Him We Proclaim

  |   Aug 10, 2014

Good evening. How are you guys doing? My name is Mason King. I'm one of the pastors here. If you have a Bible, would you turn to Colossians 1, please? If you don't have a Bible, there's one in front of you, the black hardback ESV. If you don't have one at all, not just that you didn't bring one tonight, you can take that one. That's our gift to you. We'd love for you to have that.

For the last three weeks, we've been settling in Colossians, chapter 1, verses 15-29. As you turn there, I want to review and recap for us. Two weeks ago, we began talking about the preeminence of Christ, how Christ is before and above all things, that in all of creation, in the entire universe, there's nothing Jesus doesn't stand over. He's before and above all things.

Last weekend we had Kyle Worley from the Dallas Campus, one of the ministers there. He came and talked to us about how there was a division between God and man that had been destroyed in the work of Christ. So not only can we hear about Jesus, now we have the opportunity to believe, because through his blood we have been reconciled to him.

He used the illustration that we were born strangers, brought home as children. We've been made children of God through belief in Christ. Tonight we're going to talk about the endless beauty of God's wisdom in the person and work of Christ himself and what we do when we steward the knowledge of Christ. I'm going to pray, and then I'm going to read the text for us. If you'd pray with me, please.

Father, we thank you for a time to come together tonight. We ask that you would bless the proclamation of your Word. As we speak of Jesus tonight, Holy Spirit, I invite you and ask please that you would help us to see him. Help us to believe upon him, to delight in him, that he would be real to us, to our taste buds, that we would know of him like we know how sweet honey is, that we would delight in him.

Even as we're going to talk a little bit about suffering tonight and about how we mature as Christians, I just want to pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria. I ask, Father, that you would be protecting, giving grace to and comforting those men, women, and children who are in a very real way being persecuted because of your name, because of their hope in you. Father, would you be with us tonight? Bless our time together. Help us to fix our eyes upon you. We pray in Christ's name and because of him, amen.

We're going to begin in verse 24. This is the apostle Paul speaking to the saints in Colossae. "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me."

As we get started, there's some pretty strange language up front. I want to read it for you again, and then we're going to talk about it. It's in verse 24. Paul says, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…"

It's strange, isn't it? You read that and think, "What's he talking about?" I'll tell you what he's not saying. That's easier. Then we'll talk about what he is saying. What he's not saying is that the work of Christ is insufficient in any way. He's not saying, "Hey, something else needs to be done for Christ's work to be complete and total." The work of Christ stands. If you need any more evidence of that, you don't have to go very far in the book of Colossians itself.

You could go earlier in chapter 1 or forward a little bit into chapter 2. Paul says time and again, "The work of Christ is sufficient." So what is he saying? Well, there are two suggestions for what he's saying. The first one is that there is a period of time between Christ's ascension and his return when the church will suffer. You could look at Romans 8 and you could look at 2 Corinthians 1. Persecution, hardship, and trial are all part of the Christian life.

As I prayed just a second ago, you could just look through your newsreader this week and see that persecution and execution and all kinds of hardship are coming to Christians even now. They have been part of the church's history for as long as it has been in existence. You could see for all the suffering Paul has endured because of Jesus, what does he say? He rejoices in it. He's willing to take his share that he might hasten the coming of Christ.

If there's this amount of suffering that has to take place between Christ's ascension and his return, Paul says, "I'm in. I rejoice that I'm counted worthy to suffer so I might understand more of what Christ went through, and that I might soak up a bit of the suffering if it means he'll come sooner." And he's willing to take more than his share that he might spare others from the suffering they would endure because of the name of Jesus.

There's another suggestion. What Paul is thought to be saying here is, yes, Christ's work is sufficient, yes, there is a period of time when the church will suffer, but also, we need to hear about Jesus. All throughout history, people have needed people to come and speak the good news of the gospel and explain it to them so they might believe.

You can hear the apostle Paul saying in Romans 10, "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?" Paul is willing to rejoice in his suffering and endure it so the body might hear, believe, and be built up. That is him filling up what is lacking.

