Rooted . . . and Stablished

Col. 2:6-7.

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him:

Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

As ye have received Christ. . .The verb received in this verse refers to something that was delivered as tradition. In other words, the Colossians believers had received Christ as their tradition, replacing their tradition of idol worship.

Having received Him, they are to continue from that point to walk in Him. One cannot complete in the flesh the things that were received in the Spirit. Walking in Him is a lifelong discipline, learning and growing with each step, each day. It is adding day by day “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you (Phil. 2:9).” 

I really love the illustration Paul gives in v. 7. My mom was an amazing gardener, and while I didn’t inherit her green thumb, I did learn a lot about how things grow. The seed needs to be planted in fertile soil. It needs water, and it needs sunshine. It needs to have cultivation, removing the weeds that sap a plant’s energy and crowd out its roots.

Paul pictures a tree, with a strong root system that produces a strong, healthy growth. We are to be rooted in Jesus Christ, nourished and built up in Him through His Word. A tree that is established in a strong root system will become a strong, healthy tree that will not easily fall to wind, or to disease. If it is a fruit tree, it will abound with fruit.

That’s what we are to be–fruitful plants, rooted in Him, well-established, flourishing in the faith we’ve been taught, and we are to be all that while abounding in thanksgiving to God. Think of thanksgiving as the fertilizer for the tree. The more we are thankful, the more we will grow and be abundant in our walk with God.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Attitude

You know, most of the time it’s easy to have a good, positive outlook. I mean, you can’t focus on politics, although you should be aware of all the nonsense going on.

You shouldn’t focus too much on anything that causes you stress and anxiety, and causes you to lose sleep because your brain won’t turn off.

Shouldn’t focus on Covid, either, with all the contradictory messages that often seem like smoke screens for other things the Powers that Be don’t want us to think about.

If you tend to be a person who worries, don’t worry–I’m not going to yell at you for worrying.

It’s just that I’ve been struggling this past week with keeping a positive attitude, and I decided to write about that. I’m hoping that as I think it through, I’ll get over it 🙂

Here’s the thing. I have some serious back pain going on. This will be the third Sunday in a row that I just couldn’t deal with going to church, and I love church. I miss it. It encourages me and helps me keep centered on the Lord. Our church family has become very special to me, and I miss seeing people I have come to care for.

But I’m totally horrified at the possibility of not being able to stand without gasping in pain. That’s the kind of pain it is–takes your breath away when it hits. It’s like there are a hundred little demons with pitchforks back there just waiting to catch me off guard, and then they all POUNCE at once. Makes me weak in the knees. And I can’t predict when it will hit. I mean, it’s always there, lurking. I’ve learned to tolerate that. It’s the pitchfork sneak attacks that make me not want to go anywhere.

Poor me, right?

No, wrong. I cannot descend into the gloom of feeling sorry for myself. So I’ve been talking to Jesus a lot this past couple of weeks, but not asking “Why?” I’m asking for courage and trust. Patience, calmness, and peace.

What the Lord says to me, in His still, small voice, is “Linda, what’s your favorite verse of scripture?”

And that answers everything. Here’s the verse: “Great peace have they which love Thy law, and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119: 165).

Here’s what it means: If you want peace in your heart, you have to love God’s Word. If you’re going to love God’s Word, you have to be IN His Word, reading, studying, meditating, memorizing. You have to be so full of His Word that it radiates from you, shows in your eyes, your smile, and your words.

When you truly love the Word of God, you will have such inner peace that nothing–no one, no event, no gossip against you, no illness, no pain–will offend you. In this context, the word offend means to trip up, or cause to stumble from the path.

It doesn’t mean the pain will magically disappear. It means that the pain won’t make you question whether or not God really loves you. It won’t cause you to worry. It won’t keep you in constant fear. It will not cause you to turn your back on God. It will not cause you to doubt your faith.

Other verses come to mind. A merry heart does good like a medicine. . . .Trust in the Lord with all thine heart. . . . .Be not afraid, for I am with you. . . .I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness. . . .I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. . . .the joy of the Lord is my strength. . . . He fills my mouth with laughter. . . .

And now I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes, thankful that God has, once again, touched my stubborn spirit with His Word, and brought me back to a place of peace and comfort, under His wings.

Belief Without Seeing

John 20:29. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

John 20 29 - What Is True Faith

This verse has been on my mind since I finished yesterday’s post. Was this a mild rebuke, the only one Jesus offered to Thomas? I don’t think so, because there were plenty of people who had seen Jesus’ miracles and heard His teaching, and who still did not believe. His own brothers took their time in coming to faith in Him.

