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Qualified For Heaven

Colossians 1:10-12
… so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. (NIVUK)

Qualifications are important.  Usually, they mean that you have studied well, trained hard and are competent to do the job.  Many people think that in the same way we qualify ourselves for heaven by learning from the Bible, working hard at following the example of Jesus and thus proving our suitability for God's presence.  All those things are good and should be a part of our Christian discipleship, but none of them qualify us for heaven.  Although Paul does not minimise the importance of pleasing the Lord (Ephesians 5:10), even our best efforts cannot qualify us for heaven (Isaiah 64:6): because that is a gift of God's grace (Ephesians 2:8-9, Colossians 1:13-14).
However, Paul was concerned for the Colossian church to become mature in seven ways, and so he prayed for them and persisted in prayer (Colossians 1:9) so that they might keep running as in a marathon and reach the goal of being with Jesus (Philippians 3:12-15).  Firstly, to live with Christ-like integrity; secondly, to be spiritually productive; thirdly, to understand God better; fourthly, to become strong through His power; fifthly, to resist the temptation to give up, persisting through opposition; sixthly, develop the habit of joyful thanksgiving to God; and seventhly, to honour the Father whose grace alone has qualified them to take their place with all the people of God.
Although they are described in a list, do take time to attend to one at a time.  They all need to be integrated into our lives and practised together – not as a way of earning salvation but as practical thanksgiving for being saved – allowing God to work out His purposes in us (Philippians 2:13).  Such a lifestyle demonstrates that we honour the qualifying grace of God, understanding the wisdom of God (the way to live well in God's kingdom).  Are you spiritually mature?  You can use this list to check how well you are growing as a Christian, and identify those areas which need attention.  

Often, we only ask others to pray for us when we have a problem.  But Paul prayed for the Colossian church because he did not want them to fall into problems, succumb to temptation or be dragged away from the narrow path of following Jesus.  When did you last ask a friend to pray for you to stay close to Jesus, or to have a joyful and thankful heart?  Pray about these things yourself; ask God to give you a desire to know His will in that area, and to do it.  It will be a cooperative process: God will let you know what He wants, and He will help you to want it too.  Then He will help you to do it in a way that pleases Him.  True disciples will accept God's wisdom, and then trust Him to help them as they put it into practice.  So, take the challenge today, identify the 'discipleship gaps' and take action ... it often helps to share it with another believer who can pray for you and monitor your progress.

Gracious God, my loving heavenly Father. Thank You for Your grace which has qualified me to be a part of Your Kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ. Thank You for Your work in me, helping me to desire Your wisdom and to do it. Forgive me when I stubbornly insist on my own way and fail to please You; forgive me when I do not even care that my stunted growth makes You sad and decreases my usefulness in Your kingdom. Please help me to make a realistic assessment of my spiritual maturity, and long to grow more like Christ. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams