What If?

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 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16 LEB

[There is a note about the LEB Bible at the end of this post. Please check out their site if you are curious. I have used it here simply because it was the only English translation I found that matched the Greek texts that I studied].

When I was a much younger person, I thought this verse applied to what happened during the “song service” when we went to church. Now before we go further, please understand the passage also applies to that time together. However, that is not its primary focus.

The Apostle Paul is explaining the Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, Spirit-centered lifestyle of the believer in Jesus Christ. This is what is to be done when we are together – where ever we might be. This is how we are to relate to one another. The word used for “Word” here is simply “logos” which is the overall word of God – however, it comes to us. Jesus is known as the “Logos” in John 1:1. There is a word in Greek that means “the spoken word,” but it is not used here.

To “let the word of God” do something in us or for us, we must allow it to be done. In this case, the Word has been given to us to be primarily not in some form, such as written or spoken, but it is intended to be alive in us as a direct response to be being written on our hearts and minds (Hebrews 8:10-12. It is to dwell (exist) richly or abundantly in every fiber of our being. By our allowing this to be true, it will be in our thoughts every waking moment and will permeate everything in our lives.

Oh yes, we have jobs and we have appointments and we have hopes, and we have dreams, and we have obligations and we have…, you get the inference! But what if? What if we began to allow His word, wisdom, and spirit to take over there (where ever and whatever “there” is) and allowed Him to make us super smart in His wisdom? I just wonder if we choose to allow this total immersion in the Word – what would really happen?

What if? Since we are His and He is ours. what if?

Lexham English Bible (LEB) 2012 by Logos Bible Software. Lexham is a registered trademark of Logos Bible Software

 

Called to Peace

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 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 NIV

“…God has called us to live in peace.” 1 Corinthians 7:15c NIV

As I read the passage for this post my mind went to 1 Corinthians 7. I have been teaching The Corinthian Letters this semester in the Institute of Biblical Studies and remembered it was there.

Here we have two passages that basically say the same thing. We are “called to peace” and we are “called to live in peace.” Our expectation of life together is one of peace, and the same expectation is to be in our relationships in our home.

The Corinthians passage is mainly overlooked in many Christian teachings on the home and marriage. The result of such teaching is always bondage for someone – and not peace. I do not need to write more here. It is enough for us to know that this expectation is given to us twice.

Peace, that evasive substance that seems to evade many of us often. Well, for one thing, not very many people know we are called to peace. Therefore, many of us live our lives stirring emotions of distress and manipulation. Such things abound among us – to our shame. So now we know — how do we apply this.

The first thing the Lord brings to mind is our time with Him. He is the source of our peace – always. Everything else is brief at best. Circumstances and other people cannot give us peace. Only the Lord can. As we fellowship intimately and deeply in Him, He is able to readjust our emotional placement into peace and with that comes a calmness and deliberateness. Such things develop deeply within us and we are then able to live in that essence – regardless of the actions and distresses of other people.

This peace of God is to rule. The word in the Greek means, “to act as an umpire, to rule, to arbitrate, to direct, control, rule.” In other words, this “peace of the Lord” is to be the deciding factor in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. This peace empowers and enables us to move through conflict and the ugliness of others in a calmness that overrules our flesh tendency to become upset and to react – matching others. When we choose what our flesh wants to do, we add to the flame of dissidence and give control of the situation to the other person. In our Jesus, this can be changed and empowered to bring peace to any situation.

As we have decisions to make, if we allow this peace to rule, we will be led in ways of truth and peace. There are many testimonies about God’s people not being at peace with an airline flight schedule, or timing of some other thing. When they heeded the peace nudge within (which comes sometimes as an uneasiness deep inside), things worked out much better than the other plan they had originally made. This is learning to let peace rule.

This is not letting fear rule. If I am afraid – that is not the way to make any decision. If, however, we have confidence in the care of our Lord, we can feel His “nudge” to re-do our plans and to walk in peace.

I have been working on a New Believer’s curriculum for my home church and had gotten the first part of the course finished and felt really good about it. My co-laborer in this had read them and approved the work. As I worked on the next lesson, nothing was not going well, and finally, I just threw it away. In my frustration, I talked with my co-worker and discovered that we both had the same overhanging feeling the lesson should be on another subject entirely. I urged her to write what was in her heart and develop the lesson. She did and it is wonderful. Some of our frustrations just need a breath of peace to bring them into clarity. He is able within us to work all things in peace.

Lord as we begin to allow your peace to rule in our lives, give us grace with ourselves for many of us have lived in conflict so long that we do not know how to receive your peace. Empower us in your peace as we choose our time with you daily and allow you to make deep changes in the way we think, feel, and live. You are our peace and we are so deeply thankful.

 

 

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)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

 

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.”