Daily Devotional; formerly Chaplains Corner

Discussion in 'Religious Discussions' started by ampaterry, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Colossians 3: 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

    God chose us. He has made us fit to stand before Him by making us holy. He has loved us with the kind of love that only God can love us, His agape love. And He expects us to clothe ourselves so we are fit to be His representatives here on earth. He wants us to put on certain things. And as we saw yesterday, that “put on” doesn’t just mean putting a hat on or a shirt or jacket. It means becoming the part that the robes He provides for us mean us to be, the way a man “becomes” a judge when he puts on his official robes of office. The idea of marinating food comes to mind. We place the steak or joint or roast into the marinade so it can soak in the flavor. We put on God’s armor, His character qualities, His gifts of the Spirit, and soak up the flavor, so to speak.

    So the first things we are to “put on”, to marinate ourselves in, are a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. The King James Version translates the Greek as bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

    Remember how Jesus said that we say what we are? Matthew 12 34 …for the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35 The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.

    So we need to put on a “heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience”. We need to saturate our lives in a marinade of “mercies, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering”. That way what we speak, what we do, will come out of the good treasure of our hearts.

    Now, that compassion. Let’s think about that for a little, try to get a handle of what this is that we are supposed to saturate our lives with.

    The Greeks figured our emotions reside in the gut. The Greek word translated “heart” or “bowels” is the word from which we get “spleen”. We talk about having a “gut reaction”, or a “feeling in my gut”.

    The Greek word for “compassion” or “mercies” means “pity, mercy; bowels in which compassion resides, a heart of compassion”. God uses both terms together here so it could say we are to have compassion to the very depths of our guts.

    I think God describes some of that in Psalm 103: 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. 14 For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.

    Paul describes his ongoing compassion for the people in the churches where he had worked, and how he worked with those people. Paul and those with him considered these people as if they were their own children. Check out 1 Thessalonians 2: 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. 8 Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. …10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children,

    Do you remember how Jesus looked out on the people of Israel? It says in Matthew 9 36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus had that gut-wrenching feeling of compassion for the people because they had no real leadership. They had nobody to teach them; they had no one to care for them. The priests, scribes, and Pharisees were all concerned with their own self righteousness and keeping up the right image. We get that today, in the dog-eat-dog world of cutthroat business.

    Mark 10 describes another encounter Jesus had with someone. The guy came up to Him asking about how he could get eternal life. Jesus’ response: 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him,...

    Remember what Jesus said to the disciples outside Sychar in John 4? It was a Samaritan city, and the Jews hated the Samaritans. He saw the men coming out and said 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Jesus was saying that God’s compassion extends far beyond just working with people we can easily like. Jesus had compassion on that woman at the well, then on the people of Samaria. He had compassion on all those he healed.

    Compassion drove Jesus to take care of the physical practical needs of those people when He fed the four thousand out in the middle of nowhere in Matthew 14. 32 And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” His "compassion" is the same term, the same compassion we need to put on.

    He had compassion on that woman caught in adultery in John 8. He said 11 “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” He didn’t let her off scot free. He gave her an assignment: to stop sinning. She was to change her lifestyle.

    We need to look out at the world, at the people around us, with Jesus’ eyes. Look past their outside appearance to see their real needs. We need to develop the same heart of compassion for those around us that God has for us.
     
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  2. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Happy New Year 2017 guys.

    2016 has finally ended. It has been an eventful year in so many ways, laying the groundwork for good things to come this next year. We look forward to the changes 2017 will bring. We pray that the new administration will do what Proverbs 11 says: 10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting. 11 By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.

    We can pray that God would shut up the mouths of the wicked.

    We pray that the new administration will promote the first part of Proverbs 29 2 When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.

    Now, with the start of the new year, for some of us, there comes a time of reflection on what we have accomplished during the year, and a time to set objectives and goals for next year. We set financial goals, goals for projects around the house, business goals, personal health goals like losing weight or getting in better physical shape; goals for our families. Often we call these things New Year Resolutions. Sometimes those goals are realistic, sometimes they are unrealistic. Sometimes things beyond our control intervene to prevent us from achieving those goals.

    Psalm 90 helps to put some of those goals into perspective. How short and insignificant is our lifespan compared to how God sees things? "4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night" When it comes to longevity we are like grass. "6 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away."

    God gives us a limited period of time to live on this earth. So we plead with God to "12 teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom."

    And we can pray with him, "Lord, please teach us to make the days of 2017 count. Help us to invest each day wisely, so You can be proud of us."

    We want to leave a lasting mark on this world. We want people to remember good things about us. Jesus was talking about leaving marks that last for eternity when He said in Matthew 6 19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

    We want to build up treasure, a legacy, that will last for eternity; we want to make a mark in the world that will last for eternity.

    As I read through the Bible, I see two things that will last forever.

    1. Jesus said "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My word remains forever."

    2. The souls of people will last forever, in eternal judgment, or in heaven with the Father.

    We can invest our lives in building up treasure for ourselves on earth, or in God's Word and the lives of people.

    Some of those goals we set for 2017 need to include things that build up treasure in Heaven; so that we make our days count.

    As we do that, we can ask God to "17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands." We can ask God to establish our work, starting today, so that we leave behind a legacy that will last for eternity. We can ask God to show us what things to invest our lives in each day of 2017 so that we make each day count.
     
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  3. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Colossians 3: 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

    God chose us out of all the people in the world. He cleaned us up, made us holy, and is continuing to do that—it’s an ongoing process that will take the rest of our lives. He loves us with the kind of love only God can give—a giving, caring love that looks out for our own best interests even better than we can look out for ourselves.

    And now He wants us to be His representatives here on earth and expects us to live, behave, speak the part. In order to do that we need to immerse ourselves in some qualities of life. He tells us to put on a heart of compassion, kindness,…

    That kindness walks hand in hand with compassion that we looked at a couple of days ago. You might say it springs from the compassion. If we see people the way Jesus saw them, “as sheep without a shepherd”, wandering around, leaderless, uncared for, without any real purpose in life, without anyone to teach them the Truth, we can learn to have compassion on them, even if they are opinionated noisy liberals.

