Monday, June 27, 2011

A Study in Colossians (Part 4)

…A Study in Colossians…
…Part Four…

First, I’d like to thank those who have waded through the water with me on this study through Colossians.  We are nearing the end of our study, with this the final chapter.  A quick recap of where we’ve been:

Þ     In Chapter One we took at look at how Paul began to refute the competing philosophies of the day with the truth of who Christ is
Þ     In Chapter Two we began to see how Paul tackled the “killers” of true belief, philosophy and ritual, and how the ekkelesia is to overcome it’s “enemies”, namely:

1.      Enticing words
2.      Philosophy
3.      Legality
4.      Mysticism
5.      Asceticism[1]

Þ     In Chapter Three we explored the whole point to Colossians, and that is the question of Christ being preeminent in the believers life.

Now, here we are, Chapter Four, and dare I say we’ll get quickly through it?  All of this epistle to the Colossians has been about Christ, and the fact that Christ should be our all. Shouldn’t that mere (as if anything concerning our Blessed Savior could be considered “mere”) fact dictate all of what we do?  We are not just “Christians” on Sunday folks.  We are to be “Christian” in our prayers, in our public walk, in our speech, in all that we do.  24/7.  Do we worship only at church, or driving to the grocery store?  Do we exalt His name only within the walls of the meeting hall, or do we proclaim Him in the depths of our greatest trials and triumphs?  Do we walk holy only in the sight of men, or do we appear before Him, holy and blameless, in the secret of our closet where only He can see?  Do we weep at the sins of the world and wink at the sins of those “like us”?  Can we stand in the face of ridicule and persecution, or do we just blend in, hoping no one will notice us, much like Peter in the courtyard before the rooster crowed?  Do we strive with one another, dragging brothers and sisters into court, or do we accept the offense and forgive the offender?  Can we forgive?  Can we love?  Can we walk this walk, no matter what?  Is the fruit of the Spirit evident, or does it wilt on the vine, bearing no fruit at all?  Questions, so many questions.  Do we even ask them of ourselves, or do we just apply them to “others”?  One of the times I dislike the most is the political season; it brings out the worst in me.  I find myself caught up in the questions and matters of the day, wondering which direction the nation will go, hearing all the hype from both sides of the coin and finding myself at odds with one or the other.  Without a doubt, there are philosophical differences between those engaged in the politics of this great country, and yes, they do matter on so many fronts.  I weep at the thought of 45,000,000 children sacrificed to the G-d of “choice” since 1973, and shudder to think what judgement a righteous G-d will bring upon this land for its sins.  Yet in it all, why can’t I see what the true need is? 
2 Chronicles 7:12-22 (KJV)

12And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. 13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 15Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. 16For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. 17And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments; 18Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel. 19But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other G-ds, and worship them; 20Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations. 21And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house? 22And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD G-d of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other G-ds, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them. [2]

Do you see?  We are so familiar with verse 14, but rarely do you see the context in which G-d spoke these words.  The King James translation inserts the word “if” into verse 14, yet, a more literal rendering is needed to truly understand the context that G-d said this in:

2Ch 7:13-14
If I restrain the heavens and there is no rain, and if I lay charge on the locust to consume the land, and if I send pestilence among My people--
and My people on whom My name is called be humbled, and pray, and seek My face, and turn back from their evil ways, then I--I hear from the heavens, and forgive their sin, and heal their land.[3]

Look at the portions in both examples that I have highlighted: G-d says “…if I…”  G-d sends judgement upon nations not only to punish the wicked, but to get the righteous to repent, to humble themselves before Him.  People, we need to pray that’s what we need to do.  To humble ourselves before the Most High G-d, to stretch forth ourselves, to prostrate ourselves and ask for G-d to forgive US of our sins, and then He’ll hear.  He doesn’t say for the sinner or the unsaved to ask, He wants to hear from US.  Friends, I get bogged down in the mundane of life just like anyone else.  I’m trying to pay attention to the times and seasons, so that I can discern correctly, yet, I often lose track of the one thing I should be doing- staying focused on my Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is so easy to rail against all the wrong I see, and so hard to simply drop on my knees and pray to G-d about it, calling forth mercy and grace upon those involved and turning from MY wicked ways so that He’ll hear.  Want to change the world?  Pray.  Want the right leaders?  Pray.  Want the day of grace extended?  Pray.  Want to protect the most innocent?  Pray, pray, pray and pray again.  Brethren, we even get so caught up in doing the works of G-d, and I’m talking about doing the right things before Him, that we forget to humble ourselves.  That’s it.  No more qualifying of that fact is needed.  To get G-d to hear requires a humble spirit, and I must say, a spirit in anguish over sin, for first my own and then those of the people of G-d.  I must be in humble prayer at all times brethren, asking for mercy for all G-d’s people and when that is done, then I can pray for the lost.  Imagine untold numbers, prostrating themselves before G-d, crying for the sins of His people, and for the sins of the nations.  What would change in the Spiritual Realm if we did?  Yet most of us only wail when we get a hang-nail, or our little world gets a bit complicated.  Then we’ll spend five minutes before Him, maybe give 30 seconds of quick generic prayer for the needs of others and then sit back and wonder why this nation and the world is going so quickly to Hell.  This then is Chapter Four’s theme.  How are we to walk.  Paul, in so few sentences, can convict me with the Holy Spirit’s words, that I’ll find myself crying as I type because of the painful truth that echoes from my heart. 
Thank You Savior, thank You, O Ruach; for I need to be reminded of my weaknesses, so that I may once more lean upon You for mercy, for grace, for strength, for love.
As I said, there are great philosophical differences in those that want to lead this nation, but isn’t one of the dangers we face as the body rooted in philosophy?  If I ground myself upon the shore of the material, on the rocky shoals of Caesar’s world, then I have just ship wrecked my walk with Christ…

Only in Him, is there peace, no matter the direction the world takes… Only in Him will the cries of 45,000,000 and counting innocent children be heard and justice brought to bear…  Only in Him can the evil that plagues mankind’s collective soul be cast out…  Only in Him can we walk, talk and breathe.  Only in Him.

