I run. For the first mile of every run, I hate it. I don’t want to go, but some where between mile 2 and 3 my body releases endorphins. It’s like I have to run long enough to convince my body, “Yes, we are really doing this. I’m not stopping, so help me out!” Then, I feel like I can conquer anything. That feeling keeps me working harder all day. Even though Monday is trash day, I have to start the week out right. I run past all those stinky cans.
In preparation for the Peavine Falls run, I took on the big hill in my neighborhood. It meant that I couldn’t run as far as I wanted today, but eventually, I will be able to run the hill and run the distance. It will take time and training. Hopefully, by July 4th, I will be ready to run 4 miles up hill and complete the 8.2 mile race.
Once, I got to the top of the hill God reminded me that running is a lot like walking in recovery. I looked down the steep hill and remembered a time I wouldn’t even think about walking up it, much less also running 3 miles.
The first step of recovery from life’s hurts, habits, and hang-ups is walking out of denial. You don’t run up the mountain. You acknowledge the steep mountain in your life that you don’t want any more. Acknowledging the deep pain in our lives brings grief. We grieve because we finally acknowledge that we have been sinned against. We shouldn’t have been treated that way. We grieve because we finally acknowledged that we sinned, and we shouldn’t have hurt people that way. The grieving process takes some time, and for the first mile, you may hate it, but when you are ready, you will have the strength to conquer your hill. Like me, you will come to the place to earnestly believe that God exists, that you matter to Him, and that He has the power to help you recover (Celebrate Recovery Principles).
There is hope for the hurting. Jesus died to bring reconciliation to the world through his shed blood on the cross. He’s good. He has a plan, but you have to take the first step towards him. Although he reconciled the world to God, he doesn’t force us to live in relationship with him. We still have to surrender our plans and control over our lives, and confess that Jesus is Lord. Eventually, you get to step 5, “Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask him to remove my character defects.”
This is where I am. Deep change takes courage. We have to be transformed. We have to stop thinking the way we always have. We have to be renewed. We have to learn to apply what we know to our behavior.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
God is good. He is patient.
As Kai’s one year birthday approached, overwhelming anxiety enveloped me. Well-meaning people had already severely damaged my soul in grief, so we decided to take a vacation away from everyone to remember Kai on his birthday.
On our way to Florida, we stopped to attend church at Passion City Church in Atlanta, and Matt Redman led worship that morning. As we sang, he gave us the back story of why he writes music. He told us that he knew what it was like to hurt. He told us that his dad died from suicide when he was seven years old and that shortly after, he was sexually abused by a predator. As an adult, he and his wife grieved the loss of four children because of miscarriage.
This morning, I can’t help but think about the brokenness that sin causes. I think about my own sin. How many times have I harmed others because of my selfishness and pride? I think about how many times others have harmed me. I think about how prevalent sexual sin is. I think about how tempted we are to think that our sin isn’t as bad as someone else sin.
I know that day three years ago, God ordained us to be there to hear Matt’s testimony. His honesty about his hurts heals my hurts. This morning, I was reminded that sin in the church shouldn’t hinder the good news of the gospel. It should display the great need for Jesus. None of us are a little good and need just a little bit of Jesus. The darkness of sin reigns in every heart, and Jesus is the only remedy.
I woke up this morning repenting, repenting of my pride and tendency to want to prove that I am good. Like Paul, I never want to lose sight of my great need for Jesus. Paul writes 1Timothy 1:13, “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.”
What if every Christian stood up and said what they once were?
I once was an idolater, envious, jealous, pride-filled, angry girl, and the only thing that changed me was Jesus. He is my righteousness. He is my hope. No one and nothing else will save me from the muck and mire of sin.
Today, I will meditate on Jesus. In him all things hold together, me and my church.
He is the image of invisible God
The first-born over all creation
He is the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords
For by Him all things were created
Things in heaven and on earth
Visible and invisible
He is the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords
All things are created by him and for him
His before all things
And in him all things hold together
And he is the head of the body, the church
His is the beginning and the first-born from among the dead
So that in everything he might have supremacy
He is the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him
And through him to reconcile to himself all things
Whether things on earth
Or things in heaven
By making peace through his blood shed on the cross
He is the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords
At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth
And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father
Brothers and Sisters,
When God exposes deep, dark ugly sin in the church, our brokenness tempts us to contribute failure on God’s part to protect the vulnerable. Without realizing it, we begin to ask deep questions of God’s character, strength, and abilities.
Why does God allow evil? Why does God allow children to be victimized? If God made this world to be good, why is it so broken?
If we do not stay vigilant, slowly the pillars of our faith will shake, and our conclusions to these questions may slowly draw us away from believing God to be good, trustworthy, and able to save. This is why Paul asks “God to fill the Colossians with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,” Col. 1:9.
God’s will is for us to be able to chose good or evil. Although he made Adam and Eve innocent, he created them with the will to chose. And, like us they chose to rule themselves instead of submitting to God’s rule over them. God’s plan is to redeem all of humanity and creation through Jesus Christ. It’s that simple.
God could chose to reprogram us to follow his will without question; therefore ridding the world of evil and the need for Jesus. This is tempting in light of horrific sin, but are we willing to live with the consequences. Without choice we loose the ability to desire God, to want to love him. We would become robots. Choice gives us a mutual relationship, where intimacy grows and we have the capacity to truly love.
Now, we may respond by saying that if God is so powerful, then why doesn’t he intervene. This sounds great because He intervenes and babies are never stillborn, drunk driving accidents never happen, schools are never places where children die, and men are always trustworthy.
Great! Problem solved, until his intervention keeps us from doing something we wanted to do. All sin seems small to the one doing it. How far should God go? Should he stop only actual marital infidelity? Should he stop it before a flirting comment is spoken? Or should he intervene for every lustful thought? Where do we want him to draw the line?
We don’t like that consequence, so maybe God should just remove all evil people. What definition of evil people will we use? My definition, your definition, a child’s definition, an “evil person’s” definition… We have to use God’s definition.
For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
God would have to remove every person. None of us would be left to enjoy him and reflect his glory. His holiness prevents him from any relationship with sinners, and we’ve all sinned.
We are left with accepting God’s will for us and creation. For a time, we accept that we live in this broken world with choices and consequences. We don’t like it, but this is why we learn to pray like Paul prayed for the Colossians.
We must always be growing in our knowledge of God. I have found that many struggles stem from a lack of knowledge about God rather than a lack of faith. We don’t have faith for faith’s sake. Our faith is rooted in what God has revealed about himself.
To know God, a good place to start are the names for God. One name is Elohim meaning God is the source. All of the power of creation is implied in this name. Everything he created is infinitely less. Think about the power, might, strength, beauty, and glory, we have seen in the world, and know that God is infinitely more than everything we’ve ever seen.
Another name is Adonai “Lord” meaning Master or Owner. The title implies dominion on God’s part and submission on our part. Also, Jehovah “LORD” or Self-Existent is frequently used. He existed before creation. He is utterly faithful to His own nature. He cannot cease to exist. He never changes.
Many times Jehovah is used as a compound name like Jehovah-Jireh, The LORD WILL PROVIDE. Our knowledge of God affects our prayers. Our knowledge of God reminds us that he cares about our needs, and provides for his own.
Here are more.
In what ways has God shown himself to you? How does knowing the names of God change how you pray?
My favorite name for God is found in the story of Hagar in Genesis 16. When she needed him most, he spoke to her, and she responded by calling him “The God Who Sees Me.”
The day after Thanksgiving my husband answered the phone. As he turned to look at me, his anguish washed over me. He didn’t have time to tell me much of what was happening. He left a room full of laughter and family to weep with those who weep.
We have shouldered the burden of a six month investigation of the allegations from two girls in our church against a deacon. Thankfully, the girls spoke up and were believed before events became completely disastrous. As it is they will still have trauma, as will every church member.
