GRACIOUS SPEECH

Scripture Reading: Colossians 4:5,6

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” What a terrible lie this is! Some of our greatest hurts come from the words of other people. It is not only the words themselves that hurt others but it is also the way we say them. We can come across mean spirited and cutting with our words and tones. I have been deeply hurt by things people have said to me and I am sure that you have been also.

No wonder we are told to “let your speech ALWAYS be gracious, seasoned with salt.” Notice the word “aways” in the passage. Even when we must confront someone, we are do it in a gracious way. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:5).

Read these words from Ephesians — “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:29,30). When we talk harshly to others, we grieve the Holy Spirit. Our words should build up others, not tear them down.

Our words and the way we say them matter to God. We must choose our words carefully and we must also strive to use the right tone when we speak them. We should never respond to others when we are angry or irritable. God wants us to be gracious, loving, thoughtful, and truthful when we speak.

Lord Jesus, grant me power to be gracious always in the way I speak with others. Let me choose my words carefully and let me speak them with the right tone. Let me speak the truth in love. Forgive me when I have said things that I should not have said. Forgive me, O Holy Spirit, for I know that I have grieved You with the harsh words I have said to others. Grant me grace to speak in a way that builds up others and not put them down.

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GOSPEL-DRIVEN RELATIONSHIPS

Scripture Reading: Colossians 4:5,6

“Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:5,6)

Our church’s focus statement is — “Equipping the body of Christ to engage in radical, gospel-drive personal relationships.” We believe this is our calling as it relates to those both inside the church and outside the church. We are to make a serious effort to establish gospel-driven relationships with all people we come to know.

I believe this is what Paul had in mind when he wrote these words — “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” God’s people are called to be ambassadors for Christ — “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:20).

In order to do this we must attempt to conduct ourselves wisely toward outsiders. We must not become stumbling blocks to them. Peter wrote these words — “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evil-doers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (I Peter 2:12). We are to be Christ-like in our conduct. Outsiders notice when we are not acting in a way that is consistent with what we say we believe.

It is not only our conduct that serves as a witness to others, it is also our speech — “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may now how you ought to answer each person.” When we talk to outsiders about matters of faith, we are to do so humbly, graciously, and in love. We must never be arrogant and prideful, or put others down. Rather we are to speak the truth in love. And we are to trust the Spirit of God to lead us in our conversations with them about our faith.

Our goal should be to develop gospel-driven relationships. Our focus should be to engage others in such a easy that we can be effective witnesses for our Lord Jesus by your conduct and by our words.

Lord Jesus, grant me the power to conduct myself wisely toward those who are not believers. Enable me to develop relationships with them that are gospel- based and gospel-driven. Give me wisdom as I seek to represent You to them and let my speech always be gracious and seasoned with salt.

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PRAYING FOR OPEN DOORS

Scripture Reading: Colossians 4:2-4

“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison — that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” (Colossians 4:3,4)

Paul was in prison because of his bold witness for Jesus. Notice that he did not pray that God would open the doors of the prison so that he could be released. Instead he prayed that God would open a door for the word so that Paul could continue to declare “the mystery of Christ.”

Paul constantly looked for open doors to tell others about Jesus. He even witnessed to the imperial guard of Rome when God opened the door for him while in prison. He saw his imprisonment as an opportunity to advance the gospel — “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ” (Philippians 1:12,13). He wanted every word to count as he sought to proclaim Christ to others — “that I may make it clear.”

We should be in regular prayer for missionaries and church leaders around the world. We need to pray for open doors in closed countries. We need to pray kingdom focused prayers — that God’s Kingdom will come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

My prayers are often filled with my personal desires and needs. I don’t pray consistently for open doors. We should be praying for ourselves as well — that God would open doors for us to share the Word with others.

And we need to pray for those who teach and preach the Word of God. We need to pray for boldness and for clarity of speech. God is at work. He opens the doors of people’s hearts to hear the gospel. Let’s keep praying that many will come to know Christ right here and all around the world.

Sovereign Lord, I pray for those who live in countries closed to the gospel. I pray for open doors and for the faithful Christians who are willing to put their lives on the line as they tell others about Jesus. I pray for pastors and teachers as they proclaim the gospel. Give them boldness and clarity of speech. And I pray for open doors for me to share my faith with others right here in our community.

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BEING WATCHFUL IN PRAYER

Scripture Reading: Colossians 4:2-6

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)

When I read these words about being watchful in prayer, my mind went to Jesus’ words to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. As they entered the garden, Jesus was deeply troubled. He told His disciples to remain where they were and to watch. Then He went a little farther and fell to the ground and prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Remove this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36).

