Thought for the Week - 15th January

Vanda Hopkin

Colossians 1: 3-6

We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God,
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world.
It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

Colossians 1: 9-23

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you.
We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord,
and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.
All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.
May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.
He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people,
who live in the light.
For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see –
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.
He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.  For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
This includes you who were once far away from God.
You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.
Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.
But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.
Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

There’s a lot for us in Colossians, whatever age or stage we are – whether we’re struggling or doing well, falling behind or driving forward.  God’s strength and the truth of what God has for us comes through.

Sometimes we don’t talk enough about the cross.  It’s a fundamental part of our walk, and something we need to come back to time and time again.  We read in Corinthians 1:18:

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction!
But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.

The cross is our power and our place; where we need to be continually.

God saw a fallen world and that no sacrifice was sufficient to atone for the sin of man.  The only thing He could do was send His son to die on the cross – the pure, spotless son of God.  He left His home in heaven where there was no sin, pain or suffering.  Christ Himself chose to come to earth.  He became God on earth for us… for you and for me.  He walked as a man.  He taught the way.  He became the son of man.  At an appointed time, He was nailed to a cross.  The nails were put through His hands and feet.  They hung Him on a piece of wood.  Crucifixion is one of the cruellest deaths you can have.  As He hung there dying, the nails were the only thing holding Him up.  The soldiers and men mocked Him.  They placed thorns on His head and took lots for His clothes.

This was a righteous man who’d never sinned in thought, word or deed.  This was a punishment for sinners… robbers, thieves and murderers.  Yet He’d done no wrong.  The King of all creation – this man for which everything was created, and through who everything was created – this King of Kings, was hung on a tree.  He’d known joy, pleasure and happiness with His father.  Then He saw those He had created hang him on a cross.  The hordes of hell came against Him.  Every sin from the beginning and end of time came upon Him.

This was the King of Kings!  Suddenly every one of our sins was thrown at Him.  Every evil thought, sexual sin, bad mood, pain, selfishness, pride, drink of alcohol and drug, lost temper, offence given and taken, was thrown upon the King of Kings.  Every illness, anxiety, depression, leprosy and cancer.  Every starvation and pain.  All was put upon the perfect son of God.

He took that.  He suffered and He died.  Such was His death that the whole of Heaven darkened.

When we say that Christ has gone before us, He did!  When He hung upon that cross He suffered what you are going through today.  That anguish, disturbance, shame, heartbreak, frustration.  There is nothing that He hasn’t suffered.  He has felt your pain!  He was there when we’ve been suffering, He was there when we lost our loved ones. He knows what we go through!

Christ went into the pits of hell for us.  He took the keys of hell and death for us.  There was victory in that cross!  Because of what happened, there is victory for every single one of us!  There is power in that cross.  It doesn’t matter who you are, there is power in that cross!  There is a level playing field, because no one is different.  Whoever goes to Christ He will not cast out!  There is victory if we want it and if we take it.

In Colossians 2: 14 we read:

He cancelled the record of the charges against us
and took it away by nailing it to the cross.

This is why the message of the cross is foolish to some, because it’s so simple they can’t accept it.  They talk of Christ as being “a good man”.  Goodness won’t get you into heaven.  If we don’t come to this cross, we won’t get to heaven.  The cross cancels the hold of sin in our lives.  The more we come to that cross and see the price that He paid, how can we sin again?  Because we can’t take it casually – we can see the price He paid for us!

There is forgiveness at the cross.  If we come humbly and bow our knee, He helps us.  There is healing at the cross.  There’s rededication at the cross.  He wants us to come in humility, honesty and integrity.  This is why He says “take up your cross and follow me”.  The cross is not only for Christ and for us to go to, but for us to carry in our own lives.  In Matthew 16:24 He says to us “take up your cross and follow me”.  In Galatians 5:24 we read:  “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there”.

In 1 Peter 2:24 we read:  “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed”. 

He’s done it!  There’s nothing else we can do!  There’s nothing else for us to do, other than to keep coming back to the cross time and time again.  It’s a wonderful place at the cross.  So often, we forget about the cross… it becomes all about us instead of Christ.  If we keep coming to the cross, we can’t go wrong.  If we do more, and pick up that cross He’s chosen for us and deny ourselves, it’s even better.

He warns us in Philippians 3:18: “For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ”.  We don’t need to be enemies of the cross of Christ.  I don’t want to get to heaven and God judge me as an enemy of His cross because of my own desires and needs, when He has been there with me feeling my pain.

Come to the cross.  It’s a place where we cannot stand.  It’s not a place for pride, or showing goodness.  It’s a place of humility before Christ and the God of heaven.  We approach the cross on our knees, prostate on the floor.  When we genuinely come before the cross, we see ourselves as we are and as Christ sees us.  As we come and kneel, in humility and integrity, we say “Lord not my will but yours”.  We look up at the face of Christ.  We see the pain and anguish He suffered.  We see the blood stains and the spear in His side.  We hear the cruel mocking.  Where else can we go?  Who else can take away our sins?

We can lie to others, we can lie to ourselves.  But there’s a God in heaven who is calling.  There’s a God in heaven who died for us.  There’s a God in heaven who became our sin and suffering.  Let Him melt your heart.  Don’t harden your heart against Him… the things of the world becomes ashes in the end.  The world looks attractive, but there’s no substance, only pain and suffering.  In Christ there is joy, goodness, contentment, and love everlasting!  Pain is only for a season.  Underneath there is a well of things we’ve not yet experienced.  We’ve not known full joy yet!

God is looking for His faithful.  He’s looking for His people who’ll come to His cross and take up their own cross.  We can come to that cross for whatever we need… strength, revival, forgiveness.  There is no one outside of it!  Every single one of us has a chance to come to the foot of that cross today.

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