O the darkness that prevails today, I know has the Hand of Him upon it, for He will bring the sword, the pestilence, the famine and the beast to bear if His people do not begin to pray and seek His face.  My beloved, what befalls the nation and this world happens because we do not do what we are supposed to do.  Are we not the watchmen?

Ezekiel 3:17-21 (1901 ASV)
Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand. 19Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. 20Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thy hand. 21Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and thou hast delivered thy soul. [4]

Ezekiel 33:1-20 (KJV)
1Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: 3If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; 4Then whosoevera heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. 6But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. 7So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. 8When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 9Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. 10Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? 11Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord G-D, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? 12Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. 13When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. 14Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; 15If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. 16None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live. 17Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal. 18When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. 19But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby. 20Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways. [5]

“…turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?…”  For why or what will we die, beloved?  What is it that keeps us from our knees, from the floor, going humble before Him?  We need a church where ALL humble themselves before the Throne of Grace, and cry out in loud voice for the sins of the people.  We need to sit in sack-clothe and ashes and mourn not only for the lost, but also for our own iniquities and call out for all to “…turn ye, turn ye…!”  O most righteous Father, let it begin here, in this heart!  Hear my cry if none else!  For Your word said You’d spare if You found 10 righteous! O Father, search and see, I pray, for 10!  In the study on Chapter three Father I called for 12 to stand and be counted, O now I pray for 10 Most High!  Watchmen on the wall, sound the shofar!  The sword is here and I’m afraid we’ve been silent too long.  Speak I say!  Beloved, do you here the cry of G-d?  It is a cry for us, His people, to seek Him once more!  Let it begin here, Father, give me a voice, Your voice.  Pray with me, will you brethren?  And don’t stop; so much depends upon it… 

1 Kings 19:11-12
11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.[6]

O the voice of G-d.  Spoken of here in 1st kings as a still small voice, but is G-d always heard this way?  Do we hear G-d at all?  If we can hardly hear one another at times for all our posturing and shouting, how can we hear G-d?  I wonder about this for there are the times I seek the quiet, the stillness, to hear from G-d and yet, His voice as well as the quiet eludes me.  What I see, and hear, day to day, is not only myself but others always trying to be heard above the fray, above the noise.  We raise our voices to make our ways known to others around us, to justify our positions or feelings, to voice our displeasure and our opinions, and at no time do we take the time to stop, shut up, and hear what is being said by one another, let alone G-d.  If we do listen, it is usually with an attitude, because the other person is either saying something that makes sense, makes no sense, or is just plain contrary to what our take on the situation is.  With all the clamor, bluff and fury, we hear nothing at all unless it suits our agenda.  It is no wonder in the midst of all this noise that we fail to hear G-d’s voice, for we crowd out His words with our own, we discount His counsel because we say to ourselves, “ Well, I don’t know if it was really the Lord, or myself, or the devil...”  So instead of going quiet, we make presumptions and go our own merry way, missing out on the very wisdom we needed at that time because we just didn’t want to hear.  In my experience G-d doesn’t speak quietly.  There is nothing quiet about G-d, and G-d has never stopped talking.  When He wants something done, He sounds off from heaven and waits to see if anybody is listening.  Maybe He’ll speak to 100 people and only one will hear.  How can you miss His voice?

Job 37:2-5
2 Hear attentively the roar of his voice, and the murmur going forth from his mouth. 3 He sendeth it forth under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth. 4 After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his excellency, and holdeth not back the flashes when his voice is heard. 5 G-d thundereth marvellously with his voice, doing great things which we do not comprehend. [7]

He does great things with His voice which we do not comprehend....  Have you ever given any thought at all to G-d’s voice, to the voice of the One who loves you?  We wander aimlessly, lost without a vision, for we don’t seek His vision for us, but we hearken to our own voice and its advice.  How can we ever expect to grow as a body, as a church, if we are locked in the ways of the past, never reaching for G-d outside of the little box in which we are comfortable in.  You as disciples, what do you seek?  Are you here to hear?  Or do the things around you blind you to the greater things that G-d has waiting, those great things which we do not comprehend.  We miss His voice because we won’t be still, we won’t let His voice be heard beyond the confines of our own.  If we truly seek to hear from G-d, is it by pressing in on a matter, petitioning G-d till we hear from Him as the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8?
Luke 18:1-8

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not G-d, neither regarded man:  3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not G-d, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not G-d avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? [8]
Do you pray and then faint away?  How can you expect to hear from G-d in this fashion?  No matter who you are, layman, disciple, clergy, or leadership, how you listen for G-d’s voice determines the answers you get or the ones you think you get.  So many times, in the past have I sought guidance from G-d and in the process thrown down a golden fleece for Him to give me a sign, when in reality all it was an attempt on my part to get Him to rubber stamp the decision I had already come to.  How many times have I tried to fit G-d into my plans, when in truth it should have been myself that submitted to the Master’s plan.  And yet, through it all, He remained faithful to hear me in my cries, in my distress He replied:
Psalm 18:6-15
6 In my distress I called upon Jehovah, And cried unto my G-d: He heard my voice out of his temple, And my cry before him came into his ears. 7 Then the earth shook and trembled; The foundations also of the mountains quaked And were shaken, because he was wroth. 8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, And fire out of his mouth devoured: Coals were kindled by it. 9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down; And thick darkness was under his feet. 10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly; Yea, he soared upon the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness his hiding-place, his pavilion round about him, Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. 12 At the brightness before him his thick clouds passed, Hailstones and coals of fire. 13 Jehovah also thundered in the heavens, And the Most High uttered his voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. 14 And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; Yea, lightnings manifold, and discomfited them. 15 Then the channels of waters appeared, And the foundations of the world were laid bare, At thy rebuke, O Jehovah, At the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. [9]

