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1 Bible 2Ephesians 4:1, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called”

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Topic “Sanctification”

Theme – Jesus Christ wants the members of His church to live holy lives and to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Him.

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THE PROCESS OF SANCTIFICATION

To sanctify someone or something means to set that person or thing apart for the use intended or planned by its designer. For example a pen is “sanctified” when used to write and eyeglasses are “sanctified” when used to improve sight. Sanctification is the process of God’s Grace by which a person is separated from sin and becomes dedicated to God’s righteousness. The three aspects of sanctification would be:

A. The person is sanctified when he/she receives Christ as Savior.

(1)           Acts 26:18 tell us that a believer is sanctified by faith in Christ. “To open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”

(2)          Paul clearly states the fact that believers were sanctified when they were saved. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

(3)          The writer of Hebrews referring to the will of God says, “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews10:10)

(4)          Jude in the opening of his Epistle states believers are sanctified when they are saved. “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ” (Jude 1)

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B. Sanctification is a continuing process during the life of the believer.

(1)           God has willed that a Christian live his/her life always serving the Lord. “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14) In looking at the first aspect of sanctification the Bible says we are sanctified by God when we are saved. This verse reveals a further aspect of sanctification and says that we are in the process of “being” sanctified.

(2)          Another verse which reveals this truth is Hebrews 2:11, “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

(3)          Romans 12:1-2 address the truth that the believer has an important part in the on going process of his sanctification. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

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C. The believer’s Sanctification will be complete in the future when we meet Christ our Savior. The final act of sanctification comes in the future when the believer dies. At death the Christian is freed from his body of sin.

(1)           God dedicated us to live godly lives totally dedicated to Him. That was the purpose for which He saved us. After a person is saved he/she is to exercise his/her will and discipline themselves to fulfill God’s purpose in saving them. They must fight temptation and actively seek to put their old sinful nature to death. It is a struggle and a real battle! Yet, through the power of God that is given to the believer, he/she can overcome the flesh and can live for the Lord.

(2)          Sanctification is the process of God in which the destructive course of sin is abated in our lives. As sanctification works in our lives, we yield ourselves to obey the Lord’s instructions and to live cleaner, healthier, happier and more productive lives, which is what God our Creator intended for us.

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INTRODUCTION

There’s an old Chinese proverb that says “a long journey begins with the first step”. So it is with sanctification. That first step in the journey – salvation – is unquestionably the most important one; however, we haven’t arrived when we get saved. So while salvation may guarantee us a ticket into heaven, we still have a good bit to learn about being a Christian. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t stop and think about my relationship with the Lord. To be quite honest, I’m not always where I think I need to be, but I realize the choices I make each day can either draw me closer to God or distance me from Him.

I try not to measure my progress by what I notice in the lives of other Christians. My own mistakes are hard enough to swallow. But I do find comfort when I hear other Christians, who are a lot farther down the road of sanctification than I am; confess that poor choices have slowed their progress, too. The Apostle Paul was one of the greatest Christians who ever lived. Yet even he once commented in a letter to Christians living in Rome that he could not believe some of the things he did. “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)

John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, also struggled with his Christian walk. He said, “I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be,” he once said. “But thank God I am not what I once was, and I can say with the great apostle, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am’.” He also said, ““Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” Newton makes another point that we all lose sight of. We don’t live under the law rather we live under grace. Christ’s death on the Cross was, and is, the final atonement for our sins. There’s nothing else we can ever do to add to the finished work He provided for us on the Cross that dreadful day.

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THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS

While the choices we make in life do and will affect our relationship with Jesus Christ, it doesn’t mean we can’t win when we do stumble. If we’re headed in the right direction, God will make sure the light always shines on our path. The important thing is to keep at it every day, which is what Paul meant when he said, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. (Hebrews 12:1).

