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.
 

Monday, August 06, 2012

But Now...

"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation -- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out inn the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I Paul have become a servant." Colossians 1:21-23 NIV
We were all "alienated from God" in our lives. Our minds could not think His thoughts and our lives could not reflect His glory and goodness. We were enemies in our minds of that which brings healing, hope and deliverance to all humanity. When we fight against the very thing that can bring hope and healing, we will eventually bring to ourselves the very opposite of what we need. "But now..." oh how I love such phrases in the Word. But God, But now, etc.... Such hope is given because before we even knew life , the Lord undertook to do for us the very thing needed for us to live - He reconciled us through His own physical body by death on the cross. He used His own blood to cleanse us and give us life. John says we now have eternal life.

He did this to present us to Himself without anything wrong with us (no blemish) and so free and clean that no one can effectively accuse us of anything - He has already paid for it all and provided for it all. Such provision is beyond our ability to think. In Ephesians 1 Paul talks about this event occurring actually before the world was created. So in the mind of Almighty God, we were saved, delivered, healed and made completely free of sin before the foundations of the world were laid. Now that will stretch most of our minds a bit.

Then comes the together part. One thing we need to realize is that all God has done for us is available, but we must engage in order to activate it on our behalf. He has done all of this so we could have relationship in Him; so we could be included. His great works and sovereignty are activated by our involvement with them. So this passage involves us -- "If you continue in your faith, established and firm and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel." This good news is full of the expectation of good things in Him. As we hold very firmly to that hope and continue to trust Him -- all is lavished our direction through His great love and grace.

I am so blessed to have Him with me and in me. I know He will accomplish all that concerns us. He is truly an awesome Lord!

To my precious readers: Thank you for being a part of this project - me writing almost daily. I so appreciate you - who ever you might be. I am having a delightful time in the Lord writing these. It has been my joy for the past month to preach each Sunday morning in a couple of different small churches in my area - allowing the Pastors to take some much needed time away. I am so bless to have a Lord who anoints and walks with me - whatever the call. This gospel is truly good news and a joy to proclaim - in any venue! Bless you for being a part by reading. Have a marvelous day!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Reconciled

"19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Colossians 1:19-20 TNIV
Since the fullness of God dwells in Christ Jesus, then through Him all things are either reconciled or in the reconciliation process - whether things upon the earth or things in heaven, through the blood shed on the cross. This is huge. The ramifications of this passage are awesome.

The first item to notice is that reconciliation through the blood applied to all things. We have a tendency to confine it in our thoughts to men being reconciled to God. However, that is only one aspect of the work of the cross. A student of the Bible will soon discover God's love for all He has made - that includes humanity, but is not confined to or by humanity. He loves the sons of men who were created in His image, but He also loves the creation itself and that includes the realm of life known as "heaven."

We find the reconciliation of this section of the creation in Hebrews 9:24-28,
 "It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." TNIV
So heaven itself was cleansed with the blood of our Lord Jesus and thus all traces of rebellion and sin were vanished from the life realm of the Spirit. The blood of Christ was needful and necessary in all aspects of life - everything created had to receive the blood cleansing. Remember that in verse 16 we were told that Jesus created everything in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. So the reach of the blood sacrifice and the need of the blood sacrifice was complete. All these things have been reconciled - in heaven.

The earth will find its time for such thorough cleansing and renewal (Romans 8), however, for the sons of men it is now - now is the day of salvation. Today is the day to allow the blood to count for each and every one. Today is the day to trust Him and know He has cleansed you and forgiven once and for all - for all.

So the peace is now and is coming. It is a peace that brings reconciliation - the coming together of a person and their God. Then the great work of empowering those reconciled people to function fully in the ministry of reconciliation. This is our call - all of us (2 Cor. 5) and our joy.

Rest well in Him on this Lord's Day, and allow all strivings to cease knowing He has already done all the work and it is our joy to simply flow in Him and allow Him to work His work through us.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Fullness

"For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell, and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven." Colossians 1:19-20 KJV
"For it pleased the Father...," such sweet, sweet words. I love the way this sentence begins...it pleased the Father. It pleased him that the entirety of the fullness of deity was invested. This verse does not have the word "deity" in it, but if we go to the next chapter and verse 9 we find this statement: "For in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." The Greek word here is actually "deity." So the Holy Spirit uses two verses to give us the same information. In Jesus Christ, all of God is seen and known. Nothing about Him is reserved for Him - it is all in Christ. It is impossible to know God and not know Jesus Christ. John 5:22-23 "For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgement unto the Son: that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honors not the Son honors not the Father which has sent him." So if we do not honor Jesus Christ, then God is not honored. It is impossible to separate them.

