Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting Free from the World to Make a Difference
Preacher: Dany Hernandez
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Lydia Svoboda
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Colossians 2:16-3:4 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: A few weeks ago, on August 3, Pastor Walt Groff was preaching at his church, GracePoint, in Roseville, California, when I heard him say, “Love passes through the veil to eternity.” It is a great message. The context of his quote was that we all fight, struggle, dream, stress, and place so much pressure on temporary things that we forget the only thing that matters—love. It is generated from God and it will continue from eternity past to eternity future. The Apostle Paul presses hard in this section of his letter, pointing out that if one’s mind is focused on Jesus all the present distracting things will go away. Mark Meynell, in his commentary Colossians & Philemon for You, shares this story regarding this passage:
There is an inspiring story about the preacher John Chrysostom (his nickname literally means “golden-mouthed”), who was hauled up before the Byzantine Empress Eudoxia when he was Archbishop of Constantinople (AD 398-404). She was evidently frustrated by his independence and resistance to her authority. So, in common with powerful people since the dawn of time, she threatened him. First, she tried to scare him with banishment. He replied:
“You cannot banish me, for this world is my Father’s house.”
“But I will kill you,” said the empress.
“No, you cannot, for my life is hid with Christ in God,” said John.
“I will take away your treasures.”
“No, you cannot, for my treasure is in heaven and my heart is there.”
“But I will drive you away from your friends and you will have no one left.”
“No, you cannot, for I have a Friend in heaven from whom you cannot separate me. I defy you, for there is nothing you can do to harm me.”
You can’t fault John’s logic. He does not deny that the various punishments Eudoxia threatens him with are grim or difficult. He simply knows that his belonging to Christ puts them all into perspective.
Imagine if we lived today with more grace and love toward each other. I am sure others would say, “That person [insert your name] has been with Jesus.”
Recalibrate: What are some new ways you can extend grace and love to others? How might it look if grace and love were extended to you as well?
Respond: Thank Jesus for His Grace and Love.
Research: Read one of the recommended commentaries on this passage.
Remember: “Think only about the things in heaven, not the things on earth” (Colossians 3:3, ICB).
Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.
Blow on your little one’s hand so they can feel your breath. Try blowing a balloon up and blowing it across the room. If you don’t have a balloon, you could scrunch up a tissue and blow that towards your child—then they can blow it back. Our breath is a sign that we are alive. It is what we check for when our babies are asleep, by placing our fingers under their nose. Our Words to Remember for this week are, “Think only about the things in heaven, not the things on earth” (Colossians 3:3, ICB). We can make many things but we cannot create life. Only our Father in Heaven can do that. Think about how important each breath is and imagine what our life would be like if, with each breath, we exhaled love. Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Exhale love today.
It is winter here in Australia and I have been spending time in front of my fire. You can tell when I have been sitting in front of the fire because my skin is warm. It could be summer where you live and you may have been spending a lot of time in the water to cool down. You can tell when someone has been in the water because they are wet. No matter what time of year it is you can always tell when someone has been spending time with Jesus. You can tell because they are kind and gentle with the people around them. It is always a good time to spend time with Jesus.
When I was growing up, my mom would always hide the best cookies that she bought from the store inside the pantry on the very top shelf. The shelf was too flimsy to climb, so she knew that there would be no problem keeping those soft, delicious, chocolatey cookies away from my brother and me. But that didn’t stop us from plotting how we could get up there and get into that precious jar of tastiness!
Paul sets up the people of Colossae to think about the top shelf of their lives as well when he tells them, “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). While Paul isn’t talking about cookies, he is telling the people to stop settling for the things that are too low in their life’s pantry. Because they should save room in their lives for something better than what they can hold on the lower shelves. Had my brother and I just eaten the things on the lower shelf, we probably would have eaten uncooked pasta noodles, cans of kidney beans, and trash bags. And none of that sounds very good.
But there is something better above. Better than cookies even!
Paul says that the life we wish to live, with Jesus, is still to come. Soon we won’t have to struggle through all the hard things, or survive the obstacles of life that keep us from living abundantly. Soon, we will have a new life in Christ that will give us the ability to do all that we are meant to do in power. And maybe there will be cookies (within reach) there too!
“When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). This is the hope we have in Him when the earth we know ends. After we have lived our life here with all the purpose we have in Him, we will find a new life waiting that will exceed anything we could possibly wish for and make everything we’ve ever known here worth it all. Nothing can compare. The day we see Him and the love story of salvation unfolds before our eyes will make every wrong right, every pain worth it, and every brokenness whole.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Lydia Svoboda is a junior theology major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.