Monday, February 25, 2013

Words of Salt

"Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." Colossians 4:5-6 NHEB
Now Paul begins addressing our attitudes toward those who have not yet named the name of Christ. We are to dwell in God's wisdom among them and thus making the most of our time as we relate to them. 

The believer never has a "time-out" in reference to their life in Christ before the world. Our time-out comes as we relax in Him in our quiet time and among others in Christ. The traditional "let-your-hair-down-and-be-like-us" never is to occur for us. Our time as we live in this dimension of life is to always be lived "in-Christ." 1 John 4:17c says, "...for we are as He is in this world." The only way the world will ever want Him, is if we literally live "in Him." That means we always reflect Him and always respond in Him. 

This would be impossible if we are just in some form of church-going religion. However, because He is in our very being, our very fiber of existence, He in us is over and abundantly able. As we wrap our minds around His being, His Word and His empowerment He does it and makes our time here count. 

We cannot "redeem" as in "get back" what has already passed. What we can do is make our now time count for great fruit in Him. In other words, we make every minute with unbelievers count. 

Our speech is to be full of grace - or full of making up for the faults of others. Now just think about it. Isn't that what our Lord's grace does for us? He makes up for what we lack - abundantly - lavishes grace on us. So as our speech is full of the salt of good news and redemptive salvation as we share, then through those words they are drawn to Him. It tastes salty. They find themselves wanting more and then some water. Hummmm seems like we have that also. 

In the Old Testament every sacrifice was salted prior to going on the altar. That way the meat always tasted good. That is what Paul is referring to. In other words, our words are like the sacrifices of the Old Testament - they are to make people want more. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Mystery - Christ in You!

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; praying together for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: that I may reveal it as I ought to speak." Colossians 4:2-4 NHEB
We began this section last week, but I only worked with the first part of a verse. Now I want us to complet the thought that was written. 

Paul is asking the Christians in Colossae to pray for an open door for the word he is to speak. Then he tells us what that word is. He says, " speak the mystery of Christ,...". He was not called to just speak to people about some general love from God. He was not called to speak what we would call elementary items about the word. No, he was called to declare boldly the "mystery of Christ." 

This "mystery" he defined elsewhere as "Christ in you the hope of glory." Christ dwelling in the gentiles as well as the Jews. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the "mystery" that although spoken of in the Old Testament, was not seen nor understood. That was mainly because it is written there in "shadow" or "type" form. It was not intended to be understood until the Lord had risen from the dead and poured out the Holy Spirit on that day of Pentecost. 

The "indwelling," which eliminates all definitions of distance between the Lord and His people, is what the religious folk of Paul's day fought him about. This risen Jesus who now lives in us, the glory of God now dwelling in man, in every believer was and is something that cause folk to balk at such revelation. 

The Lord has forgiven all sin. Yes, each of us must willingly accept that in Him to make it effective for us, but it is accomplished. He does not climb back on the cross when someone sins. It is done. Because that is true, Christ through the Holy Spirit now lives in all who will receive Him, and they become His temple. It is not a temple made with human hands to house (host) Him, but the temple He has always looked forward to - the temple made by Himself - the humans who choose Him. 

Such an awesome mystery. Our modern systems often do not fully embrace this completed work and therefore many times we are trying to get closer to God. We need to completely re-think such approaches and begin to accept the empowerment of this mystery Paul preached. It will revolutionize our lives and our churches. 

May those of us declaring the Word, declare this mystery clearly. Lord, You are so awesome in every way - magnify Yourself in us!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Impossible Made Normal

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; ...." Colossians 4:2 NHEB
This seems to be a simple encouragement and on one hand it is. It carries the same idea as "Pray without ceasing" in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  The expectation from our God and Father is that we will always be talking with Him. 

 Some of our newer translations read "Be devoted to prayer," which has a bit different emphasis. I believe both are good and right. This translation says to continue steadfastly which gives us the idea of doing something faithfully. Being devoted to prayer adds the heart value in emphasis. I think both of these are included in the statement. 

In the Greek, the word for "continue steadfastly" means "to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of despite difficulty – 'to devote oneself to, to keep on, to persist in.'" Basically we see it is an instruction to never stop, never give up, regardless of what our circumstances - be devoted in our heart and lives to talking and sharing with our Lord. 

Prayer has come to mean many different things to us - it all depends on how we have been taught or not. I usually try to avoid the word, because it carries so much baggage that has nothing to do with true prayer. When we begin to understand what the Lord has done for us and enabled in us, visiting with Him takes on an entirely new and living aspect that may seem foreign at first, but in time we would not want to revert to our old "prayer ways" at all because of the fullness in Him. I wrote the following to my Intercessors yesterday. It is the way of freedom in continuing steadfastly in our relational dialogue in Him.

