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I am curious about the verse in Colossians just before the one highlighted by Mike: "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." (Col 4:5 NIV)

So there are "insiders" and "outsiders", "us" and "them" and the advice is "make the most of every opportunity".

I wonder what Paul really had in mind here.

Andrew, there are “insiders” and “outsiders.” The insiders are Christians and the outsiders are nonbelievers. Verses 5 and 6 go together.

Colossians 4: (5) Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. (6) Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Christ got Paul’s attention via the burning bush but many times He uses us as His burning bush to get the attention of nonbelievers. Nonbelievers watch what we do and say and how we handle situations. They are curious as to what we have that makes “us” different from “them.” We never know when the opportunity will arise for us to share the Lord with nonbelievers. It may come in a personal quiet time with friends or family members or it may even come when they question us with mockery or ridicule in their voice. It could come when we are among strangers or when we don’t know we are being observed. Nonbelievers are always seeking and looking for something - they are looking for the answer to fulfill their longing. We have that something, THE one and only answer – we have the love of Jesus Christ within us! We need to always be ready to meet and accept the opportunity to witness for Christ. We need to always conduct ourselves as Christians should and be ready to answer their questions and sow the seeds of Christianity. God will send the nonbelievers to us with their questions and He will provide us with the answers. This is the way the Word is spread and souls are reached and revived! Praise the Lord!

God Bless!
Pat

Jeremiah 10:1-11:23

But Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor (deference, reverence) except in his [own] country and among [his] relatives and in his [own] house. (Mark 6:4 AMP)

It is Jeremiah’s own people, his family who want him dead for just speaking the Truth; the Words God gave him to speak (11:18-23). How many of us are not speaking out the Words of God because we do not want to disturb the family and our family’s idols? This entire section of Jeremiah is speaking of God’s people, not the other folks, the non-believers, but God’s folks choosing other things besides God. This is the same sin that happened out in the desert when Israel became tired of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain and crafted an idol, a calf, to be their god.

God long ago gave Israel a choice, two choices, one choice for good and the other for evil. That was the same choice God gave to Adam back in the garden—Innocence or life and death. Of all the trees that Adam had access to, only one was forbidden the Tree of good and evil, he chose death. We have this same choice, good or evil. When we choose evil, and we then try to pretend it is good by erecting our own gods to validate our faulty choice, we gather together as conspirators to kill the one telling us 1) that we have made a bad choice, and 2) telling us to repent, to return to the boundaries (chapter 11) God has set.
We are no different from the people Jeremiah was commissioned to warn before he was formed in his mother’s womb. Despite the prophet’s best efforts to turn God’s focus away from His people and toward the nations (10:23-25), God’s will is God’s will even when our will doesn’t agree with His.

Consider the work of God; for who can straighten out what He has made crooked?
(Ecclesiastes 7:13 HCSB)

Andrew,

It pretty much goes in line with what Pat posted.

When you pray for the opportunity to meet people with whom you can share the gospel and/or your testimony - I believe that is praying in the Will of God. I believe that is a prayer that God will answer in the affirmative.

Since I believe that it is God drawing people to Him, I always pray that it is the Holy Spirit that guides my words in talking to these people. To help me to say what it is that they need to hear.

I often make that request in my prayers, and usually during the week I run across 1-3 people who are seeking or are having problems in life. Sometimes I know them, most of the time I do not. If I do not and there is no question for me, I usually just ask - "are you all right?"

Sometimes they are seeking help, or may just have a question. The first thing I do is - LISTEN to them.

Since I have been a Christian only a few short years, I still remember my attitudes, addictions and problems before I was saved. So I can IDENTIFY with most of their issues or questions.

When they are spent, fall silent, or ask me what I think - then I can RESPOND. Usually after expressing EMPATHY, I tell them something (short) about a similar problem I had, and that it was solved by God, or was removed and/or easier to deal with when "I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Personal Savior". (What I say depends on the person.)

Two things usually happen at this point:
-there is either more dialogue and/or questions (Ex. What do you mean?, How did this happen?).
- there is a dismissive roll of the eyes or some form of hostility.

If dialogue, it can go in several directions - Bible, relationship with God, more indepth testimony, some core truths that might help, etc. - really just leave it up to God to direct the conversation. Sometimes I invite them to church, a fellowship function of Christians, but always leave the door open for follow-up conversations (phone #, emails, etc.)

