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Friday, October 19, 2012

Pursue Heavenly Goals...Colossians 3:1-6

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Get Yourself Under Control!

"I wish I had recorded that."  

Yesterday, as I stood speaking excitedly with my husband about what I have been learning in the book of Colossians I gave him a brief synopsis of the first two chapters in order to explain what I was beginning to study in chapter three.  Of course, he patiently listened to all I had to say, even though it was not really new information for him.  At the end of my summary I looked up at him and said, "I wish I had recorded that!" because once an idea has run through my thought processes and out of my mouth it is often hard to recall everything to write it down.  Some days are like that, which is why I am so thankful that God's Word has been preserved for us.  When I want to remember what God has to say, I can open the Bible and read His words.

Paul did not have an opportunity to speak to the Colossians first hand.  They did not have a Bible on the bed stand that they could just open up and read.  There was no internet or phone service that he could access to get updates on their spiritual growth.  There were many false prophets out there claiming to know how God wanted them to live and causing confusion about Christ and His finished work on Calvary.  So under the direction of the Holy Spirit he sent them the exact message that God knew they needed to hear.

First he explains how he is praying for them and what he is praying for them - that they would walk worthy of the Lord.

Then he presents Christ as our All in All, the Hope of Glory, the Source of all wisdom and knowledge, our Completer.

He instructs them to be rooted in Christ instead of in the philosophies and traditions of man. 

He informs them that they are dead to the world and yet alive in Christ.  Our main focus is not to be on outward rituals but on conforming our hearts and lives to Christ.

Then chapter three begins with the big IF.  IF you are risen with Christ THEN seek those things which are above.  This is not a mere suggestion, but a Biblical mandate for those who would live godly in this present world.
Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Pursue Heavenly Goals!

As long as you are living upon the earth you will need to control your fleshly desires!  Yes, we are dead to sin, but we are still living in a sinful body in a self-seeking world full of temptation.  Even Paul himself explains in I Corinthians 9:25-27 that he was not exempt from making a conscious effort to control the flesh.  What he preached to others he also applied in his own life.

Areas needing inward control defined

In Colossians 3:5-6, Paul describes the inward control that we, as Christians, need to exercise over the lusts of the flesh.

3:5  Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6  For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
 1.  Flee fornication! - Reject all forms of intimate relationships between two unmarried people or two people not married to each other.  God ordained the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman.  Man has warped God's plan in every way possible with every form of sinfulness imaginable.  The world's philosophy about this matter condones promotes that "it's okay if it's okay for you."  God calls it sin.

2.  Flee uncleanness! - Reject all acts of physical or moral impurity. 

"Depart from evil, and do good." Psalm 34:14a.

3.  Flee inordinate affection! - Reject improper passion in your life, especially lust, which stems from dwelling on evil thoughts. 

"Set your affection on things above."  Colossians 3:2a

4.  Flee evil concupiscence! - Reject improper longing, especially for what is forbidden.  Stop lusting after wickedness!  Stop desiring to do evil things.

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."  I John 2:15
5.  Flee covetousness! - Reject avarice (an insatiable greed for riches).

I Timothy 6:6-10 deals with covetousness and a unveils it for what it really is. 

6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 
In verse 10, the words "love of money" also means avarice.  The phrase "coveted after" means "stretched forth".  It gives the idea of reaching, stretching, grabbing, straining, doing everything within your power, including using deceit, to gain riches.  Riches become more important than God.  God calls this IDOLATRY, and the desire for wealth in this world has ruined many a Christian.

Reasons for inward control

These "lusts of the flesh" (I John 2:16) begin on the inside, and many often think that they can hide them from the world, but what is inside will eventually work it's way out.  Our lives are open books before the eyes of Almighty God!  We need to get control of ourselves!  Why?  Colossians 3:6 answers this question perfectly.

3:6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
1.  God's wrath is kindled by a Christian living in this manner.
2.  The children of disobedience are those who continually live their lives in this manner.
3.  The children of God need to reject this manner of living because of Whose we are.

 I John 1:5-10 
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
 God did not redeem us for us to live our lives in immorality and idolatry.  He did not redeem us to live for ourselves.  He redeemed us unto Himself.  When Christ returns for His body, the church - those who have been redeemed through His blood, we will appear with Him in glory and give account.  What outward testimony do I have for Christ?  What inward areas of control do I lack?  How many of my goals are driven by covetousness?  What should be the all consuming passion of my life? 

I am dead yet still alive.

My life is hid with God.

My life is hid in Christ.

My goal - seek those things which are above!

 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 
2Corinthians 5:17 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Champion of Love...Colossians 2:13-15

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Who do you want in your corner? 