We see him enduring a lot of suffering. If you read the book of Acts, Paul endures a lot of suffering in order to steward well the call upon him by God. You read in Acts 9, Ananias is met in vision by the Lord and told to go pray over Paul, who at that time was Saul. The Lord says to Ananias, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."

Just before that, this man Saul, who would become Paul, this man who had every gold star from the law, was persecuting Christians. He was on the Damascus Road, and he was stopped by Jesus, who said to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" As if to say, "Why are you doing harm to my body, which is my own flesh?"

See, it's no small thing that back in verse 22 of this same chapter, Paul reminded the Colossians that he, Paul, formally Saul, had become a minister of the gospel. If you look at this, you realize that what he's saying is he who used to make the body of Christ suffer now rejoices in his suffering on behalf of the body of Christ, which is quite fascinating.

He does it because of the stewardship given to him by God, that he might be able to take care of what God has given him to do. The natural question for me is (hopefully it is for you too)…What is that stewardship? What is Paul willing to endure so much for that he might execute his calling well? We'll pick it back up in verse 25:

"…to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

Elsewhere, Paul really lays out this mystery, and I want to read it to you in depth. It's in the book of Ephesians, the letter to the church in Ephesus, chapter 3. "For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles––assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.

When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power.

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places."

This is the mystery: salvation in Christ for both Jew and Gentile. The two have become one in Jesus, and the church is the manifold wisdom of God to the world. I've been wrestling all week how to explain the distinction between Jew and Gentile, because for us in a Western setting, we need to know how the breaking down of the dividing wall was such a big deal.

You look in Acts, and even if you were talking to the Colossians here, it's a big deal for them. Here in Western civilization, many, if not most, opportunities are afforded to us. It's part of the American dream, isn't it? It's how we became a country full of immigrants in our origin, coming here looking for a new life. If you worked hard enough, made enough, you could change your life. You could change your future. You could change the life of your family and their future for generations to come.

There are few things we know and experience that we are altogether excluded from, just because of who we were born as. But all throughout history, there have been men and women for whom this is not the case, that they have been excluded from things simply because of who they were born as, not least among them the separation between the Jew and the Gentile.

The Jews were the people of God. The Messiah was theirs. They expected him. They were looking for a king who would come and rule and restore their kingdom and give them freedom. It came, but not how they expected, so they missed him. The Gentiles weren't the people of God, and they knew it. The work of Christ included them, which was unthinkable beforehand.

If you go back and look, even as we studied Acts this spring, the walking out day by day of the truth that the two were made one… The early church really struggled with it, and they had to be corrected time and again of what it meant for the two to be one in Jesus. I came across an illustration this week in a commentary that I think will help serve us as we talk about the seeming impossibility for someone who's not of Israel to be reconciled to God.

It talks about a Moabite man who's up on the mountain, and he's looking down on the temple, on the tents and the place of meeting of Israel. The Moabite man walks down the mountain, and he's thinking, "I want to go check this out." So he goes up and walks up to the gate, just straight up to the guard. The guard is standing there.

He looks at him and says, "Hey, can I go in there?" The guard says, "You're not from around here, are you? Any Israelite would know he could go on in. That's for him." The man says pretty innocently, "No, I'm from Moab." The guard says, "Well, I'm sorry. That's not for you. The law of Moses bars any Moabite from the worship of God until the tenth generation."

"What would I have to do to get in there?" the Moabite man asks. "You'd have to be born again as an Israelite, probably of the tribe of Judah or Benjamin." The man stands there, and he keeps looking. He says, "Hey, well, what's that?" The guard says, "Well, that's the tabernacle. In there the priest will offer incense to God, and behind a heavy veil is the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat where God's glory comes to rest."

"Ooh, I'd love to go in there," the Moabite man says. The guard responds, "You'd have to not only be born again, but be born of the tribe of Levi and of the family of Aaron. Not even I can go in there." "Oh, if only I were a priest," the man says. "If only I had been born an Israelite of the tribe of Levi into the family of Aaron. I would go into the Holy of Holies and gaze upon God and worship him in the beauty of his holiness."

