Monday, August 24, 2020

Colossians Pt 10 - Final Thoughts

Today, I want to open a window into my soul. Heart Talk. I want to show you some things in Colossians that changed my life. It’s easy to just read the Bible to read it. But it’s an amazing experience to read it to see what God is saying to you through it and then apply it. These are things I learned in Colossians that made a life-changing impact on me.

Who Jesus really is: Sunday School kid theology – born and died and did stuff

Col 1:15-18 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions 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. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 

First place – preeminence – paramount – the pinnacle of my devotion - align my priorities around who Jesus is

Understood my calling – to help people understand the greatness and goodness of God

Col 1:25-28 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 

What I believe is to affect how I live. That will be a battle.

Col 2:6-8 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 

What we believe we do. All else is religious talk.

The power of forgiveness. I’ve needed a lot of forgiveness. Carried a lot of guilt.

Col 2:13-14 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 

Reality of being on the winning side. Triumphed over them. A day the lights came on.

Col 2:15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. - Julius Caesar

2Cor 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 

Submit to Who sets the standard.

Col 2:20-22 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!" (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 

Ran into the machinery of a denomination that thought it set the standard. Came out mangled. Felt I had to perform according to man’s expectations. Crashed and burned. In a moment of the incredible presence of God I heard the words: God must love you very much. Years of anxiety poured out and the liquid love of God’s Spirit flooded my spirit.

Learned the effort of focus

Col 3:1-2 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 

Nobody can seek the Lord for me. I have to do that myself.

There are things I must choose to do

Col 3:15-17 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 richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. 

What I learned about praying:

Col 4:2-4 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. 

Devotion to prayer is the telling sign of a person’s seriousness about their relationship with the Lord. The reality of God in my life didn’t become a conscious factor until I began to pray consistently, daily, throughout my day. But my prayer had to mature.

From Paul I learned that God controls the outcome. Where I go. What I say. Some doors remain shut until we pray.

Prayer is alignment with God’s will –

Prayer isn’t a mechanism to control God or persuade Him to do things our way. It is the opportunity to align our hearts with His intentions. We’re praying for clarity of His purpose, wisdom to understand, strength to stand firm, confidence to rest in His ability, peace when we accept His answer. We pray in anticipation of what God will do.

But more so, prayer is designed to align us with God’s purposes as we set our interests aside for what He knows is best.

Jesus prayed in the Garden: Matt 26:39, 42 He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." 

Jesus was crying out to the Father in desperation. His struggle with the moment was crushing Him, and what He faced was overwhelming. I’ve had moments like that. So, Jesus told the Father what He felt would fix this – removing the cup. I’ve done the same thing. But the difference is, He resolved His crisis by surrendering to what the Father had planned.

So much of our prayers are telling God what to do and how to do it. He gives us that right. We can pour out our heart’s desire. We can ask whatever we want to ask. We can seek whatever we want from Him. But when we walk away from our prayer moment, before we say amen, He wants us to have surrendered the outcome to Him.

John and Tricia Tiller experienced a parent’s worst nightmare nearly a decade ago. Their three-year-old son, Eli, was playing by himself in his upstairs bedroom when things got too quiet. Tricia went into his room and Eli was nowhere to be seen. She saw a table pushed under his window. The window was open and the screen was missing. She ran over and saw Eli crumpled on the ground.

After being medevacked to the hospital, Eli fought for his life in the ICU for three weeks. He miraculously survived, but not without significant brain damage. He lost partial vision on his right side and the motor skills and muscle development on his left. He speaks with a severe stutter and walks with a pronounced limp. Yet, today, twelve-year-old Eli has a sweet spirit and a courageous attitude.

John and Tricia have thanked God countless times for saving their son, but their prayers for complete healing have gone unanswered, causing John to struggle with doubt.

He said, I began to interrogate God. “Why, God? Why did my little boy fall from that window? Why him? Why me?

Mark Batterson, who wrote this story said, “Sometimes the purpose of prayer is to get us out of circumstances, but more often than not, the purpose of prayer is to get us through them. I’m certainly not suggesting we shouldn’t pray deliverance prayers, but there are times we need to pray prevailing prayers. We need to ask God to give us the grace to sustain, the strength to stand firm, and the willpower to keep on keeping on.

