Friday, December 30, 2016

Sevenfold Leadership

Last night at coffee we spoke about Jesus' amazing responses to people and the uniqueness of His, 'Come follow me' leadership.

We touched on a few of the subjects that we have discussed here in this early morning blog. I am always amazed at what God does. Nothing is wasted. Not only that... God has multiple uses for things he puts in our life.

"Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow." - Isaiah 30:26 ESV

I love this passage. It is a 'finished work' passage... seven always speaks of completion... creation and the rest that took place afterwards took seven days... so many sevens in the scripture.

The moon has the night time reflection of the sun. We could say the sun is just brighter but God makes it seem like all seven days worth of light are shining at once.

"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." - John 19:30 ESV

Jesus' whole full life was shining in this moment and it is our healing. It makes even our nights brighter.

Thank You God!


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Find Mercy

Many thoughts this morning.

One was, 'giving people assignments'...

Jesus did it here:

"And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' But when he heard it, he said, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.' " - Matthew 9:11-13 ESV

Only a disciple has a desire to, 'Go learn.'

Learning about mercy is what separates the men from the boys.

The Pharisees sought to delegitimize Jesus as a teacher but Jesus gave them the essence of what a teacher Is.

Oh God... teach me mercy... it seems I need to relearn it again and again. Each time it becomes fresh I turn away from critiquing and focus on healing. Healing Is Your focus.

I want to be very careful who I give assignments to. It can really turn people off. At the same time I want to very available to God's assignments... finding mercy is always going to be one of His top priorities.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Truth In Equilibrium

'When the objective truth maintains equilibrium with the subjective truth (and vice versa), there comes forth much fruit.' - Watchman Nee

"Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." - 1 John 2:7-11 ESV

Jesus is the light that dispels darkness.

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17 KJV

Objective truth must be brought into our experience. Jesus does that for us. A friend who walks in the light does that for us. Fellowship is when 'objective truth maintains equilibrium with the subjective truth' and multiple people are involved.

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." - Matthew 18:20 ESV

Yes. The name of God is objective understanding of who God Is and what He has done. He is not just the reason for the gathering. He is the subject discussed or expressed. Objective truth is balanced with subjective experience. People are told they are loved and they also feel they are loved because the actions are compatible with the objective truth.

Perhaps the feelings come later when they remember the actions and the context of the actions. Later they might say, 'Wow. I was loved and accepted.'

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

When the lamp is on the stand then 'objective truth maintains equilibrium with the subjective truth'. One isn't out of balance with the other.

Grace is a perfect balance of the objective and the subjective. It is the channel used to express all of God's other attributes. If we receive grace then truth becomes sweet to us. When we give grace it can create a capacity in others to receive truth.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world.' 2,000 years ago. It is believed that He said this on Hanukkah. That is recorded in John 8:12 but then in Matthew 5:14 He said to His disciples, 'You are the light of the world.' On Hanukkah candles are lit in a progression. One candle the first day... two candles the next... and so it goes. If we take His statement about His disciples in the context of Hanukkah then we are those candles.

God is filling the world and His home with light... more light each day.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah everyone. Jesus is the candle that lights every other candle. You are the light of the world. {smile}


I won't be online much for the next few days I hope everyone has a joyous holiday!


Friday, December 23, 2016

Two River Gateways

Thinking today about the Egypt, red sea, wilderness and Jordan river progression in relation to the gate versus pathway principle, that was outlined briefly on Tuesday.

"On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands." - Ezekiel 20:6 ESV

God speaks of it almost in a summary but there were two rivers (gateways) and a fair amount of wandering that was sandwiched in-between. Most of those who left Israel did not pass over chilly Jordan.

I want to respect the process God has in a person's life. I don't want to hang on to an assessment that was made that falls short of God's promised end result for a person.

God has gateways for us to pass through... all of us. Impossible barriers that get rolled back or parted by His power. Transformation and renewal are happening during the wanderings. The old generation is dying off and the new generation is coming of age.

Those who pass over Jordan are not the ones who made the golden calf at Sinai.

I was thinking of a man recently who I love but He really got under my skin at one point. He is a charismatic person who misused the scripture in his preaching and hurt people I love. I haven't seen him for a while. His wife recently died and he is preaching again after a time of being utterly devastated and humbled.

God convicted me heavily that I shouldn't know this man after his flesh or his past. God only sees Eygpt and the promised land in our lives. We shouldn't know people after their wanderings. It isn't God's mind. Moses was an angry man in Eygpt but by the end of his wanderings God made him into the meekest man on the face of the Earth.

God has gateways for us. On the other side we will find ourselves in a new place. I want to respect that process and pray if someone is wandering and in a conversion process. I want to have mercy for myself if that person is me.


Thursday, December 22, 2016


Just a bright thought about a well watered promised land.

"For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you." - Deuteronomy 8:7-10 ESV

Water flows in the promised land. It flows in the hills and in the valleys.

In the scriptures, water speaks of truth that promotes life.

"I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it." - Isaiah 41:18-20 ESV

God can water us and make a barren life into a promised land. Water is the key then everything else will follow.

The Bible is my irrigation system. I open it and God reveals His Son to me and then the water flow happens. Green things stay green and barren places become ready for seeds to grow.

Thank You God for giving us water. We don't know where we would be without it.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Knocking Savior

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." - Revelation 3:20 ESV

This is a continuation of the gate versus pathway thought from yesterday.

The knock on the door is a gate that gets our attention. The knock comes and the dog goes crazy and barks. Someone is right there outside... just on the other side of the door and they are calling to you but nothing has changed inside. Your location and environment stay the same (except for the dog that is).

When we go through the gate we change location but this is a challenge to let God in to our home life.

Some folks have a big problem with the phrase, 'Ask Jesus into your heart.' and I understand the conflict. A relationship starts with trust and belief. We 'only believe' and that births a relationship with God. We believe in Jesus... who He Is and what He did on the cross. Telling people they must 'ask' implies they must do something.