"Oh no," says the guard. "Oh no, not even priests get to do that. You would have to be the high priest, and he can only go in there once a year after very elaborate preparations and only for a really short period of time." After all this, the Moabite man turns away and walks back to the mountain. He has no hope in all the world of entering in there. The writer of the book of Hebrews says in chapter 10:

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."

All throughout the Old Testament, men and women had faith that God would provide for them, that he'd make good on his promise. So we have Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the people of Israel believing that God is good and they can take him at his word. The writer of the book of Hebrews in chapter 11 says that time would fail him to recount the stories of people who believed God by faith, that they were assured of things hoped for, convicted of things not seen.

He goes on and says, "And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." Peter tells us in his first epistle that the truth of God's full plan in Christ was announced by men who "preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven." Peter tells us the things they were teaching were things into which angels long to look. This is the mystery.

Everyone who believes in Christ is welcome. There is no distinction. It's the mystery of the gospel. You can hear Paul talking in his letter to the Galatians. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." The dividing wall has been broken down in Christ, and you and I benefit from this, because we have been given the opportunity to become children of God, not only able to just hear about him, but, through the power of the Spirit, able to believe upon him.

Now we talked in the last couple of weeks about how the New Testament Epistles, the Pastoral Epistles, are written for a couple of various reasons. First, to correct false teaching. Secondly, to instruct in Christian obedience, to lay out the implications of the gospel upon people's lives. Thirdly, to declare the mystery and the beauty of Jesus.

This is what Paul is doing even in this passage. He's correcting false teachers. There are those who would claim to have a special word from God, a special revelation that they have that you don't have but that you need to be saved. You need this secret knowledge, which they are more than willing to teach you if you will follow them.

What Paul is saying here is that God took the most secret, the most kept knowledge of all eternity, and displayed it publicly on the cross, and then by his Spirit gave it to the holy apostles and the prophets, so that the church might be built up and might believe upon Jesus. You and I don't have to listen to some joker who thinks he has the only word for how to be saved and that it would add or take from the work of Christ. There have been men and women throughout history who have claimed to have things that would take from or add to Jesus, but we know his work stands.

So Paul declares this mystery. It's the stewardship the Lord gave him, and it's for a clearly stated goal. Look at verse 28: "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me."

You can see Paul says, "I'm working to give the clear, personal, articulate, and full Word of God to you, that you might know the truth of Jesus." He's working to warn and teach with wisdom, to instruct in Christian knowledge, giving strength to their faith by helping them not only understand what they know, but see the implications of what they know upon how they should live.

Again, look at the Epistles. They're full of situations where the writer is saying, "Hey, this is how your mind should be different because of Jesus. When you're in this situation and you're tempted toward this ethical situation or this moral sin or this failure, this is how a Christian thinks differently because of the implications of the gospel and because of who Jesus is."

He's constantly coaching them, shepherding them, helping them see what it means not just to have right action, but to have a right source of action. He was teaching them about Christ in them, the hope of glory. He says, "It's him we proclaim." All their effort is to proclaim the work and person of Christ. They're focusing on the beauty of God's wisdom in Jesus.

Like I just said, it's not right behavior or right belief so that you're spared from punishment, so that you and God are okay and you're not going to hell, but it's a right source of behavior and belief. It's a transformed heart, the right object of faith, and that's Jesus. He says, "Him we proclaim," so that you and I might know the mystery and the beauty of Christ and delight in him with the goal of maturity.

Let me encourage you. This does not mean you and I are going to get to a point before Christ returns that we're without sin. It's not going to happen. We don't arrive as Christians until he comes. He arrives. You and I in our maturity, what we do is grow more dependent. We trust him more. We run to him more quickly, and we are more free from shame, because he is who he says he is and we believe it with more of ourselves. We struggle to work out our salvation and pray that the Spirit would remove things from us, as we often are being counterproductive in our own lives.

