Friday, September 30, 2016

God's Focus - Colossians - Part 12

I love chapter 2 of Colossians. I am humbled by reading it again and again.

"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. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily," - Colossians 2:8-9 ESV

"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. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. 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..." - Colossians 2:16-20 ESV

Grace is God's mind and Jesus is God's focus. These passages sum up the bad theology taking root in that assembly. Jesus sums up the good theology that God gave them at the establishing of that assembly.

In a way, the writer is counseling in the best possible manner. The fullness of deity and of humanity are in Christ. Everything else is a distraction. Everything else will turn into personal disqualification.

Oh, It sounds good at first. It sounds reasonable on some level but then the demands come. Biblical spirituality is so simple when Jesus is at the center and becomes so complicated when He isn't.

Paul dives deeply into 'positional truth' and brings up pearls from the bottom...

"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. 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," - Colossians 2:11-13 ESV

Christianity isn't what we are doing outwardly. It is what Christ has done for us and is doing in us using the Gospel.

The writer is in a great struggle for them because one is so different from the other. Behavioral changes are reasonable but worthless in God's economy. Jesus must be the cause and produce the effect or it is all worthless. Other teachers are moving in like wolves and the writer is urging the flock to stay close to the shepherd. The writer is in prison and is forced to use words from far away.

This chapter makes us want to draw near to Jesus. Grace theology is so valuable and so rare. Jesus is unique and nothing can take His place. He never starts making demands or criticizing us. The gate is narrow and we drop things of our own accord because His love motivates us. We want to be with Him and do things with Him because of love.

This letter was written to me... and to you. Jesus is what is needed. Regulations aren't the answer. Jesus is the answer.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Memorizing A Passage - Colossians - Part 11

A few topics this morning. Mental strength, fasting and resisting temptation.

One of the things I want to take away from this study of Colossians is to memorize several key passages from the book... one verse per chapter is my goal. I picked this one from chapter 1.

"Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:12-14 ESV

I've decided that I'm going to start memorizing passages from the ESV also which is a big decision. We used the KJV in Bible school and in a way it means more work because I will have alternate versions in my head and will need to keep track of which is which but on the whole I think that the ESV is a more understandable translation.

This issue has made me think of the topic of mental toughness. We all need it. Even if we don't think we do now... we will wish we had it later in life.

"You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the LORD your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him," - Deuteronomy 11:18-22 ESV

"Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air." - 1 Corinthians 9:25-26 ESV

If there are times when we say, 'I am not going to eat on this day but instead I'm going to give the money I would have spent on eating to this cause and I will spend the day praying in my mind instead.' doesn't that do something in us? Haven't we imposed a certain kind of order on ourselves that will serve us in other situations? Then when temptations come (and they will) we are used to denying ourselves and can say 'No!' as a one word final answer. It won't be a drawn out internal discussion.

I see scripture memorization along those lines also. We don't do it to please God. God has been made glad by His Son. Our actions can not add to God's joy. We are hidden in Christ. But mental toughness can add to our life.

When I see Jesus in the Gospels I see someone very sharp. He was Spirit led but not haphazard. He wasn't some charismatic personality. He had substance, depth and endurance. Our association with Him make those things ours also if we will enter in.

So this morning I will repeat my passage again and again, word by word and try to say it without looking at the page. Breaking it down into parts and putting those pieces back together again. I am setting alerts on my phone that say things like...

'Hey genius... what is your chapter 1 passage?'

If I don't remember it all or get part of it wrong I won't condemn myself but I will 'exercise self-control' and look at the passage again and until I own it.

The Bible is a treasure and it can be ours.

God help us. Help us to be tough. Help us to be sharp. Make us gracious people who can say 'No.' and mean it because we have already said, 'Yes.' to you for areas of our life. Thank you Lord. We trust you. You are our praise.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Receiving Correction - Colossians - Part 10

In Colossians chapter 1 we see the writer prepare the basis of what is going to be covered in the rest of the book. That basis is extremely important for several reasons but the one that strikes me this morning is this.

We must know that we are loved before we can receive correction and direction.

The Colossians have gone in the wrong direction doctrinally in several key ways. They are worshipping angels, they have a wrong concept or holiness and depravity and Jesus' deity has become diminished in emphasis and overshadowed. Chapter 2 is going to start addressing these issues.

"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. Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving." - Colossians 2:4-7 ESV

This morning I read through chapter 1 several times and looked for divisions of ideas (1:1, 1:3, 1:9, 1:13, 1:21, 1:24-2:3)

The writer is not looking down on the reader. He is a peer but a peer with specific understanding of theology (the study of God) and anthropology (the study of man). He wants these people that he mostly doesn't know (but the Spirit knows intimately) to succeed and thrive.

In chapter 2 the writer acknowledges that there are other teachers and that these teachers are wrong about important issues. He is going to correct them by focusing on Jesus.