For too long, Christians have tried to hear the voice of G-d, and yet, we truly don’t want to give Him a chance to respond.  When we do wait to hear in the times of our deepest troubles, He just as often might not give us the answer that we want.  His word contains all the solutions we seek, so why can’t we hear or accept His voice?  Do you really think that G-d is quiet, so quiet that it is hard to hear Him?  Guess again....
Psalm 29:3-11
3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the G-d of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.  4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.   5 The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. 7 The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.  8 The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.   10 The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever. 11 The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace. [10]

If anything, G-d is not quiet!  The problem isn’t G-d’s voice, for it is mighty!
Psalm 68:33-35
33 To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice.  34 Ascribe ye strength unto G-d: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds.  35 O G-d, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the G-d of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be G-d. [11]

No, the reason we have trouble hearing is simply that we have hardened our hearts, and turned off our hearing aids.  Our hearts are hard for we want what we want, not what He wants.  We mock at His worship, we play at His praise.  We cast our fate upon our own decisions, and not into the Lord’s lot; our knees remain un-bowed.  Though we have eyes and ears to see and hear with, we choose not to use them.  He has called out to us, in His Holy word, time and time again:
Psalm 95:6-11
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
7 For He is our G-d,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you will hear His voice:
8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”[12]

Is this the price that we as a church, as the body of Christ, are willing to pay for not hearing?  We go about throwing stumbling blocks in each other’s way, thinking we’re helping each other “face” whatever problems they have.  I push your buttons so you can see what you have to work on...  Madness.  This is simply madness.  This is a selfish, vain attempt to play G-d.  My liberty, my freedom stops when I hurt another.  This isn’t freedom, not the freedom Christ paid so dearly for; in our testing of one another, we test G-d.  It is His place to change me, it is His right and His alone.  If I’m truly listening to His voice, I am seeking to edify, striving to bring peace and to lift up and serve my brothers, not constantly tearing them down so that they can see what they “need to work on”.  How does that serve the will of Christ?  The Holy Spirit will make sure I realize my shortcomings, I don’t need anyone else provoking me to find this out.  G-d’s mercy and grace extend beyond my weaknesses....
Psalm 103:1-22
1 A Psalm of David.
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
22 Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul! [13]

If I continue to choose not to follow G-d, but to force my own walk upon others, who do I serve, G-d or self?  If I hear His voice, do I offend, or do I reprove?  If I hear His voice, do I trouble another’s soul, or in love correct, and show mercy?  Is the word of G-d all, for Christ is the Word, and do I despise the full counsel of G-d by rejecting my All-in-All?  What O G-d, does my own counsel bring?
Jeremiah 7:21-27
21 Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the G-d of Israel: Add your burnt-offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat ye flesh. 22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices: 23 but this thing I commanded them, saying, Hearken unto my voice, and I will be your G-d, and ye shall be my people; and walk ye in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you. 24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. 25 Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day, I have sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: 26 yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff: they did worse than their fathers. 27 And thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee. [14]

If we listen and hear, what is the result?
Jeremiah 11:4
4 which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Hearken unto my voice and do them, according to all that I command you; so shall ye be my people, and I will be your G-d: [15]

And whom shall we hear?
Luke 9:35
35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. [16]

The price has been paid for our hard-hearts and deaf ears...
Luke 23:46
46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last. [17]

Today, who are you listening to?  The voice of your own counsel or your own pet beliefs, or the voice of the One that sits on the throne of heaven?  We hear, but we don’t listen.  The voice of G-d peels back the darkness in our lives and releases the power to love, not provoke.  Counsel is given, counsel that will bring us to the fullness of Christ, but only if we are listening.  Body, hear the head.  Today is the day, the acceptable day.  All around you this day is a choice, for layman and leader to stop what we are doing and hear from G-d..
Hebrews 3:7-19
7 Wherefore, even as the Holy Spirit saith, To-day if ye shall hear his voice, 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, Like as in the day of the trial in the wilderness, 9 Where your fathers tried me by proving me, And saw my works forty years. 10 Wherefore I was displeased with this generation, And said, They do always err in their heart: But they did not know my ways; 11 As I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest. 12 Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living G-d: 13 but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called To-day; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin: 14 for we are become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end: 15 while it is said, To-day if ye shall hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16 For who, when they heard, did provoke? nay, did not all they that came out of Egypt by Moses? 17 And with whom was he displeased forty years? was it not with them that sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that were disobedient? 19 And we see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief. [18]

He has warned us time and time again, Today, do not harden your heart.  If you will hear His voice, all will change.  We will find rest.
Hebrews 4:7-16
7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of G-d. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as G-d did from His.
11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of G-d is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of G-d, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [19]

The throne of grace and mercy awaits those who hear His voice.  No rest awaits those who choose their own path.  Be warned; stop and listen.  G-d is speaking.

With all that in mind, we continue our study…

Colossians 4:1 (DARBY)
1 Masters, give to bondmen what is just and fair, knowing that ye also have a Master in the heavens. [20]

“Just” is the Greek word  dikaios  dik'-ah-yos meaning: “equitable (in character or act); by implication, innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively):--just, meet, right(-eous).[21]
“Fair” is the word isotes  ee-sot'-ace meaning: “likeness (in condition or proportion);  by implication, equity:--equal(-ity).[22]
 Now the words are translated as “just and equal (fair)”, but look closer at the definitions of the words.  G-d sets a standard for “masters”, the “bosses”.  He sets a standard likened to holiness, to an equality that goes beyond “minimum wage.”  Just think for a minute; if employers would do as G-d said, treat their employees with holiness in the likeness of Him, would we ever have a debate on the “class” struggles?  G-d would provide for the success of the employer, as well as those that used his product.  Do unto the least of these my brethren, and you have done unto me says the L-rd.  All of us, employee or employer will stand before the L-rd on that day and answer for how we treated one another.  Makes a difference doesn’t it, how we should act?  We will all stand before the Master.

