1303.) Job 28

April 30, 2014

Job28 depart-from-evil

Job 28   (NLT)

Job Speaks of Wisdom and Understanding

Man seeks after treasure in the earth:

“People know where to mine silver
    and how to refine gold.
They know where to dig iron from the earth
    and how to smelt copper from rock.
They know how to shine light in the darkness
    and explore the farthest regions of the earth
    as they search in the dark for ore.
They sink a mine shaft into the earth
    far from where anyone lives.
    They descend on ropes, swinging back and forth.

The hidden nature of earth’s treasure:

Food is grown on the earth above,
    but down below, the earth is melted as by fire.

Nevada silver mine

Nevada silver mine

Mining in the ancient Near East

C.S. Lewis once spoke of the arrogance of each age. What he meant is that in any given age, there is a tendency to look back upon previous ages as being much less ingenious than our own age.

For example, we might suppose that mining technologies have only been perfected during the period of the Industrial Revolution. Yet mining engineers and metallurgists during the time of Job were quite adept at extracting valuable ore and gems from the earth. Job 28 uses the mining technology of that day to make the point succinctly stated by Robert L. Alden in the New American Commentary: vol. 11, Job, “Wisdom is precious like silver and needs refining like gold.”

Walton, Matthews and Chavalas’s The IVP Bible Commentary: Old Testament explains that mining in the ancient Near East was called pitting. Shafts, some quite deep, were dug straight down into the ore, or dug horizontally into the sides of mountains. Workers were lowered down into these shafts in baskets, and these baskets were filled with ore which were pulled to the surface with ropes.

Job 28:5 says, “As for the earth, out of it comes bread,/but underneath it is turned up by fire.” This is a reference to the ancient practice of fracturing ore-laced rock through heating it with intense fires and then dousing the rock with cold water mixed with vinegar.

(For more of this interesting article from the Colson Center, click  HERE.)

Here the rocks contain precious lapis lazuli,
    and the dust contains gold.
These are treasures no bird of prey can see,
    no falcon’s eye observe.
No wild animal has walked upon these treasures;
    no lion has ever set his paw there.
People know how to tear apart flinty rocks
    and overturn the roots of mountains.
10 They cut tunnels in the rocks
    and uncover precious stones.
11 They dam up the trickling streams
    and bring to light the hidden treasures.

True wisdom is rare:

Job28 wisdom-sign

12 “But do people know where to find wisdom?
    Where can they find understanding?
13 No one knows where to find it,
    for it is not found among the living.
14 ‘It is not here,’ says the ocean.
    ‘Nor is it here,’ says the sea.
15 It cannot be bought with gold.
    It cannot be purchased with silver.
16 It’s worth more than all the gold of Ophir,
    greater than precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
17 Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal.
    It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold.
18 Coral and jasper are worthless in trying to get it.
    The price of wisdom is far above rubies.
19 Precious peridot from Ethiopia cannot be exchanged for it.
    It’s worth more than the purest gold.

The source and summary of wisdom:

20 “But do people know where to find wisdom?
    Where can they find understanding?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of all humanity.
    Even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it.
22 Destruction and Death say,
    ‘We’ve heard only rumors of where wisdom can be found.’

23 “God alone understands the way to wisdom;
    he knows where it can be found,
24 for he looks throughout the whole earth
    and sees everything under the heavens.

Job28 God knows

“This is, indeed, at once our confidence and our comfort – ‘God understandeth.’ The things that perplex us, do not perplex Him; the mysteries by which we are surrounded, are no mysteries to Him.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

25 He decided how hard the winds should blow
    and how much rain should fall.
26 He made the laws for the rain
    and laid out a path for the lightning.
27 Then he saw wisdom and evaluated it.
    He set it in place and examined it thoroughly.
28 And this is what he says to all humanity:
‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom;
    to forsake evil is real understanding.’”

