Whom We Preach

Col. 1:28-29.

Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

Whereunto I also labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily.

In verse 28, the pronoun Whom refers back to v. 27, the Lord, Jesus Christ. Some translations use the word Him instead of Whom. It indicates that Jesus Christ was the sum total of all that Paul preached. He didn’t entertain with one funny story after another. He didn”t preach anything or anyone except the Lord Jesus Christ. He was totally focused on presenting Jesus wherever he went, including doing so from his prison cell.

He taught Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, come down to earth to save all mankind. The word man in this passage embraces all humankind. It excludes no one.

His goal was to present all those who heard the gospel perfect (full grown, complete, mature) in the knowledge of Jesus.

The word warning in v. 28 is also translated as counseling or helping to impart understanding. Paul’s desire, his life’s work, was to establish and enable people to grow in the knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ.

Paul not only preached; he taught, mentored, encouraged, poured his heart and life into the ministry of spreading the gospel wherever he went. It was his sole purpose in life.

I’ve done a lot of public speaking over the years. I can tell you that preparing for one session in which I am the speaker isn’t nearly as much work as dealing with individuals on a daily basis, helping them grow in the Lord. More than that, making sure that I practice what I preach so that my walk is not a stumbling block to anyone who is watching is a daily goal.

Be certain, if you are a believer, there is someone who is watching you. People are watching to see if your walk matches up with your talk.

Finally, Paul clarifies that it is not he himself who is powerful in the work of the gospel, but rather it is the work of the Holy Spirit in him that constrains him to waste no time feeling sorry for himself or questioning his circumstances.

That same Holy Spirit enables us today. All we need to do is to seek Him with all our hearts, and He will supply what we need for the ministry of the gospel.

Acceptable Words

Eccl. 12:9-10.

And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.

 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

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Solomon refers to himself here as Koholeth, the Preacher. He feels the responsibility of teaching the people wisdom, and finding just the right words that will drive his point home. It is sad that his own life didn’t always follow his own words of wisdom. We all are born with the nature to sin, and he was no exception. Yet, in his God-given wisdom, he left us wonderful words of practical help and understanding. His three books, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon, reveal his deep underlying need to serve God and his people in spite of his weakness of the flesh that led him to participate in idol worship.

On a very personal level, I think I understand to some degree Solomon’s effort to find just the right words that would challenge his people and stir them to love God. I have taught God’s Words for many, many years. I started when I was 12, teaching two-year-olds. Now, I teach adult women and high school girls. I have learned a lot more than they have, I think, because of the effort that goes into finding just what God meant in His Word. Once I have a good understanding of it myself, I still seek the best and clearest way to share that understanding with my classes.

Everyone who handles God’s Word is under the obligation to find just the right words to share the truth of the scriptures clearly, purely, and with simplicity. Most important of all, the heart and mind of the teacher must be clean and pure in motive, understanding, and desire to share God’s Word as He intended. It’s a huge responsibility. I never take it lightly.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Teaching

One of the highlights of my  present life is that I get to teach a group of high school kids every other week.  These are homeschoolers, outstanding kids who are respectful and actually interested in what we are studying.  Because I taught in a small Christian school years ago,  where there isn’t much money and you have to be versatile, I got to teach a variety of things.  English, of course, and  history, as well as earth science, elementary music, and Bible.

This year, my students asked for a course that would be something about current events, present-day politics.  Oh boy!  I was more than glad to oblige.  This year we’re studying the Constitution and Current Events.  It’s been so much fun, and not stuffy, dull, boring the way I’m sure some of them thought it would be.Image result for The United States Constitution

The United States Constitution is an amazing document.  I’ve been deeply impressed every time I’ve gone through it, and this time is no exception. I am impressed with the wisdom and foresight of the writers, who created a document than can grow and change, but not too easily.  It is elastic enough to accommodate idealogical changes, but not to lose it’s original intent and power.

Aside from the content, though, I just take great delight in my students. They contribute. They ask questions. They correct me if they think I’ve made an error, but they are never disrespectful. They  look forward to the class, and because they do, so do I.  We have a great time.

It is wonderful to have this opportunity at the ripe old age of 71.   My age is not an issue, but an advantage.  It amazes my students  that I was born only two years after WWII was over, and that I remember the assassinations of the Kennedys, Viet Nam,  and so on. This stuff is ancient history to them, but for me it’s just as real now as it was when it was all taking place. Sometimes I’ll say something that gets me nothing but blank stares, and I realize that they’ve never heard the expression before, or don’t know the story behind the story.

