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The title of today's blog is a reflection of last week's topic. Last week I talked about looking continually at "the subject" in order to "paint an accurate painting". The application of my analogy was simply that we must truly LOOK at God's word to know the truth about how to live as a Believer in Christ, rather than to THINK we know it. This really brings life! I invite you to look at a couple things together with me, today, and then some more in the coming weeks. Let's really apply God's Word to our hearts and lives -- what joy and freedom and peace it can bring!

Matthew 11:28-30
says:

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”



This is Good News. We have all been weary and heavy laden. The rest that Jesus gives, is for our souls. The burden we carry apart from Him is our own wrong-doing and offense toward God. As we take a close look at what the Lord is saying, we see that there is a yoke and a burden still to take, but that it is easy and light. This makes me think of how I do like work and productivity, so that the term “work” does not bother me, but working with worry and anxiety and too much work WOULD be a problem to me. Well, Jesus does have a yoke and a burden for us as Believers, but it’s the kind that’s worth it all and has peace and His joy in it!

What about that joy that I have mentioned? I mean, didn’t I just write a blog post last week saying that in this world we have tribulation? Yep. And that is because we do. But we have cause for hope all-the-while. The hope we have is based on knowing the mercy and forgiveness of our gracious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In Him, we can have eternal life. No matter what is going on here on earth, we know our end, if we are His, AND we know the One who is with us as we travel this earthly sod. That brings peace and joy.

Additionally, it should cause us less concern about this earth. When we “look at the subject” to “get the painting right”, aren’t we instructed to love things about Him and eternal matters more? Yes, we are:

Colossians 3:1-5 says,

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”


So, what does it look like in your every day and my every day, to take these words seriously? If you are a Believer in Christ, trusting Him for Salvation, if He is Lord of your life, if your life belongs to Him --- Praise the Lord! Please join me in meditating on these five verses for the coming week and let’s see how it transforms us. Because, as Believers, these simple instructions are part of the things we need to look carefully at and apply to our lives for real! 

Blessed be the Name of the Lord! God is good and does not leave us without love or instruction! Let’s take these words seriously and enjoy His easy and light burden together!

 I’m excited about next week’s topic as we continue to take a closer look to “paint the painting accurately”.  Please join me again next Friday. :)


 
 
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“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Jesus assures us that there will be trouble in this world.

Some have experienced difficulties and pain all their lives, and others have been sheltered from it. But even the sheltered ones meet up with the world’s pain eventually. Whether it be physical health, abuse of some kind, injustice in government and society, immorality abounding and other depressing realities, one eventually DOES see just how awful life on earth can be.

If you don’t see it, you are closing your eyes.

Some people see the cup half empty; and some see it half full – so they say. But the Christian should just see it for what it is. It is in this way that he or she can really be about the business of serving the Lord.

My mom is an artist. She taught me how to make a color wheel, mix paint colors, paint still life of an object on the table in front of me (an apple, for example), paint from a photo or other art, etc. I enjoy art now because of her, and I have even been able to help a friend understand how to draw when she didn’t think she was even able to! I am always surprised myself, when I set out to paint something and it actually looks right, like the object or picture in front of me! As it turns out, it’s really quite simple if you have even a little bit of artistic ability and that is: Draw and paint exactly what you see, down to the details!

In order to do this, the artist must look continuously at the subject he or she is trying to paint. If she goes off at all and starts to paint colors and lines that she thinks are there without actually referencing the subject, it will look like a different subject altogether! If she is going for the goal of realistic painting, she must keep her eyes on the subject and her painting will mirror a truthful image.

Where am I going with this?

As believers in Christ, we can really mess ourselves up trying to paint a subject that isn’t really there. We may look at the Bible a bit and get the part that says that Jesus died to save us, rejoice in that and then run out the door to do what we are all about. You say to yourself, “Oh, no, I love Jesus, I really do follow Him.” But my dear sisters and brothers, we all need to look daily at the subject we are painting to make a mirror image of what we were made to be.

This thought came to me out of a conversation I had with a friend yesterday. We were talking about how tough life really is, how shocking injustices have come either in our lives or in the lives of people we love so that there is much suffering and pain, and how we as children may have thought things would be grand “when I grow up”. Both my friend and I know that the “prosperity Gospel” of Joel Osteen and many other false teachers is not to be adhered to as the Christian way or expectation. However, my friend made a statement that hit home, as she said, “But there is a little bit of ‘Prosperity Gospel’ in all of us."