But Jesus is a knocking Savior. We don't ask Him to knock. That is who He Is. He isn't just out there somewhere as some theoretical theology. If that is all He Is then there is no active relationship. Conversion accompanies communion. God wants to eat with us in our home just as we will one day live with Him in His home after this life is over. We must participate in communion by opening this gate.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." - Revelation 3:20 ESV

Do we hear His voice? Are we going to ignore Him or are we going to answer the door?


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Gate And The Way

"For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." - Matthew 7:14 ESV

"And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." - Isaiah 30:21 ESV

There are acts of faith. Those are like passing a through a doorway but then there is a walk of faith and that is like traveling on a path. Staying on a path is a longer process.

Both require a reason to make the decision.

Jesus' gate is a narrow gate. His grace motivates us to pass through.

I see people striving in their walk and agonizing about decisions. I do it also at times but then I focus in on Jesus again and clarity comes because freedom is ushered in. No matter what the pressures are Jesus will not reject me. He has already finished the work of my salvation.

We choose to enter doorways and walk on pathways but God has this hidden narrow doorway that He is willing to show everyone but many don't want to see it. The doorway is Jesus himself. There is no striving on His road. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.


Come Boldly And Leave Through A Different Gate

I had a wonderful thought last night. It was a 'glimpse of a scene' thought. Often when I have thought about coming boldly before the throne of grace I have pictured entering a doorway and standing in a grand room with the king in a large chair. It was a room with one entrance that was also an exit. It was a place to linger and then leave but tonight I pictured something different. It was more like a parade that stops before a grandstand. People streaming in from one direction and then exited a different way. Some lingering but few leaving through the same entrance they entered.

"When the people of the land come before the LORD at the appointed feasts, he who enters by the north gate to worship shall go out by the south gate, and he who enters by the south gate shall go out by the north gate: no one shall return by way of the gate by which he entered, but each shall go out straight ahead." - Ezekiel 46:9 ESV

It was a grand vision for me because it spoke of progress.

If we don't exit the way we entered that means we pass through the throne of grace and end up in a different place because we went there and had an audience with God.

Wow. I don't think I will ever see Hebrews 4:16 the same way as i did before.

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:16 ESV

Thank You God. I haven't seen Your throne with these eyes. I have only pictured it in my imagination but what a glorious place it must be. I go by faith now but one day we as a group will stand there beholding what we can only imagine now. Still just imagining it does something to us. We enter one way and we leave another way.



Monday, December 19, 2016

Build An Altar In Bethel

Put away the other stuff and focus in on the right God.

"God said to Jacob, 'Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.' So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, 'Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.' So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem." - Genesis 35:1-4 ESV

It is funny that God is saying, 'Make an altar to the God who appeared to you.' as if there are other options. God isn't saying, 'Make an altar to Me.' He is acknowledging that Jacob has other options and He is challenging Jacob to act on one of many options.

'Which God will you choose Jacob?'

Jacob chooses the God who answered him in the day of his distress. Television, movies and music don't answer you. Food, sex and vacations don't give a living response. They can be a temporary escape but they don't change a person and they can only mirror back what is in the heart. They have no power of transformation.

When Jacob ran from Esau that was the first time he really struck out on his own and left his family behind. Mom wasn't there to help him. He didn't need to worship his father's God anymore because he wasn't under his roof. He was on his own in a cold world and God met him there to show him He wasn't alone.

You may find yourself at a crossroad or a brick wall may be in your path preventing you from going forward. Stop and decide to make an altar to the correct God. Identify the idols and put them away. They only help you to waste time while you are stuck in your present location. They are not of any real use. They just distract.

"And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother." - Genesis 35:5-7 ESV

Then God opens a path for that altar to be built.

Without a mission Jacob would have never made it to Bethel. When he decided to identify the right God then God acted on Jacob's obstacles to open the path up for Jacob to make a lasting impact on the world around him.

Now Bethel has an altar that it didn't have before. Jacob had a ministry that left a mark on a place because he chose the right God and put the other ones away.


Friday, December 16, 2016

A Little Meditative Exercise

Deep breath in... Deep breath out...

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV

Mercy and love come in with the air and anxieties get exhaled.

It is a true meditative state. We don't empty our mind. We focus our eyes on Heaven and purposely relax with God.

It's easy to worry. It's like breathing without thinking about it. It just happens. Things have been set in motion but will the details all fall in place? What about this and what about that? Is the gift going to get there in time? Will they like it?

Deep breath in... Deep breath out...

Do the next thing.

Anxiety paralyzes.

Casting our care oxygenates our soul and spirit.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

More For The Rich

I'm praying for different people this morning and thinking of this passage...

"For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." - Matthew 25:29 ESV

It is a concept that is repeated five times in the Gospels (2x Matthew, 1x Mark, 2x Luke).

At first glance, it seems brutal but then as you ponder the concept it really makes sense if it is referring to wisdom and not Earthly possessions.

I'm praying this morning for people with vision and true wisdom. I praying that God would add what is needed to that compliment vision. I'm also praying for those who have small goals that are ill-conceived... not by my standards but by God's standards... I'm praying that God would drain away the little they have so that they would change their minds and enter into a true abundant vision from God.

Jesus' idea of wisdom distribution was the opposite of Robin Hood's view of wealth distribution... 'Rob from the poor and give to the rich.'

If people are rich in grace and truth (and everyone that sees Jesus as divine, holy and precious is rich beyond measure)  God is planning to give more to those folks. Let that be us this Christmas season and in every season.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

God Told Me?

'God told me what He Is going to do about _____.'

I've been thinking the last few days about that statement. Why do people say it? When do they say it? This passage came to mind...

"The LORD said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?...' " - Genesis 18:17-18 ESV

But we don't hear a voice or have a visitor come to our tent door and sit in our favorite chair and speak to us.

I find this next version in my life...

" 'I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.' They answered him, 'Abraham is our father.' Jesus said to them, 'If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.' " - John 8:38-40 ESV

Jesus is talking to a group of relegious people who claim to have status with God because of Abraham but Jesus' claim is shocking.

" 'Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.' So the Jews said to him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.' So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple." - John 8:56-59 ESV

Jesus didn't say, 'God told me this or that.' or 'God wants me to _____.'

Jesus sees what the Father IS doing as a spectator outside of time.

