What is ruling you–Is it your desire to be Like Christ, or is it the pressures and checklists of the world, Church and influences in your life? In the early Church, there were incredible pressures to conform to Jewish tradition as well as countervailing pressures not to abandon the community practices and feasts. For the early gentile Christian, their were pressure from every side. Paul knew that to be the case in Colossae. He broke it down to its most basic part–You are free to simply follow Christ. All the pressures from church, community and influences in your life, while attractive on the surface-are really nothing more than a show and are virtually impossible to keep. You do not need them, you simply need to follow Christ.
Well 2014 is not much different. We feel the pressures from Church, Media, friends and family and all influences to conform to various standards and beliefs. From what we watch, what we celebrate, what we wear and even what we eat are subject to criticism now as in the early church. Well, Just as then God says–let it go! Simply follow him and seek to be like him. We will differ on things we think critical–but, we have to focus on following him and doing it closely. If we do, those differences will seem small and he will seem the most important. So, as Elsa sang in Frozen–Let it Go!
God Bless You
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. 23 Such 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.
We hear the Gospel and believe It, but, by nature we are always checking our options. Is this the best deal? From an eternal perspective, Christ and Christ alone–is the best and only deal. Why we as humans want to complicate it by tossing in traditions and rules is beyond me. The Lord knew that attaining salvation by living up to a standard or by completing a ritual would be both impossible and self defeating for us. We could neither maintain the standard, nor could we resist the self righteous pride that comes with completion.
He made it simple–follow my lead. We don’t have to eat kosher, be circumcised, be baptized or do any other thing to be accepted. We simply need to follow his lead. Funny thing, when we follow him, we do tend to do the right things have a selfless attitude and see things from an eternal perspective, Go figure! The amazing part is when we take the emphasis off of us and our performance–He gets the glory and we get the peace and joy. Great trade!
God Bless You
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In 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, 12 having 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.
Why Go to all the trouble? Why do we continue to contend with the daily battles of this world? God has us on a journey to prepare us for eternity, but, frankly–it is not about us. The way we walk and the way we live not only prepares us, but encourages and unites others in the faith. Often the things we accomplish spiritually–while seemingly unnoticed, impact the lives of folks around the world.
There is a story of the old evangelist, Mordecai Ham who at the end of his ministry did a revival meeting in Charlotte, NC. The meeting was not well attended and the response was very low. In fact on the climax of the meeting, Ham having preached his heart out gave the alter call. No one came until finally that evening only one farm boy came forward. Ham, discouraged decided that evening to retire. He felt like he was not impacting anyone any more. Oh, the farm boy–Billy Graham! We must contend until he calls us home. We will not know until heaven, what a difference we have made.
God Bless You
I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
Hopeless—mankind had become so unlike the creator’s plan that they were hopeless. No chance for meaningful life and especially no chance for eternal life with God. Sin and its ravages had destroyed that possibility. His people made sacrifices to atone for the acts they had committed, but no sacrifice could erase the abyss between God and men—well, maybe one could.
Christ’s sacrifice did bridge the gap between Holy God and sinful men—if we as his kids cling to our faith and walk with him, he can and will be our perfection and present us to the father, holy and blameless. We will be as righteous as he is because he became sin for us. We simply have to cling to that faith and walk in the confidence that we are his and he has restored what the enemy destroyed. That is the Gospel…That is the hope of Glory.
God Bless You
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[g] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
What a privilege to have a relationship with the greatest man that ever lived. Each of us treasure the relationships we have with celebrities. Last weekend, I was so excited to cheer Bob Hoffman and his Mercer’s Men’s Basketball team in the NCAA tournament. His wife Kelli and I have known each other since they moved to our home town when I was in Junior High. Her brother and I were friends in High School and College and beyond. So there, as he was in the spotlight, I enjoyed knowing that I knew him.
I know the creator of the universe. When God said let there be light—my Lord did it. He created all things and manages them today. he became flesh and taught men how to live and how to live eternally. He set stars trillions of miles apart and made the beautiful to watch at night. He made atomic particles and holds them together with his shear will. But mostly he loves me and gave himself for me. He guides and listens to me—all the time. I am related to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords—Frankly, it simply does not get any better than that.