What would you do if you were under house arrest for your faith in Jesus Christ? How could you make your time count for eternity? The apostle Paul spent his time praying, witnessing, and writing letters to various churches. No doubt while he was in Rome, he wrote many, many letters. Four of those were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We call these the “Prison Epistles”. This lesson will focus on these epistles.

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The City of Ephesus, its Church and Teachings

The city of Ephesus was the chief city of the Roman province of Asia, the western third of Asia Minor. It was a large, populous city. Located on the Cayster River, it was also a center of commerce. It had two noted buildings; the theatre, which was the largest in the Greek world and held 25,000 spectators, and the temple of Diana, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The city was full of Idolatry, especially the worship of Diana

The apostle Paul first set foot in Ephesus when he was on the return trip from his second missionary journey, early in AD 54. That visit was brief. Late in AD 54 he came again to Ephesus and stayed for three years, the longest of any stay on his missionary journeys.

While Paul was planting the church in Ephesus, he taught in the synagogue for a few months and then for several years in the school of Tyrannus. It was in Ephesus that the gospel had a great impact on the people. The believers burned witchcraft books amounting to 50,000 drachmas. Finally the silversmiths, led by Demetrius, caused a riot, and Paul had to leave. But the church was well founded and was one of the most spiritual of all the churches of that time.

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Paul wrote the book of Ephesians from prison to strengthen the Ephesian believers in their faith. He also wanted to show the unity of Jews and Gentles in the Body of Christ. The book opens with a salutation of grave and peace. Then comes the thanksgiving (1:2-14). In Greek the opening is all one sentence, the longest in Scripture. Paul thanked God because God has blessed us believers with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. He also thanked God because God seals believers with the Holy Spirit. Being sealed with the Spirit is an earnest, or down payment, of more to come.

Paul prayed that God would give the Ephesian believers the spirit of wisdom and the spirit of revelation in the knowledge of Him so that they would know the hope of his calling (1:18). In chapter 2 Paul took up the theme of the unity of Jews and Gentiles in the Body of Christ. Before salvation the Gentiles were without Christ (2:11-12). They were “aliens from [outside] the commonwealth of Israel.” They were without the covenants of promise. They were without hope and they were without God. But now they are part of the family (2:19) and part of the building, the church, of which Christ is the cornerstone (2:20).

Ephesians includes one of Paul’s prayers (3:14-21). The apostle prayed that the Ephesians would be strengthened in the inner being and that Christ might be at home in their hearts. He also prayed that the Ephesians might know the extent of Christ’s love and that they might know it by experience. Paul always included some exhortations in his letters. In Ephesians he exhorted Christians concerning four arenas:

(1)           In the church we are to be unified.

(2)          In society we are to be pure.

(3)          In the household we are to exhibit love toward one another.

(4)          In the spiritual army we are to be ready.

(5)          Our enemy is the Devil.  Our defense against him is truth, righteousness, faith, the gospel of peace, and salvation. We go on the offensive against him with the Word of God, which is our sword (6:17).

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THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS

The City of Philippi, its Church and Teachings

Philippi was a large city in Macedonia and located on the Roman road named the Egnatian Way. Philippi was named after the father o Alexander the Great, Philip of Macedon. Philip had conquered the city about four hundred years before Paul’s time and had named it after himself. Philippi means belonging to Philip. The city was located near rich gold mines, but it was poor in its number of Jews and it had no synagogues.

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Since there was no synagogue, Paul had to use a different approach to his church-planting efforts. He found a ladies’ prayer group that met by a river, he used that gathering as the focal point. Lydia, a businesswoman who sold purple cloth, became Paul’s firs European convert.

Paul cast a demon out of a young slave girl who followed him through the city day after day. For this action he and Silas were accused by her owners and thrown into prison without a trial. Paul and Silas witnessed not only by their words but also by their lives. Instead of grumbling in the prison, they sang songs and praised God. Their actions were a testimony to the other prisoners (Acts 16:25).