What Jesus has already done is the key. That is what matters.

I have had strong impressions of God's direction. I have seen the weather and correctly predicted a storm. But I have never had God tell me exactly what He was going to do. Even Abraham didn't know that. God has given me promises from His book and then come through with those one-sided commitments. Abraham walked with a God who treated him like a friend. Abraham predicted what a Holy God would do if He investigated Sodom and Gomorrah so he pleaded with God for mercy.

God doesn't owe me knowledge of His actions any more than I owe you that. I'm not telling you everything I'm going to do today and God isn't telling me what He Is going to do.

I can follow Him and watch though... I can plead with Him for mercy for the people He Is going to survey...

Those wise men didn't talk to baby Jesus and get some great secret about their future to go home with. He likely smiled and made baby noises like other babies do.

If I want to see the future it is wise if I keep my eyes on the One who saw the Father's actions. I want to be led filled by the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. I want to decide and go with a vision of integrity before my eyes and then be accountable for what I decided to do. I want to cast down every thought that would make God a scapegoat for my disappointment.

I don't know what the future holds but I know who holds my future and today that is enough for me.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Uninterrupted Renewal

This morning I was thinking of the little things that steal our joy when it is supposed to be a time of joy.

Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.

My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies." - Song of Songs 2:15-16 ESV

The Song of Solomon is an amazing unique book. It is all about the marital union But it is also about our relationship with God.

Here is a very broad progression of the book
1:1 - 3:5 Falling in Love
3:6 - 5:1 The Wedding and Marriage
5:2 - 7:10 The Struggles of Love
7:11f Growing in Love

This love has cycles. We love but then our love is renewed again and again as it deepens. The brothers represent the spectators to the intimacy process but they also speak of our 'detached self'...  the part of us that views and critiques the situation with detachment.

The details of life (the little foxes) can interrupt our love affair with God if we get distracted by them. The brothers are saying, 'Hey, I know you have a boyfriend but we have vines to worry about here. Get your head out of the clouds. We have issues to deal with now in this season of life.'

The Shulamite is focused on the character of her lover and is occupied with possessing him and the fact that he wants to possess her.

This season can be a season filled with 'little foxes that spoil the vines' but it is meant to be a season of renewed love.

If our focus is right then doubts and details don't have to ruin our love affair with God. Jesus was born in a manger 2,000 years ago. He came and died on a cross because He wanted to possess us and woo us in a permanent union.

Let's draw near to where God Is. He is with His flock among the lilies. He is walking with His disciples near the sea of Galilee teaching and laughing and healing people where ever He goes.

God, Some of us need a time of renewal. We need a time of love and the renewal of love. Give us eyes to see in the midst of the details of life. We worship You. Thank You. We are so blessed that you want us. Teach us to put our inner critic in its place as we command our souls to rejoice in the Lord.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Let Me Not Wander From Your Mitzvahs

I'm asking God to fill me with His Spirit as I read His Bible.

"With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:10-11 ESV

The word translated commandments in the Hebrew word mitzvah (Strong's H4687) and these are not legalistic actions. A mitzvah is a blessed kind action filled with mercy and love.

When we love people we store up knowledge about them so that we can be a blessed to them and not a curse. Our well-meaning actions can be a 'sin against them' in they are done without knowledge.

Other than 'imputing sin' to one another the next best way to kill a relationship is to function without knowledge towards that person.

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."" Mark 12:30-31 ESV

It is very easy for us to wander away from a mitzvah-filled life.

Let's seek God's mind and ponder His words. Let's be filled with the Spirit that is compatible with the new nature we received at our new birth and live a life of understanding love. The Holy Spirit will kindly show us if we have eyes to see it. It doesn't require a high IQ to do this. It requires a laid down life of attention and imparted understanding.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Quit Ye Like Men

Many thoughts this morning...

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 ESV

The KJV says 'quit ye like men'.

It speaks of emulating the best qualities of the men you admire as you stay alert and present in firmness and in strength.

Oh, That is a good thought.

Put away the mirrors. It isn't a time to look at yourself. Look at Jesus and let his character and actions motivate a firmness and watchfulness that results in loving action.

Being all you can be isn't enough. Jesus was, Is and forever will be more than enough.

We have what we need when we are motivated in a vision of who Christ Is.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Filthy Language - Colossians - Part 52

The next unique word used in Colossians is the Greek word aischrologia (Strong's G148) and it used here as 'filthy language'...

"But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth." - Colossians 3:8 NKJV

It is a good translation. The word it comes from means filth related to shame. That is an interesting concept. Filth is something that is thought of as preventable so people brought up around cleanliness often associate filth with shame. Company can't come over unless the house is spotless.

Filthy language is littered with curse words and obscene ideas. Littered is the operative word. It is speech that is preventable in clean society.

Let's move to the verses that follow.

"Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful." - Colossians 3:9-15 NKJV

Wow. The shame economy is gone.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you." - John 15:1-3 ESV

We don't clean up our act. God does. That is profound.

Jesus bears fruit is us and through us. There is no division. Everyone who believes is clean. Our feet get dirty but we have been washed clean.

If we are self-regulating our words then our source of strength is our self. God will give us words if our minds are set on things that are above (see Colossians 3:1)


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Same Tired Pathways - Colossians - Part 51

Have you ever felt that you have 'trodden this territory before' and not just once but many times? I have gone over this book several times the last few weeks and as I approach the passage I thought, 'Haven't you written about this before? Should you just move on to something else?'

I think that is a common theme in life. I for one get tired of rehashed ideas. I get weary of walking the same walk from my car to work in the morning. I get tired of chicken cooked the same 10 ways.

But, The Bible is different because it is a living book. Yes, I may have read the passage before and studied it thoroughly but that doesn't mean I know it. We can take the same keys and unlock the same door in the same worn keyhole and come away surprisingly refreshed.

" '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 2:21 - 3:4 ESV

There are several unique words here in verse 22 there is 'used' and verse 23 has 'self-made religion' (translated will worship in the KJV), 'severe treatment'and 'indulgence' all very interesting words.

