Saturday, December 08, 2012

Allowing Peace

"Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body; and be thankful." Colossians 3:14-15 NHEB
We have dealt in a previous post on the "love" part. Now let's look at the "peace" piece. The Greek word used here is "peace" and it means - peace. The Strong's definition says: "peace, peace of mind; invocation of peace a common Jewish farewell, in the Hebraistic sense of the health (welfare) of an individual." I like that because it expands it in our understanding to a total sense of well-being. 

We all know the "feeling" or "sense" of something not being quite right. The feeling is not fear, but a bit of apprehension. This is the Spirit's way of warning us that either something is not as it seems, or something is needing to be looked at again. This type of "alerting" is our Lord's ever present guarding us as we live. 

On the opposite end of the "sense," is knowing deep within that all is well. That type of peace is to be what we anticipate when all is as it should be. Sometimes, we have this sense when everything around is upside down and inside out. Then it really doesn't make sense to be at peace, but we are. This is a precious wrapping in His love. 

This verse (15) tells us to let this peace to be the determiner of how we move. It is up to us to allow this to be active. It is not something forced nor is it automatic. It is allowed. The word "rule" here is defined as: (lit: to act as arbiter in the games), I rule, arbitrate. We would call it the umpire in a game - the one who calls the shots. That is what the Holy Spirit is after. He wants to call the shots, so to speak. He wants to determine what is done and how. Normally, He is pleased with us and just flows in blessing with us. But there are times, when He speaks loudly through a sense of unrest. Then we need to be very sensitive to His touch. 

Recently I was having some doubts about a decision I had made. I had no reason to have doubts, for it seemed the right thing to do and the right way to go. But it just would not leave, so I waited, and then when that reserve did not leave, I reversed the decision. So I did not commit to do what did not bring peace in me. In a few days, that decision was confirmed as being correct, for it would have been a mess of confusion had I proceeded. I am learning. 

The last part of this verse says we are called "into" (literal) this peace for that is what our Lord is - this marvelous peace and well-being. The literal is that we are to do this in all graciousness. The word is usually translated "thankfulness" and that is not wrong, but the word's root is "grace." I think they are much the same thing. 

So as we are learning - we rejoice together for such a Lord who walks every moment with us, giving us a gracious and peaceful way to express His life in us and our life in Him. Marvelous! 

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Love of All Loves

"Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection." Colossians 3:14 NHEB
This verse is so simple and often is just read as an "amen" type of statement to what has preceded it. But when we read verses 12-14, it is the end of the "put on" encouragements. It is the final piece of our "image" garments. The NIV says, "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

It is the cloak or covering that empowers all the other things listed previously; compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another. So the sense is that without love as the covering the other aspects are not effective. You see, it is love the human craves and it is love that Jesus brings. Everything other need is a part of that basic human need. 

So we are encouraged to wrap ourselves in His love and then all the other aspects of His image in us will flow to others effectively. Human compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, perseverance - is like Mom's apple pie. It may comfort us initially, but is really not healthy for us and will not give us what is needed to live in a healthy way. So we as believers, are always challenged to learn to exchange our dependence upon the love of humans and begin to receive the love of Jesus through humans. 

That may seen like a simple difference of semantics, but I assure you it is not. When we live dependent upon another person's own love for us, it will end up very empty in the long run. We become disappointed and crushed. When we spend our time giving and receiving His love, the humans we are loving and are being loved by become loved more deeply in the long run - for it is His love that will hold, even within my relationships. 

I am reminded of another scripture: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love." Gal. 5:6 NKJV None of the "stuff" we do or do not do means anything, but what does mean something is faith, our trust in our Lord Jesus, working through love. 

This is the journey of our life - receiving this love of all loves and allowing the Lord to love others with His nature through us. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gifted, Powered, Released!

"Put on therefore, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as the Lord forgave you, so you also do." Colossians 3:12-13 NHEB
In our last post, we considered these verses, through the compassion part. It might be wise to re-read that post to remember what was written. Now I want us to look at the person we have become in Jesus. We will learn to live in the attitude of heart described here, but in the meantime in the process of our learning, the real work is already accomplished in us in Christ. So we are just called here to become on the outside, what He has already accomplished in our new image on the inside. 

So to be a person of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility and perseverance is to be a person like Christ. But just what is that like - really. Well, it is not a worm. Let's understand that right off the bat. The ideas of feeling sympathy and empathy for others, being "lowly," kind, etc... is not being a door mat for others to use and abuse. It is the exact opposite of that. To be kind and lowly just means we do whatever in Jesus our hands find to do. No one is above anyone else. We all are servants, regardless of our "position," or title. Those things are important only along authority lines, when it comes to doing what needs to be done - we are all to participate. No one is to high to bend, no one is to low to include - all are to be servants of one another.

The difference between a door-mat and a servant is huge. A door-mat simply lays there and takes the dirt other put on it and then, in human terms, complains about it. The servant, however, bends down with a basin of water, removes the dirt and then pours the dirt out with the water. Nothing sticks and it is total joy. I think this is awesome. We are free to serve one another in Jesus with the Spirit. Then release it all. He has thought of everything.

As to forgiveness, that is our total nature in Jesus. We can become in our hearts the ones who instantly say when wronged,"Father, forgive them. They do not understand." Again, we learn to be people who do not let anything "stick." choosing not to forgive is just not an option. It interferes with everything the new person in us desires and needs to flow in the life we have been given. It is nice when someone knows they need to ask forgiveness, but our forgiveness given to them, is really not for them. It is for us to stay free (again, allowing nothing to "stick" that will interfere with the life of Spirit fullness).

So since we are like that, we can begin to feel and move in those directions. Believing that new person is already us is the first and most important part of the process. Living in these matters becomes our faith's participation in His already accomplished work. Gifted, empowered, released! WOW - this is marvelous.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Moving Into Life

"Put on therefore, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as the Lord forgave you, so you also do." Colossians 3:12-13 NHEB
Now that we have received the fullness and the goodness of the Lord Jesus; now that we have begun to understand that our old ways of behavior and behavior modification are not the way of the Spirit; now we can turn our hearts to the positive side of our lives. We can now begin to receive and emphasize in our lives the ways of behavior the Spirit desires to teach us in grace - from the inside out. 