Colossians 4:2-4 (1901 ASV)
Continue stedfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; 3withal praying for us also, that God may open unto us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds; 4that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. [23]

I’d like to quote John Gill here before going further:

“…and watch in the same with thanksgiving. There is not only a watchfulness unto it, previous to a man's entrance on it, as in Eph_6:18 but a watchfulness in it, which is opposed both to sleepiness of body, and to coldness and indifference of mind, to all careless airs and negligent manner of performing it; and designs an intenseness of mind, an application of thought, and fervency of devotion, and affection in it. It lies in a concern, that the heart be lift up, with the hands to God; in a care, that what is asked is according to the will of God, and that the whole be performed in sincerity, faith, and fear. This is what the Jews call עיון תפלה, "the attention of prayer" (f), and כונת הלב, "the intention of the heart"; and which, they say (g), is the root of prayer, the main and principal thing in it; and that every prayer which is not with intention, is no prayer (h); and which, they observe, lies in this, that a man turns his heart from all (other) thoughts, and seems to himself as if he stood before the divine Majesty. To this

thanksgiving must be added; see Phi_4:6 for this is well pleasing to God; and the contrary, an ungrateful spirit, is highly resented by him. Besides, a believer has always mercies to bless God for, as well as favours to ask at his hands; nor is he ever in such a situation, either in temporals or spirituals, but he has something to bless God for. Moreover, how should it be expected that a person should succeed in a present request, who is not thankful for a former kindness? …” [24]

How often do we pray with attention and intention?  O, but you might say, I always have an intention when I pray…  And what might that be?  To further your aim, or G-d’s?  What about attention?  Is prayer modeled after the L-rd’s prayer, or does it meander, wandering about, short on focus?  I call this the “shot-gun” approach to prayer, and I admit I’m guilty of it.  My “intention” starts out to have a talk with G-d and usually ends up as a laundry list of things I’d like G-d to take care of.  O this and then that… but wait a minute I forgot about… o by the way… and how about… where was I…  Brethren, if you’ve got something that needs prayer, get to it.  Men like Spurgeon, Ironsides, Ravenhill, they got on their knees and when they started to pray, didn’t stop till G-d gave them an answer.  Finney was said to have thick calluses on his knees from being on them so much.  I’ve often thought about what this would take, what devotion, what an understanding of G-d it takes to stay in prayer with Him.  I’m not there my friends.  To be truthful, it would be a wondrous thing to be able to lay aside all other thoughts and just concentrate upon Him.  I figure that’s one reason I write;  It is one of the few chances I get to put all my thoughts and efforts into Him; I’m never more blessed than when I sit here and let His Spirit dictate to me.  At other times, I hear the voice in my head that is usually just me, and I want to say, we can get pretty far off if I don’t watch it.  I remember a scene from the movie “Fiddler on he Roof”.  Topol playing the role of Tevya, the poor Jewish milkman was singing the song “If I were a rich man”.  The part that always causes me to pause goes like this:

“…If I were rich maybe I’d have the time that I lack
to sit in the synagogue and pray
and maybe have a seat by the eastern wall;
And I’d discuss the Holy Books with the learned men
Seven hours every day.
And that would be the sweetest thing of all…”[25]

The point to this illustration is attention and intention.  We are to “continue in prayer” as Paul puts it, that constant vigilance to earnest communication with G-d, with intention and thanksgiving.  We don’t pay much attention to our breathing folks, it just kind of takes care of itself, but prayer should be like breathing:  we inhale by prayer and exhale with thanksgiving.[26]  Can’t live without it.

There is a story I’d like to share with you now before we go on. You might wonder why I include it here: you’ll know after you read it.

