Nov 23, 2020
Yesterday we read how Nehemiah stood up for all the common people in their financial difficulty. The nobles were rich, but everyone else was suffering— some even having no option but to sell their own children into slavery. Amazingly, he succeeded in convincing the nobles to forgive debts, and forced them take a solemn oath about that. The wall was finished in just 52 days, but Nehemiah was getting more and more threats from Sanballat and his cronies.
We heard the challenge and mocking of the Assyrian chief of staff— who brought the Assyrian King’s message to Jerusalem with a huge show of force. The challenge was shouted out in Hebrew for all the people to hear. (I always wonder how it was that the Assyrian commander was fluent in Hebrew!) What a thing to happen to a king that 2Kings 18 praises with these words:
2Kings 18:5 [NLT] Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time.
We finished the wonderful book of Philippians yesterday. I count three great promises in that 4th chapter. But note: This time I feel that all of them are really conditional promises— even the last one. If we are going to have God’s peace guarding our hearts and minds, and if we want God to supply our needs, then we must give attention to how Paul told the Philippians to live and how they were giving to support Paul’s mission.
I encourage everyone to spend more time looking at the treasures of Philippians, and the same goes for the book we start today— Colossians.
Colossians was written around the same time as Philippians, and Philemon was a member of this church. This letter has another wonderful poetic portion in chapter one exalting Christ. In most of my presentations in Indonesian seminaries, I introduce our translation by reading Colossians 2. The things Indonesians don’t understand in their Bibles— and the things I hope you will understand in the GNT or NLT, are spiritual realities. These are things that are true of us spiritually which cannot be seen with physical eyes. If you understand spiritual realities, you get the opportunity to believe them. If you believe them, meditate on them. If you meditate on them, you will find them working powerfully in your life to transform you and release you from sinful desires.
GNT Translation notes:
Col. 1:4 For we have heard of your [belief//faith] in Christ Jesus and of your love for all God's people.
5 When the true message, the Good News, first came to you, you heard about the hope it offers. So your [belief//faith] and love are based on what you hope for, which is kept safe for you in heaven.