God Bless You
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
The greatest part of Salvation is the fact that it is a gift. If we were charged with the duty of earing our salvation, the world would be a mess and heaven would be empty. We simply are incapable of living the life worthy of salvation. What is more, when we receive salvation, God does not give it grudgingly. He in fact not only justifies us, but, He then goes about the process of preparing us for the Journey home. He uses the Holy spirit to equip, guide and comfort us.
It is our nature to want to control our destiny. Even though we realize that we cannot earn salvation, we still somehow feel the need to control the preparation for heaven. Please, stop. It is our duty to listen to the Lord and follow Him. It is His duty–to be accomplished in his time to prepare and equip us to live according to the plan he has set out. He has rescued us and will gladly equip and prepare us for the mission he has laid out. Simply ask, trust and follow and watch what he has in store.
God Bless You
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
There are so many bible heroes that are well known–Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David and a host of others–but Paul opens the book of Colossians recognizing another Epaphras. Not only was Epaphras pivotal in the building of the church in Colossae, but he also ministered to Paul while he was in the prison in Rome–he almost died. Paul saw in this man a servants heart and an evangelist’s passion. Epaphras was the kind of missionary Paul was glad to see at work.
‘What kind of bible hero would we become. Well to be great, one need only to become a servant. Epaphras was not known for his great speeches. He was not remembered because of his great writings. Epaphras was known for his faithfulness and servant’s heart. He was willing to lay his life down to serve others. We have to have the same willingness. When we walk like Epaphras walked and serve like he served, God only knows the impact we can and will have for the Kingdom. So here’s to Epaphras–an unsung bible hero.
God Bless You
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,[c] who is a faithful minister of Christ on our[d] behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
When you look out over the universe, the enormity is humbling. The beauty and diverse nature is mind boggling. Then turning our focus upon the earth and the amazing wealth and beauty it contains, we realize how truly humble we are in comparison. In the midst of that humility and awe of what surrounds us, we can begin to comprehend the resources we have to draw from as Children of God. When we grow concerned about our lives, our provision and our protection, we have to stop and consider God’s ability to meet those needs.
He called the universe into being. At one word there was light, planets, creatures and yes, even men. He used the same symmetry for atoms as he did for galaxies. He made all things alive and otherwise to work together. He has a plan and he has the desire to make our lives abundant. From that perspective, verse 19 becomes the greatest promise–My God is faithful to supply all your needs according to HIS riches and glory in Christ Jesus.
God Bless You
Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever
The Green Screen–Since I was a kid, I have always been intrigued by the green screen. The Weatherman points to local and national maps, radar or the top stories of the day, but behind him he only sees a green screen. He does his broadcast and tells his story by faith, hoping the technical crew is putting the right pictures on the green screen. Life is similar. We are on a journey toward heaven. As we are going, sets of circumstances appear behind us–growing up, marrying, raising a family, working, sickness, death. All this host of circumstances are running through our lives.
Paul teaches us–as if on a green screen, we must be content whatever the circumstance. We walk by faith that God will protect, provide and prepare us for heaven whether we are experiencing Joy or pain…poverty or wealth. The most difficult catch is, however, that unless you are content in every circumstance–you will never be content in any circumstance. If you cannot trust God when times are tough–then you won’t trust him when things are great. If you cannot walk with him when you are poor; you will not walk with him when you are rich. Like the green screen, we walk by faith–no matter what is playing in the background–Back to You, Lord.:)
God Bless You
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
There is a fabulous switch within each of us that, when flipped, allows us to continue to move forward even when the forces against us seem overwhelming—it’s our attitude. Paul, the guru of bad circumstances, sums it up in a phrase—“Rejoice in the Lord always!”. Not an easy switch to flip, subject to flipping back at a moment’s notice—but when we abide by this rule, we can actually face lifes daily struggles.
Paul is kind to explain how to work the switch—1. Don’t worry, 2. Pray 3. accept peace 4. Think on the good stuff. Oddly, Paul does not promise the trouble will disappear, he only promises that God’s peace will appear. At the end of the day, however, that is what we mostly long for—peace. In my life, I confess, while that is my desire
—I spend too much time looking for ANYTHING else. So rejoice! Seek God and his peace will follow.
God Bless You
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.