2607.) Job 2

April 30, 2019

“Satan going forth from the presence of the Lord,” by William Blake, 1805 (Morgan Library, New York)

Job 2   (NLT)

Job’s Second Test

The second act of the heavenly scene:

One day the members of the heavenly court came again to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them.

Revelation 12:10-12 (New Century Version)

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying:
    “The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God
       and the authority of his Christ have now come.

   The accuser of our brothers and sisters,
       who accused them day and night before our God,
       has been thrown down.
And our brothers and sisters defeated him
       by the blood of the Lamb’s death
       and by the message they preached.
    They did not love their lives so much
       that they were afraid of death.
So rejoice, you heavens
       and all who live there!
    But it will be terrible for the earth and the sea,
       because the devil has come down to you!
    He is filled with anger,
       because he knows he does not have much time.”

2“Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.   Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”

3 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job?

God says, “Have you seen my friend Job?” I love this line! I hope God can use it about me! “Have you seen her? I know I can count on her. Throw at her whatever problems you want, and she will turn to me in faith believing. She will not deny my name or give up on my goodness. She will not be swayed by present circumstances, for she has placed her trust in me. She believes my word and she claims my promises with her whole heart, with her very life.” 

Oh, may it be so!

He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil. And he has maintained his integrity, even though you urged me to harm him without cause.”

4 Satan replied to the Lord, “Skin for skin! A man will give up everything he has to save his life. 5 But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

“Satan suggested to God a new test for Job. Physical suffering. Pain can weaken our resistance and make everything look and feel worse than it really is. More than one person has withstood tragedy only to fall apart under the onslaught of pain.”

–Stephen J. Lawson

6 “All right, do with him as you please,” the Lord said to Satan. “But spare his life.” 7 So Satan left the Lord’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot.

Job suffers affliction and shows integrity.

8 Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.”

“Job on the Dunghill and his Wife” by Albrecht Durer, 1503 (Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt)

But let’s not be too hard on Job’s wife. She has just lost all ten of her children, too, and her wealth. In addition, it would be hard for her to see her husband suffer like this; just be done with it, she says. We can understand why she has lost hope.

10 But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.

Job’s Three Friends Share His Anguish

“Job’s Despair,” by William Blake, 1805 (Morgan Library, New York)

11 When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. 12 When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.

The Book of Job is not primarily about one man’s suffering and pain; Job’s problem is not so much financial or social or medical; his central problem is theological. Job must deal with the fact that in his life, God does not act the way he always thought God would and should act. In this drama, the Book of Job is not so much a record of solutions and explanations to this problem; it is more a revelation of Job’s experience and the answers carried within his experience.

–David Guzik

So here is the great question of Job, and it is our question, too:  Why do bad things happen to good people? Or more to the point — if God is good, why does he allow evil?

_________________________

Music:

“Words cannot express.” Job’s friends knew this!  HERE  is “Silence Is Golden” by the Tremeloes, an English beat group founded in 1958 in East London.

Oh, don’t it hurt deep inside
To see someone do something to her?
Oh, don’t it pain to see someone cry?
Oh especially when someone is her
.
Silence is golden
But my eyes’ still see
Silence is golden, golden
But my eyes still see
.

Talkin’ is cheap, people follow like sheep
Even though there is nowhere to go
How could she tell, he deceived her so well
Pity she’ll be the last one to know
.
How many times did she fall for his line?
Should I tell her or should I keep cool?
And if I tried I know she’ll say I lied
Mind your business, don’t hurt her, you fool

_________________________

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:
Blake, Satan.   http://www.blakearchive.org/
Durer.  http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/christian/images/AlbrechtDurer-Job-and-His-Wife-1504.jpg
Blake, despair.    http://www.blakearchive.org/
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2606.) Job 1

April 29, 2019

“Job and his family” by William Blake, 1805 (Morgan Library, New York)

Job 1 (New Living Translation)

The author, date, and place of the Book of Job are all uncertain. But it is widely recognized that Job is one of the greatest books ever written — a masterpiece, a classic. It is terrifying and beautiful, tender and powerful. It addresses life’s deepest problem, the problem of evil, of suffering, of injustice in a world supposedly ruled by a good, compassionate, just God. Perhaps we can go into it recalling of a portion of C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe In chapter eight, as Mr. Beaver is trying to describe what Aslan is like, Susan jumps in to ask, “Is he—quite safe?”

