Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"Good people will be remembered as a blessing, but evil people will soon be forgotten." Proverbs 10:7 (NCV).

We spent our first full day with our Grandkids. And we had a really great (or should I say grand) time together. My two youngest grands spent a lot of the day crawling all over Granddad. They look at me as if I am an MMA punching bag. I can still hold my own with them, and we have an enjoyable experience as I turn them every which way but loose.

Linda loves to think up more respectable ways of interacting with them. She has spent time with each of them over the years making and cooking things for all of us to eat and enjoy. Today, she had me stop so she and Wesley could go into the store and buy the "fixin's" for a special dessert tonight.
After spending time with older girls playing some games, she and Wesley chased us out of the kitchen to prepare our surprise for tonight.

Memories are so very important in the family. Husbands and wives should have special memories between themselves. Dads and sons, Dads and daughters, Moms and daughters, and Momes and sons need these special thoughts and historical markers to enjoy and look back on fo years to come. My wife and I know our three daughters hold many memories from their childhood - and even today. We will be doing things, and suddenly we will speak about something that has embedded itself in our minds. Linda and I want to build these hitching posts of thoughts between us and our grandchildren.

I could talk more and more about this special bonding, but, right now Linda and Madison are starting to cook the bacon for "Breakfast for Dinner," and this will quickly be followed by Kaylah and her Grandmother fixing the eggs. Me - my job is to eat and enjoy the memory making dinner they are preparing. So, I am going to get myself ready for a dinner fit for a king!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I have stopped to think about the grand memories that You and I have made together. Father, since You adopted me into Your family 55 years ago, I have so many great reflections of Your love displayed for me. Father, I had no idea that when I received Christ as my Savior at age 10 of all the joy and pleasure You would give. I know that You have been with me through all the good times - and the times that have not been so good. As I watch my children, and now my Grandkids making memories together, it causes me to reflect, muse, and ponder over all we have been through. And, the best part of that musing is that I know the best is yet to come! I long to be in Your presence here, and even more so in Eternity. Amen.

Monday, January 30, 2017

What will they remember?

"Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox." Proverbs 14:4 (KJV)

My wife and I are spending the week taking care of our four grandchildren. Their Mom and Dad have had the opportunity to get away for some time just the two of them. This is vital in a marriage for the couple to keep their relationship strong. And, it is great for us Grandparents to have the time with the future of our world. 

In the verse that I listed at the start of the page, my wife used to have it hung up in our home while our children were little. Both she and I tend to be the kind of people who believe that everything has a place, and it should be in it. Well, as all parents will attest, when you have young children, not everything (maybe most of everything) does not find itself in its rightful place.

Toys here, there, and everywhere. So much of the items used in a day finds its way to the floor rather than the shelf it came from. we can spend our time constantly picking up, putting away, fussing, fuming, chiding... well, you probably get the picture... instead of enjoying and realizing that these young children will be the future of our world. I am constantly reminded that one day, my Grandkids won't remember that I made them always clean up, but they will remember that I spent time with them.

I like the paraphrase that the Good News Translation has of this verse, it gives an illustration and more of a picture of the Proverb. The GNT says, "Without any oxen to pull the plow your barn will be empty, but with them it will be full of grain." Yes, if we want an immaculate, clean, straight house, it is only possible without children constantly living in it. But, for our future (and the world's), we need these children. So, putting up with a little mess is a small price to pay for building a future and a legacy. 

Spending time with the Grandkids causes us to remember what is most important in life. Not necessarily a perfectly straight house, but time spent playing and talking with our future, our legacy in this world. So, enjoy a little mess and look forward to a life of fullness with the kids.

Prayer: Father, as I look around at some of the mess on the floor, I am reminded to think about how you look at my life. I may not always put everything back where it belongs, I may leave loose ends, I may not stop and make it all "pretty." But, You spend time with me in the midst of my clutter, You encourage me to be creative, You shape me into being a legacy and a future I will have with You. You love it when I pause and say, I remember when God and I......." Thank You, Amen.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Grandparent's Privilege

