A Study in Colossians

November 8, 2008

Colossians 2:4 “I say this in order that no one may mislead and delude you by plausible and persuasive and attractive arguments and beguiling speech.” (Amplified Bible)

 

I can still vividly remember the moment I realised, after reading portions of the gospel of John, that I was a sinner and needed Jesus. I had not heard a sermon. I had not been to a gospel meeting. I had simply read a book entitled, “Planet in Rebellion”. A book I heard advertised on the radio several years before but had never taken the time to read. After an argument with my best friend and my girlfriend at the time, I had turned to this book for answers to support my premise but instead of finding support for my argument I found Jesus.

 

It was at that point in my life I began to read the Bible. Not only did I begin to read it; I began to consume it. Hour after hour, day after day I read it and to this day I continue to study and read it.

 

After a month or two of reading I met some preachers who baptised me and gave me access to their library to read supporting evidence to confirm God’s word. Then it was off to Bible College in the USA and back home again after two years.

 

From those days until now I have always sought to rely upon the word of God for all that I believe and all that I preach and teach. It is just too easy to accept things as gospel when they may not be. And sadly, in these times of instant gratification, I often find this to be the case. I hear and read so many things that have not been thought through or lined up with God’s word. Not that I am encouraging anyone to be a policeman in God’s kingdom; Jesus had enough of those to deal with in His time.

 

What I am encouraging us to do is to read God’s word so that we may not be mislead or deluded, but to know for sure what lines up with the truth of God’s word.

 

Just because it sounds good, comes from a source that looks good, is supported by a group that has the numbers to prove it is good; doesn’t necessarily make it good.

 

If we do not want to be deluded or beguiled by what appears to be the genuine article, as far as worldly standards of plausibility are concerned, then let us create scripture searching, Berean hearts Acts 17:10-12. Hearts ready to change when change is necessary and ready to cast out error when error is realised, despite the cost.

 

Some prospectors found a skeleton in a desert once. Among the bones that once formed a hand they found a leather pouch. In the pouch were a note and some quartz with golden veins running through it. On the note was scribbled, “At least I died rich!” When they examined the quartz it yielded only fool’s gold.

 

If you and I are going to give our lives to Christ, and spend years serving Him, let’s make sure we know what He and the other servants of God said!

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A study in Colossians

October 11, 2008

Colossians 2:2-3 “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

 

Did you know that James wrote in his letter to the churches that if wisdom does not originate from above, then it is earthly, sensual and demonic? He also said we can tell which wisdom we are seeking and embracing because of the fruit it produces in our lives? See James 3:12-18.

 

Most assuredly the fruit which originates from earthly, sensual, and demonic sources does not encourage believer’s hearts. Nor does it knit them together in love so as to enable them to attain unto all the riches and the full assurance of gaining an intimate knowledge of the mystery of God and Christ in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

 

So if we want to gain a wonderful, intimate, and revealing relationship with the Father and Jesus which, by the way, is what eternal life is all about (John 17:3), then we better examine our lives for the fruit of righteousness which James mentions. 

 

If the fruit of our lives originates from beneath, then we need to repent and take appropriate action to eradicate it from our lives. But if the fruit originates from above, then we need to nurture it that it may become an even greater blessing to ourselves and others every day.

 

Here is James’ list of the fruit of unrighteousness which is from beneath: Bitter envy, self-seeking, boasting, lying against the truth; all of which result in confusion and every evil thing residing in our hearts.

 

Here is James’ list of the fruit of righteousness which is from above: Purity, peace, gentleness, willingness to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, no partiality and no hypocrisy.

 

May the Lord bless us all with the fruit of righteousness as we seek to draw nearer to Him and His Son and allow ourselves to be filled, led, empowered, and anointed by the Holy Spirit Romans 8:1-17.

A Study in Colossians

September 7, 2008

Colossians 2:1 “For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh”.

 

Do we realise that those who lead us, teach us, and motivate us go through great conflict and anguish for our souls?

 

Are we aware that they seek God on behalf of our souls day and night?

 

True leaders in the kingdom are not self-seeking, but others-seeking. They strive for one thing and one thing only: making sure we keep the faith and get home to be with the Lord, despite all the circumstances, conflicts, and the personal cost to them.

 

Their whole focus is God’s word and prayer as was the apostles’, Acts 6:4. They delve deep into the heart of God for us so we will grow up in the things of the Lord. They stay near to God for us so they can be continually filled with His Spirit to minister to us, Exodus 33:11. They neglect their lives for us. They neglect their families for us. Yet, too often we demand more and more of them rather then learning how to draw near to God ourselves and hear His calling for our lives.

