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From Colossians 1:27-2:6-7 we see how true the phrase is "that it is ALL ABOUT JESUS." The ministry is all about "Christ in you, the hope of glory." And it's this Jesus that we offer the world--Him we proclaim, warning every person, teaching every person, that we may present them perfect (mature) in Christ. And it is for this very purpose that Paul poured himself out---to see people be fully formed in Jesus. What a wonderfully focused 'mission statement' Paul left for us all to imitate.
We spend so much time in our communities running programs but Paul makes it clear here that the priority 'programs/ministries' are the ones that keep Jesus central, and the ones that seek to take those far from Christ, bring them in close with intentionality and grow them up in Christ with passionate intentionality. This is a cause worth giving one's life to--investing in people who invest in people who invest in people, and so it goes.

Verses which struck me this morning are:

"I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments." Col 2:1-4 NIV

Very compact writing from Paul again. It seems his purpose is that people should have "complete understanding", that is, knowing Christ "the mystery of God", then they will have all wisdom and knowledge.

But this knowledge of Christ does not come through "fine-sounding arguments". Fine-sounding arguments may be deceptive.

So it is not through rational mind that we come to know Christ. But it is an encounter of the spirit. We know Him because our spirit recognises Him. And rational knowledge and wisdom follows that recognition.

Jer 4
Judah's turn

Judah's problem is different. They cannot just turn back - as they have no perception that they ever turned away. Judah needs a circumcision of the heart that allows them to see themselves as they really are in God's eyes.

Jer4:4 "Circumcise yourselves to the LORD,
circumcise your hearts,
you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem,
or my wrath will break out and burn like fire
because of the evil you have done—
burn with no one to quench it." NIV

[To me, and I may be completely off base here!!! - this is the picture of the unbeliever today. One who plays at faith and religion, but does not believe In Christ. The one who never truly committed to the Lord. They need a change of heart to see their condition, and then they can turn to God, repent and believe IN Christ. If not then the judgment is separation from God.]

What follows? Apparently their was no circumcision of the heart and Jeremiah sees Judah and the coming invasion with all its anguish - and they did it to themselves. God was not the reason it happened - their actions and attitude were the reasons. Just like God does not send anyone to Hell - people choose separation from the Lord after death when they Reject God and Christ in this life.

[Me personally: I believe in the near term this is the Babylonian invasion that Jeremiah sees. They were southeast???, but they came around from the north in their invasion (probably for geographical and surprise reasons)?????In the future the scenario will play out again with invasion again coming from the north. We shall see - one way or another.]

Mike: I thought you would like this brief summary of the book, “Miracles”, by C.S. Lewis. I found this very interesting website I thought you might enjoy:

http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/pages/resources/publications/knowingDoing/2004/Miracles.pdf

Author of webpage: Dr. Art Lindsley who is a Senior Fellow with the C.S. Lewis Institute where he has served since 1987.
~~~

One of the classic ways in which believers have provided evidence for their faith is through miracles. By looking at prophecies from the Old Testament fulfilled in Christ, or healing and nature miracles, or the resurrection, believers have tried to show that there is a convergence of signs all pointing to Jesus as the Son of God.

However, since the Enlightenment, there has been a strong rejection of miracles by modernism so that it has become necessary to apologize for the introduction of miracles rather than using them for evidence.

Perhaps this skepticism is waning now that modernism is not in vogue, but there are still many who are skeptical of miraculous claims.

C. S. Lewis in his book Miracles and in essays on the subject sought to clear the ground
so that miracles could again be discussed.

One of the factors that brought Lewis to public attention was his unblushing affirmation of the supernatural —God, demons, miracles, and all. How could a sophisticated Oxford professor believe such things in the twentieth century? When his face appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 1947, it read, “Oxford’s C. S. Lewis: His Heresy Christianity.”

What made
Lewis such a “heretic?” Well, he rejected the fashion to lower the bar of belief, minimizing the things you really needed to embrace to be a Christian.

Miracles, one of Lewis’ least-known works, is a response to the ideas originally set forth by a late modern atheist philosopher, David Hume.
~~~

Yet another of Hume’s arguments is that various competing religions make miracle claims to establish contradictory views.

Lewis’s approach to this is

FIRST, to admit the possibility that some of these claims are true and

SECOND, to argue for the unique “fitness” or appropriateness of miracles within Christianity.