Over the next few days, Linda and I have a great privilege. We are babysitting our four grandchildren. Their parents are getting away to celebrate their anniversary. The grandkids range in age from 14 to 3 years of age. They are going to be great "personal trainers" for us physically and spiritually. we will be put to the test on how our workouts have been. Keeping up with their activities will take a lot of stamina and mental acuity. Yet, it is the greatest opportunity we can imagine. I will share some of the lessons learned over the next couple of days. So.... hang on, and here we go! 😅 😅 😅

To begin this time of consideration, consider these are the things Godly grandparents can do:
  • Pray for them continually to be immersed in the knowledge and love of God at an early age and even to finding mates of God's choosing. 
  • Perceive and reflect their worth and affirm God's calling on their lives. 
  • Listen to them any time they want to talk. 
  • Gently offer wise counsel to encourage them in their faith and character development. 
  • Love them unconditionally…don't be afraid that you'll "spoil" them. 
  • Be creative, fun and affectionate. 
  • Respect their parents and never undermine their authority. 

Proverbs 17:6 says that "Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly…" No wise person would ever neglect their "crown" or what they value most. Being a God-honoring grandparent is a huge job and when you get it, you're the one who can do it best. It is, however, your decision.

Prayer: Father, may I be the kind of grandparent that helps to guide and direct my grandchildren in the proper way of life. May they see Jesus in me, and may I be a help and not a hindrance to their choice of You. I thank You for the time I have being an important part of their lives. Amen.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Serve the Lord

"Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs." Psalm 100:2

Following a period of relaxation and renewal, my wife Linda and I are spending time with the North Carolina Baptist Men Board of Directors. She and I are both on the Board with Family Foundations, and I am part of the Disaster Relief Chaplaincy. It is a blessing to minister through these opportunities.

Ministry can take many forms. Every one of us who are believers has at least one Spiritual Gift given to us by God. This gift opens the doors for a multiplicity of possibilities in serving God. When we received Christ as our Savior, He didn't redeem us and then leave us here to just go our merry way. Christ redeemed us, forgave us, cleansed us, and prepared us to minister to this lost and dying world.

Some are gifted to be in areas of teaching and preaching. Some are gifted in the area of worship ministry. Others have the gift of service, they can be used in a variety of areas. The big question that comes out is simply, "Are you using your gift for the Master." If not, Why?

As the Psalmist reminds us in this passage today, when we serve the Lord, we will find ourselves full of joy and gladness. If you have seemed to be struggling in the area of joy and gladness, possibly it is because you are not serving your Lord. Commit to Him today that you will seek ways to serve - and most importantly - do it.

Prayer: Jesus, I am thankful to be able to come to You and to spend time with You. I draw my strength from You, and in turn, You provide all that I need to serve You. Jesus, may I vow today to start seeking opportunities to minister and serve in Your name. Then I claim the truth that when I do minister in the area You have gifted me, I will find the fullness of my Joy and gladness. Thank You for the privilege to serve, Amen.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Respite and Retreat - Part 4

Mark 6:31 - "Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.

Today, I spent some time in Bible study and prayer at a little Chapel at the Conference Center. I went by myself, Linda stayed at the cabin. This was a little time of reflection and rejuvenation for my soul. Being about the Master's business can often leave us drained. That is why times of respite and retreat are so important.

I read about someone showing another person the features of their new smartphone. Suddenly, a shrill beeping assaulted their ears and they read a notification. Then there was a low humming noise and the screen went black. “The battery is dead and I don’t have the charger,” the one man said with disappointment.” Even with all its capabilities, the most important item of equipment needed was a simple battery charger.

When we go through life, often we need that recharge. What is most needed is God’s words at that moment. We needed strength. We need to be recharged. Even the strongest of saints needs encouragement. We get caught up in life’s challenges and stress. Our souls become tired. That’s when we can turn to God for encouragement and strength. Perhaps God speaks to us through a kind word from a friend or maybe God recharges our hearts through prayer and Bible study. When life feels draining and the next step is a mystery, we can seek the recharging power of a God whose love for us is immeasurable and unending.

One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 26:3 - "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." We need to place our trust in God, and sometimes this means that we need to spend time with Him in His Word and prayer.

