This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

Pray the Word photo“1 I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. 2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. 5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.” Colossians 2:1-5

Our Triune God,

Thank you for the example of the Apostle Paul where he opens his heart to us and shows us through his life what you want us to be to each other in our church family.  Enable us towards a deeper knowledge in You; where we find true understanding, knowledge and wisdom. Help us as Paul did with the early churches, to beware of anything that might diminish or de-prioritise Christ in our lives; to heed this by keeping our focus on Christ. Cause us to aspire towards the firmness of faith in Christ. Please shape us by this passion.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,



This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

Pray the Word photo“I [Paul], am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church.  25God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you.  26This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people.  27For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.  28So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.  29That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.”  Colossians 1:24-29



We praise you as we continue to pray through Colossians. We give thanks to You, who give us EVERYTHING we need IN CHRIST. Thank you for Paul’s example of what ministry is all about. Thank you for our church leadership, who like Paul, are making You known through the preaching of Your word. We pray for our leaders to continue to faithfully proclaim the mystery of the gospel, which is fully revealed and is summed up as ‘CHRIST in US!’ May we be taught and warned of any false gospel. Cause us to humble ourselves in obedience. Help us to grow to maturity in You, and to encourage one another to contribute in the battle for our church’s maturity in Christ, even to be willing to suffer Colossians-1-29-His-Mighty-Power-Which-Works-Within-Me-bible-copyfor that goal.

Remind us that as we work and struggle for your glory, it is Your mighty power that works in us! Amazing grace. Amazing love. Amazing Christ. Help us to keep our eyes focused on You this week. AMEN


This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

Pray the Word photoOur Lord, 

We praise You because Your Word helps us to see who Christ really is. Thank you for the centrality of Christ! As we pray the Word today, open our eyes more and more to the reality that the Christian life IS CHRIST. Cause our hearts to know and understand that CHRIST is supreme over EVERYTHING. Thank you that Christ is the visible image of You, our invisible God. Thank you that we can know that Christ existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Christ, You created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. It is amazing to realize that Christ made the things we can see and the things we can’t see- such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. O Lord God, everything was created through Christ and for Christ; that Christ existed before anything else, and Christ holds all creation together. Thank you Lord, that we can see through your scripture, that all the details of our lives find their goal in Christ. Only Christ is the one who can fix and reconcile the world to You. 

Praise you Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three in one!  

christ is supremeAgain we rejoice! Christ is the head of the church, which His body. He is supreme over all who rise from the dead. Christ is first in everything. We praise you Lord for You in all Your fullness was pleased to live in Christ. Through Christ You reconciled everything to Yourself.
It is so amazing! You made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
What a perfect and wondrous plan!

Capture our hearts dear Lord through your Holy Spirit; help us to uphold Christ’s supremacy with our words and attitudes. Help us to take hold of the fact that everything in heaven and on earth is related to Christ and can only be understood through Him. Make it so dear Lord. AMEN




This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

Pray the Word photoFather God, we thank you for this prayer in Colossians. As we also pray it, we know that this is Your will for us in Christ Jesus.

We thank You for our church family; their faith in Christ, and love for each other because of the Gospel hope which You have reserved for us in heaven.

We praise You because this same Good News is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed our lives from the day we first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace–just as it did in Colosse so long ago.
Thank you for faithful ministers and the many resources You have given us on our behalf, like Epaphras in Colosse. Thank You God the Holy Spirit, for enabling us to have love for others more and more.
Compel us dear Lord to be steadfast in prayer for one another; that You would give us complete knowledge of Your will, spiritual wisdom and understanding. And as we pray this, cause us to live in the way that we will always honour and please You; that we will produce every kind of good fruit. Help us to grow as we learn to know You better and better.
We also pray that we will be strengthened with all Your glorious power so we will have all the endurance and patience we need. May we be filled with joy, always thanking You, Father. For You have enabled us to share in the inheritance that belongs to Your people, who live in the light.
Thank you for Your rescue from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of Your dear Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
As we pray the Word, may it expose, encourage, and enlighten our hearts to what matters. Christ, You are everything! Change us into Your likeness. AMEN.


