Seeing Jesus in Psalm 30 – Weeping to Joy

Seeing Jesus in Psalm 30

 

Psalm 30:11 – “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.”

 

Psalm 30 paints for us a beautiful picture of the Kingdom of God as it ends.  A picture that joyously proclaims that God turns our mourning into dancing and our sorrow into joy.  Before that however David isn’t experiencing joy, he is experiencing prosperity but in his prosperity he forgets about God, and because of that God hides His face from David.  In the midst of that David says, “I was dismayed.” 

 

In other words David says I had prosperity, things were going well in my life, but I was missing something and that something was a someone, it was God Himself.  David had become boastful, arrogant and proud in his prosperity and because of that he forgot about God.  Soon however when God removed His glory, David remembered.  In fact he did more than remember he was heartbroken, dismayed, desperately needing the presence of God. 

 

David was known as being a “man after God’s own heart” but in his prosperity he forgot.  What a temptation this is for us as well, when things are going well to forget about our need for God, to forget that even in the midst of rejoicing, laughter and good times we are still but sinners who desperately need a Savior.  David forgot and yet when God hid his face he was dismayed.

 

This was the king of the country, the man who had it all and at this point in his life he was enjoying a season of even more prosperity yet he was empty.  Why? Because he had forgotten God.  David wasn’t created for wealth or fame or power, he was created first and foremost to glorify God and to have a relationship with Him.  All of the things in the world couldn’t satisfy Him, only God could and when David forgot God, he found himself empty and dismayed. 

 

David certainly stands as a warning for us, but more than a warning, an example.  For in his sadness and despair he cried out to God.  He could have ran even further away, he could have pursued other things but he didn’t, he realized his need and passionately cried out to God, “Hear O Lord and be merciful to me! O Lord be my helper.”  And God heard Him and beautifully answered his prayer.

 

God turned David’s mourning into dancing.  He threw off his sadness and gave him joy.  George Horne says, “this is true of David; and it is true of Jesus, arising from the tomb to die no more.  Jesus’ mourning was turned into dancing when up from the grave He arose.

 

Horne continues, “(this can also be true) of the penitent, those who repent, they too can exchange their sackcloths for articles of salvation and joy.  It can be verified for us all in the last days we will put off the dishonors of the grave, and we will shine in joy everlasting.”  Our mourning will permanently be turned into joy, in the Kingdom of God.

 

Richard Baker sums it up, “my sackcloth of mourning was but a loose garment around me, which might easily be put off, but my gladness is gird around me, it is fast and sure and it will never leave me.”  David experienced his mourning being turned into joy, and while it wasn’t a permanent joy, it was a glimpse of the permanent joy that we will experience as followers of Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of God.

 

In the Beatitudes, Jesus gives a wonderful promise, a promise that sounds a lot like David’s words here when He says, “they who mourn will be comforted.”  What a promise, when we are mourning as David was over our own sin, God will comfort our mourning, and He will comfort us with a comfort that will never leave us.  A permanent comfort, when our weeping is turned to joy in the Kingdom of God.  No wonder Jesus reminds us that “in His presence there is fullness of joy.”  It is there and it is available to all of us as we like David repent of our sins and follow Him.  To God be the glory!

Psalm 28 – Our Shepherd

Psalm 28:9 ESV

“Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.”

What a promise is contained in Psalm 28, God will be the heritage of His people and He will carry us forever.   Not just for a moment,  not just for a day, not just during the times of weeping or the times of rejoicing, but He will carry us forever.  As the hymn writer joyously proclaimed Great is Thy Faithfulness, part of that hymn proclaims “there is no shadow of turning with Thee, Thou changes not, Thy compassions they fail not. ” God truly will carry His people forever.
Why?  Because as the Psalmist reminds us “He is our shepherd. ”  Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd. What makes a Shepherd a Good Shepherd? They never leave their sheep, and in fact are willing to lay down their lives if necessary.
David who was the writer of Psalm 28 certainly knew that fact.  In fact he had lived it, for he was a Shepherd.  He had fought the lion and the bear to protect his sheep, he had been a good shepherd and so his prayer is in essence God don’t ever leave me be with me always,  be my Shepherd.
That prayer was certainly fulfilled because God in His grace and majesty was always with David. God was His inheritance.
Years later Jesus ultimately fulfilled David’s prayer, becoming the Good Shepherd who never left His sheep but even beyond that was the Good Shepherd who “laid down His life for His sheep.”
David prayed boldly,  “God be my Shepherd,  always be with me, don’t ever leave me,  be even my inheritance,” because he trusted in the faithfulness of God.  Today we can pray boldly and live boldly because we too know that faithfulness.   In fact we see it even more fully than David did because we see it in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd who says to His sheep, “I’ll never leave you or forsake you.” The Hood Shepherd who ultimately laid down His life for His sheep. To God be the glory.