This is not the first time we’ve stood with a survivor. In fact, we do it every Friday night at Celebrate Recovery. Evidently, Jesus laid on us a peculiar calling to the hurting and those crushed in spirit. I wish that I could say that pastors and their wives see the best of what this world offers, but often, we are called after the worst happens: after the affair, the job loss, the death…
What do we do when life gets interrupted?
Know… We know that God is good.
God, Your way is holy. What god is like God? You are the God who works wonders; You revealed Your strength among the peoples. With power you redeemed Your people. Psalm 77:13-15
I will shout it from the roof tops! I have never read one prayer in the Bible for someone to feel something about God! The emphasis is always on knowing God. Feelings are easily manipulated. Our faith is not based on feelings. We base our faith on the truth of who God is and what He has revealed about himself. My church family will meet in grief and brokenness and much sorrow this Sunday. Although our sadness will be evident, it will not shake our knowledge of an All-knowing, All-present, and All-powerful God.
His ways are not our ways. My way would be to wipe all evil from the earth, but God’s plan is to show mercy and patience, not wanting any to perish. He wants all to come to repentance. Unfortunately, this means we must accept this sinful world as it is, and not how we would have it (Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr).
Allow ourselves to hurt… Most of us are not emotionally mature enough to handle negative feelings well. We brush hurt, pain, and sadness off as if they will infect us with disease. The writers of Psalms didn’t do this. They were honest with God about their emotions. They cried out for help. Blessed are those who know they are spiritual poor.
I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In my day of trouble I sought the Lord. My hands were lifted up all night long; I refused to be comforted. Psalm 77:1-2
If we want to love like Jesus did, we must refuse to be comforted. We must weep with those who weep for as long as they weep. Has this been difficult? Yes. Loving the survivors of this world costs us our comfort, ease, and sense of security. We must see things as they are. We see injustice. We open our eyes to the hurting. Sitting with those who are crushed in spirit is not a “fun time”.
You have kept me from closing my eyes; I am troubled and cannot speak. Psalm 77:4
It means we lend them our strength. We allow them into the peace of our home and give them rest. We bind up their broken parts with truth. It means we stand up and speak out for the vulnerable. And, like Jesus, the world will hate you.
The waters saw You, God. The waters saw You; they trembled. Psalm 77:16
For a time, the interrupted life is dark. The storm clouds will thunder and flash. But, we will not be shaken. We will stand firm in the gospel.
Your way went through the sea, and Your path through the great waters.. Psalm 77:19
No one likes the darkness, but when we can’t see, we are helpless. Life’s interruptions force us to grow in our knowledge of God and rest in His truths. If I have learned anything from the darkness that I have endure, I am witness to this truth…
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. 1 Cor. 4:5
You led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. Psalm 77:20
God will lead us by the hand. We are not alone. Never are we alone.
People are fickle, frail, and broken. Even the best of us have times of selfishness because of traumatic events. If we look to people to show us what God is like, they will fail us. Human love is a reflection of God’s love because we are made in his image, but our love can be affected by our moods, pride, stress levels, and broken places. Although, we have the ability to love, however, God is love. If God IS love, then he can’t be or do the opposite of love. In Him there is NO Darkness.
In the midst of life’s hurts or the business of our lives we lose focus of the truth of God’s character. This leads to anxiety, depression, fear, and hurt. Meditating of the truth of who God is sets us free.
God is immutable.
God is unchangeable
God is ever-faithful.
God is ever-true.
God is trustworthy.
I hope you will take some time with me to meditate on God’s character, allowing it to break the chains of wrong thinking and set your feet on stable ground. People in my life abused authority, neglected my needs, and expected from me things I could not give. God is not like that. He will never abuse his authority. He provides for the righteous and the unrighteous. And, he loves me so much that he knew that on my own I could never please him, so he sent Jesus to die in my place, pay the price for my sin, and then clothed me with his righteousness. Now, because I am in Christ, I can live a life that is worthy of my calling.
Meditations: Jesus is Trustworthy
Adapted from Psalm 145
I will exalt You, my God, the King! I will praise Your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend Your works to another; they will tell of Your mighty acts.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.
The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.
My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise His holy name for ever and ever.
