Bound By Love

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“12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14 NIV

We have studied verses 12-13, but I felt we should also study verse 14 separately. After all the instructions to cooperate in the power of our Lord Jesus to begin to personally adjust into the purity of His life, this last instruction is the easiest and the hardest to make real in our lives.

It is the easiest in that it is the logical thing in Christ to love with the love He has given – just like everything else. This is the agape love most of us know as unconditional, full, and unreserved. It seems easy in our circle of friends, but His power is intended for us to be able to interact this way with all. There is no shortcut here – it is just the same as with all these characteristics, the more time and energy we spend focused in Him and purposefully sharing life in Him, the more this flows unhindered. His nature is in us, and it is modeled for us in the Word. As we engage Him over and over again, this flows outward – even when we might like to be reserved.

Our own lists of things to do, and our own agenda’s in what needs to be done – all get in our way in the delegation of time purposefully directed and intense in Him. We all have things that “must be done” that get in our way. Once we settle that this is what we really want in our inmost being, then His time finds a place, and that intensity finds an expression. Otherwise, all of this is an exercise in futility – unless He has His way in us in all directions. His power in His love is intended to live in us as a flow outwardly to whomever. May we find supreme delight as we choose Him over and over again above all else.

The last phrase in the NIV says “…love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” I have found most of the words used for “unity” in our English Bibles are not what we understand when we say “unity.” The word used here is a word used many times in the New Testament, and it always means “complete, completeness,” and it is sometimes translated as “perfect.” It is the completeness we feel when we know all is well and we have no lack or shortcoming. It is the word that means “to consummate” or to bring all things into perfect placement. This is used for the way Jesus is in God, translated as “fullness” as in Colossians 2:9. It also says we were brought into that same fullness or completeness.

So you see, it is all about being who He is towards everyone. This makes all the processing we do in Him work well. It is no badge of merit, but simply leaning and loving Him and choosing Him above everything and everyone. It has no limit to what He does within us when we move into a total reception of His person.

Such wonder, and such open doors to all. That is who our Lord Jesus is, and who He is making us to be as well.

1 John 4 “17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” NIV

Forgive As The Lord…

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“12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” 

In the last post, we worked with what “clothes” to wear as we live our lives in Jesus. Today we look at the 2nd item – verse 13  “ 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” 

Most of our Christian teaching on Forgiveness begins and ends in Matthew 6:14-15, 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” The verse in Colossians is not generally even known. 

There is a conflict between the two. In the Matthew passage, the Lord makes it clear that people who want to be forgiven must forgive others first. In the Colossians passage, the instruction is to forgive in direct reference to the Lord’s forgiving you – already. So what are we to do?

The Word when rightly divided and in context, never contradicts itself. Such contradictions arise when the division of the Covenants are not clearly understood. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were all written about a time before the New Covenant was put into place. Jesus was, many times, teaching the true meaning of the Law, and since He lived in the flesh under the Law period and He was fulfilling and teaching the Law without all the traditions of Judaism that had been honored – He was trying to get them to see the purity and the requirements of that Law.

Colossians was probably written toward the end of Paul’s first Roman imprisonment – somewhere around 62 AD. So this was in the first 100 years after the Lord’s death, resurrection and the day of Pentecost. So the understanding of the New Covenant has been taught by Paul, and the other apostles as well) for a good 50 years. There is no need to interject within this passage a teaching on forgiveness based on the Law. Instead, since the Lord saves us to the “uttermost” the instant, we say “yes”  – we are entirely forgiven even before we know to forgive.

In the New Covenant, everything is a gift, and everything is based on the work of Christ. Our living out the life of Christ within this gift of salvation does not merit anything – for everything has already been granted. (Oh how the Lord longs for us to understand this). We have entered into the possibilities of an intimate relationship in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit where we learn to access all He his provided in the word Salvation.

So being entirely and wonderfully forgiven, we then are empowered to allow that forgiveness to flow. In the Old Covenant, it had to originate with us for that flow to exist. Now, in the New Covenant, all has wholly originated in the Lord. He has produced the flood of forgiveness and tells us here to participate by forgiving as He forgave us – freely and as a gift.

I have written a booklet called, “Do Yourselves a Favor, Forgive” and you may read a PDF version of that booklet here. Just go to the “Writings” tab above and then click on that title. It will explain this concept more fully.

Next Post: The Freedom of Forgiveness!

