"We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven…" Colossians 1:3-5
For those of you that hang out at New Life, you may know that a vital part of being a member comes from belonging to a Community Group. If you are new, you may not know why we do groups or the reason we stress the importance of group life. It’s possible that even our long time members have forgotten the reason we place great value on connecting with a Community Group. Hebrews 3:12-14 challenges us to encourage one another daily so that we won't be hardened by sin's deceitfulness and Hebrew 10:24 tells us to "consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds." At New Life, we believe Community Groups provide practical opportunities that allow us to put these commands into practice.
Colossians 1:1-2 - Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
This Sunday we will begin a 15 week sermon series from the book of of Colossians. Paul wrote this letter during his first imprisonment in Rome to a people he had never met. As you will discover early in chapter 1, Epaphras was the leader that started this church and he is instrumental in making a connection with Paul to discuss an issue of
concern for the believers at Colossae.
The Christmas season is a reminder that Jesus is our ultimate treasure and satisfaction. Unfortunately, sometimes we let our brokenness distract us from fully realizing the complete joy that is found in Him. Jesus proclaimed that one of the purposes of His coming was that we might have joy and that our “joy would be made full” (John 15:11). It
is apparent then, that our ability to have joy is directly connected to what Jesus did. When the angels announced Jesus’ birth, they declared: “I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
The first two chapters of Luke include four songs or poems. Each of these announcements are spoken by a different person. Mary, the mother of Jesus, in a joyful statement proclaims what’s come to be known as The Magnificat (“my soul magnifies the Lord”). Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, who is mentioned in the second half of Luke chapter 1, is the mute priest whose tongue is loosed to speak The Benedictus (“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel”). The angels in Luke Chapter 2 lit up the night sky outside Bethlehem and proclaimed The Gloria to some very frightened shepherds (“Glory to God in the highest”). And, finally, old, devout Simeon, waiting patiently for the Lord, takes the Christ child in his arms and speaks the words of the Nunc Dimittis (“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace”).
This Sunday we will have the honor to study one of the greatest Old Testament prophecies concerning the birth of the long awaited Messiah. In fact, Micah 5:1-5 has been identified as one of the single most important prophecies in the Old Testament. It is important to remember the prophets proclaimed the Messiah would embody the function of Prophet, Priest, and King. As we worship Jesus this Advent season my prayer is that we grow in our understanding of Jesus, the long awaited Messiah.
This past week I was teaching my Old Testament Survey class and I was reminded that many believe it is difficult to read through the Old Testament especially the sections of extended genealogies. Reading page after page of “Asa begat Josaphat” doesn’t seem to do wonders for the soul. As we enter into this Christmas season I have regained my appreciation for the Old Testament and specifically the never ending list of genealogies. In fact they have become one of my favorite sections of Scripture. I believe the genealogies throughout the Bible illustrate one of the most beautiful truths we will encounter: “Your faithfulness endures to all generations.” (Psalm 119:90).
Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 1 Peter 4:9 (NASB)
The Apostle Peter provides a great challenge when he writes that Christ followers should show hospitality to one another without complaint. It is important to understand that hospitality is more than inviting people over and entertaining lots of guest in your home. It's much more than being ready, willing, and able to make a meal for someone at a moment's notice. Those things are very helpful and often a great blessing. But the heart of hospitality goes much deeper.
I recently came across a story about a girl that died at the age of 20 named Brooke Greenberg. The thing that brought great intrigue concerning Brooke is the fact that although she was 20 years old she appeared physically to be a toddler. The news story about Brooke simply stated that she stopped growing. Doctors for years were puzzled about her condition, but discovered a gene mutation that stopped her ability to grow. For the last 15 years of her life she remained the same size with the physical appearance of a toddler. Eventually, Brooke was diagnosed with Syndrome X disease.
Campus Renewal reported in 2017, “Studies have shown that somewhere between 60 percent and 80 percent of previously engaged Christian youth become disengaged with their faith as they transition into college.” College students are an interesting group. They are individuals trapped between the phase of youth and adulthood. They’re away from home and their faith is really tested for the “first time.”
This week we will conclude our mini-series in Romans as we work through Romans 8:31-39. As you recall, Romans 1-5 is all about justification. We are justified in Christ by His grace. Romans 6-8 focuses on sanctification. We are not perfect but live under the progressive influence of His holiness. Because of His active work we are also free from condemnation. Romans 8:31-39 reminds us that there is nothing that can separate us from His love. We are His adopted children and nothing can change the progressive work of His grace in our lives!
Our Pastor writes most of the blog posts we publish, however, occasionally some of our other church leadership (some staff, some volunteer) who also contribute to the New Life blog.