Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
(Colossians 1:1-2 ESV)
Over at A Holy Experience, Ann Voskamp is encouraging folks to join in memorising the book of Colossians this year in bite-sized, two-verses-per-week portions. Given that my own attempt at memorizing Bible verses fizzled around March last year I am keen to try this project and make it public so the shame of giving up will spur me on to persevere. I have downloaded Ann’s nicely formatted PDFs but am too stingy to use a new Moleskine notebook to paste the pages into and also prefer to use another translation so am simply handwriting the verses for the week in my usual planner diary. I actually find that handwriting Bible verses does help me to take them in and using the same Bible translation for memorising as the one I read every day (well, most days) also helps it to stick.
So, being on the theme of beginning the year and making changes (see my post about Essentials), it is relevant to share some thoughts about the very first verse of Colossians which were seeded in my mind by a recent post on another excellent blog, Crave Something More written by Chris Tomlinson. In the particular post which stuck in my mind Chris ponders the astonishing change in Saul (Paul) from the guy who didn’t know who Jesus was when He knocked him off his horse (Acts 9:5) to the man who boldly stated that: “for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). This is the same Paul who says to the Colossians that he is ‘an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God‘. Saul had absolutely no intention of becoming an apostle of Jesus Christ. God had other plans for him.
This was certainly my own experience also. No dramatic lights and voices from heaven, but definitely an arresting realization that all my ideas about what was important in life were wrong and that not only is God real, but Jesus is real and without Him I am doomed. None of us are born into the Kingdom of God by our own will but only by the gracious will of God. As John so wonderfully expresses it:
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
(John 1:12-13 ESV)