If you've walked with the Lord for any period of time, you know how difficult it is to fix your eyes on Jesus, don't you? To keep your heart before him and for your attitude and your attention and your affections to be centered upon Christ takes so much, and you can lose it like that and be distracted by something. It happens to all of us.

Our attention is weak, our desires lead us other places, and to discipline our hearts is so hard. But we can just roll through a season of a show on Netflix, can't we? That discipline is just there. We will forego food, but we're going to make it. It's so easy. You don't even have to press a button. But when it comes to what is truly good for us, how hard is that? How hard is it to discipline your own heart?

We need to see and savor him, and we can't do it without his help. If you're in the room tonight and you're not a believer, if you would say, "I don't believe in Jesus," I tell you that seeing him and knowing him and delighting in him is not simply a struggle for you; it's an impossibility. You can't do it. Until the work of the Holy Spirit comes and shows you who Jesus is…

You could have grown up in church, been at everything, heard the gospel a thousand times, and be able to tell me what the Bible says about Christ, but until the Holy Spirit reveals him to you and in your bones you know he's real, that he is who he says he is and that he loves you, you're just going to chase anything you think makes you feel good. Your self-indulgence, your self-loathing, your self-love, your addiction, all of that will promise to make you feel better. All of it will lead you farther from health every time.

But if that's you, you are not like the Moabite man. Because of Jesus, you have hope. You can come to him, and you can believe. It's the power of the Holy Spirit. Like I prayed earlier, that you would be able to know him like honey. The work of the Spirit is that you could have heard the description of honey your entire life, and you would know it and you'd taste it and say, "That's what it is. Totally different than the description of it. I know him." If that's you, our prayer is that the Holy Spirit would do that for you.

For the Christian, with the remaining corruption inside of us, where we struggle to keep our eyes on him because our tendency is often to take good things and use them for bad means or bad ends, we need his help, don't we? You and I take our talents and use them on ourselves. We take our lives and make them about us. Everything terminates on us.

If I can be really straight with you, in our culture here, we can surround and stuff ourselves with great teaching, with right knowledge and good Christian community, and never let the truth and the implication of the gospel change who we are. It's a real possibility you could come in here every Sunday and let your ears be tickled by truth, let your heart be encouraged, and you could leave and walk out that door, and the moment your mind and your life turns back on you, that truth falls on dry ground.

Part of us coming here every Sunday as a body is, yes, to worship God, to be the people of God and the body of Christ, but it's also to be warned and taught as Christ is proclaimed, to get our eyes off ourselves so we could look up and out to the Savior we have been called to, to the life we have been called to, and then to each other. It is the body of Christ. We are a family, which means I need you and you need me. We need each other to warn and encourage and to literally put strength into the heart of each other as we remind each other of our hope in Jesus.

That's one way we can help fix our eyes on the Lord. Then there are moments where we try to do right and we focus on the wrong things. If life is going poorly and you think, "I need to do right," you can often think, "What does a mature Christian look like? Okay, I need to act like that." So you begin to focus on the fruit of right behavior and right action without focusing on the source, the object of your faith, Jesus.

Two weeks ago, I suggested to you that familiarity breeds unfamiliarity. If you weren't here, that's all I said. I didn't do it intentionally, but I didn't read you the full quote, so here you go: "Familiarity breeds unsuspecting unfamiliarity, and then contempt." That's my worry for us, that we can assume we know the truth of Christ and the implications of the gospel upon our daily lives, that we have a grasp on it, so we go looking for what we think we need now, which is obviously something new and novel because we've learned all this. But what we need at every moment is what seems oldest: Jesus.

This might be for you. I know it happens for me. If I'm too close to him or I think I have him, I begin to walk, and I have expectations on Jesus that Jesus doesn't put on himself. I think he's going to do things that really aren't for him to do. When it doesn't come through, I get frustrated, so I doubt him, and my hope wavers a little bit.