If questions, then I try to answer them, but even better try to respond with questions. (EX. Great question, why is it you think you feel that way?)

If dismissive and/or hostility - I tell them I felt exactly the same way a few years ago, and understand their skepticism. Encouraging them to seek on their own, and offering to help them if they have skeptical questions or seeking clarification.

THIS IS NOT A FORMULA
All this is a general outline, but there are many variations, and quite a few exceptions. (Ex. My family has absolutley no interest in sharing with me their feelings or hearing what I have to say.} But, I am just trying to give you the context of where my statement usually comes up.

Salvation is God's work, and I am just a conduit. The person may cut off the conversation, get abusive, say thanks and walk away,etc. The important thing is you are reaching out in love and compassion. If they have ears to hear, eyes to see - you will know soon enough. You also never know down the line if what you say may direct more questions to other people or their own seeking is intensified.

Evangelism does not have to be a ministry, it is as simple as sharing what you have and know - but I firmly believe it is in God's hands and his direction should always be sought - and the GLORY is always His.

Andrew,
The context of the passages is: Paul is asking for prayer so that doors may be opened (opportunities). He is asking that when the opportunities arise, that he proclaim the gospel clearly (no ambiguity) and as he should (in the correct "manner" a.k.a. with grace and wisdom.)

Paul is an evangelist and that is his ministry, but in verses 5 and 6 he makes it clear that we (non-evangelists) also have evangelistic opportunities. Paul expresses advice on how to conduct ourselves in those opportunities.

The word for Wisdom in the Greek is "sophia", and in the context of a believer - it is the "Wisdom of God".

It is not "secret knowledge" - in Proverbs it continually says to seek "wisdom". One can find wisdom. It is IN God and His Word, not man's mind.

The KJV actually might be clearer here:
"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without,..."

This is not man's wisdom, hence "clever" is probabably not a good connotation. This is God's wisdom that is found IN Him and through being in His Word. You want to make the most of every opportunity in sharing that wisdom (truth) - if they see you walk differently and ask, or if you can bring it up in in casual conversations.

How do you do it? This is why Pat expressly pointed to verse 6.

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Salt has a connotation of speaking with wisdom and grace. When wisdom is shared like verse 6 the problems of arrogance, pride, and self-righteousness should not occur. In God's wisdom you will know how to answer everyone.

I think it important here to point out again, that we do not "persuade" anybody. Salvation is God's work. We are the conduits, and we are to share (in the correct manner). Leaving the rest up to God and the Holy Spirit.

Jer 8-10

Jeremiah continues to preach and warn. He struggles with certainty of disaster and the hope of Judah's repentance.

Jer8:9 "The wise will be put to shame;
they will be dismayed and trapped.
Since they have rejected the word of the LORD,
what kind of wisdom do they have?"

In Paul's writings we have seen constant warnings regarding man's wisdom. It is no different in Jeremiah's time, nor our time.

I wonder of the implications regarding this verse. The warning in Jeremiah is to God's people. Those who publicly proclaim they know and follow the Word of God.

So what of religious demonitaions that put in their litereature: "The cornerstones of our faith are Scripture, tradition and reason." Whose tradition (man's), whose reason (man's)? If you add man's tradition and reason to Scripture - according to all we have read about man's wisdom - is not that rejecting the word of the Lord?????? What kind of wisdom do these organizations really have??????

Jeremiah continues to grieve and asks,
Jer8:22b "..Why then is there no healing
for the wound of my people?"

Why isn't God providing? From the last post (10/7), Jeremiah still does not get it. When the people refuse to turn to the Lord, refuse to repent, don't listen - then judgment is God's final step. It is the only chance his country had to be healed and restored.

Jer9:7 "Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says:
"See, I will refine and test them,
for what else can I do
because of the sin of my people?" NIV

Judah will be purged and tested, to bring them out of their man-made malaise towards God.

Jer9:23-24 "This is what the LORD says:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,

but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,"
declares the LORD."

Don't boast about temporal things, but if you boast boast about this:

that he understands and knows me,: (In Hebrew: understanding with insight and knowing with discernmant).

not just lovingkindess (alt. translation), but also justice and righteousness on earth. (not an exhaustive list, just a representative list of God's qualities.) All of God's qualities are manifested in His interaction with us - God is not one-dimensional. When you know and understand this - that is something to boast about.

