Monday, December 31, 2012

Praying for Patience

Patience and long suffering is not usually one of our strong suits, but they are important aspects of the Christian life. God warned us that there would be suffering (James 1:2; Hebrews 11:6; 1Peter1:6, 4:12). But he also promises to be with us and to give us what we need to remain faithful to him and his principles (Matthew 28:20; Hebrew 13:5; Philippians 4:11-13; 2 Peter 1:3).

Most of us can be patient for a short while, but when the end of our trial seems a long way off, or we cannot imagine a release, we need divine strength to remain steadfast (Galatians 5:22).

Some say do not pray for patients because God will send trials. But that advice is in direct opposition to the Word of God. Our Lord may be preparing you for what is coming into your life by prompting you to pray for this fruit of the Spirit. The trail will come whether you pray for patients or not. The disciples in the garden with Jesus is proof of that (Mark chapter 14).

Friday, December 28, 2012

According to His Glorious Power

Paul prays that the Colossians will be "strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power" (Colossians 1:11). It is strange that we humans tend to read this as though we must strengthen ourselves, as though we must make the effort to have our behavior equal to his glory. That is just as impossible now as it was before we knew God.

I am certainly not saying we do not exude effort, but the effort is not based on our own strength. If it is we fail.

Whatever we need to do, we can ask God for the knowledge, wisdom and strength to allow God to work through us to bring himself glory. He is our source of power. Then, resting in the confidence of his power at work in us, we accomplish the task.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Increasing in the Knowledge of God

Increasing in the knowledge of God is an interesting concept (Colossians 1:10). When we first come to Christ, we are overwhelmed by his goodness and kindness toward us. We can barely take it all in. The grass is greener. The sky is bluer. It is much like being in love.

Unfortunately some stop there. They do not continue to seek out God. They spend little or no time learning his word. Talking to God is limited to meal time. Naturally their hearts lose the luster of first love. It is not long until the cares of this world have blocked their view of God; their knowledge of God becomes their religion, not their life focus (Mark 4:13-20).

Increasing in the knowledge of God comes through many channels. It is much like a great river that begins as a small but happy creak bubbling up out from under a rock in the high mountains. It gains strength and size as it is joined by hundreds to thousands of other creaks and rivers. Eventually the waters pour into an ocean.

Our spiritual river is made up of knowledge of the Word, discussion with others, prayer, spending our life being aware of God, his Holy Spirit teaching us, our obedience, our love for him, our recognition of our need for him and thousands of unnamed workings of God in our lives.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Memory as a Weapon

Paul writes that we should increase in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10). Many of us immediately think of studying God's word as a way of increasing our knowledge of God. We are correct but God also uses experience to teach us his ways. Romans 5:1-3 explains that difficulties teach us the Love of God, increases our perseverance and improves our character. Peter wrote that virtue, knowledge, self control, brotherly love and godly behavior increases our knowledge of God (1Peter 1:5-8).

When we remain faithful to godly principles during trials we experience the strength and faithfulness of God. We learn God is faithful to sustain us by our experience. As a result we have a new tool against our spiritual enemy, Satan. The memory of God's faithfulness to us during previous trials can sustain us during our present test.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

This is one of the most holy days of the year. This is the day we have chosen to celebrate the coming of our savior into the world. Jesus' birth was the physical beginning of our salvation because he came to take the punishment of our sins upon himself. But his birth and our salvation was planned before the foundations of the earth were built (Isaiah 40; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Ephesians 1:4; Matthew 25:34; Hebrews 4:3).

Today we rejoice in the great mercy and grace of God our Father, Jesus our brother and the Holy Spirit our helper, comforter, teacher and guide (Ephesians 1:3-9; John 2Corinthians 1:2-4; John14:26-27, 16:13).

Ip for these reasons it is a great day!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Fully Pleasing Him

It is not enough to know the truth. We need wisdom and understanding to know how to please God. Many things have been done in the name of The Lord that were destructive and not of God. Selfishness, political ambition, and many other evil motives have hidden under the cloak of righteousness.

Paul says that spiritual understanding leads to walking in a manner worthy of God, "fully pleasing him" (Colossians 1:9-10). What pleases The Lord?

Doing every good work (Colossians 1:10; Ephesians 2:10). Blessing the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45). Giving and doing more than what is required of us (Matthew 5:40-41). Praying for our enemies and doing good to those who speak evil against us falsely (Matthew 5:43-44) and many other things that do not come naturally to fallen man.

How can any of us do what God asks? We can only do them as God does them through us.

Friday, December 21, 2012


There are situations in which we need to remain silent (Isaiah 53:7; John 19:8-10), and there are times to speak, (John 19:11). But how can we discern when it is time for silence and time to speak?