 

Let us be encouraged to not neglect our leaders, but get closer to them and understand their roles in God’s kingdom. Let us not continually wonder why our elders and preachers don’t visit us too often; let us visit or telephone them for a change. Let’s not wait for them to tell us they are praying for us; let’s tell them we are praying for them so they have the strength to continue in the ministries of the kingdom. Let’s not choose the farthest seat from the podium, but the closest so as to encourage them.

 

Most of all let us hear and practice what they have to say from the word of God so that we do not end up locking Jesus out of our lives like the Laodicean disciples did when they fell in love with the mammon of their world. Remember, they went on to embraced God socially, not seriously and trusted in their wealth and health, not their Lord and Saviour, Revelation 3:14-22.

 

Let us take a moment today to pray and encourage our leaders, realising they are God’s servants called and appointed by Him to watch on behalf of our souls, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15.

A Study in Colossians

August 15, 2008

Colossians 1:28-29 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily”.

 

“Time’s up!” Words we hate to hear when we have so much to do and accomplish in life. Remember those hard exams at school, which we never got to finish on time?

 

What about getting the gospel message out there? Can we afford not to be urgent anymore? Is time nearly up?

 

These are questions we must wrestle with. We no longer have a choice to be complacent about it because the times are changing fast, very fast and especially so in the last few months.

 

It seems like the whole earth is convulsing as the evil of men begins to rise more and more to the surface. Even nature itself seems to be in rebellion against the unnatural lusts and greed of a few, the false gods of so many, and the Christian’s compromising approaches to preaching the word of God so they can fill buildings. 

 

Paul makes it clear in his letter to the Colossians that he preaches “Jesus” and Jesus alone. He is not pushing doctrines or slick ways for sinners to come into God’s kingdom without true conversion, or personal kingdom building, but he is preaching repentance and life-changing circumcision of hearts Colossians 2:6-15.

 

I don’t believe God is looking for Christian nations to pray unto Him anymore for protection and blessing because they’re “Christian”.

 

God is now calling all believers to repentance for we are failing to urgently warn every man of the coming of Jesus and the pending judgement that is coming with Him. We are failing to teach each other in the wisdom of God which comes from above and is found in His word. And we have given up seeking to perfect one another in love and righteousness and truth in order to have “feel good”, politically-correct Christianity.

 

For Paul, seeking to persuade all men in anyway he could was something he strove to achieve. He spent every penny necessary to pay for it and wasted no moment in his pursuit of the souls of men and woman. He also encouraged all the churches to do the same. And while doing that he made himself fully available to God to work it all out as He willed in Paul’s life. Ways which were not reliant upon the wisdom and talents of men, but on the Holy Spirit using whoever, however He wanted to.

 

For us who call Christ our Saviour it is now time to also embrace Him as our Lord, Master, Teacher and King of Kings and go to war with Him against the kingdom of Satan that is marching swiftly across our planet in increasingly destructive ways right now!

 

Comfortable, entertaining, compromising, easy-going church days are over! 

 

It is time to get urgent and do all we can and spend all we can on saving mankind, wherever and however, and at whatever cost before the pursuits of men which permeate Christendom, to the detriment of the gospel, are returned to the dust from whence they came.

 

Our priorities are wrong! The time has come to repent and get urgent about the message and the mission and preach “Jesus” the only way, the truth and the life, regardless of the cost in time, lives and finances!

A Study in Colossians

August 6, 2008

Colossians 1:26-27 “The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

 

The good news is that God is absolutely, totally, utterly and completely satisfied with everything He has done in Jesus. Nothing we can do or even think of doing will ever appease Him. He is already appeased through everything He planned and accomplished in Jesus. All who are “in Jesus” benefit eternally.

 

God has appeased Himself! He alone paid the price for our sins. A price too high for us to pay!

 

He kept His plan to Himself for thousands of years and worked it out generation after generation.

 

He used both Hebrew and Gentile genes to bring it to pass. Sometimes the genes pool got down to one person through whom Emmanuel (God with us) would come. Sometimes He used kings, liars, murderers and prostitutes like Rahab to keep His precious mysterious Abrahamic gene pool alive.

 

Satan, angels, demons, kings and prophets all tried to figure out His plan, but failed. It ever remained a mystery in the heart of God. 

 

Then one day an angel stood in a mud-brick house and spoke to a young teenage girl and told her that the power of the Highest would overshadow her and she would conceive the Son of God. Mystery fulfilled, but not revealed.