In Miracles Lewis says:

"I do not think that it is the duty of the Christian apologist (as skeptics suppose) to disprove all stories of the
miraculous which fall outside the Christian records…. I am in no way committed to the assertion that God has never worked miracles through and for pagans or never permitted created supernatural beings to do so. . ."

"Perhaps God could heal someone in a pagan religion not to establish that religion’s claims but merely out of compassion."

Lewis went on to say:

"But I claim that Christian miracles have a much greater intrinsic probability in virtue of their organic connection with one another and with the whole structure of religion they exhibit."

For instance, in Hinduism, the principle of non-distinction (All is One) rules out any validity to the distinction between natural and supernatural.

Since all is “maya” or illusion, how can it be important to demonstrate power over the illusion? Granted, there have been claims of gurus levitating or healings in New Age circles, but within the system of thought how important are
these “illusory” acts?

So, miracles do not have the same place and significance—the same fitness in pantheism or paganism as in theism.

It is particularly in Christianity that miracles have decisive significance converging on Christ. Prophecies, miracles, and the resurrection all demonstrate that He is one sent by God.

In the Old Testament, miracles are present around agents of revelation or as a deliverance of God’s people (i.e. Red Sea) but do not have the same focus as in the New Testament (on Christ).

In the Koran, Mohammed does not do any miracles—except the revelation of the Koran; whereas, Jesus is reported there to have done 16 miracles. Only in later Islamic tradition are there reports of miracles done by Mohammed.

As Lewis says, miracles in the New Testament are greater in their “intrinsic probability” because of the credibility of the historic claims and their “organic connection”—they fit together and converge on Christ.

Jesus’ miracles are not just powerful acts but also demonstrate who He is.

So the healing of the man who was born blind (John 10) leads to the revelation that He is the
light of the world. The resurrection of Lazarus from the dead (John 11) leads to the proclamation that He is the resurrection and the life, and so on.

Miracles are often not only indicative of God’s power but have symbolic significance as well. They fit within the “whole structure” of the religion.

Summary
To those who would deny the miraculous, C. S. Lewis might say:

First, naturalists (who view nature as a closed box) have great difficulty sustaining their position because the credibility of the thinking used to establish the position is severely undermined by their own assumptions.

Second, miracles are not impossible because there is no argument to prove that they cannot happen.

Third, they are not improbable unless you wrongly oppose instances of natural law to unusual or miraculous events. You need to weigh the historical evidence for each of these unusual events before excluding or accepting them.

Fourth, miracles are not inappropriate because there is a unique “fitness” of how miracles relate to Christianity by comparison with other religious systems.
~~~

Dr. Art Lindsley is a Senior Fellow with theC.S. Lewis Institute where he has served since 1987. Formerly, he was Director of Educational Ministries of the Ligonier Valley Study

He is author of the book, True Truth: Defending Absolute Truth in a Relativistic World (IVP, April 2004) and co-author with R.C. Sproul and John Gerstner of Classical Apologetics. Art, his wife, Connie, and their twoboys, Trey and Jonathan, make their home in Arlington, Virginia.
~~~

Jeremiah 2 (NKJV)
13
“ For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.

NOTE:
I know this is not part of today’s reading, but it fits so much of what I seen in the human tendency within myself. I see the reality of these truths:
a.
that the “natural man cannot accept the things of God because they are foolishness to that natural mind”
b.
that “the flesh—sinful nature—cannot please God and does not want to”.

I long for something more. We all do. I long for “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”. So. . . what am I doing about it?

By grace, I do seek the Lord, and I do desire greater intimacy with the Lord Jesus. Yet, there is need for greater surrender.

Jeremiah 5 (NKJV)
1
“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; see now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes judgment, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her.
18
“Nevertheless in those days,” says the LORD, “I will not make a complete end of you.
19
And it will be when you say, ‘Why does the LORD our God do all these things to us?’ then you shall answer them, ‘Just as you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve aliens in a land that is not yours.’
20
“ Declare this in the house of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah, saying,
21
‘ Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not:
22
Do you not fear Me?’ says the LORD.

NOTE:
May we not try to be “border line Christians” (if that is even possible!). By that I mean, people who have genuinely trusted in and received Christ as Savior and Lord, and then try to live “on the border”—to see how close they can live to the thinking and pleasure of the world without sinning.

May we truly cultiavate an inner mindset of "the fear of the Lord".