Psalm 27 – Why Are You So Downcast

“Why Are You So Downcast?”

 

Psalm 27:6 – “And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.”

 

Psalm 27 is definitely a song of King David, perhaps it was even the song that he sung to himself as he was faced with many lonely nights in the midst of overwhelming circumstances.  We are not told exactly what is going on as David writes these words but we get a glimpse from the content of the Psalm itself and as we read it, it more than likely was written when David was under accusation from Doeg the Edomite. 

 

It was during that time that he was on the run, being pursued by his enemies, and unable to get to the house of God.  It was truly a miserable time in David’s life, at least outwardly.  This psalm however is anything but miserable and downcast, in fact it is upbeat and hopeful.  Charles Spurgeon describes it as a “song of cheerful hope”, and truly it is.

 

David had every reason to be down and dejected.  Depression would have been normal, and in fact at some point David does feel down.  Yet in verse 6 with a shout of triumph he proclaims that “his head will be lifted up.”  He proclaims it with certainty but how does he know it for sure.  His certainty and his assurance comes from the fact that even in the midst of all that he is going through, he is relying on God and trusting in God and because of that he knows that God would lift up his head.  After all David knew that God had promised to never leave him or forsake him, David knew that God has told him to “fear not”, and because of that David was trusting in the promises of God knowing with certainty that God was going to lift up his head.  David is living by faith for that is what the writer of Hebrews tells us that faith really is, “it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  David knew that God was going to lift up his head and his shout of victory in verse 6 is the evidence of that.  He was living in faith.

 

Faith is not ignoring reality but accepting it, knowing that God is working in the midst of it.  David’s reality is that the world is closing in on him.  His head is in reality drooping down but he believes and he trusts that even in the midst of it, God is going to bring about a change. God is going to make a difference.

 

Why is David’s head so downcast?  William Gurnall says that there is only two reasons why a person’s head would droop, fear and shame (living in our culture we can add tiredness to that can’t we?).  David is fearful because of the circumstances that he is in.  He is shameful perhaps because of his past sins, and certainly he is tired.  In the midst of it though he says, “my head will be lifted up.”  He is trusting that God is going to lift up his head even in the middle of his sorrows and agony. 

 

Can we identify with David? Of course we can.  Is Gurnall right? Of course he is, especially is you add tiredness into the equation.  Our heads droop down because of fear.  We don’t know what the future holds and it wears us down.  That is certainly the case in 2013 and our rapidly changing culture.  We are fearful and that fear takes a toll on us.  Whether it is from worrying about tomorrow, worrying about our children, worrying about ourselves, or worrying about something else.  When we get fearful, it brings us down.

 

Our shame brings us down as well.  Failure sometimes hits us squarely between the eyes and our enemy the devil is right there accusing us all the more.  That is why Scripture identifies him as the “accuser of the brethren”.  He loves to heap guilt on us, to make us feel worthless, to make us feel unloved, to make us feel that God certainly couldn’t use a sinner like us.  Yet Scripture proclaims that we are both saints and sinners simultaneously.  We still sin, but positionally we have been changed and because we are “in Christ” we are now considered to be saints as well.  The devil may want to accuse us, but if we are followers of Jesus Christ, there is nothing to accuse before Almighty God.  So lift up your head.

 

Let God lift up your head in the midst of your worry and fear.  Hear Him say again, “fear not for I am with you.”  Taste the sweetness of the promise, “I’ll never leave you or forsake you.”  A promise that He can make and keep because of what Jesus did on the cross.  His head drooped down because He became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and He uttered, “my God, my God why have you forsaken me.”  It was one of the worst moments in the history of the world, and yet God works something just beautiful out of it, our salvation.  Because He was forsaken we will never have to be.  So lift up your head.