Sometimes anxiety gets the best of me. I have to breath deep, and say to myself, “Just hold it together!”
But, it never works! Well, maybe for a day or two, it helps, but then, I am right back in the same anxiety ridden mess, crying for someone to save me, again. All the while, my Bible sits right there with this treasure.
Colossians 1:16-17 “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Wait! What? In him all things hold together. This morning, I put my name right in there.
In him, He holds all of Matthea together! This is the foundation of freedom. I’m not alone holding it all together. It’s not even my place to hold “it” together. He created all things, me, my children, my church, my “things”. It’s not my job to hold it all together! It’s his job!
There was a time that I was on my own. Colossians 1:21-23 puts it this way,
Once Matthea was alienated from God and was an enemy in her mind because of her evil behavior. But now he has reconciled Matthea by Christ’s physical body through death to present her holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if Matthea continues in her faith.
Go ahead. Put your name in there.
Because of Christ I am reconciled to God.
For he has rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:13
Let God’s good word encourage you today that you are not alone to hold all your “things” together. You are free to trust the Savior with all your things. He’s holding them anyway. Why should we keep holding on to them?
Today, trust God with your…
marriage, children, finances, house, job… hurts, brokenness, depression, grief, loss, sickness… bad habits, addictions… fears, anxieties…
Maybe your thinking, “But, I got a lot of things!” Me too. I’ve got a lot of sad things, depression things, losses and heartaches, just a lot of things. He knows! I prayed for my children today, like every day. But today, as I went down the list: Katherine, Carter, Caleb, Christian… Kai. I couldn’t finish. It was too hard. We’re getting really close to June. He would be 4. And, poor, Karis-Lynn didn’t get prayed for yet. I hurt too much. I handed my children over to the Lord and the Spirit, knowing that they pray for me. Romans 8:26-27, Hebrews 7:25
Have you ever felt small and insignificant? At times, I feel so small that I’m not worthy of notice. I believed God didn’t care about my broken heart and my unmanageable life. The background of the little church in the little town of Colosse demonstrates that God has no favorites. Colosse was small town that made up part of a tri-state area. It makes me think of Raleigh-Durham and Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Driving through this area, one doesn’t know when one city stops and another begins, but each place is known for a different specialty. Like Raleigh, Laodicea was a center for commercial trade and politics. Hierapolis was a place for health, pleasure, and relaxation. This tri-state area was the cross road, where east and west met for trade, in what is modern day Turkey. Although, Colosse was small, it’s proximity to this created a problem because the church began to blend reasonable sounding arguments with their faith.
Colosse was small, but not insignificant. There are no small people or insignificant churches to God. Paul wrote one of his four prison epistles to the Colossians. From a human point of view this seems even more significant that Paul would take the time to write to them while in prison. We forget, roman prisons do not resemble modern prisons. They were not created for punishment. They were more like a holding cell for the person awaiting trail, therefore, they made no provisions for the prisoner. Any needs of the prisoner would be met by someone on the outside. I read somewhere that they could be called houses of darkness.
Paul writes about the men who minister to him. One was Epaphras, who heard the gospel from Paul, and he was most likely responsible for going back to his hometown of Colosse to tell his family of the good news. Another one was Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave. Paul mentors Onesimus. Deeming him more important to the church at Colosse, Paul sends him back with a letter to Philemon. Imagine choosing to take up the yoke of slavery again in order to help one’s fellow brothers and sisters grow in their knowledge of God. That’s what Onesimus does.
“I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. I am sending him– who is my very heart– back to you.” Philemon 10-12
Paul goes on to appeal to Philemon to accept him back as a brother and not a slave and to charge whatever he owed to Paul’s account. We don’t know, if Philemon did this, but we do know that Onesimus returned to tell the Colossians all that Paul had taught him.
The overarching theme of Colossians is the preeminence and supremacy of Christ. This letter encourages us to know that we are complete in Christ, and we don’t need any other philosophy or human tradition to complete our faith. We are all saved out of something. We will see, Paul, warning us not to blend anything from our pagan past with Jesus, and then, in true Pauline style, he ends this letter with a practical “how to” for living out our knowledge of God.
