Colossians at Christmas – Day 25 – Merry Christmas!

Fulfill the Ministry

“And say to Archippus, ‘See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.’” Colossians 4:17 (ESV) For reference read Colossians 4:7-18.

Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Barnabas, Justus, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, Archippus, Nympha – these are all names mentioned in the last section of Colossians. From the way Paul writes about them or refers to them (Barnabas is used mainly as a connection to Mark), they are all in gospel ministry. This is an encouragement to the church. One can assume that Paul mentions each person, believing that by doing so it will make an impact on the Colossian church. 

Just before Paul signs off on this letter of reassurance to the Colossians, he instructs them to say these words to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received from the Lord.” I do not know the situation with Archippus. But his challenge for him is a good one for us today. The challenge also reflects the life of Jesus, the gospel itself.

Jesus, the whole reason we as Christians celebrate Christmas is to honor Him. From the lowliest entrance into the world to the cruelest death, Jesus was faithful to fulfill the ministry He received from the Lord. He was faithful to God. He was faithful to us. 

False accusations, unbelief, hatred, betrayal were all encountered by the only sinless man who ever existed. Even His purity did not save His life. But it saved ours. Through His mighty power, He could have corrected all of the wrong being done to Him. But He did not. Not because He was weak, but because He was the only One who could fulfill the ministry set before Him – the world.

If you believe in Jesus – that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a torturous death, and rose again from the grave thereby conquering death – then you have a ministry before you. We are all called to fulfill the ministry of the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). I know the temptation can be real and heavy to give up in any measure of the term. Life is hard and the One person who was able to live it sinlessly was murdered. What is our plight? The same sin that led to the death of Jesus is the same one that is in us. He came to redeem us. God in flesh – something never before seen or done – came to not only dwell on the earth, but to dwell in us. We no longer have to be plagued by sin. We get a new life in Christ, we get hope, we get Jesus Himself!

As I have reflected on this Christmas Day of 2022, there is a sense of bittersweetness and hope. I cherish Christmas memories and traditions. We made many today and leading into it. We potentially started new traditions. My heart swelled at the thought of giving our children gifts that would bring about much laughter and play. I reminisced on days gone by and loved ones who have passed, making each year even more different than before. Sadness and joy, love and longing, pain and peace. The gospel is ever present in these thoughts, largely because we have been so focused on it in Colossians during this advent. 

I have been challenged greatly through this study. Truly, I would love to study Colossians even more! The message of the gospel keeps ringing in my head, daily challenging me in my responses – with my spouse, children, coworkers, friends, family. While I feel like I daily fail to communicate the gospel even solely in my responses, the failure draws me to the gospel. It draws me to grace. All sufficiency is in Christ. Who knew a baby born so long ago could be what I need – what we all need – the most?


Fulfill the ministry. 

Merry Christmas!

Colossians at Christmas – Day 15

Set Your Mind

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV)

One of my personal struggles is anticipated grief. Knowing loss is to come, it makes me sorrowful. While I am learning how to address it and not dwell in such a state for too long, it can still hit me out of nowhere. I will put my children to bed and then weep as images of past loss (in my life or the life of someone I know) or thoughts of future loss send waves of sorrow through my soul. 

Christmastime is difficult for a lot of people I know. This year, several people come to mind who will be experiencing their first Christmas without one they held dear. Life is forever changed. Grief is very real and very heavy. There are no words that can be said to pull anyone out of such grief nor should that be a goal. What grief can do is remind us of the cross and the hope in the resurrection. That does not change the feeling or the reality, but it does provide hope.

There is one verse that continuously pulls me through the flood of images. That verse is nestled within this passage, providing a different kind of image. It offers hope that there is more to this life than even the deepest sorrows cannot address.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

This one gives me an action step to take. Look up. Sorrow often causes us to look down or in. Set – focus – on eternity. Focus on the big picture of glory. Focus on Christ who will one day restore all things unto Himself. 

And this is why:

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” 

Death is a natural part of life. It wasn’t supposed to be. That was not the intention when God created the world and man. But because of sin, death exists. Because of Christ, death no longer has power. Also, because of Christ, we must die twice just as we must be born twice. 

The physical and the spiritual often provide reflective analogies of each other. We are born into this world physically. In order to receive spiritual life, we must be “born again” into Christ. To do so, though, death must occur. Death to the old self, the sinful nature that reigns in our souls. (Remember, this is through and because of what Christ has already accomplished on our behalf). That kingdom ruler must fall in order for the True King to reign. As a result, we are protected by Christ. We are hidden in Him. Even once we reach physical death, it is not the end. It is the entrance into glory.