    Just why should we have compassion on these people? Because we were just like them, or could have been just like them but for the grace of God. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 6: 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

    God expects us to have the same compassion, show them the same kindness that He showed to us before we became Christians. He loved us before we loved Him, and were even able to love Him.

    This kindness that is a result of the compassion God has for us and that we should have toward others. What does it mean?

    Jesus said in Matthew 5 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    God gives His goodness to both the evil and the good people in the world. He gives rain and sun to both the righteous and unrighteous.

    Go back to the Old Testament, to the book of Ruth. She was a nobody. She was a foreign refugee who had come to Israel from Moab, a widow, with her widowed mother in law. She didn’t come for economic gain, to mooch off the state. She came to settle in out of loyalty to her mother in law, to become part of the community and part of the country. There was no welfare system back then, so she went out and found a field where she could pick up grain that the harvesters had left behind. Boaz, the field owner, saw her, took a shine to her, and told his harvesters to leave the odd handful of grain behind so she could glean more. Then he told his harvesters to not bother her, and he told her to stick with his harvesters for protection. When break time came he let her sit with the harvesters, drink their water. Boaz showed this kindness to her and to his workers as he greeted them with a hearty “May the Lord be with you.” And they said to him, “May the Lord bless you.”

    God wants us to “put on”, to saturate our lives with this sort of kindness. I remember reading Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. In one place two hobbits run into a spooky wood and climb what they think is a tree, but is really an Ent. One says “I think I could almost like this place”. The Ent makes them jump out of their skins when he says “I think I could almost dislike these people”. The hobbits were starting from a position of automatic distrust, of dislike, and “this place has to earn my “like”. The Ent was starting from a position of automatic trust, of like, and “these people have to earn my “dislike”.

    This “kindness” starts with the mentality that “these people have to earn my dislike”. Sure, let’s not be gullible. Jesus said we were to be harmless as doves but wise as serpents. We can be kind, but not stupid.

    This “kindness” is a grace which pervades the whole nature, mellowing all which would be been harsh and austere. The word is descriptive of one's disposition.

    Galatians 6 says 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

    Then look at Titus 2: 6 Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; 7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

    May God bless us as we learn to 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4)
     
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  4. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    You all remember that passage in Luke 11 where Jesus said 17 But He knew their thoughts and said to them, Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls.

    The whole point of the passage in Colossians 3 that we are looking at is “how can a diverse group of people work together in unity?” The character traits we need to “put on”, to immerse ourselves in, to marinate ourselves in so that they become a part of our very being, are the qualities that will enable people to work together instead of being a "house divided against itself".

    Colossians 3: 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

    Humility: A velvet-covered brick.

    All too often when we think of someone who is humble, or meek, we think of a Casper Milquetoast. The world's definition of meekness or humility is a spineless jellyfish who bows and scrapes to everyone else, who has no will to stand up for what is right and who gets pushed around by anyone and everything. He will never amount to anything much. The world's way of getting ahead is to promote yourself, step on whatever heads are necessary as you climb the ladder of success.

    That is hardly God's definition of meekness or humility. He says in Romans 12 "3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith." We are to look at ourselves in the light of God's Word, and take a realistic measure of the strengths, gifts, and weaknesses God has given us.

    God's definition of humility is completely different. Proverbs 29 says"23 A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor." Jesus said in Matthew 23: "12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." God's road to success is through humility, not promoting one's self.

    God helps us to see a little of what His kind of humility is in 1 Peter 5: "5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."

    Being subject to our elders? I think that means being ready to learn from them, and having respect for them, listening to the wisdom of these men that they have gained from experiences throughout their lives. But then the elders also need to respect the youngsters. And all of us are to be humble before God, because He exalts us in His own good time.

    But that old fear comes along: "If I don't look out for my own interests, who cares enough to look out for me? I am the best one to be able to look out for myself. What if their advice is all wrong?" That's why God put that last bit in--"casting all your cares on Him, because He cares for you."

    Want an example of a humble man? Check out Numbers 12 "3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)"

    Moses could have been a tyrant of sorts. He grew up in Pharaoh's court, with all kinds of privileges and power. He could be a great leader. So he took it on himself to exact rough justice when he killed a couple of Egyptians for beating an Israelite slave, and had to run for his life. He learned humility taking care of his father-in-law's sheep out in the wilderness. When God told him to lead Israel out of Egypt, Moses' first reaction was that he couldn't possibly be the right man for the job. But God persuaded him to go ahead. God would give him would have all the backing he needed.

    As you read through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, you see that Moses was anything but a Casper Milquetoast. He confronted Pharaoh, he thundered out God's judgement on the Israelites there at Mount Sinai, and at other times. He led the Israelites with all the authority God gave him for those 40 years in the wilderness. He relayed the commands God gave him to the Israelites. He had compassion for the Israelites as he pleaded for their lives. Yet he was hard as rocks when it came to making the Israelites follow God's commands. He didn't mince words when it came time to correct them.

    In all of that, he never promoted himself. God gave him the authority over the people he needed to do the job. God caused the people to respect him.

    Then there’s Gideon. He had a realistic view of himself. When the angel of the Lord approached him there in Judges 6 He said 12 …“The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” Gideon’s response was 13 …“O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? He completely missed the “you” singular. (Hebrew makes it very clear if "you" is a single person or "you-all", a grou.) The last thing on Gideon’s mind was that the angel would call him a mighty warrior. Then the conversation got very interesting very quickly. 14 The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” God had to kind of hit him over the head, spell it out in detail.

    Gideon’s response: Who, me??? I’m a nobody. 15 He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.”

    All the way through the events following this Gideon followed God’s instruction to the letter. He sounded like anything but a Casper Milquetoast that night overlooking the vast enemy camp, when he and his three hundred men thundered out “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” That threw the entire enemy camp into confusion so that they started fighting each other and ran off into the darkness.