This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

Pray the Word photoI have been sitting in the back garden in the beautiful sunshine a lot—as you do in these Covid days…..

……Thinking and praying of how our summer months will be best spent on GRACE PLACE; post-bible study of COLOSSIANS: ROOTED.

I was so enriched by this letter of  “IF YOU HAVE CHRIST, THEN YOU HAVE EVERYTHING”, that I long for us to process further what we have learned. My prayer is that our hearts and souls will be so saturated and captured by Christ that we can’t help but be transformed more everyday into this reality! It is a daily step by step process as we grow in the Lord, isn’t it?

Well, then it came to me how to spend our summer—— Pray the Word. Pray Colossians!

It helps that the first part of the first chapter IS already a prayer.  The beauty of practising to pray the Word of God is powerful.  Jen Wilkin, in her book, Women of the Word, puts it so poignantly: “The Word is living and active. The Word will conform you by dividing you. And in the dividing, miracle of miracles, it will render you whole.”

colossiansTree[5971]Many times we don’t know how to pray, do we? The Holy Spirit is always interceding for us, thank you Lord. (Romans 8: 22-27) “The Spirit intercedes for his people in accordance with God’s will.” So, sisters, we KNOW that God’s Word is God’s will for our lives, individually; and as a church community. After all, this letter was written to the early church.

In the daily messiness and mundaneness of daily life, praying the Word sets our hearts and minds on the certainty of His will-–  His plan for us! And, this investment in our relationship with God is what will sustain us and enable us to stand firm during the storms and tough circumstances that will no doubt come our way.

So, I welcome you to PRAY THE WORD this summer with me and the team; and with your study buddy.
Use this as an impetus to pray the Word in other passages of scripture! You may even want to write your own prayer from the Colossian passages each week as a form of journaling. There are so many possibilities.
Today’s prayer is a thanksgiving and gratitude to God from Colossians 1:1-2.

“This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. May God our Father give you grace and peace.”
Lord, we offer up to You our gratitude today. Thank you for giving us the message of the Gospel of Christ Jesus through Paul and his letter to the Colossians. We are comforted and encouraged to know that this is your plan and will many centuries ago in Colosse, and your plan and will for us now in Corsham.

Thank you for Christian friends who are in our lives like Timothy was for Paul, and Paul for Timothy. Lord may it multiply. Thank you, that because of Jesus, we are counted as holy and faithful in your sight. What a treasure you have given us! Help us to remain faithful to this treasure, both individually and in our church family to you God.

Finally, thank you for grace and peace- that can only truly come through YOU, our Triune God. Remind us this week, Lord, the amazing treasure of grace and peace that we have through Jesus Christ our Lord. Help us to dig for this treasure this week and to share it with others. For your glory’s sake,  AMEN.


This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

colossiansTree[5971]PART 3: JESUS OUR MINISTRY- COLOSSIANS 4: 10-18
“10 Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. 11 Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been! 12 Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. 13 I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas. 15 Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters[a] at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house. 16 After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them. 17 And say to Archippus, ‘Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.’ 18 HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL. Remember my chains. May God’s grace be with you.” COLOSSIANS 4:10-18 New Living Translation


*These final paragraphs in this letter are not an afterthought. While they might at first seem to be a random collection of greetings and references to people, there is a common thread. They illustrate real life for those who trust the full revelation of God in Christ and the finished work of Christ on the cross. They remind us that the Christian life is about living together as a community of believers. Chapter 4 shows life has its struggles and problems (for example, Paul’s imprisonment(4v3), and the implicit challenge of speaking to non-believers in 4 v 5-6. Last week we considered two of Paul’s Gospel fellow workers, Tychicus and Onesimus. Today we finish this amazing letter considering the rest of Paul’s “community”, where Paul acknowledges his need for friends and colleagues. 4V11


  1. Aristarchus show us the radical commitment of discipleship. He’s in prison with Paul at that moment for his ministry for Christ.
  2. Mark shows us the power of Christian reconciliation. He had at one point fallen our with Paul (read Acts 15:37-39), but he’s now commended by Paul- and even described as a comfort to him in verse 11.
  3. There is real confidence- confidence that praying to God makes a difference. (v 2 and 12), and confidence that Christian ministry is in essence, about serving the “kingdom of God” v11.
    REFLECTION: What can we learn from them?


