Friday, February 27, 2009

Night Voices

It was still dark outside, clouds obscuring the morning stars, our neighbor’s safety light creating deep shadows across our lawn. I heard two male voices outside somewhere near our back yard. The words on the page of my Bible froze. I closed my eyes and tried to understand what they were saying. They seemed to be arguing about something. “Lord, surround our home with angels,” I prayed. “Protect us.”

The story of the torture and rape of the missionary family, the Bebees, shot through my mind. My heart raced as I remembered sometimes God allows bad things to happen to his people. “Lord, I do not want you to require that of us.”

When the voices subsided, I went back to my reading. The fears that had rushed into my living room left as quickly as they had come. I did not think of them again until I read the words of Colossians 4:2, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” I immediately was reminded of what it meant to be vigilant at the memory of those voices.

That is the kind of prayer the Holy Spirit is admonishing us to practice. It is not a half hearted mumbling of words, but a sincere approach to the throne of God immersed in thanksgiving.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

God Pays Attention

Colossians 3:25 does not address human revenge only. It refers to the fact that God judges unrighteous behavior. God is paying attention to the unfair treatment you have been enduring. He will issue revenge on your behalf at some point. God will defend his children.

It might be difficult to understand this in the light of what he allowed Jesus to suffer at the hands of evil men. But that is only because we are looking at the finite picture. The judgment day will be a frightfully catastrophic day for those who practiced unrighteous behavior.

Every scoffer, every murderer, every gossip, every vengeful person, every unjust person, everyone who rejected Christ will stand before the judge of all. Though difficult at times, choosing the benefits of God’s grace far outweighs the cost (Hebrews 10:31).

It is incentive for those of us who are the employer to remember the words of the Holy Spirit, “Bosses, give your employees what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a employer in heaven” (Colossians 4:1 paraphrased).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Getting Even

When someone is laid off in a large cooperation, security guards escort the person to their desk to gather their things. They remain with them until they leave the office. Computer passwords are changed immediately and at times locks changed. It can feel like an insult to those who have served the company with integrity. Unfortunately the corporation’s policies reflect the overall unscrupulous attitude of people in general. Employees have been known to sabotaged computers, steal files and generally wreak havoc when their jobs are terminated.

Colossians helps God’s children to resist the temptation of revenge. “But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality” (Colossians 3:25). That verse is for bosses and well as employees. God does not operate on the system of human payback. He does not accept excuses like, “He did this to me so he deserved what I did.”

God advices us not to allow someone else’s behavior to regulate ours (Romans 12:17-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Peter 3:8-12).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Unfair Bosses

Knowing that we are serving God when we work under an inconsiderate boss makes life easier, but it takes practice to remember this truth. If we knew that we would receive a million dollars for each year served, would we be able to tolerate the stress a little more?

When we are treated unjustly, God takes note of it and reserves a special reimbursement for us in heaven. God said you can serve unjust employers when you “know that from the lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). God pays great dividends (Romans 8:18).

No internet access last week

I apologize for not posting this last week. I was at a training seminar for work and did not have internet access.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Inconsiderate Bosses

Have you heard the cliché “power corrupts?” The strength in Clichés comes from the truth they represent. Anger and resentment rear their ugly heads when we have to submit to unfair supervisors. The men and women who use authority to lord it over others and make life miserable for subordinates use their position to fill a need in their own lives.

Serving under an individual who does not respect our ideas and abilities can embitter us or cause us to draw closer to God. Once when serving under someone who appeared to enjoy pointing out mistakes, I found myself wishing the person would die. I was stunned at my murderous attitude. Repentance involved beginning to include prayers for God to reveal himself to the individual.

The Holy Spirit understands the difficulty of serving that kind of a person and has provided a way of looking at things so that we can find relief and escape the temptation to resent those over us. He tells us “Obey your bosses, not with eye-service, as tempting to please men, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:22-23).

Knowing that you are serving God makes it a lot easier, doesn’t it?

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Sole of a Shoe

John records the time Jesus washed the disciples’ feet in chapter thirteen of his book. Judas Iscariot was among those disciples. After teaching them the principle behind his actions, Jesus tells the group plainly that one of them is about to betray him.

Jesus describes Judas' betrayal, “..he who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against me” (John 13:18). His words form a violent picture of a victim on the floor and someone standing over him, kicking repeatedly, stomping on the body. Does that vision repulse you as it does me?

Every time we take communion in our churches we are literally eating bread with him. The bread is symbolic of his body and the wine symbolic of his blood. Spiritually we are feeding on him (John 6:53-58; 61-64). When we choose our way above his, we also are lifting our heel against him (Hebrews 10:26-31).

Willfully sinning after knowing the truth is trampling the Son of God under our foot (Hebrews 10:29).

Thursday, February 12, 2009


“Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:20-21).

A grave danger lurks beneath the surface of discipline. Children have not yet learned to separate who they are with what they have done. Our discipline techniques need to distinguish between the identity of the child and the behavior. For example, instead of saying, “You are a liar and I can never trust you,” try saying something like, “Lying does not reflect who you are. It makes it difficult to trust someone when they lie to me, and I want to able to continue to trust you.”

Lengthy disciplines discourage children and create a cycle of rebellion. Any grounding more than a week produces discouragement and thoughts of “why even try.” Think of it this way. To a six year old child, a year is one sixth of his life. To a thirty year old, a year is only one thirtieth of his life. Time runs much faster for parents. What is a short time for us is “forever” to them.

Corrective discipline produces positive results. Revengeful discipline produces a sense of power in the adult and a sense of defeat in the child.

Colossians specifically addresses the man because he symbolizes power in the child’s life. A father’s tendency to want to control life leans toward severe discipline of the child. The Holy Spirit warns us against the hidden danger. A wise father will be careful of the power pitfalls and avoid them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ignored Verses

Teamwork has become criteria for job performance. Most resumes include reference to the ability to work in teams. Interviewers listen for indications that a candidate can work well with others, take criticism and accept the ideas of others. Equally important is the creativity of the potential employee and the backbone to stand firm in what he or she believes is best for the company.

Why would we want anything less in our partner for life? Why would we want a yes person who nods agreement with everything we say? Why wouldn’t we want the safeguard of someone else’s ideas and insights? Resistance can only come from the original sin of pride.

There is no scriptural justification to disregard with our spouse verses like “Submitting yourselves to one another in fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21), or “Be kindly affectionate toward one another in brotherly love” (Romans 12:10), or “Be ye kind to one another, tender hearted forgiving one another even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32) or “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

God shows no partiality to men, women, slave, free, rich, poor, young or old and neither should we.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Forgotten Verse

“Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.” (Colossians 3:19). How many husbands have this verse memorized or even know it exists?

Since God ordained men as leaders they have a natural tendency toward a need to control. When the leadership ability is submitted to God, the husband will be compassionate, quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19). But husbands not submitted to God tend to feel threatened by an opinion that differs from theirs.

Each of us has a unique perspective. If we are not open to seriously consider the views of our spouse, we can become bitter toward their suggestions. When we are bitter, our tongues become swords that cut to the bone and devastate the natural admiration and love that is birthed out of respect.

Men, God takes disrespect of your spouse seriously. Scripture says he will not answer prayers of husbands that do not treat their wives honorably (1 Peter 3:7).

The godly authority given to husbands is tempered by submission to Christ. The righteous man follows Jesus’ example of love (John 13:1-17 1 Corinthians 11:3, 11-12). Ephesians 5:21 tells us to submit to one another which reflects an attitude of love and respect.

God reminds both the husband and the wife that we are designed to work as a team.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Hated Verse

“Wives submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:18; Ephesians 5:22-33)). Ugh! One of the most hated verses by women and one of the most abused verses by men. Why? Because the verse is not clearly understood.

Contrary to many cultural beliefs, it is not a verse touting the superiority of men. It is actually touting the intelligence and gift of women. To submit is to offer all you have, your intelligence, your insight, your wisdom, your learning, your abilities and your wisdom or whatever other beneficial qualities you possess.

When we submit to God we give him all we have to use as he sees fit. He does not trash it, ignore it or despise it. He made it, so he cherishes it and uses it for his glory.

Men who devalue their wives abilities, insights and warnings are exposing their ignorance and rebellion against God’s design of united teamwork. Women who resent authority in their lives are doing the same thing.

Chaos and confusion are twins born without a chain of command. Submission and respect are twins born out of respect for God's design of lines of authority. When we submit to authority we are part of a team.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Brother Lawrence, who lived in the 1600s, once said he would not pick up a piece of paper except as an act of love for God. To some that may sound like an exaggeration at best and bondage at worst. But Brother Lawrence was expressing the discovery that he could worship God in the littlest acts, opening a new level of experiencing the love of God.

The Holy Spirit tells us in Colossians 3:17 that all that we do should be done for the glory of God. There is nothing that is exempt. Does that mean I am consciously aware that every breath of my lungs and every word from my mouth belongs to God?

I may not be aware at a given moment, but my attitude, my heart’s desire, the goal and purpose of my life is that all I say in “word or deed” is done in the name of the Lord. If picking up trash in a parking lot blesses others, then I will pick up trash. If opening the door for someone entering into a building at the same moment I approach blesses someone, then I open the door. If emptying the garbage in my home blesses my spouse, then I will empty the garbage.

If what I am about to speak would not please the Lord, then I have no business speaking it. If I am doing something that would not please the Lord, then I have no business doing it.

It is not being under the law. It is a heart condition of grace.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Dangerous Tree

Eve sought things that God had already given her (wisdom, beauty, food) but she wanted to find them in her own way. She coveted wisdom but was introduced to ignorance. She wanted to own pleasant things but experienced loss, death and despair. She craved delicacies but became inslaved to self-indulgence (Genesis 3:6).

Colossians 3:16 gives us a kind of Garden of Eden instruction. You can enjoy all the trees of love, forgiveness, respect, and honor preferring one another, but you may not eat of the fruit of the tree of unforgiveness lest you die (Mathew 6:14).

We will either be like Eve or like Christ (Luke 23:34; Colossians 3:13-16).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Discarded Nails

There were two men nailing siding onto a house. The senior partner noticed the other man pull a nail from his pouch, throw it away and get a new one to hammer the board into place. He stood amazed for a few minutes as the partner repeated the process. Getting down from his ladder he went to inspect the discarded nails to find nothing wrong with them. He called up to his partner, “Why are you throwing these nails away?” “The head of those nails were on the wrong end,” came the answer.

Wisdom means knowing what to do with the knowledge you have.

Sometimes as Christians we are like the ignorant construction worker. We don’t use wisdom in applying what we know. We have a tendency to brow beat others with the truth, or we soft peddle love so that there is no call to repentance. We may steep ourselves in rules and bondages, or give ourselves so much grace that Christ can no longer be seen in us.

The Holy Spirit admonishes us in Colossians 3: 16 to allow the word of Christ to dwell in us richly in all wisdom. We are to teach and admonish one another, but note it is with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We are to be making music with one another, not hammer away.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16).

Those of us who love chocolate know how good a candy bar can taste after we have not eaten one for a long time. But a greater pleasure enthralls our taste buds when the smooth richness of a Fanny May Trinidad spreads evenly over our tongues. It is hard to imagine a greater flavor until you have tasted the chocolate from a French candy boutique. Your entire body feels like it is melting with pleasure while you close your eyes to concentrate on the flavor.

Reading a scripture a day is eating a candy bar. Reading chapters each day is eating Trinidads. But soaking in God’s presence and applying his word to our daily lives is living in a French confectionery. This is what it means to allow the word of Christ to richly dwell in us.

Allow yourself time to sing songs to him. Use a hymnal to recall topics of praise. Allow your voice to raise in your own version of songs. Dwell on the truth that you live in his presence, that he loves you, that he has given you his grace to withstand any trial that comes to you. Indulge yourself in his promises and placing your life into his hands.

Today taste the sweetness of who he is.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Called to Peace

I experience depression, fear and anger after watching a national news broadcast. It used to be when the Dow Jones fell or stock markets plummeted, I did not pay much attention because it didn’t affect me. Then job layoffs began, store closures became increasingly common and fear spread like wildfire. I allowed it to grip my own heart.

Colossians tells us to “allow” the peace of God to rule in our hearts “to which you have also been called (Colossians 3:15). We choose where to focus our attention. If we focus it on the truth that God is directing our lives and that we live in his presence, we will experience peace. If we focus on the unjust behavior of CEOs and government officials, we will experience anger and turmoil.

The point is not to ignore or deny what is happening in our country, but to face it squarely and seek God for our rescue.

God has called us to peace and that call did not end in 2009 (Colossians 3:15).