Monday, March 25, 2019

Colossians 3-4~Day 84~ Set your mind on the end goal!

My Bible titles chapter 3 of Colossians as “What Christians should do”. At first glance it does look like a long “to-do” list! Those lists have a way of getting some people to revert to thinking that if they don’t do enough then either they won’t get to heaven or they won’t get as big as a reward as the person who does more.

I’m really glad I didn’t read the title before I read the first four verses of the chapter! They hit me in a new way. First of all, when Paul repeats himself,  I perked up!
“..set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not an earthly things.” (3:1-2). 
Did ya catch the repeat? 
And, I loved this,
 “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (3:4) 

Talking about some great perspective before launching into the “to-do” lists. If you set your mind on things above and if Christ is truly, “your life”, the to-do list that follows would be so natural you wouldn’t even have to think about it!  Right? Exactly! 

So, the questions are… Do you set your mind on heaven? Is Christ your life? Does everything you do relate somehow to getting to Christ?

Picture this… You need to catch a train at 12 PM to meet up with the love of your life.
  • You have already bought your ticket.
  • You get up at 6 AM to take a shower in preparation for the day.
  • You pack a bag of clothes.
  • You pack some food.
  • The phone rings, but you don’t answer it because the conversation will delay you. 
  • You leave instructions for the pet sitter.
  • You order an Uber.
  • You make sure your phone is charged so you can pay the Uber who will be taking you to the train.
  • You check Google maps for the best way to arrive to the station.
  • You eat breakfast and clean the dishes quickly in order to leave on time.
  • You lock up your house, leave with Uber, arrive on time to the station and check to make sure the train is on time.
  • You head to the correct platform, the doors of the train open, you board the train and find your seat.

Everything you did since the time you woke up was directed to catching the train! You did nothing else to distract you from that end goal. That is an illustration of “setting your heart on things above”. The to-do list that follows in verse 5-10 would be things that would distract, (according to the illustration), from catching the train. Of course you wouldn’t do them! It’s not even on your radar to do them! So it’s not a chore or difficult to avoid the things listed there when your mind is on the end goal. 

As far as the list of things chosen people would do (3:12-25), they are the natural items to do as you get ready for the train-so to speak. Those things aren’t chores either when you start with the frame of mind- “I’m heading to heaven, and I can’t wait because I am going to be with Jesus, the love of my life!”

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Col. 1-2~Day 83~ Here’s something to blow your mind!!

Do you love mysteries? Is it fun for you to gather and analyze the clues, figuring out what they could mean in order to solve a perplexing riddle?  If so, I believe you were created in God’s image and inherited that personality type from him! However he doesn’t gather the clues, he sets them up for us! He set up a masterful mystery from the beginning of time and people throughout the ages have tried to solve it! In the case of God’s mystery, he set a time to reveal the answer to his riddle. That time was 2000+ years ago.

Have you noticed how often Paul speaks about Christ being the answer to the biggest mystery case ever?! He mentions it in other letters, but I noticed it twice today.
“..the mystery that has been hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (1:26-27)
“My goal is that you may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  (2:2)

Once one has figured out the mystery… The hunt for the clues is over.  God gave clues to Jesus in the rules he set for the Israelites; in what they ate, drank, their religious festivals, i.e. a new moon celebration, and the Sabbath (2:16) in addition to their circumcision (2:11). “These are a shadow of the things that were to come, the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (2:17)
 I love that! All those things God set up were pointing to Jesus!

To be clear, this is the revealed mystery; that Christ will live in all believers. All believers Jew and Gentile who make up the true “Israel“.  (Romans 11:26, 16:25, & Eph. 3:3)

Here is a wild observation! So we humans like to solve mysteries, right? But I think God is playing with a different group as well!😳 There was a whole other group looking to see how this mystery unfolded! When I realized this I was blown away even more about the greatness of God!!  Listen to this, “his intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:10)
Doesn’t that blow your mind?! 🤯 Wow! 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Philippians 3-4~ Day 82~ Get a role model!

Do you have a role model in your life that you can look to as an example of righteous living?
Did you catch that Paul suggests you have one or more?

"Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do." (Phil 3:17)

 If you noticed, Paul describes the enemies of the cross, so we can use that description and look for role models that are opposite to that!  We need to find people who "set their minds on heavenly things" (vs.19)!!!
In addition, the role model you choose should be eagerly waiting a Savior from heaven (vs. 20).  Can you think of someone who refers to the coming of Jesus and is looking forward to that day? If the person you have as a role model doesn't do those two things.....look for someone else!

Another thing Paul makes clear about the role model we choose is, that person won't be perfect. Whew!  If that were the case the pool to choose from would be nonexistent!  Paul himself says he hadn't obtained perfection (vs.12)...yet.

The perfect role model is one who lives by what Paul says in verse 13, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me homeward in Christ Jesus. "  I love that!!  Lord. help me be like that so that I can be a role model for others!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Philippians 1-2 ~ Day 81~ Abounding in knowledge and depth of insight!

We are booking through the New Testament letters now, aren't we?!  It's going fast! Here we are in Philippians already!

These verses stood out to me, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God." (1:9-11)

I like what John Piper says about what "blameless" means in a life lived here on earth. "It doesn't mean we lived perfectly.  It means that we lived a life hating our sin, seeking holiness and trusting in Christ."  Well, that sounds way more do-able than being "blameless",
this is what I see "blameless" to mean:  We will be blameless and filled with the fruit of righteousness because that is what a believer reflects when God looks at him/her.  What causes that reflection?  The blood of Jesus, of course!  So, no matter how we live here, no matter how much we hate sin, how much we seek doesn't really matter.....our sins are covered in God's sight.  We appear blameless when we stand before him!  On Judgement Day, He will look straight at us, smile and say, "You look white as snow!!  Come over here and let me give you a hug!" 🤗
We are perfect in His sight because of the covering we put on when we put our faith in Jesus. We have faith that God will see Jesus when he looks at us.

So, back to the prayer Paul had for the Philippians (and for us), he prayed that they would grow in knowledge and understanding so that they could "discern" teaching that would be contrary to the gospel.   Paul's prayer is for Christians to base their understanding of the gospel, not on feelings but on "knowledge" and "depth of insight".  Where were they to get that knowledge and insight?  From Scripture of course!  Learning scripture helps to discern truth (2 Tim. 3:16).  But, you might be thinking...they didn't have the New Testament yet.   The Scripture Paul was saying was useful in his letter to Timothy was Old Testament Scripture.  That Scripture also points to the coming Messiah!  Paul knew that and used Scripture to prove it (Acts 18:28).  I'm sure that is why Paul prayed that the Philippians would be able to discern that, as he did.

I take Paul's prayer like he is praying it for me as well!  I want my love to abound, my knowledge to abound and my insight to abound more and more so that nothing can sway me from the faith I have in the blood of Jesus!  That's my prayer for all of my family and friends as well!  I already feel that God is answering my prayers when I see all of you reading the Scriptures with me!!  We are abounding more and more in knowledge and depth of insight!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Ephesians 4-6~ Day 80~ You will be able to stand!!

The reading plan left out chapter 4!  Sorry about that ! Let's stick that chapter in our reading today.

I just can't help commenting on Eph. 6:10-18.  I love hearing about the armor God has given us to use in our struggle against the devils schemes!  These verse are worthy of memorizing!
One commentary I read said something profound, "All human life is a warfare; the Christian life is the most so; but the struggle will not last always."
Whew,  for that!😳

The verse that always strikes me anew is, "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."  (Eph. 6:13)

I love that!!  It does not say that "after you have done everything, you can count the dead demons strewn around your feet', or "count the converts standing with you because of your victory."  NOPE, it just says, "after you have done everything, to stand."

We will be left standing!  That is what the armor is for.  Ultimately, we will be left standing in front of the judge on the final day.  Because of the armor we have, we will be able to stand in front of our righteous king! All others will drop to the ground, shaking in fear, regret, shame, despair......but those who have the armor will be able to stand.  Stand with truth, righteousness, peace and faith, all because of the salvation that was freely given by Christ.
Judgement Day will be a glorious day for us!!! 🙌🏻

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Ephesians 1-3, Day 79~ Brought near to God.

