Community in Action: Bearing with one another: Part 1: Col. 3:12-13

We live in a world and a culture that is all about self. What makes me happy is the driving force in politics, media, even relationships. And this is very evident. But Jesus calls us as Christians to a radically different mindset: to bear with one another. 

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another” (Colossians 3:12-13).

The apostle Paul has set the stage in this chapter. Seek the Kingdom of God. As you take off your former mindset, and put on the the new, you will need each other. You will truly need to bear with one another.

So what does that look like? 

I think there are two important aspects when it comes to bearing with one another: commitment and sacrifice.

We need to be committed to one another. Bearing with each other is a long term focus. And it is not easy. For one thing, it’s counter cultural. Our culture does not like being held down by commitment, but we as Christians must be committed, for in verse 15 of chapter 3, Paul reminded the believers that they were indeed called “in one body.”

Being committed also involves sacrifice. Sacrificing our comfort and security to be there for others. To give when we get nothing in return. As Paul said in Philippians 2, we should not only look out to our own interests but also to the interests of others. 

I think this kind of mindset can be best summed up by looking at an example.

In the 1992 Summer Olympics, Derek Redmond set out to win the 400 meter dash. He did not win though. 175 meters from finishing, Redmond injured his hamstring. He fell to the ground, emotions flooding the young man. His Olympic dreams were over, but he was determined to finish the race. So he began hobbling towards the finish line. His father, Jim Redmond, witnessed the whole thing. He started making his way from the stands down to the track, pushing past security and anyone else who would stop him from helping his son. Jim reached his son about 120 meters from the finish line, and together they finished the race amidst a crowd of cheering fans. (Story taken from: http://espn.go.com/espn/espn25/story?page=moments/94).

There are many Derek redmonds among us today. Many whose hopes and dreams have been dashed by the hardships of life. My question to us: will we be a Jim Redmond? Will we sacrifice our lives for others so that they may finish the race well? Will we be there no matter what the cost is?

Ultimately, that is what Jesus did. He beared the burden of our sin. He carried us when we had no strength. He counted the cost.

And that is what we are called to do. To bear with one another. To be there through thick and thin. Good times and bad. And that is how community should look. Picking each other up. Loving each other sacrificially. And knowing that they will be there when we need our burdens beared as well.

Let us look for opportunities to bear with one another. And may we, as Christ did, bear one another’s burdens.


Picture taken from: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiRjJLHx4PNAhXCTSYKHbb9BFEQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Falchetron.com%2FDerek-Redmond-356201-W&psig=AFQjCNHiWf5B-0DfzZI47NzyiDJwIrLslw&ust=1464758142269716&rct=j

Blessings.

Belay on: The Importance of Community: Intro: Colossians 3:12-17

Community. We hear this term a lot in churches, but are we truly aware of how vital it is to our lives as Christians? I’d like to help us understand the importance of community by using a simple illustration. Rock climbing.

I’ve been rock climbing several times in my life. It is a fun, rigorous hobby that is just the right degree of difficulty. If you have ever been rock climbing, you probably have noticed a person down below who is holding the rope as you climb. This person is known as the belayer.

The importance of the belayer to the rock climber cannot be understated. They are tasked with supporting the rock climber as they move up the wall. And this is a task of utmost importance. Without the belayer, the rock climber would be unable to take rests or make mistakes. But because the belayer is there, the rock climber does not have to be perfect. They can miss a peg, and not go plummeting down to the ground. They can take a rest because their belayer is supporting and strengthening them to continue on. 

And this is the idea that I want us to get. That just as a rock climber needs a belayer to reach the peak of the wall, so we as Christians need community to strengthen us to be the people God has called us to be.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:12-17).

Before we jump into this passage, let’s look at the context. The Apostle Paul is writing to the church of Colossae. In the third chapter, in the previous verses, he is encouraging the believers to set their minds and focus on Christ and His Kingdom. But to do that they must first take off their former attitudes and mindsets. These included: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,covetousness, idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and lying (Colossians 3:5-11).

It was important that they shift their focus from these because Paul knew that community was unable to thrive in a environment where these were present. That these attitudes and actions would destroy any semblance of Christ-like community. Once they took these off, then their hearts could be transformed by Christ to produce a new mindset and a new focus. A pure focus on His Kingdom.