I want to be anchored in chapter 1 before I move to chapter 2. It would be tempting to stay in chapter 1 and never move on to correction but that is not profitable.

My theology isn't perfect. It is sound but not perfect. Like a musical instrument, I need to be re-tuned after heavy use and the way that happens is to focus on Jesus. He is always perfect.

Don't be surprised if people don't respond to you if you jump directly into correction. They need Jesus in chapter 1 before they can accept Jesus in chapter 2.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Looking At The First Chapter - Colossians - Part 9

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you," - Colossians 1:3 ESV

"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," - Colossians 2:1 ESV

My idea this morning was to go over chapter one phrase by phrase and really look at what is being said. I was going do a survey and take a step back, to look at progressions and even try and summarize points. But as I began to read the next chapter the shift in the first verse caught my eye. So I went back and looked for that.

Verses 3-23 Have a kind of we--you--He quality. We do this. You are like this. He (Jesus) is like this.

Verse 24 (starting at the end of 23) Paul shift into I--He

Then as I read chapter two over and over again I see a different emphasis: I--He--you

'We' pray for you but 'I' struggle for you.

'Great Struggle' is hēlikos (Strong's G2245) agōn (G73) in the Greek. Hēlikos means comrade or a peer of the same age and agōn is a contest. It refers to an athlete who plays for a specific city-state and competes in their sport or weight class representing their area.

Have you ever looked at the scriptures this way?

I find it easy (or tempting) at times to cherry pick scriptures that say what I want. We can concentrate the doctrine down and cut out verses or words but in a way it is like plucking a flower. The moment you do that flower begins to die.

There is a place for that. We need to know God's mind. To cook a recipe we need a pinch of this and a handful of that but sometimes it is good to stand a few feet back and just survey something. We see amazing nuanced things when we survey and look for patterns.

I want to sense the direction of the Bible. I want to notice which way the current is flowing. I want to hear God's voice. Pray. Read. Pray. Read. Question. Step back. Lean in. Microscope. Telescope. stethoscope. Worship. Read. Form a conviction. Make a decision.

The Bible reveals Jesus and I need to see Him. I love that the Bible is autobiographical and not just biographical. God reveals Himself through the scriptures and we can go as deep as we dare. He is waiting to meet us in His book. He has 10,000 things to tell us.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Christ's Afflictions - Colossians - Part 8

"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, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known..." - Colossians 1:24-25 ESV

This is a very intense passage.

The Greek word for 'sufferings' is pathēma (Strong's G3804) which is derived from pathos. To understand this term we must look briefly at Aristotle.

Aristotle said that there were 'three ingredients for persuasion' or 'appeals'. Ethos, pathos and logos were identified as those three. They are also referred to as the 'three artistic proofs'. Ethos stands for authority. It is when a speaker gives credentials so that the hearer will believe and the speaker is qualified to say something authoritative on a subject. Pathos is an emotional appeal and logos is a logical appeal. Paul was well versed in Greek thought but the scriptures were not wriiten by Paul. God used Paul to pen the scriptures.

We see here and intertwining of the Holy Spirit and Paul's living human spirit. Paul agonizes in his body. He is in prison. This is one of the four books he writes from prison. His body aches. He experiences loneliness. He has longings for light and freedom and comfort. During this time the Spirit is convincing Paul of Christ's sufferings on the cross. The phrase 'filling up what is lacking' is antanaplēroō (G466) is very close to the idea of persuasion. When you convince someone of something you are 'filling up what is lacking' in their understanding.

Paul is saying, 'I am glad I understand what Christ did on the cross. He is persuading me and so I in turn, want to persuade you.'

I don't think we appreciate the value of agony. Perhaps because we don't want to appreciate it. Our minds shy away and want to hide from pain.

I don't believe Paul was claiming to be adding anything to Christ's suffering. I think Paul was identifying with it and there was a deep persuasion happening in his heart that he wanted to pass on to the Colossians.

"...the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me." - Colossians 1:26-29 ESV

The cross was planned out from before time but now it is revealed and Paul's sees his time as a time of opportunity. Even though he is in prison he has been persuaded and the Spirit of God communicates through Paul the 'rich glory' of the mystery which is now being revealed.

Christ in us is the mystery. The invisible God being made visible through sometimes suffering humanity. God wants to woo the world and He has chosen to use us to do that.

You might feel trapped. You may have been deeply hurt. Jesus was all of those things and more. There is an energy working in the one who suffers and still believes. God is going to persuade people with the message when it comes from that kind of messenger.


Friday, September 23, 2016

If We Do Not Shift Focus - Colossians - Part 7

'...If indeed you continue in the faith.' is a phrase in Colossians taken up by those who don't believe in eternal security.

"And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 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 1:21-23 ESV

There is this grand explanation of who Jesus Is and then comes these statements about our past and the word 'if' becomes a stumbling block to English speakers. Are we only reconciled if we continue in the faith? Do we have to be steadfast in order to have salvation? Is this blamelessness Paul is speaking of our responsibility to keep ourselves clean?

