The Shadow ‘Dog’

Col 2:8  See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Col 2:9  For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,

Col 2:10  and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

You know it is empty deceit when it doesn’t include Jesus, when it is not about Him.  If it is only about men and, nature or the thoughts of men, you know it is the world, the flesh, and the devil, and empty.  It possibly has no eternal significance and is not going anywhere but leads to death.  ‘There is a way that seems right to a man, but it leads to death’.

You have to know Christ as He is in the Bible.  The God man Jesus, the Son of God,’ who has the words of eternal life’, for us.  Jesus is the Messiah, the one who came to save us.  He is Immanuel, ‘God with us’.  In Him is all the fullness of Deity in bodily form.  I can’t express that enough it is so awesome.  Only God is awesome.  He is the only one who can make us complete.  He does- we are more simple beings we don’t need a lot to be fixed- a little love and blessing and to be on the right path.  We are headed to something, the reason for our search.

Vs. 11 and He wants us to be changed into a spirit-man.  If we are ruled by the Spirit we are spirit men.  We are not to be controlled by the flesh, but to deny the flesh.  Choose not to be grumpy, or to produce the works of the flesh, like murder, disobedience and immorality.  We have committed these things in the past but now we are made alive through the forgiveness we have received and continue to receive.  When we are forgiven the sin is gotten out of the way and the Holy Spirit can come in and with HIM He brings eternal life and we are ‘alive to God and dead to sin’.

Paul further protects the Colossians with these words and from being further diluted from the purity of the Gospel.  It is so simple, hard but simple.  He tells them about people pushing rules and things that are a shadow of the truth.  They only show something small, an outline, but Christ is the substance.  He is the real thing, the way, the truth and the life. The Judaizers wanted all Christians to follow rules about the new moon and the Sabbaths and the festivals.  But in Christ they had freedom from the letter of the law.  The law is important don’t get me wrong.  Jesus said a new law I have for you.  LOVE.  Love God and Love your neighbor.  Other rules the legalists wanted followed- the worship of angels, and if a person was making a point about his visions we don’t have to follow them if they don’t agree with Jesus and Paul.  If a man is overly inflated without cause because of a fleshly mind, that doesn’t take Jesus humility into account- go elsewhere.

These are some of the things the cults would try to cause division over.  God hates division, even in divorce.  The Colossians were baby Christians.  They didn’t know any better.  Satan could have taken the seed out of their hearts at any time.  It was only stopped by prayer.  Or the seed could have fallen on rocky ground or among thorns and not borne any fruit.  God protected them and Paul informed them, educated them, so did Epaphras.  They knew the basics and now they knew what to beware of from false teachers and prophets and false Jews.

Christianity doesn’t hit like a ton of bricks, like drugs and alcohol do.  It makes an impression but has to be reinforced.  It does lead to deterioration of the spirit and mind and get you sick.  Those are good things to stay away from.  But being saved will get you away from that stuff will lead you to a healthy spirit and body.  It is the right path to be on and it leads to heaven – a reward for your trouble and not eternal death.  I like being straight much better.  It’s a good life, Jesus is good, life gets better and better.  Live it and see.  Jesus Loves You.

Love, Wars and Darkness

Chapter two of Colossians is about the reality of the cults and Paul gives examples.  He makes it very real.  Showing how they work:  to introduce doubt; to change the focus to worldly things and the flesh.  But first he wants the people to know who they have believed and not to endure anything else.

Col 2:1  For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,

Col 2:2  that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,

Col 2:3  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Col 2:4  I say this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive argument.

 

Paul’s struggle would endear him to them.  He lets them know how much he cares and shares his deepest feelings for them.   His great struggle they are made aware of.  He cares though he has not even seen them face to face.  Nor has the church in Laodicea ever seen him.  Laodicea was a close neighbor whose assembly was also started by Epaphras.  He knows these two young churches would be able to encourage each other to share leadership. Laodicea was the lukewarm church in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  They were resting in their riches and glorying in not needing anything but they weren’t doing anything for God and were a dead church but still being called by Christ’s name.  It took 40 years for them to cool off and be reprimanded by Jesus.

That Paul had never seen them could be a point of contention for cult like people.  They could twist his words and they would never know.  They might say anything to shake the Colossian’s faith.  They would even be able to impersonate him.  So Paul is writing this letter to instruct them in true Christianity and to speak how they are going to be attacked before it happens.  Then they would know the defense and not be in left field when it happened.  Not knowing is also a threat.

The Laodiceans were also vulnerable.  In their short life span they probably were led to false doctrine by someone who sounded convincing.  Maybe he just said ‘Hey you guys are really blessed’, so they rested in their abundant wealth.  Why else would you quit searching unless you thought you had it all.  Wealth is a bad deal, the rich are insulated and the poor are chosen to be rich in faith.