"If anyone loves me, he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him, and
we will come to him and make our home with him."

John 14:23 ESV

As we realize more and more the Lord's abiding presence within us, these scriptures warm our hearts and remind us that we are never alone. Our Lord lives in us and He and the Father have made their home in us through the Holy Spirit. Such a wonder was never thought of by any man. But our God, great and awesome in every way, had in mind living with and in us individually and collectively. So we have become in Him the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are the house He has always wanted to live in. He created us to be able to  have Him at home in us. We are His home. Such a marvelous truth is just too good to be true.

When we begin to really embrace this truth, we will cease from our efforts "to get closer to God," for how can we possible be any closer. Instead, we will begin to bathe in our oneness with Him in Spirit and begin to relax at home in His person, power and constant presence. There is no loneliness here, nor emptiness, nor lack, nor need. So everything changes. Our perceptive ability of what is true and real changes for as we relax and trust Him to show us what is true, we begin to embrace truth that sets us free in every dimension. Such truths take this love in Jesus to new heights of release and reality. May we bask in these truths. His Word never lies. So as we receive, trust and release into it, we become a person of rich presence in Him. Oh yes! Let the relaxing embrace become our focus instead of the striving based attempts to reach Him. He is here, as I am typing this and as you are reading. He is with us - at home. Lord, teach us truth - over and over again!

So what seems like an impossible instruction, is really a warm and loving entreaty to keep talking, thinking, turning to, leaning on and receiving from - Him the one who loves us so. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Training in Lordship

"Masters, give to your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven." Colossians 4:1 NHEB 
As we enter the last chapter of this small letter, we must remember that Paul is not writing in chapters and verses. He is writing a personal, inspired letter to these people he has never met (2:1). He is continuing the thought of the previous chapter. All these "bullet-point" items at the close of his letter, are intended to train the people in life-style expressions of the love and grace presented in the first part of the book. 

He has just instructed the servants to be obedient to their masters, now he turns and addresses those who are masters (ones in authority over - GK -"lords") how to behave toward their servants. In our world today, these terms would be employees and employers. We do not live in a master/servant world. But the same attitudes of heart are to be expressed by us to those who work over us and under us in the authority chain of our work. The every day life of the believer becomes our training ground for Kingdom lordship. For everything we are a part of is related to Kingdom. 

If you will look back at the instructions for servants, "Servants, obey in all things those who are your masters according to the flesh, not just when they are looking, as men pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord." I find it interesting the encouragement here is obedience, not submission. The heart of submission is to be working in a covenant relationship. In a relationship that is employment based, that is not what is being encouraged. We need to allow the Lord to teach us these great differences in relationships, so our grace expression can be a blessing - everywhere. 

Since the employer has a master, and now is one, it is the encouragement to be fair and non partial (or equal) in dealing with those in your care and oversight. This eliminates the "put-down,"  the "mock-out," the manipulations and control so often characteristic of those in places of authority toward those below. (In church as well as in world). In Christ, since we all have a master (Lord), or someone in authority, over us, we would do well to treat others with honor and respect regardless of what their position is in life - over or under. When their position is not what we are ultimately regarding, we can honor and bless, all the while keeping lines of authority in place. 

When we truly understand the Lord is not impressed with titles or "position," (or anointing or gifting) and it is Him we are expressing, then we learn not to be "men-pleasers" any longer. I think everyone alive has this to learn. We, in Christ Jesus, have someone else in charge of our promotion or lack of it. We need to bless Him in our interactions with others and be a person of great integrity expressing encouragement and respect. This then becomes the training ground for lordship in the Kingdom. 

Friday, February 08, 2013

Our Real Boss

"Servants, obey in all things those who are your masters according to the flesh, not just when they are looking, as men pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord. And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will receive again for the wrong that he has done, and there is no partiality." Colossians 3:22-25 NHEB
This is a very important passage for the believer in Jesus Christ. Often these seemingly unimportant remarks by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul get overlooked in the massive spirit-data that is presented. However, as we look at this, we will see how deeply it goes to the root of our behavior. 

Even though it is addressed to "Servant" because of the servant/slave customs of the day, this applies to all who are employed by others. The first instruction is for us to understand that our real boss is not the one we see, but the Lord. If we only do good to try to impress someone other than the Lord, we are "men pleasers," and do not understand that the Lord, who sees all, is our boss. So the appeal is for all to understand to always do our very best, whatever we are doing, because it is from the Lord that our reward (raise, favor, whatever) really comes. 