No. A thousand times 'no'. Jesus has reconciled us and that reconciliation continues. It is based on who He Is and what He has done. We must hearken further back in the chapter to understand this.

"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. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy," - Colossians 1:9-11 ESV

This is all one chapter for a reason. Paul knows that these believers are in danger. The danger is that this great finished work salvation will become divorced from their thinking. The danger (among other dangers) is that these people will develop an identity outside of Christ as Christians and not remain people who just believe and receive.

Jesus has done something for us but our old lines of thinking can hinder our knowledge of that reality. Our steadfastness must be in rehearsing the truth and focusing on who Jesus Is and what He has done. It isn't performance. It is recognition and what is at stake is not our salvation it is experiencing our salvation in a real way.

Paul is talking about losing our house keys not losing our house. He doesn't want us to leave our bank card at home because then we won't be able to get to our money. Knowledge of the finished work is like having a cell phone to make the call we scheduled at a certain time. If we don't remain steadfast to bring our wallet, keys and cell phone then we will lapse back into old thinking and we were once 'once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds' (see verse 21)

'Don't we have some responsibility to do something?'

The only responsibility we have is to believe in Jesus. That is all we say to people who don't know God and that is all we say to people who do know God... only believe. If we believe and rehearse our belief God will change our desires and it will change the way we walk and what we want to be a part of.

"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:13-14 ESV

'He has delivered us.' Thank You God. Precious blood bought our pardon. We rehearse 'The Faith' today. We look at you work and marvel at your Son. You sent a Savior to save us  and we are set apart because we have received the gift of what happened at the cross. God and man are reconciled. Keep us steadfast in that understanding. We worship You today. You are amazing. We turn our eyes upon Jesus and look into His face... and worship.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Glorious Secret - Colossians - Part 6

I love this next passage so much. It is a divine biography that pulls back the curtain of reality and gives us a look behind the scenes to see who Jesus is beyond His life as a carpenter's son.

This morning I am reading it and imagining that Paul is on stage giving an introduction to the keynote speaker at an important meeting. He is giving credentials and warming the audience so that they will pay attention.

'...and now please give a warm welcome to our host... the one who saved us and brought and calls us all by name... the Savior of the world...'

"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, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 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 1:15-23 ESV

And the crowd rises to its feet with thunderous applause...

Who Is like Him? Demons cower when He Is near. Storms are hushed by His quiet command. He was active in creation. He is the focus of redemption. He Is and always was... He Is the LORD.

I just want to park here this morning and worship. He Is worthy.

Still... In a way our meeting Him is still an underground meeting. He cross is everywhere hanging in Churches but His identity is not known and He Is hated. I love this next passage. It shows Jesus' strategy of presenting Himself in hostile places.

"After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, 'Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.' For not even his brothers believed in him. Jesus said to them, 'My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.' After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, 'Where is he?' And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, 'He is a good man,' others said, 'No, he is leading the people astray.' Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him. About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews therefore marveled, saying, 'How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?'" - John 7:1-15 ESV

For now, we worshippers worship Him underground. Even if we do it thousands at a time. Believing is still an underground movement. In this age and it will continue to be.

The world, the flesh and the devil hate Jesus.

Wherever we go today Jesus will be with us... just like He snuck into the feast He will invisibly enter the room as we enter. He will go into the places hostile to the Gospel. We will know Him but many in the room won't.

If He Is to be made visible it will be through us. Let's introduce Him like Paul does here in Colossians.

He snuck into the feast but then He openly spoke truth without holding back.I want to ponder that today. I want to hear the voice of the Father and know what to say and when to say it. I need to know when to hide myself and when to appear. Only the Father can show us as we walk by faith.

We trust You God. Give us boldness but also give us discretion. We need both in equal measure. We applaud You and marvel at your Son  as we worship You in The Spirit. Send us into the world. Help us. Guide us. We trust that You will.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In A Different Jurisdiction - Colossians - Part 5

"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:11-14 ESV

The 'domain of darkness' is exousia (Strong's G1849) skotos (G4655). Exousia speaks of authority or jurisdiction and skotos is a darkness linked to blindness. The same word is used here.

"Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness." - Luke 11:35 ESV

Paul prayed that the power of God would be exercised in each individual life so that people would realize that they are not under the authority of darkness. The light of inclusion has come to transfer them out and they are indeed already transferred out into a family where there is an inheritance free of condemnation.

This passage is so loaded.

Do we have the power to be thankful? Grace energizes us with that power. God has decided to give us His favor. He has qualified us for an inheritance

Some might say, 'Ok, But where is the blessing? Where is the healing? How does that get me out of my situation?'