 

Lift up your head because your sins and taken away.  Lift up your head because now you are a child of God.  Lift up your head because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Lift up your head because you have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. 

 

Lift up your head even in the midst of your tiredness.  For God is with you and He beckons, “come unto me all you who are weak and wore out (my paraphrase) and I will give you rest.”  We can find rest in the arms of God.  We can wait on Him, cling to Him, and as Isaiah reminds us “have our strength renewed like the eagles so that we will run and not grow weary, and so that we will walk and not faint.”  Lift up your head and declare forth His praises, because of what He has done for you.  To God be the glory!

Seeing Jesus in Psalm 26- Walking in Faithfulness

Shadows of the Messiah 2 – Seeing Jesus in Psalm 26

 

“Walking in Faithfulness”

 

Psalm 26:3 – “For Your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in Your faithfulness”

 

“The best way out is always through”, “Dream big and dare to fail”, “Fortune favors the brave”, and on and on and on.  Motivational quotes are everywhere.  We may read them and we may even be stirred by them, but how far do they really take us?  They might inspire us a little bit, but if our motivation is just a motivational quote then we probably aren’t going to accomplish very much.

So what is it that motivates us in life?  What is it that motivates us to keep going in hardship, as the saying says, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”  Where does our motivation come from?  More specifically where does our motivation to follow God and walk with Him come from?  David says in verse, when God’s steadfast love is before my eyes, I walk in faithfulness.  In other words when I realize the love of God I am motivated to serve Him.  As Paul says in the New Testament, “it is the love of God that constrains us.”  It is His love that motivates us to follow Him. 

Yet even though David is motivated he realizes that he is weak. He realizes that his flesh does not desire to follow God.  He realizes that He is weak and even as he focuses on the grace of God, He needs more of that grace to vindicate him (v. 1) and to help Him.  He needs that grace to sustain him even in his weakness. 

That is why he proclaims in verse 11, “I will walk in integrity” but then follows it up by saying, “redeem me and be gracious to me.”  In other words God, I am motivated by your steadfast love to walk in integrity and to follow you, but I know that I will stumble and fall so be gracious to me and forgive me even in my sins.

Because of God’s grace David says in verse 12 that he is “standing on level ground.”  No matter what comes his way, David can stand because of the grace of God.  God has secured redemption and grace for us specifically through the cross of Jesus Christ, for on that cross we were given His mercy and His grace.  We were given what we did not deserve, the forgiveness of God, and we were not given what we did deserve, the wrath of God.  That is mercy and grace and thanks be to God that His mercies are new every morning.  Why? Because everyday we need his grace for the sins we commit. 

Here is the truth that David is proclaiming.  We can be motivated to walk in integrity.  We can be motivated to follow God closely, we can even be like David, a person after God’s own heart, but the reality is even then we are going to fall short.  Our motivation will only carry us so far, because we are forgetful people.  David certainly was, he walked with God, he was a man after God’s own heart, he forgot and fell into sin.  The nation of Israel as a whole was exactly the same way.  In fact their lives are in many ways like a roller coaster, up and down.  Things would go well for them and they would forget about God, things would go badly and they would repent and come back, then things would go well again and then they would forget.  It was a vicious cycle, in which their motivation to follow God only took them so far and then they slipped back into sin.

The entire nation did it, David did it, and we do as well. We can be motivated to walk with God, but eventually we forget and once again we fall short.  Yes we need to do what David did, and yes we need to “keep His steadfasts love before our eyes,” but even then we will fall short.  We will sin.  Fortunately because of the blood of Jesus, because of His sacrifice on the cross we are given His grace and His mercy, new every morning, so we can pray even as David prayed, “redeem me and be gracious to me.”  And we can have the blessed assurance that because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that He will.  He has made the sacrifice once and for all (Hebrews), so that now there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)”.  To God be the glory!

Colossians – The Transformed Ones – Colossians 1:9-14

The Transformed Ones

 

Colossians 1:9-14 – “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.”

 

In the last chapter we saw how the Gospel transforms us.  It transforms us through the love and grace of Almighty God.  A God who amazingly enough pursues a relationship with us.  David says in Psalm 23, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”  The actual Hebrew translation of those words would be “surely love and mercy pursue me.”  God pursues a relationship with us, not because He is lonely for He has perfect unity and harmony within the Trinity.  He pursues a relationship with us for His glory.