Read COLOSSIANS 4:12-13
1. Epaphrus (already mentioned in 1:7-8) shows us how to pray. He ‘constantly wrestles in prayer for you’ NIV; ‘constantly struggles for you in prayer’ ERV. This literally means agonising for the church in prayer.
2. Most significant in light of the whole letter is the subject of Epaphras’ prayer in 4 v12: Epaphrus teaches us what to pray: ‘that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured’ NIV; ‘asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God’ NLT. It was precisely this assurance that the Colossian false teachers undermined; and it is precisely this assurance that Paul sought to bolster and stabilise by writing to the Colossian Christians. This is the priority for the church. (read Col 1v7, 1v29-2v1)
REFLECTION: Put into your own words of how the prayer of Epaphrus sums up the big message of the letter to Colossians.
Read Colossians 4:14
A warning – Demas proved unfaithful in the end. (read 2 Timothy 4:10), hence the importance of faithfulness (read Col 1v7, 4v7)
Read Colossians 4:15
Nympha, most likely a woman of means, who hosted the local church in her home, shows us the importance of generosity and hospitality.
Read Colossians 4:16-17
A second warning- Archippus was also, like Demas, in danger of not holding out in his service of Christ. Long-term perseverance is a key quality to look for in role models.
REFLECTION: Paul’s description of his friends (Col 4 v 10-17)focuses on their hard work and service for the gospel. How can we encourage one another to persevere in our service of the Lord, His people and those who do not yet know Him?

Colossians 4:18 ‘HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL. Remember my chains. May God’s grace be with you.’
‘The gospel is so clearly Paul’s priority over everything, even his own personal comfort and security. But this hardly means he would not prefer freedom. The request in v 18 to remember is presumably a plea for prayer and solidarity- for how easy it would be for the Colossians to allow shame at his imprisonment to create a reticence to identify as Paul’s brothers and sisters.’ Mark Meynell

The following is a concluding quote from Mark Meynell, from his book, Colossians For You. He summarizes the letter beautifully:
‘ GRACE BE WITH YOU. Paul’s final statement might sound like a standard, and even hollow, farewell. But after all we have learned in Colossians, it is far from that. For we have travelled far in the realms of Christ Jesus, the Lord of all. But he is no dictator Caesar, who simply demands that his followers die for him to sustain his reign. As we saw in the introduction, Caesar claimed to offer forgiveness, peace, and provision, and in a limited sense he was able to do that. But Christ actually delivers it– for all eternity. He is God’s King, who was crowned on a cross. His victorious death brings complete forgiveness for every sin, ushers in eternal peace with our Creator, and lavishes upon us the treasures of His heaven. Having reconciled us to our Father, He reconciles us with one another. He truly showers us with his grace.
God’s grace can only provoke our gratitude to God. And our gratitude must surely work out in graciousness to one and all, whether to those who are part of the body, or towards outsiders who ply us with questions.
Grace. Gratitude. Graciousness. This is lordship the like of which the world has never seen. What an extraordinary privilege to know it first hand. So as Christ has shared His grace with us, we, with Paul, share grace with all.’
PRAYER (from Colossians 2:6-7)
Dear Lord, and now, just as we accepted You as our Lord, help us to continue to follow You. May our roots grow down into You, and that our lives will be built on You. Cause our faith to grow strong in the truth we were taught and that we will overflow with thankfulness….in increasing measure. For Your glory and our good, AMEN.
* (Thank you to Andy Mason for his material in Colossians: Alive in Christ, and Mark Meynell for his material in Colossians for You, and Colossians- Confident Christianity, of which a large part of today’s study has been taken)


Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman, contributor for today’s blog post

This marks the conclusion of COLOSSIANS: ROOTED. Thank you for all the contributors who led us in teaching, and for you, the participant, for joining in to learn to know God better and love Him more through the study of His word and friendship with others in our church community.
Please stay tuned in through the summer on Grace Place where we will be reflecting on what we have learned in Colossians (and other bits and bobs, no doubt). AND, please be praying for Sharon Durant and the team as they prepare for next school year’s study. In the meantime, our love and prayers are with you as we all move forward in these strange times. Remember, in God’s economy, NOTHING IS WASTED!
Lots of love,