All Scripture:

New International Version (NIV)

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Make A Choice

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12Therefore, as God’s Chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

As the Holy Spirit continues to instruct our hearts in the likeness of Christ, these “put on” characteristics tumble out of His heart onto the page. The language gives us some indication as to how all this works. These are, if you will, “to do’s.” They are not “how-to’s” because the how-to is supplied in the very nature of the One who lives within us. These are things that we must do to access that nature. It is real, and it is not hypocritical to allow Him to become our outward being, just like we have allowed Him to become our inward being.

When Christ came inside of us, the entire fullness of Him came within us (Colossians 2:9-10). This means all His characteristics and attributes. So, the Holy Spirit can now just say, “Take out compassion, kindness, etc. and let them be your expressions in this realm.” This is our part. You see, potentially the Lord forgave everyone, but everyone must receive Him and then live out His benefits. 6So, then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6) Likewise, all the benefits in Him (everything He is) awaits our willingness to allow its expression. It is all a matter of relationship. Accessing all He is merely means to receive and take as our own – all He is and all He brings into our persons as a result of His indwelling by our permission.

Sometimes we are lulled into the attitude of “Jesus will do it for me.” Now He does many, many things for us automatically (Ephesians 1:3-14 is a good illustration of that). But He does not overrule what we want. He longs for us to choose His way in all expressions of our lives. An awareness of this does not place us back under law at all but instead releases us into Him as He empowers our choice.

We have an awesome Savior! All these attributes, Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, putting up with one another and forgiving one another are all already empowered in us. Now let’s purposely begin to order our minds and actions according to that power. It is a marvelous interaction in Him!

Lord, thank you for all your gifts, but most of all for our relationship, so sweet and tender yet powerful and real, in You! In adoration we love You.

Let Freedom Ring!

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 11.05.39 AM9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:9-12 NIV

First the good news (above)! It really is good news. Everything about that passage is good news, and we have studied it in this series. We just needed to refresh ourselves in its truth before proceeding with today’s passage.

5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:5-11 NIV

The Lord is very serious with us here. He has done the impossible part – he took off our flesh nature and has given us His – now our part is to put to death all the characteristics of that old self-person and receive the new self – the image being renewed continually in the image of our Father, Lord Jesus, and precious Holy Spirit. If we read Galatians 5:19-21 we will find a similar list when describing the “acts of the flesh.”

When the Lord does such marvelous giftings (as Himself in all fullness), there is always the expectation, empowerment, and instruction to join Him in that action by getting rid of all the traces of the expressions of that earth life. He does not do for us what He has told us to do. We can pray all day asking Him to take care of these, but He has instructed us to take care of them. We are not helpless, but empowered and free to choose. He teaches us how to choose.

These passages are freedom ones, urging us to take action in Him and in His designated power in us to change what only we can change.

So, let’s let freedom in His fullness Ring! Let us take advantage of everything His person is and not hold back when it gets tough on our flesh. Our flesh has been made holy in Him! That is what Colossians is saying! So, let’s cooperate in His fullness and allow these characteristics to die so the fruit of the Spirit can be expressed fully through us.

Lord, we have said yes, and we say yes again!

 

 

 

Appearing in Glory

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1-“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2-Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3-For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4-When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 KJV

The last verse of this section continues instruction regarding our present and eternal placement. At first reading, one would think it is only talking about the future when we “see Him as He is.” However, as I sit with it, I am aware of its present day/time reality. Let me try to explain.

We know that when we leave this realm of life, as born-again believers, we will join Him in the Spirit realm for eternity. However, now, when He is clearly present in us, with us, through us, and housed in us (we are the Temple), then we are seen in that same glory. It is the element of His person and presence that becomes visible in this realm at times. In the Old Covenant, it appeared as the cloud that could not be ministered within and the fire that overshadowed Israel at night.

In the New Covenant, we are resident within that glory. As one in and with Christ through the Holy Spirit, that glory is within us. We do not generate it – He does! It is a part of His person and His presence.

However, unless we choose to allow this glory of His person and presence to be our breath, purpose, and joy, it is highly likely that we do not even know what it means to be in His presence. Oh I know, He is present everywhere – Yes He is! However, the presence of His person that brings glory into our lives is another dimension of His person than most even know exist. It is not something of our creation, but His.

I am reminded of the fruit of the Holy Spirit spoken about in Galatians 5:22-23. Those nine characteristics, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, are not developed through study. Study we must, but study in and of itself does not produce these within us. Only purposeful communion and fellowship in the Holy Spirit will do that. Our emotions become trained in Him so that the expression of our living brings revealed glory.