Best of all, I can weave God into the history of our nation and no one is offended by it; no one reports such a heinous act to the authorities or tries to get me fired.  These kids have had  a Christian education.  Their teachers, usually their moms, have done a fabulous job.

I am thankful.

Random Thoughts

Part One

Well, folks, we’re all still here. The world didn’t end today.  I know, we still have three more hours, but I’m not in the least concerned.

If you are a student of the events of the end times, you know that things are shaping up. Of course, people have been saying that since Jesus went back to heaven! But political affairs, the return of the Jews to national Israel,  the alignment of the nations of the world, the move to a one-world government–so many other things, all are falling into place just as biblical prophecy said they would.

BUT–I knew the world wouldn’t end today because some other things have to happen first.

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Will it look like that?  I don’t know. I just liked the picture 🙂

The Rapture, or “snatching away,” of the church–all believers from around the world, will take place. Then the seven years of Tribulation under Antichrist.  Then the return of Jesus to the earth, the Millennial Kingdom, and the Battle of Armageddon, the final defeat of Satan, along with other details that I haven’t named.  It isn’t time yet for the earth to be totally destroyed.

So relax, would you please?  Don’t sell all that you have and dress your family in white sheets. Don’t go stand on the highest hill you can find and wait for Jesus to come. It isn’t going to happen that way. We’re going to be going about our daily lives, and when the Rapture occurs, or the return of Jesus to the earth, no man knows. Not the day, not the hour.

Part Two

The subject of shame came up several times in my counseling office this week.  People who are burdened beyond bearing with shame find it hard to function day by day.

Guilt is what we should feel when we have sinned, hurt someone,  entertained impure thoughts, rebelled against God.

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Shame is what we often feel about who we are. Shame is often something that was heaped upon us by others when we were growing up.  If your parents told you that you were worthless, then you probably still feel the shame of those words. Any time someone else belittles us, we feel shame. The sad thing is that we often turn around and belittle someone else, and that’s because we’ve never learned who we really are.

Four verses I use in my office may be helpful to you.

Colossians 1:16 tell us that all things were made by God, for Himself. That includes you. You were made on purpose, just as you are, for God’s own fellowship and purpose.

Ephesians 2:10 says that we are His workmanship (the Greek word is poema, masterpiece, literary work of art!)  poema is a thing of great beauty and value, treasured by the Maker. The same verse tells us we were created to do good works that were ordained for us before time began.

Psalm 139: 14 says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  We are miracles of God’s creation. The same passage tells us that He knew every detail about each one of us before we were ever conceived.

Jeremiah 29:11 was, I know, in reference to Israel.  However, we can understand and apply the principle. God thinks about each one of us; His thought toward us are of good, and not of evil.  He has plans that will give us a hope and a future.

If you are struggling with shame today, remember that you are the creation of God. If you are a born-again child of God, then you are the son or daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is nothing in you that is shameful. Sin is dealt with through confession, repentance, and seeking forgiveness.  Our problem is that we know all these things on an intellectual level, but we do not appropriate them in our hearts. We are not humble before God when we fail Him; that lack of humility often leads to shame and guilt.

Part Three.  I am so privileged and blessed to teach, still, after all these years.  Tomorrow morning I get to lead the high school girls’ class.  Friday I got to teach a class of high school homeschoolers,   and maybe someday they’ll develop an appreciation for Shakespeare 🙂

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I am 70, often feeling every minute of my years, but I get all excited still  when I get to lead someone to Christ during my work day, or teach young people just starting out on a path I’ve long ago traveled.

God is always good.  All the time, even when circumstances aren’t good, He is good.  God is Good, and Good is God.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Busy Weekend

I sure did hit the road running this week!  I went back to work on Tuesday, exactly two weeks since my surgery.  Long, long day.  However, at least one session was a wonderful victory and a great blessing.  God showed up, no doubt about it.  So that set me up for  a good day, and a good week, at work.  I actually felt better on Thursday evening than I thought I would, although I have to admit I was glad to close down the work week!

On Friday morning, I finally got the staples out of my incision. (This is not a picture of me, just a good picture of what a stapled incision looks like.)

 

There were 15 staples–the nurse counted as she removed them 🙂  No pain involved in this procedure, and I was glad to say goodbye to the last of them.

From there, we grabbed a quick lunch and then went down to my church, where I was looking forward to the first session of teaching The Merchant of Venice to a class of high school students  at our homeschool co-op.  What a great bunch of kids!  Not all of them are thrilled to be studying Shakespeare, but they’re philosophical about it.  I hope, by the time we’re finished, that they’ll have a little more optimistic attitude about The Bard. Some of them, to my delight, are quite excited about this unit.