We might ask the same question about Christ, and the answer we would like to hear might be something like, “Of course, coming to Christ will be perfectly safe.”

“Who said anything about safe?” Mr. Beaver replies. “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

Four chapters later when the group finally meets Aslan, Lewis’s narrator tells us, “But as for Aslan himself, the Beavers and the children didn’t know what to do or say when they saw him. People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time.”Lewis provides this image of Aslan, who is both good and terrible at the same time, for Christians who may have an image of God that is out of balance. 

Some may have a conception of a God who is only terrible, a God who is only fear-inspiring. They need to be reminded that God is also good and compassionate. Others may have an image of a God who is only safe and huggable. Lewis would remind them that the God of the universe is not just a larger version of their favorite grandparent.

Let us ask God to use this study of Job to give us a clearer vision of who God truly is — our Creator, Redeemer, and Counselor, who is neither “safe” nor “tame,” but always, always, wise and good.

* * * * *

Chapters 1 – 3:  Satan Questions God

Prologue

The earthly stage:

There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.

 “The insistence on Job’s uprightness should not be weakened in the interests of a dogma of universal human depravity. Job is not considered to be perfect or sinless. All the speakers in the book, including Job himself, are convinced that men are sinful. Job’s first recorded act is to offer sacrifices for sin. This is not the point. It is possible for sinful men to be genuinely good.”

–Francis I. Andersen

2 He had seven sons and three daughters. 3He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area.

“Much later in the book we will catch a glimpse of what Job actually did with his money, and with his time and energy: he rescued the needy; he cared personally for the handicapped and the dying; he brought orphans into his home; he even took the power barons of his day to court and argued the case for the underprivileged (see 29:12-17; 31:16-21).”

–Mike Mason

4 Job’s sons would take turns preparing feasts in their homes, and they would also invite their three sisters to celebrate with them. 5 When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice.

“What a beautiful example is furnished by Job to Christian parents! When your girls are going among strangers, and your boys into the great ways of the world, and you are unable to impose your will upon them, as in the days of childhood, you can yet pray for them, casting over them the shield of intercession, with strong cryings and tears. They are beyond your reach; but by faith you can move the arm of God on their behalf.” — F. B. Meyer

Job’s First Test

The stage in heaven:

6 One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. 7“Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.   Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”

1 Peter 5:8 (New Living Translation)

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

8 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

9 Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. 10 You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11 But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

12 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

The revelation of the heavenly scene behind the earthly scene helps us to understand the later comment of James on Job: Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful (James 5:11). The two great themes of the Book of Job, as explained by James, are the perseverance of Job and the end intended by the Lord, and it is important that we learn both themes. The end intended by the Lord (James 5:11) connects with God’s eternal purpose as revealed in Ephesians 3:10-11 — that God intends that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose. God used Job to teach angelic beings, especially to teach them about His own spectacular wisdom.

–David Guzik

Job’s tragic and sudden losses:

13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

“Messengers tell Job of his misfortunes,” by William Blake, 1805 (Morgan Library, New York)

16 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. 19 Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

Job reacts to his losses:

20 Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship.

Later in the book, as spiritual battle is fought in and all around Job, he will seem to move very far from these words of worship. Yet is it important to remember that a man’s first reaction is often very telling, and reveals what really dominates his heart. Worship was Job’s first reaction to his crisis.

