Category Archives: Wednesday

In Christ

My approach to reading the Bible has been the same for a long time now.  I read and write about small portions of a chapter, often just a couple of verses.   I know  God is trying to speak to me and sometimes it’s just easier to narrow my focus in that way so I can hear better.  I really had no good explanation of why that method works so well for me until I found this quote attributed to Jean-Pierre de Caussade in the book Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life.  

“Fix your attention upon what you are reading without thinking about what follows. . . . Pause briefly, from time to time, to let these pleasant truths sink deeper and deeper into your soul, and allow the Holy Spirit time to work. . . . Simply let the truths sink into your heart rather than into your mind.”

I read the Word and other resources because I believe there is the reality of the life of Christ in them.  I expect that reality to change my life in Christ too.  Up to this point in this post I’d only read from the book Discernment.  That quote was good but it felt incomplete without a Scripture reference so I did the digital version of randomly opening the Bible hoping for an unexpected surprise of applicable truth from the Word and up popped this verse of the day from biblegateway.com: Colossians 2:9-10.

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.”  [NIV]

That truth isn’t particularly mystical because of course the Bible is full of applicable wisdom.  Nevertheless it’s interesting to consider  that particular truth in that particular moment could be the reality of blessing from the Holy Spirit to remind me that “In Christ” is where I want to be.  In Christ I am being brought to fullness of both heart and mind.  May it be so!

SO?

Ephesians 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

God gave his riches for your power through his Spirit for your inner being SO…
that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith SO…
you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God and the love of Christ SO…
you may be rooted and established in His love that surpasses your knowledge  SO…
You may grab hold of how wide and long and high and deep that love is.  SO?

Impact of God’s Gifts

2 Peter 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance…

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Time and opportunity are God’s gift to keep us aware “he is patient…not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”   We focus on that gift because it’s personal but it’s interesting to consider it’s about so much more than us.  The “more” is based on these words from John Piper in Desiring God: “God has the right and power to do whatever makes Him happy.”  Think about that for a minute before you read the rest of the quote.  

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115: 3). That is what it means to say that God is sovereign… Just as our joy is based on the promise that God is strong enough and wise enough to make all things work together for our good, so God’s joy is based on that same sovereign control: He makes all things work together for His glory.”

It’s good to acknowledge the impact of God’s gifts on our happiness but it’s a blessing of humility to realize God has a vested interest in our happiness for himself; his own glory.  When we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” it’s evidence of His glory and that makes him happy.

Stand Alone Scripture

Isaiah 43:3a, 10 & 11 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.  [v3a the Lord your God,the Holy One of Israel, your Savior]. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.  11 I, even I, am the Lord

The Only Possible Option

Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 

I know my heavenly master but I haven’t paid enough attention to the awareness that while I don’t have a job and a boss, real life is my earthly master. I spend many hours each week in the Word and in thought dedicated to learning to live in this world “with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.”  That’s where “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you” comes into play for me.

I struggle to string together a coherent prayer built on God’s perspective for the dismal realities of that earthly master.  Those are situations so far removed from my own life; serious world situations and leaders that I have absolutely no control over.  I’m startled by the realization that I’ve let what I work at with all my heart, my dedicated preparation to know my heavenly master, insulate my mind from the only possible option I have to obey that earthly master.  It’s a revelation for me to accept the only frame of reference I have for those dismal situations I can’t control is prayer.  May that new “sincerity of heart” continue to be so!

Transformed Scars

Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

1…set your hearts on things above
2…Set your minds on things above
3…your life is now hidden with Christ in God
9…you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 

The Good News today is your life is “now hidden with Christ in God.”  Think about that for a moment.  Think about the times you’ve spoken or done things that needed to be hidden.  If you need a little help with that re-read verses 5-8 and you begin to remember it’s the pain and shame of your sins that Christ has taken upon himself to “hide.”

Those sins are now hidden. You’re forgiven!  Thank God for that, but you may have some scars.  Jesus has a purpose for your scars, just as he did for his own when he showed them to Thomas, the doubter, as proof of new life.  Remember those scars?  Remember whose image is renewing you?  

New life brings healing but even healing can leave scars.  Your heart and mind are now set “on the things above.”  Jesus has hidden your pain and shame and transformed scars into verifiable evidence: proof of the reality of your new life that may even convince others of his glory.  “You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

The Inner Circle

Colossians 2:1 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…9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness…13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled tqhe charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

The word “you” is used twenty-two times in the first fourteen verses of  this Chapter.  You is a personal pronoun.  The Apostle begins with simple words “I want you to know how hard I am contending for you… and for all who have not met me personally.”  It only takes a couple more verses before he’s swept away that separation of knowing him personally, and time.  I’m certain grammar and pronouns were the furthest things from Paul’s mind when he wrote this Word but his goal is still alive and well because of them.  We’ve become part of the inner circle of “the mystery of God, namely, Christ” in you.  “God made you alive with Christ,”

The impersonal has been swept away because of these words written so long ago by a man we’ve never met.  Here’s the grand finale.  It’s very personal, we’re now part of the inner circle of Christ.   The indisputable confirmation of Scripture being Living Word is it still speaks loud and clear to the heart today with two more pronouns – us and our.

“He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”