RECEIVING

As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord.” —Colossians 2:6

I often talk about what happened to me in the summer of 1994. I had been a Christian for twenty one years and had pastored for sixteen. As a matter of fact I considered myself a committed, spirit filled, Pentecostal/charismatic pastor. In retrospect something was wrong and I was out of touch with that. What had changed over the years of ministry was a subtle change. I guess my ministry success had effected me more than I realized. At some point on my journey I had forgotten how to receive from the Lord. The scary thing about that, I didn’t realize I needed to receive, I thought I was doing quite well. What changed all of that? It was seeing Christians in the midst of an outpouring of the Spirit. It was intimidating, infuriating, and convicting at the same time. I needed another touch, I needed to receive again from the Lord. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this.

“The life of faith is represented as receiving— an act which implies the very opposite of anything like merit. It is simply the acceptance of a gift. As the earth drinks in the rain, as the sea receives the streams, as night accepts light from the stars, so we, giving nothing, partake freely of the grace of God. The saints are not, by nature, wells, or streams, they are but cisterns into which the living water flows; they are empty vessels into which God pours His salvation. The idea of receiving implies a sense of realization, making the matter a reality. One cannot very well receive a shadow; we receive that which is substantial: so is it in the life of faith, Christ becomes real to us. While we are without faith, Jesus is a mere name to us—a person who lived a long while ago, so long ago that His life is only a history to us now! By an act of faith Jesus becomes a real person in the consciousness of our heart. But receiving also means grasping or getting possession of. The thing which I receive becomes my own: I appropriate to myself that which is given.”

It was a big thing but something that changed quickly and dramatically. It was like turning on a light switch. Suddenly I found myself in the receiving mode and was experiencing huge downloads of the Spirit from heaven. Revival was right under my nose but I couldn’t step in until that adjustment was made. Humble yourself, get in a receiving mode and you too will swept up in God.

LOOKING FOR SOMETHING REAL

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Col. 2:16,17 ¶ So let no one judge you in food or in 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.

Col. 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae deals with a doctrinal error that seems to pop up in every generation. They had somehow substituted types and shadows as well as an over emphasis on angels rather than the revelation of God seen only in Jesus Christ. Why humans insist on symbolism rather than the real boggles the mind.

During the height of the charismatic renewal in the 1970’s and 1980’s there were several of these side journeys that became just that, trips off the main road often ending up in a ditch. One of those errors was an over emphasis on Jewish Christianity. Suddenly everyone had some sort of jewish roots and many began to embrace jewish religious practices and adornment in the Christian worship services. Jesus fulfilled all of the jewish ceremonies, He is the substance that every shadow points to. Again, why settle for symbolism when we have reality in Christ.

One of the other errors was the over emphasis of angels and demonic warfare. Suddenly, there seemed to be more of an emphasis on commanding and dispersing angels and tearing down strongholds than on the Lord. The problem? We never see any of the New Testament dealing with angels or demons in thieve ways. Keep your eyes on Jesus, that was Paul’s message. Here are some thoughts from the ESV Study Bible on this passage explaining the error in Colossae.

“A central feature of the local folk belief was a tendency to call on angels for help and protection from evil spirits. This characteristic is well attested in many inscriptions and ancient documents. For instance, a magical stone amulet designed to be worn around the neck for protection from evil spirits reads, “Michael, Gabriel, Ouriel, Raphael, protect the one who wears this… Flee, O hated one, Solomon pursues you.” What likely happened at Colossae is that a shaman-like figure within the church had attracted a following and was presenting himself as something of a Christian spiritual guide. This person probably claimed to have superior insight into the spiritual realm and was advising the Colossian Christians to practice certain rites, taboos, and rituals as a means of protection from evil spirits and for deliverance from afflictions”.

So lets take heed to the wisdom we hear from the Apostle Paul, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”. If all of God is in Christ and Christ is in me, I’m good. Angels and symbols pale in comparison to His glory.

“The Stained Soul”

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MERRY WEDNESDAY BY PARRIS-

“And through the divine authority of his cross, he cancelled out every legal violation we had on our record and the old arrest warrant that stood to indict us. He erased it all-our sins, our stained soul, and our shameful failure to keep his laws-he deleted it all and they cannot be retrieved! Everything we once were in Adam has been placed onto his cross and nailed permanently there as a pubic display of cancellation!” Col. 2:14 Passion Translation
One should never discount redemption. There is no greater work in the universe as this. When a person is redeemed, life is never the same. Christ becomes the great eraser, canceling out, no longer remembering it,and permanently forgetting forever my deeds done against Christ and against my brother. All the sins hidden in darkness, all the hideous thoughts embedded throughout my life, all the selfish deeds done are cancelled out by the precious lamb of God. Who is this God, what is this precious gift that we have been given?

