GLORY IN US

Col. 1:26,27 – that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Sometimes I think we don’t really know how much the world changed on the Day of Pentecost. Now don’t turn me off since I used that old fashioned “Pentecostal” word. Just stop and think for a minute. What was Peter’s point in that first sermon that he preached that gave birth to what we call Christianity? He said that something monumental had changed. What he said was this, all people everywhere now have access to something that is absolutely unthinkable. The Lord is pouring His Spirit on every kind of person everywhere. Young and old, rich and poor, red and yellow, black and white; no one is left out. His presence is not only on us for special empowerment, His Spirit is in us. He has become one with whosoever will. I told you it was too good to be true!!! Here is how C. S. Lewis describes this mystery.

“And this brings me to the other sense of glory—glory as brightness, splendor, luminosity. We are to shine as the sun, we are to be given the Morning Star. I think I begin to see what it means. In one way, of course, God has given us the Morning Star already: you can go and enjoy the gift on many fine mornings if you get up early enough. What more, you may ask, do we want? Ah, but we want so much more—something the books on aesthetics take little notice of. But the poets and the mythologies know all about it. We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”

That is what all humans are longing for (though must don’t realize it). We want to experience the beauty of the Lord for ourselves. We want desperately to be one with Him. Sermons, songs, and prayers describe this blessing; only when you taste and see for yourself will you finally know why you are alive and what life truly is. That is the mystery that Paul preached, Christ in you the hope of glory.

STRUGGLING WITH THE GOD

Col.1:29 – For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

Paul was all about the anointing. He knew better than anyone the calling on his life could not begin to be accomplished by human effort alone. Paul knew that in order to really touch the world it could only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit. His words were totally saturated with the power of God. How did that happen? Why were Paul’s words different than others? It comes down to the word ‘striving’ in today’s verse. Now this is not talking about striving in the flesh or trying really hard to accomplish something. This is something other than that, something totally different. Paul was describing his agonizing with the Holy Spirit. The picture being painted is like Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the Lord. Paul was engaged in the agony of struggling with God the Holy Ghost. Here is a description of Paul’s struggle from the Life in the Spirit Commentary.

“Paul’s commitment to ministry entailed labor, struggle, and suffering….The noun dynamis is a: “I labor,” says Paul, “struggling according to his energy [or ‘power’] that is at work in me in power [or ‘powerfully’]. Undoubtedly it was this “energy” of Christ powerfully at work in him that gave Paul the strength to carry on in the face of many hardships. In giving testimony to his dependence on this divine enabling, he was merely putting into practice what he had earlier prayed for on behalf of the Colossians. In 1:11 he prayed that they would be “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might” in order to display “great endurance and patience.” It was a dynamis that Paul many times had had to depend on (he refers to it again in Eph. 3:7). And as it was available to him, so it was available to the Colossians and to all other believers and Christian workers who would follow.”

To the natural man this struggle doesn’t make sense. Only the renewed mind can grasp this struggle. Paul knew he needed divine power to accomplish anything. He had discovered the secret to the Christian life, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens (empowers) me”. So no matter what you are facing, look to the struggle for divine power. The striving with God will produce supernatural power in your life.

WORKING WITH THE ENERGY OF GOD

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Col. 1:29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Sometimes Christianity seems to be in conflict with itself. Paul’s life is a great example of what I mean. We see in Paul’s life someone eaten up with zeal and vision for his ministry; obviously Paul holds nothing back. At the same time we see the transforming, supernatural power of God working powerfully in and through the Apostle Paul. This conflict is at the heart of all Christian endeavors. Was Paul’s success all Paul or all God? We see the dilemma in today’s verse, Paul says he is struggling or agonizing with the very energy and power of God. This is how Adam Clarke describes this conflict.

“Whereunto I also labour. In order to accomplish this end, I labour with the utmost zeal and earnestness; and with all that strength with which God has most powerfully furnished me. Whoever considers the original words, will find that no verbal translation can convey their sense. God worked energetically in St. Paul, and he wrought energetically with God; and all this was in reference to the salvation of mankind.”

So is it Paul or is it God. It seems as if the revelation of God awakened Paul’s passion and drive and at the same time empowered him in unprecedented ways. Albert Barnes also talks about this strange convergence of human and divine energy.

“Striving. Gr., agonizing, he taxed all his energies to accomplish this, as the wrestlers strove for the mastery in the Grecian games. According to his working. Not by my own strength, but by the power which God alone can give.”

