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.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Two Famous Men - Colossians - Part 30

"Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions - if he comes to you, welcome him)," - Colossians 4:10 ESV

Both of these men were famous is their own way. Aristarchus traveled with Paul.

"So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's companions in travel." - Acts 19:29 ESV

"Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus." - Acts 20:4 ESV

"And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica." - Acts 27:2 ESV

It seems that this man was a man 'outside' who worked and saw to Paul's needs in prison. Paul calls him a fellow prisoner and perhaps he was in a literal sense but it seems that he was voluntarily limiting himself by taking on a ministry to visit the prison and care for Paul. He was likely known by the early Church because of his exploits with Paul.

John Mark was also known but in a different way. He was likely seen by some as infamous.

"And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark." - Acts 12:25 ESV

"When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them... Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem," - Acts 13:5, 13 ESV

"And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus," - Acts 15:39 ESV

He also had exploits but at a certain point he left Paul on the field and Paul and Barnabus had a falling out that involved this man. He later becomes very dear to Paul. He calls him a son (see 1  Peter 5:13) and very useful (see 2 Timothy 4:11) but people are known to amplify failure and exhibit loyalty in the wrong ways.

"...and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions - if he comes to you, welcome him)" - Colossians 4:10b ESV

You might say, 'Aren't we supposed to welcome everyone anyway?' No. Actually, we aren't. False teachers shouldn't be welcomed.

"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works." - 2 John 1:10-11 ESV

This welcome and greeting are the same idea. It didn't just mean, 'Say hello.' it meant invite into your home or invite to teach.

John Mark wasn't just talking the talk. He was walking the walk. Traveling with Paul was no picnic. Riots and stonings were not uncommon on those trips.

The man made some very public mistakes and perhaps Paul makes this clear statement to counteract people's common tendencies to see people after their mistakes.

God, please make us wise about who we greet. We never want to amplify failure and let it color our perceptions. We want honor and dignity to be the center of our expressions. Not the sentimental kind that honors because of renown but the genuine love and respect that originates in You and You alone.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Team Members - Colossians - Part 29

"Tychicus will tell you all about my activities... They will tell you of everything that has taken place here... 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." - Colossians 4:7a, 9b, 11b ESV

It struck me as I read this chapter a few time this morning that Paul was very busy and he had gathered a team of men even in prison. These men were mostly Gentiles because Paul was imprisoned in a Roman prison. I wonder how this played out. Prison is by nature a closed and limiting place but Paul was able to function that way.

As men, it is good to ask the question, 'Who is on my team and whose team am I on?'

That may be easy to say for some because of their social orientation. Some people have a group of college friends that have remained close and others are close to people because of sports, work or neighborhood interactions. People can polarize naturally into groups. Some might say, 'This is my tribe.' and it makes sense to think that way.

Then there are the loners who identify as individuals strongly and it takes special effort to integrate into a group.

Paul, the writer of this book, had a cause that transcended social and natural boundaries. He had a theology that was grace based and a mindset that gathered 'workers.' He was plugged in and He plugged others in also.

The thought of 'team concept' can seem polarizing to people.

Am I your friend or am I on your team? Isn't there an unwritten expectation that comes with being on a team? Naturally speaking teams have real impersonal elements. But what about a grace based team? What about the Gospel oriented gathering and pooling of resources? What if team life builds a friendship that wasn't there before?

Fly solo if you want. Sulk in your cell and spend your sentence scratching markings on the wall to count off the days. You can do that. I don't recommend it but it is possible.

Not me. I love team life. I'm not talking about us against them life. I'm talking about the gathering of people to be a part of something Heavenly and wonderful that grows and replicates to redeem lives, families and communities. I'm talking about the comradery of working the harvest of souls. I want stories to tell that include others.

Jesus was the Messiah and He gathered a team. That team didn't seem so useful at times but they were useful in ways that weren't immediately apparent. Now He Is the King and He Is still looking for team members. Are we?