For the person who may be struggling today, wondering if you should be here: the answer is yes, you are here on this earth for and with a purpose. My encouragement to you (in addition to seeking a solid support system and professional help), is to wait on Christ. Wait until He appears. “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” He is coming back!

Christ came so we could know Him now, not just wait to experience Him in eternity. He offers Himself to us in this life. If you are in a place of despair, my prayer is that you would desperately seek Him and cling to Him. Your life is “hidden with Christ” in God. Remember that so far the idea of mystery and being hidden have produced amazing and excellent results when it comes to God. If you are a child of God, Christ already has you. He’s got you covered. Learn what that looks like, what it means. You can know Him and experience Him. 

Challenge question for you today:

What do you tend to set your mind on? 

Please know that the action of setting our minds on Christ is not automatic. It is something that would help if we daily (usually multiple times daily for me) pursued and challenged ourselves to do. If you are not sure what this looks like, start by thinking about Christ. Ask Him to help you. 

Resource: Preach to Yourself by Hayley Morgan (she does a fantastic job with giving practical application on how to adjust our thoughts with truth)

Colossians at Christmas – Day 9

The Mystery, the Glory

“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.” Colossians 1:24-27 (ESV)

The last line of these verses makes me a little teary-eyed. I can still hear Mr. Sonny, my youth leader, quoting them. He would say, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” He would say it with warmth and as a reminder to us. It felt good and inviting when I heard it. I thought I knew what it meant. But somehow, the understanding was lacking, though I wouldn’t admit it at the time. 

Oh, how I wish I could tell him that I get it now! I would love to thank him for consistently speaking truth over our lives and to us. If it hadn’t been for him, I don’t know that this phrase would have been so striking to me.

This is a passage of Scripture that tends to leave me curious and wanting for more. “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.” This is still a verse that draws me in, considering it with awe.

It truly is a mystery that Christ is in us, yes? The mystery of the ages, the gospel, came to life in Christ. Glimpses of it were given in times past to the prophets and some of the patriarchs in the Old Testament. Now it has been revealed. Not only is Christ the mystery, but we carry the glory of it. 

According to Garland, “In the Colossians’ pagan religious environment, the word ‘mystery’ referred to information about initiatory rites and symbols – things that had to be kept hidden from the uninitiated” (David Garland, The New Application Commentary: Colossians/Philemon, p. 125). Paul is reminding the church that they are included in the blessings and glory of Christ. The gospel is for the Gentiles as it is for the Jews. 

The beauty of the mystery of Christ is that He doesn’t want to keep us from knowing Him. He isn’t hiding Himself from us. He provides His redemption and reveals His glory to us. The Word of God has been made fully known. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). 

Christ being in us promotes His glory. We reflect it. We show it. Christ being in us helps spread the gospel, showing the world who He is. I see the hope of glory as those who know Christ reveal Him through worship, admiration, and changed lives. 

I was reading to my three-year-old out of a book series she has about God. In it, those who know Christ are shown to have lights in/on their chests. She asked me why we don’t have lights on us. (It can be so hard to keep explanations simple!) We talked about how the drawing was attempting to show what we experience in real life. We can’t see Jesus, but the light in the picture shows what He does in us – produces light. He produces glory. We are to share that light with others. She seemed satisfied with the answer.

I will leave you with this: does the hope of glory shine in you?

Colossians at Christmas – Day 5

From Darkness to Light

“Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:12-14 (ESV)

Complete, utter darkness. Though the tour guide warned us of what was to come, it was not enough to prevent the panic that coursed through my body. Not only was it the blackest black I’ve ever seen, but a stillness accompanied it, as well. I could not even see my hands in front of my face. No one could. Absolutely nothing was visible. 

In that darkness, in that moment, I knew it would end. The light would turn on and we would walk out of the cavern. But my body was not fully convinced. My body felt tight. My brain was wrestling to remind my whole being that I was safe. We were all so quiet. Even my little girls didn’t make a sound. 

“…And darkness was over the face of the deep…” Genesis 1:2 (ESV)

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Genesis 1:3 (ESV)

I am so grateful God created light first! Even the beginning of creation reflects what must spiritually transpire in us. It also communicates the power of God over darkness. He simply speaks and light shines, dispelling the darkness.

Being at the cavern was sobering to think of so many people walking around with spiritual darkness. The darkness is heavy. It is deafening in its silence. Spiritual darkness is blind and deaf to the glory of God. I want to shout, “Don’t you want to see in the light?!” But when one is so accustomed to a certain way, thoughts of another seem foreign, even if it is better.

Light is warm. Light is clarifying. Light is bright. Light is also peaceful. 