Some of us balk at the word pagan thinking that we’ve always been “christian.” This thinking places us in jeopardy of missing the classic heresies that the church has been fighting since it’s foundation in our mind set. The following is a list of pagan “well reasoned arguments” that we will be rooting out of our lives through our study of Colossians.
- Humanism: man is the measure of all things and the gospel centers on fulfilling man’s destiny. We see this in our churches with many of the platitudes we use. “God will never give you more than you can handle.” “You’re stronger than you think you are.” If you think about it, I know you can come up with more.
- Eastern Mysticism (re named New Age or mysticism or spiritualism)
- having special knowledge or experiences
- with man all things are possible
- awaken the power within you
- automatic writing- a popular devotional was written with this pagan practice. It’s sold in christian book stores.
- spirit guides, personal angels
- Emotionalism- follow your heart, if it feels good, do it.
We are complete in Christ.
- The gospel does not center in philosophy, doctrine, or a religious system, but the person of Jesus Christ.
- We come to faith out of the world’s system.
- Our faith is only as good as the object of faith.
- Pagans worship stones.
- Educated city pagans worship money, possessions, or status
- We worship the person Jesus.
- We know who we believe in. It’s not faith for faith’s sake.
- Saving faith involves the mind, the emotions, and the will. We cannot separate ourselves to believe.
- We invest our whole selves in Jesus.
- Any reconciliation starting with self and without repentance of sins will not bring us closer to God.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says it this way, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Meditate/memorize: Colossians 1:9-14
I leave you with this question. What have we synchronized with our faith? Southern culture? American individualism?
Colossians was a pivotal book in my growth as a new believer. The following is a snippet of my testimony. Maybe one day I will be brave enough to share all of my messy life. My life demonstrates what Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:15-16 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy because of this, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate the utmost patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”
When I was nineteen, I came face to face with Jesus. In a sermon, the preacher asked us to turn to Luke 14. This is the passage about the Last Supper before Jesus would be betrayed by Judas and crucified. I’m not sure what the rest of the sermon was about because all I could see was Judas, and how I was just like him, trusted by the other disciples. I walked with them. I did good things like mission trips and Christian service with them, but in my heart, I was still living to please myself. All Judas seemed to care about was the money. All I really wanted was acceptance and approval without repentance. That day I walked down the aisle and humbled myself in repentance.
2 Peter says, “The Lord does not delay His promise as some understand delay, but is patient not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”
The Lord flipped on a little spot light of faith, I stepped into that circle of light because although I was a throw away girl, I was pretty sure I was still “any” and “all” means “all”. Right? What I didn’t deal with is my repeating cycles of abuse and deep need for love, acceptance and approval, which leads me to Bill.
Soon after coming to faith in Christ, I met Bill. He love bombed me! He said all the things I was dying to hear. He wrapped beautiful empty words around me like a spider web catching me in yet another cycle of abuse. When he asked me to marry him, I readily said yes, but that is where the dream ended and the physical abuse began. I would find myself paying for his drug habit. What’s worse is that I could deal with the blows, but I couldn’t give into living together before we were married.
One night, during an especially physical altercation, I cried out to the Lord to save me. To this day, I do not know how I got out of my apartment, or out of the building, or down the road to the gas station. I went in the gas station to ask the cashier to use the phone. He could see that I was in trouble and let me call my brother. I remember seeing Bill walking circles around the building, while I waited for my brother to come and get me. The next morning, while I knew Bill would be at work, I got as many of my things out of my apartment as I could, and moved into my brother and his wife’s basement.
But you remember how I said God pursues us. I didn’t have to live in the unfinished basement. God gave me a friend. I moved in with her and family (husband and son) on the condition that I would seek Biblical counseling. That’s where I heard the word co-dependent for the first time. During this time, I was overjoyed with the process of discipleship in my life. I went from being a throw away girl to redeemed in Christ. God was doing the hard work of peeling back my denial, so that I could see who I am in Christ.
The truth of the Gospel saved me from the cycle of sin-cry-repent-repeat.