I am reminded of what John the Baptist said to his disciples when they became jealous for him because Jesus was baptizing more disciples that he was in John 3:27. They were disturbed and wanted John to become alarmed and competitive in heart with the ministry. His comment in verse 27 is, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven." (ESV) John understood that promotion in anything is from the Lord and only from the Lord. It was the Lord he was serving - not people who count disciples. Hence He completely avoided the competitive-spirit ugliness and held tightly to his mission. 

In our work, or ministry, or whatever, we really only have one boss - it is the Lord Jesus. This passage teaches us to serve Him with all we are and with singleness of heart. That way, we will serve those over us properly. We will give honor to whom honor is due, with no thought of "currying favor" with man. We just extend grace and love and the most of our ability to all. 

Then the passage reminds us of a fact that has always been true - God is not partial. (Deut. 10:17) It doesn't matter who we are, what we have done, where we come from, or even where we are going. He looks on the heart and empowers for the moment. His instructions in our grace expressed life is to "work heartily" knowing our reward comes from an inheritance base in Him. I think that last phrase deserves further study - but not today. 

Lord, we have often thought our destiny was in the hand of other people. Thank you for your word that lets us know it is in Your hands, and Yours alone. We seek in your strength and love to be Your hands, heart and life expression in our place of living. Thank you!

Monday, February 04, 2013

A Grace Life-Style

“Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so that they won’t be discouraged.” Colossians 3:18-21 NHEB
These encouragements are the Holy Spirit's way through Paul, not of instructing something they do not already know, but of encouraging them to live in the life-style of empowered grace. Colossians and Ephesians are often called "sister" books, because they were both written from Paul within the same period of time in his first Roman imprisonment. In Ephesians 5:22-15-33 the topic of submission is enlarged. For his purpose here, it is enough to briefly touch the items. 

The expectation of submission to one another within the covenant bond of marriage is deeply engrained in the faith walk. We are expected to have a life expression of love within our covenant. This is a "role" item, not a sex item. In other words, it is not "Woman be subject to man," which is so often taught in spirit as well as practice. As a wife, I am to live with a heart that is given to my husband's preferences. If any form of abuse enters the relationship, then the subject of submission is no long applicable. Abuse is a submission eliminator. So, brothers in Jesus, if you desire to have a wife/lover who choses to chose you, then you need to remember to treasure her and never, ever enter any form of abuse to her. Yelling, screaming, anger, rage, demanding, manipulating of any kind, are all forms expression which are abusive. So if we are going to talk submission, then we need to know that it can only occur within a relationship whose parties work to develop an atmosphere of trust and sharing. 

Submission is not something that can ever be demanded. It is a gift of the heart that is either given away as a gift, or it does not exist. Obedience, is not submission. Obedience may be demanded, but if so within a covenant relationship - the relationship has been violated in the process. Wives, we chose to give this to our husband. Husbands, this is not something you require, it is an attitude of heart the Lord requires of wives that choose to live in grace. 

Husbands, the admonition or encouragement to you is much more demanding. You must love your wives. Whatever they need, you provide. Whatever their heart needs for safety, protection, provision and heart-health, that is the love you provide. Sex is involved, but only within the sweetness of the provision. Sex with no provision is a form of abuse and rape. Just be warned in heart - husbands - the placement of "husband" is a life-long servant placement. 

Children's place in the home is one of obedience. As we love them and allow them to become adults, rebellion will occur. I think it is almost a "built-in" item so the children will eventually choose to leave the nest for their own life expression. However, as we love, nurture, discipline and provide for them, they will grow in honor as we allow them to become their own persons. 

Fathers, you have the job of making sure you do not push the children into anger and hate. Now do not think that that means they will never get angry with you, or say hateful things at you. They probably will. But do not be a bully to them, do not make fun of them, and do not ever put them down in front of others. Treat them with respect as those whom you love and cherish. That is Paul's point. 

Now in viewing our lives, I am aware none of us do these things perfectly. If you think you have managed, just wait a few more years and your children will prove that you have not been quite so perfect a parent as you once might have thought. We do not live in nor under law, and Paul was making certain to review the grace-life-style for the people in Colossae. He wanted them to be reminded of items they had already been taught by those who founded the church there. You will remember he had never visited them. (2:1-3)

So today, may we be encouraged as we move forward in our Lord and His grace-love.  He is able and we are sufficient in Him - in every form of failure, He has already made it right in Him and empowered that which releases His love to us, thorough us and to our world and circumstances.