There was nothing about the cavern darkness that was peaceful. What made it possible to endure was knowing there was a way out, knowing that light would soon shine again. Our path out would be guided by light. 

Christ came to deliver us from the “domain of darkness.” We were in dark territory, blinded by and in our sin. Many still are. 

Our heavenly Father sent Christ to get us out of darkness! He “transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” We are now completely in light. 

Light represents redemption. Light represents belonging. Light represents total forgiveness for our sins. Light is Jesus.

Words fail me to accurately describe the hope and security that comes from being a recipient of this truth. While the truth is the same for all, our stories are different. So here are my challenge/reflection questions for you today:

What is your experience of going from darkness to light? How did your redemption story start?

How do you think of darkness and light? Are there still parts of your soul that you believe are dark? Do you struggle to accept complete redemption? 

As you look at the twinkling Christmas lights, let them be a small reminder of the light of Christ.

Colossians at Christmas – Day 1

This year, I thought we would take a slightly different approach to Advent and consider it through the lens of the book of Colossians. The book is filled with conversation about Christ and the impact of Him in our lives. His name is written 25 times and He is referred to even more in Colossians. So as we embark on this Christmas season, my prayer is that consideration of the truth in this book will help us reflect on Christ. I encourage you to read the book and mull over its contents as we study it together.

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you…” Colossians 1:3-6a

The gospel has come to you. The gospel came in the form of Jesus Christ Himself. Hope was in heaven. Hope came down from heaven to meet us and engage with us so we could have eternal hope. The hope prior to the birth of Jesus was similar to our hope now. The hope of rescue, redemption, of something more and beyond ourselves.

What is the gospel? How do you define it?

Simply put, the gospel is the recognition that all have sinned, sin requires punishment (death), none of us can meet that requirement in full, therefore Jesus was sent to be the perfect substitute for our punishment of sin. He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a cruel death on the cross, and three days later he rose from the grave! He CONQUERED death.

This is our hope. Death is conquered. It no longer holds its glaring darkness over us. We have hope of much more in eternity and in this life.

At some point in life you will likely face a sense of hopelessness. For many, hopelessness has become a state of being. I know those deep recesses of darkness in the soul all too well. Depression feeds off of hopelessness. When everything around you is out of control (you truly have no say in what is done or how things are happening), there arises a sense of hopelessness.

Feeling hopeless can lead to depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, stress.
Here’s the thing. We are not a people without hope. We may feel hopeless at times, but we have a hope that is established outside of ourselves, outside of our circumstances, and outside of our emotions. It is a hope that helps us through all of it. It is a hope that helps us know that there is more to the pain and suffering. It is a hope beyond ourselves by which we can define ourselves.

I am often faced with conversations in my own head that are not life-giving. The thoughts want to take me down a path that can easily lead to hopelessness, frustration, anger, despair. And they have, at times. There are two things that I have found that help refocus and realign my heart to hope: 1) speaking with someone safe who will remind me of the truth and 2) speaking the gospel to myself.

Speaking the gospel to ourselves is not something that is passive and trite. It reflects genuine hope and power. Why? Because the resurrecting power that raised Jesus from the grave is the same one at work in our lives. Nothing in our lives requires more power from Him than death. You are not beyond hope. You are not beyond saving. You are not beyond the power of the gospel.

But it will only help if you believe that He is the Author of salvation, the One who brings hope, the One who is the Resurrection and the Life.

Challenge: Speak the gospel to yourself today. I invite you to remind yourself of it every day during this season. Ask yourself what thought(s) need to be covered (or challenged) by the gospel.

I look forward to exploring Colossians at Christmas with you!


Oh, my sweet, precious, innocent toddler. On Sunday, she had one of her roughest days emotionally to date. It was as if all you-know-what unleashed and she was inconsolable. You know those moments when you start crying about something, but don’t remember why you are crying, yet you can’t stop? That was her. For most of the day. She paused to be her usual self during church. Then it was back “on” when we arrived home. The crying, the screaming, the thrashing around – she was in clear distress. 

Our best guess is that she was having a doozy of a teething day. Lately, she tells us what hurts and can communicate what she wants or needs. But that was not happening on this day. Her pain was evident, but she was not accepting of any comfort from her parents. She didn’t even want to call her grandparents (that’s a first). We knew something was wrong, and we tried to hold her, talk gently to her, distract her – all the things. Nothing worked. 

Something hurt. She was in distress. She was not feeling peaceful. She was not acting peaceful. She wanted us to help her, but our help was frustrating to her. She finally crashed on the floor, at my feet, as I softly sang Christmas hymns. 

