Colossians; Philemon; Ephesians
From Colossians I picture a beautiful tree, rich with thick, shiny green leaves that provides a respite from the searing heat of a Texas August summer day:
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
From Philemon I picture a gentle reconciliation as Paul writes to his friend Philemon and pleads with him to accept back his former slave, Oenesimus, who has become a brother in Christ.
From Ephesians I am encouraged at those times that I feel mired in sticky mud, unable to be who I know in my heart I’m supposed to be:
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
So, I am a masterpiece in the making! I’m not ready to come out of the oven, so to speak…the Lord is refining me. That is an encouraging truth as I struggle every day, especially with my words!
14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,[e]15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.[f]16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
There’s the reference to roots again…that sending out my roots in Christ will give me inner strength. What precisely does it mean to send out roots in Christ? I think it must mean at a minimum: prayer, reading the Word, thinking about the Word and how He wants me to respond to the challenges in my life.
Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
Now that is one verse I need to memorize!
10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them
17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
Isn’t that the crucial moment for the Christian walk — understanding, discerning what the Lord wants us to do BEFORE we actually act? My father used to tell me over and over, when I was a child: Think Before You Act. I can apply his maxim to the Lord’s will for my life, too, can’t I? Instead of knee-jerk overreactions to which I am very prone, I could step back, take a deep breath, and ask the Lord to show me what He wants me to do and to give me the inner strength to do it. He is, after all, the Source of strength within my heart.