This power changes us in our situation and gives us resources. We pray and God hears us. We walk and God leads us. We ask for wisdom and God gives it to us. We have security. We have love. We have resources. No matter where we are and no matter what it looks like.

God will heal us and make us pillars.

"May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace;" - Psalm 144:12 ESV

When the light of truth shines into the situation those who see things as they really are have a great advantage.

That is my prayer today. I am asking that God would open our eyes today. That God would illuminate darkened aspects of our thinking and show us what is invisible to the natural eye. I'm praying that we would be filled with genuine thankfulness because we see history through the lens of Christ's finished work.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Living Uncertain Of Displeasure

'Maybe they are mad at me?'

It is a phrase some people repeat again and again in their minds. How many of us have lived under passive aggressive displeasure? Never knowing when accusations that have been buried will bubble up and conflict will erupt.

I see condemnation as a demonic blanket attack that covers whole systems of natural thinking.

We can rest assured that God the Father is not angry at anyone covered by the blood of Jesus. There is no boomerang in the air waiting to strike. No accusation will ever come from Him. He is angry at wickedness and the wicked system of evil but He isn't angry at those who are hidden in Jesus.

Maybe those people are mad at you and that is why they are acting the way they are. Maybe it has nothing to do with you at all. Maybe they are angry at themselves... either way... Jesus is an oasis of peace and acceptance. He is our strong tower and we run to hide ourselves in Him when others see only our faults or imagined motives.

Perhaps someone needs to hear this. I need to hear it again and again. There is liberty in Christ. Our past is past. Our present can have communion in acceptance. Our future has blessings planned out ahead of time by One who never blames us and only wants to love us.

Thank you God... really we worship You... Your gentleness makes us great... Your mercy endures forever... Your goodness provides leadership so that we can have a change of mind... Thank You God.


Divine Reversals

There is a phrase I'm thinking of this morning as I read and pray for people.

'Divine Reversal' is the phrase. It is when God turns things around or perhaps I can say when God 'turns things'.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28 ESV

Part of why I love the phrase is because it smashes the idea of 'fate'. God exerts force on situations to turn them for those who are called.

"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." - Matthew 5:44-45 ESV

In this verse we see that God has created a kind system but in the first verse we see extra power exerted for those functioning in love.

If we have lived long enough we see that all thing don't work out for good for everyone. That is the reality of living in fallen world. There are victims.

Grace creates no victims. Jesus saves.

I'm praying for people today. I'm praying that they won't be victims. I'm praying that they can see the victory of Jesus in their hearts and minds and I'm also praying that they see victory in their lives.

No matter who messed things up with God there is the possibility of turning. The name of Jesus is a name that brings hope to the hopeless.

Thank you God. We are asking you to exert force today. By your Spirit move in lives. Thank You God.


Monday, September 19, 2016

When The Gospel Takes Root - Colossians - Part 4

"...Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing - as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth," - Colossians 1:5b-6 ESV

The 'whole world' in Greek is pas (Strong's G3956)  kosmos (G2889) in the Greek and it refers to 'every culture'. The word cosmos is not a geographic reference... it is a social one.

The Gospel 'gets in' like a seed gets into the ground displaces the earth eventually obscuring the view of the soil. The cosmos is dead and grace is living. Philosophies may change the landscape of a culture or a soul but they do not produce seed that gives eternal life. Only the Gospel does that. It does that whenever it goes... if the soil will receive it.

I don't believe in Lordship salvation or moral salvation. I believe in Gospel salvation and sanctification. What do I mean by that?... This is what I mean... we trust in the character, nature and work of Jesus Christ and we are saved. The Gospel bears fruit because it is a proclamation made by The King of all there is. It is an invitation to a feast that works in our lives more and more as the day gets closer.

We don't change ourselves... the God of the Gospel changes us by setting us apart.

You might be looking for a change and saying, "Where is it?' but it is changing you as you hear it again and again. It is washing parts of your soul you can't see. We are the cloth in a vat of dye that is stained the color of grace and each new exposure makes the color brighter and more vivid. This color can never be washed out of us. God's mark on us is permanent.

Today is a day to break up soil, sow seed and water what has been planted. God will bring the harvest. He will do it in our soul and in our culture if we just keep sharing the Gospel. If we stop other forces will move in but if we continue then God will bring the increase.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Dangerous Love - Colossians - Part 3

Paul has heard that the Colossians love people and because of that, there are dangers. They need prayer. They need focus. At first, it sounds like he is commending them but later he says their love is 'in the Spirit' which means it is genuinely from God and not sentimental in nature. We don't get the credit for God's love.

Here is the passage... it is long but I just couldn't bring myself to quote portions of it. It is all needed. We need to see Jesus in fullness...

"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, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing - as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

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. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 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, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 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 1:3-23 ESV

Paul is saying, 'I love people also and I have learned that Jesus must be my focus.'

