Jan 11, 2012

Thoughts on Colossians 3:12

Last night I was having one of those moments where you just lie in bed, thinking deep thoughts...I know what you're thinking, it's Christmas break! Deep thoughts are for geeks! I agree, I agree! But it turns I just so happen to be a geek..so there I was lying there thinking deep, geeky thoughts about what I really want out of life. Do I really want to glorify God in my every day life, in everything I say & do? In how I manage my time? In how I treat others? In what I focus my thoughts on? Or do I just want "enough God" to make me look good to my Christian circle of friends & family? In considering this & searching my heart, I decided, yes, I really do want God, His character, & the life of His Son Jesus Christ to permeate everything I say & do...not just when I'm in public, but every moment. I started considering what exactly that looks like, & my once-deep thoughts started drifting into sleepy thoughts. Well, I usually spend about 20 minutes in prayer before I drift off to sleep, but last night I still could not sleep! So, I turned over again, & picked up a devotional book that my mom had borrowed me earlier this week. It is called "A Gentle Spirit," & it is by a conglomeration of different authors; it has a short devotional entry for every day of the year. I've never really been a "go in order & read just one page" kinda person, so I'm pretty sure the entry I read was from some date in June. But it was just perfect for what I had been musing about earlier! God in His word lays out what a Christ-like life should look like moment-by-moment. Particularly in the verse that this entry was based out of: Colossians 3:12. This entry was authored by Barbara Johnson & she uses the analogy of a wardrobe to give a unique perspective into this verse:

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, hold & beloved, bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering."

Have you checked your spiritual wardrobe lately? The apostle Paul listed the Garments of the Holy Spirit in his letter to the Colossian believers. First on his list is tender mercies, which are acts of empathy for weak or hurting people. These tender mercies are kind of like the underclothes of the wardrobe. They are the foundation of everything that goes on the outside. Next on Paul's list is kindness: treating others with honor & significance.
Humility is next. No matter how much we win or lose in life, God wraps us in a beautiful cloak of grace.

Meekness is one of my favorite things to wear. Meekness makes it possible to endure difficult circumstances & poor treatment at the hands of others. 
How about longsuffering? Sometimes I wish that old rag would just wear out so I could get something more glamorous & colorful. But I know God has fashioned even this to enhance my life. Bearing with others & forgiveness are the outerwear of God's designs. They are the last things we pull on over everything else before we go out into the world. 

Above all else, Paul says, put on love. Without this, we are never fully dressed. 

I LOVE her perspective of meekness. It just struck me in a way that I had never really thought about before. I finally went to sleep shortly after reading through that entry, but it stuck with me through this morning. So instead of my current study of the gospel of Luke, I took some time to study this verse more in-depth. I wanted to look up the definition of some of the key words so I could have a deeper understanding. It was a huge encouragement to me! So I would just like to share a bit of what I found.
My personal devotions are out of the ESV version, so here is Colossians 3:12 again from the ESV =)

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy & beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, & patience."

  • Compassion: a feeling of deep sympathy & sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
    • Christ was moved by His compassion (Matthew 9:35-38). Many times I feel compassion for people, but I don't do anything about it. It doesn't move me into action. True compassion doesn't allow apathy; it causes you to serve in a self-sacrificing way.
  • Kindness: Of good or benevolent nature. Considerate, helpful, self-sacrificing, mild, & gentle. Desiring to help others; charitable. Generous. 
    • I looked up the word "considerate" as well in regards to kindness. The definition was "showing kindly awareness or regard for another's feelings, circumstances, etc. Carefully considers actions; deliberate." I often get so wrapped up in my own life, that I act without thought of how it will impact others. Even if it's something as simple as going for a run when instead I could take some extra time to be an encouragement to others. This makes me consider ways that I could be less selfish with my time & try to find ways to be more aware of the needs of others.
  • Humility: Not proud or arrogant: modest. Courteously respectful. Having a modest opinion of one's own importance.
    • Of course the passage I always think of when it comes to humility is the example of Christ in Philippians 2, who " though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
  • Meekness: Humbly patient. Controlled strength. Meekness does NOT = weakness. 
    • In looking into the definition of Meekness, I found an acronym that was useful:
      • M ighty
      • E motionally Stable (don't let your emotions dictate your actions.)
      • E ducable (this coincides well with James 3:17 & the concept of being "easily entreated."       You willingly forfeit the "right to be right" in favor of being open to the teaching & critique of others.)
      • K ind
  • Patience: Bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude & calm, without complaint, anger, or the like. Quietly & steadily persevering or diligent, especially within detail & exactness. Having or showing the capacity of endurance. An ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay
    • This was one of the most impacting character traits for me. Part of the reason I couldn't sleep was because of restlessness. I want to know what God has planned for my life, NOW. I'm not the most patient person in the world when it comes to the future, because I just love having a plan & a schedule. But the Lord wants me to wait right now...& not only to wait, but to wait patiently. This next paragraph sums up the kind of patience I desire to develop:
  • Composure, stability, self-possession, submissiveness, sufferance. Endurance, Fortitude. Implying qualities of calmness, stability, & persistent courage in trying circumstances. Patience may denote calm, self-possessed & unrepining bearing of pain, misfortune, annoyance, or delay--"to bear affliction with patience." Endurance denotes the ability to bear exertion, hardship, or suffering. Fortitude implies not only patience, but courage & strength of character in the midst of pain, affliction, or hardship.

One verse, so packed full of truth. God's word is SO rich! 

Jan 4, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This Christmas I got to spend the weekend down at my sister, Amber's house with my wonderful family! As you can see, my adorable niece, Bri, LOVES making silly faces for the camera =)

Bri also loved opening her dozens of presents, & helping everybody else with theirs as well. Haha!

My big brother got to come too! It's always special when we can spend time with him. He is active duty in the military, so often he is overseas or on base for holidays. It was great to spend a few days with him!

I love my sister, Amber! I am SO thankful for the encouragement she has been to me, especially over the past several months. During the 3 months I was in Peru, she was one of the only people I could count on hearing from regularly, & that meant SO much to me. She also went out of her way to prepare a big "Thanksgiving Dinner" with all the trimmings on Christmas day, all because I wasn't able to have a traditional meal over Thanksgiving. She is so considerate, & so much fun to be around.

This Christmas was one of the best I can remember. The past few years I've been been guilty of taking the important things for granted & focusing more on the lesser things. But this year, after being so far away from my loved ones for so long, it just really hit me how much I have to be thankful for just to be able to spend time with my family over the holidays. I honestly almost forgot about opening presents I was just having so much fun cooking with my mom & sister, playing with my niece, & torturing my big brother. Haha! I am so thankful for all of the blessings the Lord has given to me =)