This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

colossiansTree[5971]PART 2: JESUS OUR MINISTRY- COLOSSIANS 4:7-9

READ: Colossians 4:7-9

“7 Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord’s work. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. 9 I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that’s happening here.” Colossians 4:7-9 New Living Translation

*These final paragraphs in this letter are not an afterthought. While they might at first seem to be a random collection of greetings and references to people, there is a common thread. They illustrate real life for those who trust the full revelation of God in Christ and the finished work of Christ on the cross. They remind us that the Christian life is about living together as a community of believers.

Verses 7-9 we learn about Paul’s fellow gospel workers who are being sent to Colossae by Paul.
1. Tychicus comes highly recommended and had been sent to encourage the Colossians (also by delivering Paul’s letter to them). He is described in verse 7:
‘beloved brother’– gospel workers aren’t meant to be rivals nor professionals but a network of brothers and sisters working together in love for each other.
‘faithful helper’ [ minister]- (read also 2 Timothy 4:12) – Faithfulness is the characteristic of ministry which comes through time and testing. Tychicus proved this in the long term.
‘serves with me’ [fellow servant] – ‘Servant’ is better translated as ‘slave’. Paul and his team of gospel workers didn’t see themselves as celebrity speakers but as people owned by the Master.
2. Onesimus, although he is a slave (see Philemon), is treated by Paul in the same way as his own associates in ministry- and is more importantly, described:
‘faithful and beloved brother’ – Here we see the radical effects of the gospel on relationships and social status. (Read also Colossians 3:11 and 3:22-4:1) The marginalised and disregarded become our brother and sister in Christ. Being converted to Christ changes everything about who we are.
1. What do these verses teach us about how to pray for our spiritual leaders?
2. Are there believers in your context who you might not treat as dearly loved brothers and sisters? How might you change that?
Prayer: Thank you for Lord for giving us these examples in the scripture today to teach and remind us that we are to live out our lives for Christ with other believers. Help us to be faithful to the gospel by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. Help us pray for one another as live counter-culturally for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

*(Thank you to Andy Mason for his material in Colossians: Alive in Christ, of which a large part of today’s study has been taken)



This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman, contributor for today’s blog post


For the last few weeks, Victoria has led us beautifully with what Paul is teaching about building authentic Christian communities in Colossians 3:16-4:1.
Last week, Paul turned his attention to prayer within the context of community and ministry in sharing the gospel(Col 4:2-4). Victoria concluded ‘to pray for one another to be prayerful in our relationship with God, to be readers of the Word and sharers of the Gospel, like Paul’. If you have yet to read and ponder these studies, I would encourage you to do so. It is clear and very helpful in understanding and applying what Paul is teaching us in this amazing letter. They are on this CBC Grace Place Website, under the heading of 2019-2020 Colossians: Rooted. 

Paul is drawing the letter to a close. When the Gospel bears fruit in our lives we will be dependent on God through prayer, as we learned last week. We need to keep this in  mind as Paul continues to write that, as we depend on God, we are encouraged to actively seek opportunities to proclaim the gospel to the world around, working together and standing firm as a body of believers.

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[seasoned with salt], so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6 New Living Translation

Most believers spend large amounts of time with people who don’t believe in Christ, and so these verses about how we’re to live among outsiders are immediately relevant for our day-to-day lives. These verses come right after Paul has been speaking of his mission to declare Christ (4:3) – with the point being that believers are also called to declare Christ.

1. Be Wise and Recognize the Sense of Urgency – read also Colossians 1:9-10, 2:3, 2 Peter 3:9

Wisdom is summed up in Christ. Paul prays that the Colossians might have wisdom to live lives worthy of Christ. Being wise toward unbelievers then, involves putting Christ on display as we live for Him. What does that look like? Mark Meynell: “That must in part mean being sensitive to the circumstances and concerns of those we are seeking to reach. Of course many of us (myself included) find it much easier to do this than to ‘make the most of every opportunity.’ We can use our sensitivity as an excuse to overlook the opportunities that come our way.” This is not an easy thing to do; that is why we need each other to encourage, pray, and spur one another on in sharing Christ. Paul wants us recognize the sense of urgency and ask the Lord for these opportunities.