Prayer: Most Heavenly Father, I draw aside for a brief while, just to spend time with You. I know that this time is needed, my batteries are drained, my strength almost fails, and I need Your rest and peace. As I meditate upon Your Word, it brings nourishment to my soul. As I pray to You, I am assured that You are hearing and responding. May I praise You as well as seek Your face. I can claim the promise that if I seek Your face, You will be found. Strengthen me for the tasks You have laid before me. Guide me, direct me, uphold me, and feed me. In Your Son's name I pray, Amen.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Respite and Retreat - Part 3

The Psalmist David expressed it so well - Creation does proclaim the very glory of God. As we took the time to rest and renew, we were surrounded by the very beauty of God. We took two hikes today and saw views that were lovely. We climbed and climbed up, up, up until it seemed that there couldn't be any higher ways - only to be able to look out over the grandeur of the area. I can honestly say, even with using the treadmill twice a day, my legs at the end of the day told me that I had really used them hard.

I love to be able periodically to pull aside from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and to, as they used to say, "stop and smell the roses." (I have to admit that in the mountains in January there really wasn't any roses.)

As the day pulled to a close, we were able to sit on the front porch of the cabin and watch the sun set over the distant hills. Pinks, purples, yellows, golds, all stretching across the sky as the sun descended below the horizon. Peace, quiet, only birds singing and squirrels scampering. The beautiful soft pale blue sky went through the kaleidoscope of colors settling into the velvety inky black of the night dotted with the points of light called stars. As I admired the handiwork of my Father in Heaven, I thought back to David's song in Psalm 19 (verses 1 - 6):

"The heavens are telling the glory of God,
and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands.
Every day they pour forth speech,
and every night they tell knowledge.
There is no speech and there are no words;
their sound is inaudible.
Yet in all the world their line goes out,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has pitched a tent for the sun,
and it is like a bridegroom
who comes out of his bridal chamber.
It is glad like a strong man
to run its course.
Its rising is from one end of the heavens
and its circuit to the other end of them;
and nothing is hidden from its heat."

Prayer: Creator, I pause and revisit my thoughts about You. Only You could design such a palette of colors to decorate this planet. As Your child, I admire and release my squeals of delight at the variety of pleasures that only You can release. My heart is lifted in praise, my soul does worship You, my mind cannot comprehend all that You have created and provided for me, the pleasure of spending time with you alone, that is beyond my ability of words. So, in my feeble way, I will just humbly bow and say - Thank You! In Jesus' name, I come and pray, Amen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Respite and Retreat - Part 2

I like the way that the Message version of the Bible translates Psalm 121:1 -2. It says, "I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains."

In our time away, Linda and I have been able to meditate upon the beauty of God's Creation and marvel over the fact that God is grander than all we see. In the cabin, we have been able to look out over a small valley, and unto a small mountain on the other side. During the day we have watched birds soaring, and after dark when we were returning back up to the cabin, we watched as three deer fed and returned into the woods.

Peaceful. Relaxing. And a great reminder that our strength, our protection comes not from creation, but from the Creator who made all of this. Too often we try to find the answers, try to find encouragement, try to find strength in the things we can see around us. But, the One who created it all is the One who gives true responses, true encouragement, true strength, true peace in a very restless world.

It is so important that we take the time to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and pay attention to his call - "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28, ESV)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pause to consider how Great You are. As I relax and view Your Creation, I see splendor, I see majesty, I see beauty, I see a glimpse of You. I ponder that if this world holds such splendor and majesty, what must Heaven be like. I must praise You for Your great provision by Your Son to bring me into the family, to cleanse me from my sin, to forgive, to remove, to robe me in His Righteousness. Father, today I rest in Your arms and feel Your heartbeat. Prepare me for the tasks You have before me. In Jesus' precious name I pray - Amen.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Respite and Retreat - Part 1

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Mark 6:31 (NKJV)

Over the next few days, my wife and I are going to follow Christ's invitation. In the busy hecticness of life, we can become overwhelmed with the pace we live. So, we followed Christ's invitation, and we drew aside to enjoy the pleasures of a borrowed mountain cabin. Nestled up near the peak, we had a glorious view of the other mountainside, and the valley in-between. 

In taking this time for refreshment, of the body, mind, and spirit, I am reflecting upon the joy of the time we spent together. During that time, I did not continue my reflections and commentary on the letter of Paul to the Colossian believers. So, I hope you will join with me as I reflect upon God and His creation for the next few days of this blog.

