Seeking Things Above

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

(After reading the above passage in a couple of translations, including the Greek text, I decided that none really improved upon the King James, nor did they make it any clearer. So we will just stick with the good ole’ KJV for this passage).

Some translations say, “Since you have been raised with Christ,” for this opening statement, and it can be either a question or a statement of fact. The tense in the Greek does not seem to be conclusive on how it should read. “If you are risen with Christ” speaking of receiving Him as Lord and Savior, received the baptism of the obedient (Colossians 2:2), now we enter into the Holy Spirit’s teaching on living the lifestyle of the Beloved. 

In most of Paul’s writings, he is diligent to give us the position of the believer as a Son of God and many of the blessings that are automatic within that Sonship, then he will turn to the expected outcome, which is a lifestyle appropriate for one is such a position. We could study the royal family of Great Britain if we wished to see a lifestyle marked with position. They have excellent training as to proper behavior, royal thinking, manners, love of people, and on and on it goes. Well, we have the same type of thing in the New Testament writings. 

We are no longer like other people. We are God-infused human beings, so everything we do has divine consequences. That is not to place undue stress on us, but the reality of belonging to the King! So our lifestyle must, of necessity, be very different than the rest of mankind. As sons of the King, we are to serve the people, love the people, govern the people, etc. (If we understand John 13:1-17 — that will help us here). Since we belong to the Royal household, there is training we must undergo to serve and live well as sons of God.  

The first instruction – in verse 1 – is that we are to “seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God.”  This is something many of us know nothing about. Our days, hours, moments, seconds, and our prayers are spent seeking the best way to order our world. Almost everything we seek has to do with the world we know – the physical. We, as a rule, do not even know what is above. This is true even when we read the Word, pray, and worship. Most of us are still “landlocked” into what we physically see, know, touch, feel, want, etc. Clearly, this will take some time and training (and there is no condemnation at all), but many, many joys await us as we choose to “seek,” “look at,” spend time pondering, become aware of, what is “above.” 

Just how do we do that? There are several avenues to begin our journey of as we choose His way. Learn to be “in Spirit” buy purposely joining your heart and His in Spirit. Choose to be in Him and to see what He sees. Meditating and seeking the Spirit’s Word beyond the black and white letters as we read and study the Word. Begin to expect to “see” what was not “seen” before. Sometimes this is called revelation, and sometimes it is a new “Spirit-knowing” that empowers us. As we diligently listen for His voice, His words to us individually, and begin to worship weaving with Him in Spirit with His truth; much appears for our seeking. Other avenues will open as we begin to consciously “seek that which is above.” 

None of this is easy at first. But as we are diligent to begin, our gracious Holy Spirit begins to open realms of glory above for us, and we start to be able to understand matters of the Spirit and not just of flesh. Understanding on the flesh dimension can never do the work of God. Understanding on the flesh dimension can never “see that which is above.” We are sons, filled with His presence and His glory. Our home and our inheritance are above. Let’s go for it! 

Beloved, there is more, much, much more!

Sweet Call! Sweet Jesus!

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20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Colossians 2:20-23 NIV

Before Paul begins to unfold for us the Spirit-filled life and lifestyle, he adds this caution to his beautiful teaching on the placement as in Christ as Sons of inheritance. There is a Spirit way and a flesh way, especially about worship.

The regulations to control the flesh placed upon many in the name of Christ, do nothing to restrain the flesh. The more we think about what we should not do, the more likely we are to do it. In Galatians 5:16 Paul writes this:

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

The way of the Spirit is very different than our flesh-oriented thought life (which will be addressed in the coming verses). In all sincerity, we try to do the “religious thing” most of the time to please Him and get out of our mess. However, none of the how-to’s of man work for any length of time, and we end up in a deeper mess. None of these “Thou shall not” concepts can do the Spirit’s work. That is why the Law could not save. All it did was to point out sin. (The book of Romans is a treatise on this very concept). That is all this type of concentration is empowered to do.

But in the Spirit, worship, and life take on a different type of empowering – an empowering natural to the Spirit of the Lord and supernatural for and in us.

Worship is to be the adoration of the heart to our God – a deep and complete infusion into Him and His love in thankfulness and love. However, we most of the time head to worship to “feel His presence” and to receive from Him something that will help our pain. While all of that is what everyone begins with, unfortunately for us, we stay there. Instead of becoming Spiritual beings worshiping our Spirit God, we become flesh expressions of fleshly needs and dreams and hopes. We become only a sponge trying to “get” all we can, so life won’t be so hard. This is the elementary stage of Spirit life.

The understanding here in Colossians is much different. Our worship is to adore Him and thank Him with every fiber of our being – not to get something. The purpose is not to feel something either, however, when we invest our total beings in Him, that moment becomes precious beyond precious, and we are changed and charged with power beyond power. But if the focus becomes the change and the power, we will once again, miss the Spirit dimension and call.

Once again, we are caught in the flesh expression of our need instead of the Spirit knowing of our fullness. He always knows our need (or our perception of need), but if we do not get beyond this in our thinking and heart position, we will not know anything but man-made rules of behavior.