Job28 Proverbs9_10
_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a beautiful song wonderfully suited for our text today — “The Perfect Wisdom of Our God”  by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, sung by Kristen Getty.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved

Images courtesy of:
The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.    http://ibibleverses.christianpost.com//data/uploads/2013/12/depart-from-evil_thumb.jpg
Nevada silver mine.    http://www.greatmining.com/mining_images/Nevada_Silver_Mine2.jpg
wisdom sign.    http://pastorerickson.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/wisdom-green-sign.jpeg
God knows.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tqVJvnuncrU/UbNhRm7k1JI/AAAAAAAADF4/Me-Dl8OzTA8/s1600/IMG_3979.JPG
Proverbs 9:10.    http://biblestudyoutlines.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/proverbs9_10.jpg

1302.) Job 27

April 29, 2014

Job27 faithful

Job 27   (NLT)

Job’s Final Speech

Job continued speaking:

Job’s commitment to the truth:

“I vow by the living God, who has taken away my rights,
    by the Almighty who has embittered my soul—
As long as I live,
    while I have breath from God,
my lips will speak no evil,
    and my tongue will speak no lies.
I will never concede that you are right;
    I will defend my integrity until I die.
I will maintain my innocence without wavering.
    My conscience is clear for as long as I live.

The vain hope of the hypocrite:

“May my enemy be punished like the wicked,
    my adversary like those who do evil.
For what hope do the godless have when God cuts them off
    and takes away their life?

Job28 candle

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

— Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5)

Macbeth at the beginning of Shakespeare’s play is a noble man, respected and honorable.  But at its end he is a toppled ruin—a murderer whose first murder has led him to kill again and again, one who is friendless, dehumanized, whose only comment when he hears of his wife’s suicide is that she should have found a more convenient time.  His life is utterly without hope.

Our great temptation and trials are likely less traumatic than those of either Job or Macbeth.  But in our lives, too, come the time when we have to choose what or whom to trust.  Job’s faith and hope held fast (“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” Job 13:15).  For Macbeth, hope was gone, once God was forgotten.

–J. Ruth Stenerson

Will God listen to their cry
    when trouble comes upon them?
10 Can they take delight in the Almighty?
    Can they call to God at any time?
11 I will teach you about God’s power.
    I will not conceal anything concerning the Almighty.
12 But you have seen all this,
    yet you say all these useless things to me.

God will judge the wicked:

13 “This is what the wicked will receive from God;
    this is their inheritance from the Almighty.
14 They may have many children,
    but the children will die in war or starve to death.
15 Those who survive will die of a plague,
    and not even their widows will mourn them.

16 “Evil people may have piles of money
    and may store away mounds of clothing.
17 But the righteous will wear that clothing,
    and the innocent will divide that money.
18 The wicked build houses as fragile as a spider’s web,
    as flimsy as a shelter made of branches.
19 The wicked go to bed rich
    but wake to find that all their wealth is gone.
20 Terror overwhelms them like a flood,
    and they are blown away in the storms of the night.

Job27 two houses

Matthew 7:24-27   (GNT)

The Two House Builders (like Job and Macbeth)

“So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, and the wind blew hard against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock.

“But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was!”

21 The east wind carries them away, and they are gone.
    It sweeps them away.
22 It whirls down on them without mercy.
    They struggle to flee from its power.
23 But everyone jeers at them
    and mocks them.

_________________________

Music:

I love how Job keeps saying he will be faithful even when his circumstances would speak against it!  HERE   is a song that Job would like, and I like it, too — it gets in my mind and stays there all day!  “I Walk By Faith”  — written by Chris Falson and sung by the Maranatha Singers.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved

Images courtesy of:
faithful.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-fdVpmX22LIc/T5t7aZbE0gI/AAAAAAAABQI/pvmC6l1uo2w/s1600/faithful.jpg
candle.    http://s3.amazonaws.com/rapgenius/candle.jpg
two houses.    http://joyellen.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/12.jpg

1301.) Job 25 and 26

April 28, 2014

Job25 moon in sky
Job 25   (NLT)

Bildad’s Final Response to Job

Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

Bildad muses upon the greatness of God:

“God is powerful and dreadful.
    He enforces peace in the heavens.
Who is able to count his heavenly army?
    Doesn’t his light shine on all the earth?
How can a mortal be innocent before God?
    Can anyone born of a woman be pure?
God is more glorious than the moon;
    he shines brighter than the stars.
In comparison, people are maggots;
    we mortals are mere worms.”

