The Way of Submission

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18Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:18-21 NIV

The passage continues to include slaves and masters. At the time of Paul’s writing of this book, those were also included in the management of a home. I am choosing to work with slaves and masters separately, as in our culture these will fall into an “employment” understanding.

These verses are critical as we seek to know the ways and thoughts of our Lord Jesus Christ. Each of these verses has volumes of understanding that I believe the Lord wants us to receive. However, one blog post can only suggest a few things and then leave the Lord to fill in all the questions and blanks. No one gets this right easily or naturally. We all live in measures of it and as more and more is handled in our prayer closet with the Holy Spirit – then we can release more and more of the Lord’s goodness through this.

Submission is an attitude of heart that is learned in Jesus, and it is a gift that we choose to give away. No one can demand it – it can only be freely given. It is voluntarily choosing the will of another. We see this in the total life of Jesus Christ as He walked this earth. Every action, every teaching, was only what the Father showed Him or said. He did nothing on His own, but always under the authority of His Father. The prayer in Gethsemane was only one of many that brought Him into the arms of the Father. He was well practiced in this action, “Not my will but yours be done.”

So we see obedience proceeding from submission. However, they are two separate things. Obedience is merely doing the will of another. Christ’s obedience was empowered by His heart attitude. That will happen in a covenantal relationship. However, when we confuse obedience with submission, it gets really messy. We can be forced or manipulated, to do what another wants us to do – that is never the action of submission – but instead, it is abuse. It is hoped that true obedience will produce obedience, but they are not the same things.

“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Please understand this does not say “woman submit yourselves to man” statement. Nowhere in the Word do we ever find that last statement! Paul is dealing within a covenantal understanding for a marriage where it is a covenant between three entities: man, woman, the Lord. So, the Lord has every right to arrange it as He wishes. This only applies within the covenant of marriage! Learning His ways – that is what Paul is talking about.

Authority is to be understood in Christ. Our Lord Jesus always lived in submission to the will and life of His Father. If we do not recognize His ways and authority then His delegated authority to the husband, wife, church, church leadership, state, …then understanding and learning submission in the home is not likely. If abuse or mistreatment, of any kind, enter the situation, then there can be no submission from anyone, because the primary submission to Christ has been eliminated. Only as the covenant partners are walking in submission to the Lord can this verse began to work.

As we learn to submit (GK: to place oneself under+) to our Lord Jesus Christ in all things, then we embrace His attitude of heart. We learn the joy and the freedom of allowing the Lord to be in charge and in control of our lives. We learn to obediently listen and make adjustments in ourselves that work for the love relationship between us. He takes care of us, and we do His will through our bodies. So it is in every area of submission.

We learn to “come under” our husband’s wisdom and his wishes, as we choose to love and to respect him, as the scripture teaches. It is not easy – for we can think we are submitting to Christ when we are really doing our own will. Likewise, we can fight our husband’s will so hard that we never have any peace in the home. We are called to love and to peace. The only way that can happen is for both of us to submit to the Lord, then to one another in the Lord (Ephesians 5:20-21), then the love-covenant has an opportunity to present a way of life for the woman that is lifegiving, supportive, and productive in a covenant before the Lord. This attitude of heart is necessary for love to thrive. If only one partner is in the Lord, or just one partner working together in the Lord – these verses will not be profitable.

This passage was not given in the Word to produce chains and bondage. Not at all! It was expressed to produce well-being and peace. If we see it any differently, then it probably isn’t Biblical submission we are emulating.

Ladies, take this to heart and allow the Lord to teach you Himself. As we learn His ways, then we can become the wives we have been intended to be.

May I suggest that after reading the next post regarding the role of the husband in the covenant, this post should be re-read and placed alongside. One without the other is of small value. Together, I pray they can impact us profoundly.

 

Whatever You Do

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17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 NIV

“I5am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NIV

Several other verses come to mind as we look at this passage in Colossians. I have listed one of them. Others have to do with us being the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3 & 6) and being one in Jesus (John 17:20-26). The marvelous truth of our being one with Him empowers our doing. There is just nothing we can do that He does not do with us. He not only is our strength and our Spirit (John 6:17), His abiding in us means that whatever we choose to do, He does it with us.

Since we cannot do anything without Him (a truth that is marvelous on the one hand and terrifying on the other) we need to be very conscious of His presence in every moment. Whatever we do, we might as well have the name of Jesus on it, because that is the way it will turn out anyway. If we eat, it is in the name of Jesus. If we sleep, it is in the name of Jesus. Therefore, making it a conscious dwelling empowers much.

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things, 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 NIV

In our minds, and often in our lives, we like to compartmentalize things. We see Jesus stuff as church-related or praying, Bible reading related but not really about our everyday moments and actions. The Holy Spirit wants our attention drawn to the truth of our existence. When we accept Christ, He comes inside and does not leave us. The magnitude of that is enormous. As we live in Him and have our very being in Him, it is wise for us to remember Him at every turn and in every moment.

Our Lord Jesus is not an “add-on” to an already going life. He becomes that life and lives life with us, in us, and according to our choices and actions. This is an understanding that will change our lives from being a “part-time Christian,” into a “living-inside-of-Him Christian.”

Such movement is vital to us being empowered to do the work of the Kingdom of God that we have been given. We can no longer just read things that make us feel good and get us through the day. We must grow into those who are well acquainted with this word of righteousness (Hebrews 5:13) and able to move the Kingdom from Heaven to Earth (Matthew 6:10) in the moments of our lives. Such empowering is ours.

Lord, thank You for loving, empowering, and trusting us with Your life here. May we read, recall, consume and live Your Word, Your breath, and Your will. Thank you for the strength and the will to work such a wonder in this world. We receive the commission, Lord, to do in You!

 

 

 

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)

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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.