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Meditation on the Glory of Christ - Colossians 1:15-20

"It is better to read less and think more, than to read more and think less about Scripture." - Don Whitney

Colossians 1:15-20;

Apr 05, 2009 04:00 AM


I am very glad you are here today.  I assume you are here because there is something here in this service that you want.  You woke up this morning, got all cleaned up and dressed up, and some of you drove a good distance to get here.  Why would you do that?  
 
Everything we do is an attempt to be happy.  You did not come here in the expectation that you would be worse off after the day is done, having attended this worship service.  You are here in the pursuit of happiness.  You came here today because there is something which you are pursuing for the sake of your spiritual or emotional or marital or familial or psychological well being.  You are here in the hope that God can make that happen for you.  And we would all be very happy if He did that for any one of us.  
 
Suppose God were to meet each one of us here today in our pursuit of something really and truly better.   It is a safe assumption that those better things would come from God in some manner.  So I ask you a very simple question: How do you expect God to meet your need, your hope, your expectation of some good thing from Him?  How would you like for God to satisfy your hope of some blessing during this service?  That is why you came, isn’t it?   
 
We read in the Scriptures that God sent His Son into the world for the purpose of providing a great blessing for us.  Paul, in writing to the church at Colossae, said that God sent the very best thing He could possibly send into this world for our sakes.  The Lord Jesus is the greatest, highest, most exalted, most holy, most powerful, most loving, most desirable Person in human history.  He is preeminent over all things and Our Heavenly Father sent Him for our greatest possible good and for the sake of our eternal happiness and joy.  
 
That is why you are here. You understand these things.  You are here because you understand there is eternal happiness to be found here in God through the Person of His Son.  Usually we equate that happiness to some event in the future when we enter into Heaven.  But what about now, on this side of eternity.  Is there any happiness or blessing in Christ for us here and now, right now?
 
If you have children here, you want them to be happy in Jesus by knowing Him as their Savior and Lord.  That, in turn, would make you as the parent, happy.  Joyful .  Or you may be here because of certain trials you are facing and you hope for encouragement to keep on persevering, and maybe even deliverance from those trials.  If God answered your (probably unspoken) prayers, you would be delighted. 
 
If the Spirit of God were to grant you enlightenment into some portion of the Scriptures that would cause you to have a greater understanding of spiritual truths, a better ability to cope with your daily life, would you consider your time here to be time well spent and your trip to church today not wasted?  Do you enjoy the fellowship of like-minded believers and the love that Christians share for each other?  Is it a blessing to you just to be around other Christians whom you know love you and care about you?
 
Does God ever satisfy your heart with any of these things when you come to church?  Isn’t that at least part of the reason why you come?  There is something good here amongst real, live brethren that you cannot get anywhere else.  There is blessing to be had in the preaching of God’s word live and in person, that you just can’t get any other way.  God attends to the needs of His people as they worship together  because it is an act of obedience when we gather together to ask for his blessing upon us.  We have reason to expect God to speak to our hearts when we ask Him to speak through His word.
 
What would God do in our midst if we took this weekly gathering more seriously?  What do you suppose would happen if we all took a more active interest in God’s blessing upon us, instead of a passive, subconscious, semi-expectation that God might be here in our midst and maybe He’ll do something?  
 
I suspect there are times when some of us arrive here and we have given very little thought to what God might say to us or do in us.  There have been times when I have attended worship services, not the ones in which I preached, but services where someone else was preaching, and my mind and heart didn’t really engage until we were already well into the service.  I had not really prayed, and I had not really given myself to the task at hand, the worship of God.  We should not expect God to act among us if we take His presence among us, and our being in His presence, so lightly.
 
Today is Palm Sunday.  When Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem on that day, many other people had also gathered with certain expectations of Him.  They expected good things were about to happen to the Jewish people.  They believed a king had come to displace the Romans.  Of course, that didn’t happen.  That was not the reason for His coming.  A week later, the people were so disappointed and angered over their unmet expectations that they demanded His crucifixion.  They thought the greatest good they could possibly receive would be the overthrow of the Gentiles.  They had absolutely no idea how much better off they would be through the death of Jesus.  They meant His execution for evil.  But God meant it for the greatest good that has ever come upon mankind, and upon us here in this room.  
 
I want you to take a moment to pray.  Ask the Lord to help you pay attention to Him and His word right now.  Ask Him to bless you with clarity of thought and the ability to understand and know Him better, right now, in this service today.  Ask Him to protect you from wandering thoughts that would rob you of the blessing of hearing Him speak to your heart and mind.  Then I want you to read with me Paul’s words regarding Jesus: 
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.  
 
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. (Colossians 1:15-23, ESV)1
What do we want God to do for us?  If you came today hoping for some great blessing, or even a small blessing from God, will you recognize it when it happens?  Have you prayed for this hour and for your part in it?  Have you actually asked the Lord to meet you here today and speak to your heart, or to your children’s hearts, or your spouse’s heart?  Is it hard for you and me to have genuine expectations of God for good things for us when we gather for worship?  If so, why is that?
 
I think part of it is because we are often guilty of shallow thinking, or only occasional thinking about God and the Lord Jesus.  That isn’t really intentional for most of us.  We all have good intentions of reading God’s word.  We’re just easily distracted by so much mundane stuff.  When mundane entertainment doesn’t have our attention, busyness with the mundane necessities of life steal our time.  Pay the bills, buy the groceries, do the laundry, fix the car, clean the house, talk on the phone, answer the email, blah the blah, and blah the blah.  So much of our lives are spent on blah.
 