Enjoy this poem by William Cowper for today -

Hackneyed in business, wearied at the oar,
Which thousands, once fast chained to quit no more,
The statesman, lawyer, merchant, man of trade,
Pant for the refuge of some rural shade,
For regions where, in spite of sin and woe,
Traces of Eden are still seen below,
Where mountain, river, forest, field, and grove,
Remind him of his Maker’s power and love.
To them the deep recess of dusky groves,
Or forest where the deer securely roves,
The fall of waters, and the song of birds,
And hills that echo to the distant herds,
Are luxuries excelling all the glare
The world can boast, and her chief favourites share.(1)

Prayer: Father, as we learn to rest in You, we also learn to rest from the various and cacophonous voices of the world around us. Help us all learn that at times we must draw aside, lay aside, and come aside for some time to refresh and renew. We praise You for Your glorious creation, may it be a place of rest for our weary souls. Amen.

(1) Cowper, William. 1835. The Poems of William Cowper: Of the Inner Temple. Digital copy accessed on January 16, 2017 from GoogleBooks. Published by C.Wells. Original from New York Public Library. Page 143.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Colossians 1:17

The next two distinguishing identifying marks of Jesus’ superiority to any other person who has ever lived that Paul makes are in this short verse. Paul’s fifth statement tells us that all fullness dwells in the incarnate Son[1]. Christ existed prior to Creation. He is the great “I Am” (John 8:58) As has been said, “The Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New Testament.”[2]

That brings up the sixth identifying mark, Christ is the personal sustainer and preserver of all Creation. The Greek word used here is sunistemi and can mean to permanently frame, to be compact.[3] He holds everything together, he maintains creation. Dr. J. Vernon McGee says “He is the super glue of the universe.”[4] We have a cosmos and not a chaos because He maintains all harmony and order. Without Christ, all things would disintegrate. We see this echoed in Hebrews 1:3 (HCSB), “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word.”

Prayer: Gracious and Holy Lord, may I praise and worship You today. Jesus, You are the sustainer and preserver of all Creation. Without You we would not exist, and without You we could not continue to exist. Thank You for holding it all together. I worship You for Who You are. Amen.

[1] See Colossians 2:9. 
[2] Falwell, Jerry, ed. Liberty Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983. Page 2457. 
[3] Perschbacher, Wesley J., ed. The New Analytical Greek Lexicon. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1990. Page 395, and W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 124. 
[4] McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible. Vol. V. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983. V vols. Page 340.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Colossians 1:16

The next identifying statement of Paul about Jesus is that all things were created by Him. This alone should clear up the confusion over whether He is created or the Creator. If all things are created by Him, then He couldn’t have been created. This is followed with the statement that all things were created for Him.

We see three prepositions that tell us the entire story. “By him” gives us the divine source of Creation – Jesus Christ. When one considers the Genesis account of Creation, it states that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen. 1:1, ASV). “Through him” gives us the divine agent of Creation. John 1:3 tells us that there was nothing created without Him. And, finally “for him” speaks of the purpose: for His use and Glory.

In this verse, there is a difference in the Greek syntax of the word translated “created.” The Greek word kitzo in its root form means to reduce from a state of disorder, to call into being, to create or call into individual existence.[1] What is important in this place is that the tense of that is translated in the first created is aorist which generally is translated in the past tense – in this case it is referring to the act of creation. The second use of the word created is in the perfect tense, which describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated. This is referencing the enduring result of the creative act.[2] We have a Christ-centric universe, thus we have a complete denial of the Gnostic philosophy infiltrating the Colossian Church.   

We have an example of Synonymia in this passage. This is the repetition of words similar in sense, but different in sound and origin. The use of this technique is for the purpose of enhancing the force and fire of the passage.[3]

Prayer: God of all Creation, You are wonderful, You are marvelous, You are beyond any description we can place upon You. For this reason, I bow humbly and praise Your Holy Name today. Amen. 

[1] Perschbacher, Wesley J., ed. The New Analytical Greek Lexicon. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1990. Page 250. 
[2] Bruce, F. F. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids: Eerdman's Publishing Co, 1984. Pages 64, footnote 118.
[3] Bullinger, E. W. Figures of Speech used in the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968. Page 324, 337.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Colossian 1:15

Following his greeting and prayer, Paul moves into a discussion on the pre-eminence of Christ in the areas of Creation, Redemption, and the Church. Since Paul is writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit and is developing this concept of the centrality of Christ in the Church, it is a viable set of ideas that he delves into. Paul is working to emphasize to the Colossians the headship of Jesus over the Church. So, he goes back to the very beginning of all things – Creation.

