Monday, December 5, 2016

Submit To Regulations - Colossians - Part 50

The unique word is chapter 2 verse 20 is translated 'submit to regulations'...

"If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations - 'Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch' (referring to things that all perish as they are used) - according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." - Colossians 2:20 - 3:4 ESV

Wow.

What a challenge this is for us. The rules seem like our best recourse to keep the unruly in line but this passage suggests something else.

We have a hidden life with God and when Christ is revealed that life is revealed also.

We imagine that we have our own story straight but I think we will be surprised. God's account is from the 'hidden in Christ' perspective. It won't be about how much or little we regulated ourselves.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Not Like Gehazi

This morning I am reading 2 Kings chapter 5 again and again. Four people stand out.

Here are the first two...

"Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman's wife. She said to her mistress, 'Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.' So Naaman went in and told his lord, 'Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.' " - 2 Kings 5:1-4 ESV

Naaman is a great but leprous man and then there is this little girl.

"And the king of Syria said, 'Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.' So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, 'When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.' And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, 'Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.' But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, 'Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.' " - 2 Kings 5:5-8 ESV

The third person is Elisha. He is a great man also but in a different way. Naaman saw opportunity to be healed and acted on it. Elisha saw opportunity for God and acted on it.

Then we have the fourth person. He is the one we don't want to be.

God heals Naaman...

"Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, 'Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.' But he said, 'As the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.' And he urged him to take it, but he refused... He said to him, 'Go in peace.' But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, 'See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.' So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, 'Is all well?' " - 2 Kings 5:15-16, 19-21 ESV

Each of the four saw opportunity and that is what made them noteworthy people.

If you keep reading the account Gehazi ends up with Naanam's leprosy because of what he did with what he saw.

Can't we contrast the little girl with Gehazi? Gehazi was a great failure. The little girl was a great success.

God is at work today. Do you see it? What will you do with that knowledge? Will you be healed or infected from touching what you shouldn't have touched?

I get something from all four people. I can be a catalyst like that little girl. I also see myself in Naaman. I desire to be heroic in faith like Elisha who has no fear but sees God doing something where other men have given up hope. I can also be a small minded and selfish as Gehazi who sees the work of God as an avenue to feed his ambition.

Oh God! Let grace frame our thinking today. You are here. If we wallow in our limitations and remain isolated in our thinking we will live an anonymous mundane existence that is not even noteworthy enough to be recorded. Billions live that way. But greatness is right here before us if we discern Your work in expectation. Let these four people frame our thinking and guide us.

Thank You God. Praise You Lord.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Defrauding and Taking A Stand - Colossians - Part 49

"Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind," - Colossians 2:18 NASB

Very interesting study this morning.

If you have ever read 'The Screwtape Letters' you know what it's like to march through the muck of evil. I liked that book but I had to keep putting it down and coming back to it because you can only handle evil's perspective for so long before needing a shower.

Passages like these are that for me. I don't gravitate towards them. I'd rather talk about hope, grace and mercy but then I do a study like this that is systematic and I can't avoid the mud puddle. The boots go on and right through the center I go.

The unique Greek words here are katabrabeuō (Strong's G2603), translated here as 'keep defrauding' and embateuō (Strong's G1687) translated 'taking his stand' and they are actions that are continuous. The person in evil keeps defrauding, in part, because they keep taking a stand on what they see. Natural evaluation causes a vicious circle. Faith makes an entrance and an exit but walking by sight always cycles a person into a deficit. People become takers because they 'worship angels' and walk by sight. They deprive themselves and then deprive others in the name of what is good but it isn't God's good.

That word 'visions' is thrown in there making it seem spiritual but in the Greek it just means 'things seen' that inflate the mind. Communism was such a concept. Large groups imbraced an artificial system that they thought would better mankind but it brought destruction. People 'saw' a coming eutopia but it was a mirage based on natural reasoning.

It is amazing how wrong smart people can be. This year I am amazed again about how wrong so called experts have been about so many things.

God's mind is proven.

"For no word from God will ever fail." - Luke 1:37 NIV

(translated 'For with God nothing shall be impossible' in the KJV but it actually says the Rhema of God will accomplish it's purpose)

The God of all grace isn't going to defraud you. Jesus' Father is that God. The God of men's philosophies is a pale comparison to this glorious person. The Father can only be known through the Son. If there is no Jesus at the center of the concept it can't be trusted. It is just fruit from the tree or the knowledge of good and evil and that has proven to be a deadly place to get nourishment.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The New Moon - Colossians - Part 48

"He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ." - Colossians 2:15-17 ESV

The Hapax Legomenon (unique word) here is 'new moon'. The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar and worship was on a lunar schedule.