No, we do not all glow! We do however have an essence of person that lets others know He is here. We are known and seen in that glory. This presence can at times be seen physically, but it is always known by faith and seen in Spirit. It has a “glow and a shine” but only in Spirit. So as we make Him known in our lives, we too are known in Him.

When He is seen, we are seen with Him in glory! So I guess the questions is, is Christ really our life? Or is He an add-on to make sure we go to heaven? Or have we chosen to make His interests and His desires our own? What is the dimension of life we each share in Him? Are our prayers all about this material life, people, and stuff? Or are we learning in Spirit to see through His eyes and talk with Him about those things?

“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

In Him

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1-“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2-Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3-For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4-When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 KJV

“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” What an amazing statement. If we have risen with Christ, then we are dead,  and our life is hidden with Christ in God.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” NIV

Romans 6:8-11 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” NIV

I wanted us to share at least two other passages that say just about the same thing. They make it very clear that we have died with Him. In Ephesians 2:5-6 we read that we were also raised with Him. So our passage here in Colossians 3 is just recounting a repeated truth found in the New Testament. 

We died with Him; we were raised with Him; we are now hidden with Christ in God. So our life is His life, and His resurrected life is our life. The next verse tells us what will happen to our life later, but right now let’s just focus on the fact that the death that He died was not only substitutionary but also participatory – we did it with Him in the Spirit. We were in Him, in Spirit, as He was being crucified. The advantages He has as a resurrected human, we also have, as we have taken the journey in Him. The ramifications of these facts are enormous in our understanding.

Our lives now are hidden in Him in God. What an absolutely marvelous placement. When we begin to accept this, then we will start to allow our true identity to be manifested, as that brings Him glory and we find our total completion in His being. This is not an “if I try hard enough,” or if I do this or that,” it is instead a Spirit reality based on the Word that we discover in His love and abundant grace. 

Now we can begin to live in the Spiritual realms found in Ephesians 1:1-14. Now we can begin to receive and live in the trust of Him in us so that it is no longer me but Christ living in me. This takes some real changing of our minds. (That is the meaning of the Greek word translated “repentance.”) We are no longer trying to please a God way up in Heaven in an impossible flesh discipline cycle, but we are in Him and have shared His journey. Now He is in us, and we are infused entirely together in life based on His love, mercy, and grace. He now shares our journey. We are released to be Him in our world (1 John 4:17b), with all the love and power He possesses. 

We must rethink our position, our life, and our future. It is all Him. He has done it and included you and me. 

Lord, “thank you” can never be enough to say or be. It is what our English can say, so Thank you! We receive and begin another kind of journey in You in our Father. Thank you!

Where We Belong

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1-“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2-Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3-For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4-When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 KJV

In the previous post, we covered the first verse of this passage where we are instructed to set seek those “things” which are above. Now we look at verse 2, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”  The word used here in the Greek text for “affection” means “to have the understanding to think, judge, observe, direct the mind to, see for, care for.” We would naturally turn to the word “mind” the Greek word does mean that, but also includes the heart, the soul. So really we could accurately say, “Set your entire being to love and think about things above, not on things here on earth.” It points us to spend our time in the Spiritual sphere of existence. 

We live in both spheres. The natural, and the Spiritual. We make a moment by moment choice as to where that affection and thinking goes. For most of us, even all our time working with the Lord, prayer, etc… including our worship, is spent thinking and talking to Him about here. We need to really consider what we are to be doing with our time here. There will come the time when our existence is in that sphere and there only. For now, we occupy both. So the challenge the Holy Spirit is giving us is to develop our spirits in Him so thoroughly that we are able to take all ques and instructions from there and operate there more freely than here. To learn that when we read the Word, we see in the Spirit instead of just working to apply it here, let us get to where we can “see” the reality of the Word there in Him – then we can rightly live out the instruction in the now. 

Beloved this is huge! If we were to take this seriously, it would totally rearrange our priorities. We need to not only consider this but to take advantage of the invitation to do it! It will remake us – from the inside out into people of God’s love and God’s power in our Lord Jesus. 

This is not an “I hope you will consider it” approach. The Holy Spirit has given us direct instructions to do it! 

Next post we will look at verse 4 where we are told why. It is a biggie too, but for now, let’s receive the instruction of the Holy Spirit and begin to not only seek – but to set our hearts and minds there. 

He continues to call.

Yes, Lord, we hear and follow. I know you are giving us instructions for real-life – eternal. In your strength, we accept the call, voice, and direction. Trusting You to continue to show us how.