Then God intervened and sent an earthquake, which released the chains of the prisoners and opened the prison’s doors. Because a jail keeper could be tortured and put to death by the Roman government when a prisoner escaped the jailer was about to kill himself before he was stopped by Paul. The jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (16:30, 31). That is the most important question anyone can ask, and the answer is still the same. We are saved by faith and faith alone. The church was almost wholly Gentile. It was unified and loyal to Paul.

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The book of Philippians is hard to outline because it is a friendly letter. It is usually summarized under several topics instead. In the opening salutation and thanksgiving (1:1-11), the apostle Paul called himself a servant. The church at Philippi did not question Paul’s authority, so the apostle did not have to defend it. In the opening greeting, Paul also mentioned Timothy, but Paul alone was the writer, as the pronoun “I” in the rest of the letter shows. Paul thanked God because the Philippians continued in the gospel (1:5).

Then Paul outlined his personal circumstances (1:12-26). He was a prisoner in Rome and in spite of his tribulations, he rejoiced because the gospel was going out, even into Caesar’s own house. As Paul moved on, he gave some exhortations. One is an exhortation on unity (1:27-2:4), which comes through selflessness and meekness. Secondly, he gave the exhortation of humility wherein Christ voluntarily surrendered the use of some of His attributes. He emptied Himself, not of His deity, but of His heavenly glory and privilege (John 17:5).

He became a man and a servant. He died on a cross, a despicable death. Moreover, as a result of Christ’s self-emptying and death, God the Father highly exalted Christ and gave Him a name that is above every other name. Someday every knee will bow to Jesus Christ. In Philippians Paul urged believers to have the mind of Christ (2:5).

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2 Corinthians 4:16 tell us that, “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”

My beloved aging is unavoidable. Unfortunately, society has taught us to fear advancing age and to disguise its reality as much as possible. But aging can actually be a wonderful thing. Followers of Jesus have the capacity to get significantly better with age. As Paul put it: “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Just as there are physical signs that reveal we’re getting older, there are also signs that show we are getting better. Rather than becoming more irritable, intolerant, and unloving, the maturing believer of Jesus grows better at forgiving, loving, and caring. Growing older is a continuation of the journey to become more like Jesus, which means that as time goes on our heart and our attitudes should increasingly resonate with and reflect the compelling characteristics and pleasant ways of our Savior. So as we grow older, let’s embrace the opportunity to become more like Jesus. Our friends will notice that we look better with age.

Don’t just grow older— grow better as a follower of Jesus.

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THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS

The City of Colosse, it’s Church and Teaching

Colosse was located in Asia Minor and was a part of the Roman province of Asia.  It had been a city of considerable size around 400 BC. We don’t know who planted the church; however, it wasn’t the apostle Paul. In Colossians 2:1, he wrote, “as many as have not seen my face in the flesh”. While Paul was in Ephesus, the gospel had gone out to all Asia (Acts 19:10). Paul knew several of the leading men in Colosse. One was Philemon, a wealthy Colossian in whose home the church met.

The believers in Colosse were to be commended for their faith, hope, and love; however, there was also a major problem that needed to be taken care of. False teachers, Gnostics, were teaching heresy in the church. They taught that matter is evil, that God is good, and that since God is good, He could not have created matter. They also didn’t give Jesus Christ His rightful place. In Colossians 1:15-20 the apostle Paul provided the Biblical teaching concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ. His three main points were:

(1)        Christ’s deity. Christ is the image, the exact likeness, of the invisible God (1:15a).

(2)        Christ’s creatorship. Christ existed prior to all creation. (a) He is “the first-born of every creature” (1:15b). This term speaks of priority of position. He is higher than all creation. (b) He is also “before all things” (1:17a). This term speaks of priority of time. (c) “By him were all things created” (1:16). He was the agent of creation. (d) “By him all things consist” (1:17b). He is the sustainer of creation.

(3)        Christ’s headship over the church. The church is the Body of Christ, and Christ is the head of the body (1:18).