Paul in this letter is dealing with the heresies of the Gnostic beliefs slipping into the Colossian Church. They did not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, and thus Paul is going to develop a logical set of arguments against this false belief. In the following verse, Paul provides us with nine distinguishing identifying marks of Jesus’ superiority to any other person who has ever lived.

Paul starts by telling us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. The word he uses here, eikon, and means image or likeness. This is more than just a representation, it is a manifestation or revelation.[1] This is a different word than what he used in letter tot eh Philippians where he spoke of Jesus “existing in the form of God” (2:6 ASV). The word in the Philippian letter was morphe, and this carries the meaning of having the special or characteristic features, thus the nature and character of God in this passage.[2]

Jesus was born flesh (John 1:14) and thus could show us the invisible (Greek aoratos – “not visible”) God. He was God and thus could robe Himself in flesh and give us the manifestation or revelation of the One who is invisible (Heb. 11:27). Only because Jesus is God, could He then reveal the invisible God. Jesus was the fullness of the logos that John spoke about in the beginning of the Gospel bearing his name.

The second identifying mark he writes about, is that Jesus is the firstborn (Greek prototokos) of all creation. That reveals His relationship to the Father in the Godhead. “Firstborn” indicates His priority before all Creation.

Nowhere does the Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ had His beginning at Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 prophesies His being born at Bethlehem, but it clarifies it with the statement that His “goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. (ASV)” Isaiah 9:6 (ASV) tells us “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given", a child is born, but a son is given – in other words, He came out of eternity and took on humanity.

The point here is His pre-existence from all eternity, second, His supremacy of position over Creation, and finally, His being recognized as Messiah.[3]

Prayer: I give thanks that a child was born in Bethlehem, the eternal, everlasting Son of God, given for my redemption. Father, Your great love shines forth because of what lengths You went to secure my salvation. You are worthy of all praise and worship. May I never forget, nor take for granted this so-great salvation. Amen.

[1] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 318. 
[2] George Wigram, New Englishman’s Greek-English Concordance & Lexicon (Lafayette, Indiana: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1982). Page 580. And, W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 251. 
[3] Psalm 89:27 states – “I also will make him my first-born, The highest of the kings of the earth.” This is understood as referring to the Messiah.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Colossians 1:14

We now read of the final two points of thanksgiving in Paul’s prayer for the Colossians. Paul says that the believer has an apolutrosi, or redemption through Jesus Christ. The word means a liberation procured by the payment of a ransom, and thus implies again that the believer was under bondage or slavery to someone. The King James Version also included the words (through His blood), however, this is not included in any of the best manuscripts. It is believed to have added because this mirrors Ephesians 1:7.[1] The point is made in this letter in 1:20. The Scriptures and Paul make it clear that our redemption comes from the grace of God, by the shed blood of our Savior Jesus. We should give thanks for this marvelous provision for any and all who will freely receive.

The logical results of redemption is the forgiveness of our sins. Forgiveness (Greek aphesis) denotes release from bondage or imprisonment, it is the pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), the remission of the penalty one would have.[2] This is the consequences of salvation. The typical Pauline way of writing about this is generally the use of justification. However, we also find this terminology mirrored in Ephesians 1:7. Possibly this points to a primitive form of a confession of faith used at the time that Paul was writing.[3]

[1] See also Romans 3:24 – 25, where the believers are said to be freely justified by the grace of God. 
[2] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 251. 
[3] Bruce, F. F. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids: Eerdman's Publishing Co, 1984. Pages 54.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Colossians 1:13

In this verse, we find two more of the items of thanksgiving that Paul includes in his continuous prayer for the Colossian believers. The first is that of being rescued from Satan.