She’s so right. While we are all busy saying “God first” and “Jesus is the most important person in my life”, we are always thinking about ourselves and what we really want our life to look like. What we have forgotten is that it is His life – not our own. So, in order to paint it well so that it looks right, we really need to constantly be looking at the pattern after which we are to paint this picture. If we were doing so, the tribulations we are experiencing would be handled with the correct perspective: one of no surprise, and though they are difficult, they can be handled with joy as we continue to follow the Savior knowing what our ultimate “end” will be: eternal life with Him!

I am excited to post this blog today as a first of many blogs where we practice together to look closely and continually at the subject! Let's make a beautiful and true painting! Join me again next Friday. I'm so looking forward to this!


 
 
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I have often said that we don’t need to be like St. Frances of Assisi who threw ashes in his food so as to not quite enjoy it. I suppose it was a way for him to be holy or something else that may have been in his mind as being good. Frankly, I think it was absurd and missing the point of how God wants us to serve Him.

For the Believer in Christ (the one who believes in Him as the Savior and follows Him as Lord), we have a completely different life in the Spirit than the world around us. When I say, “life in the Spirit” I do not mean anything weird, but simply that we are called to serve God from our heart. One may look good doing a deed of sorts but it is the one who is doing it from the heart that is truly following God.

I fear though, that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ (if they are) have bought into the ideas that God wants us happy, prosperous, blessed… and that this will somehow be the way the world will know that God is worth following. The fact is that the call to follow Christ is simply this: You and I are evil. God the Father was pleased to crush his Son (Jesus) to the place of death in our stead --- a death that WE DESERVE, and then He was resurrected from the dead breaking the power of death for those who would believe in Him. We have the opportunity to respond to this gift by faith, receiving grace and forgiveness from God through Jesus Christ His Son. The rest of our lives after that is to be lived in “Thanks” to God!

He bought us with a price.

Today, I was reading Romans 8:12-17 which I hope you will allow me to share with you. It reads, “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

One of the things that I saw in this passage was the part about suffering with Him as it says, “if indeed we suffer…” Suffering in this life as a Believer is expected and to be willingly embraced. The question rises, “What does that mean?” I believe that Frances of Assisi had the wrong idea when he threw ashes in his food. God wasn’t telling us to suffer needlessly so that we lack pleasure on purpose! I believe that we simply will come to places of suffering simply for following Christ. But please let me ask you, dear Sister or dear Brother, do you avoid the cup of suffering when it is offered?

You see, many of us, if we are honest, find ways to be sure that we are happy before we ask the question, “What does God want of me right now?” Perhaps a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness has come to your door just as you were about to go to the park or drink your cup of coffee. Do you set aside your agenda at that moment to talk with them if perhaps they just might come to Christ right there on your porch? Or at least that you would faithfully plant the seed of Truth in their ears (but lovingly and patiently of course) whether or not they receive it? Okay, so you might not make it to the park, or you are 30 minutes late to grab the groceries or whatever – but you were then faithful to the eternal matters – the ones you claim to be about.

You see, this is convicting to us all who desire to follow Christ, because in us -- as long as we are on this earth -- is a pull towards the flesh. We want to please ourselves and follow Christ, but He says to “Seek first the Kingdom of God” and He says, “You cannot serve God and wealth” (ouch!). He also says “Whoever wishes to be my disciple must first deny himself…”

When it comes down to it, we will find ourselves suffering at any given time simply by doing what is right. In the course of history, some believers have had to suffer much more than others, but we don’t need to measure this out as to how much we are willing to suffer, but rather live day by day in acknowledging God as God, being thankful for all He has done to save us, and simply saying “Yes” to His leading. Rest assured that it’s not going to always please you, but remember, you already died with Christ. How dead is a dead thing? It’s dead! You are dead and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Life here on earth is rather short, but Eternal life is forever, so please live like you believe it. And if in this moment, God does bless you with an uninterrupted cup of coffee, thank Him for it, but if He blesses you with an interrupted cup of coffee for His sake, REJOICE!

“…I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”


 
 
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Christians have been guilty of 1 Corinthians 3 issues for quite a while now, to the point that we are becoming foggy in our vision. Here is an invitation to not let this happen to you anymore.