After Jesus prayed this agonizing prayer, He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. Then He spoke these words to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:37,38).

I believe that Jesus’ words to Peter give us insight into Paul’s words to the Colossians — “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful with thanksgiving.” We face temptations of all kinds day in and day out. Our spirits may be willing, but we must acknowledge that our flesh is weak. We must continue to watch and pray. When we face temptations, we must be aware of our weak flesh and we must be steadfast in our prayers, so that we may not succumb to the temptations. Prayer is one of the primary weapons we have against Satan and the fiery darts he throws at us.

Notice also that we are to pray with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving keeps us from only praying selfish prayers. Thanksgiving makes us aware of all the blessings God has poured out upon us. “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”

Lord Jesus, keep this verse before me today. Enable me to continue steadfastly in prayer. I pray that I will be watchful for the temptations that I will face today. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. I thank You for Your protection, power, love and grace. Thank You for forgiving me for the many times I have failed You and fallen into temptation. Give me the strength to resist the temptations that I will face today.

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THE MASTER IN HEAVEN

Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:22-4:1

“Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Colossians 4:1)

This passage addresses our vocational life. We are told that our work matters to God. Employees are to work headily, as for the Lord (v. 23) and that through our vocation, whatever it may be, we are serving the Lord (v. 24).

But what about employers, owners, managers, and supervisors? This one sentence says it all — “Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” Those who have supervision over others must seek to be just and fair in their dealings with employees. There can be no partiality. We must treat all our employees equally. We must remember that those those of us who are responsible to supervise people are also under authority ourselves. We, too, have a Master who happens to be the Master of all.

Over the years I have developed a basic goal for providing leadership to those whom I give direction and oversight. I often say to our employees — we are a family and a team operating in a culture of brokenness and grace. We are first of all a family. We will treat each other like family. We will resolve conflict at work like we resolve it with our family at home. But we are also a team. We have a job to do. We are responsible to do our best because ultimately we are working for the Lord and because we get a paycheck. We are to earn what we are being paid.

The key is to develop a context, a culture of brokenness and grace. We must acknowledge that we are sinful people. We must stay humble because we are all failures. But God has loved us and accepted us. He has extended His grace to us. Therefore, we must be willing to extend grace to those with whom we work.

Master in heaven, I bow before Your supreme authority over my life and over all of Your creation. You are the Lord of all and I submit to Your leadership over my life. Grant me the ability to lead others in a just and fair way. Help me to be loving and gracious to those over which I have authority. I know that all authority ultimately comes from You.

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HOLY VOCATION

Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:22-41

“Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:22-24)

I am afraid that most Christians fail to understand that all vocation is a holy calling from God. At creation, God established vocation. Adam was given the responsibility to care for the garden of Eden that the Lord God had created — “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Therefore, work became a holy calling, a holy vocation.

Whatever work we do is to be seen as a holy calling — even being a slave in Paul’s day. The great motivation for doing work well is found in these verses — “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for Lord and not for men.” This should cause us to strive for excellence in our vocations, no matter what they may be. We are ultimately working for the Lord.

But let’s go deeper into the passage. Our work is a means to serve the Lord — “You are serving the Lord Christ.” This is true for all vocations, not just for those in professional ministry. Whether one is a doctor, lawyer, business person, sales person, construction worker, painter, plumber, or landscape worker, he or she is ultimately working for the Lord and serving Him through the work they do.

Lord God, thank You for the holy calling You have given each of us. I pray that whatever I do, I work heartily for You. Let me do my best in my vocation so that I can bring honor to You. Thank You for the privilege of serving You through my work.

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GOSPEL FAMILY LIFE

Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:18-21

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:18-21)

Paul has been dealing with the implications of the gospel for relationships. Relationships are complex because all human beings are sinners. We often put ourselves first and we easily become self-centered and self-righteous. But, we must remember these words — “And above all these put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (v. 14). It is the love of Christ that binds us together and enables us to work through conflict. The love of Christ must control us (II Corinthians 5:14) in order for us to have healthy relationships. Remember that love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8) . It is helpful for us to read regularly God’s definition of love found in I Corinthians 13 — “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:4-8a).

The most basic human relationships take place in the family. God ordained marriage as the primary social institution. Marriage is interwoven into the very fabric of creation (Genesis 2:18-25). God has given specific instructions to husbands, wives and children. Gospel principles must be applied to family relationships. This includes experiencing the love of Christ ourselves, which enables us to extend His love to others. Love for Christ and for others becomes the major motivator to follow God’s instructions about family relationships.