By the time we got home, I’ll have to admit that I was weary.  It’s only 2 1/2 weeks from surgery, and I do need to be careful.  It just feels so good to NOT have any pain that I tend to do more than I should.

Today, Saturday, I got a haircut and ran a couple of errands, came home and baked a blueberry pound cake for a gathering this evening.  What a great time we had. This is a group of senior adults from our church, and they are delightful.  None of them are “old.” We laugh, we enjoy each other’s company. The party is hosted every year by a couple who have a lovely back yard, and who do a lot of work to get things ready for the influx of guests.  It was cool this evening, and I was glad for the afghan I had decided to take at the last minute. By the time we got home, I was more than ready for bed.

I had one more thing to do, though, and this is it.  I started writing these Sunday posts on Saturday evening some time ago, so that I’m not so rushed on Sunday morning.  It’s a bit of a ramble this week, with no particular aim.  Life is good, with its ups and downs.  There are highs and lows. There is pain and relief from pain.  There is joy, there is sorrow; there is fear and doubt, but there is also great peace and confidence in knowing that God has it all in His hand.

With every day that passes—and I have far fewer days left to live than I have already lived—-I am thankful for the presence of God in my life; for His promises, His love, His patience, and His strength.  It is true that “I can do all things through Christ, Who strengtheneth me”  (Phil. 4:13).

Sunday Morning Coffee: I am Thankful

It’s a little later than  usual for writing my Sunday post. The reason:   I’m not quite ready for the ride to church, for sitting through two services, and the long ride home.  Too much sitting for the time being.

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If you’ve been following my Bible study blog, you know I have a back that is slowly but surely disintegrating.  I now have both my sacroiliac joints fused. The one on the right side is the one that’s keeping me grounded for a few more days.  Surgery was a week ago Tuesday.

I’m doing well, really.  It’s an amazingly helpful procedure. My surgeon is one of the doctors who created and refined the surgery, which of course increases my confidence in him.

So today, I want to share with you some things for which I am thankful, things that have a direct bearing on my recent surgery and back issues. They won’t be in any particular order of importance, except for the first two.

First:  Knowing Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.  That knowledge  has given me great peace and confidence over the past couple of pain-filled years. There will be more pain. It’s a degenerative condition that isn’t planning to go away any time soon. But I should be good for a while now, and I’m thankful.

Second:  Terry, my husband, who is a thoughtful and faithful caregiver. He has taken over all “my” chores for several months now. I literally have nothing to do at home except relax and allow him to take care of me.  Not being of a dependent nature, it has been a difficult lesson for me to sit down, shut up, and let him do his thing.

Other things for which I am thankful:  My church family and my pastor. They have faithfully prayed and expressed concern for me, sending  lots of cards and notes to encourage me.

I’m thankful for a comfortable bed, and for my new My Pillows, which have definitely lived up to the advertisements.

I’m thankful for my chiropractor, who has taken care of me for nearly 23 years. I’m pretty sure my condition would have been a lot worse a lot sooner without his expertise.

I’m thankful for my primary care doctor, who is patient with my efforts to keep my A1C at a healthy level.

I’m thankful for the three of my grandchildren who live only 30 minutes away–and their parents, of course 🙂  Last night they came up, brought supper, and two of our closest friends came to share it all with us.

I’m thankful for all the new friends I’ve made in cyberspace.  That’s a surprise I wasn’t expecting when I launched this, my first blog. It’s an added benefit that continues to surprise me.

I’m thankful for all that I’ve learned as I’ve blogged through several books of the Bible. When you study in order to write/teach, I’m convinced you learn a LOT more than your readers do!

I’m thankful for the homeschool co-op our church hosts. We start the fall semester on Sept. 8, and I’ll be teaching  Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.  I’ve certainly had plenty of time to study!

I’m just thankful this morning. God is good.  All the time.

Sunday Morning Coffee: I Love to Teach

My church hosts a homeschool co-op every other Friday during the school year.  They draw on church members or parents of students who may not attend our church to teach whatever is their expertise. Lots of the students are from other like-minded churches in the area.  This semester, the students are getting science, Spanish, art, gym, and literature.

This is my second year of participating.  Last year, I taught about a dozen high school students how to write a research paper.

This year, we’re doing something a little outside the box, and it’s turning out to be a lot of fun. We’re learning about nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and how they relate to the history and/or politics of their origins.  Of course, many can’t be specifically nailed down, but we’ve had a lot of fun looking things up. The students have done some outstanding writing.

