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The Struggle


For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face - Colossians 2:1

There comes a feeling that is hard to explain in knowing that someone is fighting for you; to know that someone has your best interests in mind. "I've got your back." "I'm with you." "You're not alone." Words like these have the power to bring comfort, relief, assurance, and strength to go on.
The struggle that Paul is referring to in this letter to the church at Colossae existed on two fronts. Lies, distractions, bad doctrine and faulty teaching was seeping into the church. It's not surprising considering that the church as shown herself to be influenced by the world that the Lord has placed us in to shine as light. We are sheep. We need guidance. And Paul struggled for the meandering church at Colossae as a loving older brother. He had likely never met the members of this church, ye…
Faithful Not Successful

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. - Colossians 3:23,24

Mother Theresa is quoted as saying, "God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful." She spoke of the value of faithfulness over success. And so did Jesus.

It is both humbling and freeing to know that those of us who have not found ourselves high on the ladder of success are highly valued in our low positions and rewarded for our faithful service. The daily grind is service to the Lord when done with all of our heart. 

Do you mean to tell me that designing a business system at my place of employment will bring eternal reward for me? Are you saying as I care for my family and run my household well that God is filling my eternal home with good things? Can it be that as I study faithfully and work hard i…
I have good news for you ...

You're not perfect. Isn't that a relief? Think about it, as a child of God, a believer in Jesus, you aim for righteous behavior (alignment with God's purpose for your life) and when you fall short, you don't rejoice or fluff it off; you care. But we still tend towards falling short. And realizing that we are "but dust" is a good thing. Why? Because God knows it as well because He know us; and yet, He still loves us, He still forgives.

Some have made the mistake of placating their guilt by attempting to convince themselves that they are OK within themselves; that value relinquishes the need for payment, for redemption. But it does not. We are all on a level playing field in the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. No matter the quantity of good works, no matter the quantity of bad works, all of us are in need of a Savior. So put aside the rose-colored glasses and take a clear, honest look at yourself. You are not perfect. 

But wait, y…
As the Father Loved Me


As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15:9 ESV)

Your mission, your calling, does not disqualify you from the love of Christ, not matter how rocky or rough. The low estate you find yourself in does not break the great pact of His faithful love for you. Your level is suffering is not inversely proportionate to the level of His love for you. Christ’s love is just as passionate and eternal as the Father’s love is for Him.

Love, like joy, is not circumstantial. It finds not its source in current conditions or lack of emotional turmoil. The joy of the Lord is your strength; a joy that is not sourced in the temporal but finds it’s rich flow and lavished abundance in the eternal- in the Eternal One. And so is the love of Christ towards you who have received Him.

This great love has been shared between the Father and the Son for all eternity, and when Jesus says He loves us as the Father loves Him, He is speaking not of a fair weather frien…
Who’s In Charge?

And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church (Ephesians 1:22 ESV)

He is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:10 NIV)

Not everyone is a good person. Not everyone is looking out for your best interests. In fact, there are those around us with malicious intentions and who may even act to bring harm. It’s the world we live in today. It’s been this way since the beginning actually.

In a garden we read of an evil creature who had mal-intent towards the perfect and good Creator and sought to brought harm to Him by harming those the Creator cared about. This event has found its way into our classic stories of revenge - harm me and I’ll harm what you care about. And this evil creature (Satan, the devil) continues his work through people. Cain kills Abel, Jacob’s sons exact revenge on men who harmed their sister, religious leaders conspire to kill the Son of God, and there are many other such stories of revenge and harm.

H…
Rejoice
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 NASB)

God’s grace is truly amazing. When I think back to His mercy and the patience He has shown me even when I should have known better, my heart is fills with joy and praise. The word in Greek for rejoice is χαίρω (chairo) and comes from the same root as the words in Greek for grace and joy. Not surprising. God’s grace gives us a license to be joyful, outside of ourselves, in spite of our failings; we can, as Paul commands, rejoice. You have permission.

We might even say, delight in God’s grace! Rest in it. Lean on it. I’ll say it again, delight in God’s grace. Augustine did. Over sixteen hundred years ago he wrote his “Confessions”, an uber-honest and transparent narrative on God’s amazing work in his wandering life. Raised by and prayed for a Christian mother, Augustine went his own way into the world of education and philosophy. This world was not all it promised to be, and eventually he would leave the …
Think On These

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

This morning the Lord awakened me to three things to think on that align with Paul’s “finally brethren” exhortation in his letter to the Philippians. In the past I’ve tried to find things that are true, and noble, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable to think on but have honestly come up with little to nothing. My mind struggles to find such things in our world today. But this morning, I’m grateful to God for giving me three things that are lovely and right, pure and true, and noble and admirable.

The morning birdsongs
The sound of the birds singing in the morning together and individually is lovely to listen to. Each bird with its own call, giving turns to one another and then in excited ensemble singing together are like a …
Words of Faith
When my children were younger and wanted me to give them something to eat, they would say, “Dad, I’m hungry.” And I, as a Dad true to my good sense of humor would respond, “Hi hungry, I’m Dad.” That “dad joke” slays me still and I continue to use it whenever opportunity presents itself.

I love the faith of children; call it child-like. If a child has a belly ache, they tell mom or dad, “I have a belly ache.” If a child is hungry, their request is spoken until it is heard. If a child has a question, they ask, usually with follow on questions. They are, in their complete honesty and unconcern for social propriety, living examples to us of what Jesus meant when He said,

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14 NIV)
and
And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)
When a child…
Good for Evil

Now David had said, “Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good. May God punish David, and ever so severely, if I let one of Nabal’s men survive until morning.” (1 Samuel 25:21,22)

How many of us have seen our heart set out on a campaign to set right the wrong-doing of those who have mistreated us? We've served, we've given, we've acted with integrity and treated kindly. We've laid down our lives. And yet, in return for our acts of kindness, we've received hurt. Let justice reign! Let it reign through me! David may have felt the same way.