Was Paul striving ? The answer is yes but not the striving in the flesh we normally associate with striving. He was striving together with the Lord to see all mankind effected with this divine power that had changed his life. So there was supernatural power involved, not just the will power of a driven man. Wuest also talks about this divine energy at work in Paul’s life.

“Our word “energy” is derived from this word. “Mightily” is Dunamis, “power” in the sense of natural, inherent ability. Expositors says; “The struggle is carried on in proportion, not to his natural powers, but to the mightily working energy of Christ within him.”

The good news about all of this is this; this power is working in whosoever will. Rather than doing nothing and waiting on the Lord or taking matters into your own hands; we can yield our hands, all of our strength and talents, into His hands. Learning to yield to the conflict will bring you into the place where you too can say, “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me”.

BRAND NEW FAMILY

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Col. 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

Redemption is what Christmas is all about. We were all slaves by birth. We knew no other life, we were born into darkness and slavery was our lot in life. We were slaves to sin, slaves to the prince of darkness, and slaves to the law. That is the whole purpose of Christmas, man was in need of a Redeemer since the time of the fall. We see this in the desperate cry of Job thousands of years before Christ, “For I know that my Redeemer lives and at the last he will stand upon the earth”. Christ appeared on earth to purchase us from our life of slavery. His death was the price of redemption; the results, we are now members of a brand new family. We are no longer slaves, we are members of the family of God. Here are some thoughts from John Piper on redemption and our new family.
“The reason we need a ransom to be paid for us is that we have sold ourselves into sin and have been alienated from a holy God. When Jesus gave his life as a ransom, our slave masters, sin and death and the Devil, had to give up their claim on us. And the result was that we could be adopted into the family of God. Paul put it like this in Galatians 4:4–5: “When “the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” In other words, the redemption, or the ransom, frees us to be a part of God’s family. We had run away and sold ourselves into slavery. But God pays a ransom and redeems us out of slavery into the Father’s house.”
This slavery has effected all of us throughout our lives. Some cover it over trying to be the best they can be, others cloak it with various forms of self medication, and still others just sink into the bog of depression. Hopelessness is normally the end result of all of the drama. It’s in hearing and embracing this good news of great joy that we are finally free. Like the shepherds of old, its in embracing the good news of great joy that brings us into the family of God.

UPHOLDER

Heb. 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Col. 1:17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Some people think theology is somehow irrelevant in our hip, modern world. I disagree. Theology gives us the framework for our faith, faith is how we meet and maintain a daily relationship with the Lord. Today’s two verses are loaded with theology that opens up a new way to live our lives. They describe various aspects of Christ and bring out one of His amazing attributes. He upholds all things in the created universe. That’s right, the man Christ Jesus is the upholder of everything. Matthew Henry points out the role of redemption in Christ’s amazing work.
“He upholds all things by the word of his power: he keeps the world from dissolving. By him all things consist. The weight of the whole creation is laid upon Christ: he supports the whole and all the parts. When, upon the apostasy, the world was breaking to pieces under the wrath and curse of God, the Son of God, undertaking the work of redemption, bound it up again, and established it by his almighty power and goodness.”
Not only was the world breaking to pieces as a result and ramification of the fall. All our lives were falling to pieces. Jesus is the restorer and upholder of those broken lives. Without His involvement in our everyday lives implosion is inevitable. With Christ at the center of our world, He causes even the attacks and even poor choices to work together for our good. Andrew Murray shows how creation itself is dependent on His sustaining power every moment.
“Upholding all things by the word of His power. He bears all things, all things consist in Him. Since they were not created without Him, can they exist without Him? He upholds them every moment by the word of His power, even as by His word they were created. This is the Son through whom God speaks.”
So what do you think? I think theology is important. Knowing Christ as sovereign, actually holding everything together, changes everything in my life. Maybe He does have the whole world in His hand.

THE IMAGE OF GOD

Col. 1:15 ¶ He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

The apostles started dealing with doctrinal error at the earliest days of the church. The errors always boiled down to one thing, who exactly is this Jesus of Nazareth. Was He a man, a created being, some sort of heavenly angel like creature, or was He more mystical, like a spirit? Paul and John both drew the line in the sand, Jesus Christ is no less than God Himself. John said that whoever did not call Jesus the Lord was antichrist, part of the antichrist spirit. Paul had a more theological explanation. He said that Jesus was the very image of God, the radiance of the Father’s glory. He began to explain in human words what it means to be the only begotten Son of God. Obviously there is quite a difference between what we are as adopted sons and daughters and who Christ is as the eternally begotten Son of the Father. Here are some thoughts from the Tyndale Commentary on today’s verse.
“From all eternity Jesus had, in his very nature, been the ‘image of God’, reflecting perfectly the character and life of the Father. It was thus appropriate for him to be the ‘image of God’ as man. The doctrine of incarnation which flows from this cannot, by definition, squeeze either ‘divinity’ or ‘humanity’ out of shape.

