Colossians 4:18- "I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you."
Hey :) This week has been crazy, to say the least. God continues to strengthen my patience daily, which is so necessary because of school starting. I read this verse a couple of days after I wrote my last blog, and I took this week to think about it and it's significance. It jumped out at me right when I read it.
The entire book of Colossians is a letter from Paul to Christians in the small city of Colossae. Most of the letter consists of him telling them how to strengthen their faith, and to continue to thank God for everything. To us, that may sound insignificant. We already know the importance of thanking God, but here's the twist, Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison for sharing Christ. Even while he was chained, he was praising God, and teaching others to do the same. Paul used his life, even in jail, to give complete glory to Jesus, and not only did multitudes get saved back then, but his testimony still speaks to millions today through the new testament.
When I first read this verse, I looked at earlier verses to hear more about Paul's imprisonment. Come to find out, he mentioned being in prison maybe once or twice. The rest of the letter is ALL about how amazing our God is. That is such a witness to me because compared to how big Jesus is, prison was so insignificant to him. No matter what hardship you are facing, compared to HIs love for you, it's nothing. Knowing that someone can face chains, yet still live free because of Jesus shows us that through keeping our eyes on Christ, we can get through any and every trial set before us.
Another point I made from this was found in verses 2:6-7, which say, "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, WALK in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, ABOUNDING in thanksgiving." Paul is chained in a cell, yet he was still WALKING in Christ. Not only was he walking, he was ABOUNDING. The dictionary definition of abounding is "plentiful", or you have a lot. Paul had nothing, yet he was overflowing with thanks and love for Christ.
Paul signed off by saying, "Remember my chains". Why? He wanted people to see that even though he is chained, the power of Jesus cannot be contained and His love will continue to be spread throughout the nations. "Remember my chains". No physical torment can separate you from Jesus, no enemy, or army, or prison. "Remember my chains". Know that people you know are chained and stuck in their tribulations without Christ, but He can still reach them. "Remember my chains". We are never so lost that God can't find us. "Remember my chains".
Without Christ, we are held captive, but Jesus came to set the captives free.
In Him, we are free.
Romans 12:12- Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Hey, it's been a little over a week since I last posted, and with school coming quickly, that will probably be the rate from now on, but it does give me more time to think over messages and to read more passages that will help both you and me.
About 3-4 years ago, I read this verse and I wrote a little message with it. I remember thinking that this verse is the key to life and that it would help me in the future. I can't say this a lot, but I was totally right. The past few weeks have been an absolute trial for my patience. It seems like every decision I make has to be rearranged and figured out again. I don't know about you, but when it comes to getting things done, I'm so impatient. For example, at the end of last year, I chose all of my classes for this year and I picked classes that I really want to take. This past week I found out that the two classes that I want to take more than anything are held during the same period, so now I can only pick one, and that was a hard decision for me. I wanted to be able to pick up my schedule, have everything on it that I wanted, and to not have to deal with schedule changes and hard decisions, but it took me a couple of days to realize how impatient I was being, and that God has a purpose for why I had to ultimately pick different classes.
Of course, that's just a small example, but it was the most recent for me. The cool thing about this verse is that it applies to the little and the big things. The first thing it tells us to do is to "rejoice in hope", and I love that, because when you really think about what it's saying, it isn't telling you to be happy with the things you already have, but to be overjoyed at the HOPE that one day you will have all you need. Rejoice in the things hoped for, thank God for the things you know He will bless you with. Take the discouragements and fears and turn them into hopes for the future, ones that you can fully trust God with, and completely rejoice in. The most trying thing for me this week has been to turn my impatience into hope, but God is strong enough to do that for me, and He can for you as well.
The second thing this verse says to do is to "be patient in tribulation". This part seems to be relevant to anyone I talk to and anything I go through personally. We all have something that's going on in our lives that we wish we could change, but this verse isn't arguable. After we start to rejoice in the hopes not yet achieved, we have to be patient while we wait for God's promises in our lives, which is to do good according to His will and His purposes. I know that in the future I will know exactly what career I will have and what kind of family I will have, and so on, and while I rejoice in that hope, I have to be patient during the lack of clarity and the confusion, because right now the future seems terrifying. Rejoice in the hope that your tribulation will soon be over.
The last point in this verse is to "be constant in prayer". God never said Christianity would be easy, or popular, or in your comfort zone. Rejoicing in things you don't have seems kind of crazy, being "patient" during difficult times seems impossible, which is exactly why the ending of this verse is so important. While the confusion takes over, be constant in prayer. God knows the trials we are going through, and while we have hope in His plan, He doesn't need hope, because He already has it all in the palm of His hand, which is why being patient during this time is so important. It doesn't say to lift up a prayer when you think of it, or when you make the time for Him, it says to be CONSTANT, meaning that we absolutely cannot achieve these things without His protection and guidance continually.
I love that all of these paragraphs came from three simple statements from God. It's so easy to let Him do the writing for me, because I have no idea how to be patient like He wants me to be, but I'm learning as He's guiding me, and He's guiding all of us, so rejoice, because His love isn't just a hope, but a reality.