Do not worship other gods and idols (repeated every so often in Jeremiah :)

[note: Jer10:2-3 is useful when thinking about a christmas tree. One should understand that it is an ancient pagan custom, but the REAL danger: is when we worship what is beneath the tree (gifts), instead of realizing that this is the time of year we recognize the birth of Christ.

In essence - all these gods and idols are worthless. But God is All Powerful

Jer10:16 "He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these,
for he is the Maker of all things,
including Israel, the tribe of his inheritance—
the LORD Almighty is his name."

I can't find anyone else that says this - but I think this is pointing to Christ. Lord Almighty is literally translated: Lord of Hosts.

Jer10:23-24 "I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own;
it is not for man to direct his steps.
Correct me, LORD, but only with justice—
not in your anger,
lest you reduce me to nothing." NIV

Jeremiah gets it - that man's life should be intertwined with God. Yet he is young, because I do not think any of us want God to correct us with Justice. If we got what we deserved - Whoah Nellie! - that would not be good.

Jer10:25 Pour out your wrath on the nations
that do not acknowledge you,
on the peoples who do not call on your name.
For they have devoured Jacob;
they have devoured him completely
and destroyed his homeland.

Often a prayer at Passover Seder's. In Jeremiah's context:
"Yes, Lord, I know you have to judge the world. But would you mind letting it be those people over there, and not us?" - Ray Stedman

Jeremiah 10:10 But the LORD is the true God;
He is the living God and the everlasting King.
At His wrath the earth will tremble,
And the nations will not be able to endure His indignation.

Jer 11:22-23
"Therefore this is what the LORD says about the men of Anathoth who are seeking your life and saying, 'Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD or you will die by our hands'-therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish them. Their young men will die by the sword, their sons and daughters by famine. Not even a remnant will be left to them, because I will bring disaster on the men of Anathoth in the year of their punishment.'"

Jeremiah's home town folks were plotting against him. Why? They did not like what he was saying and perhaps did not believe his authority from God.

Prophesy - is speaking the Word of God, it does not have to mean foretelling future (although Jeremiah did that also).

So these men rejected the Word of God. Jeremiah wanted God's judgment on them - and Jeremiah wanted to see it.

God's answer. He agreed. However, it would be in God's time - not Jeremiah's. It would happen in "the year of their punishment".

Two things - God works on His timetable not ours. Secondly - the plotters rejected God by rejecting His word. The penalty for rejection is death - in the OT, rejecting the offer of salvation, and at Christ's second coming.

Do you have friends, neighbors, and even family that rejects the Word of God. If so, pray for them - for unless they change and accept God's word and His gift of salvation in the year of their punishment the sentence is death (eternal separation from God).

Colossians 3:18-4:18

18Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Addressed earlier, but important to note that it is voluntary - forcing submission, like trying to force love does not work and is not proper. Submitting is the idea of the order of things, and in support of the person submitted to in each case. There was no shame in Jesus submitting to the Father, and it was no threat to His equality with the Father. The Bride of Christ (church) is to be submitted to their groom - Our Lord - Jesus. It is no threat to our claim as co-heirs to heaven. So I believe that is the sense Paul is talking about in this verse - it is not about equality but about support.

19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them

Earlier it was stated - 'Love your wives as Jesus loves us' - with a self-sacrificing agape love. If husbands love in this self-sacrificial love towards their wives - submitting will not be much of an issue.

20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

"obey" is a command, but the Greek word - hupakouo - literally means to "listen or harken/heed". In the role of a child this is proper, just as it is proper for us to listen and heed the Father in heaven.

21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

"embitter" is in Present active case - so it means do not "continually" provoke or embitter your children. Do not just keep hammering away at them to act in a manner pleasing to you. Is it not the same with the Father who showers us with love, grace, mercy, patience along with punishment (when necessary).
======================================================
23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,

The admonition to slaves is appropriate for the time, and today it would be "employees". It is very hard to do - but we should be a model employee. If we suffer wrong or injustice, just remember no one suffered more wrongs and injustice than Christ at the cross. We work for Him, and our actions should make people take notice, and say - 'hey, that guy/gal is different.' It may provide an opportunity to witness or share God's Word.

