Special – But Not In the Way We Think

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him.” Colossians 1.16

We don’t hear the word narcissism much, but it is an issue in our world today. What does it mean? Here are the words from the dictionary: “excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance.” In other words, life is all about “them.” What does this have to do with our verse today? The whole premise of the words above literally shatters the concept of narcissism, especially for one who is a Christ follower.

Let’s put all of this in context by looking at the preceding verses: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us form the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom (his dear Son) we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:” (Colossians 1.12-15)

So when we read, “by him were all things created”, it is referring to Christ (his dear Son). Paul pretty well covers all his bases with these words: “(things) that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers … ” It doesn’t appear he has left anything out.

So, let’s look at the last phrase: “all things were created by him and for him.” I see no place for the exaltation of self or any other aspect of narcissism. Just about the time you and I get to thinking that God really got a good package when He got us, Paul throws a verse like this one in our path. Not only was I born through the miraculous process of conception, but I was “born again” through the gift of God’s Son. That is amazing and it is very humbling. Just my thoughts …

Who Is the Boss?

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4.1-3

Paul has all the right credentials to issue such a challenge to us. He begins with: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord … ” Not only was he the prisoner of the Lord, he was also a prisoner of the Roman government. His challenge to us is in this next phrase: “(I) beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,” Paul is begging (beseech) the Philippian Christians and us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which they had been called. Every believer is called to live a life that brings honor and glory to the Lord who saved them. But Satan has some pretty good tools that will cause us to lose sight of our calling. We will either focus on what Satan is doing in our lives or we will focus on what God wants to do in our lives. It IS our choice.

We are to execute this calling “, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” He wants us to exercise humility (lowliness) and gentleness (meekness) and patience (forbearing one another in love). There is no place in this calling for arrogance, rudeness, or impatience. We are ALL sinners who have been called to “walk worthy of (this) vocation … ”

Can I suggest that the hardest part is found in v. 3? “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Are we EAGER to maintain unity among our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, or are we given to disrupting the unity of the Spirit? Only you can answer that question. And I must answer it for myself. May we give ourselves today to maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It is a worthy challenge. Just my thoughts …

God Loves the Fatherless and the Widows

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.” Psalm 68.5

On this special day given to honoring dads, each one of us looks back and remembers the mistakes we made as dads. There are no perfect dads down her on this earth, but we have One in heaven. I can remember some things that my father never taught me. He never taught me how to curse and take God’s name in vain. He never taught me how to drink beer and strong liquor. He never taught me how to smoke cigarettes or do drugs. But he did teach me one thing that is a game changer … he taught me how to love God and love my family. I don’t recall hearing him say “I love you” very many times. But I saw him demonstrate his love for my mom and me in many ways.

Our verse says that God is “A father of the fatherless … ” One can hardly make it through a day without being confronted with the fact that we have many children in our culture who are fatherless. They did not choose that life. But it is a reality every day. God says that He pays special attention to them. For those of us in ministry, I believe that we too should give special attention to those who are fatherless. We can be God’s hands and feet and voice to them.

The second phrase says that God is “a judge of the widows … ” Another translation uses the word protector for judge. I do believe that God pays special attention to those who are widows. In Bible times, a widow did not have government programs to which she could turn for help. We read these words in Jeremiah 49.11: “Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me.” God cares. The last phrase simple declares that God’s very nature is to care for the fatherless and protect the widows. We express God’s heart when we do the same. Just my thoughts …

 

It Is Not a Magic Formula – It Is Faith

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6.38

So many of God’s children misunderstand what giving is all about. One of the things I hear most is, “All the preacher talks about is money.” We need to come to grips with the truth that giving is a measure of one’s faith. The words above were spoken by Jesus. He challenges us to exercise our faith by giving first and then the blessings will come. If we cannot trust God with our money, what else can we not trust God with?

Look at the emphasis stated in this first phrase: “Give, and it shall be given unto you … ” These are not empty words spoken to fill part of a page in Luke’s gospel. This is a declaration by the son of God that says, “When you obey, the blessings will come.” To expand on this issue, Jesus says: “ … good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.” What is going to happen when we give? More than we can ever imagine. I am fearful that some will read this and simply conclude, “I will give so I can get more.” In reality we do not give in order to get. We give in order to get so we can give again. The blessings keep coming when we keep giving.