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Beloved Brothers - Colossians - Part 28

Now we get to a wonderful part of the book. The writer starts talking about people.

"Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here." - Colossians 4:7-9 ESV

If these two men were in town would you want to spend time with them?

Tychicus is described as:
- a Beloved Brother
- a Faithful Minister
- a Fellow Slave in the Lord

He is there to:
- Inform
- Encourage

Onesimus is:
- a Faithful Brother
- a Beloved Brother
- One of them (this could mean several things. He might have come from there but he also might be a different class and the writer was encouraging the people to see him as a peer.)
- He might have been Philemon's run away slave (see Philemon 1:10f) now set at liberty. Which adds an interesting twist.

They are going to tell the Colossians (and whoever else the letter goes to) everything that has taken place and their testimony can be trusted to be true.

Where do we get our news? Is it from beloved brothers? That is where I want to get my news. These two men aren't going to lead me astray. They aren't going to sell me a bill of goods. The have the same theology as the writer of this book. They aren't going to magnify differences. They are going to lift up Jesus and focus on Him.

I had a man I love dearly recently greet me this way, 'Does God still love you?'... What a provoking greeting! I momentarily made me review my theology and relationship with God. I said, 'Yes' and then we talked about the many uses for a question like that.

Later that day I asked the cashier at the pharmacy the same question as I fumbled to pay. I swiped when I should have inserted the chip and it gave us a little time. I said, 'It is an interesting question isn't it?' She agreed. Then I talked a little about the cross and how we know God does still love us because Jesus died for us. She put my items in a bag shyly. As I took the bag I asked again, 'So... Does God still love you and she said, 'Yes. Yes He does.'

Thank You God for our beloved faithful brothers. Thank you for those who encourage and inform. Thank you for unity that transcends class and status. Make us ministers today. We don't want to just dispense information we want to impart the life and theology that has been imparted to us. Fill us. Help us. Remind us. Lead us.

Thank You God.


Monday, October 24, 2016

The Outsider - Colossians - Part 27

"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." - Colossians 4:5-6 ESV

'The Outsider'

That word has a definite article in front of it in the Greek. Salt is a preservative and it was used as a symbol of an agreement or a treaty. Salt kept food items from changing It preserved them. That is also what a peace agreement was supposed to do.

To walk in wisdom is to 'keep the peace.' Grace does that and it is truly needed with the outsider.

What is the best use of our time with people? Perhaps it is getting past the surface things and determining what is keeping someone outside. How do we bring someone who is outside a relationship with God inside?

Grace. Explaining God's grace. Exhibiting God's grace. At the same time we are wise because someone outside is going to bring outside habits in as long as their identity is as 'the outsider.'

An outsider has a different value system and may feel they have the right to take things because they are not invested in ownership as an insider. Wisdom is needed.

People can be moral outsiders. They discount themselves because of morality.

Others are outside because they have been put there by others.

"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." - Colossians 4:5-6 ESV

Make us wise God. The Gospel is an invitation into your world. Is answers questions we didn't even know we had. We want to make a good use of our time today. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit so that we can have words that give entrance. Thank You God.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Continue Steadfastly - Colossians - Part 26

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison - that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak." - Colossians 4:2-4 ESV

This is such a great passage.

What do we want out of life? What do we want for other people?

I think if we can learn to 'stick to it' in prayer we can also have a capacity to persevere in other things.

An 'open door for the word' is also an interesting thing to want. The writer isn't asking for money or for team members or health. He wants an 'anointed window' of space and time to express objective eternal viewpoint.

Paul's open door to declare the mystery of Christ landed him in prison... still... he wants another one and another one. As a matter of fact, he is asking to be better at making the Gospel clear to people.

The 'us' he is referring to includes the reader... 'Pray for us.'

Clarity. Simplicity. Simpatico. No one is reading in motives or undertones that are not there. Don't we want that?