“If we’re being completely honest, most of our prayers have as their chief objective our own personal comfort rather than God’s glory. We want to pray away every problem, but those shortsighted prayers would short-circuit God’s perfect plan. There are seasons and situations when we need to simply pray through.

“Can our prayers change our circumstances? Absolutely! But when our circumstances don’t change, it’s often an indication that God is trying to change us. Either way, the chief objective remains the same: to glorify God in any and every situation.”

That takes us back to the Garden and Jesus’ prayer: Father, not My will but Yours be done. You accomplish through this whatever I’m facing, whatever You know is best. I surrender the outcome to You.

That’s the maturity Paul is wanting for the Colossians when he tells them to devote themselves to prayer, He’s wanting them to commit to a daily surrender of their lives and circumstances to God – which is developed through making prayer essential in our lives. Paul is saying, “That’s how you take all I’ve told you and put it into practice.”

We’re going to have problems, troubles, crises. They are going to seem larger than God can handle. But we have to quit looking at the problem and look to God for the outcome. When we do, all we see will shrink in comparison to what God has promised to do.

Prayer is vital to letting peace rule in our hearts. One of my greatest discoveries was how truth interconnected throughout Scripture. That the dots connect.

Sometimes you have to eat your words.

Col 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. 

I remember the first moment Scripture became alive to me. I was sixteen, had survived a serious car accident. Had decided the direction my life was going was the wrong way and became interested in going God’s way. I read a story and suddenly knew what it was about and what needed to be said to teach it. I ran down the street to our pastor’s house and told him. He said, “God may be calling you to preach.”

Sometime later, I had the confirmation that he was right. Scripture became personal. God took a verse and said, “This is for you.”

Col 4:17 Say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it." 

That was the first verse God made personal to me. Since, I’ve found many others. But this was the first. I’ve had to use it many times to stay the course. To treasure what God has entrusted to me. On several occasions I’ve wanted to chunk it all and walk away. A few times I have. But I never I had fulfilled what God called me to do. There’s still more.

I realized I can’t control what others do. I can’t manipulate the results. All I can do is be faithful to what God called me to do. That’s my freedom.


1.      Once we know we belong to the Lord, we must practice the life He’s called us to.

2.     To think we can survive life without prayer and Bible reading, we are sadly mistaken.

3.     Whatever God shows us in His Word, He intends for it to make a difference in our lives.

4.     If we continue a casual relationship with Him, we’ll miss the value of all He’s done to provide everything we need to live full and meaningful lives.


Monday, August 17, 2020

Colossians Pt 9 - Christian Nationalism

It’s been said you can’t teach stupid. You either are or you aren’t. Yet, many are buying into the stupidity that is dividing our country and tearing down essential elements of who we are.

Nationalism is one of those elements. One writer said: Nationalism is not the same as patriotism. While patriotism is a bit more of a vague word to describe the love and devotion to a country, nationalism is more the promotion of a nation's culture, language, and supremacy above others. He then went on to describe patriotism as fireworks and parades on the 4th of July, then had nothing else to say.

It made me wonder, in his mind, to which does a man or woman give the last full measure of devotion? To some celebration or to a belief in what represents who we are and that for which our country stands? One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Nationalism is the effort of maintaining the strength, viability and identity through which a nation guards its independence, unrestrained from the influence or control of other nations, so that it remains free to chart its own course and respond according to its own values.

That becomes a bit more challenging since the push today is for a one-world government, producing a world society of blurred boundaries, a single religion with a god mixed from all religions and blended cultural identities, run by an elite collection of individuals yet defined. It is the false hope of a utopia where a few make the decisions for the whole and no nation can rise against or above another.

The primary reason this utopia is a false hope is the failure to take into consideration the evil within individuals and the ungodliness within mankind. Wars and rumors of wars will continue until the end because of the self-interest of those who would suppress, then oppress and finally press their interests above all others.

So, to take down the number one super power of the world, the major deterrent to world-wide destruction, and reduce us to one of the bunch is a violation of why we exist and why the world needs us to be a strong and capable nation.

Since WWII, the U.S. has been the world power to help hold up struggling nations and come to the aid of countries under threat of losing their freedoms. Our strength and values have qualified us as the premier nation, capable of resources, rescue and revitalization to help the helpless and defend the defenseless.

If we don’t remain strong, the world will destroy itself and be overtaken by forces wanting to annihilate all that is good and just.