So many of us (individuals as well as church systems) never get beyond the sin part. We keep calling everyone to repent all the time instead of teaching them what is in and available to them about how the new creation is to be imaged. We are called to emphasize, not the negative sin nature, but the overcoming person that has been birthed in Jesus. That is not to say our behavior in the natural will automatically cease to be. Not at all. But our body does what we tell it to do. The emphasis of our minds will determine where our sympathy lies. When we busy ourselves emphasizing our sinful humanity, then we stay stuck there. The scriptures turn our minds and have us follow what we are becoming - not what we have been. 

So now, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul, turns our hearts and minds into the nature of the image of the one being created in us - the image of God Himself through Christ. How does that person live? Because we are His chosen ones, holy and deeply beloved, we accept (put on) an interior of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and steadfastness. We allow faithfulness to the Lord's heart to be cultivated in us and we began to be taught in His heart the fullness of life. Our old ways were and are death. But this new creation in His image has life expressions that are life to us and life to all around us. 

The Lord, as He moved on our earth prior to His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, was many times moved regarding the plight of those around Him and the scripture often says, He was moved with compassion. Compassion is the ability to be deeply sensitive to human needs and a sincere desire to help. It is an innate ability to see deeply inside the needs and wounds and then to answer them with a divine move. Webster says it is  
"sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." This is grown within us - even the most hardened of individuals, as we chose to spend time with the Holy Spirit in presence, Word, prayer, everyday moments. It is developed as a part of our heritage. 

The Lord has put within those who have received Him, the ability to be Him in every circumstance and placement. 
1 John 4:16-17 "So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world." ESV 
So the instructions to us are to actively accept  ("put on") this heart of compassion and expect from our Lord the ability to flow in divine answers. Awesome!
 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Equally Important

"...and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator, where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all." Colossians 3:10-11 NHEB
When we accept our Lord Jesus and enter into His life through faith, we are accepted and placed in a relationship within the heart and family of Jesus that has no favoritism, partiality, prejudice, racial identity, other citizenship, economic status nor status within a social order.  The family (kingdom) is like this because that is the nature of our Creator. Our Father and Lord recognize no such differences in the people. 

We are so accustomed to our different categories of people and our placement within them, that we think He is like that too. Nothing could be further from His nature. In fact, in Deuteronomy 10:17 we are told, "For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe." He simply does not count our "status" in our world either a plus nor a minus. It just is not an element in the family. There is one "first-born" and we are all in Him and all have the same rights and privileges as a member of this family. 

So here as in other places as well, we are urged to be like our Father in these ways. The importance of this is often overlooked. We live in a variety of "societies," the neighborhood, the church, the work place, the school, etc.... But our empowering is to be Him in all these society structures and not to be a people of special groups leaving others on the outside. Such things, while maybe making us feel comfortable in our flesh, are a large hindrance to the love of Jesus. All must be received, welcomed and embraced equally. 

This does not mean everyone has the same authority, just that everyone has the same rank in the family. No one is more important that you and you are not more important that someone else. This is true of the God-head. All have the same rank, but all are not equal in authority. The Father gives to the Son, the Son to the Holy Spirit and then the Holy Spirit to us. Likewise when we pray we are urged to pray in the Spirit in the name of Jesus unto the Father. That is just stating the line of authority of all things. The four year old who has Jesus in his heart is as important in this Kingdom-Family as the Pastor over many churches, but he clearly does not have the same authority nor responsibility. So the rank is the same, but not the placement of authority. 

There are many such understandings hidden in this marvelous Word of our Lord's. But for now this is sufficient to encourage us to dig a bit deeper. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Exploding in Praise!

Today, in the USA, it is national Thanksgiving Day. I love this holiday for it gives us time to be thankful together. Many of us associate it with family and food, and that is certainly appropriate in our land of plenty, but there is a true Thanksgiving that rises out of my heart that far supersedes any material blessing. It is the possession of the love and care of our Heavenly Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If we choose, we possess His love and revelations of His goodness that take our breath away. So today, I am choosing to blog Psalm 145 from The Passion Translation. As we celebrate His goodness, may we be bathed in His splendor and majesty! Blessed Thanksgiving to all.
Psalm 145
"My heart explodes with praise to You!
Now and forever my heart bows in worship
To You, my King and my God!
Everyday I lift up my praise to Your name
With praises that will last throughout eternity!
Lord You are great, and worthy of the highest praise!
For there is no end to the discovery of 
Greatness surrounding You!
Generation after generation will declare more of Your greatness,
And discover more of Your glory!
Your magnificent splendor
And the miracles of Your majesty
Are my constant meditation!
Your awe-imspiring acts of power have everyone talking!
And I'm telling people everywhere about Your excellent greatness!
Our hearts bubble over as we celebrate the fame
Of Your marvelous beauty; bringing bliss to our hearts!
We shout with ecstatic joy over Your breakthrough for us!
You're so kind and tender-hearted to those who don't deserve it;
And so very patient with people who fail You!
Your love is like a flooding river and overflowing its banks with kindness.
God, everyone sees Your goodness,
For Your tender love is blended into everything You do!
And all Your godly lovers will be found bowing before You!
They will tell the world of the lavish splendor of Your kingdom
And preach of Your limitless power.
They will demonstrate for all to see Your miracles of might,
And reveal the glorious majesty of Your kingdom!
Lord, You reign over your never-ending kingdom,
Through all the ages of time and eternity!
You are faithful to fulfill every promise You've made.
You manifest Yourself as kindness in all You do!
Weak and feeble ones, You will sustain.
Those bent over with burdens of shame, You will lift up.
You have captured our attention, and the eyes of all look to You.
You give what they hunger for, at just the right time!
When You open Your generous hand, it's full of blessings,
Satisfying the longings of every living thing!
You are right in everything You do;
And Your love is wrapped into all Your works.
You draw near to those who call out to You,
Listening ever closely--
Especially when their hearts are true.
Every one of Your godly lovers receives
Even more than what they ask for!
For You hear what their hearts really long for
And You bring them Your saving strength!
God, You watch carefully over all Your lovers,
Like a bodyguard;
But You will distroy the ungodly.
I will praise You Lord!
Let everyone everywhere join me in praising
The beautiful Lord of Holiness
From now through eternity!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Imaged in Him

"Because of these, the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. You also once walked in those, when you lived in them; but now you also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and shameful speaking out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator, where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Sythian, bondservant freeman; but Christ is all, and in all." Colossians 3:6-11NHEB
The emphasis in this passage is not the sinful behavior, even though we all are intimately acquainted with each thing listed. The emphasis here is on our new position which does not include this type of behavior toward others. "...Seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator..." The key to our behavior is a true concept of our identity in Christ.