Two evangelists were conducting a meeting in one of our large inland cities. One night the speaker of the hour had his attention drawn to the face of a woman in the audience on account of its perfectly hopeless expression. It was a fine countenance, but some kind of happening in the past had evidently stolen away the brightness, and left it with the appearance of having been turned to stone.
We have seen a smitten life in the past, whose solitariness and silence
made us think somehow of waves breaking with solemn sound on lonely, barren shores; or we would have summoned up a human figure standing on a prominent headland watching the sun going down for the last time in the billows of the sea. In some such way the melancholy unexpectant face in the congregation affected us; and yet this stunned, lifeless-looking countenance belonged to a young married woman, not over twenty-four
years of age. One night as the people were going out of the church, she passed near the
speaker, when in deepest pity for a sorrow-laden soul he reached out his hand and said: “God bless your heart.”
In an instant a grateful flash leaped in her eyes, that strangely reminded him of the gratitude he had beheld manifested in the look of dumb brutes. He remembered a dog which he had once stooped over and patted, a poor creature that had never known anything but blows, kicks, abuse and starvation; and pitiful to relate, the wistful, appealing, grateful gaze of the dog was the same he saw in the woman. One night she was not in her place, and on her reappearance next day he said: “I missed you last night.” And again there sprang up for just a moment the same touched look, as though so simple a speech meant much to her.
It seems that it is through acts of courtesy and deeds of kindness that the door of many hearts has to be opened to receive the messages of God; and so it was in the case of Evelyn G_____. A glance of pity and interest where none had been expected, was the first swallow of a coming spring. It makes a great difference in the appearance of this world when we have one person in it who cares for us. And the Gospel itself has a different sound when we are not alone in life, but stand enriched and blessed with the
friendship and love of others around us. Anyhow, a door was opened somewhere in this long-shut-up life, the Spirit of God got in, and one night the young woman came to the altar.
Other nights found her there, and it was evident that a terrible conflict was
going on within her soul. She asked for no counsel, sought no sympathy, reflected on nobody, but with set features and groanings of spirit rather than with the lips, she
seemed to be engaged in a life and death struggle on some hidden battlefield of the heart.
One person alone knew her past life, and all unsolicited we were told by that individual a history that made the heart ache and the tears run swiftly down the face. There had been sin, but under such circumstances of girlish ignorance, innocence and betrayal of trust, that one could but wonder why the thunderbolts of justice and judgment did not fall from the skies and destroy the man who was the blighter and blaster under the guise of
adviser and protector.
Nevertheless all wrongs of earth must be forgiven if we ourselves would receive the pardon of Heaven. So the day came when the broken-hearted woman forgave the injurer and placed the lifelong wound under the Blood, when with a cry of joy that penetrated and thrilled every soul in the audience she flung herself back in the arms of her mother, and with clasped hands and radiant face looked like a being just arrived from the Glory World.
In the remaining days of the meeting, it was a benediction to see her soul drinking deep at the fountain, and eating of the Gospel manna which was raining upon and around her. She had been thirsty and hungry so long! And then she had been hopeless so long! From sixteen to twenty-four she had eaten, drank, walked, slept and awoke under a cloud of impenetrable blackness. And it was growing blacker as the months rolled by! And the
whisper of the Devil to commit suicide was getting louder! And her heart was becoming harder! — until the meeting came on, which brought Christ to her soul in pardon, peace, victory, and blessed salvation.
Months afterward when far away across the continent we received letters
telling us of the good this woman was doing. She had taken an active interest in church work. Instead of asking for a Sunday school class, she went out on the streets and found or made one. She spent a certain portion of each day in visiting the sick and helping the poor. She divided repeatedly the little store in her purse with the needy; did it with happy
tears welling up in her eyes, and then would crown the visit of mercy with a fervent, loving prayer sent direct to the Throne from a room or cabin of abject poverty. Other letters were written telling how she had organized a mission in a neglected part of the city; and following this news came still another communication stating that she been elected organist of the church Sunday school. Every succeeding report for a whole year was of this character, and filled the heart with thanksgiving for such a beautifully redeemed life.
Then came a long silence of months; and one day a letter arrived stating that certain lady members of the church had dug up something relative to the past history of Evelyn G_____ and were industriously circulating it. That when the reports first reached Mrs. G_____ she seemed much shocked, but went on in her duties just the same, trying to be bright and cheerful as before. But the talk had increased to such an extent that a number of the female members had dropped her socially, cut her publicly in the church work and religious services, and their victim was steadily sinking under the treatment.
Another letter several months afterward reported that the division in the church over the case of Mrs. G_____ had steadily increased in gravity. That various tongues kept fanning the flames and adding more fuel as if determined to destroy the soul which Christ had saved. One report was that she had ruined a preacher’s usefulness; a second that she had deceived her husband; a third that she had always been bad from girlhood, etc., etc.
The letter said that Mrs. G_____ never opened her lips in reply to anything or anybody; that she never struck back, but looked like a wounded fawn facing with great melancholy eyes the hunters and hounds who were seeking its death. After this came still other tidings through which we learned that she had given up her class in Sunday school, ceased her mission work, and came very rarely to church. That when she did attend public worship she would sit in the last pew, and would leave hurriedly at the close, without speaking to a soul.
A whole year more rolled by and once again we visited the city where three years before we had witnessed a wonderful revival, and among the number saved had been made to rejoice over the remarkable case we have just described. We went promptly to the street and number where she had formerly lived, and rang the bell. A strange face appeared at the door, and to inquiries replied that Mrs. G_____ no longer lived there, and that she did not know where she resided. Going to the house of a church member in the neighborhood, we were told by that good lady that Mrs. G_____’s husband had left her, and that she had gone to live with her mother in a distant part of the city, fully twenty or thirty blocks away. After taking down the address we asked:
“Does Mrs. G_____ ever come to church?”
“No, indeed. She has not darkened our church doors for nearly a year. She likes other places better than the house of God.”
“What do you mean?” we inquired.
“I mean,” replied the lady with a severely virtuous look, “that she goes to theaters on week nights, and to the parks on Sunday. The last time I heard from her, six or seven months ago, she was with a set of worldly people in the largest theater down town.”
“Poor dear heart,” we said, with a big ache in our own.
“I think you are wasting pity on a very bad woman,” was the rejoinder of our Christian friend.
After a moment’s pause we said:
“My sister, do you remember one of the most touching descriptions in prophecy about the Savior?”
“I don’t know that I do.”
“I am afraid,” we returned, “that many of Christ’s followers do not know it.”
“What is the prophecy?” the woman asked with some interest.
“Here it is,” we replied, reading from Isaiah: “‘The bruised reed will He not break; and smoking flax will He not quench.’” Then closing the book we said:
 “Here is stated the exceeding tenderness of the Savior with those who have been afflicted, injured and all but wounded to death in the battle of life. The person in his desire for goodness and heaven may not realize a flame in the heart, but have instead a mere fireless smoking that is seen in flax when drying. And yet even that feeble spiritual state the Lord will not despise. As for one who has been bruised by sin, so that a touch would break the poor reed-like character, even that one is safe with the Redeemer, for instead of crushing what is already nearly ruined by the Devil, Jesus would restore and save every such heart-broken and undone man or woman.”
The lady before us was silent and solemn enough now, while we continued:
“The young woman whom the pitiless tongues in your church drove from duty and the House of God to the theater, and back to the world, was not the bad character you thought and said she was. We know her history, and the bitter wrongs heaped upon her all through her life to this hour. She sinned, but was more sinned against than sinning. She was betrayed where she had a right to expect protection and safety. She never deceived her husband but told him all before marriage. He was a brute to her after the wedded
her, but she was true to him. Neither was she the bad girl that rumor said she was. Those who know her past life best declare that she was a bright, happy, innocent until the disaster came upon her at sixteen. We wrote these facts to several individuals here in the
midst of the tongue storm raised against her, but it seems that truth was not the thing that was wanted, but the heart-break and utter overthrow of a young woman who was trying to save her soul, do better, and gain Heaven!”
Noticing the incredibly disturbed look on our auditor’s face, we added:
“The difference between Jesus Christ and your church is that He wants to save souls and you prefer to destroy them. He would mend and restore the bruised reed, while your people would break one with every opportunity. You will excuse me, my sister, in
saying that your church may have Christianity, but they certainly do not possess Christ. And more than that, if your membership has religion, it is not the kind which the world wants to see, and that it must have, to lift it up from its fallen condition into light, hope faith, salvation and a better life.”
A half hour after this scene we were threading our way along some dingy streets, hunting for the childhood home of Evelyn G_____. It stood, we were told, several blocks back from the river but overlooking the same as it swept with broad and majestic current towards the South. The streets became hilly and broken, and the houses straggling, before we stood before the one we sought. The porch was dusty, the side and back yards silent and empty, and the window shutters all closed. We rang the doorbell, but only got echoes and the barking of a distant dog for our pains. We rang again, and a plainly-dressed, tired-looking woman came to a window of the next house and said “Nobody’s at home.”
Coming nearer to her, we lifted our hat and asked:
“Does the mother of Mrs. G_____ live here?”
“Yes, sir, but she is not at home today, and hardly ever is. Poor soul, I don’t wonder that she wants to get away.”
“What is her trouble?” we asked, with a vague fear arising in the heart.
“It is not trouble, sir, but troubles. Her only son is in the Philippines; then her two oldest daughters are married, moved away and she hardly ever hears from them; and now the last one is gone.”
“Does not Mrs. G_____ live here with her mother?”
“She did, sir, but she is gone now, and has been for over four months.”
“Where is she?”
“Nobody knows. Some say she is in Chicago; others say New York. I don’t believe that her own mother knows where she is.”
A few more words were exchanged which brought no additional light, and
the woman disappeared in the depths of her house. We returned and sat down a on the porch steps of Evelyn’s silent and desolate home, and surrendered the mind up to reflections of the most melancholy nature.
Some children were playing in the roadway farther down the street: A dog was lazily and dreamily watching them as he was stretched upon a front gallery. The whole neighborhood in the quiet, almost pulseless afternoon air seemed asleep. Far across the wide river stretched a landscape of fields shut in by a distant range of purple hills, and beyond them a low misty line of fleecy clouds rested on the horizon. As we looked from the doorstep on the scene we said aloud “And far beyond hills and clouds, somewhere on the face of the earth, roams Evelyn G_____ with a broken heart.”
Just then a harp organ in the distance commenced playing “The Sweetest
Story Ever Told.” There was a swift rush of tears to the eyes, and we thought:
“Ah, Well! It was sweet to her once, but it became bitter enough in a very little while. Then she tried to love again, and was struck down by hands that should have helped her. What has she to make her seek and trust human affection again? Will she ever do so again? and if she is lost at last who is most to blame! And when the judgment of God falls, will it come heaviest on the woman who tried to do right, or upon those who beat back and down a soul that was trying to quit sin, leave the world, and find its way to Christ, safety, duty, and Heaven?”
The evening came on, the children went away, and the strains of the organ had long ago ceased. We walked down to the river bank where the yellow waves broke with a solemn wash upon the shore, and looked across to where the snowy masses on the horizon had changed into an ominous thunder cloud. We reflected that on this very scene her eyes had often rested, and that as a happy, innocent girl she had many times heard these lapping waves on the shore. They remained still, but where now was the injured woman? Far from her childhood’s home, and farther still from her God, where was she?
And the question would keep coming up as if insisting on a definite and final answer.
“Who is most to blame, the bruised reed or those who broke the bruised reed?”
Then as if in reply memory recalled a Bible scene in which a woman figured whose history was darker than that of Evelyn G_____. In that living picture of old, the guilty one had been dragged before Christ and clamor was made that she should be stoned according to the law of Moses. And then while human tongues lashed and raged around the silent and trembling victim, the Holy One who knew no sin stooped and wrote on
the ground as though He heard them not. Finally He arose and said unto the accusing crowd: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” And once more He stooped and traced that strange, unknown writing in the dust. When He stood up again the accusers were all gone; and He concerning whom prophecy said He would not break a bruised reed, spoke kindly to the crushed, unhappy woman, and planted a new hope in her heart, opened up a new life before her eyes, and swung Heaven itself in front of her exultant soul in the words:
“Go, and sin no more.” [27]