For me, Nationalism and Patriotism are an inseparable representation of love of country and the belief we must remain the strongest beacon of liberty for the sake of the rest of the world.

However, the word nationalism has become a dirty word in the world of politics and now in religion, even tying it to our fight against the Coronavirus.

In a church news email I subscribe to, there was an article this week: Christian Nationalists Least Likely to take Coronavirus Precautions Seriously.

“Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans would engage in incautious behavior and was the second strongest predictor that Americans would take fewer precautions like wearing a mask or sanitizing/washing one’s hands.” In other words, Christian nationalists are less likely to do the things that scientists and government officials have proposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus and are more likely to engage in activities that spread it. And this wasn’t even talking about attending church.

Furthermore, the study proposes that what prompts this incautious response is Christian nationalists’ beliefs. Namely, “belief in divine protection, distrust of scientists and the news media, and devotion to Trump.”

They were also associated with engaging in five points of incautious behavior more often than others. Namely, eating at restaurants, attending gatherings of ten or more people, visiting family and friends, going shopping for nonessential items, and going to the grocery or drug store.

Conversely, religious people who don’t ascribe to Christian nationalists’ beliefs, were associated with being more observant of the precautionary measures. “Once we account for Christian nationalism, devout Americans are more likely to alter their behavior and wash hands or sanitize more often, wear a mask, and avoid touching their face.”

If this wasn’t a real study someone spent time and effort on, I’d think somebody had stayed a bit too long in the stupidity zone. In their seriousness to find solutions to the spread of a virus, they blame and mock Christians who trust God and love their country.

2Pet 3:3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own desires, 

Why was this study necessary in the first place? To justify the on-going attack on Christians. Once it was Conservative Christians who were the problem. Then Christian Fundamentalists. Then Evangelical Christians. Now, Christian Nationalists. We are an obstacle because we act according to our beliefs and hold our God higher than any power, authority or rule, all the while having a deep devotion to our country.

We can have our Christianity as long as we keep it inside the building. But with this new derogatory title, some feel we are spilling our Christianity out into the political arena.

In the comment section of this article one person quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “One can't be a Christian and a nationalist at the same time.” It was to be proof that the two can’t go together. I responded to that comment: “The Nationalism Bonhoeffer was talking about was the Nazi regime. Let’s keep that in mind.” Someone responded: “I wonder as a Christian, where does your loyalty lie?” To which I wrote back: “There is only one God I serve with full devotion. And I also love my country and can speak against the evil that is attacking it.” That was what Bonhoeffer was saying. As a Christian and pastor, he could not support the Nazis regime. And was executed in prison for saying so.

We cannot separate our life interests into compartments that don’t overlap. That’s the message of Colossians.

Col 3:17-22 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 

Now, more than ever before what we believe must affect who we are and how we act. Whether that is in the home, at work or in the marketplace. It affects how we think, what we say, what we do and who we vote for. Our lives are a web of devotion to God with everything being connected to Him because we love Him.

Some say: your devotion to God must come after the health, safety and welfare of the people. What? My number one priority in life can be trumped by circumstances? I can’t say, “Sorry, Lord, but this is more important than you are.” That’s what some churches in California are fighting against right now.

District Attorney Dan Dow has declared San Luis Obispo County in central California a “sanctuary county” for churches holding worship services and singing. According to The Christian Post, Dow will not prosecute churches in his county who have defied a recent order from California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlawing singing in churches.

In his statement, Dow said, “Inherent with my responsibility to enforce the law is the discretion that I have … to pursue only those charges that are warranted and are in the interest of justice.”

“Now more than ever, we need more people attending their houses of worship and seeking help from the Almighty for an answer to the coronavirus. In that spirit, I’m calling on people of faith in our county and across our state, across our country and across the world, to pray for peace [and] healing.”

“It would be, in my opinion, the very definition of insanity if we branded a person of faith as a criminal for singing in a house of worship. It would be a severe injustice for my office to charge a person with a crime who has simply chosen to practice their faith by singing with their congregation.”

Do you know what the First Amendment says about religion? Cornell University restated it: The First Amendment forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual's religious practices. It was to protect the church from the government not the government from the church.

It’s coming down to choosing what or Who is most important. For the non-believing it’s always the what over the Who. For we who believe, we know the Who is the ultimate answer. The blessing lies in the Lord, not somebody’s concern, opinion, restriction or rules.

Ps 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance. 