We seek above thing in what may be the mundane routines of life. The world, the flesh and the devil (the accuser) are our constant adversaries. They don't change but the do fade into the background unrecognized if familiarity sets in. We set our minds on Jesus who sits on the right hand (the place of approval and honor) and we are seated there with Him.

It makes me want to knock on the doors I knocked on a few years ago. Part of me says, 'Why go back? That is the past. Move forward or you will stagnate and die.' No. Evangelism is different. It is fresh and alive and the people behind those doors may have changed or they may be the same but more ready to hear the Gospel because of what the routine of life has done to them.

Joseph woke up in prison every morning for years and years. He ate the same food and saw the same faces. He was the son that his father loved and his brothers hated. He should of had a good life but the middle of his life was spent in prison. He was a young adult when he got there and a middle-aged man when he was finally promoted and made second in command of all of Eygpt.

How he spent those mundane years made all the difference.

Let's usher freshness in by looking at God. We rehearse we don't rehash. We return and preserve the old landmarks. We live in newness with God.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Soul Ownership

"Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine..." - Ezekiel 18:4a ESV

Perhaps we all make the mistake of believing that our soul (mind, emotions, will, conscience and self-consciousness) belong to our self or even to someone else. Children don't belong to their parents... it is a stewardship. Women don't belong to men or vice versa. Slavery is a lie.

All souls belong to God. He owns everything.

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." - Romans 8:14 ESV

Shocking really. God adopts men and women to set them free.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Staying And Going

I will get back to Colossians in due season but the subject that has been on my mind lately is 'Staying and Going. Returning and Abandoning.'

It is an interesting subject and our lives are deeply affected by how we make these decisions.

"To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches." - 1 Corinthians 7:12-17 ESV

This is passage rarely preached on Sunday mornings but how many people would profit from hearing it. Paul saw marriages. He Pastored and counseled. He saw couples who remained together but fought like cats and dogs and ones who thought it better to part ways.

We are called to peace and a redemptive mindset.

Different branches of Christianity take such different views of marriage and commitment in general. Some preach 'stay' or be stigmatized forever. Others say, 'It is none of our business. We are here and marriage is over there.' There is such a range of thought.

I have read this passage many times and I'm sure I will read it many more. I'll sit with two people who are in a battle to 'try and make it work' and we will read it together. I want marriages to make it. I believe with all my heart that God does also.

This morning I see the power of one person who believes. One person full of faith can sanctify a home. I see freedom not bondage. I percieve the desire to see the people closest to us saved from a life of self-destruction. I see a very careful leader who hesitates to say, 'Thus sayeth the Lord.' regarding this matter.

I think we all struggle with 'should I stay or should I go' matters. perhaps it isn't marriage. It might be a job or a location. It might be a vocation or Church involvement. Maybe it isn't going that is the issue. Perhaps it is returning.

We are called to peace and a redemptive mindset. God has a calling. We as individuals must discern God's voice. All of us are prone to self deception but what is the Bible saying? is there a witness from the believers we fellowship with? What is the pulpit preaching? What is the witness in our prayer life? God has ways to communicate if we are listening and asking.

"For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." - Romans 6:14 ESV

This morning I take my eyes off of myself and pray for the ones around me that are together and others that are apart. Their lives are a witness to me. Some are great testimonies and others serve as warning signs that say, 'Go this way at your own peril'. and I pray for them as I look for God's mind and direction.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Not A Forgetful Hearer

I think all of us have looked at the time intently and the moment we looked away we quickly forgot the time and had to look again.

Why does that happen?

Perhaps because we are anxious about something and finding out the time is an action that is really a means to an end but does not touch that root issue so our mind discards the information.

"For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." - James 1:23-25 ESV

This passage became very fresh to me yesterday. I always saw it as an indictment of the hearer to be a better listener but it is actually showing the difference between the hearer who has liberty and the one who doesn't.

Grace gives liberty. Grace makes us free because the favor we are receiving is unmerited.

The free listener is present in the moment. Perfect love has cast out fear and they aren't doing things to cover themselves or in a fear based motivation.

If we are 'hearing' like a person who is checking their teeth for spinach then we will not be 'doers' because it takes liberty to even have the substance we need.

We must receive grace to give grace. Otherwise, we just impart our needs and not our provision.

Thank you, God! You have made us free. Our chains are gone. In liberty, we have a capacity for whatever You have planned today. Thank You.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Kidnapped - Colossians - Part 45

"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." - Colossians 2:8 ESV

'Takes you captive' is sylagōgeō (Strong's G4812) and it is a verb that speaks about stealing people. Kidnap would work as a translation.

"For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority." - Colossians 2:9-10 ESV

"Philosophy' and 'Deity' are also Hapaxes words.

There is a force that wants to take us away but there is a divine kingdom that can give us a home. The Godhead was at home in Christ.

Here it says 'Filled in Him' but the Greek word (plēroō - Strong's G4137) means to make complete.

A kidnapping always leaves a gap or wound. People get torn away from things and have no closure. If that has happened in the past there is still a remedy because we have a home in God that is as complete as Chist is in His identity. He has no gaps in His relationships to the Father and the Spirit.

The cross was a momentary gap made to let us in. He will bear the scars of that day forever so that we can be completely accepted.

A kidnapped person is never truly a part of the system that stole them. Our rebirth make us family. We are adopted and born in at the same time.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Firmness Of Your Faith - Colossians - Part 44

"I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ." - Colossians 2:4-5 ESV

The unique word today is 'firmness' (stereōma - Strong's G4733). It is the noun form of 'to strengthen' (stereoō - Strong's G4732) which is only used 3x's in the scriptures.

Firmness is a good translation of the word. It speaks of the end result of something that has received strength until it became firm or tight.

The context is interesting because the firmness is there because of the constant flow of strength being supplied. A balloon full of air has order and firmness because of the pressure of the air but the firmness of the balloon depends on that air being there.

Paul knows that the Gospel and the Spirit are keeping this Church in order. He is speaking of a corporate dynamic and not an individual one. The writer is with the assembly in spirit.

He is feeding them doctrine. The letter is meant to make sure that their connection to Christ is strong so that the flow of strength and order that truth produces will continue.

He is a visionary.