Indeed, it is only in Jesus Christ that we understand what ‘divinity’ and ‘humanity’ really mean: without him, we lapse into sub-Christian, or even pagan, categories of thought, and then wonder why the doctrine of incarnation causes us so much difficulty. Paul’s way of expressing the doctrine is to say, poetically, that the man Jesus fulfils the purposes which God had marked out both for himself and for humanity.”
You have to be careful when it comes to the deity of Christ. Even the modern day cults can be clearly identified by their beliefs about Christ. They may call Jesus the Son of God but may mean something totally different from what Paul meant. That’s why he spelled it out so clearly. They knew that it was the relationship with this Person that God’s the key to life itself. He is where true life begins. Knowing Him is everything. Who do you say that He is?

I’VE GOT THIS

Col. 1:17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

I was recently reading a book about black holes, creation, and time. In it, there was obviously a missing ingredient that added tension to all the arguments about the universe and its origin. This missing something is the so called X factor that holds everything together. Without it everything would collapse upon itself. Today’s verse says that the Lord holds all things together or sustains all things. The very fabric of creation is held together and filled with God. Without Him everything would collapse into an atomic disaster. Wuest says Lightfoot has an interesting way to describe this characteristic of the Lord.
“Lightfoot translates; “hold together, cohere.” He says; “He is the principle of cohesion in the universe. He impresses upon creation that unity and solidarity which makes it a cosmos (an ordered system) instead of a chaos (an unformed mass). Thus (to take one instance) the action of gravitation, which keeps in their places things fixed and regulates the motions of things moving, is an expression of His mind.”
The Lord not only sustains the universe, He actually holds the details of our lives together. We are part of the all things that He sustains.” Here is how John Owen describes this aspect of the Lord.
“Some translate this as “upholding, supporting, bearing, carrying.” These commentators maintain that it refers to the divine power that is exerted in the conservation of creation that keeps it from sinking into it original confusion and nothingness. About this our Savior says, “My Father works hitherto and I work.” This refers to the providential sustaining of all things made from the beginning. “And this,” says Chrysostom in his commentary, “is a greater work than that of the creation.” By the former all things were brought forth from nothing; by the latter they are preserved from returning to nothing, which is their own nature.

Some take the word to mean his ruling, governing, and disposing of all things made by him and sustained by him. So it may denote the power over all things given to the Son as mediator, or else that providential rule over everything that he has with his Father.”
If this all sounds really complicated lets simplify. The Lord is right in the middle of your life and all of its circumstances. He has a word for you, “I’ve got this”.

GOD’S POWER IN ME

Col. 1:11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
It seems life is getting more and more complicated. Without supernatural help on a continual basis there is not really much chance to survive as a Christian. We deal with temptations from our own flesh, attacks from the enemy, ridicule and mockery from the world, and more recently even out right persecution. This was the advantage the first century church had; it was birthed by the power of God. It’s very existence was supernatural. Without the continually help of the Holy Spirit the church would have not lasted even a few weeks. The fact that it survived and even prospered in that most difficult time is explained only one way; it was saturated, empowered and sustained by the power of God. If we are to live a different kind of life with different standards than our corrupt society we absolutely need the power of God. Here are some comments on today’s verse from the Wuest word book.
“In the expression “strengthened with all might,” the verb is dunamoō, the noun, dunamis. The reader will observe that both words have the same stem, which means that intrinsically they have the same meaning. Dunamis, the noun, has the following meanings, “strength, ability, power, inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, power which a person or thing exerts and puts forth.” The verb dunamai means “to be able, to have power.” Thus, it is easy to see that these words speak of inherent power which gives one the ability to do something. Dunamoō, which is used here, means “to make strong, to strengthen.” One could translate, “by every enabling power being constantly strengthened.” The word “power” is kratos, “relative and manifested power.” The Greek has it, “according to the manifested power of His glory.” Light-foot says: “The glory here, as frequently, stands for the majesty or the power or the goodness of God, as manifested to men. The doxa (glory), the bright light over the mercy-seat (Rom. 9:4), was a symbol of such manifestations. God’s revelation of Himself to us, however this revelation may be made, is the one source of all our highest strength.”
Man was made to live in and by the glory of God. Nothing less will do. We have been satisfied for far too long with an anemic form of religion when our souls hunger and thirst for the real. Today, determine to press in until… until you too are ‘strengthened with all power according to His glorious might’.