Lord we rejoice in You and purposely embrace Your ways for our lives.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

He Shares My Life - I Share His

Before I begin this snippet, I want to share with my readers my web site video page. This link will take you to the page where I post recent teaching videos. So if you would like more teaching from me, that is where you can access it on the web. There are many more video's on YouTube also. The teachings are a bit under an hour long and presently all (on this site) are from the book of Ephesians. These were recorded this winter season during our Friday Fellowship meetings.

Now on to our Scripture:
"Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him." Colossians 3:17 NHEB
This passage brings us face to face with a massive truth in Christ that is most generally misunderstood. None of these instructions are any attempt by the Holy Spirit through Paul to get us back into self-effort. Instead, they are instructions about faith-living in the grace lavished life of our Lord.

When we become Christians, we are automatically and immediately placed into the body of Christ. That placement is a radically different postion that we have ever envisioned. It is both spiritual and literal. We are spiritually seated with Him on the right hand of the Father above, and literally a part of His body walking the earth. He is our head and we are His body. We all know these truths.

However, what we have not often understood is that this means He does everything with us. He is in us, living and breathing and thinking and acting with us. He does not hop out just because we might choose something inappropriate. He is with us, in us, empowering us.

So when we begin to understand that not only has He  joined our life, our faith (action originating in belief, based in confidence) joins Him in what He is doing. In other words, He has joined us, we have joined Him and our actions are mutually intertwined. So as we choose to trust Him, we begin to join Him in His action and thoughts and loves. So what He does, we do. (Jesus said it this way, "I only do what I see my Father doing." and "I only say what my Father says," and "I only teach what my Father has taught [or shown] me)."

Ahhhh - now we see the problem. This causes a change in our thinking about our personal identity. We are His brothers, sisters, Bride. We are sons and daughters of Almighty God through Christ! We sit with Christ in heavenly places. Therefore, we are empowered to do all in His name in thanksgiving! It is an awesome calling, empowerment and joy! It will change our behavior from one of self-effort into one of shared action and word in His power.

Lord, You have chosen to identify with us. So today we choose to embrace our identity in You. So as "we" live our moments, we choose to do, and say all in You, Your prompting, Your power, Your flow. WOW! What a marvelous, miraculous identity you have given us in Your Heart! We can hardly take it all in. But we choose You - always. Thank you for the reminder of Your greatness though those who choose to believe and live - trusting you.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Expressing Him

Thank you for reading and studying with me. I realize it has been several months since I have been able to be consistent in writing this blog. However, I believe that, once again, there is time for me to study and write MannaWord. So here we go. Feel free to read a couple of back posts if you need to remember where we are in the book of Colossians and what we have studied.
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to God." Colossians 3:16 NHEB
The first part of this book was rich in informing us that Christ has done all that is needed for us to join Him where He is; to join Him in what He is doing; to join Him as Sons of God.

The work of Christ (finished work - birth, life, death, resurrection, Holy Spirit poured out on His people), has done all that will ever be needed or necessary for all to become a part of the fellowship of the Trinity through Him. He has saved, empowered and released us to be His here in our world.

That being true, now these life-style items are not a return to "law" thinking, but rather the automatic and trained life expressions of sons of God. Some things become automatic because of our spiritual DNA. However, many other life expressions require a renewal of the mind in order to allow the Spirit to express through the body, rather than the body using energy of spirit to express its life. Therefore, we are admonished in this verse to make the word of Christ foremost in our heart and therefore in our life expressions.

I used to think this was talking about a worship service. Well, no. I really do not see that in this verse at all. The entire section is addressing a life-style. Our thoughts are to be Word. Our encouragement to one another must be from the Word and all of this in normal interaction together - even singing to each other- not about the kids, grand or otherwise. Not about my health in detail - especially not about my ailments.  This all is really more dominant in our conversation that we want to believe. There is an instruction to make our life expressions something eternal instead of circumstances which are fleeting.

It is not important to know me. It is important to know Him through me. Oh how we all need to hear that as we wrap ourselves in His love, acceptance and expectation. All of this - singing with grace in our hearts. Grace - that ability to make up the difference for others. That ability to see the truth and love though it in your love. Oh Jesus, how you have empowered us in all.

Lord, we hear you. We receive your forgiveness for not understanding and we move forward to listen to the hearts of others and then share from your heart. Oh how we long for your Word to be our thoughts. Continue to teach us this truth as we learn. Thank you for giving us grace in and through it all.