The Passion Translation notes say; “This stained soul has been erased of its filth. The word “erased” explicitly holds that concept of removal of stains. This would mean the DNA of Adam has been erased and the DNA of Christ has been embedded into us. We are totally set free from every trace of sin by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ. The Aramaic literally means “from our midst”. This would refer to all that was within us-the core of our past life and its memories of failure and disobedience. A new DNA has been embedded now within us through the cross and resurrection life of Christ.”

Did you read that? We have been given a new DNA! We have taken on the character and power of Christ. My stained soul has lost its watermark. There is nothing to be found of the old Parris, the one that ran the streets, the one that worked deeds of unrighteousness.
The Expositor Bible says; “If we let Him overcome, His victory will be life, not death. He will strip us of nothing but rags, and clothe us in garments of purity; He will so breathe beauty into us that He will show us openly to the universe as examples of His transforming power, and He will bind us captives to His chariot wheels, partakers of His victory as well as trophies of His all-conquering love. “Now thanks be unto God, which always triumphs over us in Jesus Christ.”
We can attain new hopes and tastes. Christ’s work is twofold, erasure and rewriting. None but He can remove these. He can impress all holy desires on us and can put His great love and His mighty spirit into our hearts. Ahhhhhh redemption!

HE IS MY JOY

Col 2:9,10. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

When we are born again we walk right into God’s fullness. No half measures here, we are blessed beyond comprehension; actually that will be the jest of eternity. We will explore the infinite nature of God; or in other words, we will search the boundless riches that are our possession in Christ. In this life, the Holy Spirit opens up to us the reality of this fullness. The question is this, how much of this goodness can you contain or appreciate in our current state? Even though we are filled with all fullness now, He must hold back our perception, these mortal bodies and brains can’t cope with His greatness. Charles Spurgeon is known as the prince of preachers. Check out his comments here and see if you agree.

“The fathomless love of the Saviour’s heart is every drop of it ours; every sinew in the arm of might, every jewel in the crown of majesty, the immensity of divine knowledge, and the sternness of divine justice, all are ours, and shall be employed for us. The whole of Christ, in his adorable character as the Son of God, is by himself made over to us most richly to enjoy. His wisdom is our direction, his knowledge our instruction, his power our protection, his justice our surety, his love our comfort, his mercy our solace, and his immutability our trust. He makes no reserve, but opens the recesses of the Mount of God and bids us dig in its mines for the hidden treasures. All, all, all are yours, saith he, be ye satisfied with favour and full of the goodness of the Lord. Oh! how sweet thus to behold Jesus, and to call upon him with the certain confidence that in seeking the interposition of his love or power, we are but asking for that which he has already faithfully promised.”
Here is the thing that the unsaved can never appreciate, it is Christ Himself that is our passion and our portion. The lost are not remotely interested. To the believer, He is amazing and irresistible. As Spurgeon says, He is our guide, our knowledge, our power, our justice, our comfort, our mercy, and our trust. But even more than all of that, HE IS MY JOY !!!!

FULLNESS

FULLNESS

Col. 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

This verse of scripture is way beyond comprehension. How could the fullness of God dwell in a person? Our God is infinite, omnipotent, and omniscient. Paul is describing the fullness of deity resident and manifest in the man Jesus Christ. He was more than a prophet but actually laid claim to absolute deity. Our only conclusions about Him are that He was a deluded person with great psychological issues, an evil genius, or the Almighty God Himself. For us who have embraced Him with our lives, this concept of fullness will delight us through all eternity. Here is a powerful excerpt about fullness from one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons.

“There is a fulness of essential Deity, for in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead. There is a fulness of perfect manhood, for in him, bodily, that Godhead was revealed. There is a fulness of atoning efficacy in his blood, for the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. There is a fulness of justifying righteousness in his life, for there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. There is a fulness of divine prevalence in his plea, for He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him; seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. There is a fulness of victory in his death, for through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil. There is a fulness of efficacy in his resurrection from the dead, for by it we are begotten again unto a lively hope. There is a fulness of triumph in his ascension, for when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and received gifts for men. There is a fulness of blessings of every sort and shape; a fulness of grace to pardon, of grace to regenerate, of grace to sanctify, of grace to preserve, and of grace to perfect. There is a fulness at all times; a fulness of comfort in affliction; a fulness of guidance in prosperity. A fulness of every divine attribute, of wisdom, of power, of love; a fulness which it were impossible to survey, much less to explore.”

