Paul misses his friends.

by Don Merrit

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and […]

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Christian Relationships

In this section, Paul gives insight to how Christians should behave in the major personal relationships of daily life.  In 3:18-19, he speaks of husbands and wives, in 3:20-21 he speaks of parents and children, and from 3:22-4:1, masters and slaves, or today we would say employers and employees.  If you think about it, we spend most of our waking lives in one of these relationships, at least most of us do.

We can easily sum up all of these relationships by saying that in each, we are to put others ahead of ourselves. This is certainly true in Paul’s instructions to husbands and wives, even though he uses language in verse 18 that isn’t modern.  That wives should put their husbands first may not sound contemporary, but husbands are also to put their wives first.  This might be a little clearer in the parallel passage in Ephesians 5:22-33.

The same thing is true of the relationship between parents and children.  Both are to put the other first, giving honor where honor is due and giving love and nurture where they are due.  In the case of master and slave, or employer and employees, we have again the idea that both are to consider the other, with workers doing their very best always “as working for the Lord” and the boss is told to always do what is fair and right “because you know that you have a Master in heaven.”

Read on: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2021/05/05/christian-relationships-4/

Unity in Christ

Colossians 3: 5-14

In the last section, we saw Paul tell us how to live our new lives, by setting our hearts and minds on the things that are above, and not on the things of this world.  In this section, he expands on this theme by listing items which are of the old life, and certain items that are of the new life in Christ.  In verses 5-10a we get a pretty good idea of the kinds of things we are to “put to death” in our lives; these are all from our “old selves” and they include… sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed which is idolatry. He says we must rid ourselves of things like anger, rage, malice, slander, lies and filthy language. I’m quite sure that there is no need for me to elaborate on these things, other than to say that when our attention is drawn to any of them, it’s time to set our minds on higher things.

Verses 10 and 11 move in transition to the next part by pointing out that we are to move away from those old practices into a new way of living where there is no Jew, no Greek, nor circumcised or uncircumcised… and no other social or ethnic distinctions: only Christ. Verse 12 provides a summing up and conclusion in an interesting way:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Continue: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2021/05/04/unity-in-christ-4/

Triumph!

When you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Colossians 2:13-15

As we pick up from the last passage, we see right away the connection we discovered. Notice the link between “dead in your sins” and “uncircumcision.”  Here they are used interchangeably, and since they are used this way, we can be certain, as we were last time, that circumcision here is not the literal procedure done in physical terms.  While we were in our sins then, God made us alive in Christ and forgave our sins.   So far, this is easy to understand, and wonderful to behold, full as it is with the love and mercy of a loving Father in heaven.  It gets even better…

God cancelled the “written code” with its “regulations” that were “against us.”  So not only have our sins been forgiven, not only have we been made alive in Christ, but the Law that condemned us has been ended; from now on it’s all about Christ!

read more: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2021/04/30/triumph-4/

The Son IS!

by Don Merritt

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. […]

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Seek Him Only

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

Colossians 2:6-8

People are sometimes surprised when I say that Christian theology is basically simple to understand, and these three simple verses sum it up pretty well; it is simple to understand them, don’t you think?

We received Jesus Christ as Lord; continue to live in Him.  We do this by being rooted in Him, built up in Him and if we are strengthened in the faith just as we were taught, we will overflow with thanksgiving.  What should our priorities in life be?  Simple, we should be in Him, rooted in Him and strengthened by Him, or to put in another way, our life’s priorities are all about Jesus Christ.

Continue at: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2021/04/29/seek-him-only-3/

Poor in Spirit

by Don Merritt

The first Beatitude speaks of those who are “poor in spirit”. Much has been made about the difference between Matthew’s language and that of Luke in Luke 6:20, for Luke merely says “the poor”. Does Matthew have more in mind than mere economic circumstances? I’m happy to let others argue, but it seems to me […]

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A Prayer of Purpose

 

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

The author of Hebrews is now in the final part of the letter, and he opens it with a prayer of purpose.  Let’s take a closer look, for it is quite instructive.

Our God is identified as the God of peace, something we might want to keep in mind, and then goes on to an interesting statement that has a way of summarizing the letter. “The blood of the eternal covenant” is a reminder that God has committed Himself to the New Covenant and its promises.  Notice that it was through the blood of the covenant, the superior sacrifice of our superior high priest, that brought Jesus back from the dead; you don’t see that spelled out very often, for usually we see God’s power cited for this.  Think about it: Jesus arose from the grave by the power of an indestructible life, He was raised by the power of God… and now He is brought back by the blood of the covenant.  What does that tell you about His blood?

The rest is at: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2021/04/20/a-prayer-of-purpose-4/

Do not be carried away

by Don Merritt

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.

Hebrews 13:9-10

As he continues in his exhortations, the Hebrews author now moves into the area of “strange teachings.” This follows from his remarks in verses 7-8 in which he told us to “remember” our leaders who “spoke the word of God to you.” Strange teachings seem to refer to teachings that are at variance with the Truth, that are at variance to the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Very clearly, any teaching that re-imposes the Old Covenant Law onto the New Covenant would count as “strange” indeed. He continues by pointing out that it is better for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, rather than by eating ceremonial foods which are of “no benefit.”  In trying to follow this, we might keep in mind that Jesus, the Living Word came to us “full of grace and truth.”  He didn’t bring us ceremonial regulations like those contained in the Old Covenant, He brought “grace and truth.”  The reality of grace and truth replaced the ceremonies, feasts and festivals; why put any reliance upon these things now that the New has come? In light of this, it always strikes me as interesting when I think of our special days, special meals and special ceremonies today…

The author underscores this with his comment about the altar that we have, that the Old Covenant priests have no access to; the real one in heaven that they cannot approach, as opposed to the “illustration” in the Temple. And now, the author has set up what comes next:

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Becoming Strangers

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:13-16

“These people,” Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their families, lived in a time and place where the fullness of God’s promises to them had not entirely come to pass, and they looked forward to complete fulfillment to their dying days, but they did so with joy, for the fulfillment of God’s promises was never in doubt; they lived by faith. They saw from a distance, but they held on. You’ll recall that our author said that the Old Covenant worship was but an illustration, a shadow of the reality to come. Here the author uses the words “at a distance” to describe the same thing, for the reality of all of God’s promises came in the person of Christ.

Continue: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2021/04/10/becoming-strangers/