God’s pursuit of us in one of the great themes of Scripture.  Remember Jesus said, “I have come to seek and to save that which is lost.”  Then in Luke 15 he tells us 3 different parables about someone searching diligently for something that is lost.  The first is a Shepherd leaving the 99 sheep behind to go and find the one that is lost.  The second describes a lady passionately pursing a lost coin, and the third is the famous parable of, as we call it, “the Prodigal Son”.  In it, the Father bursts out of the house and runs to him and lets him know that he is welcomed home, not as a servant but as a son.  It is a beautiful picture of the love of God towards lost humanity.

How does God pursue us? Ultimately through the cross of Christ.  As George Bennard put it in his hymn “The Old Rugged Cross”:

     “O that old rugged cross so despised by the world,

     Has a wondrous attraction for me;

     For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above

     To bear it to dark Calvary.”

Why did Jesus “leave His glory above”? Because He was pursuing us for the glory of God the Father.  What a wondrous truth God who sees us with all of our sins, all of our faults and all of our failures, still loved us so much that He pursued us anyway.  Graham Greene makes a beautiful statement in one of his many books, “It’s a strange thing to discover and to believe that you are loved, when you know that there is nothing in you for anybody but a parent or God to love.”  And it is that love that pursues us and transforms us.  The love of God who becomes to us our Father.

Colossians 1:13 says “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”  In other words we were lost in the domain of darkness and God pursued us and brought us into the Kingdom of His Son.  Unfortunately we bring the residue of the darkness with us into the Kingdom, which means that we need to be transformed.  We need to be changed because we no longer belong to the darkness we are now adopted into the Kingdom of God.  Our nature is darkness and sin, but now we are a part of a different family and it is the love of God that not only saves us but that continues to transform us.

Paul says in 1:9, “we have not ceased to pray for you.”  What is interesting to note is what he is praying.  He continues, “asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him.”  What Paul says is I’m praying that you would grow, that you would be transformed, that you would be more like Jesus.  If us being transformed was solely our work shouldn’t Paul have just simply said, “you all need to straighten up and fly right.  Now that you are followers of Jesus you need to live like one, so read your Bibles and stay away from sin.”  Shouldn’t he just have encouraged them to change themselves.

The problem with that line of thinking is that just as we are incapable of saving ourselves we are also incapable of changing ourselves.  We must participate yes, we must “put to death the deeds of the flesh,” but the only way to do that is through relying on the grace of God and keeping our eyes on Jesus.  It is He that works within us, “for His good pleasure.”  Ultimately God is the one who transforms us. 

And once we are transformed we live differently.  How? We live for God’s glory not our own.  We do His will (Colossians 1:9). We walk in a manner pleasing to Him (Colossians 1:10), and we walk worthy of the Lord.

That is a statement that sticks in my mind and one that must be examined.  What does it mean to “walk worthy of the Lord”? In reality it seems impossible for us to “walk worthy of the Lord”, yet it must be possible for Paul prays that we would be able to do it.  So what does it mean to walk worthy of the Lord? It means to live a life that doesn’t degrade His sacrifice on the cross.  It means to live a life in which Jesus is glorified through us.

How is that possible? Again this is not something that we can just make up our minds to do.  It is something that is only possible through the grace of God.  He transforms us and sanctifies us and part of our sanctification means that we live our lives with Jesus showing through.  We live lives that make God proud and the only way that is possible is through the blood of Jesus.

All of our righteousness is as filthy rags, so even our good acts done in and of themselves are not going to make God proud.  Yet through the blood of Jesus His righteousness is credited to our account and because of that God is pleased with us.  In fact in one of the most humbling verses in the Bible the prophet Zephaniah tells us that God “rejoices over us with singing (3:17).”  He rejoices over us when we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, and then that motivates us to live life the way He calls us to live.  For in living life the way we are called and transformed to live it we find our joy and our satisfaction in Christ, then we live life for the glory of God.  John Piper puts it this way, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”  Why did God pursue us? So that He might be glorified in and through us.  That happens when we find our satisfaction through Him and then we live a life worthy of Him because we are living to glorify Him.

So walk worthy of the Lord! Live a life through His grace that is pleasing to Him.  Let others see Jesus within you.  Christians were originally called “followers of the Way” but began being called Christians because it is a term that means “little Christ’s”.  In other words they reflected Him who is the way, the truth and the life to the culture around them. 