If you want to know this call, then take a few moments to allow this truth to settle into your Spirit, then turn and adore Him.

If your heart knows the call, take a few moments to respond to Him. Bless Him and allow Him to be the focus. Lord, thank you for making this section of Your word clear to us, we turn in adoration. Sweet call, sweet Jesus!

Listening Cautiously

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“Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” Colossians 2:18-19 NIV

There are folk in the body of Christ who choose to cling to legalism, believing it to be the “safe” way. They adopt all kinds of practices from the Old Covenant and use them to become what they think will please people. They look spiritual, talk spiritual (in their own minds) but their humility is self-made. The KJV says “voluntary humility” in this place. Meaning they are making it happen. It looks good and has the wisdom of man attached. You know the teaching that tells us if you think you are humble, you have just lost it? Well, that is not the word at all. You see, from our Lord’s point of view, humility is an attribute of Himself that He gives to every believer. It is not something we create by the way we behave or speak. To truly be humble, we are to receive what the Lord says about us – instead of the “worm theology” of the religious world of Christianity.

The Lord Jesus has given us Himself. That means that as we willingly learn from His hand how to live and respond to life, we are as He is. To be humble means to be constantly leaning into Him. No pride is there and no arrogance. This we must learn.

These folk also worship angels, and the text implies they have seen the angels they worship. I do believe it is consistent with and in the Word to “see” angels, however, when adoration or special devotion is given to them, if they are God’s angels, they will refuse it. For an angel to receive worship tells us they are not our Lord’s angels. So immediately this person is trying to sway you into what is untrue.

The next part is about how they treat others. The Word says, “Do not let anyone …disqualify you.” The word “disqualify” here could also read, “put you down,” or “make you feel small and unimportant.” It has the sense of judging you and making you feel you really have not arrived – yet. Such an attempt is out arrogance and not of the Spirit we live in and belong to.

So the entire verse is trying to warn us about people who do these things – they can capture our hearts and we then begin to join in and become as legalistic as they are — or worse. Out of our sincere desire to “know Him better,” we can become very bound by our own behavior. This legalistic attitude will miss the person of Jesus because He is just not that way.

Verse 19 tells us the people doing these things are no longer attached to the Head of the Body, and therefore are not growing in Him properly like the Body He is growing. That is a sweet thing to know. The Lord is Himself growing us into what we need to be. He does this after we are a part of His body and it is Him doing it. We just corporate by loving, listening, following, and receiving. It is out of those things that we flow and become.

Thank you, Lord, for your love for each one of us and for your taking on the responsibility to grow us into yourself. You lead us and You guide us into all truth and allow us to study your heart, your Word, your very breath. Give us great discernment to know what we are listening to – life – or some form of legalism. Thank you!

Legalism’s Crippling Grip

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[As a help with this passage, I have shared a copy of one of my teaching charts that I use in our Bible Institute to help us understand the way the Word divides things. We could add all these items mentioned in the verses below plus many, many more. I just thought it might help.]

16So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, 17which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” Colossians 2:16-17 NKJV

The last few posts here have been about the glorious victory that we have as believers in Christ. It might be good to review those if a refresher is needed, before reading this post. Actually, these two verses are really a “therefore.” When we discover a “therefore,” we then need to know what was written previously and attach it to this section.

Since we have such overwhelming victory in Christ Jesus, “therefore,” or in this version “so,” do not let someone judge you about these various items. It is interesting to note that each of these items is something that the Old Covenant had rules and regulations about. Here, Paul, says they no longer apply, and in fact, they can lead us right back into rules, regulations, and how-to-do – all with emphasis on “do,” instead of into intimacy in Jesus with His emphasis of “be in me.”

Our favor (grace) is given to us freely as we have seen. We do not do anything but receive it! Our lifestyle will then reflect this gift as we “be” in Him. But that is done as a response and an empowering in Him, not a “do to receive.”

So many folks get hung up on this very thing. We embrace Him, and then get side-tracked with the multitudes of Christian teaching from our favorite teachers on “how to get closer” or “how to conquer” this that or the other. I am not negating the process we all go through in learning Christ and His heart. But we get so caught on “being like Him” that we try things “like Jesus did” – keep the Jewish festivals, Sabbaths, kosher laws, and a myriad of law empowered items. These actually hinder our life in Him, not enrich it.

None of that effort does anything in the Spirit. We have Jesus living inside of us – we literally cannot get any closer. We can become more focused on that reality, but not in the “if I spend more time doing this and so,” or reading the Bible, or praying, or and or and or. While much of that is important, it doesn’t create what is not already in existence. We are in His heart, and we are responding to His voice and His ways and His will, on the basis of relationship – not action.

The “Crippling Grip” is at every turn of the road and advocated by many beloved believers. Dear reader, let’s get to know Him through His presence, Word, and love. Then much of this will fall by the wayside, and we will discover that His gift is so sufficient. Talking with Him, fellowshipping through His Word, and enjoying today day in His heart, not as a legal requirement, but as an expression of our love and thankfulness – is quite sufficient to bless Him and release us into life over and over and over again.