In Verse 12, Paul described the new mindset that each believer should have. Compassionate hearts. Patience. Humility. Kindness. This new mindset was in direct opposition to their mindset of the past. And this mindset that they would personally have, would then flow over into community. 

So what does Christ-centered community look like?

1. Bearing each other’s burdens

2. Forgiving each other

3. Putting on love 

4. Letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts

5. Being thankful

6. Letting the word of Christ dwell richly in us

7. Teaching and Encouraging each other

8. Doing everything in the name of the Father

Each of the previously noted things above put together the whole of the understanding of godly community. And what they form is the understanding that as Christians we cannot do life alone.

As verse 15 states, we were called in one body. We were called to be one, to function as one. This is our duty and call as Christians. To be apart of what God is doing through His body.

So what does that mean? 

It means we seek God’s Kingdom by being connected. Are you connected to a local church? Are you involved in a small group? If you are not connected, you have nobody behind you to support and strengthen you. You are in essence a rock climber without a belayer and you are just one misstep away from falling.

But with a community there, when you fall, they are there for you. Not only that, but you are able to help others up when they fall. We need people behind us. And others need people behind them. 

And that is the genius of community. That we realize on our own that we are weak, and vulnerable, but together we are strong. And because we are in Christ, we are even stronger. 

Step into God’s community today and feel the support and rest God wants you to experience by having others. Stop being isolated, but allow others to speak into your life, and to be your spiritual belayer.

Future posts will discuss how we act as a community practically.


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Blessings.

Dust to Diamonds: God’s Transforming Power

There has been a recent song that has caught my attention. Diamonds by Hawk Nelson. The premise is that God is turning us from dust to diamonds. That He is taking our dirty, broken souls and transforming them into beautiful diamonds. And this is awesome news.

Those of us who are Christians can vividly remember the time in our life before Christ. I know I can. Lonely, depressed, self loathing. I could go on and on to describe the former state of my soul. We were dust. Insignificant, unwanted, ashamed, and miserable. 

And this is the state where God met me. Where He meets us. But even though God meets us in this state, He doesn’t leave us there. He is doing something to the former state of our souls, our being. 

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

He is transforming us. We are being transformed. 

This is an active, daily process. There is chipping away, and replacing the old with the new. But everyday, He is turning us from the old to the new. We are becoming less dust and more diamond. 

This is grace. That God would take us as dust, but then transform us into diamonds. That He would mend our brokenness, and free us from the former oppressors. That He would be our God, and we would be His people.

Be encouraged. God is with you. He is changing you. He is refining you through the hard times and good times. But everyday you are being transformed more into the image of Christ.

Let us rejoice, for we are no longer dust, but diamonds.


Picture taken from: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjJnIzXxvrMAhXLQD4KHXNaC2IQjB0IBg&url=https%3A%2F%2Fcanvasfellowship.wordpress.com%2F2016%2F02%2F29%2Fdust%2F&psig=AFQjCNHJwtDK5TTmszwDJbF7iHIXYV4SIA&ust=1464448695445341&rct=j

Blessings.

The Worshipping Heart

A lot of times my heart does not worship like it should. I am either too distracted, too tired, or too frustrated to truly see what God has been doing. But like David, I desire to have a worshipping heart.

“And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn” (2 Samuel 6:14-15).

So what brought about this great joy and celebration? If we go back to 1 Samuel chapter four, we see that the ark of the covenant, the representation of God dwelling with His people, had been captured by the Phillistines. Upon hearing the news, Eli, who had been Israel’s high priest for the last forty years, fell over backwards off his chair, broke his neck, and died (1 Sam. 4:18). Upon hearing the same news, Eli’s daughter in law, who was pregnant, went into labor and bore a son right then and there. Not even the birth of her son could distract her from this incredible news. She named her son Ichabod which meant “the glory has departed from Israel” (1 Sam. 4:19-22).

Very traumatic news for the people of Israel. Their protection, their power, their God. Gone. Captured. Oh the sleepless nights ahead. The worries and doubts that must have characterized their life. 

But He would return. And the Israelites responded accordingly. Gratitude and thanksgiving. Worship and Adoration.

We see another response though, that of Saul’s daughter Michal:

“As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart. And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (2 Samuel 6:16, 20)

We have two options in life: to worship or to not. David worshipped God, seeing what God truly had done in coming back to His people, and he reaped praise and adorations upon the Lord. He didn’t mind being seen as “undignified” by dancing. He was truly in the position of the worshipping heart. 