Reflection Questions:

How can unbelievers see the wisdom of your life today? What will draw them to Christ through you?

What practical steps can we take to ensure that we pray with these priorities? That we are proclaiming the mystery of Christ clearly?
2. Conversation: Full of Grace- read also 1 Peter 3:15
“The key thought is grace: for if the message is one of grace, then the way it is communicated must be characterized by graciousness.”Mark Meynell. It may be helpful to look at what conversation would look like if it were characterized by the opposite of grace. Some expressions may be ‘know it all,’ sarcastic, arrogant, critical, flippant, self seeking…..even unkind and angry. These expressions are not the fruit of the message of the gospel. We need to speak in a way that engages people and the excitement of the good news. Our conversation is the medium for the gospel message. How we converse also conveys the gospel message. People need to see the freedom we increasingly have in Christ, not a killjoy! This is indeed a challenge. We need to remind each other this: “God is the one who opens doors (v3). God is the one whose message is being preached-He kept it secret until the right time to open up the mystery of Christ’ to the Gentile world (v. 3); He gives the opportunities to proclaim it (v5) and by implication is the one who provides answers to every question. (v 6)” Mark Meynell Thank you Lord!

Reflection Questions:
What do you spend your time talking about with unbelievers?

What practical steps can we take to ensure that we fill our conversation with the salt of grace?
Prayer: Thank you Lord, that You give us everything we need for life and godliness. Forgive us when we are not wise and gracious in our conversation and dealings with unbelievers. Continue to make us more like our Lord Jesus Christ and that you so capture our hearts to be able and willing to share the hope and freedom we have in Christ. Amen.


This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

vicky kelly

Victoria Kelly, Contributor for this month’s Colossians study 

Praying the Good News of Jesus (Colossians 4:2-4) Part 3

‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.’ (Colossians 4: 2-4)

Over the past few weeks we have looked at Jesus, being the true focus for our lives here on this earth (and with eyes upward to Heaven also) and therefore the impact this should have on how we do our daily lives with those in our household and beyond. We do this by being in the Word (v16), but now Paul instructs us to be equipped by also praying. We are in a relationship with our Father, and we are called and instructed to talk to him.

We all have relationships in our lives. Whether that is being a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, an auntie, a niece, a friend. Due to our current circumstance of the Corona virus our relationships have potentially been tested as we have been cut off from many of the people (friends, family, colleagues) that we would normally see and socialise with. I don’t know about you, but I find that hard. Where I would normally take for granted that I would see certain people for play-dates, birthdays, at church on a Sunday or a bible study on a Monday, Wednesday or whenever it is you meet, this has been cut off. The physical meeting of people has had to stop. And I’ve hated it. I’m incredibly close to my sister so not seeing her has been tough. I’ve missed my niece’s 1st birthday and my sister had a potentially devastating accidently when she fell down the stairs holding her baby. I wanted to be there physically to support her and the family, but this virus has meant we haven’t been able to. But my relationship with her and the family and my friends who I would meet with for bible study or play-dates, hasn’t changed. Why? Because, thank God(!) we live in a day and age where we can talk to each other. Whether it is by Zoom or text message or a phone call or even by… Post (who has enjoyed receiving or sending good old snail-mail over this time?). If anything it has made me appreciate the relationships more and I’ve wanted to invest time into communication, especially because I cannot see them…