The apostle Paul also covered Christian living in the family (Chapter 3:18-25). However, for the remainder of this lesson we’re going to camp out on Colossians 3:1-17, the passage of Scripture before the verses entitled “Christian Living”. God expects believers in Christ to put on Christlike clothing, and in these verses the Apostle Paul contends that believers in Jesus Christ should be recognized by their appearance.

He lists the condition of our lives in Colossians 3:5-6 before coming to Christ and states “now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Paul then begins with these words, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved”. It’s very clear from these words that we are the object of God’s everlasting love. Therefore, each command He gives us, is motivated by His love for us, including His command for us to “put on” or clothe ourselves with:

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(1)       We are to clothe ourselves with “COMPASSION”

The first article of clothing Paul tells us to put on is compassion. Compassion involves feeling another’s pain. To show compassion you must feel with another and not just for a few seconds. It means entering into the pain of another person and truly sharing that pain.

Despite his busy schedule during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln often visited the hospitals to encourage the wounded. On one occasion he saw a young soldier who was near death. “Is there anything I can do for you?” asked the compassionate President. “Please write a letter to my mother,” came the reply. Unrecognized by the soldier, President Lincoln sat down and wrote as the youth told him what to say. The letter read, “My Dearest Mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty, and I won’t recover. Don’t sorrow too much for me. May God bless you and Father? Kiss Mary and John for me.”

The young man was too weak to go on, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and then added this postscript: “Written for your son by Abraham Lincoln.” Asking to see the note, the soldier was astonished to discover who had shown him such kindness. “Are you really our President?” he asked. “Yes,” was the quiet answer? “Now, is there anything else I can do?” The soldier feebly replied, “Will you please hold my hand? I think it would help to see me through to the end.” The tall, gaunt man granted his request, offering warm words of encouragement until death stole in with the dawn. Lincoln showed compassion and entered into the pain of that soldier. It involves seeing things through the eyes of another and taking time to do so.

Compassion involves extending mercy to the one who has fallen. In the life and ministry of Jesus there is a complete contrast in the way He dealt with people and the way others dealt with people? Jesus reached out to the Woman at the well who was treated as an outcast by society. He had dinner with Zacchaeus the despised tax-collector. He extended mercy to the woman caught in adultery. He embraced the children that others thought a nuisance. He forgave Peter, the friend who betrayed Him. He expressed love to the crowd that crucified Him. In other words, when the crowd was pointing fingers Jesus extended friendship. Do you realize how difficult this is? We love to engage in “neighbor bashing”.

We are more likely to point fingers than embrace; condemn rather than support. We are prone to assume the worst about another rather than looking for the pain in their lives. We need to intentionally go “against the flow”. It means drawing close when others pull away. It means standing up for someone who cannot defend themselves. It means loving the one everyone else hates.

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(2)        We are to clothe ourselves with “KINDNESS”

The Greek word for kindness is also used to describe a lovely quality of wine that has grown mellow with age. In other words, it has lost its harshness. That’s what kindness is, treating another without harshness. Kindness is treating a person with respect and honor. It is ascribing value and dignity to another. We live in a stressed world and a word or act of kindness can make all the difference in the world to an individual.

Nearly every day we encounter people whose lives creak and grate harshly with problems. In such situations we face two choices, either to aggravate their problems with a spirit of criticism or to lubricate their lives in the Spirit of Christ. Some people we meet carry unbearable burdens and long for the sound of a sympathetic word. Others are defeated and feel like giving up. Just one drop of encouragement could restore their hope. Still others are mean and sin-hardened. Such people can become pliable toward the saving grace of Christ through regular applications of kindness.

When we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit indwells in us and equips us to bless others. If we’re prepared to pour out God’s oil of helpfulness and kindness every day and everywhere, beginning at home, we’ll minister Christ’s beauty and the oil of joy to many hurting people. So, perhaps the old man with the oil can wasn’t so eccentric after all.