Colossians 2:13-15 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
 When I read these verses, I could imagine them being reenacted in a drama.  A narrator, filled with emotion, would read it with an ever increasing intensity in his voice.  Understanding would dawn on the sad faces of passer-byes who hear it, and you would visually see the change, that moment when despair turns to joyful hope!

Despair - You are your own hope of eternal salvation.

  • You are dead in your sins.
  • You are uncircumcised - not one of God's children.
  • You have a list (a long list) of ordinances against you.
  • Your eternal destiny is hell. (Revelation 20:12-15)

Joy - Christ is your hope of eternal salvation.

  • You have been made alive together with Christ.
  • All of your trespasses have been forgiven (Even more...they've been blotted outTaken away! Nailed to His cross.)
  • He openly and victoriously triumphed over our enemies!
When you consider the options, representing your self before Almighty God, or being represented by Christ, who willingly gave Himself for us.

I want my Champion to be Christ!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Complete in Christ...Colossians 2:8-12

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We've Always Done it That Way

Why is it that people are so unwilling to give up their traditions?  Well, frankly, it's because it's a tradition!  "We've always done it that way," is probably the most annoying phrase in the English language to someone who is trying to make changes.  A close second might be, "Well, I'm just set in my ways."

Colossians 2:8 "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

When we move into the spiritual realm, the basis for our actions should never be tradition, but the Word of God. As clearly stated in Colossians 2:8, we are to be on the lookout for those who try to seduce or corrupt our beliefs through their empty, worthless philosophies, traditions, and principles.  I am not claiming to be the wisest, I only claim to judge them all by my source of wisdom - the Bible.

On what do I base my haughty opinions? 

Colossians 2:9-10 "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:"

Colossians 2:9-10 explains how Christ is fully God and was fully God in His earthly body.  We are complete in Him!  Note: It doesn't say we used to be, or we could be someday.  If we have received Christ, we ARE complete in Him.  I don't need ANYTHING else.

There are those who would whisper..."You're right, but you also need to..."  Fill in the blank with whatever you want, but don't be offended when I respond, "I am COMPLETE in Christ."  I cannot deny the truth of God's Word.

In verses 11 and 12, Paul begins to deal with one aspect of the Jewish faith that was leading some astray.  In the Old Testament, the outward sign of God's people was circumcision.  Paul explains that in Christ we have the circumcision "made without hands."  Circumcise means to "cut off".  We are cut off from the power of sin to rule over us, and we have been set apart to live for God.

Ephesians 4 further explains in detail the "putting off the body of the sins of the flesh".

Our outward sign of being part of God's family is baptism, but on the inside our circumcision is circumcision of the heart.  In Christ we are not the same as we used to be.

We do not need traditions, experiences, or philosophies to bring us closer to Him.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."   2 Corinthians 5:17

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Right Stuff...Colossians 2:6-7

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When I study out a passage I often end up drawing pictures with circles and arrows pointing here and there trying to make sense of all the information presented to my feeble mind.  After reading these verses I came up with the following chart explaining the point that Paul was trying to make.

Colossians 2:6-7 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:  7  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

I could go on and on about my deep thoughts, but the chart pretty much sums it up.  If you have received Christ you have the right foundation, the right source of knowledge and wisdom, and the right direction for your life. 

This is the truth that they had been taught.  Paul urges them to live it out abundantly and with thanksgiving!  
There are days when I am overwhelmed.  There are days when I am so tired that I can't even think straight.  There are days when I whine and grumble, but in reality there is no reason for my wimpy excuses about why I cannot serve God.  I have received Christ!  
I Corinthians 2 reminds us that the unsaved cannot understand spiritual things, but we can because we have the "mind of Christ".  

My problem comes when my focus is not on Who Christ is, but on what I want.  
I have the right resources and with God's help I can grow in giving thanks for the faith I have in Christ.

If you blog, here's some great places to link-up:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Colossians...Enticing words vs. the Word of Truth

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Colossians 2:1-5  For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; 2  That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; 3  In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4  And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 5  For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
 When I read these verses immediately a picture from my son's story Bible popped into my head.  You've seen this picture before as well.  It's a picture of a beautiful garden, a beautiful woman, and a beautiful serpent.  The first two represent the true beauty of God's creation. 

The third one does also, but the beguiling enemy of God slipped inside the serpent and spoke to the woman with enticing words.  Have no doubt, the Great Deceiver knows just what to say to tempt you to stumble, to stray just a little, to doubt God's goodness, His wisdom and His knowledge. 

Oh, a serpent might not speak to you today, but those enticing words will come.  They come through advertisements, they come through programs, they come through peer pressure, and they even come through those who appear to be following God.