To encourage you to continue reading Job!

“Beginning at Chapter 25, the formal structure of the book would dictate two more chapter-long rebuttals, one from Bildad and one from Zophar, to complete the third round of the dialogue. But this is not what happens. Instead Zophar has no final speech at all, and Bildad’s speech is drastically cut short. So the formal debate is never finished. At Chapter 26 the dialogue grinds to a halt, and from there to the end of Chapter 31 Job holds forth alone in a long and loose-jointed presentation. . . . Finally in this list of textual problems, there is the odd case of Elihu, the brand-new character introduced near the end of the book, who delivers what many readers feel to be the most long-winded, boring, and irrelevant discourse of all.”

–Mike Mason

Job 26   (NLT)

Job’s Ninth Speech: A Response to Bildad

Then Job spoke again:

Job challenges his friends:

“How you have helped the powerless!
    How you have saved the weak!
How you have enlightened my stupidity!
    What wise advice you have offered!
Where have you gotten all these wise sayings?
    Whose spirit speaks through you?

Job praises God and His awesome power in creation:

“The dead tremble—
    those who live beneath the waters.
The underworld is naked in God’s presence.
    The place of destruction is uncovered.
God stretches the northern sky over empty space
    and hangs the earth on nothing.

Job26 earth-from-outer-space

He wraps the rain in his thick clouds,
    and the clouds don’t burst with the weight.
He covers the face of the moon,
    shrouding it with his clouds.

Job26 moon and clouds
10 He created the horizon when he separated the waters;
    he set the boundary between day and night.
11 The foundations of heaven tremble;
    they shudder at his rebuke.
12 By his power the sea grew calm.

Job25 calm sea
    By his skill he crushed the great sea monster.
13 His Spirit made the heavens beautiful,

Job26 clouds-sky-rainbow
    and his power pierced the gliding serpent.
14 These are just the beginning of all that he does,
    merely a whisper of his power.
    Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?”

_________________________

Music:

Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”  Let us joyfully raise our voices to our powerful God, our Creator, as Job described — HERE  is Matt Redman and “Let Everything that Has Breath.”

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved

Images courtesy of:
half-moon in the sky with Job 25:5.    http://wallpaper4god.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/job25_5.jpg
earth hanging in outer space.    http://terawallpaper.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/earth-from-outer-space.jpg
moon in night sky.    http://www.listofimages.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/night-moon-wolf-clouds-dark-nature.jpg
calm sea photograph by Bobby Bong.    http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/painting-the-sky
rainbow.   http://www.listofimages.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/clouds-sky-rainbow-nature.jpg

1300.) Colossians 4

April 25, 2014

EASTER JOY!
The supremacy, the pre-eminence, the lordship of Christ!

Colossians 4 (NIV)

 1 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Further Instructions

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

James 5:16 (Amplified Bible)

The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].

Prayer does not equip you for greater works.
Prayer is the greater work.

— Oswald Chambers

“Satan trembles when he sees
the weakest Christian on his knees.”

–William Cowper

3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Final Greetings

7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.

Onesimus was a slave owned by a believer in Colossae, but he ran away and came into contact with Paul in Rome.  There, Onesimus became a Christian and a dedicated helper to Paul.  His story is continued in Paul’s letter to Philemon, which you may read  HERE.

10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me.

Aristarchus . . . Mark . . . Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers . . . who are of the circumcision: As Paul’s ministry continued, it became more focused towards Gentiles, because many Jewish people came to reject both Paul and his message.

Paul was in a Roman jail because of a Jewish riot over the mere mention of God’s offer of grace to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21-22).

They have proved to be a comfort to me: At that time, Paul had only three fellow workers with a Jewish heritage. But these three did a great work, they proved to be a comfort to Paul.