I mentioned last week that Jim and I are taking an online course through the Founders Study Center called Maintaining Your Spiritual Health.  The teacher is Dr. Don Whitney.  In his first lecture, he said something that really struck me.  He said he would like to spend a large part of the remainder of his time in ministry to his students teaching them to meditate on Scripture and pray through Scripture.  In his book, Ten Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, he says, “Spend 25 to 50 percent of your Bible intake time meditating on some word, phrase, or verse from your reading.”  He said it is better to read less and think more, than to read more and think less about Scripture.
 
I want you to look with me at the passage we just read from Colossians.  One of the greatest blessings of  gathering together for worship is it gives us a few moments of escape from all the blah to meditate on the word of God together.  I want to direct you to verse 20 for your meditation. 
and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Take out a pencil or a pen and turn to the back of your bulletin.  I want you to write down your answers to the following six questions.  Listen carefully:
 
Q:  What does “reconcile” mean?
A:  “to bring back a former state of harmony”
 
Q:  What has been reconciled to God?
A:  “all things”
 
Q:  What does Paul mean by “all things”? (Notice how many times that phrase is used in verses 15 - 20)
A:  Everything that has been negatively affected by sin, i.e. the entire created universe.  See Ephesians 1:10; Romans 8:21-22; 2 Peter 3:13.
 
Q:  How, or by what means did the reconciliation of all things happen?
A:  “by the blood of His cross”
 
Q:  Why would God want to reconcile you/me to Himself if it required the death of Jesus to accomplish it?
A:  Apparently for His own glory, for the glorification of Himself.
 
Q:  When was the last time you/I thought deeply about these things, and why has it been that long? 
 
Now, look with me at the next two verses:
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,
Q:  Paul has never met these Colossians.  How does he know they were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds?
A:  Because Epaphras told him?  Possibly.  But Paul knows this is the universal condition of all people, including you and me.
 
Q:  Have you been reconciled to God?  Did Christ die for you?  If so, what is the final result of Christ’s death for your sake according to verse 22?  
A:  Holy!  Blameless!  Above reproach before God!  Even though I was alienated from God, hostile in my mind toward Him, and an evil doer!  How is it that the death of Christ undoes every evil I have ever done?  How can these things be true?  How wonderful it is that these things ARE true!
 
Finally, read verse 23:
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.
Q:  What is the first word in this verse?  What does it mean?  What are the implications of “if”?
A:  “If” - in case that; granting or supposing that; on condition that 2  The person who does not persevere in the faith should have no assurance of Christ’s reconciliation on his behalf.
 
Q:  Are you continuing in the faith today?
 
These are the kinds of thoughts we should have, and the kinds of questions we should ask ourselves when we read the Bible.  This is meditation that brings blessing with it.  It is through our meditations upon God, upon the Person and work of Christ, and through our absorption of these glorious truths that we are made glad, and are kept joyful in our faith.  This is the private, personal revival we can enjoy whenever we stop and consider the great and wonderful things God has done for us.  This text in particular, Colossians 1:15-23, is exceedingly rich with deep thoughts of God and His ways which Paul says elsewhere “are beyond searching out.”
 
Do you want to be a happy Christian?  Meditate on Christ.  My good friend, Stephen Charnock, wrote these words concerning meditation on the glory of Christ.  Pay attention and listen carefully:
“Meditate upon the glory of Christ: without a due and frequent reflection upon it, we can never have a spirit of thankfulness for our great redemption; because we cannot else [there is no other way to] have sound impressions of the magnificence of the grace of God in Christ.  It is the least we can do, to give Him a room in our thoughts, who hath been a forerunner in glory, to make room for us in a happy world.  As the ancient Israelites linked their devotion to the temple and the ark at Jerusalem, the visible sign God had given them of His presence, ought we not also to fix our eyes and hearts on the holy place which contains our ark, the body of the Lord Jesus?  The meditation on this glory will keep us in acts of faith on Him, obedience to Him, a lively hope of enjoying blessedness by Him, 1 Peter 1:21.”  
“When Elisha fixed his eyes upon his master Elijah ascending into Heaven, he had a double portion of his spirit.  If we would exercise our understandings by faith on the ascension and glory of the Redeemer, and our hearts accompany Him in His sitting down upon the throne of His Father, we might receive from Him fuller showers, be revived with more fresh and vigorous communications of the Spirit; for thus He bestows grace and gifts upon men.” 3
Do we want to be revived with more fresh and vigorous communications of the Spirit?  Would we like to receive from God fuller showers of His blessings?  Do we want to remain faithful in our walk with the Lord, obedient to His word, and hopeful of enjoying blessings from Him?  Then meditate upon Him.  Think on these things.  Don’t spend time merely reading God’s word, but ponder the greatness of God and the glory of the Lord Jesus.  
 
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.  Psalm 1:1-2
----
1. All Scripture is from The English Standard Version.
2. "if." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 04 Apr. 2009. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/if>.
3. Stephen Charnock, as quoted in The Christian’s Present for All Seasons: Devotional Thoughts of Eminent Divines from Joseph Hall to William Jay, Selected and Edited by D.A. Harsha, reprinted in 2008 by Solid Ground Christian Books, pp. 251 & 254.   www.solid-ground-books.com
 

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