In Colossians 2:1-5 Paul writes about how he was concerned for their spiritual growth because he hadn't been able to visit them personally.  Back then there was no internet, no telephone, not even a telegram service to allow him to check on believers in other places.  His news came to him by word of mouth, and being in prison, he could not go to them.  He could only respond by a letter, infused with prayer and inspired by God Almighty.
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colosse...

Paul wanted them to be assured in their knowledge of the gospel.  He wanted their hearts to be comforted and knit together in love.  He wanted them to realized that the mystery of God which he proclaimed involved both the Father and the Son.  In Christ all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid.  He is the Word of Truth!  There were those who with their enticing words tried to move them from their belief in the preeminence of Christ.  He is above all things, before all things, created all things, all things by Him exist, and He is over all!

James 1:5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Paul clearly explained who Christ truly is in chapter one and here he explains his concern for them.  He wanted to warn them not to be led astray.  The purpose of those around them was to skillfully lead them away from the Truth.  Paul was impressed by their discipline and the firm resolve of their faith in Christ, yet he did not let their current state dissuade him from crying out, "BEWARE!"

As Christians we are never to let our guard down.  We must KNOW the truth.  We must OBEY the truth.  We must LIVE the truth.  And we must be constantly searching the Scriptures to ensure that what we are hearing and learning and living line up with the Word of God.

Just because something sounds Biblical that does not automatically make it so.  Many have the gift of smooth talking and the ability to draw large crowds to hear their enticing words, but if their foundation is not Christ, our firm foundation, BEWARE!

2 John 1:7  For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
May God help us today to discern between good - His Truth, and evil.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Colossians...Who Do You Preach?

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"All roads lead to Rome," is a popular phrase that has been repeated for centuries, but "all roads" do not lead to Heaven.  In the church at Colossae just as in the church today there are those who would try to promote another "way" or another gospel which is not the Gospel at all!  God's plan of redemption was a mystery to the Jews before Christ came.  It was also a mystery to the Gentiles (those of other nations).  When Jesus Christ came to earth as the long awaited Messiah, God's plan was revealed to us.  In order to help the Colossians in their Christian walk, Paul begins his letter by making sure there is no confusion on their part about Who Christ is.

In Colossians 1:21-29 Paul clearly lays out the mystery of the gospel.

*We were enemies of God and alienated from Him.

*God reconciled us to Himself through Christ's death on the cross.

*We are now seen by God as holy (pure), unblameable (innocent), and unreprovable (unable to be convinced of a fault) because of Christ.

*We are to continue in the faith grounded and settled.  The hope of the gospel (foundation of our faith) is Christ!

*Christ in us is the hope of glory!


Colossians 1:28-29  Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29  Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
Paul explains that his labor, his work, his goal was to preach Christ to every man, warning them about their eternal destination and teaching them the Word of God in all wisdom.  His desire was for them to be complete in Christ!  This was Paul's all consuming passion - sharing his testimony for Christ because of what Christ had done for him and in him.  The hope of glory changed his life.

The Hope of Glory has changed my life!  Who do you preach?

We preach CHRIST! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Colossians...Christ is All in All

Pin It When an artist decides to paint a picture he must first decide on his perspective or focal point for his painting.  The human eye captures a million things in one blink and as we look at the world around us our eyes tend to focus on different things in different circumstances.  Just think of all of the attention a newborn baby receives as Grandma walks into the room.  She may have entered that room a hundred times before.  Maybe then her focus was always on the picture of her daughter on the far wall, but now her focus is on the bundle of joy set before her.  Maybe before she saw the room with the sad eyes of a mother missing her daughter.  Now she sees the room with the pleasure filled eyes of a Grandma in seventh heaven!

We often allow our surroundings and circumstances to dictate the way we see life.

To look at Paul's life an unbeliever might see it as a waste.  An educated, well respected citizen with a lucrative and promising future before him gives up everything to make tents and give lectures about someone people have never heard of?

O, but to see his life as Paul saw it.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20
 In Colossians 1:24-25, Paul is rejoicing in suffering!  That definitely seem crazy to one who knows not Christ!  He rejoices because his suffering is for their good.  His suffering is for the body of Christ.  His suffering brought the gospel, the Good News, to the Gentiles.  His joy was in fulfilling the task that God had given him.  The same mandate given to the disciples by Jesus was his mandate:

Matthew 28:18-20  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
When the goal, MY goal, is completing the task that Christ has given me for the good of His church, I can rejoice - even in the midst of trying circumstances.  When my perspective is God's perspective, I can see the world around me in the light of eternity.  I will experience hardships, I won't deny that.  Yet in the midst of my hardships, my prayer is that I will rejoice in my Savior, I will rejoice that the Gospel is being proclaimed, I will rejoice that this world is not my home.

I have Christ - the HOPE OF GLORY!