Perhaps when a child leaves home for the first time to go to school the parents have this same idea. They aren't with the child but they are connected and in communication. Perhaps they send money or talk on the phone. The parents have a vision for the child's safety and progress.

Perhap we feel the same way about the missionary team(s) we support. We want to see them strengthened and ordered and going forward.

We love them.

{This is where my study breaks down into tearful intercession with God.}

Paul loves them. In His suffering he has connected with Christ and there has been a mingling overflow. He has gotten a glimpse of the care that God has for these people and now Paul cares.

"I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ." - Colossians 2:4-5 ESV

Paul hears that wolves are among the flock but he is far away in prison connected only by the spirit and doctrine. A man brings a letter to Church he loves from far away and he wants them to have everything that they need. It was his care package to them that had a variety or different things and covered as many bases as possible.

I don't want to look at a person or a Church and say, 'It is strong' and put it on some pedestal. No. That person has received a flow of strength and they need that flow to continue. Prayer and active edification are part of that process.

If you have Pastor pray for that man. Edify him. The flow of his strength doesn't come from you but that flow needs to keep happening in order for that man to remain firm. The horizontal and the vertical are both part of that. Sometimes we rely heavily on one or the other but both are vital. Hopefully he has a strong vertical but like Paul we want to see a firmness in the future that is like the firmness we see now.

Believers are like gloves. The hand inside gives them strength. God plans to fill us and all His assemblies with strength and truth is central to that dynamic.

Lies undermine a structure until it finally gives way and a sinkhole forms. If we build on the Rock that will never happen. His stability and order becomes ours.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Beguiling Speech - Colossians - Part 43

Today's word is pithanologia (Strong's G4086) which is translated 'beguiling speech' or in the this translation 'plausible arguments'...

"For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments." - Colossians 2:1-4 ESV

We have all heard theology where people use many scriptures and have convincing arguments but what is being said simply isn't true or is based on a false premise but contains nuggets of truth.

God gives us elements here that can help us discern truth. This teacher loves souls. There is an interest in the growth of the hearer. They are centered in on Christ and His work.

All the mysteries of assurance, understanding and knowledge center around Jesus.

There are teachers who center around science, philosophy, family, morality, history and end times prophecy. They say fascinating things but Jesus is a footnote if He is even mentioned at all. Those folks will gain thousands of followers because what they say resonates with mankind's desire to better themselves but unless there is transformation and evangelism it is all a big distraction.

Don't get me wrong... If the Gospel is preached I'm sure God is using those folks in some ways. They have some affect on culture but what people really need is transformation and illumination. They need assurance and an impartation of God's life.

I'll take a simple man who just lets the Bible speak over an intellectual giant who reads things into the Bible any day.

I plan to read this passage again and again today...

"For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments." - Colossians 2:1-4 ESV

I don't want a theology of plausible arguments. I want Jesus and Him alone.

Maybe there are concepts that are woven into our thinking from past associations or a pre-salvation thought life that have remained in our thinking but they just aren't true. We don't need to ever be introspective but if those things are there I want this scripture to wash us so that the line of thinking that isn't firmly on the foundation of Christ will be exposed and dealt with. Those things 'make sense' but they rob us of joy and assurance. They are incompatible with wisdom from above.

"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." - James 3:17-18 ESV

Wash us God. We want to see a harvest of righteousness. We want to see Jesus.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Intermingling - Colossians - Part 42

I think many people have little empathy for others because they have never felt the pain another person has felt. Once you feel the pain you begin to understand. I think that is part of why hurting people hurt others. They want to be understood on an organic level.

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church," - Colossians 1:24 ESV

Today's word is 'complete / fill up / top off' (antanaplēroō - Strong's G466)

I like 'top off' for this word. I think the pain the writer felt helped him connect with Christ in empathy. It bridged the gap. Like overflow from a dam the water reached a level where it flows into the water on the other side and intermingled with it.

Some people are hard to get to know. There is no place of true intermingling.

I think young men experiment with relationships with women to get sex and young women experiment with sex to get a relationship. The problem is that intermingling on that level does not necessarily produce intimacy. Feeling what another person feels and thinking what a person thinks is the basis of a real relationship. Men often don't want to commit because they are afraid to feel. Their biology prevents it. The testosterone wash that floods the brain in the womb and then at puberty makes them emotionally retarded in comparison to a woman but it also makes him detached enough to do what has to be done in emotionally charged situations.

One of the things I have grown to appreciate about confrontational evangelism is the rejection. That may sound masochistic to some and let me tell you I hated it at first. Who doesn't want to be loved? Then I saw that if I was in tune with God the people weren't rejecting me. They were rejecting Christ in me and that created a true shared experience with my Savior. I became sad for Him and not myself. I also rejoiced for Him and not myself when people responded. I was feeling what He feels and He Is feeling what I feel.

The natural man avoids pain and exposure. Deep down it is guilty and does not want the light to reveal it's deeds, thoughts and emotions.

"And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed." - John 3:19-20 ESV

Jesus hung naked and exposed on a cross but He wasn't ashamed. He is not ashamed of you either. He desires intimacy. He isn't a fair weather friend who is just looking for laughs. He knows you. He has experienced your pain already. The question is... will you think and feel with Him. That is the heart of discipleship... walking with God and having shared experiences.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Shifty Souls - Colossians - Part 41

The unique word today is 'shift' (metakineō - Strong's G3334)

"...if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister." - Colossians 1:23 ESV

On outreach this weekend we spoke to a man who though he was an 'old soul' and claimed that we were 'new souls' who just didn't know that humanity lives again and again until 'we get it right.' When we asked Him about Jesus we found out he grew up Catholic and saw Jesus as an example. Then we gave Him this verse.

"And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." - Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV

This man had either never really put his hope in Christ or he had shifted away from the hope of the Gospel.

I plead with this man in the middle of the flea market and said with love in my voice, 'You think you have wisdom to give others and many chances to live again and again but you don't. If you die tonight you aren't coming back as a chipmunk or a squirrel. You are going to die and face God having never received the gift of salvation. Please consider Jesus. He Is not just an example. He was born once. He died once and He Is coming back.'

