“To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Col. 1:2).
There are times in life when a dedicated child of God needs to reflect upon the greatness of what he has in Christ. Doubt, despair, and the like can creep in if one is not prudent. The letter to the Colossian congregation was of such great importance that Paul even requested that the congregation at Laodicea receive this same information for their benefit (cf. Col. 4:16). Consider what saints and faithful brethren know.
Recipient of the Grace and Peace of God. This letter begins with the blessings of grace and peace. These are two strengths that keep the faithful settled in mind. Salvation is by the grace of God (cf. Eph. 2:5) and the peace of God is a wonderful spiritual benefit to the faithful (cf. Col. 3:15). John wrote the book of First John to strengthen the faith of the brethren, when he wrote, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). The grace of God continues to motivate (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10) and the peace of God continues to keep the mind at ease (cf. Phil. 4:6-7). There are some outside and some inside the church who would say that churches of Christ (cf. Rom. 16:16) do not really believe in the grace and peace of God as a present, existing state. Such could not be further from the truth. One should heed Paul’s warning, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit” (Col. 2:8).
Reconciled unto God Through Christ. Paul wrote, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister” (Col. 1:21-23). While this section underscores the conditional nature of continuing to be holy and faithful in one’s walk with the Lord, it also underscores that one is still in that reconciled state from the point that he died to sin (cf. Col. 2:20; 3:3) was buried with Christ in baptism (cf. Col. 2:12) and was raised with Christ to live anew (cf. Col. 3:1). The Father has “delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13).
Reassured of the Hope in Christ. Hope is a constant message in the book of Colossians (cf. Col. 1: 5, 23, 27). Hope from the Biblical perspective is a quiet confidence and earnest expectation of God’s promises being fulfilled. If the faithful child of God could not know that he had hope, how could he have the true joy that is in Christ? Paul stated of hope, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19). Notice in that verse that Paul stated that the child of God has hope in this life as well as the hope of the life after this earthly life in view of the resurrection of Christ. Hope is an element of spirituality that has to do with salvation (cf. Rom. 8:24). Faithful, hold on and press on!
“And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men” (1 Sam. 2:26).
The childhood of Samuel was characterized by a bright influence in a dark time. Things would become even darker for the nation while Samuel grew from boyhood to manhood. However, Samuel’s influence would grow stronger through the years. The great power of God is seen in that a child can have a tremendous influence over a people. The Bible is filled with great illustrations from the influence of children. Consider three lessons found in the text of the Bible.
Humility. Jesus used a little child to teach his disciples a needed lesson. “And he said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3-4). The innocence of childhood is often marked by humility of spirit. Jesus revealed that such a quality is key to entering into heaven. This childlike spirit is never to be lost.
Helpful. A little maid (cf. 2 Kings 5:2) gave great news to the wife of Naaman’s wife. “And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:3). This young girl could have been silent or even given false information. However, she was helpful in the greatest degree. Children often combine their humility with helpfulness. They truly have a volunteer spirit. They are often eager to do for others when a request is made of them. The smallest of tasks do not burden them. They are sharers of their thoughts freely. Many years in the future a little boy will provide his food that Jesus might feed the multitudes (cf. John 6:9-13). The little maid and the little boy were none the worse for sharing needed things. Such an influence did not go unnoticed by the Lord.
Harmless. Paul exhorted the congregation at Corinth with these words, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men” (1 Cor. 14:20). The congregation in Corinth needed to have several problems resolved. There was division (cf. 1 Cor. 1:11; 11:18), pride (cf. 1 Cor. 4:18), open immorality (cf. 1 Cor. 5:1), brother taking brother to court over small matters (cf. 1 Cor. 6:1-4) and much more. The childlike spirit of no ill will sought against another is to be true of the spiritual body of Christ: His church. God’s people are to be peacemakers (cf. Matt. 5:9), not hateful (cf. Titus 3:3) and complainers (cf. Phil. 2:14). Paul wrote to the Philippian brethren about how to walk in the world, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). Jesus told his own disciples, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). When the age of innocence is over through the maturation process, the age of retaining childlike qualities is never to be over. The foundation of great influential qualities seen in a child is priceless and irreplaceable. Sometimes all need to look at the world through the eyes of a child and see the simplicity of a pure life. There is truly an endearing quality in children that draw adults to them.
“Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work” (Neh. 2:17-18).
The task of rebuilding the walls of the city of Jerusalem was a monumental work. It would take the cooperation of all the people of God to complete it. It was done (cf. Neh. 6:15) but not without opposition. Consider three spiritual principles necessary for a positive attitude in a negative environment.
Set Your Affections on Things Above. Nehemiah focused his and their attention on spiritual things. When opposition arose at the first news of the effort (cf. Neh. 2:19), Nehemiah stated, “The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem” (Neh. 2:20). The Holy Spirit through Paul exhorts God’s people today, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2). Keeping the ultimate goal in constant focus helps with handling the distractions that constantly surround. The blessed man knows this. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2).
Surround Yourself with Right Thinking People. Nehemiah did not face his responsibility alone. While God was ever with him, even as the enemies realized (cf. Neh. 6:16), there were many faithful people involved in the work. Nehemiah organized the restoration of the walls (cf. Neh. 3) and the people “had a mind to work” (Neh. 4:6). Men like Hanani and Hananiah were given responsibilities due to their faithfulness and God fearing qualities (cf. Neh. 7:2). Ezra was there on that great day of the reading of the law (cf. Neh. 8). While the people had spiritual problems even after the walls were rebuilt (cf. Neh. 13), Nehemiah did not stand alone in the work of the Lord. The Bible does not say in vain, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Prov. 13:20).
Strengthen Your Heart and Mind Through Prayer. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). A study of Nehemiah the man is a case study of prayer. His first step in the right direction when problems arose was prayer (cf. Neh. 1:4-11). When about to give answer to the king for his sadness (cf. Neh. 2:1ff), prayer to God was his recourse (cf. Neh. 2:4). Discouragement and despair can easily arise in the storms of life when viewed with fleshly eyes. Biblical optimism is the product of full confidence in the source of all answers and strength: God. Truly, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).