In our world today the term Christian has grown to mean just “someone who is against certain things.”  That is unfortunate because what it says is we are more known for being against things, that being like Jesus.  However through the grace of God in the midst of this godless culture I believe that we can truly be transformed to where we once again reflect Jesus and His message of grace and righteousness to this world. 

When we do that we will as Paul says, “bear fruit in every good work” (Colossians 1:10).  One of the reasons that the church isn’t bearing fruit today is because we are no longer reflecting Jesus to the culture.  We are more concerned with morality and lamenting how bad the morals of the world are.  Jesus however tells us not to be surprised when the world acts like the world, after all worldly people haven’t been transformed by the grace of God.  Our responsibility is not to bemoan how bad things are, our responsibility is to reflect Jesus.  We as the church of Jesus Christ in America must stand for truth and for morals, but as we do so we need to be reminded that being a good moral person doesn’t mean that a person is a follower of Jesus.  A person can be a good moral person and still go to hell.  That is a sobering reality, but it is reality.  Morals may change and in our culture today I sincerely hope and pray that they do.  Yet what really matters is that beyond a change of morals a change of heart occurs and that change is only possible through the reforming, transforming power of God.

He has changed us, now our responsibility is to trust Him and live with hope in the midst of hopelessness.  Our responsibility is to live out our faith and to tell others about Jesus, living each and everyday finding our satisfaction in Him and living for His glory.  Why? Because “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”  We are a part of a new Kingdom, now in gratitude for the grace of God let us live like it.

 

Colossians 2, Part 2 – Transforming Power

For as the grace of God transformed the Colossian Christians it transforms us as well.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ saves us, but that is not all it does.  The Gospel is not a truth that we believe one time in our salvation decision and then put on a shelf to move on to other things.  It is something that we need to keep continually before us because it is something that radically transforms us daily.  The great church reformer, Martin Luther realizing the importance of the Gospel said, “we need to beat the Gospel into our heads daily.”  Colossians is the most Christ-centered book in the New Testament because Paul wanted those believers to live Gospel centered lives and be reminded of the love and holiness of God each day.  Love and holiness that we see beautifully displayed through the cross of Jesus, through the Gospel.

The truth of the matter is that the love and grace of God is what transforms us.  The Bible says, “it is the love of God constrains us.”  It is His love and grace that keeps us away from sin.  One of the great problems of American Christianity is the do-it-yourself mentality.  When we see sin in our lives we think we can fix it ourselves, so we resolve to try harder and “to do better”.  We make resolutions about it, we rededicate ourselves to the task at hand, and we say “next week I’m going to do better.” 

However this pull up your bootstraps mentality falls woefully short if we aren’t keeping our eyes on Jesus.  If we say I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that, it becomes all about us, when in reality it isn’t.  Many times we fall into a vicious cycle that looks something like this:

     Sin – I’m going to do better – temptation – I’m not giving in – temptation – sin……

Eventually what happens is that we give up hope and we resign our thinking to, “that is just who I am, I will never change” or “at least I’m not like the person next door” or “well at least my sin really isn’t all that bad.”  We try to modify our behavior without any real lasting change or transformation and we end up frustrated and eventually we just give up. 

The truth of the Gospel however is that it is the grace of God that changes us and that as we keep our eyes on the cross and on Jesus, His love will transform us.  Matt Chandler correctly points out that the true way of sanctification is found in Colossians 3:2, “set your life on things that are above,” and then kill the desires of your flesh.  Many times we get that backwards, instead of saying I’m going to keep my eyes on Jesus and what He did for me on the cross and letting that motivate us to put our sins to death, we say I’ve got to modify my behavior and then I can come to the cross of Jesus.  Once I clean myself up then I can come into His presence.  Yet nothing could be further from the truth.  If we wait for our behavior to be perfect we will never enter into true worship and true prayer.  Because again we are sinners saved by grace, and even though we have been declared righteous through the blood of Jesus we still struggle daily with sin.