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(3)        We are to clothe ourselves with “HUMILITY”

Humility is the opposite of pride. Everyone can recognize pride in another; however, we aren’t so good at spotting it in ourselves. Consequently, humility is easier to talk about than to practice. Humility is anchored in an accurate understanding of our own worth. It stems from understanding that we have received everything from Christ and recognizing that anything we accomplish has been through His work in us. Humility comes when we understand our own sinfulness in light of His magnificent mercy. Humility is not belittling things we do well, its remembering that we do them well because Christ works in and through us. We have no basis for pride, but rather we have every reason for humble gratitude.

Historian Stephen E. Ambrose believes that heroes made the United States “the best and greatest country that ever was.” He attributes its greatness to presidents like Washington and Jefferson and to explorers like Lewis and Clark. Ambrose wrote, “God had nothing to do with it. It was people that made it.” That view centers on the noteworthy contributions of men and women, yet it fails to recognize that behind the scenes, God guides and controls, the rise and fall of all nations.

While preparing this lesson, my thoughts turned to King Nebuchadnezzar who thought he was responsible for building his great kingdom. He boasted, “is not this great Babylon, that I have built … by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30). Those words were still in his mouth when God humbled him so he became like an animal and ate the grass of the field. Seven years later he declared, “All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth” (Daniel 4:35). We must not be deceived by our own accomplishments. It’s God who works in us, giving us the desire to obey Him and the power to do His will (Philippians 2:13). The Lord is the One who is worthy of praise and He deserves all the glory.

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(4)        We are to clothe ourselves with “GENTLENESS”

Gentleness in our society is seen as a weakness. We are taught that if you want something you have to insist on it. You need to get louder, not softer. We are proud of the times we flexed our muscles and won. We want to be confident and self-assured. Unfortunately the result is often an attitude that is rude, abrasive and obnoxious. Gentleness is a trait also known as “tact”. It’s the character trait that leads you to relate to others with tenderness, softness and compassion. If you want to know what it means to be gentle, look at Jesus? When remembering the life of Jesus, one cannot pass over His many encounters with those that needed genuine care. With understanding and love the Lord healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons. His gentleness led Him to care for those that needed Him the most.

Here was the Creator of the universe in human flesh. How did He desire to spend His time? Not in grandeur or might as one would expect of a king, but among the sick, the poor, and the “lowly in spirit.” This is the fruit of a gentle spirit. In the same manner, Paul instructs us as believers to live our lives with a gentle concern for those around us. We are to show compassion and patience to all we meet. Ephesians 4:2 says that we have been called to walk with “all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love…”In as much as His ministry was to the weak, it was also to those who hated and despised Him.

As children of God, we can glean more about gentleness from these stories than possibly anywhere else. Jesus Christ, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, was mocked, beaten, and killed by those He came to save. In all of this, being both stronger and wiser, He showed total gentleness to those that hated Him. In his letters to the first century churches, Paul stresses the importance of imitating Christ in this manner. We are to be gentle in responding to those that are “out to get us.” A gentle spirit is commanded of us when we rebuke or teach others. A spirit of hatred or revenge is not of the Lord, but of the devil.

As Christians, we need to follow Jesus’ example in correcting the worldly issues we encounter with a spirit of gentleness. 2 Timothy 2:24, 25 commands us, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” So, my friend as you evaluate your life, I pray that you may make it a point to show gentleness to every person you know.

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(5)        We are to clothe ourselves with “PATIENCE”

Patience isn’t easy for many people, especially those who drive to the one-hour photo shop, take their clothes to the one-hour cleaners, and get breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a drive-through window. We cook dinner in microwave ovens and gulp down remedies that offer “fast, fast relief.” Overnight mail is too slow, and we get irritated waiting for a fax. The people we live, work, play, and worship with can and will upset us. They can be obstinate, frustrating, selfish, insulting, and it’s hard to be patient with them, and even harder to wait patiently on the Lord.