I think, instead, that Jesus of course knew that down through the centuries there would be millions who would turn to Him in faith, believing, although they had not seen Him or touched His wounds. Was it a greater blessing to believe without seeing?

This doesn’t seem to be a comparative statement. Jesus did not say that those who believe without seeing will be MORE blessed. Just that they will be blessed, as Thomas was blessed.

I read several commentators in my studies, and I like what one had to say:

“The faith of Thomas becomes the climax of the book. Throughout the Gospel of John Jesus has triumphed over sickness, sin, evil men, death and sorrow. Now with Thomas, Jesus conquered unbelief.”

Guzik, Blue Letter Bible

It is the power of the Holy Spirit, after all, that opens our spiritual eyes, our hearts and minds, to the truth of the gospel. However it comes, faith to believe is a lifelong blessing to the believer.

He Saw, and Believed

John 20:6-10.

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

And the napkin, that was about His head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

For as yet they knew not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

A typical tomb for a wealthy man had a place or places for laying out the body, as well as for ossuaries. There could also be a bench for mourners. The door of the tomb was not large, maybe three feet high, 2 1/2 feet wide. It would require some bending and stooping to enter. We’ll see, in a little while, a probable reason why John hesitated to enter. Peter, however, wasted no time going inside the tomb, and saw immediately that the body was indeed gone!



John’s nature was more contemplative; Peter’s was more impulsive, action-oriented. God uses each of us as He made us, to suit His purpose.

It is, of course, impossible for us to know exactly in what condition the grave clothes lay. Personally, I don’t see them scattered or limply lying on the slab. We have to remember that the strips of cloth had been treated with a paste of myrrh and aloes, and possibly other spices often used for burial. The cloth would have already begun to stiffen and harden, and would not just drape over the slab where Jesus’ body had been laid. The job had been hurried because of the time constraint, which is probably why the women were there early in the morning, prepared to complete the job. Only, there was NO BODY inside the grave clothes, which probably still retained the shape of His body, but were clearly empty.

The wrapping around His head, which would not have been connected to the other wrappings, was folded by itself, separate from the rest.

I believe Peter was stopped in his tracks as he looked at the sight before him. The Greek word used here is theorei meaning “to contemplate, observe, scrutinize.” What he saw was not linen strips that had been torn or cut, but that still retained a body shape, as if Jesus had simply evaporated, or melted, through them without disturbing them. The wrappings were orderly, not removed with the body, but lying there exactly as they had been left, except for the head wrapping that had been folded and was separate from the rest. Grave robbers or vandals would not have been so careful. They probably would have taken the body still wrapped, not leaving the grave clothes behind.

Seeing all this from the door to the tomb, peering into the inner gloom, John followed Peter, and believed what his own eyes were seeing. The scripture then tells us, “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”

The Greek word used for John’s “seeing” the grave clothes is  eiden, meaning, “to understand, to perceive the significance of.” The truth of the resurrection of Jesus was right there in front of John and Peter, and I’m sure it took some time for them to understand, to perceive the importance of what they saw. It was a lot to take in.

It is true that Jesus had told His disciples that after three days He would rise from the tomb. Mark 9:30–32 (and also in Matthew 17:22–23) as follows: He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and after three days He will rise.” But they did not understand what He meant and were afraid to ask Him about it.

Jesus’ words about His death and resurrection were more than they could take in. It is easy for us to look back, in the light of the scriptures we have about the resurrection, and wonder how they could not have known. If we put ourselves in their places, though, I believe the same doubts and lack of understanding would have been in our hearts and minds. They believed, after all, that He had come to set them free–free of Rome. The reality of the meaning of His death and resurrection took a little time.

John, seeing the evidence, believed. I can’t imagine how his heart must have lifted, how his spirit must have rejoiced, in the knowledge that Jesus lived! And they hadn’t even seen Him yet!

I don’t usually copy/paste lengthy portions, but this is too good for me to just try to summarize. It is the scripture itself that tells us of the importance of the resurrection:

“The resurrection means that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4

“The resurrection means that we have assurance of our own resurrection: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14

“The resurrection means that God has an eternal plan for these bodies of ours. “There was nothing in the teaching of Jesus approaching the Gnostic heresy that declared that the flesh is inherently evil. Plato could only get rid of sin by getting rid of the body. Jesus retains the body; and declares that God feeds the body as well as the soul, that the body is as sacred thing as the soul, since the soul makes it its sanctuary.” (Morgan)·


“The resurrection means that Jesus has a continuing ministry: He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25

“The resurrection means that Christianity and its God are unique and completely different and unique among world religions· The resurrection proves that though it looked like Jesus died on the cross as a common criminal He actually died as a sinless man, out of love and self-sacrifice to bear the guilt of our sin. The death of Jesus on the cross was the payment, but the resurrection was the receipt, showing that the payment was perfect in the sight of God the Father.”