The other option is to not. Michal’s contempt for David was her focus on that day. We, like Michal, can stay bitter, frustrated, unforgiving in the midst of the celebration. We can continue in self pity, self righteousness, self reliance, but our heart will continue to drift away from God’s presence. And we will miss out on worshipping Him who is worthy of all our worship.

I know everyday we don’t feel like worshipping. But we must. Everyday is a gift. From the breath he breathes into us to give us life, to the provision of his safety, to the provision of our needs, God is with us. And not only that but He is also changing us. He is changing us from me centered, me focused people, to God centered and God focused people. With this recognition must come worship from a heart that is truly thankful and content with what God is doing in our lives.

David’s response to Michal was this:

“And David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD-and I will celebrate before the LORD” (2 Samuel 6:21).

May we celebrate before the Lord today. May we put away our bitterness, frustrations, and may we instead fall at His feet in adoration for all He has done, and for who He is.

Find time today to be alone with the Lord. Ask His forgiveness for not worshipping Him. I know I am. And then worship Him. Adore Him. He is with you. And that alone is cause for worship.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5).


Image taken from: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&q=worshipping%20on%20knees&ved=0ahUKEwj-iYX90-HMAhUIYiYKHa0kBfsQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fgreatbibledoctrine.blogspot.com%2F2014%2F04%2Fecclesiology-purpose-of-church.html&psig=AFQjCNGm4Ow3SHlneG6jHOz8YS0j0jqa6A&ust=1463593219709206&rct=j&cad=rjt

Blessings.

Hope is: A Study of Romans 8:18-25: Intro

Hope. It is one of many words that has lost its meaning and significance in our culture. We “hope” to get the job we want. We “hope” that we have a good day. But do we really believe in hope? In the midst of the despair and anguish of this world, do we “hope” things will get better, or do we truly believe that things will? In this blog series, we will look at Romans 8:18-25, and discuss what true hope is, and who it emanates from.

“The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” – Matthew 4:16

Jesus enters the scene and the whole dynamic changes. Those who had been “dwelling in darkness” had seen a great light. Also, those who had been “dwelling in the region and shadow of death” a light had dawned on them.

Jesus. Incarnate God. Now here on earth. Dwelling amongst his people. The prophecies had come true and He was here. The darkness that had ruled on the earth now came face to face with Jesus. And Jesus, in all His glory and power, broke through the darkness. He declared a new Kingdom, a new mindset, a new mission and purpose. But most importantly, He declared a new hope. A hope that declared war on the darkness, and won.

It seems like ages since that hope was first realized. Hope is the farthest thing from characterizing our world today. People end their life daily, people are abused and mistreated, evil people thrive, good people suffer, and tragedies and violence are everywhere. Where is the hope in all this?

Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Yeah, we get that. But how does hope affect us now? How do we hold out hope for Christ to come back and redeem this world? Where is the light that once had dawned? These are the questions we are asking.

Believe it or not, hope is just as present today as it was when Jesus first came on the scene. We just need a good reminder of it, and how we can truly experience it today.

The next blog series we will look at Romans 8:18-25. We will discuss what hope is, how it affects us today, and what truly we have to look forward to as Christians.

Blessings.

Never too far gone

How far is too far? Usually this question is asked in the context of dating and relationships, but there is another use. Can you ever be too far away from God? 

According to King David there was nowhere He could go that would allow Him to escape the presence of the Almighty. “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalm 139:7-8).

Many of us think we are too far gone. That we are unreachable, untouchable, and that our fate is sealed. I know I did. But Jesus, as He does throughout the Scriptures, comes to us that are unwanted, untreatable, and lost, and He breathes His healing breath into our lives. He did it with the Samaritan adulterer, the leper, the blind man, the paralytic, and so many more. 

You may think you are too far gone, but many others have said the same thing. You may think how could God use you with all your flaws, insecurities, and shortcomings. But He can and He will, if you will just submit your life to Him and His plans. If you will just accept the sacrifice that He made on the cross for you, freeing you from the realm of sin and death. 

No matter what you have done in the past, what are doing now, and what you will do in the future, the costly grace of Jesus Christ paid for your freedom. This is my story. This is my life. This is who I am. And this is what Christ can and will do for you.

Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came to bring us life, and that that life would be one of abundance. May you lean into the abundance of life that Christ offers you today.

Blessings.

Prayer of Investment

Father,

You have asked me to invest in the lives of others, and I take great joy in that. I love sharing the hope you have produced in me. But this is different. I feel as though all I have been doing is investing, and I am burnt out. I know you have called me to intentionally invest in many people’s lives, serving them, loving them. I have lost energy though. I am dragging and feeling myself draw into time alone when the day is over. I am exhausted and burnt out, and I crash and sleep, and then wake up and do it all over again. Investing is an important task, but I’m am just a feeble, limited man. How can I invest fully in the two places you have asked me to invest? Am I fooling myself that investing in two large groups of people is even possible? I know more time will have to be given to this subject, but in the meantime, Father I desperately need your strength to endure. I need You to be manifested through my actions so that the lives I am investing in may be changed. May I be obedient to invest in both places. May I serve and love well. Equip me and lead me. 

Amen.

Prayer of Submission

Father,

My desire is to seek and know you every day. Some days I follow through, many others I don’t. But this a desire of mine and one that I have surely entered into from time to time. In those times, such clarity encompasses my life. Such peace invades the worries and the doubts. I hear clearly from You, Your Word, Your people. And it is the one place I am fully fulfilled and redeemed. Out of this place, You give me words to say, prayers to pray, godly visions to take hold of. This is the place I desire to stay in…..but I get distracted. I get distracted when in doubt and fear, I concoct my own plans and my own desires. I get distracted by the loneliness I feel and the pain I suffer. I turn from thanksgiving to complaining. I turn from peace to worry. And it’s all because I have another desire, to hold on to the past. The faintly pleasures and desires of the past. I know they are not worth it, but I continue to tread back to their doorstep. I continue to let their thoughts run rampant in my thoughts. This is not my desire though. My desire is to be pure in heart, mind, and action. My desire is that you would use me to encourage and uplift those that are hurting and broken. Please Father. Cultivate within me a pure heart. Cultivate within me a consistently pure focus on You. For as the writers of the wisdom books said, “into a malicious soul wisdom will not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject to sin.” Father, you have placed the righteousness of Christ on me, covering my sins. Now I pray, continue to sanctify this sinner of Yours. May my heart only beat for Your desires and Your Kingdom. And because of this work of Yours, may I be free to serve and teach others well which You have willed and taught me.

Amen.

The Truth Dilemma

We have a dilemma in our world today. Well, we have many problems, but they all stem from one thing: truth. What is truth? What makes something true? Is there only one truth? Let’s take a look.

What is truth? (dictionary.com):

  1. the true or actual state of a matter
  2. conformity with fact or reality; verity
  3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like

Truth corresponds to reality. It points to what is really happening in our world. Not only does it correspond to it, but truth defines reality. And this definition or correspondence to reality is indisputable. It cannot be changed. It cannot be argued away. It just is.

So if truth is indisputable fact, correspondence to reality, who defines reality? I mean, do we not all view the world in different ways? Do we not all come from different socio-economical, racial, and religious backgrounds? If so, how could we decide what reality is? The problem is we can’t. We don’t define truth, truth defines us. And because of this, truth has to come from an absolute, ever constant authority.

This authority comes from none other than Creator God. He has defined truth because He has defined and created life. We live in His world, not the other way around.

Is this how we define truth? Do we hold to the authority of God? A lot of times the answer is sadly no. Our “truth” comes from how we feel. It comes from does this make me happy. We conjure up “truths” from within our minds. But these truths do not correspond to reality. They correspond to our subjective and carnal minds

So what must we do? We submit to the authority of God and to the reality He has created. We must hold firmly to His Word that He has given to us through the Bible and use it to step into reality more and more. To step into His truth, the truth, more and more.

Even though we live in a world where lies are disguised as truths, and where humans foolishly denounce God, there is hope. And this hope is as Timothy said:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. – 2 Timothy 3:14-15

We must continue in that which we know, or better yet, whom it is we know. We have every reason to be confident in Him who has overcome the world.

May we hold fast to the truth of the Gospel in a world of false truths. May we have confidence in the God of truth. He has not forgotten us. He is here. He is moving. His truth is still going forth.

Blessings.