Paul prays that the Colossians will be filled with the knowledge of God in all wisdom

and understanding.

If we want to learn how to be an engineer, we study engineering for several years . If we want to be a psychologist, we study psychology for at least 8 years. But if we want to be a Christian we spend 15 minutes a day with God and call it good.

Learning to understand God's ways requires a life focused on being with God continually, reading what he has to say, and talking o him. He is focused on loving us and teaching us (II Chronicles 16:9a). We need to listen and obey.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hot Cup of Coffee

Paul's prayer for the believers at Colossi contain many insights into the Christian life. He prays that they might be filled with the knowledge of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Colossians 1:9).

If a glass is filled with water, water spills out when you bump it. If it is filled with vinaigrette, vinaigrette spills out when you bump it. If you are carrying a hot cup of coffee and you stumble, the hot liquid will burn your hand. If your cup is empty, nothing comes out.

What we are filled with will manifest in difficult times. Either our responses will reflect God or they will be of no value to us or those around us.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Grace of God in Truth

Paul uses the phrase, "knew the Grace of God in truth." What does this mean? Can one know the grace of God falsely? Yes.

Recently a woman said to me, "I do not believe in God at all, but even if your God is real, I am safe because I do not believe a good God would harm me."

She has heard of the grace of God, but clearly does not understand his judgment is married to his grace. God must judge sin. He either counts it judged in Jesus for us or if we reject Jesus, we must receive the judgement on ourselves.

It is when we recognize how unworthy we are that we see God's grace in truth. It is the fear of his judgement that produces the joy of his grace.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Paul reminds his readers that the truth is good news and understanding that there is hope laid up for us in heaven produces fruit in us.

"...because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,"(Colossians 1:3-6).

John writes when Jesus returns we shall be like him; "And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure" (1John 3:1-3).

There is a spiritual response to believing in God's promises that translates to a purification of our actions. There is a direct correspondence between believing and a changed person.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Roman Citizenship

Citizenship could be purchased, but a naturally born citizen carried a higher honor. There were specific rules as to what magistrates could or could not do to natural born Roman citizens and Paul claimed those rights (Acts 21:39, 23:27, 34). For this reason he was allowed visitors and was able to send and receive letters. Timothy supported Paul while the latter was imprisoned by the Romans, thus Paul's opening remarks include Timothy.

Paul and Timothy pray for the saints at Colossi though they have never met them. We also need to pray for people we have never met who are God's children. Fellow brothers and sisters in other countries who are suffering need our prayers. Christians in disaster areas who have lost their homes because of storms, fires or the poor economy. Missionaries, pastors and their families need us to pray.

Ask God right now for strength and comfort for someone you have heard is in need. Pray that their faith be increased and that they may be keenly aware of God's presence and faithfulness.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Letter From a Stranger

We now turn to Paul's letter to the Christians who live in a town called Colosse. we call his letter the book of Colossians. Two near by towns are Laodices and Hieroplis. The town no longer exists except in ruins. Most of what we know about the town is contained in Paul's letter.

Paul writes his letter while in prison for preaching the Gospel. He had never met the Christians Hrpell was writing to. It was Paul's friend Epaphras who had established the church and told Paul about his friends.

For the congregation who received this letter, it was like us receiving a personal letter from Billy Graham, Billy Sunday, or a well known missionary in your denomination. His life and sacrifice were Paul's credentials. The Colossians would have paid attention to what Paul had to say.

I knew a young woman in her twenties that declared she would not read books anyone had written about God or the Bible because she wanted to hear directly from God. The problem with that theory is that it ignores both the principle of body ministry laid out in 1Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. The person limits in their mind God's ability to speak to you through others or make you aware when someone is teaching false doctrine. If my friend had lived during Paul's time she would have missed the entire New Testament.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Confronting and Judging

There is a time to confront another person's sin in order to save his or her soul (James 5:19-20). We are not judging when we recognize and deal with sin in another person's life. Judging involves deciding someone is not worthy of saving, that they have no value. In a sense one could say that not confronting sin is judging the sinner because our lack of action says the person is not worth the effort.

But when we confront a person, we are to guard against comparing ourselves with them. We are to keep in mind that put in the exact same circumstance and history, we would likely make the same decision (2 Timothy 2:24-26; James 4:6; Galatians 6:1-5). Remember to say to yourself, "but for the grace of God, that would be me."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rain Drops

"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). Fervent is defines as full of feeling. One might say a fervent prayers is an honest prayer. There is no ulterior motive but sincere need for the thing asked.