–David Guzik

12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

Prayer has divided seas, rolled up flowing rivers, made rocks gush into fountains, quenched flames of fire, muzzled lions, disarmed vipers and poisons, marshaled the stars against the wicked, stopped the course of the moon, arrested the sun in its rapid race, burst open iron gates, released souls from eternity, conquered the strongest devils, commanded legions of angels down from heaven. Prayer has bridled and chained the raging passions of man and routed & destroyed vast armies of proud, daring, blustering atheists. Prayer has brought one man from the bottom of the sea and carried another in a chariot of fire to heaven. What has prayer not done?”

–John Blanchard

13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor,

Here is where we learn that Luke, the author of the Gospel according to Luke and the book of Acts, was a physician.

and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.

17 Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”

18 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “What a friend we have in Jesus”  by country music great Alan Jackson, from his album Precious Memories.  This project originally started as a Christmas present for his mother, who had always wanted him to record Gospel music.  His small intimate project turned into an incredible release of favorite hymns, selling 1.8 million albums.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
prayer.   http://3.bp.blogspot.com/__GK0k7tGlqo/TSD59tg2a7I/AAAAAAAABUg/cGP4T4zIbv0/s1600/prayer.jpg
candle light.   http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7bUyhWF7bV4/TaFVGVt8oLI/AAAAAAAAAJ4/dCIIQ67VwVM/s1600/candle%2Blight.JPG
wrestling in prayer.  http://laboringinthelord.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Prayer-Warrior.jpg

1299.) Colossians 3

April 24, 2014

EASTER JOY!
The supremacy, the pre-eminence, the lordship of Christ!

Colossians 3 (NIV)

Living as Those Made Alive in Christ

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.

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

THE HIDDEN LIFE

The Spirit of God witnesses to the simple almighty security of the life hid with Christ in God and this is continually brought out in the Epistles. We talk as if it were the most precarious thing to live the sanctified life; it is the most secure thing, because it has Almighty God in and behind it. The most precarious thing is to try and live without God. If we are born again it is the easiest thing to live in right relationship to God and the most difficult thing to go wrong, if only we will heed God’s warnings and keep in the light.

When we think of being delivered from sin, of being filled with the Spirit, and of walking in the light, we picture the peak of a great mountain, very high and wonderful, and we say – “Oh, but I could never live up there!” But when we do get there by God’s grace, we find it is not a mountain peak, but a plateau where there is ample room to live and to grow. “Thou hast enlarged my steps under me.”

When you really see Jesus, I defy you to doubt Him. When He says – “Let not your heart be troubled,” if you see Him I defy you to trouble your mind; it is a moral impossibility to doubt when He is there. Every time you get into personal contact with Jesus, His words are real. “My peace I give unto you,”  is a peace all over from the crown of the head to the sole of the feet, an irrepressible confidence. “Your life is hid with Christ in God,” and the imperturbable peace of Jesus Christ is imparted to you.

4When 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. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Now that we are “a new creation” in Christ, Paul tells us what to leave behind — and what a pleasure to do so!  Who needs to carry around impurity, evil desires, and greed?  Who wants to live under the burden of rage and malice?  How nice not to have to remember our lies!  Truly, it is freedom!

My mother used to sing this old song:

Earthly pleasures vainly call me;
I would be like Jesus;
Nothing worldly shall enthrall me;
I would be like Jesus.

Be like Jesus, this my song,
In the home and in the throng;
Be like Jesus, all day long!
I would be like Jesus.

Then Paul instructs us how to live this new life, how to be a new self.  And it all comes down, obviously, wonderfully, to love.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.


13
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

 

Col3 and-be-thankful

Ingratitude is the essence of vileness.

–Immanuel Kant

We often fancy that we suffer from ingratitude, while in reality we suffer from self-love.

–Walter Savage Landor

“Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude:
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.”

–William Shakespeare (As You Like It, Act II, scene vii)

Nothing is a greater stranger to my breast, or a sin that my soul more abhors, than that black and detestable one, ingratitude.

–George Washington

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Instructions for Christian Households

18Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Husbands and wives, love each other!

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Children, love your parents!

21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Parents, love your kids!

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. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

All of us, love the Lord by doing our work well!

