demons were not created evil; they became evil. They sinned against God and were cast from His presence. In the same way, there are good things that God has created that we distort and ruin in our sinfulness. But this does not change the reality that He has created everything.

ALL THINGS HAVE BEEN CREATED THROUGH HIM AND FOR HIM.

Not only has Christ created all things, but also all things have been created for Him to bring Him glory. He created the sunset so we can see visibly the creativity of our invisible God. He created the food we enjoy so when we taste it we might say, “Wow, God is good to us.”

He created all things so that all things could bring Him glory. One day even the demons will bow to Him and declare He is God.

HE IS BEFORE ALL THINGS, AND BY HIM ALL THINGS HOLD TOGETHER.

Marcus Aurelius said that all things have their being in nature. However, the text from Colossians teaches and reminds us that everything is sustained by Christ. You are sitting here in this moment because He is holding the universe together. He is, by His mercy, keeping the sun the exact distance it needs to be from the earth. He is the One keeping the blood flowing through your body. He holds all things together.

What are the false perceptions of Christ in our world today?

CHRIST IS ABOVE ALL – COLOSSIANS 1:15

In his classic work, Meditations, Marcus Aurelius (portrayed favorably in the movie Gladiator as the elderly leader whom Russell Crowe loves and admires) wrote: Nature. All things come of you, have their being in you, and return to you.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he made clear who he viewed as supreme (Col. 1:16). The apostle Paul and Aurelius held two very different perspectives on what is ultimate. Aurelius, a persecutor of Christians, believed that nature is supreme—that what we can taste, touch, see, and smell is where we find our meaning. Many men live as if they believe this, searching for meaning and identity in the things of this world. The Christian perspective is very different, though. We believe that the one God, who created all things, is ultimate and we find meaning and significance in Him. And we believe that Jesus the Christ is God.

In many letters in the New Testament, the apostles devoted time to teaching who Jesus is and to correcting false teaching and beliefs about Him. In Colossians 1:15-20, the apostle Paul reminded his readers and us that Jesus is above all.

Today, let’s start with Colossians 1:15.
HE IS THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD.
God created us in the image of God, but we are not the image of the invisible God. Jesus is different. He is not created in the image of God because He is not created; He is the image of God.

Remember the second commandment in the Ten Commandments? (See Ex. 20:4-5.) One of the reasons God was so adamant to His people not to make any image of Him was because every image we create falls woefully short of the reality of who God is. But Jesus is different. He is not a created image. He does not fall woefully short. He is the image of God.

…THE FIRSTBORN OVER ALL CREATION. The word, firstborn, in the original language refers primarily to position or rank, not chronology. The firstborn son, in this culture, was given authority and rank from the father. The firstborn would receive the inheritance. Jesus is the firstborn. He is first in rank, position, and authority, and He has received all that is the Father’s.

How does Christ as the image of the invisible God and the firstborn over all creation shift your perspective of Him?

Finding God Part Three

Maybe it’s time to try God.
Not “”God” the Philosophy.
GOD, the living Creator of the universe.

More than a concept, he’s a Person, a Deity. He’s someone who knows who you are and where you are. He’s someone who cares about you, your life, your questions.

Maybe this is your time to make a connection to God that will meet your deepest need. Maybe this is your time to understand his great love for you.

Changed for the Better

A few years ago, Neil Thrasher, Gary’s friend and fellow songwriter came out to the LeVox ranch to write and catch up. Neil’s daughter had asked to be baptized on their recent beach vacation. Through the sunset-lit waves and wind, Neil told Gary he heard nothing but these words in his head as his daughter came up from the water.

I came up out of the water
Raised my hands up to the Father
Gave it all to him that day
Felt a new wind kiss my face

In a Billboard interview, Gary described what happened next as, “One of those moments that we felt like we just held the pen, God did all the work.” They began writing Changed together about Neil’s daughter. As they wrote, it became Neil’s story, Gary’s story, Jay’s story, Joe’s story, Tara’s story, your story. It’s all of our stories because it’s a soundtrack for the ultimate story we all share. The Gospel. They went on.