    Moses and Gideon, and a whole host of other leaders throughout the Bible were “velvet covered bricks”, submitting to God, but hard as nails when it came to doing the job God called them to do.

    May God bless us with that "hard-as-rocks" humility Moses and the others had as we go about the tasks God has given us to do.
     
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  5. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Colossians 3: 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

    Gentleness. It’s translated “meekness” in the King James Version. It’s a difficult word to get a grasp on in English. It implies a kind of state of mind. It carries with it some of the way we approach life. It means we have an inner strength that enables us to handle anything the world can throw at us.

    We’ve watched some of the Steven Segal movies. You see him smile when the bad guys surround him, ready to wipe him out. He knows he has the ability to destroy them all; he’s not worried by their threats in the least. He doesn’t threaten them with bluster, he merely tries to reason with them before they attack and he then proceeds to wipe the floor with them when they attack.

    As Christians we have that inner confidence. That inner confidence comes from God living in us. We have all His power and authority backing us and we don’t need to bluster or threaten, because God is in charge of the situation. He ultimately is in control of the bad guy’s lives and their destinies, and we don’t need to get bent out of shape when they yell at us, threaten us, try to bully us. They cannot break us because they cannot break the God who is living in us.

    You can just about see Jesus smiling as He answered the challenges the scribes and Pharisees threw at him time after time, trying to trip him up. He always wiped the floor with them with his responses and they retired in confusion.

    You remember that time, for example, when they brought that woman caught in adultery to Him and challenged Him to say what should be done to her in John 8. He showed that meekness as they persisted in their attack. He finally wiped the floor with then. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”… 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court.

    Or the time they tried to trap Him with that question about taxes in Luke 20 23 But He detected their trickery and said to them, 24 “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and being amazed at His answer, they became silent.

    As you read through the Bible, you can see that same meekness coming through in so many other heroes. These people didn’t have to shout and threaten and bluster to defend themselves. They knew they were on God’s side, and that God would go to bat for them.

    Remember Daniel’s friends? Daniel 3 has the record. When they were threatened with the fiery furnace if they didn’t bow down to the idol, they simply said to the king, 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

    No bluster, no threats, no trying to defend themselves, no yelling or screaming or pleading. Just a straight statement of fact. our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire;

    They were able to say this because they had an absolute unshakable faith that God who lived in them was in control of the situation. They didn’t have to defend God. God would defend them.

    That’s the kind of thing that pleases God. Micah 6 says 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

    Paul used his rights to further the Gospel in Acts 16. 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out.”

    There was a song out years ago that said “you got to respect yourself”, and in the process demand that everyone else respect you. The world says you need to be aggressive about having your demands for yourself met. Do things like have pride parades and unruly and violent demonstrations. That’s the way the world approaches life, and we’ve seen riots because of these aggressive demands that these people have their rights respected. We've seen innocent people taken to court and fined or imprisoned because they would not do the politically correct thing.

    It’s human nature to make us feel better about ourselves, to promote ourselves, by putting other people down. We want to show the world that we are better than anyone else. But do you know, we don’t have to do that. We have the highest status in the world. We are God’s children if we are Christians.

    When we are in harmony with God’s ways, when our lives are pleasing to Him, He is happy with us. We can afford to be gentle with those who don’t like God because God will deal with them in His own way, in His own time. He may choose to do that through us, or some other way. We need to let Him speak or act through us. When we are following God’s orders, we are not promoting ourselves. We are promoting God.

    Jesus said we would have a great reward if we put on this quality of meekness, of gentleness. He said in Matthew 5 5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

    We can afford to calm things down with our words, our demeanor, our lives because we know that God is in control. So rather than shouting back, exchanging insults, and doing what the rest of the world does to promote itself, we can do what God says to do in Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

    May God bless us richly as we absorb, “put on” this quality of gentleness, of meekness, in our lives.
     
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  6. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Colossians 3: 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

    Patience. The Greek word is makrothumia. The King James version translates this as “long suffering”. A longer definition of this is “to be long-suffering. Forbearance, self-restraint before proceeding to action. The quality of a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so.”

    The picture this brings to mind is one we have all laughed at. Think of a small cat that jumps on a very large dog. That dog could eat the cat in one gulp, but just turns his head, looks at the cat in a bored way, and shakes it off. The dog patiently endures the unwanted attention of the cat, and eventually gets up and walks off. If the cat insists on following, eventually the dog bats the cat away. That long-suffering dog has finally had enough.

    You hear about bar-room brawls that start over a trivial matter. Someone bumps into someone else, spills his drink, and the fight is on. Or there are all those family squabbles that start over trivial things like “he took my seat” or “I wanted that” or “she broke my toy”. Arguments over squeezing the wrong end of the toothpaste tube, putting the toilet paper on the holder the wrong way round, leaving the toilet seat up or down. The two nations in Gulliver’s Travels had an ongoing war over which end of the egg to cut open. One person says something and the other takes it wrong, or hears it right and takes up the argument, instead of just letting it drop. A whining child gets on our nerves pretty quickly.

    Some people insist on being easily offended, and finding any excuse for a fight. Proverbs 21 says 21 Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife.

    Our normal reaction when we get bumped into is to turn around and push back. Harder. Our normal reaction when someone says something to pull our chain is to try to give as good as we got. It's like a firing pin hitting the primer that fires the powder in the cartridge. A fast, hot, immediate reaction. That is not the way God deals with us, and that is not the way God wants us to deal with those around us. He wants us to hang-fire.

    It takes a lot of strength, a lot of maturity to have the kind of patience, long-suffering, this makrothumia, that God wants us to put on. And God knows all about being long-suffering. He has to deal with our stupidity, clumsiness, and disobedience all the time.

    See what happened when the Israelites were in the wilderness. God had brought them out of Egypt, freed them from slavery, fed them on manna, and they grumbled all the way through the wilderness. He brought them to the Promised Land, and all they could see were problems, and found more reason to whine and complain. God was thoroughly fed up with them.

    Numbers 14 has the record. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? 12 I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they.”