 

Vs.2 The real wealth as mentioned here is the knowledge of GOD and His love.  It is not just stuff about His love or about Him, but a knowing of whom he is and how His love is.  It gets inside, the way it is worded, not for everybody to understand.  It takes study and commitment and a true heart searching for the truths.  Wide open to what God has to say and being in need to be completed is a winning combination.  It fits right into your heart, right where you need it and fills and completes.  It is God’s love for you as a separate individual and comes with awareness of a new you.  It is not the same for everybody.

This knowledge is the root of our lives and it helps us and gives a big boost to get started on the path.  After that, you just know and the scripture reinforces it and prayer and giving.  It helps in ministry to others and in giving reassurance and encouragement.  We give the Bible because it is the heaviest and talks to the soul.  In relationships we have been coached to have pure ones and symbiotic.  In business- honesty; and in building each other up, to succeed against the wiles of the devil- the world doesn’t think there is a devil. The devil’s attacks on our minds are real, ‘it’s a battle for the mind’ against the enemy.  Maybe you have never experienced this, you probably just let the world, the flesh and the devil have their way.  It’s all going one way, towards you so it feels good.  But doing the right thing has eternal rewards.  Fighting against a mind that likes to sin and doubt and lead astray, this is what holds us to the facts of the spiritual life.  This wealth is important too, to just doing well, keeping your head above water.  This is the short list of the things the knowledge of God is GOOD for.  Bottom line- we have wealth by knowing Christ and understanding deeply what HE has said and done.

The cults will deny any number of things we have learned in the Bible.  Men want to pervert the truth because they can’t bear it.  ‘Men love darkness rather than light’.  They want you to follow them and so they get the glory that Jesus and Paul have.

But Paul keeps sharing about the wonder of Jesus- the source of all wisdom and knowledge in that little Book.  If you can’t see the truth there, if it is not enough for you- practice it, do what it says, open your heart and let it in. He rejoices in how well they are doing and he wants them to keep walking that way.  He places his trust in them and in what Epaphras has wrought.  Paul wants their protection and growth in strength.  He informs the Colossians and hopes and prays.  Next time we will finish this chapter and it is really quite exciting about more of Paul’s examples and where the attacks can come from.  Even from seemingly calm people there can be wolves.

 

 

 

The Will of God and Hope

I think I would like to teach on a short book for something worth doing and because I feel Colossians has something to say.  It all has something to say and having gone over the whole Bible a couple times I can see the spirit-man forming.  I feel more complete.  The whole Bible verse by verse has a lot to add to a woman or a man.  We have been taught on almost every possibility we could encounter in this life and I feel ready to be led by the Spirit and the Word in daily life.

Col 1:1  From: Paul, an apostle of the Messiah Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.

Col 1:2  To: The holy and faithful brothers in Colossae who are in union with the Messiah. May grace and peace from God our Father be yours!

Col 1:3  We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, praying always for you,

Col 1:4  because we have heard about your faith in the Messiah Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints,

Col 1:5  based on the hope laid up for you in heaven. Some time ago you heard about this hope through the word of truth, the gospel

 

How did Paul become an apostle by the will of GOD?  Paul has a story or testimony like the rest of us.  He was an extremely good Pharisee and he was looking to further his career so he volunteered to persecute Christians.  Of course he felt strongly against them too, and murdered some of God’s people along the way.  He got a letter to go to Damascus and arrest the Christians there and bring them back to Jerusalem and put them in prison.  On the way to Damascus he saw a bright light and fell off his horse and Jesus said, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me”, Paul said, “ Who are you, Lord”.  The Lord said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting”.  Paul or Saul was told to go into the city and they led him there.  God spoke to him for three days and he neither ate nor drank.  Jesus told him all about himself and how much Paul would have to suffer for his new job as missionary.

Then Ananias came and healed his eyes and baptized him.  He was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah and preached for him.  He escaped from Damascus spent three years in the Arabian desert being taught by the Lord and living off the land.  Paul was chosen by God; it was obviously His will.

What is the will of God?  It is God’s desire, His purpose for all of us.  He wants us to pray and serve Him, to love Him and others, for his general will.  He also has a permissive will.  This is how far He will go before He will correct or try to change our behavior.  If we read the Bible we will see how far He has gone or will go in all cases.

Paul has never met the Colossians.  The church was started by Epaphras a fellow worker of Paul, who was from there.  Paul is very proud of the Colossians and Epaphras because they have done many good things in accepting and keeping the faith.  Paul is thankful and prays for them often.  He knows the pitfalls of being a Christian then as well as now.  He starts teaching them in this book.  The first chapter is about the reality of Christ.  The second chapter is about the reality of the cults.  The 3rd and 4th chapters are about the realities of being a Christian.

