Monday, March 19, 2012

Suffering for Others

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,   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,   the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.  ~ Colossians 1 24-26

I kept reading "filling up what is lacking in Christ's affliction for the sake of his body, that is the church".  I read it over and over.  Read the whole chapter, the whole book, and that phrase still stuck in my head. I could not understand it.

Then I sought God over the passage. There are times when I forget the obvious.  I suspect that I am not alone in that forgetfulness!

Paul is talking about how we are united in sufferings.  We are united to Jesus, and we are united to one another.  Some Christians seem to have ease, others have much tribulation.  All of us are united by that tribulation, and by that ease.  We depend on one another to minister the mystery hidden:  the gospel.

The church grows on the blood of the martyrs.  Have you heard that before?  How about Jesus' words that we will suffer for his name's sake? It is a joy to come, a joy to wait for when we suffer.  Jesus endured the cross to receive His joy:  His Bride, the church.   It may be through our suffering the church will grow, the gospel be heard.  Praise Him.

 Even in our suffering, Jesus is not unfamiliar with our sufferings.  He was forsaken, tortured, beaten, persecuted.  Do not be surprised, dear saints, when these things happen also to you.  You belong to Jesus, and will be treated no differently than He was.  Run to Jesus with your woes.  He will hide you.  You are safe in Him.  Cry out to him, He listens and knows.  Remember, too, you are minstering the gospel to others, even in your afflictions.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fruit for You

Colossians 1:5-7  Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. 

 The gospel comes to us personally.  It comes to us one by one.  The whole world is bearing fruit of the gospel and increasing.  How exciting is that?  It also does this among you.  Wow.  It is the gospel that increases our fruit and our understanding of the grace of God.  The church at Colossae learned this from Epaphras.

We hear the gospel in the mouths of others.  God used Epaphras at Colossae, and Epaphras learned from Paul. Paul learned from our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. Today we are learning from Jesus, who spoke through Paul's hand.  We are connected to one another.  We are connected to Paul, Epaphras, and to the Colossians.  We bear fruit for the benefit of others.  We do not always see that benefit, but God has told us that we are bearing fruit.  We are bearing fruit to gain one more person.  Do not be shy with the Gospel.  Sow it liberally, that Christ's body may continue to grow.

 Do not doubt that you are bearing fruit, you can believe it.  God has said so.