The inference is that the Colossians were held captive at one time. God delivered them (and in turn us) being under the tyrannical control of Satan’s domain. The word translated from the Greek as darkness (skotos) carries the image of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, together with their consequent misery in hell. Paul in Ephesians 2:1 says that we were dead in trespasses and sins, going the way of the world. Here he tells us that God came in and delivered us from the consequences of our natural life. It is a symbol of ignorance, falsehood, and sin.[1]

The word authority (Greek exousia) in this instance means the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed), in this instance that of Satan and his domain – the kingdom of darkness. Paul builds upon this image of the kingdom of darkness in his letter to the Ephesians in chapter 6 verse 12. He refers to Satan as being the prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2:2.

So, giving thanks that they are liberated from the control and inheritance of misery from this domain, he continues on to the third statement of thanksgiving, that the Colossian believers were not only delivered from that kingdom, but transferred into Christ’s kingdom. The Greek word methistemi means to change of remove.[2] Because of the sacrifice that Christ made on their behalf, the believers in Colossae had been transported, transplanted, translated, and transferred from the control of Satan to the control of Jesus Christ. 

The Son is the object of God’s love (agape) is Jesus Christ. Paul is making a contrast to the Gnostics views of the systems they elevated for one to reach. He is thanking God that we have been delivered not only out of the bondage of slavery to sin and Satan, but have been moved into the glorious kingdom of the Messiah. When a person receives Christ, they are converted into a colonist and citizen of a new kingdom. We cannot build this kingdom, it is only possible when one opens their heart and receives Christ as their Savior. At that point, we are transferred into this kingdom relationship.[3]

[1] Falwell, Jerry, ed. Liberty Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983. Page 2456. 
[2] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 640. 
[3] McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible. Vol. V. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983. Page 337.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Colossians 1:12

Paul spoke of the five requests that he made for the Colossian believers on a constant basis. He continues writing about his prayers and now moves from the requests to five items that he gives thanks to God for. When one prays, one should not only spend time making requests, we need to spend time giving God thanks for the things He has blessed us with. The Greek word eucharisteo is used about 39 times in the New Testament, 25 of these being in the writings of Paul. It emphasizes the need for us to be grateful and to feel thankful. He points us to the recipient of this thanks – the Father. In the New Testament, we find thankfulness the major motive of our souls. When we realize all that God has accomplished in us, we do not serve out of fear or the need to gain acceptance, we serve out of a thankful heart.[1]

The first thanksgiving that Paul offers is that God has qualified (Greek hikanoo) to share in the inheritance. The word qualified can be translated to mean to make sufficient, to render fit, in other words, to equip one with adequate power to perform duties of one – in this case, that has inherited something. The word is in the past tense and means that we could translate this passage a “who made us meet, fit once and for all.”[2]

There is no variation in our fitness to receive the inheritance, it is a state of being that God has given us when we received Christ as our Lord and Savior. This state is instantaneous, not a progressive process, that we received at the moment of conversion.[3] We, therefore, have a share in the inheritance as an unearned gift from God.

This inheritance is a future promise to His “holy ones” (Greek hagios) which has created some discussion.[4] Some believe that this is a reference to the angels, but most hold to the belief that Paul is speaking about the believers to whom he is writing (see Col.1:2 above). The Greek word phos, translated light, carries a metaphorical sense leaning toward the concept that God is light because light has the extremely delicate, subtle, pure, brilliant quality. It can also include the view of truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual purity associated with it. So in view of this, we see the inheritance descends to believers from “the Father of lights” by Jesus “the true light”[5] culminates in the Kingdom of light.[6] This is in contrast to the darkness (see further in the following verse), which metaphorically is the unconverted state of man.

[1] Allen, Clifton J., ed. The Broadman Bible Commentary. Vol. 11. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1971. Page 225. 
[2] Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments - Volume 3. Vol. 3. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 2008. Page 440. 
[3] Falwell, Jerry, ed. Liberty Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983. Page 2456. 
[4] See a good treatment of the question in Bruce, F. F. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids: Eerdman's Publishing Co, 1984. Pages 48 – 50. This author agrees with his final conclusion, 
[5] James 1:17; John 1:9 
[6] Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments - Volume 3. Vol. 3. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 2008. Page 441.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Colossians 1:11

Here we come to their fifth and final petition in this constant prayer for those in Colossae. Paul and Timothy pray that they would have strength and power that comes only from God and is produced by His Spirit living in us.

