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Shadow vs. Substance

Daily Reading: Colossians 2


Scripture Focus: These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2.17)

Devotional Thought: Do you love your church? Do you love the place where you gather to worship? Do you love your friends who you meet with there? How about the place where you sit? The songs that you sing? The sermons that your pastor preaches? I hope you answered "yes" to all those questions.

It is good to have those people, locations and ceremonies through which you can comfortably draw near to God, but we must remember, “These are but a shadow of things to come.”

The Apostle Paul, in Colossians 2, had to help some folks see the difference between substance and style, between reverence and ritual, between essence in worship and preference in worship. There was a group of believers in that church who were tempted to replace genuine heartfelt worship of Christ with things from their past – either Jewish ritualism or stoic asceticism. Paul reminded them, “The substance belongs to Christ!” We occasionally need to be reminded that this world and all its forms – including our form of worship – are passing away. They are but shadows. In the end, what will matter is that we have kept Christ first in our lives. He is the substance.

Perhaps your recent experience is quite the opposite. Maybe you are feeling unsettled by recent changes in your worship experience. You don’t recognize the songs; someone else is sitting in your seat; someone you love is no longer there; there is a new preacher who doesn’t know what you’ve been through. In that situation, take heart! The substance has not changed. It is Jesus!

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for those rituals and ceremonies that help me worship you. Thank you for the places, the times and the people who are a part of that experience. I cherish them as do you. But help me to remember that they are but a shadow. You are the substance. Amen.


Psalm of the Day: 1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” 3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. 4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. 5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. 6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. (Psalm 16.1-6)



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