I got off track, I made mistakes
Back slid my way into that place where souls get lost
Lines get crossed
and the pain won’t go away
I hit my knees, now here I stand
There I was, now here I am
Here I am
I’ve changed for the better

Life is a highway. Your heavenly Father has a wish for you. He wants to bless your broken road. He stands ready to change you for the better. Just stop wherever you are, and raise your hands up to the Father.

Pray: God, You’re my Father. I’ve made mistakes, but I trust You. I believe Your Son, Jesus, died and was raised so I could forever be changed for the better. Here is my life. Please bless this broken road. Amen.

Prayer – Talking with God

It is actually pretty awesome to think that we have a direct line to the Creator of the universe. We often make a relationship with God more complicated than it needs to be. If you look at your best relationships, it is usually because you care about one another, you spend time together, and you value what the other has to say. The same things hold true for a relationship with God.

Prayer is simply talking with God. It is being honest with Him but also recognizing His ways are beyond what we can appreciate or understand. One person once said that if you knew what God knows, you would answer every prayer just as He does. This means we have to accept that we won’t always understand why God responds as He does or why we don’t get everything we seek.

In fact, we should simply seek His will and the strength to accept it rather than what our own hearts may desire. He wants what is best for us and has a perfect eternal perspective. Find time each day to pray and talk with God. This will help you to start learning how to trust Him with everything in your life.

There is no formula you have to use for prayer, but many have found a simple model that works well. It is based on the acronym ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Adoration is expressing to God how great He is and how you love Him for it. Confession is admitting your sins and being accountable for disobeying Him so you can be cleansed.

Thanksgiving is thanking God for His grace and forgiveness in our lives and expressing your appreciation for everything He has done for you. Supplication is asking God for help with the things in your life that need change as well as praying for others. Find time each day to pray and talk with God. This will help you to start learning how to trust Him with everything in your life.

Changed

Being changed by Christ means understanding who you really are in Him. You are His disciple. Over the next four days, you will read from God’s Word about what a disciple is and explore the various things disciples do.

A great example of a disciple can be found in the early church as they worked towards carrying out the Great Commission of spreading the good news of Christ into all the nations.

Jesus’ parable of the vine and branches offers us a perfect picture of what being a disciple of Christ should look like.

As a disciple of Christ you will find a need and meet it, find a hurt and heal it, and Jesus will ask you to do a lot of things that won’t fit neatly into a point on a page.

As a disciple of Christ, it’s important that you publicly stand with Him in celebrating your new life, which is why baptism is a great first step for a new follower of Christ. Over the next three days, you will explore what the Bible has to say about the importance of baptism.

There is spiritual power in baptism. This spiritual power is experienced in the fact that you are publicly standing with Christ. You are being baptized into Christ’s death and you are also being raised into new life.

Baptism is a symbol of your being changed by Christ. If you have never been baptized, let these verses serve as encouragement to you in taking that very important next step.

Being changed means reading and studying His Word regularly. Over the next seven days, you are going to explore verses related to understanding what the Bible is, where it came from, the power of the Bible, the reliability of the Bible, and the importance of mastering the text and being mastered by it.

God’s Word is eternal and has and will continue to withstand the test of time. It is absolute and we must submit to His Word in the way the writer of Psalm 119 explains.

Where did the Bible come from and how do we use it? Paul answers these questions in 2 Timothy 3:10-17.

We know the Bible is reliable because it passes the internal test in answering the question do the writers of the Bible claim their writings are true? It also passes the external test in answering the question what does outside evidence say about the Bible? Finally, it passes the bibliographic test by answering the question how well were the original documents translated to today? Today’s scriptures give answers to these questions.

God calls us to master the Bible and to be mastered by the Bible. As a follower of Christ, we must read the Bible regularly so that we can learn what it says, understand what it says, and do what it says. More importantly, we must allow His Word to transform and change us.

In order for God’s Word to change us into what God desires us to be, we must read His word regularly. Today, you will learn what the Bible says about the importance of reading and studying His Word on a regular basis.

There are four things the Word of God brings us: power, healing, direction, and freedom.

Being changed means understanding who God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are and how they interact in your life. This week you will read passages that will help you understand more about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Today you will read about God being your spiritual father.

Not only does the Bible show us that God is our spiritual father, but it also illustrates three characteristics of His fatherhood: He is a patient father, a forgiving father, and an intimate father.

Jesus is Immanuel meaning God with us. God came in the form of His son Jesus to live among us so that He could ultimately provide us eternal life by dying on the cross. Today you will explore what the Bible says about Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.

Jesus is Immanuel, and as Immanuel the Bible tells us that He comforts the afflicted and He afflicts the comfortable.

God sent the Holy Spirit to be our counselor. Being our counselor also means that the Holy Spirit serves as our intercessor, our advocate, comforter, and helper.

The Bible says there are three things the Holy Spirit does for you: He comforts you, counsels you, and convicts you.

You are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit gives you the power to share Christ boldly, gives you power when you are weak, gives you power to have hope in a hopeless world, and gives you power to experience all the fullness of God.

Being changed means you connect with God through prayer. Our relationship with God is like any other relationship we have. We must spend time and connect with God and we do this through prayer. Over the next seven days you will spend time reading what God’s Word has to say about the importance and the power of prayer.

How should we talk to God? The Bible shows us that we should talk to God with gut-level honesty and talk to Him about everything that matters to you.

How should we talk to God? The Bible also says we should talk to God continually and that we should listen for His response.

Not sure how to pray or where to start? Start with Jesus’ example that He shared with His disciples, which is known as The Lord’s Prayer.

What matters to God when you pray? The Bible says your relationships and motives matter.

What matters to God when you pray? The Bible says the way you live matters, your faith matters, and God’s will matters.

Jesus encouraged us to pray without giving up. He illustrated this through the parable of the persistent widow.

Being changed means supporting and regularly attending your local church. Over the next seven days, you will read what the Bible says about what the church is and how you should support the local church through serving and tithing.

The church is not just a building. We are the church and each one of us is called to be ministers.

God has called you to meet the needs in your church.

God has given you both talents and spiritual gifts to use in serving His church and in ministering to others.

We support the local church through the tithe. All throughout the Bible God asks us to give Him a tithe, which is 10 percent of our earnings. In fact, the only time God ask us to test Him in the Bible is related to the tithe in Malachi 3.

Not only does God ask for our tithe, but He also desires us to be cheerful givers beyond the tithe.

During His ministry, Jesus often discussed the importance of tithing and giving generously.

Being changed means engaging in Biblical community. God did not design us to do life on our own, which is why it is vital that we engage in Biblical community with other believers. You will conclude this reading plan over the next six days by reading about the importance of Biblical community from God’s Word.

You’ll never do all God wants you to do without the right people around you. You need people in your life that are with you heart and soul. A great example of this can be seen with Jonathan and the armor-bearer.

One of the benefits of Biblical community is being around other believers that help you grow both spiritually and relationally.

Biblical community comes in many forms, the most common of which is within your local church in the form of regular church attendance and in small groups.

One of the greatest benefits of being in Biblical community with other followers of Christ is having people that support you during difficult times.

Biblical community can occur within a group of believers or between two people. In fact, some of the strongest forms of Biblical community happen between just two people. It’s important that we have believers in our life that can mentor and counsel us, as well as keep us accountable.

On this final day, you will read about the life change that has taken place inside of you as a result of your accepting Christ as your Savior. You have been forever changed as a result of your decision to follow Christ. The old is gone, and the new has come!