In 1 Cor. 3:1-3, Paul says that the Corinthian Christians (whom this letter was written to), were so much like babes when it came to understanding Spiritual matters, that he was unable to give them “meat” to chew on [like a grown up], but only “milk” to drink [like a baby]. Of course, he wasn’t talking about actual food that we eat or drink for the human body, but he was talking about the ability to grow in understanding of the things that matter spiritually, eternally, and are important to God. He said that they were “carnal” and that was not a compliment, nor an excuse for the kind of Christians they were, but a declaration of where they were in their thinking, and a call to repentance!

He went on to explain what their carnality looked like, as he said, “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?”

This is what Christians are like today, “I go to pastor so-and-so’s church” or “We are going to the [Name of Famous Person] Conference this weekend”. God is not interested in our boasting over who baptized us, or what mission organization we have been with, or whose church we were in, because that is giving glory to men. Worse than that, as we look into the face of the men and women we follow as if they were God, while not taking the time to look closely at the Scriptures to see if those men and women are on point, we are bieng sorely mislead. Am I suggesting that we don’t sit under any preaching and teaching at all? Of course not! Then I wouldn’t expect you to read this blog if that were the case! I’m pointing out to you, rather, that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of all, and we must follow Him and be of Him. Now, anyone can say, “We must follow Christ”, and tell you what that looks like to do so, and have told you wrong. If you haven’t been looking closely at His Word (the Bible, the Scriptures, the Word of God), then you can easily do or think what that teacher said to do or think, believing that you are on the right path, simply because the person you are following said that was the right way. And you believed them because they talk about “following Christ”, but are they? Are they leading you to do the same? If you check the Word, and they are on point, praise God! And make a habit of this: check them again for the next sermon or teaching. You are of Christ, not of them. They are to you, a brother or sister, and you can respect them and appreciate the teaching that is on point, but you are to remember that you are following Christ. Now, there is another place in Scripture in which Paul says, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” You might now say, “Well, isn’t that following the teacher?” To that, I have to answer that his invitation to follow him was based on doing so “as he followed Christ”. How can you know if he is doing that? By being a student of the Word yourself and NEVER getting caught up in the greatness of a modern teacher, as if they were the greatest teacher who walked the planet. Jesus was the greatest. Amen and Amen.

There is just something in man that likes to follow another man and not God. This was the trouble with the Isrealites when God was guiding them through prophets and priests, but they insisted on having a King – a prescription God wasn’t giving them. And here is one of the scary things about God – if you push Him and refuse to do what HE is already telling you, He may very well give you what you asked for, and you will pay dearly.

So, what is the role of a preacher, pastor, or teacher? Is it anything? Yes! But it is to be carried out humbly as a servant of God who is seeking that others come to the knowledge of the truth. You may learn something from this one and something from that one but all must be checked with the Scripture, which is your own responsibility. In 1 Cor. 3:6 says, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” Do you see? Neither took the glory. He goes on to say, “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” Further down, Paul also paints another picture for us as he says, “...I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

I invite you to read the whole chapter (1 Cor. 3) to understand it all in context (because I too am a teacher that you must check). Meanwhile, let me finish up by sharing the last three verses of this chapter which state the point quite well, “Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”

Amen.


 
 
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Life is tough.

Lately, I’ve been facing various difficult situations. It’s not fun, but it sure does keep life interesting. I am sure these particular things in my life are a breeze compared to what many people face, but they are still challenges none-the-less. With them seem to come to taste of bitter-sweet. I won’t go into details here, but it’s been a few situations lately. In some of them, I feel alone, like a woman going into labor: Even though she has wonderful help and support around her, she still has to face the pain, fear and whatever else may come (but she will also feel the most rewarded in the end).

Recently, I was reminded of Psalm 121:2, and to make it better, I keep on being reminded! I am continually remembering that the Lord is my help. As I’m faced with challenging things, I’m not only comforted that the Lord is my help, but that Jesus actually told us not to worry about tomorrow. This is extremely helpful, because when I’m overwhelmed about tomorrow’s big challenges, I find myself really doing poorly at facing today’s little chores, which doesn’t help a thing. But God gives us clear life-giving and simple instruction in His Word. We do well to simply obey. So I will take today and do my work as unto the Lord. Tomorrow, I will do tomorrow that way --- if He even gives me tomorrow here on earth.

My Dad used to say “The ‘What If’s’ will kill you.” That’s not Scripture, of course, but a saying that describes what worrying can do for you.

But here is Scripture that we can take to heart absolutely: Matthew 6:34

“So, do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.”