–David Guzik

21 He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” 22 In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.

standing strong in a desperate situation

In this first round of spiritual warfare Satan was singularly unsuccessful in shaking Job from his standing in faith. Job successfully battled against spiritual attack and fulfilled the exhortation that would come many hundreds of years later from the Apostle Paul: that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:13). Job made his stand —

  • against fear and did not give into panic.
  • against make-believe pretending and appropriately mourned.
  • against pride and humbled himself before God.
  • against self and decided to worship God.
  • against a time-bound mindset and chose to think in terms of eternity.
  • against unbelief and did not give into vain questionings of God.
  • against despair and saw the hand of God even in catastrophe.
  • against anger and did not blame God.

— David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

Verse 21:  “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” HERE  is Matt Redman’s song, “Blessed Be Your Name.”

_________________________

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:
Blake, family.    http://www.blakearchive.org/
father praying for child.   http://www.cathyconger.com/wp-content/uploads/father-praying-over-child1.jpg
lion eating prey.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/lioneating1.jpg
Blake, messengers.   http://www.blakearchive.org/
cat and dog.  http://karatetraining.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/classic_battle_catvsdog.jpg

2605.) Colossians 4

April 26, 2019

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, and 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. Lots of other people enjoyed the album, too — it went platinum.

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
prayer.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/prayer1.jpg
candle light.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/candle2blight.jpg
prayer warrior.   https://dianarasmussen.com/2014/07/10/arise-prayer-warriors/#jp-carousel-11038

2604.) Colossians 3

April 25, 2019

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.

 

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.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/18c_3.gif
Clothe yourselves . . .http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3161/3445964244_e7041dbfc0.jpg 
In everything give thanks.   http://jaiibexam.com/thankful-quotes-thanksgiving-day/14375/thankful-quotes-thanksgiving-day-new-thanksgiving-bible-verses-15-great-scripture-quotes-images

2603.) Colossians 2

April 24, 2019

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.gracelifefamily.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Jesus-Only-Jesus-Slider.jpg
be rooted.    http://christinesbiblestudy.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/col-2-7-web-watermarked.jpg
triumphing over them.    https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/1201.html
I will follow the rules.  http://remade-ministries.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/iStock_000016212764XSmall.jpg

2602.) Colossians 1

April 23, 2019

EASTER JOY!
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 (CEV)

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 (NLT)

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

1 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV)

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.   https://wheelsms.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/colossians-series-logo.jpg
map showing Colossae.   http://holylandphotos.org/browse.asp?s=1,3,7,23,62
Faith, Hope, and Love.    https://www.123rf.com/photo_57067758_faith-hope-love-lettering-on-watercolor-background.html
Colossians 1:17.   https://dlw-walkinfaith.tumblr.com/post/173793596859/colossians-col-117-cjb-he-existed

2601.) “I have seen the Lord!”

April 22, 2019

Resur J and Mary weeping

John 20:11-18   (NIV)

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

.

Resur Rose Grove

When I was a child our family went to Rose Grove Lutheran (pictured here), a small church and cemetery out in the farmland of Hamilton County, Iowa. My parents were married there in 1946; they are now both buried there. The picture behind the altar was from the passage above, but a few moments later, for Mary was reaching for the risen Lord just outside the tomb — similar to the picture above, but Mary was facing the Lord with such joy on her face.

I have never forgotten that picture.  Now, half a century later, I realize it has continued to impact my life in several ways:

1)  a fervent interest in the women of the Bible;

2)  a grateful heart because Jesus knows my name, just as He knew Mary’s;

3)  a strong belief that the death and resurrection of Christ is the foundation of a life of significance;

4)   a deep confidence that the Lord is the source of true joy; and

5)  a bold proclamation which I learned from Mary and from Job — “I know that my Redeemer lives!”

.

Res lilies

“Never let anything so fill you with sorrow
that you forget the joy of the Christ risen.”

–Mother Teresa

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With faith and thanksgiving, then, I wish you a grace-filled Easter season
and the joy of the Risen Lord deep in your heart, forever!
Love in Jesus,
Rebecca

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Music:

Such a beautiful hymn!  HERE  is “This Joyful Eastertide” sung by St. Mark’s Church Choir.  Turn up the volume and lift your hands in joy!