Monday, July 15, 2019

NTDS (66): 2 Lets in Colossians 3

Col 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. NIV
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richlyNIV

The word let, is a verb that must always be attached to another active word in order for it to make sense. “Let in, let out, let go,” etc. The meaning of it is, “to allow” something. In these two verses, we are instructed to allow something to happen in our lives. Let’s look closely at what these two things are.

Let’s start with the second instruction first. In Greek, the structure of a sentence is a little different than in English, so the word let is actually next to the word dwell. So it is, that we are to “let dwell” the word of Christ in us.

The word dwell literally means to “inhabit” or “live.” What Paul is telling us is that the word should be so ingrained in us, that it influences every aspect of our life. Every decision we make, every action we take, every word we speak, should be affected by the word of God. Now that is only possible if we study and learn the scriptures.

But remember, the verse says, “let dwell.” That means that even when we have learned the Bible well, we must “allow” that knowledge to permeate our lives. It is an act of our will. We can have all the knowledge we need but if we haven’t surrendered our will fully to Christ, it will not truly “dwell” in us. It won’t have the impact that it should have.

In verse 15, Paul says that the peace of Christ should be “allowed” to rule in our hearts. The Greek structure of the sentence is really helpful in getting the picture here. It puts it this way, “and the peace of God, let rule in your hearts.” There is no debate about whether the peace of God is available to rule in our hearts. When Jesus was speaking to His disciple just before His death, resurrection and ascension, He comforted them with these words, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” (John 14:27)

Jesus gives us a supernatural peace that is not dependent on our circumstances. It is available to us at any time. The only question is, will we let it rule our hearts? The word rule means “govern.” We can either allow His peace to govern or we can allow our emotions govern our hearts. It is our choice.

If you can follow the instructions of verse 16, then verse 15 becomes much less difficult. It is much easier to allow God’s peace to rule in our lives when we are letting His word dwell richly inside us. There is a definite correlation between knowing and believing what the Word of God teaches, and how much we allow His peace to rule our hearts.

If we know and believe the Word, we know how much God loves us and why we can trust Him with all the circumstances of our lives. That trust helps us to appropriate His peace. If you have been longing for peace to rule your heart, I encourage you to study His word, apply what you learn and trust Him in every area of your life. Paul puts it this way in Phil 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Let’s “allow” the Lord to do this mighty work in our lives!

God bless you

Friday, July 12, 2019

NTDS (65): Fine-Sounding Arguments

Col 2:4
 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments

There is a knock on the door. You answer it and there they are, standing at your doorstep with Bible in hand and usually some other form of literature. They begin speaking to you about God and how they have the inside track on knowledge concerning him. They seem sincere, seem to have good points and make you feel that maybe you are not “doing what it takes” to get to heaven. You become confused and think, maybe they have some knowledge or answers that you do not have.

Ever happened to you? It seems as though from the beginning of the church, there have been people who believe that they can add something to conditions for salvation that were set forth by Jesus himself (Jn 3:16). This was the main reason the apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Colossae.

The believers there were being approached by two different groups, each one attempting to impose their own agenda. One group, the Judaizers were teaching that faith in Christ alone was only the first step in salvation. They required that a person follow all the laws of Moses, as well as some of the traditions that had built up over the years by rabbinical teaching. Everyone was required to keep all of the religious celebrations and Sabbath days. The dietary laws were to be strictly observed. They would even say a Gentile could not be saved without going through circumcision.

Though they may have had fine sounding arguments, Paul made clear the foolishness of such ideas. He asked this rhetorical question, “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” (Col 2:20-21) He followed that up with this statement, “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.” (Col 2:23)

The second group was the Gnostics. They claimed to have secret knowledge that was necessary for true salvation. Part of that knowledge was that Jesus Christ could not have been fully God and fully man. They believed that Deity could not share a fleshly body, so Jesus must have been an angel. They did not use biblical arguments for their belief, but instead used “hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (v8) Paul answered their position with this statement, Col 2:9-10 “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”

It seems as though the need to add something to the requirements for salvation and relationship with God, will always attract some people. There are also some who tend to drift toward the philosophy that even if we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, that we can only continue to be in good standing by following some rules. There are no rules you can follow that will increase your standing with God! Don’t let anyone deceive you into thinking that.

Paul says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Col 2:6-7) How did you receive Christ? By faith in Him. How will continue to live in him? By faith in Him. Does that seem like a simple idea? Yes it does! Thank God for that. The gospel is simple.