Paul understood that we are engaged in a spiritual conflict,[1] and therefore the strength and power we need must come from God. The word strengthened (Greek dunamoo) is in the present tense, and thus indicates that God’s actions are continuous and progressive.[2] When one considers God’s great omnipotence, we see the power available to believers in the struggle.

F.F. Bruce has written, 

“In Ephesians this idea is made even more explicit: there Paul describes the “immeasurable greatness” of God’s power which he imparts to believers in terms of the power which he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and exalted him to the place of universal supremacy at his right hand (Eph. 1:20).”[3]

This strengthening will bring about the endurance (Greek hupomone) and patience (Greek makrothumnia). The word translated endurance literally means to bear or carry by being under, and thus metaphorically to endure. The word translated patience literally means to be long-tempered. Paul and Timothy pray that these Colossian believers will have God’s strength to remain under the difficulties they were facing without succumbing to them. The patience they pray for does not retaliate in spite of injury or insults.[4]

Many have tried to connect this ability to the Stoic self-mastery beliefs of the day. However, Paul makes a sharp distinction here, he says they are to do it with joy (Greek chara). They would be more than conquerors, they would “possess that tenacious and cheerful buoyancy which made the apostolic church, even in that Roman world, invincible and indestructible.”[5] This called for them to not go about with a long face, or a plastered on smile, but with songs in the night, “The Joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).[6]

Prayer: Most Holy God, when I consider the magnitude of Your great Might, Your Onmipotence, and realize that You will give it to men to overcome temptation, I earnestly pray for that strength and power. In Jesus name I ask, Amen.

[1] See his teaching in Ephesians 6:10ff.
[2] Perschbacher, Wesley J., ed. The New Analytical Greek Lexicon. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1990. Page 108.
[3] Bruce, F. F. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids: Eerdman's Publishing Co, 1984. Page 47.
[4] Falwell, Jerry, ed. Liberty Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983. Page 2456.
[5] Allen, Clifton J., ed. The Broadman Bible Commentary. Vol. 11. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1971. Page 225.
[6] This calls to mind the example set by Paul and Silas in Acts 16 – while in prison, beaten wrongfully, at midnight they sang praise to God.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Colossians 1:10

We see here the next three requests of Paul in his prayers for these believers. 

He speaks of the aim that they should seek – “to walk worthy.” This is the result of knowing God’s Will. Just having a knowledge is not sufficient, one must “walk” correctly. The term walk (Greek peripateo) carries the concept and meaning of to regulate one's life, or to conduct one's self. It is from a Hebrew idiom that Paul is deriving this statement.[1] Right conduct of life is never the result of wrong knowledge, only correct knowledge can produce right conduct. Our lives should be Christ-centered (Gal. 2:20).

The term “worthy” (Greek axios) does not mean that we are deserving, it means we are living in accordance to the Gospel, we are living in a manner worthy of our relationship with God. We must remember that we are never worthy to be saved, but that we strive to live in a manner that makes us in line with Him.

The second petition of Paul and Timothy’s continual prayer for the Colossians was that they might be pleasing to God. They were not bowing down to man, not seeking human favor. They were to seek God’s favor in every way, in everything, at all times. We are so prone to be men-pleasers, forgetting that there is only one to whom we need to please – and that is the Father.

The third request that they make is that the believers would be fruitful. As Christians, we should be continually bearing fruit for the Master. We are reminded of Christ’s discourse in John 15 about the Vine and the branches. He is the Vine, and we are the fruit-bearing branches. If we have a close, connected relationship with the Christ, we must bear fruit (john 15:8). This is evidence that a believer is in a right relationship with Jesus.

The fourth request of the five is that they would not be static, but fully alive and growing in the Word of God. A fruit-bearing tree is a growing tree. This petition for them, contains both the sphere where this growth takes place, and also the means of this growth.[2] The result of knowing God’s Will is that the believer will walk in a manner that demonstrates his or her relationship with Christ. 

Prayer: Jesus, as I am a branch connected to You, the Vine, may I be fruitful in everything that I do. May all that I do be pleasing and acceptable in Your sight. Amen.

[1] George Wigram, New Englishman’s Greek-English Concordance & Lexicon (Lafayette, Indiana: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1982). Page 704, and Perschbacher, Wesley J., ed. The New Analytical Greek Lexicon. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1990. Page 323. 
[2] In 2 Peter 3:18 (ASV), we read – “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 

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