Yet, patience is part of God’s overall plan for maturing us as believers in Christ. It’s a lost skill we all need to cultivate in our lives! To construct a new building may take only a year or so, but God takes a century to grow a sturdy oak tree. So too, the Lord may seem to be working slowly to accomplish His purposes in our lives, but His grand designs take time and patience on our part.

So, if we want to become more patience we need to let God have His way in our lives. Every time we follow Him rather than our own desires we make progress in our spiritual life. Every time we act toward another as He has told us rather than by our instinct we reflect Him a little better. Every time we choose His way over our own, joy deepens.  When we choose to deal with others with the compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience that come from God, people meet Jesus. And it is Christ, and Christ alone, who can transform, strengthen, and enrich any human life.

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Colossians 3:13 tell us, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye”

The command to forgive is most difficult simply because many times we don’t want to forgive. We want to strike back. We want justice and we want the other person to know the pain they inflicted. And if we can’t have justice we vow that we will never have a relationship with that person again, so we avoid and ignore them altogether. So, why does God make such an issue of forgiveness?

Because forgiveness reflects His character. When we forgive we reflect the Father’s love. The standard is: forgive as He has forgiven you. Forgiveness gives us the opportunity to extend to others what God has extended to us.

Do you remember where you were when He found you? Can you recall the countless times you ignored God, rejected Him, and did what you knew was wrong? Even then the Lord reached out to you and offered His forgiveness. And when you received His love He promised He would “remember the past no longer”. You have been forgiven. When we forgive others we show that His Spirit is at work within us. When we forgive we demonstrate that we have not forgotten where He found us.

Forgiveness releases us. The alternative to forgiveness is bitterness and resentment. People, who refuse to forgive, hurt themselves. Bitter people are no fun to be around. They see the negative in every situation because their life is infected with these feelings of resentment and anger. People who are unwilling to forgive may feel that they are punishing the other person but the only person paying the price is themselves. Forgiveness not only releases us physically and emotionally, it also releases us spiritually.

One of the greatest barriers to effective prayer and spiritual vitality is an unforgiving heart. If we allow the root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts against someone, our prayer will not be answered. An unforgiving heart binds the Holy Spirit’s ability to work. It becomes a barrier to an effective and fruitful ministry. An unwillingness to forgive disrupts our fellowship with God and steals from us the joy of knowing His forgiveness in our lives.

Forgiveness yields power in the life of the one forgiven. Just as God’s grace had a transforming effect in your life, your extension of that grace to others has power to transform them. In these painful situations we must keep in mind that every lost person matters to God. Paul endured all kinds of persecution and pain in order to share Christ. Jesus endured the pain and shame of the cross in order to redeem you. When we endure and forgive rather than strike back and resent, we open the doorway of grace to someone else.

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Colossians 3:14 states, “And above all these things put on CHARITY, which is the bond of perfectness”

Love is an important subject to the believer. When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was he responded with, “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Thus, love is the chief virtue and unites the body of Christ, drawing people close rather than pushing them away. Love tears down walls of division rather than building them. Love understands rather than condemns. Love picks up those who have fallen rather than kicking the one who is down. Love causes us to work together rather than competing against one other. Jesus tells us we are to love one another as He has loved us. Then he tells us that “by this will all men know that you are my disciples.”

In his book, “The Best Is Yet to Be,” Henry Durbanville told the story of a little girl in London who won a prize at a flower show. Her entry was grown in an old cracked teapot and had been placed in the rear attic window of a rundown apartment building. When asked how she managed to raise such a lovely flower in such an unlikely environment, she said she moved it around so it would always be in the sunlight. Durbanville then reminded his readers of Jesus’ words, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9). We learn from this that we too must keep ourselves continually in the warmth of Christ’s love by obeying His commandment to love and serve others.