In my own life (maybe this happened to you), that means I have become familiar with him and am operating out of an assumption about him that's not him. I'm unsuspectingly unfamiliar with him, and then I get frustrated with him. So be wary of being familiar with Jesus. It reminds me again that we need the spiritual wisdom and understanding Paul prays for for these saints earlier in chapter 1.

To see the mystery of the riches of God's grace to us in Jesus, to see the invisible made visible, and to not drift from him, to stay awake. We need our capacity for godly fixation and godly curiosity to be enlarged and strengthened and to know that our central need, my central need, your central need, is not to be psychologically satisfied, but to treasure Jesus Christ above all things.

The only way we get this is through the riches of God's grace and the mystery of the gospel. We can't do this for ourselves. We're stuck. What we need is someone who loves God so much, is captivated by God so much, he never gets over him and who wants us to be the same way, who wants to pull us right in.

You can hear Christ asking God the Father for this in John 17. He's saying, "I ask that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory you have given me as I have given to them, that they may be one, even as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may perfectly become one."

It's the same captivation and life-transforming, God-centered joy that drove the apostle Paul in the very beginning of this passage to say, "I rejoice in my suffering that I might fulfill my calling to make him known, and as we wait for his return, that I might hasten his coming by dying to myself." Paul works with everything within him to warn, teach, and clarify the mystery so the body might grow.

What is his message? "Him we proclaim, him alone." As Christians, you and I are to be spiritually formed to become mature, to be made into the image of Christ. Being warned and taught with wisdom is not so we might just have right behavior or belief, but again, to have a new source of behavior, to have the proper object of faith and to have a transformed heart.

If you've been around our children's ministry at all, you know we use the language that we are all born with hearts sick with sin. We have terminally ill hearts, born as sinners, and there's no one who can give us a new heart, no one who can give us a healthy heart, except for Christ. I would say right now if you have a sick heart, if you would say, "I don't believe in him," come and believe. Ask for him to give you eyes to see.

I said earlier you'll be bound to novelty. You'll be bound to the next greatest thing to try and give you a sense of pleasure, of comfort, or of personal satisfaction, and every time, it will lead you toward more sickness, because your heart is terminally ill and you can't heal it. No matter how much you cram in there, you can't heal it.

I love The Chronicles of Narnia. There's a passage toward the end of The Chronicles of Narnia where they're talking about the joy that could be experienced in God. They just say, "Further up, further in." I tell you if you have a sick heart and your hope is not in Christ, the riches of God in Christ… You will forever be able to go further up and further in.

Read the book of Ephesians. Go see how Paul talks to the church in Ephesus about the beauty of Jesus. Read the book of John. See Jesus speak in his own words of why and how he has come. If you have any questions, talk with us. We'd love to talk with you about Jesus and who he is.

Now if Christ has given you a healthy heart, if you would say, "I belong to him. I'm a child of God," I would ask you this: How are you stewarding the knowledge of Christ in your own life? Each of us, when we're saved, when we're given the gift of knowledge of the mystery, when we see and comprehend Christ in us, the hope of glory, we're given a stewardship for our own soul, for our family, for those we interact with daily, and for each other.

So some proofs for your own heart. Ask yourself this: How are you stewarding the knowledge of Christ in your daily life? Are you relying on a snapshot of him to sustain you, on you being familiar with him, thinking you can go for a while before getting too close to him, or are you feeding yourself daily on the Word, that your heart might delight in him, that you would see and savor him and then sow into what will become later the reactions of your heart to daily life?

If you want to think about reactions, just think about fruit. Reaction is what spills out when you get hit. What is the fruit of your life saying about you? Two weeks ago I talked about if you want to know more about Jesus, if you want to see his character, go read the book of Hebrews. Take a pen and a paper and read the book of Hebrews, and every time it gives a characteristic of Christ, write it down, and every time it talks about something he did on our behalf, write it down.

When you get done, when you've read the entire book, look at the list. I talked to some people who did it, and they said it was a great exercise. I've done it, and I love looking at it, because I just look in the margins of my Bible and go, "Okay, here's a truth about Christ. Here's a truth about the Lord. Okay, that's an encouragement to my heart."

