“I greet the Christians and stalwart followers of Christ who live in Colosse. May everything good from God our Father be yours!” (Colossians 1:2 MSG)
The Book of Colossians, written by Paul, is a letter to Champions. I love how The Message translated his opening line — “I greet the Christians and stalwart followers of Christ who live in Colosse.” Webster’s defines stalwart as “being marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind, or spirit.”
The men and women of Colosse were known by that indomitable faith that overcomes the world, which comes from following Jesus — especially in the face of persecution. Resilient and reliable — able to stay the course no matter what occurs. Perhaps this humorous anecdote will serve as a good illustration.
There was this guy serving as a crew member on a ship under the command of a renowned Captain on the high seas. He was up in the crow’s nest during a storm, looking for land. A huge gust of wind suddenly blew him out of the nest and he tumbled down to the deck, hitting it so hard he crashed through and ended up in in the Captain’s quarters.
“Sailor, are you all right!?” the Captain asked. Standing to attention and saluting, the sailor answered, “Aye, Captain; I’ve been through hardships before!”
But there is more to this story.
The Captain was so impressed that he promoted the sailor to First Mate, a great honor indeed. One day he rushed into the Captain’s quarters exclaiming, “Captain, there are pirates on the starboard side!” The Captain, unruffled, calmly said, “Sound the alarm; all hands on deck, man the battle stations; and bring me my red shirt.” The first mate complied. They fought off the pirates and won a great victory.
About a week later, the first mate once again burst into the Captain’s quarters, “Captain, there are pirates on the port side!” Again the Captain, unruffled, calmly said, “Sound the alarm; all hands on deck, man the battle stations; and bring me my red shirt.” They fought the pirates and won another resounding victory.
After a few weeks of calm seas, and no further attacks, the first mate confided in the Captain. “Sir, I have served on many ships under other Captains, but I’ve never seen anyone like you. One thing puzzles me: it’s the red shirt. Why do you wear it in battle?”
The Captain replied, “It’s all about poise. I wear the red shirt in battle so that if I am wounded, my crew will not see me bleeding and then lose heart, giving up the fight.” The first mate was now more impressed than ever before as he saw both the wisdom and the poise of his Captain, as well as his thoughtfulness for his crew.
A few weeks later, the first mate rushed into the Captain’s quarters — more agitated than ever before — “Captain! Captain!” He exclaimed breathlessly, “We are surrounded by an entire armada of pirates on all sides!!”
“Very well,” the Captain calmly answered. “Sound the alarm; all hands on deck, man the battle stations; and bring me my brown pants!”
You might say this Captain was stalwart. Unflappable in any conflict, and prepared to do whatever necessary to carry on in victory. Perhaps we would do well to follow his example — albeit without the red shirt and brown pants! They won’t be necessary in our battles, for Christ has already won the victory…..and given it unto us.
The Lord Says
“Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by Me,” the Lord tells us in Isaiah. “Whosoever shall gather together against you shall fall for your sake. “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that rises against you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, says the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:15,17).
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Did you know that is who you are from God’s perspective? Do you see yourself today only thru your own eyes, or does your faith look upward so that you can see yourself through God’s eyes? Whether you feel it or not, you are a stalwart follower of Christ — for those are the only kind He has.
Whatever hardship you are facing, you can handle it, you can endure it…..you can overcome it. Whatever giant you are battling, you can fell him with one stone from God’s word — one promise spoken by God. Whatever sorrow, grief, pain, and heartbreak you are experiencing right now – Jesus is with you, and will see you through it.
The Good News Bible says, “Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps His promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm. At the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.” (I Corinthians 10:13, GNB) If God can deliver the Hebrew children from the fiery furnace, and Daniel from the lion’s den; if He can lift Jeremiah out of the dungeon, and bring Jonah out of the belly of the whale; if He can raise Jesus from the dead — then He can deliver you.
Speaking from the Heart
I know this is bold and straight forward, but consider this. As I write this I am a man whom the doctor has told, “You only have six months left to live.” Well, maybe; maybe not. for you see — that’s only what the doctor says. But, there is another Voice that has promised me a banquet table in the presence of mine enemies – after I pass THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death.
And the banquet table set by the Lord will provide me the blessing and anointing needed to finish my course with joy; rising from the meal, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And THEN I will dwell in the House of The Lord forever.
This is what God has spoken to me. So while I am experiencing bouts of great pain caused by the damage done to my nerves when shingles ravaged my body; and while I labor under the loss of energy and discomforting bloating that comes with congestive heart failure; and even though I cry out to God sometimes in near despair, wondering if all is lost – nevertheless, we will see which word prevails.
I’m no hero, but I choose to stand with Paul, who said, “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:25). I do this because “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).
I pray that I may to the end be as Abraham of old, “fully persuaded that, what God had promised, He was able also to perform” (Romans 4:21). For, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Thus do I stand. And yes, for the record, I am wearing brown pants.
My prayer for you is that the Lord would speak a promise to your heart, and then give you the courage that comes from faith, and that you may indeed stand true and firm as a stalwart follower of Christ through whatever ordeal you may be facing in this hour.
We are more than conquerors in Christ because, as Paul put it, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). I like the way the Contemporary English version says it, “Christ gives me the strength to face anything.” May The Lord bless you with this strength today!
Questions for Discussion Group
Here is a way you can share this truth with others. Print out the PDF version of this Devotional — click HERE; then, after you have printed the document, make copies and distribute among a group of friends. Meet together, read the devotional, and then use the following questions to help lead a discussion time.
- Tell of a time when you faced something you thought was absolutely more than you could handle.
- Describe how God helped you through a really difficult situation.
- What promise from God’s Word keeps you going no matter what?
- Overall, what is the one thing you can take from this Lesson that will help you the most right now?
- Who do you know that could use this truth in their lives right now?
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