    Moses went to bat for them, pleaded for Israel, calling on God’s own character, His makrothumia. 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.’ 19 Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.”

    Jesus showed this makrothumia, this long-suffering, this patience. Here are a couple of instances:

    There was the time the disciples couldn’t cast a demon out of a child, so the father brought him to Jesus. Matthew 17 16 I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” You can just hear Jesus’ exasperation with the disciples, but He cured the boy, then explained to the disciples why they couldn’t do it.

    There was a time when Jesus had to hold His disciples back from taking revenge.

    Luke 9 51 When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; 52 and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. 54 When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; 56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went on to another village.

    This long-suffering, this patience, goes directly against our nature, but it is absolutely necessary for us to be steeped in this quality. God living in us makes us able to do that. His grace gives us the strength of character to overlook, to forgive, someone’s transgression against us. Sure, we could do something to get even, to take revenge for a personal offense, and that would feel good in the short term, but that’s not how God wants us to work together.

    This makrothumia, this patience, gives us the ability to overlook petty and even persistent offenses, and to build harmony instead of dissention.

    May God bless us with new depths of relationships as we learn to shrug it off, let it drop, to be patient and long-suffering by His grace living in us and living out through our lives into the lives of those around us.
     
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  7. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Colossians 3: 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

    Bearing with one another. Or bearing one another, enduring one another. The Greek word is anecho.

    That is one hard thing to do. It goes hand-in-hand with that “patience” or “long-suffering” we looked at yesterday. Picture yourselves sitting around the table with old Aunt Agatha, who goes on long-winded wandering narratives about something or other that is interesting to her, but that you could care less about. But you sit and politely pretend you are listening, while thinking about how you would much rather be out hunting or out at the range.

    Think of the time you have been in church and some individual has wandered in off the street; he hasn’t had a shower in who knows how long, he can’t talk very well, he isn’t dressed very well, but he needs to know about Jesus. You try to ignore the smell while explaining the Gospel to him, and he responds, becomes a Christian.

    Think of the well meaning klutz that wants to help by painting the garage, but falls off the ladder and spills paint all over your new car. You want to kick him into the next county, but instead check that he’s OK, and start cleaning up the mess.

    It could be someone who just has a very annoying habit of poking you in the side every time he wants to get your attention, or he has some other extremely irritating mannerism. He snorts when he laughs. Some things can be endured, some need to be corrected.

    Or maybe it’s someone who very enthusiastically talks utter rubbish about the Bible. He loves God, but he has fallen into some bad teaching along the way and goes off into some off-the-wall tirade.

    You get to the point that you just want to scream at them to get out, go away, just shut up. Those are times when we need to be totally saturated with this anecho, this ability to endure, this ability to tolerate one another.

    Jesus certainly did. He must have felt really frustrated with his disciples there in Matthew 17: 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” He was having to anecho, to put up with them.

    Ephesians 4 says this: 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

    Yep. There it is. Anecho. Instead of throwing that theological quack out on his ear, show tolerance for him.

    But that doesn’t mean accept and adopt what he is saying, if what he is saying is wrong. Galatians 6 gives part of a strategy for dealing with him: 1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

    Our goal is to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

    If he won’t learn, and if he insists on being disruptive, holding to his false teaching, then it’s time to cut him off, kick him out. God gives procedures for that in Matthew 18. He talked about dealing with false teaching to some of those churches in Revelation 2 and 3.

    I like what happened in Acts 18. 24 Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; 26 and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

    Apollos didn’t have the Gospel quite right. But instead of rejecting him outright Aquila and Priscilla had a quiet talk with him, he listened, and learned.

    When we come across something in a person that offends us or disagrees with us, our natural instinct, our reaction, is to reject that person. We don’t want to have anything to do with them because we are better than they are. They are different from us, so we stand aloof from them.

    Well, we are different from God. We say and do things that are totally off the wall, totally boring to Him, we make a complete mess of something He gave us to do, we get things wrong, we go about doing things the wrong way and we aren’t all that nice. But He anecho’s us anyway. He tolerates, endures us. In fact He goes far beyond than that. He loves us. And He expects us to treat His people around us the same way. He expects us to tolerate each other. None of us are perfect; we all have faults. We can and should correct as much of these as we can this side of the grave; they will all be fixed on the other side of the grave.

    Check out Hebrews 10: 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

    Meantime, while we are still on this earth, we need to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace by being tolerant, anecho-ing one another, looking beyond our foibles and faults and seeing Jesus in each other and praising God for the grace He has given us.
     
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  8. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Colossians 3: 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

    Forgiveness. That’s another thing that goes against the grain, but it is necessary for us as individuals and for us as a group of Christians, whether it be in church, some Christian organization, or “out in the wild”—with people in the community, at work, on the interwebs, or wherever.

    You well know the passage in Matthew 6 where Jesus gave us a pattern or outline to follow when we are praying. One line of that model prayer goes 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

    We ask God to forgive us in the same way as we have forgiven others. Jesus comes back to that thought: 14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Those are very sobering words.

    If we hold a grudge against someone else, that is going to affect how God forgives us, and that will cause a rift in our relationship with God.

    He talked about it more in Matthew 18. Peter asked Jesus if forgiving someone seven times was enough (before he started getting even). 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

    You remember how He then told the story of the two debtors, one whom the king had forgiven a debt of millions of dollars, and his fellow servant who owed him a few dollars. As soon as the first debtor got off the hook, he started hounding the man who owed him a few dollars, threatening him with imprisonment if he didn’t pay up. The king heard about it, and threw the first debtor in prison.

    The point of the story is that God has forgiven us the equivalent of millions of dollars in sin debt when Jesus died on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins with His blood. Any offences people have committed against us are trivial in comparison to what God has against us. And God will forgive us the same way we forgive others.

    We can afford to let it go, to forgive them. God has forgiven us for so much, how can we not forgive someone else for some offense against us?

