Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your[our] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory…16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Here’s a timely grammar lesson for 2020 courtesy of the Apostle Paul written during the first generation after Jesus, sometime in the 50s, while Paul was in prison. His If/Then sentences present conditions/situations [the Ifs] and the resulting/expected outcomes [the Thens] that even the passage of time can’t diminish.
If – “you have been raised with Christ”
Then – “seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right
hand of God”
If – “you set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”
Then – “when Christ who is your[our] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory”
If – this Word from the Apostle has found it’s life in you today
Then – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
I Corinthians 3:7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 9 For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building….21 So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you— 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. NLT
This image of how seeds sprout is a visual object lesson of the truth of this passage. Growth begins with a small kernel of life locked within a hard outer shell. You could be forgiven if you looked at that unsprouted seed and thought it was just a small pebble. That would be a sensible conclusion because there are some things only life can confirm. Without planting and water that is all that seed could ever be.
Paul describes the growth of life: “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” Growth reveals what was hidden in that hard shell is the power of life only God can release. That broken shell will ultimately fall away as the “spout” grows but will always be the primary evidence that confirms God can produce new life from hard cases.
“And you are God’s field. You are God’s building…So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you— whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.”
We have plenty of evidence of moral and physical decay around us now. That seems very contemporary but actually it began much further back. God has spent generations patiently waiting for His creation to understand “the end of all things is at hand” began as the natural consequence sin set in motion way back in that First Garden. The blame game began there with the corruption of everything perfect God created. It’s too late now for questioning “why didn’t God…?” God did! Jesus is our beginning that overcomes “the end of all things” and validates our life and prayers through His Spirit in us. BC[before Christ] you were already “dead.”
I Peter 4:6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. 7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 3:8-10 ESV, NIV, AMPC
• 8 Finally, all of you…
ESV-have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
NIV-be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
AMPC-should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).
• 9 Do not…
ESV-repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
NIV-repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
AMPC-return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and
protection, and truly pitying and loving them]. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing [from God—that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection].
• 10 For…
ESV-“Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;
NIV-“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.
AMPC-him who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not] keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit).
I read through these three versions of I Peter 3:8-10. Then I starting looking for similar words, phrases and ideas in each version with the assumption that the repetition agreed upon by so many different translators at different times gives them meaningful emphasis.
Finally all of you…Agree to focus your minds as one heavenly household on sympathy, compassion, love, and recognizing one another with tender hearts.
Do not…miss your inheritance of blessing because of misinterpreting revenge and rebuttal as your right to justice
For…only you can restrain your tongue and lips from convincing deceit that can keep yourself, and others, from being able to love, and enjoy life and see good days.
Jeremiah 29:10 For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. [NKJV]
I’m still concentrating on Jeremiah 29: 10-12 and the Spurgeon sermon from 1887. I found a meaningful difference in the New King James Version’s translation of a phrase from verse 10: “I will perform my good word toward you.” The Bible is more than history, wisdom and recorded answers to allow us to learn how to live according to the expectations of God. It’s His “good Word“ written to reveal His intent to intervene and perform it in the life of His leading characters [you and I] as we navigate through the emotional and unexpected circumstances of life. We are a performance oriented culture, well-trained over most of our years to figure things out but today our unexpected circumstance is a deadly virus. Coronavirus is now daily confronting our ability to figure out what we do know and what we don’t know.
God knows! That is the one thing Spurgeon has reminded me over and over as I’ve read his sermon. “When Moses came out of Egypt, he had no plan as to the march of Israel. He knew that he had to lead the children of Israel to the promised land, but that was all. He probably hoped to take them by the shortest cut to Palestine at once…Brother, you do not know what is to be done, but the Lord knows for you. O, body of Christ, let your head think for you! O, servant of Christ, let your Master think for you. “I know,” says God “the thoughts that I think toward you.” AND “I will visit you and perform My good Word toward you…”
∞ Look back and thank God…Look forward and trust God ∞
II Corinthians 5:4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Installment Plan: Life is God’s first installment in our eternity. He’s provided us with that line of credit so we can obtain and enjoy something of value now based on trust in the reliability of this contract: “God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come”
Documentation of need: “we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling”
Collateral: ourselves as proof of the desire to satisfy “the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose”
Limited Terms: a schedule of devotion over hours, days and years in which that line of credit is satisfactorily concluded “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life”
Psalm 59 – Written by David at the time King Saul set guards at his home to capture and kill him.
1 O my God, save me from my enemies. Protect me from these who have come to destroy me. 2 Preserve me from these criminals, these murderers. 3 They lurk in ambush for my life. Strong men are out there waiting. And not, O Lord, because I’ve done them wrong. 4 Yet they prepare to kill me. Lord, waken! See what is happening! Help me!
9 O God my Strength! I will sing your praises, for you are my place of safety. 10 My God is changeless in his love for me, and he will come and help me. He will let me see my wish come true upon my enemies.
11 Don’t kill them—for my people soon forget such lessons—but stagger them with your power and bring them to their knees. Bring them to the dust, O Lord our shield.
16 But as for me, I will sing each morning about your power and mercy. For you have been my high tower of refuge, a place of safety in the day of my distress. 17 O my Strength, to you I sing my praises; for you are my high tower of safety, my God of mercy.
David writes of his personal “power” struggle in these imprecatory Psalms. His is a struggle between real circumstances and real intimacy with God. You can see that in the verses above. Over and over his conflicted thoughts demand my thought because that’s my power struggle too. Circumstances do not operate independently of intimacy with God.
There’s no way to get around the fact our power struggle is just like David’s. Life was his connection between real circumstances and real intimacy with God. Maybe God is using David’s Psalms to make us look at life in a more realistic way. Life is not a sentence because of circumstances or a slam-dunk because of intimacy with God. Life is our power struggle in which we constantly have to choose whether we’ll give the power to circumstances or to our intimacy with God to effect our response.
Today I’m experimenting with the idea that AND is like a blinking light to pay attention to when I read Scripture. I might be tempted to skip right over that one little word until I remember AND links the words or phrases either side of it to emphasize they go together. So here goes…
Colossians 1-13: Segments direct from the NIV.
4 …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…6 …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, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 AND who also told us of your love in the Spirit. 9 … We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom AND understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord AND please him in every way… 11 …so that you may have great endurance AND patience. 12 AND giving joyful thanks to the Father…13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness AND brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…
Your faith in Christ AND love for all God’s people happened because of a hope stored up for you in heaven. That hope allowed you to hear the true message of the Gospel AND see it bearing fruit AND growing. You learned about God’s grace AND your love in the Spirit came to life in visible ways.
The Spirit gives you wisdom AND understanding so you really can live a life worthy of the Lord AND please him with your joyful thanks. You’ve been rescued from darkness AND brought into the kingdom of the son he loves in whom we have redemption AND the forgiveness of sins.