(Blue Letter Bible)

There is some discussion about the head wrapping being folded and set aside. I think the idea of His folding it to show that He would return is a bit of a stretch. There are many reasons to refute this idea, one of them being that there was no meal eaten in the tomb to begin with. Second, the wrapping around His head was not a napkin used while eating, but a cloth or a series of strips wound around His head.

Look, the whole thing–the resurrection–was a miracle, complete in and of itself. We don’t need to try to rationalize, spiritualize, or otherwise explain it so that our finite minds can understand it. Did Jesus set the head wrapping carefully aside before He left the tomb? I don’t know. No one knows except the Lord Himself. He was in His spiritual body, which made things possible that a human body could not do.

What’s most important here is a simple, child-like faith. God said it. That settles it.

Before Abraham was, I AM!

John 8:57-59.

Then said the Jews unto Him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.

Then took they up stones to cast at Him: but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Eldridge Christian Plays and Musicals. Before Abraham Was, I Am

Indignant and mocking, the religious leaders replied to Jesus statement that Abraham had seen His day, and rejoiced.

“You are young, not even 50 years old, and You are telling us you have seen Abraham, and he has seen You? That’s ridiculous! Impossible!”

Jesus’ response was completely consistent with the message He had been proclaiming since the beginning of His public ministry: “Before Abraham existed, I AM!”

Have you ever tried to get your head around the eternality of God? He never didn’t exist. He was not created; He was not born. He just IS, and always has been. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He had no beginning, but He created “the beginning” in Genesis 1:1. That beginning was the beginning of the universe, Earth, and human life along with all the other life on earth. But that was not His beginning.

Do I understand it? No. I can’t. My mind is finite, limited. And it’s a good thing. If I had the same ability to know and understand as God does, then I would be like Him. And I’m not. Not even close.

I don’t have to understand it all to believe it all. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen (Heb. 11:1). There are many evidences in my life of God’s protection, presence, and care. There are countless answers to prayer. All of this makes me willing to trust, in faith believing, that someday we will understand, because when we are in heaven we will be as He is. All our questions will be answered.

I have four children, all quite bright. Inquisitive as children tend to be, there were times when they asked me questions I could not, or did not choose, to answer because they didn’t have the life experience or understanding of intangible things that would help them to understand. Did they then turn their backs on me, claiming I was not their mother? Of course not. They’re all over 40 now, and have learned the answers to some of their questions. They trusted me, in faith believing I was doing what was best for them. There are some things a small child just doesn’t need to know.

Our relationship with God is similar to that relationship between parent and child. He knows what we need to know; He knows that there are things we do NOT need to know, and He knows we need to trust Him, in faith believing Jeremiah 29:11. His thoughts for us are for good, and not evil; His thoughts are to give us a hope and a future. How will that work out? I don’t know. Faith is a day by day, step by step practice of walking with God.

Well, I hadn’t planned on a devotional this morning, but it’s what the Lord laid on my heart.

One more verse: Jesus’ answer that “before Abraham was, I AM,” enraged the religious leaders. They knew that “I AM” was a title reserved only for God. They picked up stones, preparing to stone Him to death for blasphemy, but He hid Himself and passed among them. His time had not yet come.

Did He miraculously become invisible? Or did He simply blend in with the crowd? We don’t know. The point is not how He escaped; it is simply that it was not yet time for Him to relinquish His life.


I Am from Above

John 8:21-23.

Then said Jesus again unto them, I go My way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.

 Then said the Jews, Will He kill Himself? because He saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.

And He said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

Acharei Mot / Kedoshim biblestudyresourcecenter.com. - ppt download

Jesus knew He was setting the scene for His eventual arrest, trial, torture, death–and resurrection!Because that time had not yet come, He challenged the religious leaders over and over again with their lack of knowledge of Who He was, and of Who God is.

They worked very hard to dot every “i” and cross every “t” in their efforts to keep the Torah, their beloved Law. What they didn’t. understand was that the Law was intended to help them understand their own unworthiness before God. No one can keep the whole Law every minute of every day. That is why we need a Savior!

The Law was intended to show us our sin and direct us to the holiness of God. It was not intended to be the sole means of salvation.

Jesus, therefore, told the religious leaders that He would soon go to His own place, meaning heaven; and that they, full of pride and arrogance, could not follow Him there, but would die in their sin because of their rejection of God.

