Thursday, February 28, 2013

What is Wrong with Stretching the Truth

"Do not like to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of him who created him" (Colossians 3:9-10).

Paul addresses two reasons not to lie to one another. First, it does not make sense to lie because that is part of the our former life. The "old man" thought nothing of stretching the truth for his own purposes. If it saved him embarrassment, if it kept him out of trouble, if it served his purpose, then lying was perfectly reasonable to the Old man. But we have put off the old man and all of his ways.

Secondly, the new man is associated with Christ and God (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16 Corinthians 13:8; 2 Peter 1:4). God speaks only truth (John 1:17, 4:23, 14:6), therefore all that comes out of our mouth must be truth.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One of My Worst Days

God sets us free from the control of sin (Romans 8:3-4), which changes our desires so that we want to please him out of love (Psalm 37:4; John 14:23). That takes dedication and commitment on our part.

Paul addresses the issue of our efforts to walk holy. "But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another..." (Colossians 3:8-9a).

The greatest anger I experienced was when my first husband left me for a friend of ours. He said she needed his protection because she was spiritually weak. I told him I was weak too and used unholy language to emphasis my need. I immediately felt horrible guilt for violating my relationship with God for the sake of anyone.

The temptation to our wrath will come, but God has freely given us the grace (power) to resist giving into these temptations. When we stumble despite his provisions, he is there with his grace to forgive (1 John1:9).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How We Used to Be

Wrath is strong vengeful anger. My wrath would be sinful for two reasons. First because God said for me never to take revenge but leave that up to him (Ephesians 4:31; Romans 12:14-21). Secondly, I cannot see into men's hearts and do not know all that needs to be known to judge rightly. Thirdly my guilt clouds my judgement. God alone has pure wrath because he knows the heart of man and judges accurately and he is pure with no guilt to cloud his judgement.

Paul writes a brief list in Colossians of things that bring about God's vengeful anger; sex outside of marriage whether the offenders are single or married, passions (allowing our desires to rule our behavior), evil desire (wanting to harm another, or elicit behaviors), covetousness which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5-6).

We all at one time or another participated in one or more of these things, if not physically, then in our imaginations (Matthew 5:27; Colossians 3:7). But Christ has forgiven us and set us free from the control of our earthly passions (1John 1:9). Therefore we are out from under God's wrath and are able to focus on heavenly matters and put these earthly behind us.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Eternal Life Now

We tend to think about eternal life as something in the future, something that happens after we die. But Paul continually reminds us that we have eternal life now. "If you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is...set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 4:1-4).

We do not need to keep up with the Jones. We do not need the latest computer program, though we may enjoy one. We do not need to be powerful, great influencers, popular, rich or any other myriad of worldly values. Our focus is eternal outcomes, not momentary gain.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fooled by The Robe

We have all heard news about religious individuals abusing their offices of trust. They appeared to be self disciplined in every area of life. Their reputations were sealed by their titles yet the darkness of their self indulgence ended up splashed across headlines.

How does one start out with such good intentions and self determination to succeed in a high goal and yet fall so deep into violating others? Are they evil hiding behind religious robes? Are they wolves in sheep clothing? Perhaps. But some are simply individuals who became fooled by their self discipline thinking it was strong enough to protect them from temptation's opportunity.

Paul gives us practical instruction on how to resist temptation. "Set you minds on things above, not on things on the earth. For you have died with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:2). Self constraint does not save us, but a focus on heaven causes self restrain.

Then, "When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory"(Colossians 3:4).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fabricated Religion

Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you personally through Paul's next paragraph.

"If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” ( referring to things that all perish as they are used) —according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self- made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:23).

Some of our religious practices are empty fabrications based on emotional appeal or intellectual surmises and are not plainly taught in God's Word. Ask our Heavenly Father and he will give you insight into any that may be in your life. Do not be anxious about discerning them. He will eventually make them plainly visible.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Scripture calls believers the body of Christ. We are to function as one unit, each finger, toe and arm doing its job. We are each others joints and ligaments (Colossians 2:18-19).

A ligament is a tough fibrous band connecting extremity bones and holding organs in place. Joints are the point of contact between elements of a skeleton that surround and support it. With these dictionary based definitions, we can more easily determine our relationship to other Christians. We are to support and work in unity with them.

