Notes and readings (for the week commencing 7th May, 2012) are shown below, with a PDF version available here. The sermon passage for this Sunday (13/05/2012) will be Colossians 2:16-23.

Would you begin the week by reading next Sunday’s passage: Chapter 2:16-23?

Day 1: Now reread Colossians 2:16-19

Because Jesus is supreme, there is nothing else to know and nothing else to do!

So now Paul lays out some implications. First, they are not to let anyone (read – the false teachers) judge them by what they eat or drink or with regard to religious festivals or a new moon celebration or Sabbath day. That is, they are not to listen to any one says ‘because you don’t observe or follow these days or rituals or rites, you are not the real deal’. Sadly this happens today! Sometimes in subtle ways; sometimes in not so subtle ways. One Christian will accuse another of falling short somehow in their Christian life because they don’t keep a strict Sabbath, or because they drink alcohol, or eat meat. But friends, there is nothing else to know, and nothing else to do, other than knowing Jesus and that he has done everything for us.

Paul points out that the days and regulations of the Old Testament, were a shadow of things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. So the Passover, was a shadow of the reality of Jesus, our true Passover Lamb. The Sabbath was a shadow of Jesus in whom is our perfect Sabbath rest. The food regulations were a shadow (a sign of Israel’s distinctiveness), until Jesus came and declared all food clean. So Jesus is supreme and his life, teaching, death, resurrection, ascension and the gift of his Holy Spirit, changed everything.

False humility and the worship of angels – these people claimed some additional level of spirituality. Have you known people who go on about their special spiritual experiences and who almost imply you’re inferior because you’re just not on the same level as them? Don’t listen to them!  If you know Jesus and what he’s done for you, you have all you need! And people who go on about their experience compared to yours have missed the point and are often sadly deluded or blinded to the reality which is in Jesus. Paul says they’ve lost connection with the Head – that is, lost connection with Jesus in whom alone is our life and growth.

There was a time when I looked for some additional Christian experience and I was disappointed when it didn’t come my way. Or indeed I wondered if there was something else I needed to be doing – some ritual or discipline – to be a ‘real’ or an ‘authentic’ Christian.  But what I really needed, was to go deeper with Jesus and grow closer to him. Because there is nothing else to know and nothing else to do! Friends, as the children of the Watoto choir made so wonderfully clear last Friday night, Jesus is our everything and we have all we need in him. Make him your passion, your joy, your delight and don’t let anyone make you feel bad or inferior because they claim some superior knowledge or experience!

Day 2: Read Colossians 2:20-23

You died with Christ. Allow that to sink in a little today. We saw this last week – that you were buried with him in baptism but you are now made alive in Christ.

Specifically Paul says you died to the basic principles of this world. We first read this phrase in 2:8. It means all that is false and worldly; man-made principles. So, why would you go back to something from which you’ve been rescued and released?

There are many religious groups today which insist on following certain rules. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are very strict about how you can live your life. The Seventh Day Adventists teach you mustn’t eat meat or drink alcohol and they follow a strict Sabbath rule every Saturday. Southern Baptists in the USA had strict rules against dancing and drinking. Some Pentecostal churches insist and check up on strict tithing of all your income. The Roman Catholic Church follows strict rules on attending Mass and reconciliation.

Paul bluntly says in v22 that these are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Why do people like such rules? Paul says they have an appearance of wisdom. They sound like a good idea. Like they might help you in following Jesus and living the Christian life. The reality however is very different. They lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. For example, not all dance is associated with sexual indulgence and people who never dance, face no less sexual temptation than anyone else!

And all these added on rules undermine all that we’ve been called to in the Lord Jesus. They make us think we are contributing to our salvation, or that they are making us worthy as believers. But Jesus has done it all. There is nothing else to know and nothing else to do but the Lord Jesus and what he has done for us. We have been released from the slavish following of rules and regulations and ought never allow ourselves to be trapped there again. What a great freedom we have been granted! Freedom to follow and serve Jesus with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. Give thanks today!

Day 3: Read Psalm 103

Make a list of all you have to be thankful for today and pray for a constantly grateful, thankful heart.

Day 4: Read Psalm 139

Note the following from this great Psalm:

  1. The Lord knows everything that is on our heart and knows exactly all that we are doing each day of our lives.
  2. There is no way we can escape God’s presence even if we tried. There is nowhere to go where God is not!
  3. He has known us and loved us when he saw us being put together in our mothers’ womb. And all our days are written up – already planned by Him. Including our last day! How wonderful that we can trust God’s perfect plans and timing for us.
  4. Note now David feels about those who hate God? He hates them! Strong words. Appropriate? Perhaps David himself questions what he has written when he asks immediately afterwards ‘Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.’

Thank the Lord for his wonderful and intimate knowledge of us. Pray that he might show you too if there be any offensive way in you, so you may be continually transformed in to his likeness.