Have you ever heard someone say, "so and so knows how to pray." It is as though praying is a talent or special process that one is either good at or fails miserably. People "who know how to pray" are held in high esteem. They are thought to be a kind of lucky charm for getting prayers answered.

But when James draws attention to Elijah's prayer, he makes a point that the prophet was an ordinary person who received answer to his prayer, not because he was a lucky charm in things pertaining to prayer, but because he was sincere.

Elijah was focused on the glory of God both when he prayed for the absence of rain and for its return. If you are sincere and fervently ask the Father, he will answer you

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Team Mates

James admonishes us to confess our faults to one another and to pray for one another so that we may be healed. Our tendency is to confess someone else's faults to others, commonly called gossip. But our own faults we keep to our bosom like a precious child. That habit is deadly.

There is strength in pairs. We lift one another up. If we know someone is going to ask us how we are resisting a certain temptation, we are more apt to overcome it (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11). AA and other overcoming addiction associations are founded on this principle.

I find it best to follow certain guidelines when confessing faults. 1) Confess to the one you hurt (Mt 5:23-24). 2) be careful that you chose someone trust worthy to confess to. Not all people are safe (Proverbs 13:20; Matthew 10:16; Ephesians 5:15; 1 John 4:1). 3) Examine your motives on a regular basis (Matthew 7:3; I Corinthians 11:28-30) 4) above all as a team look to God.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Worse Things

There are numerous causes of sickness, many of which we have no control over. However, some sickness is a direct result of our choices, I.e. lung cancer from smoking, HIV from unprotected sex in promiscuous life style, clogged arteries from eating unhealthy foods.

James says when a person asks the elders to pray for him to be healed, "if he has committed sins he will be forgiven" (James 5:15).

Our sin does not have to keep us from being healed. We must leave our sin behind us so that worse things do not affect us (John 5:14).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Remedy for Illness

Epaphroditus was a faithful believer from Philippi who did much work in the body of Christ including ministering to Paul. He became so ill that he nearly died (Philippians 2:26). Trophimus was another faithful worker who became so ill that Paul had to leave him behind as he traveled on in his missionary journey (2 Timothy 4:20). Tabitha, a wonderful woman in the New Testament church died from an illness, but Peter prayed for her and God raised her from the dead (Acts 9:36-40).

We get sick because we live in a world filled with disease. But James reminds us that we have a God who can heal sickness and disease.

When we are ill, we are to go to the elders of the church for prayer. The leaders of the church are to pray for us, anointing us with oil (symbolic of dedication to God and symbolic of the Holy Spirit). We are to pray with faith and The Lord will raise us up (James 5:14-15).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Unique Melodies

If you are cheerful, go ahead and sing. It does not matter if you can carry a tune. God loves to hear his children singing whether the melody comes out clearly or is a kind of wobble similarity to the original notes (James 5:13).

I Imagine our Heavenly Father chuckling with delight as we offer our unique melody of praise.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


"Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray."

Job's comforters blame the sufferer for the pain. There are even those who say we should never have to suffer. But James does neither of these. He simply says when you experience suffering, pray.

God is the great comforter (2 Corinthians 1:3-4; James 5:13).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Swear

Have you ever had someone try to persuade you of their sincerity by saying "I swear"? Or, I love this one, "To be honest..." How about, "I am telling you the truth such and such happened." Or there is, "Honest to God..." These are common expressions of trying to persuade someone that the speaker is speaking the truth.

When someone says to me, "To be honest," or something similar I think, aren't you always honest? James tells us that we should never use these kinds of idioms but simply speak truth all the time. Our yes should always mean yes and our no should always mean no (James 5:12).

When we always speak truth, we do not need to convince someone. They will know we are speaking truth because that is our habit.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Temptation to Grumble

James already told us not to speak evil of one another (James 4:11-12). He has shown us that our arguing and fighting can signify an evil,heart of self focus (James 4:1-1). Now, immediately after admonishing us to patiently wait for God when we suffer at the hands of others, he warns us not to grumble against one another (James 5:9). If we do, we are in danger of being condemned by God.

Why would we be judged for grumbling when we suffer at the hands of others? Perhaps it is because, as James points out, others have suffered much worse things than we are experiencing and they remained true to their calling. The prophets of the Old Testament proclaimed the need for repentance and were thrown into prison, pits, beaten and some were murdered (James 5:9-10). Job lost all his possessions and children yet continued to trust God.

James reminds us that our suffering is temporary as he points out the end of Job's life. If God has chosen to allow our current suffering, it is only a chapter in a book with a glorious ending (Romans 8:18). We are instructed not to dwell on our suffering but to refocus on God working in and through our suffering.