Col 2:13-15 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

The powers and authorities he is talking about are demonic powers, that are responsible for the idea that you can add anything to the requirements of the gospel for salvation. Though people may even be well meaning, when they present these fine-sounding arguments to you, you must realize the origin of their ideas and reject them totally and completely.

Our answer is simple. Eph 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

God bless you


Monday, July 8, 2019

NTDS (64): All Power

Col 1:11-13
 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. NIV

One of the greatest gifts the Lord bestows on those who come to faith in Him, is one that we seem to understand the least. Over the years I have heard so many people, who are struggling in their lives, say something like this, “I just don’t think I can be a Christian. I can’t live up to it.” Maybe you have felt this way at one time or another.

It is actually a great realization to come to. You can’t live up to it! In your own power and your own strength, you will never be able to do what Paul is telling the Colossians to do in verse 10, “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…”  This is impossible to do in our own power. The Bible tells us that in Heb 11:6 “and without faith it is impossible to please God,” Faith means trust in Christ, not in us!

Why is it that we find this concept so hard to grasp? It seems that most of us try to live the life God calls us to live, in our own strength. Maybe it’s because we are brought up in a culture that teaches us that if we just “believe in ourselves and “think positively,” we can do anything.” That may have some merit when you are talking about worldly things.

Being successful in sports or music or business can be done by hard work, perseverance and confidence. You might even be successful in “religion” that way. Before Paul was called by Christ, that was certainly his case. This is what he says in Phil 3:4-6, “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” He was, by worldly standards highly successful. But look what he has to say next, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” Phil 3:7

When it comes to your life in the spiritual realm, the only source of power that works does not come from you. It comes from God Himself. The only way you will experience this power is by surrendering your will to His. That means you give up control of your life to Him. Since God gave you free will, you must allow Him to strengthen you with His power. If you want to live a life free of continual spiritual failure, this is the only way to do it!

God has the power and He wants to display that in you. Look at what verse 11 says about this power. It tells us that He strengthens us with His “glorious might.” Have you really considered how mighty His power is? It is the power that created the universe. It is the power that brought down plagues on Egypt. It is the power that gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, caused the lame to walk and raised the dead to life again. Certainly that power can give you and I the ability to “live a life worthy of the Lord…”

Look back at our key verse and see what happens when you do this. Paul says that you will have endurance and patience. Endurance to keep on going in the Lord and even when times are difficult, be able to “give thanks to the Father” (v 12). Patience, so that you may be able to wait on the Lord, allowing Him to do His will in every situation, rather than you trying to do it “your way.”

Jesus said to His disciples in Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  These men did what Jesus said and waited in Jerusalem to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2, we read that the Holy Spirit came, exactly as Jesus had prophesied. Acts 2:4 “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”  The Holy Spirit empowered Peter to preach the good news of Jesus Christ and three thousand people came to faith in Him that day.

That same person, God the Holy Spirit, will empower you to live your life for Christ. Don’t try to manufacture your Christian life any more. You can’t do it! Just surrender the control of your life, each and every day to the Holy Spirit. Ask for the power of His glorious might, to work in your life that day. Read the Word so that you know what God wants you to do and respond to His voice. He will “strengthen you with all power.” Then joyfully, give thanks to Him, who loved you so much, that He gave His life for you!

God bless you

Friday, July 5, 2019

NTDS (63): Rejoice and Do Not Worry

Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. NIV

No, this is not the same as “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” The root word for rejoice in Greek is chairo. Though it was sometimes use as a greeting, generally it meant to be cheerful or glad. Strong’s dictionary says, in other words, “calm delight.” What makes it so different from happy is that we are told to rejoice or have joy despite whatever circumstances we may be facing.

Here, in Philippians 4, it is used as a positive present imperative in connection with a negative present imperative, “do not be anxious.” Paul is strongly exhorting his beloved Philippians to stop being anxious and instead to be calmly delighting.

This should encourage us, because it means that these believers were just like you and I. They must have been worrying about some issues in order for Paul to tell them to stop. He had to remind them that rather than worry, they were to be rejoicing. He would say the very same thing to us today.

Usually, when we hear someone telling us to stop worrying and instead be cheerful, we immediately think, “they don’t understand my circumstances.” That is very possibly true, but let’s not forget that these words were penned by a man who was a prisoner at the time. He had given this same imperative to the church at Philipi in Ch 3, verse 1, so he is giving it strong emphasis. Paul, who is a master at explaining how and why we can follow God’s directives, does so once again.