RENEWAL

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” Col.1:11
Everywhere we look we can see how nature renews itself. Recently I took two of my grand-girls for a walk in our river, the Bogue Fayala. I was amazed how the terrain looked so different. We haven’t had a good rain in a few weeks so the water was very shallow exposing logs, islands that I had not seen before. As we walked down the river, suddenly out of nowhere a young fawn went bounding away! Nature was at work all around us. Even our bodies undergo renewal, for example when we sleep we reorganize our energy and prepare ourselves for activity, resting our mind and our bodies. Another important thing happens, our breathing causes the blood to get cleansed, even dreaming helps us to destress from the days activities. We serve an amazing God indeed. Paul knew that our many sided weaknesses would need daily renewing.

Maclaren puts it this way: “Just as there must be a perpetual oxygenation of blood in the lungs, so there must be an uninterrupted renewal of spiritual strength for the highest life. It is demanded by the conditions of our human weakness. It is no less rendered necessary by the nature of the divine strength imparted, which is ever communicating itself, and like the ocean cannot but pour so much of its fulness as can be received into every creek and crack on its shore.There is ‘infinite riches in a narrow room.’ All power means every kind of power, be it bodily or mental, for all variety of circumstances, and, Protean, to take the shape of all exigencies. Most of us are strong only at points, and weak in others. In all human experience there is a vulnerable spot on the heel.”

He goes on to say, “We plainly need an infusion of diviner strength than our own, if that strange marriage of joy and sorrow should take place, and they should at once occupy our hearts. Yet if His strength be ours we shall be strong to submit and acquiesce, strong to look deep enough to see His will as the foundation of all and as ever busy for our good, strong to hope, strong to discern the love at work, strong to trust the Father even when He chastens. And all this will make it possible to have the paradox practically realized in our own experience, ‘As sorrowful yet always rejoicing.’ One has seen potassium burning underwater. Our joy may burn under waves of sorrow. Let us bring our weakness to Jesus Christ and grasp Him as did the sinking Peter. He will breathe His own grace into us, and speak to our feeble and perchance sorrowful hearts, as He had done long before Paul’s words to the Colossians, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee, and my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ ”

So chill out and let Him do His thing in you!

ANTHEM OF OUR PRAISE 2

“The Lord Reigns” The Anthem of our Praise! Part Two

MERRY THURSDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

The more we all dive into the Pauline Epistles we begin to get the full picture of what Paul is saying here- “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Colossians 1:27) There is nothing like a good steak and potatoes meal reading his epistles! Talk about getting “all up in your area”. There was no gray area with Paul. We can sing sweetly the Psalms, find guidance in Proverbs, fall in love in the Song of Songs, cry with Jeremiah and the prophets, and mourn over the children of Israel. But when it comes to the Pauline Epistles, we dive into the mystery of the not only Christ but Christ in us.
Gill put’s it this way; ‘We all are being changed into the image of Christ. It is not a human achievement. it is a growth produced by the creative power of the Spirit. “For God is at work with you, both to will and to work”. (Phil. 2:13) We must work out our own salvation, of course, but all effective action is a response to the creative activity of God in us. We work out what God works in. A plant grows by thrusting forth its twigs and leaves into the light. This activity occurs as a response to the play of the sunlight and the rain to which the plant is exposed. In the soul the likeness of Christ is shown through contemplation of the glory of The Lord.”
So what have you been gazing at lately? Every morning I am able to walk to the mighty Mississippi, where you see reflections of trees in the water, flocks of birds, huge cargo vessels from all over the world and tugboats. Paul says when we gaze into Christ’s glory His image not only reflects back on us but we are being changed! My goodness what a glorious Gospel!
Let me give you one more thought! Interpreter Bible says, “The ministry of the New Testament is indeed not connected with an external, physical brightness of the face, but it possesses a spiritual glory, which far transcends any bodily brightness, a glory which is imparted to the mind, heart, and body of every believer, making his life a reflection of the divine, eternal glory. “The glory of the Lord is the knowledge of God. Moses had glory, that is, the knowledge and understanding of the Law. But now we have gone through this and have a higher knowledge of Christ the Lord; that gives power to fulfill the Law, through whom we have received forgiveness of sins, there His glory is reflected in us, that is: As the brightness of the sun is reflected in water or in a mirror, Christ is reflected and sheds His brightness into the heart, we are glorified from one glory to another, we daily grow and know the Lord ever more clearly.” Whew!