Jesus will stabilize our love. Because of the world we live in love can be a curse. If we love we are guaranteed to get hurt. The Gospel will enable us to be stable in our love. We can be refreshed in our love. We can be radical. We can be vulnerable.

Jesus is the head of the body. If we go rogue we will wind up wounded.

If men and women act like married people but are not married one or both of them are bound to get hurt. It's that simple. The demons that plague other people can eat us for breakfast if we come out from under our covering.

I understand that some groups take this concept too far and lock people down in a way not prescribed by the scriptures. Then there are other people that are so loose that they are are like love's lone rangers. They lack any kind of covering at all.

Love that heals is mostly found in a group.

"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." - Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV

Every joint supplies.

When I see people loving other people I pray for them... not because they are better than the ones that don't love to that degree... I pray because they are in danger. They need focus. They need support.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

One Father - Colossians - Part 2

'We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you." Colossians 1:3

This is linked closely to the Saints and siblings idea. God's family relationship has been extended to us. In verse 2 Paul greets them with 'Grace and peace' sent from God the Father... As if the Father sits in the room with him.

What a great thought. We are connected over the miles because we have the same Father and we thank this Father as we pray. He is big enough to be present in our rooms no matter where we are.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Saints And Siblings - Colossians - Part 1

'Saints and faithful brothers in Christ...'

Paul greets the Colossians this way. The Greek word translated brothers is adelphoi and it could be translated siblings because it encompasses both genders.

The siblings are the saints. This isn't two categories of people. Paul, the person who wrote the letter, doesn't know all these people.

I was just sitting here reading this book and thinking about writing letters and notes to people. I pray that God would help me to do it more because it is a beautiful thing to do.

Who knows what these folks thought of Paul. They could have idolized him. He was the great Apostle after all. Actually he was their sibling. A sibling who had wrote letters... He didn't just write to individuals. He was moved by the Spirit to write to the whole assembly.

How did that start? I don't know but perhaps in writing his individual correspondence someone suggested it, 'Paul, Your letters mean so much to me. Could you write one to our whole Church?' Im not saying it went that way. One day we will know for sure.

Not all of us are letter writers. Some use the phone or text or visit... connection... we are siblings and Saints... Let's love one another.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A House Of Prayer

"And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant - these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." - Isaiah 56:6-7 ESV

God's house is a house of prayer. It is a house of joy. It is a house of rest. There is unity and diversity. God is our host and He will make His guests joyful.

A simple thought to start our day. I don't want to wait until it is urgent to go to God's house. I want to be there and dwell there as his son. Adopted in and born in of incorruptible seed.

Thank You God. Thank You for opening Your House to us.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Preventing Wear And Tear In The Soul

A good troubleshooter looks like an artist but they are really a scientist. They systematically ask questions in a rational way until they find the source of the problem. Then they fix the problem or replace the part and adjust the surrounding mechanisms to work with the new part.

When our soul has a problem we can treat the symptoms, which will give a temporary limited relief, or we can identify the source.

" content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' " - Hebrews 13:5b ESV

Stress is at the root of many of our issues. Stress becomes pressure then weariness and discontentment. Need is realized. Then anger and faultfinding come next which can progress into accusation, separation, division and conspiracy. By the conspiracy stage the mechanism it ripping itself apart from the inside.

There are doctrines that are fail-safes for each stage of this process.

"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete." - 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 ESV

"Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good." - 2 Thessalonians 3:12-13 ESV

"For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." - Galatians 6:8-9 ESV

"A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore." - Psalm 133:1-3 ESV

Wear and tear is unavoidable but if we use the mechanism as it was designed to be used and replace the parts at the right time we can keep the system goings for a long while by taking care of issues in a systematic way.

Understanding God's grace and faithfulness is vital for stress control. Oppression causes an impression which results in a depression and a depression puts a strain on the whole soul.

"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. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." - 1 Peter 5:6-9 ESV

The world is a pressurized place and some situations have more pressure than others but we can actively be directing that pressure towards our omnipotent God and Savior. He bore the weight of the whole world on Himself without a broken bone. He asks us to trust Him and allow Him to take the weight off.

I am unloading this morning. I am giving my problems and stresses to Him. I need to face the day with a light soul so I can be agile and not bogged down.

Lord, I worship You and trust that You can carry my burdens. I don't even want to get to the point where I am accusing others. Thank you for giving us a way to deal with all the effects of stress but I want to start the day so light that I'm not even tempted to operate in all those other issues. I thank you for being my sin bearer and I also thank You for being my burden bearer.


Friday, September 9, 2016

The Rolling Head Of Dagon

"The ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months." - 1 Samuel 6:1 ESV

I love reading 1 Samuel chapter 5 and 6. It is the account of when the Philistines 'captured' the ark of God. The scenario is so rich with meaning to me. In one sense it is a picture of God withdrawing His presence from Israel and creating a hunger in them. On the other hand the enemies of God think that they have won a prize but that prize ends up making them miserable.