The people, hearing this strange declaration, wondered if Jesus intended to take His own life! They interpreted what He said as something that would happen immediately.

His response, another clear indication of His position as Son of God, was simple: You men come from beneath (heaven) and you are of this world. I am from above (the world), and I, unlike you, am not of this world.

Was there any hope that any of these powerful religious leaders would at some point turn to Jesus and acknowledge Who He was? I think so. We have already seen Nicodemus humble himself and seek a conversation with Jesus in which Jesus clearly stated, “Ye must be born again.” I believe there were those who stood at the foot of the cross and watched His suffering, heard His words, and were convicted in their hearts.

One of the things I love most about the gospel is that it is equally welcoming to the lowliest of all, and the highest of all. From either end of that spectrum, and everyone in between, what is needed is humility, repentance, and faith that Jesus Christ is the One Who provided salvation to all who will come to Him.

He Bore our Iniquities

Isaiah 53:11

11 He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.

Image result for Isaiah 53:11 KJV

The travail, or anguish, of His soul was for the restoration of man and his dominion  as before the fall ( I Cor 15:24-28).

It is by the knowledge of God’s plan that mankind is blessed (Luke 1:77).

The Messiah is called righteous  because He did and always will do that which is perfectly right in all things commanded by God. It emphasizes His personal holiness ( I Peter 2:21-22).

To justify  means to declare not guilty. Faith comes by knowledge of the Word of God, and such knowledge will justify when obeyed (Rom. 5:1; 10:17).

Jesus has born all our sin.  He, and He alone, by the shedding of His blood and His resurrection, has made it possible for us to be reconciled to God.

 

One Flesh

Ephesians 5: 31. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

img_3790

I really like this graphic. It illustrates the importance of the principles in Ephesians 5 concerning marriage, added to the godly woman portrayed in Proverbs 31. and sealed by the definition of love in I Cor. 13. Perfect recipe!

The importance of the one-flesh principle cannot be overstated.  First, it represents Christ and His bride, the church.

And second, it describes perfectly what marriage was meant to be. One flesh, joined in everything.  Making decisions together, sharing their love, sharing the responsibilities of the home, sharing childrearing, sharing possessions, sharing faith.

I talked with someone last week who described to me the lamentable practice that a lot of couples  use these days:  He has his money to do with as he likes, after he agrees to pay “his share” of the bills.  She also works outside the home, and has her money after paying “her share” of the bills.

Since, after the first two years of marriage, money is the number one cause of divorce, it seems to me that a better system should be used. Terry and I have never looked at our finances as MY money or HIS money.  It is OUR money, because we are one. We operate as a unit. What we both contribute to the finances goes into a single account, to which we both have access.  I am the designated bill payer because I’m more organized than he is. Neither of us makes a sizable purchase without checking with the other first. It’s not a matter of permission; it is a matter of operating as a unit instead of two separate individuals who happen to occupy the same house.

The same practice applies in every area of our lives. We operate together. Our kids knew they couldn’t do an end run around one of us to get to the other. They knew we would discuss everything they asked us for, and that our decision would be mutual.  We did our best to support each other in matters of discipline and training.

Most important, we share our faith. It is mutually important to us. Terry has always had the leadership role in instructing our kids in biblical matters, always deferring to me if I had something to say.

One flesh.  One mind, one body, one goal, one faith, one love. That bond is broken only by death.

Boldness and Confidence

Ephesians 3:11-12.  ” According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:  In Whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him. ”

76b31ff4a9c7418b0ec2497330cc60a5

God has always had a plan, a purpose.  Nothing, no one, will stand in His way.  What may seem like a setback to us now is only a hiccup to God.  His ways, His thoughts, are so much higher than ours.  They are higher, even, then other so-called faiths that threaten us, or government systems that try to shut down the Word of God.

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who  gave us access to God, we can have boldness and confidence to approach Him as beloved children.

Boldness, not arrogance.  Not self-righteousness.  Not self-confidence.  Not self-anything. If we would only get SELF out of the way, what a difference it would make in our personal lives, in our churches, in our nation.

We can have confidence that God wants to hear us, wants to give us what we need and even what we want.

Hebrews 4:16.“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Dispensation of the Grace of God

Ephesians 3:2. “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to  you-ward:”

Remember that Paul, a devout Jew before he met Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road, is writing to Gentile believers in Ephesus.  Here, he reminds them  that God appointed to him, Paul, the task of taking the gospel of Jesus  Christ to the Gentile world.  He offers to them the incredible grace of God that takes down the middle wall of partition between the Jew and the Gentile and unites them all in the Body of Christ.

The first four verses of this chapter are a legal brief for Paul’s apostleship.