Colossians: Week 3

Rooted in Him.

Welcome back for our time together in Colossians: Rooted in Him. Gather around with your fellow travelers, your Bible and study book, it’s time to begin.

Lord, what a great blessing to share Your presence and Your Word with a faith community. Strengthen our love for You and one another in Jesus’s name. Amen.

Meditating on the Word.

On our walk through Colossians using the Daily Grace study Rooted in Him we have emphasized the spiritual practice of meditating on God’s Word. Each week seems to bring with it another aspect or description of Scriptural meditation. This week is no different.

Prayer is when you talk to God.
Meditation is when you listen to God.

— Diana Robinson

Diana Robinson’s description of prayer and meditation seems simple, yet having a conversation with God can be a battlefield, especially given His mostly invisible and inaudible nature. What’s directly in our line of sight and what clamors in our ears gets our time and attention. Our busy days don’t leave much space to converse with the Holy. Yet, it is the one thing we most desperately need to live our best lives in Christ.

How have prayer and meditation been a part of your study of Colossians? Or not? 

Prayer and Meditation.: important elements of Bible study.

Stacy says:

A couple of weeks ago I pulled out my iPad during worship to take notes when I realized in all the months since the fire I never reloaded my note taking app. I quickly searched for the app, began the download and set it aside. 

As our pastor stepped up to speak, I clicked on the app and was completely surprised to find all the notes and journaling done before the fire were still there. My teary eyes rested on what I called “writing through”.

Last fall I felt called to write the book of Ephesians word for word. Each morning I would rise, get my coffee and write the verses by hand. It became a form of meditation that allowed God’s Word to take deep root. 

Somehow I forgot (in all the crazy of this season). That morning as I sat in the pew I recognized the quiet prompting to return to “writing through” Colossians in the same way. 

There’s something sacred about the slow process of copying God’s Word for me. I imagine the scribes doing the same thing in ancient times. It has become my meditation.

Carol says: 

The Memory Verse this week was a place of both prayer and meditation for me. It became a reminder for me to dress myself properly for this difficult season in my life.

Above all, put on love which is the perfect bond of unity.
Colossians 3:14 (emphasis added)

A few weeks ago I came across a prayer/meditation practice in Henri Nouwen’s book Spiritual Direction that fits with this verse and had a profound impact on me and continues to. It shifted something in my heart when it came to loving others in my current season. And let me tell you, when times are frustrating, i.e., not at all the way you want them to be, expected they would be, or hoped they would be, people and their own “stuff” become harder to deal with. In my flesh, I can only handle so much, and a heart already struggling is easily stirred to a snappy answer, an eye roll, or an expletive spoken under the breath.

Above all put on love…

The spiritual exercise is called The Beloved Prayer and is described as a three-part guided meditation. Ten minutes are spent meditating on the phrase: Jesus, You are the Beloved. Another ten minutes is spent meditating on the truth: Jesus, I am the beloved. Then a third interval of ten minutes is spent meditating on the fact: Jesus, we (all) are the beloved. You begin with this one statement and then insert names into that truth one at a time as they come to mind: Jesus, _________ is the beloved.

By the end of my time considering all the beloveds of the Beloved in the presence of the Holy Spirit a final prayer came to mind:

Lord, open wide my heart
to the Beloved
as the beloved
for the beloved.

The days I approached Colossians this week, I began with the Memory Verse and put on love by praying this prayer I now turn to often during my days.

Really, a proper Scriptural meditation can’t be done without a heart of prayer. For me, prayer is not only speaking to God, but listening. You can’t have much of a conversation without ears to hear.

Sharing our hearts.

Our slow pace through the beginning of Colossians makes space to consider Paul’s writing word by word, phrase by phrase. 

What have you noticed about yourself when things move slowly?

Did you experience struggle or victory this week? How did you respond to it?

When we take time to notice our emotional response to the everyday and unusual happenings in our lives, our hearts are revealed. And the state of our hearts always reveals our relationship to God.

What do your responses to this past week reveal about your relationship with God?

We don’t always know why our emotions erupt the way they do, but God does. Taking time to notice our response to things and to consider our spiritual state in light of those responses is something we can take to God in prayer. Ask Him and then listen.

Discussing the Word.

Let’s review the verses we studied this week before we look back at our study.

Read Colossians 1:21-2:7

Is there a specific day that spoke to your heart? maybe brought you to a new understanding?

Stacy says:

On Week 3/Day 5 I read, The word rooted here is in the Greek aorist tense. It denotes a once and for all action. Wait… what? I read it again, It denotes a once and for all action. As I slowly let this thought sink in I felt a shifting, a new perspective beginning to form.

When you consider most plants and their root systems it’s all about the soil. When the soil is good, a plant or tree grows to be the very best it can be. Like plants are rooted in soil, Believers are rooted in Christ. As we rise up from baptismal waters the Great Gardener plants us in perfect soil which is Jesus. That’s it! Nothing, no circumstance or situation, no sin or failure, can change this fact. All Believers are rooted in the very best soil, and the only evidence of the strength of our roots is what grows above ground.