"When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day." - 1 Samuel 5:1-5 ESV

What a picture. I remember when grace did this in my life. I was mostly moral guy who felt I needed to earn and deserve things. Then God came into my life and the hands and the head came off of my idol. Grace ruined that fantasy. My idol fell down and then eventually it broke. I follow Christ and so I don't care what thresholds I tread upon but if I didn't I imagine I would care. I would need to rationalize what had happened and package it so that I could live with myself.

The problem is that the bed is too short (see Isaiah 28:20) and the cover is too narrow when we do that.

"The hand of the LORD was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god." - 1 Samuel 5:6-7 ESV

"So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you and your gods and your land. Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed?" - 1 Samuel 6:5-6 ESV

"And take the ark of the LORD and place it on the cart and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off and let it go its way" - 1 Samuel 6:8 ESV

This response is also interesting. The people had tumors and the mice were eating up their fields so they made golden mouse figurines and golden tumor figurines (gross). How weird. But also how human. Don't we see people glorify their suffering? They don't see an eternal purpose to it so they think that by glorifying it will please a God (that they don't know) somehow. There is nothing golden about a tumor or a pestilence that ravages. People turn survivors into heroes for surviving but that isn't eternal perspective.


Heaven sees only faith heroes. Faith pleases God. Those golden figurines mean less than nothing to Him... He will use them though as we are about to see.

"Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. And when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped there. A great stone was there. And they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD and the box that was beside it, in which were the golden figures, and set them upon the great stone. And the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the LORD." - 1 Samuel 6:13-15 ESV

The cart got used. The cows got eaten. Those figurines got put on a rock.

"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it." - Matthew 7:24-27 ESV

It is a symbolic picture of resources that are used to further God's cause.

There is more of course... the milking cows (see 1 Samuel 6:7) shouldn't have walking away from their hungry young... they went where God wanting them to go but they voiced their suffering as they went. Miraculous... any many more things for someone who will look and ask God to reveal them.

I love the Bible.

The presence of God is like that ark isn't it? It is blessing to those who believe and a curse to those who don't. It feeds one group with the resources of their enemies and it causes Dagon's head to roll on the floor.

Thank You God. Please bust off some arms today and feed those who need a provision and are working in Your fields to bring in Your harvest. You are the One true God... the God of all grace... The King immortal and dwelling in the Highest Heaven and in the lowliest person on Earth. Thank You God... we worship You.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

The High Places

"The people were sacrificing at the high places, however, because no house had yet been built for the name of the LORD." - 1 Kings 3:2 ESV

"He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Asherah. And Asa cut down her image and burned it at the brook Kidron. But the high places were not taken away. Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true to the LORD all his days." - 1 Kings 15:12-14 ESV

We had a rap this weekend and it touched on the subject of idolatry and these 'high places' and it has been a background meditation of mine since then.

The high places are often beautiful places where people set up worship. God uses strong language about this type of worship. Once these places get established they become stubbornly ingrained and difficult to remove. Historically the way they have been removed is not by a means anyone would want. God has done it before in Israel through national captivity. Does anyone want to volunteer for that? I don't think there would be many that raise their hands for that method.

Cultures have high places and so do individuals. King Asa got rid of his personal high places, sentimentality about his mother, but was unable (even as king) to get rid of what was present in the culture.

Heroin is a high place in the city I'm living in. It breaks my heart. It is a stubborn plague that has our young people by the throat. I hate it with a holy hatred.

Then there are the ones that are closer to home for me. Churches that mix grace with law and sell Christianity instead of preach Christ. This is worship but it is not in His temple. The bible has become an app on someone's phone and not a blueprint for life and living. Ritual has replaced life. Compassion is subjugated. The Holy One of Israel is limited.

I like how Asa was able to function. It gives me hope. God says that He was right even though the culture he lived in had issues and abominations that persisted.

Jesus. Grace. Bible. Prayer. Having Church. Missions. Evangelism. Giving. Loving. Believing. Nurturing the next generation. Worship. Family Life. Investment.

Let's bring the idols to the river and burn them. Drugs. Pornography in all it's forms. Plastic religion. Time wasting nonsense. Let's bring the whole long list of things to the river and be like Asa. Let's watch them burn and go on with God making sure our time is filled with holy activity and fellowship so that the void doesn't leave room for those stubborn habits to establish themselves again.

Perhaps there will still be pornography in the local gas station and nonsense in the Christian bookstore but we decide what is going to happen in our heart and our home can be salt and light that cleanses our community if there is a place where people can come and the name of the Lord is represented there. The places we gather can be an oasis of life, love and teaching.