As I sit here this morning I can't help but to review my own wants and notice that some line up with this model and others don't. I acknowledge before God where I stand.

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving." - Colossians 4:2 ESV

Yes. As we focus on Him and listen (with ears tuned to Biblical truth) and talk it out our motives are exposed and so are His. He wants to bless us. He wants the word to flow so we will be free. He is not the author of confusion. He desires intimacy and clarity.

The writer could be saying, 'God get me out of the prison. I just want to live a quiet life making tents and a place to sleep that is safe and warm.' but he isn't because he has God's mind.

Thank You for showing us a model of Your mind through this book. Transform us. Guide us. Today we purpose to keep the lines of communication open. Sharpen our communication skills. May our vertical affect our horizontal in profound ways.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Order Of Address - Colossians - Part 25

"Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven." - Colossians 4:1 ESV

The Greek word translated justly is dikaios (Strong's G1342 - Adjective) and the one translated fairly is isotēs (Strong's G2471 - Noun). Could be translated virtuous fairness or righteously and fair. This is one of the few cases in the New Testament when fairness is emphasized.

I can't help but notice the order of address in these passages about family and work.

Wife -> Husband -> Child -> Father
Worker -> Wrongdoer -> Boss

This is significant. God greets the wife first. He shakes the hand of every employee first. That says something. We magnify and honor leaders but God addresses the glue of the home first and the servant has His focus. Then when He does finally address those 'in charge' He says, 'Take care of these people. I have my eye on you.'

Powerful and instructive.

I imagine this morning that if Jesus met a man with bodyguards He would greet the bodyguards first and then after He had time with them He would greet their employer.

Thank You God. Make our priority system like Yours. We see You and there is transformation. It alters how we operate and we need those adjustments continually. Thank You. We have a gracious Heaven master. You Father us in love. We are so grateful.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Return To An Outline - Colossians - Part 24

Here we are in chapter 4. It is time for an outline, a re-read and a review. Maybe we can also pick a memory verse or two. We have had five weeks in Colossians and it has been a journey.

After the first chapter I put down my 'Jensen's Survey of the New Testament' but I have it open again to p. 335. In my study I return to being sensitive to 'I, you, He, we and they' perspective.

We did this in chapter one and into chapter two. Today I revisit it and stretch it into the rest of chapter two and three as I re-read.

I'm not just entering the building eyes fixed on my own thoughts and finding the room that is needed. I am surveying the structure of the floors, walls and ceiling. I am imagining what the blueprints must have looked like. The big cement column in the middle is Jesus Christ and the writer has poured the cement in stages.

Jesus is the reason for the greeting... Jesus is at the heart of Paul's testimony... Jesus is the foundation of what they believe... Jesus is the correct doctrine... the reader is dead with Christ and lives with Him... choose to put off what is old and put on the new identity in Christ... He Is at the heart of marriage and family... He will sustain us and reward us in the workplace... Jesus can be central in how we influence those we have influence over... It's Jesus, Jesus and more Jesus... Pray with Him in mind... Look at those you serve with and build them up behind their backs... Let God give you the eye's of Christ for each one in your circle and beyond... Then Paul closes the book with this passage...

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


What a grand structure.

Jensen claims this book is primarily one of correction. I see his perspective and respect his scholarship but I see an exalted Christ. I see light that dispells shadow.

We will see what tomorrow brings. I plan to go passage by passage looking at the Greek all through chapter four. We could go five more weeks in this book and it would be profitable time.

Thank You God. Distract us from ourselves today. Remind us to look up and around at how things are built in our world and our personal lives. Transform us as we go. Give us real connections to people as we walk moving into divine appointments. You are the master builder. You are the gracious host... the King... the Saviour... the designer. Thank You God.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Work And Family - Colossians - Part 23

This next passage is clearly referring to work. It leaves the closed circle of the family but it doesn't travel very far. A family has an inheritance. There is a history. There may be money, things and land involved but even if there isn't the future meets the past in a family. Parents have good reason not to provoke their children. They are the future.