So often, we attempt to correct our behavior (and the behavior of others) with some form of behavior modification. This only works for a period of time. That period of time is useful if during it, much more than behavior modification is happening. The actions are never the real problem. The "being" is. We behave out of our internal person. We act lovingly or unlovingly to others because that's how we are inside. In this passage, the Holy Spirit is underlining for us that we have (past tense) purposely "put off" or turned away from, these types of behaviors, because we "have put on," literally we have purposely rejected and laid aside the motivations of these behaviors and have in Christ accepted the new person in us (done when we accepted Him into our beings). Now our life expression is motivated and controlled by a mind that is being renewed in the knowledge like the one who has Created us in Christ.

Now our personal and spiritual identity has changed; our DNA in our internal person is being made into the image of God Himself. In this family, all worldly differences in status or circumstance are gone. All is in Christ.

How do we allow our thinking to be renewed so our life expressions will be one of love and compassion toward others - who like us, struggle with the "old" way too much? Our answer is time with our Lord in and through the Word; accepting what He has said as our truth. When we begin to meditate on what He has clearly done for us and who He has clearly created us to be, then we become empowered to express our life in Him. Oh it is decisively our life expression - just in Him. So much to embrace. Lord, thank you. Your grace is really too good to be true, yet it is so deeply true, true, true. Thank you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

True Spiritual Worship

"Put to death, therefore, whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." Colossians 3:5 NHEB
Notice that covetousness is defined as idolatry. Idolatry is when we worship something or someone who is not God. Worship is a heart of dependence upon. We so often identify worship with a feeling or a style, that we fail to understand that worship is our life.
Romans 12:1 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." ESV
I realize the word "worship" in the Romans passage may also be translated "rational service." But either way we see that true worship is not a moment or two in a service, but a life-style of dependence upon the Savior. When we begin to "want" more than what has been provided, either through our work, or through gifts, then we can easily slip into a mind-set that is actually involved in idolatry in our heart desires and dependences.  Many times we do not understand this tendency and slip into ineffectiveness in our lives because the emphasis of our lives has shifted from the person of the Lord Jesus Christ into something we either want Him to do for us, or we want something from others. It is a subtle shift, but a shift nonetheless. It wrecks havoc on our dependence in faith and Spirit.

This entire passage is to alert us to what has been done for us and to urge us to apply the corresponding complimentary action for full reception of the gift of life in Christ. Remember when Paul told the Philippians in 4:11 "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." His contentment came out of a heart fully satisfied in His relationship with the Lord. He understood Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing."

When we are dependent upon the Lord, in His faithfulness, He never fails. So we need not have a want  about anything. This stretches us all a bit more than we would prefer. So just think about it, pray with it and begin to embrace the truth of the faithful care of our our Beloved Lord.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Embracing The Power of Christ

"Put to death, therefore, whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience." Colossians 3:5-6 NHEB
Because we have died in Christ, because we have been raised in Christ, because we are seated with Christ at the right hand of God we are empowered and enabled to live a different kind of life expression. Our righteousness is not earned by us, but is inputed into us through our unity with Christ, therefore, a different life-expression is expected. We have been placed into the domain of grace.

So often, our concept of grace is one of promiscuity in our behavior. We continue to think and behave like the world around us. However, the word is clear in this matter.
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age." Titus 2:11-12 ESV
Our gifting in Christ is the power of the overcomer and the victor. Therefore, we are empowered to live an expression of the Christ-life that is much different than the world around us. It is all by faith. By faith, we grab hold of the truth of our victory in Christ and let go of everything that interferes with the expression of Christ through us: all sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire and covetousness. We will work the the remaining section in the next post.

It is enough today to realize that grace teaches or trains us to live an expression that may seem foreign to our flesh, but it is really in harmony with the new creation in His Spirit. So as we ponder our power in Him, we actively participate in "putting to death" or "walking away from" or "turning a deaf ear to,"or whatever phrase would best suit it to you. The end result is that we embrace the power of Christ as the active ingredient in our life-expression.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dead, Raised, Hidden

"1If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, your life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory."Colossians 3:1-4 NHEB
In our last post, we worked with looking at our lives and events through the position of being seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Let's look primarily at verse 3-4 this time. "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory." Paul here is recalling for them a truth that was a part of his revelation. In 2 Corinthians 5:14 - 17 reads: 
"For the love of Christ constrains us; because we judge this, that one died for all, therefore all died.He died for all, that those who live should not longer live to themselves, but to him who for their sakes died and rose again. Therefore we know no one after the flesh from now own. Even though we have know Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more. Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, new things have come."
The New Covenant teaches that we died when Christ died. We were raised with Him because we died with Him. The cross then becomes not only substitutionary but also participatory. We have a very vested interest in this Kingdom of God. We are considered already resurrected even though we still live in this body of flesh. Our identity has been totally changed into a resurrected being filled with the Spirit of God - even in flesh. 

This passage in Colossians works from that understanding and tells us we have been hidden with Christ in God. Our lives have been taken and hidden. We do not live for ourselves, but for Him. Every purpose, every energy, every --- every is included. This does not eliminate us, but it is to "hide" us in Him. So He becomes seen through our being. Then verse 4 states: "When Christ, your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory." This clearly lets us know that this is not our time to make sure everyone knows who I am in my flesh. When Christ appears, then I will be revealed in Him. Now He is revealed in me, then I will be revealed in Him. It is an exchange of life that happens in covenant relationship. 

These matters are huge and important for us to receive in concept and thinking. However, do not stress at totally "getting it." For while still in flesh, there is much in Scripture that will remain "seen through a glass darkly," but that should not deter us from looking, then beholding and receiving it not only as truth, but as truth that has the ability to change and renew our minds. Such is the wonder of our Lord and His word. He is awesome!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Much to See


"1If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, your life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory."Colossians 3:1-4 NHEB
In Ephesians 2:6 we are told that we were raised with Christ and are seated with Him in the Heavenlies.  So the Holy Spirit (writing through Paul) recalls that truth as He continues to instruct us about living in Christ. "If then,..." is rather rhetorical and could read "Since then,...". Since we have been raised together with Christ then we are instructed to seek, search out, have our life emphasis as, hold our focus on, etc.... things that are above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God.