Paul asked the Colossians to pray for him and his companions, so that he and they might be given opportunities to speak of Christ’s love and salvation.  Friends, in the above story do you see your church?  I know that I see in it several churches I’ve attended, and dare say at one time, the description fit even me.  O beloved, this story tugs at my heart! Go back to where the evangelist says to the poor woman “God bless your heart.”  Friends, that struck me with the power of a ton of dynamite, for it was similar words that started me on the road to salvation.  Yet upon that road, I ran afoul of the chattering tongues, and like that poor dear girl struggling to find her way, I was too young in Christ, too vulnerable to the whispers of the enemy to stand my ground, and I lost my way.  O how it breaks my heart to know that unkindness lives and thrives in the house of G-d.  O how I ache to think that there are those who call themselves Christian without Christ in their hearts.  How it wears me down when I think of religion and the evil it has wrought upon the troubled and tortured souls of those that are crying to be freed.  What does your tongue speak beloved?  O how my soul is convicted of the wasted words that are uttered by my lips, words that should have edified, but instead caused stumbling blocks.  O for that reed I bruised, for that flax I quenched I cry to G-d for mercy!  Not only for them, that they find one more tender hearted than I to show them Christ, but for my wretched self, to be cleansed and purified of my thoughtlessness.  And here, I say to those that knocked me about on this road, I forgive! O for my soul, for my Christ, I forgive you!  And I forgive myself, for how can I hate what my Savior loves?  Wretched I was, but redeemed I am by the blood, washed by the living water and restored to life.  Beloved, if you are a Christian without Christ, seek Him and His salvation now, for: 
The bruised reed will He not break; and smoking flax will He not quench…

Colossians 4:5-6 (NABWRNT)
5 Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity (“…redeeming the time…” KJV)
6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you know how you should respond to each one. [28]

