To the Saints in Colossae

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

~ Colossians 1:1-2 (NKJV)

Paul begins his letter to the Church at Colossae in his customary manner. He addresses his position and authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ who is so by nothing less than the divine will of God. In this case, Paul adds to his greeting Timothy, his faithful protégé, who had been accompanying him on his missionary journeys. The Apostle has written an epistle to the saints, the Spirit wrought believers in Christ, who worship, live, serve and fellowship together in Colossae, the celebrated city of Phrygia, in Asia Minor.

To these beloved people, both men and women alike, Paul offers his introductory benediction: Grace and peace… These words are meant to summarize what it means to belong to Christ. To know the grace and peace that comes from God our Father is to know the Lord Jesus Christ. For in Christ alone, is there grace and peace with a holy, just and righteous God. Meditate on that phrase for a moment, “in Christ”, for it is in Him all the blessings and goodness of God dwell.

Christians today should do all they can to exhibit the grace and peace of God to others. How desperately this sin-darkened world needs to embrace saving grace and experience godly peace. If you yourself are “in Christ”, then you can be a divine instrument for spreading the grace and peace of God among your neighbors, friends and family. Let us, like the Apostle Paul, be eager to be in this holy service of sharing the grace and peace of the Lord that others may to come to taste of Jesus Christ, and know that He is good.

Where Our Minds Are

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.

~ Philippians 4:8

The old adage goes something like this: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” The thoughts of our mind ultimately become the destiny of our life. The thoughts we entertain, like the charts on a ship, set our lives on a particular course. And this course charted for us by our thoughts can be for better or worse depending on what thoughts we allow ourselves to cultivate and take root in our mind.

In our text today, the Apostle Paul exhorts the Christians at Philippi to constrain their thoughts, to discipline their minds, to focus, to think or meditate on such things that please the Lord and conform their thinking to such lofty ideals that bring about His honor and glory. He tells these believers, whatever is true, whatever is lovely or of good report, whatsoever has virtue or is praiseworthy, that it is in these things; it is here where our heart and mind should lie.

The inward topics our mind should dwell on should tend towards outward holiness and righteousness in our life, not away from it. The characteristics of truth, love and virtue are of a godly sort. These are the attributes of thought and attitudes of heart those who follow Christ should seek to develop because they will move us ultimately closer to Him.

Two of the most beneficial ways to train our minds to dwell on such noble things are Scripture reading and prayer. Through these two means of grace, our minds, which are by nature opposed to such thoughts, will, by God’s grace, slowly yet surely bend towards His goodness and glory. But like in our passage, Christians must be reminded of our duty in this regard.

So, are you actively seeking to conform your thoughts to such characteristics as Paul describes here in Philippians? Do you find your mind wandering into areas of unrighteousness which may lead to sinful patterns of life? Do you make diligent use of Scripture and prayer to help keep you on course towards holy and pure living? May we seek God’s help to do so.

~ apl

Simple Words

[C]ome, take up the cross, and follow Me

Mark 10:21 (NKJV)

Jesus gives those who would belong to Him three short imperatives here: come, take and follow. First, we come to Christ with nothing in order to receive everything. Second, He offers us the cross, the emblem of a true Christian. And in taking up the cross, we take up all it represents: both it’s difficulty and delight, burden and blessing, trial and triumph. But finally, in doing so, we show ourselves to be true followers of His. What do these words mean to you? Come, take and follow. Three simple words that can change your life, both now and for eternity.

~ apl

The Ears of God

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.

~ Psalm 34:15 (NKJV)

Note: Even though the Bible teaches God is Spirit, the Lord is sometimes described in Scripture using human features. He is said to have human characteristics. I think the best way to interpret the passages that speak of God in this manner is not literally, but figuratively. And the Lord uses this human (anthropomorphic) language to describe certain attributes, not so we know what He looks like, but so we can better relate to Him and understand more fully who He is in our relationship to Him.

Having touched on the Biblical significance of The Eyes of God, let us turn our attention to the importance behind the Scriptural language of the Lord’s ears. The ear is the organ of hearing. By the ear, we receive and interpret sounds of various kinds. And like the human ear which is limited to detecting only a certain range of sounds, it seems Scripture teaches God’s ears are more specifically tuned towards the cries of His people. God wants to hear from us. He has inclined His ear towards us that we might know the Lord not only sees us in our life condition, but desires to hear from us regarding it. Therefore, may we not neglect so great a grace. Whether it be songs praise and thanksgiving, or the prayers of deep anguish and pain, Christians serve a compassionate loving God whose ears are open to their cries.

~ apl

Keep Your Soul

He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul

~ Proverbs 19:16a (NKJV)

There is something spiritually healthy about keeping God’s commands near and dear to our heart and mind. The Word of the Lord, His Law, His principles and precepts, the wisdom of God, are all divine nourishment to the soul. They bring vitality and strength to the faithful. By keeping the commands, one keeps, nurtures and renews their very soul.

The application of this verse isn’t to be understood in a legalistic manner where we believe we obtain greater grace or spiritual position simply because we adhere to the Lord’s Word. Rather, believers should come to understand keeping God’s commands is a privilege and spiritual benefit. God’s Word is sustenance. Therefore, let us keep the command as we keep our soul.

Fire & Music

By reading the Scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.

~ Thomas Merton (1915-1968)