 

Years later on the road to Damascus a chosen vessel of God named Saul fell to the ground and struck blind in the presence of Jesus. Saul at the time was a violent, rebellious, religious bigot but he was God’s choice to reveal His mystery in detail through the power of preaching and the pen. The mystery that Satan was cast down from heaven and the Son of God enthroned on the right hand of His Father along with faithful believers from the entire human gene pool. Ephesians 2:6-7 “And raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” 

 

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! He has done it all.

A Study in Colossians

August 1, 2008

Colossians 1:24-25 “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God.”

 

PREACHERS ARE NOT “EMPLOYEES” OF THE CHURCH!

 

Well, Paul sure got rid of the mistaken concept many western churches have about the role of ministers as their “professionals” on the payroll of the church with dozens of bosses sitting in the pews, each believing they know better than their preacher how to do his “job”.

 

Paul came straight out and said he was happy to be suffering for the Colossians? Why? Because he was not cloistered in a church office doing a nine-to-five administration job watching over carnal babes in Christ who didn’t want to grow up on God’s word or have their nappies changed (I Corinthians 3:1-9), and who were happy to continue their easy-going “social-church programmes” that make them feel like Christians a few hours a week.

 

For him it was out in the highways and byways where the lost were. He put his life on the line day in and day out to challenge believers to grow up and become disciples and get out there with him. In some cases he even ministered to brethren from behind prison bars because he dared to preach a meaty gospel that challenged lives. And, for whose sake was he doing this? The church’s? That’s right; the church’s. He wanted them to go home to be with the Lord and to take as many others with them as possible! 

 

Paul expanded it further and said that his ministry was a “stewardship” appointed to him by God. He was a bond slave to Christ and it was for the glory of God that he was set aside to save the lost and lead them to maturity in Christ. But, the key to his stewardship was that it was unto God and not unto men.

 

He wrote to the Galatians and told them that if one serves men; they are no longer serving Christ, Galatians 1:10. Yet, too many churches today are doing just that. They are employing “professional preachers” with minimum academic BA, MBA or PHD levels to carry out a “job”; the nature, of which often spiritually immature believers determine with job descriptions, work place agreements, constitutions etc., but not scriptures or the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

 

They even now ask preachers for extensive resumes, rather than ask if they have a calling from God to serve His people making up His body in that place. They forget to let God send His Spirit-filled, appointed steward to them and preach His message to them. Then they expect him to work on a twenty-four-hour-a-day call basis and pay him according to an acceptable standard, which is usually just above the lowest paid working group in the congregation. That level is also usually determined by a Church Board of educated, well-off worldly qualified professionals. 

 

In reality, if these comfortable, worldly leaders of men did their maths, they would see that even at low hourly rates for the eighty hours a week at least that their preacher is reading, studying, praying, visiting, evangelising, teaching, motivating, marrying, burying, marriage counselling, etc., etc., they would have to pay him at least one hundred thousand dollars a year. That, is of course, without taking into consideration overtime rates and double hourly rates on Sunday; all of which no member in the congregation would agree to do if their employer said they could not be paid such legally arbitrated rates for more than a 38 hour week or weekend work!

 

Folks, you cannot afford your preachers as paid employees! You are ripping them off according to normal worldly pay scales! Worst still if you expected them to have degrees then their pay scale should support your expectations!

 

So, the way congregations get around paying a worldly pay scale matched to the qualification and work load of their preacher is; they expect their preachers to live by faith. They expect them to take what they get, despite their qualification criteria, and trust God for anything above what may be needed for their kids to have a life, their wife and themselves to have decent clothes, their car to run well and to have something members on church boards seem to know something about; holidays in places beyond a hundred miles from home in something called resorts! 

 

So, the next time you are discussing your preacher’s salary and his having to live by faith, think about this: it is not his faith that you are expecting him to live and support his family by; it is your faith you are expecting him to live by! Your faith determines how much you will contribute each week to keep yourself spiritually alive and him and his family physically alive.

 

So, once a church has their “living-by-faith” preacher employee, who has dozens of bosses who seem to know his job better than he will ever know it, they expect him to be the “five-fold ministry” all wrapped up in one. Or, in some cases, they find subordinates called juniors or administrators etc., to help run the worldly enterprise they unashamedly call God’s church. Then, from his first day of employment they scrutinize their new employee’s every move; both in the church and in his home to see whether or not he makes the grade they expect of their professional preacher. Everyday he lives on a knife’s edge not knowing from one day to the next if he will have a “job” tomorrow because, it just may happen that, one of his bosses has their nose put out of joint by something he preached, or said, or his wife didn’t look well-dressed for a preacher’s wife etc.