Employers have a responsibility to be fair to employees - if wrongs are done it will be sorted out by God and dealt with fairly on His timetable not ours.
======================================================
4:6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Paul does not mention walking in the Spirit in this book as he did in past books. However, in yesterdays reading when he exhorted the people to be clothed with humility, gentleness, patience, and most of all love - those are the fruits of the Spirit. You cannot be continually clothed and growing these fruits without being in submission to the Father in the Father-child role and accessing the Holy Spirit. That is why one cannot just take verses, or even passages without putting them against other Scripture. If this is the only Bible passage you ever read - one might think we have the power to clothe ourselves in these fruits. WE do NOT. God will conform us into the image of Christ - We cannot do it on our own.

It is the same here with idea of our conversation being full of grace. "grace" here has the meaning "the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace". You cannot be governed by divine grace unless you allow yourselves - submit to - the Father in the Father-child role, and access the Holy Spirit.

Your conversation will be full of grace when you are in fellowship with the Father because He provives the grace. We cannot do it on our own.

"seasone with salt" is a metaphor meaning: "full of wisdom and grace". We cannot be full of wisdom and grace if we are not in the proper role with the Father. Wisdom comes from knowing God - we seek to know God by His revealing Himself to us - this happens when you are connected with the Father. Grace comes from the same place.
http://cf.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G741&Version=kjv

So, Paul is saying stay connected with the Father and walk in the Spirit (not something we "do" - but something we "are"). then our converstaon will be full of grace and wisdom, and we will be able to answer everyone. On our own - we cannot do it - it must come from the Father. We are to trust in, rely on, and depend on God - as exhibited in OT, as we did in salvation, and as we must do now in our Christian walk.

Jenny,

Congratulations! You do get IT.

Your Brother in Christ,
John
[email protected]

Colossians wrap-up

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." NIV

From Strong's Lexicon:
Submit - Gk. hupotasso - A Greek military term meaning "to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader". In non-military use, it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".

It is to be fitting in the Lord. You should not do wrong, or violate Scripture.

Two things:
Submission doe not mean "inequality.

You cannot demand submission. "Without voluntary submission on her part the word is useless. Submission cannot be demanded. The Father did not demand it of the Son." - Ray Stedman
======================================================
"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." NIV

Love - The word is agapao. That is God's word for love. Honor, value, respect, guard, protect, show delight in your wife.

Paul adds "do not be harsh with them" - I am not an expert, but I would wager that after "money concerns" and infidelity - verbal abuse is one of the main contributors to divorce. Guys may think it is no big thing, but it is to the woman, and if done consistently over time will erode the "love" in a marriage. In addition it is in direct opposition to the concept of God's love.
======================================================
"Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged."

The word for "embitter" is from the word "to stir up, arouse, or irritate." That does not mean that parents are never to say or do anything that makes their children feel irritated.

embiter - this word is given in the present continuous tense. Thus, it is really saying, "Fathers, do not keep on irritating your children. Don't keep hammering away at it, nagging them, or they will become discouraged." - Ray Stedman

Fathers think about this. Three things not to do continuously with your children. Ignore them, indulge them, or insult them. I have read and believe that these things will lead to big problems in the Family if done continuously.
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"Slaves, obey your masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord." NIV

When you commit yourself to work for somebody you are, in a sense, selling yourself as a slave for the hours involved. Employers cannot control the rest of your life, but they do have a right to control your life during your working hours. These words therefore have direct reference to us. We are not to work only while the boss is watching. - Ray Stedman

Our attitude should be that we are working to for Christ.
======================================================
"Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven."

My boss is a Christian. We disagree at times on some work issues. Instead of making a scene - I put this verse on his desk. Much to his consternation :)

Difficult instructions to put into practice here!
Col. 4:5-6 "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one."

Prov 24:29 "Do not say, “I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.”

and of course Col 3:18-21. Verse 18 is the one verse that really really makes me realize how crucial it is to choose a proper mate. Need a man that is submitted to the Lord. How terrible to have to submit to someone who didnt love God supremely...thats the one thing that would scare me if i were to get married. What if the guy changes and turns from God...I would be locked in.
I grew up in a home where verses 18 & 20 were repeated often , but verse 19 was something i only heard my mom say... and I didnt even know verse 21 existed til I was older, but oh the joy when i discovered it. God isnt mean and unjust...He was misrepresented.

Jer. 10:5 reminds me of idols and things ppl are into today...they're just useless "Do not be afraid of them, For they cannot do evil, Nor can they do any good.”

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