    That doesn’t mean we just let people walk all over us whenever they want. Some people we need to avoid if at all possible. See the warning Paul gave Timothy about someone who had done some severe harm to him in 2 Timothy 4 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.

    Paul was depending on God to meet justice against Alexander. Check what Paul had to say about taking revenge in Romans 12: 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    It’s our job to be good to people while they and we are here on this earth. This may well be the only time they have to see what God is like, how He can be forgiving. We may be the only means they have to hear that message. If they reject that message, that’s between them and God, and God will judge them. He will avenge us for all the wrongs they have done us.

    But back to this forgiveness in the fellowship of Christians. Bitterness, holding a grudge against someone in the fellowship, is a divisive force. At the worst it will destroy, break up a fellowship, and at the best cause it to lose focus and direction, get it distracted from following God’s will for that group of Christians.

    Jesus said that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and unforgiveness in the ranks will certainly divide a church or fellowship. History is littered with the carcasses of churches that have been divided by bitterness over trivial matters.

    We do not want to be guilty of hurting part of Christ’s Bride, the church, by being unforgiving. We do not want to cause God to judge us because we insist on judging one of our brothers or sisters in Christ by not forgiving them.

    Bitterness, holding a grudge, withholding forgiveness, is a form of bondage. Every time we see that person who has offended us we feel a stab of irritation, that wound gets a little deeper, that hurt gets a little more infected. We can’t talk to them, can’t learn from them. We are limiting our freedom because we won’t forgive.

    Instead we can afford to be generous with our forgiveness, because God has been generous in forgiving us.

    May God bless us richly with the freedom that forgiving others as He has forgiven us brings.
     
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  9. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Colossians 3: 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

    Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

    God has given us a series of things to put on, to immerse ourselves in, to saturate our lives with. We need to marinate our lives in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience. Those will help us to endure or bear with one another. We need to forgive each other the same way God forgives us. Then, as if that weren’t enough, we need to put on love.

    Picture it in your mind’s eye. You get up in the morning and get dressed. You pick up your shirt, put it on. You pick up your trousers, put them on. You pick up your socks and shoes and put them on. In the same way, we get up each morning and pick up a garment of compassion and put it on, then a garment of kindness and put it on, and humility, kindness, and patience.

    Then the way the Greek puts this, we put on top of all that an overcoat of Love. We superimpose or overlay God’s agape love over the top of all these other qualities.

    We’ve looked at this agape love before. It’s an act of the will, a conscious decision, to put the best interest of the object of our love above our own well being and wants and desires. It’s the kind of love that caused Jesus to leave all the comfort and glory and splendor and power of Heaven and come down here onto earth to be with us, to live among us, to become our servant, and to die that ignominious death on the cross for our sins.

    Jesus was expressing that love for us when He was praying for us in the garden that night before he was crucified. He prayed there in John 17 9 I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; 10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.

    The bottom line of His prayer for us was that God would keep us in His name, in His love, so that we would be one, so that we would be bonded together in God’s love, so that we would have the same kind of unity as Christians here on earth that Jesus has with the Father.

    Sure, we may be Baptists and Methodists, and Presbyterians, and members of various other denominations or maybe none at all. We may have cultural differences; we may have different languages; we may look different from other Christians around the world, but because we have this common bond with each other as Christians, we have a love for each other that goes far beyond any denominational or geographical or cultural differences.

    The metrical version of Psalm 100 starts out All people that on earth do dwell, Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice. Him serve with mirth, His praise forth tell. Come ye before Him and rejoice.

    Dad saw a graphic example of that when he was travelling. The church in India had asked him to speak. They met in a building that had no walls, just a roof. The women sat on one side, the men on the other. A gecko listened from one of the posts that held the roof up. It was a completely different cultural experience in many ways, but dad said that as they sang, it was easy to tell that they were all singing to the same God, praying to the same God. And as dad opened the Word, through an interpreter, they were all sitting at the feet of the same God, listening to Him.

    Galatians 3 says 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. When God looks at people, He doesn’t see denominations or languages or nationalities or races or places in society. He sees people. He sees His people, and He sees those who are not His people.

    But we are just human. We can’t help but notice differences in each other, and being limited and petty in our understanding, we have a lot of things to learn to overlook in others, and others have a whole raft of things to overlook in us. So God says in 1 Peter 4 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

    Jesus said in John 13 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    Friends, that agape love is the thing that sets us apart from the rest of the world. Everyone is out to watch out for number one. If you don’t respect yourself nobody else will. That’s why we see out of control welfare; that’s why we see rioting in the streets; that’s why we see all kinds of crime. It’s why we see crooked, oppressive governments.

    Nations can write treaties. They can set up unions and common trade organizations and pacts. But those will never properly unify people of different countries. They won’t even unify people from the same country. Just look at the EU. That government has to put out laws and directives and policies just to try to keep its member nations in line, but the individual nations have lots of problems with those laws.

    That love is what gives us a perfect bond of unity as Christians. It gives us a common purpose, it gives us a common life together as we serve God and love one another in the same way that Jesus loved us.

    1 John 4 says 19 We love, because He first loved us. Only God can make us able to love others with His kind of love.
     
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  10. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Colossians 3: 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

    Peace. The Greek word is eirene. Many girls have been named “peace”, Irene. The Hebrew equivalent is a word we have all heard, Shalom. It also means “whole, complete”.

    There cannot be peace in the world, in a nation, in a country, in a people, in a city, in a community, in a church, in a family, unless the individuals who make up the family, church, community, city, people, country, nation, and world have peace within themselves. If we want our countries to be strong again, unified, whole, at peace, people need to have peace in themselves. We need to have peace in ourselves.

    And just not any peace. Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Idi Amin, and all the other dictators down through the ages had their own definitions of peace, but that did not bring peace to their countries, let alone to the world. People can make up their own definition of peace, but it will always be skewed, disfigured, imperfect because people are imperfect in what they understand peace to be.

    Jesus Christ is the one who was heralded as being the Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9. Jesus is the one who said in John 14 27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. He is the one who brings real, perfect peace to each of us.