Yes, I think I will take that to heart, so that I can function today.


 
 
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“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” 

Matthew 10:28-31 (from the New American Standard Bible)



Philippians 4:6-7 says:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

This is a direction for the Believer. It's not only instruction, but it's freedom. When does it pay to worry? Do you really want to add a heart attack, stroke, or high blood pressure to your concerns, merely because you did not take the instruction seriously?

But that's not all, you see, God intended His children to be thinking on Him and eternal matters, and not to get caught up in the present worldly stuff. I'm sure that doesn't mean you ought to sit on your duff and wait for the bills to pay for themselves, but it DOES mean not to worry, not to HAVE to have the grandest this or that, not to panic about how YOU are going to accomplish anything. For one thing, God wants us to lean upon Him and to be thankful for everything that He does. If we think everything depends on us, how will we find ourselves truly thankful as we ought to be? Plus, as I said before, He does not desire that we get off track with concerning ourselves with what matters to Him (visiting the sick or imprison, or aiding a person in need, praying and reading His Word, etc.). The world has an uncanny ability to say "Look at me! Look at me! Over here! Oh, wait, now over here! Worry about this! Oh, and about THIS too!", and before you know it, you've lost sight of time reading His Word and having time to play with your children and teach them about Him. You have no time to talk to your friend who needs a listening ear. No time to be a part of prison ministry or to say "Yes" when friends ask if you can come over for dinner. No, you are too busy trying to live above your means. Originally, you saw yourself as being responsible, but somewhere along the lines, you lost track of yourself and starting calling Evil "good".

I just want to invite us all to evaluate our days, to start the morning saying, "Here I am Lord. Help me to be in Your service today." And to get our perspectives right. And let's be careful to obey Him. "To obey is better than sacrifice" King Saul was told (see I Samuel, chapter 15). In Genesis, we read that two brothers, Cain and Abel, each offered a sacrifice to God, but God was not pleased with Cain's sacrifice, as it wasn't what God was looking for. Abel gave the sacrifice that pleased God. Do you offer your church offerings every week faithfully, but when a friend asks if you will join him over breakfast and Bible study, do you say "I'm too busy?"

But coming back to the original point, we don't need to worry. God is in control. I was listening/watching a part of the Gospel of John the other day, and it stuck out to me that the authorities of Jesus' day often intended to stop Jesus from continuing (take Him by force, for example), but they didn't get to it as soon as they intended, because as John reported, "His hour had not come". You see, God wasn't going to let them touch Him until it was time for Him to die for us. And whether they liked it or not, God was going to resurrect Him three days later.

That just gives me such peace of mind. Nothing happens outside of God's control. When bad things happen, I know God understands what is happening and He allows it. Other times that evil is meant for us but doesn't happen, I know it was God who prevented it.

We might as well work as unto the Lord so that our agendas are in line with His. We might as well not worry about a thing because that would be disobedience and we are not in control anyway.

 
 
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A brief look at The Book of Galatians shows us that Paul was irritated about something: There were some who were trying to convince the Galatian Believers that they needed to be circumcised to be completely righteous, following the Old Testament Jewish law. They were beginning to persuade them that Jesus wasn’t enough to bring salvation, but that there were some things to add to it.

Today we see this problem in people or communities that believe you have to (fill in the blank) to be saved. Maybe you even see the tendency in yourself! But what was true then, is true now: Jesus is our only hope! Our salvation is in Him.

Galatians 5:1 says, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

Galatians 5: 4 says, “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law: you have fallen from grace.”

Have you ever heard this term, “fallen from grace”? I don’t know what you thought it meant the first time you heard it, but just so you know, this is where it comes from. It means that the person who is seeking to be justified by their good works, isn’t leaning upon the grace of God which He gives us in Jesus.

It goes on to say, “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” (Galatians 5: 5-6)

So, in verse 5, we see what we are waiting for: that day when we are ushered into Heaven because we have Christ. In verse 6, we see that the Old Testament law means nothing now (important side note: It was fulfilled in Christ), but if we are in Christ (who fulfilled the law for us), this is what means something: that we have faith working through love.

Now, if I love someone, I want to please them. If they are telling me what is right, then obeying them is a no-brainer. This someone that I’m referring to has already forgiven me of my sins, through the Blood of Jesus. This is my hope. This is what I’m waiting for. He has also given me His Spirit. His Spirit is a testimony of the grace that is given me, which is that I am in Christ. His Spirit also convicts me and guides me. He is right. And I love Him. Therefore, I want to please Him, because I love Him. I’m sold out to Him; not to this world.