But a job may or may not have an inheritance. It should... but it may not.

"Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality." - Colossians 3:22-25 ESV

If you focus on the word bondservant (doulos - Strong's G1401 - which literally translated means slave) too much you can miss the nuance of the passage.

Also verse 25 seems kind of tacked on for good measure. Why talk of family then slavery and mention a payback for evildoers?

Inheritance ties it all together. The employer who works a person to the bone and gives no inheritance is the wrongdoer. Even if slavery has been outlawed in the land the workers might as well be slaves if there is no inheritance. Those employers are as wrong as the man who is harsh with His wife and provokes His children to wrath.

But that is how it is all over the world. People love in the closed circle of the home but they limit that love because they have a limited supply of love. The people they employ, work for or work with don't rate. They can be used as pack horses and they are treated as little more than replaceable resources.

God knows how it is. He doesn't see us that way. He gives an inheritance by grace. Every faith decision has a future reward and remembrance. He writes it all down in a book. His spiritual photo albums are full to overflowing. We who believe are His family. We have been brought in no matter how much or little we have to contribute and it makes all the difference.

God, please fill us with love. We want to bring more to the table than just a strong back and a full-time card. If our employers provide an inheritance make us thankful people. That is rare and noteworthy. Even if they don't we want to bring our eternal inheritance to work with us. Thank You God. We have a good provision. We have treasure in Heaven and it is all because You are so generous.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Building Capacity In The Family - Colossians - Part 22

There have been volumes written on these next verses.

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged." - Colossians 3:18-21 ESV

I keep thinking about capacity as I read this passage. How do we build capacity and how do we destroy capacity inside the closed circle of the home? Grace builds capacity. Honor is royal and amazing.

Each family is so different. What if every member gives grace? Something wonderful happens.

The home is the fundamental building block of any society. If the home is solid then each life represented has so much going for them as they face the challenges that lie outside.

'How can I build capacity in those around me?'

Perhaps we want to change people but building capacity is a much more profitable pursuit because we can't change anyone. We can't even change ourselves much less someone else... but God can use us to build capacity and that is an amazing privilege.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fold And Sort - Colossians - Part 21

Reading. Re-reading. Thinking. Praying. Reading.

Ever fold clothes that are still warm right out of the dryer?

That is what I began to think about as I went through this next large passage. Fold. Put away. Fold put away. I'll wear this shirt today (put that one aside). Fold put away. Oh, This sock has a big hole (throw that one out or make it into a shoe shine rag). Fold put away...

"But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 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.

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.

And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." - Colossians 3:8-16 ESV

Put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience but ABOVE ALL put on love and let the peace of the anointed One rule in that compassionate heart.

Take off those dirty clothes and put on the new ones. Fold the socks and hand towels and put them away for later.

Maybe some of you out there are living straight out of the laundry basket or maybe you grab something clean right from the dryer every day and the clothing never makes it to the closet or dresser. We have all been there. Life get crazy at times.

God Help us please... Lord... please give us ordered minds. Let the cycle of chaos be broken so we can sort what needs to be sorted and discard what needs to be discarded. You are the Lord and we worship you.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Old Versus The New - Colossians - Part 20

Let's let our position in Christ shape our thinking and choices.

If you have believed in Christ then you died when He died and can walk in Him (as we discussed before when reviewing Col 2:6 & 20)

"Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them." - Colossians 3:5-7 NASB

Notice how the writer is pointing to position and not prohibition so that a choice can be made. This is not the law. This is grace.

At the same time He doesn't sugar coat the facts. The world is under judgement and the actions given are what is provoking God's judgement. The hammer was going to fall and everyone was going to be under it but Jesus saves. Jesus is a strong tower we can run to and be safe.

"But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 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. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." - Colossians 3:8-14 ESV

As a believer, we have another option. It isn't good or evil. It is 'old life' or 'new life.' It is Jesus or natural thinking. We can walk like we did as ethnic individuals or we can live as a member in particular with love binding everything together in forgiveness.