Many times in our efforts to understand the differences between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we separate the three (or try) and our understanding of our God actually suffers in the attempt. They are He. They are One, yes, three in One, but One none the less. When Jesus walked on earth the very breath of God and man breathed in His person. He walked in our skin, yet breathed and worked with and through the agency of the Holy Spirit, just like we do. The God-Head indwelled Him, just like He does His people today.

If we go to the next verse in 2:9-10, we find that Paul uses this truth the second time to tell us that we have been brought through Christ into this same fullness. "For in him dwells all the fullness of deity bodily. And you are brought into fullness...." That is a literal translation of the text. So in Him, we share this fullness, this very breath of God within - "complete" is how many versions translations render it. All He is through the Father's investment, we are also through that same investment.

We are not left out of anything, because of anything. Our Lord Jesus has become and has enabled and empowered all who come to Him to be as He is (1 John 4:17). So as we think on these truths, may we allow the truth of them to overtake us and explode within for our good and His glory.

Friday, August 03, 2012

He is First!

"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence." Colossians 1:18 KJV
Our Lord Jesus Christ was given to us as head of the church. This echoes the statement made in Ephesians 1:20-23.
"...and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all."  
Christ is the head, of everything to the church. He is the first (beginning). The word used here is the same word used in John 1, "In the beginning..." which is an echo from the Hebrew Genesis 1. Jesus always was. His incarnation was not His beginning, nor His beginning work. However, it was the determined work finished in the mind of the God-head before any beginning ever began. So for us to understand that our Lord Jesus was and is that very beginning, the first - that source.

"He is the firstborn from the dead...." He was not the first one raised from the dead. There are several Old Testament accounts of the dead being raised. And you will remember He also raised the widow's son and Lazarus during his lifetime in this dimension. However, He is the first to ever never die again. So He was resurrected into a dimension of life in which death has no power to end. He is the first human to ever enter there. Once He entered, He can now and will take all of us who are named by His name, in Him.

When one's body dies, their spirit remains with the Lord. We are with the Lord now and a part of His body - in spirit/Spirit. When we die, that placement does not change. We are still living in Him, but our dimension and expression of life is not the same as it has been here. When He returns (in His body that was resurrected) and calls us home, our bodies, immortal and incorruptible, will rise and meet Him and we will always be with Him in the same dimension and expression of life He has purchased for us. Until that point in time, all who have died in the Lord are where they have always been - in the Lord.

I am reminded here of 1 John 3:2, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is." 


He is First, Foremost, Fullness - Heart, Head, Hope!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

He Is Before All

"And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." Colossians 1:17 KJV
Paul continues to inform all as to the true identity of God's Son; this Jesus Christ who lives in us through the Holy Spirit. When we review much of what Paul has written in the New Testament, he is always moving our thinking from ourselves to our glorious King. He is not leaving any stone unturned here about who and what Jesus is.

This seems like a simple statement and is often lost in the maize of these marvelous truths.
The first item mentioned is that He is before all things. This carries with it the idea of being in front or at the head of. He is "pros" (GK) or the first or in front.... you get the idea. No matter what else our Father wants us to see and understand, Jesus is "pros," He is the first thing to see and He is the first thing to understand. In all the glories our Father can and could show us, none are greater nor more brilliant that His Son, Jesus our Lord. Whatever else Christianity is, or we think it to be, this is what it is - Jesus Christ. He is in all and through all - it is Him. Nothing else is of consequence - just Him.

Then the next item of truth "...by him all things consist." The word "consist" is a bit strange to us. It means (in the GK) "combine." I think of two things that do not "combine" - oil and water. They may for a few moments adhere, but then they immediately return to being separate - even through they may be in the same place. These two items just do not mix. However, the word used here is the word meaning He can blend, or combine all. So not only do all things exist in His power and by His will, they actually combine to give glory to God. He works all things well. I am reminded of Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." This is His combining ability - all things consist in and by Him.

We have the substance of this throughout the New Testament. But here these two statements are making it very clear that our lives are to be primarily focused on and relating to our Lord Jesus Christ. Our ways of relating to others will find their source here - in His person and presence. Thank you Lord for reminding us of our call to primarily focus in You.