After offering protection to a group of shepherds tending their flocks in an area where David and his army were temporarily staying, David sent for refreshments to the man (Nabal) who the shepherds worked for. "Please give whatever you can afford to your servants and to your son David." T…
In The Yet To Come

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.(Psalm 42:5 NIV)

        Waiting is hard, contrary to our pleasure and to our comfort. I used to tell my daughters, it's good for young ladies to learn to wait. Not a popular message. There is an attitude that exists today catering to our desire for immediacy. It reveals itself in many aspects of our lives. I've always been amazed (maybe that's not the right word) as a software developer at the prevailing concern of users to minimize mouse clicks to get to the content that interests them more quickly. I've had to re-architect systems to eliminate a single mouse click from the user's path to information. Ok, enough complaining on my part.

        To the contrary, God is not interested in us having a quick and efficient journey. He's not running a business, He's not placed us in a corporation. We are in His kingdom,…
Overlooked

People and things get overlooked. Maybe you’ve felt the sting of being overlooked for a position or promotion. Or maybe you yourself have overlooked the facts and passed wrong judgement. A detective may fail in overlooking important clues. Details are overlooked. Things get overlooked. But there is one thing that is to our credit to overlook.

A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11 NIV)

Overlook means to “look past”, “to fail to notice”. All of us have failed at things, some of us more than others, but failing to notice an offense is a respectable and virtuous failure.

People need mercy during times of difficulty; you included. Mercy is a drink of fresh water to one who is suffering under the burden of stress, trial, or anxiety. Jesus forgave us as believers of many an offense against Him. In fact, He forgave us of every offense against Him. Should we not do the same?

When we overlook an offense we release not onl…
The Promises of God

If God makes a promise, can you depend on it? Does He have the power to carry out what He says He will do? Is His word trustworthy? Those of us who know God will quickly answer yes. We know that God is not only powerful, He is also faithful.

So what about that cold that we’ve been battling for the past two weeks, or what about the glaucoma, the cancer, the emotional issues, the mental hangups? The anxiety. Doesn’t God promise that He will heal all of our diseases? I know of Christians that have been healed, but I also know of those who have gone to their grave with their disease, and even at times, because of it. Why the disconnect? Has God forgotten some while healing others? Why does tragedy strike some who have faith in God while skirting around others?

Before I answer that question (it’s really one question), let’s look at the Scripture to see what it has to say about the promises of God. Here are three things we can say about His promises -

The promises of God a…
To Prep Or Not To Prep

Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. (1 Sam 17:40)

David (who would battle and defeat the Philistine mentioned in the scripture above) was a man of faith. His faith rested squarely and solidly on God. Difficult circumstances and situations like the ones we face today can cause us to ponder our faith and what it should look like and act like in times like these. And times like these may cause us to ask questions like this,

"Should I prep for the possible (or certain, some may say) coming demise of our society as we know it?"

"If I gather and stock up on food and supplies, am I showing lack of trust in God? Isn’t He my provider? And what does that mean?"

"Did not God give me two hands and the foresight to prepare? Shouldn’t I use the ability He has given to be ready?"


Or you may already be deci…
We Shall Be Like Him
    The formative years of my faith lived in the 80’s when catch phrases and clever sayings were the preacher’s delight. Maybe they still are. Phrases such as “If He’s not lord of all, He’s not lord at all” and “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” peppered the sermons I heard. I get it, it’s very enjoyable to say clever things, and even more enjoyable to speak truth in a clever way. Unfortunately, not all of the clever sayings that came over the pulpit during that time were true, at least not wholly true.

    One such phrase that I heard preached during my formative years that rang true to me and served as a motivational pry bar in the hands of the preacher was, “You’d better learn to love that person sitting next to you (in church) because you’re going to spend eternity with them.” Was this true? Well, partially, maybe. Perhaps the words of John the apostle can bring some clarification and shed some light on this saying,

Dear friends, now we are children of …
Looking Through the Lens of Guilt

They said to one another, "Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that's why this distress has come on us." (Genesis 42:21)

Guilt can live quietly below the surface of our lives like a simmering soup, gently stewing quietly, its pervasive aroma filling the room. Like a low grade fever, its sometimes forgotten presence breaks the surface when we must exert ourselves or when we are alone with our thoughts. Guilt is one of those things that bends and perverts our sight. It is the enemy of an accurate perspective.

Joseph’s brothers knew guilt. And rightly so. With murderous intent they thew their brother into a pit, and then (in some sort of act of twisted mercy) sold him as a slave to a passing caravan of Ishmaelites. On top of that, they covered up their hateful plot with deception. And thus began a life free from the burden of their br…
In the Hands of a Hungry Pilgrim

Its cover is worn with bent edges
Its pages yellowed with passing time
It smells of age and cellar
Its years beyond mine

In it though a treasure resides
Words of hope and strength and life
From page to page and word to word
Come truths to help and remind

Its resting place seemed its forever home
Until seeking eyes upon it fell
And the thirsty heart felt strength arise
Its page's words a restoring supply

Discarded not, nor left behind
From elder hearts come treasures prized
Not set aside but dearly held
In the hands of a hungry pilgrim

We carry in us, in these earthen vessels, treasure of great worth and value, deposited by the Lord. Like an old book, some of us are wearing with the years and feeling the cricks and cracks of an aging body. But still, the treasure remains. 

We may feel, like an old book, threadbare and tattered, but that does not mean we are not useful in the Master's hands. Our pages may be yellowed and stiff, but let us not lose heart, for the y…