In this, in stewarding the knowledge of Christ well, I would encourage you to take that list and begin to pray through the characteristics of the Lord, looking at the implications upon your life of the truth of who he is. Here are two examples as I looked at my list, one from the first chapter and one from the second chapter: that Christ is the radiance of God and that he became like us, like his brothers, and he was tempted and suffered.

I read those, and I can praise God and say, "Christ is the radiance of the glory of God. There's never‑ending beauty in him, and he became like us, so that when we are tempted, when we suffer, he knows, and he won't crush us." My heart rejoices in that. My heart feeds on that, looking to the Scriptures for who Jesus is and the implications of his work and person upon my life. I want to fixate my eyes upon him, so I train my heart to do this for longer and longer periods of time.

I want my mind to stay there. I want to train my mind to see and savor Christ and steward the knowledge of God well in my own life. Here's another question: Are you becoming a glutton of grace? Are you feeding on spiritual things, books, blogs, tweets, podcasts, ideas, other people's Facebook posts? Are you feeding on all of those things without letting the truth of Christ change you and change who you are in your quiet moments and in your reactions to daily life?

Maybe the better question is…when was the last time you were quiet enough to notice your reactions and what they say about you? I feel like I can say here, as we're dealing with this passage, if we can speak friend to friend, that you have pastors who work hard to warn and teach and clearly proclaim the gospel with the same hope as Paul, that we might present you as mature in Christ at his appearing.

I just want to take this chance to ask you, how are you measuring your maturity in Jesus? Is it by who you follow, by who you quote? Is it by the teaching you put yourself under? Where have you equated someone else's maturity to be yours just a little bit? Who is there other than Jesus who can give you life, who can impart the Spirit, who can help you have the right heart? Do you base your maturity on the reputation of the church you go to? I just want us to look at our daily lives with the Lord, look at our involvement in the body.

In conclusion, if he has given you a new heart, if he has saved you but you have neglected to care for your own soul, you have drifted from delighting in him, you are an undiscerning consumer so you take in everything that comes to you, or you are feeding yourself on something that will ultimately kill you, I want you to hear me today that you're not beyond him.

If you're aware of the fact, if you're going, "Man, my heart is not as stirred for him as it used to be. There was once this period in life where I was so close to him, but now he seems so far away," and if you're thinking, "I still love him," hear me. That awareness of that fact is a gift. It's a grace. It's a grace to be able to confess it and ask for help, that the Holy Spirit could help you see.

As we close tonight, I want to remind you…I can't say it enough…that Christ is the radiance of the glory of God, that his beauty is endless. He is the jewel, the perfect jewel of God's wisdom, and the light of God bounces off him in so many ways. His splendor is endless. My prayer for us is that we would never think we have a full grasp on him, that we would never tire of him, that we could look at Christ and forever be willing to see and savor him until he comes, and then we'll just do it all the more. Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, I thank you that you have grace and that there is mercy. I thank you, first, that you have given us Jesus. You have not left us in our sin. You have not left us with terminally ill hearts, but you have given us your Son, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, you redeem. So for those in here who do not know you, I ask, Father, that you would grant them life, that you would let them taste and see the beauty of Jesus and believe he is who he says he is and they can be brought home as children of God.

For my brother and sister in here who believes in Jesus but whose heart is tired or who would feel condemnation or who would wonder where things went wrong, I ask, Father, that by the power of your Spirit you would speak kindly to them, that you would let them know you love them and because of Jesus they are able to come close to you. Thank you that we are not without hope. Father, help us to be more discerning with our lives, with our attention, with where we put our eyes, that we may see and savor Christ more, that we'd be captivated by him.

Help us to become more mature, as individuals and as a body, that we would display the manifold wisdom of God in Christ to the world. We need your help. We need you. We need our hearts to be captivated by you, and it's a gift only you can give. So Father, would you give us the good gift of yourself? Holy Spirit, would you help us? I pray in Christ's name, amen.    

Scripture Colossians 1:24-29