We are all selfish. As we yield to Jesus, we can grow out of selfishness into god-like ness.

Colossians 1 (NKJV)
19
For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,
20
and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
21
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled
22
in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—
23
if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

NOTE:
THANK GOD for the power of the Lord Jesus and the power of the Cross.

I could not ever reconcile myself to God through my works or my effort.

Yet, Jesus as Lord, cut a blood covenant on the Cross by which He forever bound Himself to me. He took on all of my sinfulness and all my sins, and He offers to me His righteousness.

May His amazing love motivate me—and all of us—to “continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel”.

Colossians 1 (Amplified)
27
To whom God was pleased to make known how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ within and among you, the Hope of [realizing the] glory.

NOTE:
This hope in Christ is an absolutely guaranteed hope, established by the:
a.
character of God / character of Christ
b.
promise of God / promise of Christ
c.
oath of God / oath of Christ

This most excellent verse makes me think of another excellent verse from I Corinthians 2 (Amplified):
7
But rather what we are setting forth is a wisdom of God once hidden [from the human understanding] and now revealed to us by God--[that wisdom] which God devised and decreed before the ages for our glorification [to lift us into the glory of His presence].

May we, through Grace, truly enter into—and truly partake of—the glory that Jesus offers us.

We are not God, and we were never meant to be. God the Father Who sent the God the Son the Lord Jesus Who, in turn, sent the Holy Spirit—He alone is God.

2 Peter 1 (NKJV)
2
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
3
as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
4
by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

May we “partake of” and “take within ourselves” God’s righteousness so we truly “escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.” God Himself is the ONLY way!

Vance

I LIKE THIS QUESTION / CHALLENGE:

“ Are you meditating on all of His mighty works and considering His mighty deeds? Are you being transformed by this process? And will you now go forth and help others in your life ‘ remember ’ and meditate on God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit’s miracles of long ago? ”

Jeremiah 5
23
"But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned against me and have chosen to practice idolatry.
24
They do not say from the heart, `Let us live in awe of the LORD our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of plentiful harvests.'
25
Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.

Colossians 1
19
For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,
20
and by him God reconciled everything to himself. HE MADE PEACE WITH EVERYTHING IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH BY MEANS OF HIS BLOOD ON THE CROSS.
21
This includes you who were once so far away from God. YOU WERE HIS ENEMIES, SEPARATED FROM HIM BY YOUR EVIL THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS,
22
yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. AS A RESULT, HE HAS BROUGHT YOU INTO THE VERY PRESENCE OF GOD, AND YOU ARE HOLY AND BLAMELESS AS YOU STAND BEFORE HIM WITHOUT A SINGLE FAULT.
23
But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed by God to proclaim it.

I was meditating on Ephesians 6:15 (NKJV)

15
and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Study from Vine’s Expository Dictionary and my thoughts:

a. SHOD =
Bind underneath (bind / tie on top to bind shoe under feet)

b. PREPARATION =
Firm foundation

c. GOSPEL =
Colossians 1:19 – 22 (above)

d. PEACE =
Completeness (God of Peace = God of completeness)

APPLICATION SUMMARY of meaning of these words:

I.
The Gospel is the firm foundation for me. Thus, by Grace, my life is to be worthy of the Gospel and, as such, my life is a testimony to the Gospel.

II.
The Gospel is not just “simply separated to the spiritual”; i.e., the Gospel is for the WHOLE person: spirit, soul, and body.

I Thessalonians 5 (Amplified)
23
And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).
24
Faithful is He Who is calling you [to Himself] and utterly trustworthy, and He will also do it [fulfill His call by hallowing and keeping you].

BUT…
We must be established in the Gospel to walk in and model the Peace of the Gospel. Jeremiah 5:25 above says: “Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.”

But righteousness expressed by faith and love will ESTABLISH us in God’s Peace.

As Colossians 1:23 above says:
“But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed by God to proclaim it.”

Vance


wow, psalms n proverbs really spoke to me. I just had a talk with a sibling and now i just feel depressed and sullen. we tend to speak frankly and openly n I'm seeing its not good to always speak your mind. I wasnt sure why i was soo down...to down too even pray, but i grabbed my bible and God showed me! Psalms spoke to me:

v. 2-4 "My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.....I am so troubled that I cannot speak."