God with tears in my eyes I pray for our people who are gripped by the plagues of drugs that fill our cities and suburban communities. Help us to pull them out... one by one... give us creativity. Let our love be real and effective. Make us salmon that swim against the current of our culture. We want to move upstream into freshness and not down into death.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Special And Protected

"Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 'Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.' " - Mat 18:4-6 ESV

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea." - Mar 9:42 ESV

"It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin." - Luk 17:2 ESV

This account is repeated in three of the Gospels. It must have been powerful. Jesus didn't threaten people very often. He was basically announcing that all the children of the world were under God's protection.

Don't hurt the little ones. God is saying you will regret what will happen to you if you do and He means it.

I think of the edification that one child must have received by being singled out that way at a formative age. Jesus showed that child to the crowd and said, 'The quality that this one exhibits today are the same qualities that the greatest ones in Heaven will have exhibited.'


He didn't compare the child to other children. He didn't praise ability or appearance. He recognized humility and put that humility on display.

Do you know that when God sees you He won't ignore you or think you are a second class believer? If he saw you today He would single you out and explain to the crowd how wonderful you are. He loves you. You are under His protection. He thinks you are very special.

I think Heaven will be interesting. We will all want to be with Jesus but once we are with Him I imagine He will be spending time embracing people and singling them out to the crowd and telling a story of a time when they acted by faith. Aren't we all trophies of grace? God's grace has made us into people that glorify God.

Oh God. Humble like a little child. Humble like that little child. Make us that way. By your Spirit... fill us... help us... convict us... remind us. Thank You God.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Too Great And Too Marvelous

"A Song of Ascents. Of David. O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore." - Psa 131:1-3 ESV

A Song of ascent is one of the songs sung on the way to Jerusalem as Israel parades together for one of the annual feasts. This is a short song likely sung again and again as a kind of chorus.

As I read this morning I ask myself, 'What are these great and marvelous things?' They aren't science or math nor are they heaven or Hell. On a natural scale, those could be considered great. Love is not on the list. Hope is not a marvelous thing... not in the way the psalmist is speaking about it. The last passage explains that to us. We are instructed to hope in the character, nature and person of the LORD.

The word great is gadowl (Strong's H1419) and it talks about surpassing greatness. When Ali said, 'I am the greatest!' it could be translated with this word. Marvelous is pala (H6381) and it is an act beyond one's power that causes people to marvel. A sunset is marvelous.

The psalmist says that we are to calm and quiet our soul instead of occupying ourselves with these matters. The weaned child has reached a point of maturity where it does not scream for its food in panic. This child has recognized mom's schedule. Food is coming soon. The hungry little belly will be full again soon. Mom is faithful.

This morning I don't want to just list these great and marvelous things. I want God to tell me and you. I want grace and mercy to break my heart and soften my eyes. I want to look at the LORD and go in a parade-like attitude to His throne of grace to gaze at Him and listen to His words. The world and the unknown future become small there because of the glory I am beholding as my body sits on Earth but my mind and heart worship in a high marvelous Heaven.

Perhaps I have a hungry belly but I am a weaned child. Jesus is Lord. He handles things. The Father feeds me. God has a good plan.

Today I plan to sing the song of grace and mercy with joy and each chorus will have joyful variations. Jesus is Lord and He knows me. The king knows my name and has many meals planned out for the future.

Thank You God... really... I thank You and worship You. Keep us simple but daring and inquisitive. Soften our eyes and words. Strength us for what is coming. We trust You. We worship You.


Monday, September 5, 2016

The Mature Experience That Transforms

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." - 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV

Transformation is what happens when we see Jesus but we need to really see the Jesus of the Bible. He Is the Lord who is Spirit. Jesus... fully man... fully God... fully in tune with The Spirit of God... When He comes into view everything changes including us. This change manifests as growth but not just any kind of growth. Transformation. The Lord who Is Spirit works in exact unity with the Spirit of The Lord to transform.

"And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." - 1 Corinthians 15:45 KJV

Jesus is alive and makes us alive. The Gospel is the message sent out into the world to tell us who Jesus Is and what He has done. He is a man who is God. He died on the cross to represent all mankind. He was buried and then He rose from the grave. He will never die again. Right now He sits at the right hand of God's approval.

Look at Him. See Him through the lens God has given us to peer outside of time and space. Look and see the Jesus of the Bible. If you see Him your life will not be the same. You have already seen Adam. Adam is alive but Jesus makes men alive. Adam was and is a miracle but Jesus is the author of miracles.

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:" - Ephesians 4:11-12 KJV

Many of the other translations say 'to equip' the Saints but that is not quite what the passage is saying. The messenger is sent to reveal Jesus so that a person can see Him and 'be perfected' or 'brought to full maturity'. The messenger says, 'Look at this unique person. He finished the work of salvation.' Seeing Jesus is to be instantly mature for that moment in time. We are quickened by the Spirit and we are transformed. Someone who worships in Spirit and in truth is the picture of full grown maturity while they are doing it. God will continue His work in time and space but in that moment there is nothing better or higher. Seeing Jesus as He Is in recognition is everything. It is the most mature of all experiences.