 

You know, I think Paul got it a lot easier even though he was beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, hunted down, hungry, naked harassed by brethren, was a poor public speaker and failed often, II Corinthians 11.

 

Brethren, bless your preachers for they are stewards unto your heavenly Father who lives in you and you are not their bosses and they are not your employees and they don’t fill job vacancies as determined by men; they answer the call of God for your sakes. They are called of God to serve Him as He lives in you and in that, and only that, are they expected by Him to be found faithful. 

 

Increase your love toward them and don’t expect them to live and survive by your faith until your faith exceeds theirs!

A Study in Colossians

July 24, 2008

Colossians 1:23 “If so be that you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven; whereof I Paul was made a minister.”

 

Continuing in the faith is not always about upholding right doctrine, though that is essential. It is more than that. It is living in the context of faith. Faith in the promises of the Lord. It is in knowing He will never fail nor forsake you as you live in His promises. It is about knowing that the gospel indeed is the truth in word and fulfilment; not just in word only. 

 

I am reminded of an actual case where a new Christian put his faith into action, despite all the theological opposition toward his “simple faith” in the hope of the gospel.

 

This new Christian contacted a renowned missionary society here in Australia. He told the society director that he believed he had a missionary call to go to Mongolia and was wondering if the society had any missionaries in Mongolia who he and his wife could join. The society director told him they did not and then asked him if he had any missionary training. The new Christian said no. The society director then told him they couldn’t send him there unless he had four years training in their college.

 

The new Christian told the society director that he believed God’s call on his life was urgent and that he could not wait around for four years studying in their college. The society director then asked him what he and his wife did; hoping he might be employable in Mongolia. The new Christian told him he was a qualified deep sea diver and his wife was an opera singer. The society director said he couldn’t see any possible way that a deep sea diver would find employment in Mongolia as Mongolia is land-locked between Siberia and China. So the director encouraged him once again to go to college. The new Christian said no and left it at that.

 

Three months later the society director received a letter from the new Christian with a postal address in Mongolia. The director wondered who could be writing to him from Mongolia. The new Christian explained in his letter that just a few days after talking with the society director he saw an advertisement in the employment section of their local newspaper. The advert read, “Deep sea divers wanted in Mongolia to dive in several deep lakes”. He applied and was employed. So now his wife and he were living in Mongolia and teaching the gospel to a few people in their home. Could the society therefore send some tracts in the Mongolian language to help teach the local people!

 

Being grounded and steadfast in the gospel is more than knowing the truth and upholding it principles. It is knowing and applying the truth in faith; mustard seed faith at that!

 

So often it is easy to be doctrinally dead right but dead as far as living by faith is concerned. People want to see and know the living Jesus who keeps His promises through faithful servants who willingly go where He goes and do what He does.

 

A Study in Colossians

July 4, 2008

Colossians 1:21-22 “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.”

 

Often religious language confuses us and we have to take time to study the meaning of certain words if we want to understand what the writer is seeking to convey. “Reconciled” may well be one of those words. So instead of getting hung up on the meaning of it I would like to share with you an event that illustrates the intent of the word and the great joy and hope reconciliation brings.

 

Twenty years ago an evangelist of a large conservative assembly invited me to join him to teach discipleship to new converts. Among their number was a lady with long-term chronic arthritis. This poor soul, who was in her mid-forties, was in constant pain and could barely walk. When she came to worship she would either lay on a pew or on the floor. 

 

Not long after I joined the work, she telephoned the evangelist and asked if he would come to her home and pray for her healing. He telephoned me and asked if I would go with him as he had never laid hands on anyone for healing before. I said I would, but I’d like to spend a while in prayer before I joined him. 

 

An hour later I met him at the woman’s home and we knocked on her door. She crawled to the door and opened it. We went in and sat on the couch. She remained on the floor and leaned up against a chair. She wasted no time and asked us to pray. I then said that before we pray I would like to share something with her which the Lord had shown me about her life an hour earlier. I then told her that if she would let me share it I believed she would be healed. She agreed to let me share it.

 

I told her that the Lord showed me a vision of her eighteen years earlier. In the vision she was standing on one side of a VW motor vehicle and her sister was standing on the other. She and her sister were having a bitter quarrel over the car and that she had never forgiven her sister for the things that were said on that occasion. I then told her if she forgave her sister and reconciled the matter she would be healed. 

 

When she heard this she became quiet angry and asked me who had told me about this event. I told her nobody, but the Lord showed me only an hour before. She confirmed that this was the case and that she had had a terrible fight with her sister and had never forgiven her. We laid hands on her, prayed and departed.