Before we go further, I find these truths to be almost more than my heart and mind can grasp. Oh I understand the words, but to begin to live from the Throne is a different matter. We are so earth bound in our approach to God, and normally "covenantally confused." (That is a term used by Kevin Connor of Australia in trying to help us see we are not under law but enveloped in grace. If you wish to know more about him, just google his name. He has written many books and many are available in the USA). We are New Covenant Believers caught in an Old Covenant understanding of winning the favor of God through our behavior. So much of what we teach and think about is Old, not New at all. When we begin to receive the truth in these few verses, it will revolutionize our way of thinking and our lives.

Then He addresses the mind. "Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth." Well, the statement could not be clearer, but the doing is something we do not even contemplate much. Most of our prayers (if not all) are about here, on the earth. We are afraid of becoming so heavenly minded that we are of no use here, which by the way, is impossible. The only way we are really helpful here is with the heavenly mind-set being advocated in this passage.

Think about it, what can we see from the Throne? Now add to that the fact that we are His body, what can "we" see and know from the Throne's point of view? How we view everything changes when our point of view changes. Let's work with Him through out the day and let Him begin to show us things He desires us to see and know. Once we begin to see, then we discover the Scriptures tell us much about what is seen, but we do not know that until we begin to hear and obey in His strength. He has much to show us. Awesome!

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Body is Christ's

16Let no man therefore judge you in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day, 17which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s." Colossians 2:16-17 NHEB
Before we go further in this marvelous passage of freedom, let's look at the last verse printed here. "...which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ's." The rules governing the Old Testament people regarding their food and their drink, what day they kept or not, were what the Spirit calls here, "shadows." We all know what a shadow is. It is the mere reflection of the real. It changes when the real moves. It will lengthen, or shorten, or disappear all together when the reality of it moves.

Then we are told "...but the body is Christ's." This means the body of Christ in all her aspects; the corporate body of Christ, as well as the individual that belongs to Christ. My body is His and our body is His. So what we eat or drink has no spiritual value in light of the truth of Him. He is the reality of our lives. The passage continues,
"18Let no one rob you of your prize by a voluntary humility and worshipping of the angels, dwelling in the things which he has seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19and not holding firmly to the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and ligaments, grows with God’s growth. 20If you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances, 21“Do not handle, nor taste, nor touch” 22(all of which perish with use), according to the precepts and doctrines of men? 23Which things indeed appear like wisdom in self-imposed worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh."
There are so many "religious" practices to tell us how to get close or closer to the Lord and how to be more spiritual in our lives. These verses tell us they are but shadows. How can one get closer to the Lord? If it is true (and it is) that Christ lives in me, then how, in heaven's name can I get any closer? He has erased every definition of distance by choosing to live in us. How can what we eat, drink, observe, engage in make us closer.

You see, He has literally done all the work. This passage tells us all those "how-to's" in Him are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. They are intended to help us walk in a holy way. In reality grace, the very love and favor of our Lord, teaches us to live holy lives. Our efforts to make our flesh be or do, really only solidify that action in our minds. I refer you to Titus 2: 11-12, and then this one in Galatians 5:16, "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."

Do our actions matter?  Oh yes very much so! But the governing of those actions is to be accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the gift of Christ in us the hope (or expectation) of glory, not from our own efforts to make us do the work of God. Re-read the entire passage, see the reality that He wants to empower and enable. It is His intimate work in us. He uses the Word, His Spirit, Presence, Worship, Fellowship and a hunger in us for more of Him released in and through us. But it is not our work. It is His very personal work in us with us. So we see the point of all is Him. The body is Christ's.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Let No One Judge You


16Let no man therefore judge you in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day, 17which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s." Colossians 2:16-17 NHEB
 In light of the great victory that our Lord Jesus Christ has accomplished on our behalf, in light of all that has been gifted to us in grace, then the admonition here is to let that become freedom for us. The encouragement is to not allow anyone to judge us as to our "religious practices."

There are those who would condemn others as not being pleasing to our Lord based on what they eat or do not eat; based on what they drink or do not drink, and based on when they worship, or what days they hold as special days (such were the "feast days" mentioned). Such things are only shadows. The reality is that the entire body belongs to Jesus Christ, with all her celebrations or lack thereof.

We please our God because of and in Christ and for no other reason. As we (in the words of Ephesians, "Learn what pleases the Lord" - Eph. 5:10 NIV) we interact with Him in ways that will cause great joy to His heart as well as to our own. But never are we to take our righteousness from our own works, regardless of what those works are.

This means that there is not "one" understanding of the Word that makes us right, nor one set of actions that makes us pleasing. That type of thinking and feeling runs contrary to our Lord's revelation in the Scripture. Our right standing with the Lord must remain an imparted placement, based in our acceptance of the work of our Lord on our behalf. I am so grateful!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

He Conquered

"You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us; and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly triumphing over them in it." Colossians 2:13-15 NHEB
Precious Blog Friends, it has been a very busy month and many interference's have kept me much more occupied than I would have preferred. So please forgive this "almost month long" absence and let's get back to our study. Thank you for continuing to read.

The second part of this passage is very important for us to understand. The work Jesus Christ finished on the cross, through His shed blood in death literally stripped the opposing principalities and powers, making a show of them and openly conquering and triumphing over them through His finished work.

This does not make light of the enemies' opposition of us (to us etc...) and our very lives. What it does is encourage us to trust the Lord more and more as we give Him praise and conquer in His strength through our willing obedience. As we set our hearts to obey, then we enter the conquer, triumphing strength. One who choses to submit to the swirl, plays into the enemies hand and often does not sense the power of God available. The words of this scripture are clear. Our enemy is a defeated foe. However, he does not want you to really know that deep within your being and hence he leads mind games to entice us to fear and weakness.

Our minds are the battlefield and often our flesh cooperates with such mind games. The enemy does not read our minds, but he can feed us data in that arena that are lies, lies, lies. Hence, when in our own weakness we submit and take hold of one or more of those lies, we then become prey to his schemes.

This passage lets us know the depth of the completed victory over our enemy. It is the language of a Conquering King who takes the conquered king, strips him naked and ties him to his own chariot. The Conqueror then takes the crown and robes that were stripped off the other king, puts them on, and drags the conquered king through the streets of his own city. Now it is all conquered. This was the practice of the Roman conquerors during the time Paul wrote this passage. The people reading would have understood it completely. It is the picture of complete subjugation.