Ok...I read the wrong Proverb..i read ch 25:23-25. As I realized I read the wrong one, i see God planned it that way. Prov. 25:23:
"The north wind brings forth rain, And a backbiting tongue an angry countenance."

My sibling and i had been discussing other family members and it turned into backbiting. and true to the word, it made me angry and just downcast. Ok...lesson learned, i gotta keep my big mouth shut! i dont always have to speak my mind...I dont always have to permit conversations to escalate like that. it just produces anger and depression. Its hurtful and wrong...and i sure feel lousy now! my fault. my bad. my consequence.

Colossians 1:18-2:7
"And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy."

I have come to look at these passages differently thanks to Ray Stedman.
http://www.pbc.org/library/files/html/4022.html

Christ is the head, the control center, for the body. Through yielding to the Father and accessing the Holy Spirit, it is Christ who runs the body (assembly of believers on earth). There is no titular stand-in here on earth, there is no denigrating this position and elevating someone or something into this position. We do not work for ourselves and/or any employer - we work for Christ.

Why? Because Christ is the beginning. The beginning of the Church. Makes me look at merchant and pearl parable of Matt 13 very differently. Christ is not the pearl, that we go and sell all and buy Him. We cannot buy salvation. No we (the church) are the pearl, something that was grains of sand originally, but forms into something valuable (Christ knows that and sees us as we will be). It is Christ that gives up all, and purchases us (the pearl) for a price.

Christ is the firstborn of the dead - who are the dead - those who are dead in sin. In verse 15 Christ was the firstborn - with all the rights of a firstborn to eventually own and run all of old Creation. Here Christ is the firstborn (with all the rights of a firstborn) of the dead - who will be saved - which is the new Creation (the church). That is the mystery that was held back so long by God, but now revealed to the heavens and earth. Gentile and Jew - born again - in one body with Christ as the Head - Supreme.
======================================================
Col 1:20
"and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."

"Reconcile to" often means salvation, but here I believe it means much more than that thought. The Greek tense is Aorist Active meaning in God's eyes it is a completed action. Everything in the end - on earth and in heavens will be handled (reconciled). When evil against righteousness will be halted (second coming), when evil men and angels will no longer be able to function in emnity to God. When everything is answered and we all go to our judged places. That is what God sees as being reconciled. Not just a fixing of the problem of evil - but a restoration to what was originally intended, but even better. This process started at the cross with the ability of man to be atoned, saved, and eventually conformed into the image of Christ.
======================================================
Col 1:23
if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.

Continue on in the faith that we must trust in, rely on and depend on God for Salvation and now also for our Christian walk.....
======================================================
Col 2:2
"My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,"

We can only be ubnited in love if we yield to the Father-child role and by the richness of His grace be given the power to walk in the Spirit, in love. Walking in the Spirit (so often I think) is thought of as something "we do". It is not something we do - it is what we "are". If so, then you will know - have precise and correct knowledge of Christ.
[Remember: In Collossae, the Gnostics are knocking/denigrating Christ to less than deity status.]

Col2:6-7
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."

Live in Him - or "walk" in Him. Abide in Him as He abides in us - in the sense of "knowing" Christ in the most intimate way.

IF so, [All passive participles meaning they have been done to us] - we are rooted in Christ - He anchors us. We will be built up on these roots (like a tree sprouting)- increasing in faith and experiance, and we will be strengthened in the faith by having it put to the test at home and in life.

With all that we are to be overflowing in thankfulness for whatever God has given us - for it is all from Him and meant for us in the best sense (even if it does not seem like it at the time).

Jeremiah 4:19-6:15

I think Jeremiah up until today's reading can be summarized for Israel and for believers gone astray:

Remember - the way it was in the beginning - when God first chose you - the love, the exhilaration, the thankfulness, the worship, etc.

Realize - Where you are at now. Run astray, distant from God, worshipping other idols (computers, money, "things", etc.) Insulting the Lord by indicating you do not need Him in your life, etc.

Return - to the Lord. Turn back, repent, ask forgivenss from God (for us in the Father-child role). Be restored and rest in Him.

Beware - If you do not there will be consequences. For Israel - Almost complete destruction (but there is always a remnant), and exile from their land. For believers - punishment, chastisement, reduction of rewards in Heaven, called to Him rather than shame Him here on earth.

Psalm 79:13 So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture,
Will give You thanks forever;
We will show forth Your praise to all generations.


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