Note Paul places the illustration in contrast to the worship of angels and false humility, "not holding onto the head from which the body is nourished. Basing beliefs on visions and private revelations puffs up the individual essentially separating him or her from everyone else.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Visions and Angels

If I were going about my business and suddenly I saw a bright angel appear in front of me who brought a message he said was from God, I might be persuaded to believe it. Why wouldn't I?

Though it would be my tendency to believe, I should nonetheless be cautious because Satan can appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). That is why Paul wrote that we should not base our worship on false humility or the worship of angels (Colossians 2:18). Many a false religion has been based on a vision or a supernatural appearance.

We have the eye witness accounts and the teachings of those who lived with Jesus while he was on the earth. Visions may be encouraging, but the Word of God is sure.

Monday, February 18, 2013

New Moons

When this next verse is read alone it sounds like Christians can celebrate any festival they want, whether it is pagan or religious. "So let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ" (Colossians 2:16-18).

That may be a fair conclusion, however when we read the entire section of Paul's letter it is clear he is speaking of people demanding others celebrate certain rituals to make one clean. Notice his reference to Sabbaths. It would not make since that he would say "don't allow others to judge you for celebrating the Sabbath", since the Jews had been celebrating the Sabbath since Moses. People at that time would be more apt to judge you for not celebrating the Sabbath.

Paul is saying that the Jewish rituals centered around food, drinks and new moons and Sabbaths are mere shadows or pictures of Christ's coming. Their usefulness in true worship ended with the death and resurrection of Jesus (Hebrews 9:6-10).

Friday, February 15, 2013

Power over Accusers

Satan is called the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). But his accusations have lost their power over us because of the cross. Paul writes that Jesus disarmed principalities and powers, has made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them (Colossians 2:15).

We have been set free, not only from their accusations of our unworthiness, but we have also received the power to overcome their snares (Colossians 2:13).

Thursday, February 14, 2013


When my first husband left me for another woman, I felt exposed to the world. I was angry and suffered deep emotional pain. I was convinced something had to be desperately wrong with me that would cause my own husband to leave me for another. Every morning was a struggle to get up, brush my teeth and comb my hair. If I was so worthless, why bother?

Every single day God spoke to me to comfort me. I would not have survived without his sweet Word. Colossians 2:9 was one of those verses that gave me hope. "And you are complete in him."

Our husbands, our children, our families, our friends, our wealth, our jobs, our influence, nor any other thing makes us complete. Our Heavenly Father causes us to be complete by and through the precious blood of Jesus.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


There are things I taught my children when they were young that were based on men's empty philosophy. These were not traditions of the world, but traditions taught in the church at that time. For instance, I taught them that certain beats of music were evil because they were used in ceremonies of indigenous people of other countries. Syncopation was thought to be destructive because it ran contrary to the heartbeat.

This along, with many other mistakes based more on Christian philosophy rather than on scripture, caused a lot of pain for me and my children. It cheated us from the freedom found in Christ. It created a riff between them and faith. They felt rejected and misunderstood. We were more interested in their conversion than in who they were as individuals, therefore the message of God's love for them was missed altogether.

It is difficult not to condemn one's self when you recognize the pain you have caused others. How sweet the news is that all of these sins have been forgiven and wiped away by the blood of Jesus (Colossians 2:8-13).

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Not Left Clueless

The context of Paul's letter gives us a clue to the traditions and philosophy Paul was battling. Evidently there were men who taught that since our bodies are evil (their philosophy) and cannot be redeemed, then it does not matter what we do with our bodies. Our souls are redeemed but our bodies will be destroyed. They did not recognize what we do with our bodies not only reflects our soul's condition but affects the condition of our souls. Such a philosophy cheats men from experiencing a holy life.

So Paul reasons with them that they have been united with Christ in the baptism of Christ's death and raised together with him to live a holy life in and with this body. Anything short of that cheats us by bringing us into bondage (Colossians 2:8-14).