So as we live in the bounty of our Lord's grace, let's remember that we serve a victorious King and the enemy is completely conquered. We will need to remind the enemy of that as well. Our obedience is key. So the Word and our time with our Lord Jesus must take a high priority in our time values in order to remain in the safety net of His love and grace. I can hear Jesus Himself say, "Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation."

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Co-Participation

"You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us; and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly triumphing over them in it." Colossians 2:13-15 NHEB
Please notice the past tense verbs in this passage. The entire quote is describing the success of our Lord Jesus Christ in His sacrifice for us. It is past tense. What was accomplished there simply waits for us to receive and embrace. We were dead through our sin and the uncircumcision of our flesh. Remember in 2:11 we were told "...in whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in putting off of the body of flesh, in the circumcision of Christ;...." So we have this co-participation in Him. What He did, we did; what He suffered, we suffered; when He died, we died (2 Corinthians 5:14); when He was raised, we were raised; when He was seated; we were seated. This relational concept is imperative to receive and move within in order to really begin to live fully in the New Covenant provision of relationship.

He has removed the entire definition of distance from us by His redemption and forgiveness and He now lives within us. No longer are we trying to get into His presence, instead He has become in our presence. Where we are, He is. Where He is, we are. Such things are too wonderful to even begin to comprehend. That is why they must and can only be received by faith. Then as they are embraced and we gradually allow our thinking to be transformed by them - then we begin to live as sons and daughters of the Most High God, will full participation in the Kingdom. It is His work. We simply embrace, become and express what He is in us.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Whatever He Did!

"For in him all the fullness of God's nature dwells bodily, and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power; in whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead." Colossians 2:9-12 NHEB
In Him - all is In Him! Whatever our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished is credited (reckoned, counted) to our account. Whatever He did, we did. Because we were, by call and knowledge of God, created in Him - whatever He has done, we have done. 

We see this clearly in Ephesians 2. There we find that He is guiltless, so we are guiltless. He was raised, so we were raised. He is seated at the right hand of God in heaven, so we are seated there in Him. 

The revelation of the Christians placement (not just position but reality of existence) is in Christ and all that He is has been poured into each and every person that receives. Now it is obvious that our flesh body is on a journey to embrace this holiness - this uniqueness. However, it is ours nonetheless. 

In our studies, we often revert to a "before Christ" placement in trying to journey and become all He is in our world. Much of our teachings are based, not on the accomplishments and gifting of our Lord, but instead on our "before Christ" position. We keep trying to get closer and to be in His presence. Our worship services and our study in and through our teachings, most of the time go this direction. In reality, my Bible says He lives in me (I am the Temple of the Holy Spirit), so it is impossible to b "get closer." However, we can become more aware of this placement and "feel" closer. It is impossible to leave His presence. (I am not talking here about the tangible presence often felt, and usually sought, in our corporate gatherings). He said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." His word is true, though all my thoughts and feelings may say the opposite. He is always present to me, and I live in that presence. So you see, we do have some re-thinking to do along these lines.  

The revelation of the believer's true placement is vastly different. I personally am on a journey with this, and am discovering much. We are much more than we have ever dreamed and the Lord's grace in us and over us is much more than we have ever dreamed. Our journey is primarily learning what we have and who we are - from God's point of view, and then our behavior will conform to that thinking. 

Just a bit of a side note: clear evidence of not receiving these truths will lead us into a position of an arrogant spouting of grace while living in and out of hell. Titus 2:11-12 makes it very clear, "For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age." NIV So grace is our teacher in holiness. It really does work. Now to wrap our mind around it embrace it, receive and rest with it. It is truly a high calling. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Inclusive Circumcision

"For in him all the fullness of God's nature dwells bodily, and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power; in whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead." Colossians 2:9-12 NHEB
He is full of God and we are full of Him and in Him, because the old body of flesh was circumcised off us with a circumcision of Spirit - not made with hands. This truth is not generally believed in the church today. We think we have to get rid of the old man of flesh, repent, repent, repent, and make sure our old nature is cut off, emptied out and cast down. This passage states that the action of all that is needless. The Holy Spirit circumcised the old nature off in the Spirit when He came to live inside. The old man of flesh was cut off. I may indeed need to repent, but repent of my unbelief in His work and trust in His provision - a huge difference from wallowing in self-pity over my sin.

Now if I believe I still possess that old man, the enemy of my soul will agree with me, and before long I am behaving in a way that confirms that I still have that thing in me. This is why concentration on my sin (as a believer) will never give me victory over any thing. Only when I receive what is done for me can I then receive His victory and live out of what He has done. The victory is always mine in Him. Never on my own, not in my own work, but in Him all that is His is mine (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). Again in Galatians 5:16 we read, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." A purposeful concentration into the Spirit, eliminates the need or desire to have things of the old flesh nature.

This Grace Covenant of Love works very differently than the Law Covenant. The New Covenant is full of what Christ has done instead of the emphasis of my doing right. That being said, as I believe and truly embrace what He has done then my life will sing the song of righteousness - lived in victory. So it will appear that I do right and therefore am blessed, but in reality I am blessed - therefore I am empowered to do right in Him.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Fullness - His in Me

"For in him all the fullness of God's nature dwells bodily, and in him you were made full, who is the head of all principality and power; ...." Colossians 2:9-10 NHEB 
After encouraging the Colossians not to take their pattern for living from the world's ways, the "why" is given. Remember these encouragement's to live a life which brings glory, is laced in this passage with the power to do what is encouraged.

The "why" we are to live in another mind-set, and the empowerment to live in that mind-set is because in Christ Jesus the fullness (or completeness) of God's nature dwells bodily in Him. Remember when the Lord was resurrected, his physical body was raise. He still has that immortal, incorruptible body and is living in it in the heavenlies.

Now the next step which we usually do not quite make - "...and in him you were made full, who is the head of all principality and power." We have that same fullness. WOW! That is over the edge! Me? You? Yes! We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, literally the body of Christ that contains this fullness of the nature of God!

Our inclusion in Christ is completed. "We are as He is in this world." 1 John 4:17. When we began to believe what is written, we will begin to live what is written.

No wonder we are expected to raise the dead! OK, I'm going to stop now and let some of this sink in.

