Pete had been a scary man. He trusted no one, and people avoided his gruff nature and angry face. No one knew Pete’s story; his deep anger stemmed from years of abuse he had suffered as a child. One day, Pete’s younger brother reached out to Pete with the message of the gospel, and, miracle of miracles, God changed Pete. The man who had felt nothing but hatred was overwhelmed by the love of God through salvation. People cannot help but notice the undeniable change in Pete. He smiles. He greets people. He has stopped hanging out in the rough places with the rough crowd and is now a faithful attendee of church and Bible study. His language has changed, his appearance has changed, and his purpose in life has changed. He enthusiastically shares with others his story and the miracle of transformation God wrought in his life. Pete is a new creature in Christ, and his life reflects his choice.
In today’s passage from the letter to the Colossians, Paul entreats the followers of Christ in Colossea to embrace their new nature in Christ and to guard their lives from sin. This advice is for us too. What do our daily practices say about our priorities? Are there attitudes and actions that creep into our lives that are out of place in the life of a follower of Christ? Let’s look at Paul’s warnings to the Colossians and examine our own life practices: “Put to death . . . whatever belongs to your earthly nature. . . . Rid yourselves of all such things. . . . Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices” (niv).
Assess your life story in the light of the gospel today. What do your actions tell others about your life in Christ? You do not need to have experienced as dramatic a change as Pete did to have a story to tell.
Hosea relates a further message from God. Israel has repeatedly ignored God’s teachings, even though God continues to reach out with love and kindness. Although a just response would be wrath, God will respond instead with mercy to restore the people. The psalmist echoes this teaching about God’s enduring love. Although some have gone through periods of distress, when they call out to God, the Lord responds with steadfast love. We then explore guidance for the life of a Christian. In Colossians we read that we should focus on heavenly realities, not the physical world. Rather than pursuing our own pleasure, we should put on a new self and behave more like God desires. The parable that Jesus tells reinforces this point. We should focus on storing up heavenly treasures, not earthly ones.
Read Hosea 11:1-11. How have you suffered the consequences of turning away from God? How has God welcomed you back?
Read Psalm 107:1-9, 43. What stories of God’s goodness does your family tell to the next generations?
Read Colossians 3:1-11. How has Christ renewed you? How do you see Christ in others?
Read Luke 12:13-21. How has greed shown up in your life—as racism, wealth-mongering, or myths of scarcity? How do you combat greed in all its forms to live out of a mentality of abundance?
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