He then shifted the conversation and said, 'What about all the people in China.' my team mate began to answer but I brought it back to Christ and said, 'Forget those people for a moment... this is you, me and God right here and right now. God wants to give you a gift. They are none of your business. You are running up a tree to escape reality.'

I tried to stay with the squirrel theme. {smile}

This man was shifting back and forth. He thought when he died that he would shift into another body and spend another life shifting and making incremental progress. He is wrong and I would have done him no service by humoring him.

We locked eyes. I gave him the Gospel clearly. I trust God to use it in this man's life. He was older and didn't seem like someone who would change his mind easily. His fiction fits his lifestyle. But if God could save me (or you) He can save anyone.

"...if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard..." - Colossians 1:23a ESV

We have hope when we don't shift away from what Jesus has done. We have integrity when we return and plant ourselves at Jesus' feet.

My flesh is shifty. It wants to live and justify itself but our spirit (if we have been made alive by trusting in Jesus) is not shifty.

God fill us with Your Spirit so we can live as spiritual people today. Then we will be firm, stable and steadfast. Our hope is not in our progress. Our hope is in what You have accomplished at the cross. Please bless our day and our week. We ask this in Jesus' precious Name.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Having Made Peace - Colossians - Part 40

Today is Veteran's Day here in the United States. It is interesting that our study brings us to this passage.

"For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." - Colossians 1:19-20 ESV

Jesus came to Earth and entered a warzone.

Having made peace (eirēnopoieō - Strong's G1517) is the unique word in this passage and it comes from the Greek word (eirēnē - Strong's G1515) which is used 92x and is often translated peace and once as rest and another time as quiet.
Jesus made peace and quiet through the blood of His cross.

What a powerful statement.

He gave His life to make peace and peace has been made. A treaty has been signed. It is a new covenant.

"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God." - Hebrews 9:11-14 ESV

Men and women are prone to make war. I have seen it over the last few weeks. People war to take but they also have wars of words over what is right. War always has casualties.

Jesus came to make peace. He has made peace with Heaven.

"Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, 'Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?' " - John 18:10-11 ESV

As disciples we enter the battle with the sword of human warfare in its sheath.

Go ahead and hate me. I will love you because Christ has loved me. I fight against evil not flesh and blood. I want peace with all men.

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." - Ephesians 6:12 ESV
Thank You God. You are at peace with us. Make us peacemakers.

Thank You God for our veterans they served and went to war so that we could have peace. We honor them today. Peace is a precious thing.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Prayer That Has Energy

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months." - James 5:16b-17 KJV

The ESV translates this passage this way.

"The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth." - James 5:16-17 ESV

Fervent prayer is prayer with energy (energeō - Strong's G1754). Where does that energy come from? Is it emotional?

I have seen people 'pray hard' in a desperate way for things that haven't happened.

I find the example given here about Elijah very interesting. He prayed it wouldn't rain. That doesn't seem like a prayer that is helping someone. In fact, it is inconveniencing a lot of people. Droughts like that are devastating. God was closing off the faucet of logistical grace using Elijah's prayer.

"Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit." - James 5:18 ESV

Then He opened the faucet again using one man's prayer life.

I think there are times when all my prayers of, 'Bless this one and bless that one' have really just been carnal and have had no energy.

FYI. No one is sending positive energy toward anyone else. That whole economy is just bunk and wishful thinking. We are dealing with kingdoms and intelligent power structures. According to the Bible the universe is a creation of God and not some karmic power grid that can be tapped into and used as a courier service for warm fluffy starlight.

Witholding rain was exactly what God wanted to do for that time. That is what would build capacity. That is what would break the cycles of natural strength. God answered a man's prayer because that man had God's mind on a subject.

I don't know about you but I want to have an effective prayer life. How about this prayer.

'God, Please don't bless that person until they have a hunger to receive from You.'

Sounds harsh doesn't it? Maybe it is just the kind of unsentimental prayer that God will truly answer. Then the day will come for the shower of blessing and all the dust and grime that has built up will be washed away and replaced with freshness.

God please remove our moral 'niceness' and fill us with Your love. Make us salt and light. We don't want to be people of friendly phrases. We want to be people who have depth and true effectiveness. Only You can do this. We pray You will soften the hardened heart and give a backbone to those among us who are friendly but spineless.

Thank You God.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Preeminence - Colossians - Part 39

"And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell," - Colossians 1:18-19 ESV

The Hapax Legomena (uniquely used word) in verse 18 is (pre-eminent - prōteuō - Strong's G4409). The NAS translates this word 'to have first place' and it is a concept we all understand. He was first. He Is first and we will go into the future with Jesus being first.

In one sense when we sin we enter into territory He has never traveled into as a transgressor. Faithlessness is a state Jesus has never been in.

At the same time...

"Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!" - Psalm 139:7-8 ESV

Jesus has traveled into the Earth and visited the grave. He hung on a cross long before you and I were born and experienced the separation and punishment for our sins before we even committed them.

I like that this passage is the one in line to speak about today. We just had our presidential election in the United States and now that the votes are in there is a group that has won and is thanking God for the victory and there is one that has lost and must be wondering how they can go forward. Still... The Messiah is number one. He was first and He Is first. Human governments come in and go out like the tide but Jesus Is Lord.

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." - Romans 8:37 ESV

That is a true statement that will always be true. Jesus has already crossed the finish line and we have crossed it with Him.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Made Visible - Colossians - Part 38

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell," - Colossians 1:15-19 ESV

In verse 16 we have our uniquely used word. It is visible (horatos - Strong's G3707) that verse also has a similar word translated invisible (aoratos - Strongs G517) which is used 5x's in the New Testament.

Jesus made the invisible God visible. He breaks the third wall. Like a character speaking to the audience in a play.

"But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." - Luke 11:20 ESV

Jesus wasn't created first (some mistranslate verse 15 and say that.) He Is first and always will be. He makes God visible. He did it historically and He Is doing it personally in life after life.

He opens the eyes of the blind.

Here is another amazing passage that reinforces some of the principles we see in this part of Colossians.