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith..." - Hebrews 12:2a KJV

Yes. Instead of being distracted from Him let's see Him. He Is with us if we have believed. He will never leave or forsake us. Let's use the Book as it was meant to be used and see Jesus. Let's bring Him into the circumstances so that others will have a chance to see Him as we fellowship with the one who knows us and loves us like no other.


Friday, September 2, 2016

The Grab For The Check

'The waitress is here and I just want to say before we all order that I have this meal covered. You have {all traveled a long way} and I just want to settle this issue long before the check comes.'

The brackets { } contain the reason uncle George is giving to pay for the meal. The above scenario might be known as a preemptive strike. A similar statement could be uttered any time during the meal. It might be followed by something like this...

'No. No. You {always pay} and we {have jobs now} and want to treat you. We will cover the meal. That is {very generous of you} But we will pay this time.'

Nice counter move there. The brackets could contain any number of things. As a rule, they should be persuasive and convincing. They might go something like this... {you are still recovering from that operation} or {I just got that promotion. It is my way of celebrating}.

Depending on the culture this battle can last the whole meal. Oh, The conversation may shift but then the deciding moment will eventually arrive a short or perhaps a long time later... the check comes. Then there may be one last grab. No matter what has been said a quick person (perhaps they have conspired with the waitress to give them the check) can make a play for the small piece of paper to 'pull out a victory' in generosity. That little piece of paper becomes the flag in a 'capture the flag' battle.

Some folks are experts in this interplay and others are amateurs. You can tell the experts early on. They are like chess players.

I have sat in wonder watching this interplay at times (usually as I fight to 'leave the tip'). I play also but I'm admittedly not very good at this game. I have my moments but I'm no professional.

At times I have thought to myself, 'Does this person even have this money or are they going to die with a mountain of credit card debt mostly consisting of steak dinners that other people ate?'

This issue is foreign to some groups but it is very active in others. In some groups, everyone just knows and accepts that each one will pay their 'fair share'. But in others, this battle of kindness rages often and people can even be belittled if they don't put up a decent fight.

Sometimes I have had this interplay with God. I have even made a grab for the check after the argument was supposed to be settled.

"When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." - John 19:30 KJV

Our 'life in Christ' is a reception planned by the Father and paid for by the Son. It is finished. The check isn't going to arrive. In some circles, the battle of who is or isn't going to pay the spiritual check is still raging. Each philosophy voices it in subtly different ways but it is the same battle... the 'I want to bless you battle'... or even the 'I want to be known as the blesser' battle... or the 'I don't want to be seen as a moocher' battle.

The who pays for the chicken parmesan battle will still continue. That is culture and there is nothing right or wrong about it. It just is. But, the 'who paid the spiritual check' battle must be settled once and for all. Jesus has paid the check. Your table is covered and every other table in the restaurant is covering also. That means He has the honor of being our host. He Is the most gracious host ever to host anything but He and He alone has that privilege.

Grace lets us just enjoy our meal. Can we do that today? Yes. Because of Jesus we can. Will we do that today? I hope so. I plan to enjoy my life. It a wonderful gift. I want to enjoy every bite...the bitter and the sweet... in all comes from His hand.

God help us live in your culture today and in this coming weekend. We want to bring it where ever we go. We want You to be our blessing and the person who blesses those we meet. Thank you , God. You are a wonderful host. Thank You for picking up our tab.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

That Is Not Who You Are

You are not your sin!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

You are not the sum total of what you have done. You are not limited to the genetics you have been given. You are the total of what Jesus has done.

'I am a liar.' ---- No. You are not.
'I can't be monogamous.' ---- A lie. A false identity based on lies.
'I am fearful.'
'I am a loser.'
'I am an angry person.'
'I can't finish anything.' ---- Not true. None of it is.

A new identity has come. You and I have been reinventing in Christ.

"So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." - Romans 6:11 ESV

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." - Romans 8:1 ESV

"I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus," - 1 Corinthians 1:4 ESV

"And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption," - 1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV

"For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." - 1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV

"for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith." - Galatians 3:26 ESV

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:10 ESV

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." - Ephesians 2:13 ESV

In Christ, you have a new identity. Without Him, you won't know who you really are.

If you think you are a liar you will keep on lying. That is what liars do. If you are a drunk then alcohol will have power and appeal because it will validate who you think you are. When you think what God thinks you function in a new dynamic. That new identity has a new freedom.

You are royalty. Have the mind of a king (or if you are a woman -- a queen). Think like royalty. Plan like royalty. Your royalty is a gift and that will keep you humble. Cast down the old identity.

Those who never know Christ will one day discover that their sin killed them. The results of their autopsy will be their identity forever. Each nick, bruise and wound will be noted as evidence in a criminal investigation.

Anyone who knows Christ will never die. Their soul will live forever. Jesus already died in our place and now we live forever in Him.