    He has given us His peace. His peace is part of the eternal life package He gives us, along with forgiveness of sins and His promise to provide our needs and protect us when we become Christians.

    His keeps on giving us His peace. Remember Philippians 4? 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    Now God is saying that we need to let that peace rule in our hearts. That word for “rule” is the thing that an umpire does. When he calls “Safe” on the baseball diamond, that player is safe. If he calls “Out” that player is out. The umpire rules the game, whether it’s baseball, hockey, football, basketball, or whatever. What he says goes. His ruling is final.

    So we need to let the peace of Christ call the shots in our life. We may want to get mad at someone, we may want to go do something, and then Christ’s umpire of Peace calls “Foul Ball. Don’t do that.” Don’t do that because it will disrupt the unity, the peace, of the body of Christ. So we need to think, and then think again, “how will what I’m doing, or want to do, bring peace or keep peace, in my family, my church, my community, my city, my country?” “How will it promote the unity of this group of people?”

    How does what we say to our wives, our children, our neighbors, the people at church, promote the unity that Christ’s peace brings? How does what we do, our activities, promote the unity that comes from Jesus’ peace?

    And then there’s that little phrase, “and be thankful”. Thankful to those around us for even the trivial things they do or say. It’s hard to be truly thankful to someone you are not at peace with. But on the other hand, being thankful is a great way to promote peace.

    Thankful to God. Remember Philippians 4 that we just looked at?

    Gratitude. Contentment with what we have. Thankfulness. If we can’t be thankful, grateful, content, we are not at peace. The peace of Christ is not ruling our hearts and lives.

    We have peace when we are content, and that contentment starts with thanking God for what He has provided. If He gave it to us, it must be good so we should be happy with it.

    May God bless us richly as we let His peace umpire, call the shots, rule, in our hearts.
     
  11. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Colossians 3: 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

    16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you,

    There are tons of motivational books out there that give good advice on how to deal with difficult situations in life, get ahead, be a leader, and there are many motivational speakers who like to fill our heads with good ideas about how to make the best of our lives, get physically and mentally fit. Websites give us inspirational memes to raise our spirits and show the good side of human nature.

    But these are all too many times, as Ecclesiastes says, “under the sun”. This advice is often given without taking God’s Word into consideration. Sure they may stumble across some of the truths from God’s Word; things like “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, be honest in your dealings with other people, and so on.

    When you get a new car, it comes with an operator’s manual. It tells you how to take advantage of the various bells and whistles in your new vehicle. If you run into problems, say a warning light starts flashing, you check the manual to see what the problem is and how to fix it. You may need to get supplementary guidance from other sources.

    In just the same way, God has given us an operator’s manual for our lives. He made us; He tells us how to live through His Word. We need to read that operator’s manual, the Bible, to get the best out of life.

    We need to let the Word of Christ richly dwell within us. His Word stretches from Genesis to Revelation, and is not just confined to the four Gospels in the New Testament.

    How do we let the Word of Christ richly dwell within us?

    First, we have to get it into us. We can do that in five ways.

    First, hear it. You can do that in church, on some Christian radio programs; you can download parts of the Bible as audiobooks.

    Second, read it. Invest some time every day, say five minutes, 20 minutes; choose a book, say John, or Genesis, and read a chapter or a passage.

    Third, study it. Get a pencil and paper out, write thoughts down. I like an outline called ABC.

    A is the “Analysis”. I write down what God is saying, to me. Sometimes I make it a conversation between me and God. It’s a synopsis of the passage.

    B is the “Best Verse”. If I’m studying a passage or chapter, that verse will be one of two things: it will summarize the passage, put the message of that chapter in a nutshell, or it will be a verse that stands out as a promise, a warning, or something else.

    C is the “Contract”. It is what I’m going to do about what God is talking to me about today, or this week. You remember that passage in James 1? 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

    That “contract” is personal. “God, you are telling me that I need to…”

    It is practical. You know practical. You go to the range to practice. You don’t just say “I want to be a better shooter”. You see where the holes in the paper are, adjust your sights, adjust your technique, and try again. When you are doing the ladder test to develop a new round, you choose the load that makes the smallest group.

    This contract with God is practical. Instead of just saying “I will try to be a better person”, find one thing to do this next week and do it. Maybe it’s complementing your wife. Maybe it’s doing something for her. Maybe it’s doing a project with the kids. Maybe it’s memorizing a verse. Or something else. At the end of the week you will know if you have fulfilled that contract or not. Make it specific and doable and “measurable”—you will know if you have done it or not. “God, this next week I will do…”

    Then get someone to check you on it. The pressure is on if you know your friend will ask you at the end of the week if you have done this or not.

    The fourth way of getting God’s Word into our lives is to memorize it. Find that verse that means a lot to you, get the reference, and memorize it with the reference, and keep reviewing it until you can quote it word perfect.

    A fifth way of getting God’s Word into our lives is to meditate on it.

    This is where we start to let the Word of Christ dwell richly in us. We get it into our heads by hearing, reading, studying, and memorizing it, but when we meditate on it, we start to make it part of our lives.

    You see, that term “dwell” means it is a permanent resident in our lives. It’s not just a temporary house guest. God’s Word is there to stay and make a permanent, indelible impact on our lives. It will change how we live.

    Take that verse you just memorized, or that passage you just studied, and work through what it means, especially to you. Think how it relates to other places and ideas in the Bible. Think how it relates to things you are going through, or to people around you. Chew it over, phrase by phrase, word by word; get all the flavor and nourishment out of it.

    Enjoy it. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.
     
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  12. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Colossians 3: 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

    There is no punctuation in Greek, so this verse 16 could be taken a couple of ways, but the end result is the same.

    It could read “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you with all wisdom, teaching and…”

    Or it could read “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…”.

