No Earthly Good

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

The actual logic of Paul’s argumentation here would suggest that this passage begin with “SINCE you have been raised…”

Nonetheless, there is a sequential conditional element present here that must be considered: We died, we were raised, act like it.

I am still trying to learn what it means to “seek the things which are above;” to “seek first the kingdom of God…” (Matt. 6:33)

How do I “set my mind on things above” without coming across as a flake, or ‘super-spiritual?’ I have not been able to straddle the middle road that keeps me from being “so heavenly-minded that I am no earthly good.”

After years of trying–and discovering to my chagrin that I had become so earthly-minded that I was no heavenly good–I am about ready to give up trying. The only way I can be of any good to this realm is by way of the heavenly.

I see a world crushed under the weight of its current problems–economic, health, mental, social, and spiritual–and I see a Church poorly equipped to speak to these problems. I am a part of that Church.

My mind is on the things of the earth–poverty, sickness, disease, corruption, wickedness in every place. I see the devastation in Haiti, and am ashamed of the untimely and insensitive remarks of some of our church leaders.

“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?” (Jeremiah 8:22)

I have failed in this. Maybe it is because I have not learned what it means to “put off…put on”, as Paul admonishes us in this chapter. I am to put off the deeds of the flesh, the things that I had no problem doing before I knew the Lord (or rather was known by Him). Thought I had done that. And then some ugly thing rears its head to let me know how far from His perfection I am.

I am to put on a compassionate heart, kindness and humility, meekness and patience (v.12). Thought I had done that. And then I find myself entertaining some judgmental thought toward someone when I have no idea the burdens they might be bearing, and I realize how far from His perfection I am.

The only reality I am left with is that “I have died, and my life is hidden with Christ in God.” When that fully penetrates my mind, maybe I will become a little more earthly good.

NOTE: This is the third in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Colossians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter three of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

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Will Hell Replace Heaven?

Colossians 2:3 (Christ), in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

How far we have strayed from this simple truth. The Church continues to buy into much of the philosophy of this world and is not even aware of it.

DISCLAIMER: As I sit here and ‘throw stones’ please be aware that not too long ago, I was one of those who had been completely deceived by the philosophies of the modern age.

It is easy to hear something that sounds plausible, and then find a verse to support the idea.

For instance, “The Secret”, a New York Times bestseller for the past three years, says that you can have anything in life that you want, if you just know the secret to getting it. That “secret” is in the “Law of Attraction.” Focus your energy and your thoughts on what it is that you want, and the Law of Attraction will go to work for you, bringing you your desired outcome.

How is that different from Joel Osteen’s faith message, filled with sound bites, which is affecting thousands of Christians daily.

Or, how about the Buddhist influence into the Church, as saints seek ‘no mind,’ which is claimed to be at the root of most of our troubles? Or, the Hindu goal of enlightenment? Enlightenment is the experience of “knowing” and not being hindered by dualistic thinking.

Why is it that we cannot see “The LIE” in all this? It is the same lie Eve succumbed to in the garden–“you shall be as gods”–and that is very tantalizing.

Now we are being told by many that we are the ruler of our own ‘universe.’ That is, WE are the ones who control our destiny; WE are the ones who make decisions without regard for anything outside ourselves (except for the caveat of “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.”)

NO!! It is only in Christ that we have any life at all. (John 15:5)

And, there are some who would pervert even that truth by saying “Christ means ‘anointed’, and when you understand that you are ‘God’s anointed’, then you have risen to that which God has prepared for you.”

Why does all this continue to happen?

Because we have gotten away from the truth of God’s Word. We have allowed philosophy to overtake our pulpits, rather than the plain teaching and exposition of the Word. And the people do not know any better, because they spend so little time in the Bible themselves.

A one or two-hour fix each week is not enough to prepare yourself for the battle that lies at our door! Especially when that ‘fix’ is tainted with enough poison to put us to sleep.

Well did Karl Marx say that “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”

We have allowed religion to replace spirituality. We have allowed ‘relevance’ to replace reality. We have allowed sound bites to replace sermons. We have allowed experience to replace exposition. We have allowed problems, and challenges, and issues, and disorders to replace sin. We have allowed therapy to replace repentance.

If we do not turn it around soon, we will discover that we have allowed hell to replace heaven.

NOTE: This is the second in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Colossians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter two of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

The Purpose of Our Ministry

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Col. 1:28-29 ESV)

Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32) signifying what kind of death he would die.

We have also given this the somewhat spiritual interpretation of meaning that we should only preach Jesus and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2)–an interpretation that I am not against using. (Maybe it would be more accurate to call this an application, rather than an interpretation.) Anyway, the point is–Him we proclaim.

After 40 years of ministry, teaching the Bible to any who will listen, I am only beginning to understand what this means. I have not failed to preach Jesus and him crucified. I am still moved to tears anytime I talk of the wondrous work of the cross on my behalf. But I am just now coming to understand the fulness of what this means in my ministry and for my daily life.

I am beginning to sense an urgency in the Body of Christ, and I hear many preachers taking on a new tone of warning. This is something that has been lacking for the last two decades as we were lulled into a stupor with our eyes fixed on this world’s goods, listening to those who would sell us and tell us what we thought we wanted to hear.

Now, the emptiness of a self-centered, self-serving life is beginning to take its toll in the lives of many. They have achieved much, but gained little, and are beginning to realize the ledger is not balanced.

If you have any kind of a ministry at all–blogging, writing, talking on the phone, sharing on the street, speaking from the pulpit, whatever–I encourage you to “look on the fields, for they are white to harvest” (John 4:35). Seize every opportunity to speak the truth, to share what the Lord has done in your life, to warn those who are going astray, to encourage those who falling behind. (for an interesting and unique way to quickly encourage others, click here.)

Paul says here that he warns and teaches with all wisdom. I take that verse personally, and believe that I should be teaching and warning with wisdom. But, such is so often not the case. More often than not, I come on like gangbusters, sure that I have the answer for the situation, only to see someone hurt by my good intentions. As a result, I have learned to be quiet, waiting until I “know that I know that I know” that what I have is from the Lord. And I still make mistakes.

But, it’s not about me. It’s about the Lord, and when I can fully learn that lesson and live in its fulness, then I will be more able to see His wisdom as He flows through me in grace towards His people.

I gained an insight just last night while preparing this morning’s message from Phil. 2:13–I can’t get it wrong when serving the Lord. That is liberating for me.

My only goal in all that I do in ministry is “to present everyone mature in Christ.” Hopefully, something you read here will help you in your walk with the Master.

NOTE: This is the first in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Colossians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter one of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.