_________________________

Music:

“Lord, I want to be like Jesus” every moment of every day!  HERE  is Fernando Ortega.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”   Calligraphy by Timothy Botts.  http://www.prestoimages.com/store/rd1098/1098_pd1269610_1.jpg
Your life is hidden.   http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_SsDGvPp2qG8/TR3oD1pK7HI/AAAAAAAABoY/ezXpIencdIE/s1600/18c_3.gif
Clothe yourselves . . .http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3161/3445964244_e7041dbfc0.jpg 
Be thankful.    http://www.livingwordfreelutheran.org/sites/default/files/and-be-thankful-series-web-banner.jpg?1382626035

1298.) Colossians 2

April 23, 2014

EASTER JOY!
The supremacy, the pre-eminence, the lordship of Christ!

Colossians 2 (NIV)

 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.

In this day and age, many people believe that all religions are basically the same, that there are many paths to God, that Christ is only one of many faces which reflect divine truth and goodness, and so on.  I am very sorry to say that even in our churches, even among our church leaders, are people who cannot affirm what Paul says above, that the “mystery of God” is not a secret, but has been fully revealed “in Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” 

If you are looking for ultimate truth, Paul says, here the religious options narrow.  The “fine-sounding arguments” falter.  The search is over.  Jesus Christ is God, and in Christ alone we find “the full riches of complete understanding.”

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.

Spiritual Fullness in Christ

Col2 be rooted
6
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted 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.

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 the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.  15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Martin Luther told once how Satan laid heavy condemnation on him because of his sins. Luther told Satan to list them all, and even reminded him of some he had forgotten. Then he told Satan to write across the whole list “paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ” — and Luther rejoiced in the payment Jesus made.

Freedom From Human Rules

Wherever laws are given as the ultimate answer to the human predicament, we are staring eye to eye with legalism.  Legalism says that we are capable of pleasing God and curing our own ills by rigidly keeping a set of regulations.  Legalism is not the downfall of bad people, who resent law and enjoy breaking it.  Legalism is the trap into which good people fall — people who try to be responsible, who admire discipline, who practice their religion with steady devotion. 

Paul condemns legalism, which threatens to cut the heart out of the Christian gospel.  The human effort which legalism demands and the divine grace which the gospel proclaims have nothing to do with each other.

–David A. Hubbard, Colossians Speaks to the Sickness of our Times

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. 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.

Do not . . . do not . . . do not:  This is a perfect description of legalistic religion, defined more by what we don’t do than by what we do. Christianity is a moral religion; it does have clear moral boundaries. But at its foundation, Christianity is a religion of positive action.

The key to living above legalism is remembering that you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world. Our identification with Jesus in both His death and resurrection (as mentioned before in Colossians 2:12) becomes the foundation for our Christian life, instead of our law-keeping.

One aspect of legalism is that the doctrines of men are promoted as the laws of God.  These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom . . . but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh: We might regard this as the greatest indictment against legalism in the Bible. At the bottom line, legalism’s rules have no value in restraining the indulgence of the flesh.

–David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

Jesus, by means of his “triumph” on the cross, has surely and certainly conquered sin, death, and the devil.  We are glad to be his followers!  HERE  is a song of victory!   “Lift High the Cross” sung by the Saint Michael’s Singers.

Refrain
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim,
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Follow the path on which our Captain trod,
Our King victorious, Christ the Son of God.

Refrain

Each new-born soldier of the Crucified
Bears on his brow the seal of him who died

Refrain

Led on their way by this triumphant sign
The host of God in conquering ranks combine.

Refrain

From farthest regions let them homage bring,
And on his cross adore their Saviour King.

Refrain

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
As thou hast promised, draw men unto thee:

Refrain

Set up thy throne, that earth’s despair may cease
Beneath the shadow of its healing peace.

Refrain

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Colossians 2:6-7.   http://www.doorposts.org/images/New%20Test/Col%202.6-7.jpg
Jesus only.   http://www.sevenoaks.org/files/Image/Series%20Graphics/Jesus%20Only%20-%20Sanctifier.jpg
be rooted.    http://christinesbiblestudy.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/col-2-7-web-watermarked.jpg
triumphing over them.    http://laboringinthelord.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/0215.jpg
I will follow the rules.  http://remade-ministries.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/iStock_000016212764XSmall.jpg

1297.) Colossians 1

April 22, 2014

The supremacy, the pre-eminence, the lordship of Christ!