    The word of Christ is wisdom. How many times through the Gospels does it say the leaders marveled at His sayings? Even when he was just a boy, when he stayed behind in Jerusalem and threw his parents into a panic there in Luke 2. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

    Taking God’s Word into our lives means we acquire God’s wisdom, if we put it to use, if we let it become our mindset. We will see things from God’s perspective. We can look at nature through the eyes of the One who created it all. We can see people from the point of view of the One who makes people tick. We can see history from the perspective of the One who controls the nations. We can see political social and cultural developments from the perspective of the One who controls the hearts of kings like rivers of water.

    And He will give us His wisdom in knowing how to apply His Word to our day-to-day lives. We should not be like the boy who, looking for inspiration, opened the Bible at random and stuck his finger down on a verse that read “Judas went out and hanged himself.” He thought that didn’t sound right so turned a few pages, again at random, stuck his finger down and read “Go thou and do likewise”.

    God’s wisdom, God’s view of the world, isn’t just nice ideas and theories, ivory tower thinking. It gives us practical insights that will help solve real problems, whether they be political, social, economic, dealing with food… The man who discovered rich oil deposits in the Middle East was reading about the pitch that waterproofed Moses’ basket, learned the Hebrew word had to do with hydrocarbons, and hit the jackpot.

    Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly with all wisdom.

    Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…”.

    Seeing life from God’s perspective will help us to know best how to help friends who need help, and how to get through tough times ourselves.

    There are a lot of people out there who like to take your money for some advice, counsel, therapy that really doesn’t make that much difference to you. We’ve seen the train wreck of society that following humanistic ideas creates.

    People who carefully apply the principles of God’s Word in their therapy, in their counseling, in their financial dealings, in their politics, their approach to medicine, get lasting right results that will change people, heal them mentally, emotionally, even physically. Psalm 147 says 3 He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.

    So we take God’s Word into our lives, hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, meditating on it as we looked at yesterday. We need to do what Ezra did there in Ezra 7: 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.

    Some people make it a point of pride to get lots of knowledge about the Bible, about God, but they are like the Dead Sea, which has a river coming in, but no outlet. It just collects water, the water evaporates and leaves just the minerals behind. The Dead Sea is interesting, but unpleasant to be around.

    God wants us to be more like the Sea of Galilee, which has an inlet and an outlet. Ezra took in God’s Word, put it to use in his own life, and then went on to teach others. If we try to teach God’s statutes and ordinances to other people without having put it to use in our own lives, it is just head knowledge we are passing on. Nice ideas, but not much practical help or use. We take God’s Word into our lives, put it to use, becoming, as James says, doers of the Word, not just hearers, and then pass on the lessons we have learned.

    Yes, we have all seen people misusing, twisting, God’s Word to push their own agenda. They are as dumb as that boy who chose the random passages of Scripture. They are not letting the Word of Christ dwell in them richly with all wisdom.

    Psalm 45 starts out My heart is indicting a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. I’m speaking from personal experience. So was John.

    1 John 1 starts out What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life…we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us;

    So we need to teach, encourage, challenge, warn each other with God’s Word—with Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs. (Those are all terms used in the headers of the chapters of the Book of Psalms.) Using God’s Word means it’s not my own ideas, but God’s ideas and you can’t go wrong with that. And it’s not theory. God has already used His Word in my life.

    A strong nation is made up of strong individuals, and we become strong as we take God’s Word into our lives, let it loose on ourselves, and pass on what God has taught us to others.

    May God make us like Proverbs 27 17 Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.
     
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  13. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Colossians 3 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

    This verse 17 carries a warning, a commission and a method for us.

    Whatever we do, whatever we say. It needs to be something God would approve of, because God has chosen us, has loved us, has made us holy in His eyes, and is continuing to make us holy on a daily basis. We are His agents here on earth, His representatives. The world looks on our actions and listens to our words and judges us. How do we represent God here on earth? We act and speak on His behalf, or maybe we should say, He acts and speaks through us. So we have to check our actions in light of this verse and this passage.

    I’ve been through customs and immigration a few times, flying into the US. Each time I encounter representatives of the US government. Most have been good experiences; they are polite, helpful, friendly, and as efficient as they can be to us poor weary travelers trying to get our bearings after having been cooped up in a metal tube for the last eight hours or so, and having had to endure security checks at the airports.

    These agents of the US government are often the first impression visitors to the US have of the country, and they can give a good impression or a bad impression. I’ll never forget the one time we were standing in line to have our passports checked and one loudmouthed agent was yelling at us, as if we were cattle in a stockyard. That gave us a very bad impression of the US government because he was acting and shouting in the name of the US government.

    So the warning is this. Is my behavior, are my words, a good representation of who God is? Will people be attracted to Jesus by what I’m doing or saying? Can I look back on what I did or said and say “thank You, Jesus, for what You helped me do”? Or “thank You, Jesus for giving me the right words to help, encourage, comfort, challenge that person”? If not, we need to recalibrate our lives, reset our sights to bring our words and actions back into line with what pleases God.

    Doing whatever we do, saying whatever we say in the name of Jesus means we have His commission. He gives us His authority to represent Him. What we say needs to be what He tells us to say; what we do needs to be what He tells us to do.

    And God has equipped us to speak and act in His name. Remember the first part of this passage? put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; We dress ourselves in that compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We saturate our lives in those qualities. That makes us able to be 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other.

    The method? The world tries to beat us into submission with laws and threats and intimidation and punishment and force.

    God’s method is to win people to Himself. So we put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. That’s God’s agape love that seeks the best for others, that gives, that is an act of the will. It’s not a nice fuzzy “good feeling”, “let’s everyone hold hands and hug and smile at each other” kind of thing. God’s agape love is something that drives us to encourage, to teach one another, and to admonish one another.

    That admonishing means there will be times when we need to get alongside someone and challenge them, to correct them. And we need to do that not from our own ideas or wisdom, but from the wisdom Jesus gives us as we Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. That’s right, God’s Word needs to be at the heart of what we say and do.

    I started out looking at this passage from a couple of points of view.

    One goes back to Psalm 133 that describes how refreshing, how invigorating it is for God’s people to live and work together in unity. If we follow through the things in this passage we will be able to live and work together as Christians, regardless of our backgrounds and experiences.