My husband and I had the opportunity to go to Ephesus on a trip titled, "Footsteps of Paul".  When we arrived in Ephesus, our tour bus took us to the entrance of the gates that guarded ancient streets   uncovered by archeologists.  After paying admission, we made our way down the main street to the stadium, relatively still in tact, that had been built into a hillside.

As a group, we thought it would be cool to have a little worship service.  However,  as we sat, our tour guide said, out of respect to others tourists who may not hold the same beliefs as us, we should be as quite as possible.  We settled into the ancient stone seats, gazed off into the distance at the Aegean Sea and listened to our pastor's devotion. While doing so, we started to hear singing from across the stadium.  We looked over to the group that was a little larger than ours.  They appeared to be Asian (come to find out they were Korean) and were singing in a foreign language.  As we listened closely, we could hear the tune of "Amazing Grace".  We couldn't help ourselves! Spontaneously we all joined in! They heard us signing the same song, but in our language.  They sang louder!   Recognizing fellow brothers and sisters in Christ brought so much joy!   Both groups knew the reality of the words being sung!  The joy brought by the reality of the song and the fact that both groups knew it....well...the singing couldn't be squelched!

It moved me to tears thinking how the Holy Spirit had moved over the years.  First working through Paul to the Gentiles in Ephesus and then spreading out form there....across the globe!  The reality of the scene I was witnessing brought this verse to life for me,

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Eph. 2:10)

Obviously, we were far from God, spiritually, before accepting Christ.  We are brought close to God spiritually, through Christ, no matter where we live on the planet. But, together, we are all the church, the body of Christ!  My little experience gave me a glimpse of what it will be like when we all come together on judgment day and praise God for what Jesus has done for us.

The Koreans, the Americans, the people form Turkey, were all brought near to God through Christ Jesus!  What a fun way to celebrate-signing together- to the praise and glory of God!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Galatians 5-6~ Day 78~ Carry each others burdens.

I'm getting ready to talk with a group of moms Friday, so my mind is focused on what I am going to say.  (I don't have it completely planned yet.😬)  But, God's word always seems to speak to me at the right time and a new way!

This stood out to me, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (6:2)

Since I am focused on moms these days, this verse made me think back to my MOPS days.  MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) was all about this verse!  The leaders encouraged young, new moms to reach out and help fellow, new moms.

  • If a mom had a baby-"What day would you like to bring her a meal?'
  • If a husband was hurt or illness struck- "What day would you like to bring a meal?" 
  • If a mom is newly pregnant, sick as a dog, and needs to deal with the other sibling-"Stay in bed and tell me what time you want me to come get little Johnny to get him to his basketball practice...and what time do you want me to deliver the meal?
  • "Your husband and you need some bonding time?  I do too!  How about you watch my kids one night this week and I'll watch yours next week so we can both get that alone time with our husbands?"
  • "Your birthday cake didn't turn out the way you wanted it for Johnny's party? Well, take a look at my Pinterest fail, you'll feel better!"
  • "You were up all night with a teething baby and now feel worn out?  Come have breakfast with us and let your baby be in the care of our wonderful workers.  Enjoy some "me" time at MOPS!
MOPS was all about carrying each others burdens!  And in this way the law of Christ was fulfilled!  The moms felt loved and wanted more.  Then they encountered Christ!  It was and is a beautiful model of how to be Christ to others.  Needless to say, the new found friends back then became life long, life supporters to me.  We still carry each others burdens.  The model isn't to be used only in those baby years!  Paul is telling all Christians- this is how you do life!  Share your burdens, receive help, give help- this is how you fulfill the law of Christ!

Are you burdened?  Others can't read your mind.  They can't see behind closed doors.  You need to share your burden with others.  Allow them in!  Be vulnerable.  Likewise when one is vulnerable with you, do something!  "Carry " is an action word!  Praying for them is doing something! can never go wrong with a meal!!😋