Enter Paul with his wise imperative and to deepen our relationship with the MOST important one above all. Paul delights in his relationship with God and he wants us to do the same. He tells us how to pray and what to pray. He starts the verse by telling us to ‘devote’. It means to give all or most of our time to something/someone. Oh! A challenge straight away at the first word in the verse. This is to be steadfast and persistent. We will always give time to what we think is important. It will be effortless,it will be intentional. As we are a changed people because of Jesus, prayerfulness will be motivated by the response to God’s grace (Col 3:16-17). Are we being intentional to pray to grow our relationship with Jesus? In Romans 12:12, Paul says that we should be, “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, [and] devoted to prayer.” We can be thankful in our prayers in any circumstance, because we are thankful for the gift of salvation and that Jesus accomplished everything at the cross for us.
We are told to be watchful prayers too. To be alert in our prayers. To be equipped. Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us to put on the full armour of God (I’d encourage you to read it out loud and imagine putting on what it tells us… It gets us ready for the very real battle we face spiritually – daily!).
Peter tells us to be on alert for the devil is ready to devour us like a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8). If we are complacent and drop our spiritual weapons (prayer and the Word) it is far easier for the enemy to attack and defeat. We are called to be on guard and prayerful and alert, so when he attacks, we are ready. But Jesus himself warns of our weakness and why we should be alert in our prayers also, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41).

So what do we pray for? Pray for God’s kingdom to expand through the spread of the gospel. Notice how Paul, although in prison, he is wanting to spread the ‘mystery of Christ’ (not that it is mysterious, but how it once was hidden and now has been revealed): the good news! He isn’t reflecting on the depravity of the situation he is in, but is Heaven focused. This doesn’t mean we cannot come to God in prayer with the small details of our life, he cares about those. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Yet, the primary focus for Paul isn’t self focused, but Jesus focused and this means spreading the gospel. So we too can pray for this. For those on the frontline of spreading the good news of Jesus around the world but also for ourselves too, as we evangelise with friends, family and colleagues in our own mission fields. Paul is also asking for those opportunities of ‘open doors’ (v3), but he recognises it is not in his strength. It is God who opens the door and we are the ones to walk through it and seize the opportunities to share the gospel. In Romans it says, ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.’ (1:16) It is our duty out of love for God and love for the truth that we share the gospel which will enable people to hear of salvation and therefore turn to God.

Finally, Paul asks for clarity in his talk, ‘Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should’ (Col 4:4). Clarity in presenting the gospel to those who are yet to hear and understand the message of Christ. The gospel is no longer a mystery, but a clear message (Col 1:26) and he wants to share this without confusion and complication. The Word of God, is clearly his treasure. Is it our treasure? Are we as keen to protect it and therefore pass it on to those around us and beyond?

Let’s pray for one another to be prayerful in our relationship with God, to be readers of the Word and sharers of the Gospel, like Paul.

Questions for reflection

1) Paul leads by example when it comes to praying. What are the main ways Paul reveals to us when it comes to HOW to pray? WHAT are the key things he prays for?
2) Despite the costs involved, why can we be confident when we share the gospel with others? (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2: 8-9)
3) How can we devote ourselves to prayer? What practical things can we put in place to ensure we do this?

Our team is praying for you as you get with your study buddies to dig through these treasures in His Word. See you next week!

Acting with the Good News of Jesus (Colossians 3:18-4:1) Part 2

This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

Victoria Kelly, contributor for this month’s Colossians Study

Last week we explored the good news of Jesus living in us and us in him. Now our hearts are full of thankfulness and love because of the understanding of who Jesus is and what he has accomplished for us. This should then overflow into every area of our lives.We are saved by grace, so let’s live by grace.

This week we are looking at Colossians 3:18-4:1 and I’d encourage you to read this now.

Before we look at the relationship groups Paul discusses, let’s look to Jesus and what he tells us in John 13:3: ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. So I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ So whilst we may be able to disengage from some of the groups mentioned, for example if we aren’t married or maybe we are not considered a master or a parent, we still have a responsibility to love. To love how Jesus loved us: sacrificially, servant-hearted, humbly, unconditionally and all consuming.

Jesus conquered the law when he died for us on the cross. So we are no longer shaped by rules, BUT shaped by a Ruler. We have been bound to Christ and therefore it should shape every aspect of our lives. How can we achieve this? With the help of the Spirit shaping us through being in the Word; but we can actively and practically choose and take responsibility for our relationships and those around us too. Paul here gives us wisdom into how to do this with specific relationships and to live as a redeemed family.