Festival, New Moon and Sabbath = Recreation, Cycles (or marking the passage of time) and Rest

"And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD." - Isaiah 66:23 KJV

"Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the LORD in the sabbaths and in the new moons." - Ezekiel 46:3 KJV

These two passages are prophetic in nature. Many people don't mark the passage of time by worship.

At the time this is written we are closing out a month and will soon begin another. What does that mean to us?

I often look at the month coming before it arrives. I look at my birthday list and pray. I think about appointments. I gauge needs. I pay or mentally put aside money for bills that come in monthly cycles.

My devotional life is a portal into worship. It isn't me trying to better myself. It is the exploration of God's mind.

Oppression leaves a depression that is painful. An oppressor seek to exploit and to do that he or she must isolate, accuse and gain dependency. To do that integrity must be destroyed so that accusation will be internalized and isolation will be reinforced. Then exploitation can continue.

A worshipper can't be isolated. God is there. A worshipper knows accusations can't isolate unless they are internalized.

If worship has been disqualified in our lives we have believed a lie. It might be a lie about God or about ourselves... or both. It takes humility to worship. Lets humble ourselves and enter in by faith. God's light will banish the darkness. His Word will be a light for our path and a lamp for our feet on the path that echoes with praise.

In God's economy of grace we are not in bondage. We are not forced to regulate ourselves (or others) in recreation or rest. We each mark the passage of time differently and our emphasis may be different. In truth, from God's perspective, the substance of these things rests in Christ. When He becomes the focus then worship is incorporated into our cycles and our Sabbath.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Inaccessible Paperwork - Colossians - Part 47

"And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross." - Colossians 2:13-14 ESV

Two unique words here and the concept presented is amazing. The first is translated 'legal demands' (cheirographon - Strong's G5498) and it is a handwritten note that signifies a debt.

God has taken this personally signed document and 'nailed' (prosēloō - Strong's G4338) it down in a place that is set aside... Christ's cross.

The bank note that held a mortgage on your life can't be found anymore. They can't find the signed document. It has been put in a permanently inaccessible place.

It is much like the places that require that a person to produce a receipt with an item in order to return it. No receipt. No refund. No signed document. No prosecution.

Does God legally have anything against you? No. His court system lost the paperwork. It has been filed on the cross. You are free.

You may remember the contents but that is not legally binding.

Leviticus chapter 25 speaks of a year of Jubilee when all debts in Israel are forgiven and the land that belonged to families is returned to them if it was sold.

Jesus is our year of Jubilee.

God makes those who have believed citizens with an inheritance and he has lost the signed paperwork that would hold us in bondage.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Spiritual Momentum

Getting back into studying the word of God can be like going back to the gym. There is a momentum that forms if you stick with it. Then after a period of time, your muscles develope a muscle memory.

This weekend I have been thinking a lot about Sampson and his hair. Growing out his hair was like having a momentum with God. It is a good picture of receiving grace. It is a passive action that builds momentum. Cutting it is the proactive step.

"Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD... All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the LORD, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long." - Numbers 6:2, 5 ESV

Sampson was a Nazarite. If you read his account in the book of Judges you will see he was not a moral man. He broke the other parts of the vow regularly. His urges ended up bringing him into bondage.

"And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison. But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved." - Judges 16:21-22 ESV

Things in life can stop our momentum but then our hair begins to grow again... spiritually speaking that is. God hasn't forgotten us. Our strength will return.

"You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus," - 2 Timothy 2:1 ESV

Yes. We can build a momentum with God... not a moral momentum. Sampson didn't have a moral life but he had great exploits with God.

Let's have a spiritual momentum by being exposed regularly to God's mind.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Putting Off - Colossians - Part 46

Resurrection is mystical. I come to that conclusion again and again as I read this passage.

Our unique word is 'put off' (apekdysis - Strong's G555) it is the noun form of a verb that means 'to strip one's self' (apekdyomai - Strong's G554)

"In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead." - Colossians 2:11-12 ESV

When we believe in Jesus something truly profound happens. There is a removal, a burial and a resurrection.

Believing in Jesus and what He did on the cross is an act of humility because we are saying that we need a Savior. That concept has an irresistible sharpness attached to it that 'puts off' our identity in some way. The old falls away but the next passage has us wholly falling into a grave with Christ. We are buried with Him and then raised with Him all in one instant.

Amazing.

Yes. Believing in Jesus turns us into 'stripped ones' but only for a moment because God dresses us quickly in the glory of His Son.

Today we have a choice. Will we believe? Will we let our confidence in the flesh be removed and trust in Christ for what lies ahead?

"Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." - Colossians 3:9-10 ESV

The moment of nakedness is a past tense moment. If we have believed we have a new identity that is now our true identity. 'It is Finished' is now on our account as ours. The old has fallen away and all things are new.

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