God alone, is God. There is none like him. This God chose us in him before the foundation of the world. This sovereign, choosing God clothes the grass of the field and will therefore so much more readily clothe us (paraphrase of Matthew 6:26-30). This sovereign, choosing, compassionate God wants a relationship with us and has thus graciously granted us the ability to approach his throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and grace in time of need.
This sovereign, choosing, compassionate God who wants a relationship with us has granted us this ability to approach his throne of grace because he punished Jesus on our behalf. Because Jesus was punished for us, if we are in him we are no longer condemned. This God who punished Jesus uses circumstances to discipline or train (rather than punish) us. This God who punished Jesus disciplines us because he loves us. And He lovingly disciplines us to root out the sin in our lives and to teach us to respond to life’s challenges like Jesus did.
Therefore, we do not need to be anxious when faced with worries over what to eat, drink or wear (Matthew 6). We can cling to our God who is Father of the fatherless, and protector of widows. We can cling to our Father’s unchanging purposes and uncompromising nature to sustain us when we are battered by the seeming chaos of life.
Do your reactions to the hard things in life reflect confidence in God’s promise to work even the bad situations for your good? (Practical Theology for Women, Wendy Alsup).
One person who impressed me by her reliance on God in difficult times was Roxanne Lloyd, a newlywed young lady who lives in Pretoria. She shares her story:
‘I had been looking for a full-time job since November 2017 and have had many disappointments and rejections to countless applications. In retrospect, I know that God so graciously allowed this time of trial while giving me the tools to cope and grow.
‘When I got another email to say I had failed to get another job that my husband and I had been hoping for, I remembered a reaction that our Bible study leaders displayed when they received tragic news. I was on my own at home and immediately looked for “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, “It Is Well With My Soul”, and “In Christ Alone” on YouTube and wept and prayed while these songs reminded me of gospel truths: God is sovereign, He knows what is best for me and my husband, He is working something out in me during this time, He is my only hope and I must still praise Him in times good and bad.
‘As of the 2nd of May, I was granted a full-time job at a wonderful school, but I do not regret the time of trial leading up to this. God knows that I needed this time of trial to make me turn to Him, to make me realise in my heart (not just my head) that Matthew 6:26-30 is beautifully true.’
So, let’s get to Bible study and immerse ourselves in the words of our sovereign God.
When we approach ‘normal’ reading material – like articles in newspapers, blogs and magazines – we generally notice the context, observe the way the articles are written, conclude a meaning, and consider how the content might apply to our lives. We unconsciously apply the COMA (Context, Observation, Meaning, Application) method to ‘normal’ reading. But for some reason we often leave these basic reading skills at the door when we read the Bible. COMA, though, is a very helpful tool for reading the Bible. It is flexible and accessible and helps with ‘integrating personal Bible reading with the bigger picture of the Bible – the unfolding story of Jesus Christ’s saving rulership. As a result, this method helps people to avoid common pitfalls in understanding the Bible.’ (One to One Bible Reading, David Helm).
Together with your 1-2-1 partner read the section of Colossians below. Note that Colossians falls into the genre of ‘letters’ or ‘epistles’. This epistle is a Pauline epistle (written by Paul) and is written to a specific church in Colossae.
Colossians 2:6-15 New International Version (NIV)
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh[b] was put off when you were circumcised by[c] Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[d] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Last month we began general use of the COMA method. This month we will continue but will pay special attention to Context as it applies to epistles.
Go through the passage together and discuss::
Context – What can you learn about the person or situation to which the letter is written? What clues are there about the author and his circumstances? What was the main point of the passage immediately before this one? Are there logical or thematic connections to the passage you are reading?
Now go through the passage again and discuss, using general questions:
Observation – Are there any major sub-sections or breaks in the text? What is the main point or points? What surprises are there? What are the key words? What words or ideas are repeated?
Meaning – How does the text relate to other parts of the book? How does the passage relate to Jesus? What does this teach us about God? How could we sum up the meaning of this passage in our own words?
Application – How does this passage challenge (or confirm) my understanding? Is there some attitude I need to change? How does this passage call on me to change the way I live?
Don’t worry if you can’t answer all the questions. If any are too difficult, simply move on to the next one. Pray together about what you have learnt.
Set a date for next time.
by Brenda Daniels
In Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:10