The key is in verse four. We rejoice “in the Lord.” The Greek word for Lord used here, is kurios. It means “supreme in authority” or “controller.” That is whom we are rejoicing in and that is why we do not have to worry. The one who we present our requests to, is the one who can do something about our requests! He has the ability to meet any need we may have and He is also the one who has our best interests at heart. He is also the one who can give you the peace you need (v7) so that you may rejoice.

Paul is not the first one to exhort us in this way. Jesus taught us to rejoice in our circumstances as well. Matt 5:11-12, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”James said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)

In all of these verses, we are told to rejoice in the Lord, even though our circumstances would not normally warrant that rejoicing. We must make that connection. Rejoicing when things are going well is easy. It is our ability to rejoice in difficult times, rather than worry, that truly measures our trust in Christ. Note also that we are not told to ignore the difficult circumstances. We are not “hiding our head in the sand” about them. We are instead choosing to trust an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God, who proved His love for us on the cross! That is how and why we can REJOICE AND NOT WORRY.

God bless you


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

NTDS (62): Pressing On

Phil 3:13-14 …But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. NIV

Pressing on, a term that the apostle Paul uses twice in verses 12-14 of Phil 3 speaks of going forward. This principle was a guiding force in Paul’s life. Paul continually moved forward in his relationship with Jesus Christ. He was always looking ahead to what God wanted to do next in his life. When he wrote this letter to the Philippians, he had been converted to Christ for about thirty years. In that time, the impact he had on the church was second to none, yet Paul says in verses 8-11 that he had not yet attained the “greatness of knowing Christ.” So he would continue going forward.

May I suggest, that most of us have the same desire as Paul. We want to move forward in our relationship with Jesus. We would like to know Him more and be more like Him. We desire to grow in our faith. Sometimes, however, it seems as though we get stuck in one place. We can’t seem to move forward and we don’t know why.

There is a key to getting moving again, that Paul mentions in verse 13. Forgetting what lies behind. You see, what often keeps us from going forward in our relationship with Christ and “pressing on toward the goal,” is our tendency to dwell on past mistakes or even past successes.

Think about your own life. Have you ever thought that you wanted to take a step of faith and do something of value for the kingdom of God, but did not do it because you felt that you had done too many bad things in your life for God to use you? For example, maybe you felt a strong urge to start a neighborhood bible study but then you thought back to some times that you had treated a neighbor badly. Then you think, “I have no credibility with these people, I can’t do that.” Maybe you want to speak to family members about Jesus and what He has done in your life, but because they had seen you on your worst days you think, “They would never listen to me.”

It is reasonable to think that way, but it is not how God wants you to think. If Paul had thought that way, he would never have had the impact on Christianity that he did. In 1Ti 1:16 Paul called himself the “worst of sinners.” He wasn’t just being humble. He was the worst of sinners. He, being religious, persecuted the church, putting innocent people in jail and even approving of their being put to death. Early in his ministry, some believers were still afraid of him (Acts 9).

You might be thinking, “but I cannot forget my past.” Well Paul didn’t really forget his either. In fact he brought it up many times when he would testify to the work God had done in his life (check Acts 26). The idea of “forgetting” in this case, simply means to not let it hinder you from what God wants you to do now. The word in Greek is a combination of “to lose out of mind or neglect” and  “to lie hid.” You might say, “Give it no regard.” You may think that is impossible but remember, …”with God all things are possible.” (Mt 19:26)

I mentioned earlier that not only past failures keep us form moving forward, but past successes as well. We can have a tendency to “rest on our spiritual laurels.” When you have walked with the Lord for a great length of time, you can begin to think you “you have attained spiritual maturity.” That can cause you to stop seeking to grow closer to the Lord.

How do we recognize that? If, in your conversations with people, you find that the things you share about spiritual victories seem to be things that happened years and years ago, you are probably spiritually stagnant. God wants to do new things in your life. If you sometimes think, “wow, I used to lead Bible studies, minister to the homeless, serve as an usher in the church, but now I am not doing any of those things,” it is time for renewal in your life. More importantly, if you are thinking, “I used to spend a lot of quiet time with Jesus and now I hardly ever do that,” it is time to press on.

Don’t fret about the past. Give no regard to what you have done well or what you have not done well. Press on. Make time to spend with the Lord, put him first in your life and allow the Holy Spirit to begin His work anew in your heart. Regard each new day as a fresh opportunity to do His will. Trust that He will do a new work in your life, for  “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;” (Lam 3:22-23 ESV)

God bless you