Firstly, notice the pairings: wives and husbands; children and parents; slaves and masters. A relationship isn’t one sided, it has 2 sides and both are to take responsibility within their relationship, all the while doing it ‘in the name of Jesus,’ (3:17). And they only work properly when they both fulfil their roles.
Context for Colosse. Women, children, slaves were possessions to the master of the house. If you were one of these groups, you were owned by the man, the husband, the father. He had absolute authority, he was the head of household.

VKWhat is significant when Paul addresses the groups, is the less powerful group is addressed first: women, children, slaves. This would have been revolutionary for the time in Colosse, but Jesus’ teachings were revolutionary and Paul was following the example of Jesus (Matthew 20:16). All people were created in God’s image so all have importance and all have responsibilities.

Now there is new meaning to everyone’s roles as they are not only serving their counterpart, but Jesus!

The gospel gives us a new motivation and inspiration which transforms the ‘done VK 2thing’ into done for the Lord.

1) Wives and Husbands

‘Wives submit to your husband as in fitting to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.’ (Col 3:18-19)

Submission is to put yourself under someone’s authority. I don’t know how you feel when you hear that? For some women this may be a challenge, particularly in today’s society when women are allowed to be driven, successful and independent. And to be submissive doesn’t mean you can’t be these things. What it does mean, is when it comes to it, we are to be submissive to our husbands ‘as in fitting to the Lord’. So out of true love for Him, when we submit to our husbands, we are submitting to the Lord.

Interject the husband’s challenge to love his wife. When you look at the statements together it makes more sense. When the husband truly loves his wife, a love like Jesus loves (a sacrificial, unconditional love that took him to the cross), then it is easy to submit to him. When God grants authority, he does it for the love and protection of those under authority and never for the advantage of the ones in authority. Notice how neither statement follows ‘once your husband/wife loves you, then submit or love’. We are instructed to do it regardless.

Ephessians 5:22-33 gives a more detailed account of how husbands and wives are to respond together in love (I’d encourage you to read this now). Jesus always sets our example. He sets the example of how a husband should love his wife by how he himself loved the church. The church hasn’t always been the most beautiful bride, but he still loves it enough to die for it (Romans 5:8). So what about for those of us who are wives. What does it really look like to be submissive? Well, Jesus is our example too. Though he is equal to God, Jesus willingly submitted himself to the cross so that Satan’s dominion would be broken. The wife therefore, though equal to her husband, submits to him to reflect God’s image and to fulfill His purpose of dominion over satan.

Day to day, what does this mean? A submissive wife isn’t a meek wife who goes along with her husband, while keeping her thoughts and feelings to herself. This creates distance in the relationship. Or seemingly go along with what the husband says but on the inside is defiant, with a grudging compliance. That’s not Godly submission.

Close relationships are built on truthfulness and openness in a context of love (love being a verb, an action – something we do, not just feel). True submission and true love is communicated by actions and attitudes. A wife can be strong, but still be submissive in spirit if she respects her husband and backs his Godly leadership. A husband can love his wife because by doing so he is obeying and loving God. Tim Keller explains: The tender, serving authority of a husband’s headship and the strong, gracious gift of a wife’s submission restore us to who we were meant to be at creation.

A wife should submit to a disobedient husband except when she or the children are in danger or when he commands her to do something against God’s Word. 1 Peter 3:1-2 ‘Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.’ This means being a Godly example in the face of ungodly behaviour. Whatever his response, she will know that she is pleasing the Lord.

2) Children and Parents

‘Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.’ (Col 3:20-21)
As with the husbands and wives, you shouldn’t dislocate verses 20 and 21. Of course children should take their parents’ authority seriously, but how much more is the family home filled with love and joy and willingness to obey when the children are not discouraged or aggravated. Children should honour and obey their parents (it is one of the commandments after all: Exodus 20:12). Jesus submitted to his Heavenly father who is perfect, but he also submitted and obeyed his earthly parents, even though they were imperfect (Luke 2:51). So even if it is hard to obey your parents, you can do it for the Lord and know that He is pleased with you.Obeying cheerfully, not begrudgingly.