Friday, August 24, 2012

No Manipulation

"As therefore you received Christ Jesus, the Lord, walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, even as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Be careful that you do not let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. For in him all the fullness of God's nature dwells bodily, and in him you were made full, who is the head of all principality and power,...." Colossians 2:6-11 New Heart English Bible,publicdomainbibles.com 
 As we receive the encouragement here to live in Jesus the same way we began - simply by receiving His person. As we do that, we have received, potentially, all He has accomplished. Therefore, we overflow in thanksgiving.

Now the cautions, as a result of encouragement - "Be careful..." so our lives will not be impeded by our thoughts and intellect. "Be careful that you do not let anyone rob you through his philosophy (intellectual knowledge and pursuits) and vain (empty, useless) deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ." We know what most of this is talking about. We get impressed very easily with people who know more than we do. It ends up with us receiving their way of thinking and many times that is just empty deceit. Most people know more than we do, no matter who we are. So we all need to be aware of the emptiness of the intellect if it is not used in the gentleness and Holy Spirit breath of our Lord. Now desiring to know is not a bad thing, but it can lead us into many endeavors that are not good for us. To guard what we think and what we entertain in our minds is so very important as we live in our Lord Jesus. A healthy dose of scripture every day is a good way to stay immune to all man's thinking. Just sayin'....

Now on to "...after the elements of the world...." This could use some time of discovery to understand. It is a statement that covers much. Right now, we need to understand that it involves the human ways of working in relationships. One of those ways is the use of manipulation. This often is very subtle. When we have our minds on pleasing people - anyone - then we have laid down a run way for this to occur in us. Paul is clear about this in 2 Corinthians 9:7 "Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart; not grudgingly, or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver." The words, "not under compulsion" basically mean "do not be manipulated." The Lord wants our giving, as well as all we do in life, to flow from a "free heart," and not from pressure of any kind.

Manipulation comes in many forms, but as we are encouraged in the love of our Lord, we become able to shed the terrible tyranny of "people pleasing," and begin to be able to respond in love to all. I wish I could put into words how deeply important this is. We must not allow our lives to be controlled by the way others behave toward us nor by their emotions in any way. We must begin to allow the love of Jesus to be the way we live and think.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Grace Life

"As therefore you received Christ Jesus, the Lord, walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, even as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Be careful that you do not let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of me, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. For in him all the fullness of God's nature dwells bodily, and in him you were made full, who is the head of all principality and power,...." Colossians 2:6-11 New Heart English Bible, publicdomainbibles.com 
Paul has his readers return to the time when they received Christ Jesus, the Lord. He did this in Galatians 3:1-3 when those folk had gotten back into legalism and self-help, he asked them some important questions about the how-to of becoming a Christian. Here he cuts to the heart of the matter - and just says that is the way all of Christ is to be lived.

When we received Christ, we just did that, we received. Our part was to willingly open our hearts and lives to Him and say yes. His part was to move inside and gush His love into every fiber of our being (Romans 5:5), forgive us completely, grace us with His strength and energy for life, etc.... Our part is that of receiving what another has done for us and given to us.

Now, the Christian life is to be lived the same way. "As therefore you received Christ Jesus, the Lord, walk in him...." The marvelous truth of all the riches of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Him are for the purpose of being received and discovered. They are our empowerment for living a life in the Holy Spirit.

In legalism, the way to victory is taught this way; when I avoid what I need to stay away from, then I get stronger and stronger. When I concentrate on the ways aI have failed, then repent well and once again can try. What a vicious circle of me! Living in Christ is much more simple than that. When I, in faith, receive what has been done for me and given to me, I become rooted and built up in Him, abounding in faith and filled with thanksgiving. The ways of grace are the opposite of the ways of legalism and accomplishment.

His caution is that we would not exchange the ways of Christ (grace given, grace received) by allowing anyone to rob us and lead us into the ways of men's thoughts (philosophy and empty deceit, after the tradition of others, and after the elements of the world...." I want to spend some time on this portion, so will plan on that tomorrow. Plan to join me.

The main thrust I sense for today is that the ways of walking (living) the Christ-life is to trust Him in grace for all He has done and has given to us as His co-heirs. In receiving all that, we have no need for old fashioned legalist and the self-help approach to victory that is always illusive. Instead, we have the victory already, and we are empowered to live in it. Read the passage in your Bible and see what Paul is telling them (us). We are a blessed people - people of the Living God in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Embracing Gifts

"Now this I say that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, rejoicing and seeing your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ." Colossians 2:4-5 NHEB (See below for explanation of version).
These marvelous things the apostle has been sharing with them about the riches of wisdom and knowledge available in Jesus Christ is not just something to tickle their desire for more. It is instead a real necessary fortification for living in Christ Jesus. Paul now begins to outline for them the way to live in the Spirit and in the wisdom and knowledge of Christ.

There are critical ways of thinking that need to become the normal way of thinking for a believer. If these ways are not instilled, then nothing but trouble, trouble and more trouble is ahead. In fact, if one does not receive these truths, then the Christian life will seem like an impossible life to live, because failure and an inability to be victorious will be the norm. This is what we often feel and see in the body of Christ today. In fact, it is taught as fact. It makes my heart sad and I have had to repent of much I have taught in the past, once I began to see what the Holy Spirit actually said in this passage. It is awesome and it is the key in overcoming.

The reason these folk are able to be "in order" and have a steadfastness in Christ is because of the glories our Lord had accomplished for them. They entered into them and received them as fact. These marvelous facts will keep one in good order and in a faithful life in Christ. These things will occur when we are assured by faith that these items are true. First of all, in Christ are hidden all the riches of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. There is nothing we need to know that Christ does not already know. There is nothing we need to embrace that has not been made available to us, including the mental, emotional and spiritual strength to embrace it. All this seems too good to be true in this "self-help" world of ours we call Christianity.