It gives me an entirely new perspective when I consider my daily life, and spurs me to consider my living according to my roots. 

What did you learn about God’s character? About your condition?

Stacy says:

Christ in you, the hope of glory. 

God is both mature and mystery. I wondered about this. What does it mean? Because something about it feels kind of off. Like how can God be both mature and still have mystery? It is our very nature to figure things out, to solve the puzzle, to rid life of all mystery. And yet, God is mystery.

I looked up the definition of both words. Mature means based on slow, careful, consideration; having achieved a low but stable growth rate. (Merriam Webster)

While mystery means something not understood or beyond understanding; profound; inexplicable or secretive quality. (Merriam Webster)

When you put these two traits of God together it might sound like this: Spiritual maturity is the slow, care-full consideration of the inexplicable, profound, beyond understanding God.

Turns out God’s mature and mysterious nature pointed out my tendency to equate maturity with the idea of removing all mystery. It is not an either/or but a both/and.

In what way did you define spiritual maturity?

Carol says:

For me, spiritual maturity or maturity in Christ is when we get to a place where we live life fully surrendered to Christ via the Holy Spirit.

Does it mean it’s easy? No.
Does it mean everything feels good and life is comfortable all the time? No.
Does it mean we don’t ever question? ask why? how long? No.

It means we wrestle to the point we ultimately come into agreement with Him whether we understand it or not. Whether it feels good to us or not. But we do it because we have come to trust Him: His goodness, and His love for us and others.

How does a person mature in Christ?

The people of God are shaped by the Word of God. The Word of God is what God uses to grow His people into maturity. …

Albert Mohler has said, “Our spiritual maturity will never exceed our knowledge of the Bible.” Though knowledge of the Bible does not equal spiritual maturity, you cannot be spiritually mature without knowledge of the Bible.

Colossians: Rooted in Him, p. 60
Spiritual maturity requires both His Word and His Spirit.

Carol says:

The study tells us ‘God’s people are shaped by the Word.’ If we aren’t in the Word, we are still being shaped by something. So an important question to ask as a follower of Christ is:

What is shaping me if it is not the Word of God?

A person matures in Christ by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. The Word as seed planted in our hearts, watered with the revelation of the Spirit, and fertilized with obedience makes way for us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.

When you consider your spiritual life do you see a slow, careful, stable growth rate? Or not?

Carol says:

I see fits and spurts in my spiritual life. Seasons of growing pains, I suppose.

Day 2 of our study had us wrestle with the incongruent nature of rejoicing in our suffering (p. 61).

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…
Colossians 1:24

If I’m honest it’s been a long season of suffering for me when it comes to several important relationships in my life and I’ve done a lot of begging and complaining before God. 

What I’ve come to understand is I have to trust that God is working in my life and the lives of those I love to bring about His purpose and plan — a deeper faith in Him and a greater knowledge of Christ and His grace. 

This spiritual growth has involved a lot of pain and it doesn’t always feel like I’m growing, sometimes it feels like I’m failing to move forward, it’s painful. I often wonder if I’m actually moving backwards.  

He controls the growth.

I realize these seasons come over and over. So for me I’m learning to look at these soul-wrenching, foundation shaking times as His process of purifying, refining, making new, and more beautiful my life and the lives of those I love. A slow unstable growth process from my perspective.

To rejoice in suffering requires looking forward to His promises all being fulfilled.

How have you responded to our passage this week? Is there a specific action God is calling you to take?

Stacy says:

The photograph of the blue door (p. 58) caught my attention this week. I’ve returned to it and the quote below many times.

All things are under the sovereign care and control of our God.

He opens and closes doors.

As I watch and wait for God to move, it feels a lot like standing in front of a closed door. I knock. I wait. I wonder. Is this the one that will open? I pray. Lord, slam it shut if it is not the one. Just yesterday I thought about a particular door. Going over and over in my mind if it was God’s plan to step through. I weighed the pros and cons. Counted the costs. Explored the risks. Turns out all that thinking didn’t matter because when I finally made the move to step through the door, it was shut for me.

Oh, when will I learn God’s sovereign care for me will open the doors that guide me closer to Him, and close the doors that are not His way. 

We hope you’re finding encouragement, strength, hope, joy, and renewed reasons for thanksgiving as you journey through Colossians with us. Our group is filled with stories of deeper walks with God and deeper understanding of His Word. We pray you find the same sort of inspiration with a faith community.

Lord, help us all to pray and meditate more deeply on Your Word and in the power of Your Spirit. Lead us to the friends and fellowship we need for this season of our lives. Do it, Lord, for our good and Your glory! Amen.

Looking forward to next week.

Stacy & Carol

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