“We love Him, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

And that love, I believe, is displayed clearly in my life as I love others, naturally following the path of the One who first loved me. I think I am loving Him back when I obey him and love others deeply.

Galatians 5:13-14 says, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’.”

Yes, I am free. I am free because I don’t have to sin to be happy. Sinful pleasure as a means of happiness is a worldly desire, which doesn’t RULE me (I have something better going for me). I am free because I don’t have to prove myself to the world with wealth or anything else, since this place is not my home. I am free because I am forgiven of my sins, and should I make mistakes and sin again, thankfully, even that is forgiven in Christ. I will be sorrowful that I sinned, but even more in love with my Savior through Whom I am forgiven! I sure couldn’t be made righteous without Him! It’s impossible!

In Christ, we have forgiveness. And the one who is forgiven much, loves much (see Luke 7:47).


 

Check It

01/13/2015

3 Comments

 
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I was crocheting yesterday (as I do very often) using a pattern that I have become quite familiar with as I have been making this same item over and over again. What was it? It was a stocking cap. As I crocheted, I watch videos and listened to an audio book.

Everything seemed to be going just fine. It looked good. The stitches were clean and handsome. I crocheted away, thinking that I was being productive as I was listening to an audio book. But then I came to realize something: I had been crocheting the last two rows completely wrong! It didn't matter that the stitches looked good, because I was changing the design by not following the pattern! It was tempting to leave it that way, but -- *sigh* -- it really wasn't right if I was going to make this hat right. So there I went, unraveling two rows of work! Seemed like a waste but it was necessary in order to get it right.

This scenario makes me think of what happens when a Christian gets all their understanding about being a disciple of Christ from another person, organization, or popular "Christian" view --- or for that matter even from their own point of view of what they think is right --- and does not check the Word of God (the Bible). I'm not talking about just having a Scripture or two to back up a belief, but really, really knowing God's Word. Understanding it in context and "eating" it daily. As I write this, I cannot say that I daily read it (or hear it on audio) but I know that that would be best. If I don't, I am way too susceptible to dangerous belief. I'm not even talking about the danger of the world! I'm talking about...

Mission schools. Church. Authors and teachers. All can mislead me. I can mislead others. But there is a way to "check the pattern" (as I should have done more often as I was crocheting yesterday). That is, to often check the Word of God to see what God has said. If another says something different or off, even our pastor, friend, mission school leader, well known Christian author and teacher, loved ones --- if any of them say something that is not quite right, we should be able to detect it and not be led to follow it because we are so regularly checking the Word.

Should you think this is extreme, believe me: it is not. We are told in the New Testament that the Berean Jews were noble because they "
received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily [to see] whether these things were so."  (Acts 17:11) They checked Paul the Apostle's words with the Scripture. Yes, it was Paul the Apostle that they checked! And that was good of them to do so.

In the church today, there is a lot of deception. You might not even know how you are being deceived and it is shocking --- even hard to believe --- because you really have a heart for the Lord. You might be living this life thinking you understand how to pray, how to make decisions, etc. etc. because so-and-so has been teaching that we should such-and-such... But one day, as you are reading His Word and you read something that makes you say, "Wait a minute...What?", suddenly, you see that something you were taught and have been living by (and teaching others to do) isn't even Biblical.

Please don't shrug it off. With that, read more. Understand. Pray to understand. Humbly change, even if you have to do a 180-degree-turn. Even if you have to tell the Sunday School class whom you have been teaching that you had it wrong. Unravel that mistake and see it right! Don't wait for voices in your head to explain it to you (very bad idea), don't try to come up with the way you think it is based on how you think it should be, read God's Word and understand it as it is. Read it with wisdom and understanding. Pray to have that wisdom and understanding.

Be mature for the meat of the Word.

 
 
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Paul was writing Colossians from prison. What an amazing, chilling thought that though Paul was in chains for the Gospel, the Gospel was not in chains!

Today, we are looking
at the rich chapter of Colossians 4. It seems to me that the first verse should actually be a part of Colossians 3, since it is still instructions on how we are to treat one another. This particular verse is for “masters” (and today, I’d say that it’s for anyone who is being served in some way, how they are to treat the one serving them -- i.e. employees, assistants, servers at restaurants -- though it was actually written originally to true “masters”.)