I prayed through Paul’s prayer (Colossians 1:9-14) every day while going through counseling. What most people, myself included, are not prepared for is that healing hurts. Every time I pull weeds from my garden, I think, “This is what healing is like.”
You have to tug hard creating a lot pressure to pull up that weed up, ripping the roots, disturbing the soil, and leaving a small whole, where the roots were. Ew! And that ripping sound makes my stomach cringe. It hurts.
It hurts to confess the cycles and patterns of sin in our lives, and it doesn’t matter how they started. We still have to repent. We are all saved out of something. If we chose not to acknowledge the patterns, cycles, or systems of this world that influence us, we will continue to live out of them. God loves us enough to hurt us to free us from the bondage of the past.
Like the Colossians modern day Christians must, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
I realize this post is too long for the background and history of the church at Colosse, so you’ll have to come back tomorrow for that.
Monday rolls around, and instead of refreshed from a Sunday rest, we drag ourselves into the work week. This morning, I woke up reminded that the Savior I know commands the storms of my life.
Storms train me in patience.
Storms coach me in perseverance.
Storms drill me for long-suffering.
Storms hone my mercy for others and myself.
Storms educate me in compassion.
Storms ground me in tenderness.
Storms bring a deeper relationship with the One Who Rescued Me.
Do I like them?
Storms create the sweetest moments with Jesus! I appreciate the person that I have become because of them.
*Note… don’t say this to someone going through a powerful storm. It may discourage them! A friend in the middle of a wild, tempestuous storm may not be able to process that Jesus will bring good out of the frightening darkness she faces. I concentrate on what I have witnessed the Savior do in my life, and the most important thing to do, sit and listen without judgement. Unless you are able to fix yourself; don’t attempt to fix your friend (hint: you can’t fix either of you). Trust the work of the Holy Spirit in your life and hers for healing, teaching. We are instructed to correct a fellow believer, who is caught in sin, but that’s not the kind of storms I’m referring to.
Jesus saves us from being corrupted by this world, He doesn’t save us from the storms of this life.
A great lesson from the garden is that seeds germinate at different times even though one plants them at the same time. Some need more heat or water, or something. I don’t know why. God illustrated this point to me this morning in my garden with our green bean plants. Some popped up right away and have beautiful leaves. We thought some needed to be replanted because the seed was a dud. On our walk through the garden, we saw the dud seeds peeking through the soil.
Don’t give up on yourself! Don’t give up on your friend! Just because you feel like a dud seed, you’re not. Maybe you need a little more heat or a little more water or a little more time. Don’t despair! I needed a lot more heat and a lot more water to come through the storm of grief and church wounding. Now, I say to my folks at Celebrate Recovery, “Keep coming back. Don’t try to jump a head. Take one step at a time! Don’t set arbitrary deadlines. Keep coming back!”
If you are looking for help, my Resource page has a link to a Celebrate Recovery locator and a link to find a counselor.
Tomorrow, I will post the history and background for my study on Colossians. Keep coming back!
God draws us to himself through many different circumstances. Some of us come seeking healing. Some of us come needing the burden of shame and guilt lifted. Many come desiring fellowship and community. No matter why we come to faith, all of us come to God through Jesus Christ.
At some point in our growth, we must move from the infant stage of a focus on our needs to a focus on Jesus. Now, maybe you are very mature, and you moved from this stage quickly. I didn’t. Through various, very painful, trials I realized that I was stuck continually seeking healing from my past. Most of my pain grew out of wrong beliefs and unbelief.
As the Lord walked with me through grief and healing from a church wounding, I saw my folly as Jesus Christ became more and more of a real person to me. I saw more clearly his pain because his friends fell asleep in the garden as he prayed desperately “for this cup to pass from him”. The heartbreaking rejection of Judas surely cut. Jesus was betrayed by the kiss of his friend! Surely, my continual asking for forgiveness for past sins must make him shake his head as he presses 1 John 1:9 into my heart.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
I know how I would feel, if a friend who wronged me, continually brought up how they wronged me, questioning my faithfulness and justice. I wouldn’t consider them a real friend, but that’s because I am human. Thankfully, Jesus is not merely human, but also, “he is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth,” (Col. 1:15).