Monday, February 11, 2013

But We Have Always Taught This

One of the definitions of philosophy is:
b : a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means
c : an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs

The definition of traditions includes:
1 a : an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom)
b : a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable

Paul writes that we no longer live by either of these guide rules, but rather according to Christ (Colossians 2:8). There are certain religions that teach the traditions of men are equal to the word of God. So that if the Bible does not specifically address an issue the accepted tradition is to be the guide post. Each person is then judged by the tradition. But Paul writes that traditions and philosophies may cheat us from our freedoms in Christ.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sparks Fly

When boy meets girl and the sparks fly, does he bring her flowers because he is afraid of loosing her, or is it the sheer joy that she is responding to him? Does she make sure her hair is just so, her make up is on and her shoes match her outfit because she is afraid he won't like her any more or is it that she's in love and that emotion is driving her choices? Does their laughter, their smiles and their chatter come from fear of loosing one another or is it the natural outcome of being drawn together?

So our understanding of our need for salvation and God's act to save us overflows in a life rooted in faith and thankfulness naturally expressed in a holy life (Colossians 2:6-7).

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Empty Deception

Paul writes that understanding the great mystery, that God rescued us from destruction through Jesus Christ, protects us from being deluded by persuasive men whose intent is to deceive us (Colossians 2:3-4). He repeats the same premise in verse 8, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of this world, rather than according to Christ."

What is the deception of men? Looking at the context of Paul's letter, it becomes clear the deception is a self focused life. Living as though there is no God, no responsibility to live rightly, no heaven, no hell, only my wants and my desires.

Instead we are to be firmly rooted and built up in our faith (vs7). We are to discipline ourselves and be stable in our faith (vs 5). We are to walk in a manner pleasing to The Lord that reflects what we believe (vs1:9-10, 2:6).

Notice Paul calls the way of the world empty deception. It promises fulfillment but produces only disappointment.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Full Assurance

We will experience amazing inner calm as we meditate on the Truth of our salvation. That calm is a result of what Paul calls a full assurance of understanding, because the truth sweeps over our troubled minds in a wave of God's peace (Colossians 2:2).

The assurance does not come from examining our works. We have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). It comes from understanding what God has accomplished in you, by name (Isaiah 42:6, 45:3; psalm 147:7; John 10:3).

Understand that you did not chose God. He chose you (John 15:16). He appointed you to receive salvation (Acts 13:48). He is making sure that every detail of your life, every failing, every success works in you in such a way that it makes you more and more into the image of his son (Romans 8:28-29; Ephesians 1:3-4, 11).

How does he do this? Isaiah tells us that we are unable to comprehend God's ways (Isaiah 55:8). All we need to know is that he does it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Swashbuckling Adventures

Remember the old movies of Pirates and their swashbuckling adventures, the most recent one being Pirates of the Caribbean? The bad guys were always defeated by the end of the movie and the hero always found the treasure and got the girl. Our dreams came true in the theater of makebelieve.

But there is a place and a time where our dreams come true, a place where we are loved, a place where our enemies are defeated, a place where we are secure in who we are and in who will accomplish all that needs to be accomplished in our lives.

It is not a place of physical tranquility, nor is it a place where no bad things happen. But it is a place where bad guys lose in the end, and we are victorious over all our enemies physical or spiritual, and we learn to dwell in internal peace.

Paul writes about that place, "...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, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:2b-3).

Each phrase holds amazing treasures in its implications for us. Together, we will begin digging out the treasures tomorrow. See what God will show you personally today.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Knitting vs Crocheting

I tried to learn to knit several times but failed. I think my failure was due to my impatience. I had learned to crochet first and was able to whip out a scarf in no time, but knitting a scarf took two to three times longer.

I like the look of a knitted sweater. The threads are close together so that you see them as one massive piece of material while in crocheting you easily distinguish each thread. But as I said, I was much to impatient to learn. I wanted results now.

Paul alludes to the fact that believers should be knit together in love (Colossians 2:1-2). It takes time to become meshed with other believers. It takes conflicts and forgiveness. It takes patients and laughter. It takes disagreements and agreements. It takes disappointments and compassion.

It takes time.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Private Conversations

Repeatedly Paul and John write about the importance of feeling connected with one another (Colossians 2:2, 1:12; Ephesians 1:18; 1John 2:9, 3:15-16).

In order to do this we need to share with one another when we are troubled and need encouragement (James 5:16). Most of us have learned that not everyone is trustworthy of our confidence, so we choose carefully whom we trust. That is wise, but lets not withdraw from everyone because of fear of betrayal or of being judged. Making that choice only leads to a false front of pride which is deadly.

Just as we need a trustworthy person to confide in, others need that as well. Determine to be that person and talk only to God on behalf of others, keeping their private confidences private.