The best thing about this group is that they are all willing and enthusiastic participants. There is absolutely no negative attitude or disrespect. My hat is off to the parents mostly the moms, who have homeschooled these kids and have done an outstanding job of it. Even when we have to spend some time in the dreaded grammatical  corrections that appear in their papers, they are attentive and teachable.

All of this makes my job enjoyable, satisfying, and fulfilling. Any teacher who cares about teaching knows the pleasure of that “AHA!” moment when a student “gets it” after a struggle to do so. 69ee5e2d3c99a4b1f99f0827cfde4f38

The assignment to be turned in two weeks from now involves the parables in the New Testament gospels–the stories Jesus told to help His disciples understood Who He was and what He had come to do. The Master Teacher,  Jesus used stories  that His audience understood, and with which they could identify.

I’m looking forward to what the class has to offer me on this one.

Wisdom and Mighty Works

Matthew 13:53-56. “And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, He departed thence. And when He was come into His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this Man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s Son? is not His mother called Mary? and His brethren, Jame, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this Man all these things?”

Jesus went back to His own country, Nazareth.  There, He resumed His habit of preaching and teaching in the synagogue, where it was common practice to give a guest rabbi the privilege of speaking.

What is so interesting to me is the obvious discomfort and growing dislike the people showed toward Jesus.  They acknowledged His knowledge and wisdom, but at the same time they played down His importance.  “Isn’t He just one of us, after all?  Son of a carpenter and Mary, from a household full of other children?  Nothing special there.  I mean, yeah, He seems to know what He’s talking about. And He does speak with authority.  But He’s really just a nobody, and He has no right acting as if He has all the answers.”

Would we have been any different?

Teaching and Preaching

Mattew 11:1. “And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.”

It has always seemed to me that this verse would have been better placed at the end of the previous chapter, since it was the climax of Jesus’ preparation of His disciples to go into all Israel and preach the gospel of the kingdom.

I believe the important thing here is to understand that Jesus did not sit back and drink coffee while His disciples went on their way. He also returned to His teaching and preaching ministry. He is the Lord of the harvest, but He did not set Himself above the laborers that He had sent into the harvest.  Godly leaders don’t just give directions. They participate in the work.

At this point, His rejection by Israel becomes more and more obvious.  Yes, they wanted His healing.  Yes, they listened, often in amazement, to what He had to say. But then, for the most part, they went back to their homes and shook their heads as this upstart Nazarene Who seemed to be preaching a different gospel than the one they wanted to hear.

We have to remember that the Israelites of that day were suffering under the rule of Rome.  They wanted a strong military leader to take them into a fight to reestablish their sovereignty; they wanted a king to destroy the Roman usurpers.  As long as they thought there could be a chance of that, they would follow just about anyone.

It was pretty clear to the people, after a while, that Jesus had come not to free them from bondage to Rome, but to free them from bondage to sin, self, and Satan.

They weren’t quite as interested in that. They wanted a leader like Joshua. There eyes were blind, their ears were deaf, and their hearts were not open.  They rejected Jesus, and 40 years later they ceased to exist as a nation.

We should take heed.

This chapter and the next are important turning points in the story. Tomorrow, we’ll see how John the Baptist is doing.

The Day of the Lord

Verse four makes mention again of that day. I want to emphasize that it is not the time when Jesus takes the Church to meet Him in the air.  The Day of the Lord occurs at some point after  the Rapture. It will not take believers by surprise; however, those who remain after the Rapture will indeed by taken by surprise at this demonstration of God’s power and purpose. It is a day, or time, of judgment upon the unbelieving world. 

Verse 5 explains why believers (and Paul is writing to believers here) will not be surprised: “For ye are all sons of light, and sons of the day.”  Paul was convinced that the people he addressed were all true believers, and would have no part in the judgment of the Day of the Lord. There had been a clear and lasting change in their lives that was evidence of their faith. 

One of my texts tell me that the expression “sons of light” is a Hebraic formula describing their nature as belonging to the light. It expresses an intimate relationship, that they were as closely related to the light as children are to their parents. 

This information set my mind to thinking about that parent/child relationship.  Children do tend to take on the characteristics of their parents, whether they intend it or not.  There is a often a strong physical resemblance; have you ever glanced in a mirror and seen your mother or father? It’s always startling, isn’t it?  There is also a resemblance in nature and behavior, a similarity of temperament and possibly of talents and gifts. 

If our relationship with the Light, Jesus, is similar to our relationship to our parents, then we ought to be taking on the traits, the mind, the words and actions, of Jesus.  Colossians 3:16-17 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”