"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high," - Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV

It is my conviction that all of creation is God's artwork to showcase redemption. Jesus is the focal point that holds it all together in the same way that a main character holds the plotline together of a literary work of art.

The incarnation was the purpose of creation. Jesus made the angelic contest visible. He brings to light unseen forces and dynamics.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." - 2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

When Jesus is in view life makes sense. To the unbeliever, that sounds foolish but to those who believe the invisible is made visible.

God speaks to us using the Bible because of the work and workings of His Son. He can speak to You today. He can illuminate your world if you let Him. Believe in Jesus and God will heal your blindness. Trust in Him and see the hope that is only visible to those who believe.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Pleasing The Father - Colossians - Part 37

"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;" - Colossians 1:9-10 ESV

The unique word here is in verse 1:10 (pleasing - areskeia - Strong's G699) and it is derived from a root (airō - Strong's G142) which means to pick up and take away. Interesting.

This morning as I sit here pondering God's will I can't help but think of parenthood. What is a parent's will for their children when they are young and then when they are older adults.

We are God's adult children. If we have spiritual wisdom and understanding then we can function in maturity towards Him.

We have a gracious Father in Heaven. He is a King who dwells in holiness. He cares for people. He has sent us on a redemptive mission.

Finding His will involves coming under His vision.

Perhaps we have all functioned as little children towards God at one time or another but the writer is praying for the maturity of this Church. An older child who sees something out of place will just pick it up and put it in its place without being told knowing that the parent is pleased when things are in order. Paul is praying that this Church will come under God's vision more and more until it becomes their culture.

I want to take on my Heavenly Father's value system. He doesn't just want me to be happy. He wants me (and you) to be fruitful.

Thank You God. We know you are happy with us because of Your Son. Teach us to be people who see what needs to be moved and take responsibility to carry out the task. We want to identify what gives You joy and participate in those activities. It might be as simple as resting instead of striving or edifying a person instead of passively watching them suffer. Guide us to be gracious like You are gracious.

"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:12-14 ESV

Yes. Amen.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Power And Negotiation

The last few days my meditation has been about power and negotiation. It takes power to even have a negotiation. The powerless have no negotiation leverage so there is often no negotiation at all.

The Bible shows different men negotiating with God. Abraham. Moses at the burning bush. Jacob wrestling with God.

Then there are examples of men negotiating with other men. Ahab trying to secure Naboth's vineyard (see 1 Kings 21:1f)

The conclusion I have come to is that hope is the negotiation power of the believer.

"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." - Romans 5:5 KJV

"According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death." - Philippians 1:20 KJV

Shame comes when we lose over and over. We begin to hate our self because of our powerlessness. God flips that equation over on its side.

Hope assures us that we have power with God. It isn't the power to gratify self per se but it is power in God's plan. We pray and God hears us. We are not powerless.

Today I will go and negotiate with people and urge them to secure the gift that the blood of Christ has purchased on their behalf. I will communicate grace as God gives me ability so that people know that God wants to give them something. I will let them know that their morality means nothing to God. It gives them no power. God holds all the cards and yet because of love He wants to give them power and position as a free gift.

God, I pray that our negotiations go well today. Bless us as we go. Thank you for exercising power on our behalf. It is beyond our understanding why you love us like you do.


Friday, November 4, 2016

Hope And Literacy - Colossians - Part 36

This morning as I look at the first Hapax Legomena words in Colossians I can't help but think of all the amazing Wycliffe translators who struggle to bring the word of God to people groups that have no written Bible. How many peoples that only had a spoken language have been given the gift of a written language all because someone (or a small group of people) took the time to live in their culture and learn from them so that the words and unique grammar could be codified in a written form.

The latest statistics I can find show that as of November 2015 the whole Bible is available in over 550 languages and a full New Testament is available in over 1,300 tongues.

Not many people realize that a Bible translation also gives a written language to many people groups that had no written language before. The spread of the Gospel has also meant the spread of literacy which gives so many other gifts.

The first unique word (1:5 hear before - Strongs G4257 - proakouō) is in this verse.

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel," - Colossians 1:3-5 ESV

Last night we had an interesting conversation about Hope.

"...and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." - Romans 5:5 ESV

The hope given in the Gospel never puts us to shame. Guilt is when we hate what we have done but shame is when we hate who we are. The Gospel pours love into us and it never results in self-hatred.

Legalism does cause shame but the Gospel never does.

Paul uses this unique Greek word to say that the Colossians have changed lives because of what they have 'heard before.' The Colossians love and their love is evident.

How many children will sit in a school house at a tiny desk and write in a language that never existed on paper until someone who loved God came to give a large portion of their life and make that happen? Those people came because the God who gave the good news also filled their heart full of love.

God please bless those Bible translator who labor even today to translate your words into languages that are only spoken by an isolated group of people. Help them. They are people like us. Give them great grace and mercy and touch the lives of the people they come in contact with. They are bringing a gift that adds and does not subtract. It is the divine gift of an identity without shame. Right along with that gift is the gift of literacy.

Thank you God.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hapax Legomena in Colossians - Colossians - Part 35

We are not done with Colossians. Far from it. This is a rich book and we are just going to change gears. There are many unique concepts given and words used in this books. I plan to explore the uniqueness of the book.

If you want to do a neat study look up the term 'Hapax Legomena' in relationship to a book of the Bible. It is a term associated with unique usage. Here is a list of verses and Greek words (translated into English) that are only used in this book and nowhere else in the Bible. They are the 'Hapax Legomena' of Colossians. I excluded names of places.

1:5 hear before
1:10 pleasing
1:16 visible
1:18 pre-eminent
1:20 make peace
1:23 shift
1:24 complete
2:4 beguiling speech
2:5 firmness
2:8 make a prey of
2:8 philosophy
2:9 deity
2:9 bodily
2:11 put off
2:14 bond
2:14 nail
2:16 new moon
2:18 disqualify
2:18 take a stand on
2:20 submit to regulations
2:22 use
2:23 rigor of devotion
2:23 severity
2:23 indulgence
3:8 foul talk
3:13 complaint
3:15 rule
3:15 thankful
3:21 discourage
3:24 reward
4:10 cousin
4:11 comfort

A word never used anywhere else is not easy to understand. We need context to gain understanding. Many of these words have great theological significance because they introduce new concepts or perspectives.