I was created in him and for him. He will never leave me, nor forsake me. Today, I will meditate on the person of Jesus Christ.
Meditation: The Person
Adapted from Hebrews 3:1; 4:15-16, 7:24-27, 10:11-14, 19-22.
Therefore, holy brother, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Because he continues forever, He has an unchangeable priesthood.
Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
For such a high priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;
He does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins and the for the people’s, for this he did once for all when he offered up himself.
And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.
For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the holiest place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, his flesh, and having a high priest over the house of God,
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Horoscopes, mysticism, Chinese fortune cookies, yoga, and New Age influenced philosophies…
Can we use them to advance our knowledge? Can we adopt the good, motivational parts of the world to under-gird our faith in Jesus? Is there any room for an overwhelming emotional experience that forces an involuntary response to strengthen our faith?
A popular devotional writer wrote her salvation experience this way, “Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, “Sweet Jesus.” This utterance was totally uncharacteristic of me, and I was shocked to hear myself speaking so tenderly to Jesus. As I pondered this brief communication, I realized it was the response of a converted heart; at that moment I knew I belonged to him.”
I have never had an experience like that. Is something wrong with my faith?
I long for deep relationship with God, but I have never had an involuntary response. Deep regret, guilt, shame, and humility marks my conversion experience. There was no warm mist. Daily agony over my continued pride disrupts anything involuntary. Nothing else works for me except deliberate submission to the Savior, where I wrestle with my will, thoughts, and emotions to bring them under the headship of Christ. Why isn’t my faith easier? The book of Colossians gives many answers to whether or not we can use worldly philosophies to strengthen faith in Christ.
The church has been fighting a few major philosophical fallacies since it’s foundation. These problems crop every generation compelling us to study Colossians, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ,” (Col. 2:6-8).
Paul uses the word deceptive. If God, through the shed blood of Christ on the cross, transferred us from this dark world into the kingdom of light, then how easy is it for us to be deceived by the darkness we once lived in. When tragedy strikes we use our own reasoning to make sense of our suffering. We use man-made philosophies to fill the bareness of our hearts. Letting go of our patterns that soothed us in our past frightens us. The idea that we have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) in Christ and that we only need to learn to appropriate what we have seems too good to be true. We easily synchronize human traditions with our faith.
It makes sense. It was no different for the people of Colossae in Paul’s day. His solution was “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God,” (Col. 3:1-3).
How do we do this? In a series of blog posts, I will unpack the book of Colossians, so that we can be rooted and built up in Christ, abandoning our man-made traditions.
In a male dominated world, we often lean on the man-ish characteristics of God. He is powerful and mighty. His strong arm is able to save. We call him Father.
In honor of Mother’s Day let us be encouraged by God’s softness. Let us celebrate that God is compassionate and tender with us.
We learn so much about God’s character through the names that His people gave to him. Today, I’m meditating on El-Shaddai. A few quick facts, some Hebrew scholars point out that Shaddai is likely derived from the Hebrew word for “breast” which is shad. Shaddai is a compound word composed of the relative “she” and the word for “enough” or “the one (she) who is self-sufficient.” If this is the case then Psalm 91:1, which uses El-Shaddai and translates it as the “Almighty” pictures God as like a nursing mother who nourishes and sustains her infant child with her own life.
I’ve spent 7 years of my life nursing babies. I can give testimony to the time commitment that it takes. I found that my babies nursed for many reasons besides hunger. Sometimes they would just want attention or comfort, to be held close and snuggled.
The picture of God being our everything presses into my heart. He is the one who nourishes me, comforts me, teaches me, rejoices over me… This brings me indescribable joy!
I am encouraged to snuggle up close and allow God to comfort me.
Meditations: God is as tender with us as a nursing mother is with her baby.
For this is what the Lord says,
“I will extend peace to her like a river,
And the wealth of nations like a
You will nurse and be carried on her arm
As a mother comforts her child,
And you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”