    The other point of view is that we want to make America great. That will only come about when the nation bases its culture on God’s way of doing things.

    One of the great problems we have here in Europe just now is that the EU wants to put some draconian gun control laws into effect. Part of the problem is that the shooting community has not really united to oppose that. Only a relative few very active and vociferous people have made any kind of headway in getting the EU to reconsider some of their proposals. If the entire shooting community were to gang up on the EU government, they would have seen that these proposed laws are a non-starter.

    If we as an entire Christian community can pull together we can see some of the damage that has been done through the government reversed. But these efforts need to be based on God’s Word, not man’s “religious” ideas. We need to be “singing from the same hymn sheet” as they say over here, with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. We need to be pulling together to draw the nation back to God.

    But in order to do that, each of us needs have our lives well and truly grounded, saturated, in the qualities this passage describes. And then God works through each of us into the lives of other individual people around us.

    May God bless us richly as we saturate ourselves in those qualities in this passage, so that we can do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
     
  14. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I was intrigued to discover that the governor of one of my old home states is to be the next ambassador to China. Governor Terry Branstad will become Ambassador Terry Branstad if he is confirmed by the Senate. He’ll have his work cut out for him as he represents the US in China, and communicates whatever changes in policy the new US government brings to pass.

    The Oxford Dictionary says an ambassador is "An accredited diplomat sent by a state as its permanent representative in a foreign country."

    Merriam-Webster is a little more descriptive: "an official envoy; especially : a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment."

    An ambassador does many things, running interference for citizens of their country, solving problems, answering questions, among myriads of other things. A good ambassador is a representative of the kind of nation he is from, to the countryhe is in. An ambassador's words and actions reflect on the country he represents. he does and says things in the name of the government of his country. Sounds a little like that verse we looked at yesterday: Colossians 3: 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

    Now that got me thinking...We are representatives of God's Kingdom to the World. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5 "20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." We represent God's Kingdom, of which we are citizens, to the "foreign country" of the world where we are living.

    Our actions and words should represent God's Kingdom in a good light to the rest of the world. And the message we need to be communicating to the rest of the world? "Be reconciled to God". The Gospel.

    Paul talks about what it takes to be an ambassador, even in adverse conditions, in Ephesians 6: "19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."

    When we represent Christ's Kingdom to the world we need to do it boldly, with authority, without hesitation or apology. We do, after all, have all the authority of Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who has been made Head over all things for the Church, backing us. The US ambassador merely has the authority of the United States backing him and he can make his message felt and known in the country where he is an ambassador.

    We have the authority and the commission of Jesus Christ backing us, and our remit isn’t just to one country. Jesus said in Acts 1 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

    Think of your community as “Jerusalem”, your state as “all Judea and Samaria”, and watch out—God can use you as His ambassador, His witness, throughout the world, anywhere in the world.

    May God bless us as His ambassadors to the world, wherever He has put us.
     
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  15. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    What is Truth?

    One of the major casualties in the war of words and ideas over the last few months, and even years, is truth. The media inundates us with its definition of “truth”. Politicians decide on their own version of “truth”. The education system, from preschool through post-graduate school indoctrinates students with its ideas of “truth”.

    Now the buzz-word is that we live in a “post truth era”. We have to fact-check the news; we have to fact-check political statements, we need to fact-check the schools because of what they are teaching our children.

    And there are so many versions and perversions of “truth” out there that we find ourselves saying along with Pilate at Jesus’ trial there in John 18 38 …“What is truth?”

    Even on the religious front, there are many who proclaim with all the authority they can muster their own version of “truth”. Theirs is the only way to salvation. Theirs is the only way to world peace. Or they say “it doesn’t matter what you believe, so long as you are sincere. All roads lead to heaven if you are good or mean well.” Heaven becomes a participation trophy for having lived life on this earth.

    I have news for them. There is Absolute Truth. And that Truth makes liars out of all those pseudo truths that the media, politicians, and educators are trying to foist on us.

    God said in John 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. The Word, Jesus Christ, was God in the beginning. He came to be with us, and He is Truth personified.

    He spoke Truth to us while He walked around on this earth. One of the hallmarks of truth is that it does not change. The law of gravity means that things will always fall. The laws of arithmetic say that 2 + 2 will always be 4. Jesus said in Matthew 24 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. The Truth has staying power. Jesus spoke Truth. And His Word includes all of the Bible. He said in Matthew 5 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter [jot] or stroke [tittle] shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

    The lies that the world is promulgating on us all have an ulterior motive. People want to get more power, more money for themselves. They are pushing these lies to get us under their thumbs. Just one example: Anyone with a lick of sense can see that in the case of the “climate change” lie. It gives government an excuse to get its fingers into every aspect of our lives; it makes opportunities for greedy people to get rich. These lies directly or indirectly enslave us. There are other lies we believe and tell ourselves that also enslave us.

    Jesus has a way of setting us free from those lies. Look at John 8 31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

    If we continue in His Word. If we keep our minds on what God tells us through the Bible, and do what God tells us to do, we will be Jesus’ disciples, and we will know the Truth. We have to get our minds into God’s Word, and get God’s Word into our minds and lives. As that happens, we begin to see the world through God’s eyes. We begin to see people through God’s eyes. We begin to hear things with God’s ears, and we can begin to discern truth from lies.

    What is truth? God’s Word is Truth. When we base our lives on His Truth, it’s the difference between building a house on solid bedrock, and on sand. Jesus told us all about that in Matthew 5. 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

    The people who hear Jesus’ words and reject them go back to basing their lives on lies, and we have all seen the consequences of that in governments, businesses, and individuals. History is littered with the wreckage of nations, governments, corporations, and individuals who have rejected God’s Word and tried to make up their own system of “truth”.

    If a nation is going to have staying power, if a nation is going to be great, it needs to be built up on the truth of God’s Word, using God’s principles.

    If we are going to have staying power as individuals, and be free, we need to build our lives on the Truth of God’s Word. It’s the only way. Jesus said in John 14 6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
     
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