I hope that list is a blessing to you. Over the next few days I plan to reread each of the verses associated with these words in mind and ask God to reveal the unique concepts presented.

"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him." - Proverbs 30:5 KJV

Yes, Thank You God.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Paul's Chains - Colossians - Part 34

Good morning. If you are reading this then that means you are alive and it is my firm conviction that where there is life there is hope.

I had interesting dreams last night. The details of them are fading even as I type but the theme and thought I was left with was the concept of 'being painted into a corner.' I don't hear people talk about it very much but I do see the theme everywhere in fiction and in life.

People tend to get trapped by their own projects or locked into circumstances. Stepping on wet paint makes a mess and waiting wastes time. The grass is always greener out in the free zone if you are stuck in a trap of your own design.

We find that life is filled with many painters and at times our progress is halted by the work of others.

I think this is a fitting thought for this last verse of the last chapter of Colossians.

"I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you." - Colossians 4:18 ESV

Paul's life has brought him to this place. A trapped man who is truly free. He isn't complaining or full of despair. He is writing about the loftiest of subjects. He is moving forward. He has hope for himself and others. God is being revealed moment by moment to him in his experience.

The Gospel is a message for trapped people who long to be free. It is for dying people who want to live.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil." - John 3:16-19 ESV

If you are happy functioning in your own power then this isn't such good news.

But, For the father who suddenly realizes that his life is locked in because he has children or the business owner who knows that others are relying on them this is wonderful news.

It is wonderful news to anyone who has painted themselves into a corner or who has come to grips with the reality that death is coming at them like a freight train and one day they will face the final situation where the only solution lies in a Savior who will be the way of escape.

Paul was in chains. The Colossians knew that. I'm sure they prayed for his release but I'm also sure that it was motivation for them to live in the freedom of the One who gives release.

Are you trapped today? There is a Savior who releases captives.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed," - Luke 4:18 ESV

If you are alive then you have hope.

"'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living." - Matthew 22:32 ESV

Believe in Jesus and join the ranks of the living. There is hope in Him. He will be your constant companion as the paint drys and He will release you from every chain at the perfect moment.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fulfill The Ministry - Colossians - Part 33

"And say to Archippus, 'See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.' " - Colossians 4:17 ESV

Isn't that a great example of the writer's heart? Couldn't we put different names in there?

Don't quit. See things through to the end. You are a steward of a ministry that God has given you. It is a ministry of reconciliation. It is unique to your life and relationship to God. Fulfill it.

Pastors and discerning people have used this phrase in key moments throughout the ages but in this case Paul is talking to Archippus and we know a little about this person from elsewhere in the scriptures. Here is some backstory from the book of Philemon.

"Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you - I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus - I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart." - Philemon 1:1-12 ESV

Beautiful isn't it?

Onesimus is mentioned in verse 9 of this same chapter in Colossians.

People get into complicated situations, don't they? How do we go forward? 'Fulfill the ministry' is great advice. It takes forgiveness to do that. It takes faith in the one who has given us the ministry.

Why don't we just put our name in there today...

"And say to ________, 'See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.' " - Colossians 4:17 ESV

God. You sit on a throne far away but your words of encouragement have reached our ears. You have given us great gifts. Please strengthen us. Keep our eyes on Jesus. Make us good stewards of Your ministry. Thank You God.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Lost Books - Colossians - Part 32

"Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea." - Colossians 4:14-16 ESV

A few thoughts come to mind as I read these last passages of this letter.

What happened to the letter that was written to Laodicea? What did that letter contain? It just didn't survive and get added to the canon of scripture. Still, We don't see scripture as incomplete because God preserved what He wanted preserved.

I think most of the world is looking for something more but more doesn't fix things. More can just complicate life.

I do like that the writer asked them to share this letter. He was humble but he also knew the value of what he was communicating.

I am very happy with the Bible. I don't want more. I read other things but I have no illusions that one day I will find something that will solve all of my problems.

God solved my biggest problems at the cross. The solution lies there.

Of course, there is practical knowledge that benefits people in all sorts of other books and literature.

"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?" - Mark 8:36-37 ESV

When we get to the end of this life our soul will be what survives the grave and nothing we have learned will give us the ability to buy it back if we are lost.

The book of Colossians gives us Jesus. The book written to Laodicea is lost. What we have is what matters.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Can We Be Comforted? - Colossians - Part 31

"and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis." - Colossians 4:11-13 ESV

Two more men.

Justus was also Jewish and he was a comfort to Paul. Just writing that detail about comfort is an interesting thing. He changed his name and we can imagine why he did. It was likely in part to avoid confusion. It says a little about what kind of man he was.

Then there was Epaphras. He sounds like the missions director on the team. He was a man with a vision for places and people. This man did what people do in modern missions offices. He had no telephone or modern devices to work with so imagine doing what needed to be done to reach places and keep the lines of communications open without those devices.

It makes you wonder if this letter was written in part because of these men. Epaphras kept praying for and talking about these places and people. Paul was an influencer but he was also influenced by those around him. Seeing this man's zeal likely had an effect on him.

In order to be comforted a person must be available to be influenced by others. They must be available to interact with the ministry of other people.

Have you met people who can't be comforted or influenced? Maybe the window for that to happen is just very small and infrequent.

The writer of this book had communion with God and fellowship with people. It is a beautiful balance. Can I have a ministry if I don't interact with the ministry of those around me? I'm not talking about jumping into what everyone else is doing with both feet. That isn't wise. I see the writer having healthy interactions and appreciations. He isn't self-centered. He is God-centered and team sensitive.

God help us to have a healthy interaction structure with people. We want to be available to the ministry of other people even as we minister and You must regulate that balance in our lives. Open our eyes. Give us ears to hear and make us slow to speak. We want to see what you see so that we can be comforted by what you are doing in other people's lives. Thank You God. Give us divine appointments with people this weekend. We trust that you will. Help us to be people who put tracts in our pocket before we leave for work so we are ready and expecting to have opportunities to give them out.