Christ’s love enables wives to be submissive to their husbands. Christ’s love enables husbands to love their wives and not to be harsh with them. Christ’s love motivates children to obey their parents. And His love enables parents not to provoke their children but rather to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Remember that love binds everything together in perfect harmony (v. 14).

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your unconditional, sacrificial and unending love. Give me the ability to love my family with the love that You have for me. Forgive me when I fail to love them. Forgive me when I become more concerned about myself than I am about my family. Give me the ability to learn how to love others with the love You have defined for us in I Corinthians 13.

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THE NAME OF JESUS

Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:12-17

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Honoring Jesus in everything we do is our greatest motivation for living a Christian life. When we consider what Jesus has done for us, we are driven by gratitude and love to honor Him in word and in deed. We carry His name. We represent Him wherever we go and in whatever we do.

Doing everything in the name of Jesus means that we acknowledge our need for His power and grace. Whether the most mundane task or one that is overwhelming, we draw our strength from Christ — “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

But let me be honest. There is so much I do and say without a thought about Jesus. I act in my own strength and according to my selfish desires. I speak carelessly and too quickly at times. I fail to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5). It is difficult for me to do everything in the name of Jesus. and I must confess that I fail miserably in giving thanks to God the Father through Jesus.

I’ve come to realize that the key to honoring Christ in whatever we do is found in the opening verses of this chapter — “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (3:1-3).

We must develop an eternal perspective about life. When we do we will seek the things that are above and not the things that are on earth. It must be something we learn to practice daily. When we do this, we can then do “everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Lord Jesus, let me be conscious of Your presence and power in my life today. Let me be thoughtful in everything that I say and do. Let me take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Enable me to do everything this day in Your powerful and majestic name, Jesus.

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THE WORD OF CHRIST

Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:12-17

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

I am fully convinced that we cannot grow and mature as believers if we are not reading and meditating upon the Word of God. There is no substitute for spending time in the Bible. Devotional books are good and helpful, but we must not neglect time in the Word itself. I believe reading, meditating upon and memorizing the Scriptures is the most fundamental of all the spiritual disciplines.

How can the word of Christ dwell in us if we don’t know it? We cannot know it if we are not spending time in the Scriptures. We must remember that the Bible is the inspired Word of God — “All Scripture is breathed out (inspired) by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16). Because the Bible is the inspired Word of God it is our only rule for faith and practice.

We must also remember that God’s Word is powerful — “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The Scripture cuts to the core of our being. It encourages us, rebukes us, convicts us, corrects us and guides us. Therefore, we must never neglect time in the Word.

It has been my practice for many years to make my first order of the day to spend time in God’s Word. These devotions come from my meditations upon specific passages of the Bible. Every day I learn new things that enable me to grow in my faith. Never neglect spending time in the Scriptures. When we are faithful in our Bible reading and meditation, the Word of Christ will dwell in us richly.

O Holy Spirit, I acknowledge that You are the Author of the Scriptures. I also know that You illuminate our hearts and minds to understand them. I pray that You will open the eyes of my hearts to the wonderful truths found in the Scriptures. Let the Word of Christ dwell in me richly.

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THE PEACE OF CHRIST

Colossians 3:12-17

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)

We all want to experience peace in our lives, especially during difficult times. We often are filled with fear over the uncertainties we face in life. We face trials, disappointments and even tragedies throughout the course of our lives. We desperately want peace when we face these things. Here is the answer — “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

Jesus Christ alone is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). When we come into His presence, we can experience a peace that surpasses all understanding — “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). When we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, we know that we are secure in Him. We know that He is with us in our trials and that He will never leave nor forsake us. The key is to LET the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. We must focus on Christ and not on the circumstances. We must keep our eyes on Him and trust Him. When we do, we will experience His peace.

Expect troubles and difficulties. They will come upon us. We should not be surprised by them. Jesus said — “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus is clear — “In the world you WILL have tribulation.” It is certain and we should expect it because we live in a broken, fallen world.

Jesus tells us how to find His peace — “I said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace.” They key is to keep our eyes on Him and to meditate upon His Word. When we do we will find the precious promises He has made to us. And from His Word, we know that He has overcome the world; He is victorious and His victory is our victory. Yes, in the world we will have tribulation. But we can have peace when we face it, for “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).

Lord Jesus, I know that I can find peace in You. Let me keep my eyes on You always. Let me remember that You live in me. Thank You for the precious promises You have made to me. I know that You have already overcome the world and that You are for me. You will keep me in perfect peace as long as I trust You and delight in You.

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