Now I hope you can see why I included Rev. Carridine’s story.  “…Some people think this verse says “Let your speech be salt,” and they really sting you with their sarcastic remarks!…” [29]  How true this is.  Instead of redeeming the time, praying for G-d to help us make the most of every opportunity to speak of the grace of Jesus Christ, we instead promote evil with our tongues!  Instead of walking wisely, we walk as foolish children, not taking serious the responsibility G-d has placed upon us.  And we do have a responsibility folks.
Luke 12:42-53 (1901 ASV)

And the Lord said, Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall set over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 44Of a truth I say unto you, that he will set him over all that he hath. 45But if that servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 46the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the unfaithful. 47And that servant, who knew his lord’s will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; 48but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more. 49I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what do I desire, if it is already kindled? 50But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! 51Think ye that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52for there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53They shall be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against her mother; mother in law against her daughter in law, and daughter in law against her mother in law. [30]

Do you not know truly whom you profess to serve?  When the truth of G-d shines upon you, we are not to keep it for ourselves.  He has illuminated our way so that we can lead others out of the darkness, yet too many want only to sit in their little corner and do nothing.  By our inactions, the unsaved world rightly can see that we truly don’t trust G-d, though with our lips we say we do.  For if we trusted Him, what matters it what the world thinks?  We will be on fire for Him and proclaim Him before man and devils!  This is not to say we go forth and do stupid things to show we trust G-d:

Matthew 10:16 (CEV)
16 I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves. So be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves. [31]
We are to walk in wisdom.  I tell you, if I’m going into a pack of wolves, you can better believe I’m going to be wise about the way I do it! And what would that be?  Well, walking in wisdom is walking with the Spirit, in prayer.  With this as our guide, then in wisdom with graciousness, we’d be able to answer all who ask.  The bottom line: walk it; speak it; exhibit grace, love and wisdom, but most important of all, we MUST walk it.

            While we are on the subject of walking out our faith, what better example of this was there than Paul.  When we go through these last verses in the book of Colossians, we see a list of brethren that helped not only to ease Paul’s burdens (he was in prison you recall), but also helped to further the kingdom of G-d.  Surrounded by the pagan practices of the day, these men and women of G-d nevertheless refused to compromise and kept the faith of Jesus Christ- true examples of having the L-rd preeminent in their lives.  Here in these last passages, we see how Paul valued the fellowship of true believers.  There is a lot to be said of each of these Paul mentions, but rather than focus on them, we will just go through a quick synopsis of how to fellowship…

Colossians 4:7-18 (GNB)

7 Our dear brother Tychicus, who is a faithful worker and fellow-servant in the Lord’s work, will give you all the news about me. 8That is why I am sending him to you, in order to cheer you up by telling you how all of us are getting on. 9With him goes Onesimus, that dear and faithful brother, who belongs to your group. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
10 Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have already received instructions to welcome Mark if he comes your way.) 11Joshua, also called Justus, sends greetings too. These three are the only Jewish believers who work with me for the Kingdom of God, and they have been a great help to me.
12 Greetings from Epaphras, another member of your group and a servant of Christ Jesus. He always prays fervently for you, asking God to make you stand firm, as mature and fully convinced Christians, in complete obedience to God’s will. 13I can personally testify to his hard work for you and for the people in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14Luke, our dear doctor, and Demas send you their greetings.
15 Give our best wishes to the brothers and sisters in Laodicea and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.g 16After you read this letter, make sure that it is read also in the church at Laodicea. At the same time, you are to read the letter that the brothers and sisters in Laodicea will send you. 17And say to Archippus, “Be sure to finish the task you were given in the Lord’s service.”
18 With my own hand I write this: Greetings from Paul. Do not forget my chains!
May God’s grace be with you. [32]
How to fellowship:
·         Keep the body informed, let them know how you are (v7)
·         Know the circumstances of the flock and comfort their hearts (v8)
·         Keep the body informed, let them know what is going on (v9)
·         Welcome brothers and sisters in Christ (v10)
·         Love our Jewish Brethren (v11)
·         Labor fervently in prayer for all believers, that they may stand perfect and complete in the will of G-d (v12)
·         Have a great zeal for all believers (v13)
·         Greet one another with love (v14)
·         START A HOME CHURCH! (v15)
·         Pass along that which is worthwhile (v16)
·         “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the L-rd, that you may fulfill it…”  (v17)
·         Paul reminds them to “Remember my bonds”… this is the second time he has done this.  We are to remember the chains of our brothers and sisters, not only the physical chains, but those other chains that we each still have occasion to drag around.  Pray that the L-rd will free each of us from those chains that bind, till the only thing that binds us is the love of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 13:3 (KJV)

3Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. [33]

Prisoners not only include our brothers and sisters, but also those on the outside of grace, bound by the devils lies.  We do not know who among us is G-d’s elect, so therefore my brethren, cry out to G-d with weeping hearts for the chains that bind us all…

Now Paul ends this powerful epistle with 5 wonderful words:

“Grace be with you.  Amen.”

More can be told about those Paul had mentioned, yet the best thing we can do is substitute the names of those that have effected our lives in this walk.  What would our ekkelesia be like if we extolled our brethren, instead of criticized?  Brethren, don’t misunderstand me:  if my words have offended any, it wasn’t because I chose to attack anyone.  It is because there are some hard things that need to be said, some hard searching each of us must do.  We must all come one day to our Gethsemane, that place where we finally lay down our will and accept His.  Till that day, we must all search our selves and be ready to have the dross removed.

Crises of Belief…

            There is so much to be said, and much more by others smarter than me has been.  I only know what G-d has given me and I hope that it has been His heart that has been shown in the humble words of this epistle.  He weeps my brethren; the only tears in heaven are His as He sees so many lost in the way.  There are those who believe, yet stumble more than those that are blind; there are those who are lost because we don’t speak.  G-d’s voice is our voice- but who hears a silent song?  Is it your function to do, is your calling going unfulfilled because you leave it to another to do, and in the quiet of the evening, a song goes unsung?