 

Totally Victorious

Photo by Renee Hoyle - used by permission.

 

 11In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision make without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raise Him from the dead. 13And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14having wiped out the handwriting of the requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Colossians 2:11-15 NKJV

I am choosing to place the entire paragraph here together from the NKJV so we can read the “pieces parts” together and see how it all joins to give us the total victory. We often think we are working toward victory, but this passage says we are totally free and entirely victorious because He has completed the work to make it so.

Our lack of entering into that victory is a mind game the enemy plays on us (which we often believe). The good news of the passage is dangerous – because if we indeed receive it and choose to enter into its truth, then the enemy truly is defeated at every turn. Our Lord Jesus utterly defeated Him and gave us every benefit of that defeat. All the angels know, all the heavenly hosts know – the victory is entirely ours.

I think, sometimes, our “receivers” are a bit diminished by through unbelief. We have made it a mind thing (playing right into the hands of our enemy), while Jesus made it a Spirit truth. Spirit truths are not first accessed through our minds, although a transformed mind is a great and glorious benefit to the Holy Spirit in us. The mind is a useful tool – when transformed. But when it thinks “what it sees and feels” then it is missing the truth and the power of that truth.

Spirit truths are accessed through the Spirit through faith. That trust allows our Spirit (one with Him according to 1 Corinthians 6:17) to receive what the Spirit knows is truth. We begin to receive the Word as truth instead of what we see and feel, and then start to “see” in faith as the Bible teaches.

This will mean living in total victory on a daily basis. Our Lord Jesus did not leave any victory out for the enemy to claim was his. No! A thousand times No! He did it all. Now to receive and receive and receive and receive!

Have a marvelous Resurrection Day Celebration this week-end!

Lord, we long to be open receivers of your truth. So, as we choose to train our minds in the Word, increase our faith’s ability to see and know. Then what you have told us will be real in us and usable for our daily life in Spirit. We love and trust you. Thank you!

Photo by Renee Hoyle – used by permission.

 

Alive and Sinless

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 “13And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses,” Colossians 2:13 KJV

6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Romans 6:6-7 KJV

10For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.” Romans 6:10 KJV

18Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:18 KJV

22But not being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” Romans 6:22 KJV

13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear son (or Son of His love).” Colossians 1:13 KJV

I have chosen to include these verses from Romans along with the two in Colossians because they are all talking about the same death our Lord Jesus died, and we with Him. He accomplished all that needed to be accomplished and has set us free from the dominion of sin.

One of the biggest problems we face as believers is to really believe the Word. These words about what the Lord has accomplished are echoed throughout the books of the New Testament Letters. It seemed to be a problem with the first-century church as well. Receiving sinlessness in the face of blatant “I am not that, Lord knows!” sounds like embracing a lie. It is instead, embracing His truth.

We tend to live now like we lived before, only cleaned up a bit. Our prayers still overwhelmingly occupied with our shortcomings. How different our lives would be if we would believe what He said, embrace it as truth, and live in that light. Our entire life in Him will change and will be released into that place we already have as an inheritance in Him. His sinlessness for our obvious lack as a daily exchange, then realizing its truth and being released into living in Him in power and in Spirit.

He really did say, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:17 KJV. Truth!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for all you have accomplished for and in us, and thank you for turning our attention to its reality. May our today be spent in thanksgiving and praise – You have done it all! It really is true!

Allowing Light to Dawn

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9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the 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)

We have already studied these few verses in previous posts, but I wanted us to have it in our hearts and minds as we read further. I am choosing to use the NIV translation as it is exceedingly clear in this particular passage.

13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-15 NIV)

Reality Check! He did this all for you and me over 2,000 years ago. When we awaken to His love and provision and receive Him for who He really is and what He has done, then who He is and what He has done will become ours. The KJV uses this terminology in verse 12, “hath he quickened together in him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” So, we see, it was done long before we came along. On the surface, there is no argument with this, because we all know it is true. However, many times we do not live in this awareness. We keep trying to make sure we are forgiven, and so fill our time in doubt and unbelief. Nothing we have done was left out of that forgiveness. None of us are capable of sin so great that it was not included.

For us to even think those ways shows two things – neither of them profitable in the Spirit. 1) Too much self-importance, and therefore set ourselves outside of His forgiveness; 2) Unbelief in His ability to forgive. One is a form of self-worship, the other is unbelief of what He clearly states He has completed.

As we go through this book, let’s bow before His Majesty our Lord Jesus Christ, and receive Him and all He has completed for us. It will make an enormous difference in us when we allow these truths to penetrate our conscious minds. That will give the opportunity for them to become a part of our subconscious mind and create in us the ability to flow in the Spirit with Him in His ordering of our world according to His Kingdom.

Let’s read and reread this passage over and over and over and over (maybe even memorize a few of the verses). As we do so, praise will rise, and we will find ourselves in an abundance of joy!