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Colossians 3:15, “And let the PEACE of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye THANKFUL”

Here the apostle Paul exhorted the Colossians to let God’s peace ”rule” in their hearts. Thus, being thankful is a key to letting God’s peace rule in our hearts. An unthankful spirit disrupts a harmonious relationship with God, because it communicates to God we aren’t happy with the circumstances and people He has brought into our lives. When we thank Him no matter what comes our way, we express our trust in Him with a desire to submit to His will and control in our lives. Such an expression preserves peace. If we know God’s peace we will seek to extend this peace to others.

During a terrible storm on the ocean, a small passenger ship rolled precariously in the roaring tempest. The furniture and anything else that could move was tied down, and the passengers were confined to their bunks for their own safety. Many on board thought the vessel was doomed.

Finally, a passenger who was determined to find out if there was any hope for survival set out to see the one who was in command. Clinging to the walls and handrails, he slowly made his way to the wave-lashed deck, up a ladder, and into the pilothouse. He noticed that the ship was nearing land and was between some jagged rocks. It became apparent that the captain was trying to reach the safety of a clam bay up ahead.

Knowing he could not make himself heard above the roar of the wind and waves, the captain just turned wordlessly to the worried passenger and smiled. Reassured, the man returned to the others and said, “Don’t be afraid. All is well. I’ve seen the captain’s face, and he smiled!”

When we are battered by the storms of life, we may be tempted to give in to feelings of hopelessness. But if we look to our sovereign Captain and commit our way to Him (Psalm 37:5), we will find peace even in the midst of turmoil, and w e can trust Him to bring us through the storm. Remember that those of us who know the Lord through personal faith in Christ have in Him a calm retreat in the storms of life, even while the howling winds of trial are sweeping over us. We can experience peace of mind and calmness of spirit.

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Colossians 3:16-17, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in PSALMS and HYMNS and SPIRITUAL SONGS, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord”; “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him”

Much of life is a question of maintaining a proper balance. Any athletic team knows that there must be a balance between offense and defense and between quickness and strength. In teaching we try to keep the proper balance between content and creativity. Too much emphasis on content and the subject becomes boring, too much emphasis on creativity and you have a lot of fun but communicate very little. There must also be a balance in our Christian life between knowledge and application.

In the book of Colossians we see that the first two chapter deal with right thinking with our knowledge and understanding. The last two chapters deal with application or how we live. The two go together hand in hand. The apostle Paul is urging us to be stable and balanced in our Christianity. Do you see how important this is in our society? What the church needs and what non-believers need are balanced believers who are stable, authentic, and who live their everyday lives with the Spirit of Christ Jesus, living in them.

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CLOSING THOUGHTS

It was a rather bland house that sat on a very busy main road. With no distinctive characteristics, this rather plain home would be easy to ignore. There was a “For Sale” sign in the yard and attached to the sign was a smaller notice that happily announced, “I’m gorgeous inside.” What would make this otherwise forgettable house gorgeous on the inside?

Could that sign apply to us as followers of Jesus Christ? Think about it. No matter what we look like on the outside, shouldn’t there be within us a beauty that reveals God’s love and work in our lives? What does the Bible say about inner beauty? We could start with Romans 7:22, which says, “In my inner being I delight in God’s law”.

A few verses later in Romans 8:6, Paul speaks of a Spirit-controlled mind that is characterized by “life and peace”. And in Galatians, we see that letting the Spirit take charge of our inner being will build in us the “fruit of the Spirit” (5:22), a beautiful array of qualities such as love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. One could also add to those qualities compassion, humility and forgiveness.

Delighting in the Scriptures and allowing the Spirit to work in our heart and mind will make us look good on the inside and will most certainly pay off in a life that honors God. The apostle Paul said that we should be clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness. These articles of clothing along with love, unity, peace and thanksgiving will set the believer apart from those who do not know our Lord as Savior. Lastly, we are told that whatever we do, whether in word or deed, we are to do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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Righteousness in your heart produces beauty in your character.

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