            Are you content?  Why?  Why does the suffering of so many leave you content?  It’s not a trick question.  Yes, as Paul, we learn to be content with abundance or lack, in plenty or hunger.  But we should never be content in this world while there is one soul lost to the Master’s voice.  We also shouldn’t be content to be less than Christ expects us to be- and that is conformed to His image.  Think about what this means.  “Be holy as I am holy" sayeth the L-rd.  Are you?  If not, don’t be content, but strive, agonizomai (Greek from which we get the word agonize), for the holiness of G-d- labor fervently for perfection.

            What do you believe?

Proverbs 16:25 (KJV)
There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. [34]

Proverbs 21:2 (KJV)
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.[35]

Cast off the falsehoods that man has brought into the church and embrace the truth of G-d.  Make not in vain the doctrines of G-d by accepting the traditions of men.  Know what you believe is backed by Scripture, and shun the rest.

            Religion-du-joir is like soup-du-joir: you never know what you’ll get.  Trends and current crazes are fine in clothing, after all, if you don’t like it, don’t wear it.  But fads and the “this-is-how-we-do-church” attitude can kill the eternal soul.  Sola Scriptora –the Bible Alone- Sola Christo –Christ Alone; these aren’t fads or what is popular today.  These are the unchanging, uncompromising truths that spare one’s soul from hell and enable us to do G-d’s will to be His voice, to sing His song. 

            Only when He who sits on the throne of grace rules your heart is there peace- no matter the circumstance.  Thorns may tear at you, but peace will ever draw you forward.  This world only wants to drag you backward.  What rules your heart then?

Colossians is a little book with a powerful message; our new life because of Christ in us.  We can see how this new reformed life effects others around us and how we can affect the kingdom of G-d.  It’s simple and one thing is clear.  What we do with this new life is the greatest sermon we’ll ever preach.  Yes, you are a preacher.  Maybe you’ll never stand before a congregation, maybe you’ll never be called upon to deliver a Sunday sermon, but you are preaching none-the-less.  You’ve been preaching every day since your new birth.  From the rising of the sun, till it’s going down, the name of the L-rd is to be praised.  Without a word, how you live your life either praises and exalts Him, or it reviles Him, and do not be deceived, a congregation is watching.  Every step, every word, every mistake or triumph.  Sometimes it is in the mistakes that the greatest good is done; when G-d can be praised in these circumstances, light overcomes the darkness and Glory is given to G-d.  We preach a thousand words when silently we bless G-d for our meal- somebody is watching.  When we stop before our busy day and thank G-d for what is ahead- somebody is listening.  We help another, even if it complicates things for ourselves- somebody wonders…  We live quietly, loving all we encounter- and the song of G-d is sung and heard by all.  Love is the greatest sermon, all we have to do is live it.  For Christ, In Christ, With Christ.  In the congregation of the righteous one may see your sermon and amend their ways; from the congregation of the dead lifeless eyes may behold the light within you and themselves be quickened by the presence of the Living G-d.  Someone is always watching, listening and wondering to the greatest sermon ever told.  Be patient, be thankful, be gracious and always praise G-d, my brethren.  His sermon is your song, your song is life.  May the L-rd richly bless you and keep you this day my beloved.  Thank you for going on this journey with me, all glory to G-d.  Amein and Amein…

[1] Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, by Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Vol. IV, ©1983, Thru the Bible Radio, Pasadena, CA  pg. 347
[2] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[3] Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible, by Robert Young, (electronic edition) e-Sword®, Copyright ©2000-2008 by Rick Myers

[4]  American Standard Version. 1995 (Electronic edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

a  whosoever...: Heb. he that hearing heareth
[5]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6] The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.
[7] Darby, J. N., 1890 Darby Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.
[8]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[9] 1901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
[10] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[11] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[12] The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.
[13] The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.
[14] 1901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
[15] Darby, J. N., 1890 Darby Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.
[16] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[17] The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.
[18] 1901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
[19] The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.
[20]  Darby, J. N. (1996). The Holy Scriptures : A new translation from the original languages (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.
[21] Strong numbers for WHNA (only NA part) v2.0 ● Copyright © 2007 Scripture4all Foundation
[22] Strong numbers for WHNA (only NA part) v2.0 ● Copyright © 2007 Scripture4all Foundation
[23]  American Standard Version. 1995 (Electronic edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[24] Exposition on the Entire Bible, by the Rev. John Gill, (electronic edition) e-Sword®, Copyright ©2000-2008 by Rick Myers
[25] Lyrics from the film “Fiddler on the Roof”, by Norman Jewison, ©1971 Mirisch Productions, Inc.
[26] Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, by Dr. J. Vernon McGee,  Vol. IV, ©1983, Thru the Bible Radio, Pasadena, CA  pg. 363

[27] From REMARKABLE OCCURRENCES, by Rev. Mr. Beverly Carridine ©1999 (electronic edition),       B o o k s F o r T h e A g e s, AGES Software • Albany, OR USA Version 1.0
[28]  The New American Bible : With revised New Testament. 1986; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996 (electronic ed.). Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.
[29] Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, by Dr. J. Vernon McGee,  Vol. IV, ©1983, Thru the Bible Radio, Pasadena, CA  pg. 363

[30] American Standard Version. 1995 (Electronic edition.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 10.16 Lk 10.3
[31] The Contemporary English Version : With Apocrypha. 1997, c1995 (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

7  4.7: Ac 20.4; 2 Ti 4.12
   4.7, 8
: Eph 6.21, 22
8  4.7: Ac 20.4; 2 Ti 4.12
   4.7, 8
: Eph 6.21, 22
9  4.9: Phm 10–12
10  4.10 a: Ac 19.19; 27.2; Phm 24
     4.10 b
: Ac 12.12, 25; 13.13; 15.37–39
12  4.12: Col 1.7; Ph, 23
14  4.14 a: 2 Ti 4.11; Phm 24
     4.14 b
: 2 Ti 4.10; Phm 24
g  Nympha ... her house; some manuscripts have Nymphas ... his house.
17  4.17: Phm 2
[32]  The Good News Bible : Today's English Version. 1992. New York: American Bible Society.

[33]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[34]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[35]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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