Watching my child in such distress reminded me of our relationship with God. Now, unlike God, I am not a perfect parent. He is, though. Which means He knows exactly what will soothe me and exactly what I need. Yet, I can resist that comfort. Sometimes it’s a lack of acknowledgement of His comfort. Other times, it is a striving to “fix” what I think is causing the distress. And sometimes I honestly want to continue feeling bad because that is what is familiar or comfortable. 

God is a God of peace. He offers Himself to us in our distresses. But sometimes our distress feels bigger than our God. That is when we have to remind ourselves that even His peace is bigger than our pain. I am not about to discount the intensity of pain. Our pain is very real and often does not go away. Grief and other pains can shake us to the core, leaving us never quite the same as before. This powerful pain points to an even greater and inexplicable peace. That is what makes peace so much more of a gift of God Himself. Because it is greater than our most intense pain. And it is what offers healing and comfort within the pain. 

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). 

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). 

Both of these verses may come up again later, but for now, let us consider some key points:

  1. He is Lord of peace. He embodies peace. He created peace. He is peace.
  2. Because He is with us always, it seems fitting that we ask for peace “at all times in every way.”
  3. He gives peace. Freely. 
  4. The peace God gives is different from the momentary relief and tactics of the world’s attempts at peace.
  5. We don’t have to be afraid. He gives peace. Again, He is peace.

Questions to consider:

What are you expecting of peace? Is the peace you are looking for relief from your distress or a quieting of your spirit? 

Are you willing to receive peace? Your immediate answer may be “of course!” But are you open 

to receiving peace in the way God gives it?

Ponder the fact that God is peace.

Peace Defined

It’s Christmastime!!!

Oh, Christmas, where have you been? This year has been rough. We need the refocus, enjoyment, and hope you tend to bring. And if you don’t mind slowing it down a little, that would be great. We aren’t in a rush to pass you by.

But, as much as I love Christmas with the lights, the decorations, the gift giving, the scrumptious food, the chilly weather, spending time with family; I know that Christmas is not what will truly bring hope, peace, and joy. It does remind me of it, though. As a result, I never want it to end.

This year, I want to press into a theme of peace and joy during this Christmas season. Two characteristics that seem to drastically be lacking in 2020. Perhaps they are words that sound foreign to the soil of your soul. But you are thirsty for them. Most of us are. And that is why there is hope in the pursuit of peace and joy. So let’s dive in.

How would you describe peace?

Take a moment and think about it.

Really, pause and think of peace.

What came to mind? What was your experience in the pause? Was it a calmness and quieting of the spirit? Did you struggle with being still and patient even for a few moments to think about peace? Was your heart pricked with emotion because you haven’t paused before now to let it come to the surface?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines peace as:

“1: a state of tranquility or quiet…(such as) a: freedom from civil disturbance…b: A state of security or order within a community provided by law or custom…2: Freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions…3: Harmony in personal relations.” (

Leading up to Christmas, we will look at each of these definitions, as well as how we see them in Scripture. But for now, can we start with the obvious – where is peace? Look around our world and the events of this year and it is easy to question the existence of peace. Uncertainty, fear, friction, devastation, heartache, expectation, and so much unknown have marked the year. 

Based on the definition of peace, it cannot be found in circumstances and events. It never is. Yet, we continuously seek to change circumstances, somehow believing that peace will come. This happens on both a large and small scale. Large in the sense of participating in happenings that have an impact globally or in a group. Small in the way of the day-to-day wanting people, places, and things to cooperate and the day go smoothly. (I will talk about this a little more when we look at peace and anxiety.) 

Jesus points to Himself as being the One who provides peace and is the source of peace. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He acknowledges the unrest that the disciples are about to face. He knows it is difficult to live in this world. He gives the reason we can have peace, though: He has overcome the world. 

Jesus always has and always will be greater than this world. That includes every circumstance, hardship, sin, and brokenness we encounter. That includes anything that is unknown to us regarding the future, our health, and our country. That includes authority, law, and government. Jesus has overcome. This is a definitive statement. It is not a wish of a future occurrence. He already has.

What does this mean? This means we can find rest and comfort in His power and His ability to provide – even peace. My desire is that we will all become more aware and more understanding of the richness and depths of His peace in the days to come. 

For now, let me ask you:

Have you ever felt or known peace?

When was the last time you felt peaceful?

When was the last time you sat with Jesus in quietness and received His peace?

I encourage you to reflect on these questions today and consider pausing at some point in the busyness of the day to sit with Jesus (even if you have to sit alone in your car for a few minutes between errands). I will seek to do the same.