There is much for us to do, but it is not the normal things we normally concentrate on. Tomorrow we step into some of those instructions. But we begin by realizing these truths are placed among the instructions for living life in Him - because they contain the keys for our thoughts to reign in Christ. More tomorrow, Lord willing. This needed to be in a post by itself.
The translation I am using in this post and for much of my web work is a new translation called New Heart English Bible. It is not copyrighted and is dedicated to the Public Domain by the editors and translators. You may publish, copy, memorize, translate, quote, and use the New Heart English Bible freely without additional permission. Signed by the Translators. You may see and read the entire Bible in several editions at publicdomainbibles.com.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It Takes Us

"My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Colossians 2:2-3 TNIV
"...in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." WOW! This is far, far more than we banked on in our general understanding of "personal relationship" and "personal Savior." I have no argument with these phrases, but so often the general understanding in our hearts is a very shallow, small  "fire insurance policy" that we put in a safety deposit box and go on about our lives. We do include church attendance and "involvement" in that body, but we seldom hear sermons about the mystery of God we have received. My heart longs to examine this more fully in my Lord.

In Him are "hidden" all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. That does not say they are easy to find, nor casually found. Just begin attached to Him does not reveal these items to us. Notice, these are found and known when we are encouraged in heart and united in love with others. In that environment revelation can begin and we become empowered to know what we have longed to know.

The knowing is not just mental, but goes through the deepest and most profound part of our beings as it begins to reverberate with Spirit flow in wisdom and knowledge - gifts and revealings from the God who knows all and holds all. I find it interesting that this wisdom and knowledge is released in an environment of sweet relationship in and with others. We often think it is dependent upon our private moments in our Lord. Well, some of the wisdom and knowledge are discovered there, but only when the soil of our hearts are settled and at peace - encouraged and flowing in love with others.


This is not quite as individualistic as I would prefer. Let me isolate, read, pray and study - then let me have these revelations out of the Word about Him. However, I am caught with the importance of community here. The soil environment of others and their love and relationship are all involved. No amount of my "seeking" and "trusting" and "becoming" all by myself will move me into being able to receive what the Lord has recorded here. Instead, you are needed as I walk in Him. You are to be loved and received. I am to live within a community of believers and walk in peace in them and they with me. I am bound to you eternally by the deep abiding love of Jesus our Lord and these mysteries He is talking about here are a matter of community flow, not just individual movement. I have to do some thinking and praying here. I bet you might also need to do some also.

This places a high priority on our unity of heart and movement in the peace of the Holy Spirit as we worship and serve Him - together. We literally cannot do this alone. It takes us.
 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Full Riches of Complete Understanding

"My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Colossians 2:2-3 TNIV
The passage is clear, when we are encouraged in heart and united with others in a fellowship of love, we then are ushered into the "full riches of complete understanding." I know it does not end there, but the next phrase puts us into the end result. Today, I believe we are to look at this step in the "so that."

There are dimensions of understanding in the Lord Jesus. Paul is describing a placement here that he calls "complete understanding." The King James renders this "unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding." There is a wealth of understanding in Christ that unfolds dimension after dimension of His person and His power that few of us in our generation tap into. We are content, for the most part, to feel good about our lives and to be living somewhat successfully in Him. While all that is certainly much better than not dwelling in Him, it does not come close to the depth of the wealth He would like to pour into our lives about Himself and Himself in us. Our normal Christian life is far below what is given for all to receive.

Notice that this step is often overlooked while we proceed into the remaining section of the passage. In Christ are hidden, or deposited, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. All we would ever want to know, all we would ever need to have revealed -- all are there in His person. The accessing of them is through our living in love and being encouraged in our hearts, so we can enter into this dimension of His glory given for all to receive. It is not received in our striving. It is not given to us to encourage us. It is received as we wrap ourselves in Him and in His love for others. Being encouraged then, we begin to be able to have unfold for us all the wisdom and knowledge that we could possibly need.

We cannot do this on our own. We cannot do this in strife with others. We can only do this when we allow the "fight" in us to cease in trust of His love and begin to seek beyond what we think we need and want. Go deeper, go fuller, go into Him in love and peace. How He loves to give to us, not just what we want, but what He would love to pour into our hearts, minds and lives -- more than we could ever dream about Him and us. O how He loves you and me!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Be encouraged in Heart

My most sincere apology to all you faithful ones who read. My schedule has been very unusual these past few days, so I have not had my regular writing time. I am back to it this morning, so we will try to adjust the schedule to make room for my blogging. It is so good for me and I trust the Lord is using it to bless, heal and instruct. His Word is alive and He so loves to bless us with His breath through His word. He loves you and so do I. So here we go....
"My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Colossians 2:2-3 TNIV
The first thing I notice in this passage is the "so that" and the "in order that." This gives us a step-by-step process in the reception of its totality. First the Holy Spirit through Paul, wanted these beloved believers to be encouraged in heart. He wanted them to know the fullness of the previous verses (1:24-29), and thereby to be encouraged in their life's core - their "heart." To the people of the day, the "heart" was the operational portion of the individual. It was where one thought and felt. They did not work in their understanding of mind and emotion the same way we do today. Their heart was where they thought and where their feelings originated. It has been proved that we do indeed feel what we think about. The only way to keep a control on the emotional responses we have is to think the thoughts that will lead them correctly. Our emotions follow what we think about.

So here we are encouraged to think well in order to walk encouraged. This will open a door for something further here. We order our thinking and we order our feelings. So as we order our thinking according to the fullness of Christ in us, we then are able to be united with others in love. To be united in love implies that several are living this way in relationship. However, we can do both of these items as we live, regardless of how others respond. We are not left as victims to receive from the Lord only what others will enable. We, in our living with and among others, can do both of these items in and with our relationship in our Lord Jesus. In fact, if we depend upon others for the ability to do this, we will be forever living by the responses of others. Instead, we set our hearts in love through the encouragement in the Holy Spirit. We choose not to let any circumstance derail or delay our choices in this area and we live in the uplifting of Jesus Christ Himself.

What an absolute joy! More tomorrow, Lord willing. By the way, Sunday evening I was privileged to be in a meeting where Roy Fields was ministering, both in leading worship and in preaching. I was deeply blessed. Our Lord is truly awesome!
 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Learning through His Breath

"He (Christ) is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me." Colossians 1:28-29 NIV
The Holy Spirit (through the Apostle) is very clear here -- it is Jesus Christ that makes a difference in the lives of others. He proclaims Him - and through the wisdom given, teaches and encourages all so they may become complete in Christ Jesus.

We have so much available in our world to entertain us, even in the ways of Jesus. In one sense, this is good, in another it has some difficulties. Notice that Paul simply proclaimed Christ. He had no other tools to use. However, his proclamation was not something he learned or heard from others. It was what the Holy Spirit continually revealed to Him. He specifically states in Galatians 1:12 that he did not receive his gospel from others, but from Christ Himself.