Wow. I love this book. I can't tell you how much it helps me. It brings clarity and definition. It opens pathways once closed. It reveals potentials and possibilities.

What would happen to racism if people read and embraced the teachings of just the passages we have reviewed in this book so far? It would be gone! People would have a place to walk where race was not an issue. If Jesus was understood as Colossians teaches then there would be no place for it.

Thank You God for Colossians and the rest of the Bible. You have given us many gifts but I am especially appreciating the Bible right now. It is so sublimely wonderful. Please bless our day. Cover the people we pray for. Guide us as we go. We trust you will. Thank You.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Members Of A Body - Colossians - Part 19

"Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them." - Colossians 3:5-7 NASB

This is apparently a hard passage to translate. I used the version that seemed to best convey the meaning in context and did not lose the literal imagery. The word that caught my eye was member (melos - Strong's G3196) and it seems to mean body part. It is also used here is these places...

"If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell." - Matthew 5:29 ESV

" now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification." - Romans 6:19b ESV

"...but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members." - Romans 7:23 ESV

"And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell." - James 3:6 ESV

The same word is also used to describe our new position in Christ. We 'have' earthly members but we 'are' a Heavenly part of God's body.

"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!" - 1 Corinthians 6:15 ESV

"If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." - 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 ESV

"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." - Ephesians 4:25 ESV

"...because we are members of his body." - Ephesians 5:30 ESV

Perhaps this is not imagery we are used to.

We can look at our hand and see five fingers but then we can look at a music band that has five members and the writer is drawing a parallel.

We look back and forth. Earthly body. Heavenly body. Earthly. Heavenly. The earthly has gotten us in trouble. Now we are part of something bigger.

Back to chapter two...

"...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." - Colossians 2:19 ESV

The natural teacher misses this. A group of believers is the body of Christ each having a mystical life that is decoded and revealed when Jesus is glorified and revealed as He Is. We have been brought into something bigger than ourselves and there is accountability to our actions because what we do affects the group now.

This passage is so loaded with amazing insight but perhaps this is a good thought to focus on. Do we have perspective? Do we see that we have a place and that what we do matters?

God help us. Open our eyes to see what You see. Thank You for the Bible. You have given us Your mind using a Book. It is miraculous. Thank You God.


Monday, October 10, 2016

The Encrypted Life - Colossians - Part 18

"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 3:3-4 ESV

Your life (zōē Strong's G2222) has been hidden (kryptō (G2928) in Christ. It has been encrypted in Christ. Hidden like a secret message has been hidden.

Christ's glory unlocks the code. Christ's glory is His character and nature. It is His deity and His humanity. It is His role in history. It is the true account of His actions.

"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him." - Matthew 17:1-3 ESV

It seems that Colossians 3 gives us the doctrine to 'explain' this passage. These two men appear and no introductions are necessary. It is obvious who they are because Jesus is being glorified in that place.

Knowing Jesus decodes your life. That is partially why people can get saved but then go on to do infamous things. Then others question, 'Were they saved or not? If salvation has meaning how could that person go back to dealing drugs? If salvation is real how come that person lives the same way they did before?' The zoe life was never revealed. That didn't nullify their salvation. Salvation is a moment of believing. Only God knows in those cases.

Identity remains a mystery until Christ is revealed in His glory. Oh, But when He Is revealed the zoe is revealed also.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Outreach Thought

"He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, 'Is there not a lie in my right hand?' " - Isaiah 44:20 ESV

Deliverance from God loosens our grip on the lie long enough for it to fall away from our grasp. The right hand is a picture of approval in ancient Hebrew culture.

What is going to loosen our grip? It might take something catastrophic or it might just be a well-timed conversation.

Here is the what comes next in Isaiah...

"Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel." - Isaiah 44:21-23 ESV

Today we plan to talk to some Jacobs and I pray that our conversations will result in a transfer of what people hold in their right hand. The lie that is holding them back will be dropped and an empty hand will be raised in worship.

God HAS redeemed. I use my will to approve of that reality this morning.

Thank You God. Bless our day. Some really need rest from their labors. I pray those that need rest get it. Protect those in harms way due to weather. Save souls. Please Lord. We believe You will. Thank You.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Identification And Detachment - Colossians - Part 17

"If with Christ you died..." - Colossians 2:20a ESV

"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." - Colossians 3:1-3 ESV

Transitioning from chapter two to chapter three brought back to remembrance a series I taught in April of 2012 we taught a series on 'Identification and Detachment.' It was back when I was doing radio and before I started the blog. This morning I'm reading and reviewing that material.

Identification with Christ's death detaches us in a unique way. God sees us as detached. Death ends a chapter.

The identification with Christ's resurrection and life associates us in a unique way that is outside of our personality, genetics or upbringing. Nuture and nature are overwhelmed and we are baptized into new life.

Setting our minds on things that are above is us agreeing with God on a fundamental level. It isn't just thinking about Heaven and what that will be like. It is connecting and disconnecting. It is 'reckoning' now, today, right this moment in a new identity.

It is the mindset of an ambassador. We are here on earth but our home is an embassy. We speak the language of our country inside it's walls. We are aware of the current events back home.

I'll post some links to the 2012 teachings and I hope they edify you. One of the radio programs features a great message by P Butch Veader and it is very powerful.

Like an immigrant we can lose our native accent as we identify with the culture we are immersed in. I want my voice to have Heaven's accent. God, Help us to disassociate and connect as we should so that we can be good ambassadors. We want to represent your kingdom in integrity. Thank You God.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Challenge In Chapter Two - Colossians - Part 16

Now here comes the challenge.

"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." - Colossians 2:20-23 ESV

This question must be taken in the context of this passage.

"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..." - Colossians 2:18 ESV

If we just quote part of the verse...

"...why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations..." - Colossians 2:20b ESV

Then we can really miss the boat because there are many reasons why we submit to rules and norms within structures. We still live in the world and structure is important.

The writer is asking, 'Why are you embracing a teaching that tells you to control your behavior as a way to please God or yourself?'

In our present new identity as believers, we have a new master and our life is not regulated by rules like that. We aren't on a mission to perfect ourselves anymore. Our God does not demand that of us. He Is holy and we have been made as holy as the Son of God by association.

People who teach asceticism are control freaks. Even if they don't say it out loud they have a white glove in their back pocket and in their mind they are checking for dust.

God is in total control and He gives liberty. God knows His love WILL transform. God doesn't want us to be introspective. He wants us to believe.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." - Hebrews 11:1-3 ESV

The finished work is spiritual high ground. Jesus has done something amazing. He has paid for our sins and given us a new identity that functions under a new structure. We have passed through the cycle of death, burial and resurrection (verse 12) so now lets live in the structure of God's body life (verse 19). Love and mission give us a structure because our communication is focused on edification and evangelism that has a purpose.

In that structure, we say things to ourselves like, 'I won't do that because it is not edifying.' not because it is a rule but because it is not redemptive or pofitable. We live as perfected ones who do not strive for recognition, applause or spiritual self-improvement. We grow in excellent and approve excellent things because they glory God.

We ask 'why?' to ourselves with no introspection.

'If I have died with Christ then how should a person with those credentials handle this situation? Does the teaching I'm hearing line up with that reality?'


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Shadow And The Substance - Colossians - Part 15

"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 2:16-17 ESV

Last night I struggled as I tried to learn a new song on my clarinet. The song was a recognizable one so you could hear it and recognize it even though I stumbled through and made a mess as I went. This morning as I read this passage and try to understand I draw a parallel. The music written on the page is the substance. It is right and unchanging. My practice is the shadow of things to come. It is imperfect now but will one day come to a fruition.