So what about parents? ‘Embitter’ can be anger/aggravation. It is the idea of motivating someone to negative actions/words. How can parents do this? By being unreasonable and not listening to a child’s explanation or considering the circumstance before passing judgement; unfair treatment – giving harsh punishment for a minor matter; being unpredictable – a child not knowing if a parent is going to blow up over a minor incident or even letting a major offence go by; breaking promises – a child can’t trust what a parent says. The list can go on. Does our Heavenly father deal with us in these same ways? No. We should aim to raise our children in the same way that God our Father relates to us: ‘The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.’ (Exodus 34:6). It should be descriptive of every Christian parent. God isn’t passive or abusive. He is just and patient. He takes the initiative to establish and provide a relationship with us. Our children are a blessing and he has entrusted us with them for a short while, to train them by example and by precept and we are accountable for this.

Of course discipline is a natural part of parenting. On more than one occasion, my children have decided to not look before crossing the road when they are running ahead of me (it doesn’t matter how many times I tell them to wait on the pavement for me and we will check cars together). In that split moment when you see a car hurtling towards them, of course I am going to react. I shout to get their attention and I will rebuke them for not listening to my instructions. But it isn’t out of annoyance that I shout at them at that moment. It is out of love. Love allows for correction and warning.

So our goal as parents should be to motivate children to be all that God wants them to be. To do that we need to let them know they are valued and loved. When they come into your presence let them feel that you were glad to see them, embrace them, play with them, serve them gladly, and speak kindly to them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matt 19:14. As always, Jesus is our example of how we should be as parents and as children.

3) Slaves and Masters

‘Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything… Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.’ (Col 3:22-4:1)

Slavery is probably not really in our day-to-day encounters in Corsham. And when we hear the word ‘slavery’ we might question why Paul didn’t start by rebuking masters for having slaves at all. Ultimately, Paul’s approach was to lay down universal principles which undermined the evils of slavery and eventually would lead to its demise. But in the meantime, Paul addressed the slaves first, elevating all work (Roman slave owners had come to view work as low and degrading). ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord not for men.’ (v23). As with the previous statements the verses go hand in hand. The words of wisdom are not just for the slaves to do their work well, but in fact for their masters to treat them with fairness and reminding them they also have a master who is master above all!

The slaves, who would have been seen as last in society are addressed first. He tells them they are actually serving a higher authority, God, and ‘will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.’ (v24). Wow. So the treatment, however harsh, however inferior they were made to feel won’t last forever. We might consider the modern day equivalent (although not exactly) to be an employee and employer. So what can we take from this?

Verses 22-24 make it clear that Christ is the Lord of the workplace (whatever you consider your work to be). ‘Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.’

It is a heart matter how you work. The Bible tells us to work with sincerity and with reverence (fear) for the Lord, for he is watching. Matt 10:30 tells us that ‘even the very hairs on your head are all numbered.’ Our God is all knowing. This isn’t supposed to be threatening or discomforting. But actually God’s grace should encourage us and motivate us to do what is right, because our eyes are Heavenly focused.

So if we have a mean boss, know we have a ‘big boss’ who sees this. Your earthly boss is no longer your ultimate supervisor, Jesus is. Therefore your work should take on a new dignity. So whether we are an employee or an employer or even a stay-at-home mother (like me), we are to work with a positive attitude, producing quality work and obeying our master with reverence for the Lord.

Thinking back to last week, our hearts should be so full of gratitude and love and joy that it motivates us to want to love/act in a way that Jesus does. But we can only understand and know that if we are rooted in Him and if the Word dwells in us. Only then are we able to love others and serve others in a way that doesn’t require their love/service back. But when both counterparts work as the way God intended it, love and service is equal and perfect.

Questions for reflection

1) Read Colossians 3:17 and discuss how this verse is a guiding principle for Colossians 3:18-4:1
2) How does the christian attitude to relationships differ from modern views about personal rights?
3) What does “submission” and “love” in marriage look like? (Consider the wider context of the new life we are to live in Christ in Col 3:12-14)
4) What are the hardest aspects of your work and what about it makes it so difficult? Now, how might the reality that you are working for Jesus, not man, impact this aspect of your work? Be specific. Imagine yourself doing that least favourite part of your job for Jesus. How might it look different? (Psalm 100:2; Romans 12:11; Hebrews 6:10; Galatians 5:13; Colossians 3:23-24)