I am more interested, though, in discussing the rest of the chapter: Paul often mentions prayer here. He asks that the people he is writing to would pray and he directs that it be done with gratitude -- with thanksgiving. Notice that his reasons for prayer always support the preaching of the Gospel (not “Dear God, Please give me a ___."). Again, he really does mention prayer often in this chapter. Take note that their friend and brother in the Lord, Epaphras, is “always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God”. The fact is that the prayer had nothing to do with physical needs. Of course, it’s not wrong to take care of physical needs where possible as we also know that Luke “the beloved physician” is also a brother in Christ, and he obviously cared for physical needs, but that was something he did as a profession. Luke also wrote an account of the Gospel! I don’t know if he did them simultaneously or at different times. None-the-less, while caring for physical needs of others is entirely right and truly Christian, it’s not the MOST important need that a human being will have. The most important needs are Spiritual.

It’s also interesting to note that Paul talks about the severity of his situation for the cause of Christ. He clearly wanted to remind them of what was going on with him (for the Gospel). Now, Paul sent his friend to tell this group of Believers how he (and others with him) were doing and to encourage them. When the friend goes, he will tell them of the imprisonment (maybe they already know though) and he will tell them how Paul and those with him are doing, and he will encourage their hearts in the midst of all that. Well, this can only considered "encouraging" if everyone involved has the correct goal of spreading the Gospel and counting it all joy to suffer for Christ’s sake.

Again, at the end, Paul asks the church to “remember” his chains. I know he wasn’t showing off, but rather appealing to them for some reason, whether it be to encourage them that they too, can serve God in this way should He call them to, or that he needed them to remember him in their thoughts and prayers, or that they would remember through his chains how real and costly the Gospel is – or all of the above.

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” Do I do this? Once again, it’s all about the sharing of the Good News of Jesus. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

Dear Christian Brothers and Sisters, please join me in meditating on and rereading this chapter for the weekend. May God bless you.


 
 
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In reading the whole of Colossians 3, I am amazed by the value of this beautiful chapter! For me to write many blogs over it may not be necessary, but for me to encourage all Believers to read this chapter regularly, and take it into your minds and hearts is necessary! For one thing, it speaks to everyone in the Body of Christ: wives, husbands, children, servants, one another --- in fact, if you keep on reading to the next chapter, you will find that it also speaks to masters.  And what does it have to say? Ah! As I said, it’s a must read, and I don’t want to just tell you what it says, but encourage you to read all of it and take it in, meditate on it, and apply it to your life. It really has life in it! It is wisdom, and God’s blueprint for living.

 I would like to comment on it knowing that you are reading it first for yourself before you read the rest of this blog entry. We have been going through Colossians together if you have been reading my blogs, and we left off last time on verse 17, which says, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” Two things stand out for me here: Everything we say and everything we do must all be done knowing whom we are representing (our Lord Jesus) and we are to be thankful. Why are we to be thankful? Because we have eternal life in Jesus! We are to give thanks to God and the Father “by Him” (there is no way to the Father but by Jesus, so if we can come to the Father at all (and we can!), it is ONLY by Him -- by Jesus -- that we can do so! Praise Him! That He has made a way for us is certainly something to be thankful for!!!)

That verse is followed by a trail of instructions to various individuals: wives are to submit to their husbands, husbands are to love their wives, children are to obey their parents, fathers are not to provoke their children to anger, and servants are to obey their masters (these days in America we may consider this instruction for the workplace as employees are to serve in their jobs). Much can be said about each of these instructions, but I want to look at one thing very simply: These instructions are sandwiched in between, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus…” and verses 23 and 24, which say, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

And that’s the most beautiful point I want to make today: Do all you do for Jesus.

P.S. Remember the story of king Saul in the old Testament disobeying God and not slaughtering all that God told him to slaughter in a particular battle? When caught, Saul said that he was going to sacrifice these animals to God (but God had told him already to kill them in the battle). The response given to Saul was, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” I share this “P.S. story” because I want to warn that we don’t choose to do wrong and say that we are “doing it for Jesus”. That is not what God wants of us at all!

The beautiful thing is, when we say and do all things as unto the Lord, even knowing that that is how we are to proceed will help us to know the good to do so we can do it. Additionally, if we feel that the person (husband, wife, parent, child, master (or boss), is not worthy of our being kind to them and serving them in the particular way that God instructed us to, it should not be a problem to us, because we are ultimately serving God by serving them.