Now let’s look at this last phrase: “For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Here is God’s promise to His children. The measure of blessing that will come back to you will be in proportion to that which you have given. I don’t really think we misunderstand this truth. I think some simply do not think it is true. Remember this – you cannot out give God. Just my thoughts …

 

Like the Boy Scout Motto – Be Prepared!

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6.12

How does it feel to be wrestling with someone or something you cannot see? Our enemy isn’t someone we can grab by the collar and wrestle to the ground and overcome with a show of strength. As a matter of fact, it would be foolish for us to attempt to overcome him in our own strength anytime. Take note of how Paul describes this enemy: (1) principality, (2) power, (3) ruler of the darkness of this world, and (4) spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies.

Paul knew about this enemy first hand. He encountered him almost every place he went to preach the gospel and/or start a church. In case you are wondering WHY this enemy would pick on you, just remember that he took Jesus on when He was in the wilderness.

In another place he is described as a roaring lion: “Be sober (be serious), be vigilant; because YOUR adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking who he man devour.” Satan’s intent for each one of God’s children is to render them totally ineffective in doing kingdom work, and to keep them spiritually defeated as much as he possibly can.

This entire passage in Ephesians 6 is critical to our battle down here on earth. In the preceding verse (11) Paul tells us what we need to do: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Wiles is a plural word meaning tricks, ruses, ploys, schemes, dodges, maneuvers subterfuges, shenanigans, artifices, guile, artfulness, cunning, craftiness. In a nutshell, the devil is sneaky when it comes to the ways he comes after God’s children.

IF we want to be victorious over Satan, we must take Paul’s advice and put on the whole armour of God (vs. 13-18). Just my thoughts …

Where Is Your Life Focus?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5.16

There is a significant difference between doing good works so you will go to heaven and working for God because you are on your way to heaven. Jesus clearly states our level of responsibility to the world in these words here in Matthew 5.16. The first truth is that we are to be lights in this sin-darkened world: “Let your light so shine before men … ” A light is useless if it does not shine when it is needed, so Jesus’ words here indicate that my life and your life are to shine – to be noticeable and to fill the void of darkness found in this world.

Why is our light supposed to be shining? “that they may see your good works … ” Once again let me be clear. We are NOT working in order to earn our way to heaven. That is what the cross is all about. But we ARE working so OTHERS who are not Christ-followers will be able to “see (our) good works … ” There is a specific reason for these unbelievers to be able to see how we live. And it is: to “glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Let’s take a step back and look at WHY Jesus is speaking these words. Jesus came to this earth so that HE might glorify His Father in heaven. After a short span of about 33 years, He was taken back to heaven and we are left here to continue His work of glorifying our Father who is in heaven. Look at the kinds of attitudes that must be overcome in order for our lives to glorify our Heavenly Father: (1) narcissism (life is all about ME), (2) selfishness (I want to do what I want to do), (3) laziness (I don’t feel like living that way), and (4) procrastination (I will do that [glorify God] some other time. I just want to live my life right now).

Let’s get down where the rubber meets the road. The quicker we learn God’s purpose for us while we are living down here, the more victorious our lives will become. The sooner we grasp the concept of letting our light shine so what God will be glorified, the sooner we are able to fill a part in the kingdom work God left us here to do. Just my thoughts …

What KIND of Love Is That?

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” 1 John 4.20

We must remember that John is writing to fellow believers. So his message is for us. He then presents a hypothetical case. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar … ” Let’s make this real simple. If a believer says he loves God but he hates a fellow believer, he is a liar. Now don’t shoot the messenger. This is a very valuable truth. I can hear it now: “I never actually said that I hated them.” Did you know that hatred doesn’t have to be spoken? It can be demonstrated by our actions. “You want ME to sit in the same pew with THEM? THAT will never happen.” Seems pretty clear to me there is no love lost there.

But John goes on: “ … he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” It is pretty difficult to love someone who is intangible … we can’t actually see them. Countless numbers of believers gather every Sunday to profess their love for a God they have never seen. They have seen the results of what this God has done. But it is all of faith – faith in One we cannot see. But we go to the house of God every Sunday and meet with part of the family of God. We see them, we speak to them, we sing with them, we worship with them, etc. It is far easier to love one that you can see than it is one you cannot see.

So what is John telling us here?” I believe he is telling us to stop acting like a Pharisee and pretending to be someone we really are not. It is possible to LOVE someone and not LIKE their actions. That happens in marriages around the world every day. So, let’s get real and stay real and love our fellow believers in a way that none could ever deny. Just my thoughts …