Series Introduction – At his ascension Jesus said to his followers: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came mightily upon them and they began to proclaim in word and in deed that the resurrection changes everything. As we have witnessed the past weeks the message of Jesus began to awaken hearts throughout the Roman Empire. In his letter to the young congregation in Colossae the Apostle Paul began with a prayer: “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…” (Colossians 1:9). In the coming weeks we will learn what it means to “Walk with Jesus” as we apply the teaching of Colossians to the context of our lives.
June 12 – “Put one foot in front of the other”, the old saying goes. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” is another old proverb. Walking with Jesus is a lifetime journey that begins with hearing and receiving the gospel, the good news about Jesus, over and over, again and again. In the city of Colossae the gospel had transformed the members of that small congregation so that they were growing in their faith in Christ, in their love for one another, and in their hope for eternity. Today we take the first step in our new sermon series: Walk with Jesus and are transformed by the words written down so we too might grow in faith, hope, and love.
June 19 – We live in a world that more often than not is a broken mess. Paul calls it “the domain of darkness” (Colossians 1:13). And as a result we find ourselves walking into places and situations that threaten to rob us of the joy that is ours in the kingdom Jesus has established for us. In that kingdom we grow in knowledge, wisdom and understanding that reveals itself in the way that we live. We are “transferred to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).
June 26 – We live in a world full of distractions. With a phone in hand most of the time, two or more screens for the computer, and a thousand different streams of images to educate and entertain us, technology floods us with “information.” One observer noted: “Such technologies tend to create minds that have trouble holding still. Such a mind wants to be ‘distracted from distraction by distractions.’” In one of the most powerful passages in all of Scripture Paul fixes our attention on the surpassing greatness of Jesus in all things and bids us to “continue in the faith, Stable and Steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel” (1:23).
July 3– Grow up! Perhaps you’ve said it or it has been said to you. Writing to another congregation Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Corinthians 13:11). It is the mystery of the gospel—”God so loved the world”—that transforms us into mature followers of Jesus who can receive even suffering and affliction with the confidence that God is in the middle of it all. The gospel works in us “the hope of glory”—that is, the kingdom of God, which is the world put right through faith in Jesus now and forever and he comes again to make all things new.
July 10 – In a world full of competing claims of truth how can you know what to believe? Paul described his life’s work as an ongoing struggle to proclaim the mystery of Christ. Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised coming again unlocks God’s treasure of wisdom and knowledge. We are knit together in this community called St. Luke’s by the gospel to encourage and admonish one another as we walk with Jesus.
July 17 – The Napali Coast trail on the island of Kauai in Hawaii is a twenty-two mile round trip through some of the most rugged and beautiful scenery in the world. In places the trail narrows with steep cliffs rising up on one side and cliffs falling into the sea on the other. Needless to say one misstep is the difference between life and death. In our lesson today Paul calls us to consider carefully the narrow path of following Jesus faithfully. Cliffs and precipices abound in the form of worldly philosophies and sophisticated theologies that threaten the very life we have received in Christ.
July 24 – A popular PBS program carries the tag line: “It’s never too late to make the rest of your life the best of your life.” Sharing stories of people who have found all kinds of pursuits to add meaning and purpose to their lives as they age, the program is inspirational. It reflects a kind of universal logic that hard work and dedication are the secret to successful living. And while there is certainly truth in that logic, Paul in our lesson today warns against things that are mere shadows in comparison to the real substance that is in Christ. No amount of religious ritual or hard work can replace or add to what we have received freely through faith in Jesus. Only by holding fast to Jesus can we grow stronger and bolder.
July 31 – Nearly everywhere you turn these days people are being encouraged to practice “mindfulness”. One definition of mindfulness is: the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are, and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Methods and benefits of practicing mindfulness abound. In our lesson today Paul bids us to “set our minds on things that are above” remembering who we are in Christ and what awaits those who trust and believe in him. When our minds are FULL of Jesus we are able to navigate the confusing and complex realities of life.
August 7 – “Put off the old self” and “put on the new self” (Colossians 3:9). If only it was as easy as flipping a switch! The culture around us, our personal experiences and our unique personalities all influence and shape the way we think and act and speak. What comes naturally to our fallen, broken, sinful nature must be continuously replaced with our new, redeemed identity in Christ. Off with the old! In with the new!
August 14 – Harmony is the blending together of many sounds in a way that is pleasing to the ear. In music one instrument out of tune or not following the same score results in an unpleasant dissonance. Even more complex than conducting a symphony orchestra is directing the diversity of God’s people from all their various social, cultural, and economic backgrounds. The potential for discord is high. So Paul writes: “And above all put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:14-15a).
August 21 – In a day when the concept of family is being redefined, Colossians 3:18-4:1 takes Christ-followers back to their roots and shows them what it looks like to be in Christ under one roof. Our spirituality rises no higher than the way we treat our families. As the old Firestone tire commercial says, “this is “where the rubber meets the road.” In this passage theology is put into practice in the most mundane and constant of our environments, the home. Christianity is neither exclusively traditional nor exclusively radical. The Christian home transcends those categories because all members of the household dethrone self and enthrone Christ. The theology of the first three chapters walks into our homes and arranges things in surprising ways because in the Christian household, we have different roles but the same Lord. (Kerux Commentary, Adam Copenhaver and Jeffrey D. Arthurs, 2022)
August 28 – Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). Paul asked the Colossians to pray for his proclamation of the Good News about Jesus to shine the light of the Gospel into the world. Then he bids them to let their speech be “seasoned with salt.” Salt seasons and purifies. As we share our own faith story with others the Gospel brings forgiveness (purifying) and gives meaning and purpose (seasoning) to the lives of those who we meet. Public proclamation (preaching) and interpersonal relationships are the primary way by which God continues to build his kingdom.