If we keep our eyes on Jesus and enter into His presence through worship and prayer, and if we are continually reminded of His sacrifice and what He did for us on the cross, then we will find true joy in our lives.  Psalm 16:11 says, “In His presence there is fullness of joy”.  When we get into His presence (which we can only do through the blood of Jesus) we will find a joy that we have never known before.  It will be a joy in Jesus, not a happiness in our circumstances.  It will be real, lasting and full. And it will make us realize that any joy we find in worldliness and sin is radically inferior to the joy that we find in Jesus.  That motivates us and that truly transforms us.  It is all about His grace, and once we keep our eyes on that grace our behavior will be changed.

We will want to stay away from sin because “the pleasures in sin for a season” pale in comparison to the true joy that we have in Christ.  We will want to hold fast to the truth of the Gospel and learn more truth because we will want to know more about the one who died for us and the one that we love.  Bible reading will become a passion not because we feel we need to do it to “measure up” but because the Bible is all about Jesus and it helps us to know Him more.  Finally we will not walk around hopeless but we will live lives filled with hope.  After all Romans 8:28 says “He is working all things together for good for those who love the Lord.”  In other words even in the chaos of this life God is working to make good happen, that gives us reason to hope.  We see that again beautifully displayed at the cross as God took the worst event that ever happened, the Son of God being crucified for our sins, and made something unbelievably good come out of it, our salvation.  We must keep our eyes on Him for when we do we really will be transformed.  Transformed by His grace and for His glory.

Colossians #2, Part 1 – Transforming Power (Colossians 1:3-8)

Colossians 1:5 – “Of this you have heard before in the word of truth, the Gospel.”

 

C.S. Lewis once said, “if the Gospel is false it is of no importance at all, if however it is true it is of the greatest importance.”  Paul would certainly agree with that statement and he would add since the Gospel is true, it is of the greatest importance, and it truly transforms you.  It transforms you into a person who is faithful to God in the midst of a faithless culture.  The Gospel gives you a reason and a calling to stay away from sin, the Gospel causes you to hunger for the truth of God’s word, and the Gospel gives you hope in the midst of hopelessness.

The Gospel is of course most wondrously displayed through the cross of Calvary, a place where God’s grace and justice meet.  Grace because He chose to give us a way to be delivered from the wrath that was to come and justice because God punished our sins when Jesus was on the cross.  It is the Gospel then that gives us “grace and peace from God the Father”, as Paul says  in Colossians 1:2 and it is that grace and that peace that truly leads us into transformation.

Through the grace and peace of God we are radically transformed.  When Paul writes to the church at Colossae he tells them that he thanks God for them.  Why? Because they are transformed through the Gospel and are living lives that don’t come naturally to them. 

What kind of life comes naturally to us? A life of sin because we are born sinners.  Naturally we trust in ourselves and look our only for ourselves.  Naturally we are selfish people who love only those who love us.  Naturally we are people who live with fear and anxiety because we are worried about ourselves.  That is how people naturally are, and it certainly was how the Colossian believers naturally were.

Yet when Paul writes to them he says I am thankful for you.  When I pray for you I am thankful for you, thankful that you have been transformed by the grace of God.  Thankful that you have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Thankful for the “faith that you have in Jesus” (v.4).  Thankful for the “love you have for all the saints (v. 4)”.  Thankful for the “hope that you have laid up in heaven.”  What Paul is saying is I’m thankful for you and the dramatic transformation that has taken place in your lives.  You are no longer what you once were through the grace of God. 

John Newton the writer of “Amazing Grace” says, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”  In other words I am thankful that the grace of God, His marvelous matchless grace has transformed me.

That same grace had changed the believers in Colossae as well.  They were at one time people who only trusted in themselves, now they trusted in Jesus Christ and in His blood.  At one time they were people who looked out only for themselves, as our society says today “they looked out for number 1”, now they loved others and put them first.  Not only that but now instead of living in hopelessness and having the “chicken little” mentality, they were filled up with hope, because of who God is, what God is doing, and the promises of God.  It was a radical transformation.  A transformation made possible through the grace of God in the “word of truth, the Gospel (v. 5)”.

They are now people of faith.  People who have a real, strong, living, vibrant, active, growing faith.  A faith that motivates you to love other people.  A faith that springs up and grows out of the hope that you have.  What was the hope that the people at Colossae had? That their sins were forgiven (past), that Jesus was with them (present), and that one day they would have a place in heaven and their faith would be made sight (future).  The Gospel is so big, so rich that it touches and transforms every area of our lives, including our past, our present and our future.