Colossians 1 (NIV)

“Little of what Paul said to his contemporaries at Colossae is out of date.  Their sickness persists to the present.  But so does the Bible’s ability to speak to it.  The church at Colossae suffered from apathy, rebellion, superstition, legalism, ethical confusion, ingratitude, immorality, irresponsibility, and rebelliousness—the symptoms of the same disease that devastates our modern world.  In his letter the Apostle Paul offered strong antidotes—the lordship of Christ, Christian liberty, and humble leadership.  Our times, too, are similarly sick, discouragingly so.  We get weak-kneed just thinking about them.  But the remedy is at hand.  Jesus Christ is still the Great Physician.  His grace, love, and power have not lost their healing touch.”

from David A. Hubbard, Colossians Speaks to the Sickness of Our Times

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

Paul probably wrote the letter because of the visit of Epaphras from Colossae (Colossians 1:7). Paul himself had never visited the city (Colossians 2:1).  Historically, Colossae was a prosperous city, and famous (with other cities in its region) for its fabric dyes. But by Paul’s time, its glory as a city was on the decline.  The city of Colossae was probably the smallest and least “important” city that Paul wrote to.

–David Guzik

Thanksgiving and Prayer

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.

Hebrews 11:6 (Contemporary English Version)

But without faith no one can please God. We must believe that God is real and that he rewards everyone who searches for him.

Romans 12:10 (New Living Translation)

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

1 Peter 1:3-5 (English Standard Version)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

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, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8and 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, 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 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 is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”

–C.S. Lewis

The Supremacy of the Son of God

15 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, 20and 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 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 such a magnificent passage I am giving it to you again, this time in the J. B. Phillips translation:

Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He existed before creation began, for it was through him that every thing was made, whether spiritual or material, seen or unseen. Through him, and for him, also, were created power and dominion, ownership and authority. In fact, every single thing was created through, and for him. He is both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation. And now he is the head of the body which is composed of all Christian people. Life from nothing began through him, and life from the dead began through him, and he is, therefore, justly called the Lord of all. It was in him that the full nature of God chose to live, and through him God planned to reconcile in his own person, as it were, everything on earth and everything in Heaven by virtue of the sacrifice of the cross.

And you yourselves, who were strangers to God, and, in fact, through the evil things you had done, his spiritual enemies, he has now reconciled through the death of his body on the cross, so that he might welcome you to his presence clean and pure, without blame or reproach. This reconciliation assumes, of course, that you maintain a firm position in the faith, and do not allow yourselves to be shifted away from the hope of 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.

Paul’s Labor for the Church

24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

a hymn from Latin, about the 8th century

O Christ, our Hope, our heart’s Desire,
Redemption’s only Spring!
Creator of the world art Thou,
Its Savior and its King.

How vast the mercy and the love
Which laid our sins on Thee,
And led Thee to a cruel death,
To set Thy people free.

But now the bands of death are burst,
The ransom has been paid,
And Thou art on Thy Father’s throne,
In glorious robes arrayed.

O may Thy mighty love prevail
Our sinful souls to spare;
O may we come before Thy throne,
And find acceptance there!

O Christ, be Thou our lasting Joy,
Our ever great Reward!
Our only glory may be it be
To glory in the Lord.

All praise to Thee, ascended Lord;
All glory ever be
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Through all eternity.

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

_________________________

Music:

Jesus is the image of the invisible God — He is the head of the church — He is the one we proclaim — He is the one we praise and thank and honor and glorify!  HERE  is one of my favorite hymns, written by Charles Wesley and sung here by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir — “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.”

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
‘Til in heaven we take our place,
‘Til we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Supremacy.   http://laboringinthelord.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/0118a.jpg
map showing Colossae.  http://holylandarchive.com/section_images/ColossaeMap3.jpg
Faith, Hope, and Love.   http://d1r5i20o8cadcu.cloudfront.net/designs/images/86956/original/FAITH_HOPE_LOVE__RGB_.jpg
Colossians 1:17.   http://twofriarsandafool.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Colossians.jpg