 

The following Sunday this lady came into the church building foyer like a whirlwind; bright eyed and excited. She said she wanted to give a testimony. We agreed. She stood in the pulpit that morning and with great joy and excitement told the 350 people present how we had revealed the secret of her heart and prayed for her. She went on to say that when we left she lay down on her bed and repented, forgave her sister and wept sore. About an hour later she said, she felt a hot sensation pass through her body. She then got off her bed without pain and realised she had been healed. That was Tuesday, now it was Sunday and she had not had another moment of pain. To this day, as far as I know, she continues in good health.

 

Reconciliation is not a theory. As far as God is concerned it is a fact. We have been made right with Him. We have been forgiven. In His eyes we are blameless in Christ. We are no longer His enemies. He has paid the price and bought us back. What joy! What peace! What hope! What healing of heart and elimination of fear! We are blameless and without reproach in His sight!

A Study in Colossians

June 27, 2008

Colossians 1:19-20 “For it has pleased (the Father) that all the divine fullness – the sum total of the divine perfection, powers and attributes – should dwell in Him permanently. 20 And God purposed that through -by the service, the intervention of – Him (the Son) all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him (the Father) made peace by means of the blood of His cross.” (Amplified Version).

 

Nothing makes others happier than a job well done. They are ecstatic when they assign a task to someone and do not have to go back and make one improvement on what that person has done.

 

When the Father sent His Son to reconcile the world and make peace through the shedding of His Son’s blood; He did a thorough job. Nothing can be improved upon.

 

Not only did the Father sort out the breakdown sin caused to His relationship with mankind; He dealt with sin once and for all on earth and in heaven where it began Revelation 12, Hebrews 9.

 

He is now absolutely, utterly, totally and completely satisfied with all He has done in Jesus. Religious living etc., by mankind cannot improve on what God Himself has done to appease Himself.

 

But, beyond that, He took one more step. He allocated to His faithful Son, upon His return to heaven, the sum total of His divine perfection, powers and attributes forever Revelation 4,5,6.

 

But, what about Mankind? More importantly though, what about born-again mankind? Well, He places the born-again in His Son at conversion and because they are in Jesus, in whom dwells all the divine perfection, powers and attributes of the Godhead (Colossians 2:9-10), they are the most powerful people on the planet.

 

So now it is time we started living like it!

 

We have a right relationship with God because of Jesus.

We have peace with God because of Jesus.

We have peace with others because of Jesus.

We have authority over all principalities and powers because of Jesus’ name.

We know for sure that we have eternal life because of Jesus.

 

But, does the world KNOW we have all this?

A study in Colossians

June 9, 2008

Colossians 1:18 “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the pre-eminence.”

 

I recall visiting a leaning pagoda in a remote farming community of China which was built around the fourth century AD . It was listed as a national treasure and attracted many Chinese and Asian Buddhist disciples.

 

It had begun to lean because the foundation walls supporting it had weakened following an earthquake in the sixties. When the contractors began to dig beneath it in an attempt to prop it up, they discovered four levels of crypts and vaults which contained fabulous treasures donated by emperors and officials over the centuries. The treasures were so numerous they had to build a multi-million dollar museum next door to house them.

 

When I entered the complex surrounding the pagoda I walked through hallways housing large golden Buddhist idols of all shapes and sizes, each with its own unique features. In the crypt hall beneath the pagoda several finger bones were on display in a circular shaped enclosure. The finger bones were surrounded by thousands of coins and bank notes which had been tossed by Buddhist believers who hoped for atonement in the after life and prosperity in this life. These imported finger bones were reportedly from actual Indian Buddhas who lived a thousand years or so before Christ.

 

As I walked around the complex I quietly repeated over and over these words, “Jesus lives; Jesus lives.” After a while my Chinese minder’s wife who had accompanied me and several of my students on the four hour journey, began to also say aloud in Chinese, “Jesus lives; Jesus lives”.

 

I was delighted to hear her because only weeks before I had prayed in Jesus name for her ten year old incapacitated son. He had been ill from birth with an enlarged heart and God healed him instantly.

 

To her; Jesus did indeed have the pre-eminence over Buddhist idols and all things. All the treasure and all the religion associated with these Buddhist relics could not compare with the living Jesus who had risen from the dead and healed her son; her most precious treasure!

 

You and I serve the One who is alive and rules over all things; even death.

We serve the One who rose from the dead to substantiate His claim that if we believe in Him we will not see death.

 

We serve Him in His kingdom, no matter where we are in the world.

We do not serve the doctrines of demons or man’s religions; we serve a risen, living, pre-eminent Saviour who reigns over both men and demons and is forever going forth conquering and to conquer, Revelation 19.