Ps 144:15 How blessed are the people who are so situated; How blessed are the people whose God is the LORD! 

One California church that is under threat of fines and imprisonment for defying the Governor’s restrictions on churches produced this statement: “In response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely, we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services,” said a statement from the Pastor and the Church Elders.

You say, “What about Rom 13:1-2 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 

Peter dealt with that in Acts 4:18-20 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." 

That’s the authorities telling them stop obeying God or else face consequences.

Acts 5:27-29 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. 

Whenever the authorities declare we cannot act or live or function as Believers devoted to our God, they have crossed a line, and gone beyond their God-given authority.

Through the writer of Hebrews, God said: Heb 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. By forbidding assembling or restricting it into becoming non-essential, authorities are causing Christians to violate God’s command.

My son has not been able to take his family to church since March. All churches in Las Vegas are limited to 50 people. Some of those churches hold well over a thousand at a time. Once the worship team and musicians, staff and those in leadership get there, there isn’t any more space available. Why is Nevada doing this? Because that’s what California has done.

You’ll find that what starts in California typically moves across the country, whether that’s in fads, perversions or politics. That’s why we have to keep an eye on the West and anticipate what’s coming our way.

We can no longer say, but that’s out West. Austin City Council just this past week took $150 million away from the police budget and gave a good portion of it to fund abortions and other social programs that enslave people to the government. Stupidity is on the way.

The choice to live out our faith places us on the field of battle. We fight Satan at every turn as he distracts and tempts us by drawing our attention away from our devotion to God. We fight our own impulses of desire for things that satisfy us with no regard for what’s best. We fight against the world in its insistence on determining how life is to be lived, its undermining our desire to walk godly in an ungodly environment and its obsessing over changing right to wrong and wrong to right.

Do you know what BLM, Inc. stands for? It isn’t Black Lives Matter. They are anarchists trying to destroy America. And it doesn’t matter to them who they destroy along the way – white, black, brown or Asian. And if you say, all lives matter, you will be attacked. And people are taking a knee in support of their efforts. We need to know the truth and courage to take a stand. How?

Eph 6:11-12 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 

This is a deliberate effort to prepare ourselves for the battles. Paul wants us armed and ready to stand against the forces of evil. I admit that scares me. I know the hidden dangers.

But instead of this weakening us with fear, it should strengthen us with courage. The strongest Christians today are those under persecution. They have determined the value of the Lord far exceeds any personal gain without Him.

1Pet 4:12-16 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 

There have always been movements to dismantle the church and remove its influence from society because we stand in opposition to lawlessness and immorality. We love God with all our hearts, souls, bodies and strength and love others as ourselves. We believe in the Christian foundation of our nation. These beliefs make us an enemy the world must conquer. Without the church there is no resistance against the evil seeking to steal, kill and destroy.

Christian Nationalists stand against those forces. And when it becomes necessary to rebel, they do so understanding the consequence of their actions. When they reject those systems that make God and His Church unnecessary and objectionable, they do so knowing there is a price to pay. To them the price of not rebelling is greater than the burden of remaining silent.

Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran Pastor, enthusiastically welcomed the Third Reich. But a turning point in Niemöller's political position came with a January 1934 meeting with Adolf Hitler. Niemöller and two prominent Protestant leaders met with Hitler to discuss the increasing state pressures on churches and the restrictions being imposed on them. Following that meeting, Niemöller realized the Nazi state was a dictatorship, which he must oppose. He did and was imprisoned. After the war was over and he was freed from prison, he wrote:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

As Christians, we can love our country and still reject and speak out against the movements set to destroy it. We can honor our civic responsibilities, but if those responsibilities clash on matters God has commanded, we must obey the Lord.

That’s in the final words of the third chapter of Colossians, Paul wrote: Col 3:23-24 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 

In the church, the home, at work or in the marketplace, who we are isn’t defined by those who oppose us or set the standard for us. It is the Lord Christ whom we serve.


  1. Jesus said we were to be salt and light to the world.
  2. Salt adds value to whatever it touches – as a flavor enhancer, a preservative or an enticement to quench the thirst.
  3. Light helps us navigate the darkness by exposing the obstacles hidden there.
  4. Though the world will never acknowledge how essential the church is, we have to let our lights shine, and as we do, we must also tap the salt shaker.
  5. We do that by allowing who we are in Jesus to affect every aspect of our lives.