The Colossians are coming along well they have love for the saints and hospitality.  Their new faith is standing strong.  He instructs that the reason they have love is because of hope.  Hope laid up for them in heaven.  Hope does not disappoint for hope usually is realized if it is rational hope.  The hope invested in heaven is a strong motivator.  It can make things possible that would not ordinarily be possible.  Hope will help you in working toward a goal.  A reward like heaven will keep you from quitting until you get there.  Hope influences the spirit of a man or a woman and makes it strong and willing to endure hardship.  Being a Christian normally entails hardship.  When you find something so good for you and if it has great rewards you will go along way for it, possibly all the way.

I talked about God’s will and Paul and the Colossians.  I talked about hope and how important it was to the church in Colosse and how important it is to us as people who have hardship in life.  Faith, hope and love are very important as virtues and they meet the needs of people who want to be independent as well as people who want to be dependent on God.  The question is, where do we get a strong supply of them?  The answer is God our provider and Jesus His Son.

 

Better Now

The first part of Hebrews Chapter 12 is about discipline – the Lord’s discipline.  All the Sons of God have discipline.  Further you might say we all do have trouble, trials, testing, problems, in short- discipline.  God uses these to get us saved if we are not.  Or for HIS people- He wants to make them perfect.  That is the direction He is going in.  The Lord loves us, He loves us so much.  Those He loves He chastens.  He wants to make people sharper to know Him better and to be better at being Christian.

‘He wants us to straighten our paths so that our lameness doesn’t get worse, but that it is healed’.  Heb 12:13.  He wants us ‘to pursue peace and holiness.  Without which we will not see the Lord’.  My job, it says, is to help people ‘to obtain the grace of GOD’.  This sounds tough to do and it is all a very tall order.  Spiritual work that we are not good at is difficult.   We have to use different muscles to make it happen.  I know it gets hard going through all the above and life is almost always hard to cope with- it can lead to bitterness.  With all our failures and trouble daily, it can’t help but to lead to bitterness— without the Holy Spirit!  I’m not saying that Christians are perfect who have the Holy Spirit.  But I am saying that the Holy Spirit is the answer to bitterness and troubles.  He helps us and He reminds us that bitterness is not the way to go.

Bitterness can be harmful.  If it comes about it ‘can defile many’.  The anger and frustration from life and God’s chastening of Christians can cause frustration and outbursts of wrath that can make God look different than what He is.  Moses did that and didn’t go to the Promised Land because of it.  If we let out our bitterness, that’s what will happen- many could have doubts and fear because of your strength of opposition and conviction.  God has a higher purpose for that anger.  So the H.S. can remind us that we should make peace in that situation.

I know the Holy Spirit pulls a root of bitterness out of my heart quite often.  Just in my mind’s eye I see a root being pulled out like a gardener.  It is a reminder and an energy release that turns me a bit away from that function.  It is so welcome and timely.  Even more the scripture comes to my mind, so be careful don’t push this to insanity and demand my own way, I tell myself.  My wife tells me this too.

So I want to give you some more scriptures from Hebrews 12 that will illustrate my point better: Heb 12:16  No one should be immoral or godless like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.

Heb 12:17  For you know that afterwards, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected because he could not find any opportunity to repent, even though he begged to repent with tears.

This is why Esau was immoral and profane because he gave up his whole future for one meal.  It meant nothing to him- his double portion for the first born and his relationship with God.  When he wanted it, years later, the promise and blessing from his dad, he was rejected.  And no place in him was found for repentance because he was godless.  He could have changed all of history, and his life, also he would have changed God’s will, if he could have repented.  But he could not and did not even though he pursued it with tears—wanted it badly but could not do it.

And vs 18:  , Heb 12:18  You have not come to something that can be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, to gloom,

Esau’s life was touched and changed because he did not repent of his evils.  The Jews had Mount Sinai where the first covenant or 10 Commandments were given.  God was therein with blazing fire and terrible gloom.  He was showing His power and that he was the same God as in the Ten Plagues when they left the land of Egypt.  He wanted to be worthy of their obedience.  God was instilling fear in them and a fine job He did that day.  Read vs 19-21  Heb 12:19  to a trumpet’s blast, or to a voice that made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them.

Heb 12:20  For they could not endure the command that was given: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”

Heb 12:21  Indeed, the sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

They were exceedingly afraid even Moses.  The New Covenant is not this way.  It is better, and we shall go into it next time.  God is not that way anymore He has changed His image.  He is still the same God in every way but in how He is dealing with us He has changed.  Now He is all Jesus, His love, His kindness, His healing the whole country of Israel.  This is Him.  He is love.  The other was love too and holiness that would consume sin in every form, and still will……….