The word substance is sōma (Strong's G4983) which is literally translated body and that adds a whole new dimension to the passage because the body is a group interaction and not an individual dynamic.

"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." - Colossians 2:18-19 ESV

Deep isn't it?

Paul is now exposing group interactions and showing a counterfeit dollar bill and explaining what to look for to spot that it is not the real thing. When we walk into the assembly is there 'body life'? Has the teaching of the substance produced a social substance in the group? The social or corporate substance reveals where Jesus is in relationship to that Church. People miss the mark. They ascribe importance to things that are not that important. Jesus is the head. He needs to be the focus.

Angels are perfect beings but they are not to be worshiped. We don't worship performance either. It is funny but those two things are linked. People want to rid themselves of their humanity and Jesus becomes too human to be central. Let it not be so! Jesus is our picture of perfection and angels marvel as they peer in at the grace given to us and what that grace accomplishes.

"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

Divine culture flows down from anointed leadership and the doctrine distills like dew. Dew doesn't distill inside an insulated house at noon. Location and timing are needed. If the person is at the wrong place at the wrong time they will miss the dew.

Jesus is the substance. He Is the music. We can't stand in judgment of ourselves or each other and have the culture of God. It will be leavened and get puffed up. The bread must be made quickly and served up fresh. There must be a flow. Jesus must be magnified as central, Our performance is a shadow of things to come. We are practicing for a grand performance which will one day be effortless but this life is real preparation for what will be.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Pruning - Colossians - Part 14

The circumcision of the anointing has blotted out our transgressions.

"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, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross." - Colossians 2:11-14 ESV

This is amazing imagery.

Salvation removes something from us in order to give us something in a different category.

People want to grow and have things added but maturation often involves the removal of things... pruning. People see this principle and they try to do the pruning but when they do they just mutilate. People need the circumcision of the anointed One. He removes what needs to be removed and adds by grace what needs to be added.

"He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him." - Colossians 2:15 ESV

Jesus died but then He rose. He suffered loss but then the victory lifted Him into the sky and He was promoted to the highest place a man can go. He sits, as a man, on the right hand of the Father's throne. He shamed the powers that killed Him and He cast off the hands that would seek to keep His feet on the ground.

Now God says He sees us seated in His Son.

God prunes us and nails what was keeping us down to His cross so that we can live in the Heavenly realm. We might look at ourselves and say, 'Why would you want me? Something is missing from me.' but God has taken away what needed to be taken away so that we could grow into the fullness of who He made us to be.

Don't buy into the empowerment lie. God removes first. Then He adds a victory that has already been won.

Thank You Lord. We have a great salvation. Thank you for removing shame. Thank You for nailing the debt that enslaved us to the cross. Thank You for placing us in Jesus' victory. Please help us navigate the complexities of our day to day lives as people that have your life coursing through our veins. Give us silver tongues and redemptive words. Thank You Lord.


Monday, October 3, 2016

The Fork In The Road - Colossians - Part 13

"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 2:6-7 ESV

This small passage has some profound truths in it. I want to read it with fresh eyes.

This weekend someone said, 'We want to be forks in the road for people.' and that is very true. This verse says that Jesus is large enough to 'walk in'... one picture I get is of Noah's ark. It was large enough to step inside and walk around.

Not only did receiving the Gospel open a realm of activity for us it is a place we can homestead. We are planted there and can build there. Faith is established there.

This all happens using the same mechanism that was used the moment we received Christ... faith... trust... recognition of Christ Jesus the Lord.

C. S. Lewis had great imagery in 'The Lion, The Witch and The Waredrobe' at first the children stumble through while playing hide and seek but then later they purpose to enter in.

Perhaps we first enter in to escape our life but then we find that a new life is waiting for us in Christ. We become thankful inhabitants. We are kings in this new land. It takes us awhile to figure that out but royalty is our new identity if we take the fork in the road that heads toward God and not away from Him.