So much of what we lean into today, both in learning and in proclamation, is something someone else has said or written or taught. Now quickly, before wrong conclusions are drawn, let me say that I believe we must always remain open to hear what God is saying through other people. We are not islands unto ourselves but members of the same body. However, we need to individually experience Him in and through His own word with the breath of the Holy Spirit in wisdom and expectation upon it. When we understand a passage directly from Him, we remember and what is more, we have the empowered ability to become as it is. This empowerment is contained in the He breaths within us.

When I read others' thoughts and rely mainly on them, then I am eating food already chewed and drinking water already consumed. When I sit at His table, it is always new and fresh and full. This brings us into "maturity" or completeness in Christ. We have much, much material and many, many avenues of learning about Him today. But to learn Him, is to listen through His word and then through our hearts. This empowers becoming.

Paul then states that he does this proclaiming with all the energy God gives Him. May we feel and know this energy and this commission.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Mystery - Revealed!

"I have become its (the church's) servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness -- the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord's people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:25-27 NIV
Paul understood his commission in the Lord Jesus. It was to serve God's people. Sometimes we limit our understanding of our call by relating it solely to the Lord Jesus. However, it is very clear here that Paul saw himself as not only called by God and in the service of the Lord, but commissioned by God to the Lord's people. The gospel he proclaims is for the people and he labored to not just convert people but to disciple them. In fact, we are not told any where in the Word to go make converts. We are commissioned to go make disciples. It is not enough to call people to repentance, and to enable them to move into a relationship with the Lord. We are to be those who disciple others;  love, encourage, teach and model for them the call and life-style that is empowered in Him. This is made clear in this passage as well as in all the books Paul has written for us.

The "mystery" here is something that was hidden before the time of the church. The Old Testament (Old Covenant) people did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would come upon a prophet, King, and priest to enable a supernatural dimension to their service, but the indwelling did not occur until Pentecost. At Pentecost, Jesus Christ began to indwell His people. The Holy Spirit not only came within, He came upon.

We, in the New Covenant, are ushered into the "fullness" of God in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit brings to us the character, the power, the very breath of God Himself in Jesus Christ. We are born of His Spirit into a completely different form of being than was previously known and that being is filled with Christ's fullness. This fullness is awesome and opens for us doors of Spiritual presence that were never possible for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Isaiah, etc.... They longed to see what we now possess.

We are privileged people in every sense of the term. I encourage you to sit with this passage and let it wash over you. He has much to teach us here. May we have hearts open for insight and wisdom in the Holy Spirit. How He loves us with an eternal love, providing Himself as every provision for every need.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Shared Suffering

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions." Colossians 1:24 NASB
Sometimes I wonder why Paul, (or more important yet, why the Holy Spirit) said such things and just left them hanging there for us to discover and wonder about. This passage is one of those passages that is not easily worked with and is often avoided or totally misunderstood. I do not know if my current understanding is totally accurate (for we are all very often wrong about most things), but it is Holy Writ, so we do well to search the Spirit for what He is talking about. It is good to get at least an understanding we can wrap our minds around, even though the entire truth of it may escape us.

We all know Paul often suffered in his body as he fulfilled his assignment as an apostle. He not only suffered the emotional difficulty of being rejected over and over again, but he was also physically abused often. So he makes this unique statement about his unity with Jesus Christ and his inclusion in the body of Christ, the church. He sees Christ as one with us, and our sufferings (rejections as well as physical mistreatment because of the gospel) as being a part of His and included in His.

We know the redemptive work of saving us was completed through the cross suffering of our Lord over 2,000 years ago, so this is not redemptive suffering, but it is shared suffering.  When Christ died, we died (2 Corinthians 5:14-15), when He was raised, we were raised, (Ephesians 2:4-6), when He was seated in the heavenlies, we were seated in the heavenlies. So the entire work of our Lord Jesus is viewed by our God as our participation with Him in His body. It is not only substitutionary, it is also participatory. It was not only done for us, it included us in the action of its being.

So, Paul is introducing us to the "us" factor in Christ. When He suffered, Paul suffered and we suffered. When we suffer, our Lord is a participant in that with us. Our lives become as He is (1 John 4:17) and everything is a sharing together -- an in-depth fellowship with our God through the power of the Spirit in us. The church (not as an organization as we think of it, but the corporate body of redeemed people) is His body. Just as each of us are included there, so also are our sufferings for His sake counted as a part of His. So Paul rejoiced in them because he knew nothing was lost in this Body -- everything counts as we do our part.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Declaring in Harmony

"...and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister." Colossians 1:23b-c NASB
This Good News we share is full of hope. You will remember that Biblical "hope" is what we would call "confident expectation." We, in our modern usage consider the word "hope" in the same way and with the same understanding that we might use "wish." However this is not its meaning in our Bibles. The three, faith, hope, love, items often referred to in Paul's writings together are concepts and spirit characteristics given to us through our God. These are not based on human ability, but upon God Himself and His nature given to us in Jesus Christ.

The true Gospel brings us hope - confident expectations in Him. Our lives are filled as our hearts are lifted into a realm of life that is seen and acquired in faith. These are His gifts to us, to be received and used in His life with us.

I have used the NASB for this verse as it most accurately renders the Greek for us. This part of the verse reminds us of Psalm 19:1-4.
"The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth, 
And their utterances to the end of the world."
If one knows the constellations of stars above us and their rotations, then the story of our Messiah is clearly displayed. The entire earth is without excuse. Our Christ has been clearly displayed since creation in the heavens as well as through all the creation. We are told in Romans 1:20-21,
 "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened."

Everyone has had opportunity to know and receive our God. No one is ever left out. When we join in the commission to share the Good News, we simply are in harmony with the proclamation of the entire creation and are joining the work of God in every moment of time. Our missionary zeal will be embolden more and more when we understand the awesome lengths our Lord has gone to be known by all men. He loves everyone so much and longs to bless them with all of Himself - true life.

He has forever longed for everyone, forever loved everyone and forever made a provision for everyone. He paid for all sin for all time. No one need be left out at all. Our great job is to proclaim His goodness and grace to others, so they can open their eyes and see how He has reached, and reached, and reached to them for them. So we, like Paul, have become servants (ministers) of this great hope and we declare in harmony with the creation His marvelous love and provision so all may belong to Him and abide in His heart.