Be Strengthened: Part 2

by Eric Ryan, Pastor of Leadership Development
Hey Wildwood Family!

I am praying this week that you continue to be strengthened according to his glorious might. Pause for a second and look back on last week. Where were you strengthened by God?

I can look back on a few moments when tensions rose a bit in our house, but we were able to talk it out graciously with one another. Whether it was between the siblings, the parents and kids, or Julianna and I working through a new normal: God strengthened us. And you know what? He granted both endurance and patience with JOY during those moments. I am grateful today that He answered that prayer last week.

This week we continue in Colossians 1:

"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:9-14, ESV

We mentioned last week that Paul describes what “walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” looks like. It looks like us being strengthened in our weaknesses for endurance and patience that is full of joy. Today, Paul’s list continues with “giving thanks…”

How are you doing in thanking God right now? There is so much going on around us right now that I often feel like I am only throwing up, “Come save me” prayers. But Paul is linking strength, endurance, and patience directly with gratitude. Gratitude is fuel for the believer experiencing hard times. 

Think about the context of this letter: prison. Colossians is one of the prison epistles. All around them, friends of the church in Colossae are being thrown in prison and often executed for their faith in Jesus. And Paul has the audacity to pray for them to be filled with the knowledge of his will because it will lead them to continuously give thanks to the Father. That’s a BIG prayer.

But how are we supposed to give thanks when everything around us is hard? Paul’s description of the Father here gives us insight into how we can gain gratitude in difficult circumstances:

“...who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:12-14
 
See Paul’s gratitude, the same gratitude he is praying for the church to have is grounded in the eternal works that the Father has accomplished on his behalf. Think about it this way;  if you are in Christ, there is not a single tragedy, pandemic, or broken environment that can change your inheritance from God. He has transferred you and me from the domain of darkness directly into the kingdom of his Son, and NOTHING can take that away from us. 

Paul is simply tying it all together. If the greatest thing that has ever happened to us is eternal and will never be changed by our circumstances, then my gratitude for that same gift also should not change based on circumstances. I believe, from Paul’s letters, gratitude is one of the primary tools Paul used to endure prison as well as the many other persecutions he faced in his lifetime. 

Today, try taking out a pen and paper and writing down all the things you have gained SPIRITUALLY in Christ. Spend some time thanking God for each of them. I honestly believe it will grow your endurance for today. Hang in there, Wildwood!
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