Fullness, I love to say that word! The fullness of God has effected every part of my life. The fullness of the power of God in the blood of Jesus has washed the sinful stains from my soul and my memory. The fullness of His righteousness has been credited to my account. I am viewed by the Father through the fullness of righteousness displayed in the life of Jesus. The fullness of the effect of His intercessions have saved me totally and finally. I am saved to the uttermost never to return to that other life. My life can be described by that word fullness. Our lives were once empty but now they are complete, made full by the fullness of God.

MORE THAN A HEARTFUL

MORE THAN A HEARTFUL

Col. 2:6 ¶ Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

The Lord does amazing things for His sons and daughters. The miracles that He constantly performs for us, in us, and through us is endless. If you were to begin to remember all He has done in your life, beginning with your salvation, you would quickly run out of words. He is truly beyond comparison. Actually, every moment of every day is supernatural. Not only do we survive through His daily provision, He actually holds the entire universe in perfect harmony by the Word of His power. There is still something infinitely greater than all these miracles and blessings He freely gives us. What could that be? Of course it is Christ Himself, God Himself is our treasure and our greatest reward. Listen to Spurgeon’s description of this amazing gift that we have received.

“Salvation may be described as the blind receiving sight, the deaf receiving hearing, the dead receiving life; but we have not only received these blessings, we have received CHRIST JESUS himself. It is true that he gave us life from the dead. He gave us pardon of sin; he gave us imputed righteousness. These are all precious things, but we are not content with them; we have received Christ himself. The Son of God has been poured into us, and we have received him, and appropriated him. What a heartful Jesus must be, for heaven itself cannot contain him!”

I love that, “what a heartful Jesus must be”. This is exactly what Steven was preaching the day he was martyred. He said that the heavens could not contain God, how could we expect a temple to house Him. Our hearts are not only full, but they are continually overflowing with God. He Himself has become our treasure.
Too many people today are far to easily satisfied. They think if the Lord could give them a good marriage, great kids, good job, plenty of vacations, (and maybe season tickets to the Saints games) then they would be happy. The Lord may give you those things ( I am not so sure about tickets for those Sunday games, He is pretty jealous about His day) but all of those gifts combined are just shadows of the true blessing we have received in Christ Himself. He is more than enough to satisfy us. Actually, only a heartful of Jesus will be enough for us, anything else will never be quite enough. when I was about seven years old my dad built me a go-cart for Christmas. Before that, I had a firetruck that you had to pedal. I loved that firetruck until I got the go-cart. I never got in the firetruck again. That’s how it is when you see the difference between Christ and His gifts. Once you have seen the greatness of Christ Himself and have embraced Him for yourself, all of His gifts seem just secondary. You will never be satisfied with the firetruck again.

THE VICTORY PARADE

THE VICTORY PARADE

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s Cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.
Col.2:13-15 The Message

This is a description of God’s Victory Parade that is currently at full swing. There are several types of people marching in this glorious parade. First we see the conquering general, Jesus Christ Himself, leading the triumphant celebration. Through His death He liberated millions of people captive to sin from every generation of mankind. We see Him rejoicing and singing over the precious fruit of His incredible triumph. Next, we see the defeated enemies, the fallen, wicked spirits who held us as slaves for all of those years, shackled and being paraded in shame through the streets. Those who enticed us to live a shameful life are now exposed and face this public humiliation, their eternal reward has been made sure. Finally the focus of this entire procession, those Christ has purchased with His blood, celebrating with all their hearts knowing their eternal place with Christ has been secured. Their singing is a song like no other, filled with passion, shouting the name of their victorious Lord.
Have you been set free from the horrible corruption and slavery of sin? Have you been liberated from the prison of sinful behavior and destructive lifestyle? If so, this parade is for you. It is time to break ranks with the world and it’s lusts, it is time to join into the celebration of singing and rejoicing, knowing you have been freed from slavery by the price of the blood of our conquering general. In our past lives we wasted our time on bad decisions, harmful relationships, and shameful behavior, but those days are finished. The blood that purchased our freedom has been spilled, the wicked spirits that imprisoned us are defeated, and the celebration is in full swing. I can smell the fragrance of redemption, I hear the approaching sounds of the celebration, the shouts of joy are filling the air. The smells and the sounds are rising up as an offering before the Father’s throne. He is well pleased. It is time for you to take your place in the joyful throng. There is a place reserved for you in the procession. Let yourself go, leave behind that other life, join in God’s Victory Parade. What have you got to lose?