Sunday, February 26, 2017

Deus caritas est! God is Love!

Lenten Season 2017 Deus caritas est! God is Love!

Beginning this week on Ash Wednesday March 1, 2017 and throughout the Easter season, you can read daily devotions on my blog. You can also sign-up to receive emails each day at Breathing Room For My Soul if you are not currently getting emails. Join me as we reflect and renew our personal relationship with Jesus. Please share this with your friends. The devotions will also be available on Facebook and Twitter @soulchat

This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son                               
as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4:10)

This year the readings will explore God’s Perfect Love and include topics like “Love One Another”, “The Righteousness of Christ”, “Fellowship Defined”, “Too Full”, and “God’s Testimony” to name a few. Each Sunday we will look at our Oneness in Christ, with topics such as, the “Live Deeply in Christ”, “Living as Christ”, the “Christ Living Through Us” and more.  When we encounter Jesus Christ, this Perfect Love speaks our needs to the Father, brings light into the darkness, and teaches us how to love each other. Let’s take this journey together as we choose this holy love defined by Christ. Deus caritas est!Donna Oswalt
Want other options? You can order my Lenten devotional book, Kindled Soul, Holy Fire from  which has daily devotions from Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday! Order now for yourself and some for your friends!!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Power to Change the World - Living the Gospel Series

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16-17

From prison in Rome, Paul writes to the church in Colosse, a young congregation likely not more than five to six years old. The conflicts then in Colosse are the same here today. Humanity's rules and customs and lack of religious beliefs clash with the true gospel message of grace through Jesus Christ. The endless sources of media flood our minds and home daily with excuses to ignore God's message, with rhetoric to diminish God, with threats to marginalize Christianity. Paul's words that Christ is "the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15) exceeds logic and scientific explanation. Although we are not imprisioned in Rome, we find ourselves surrounded by darkness that desires to take us captive

Instead of constantly engaging in verbal retaliation of what's wrong with the world's message, maybe the better approach would be to simply share the majesty and wonder of our God. By allowing the Gospel message to thrive in our lives, we become living testimonies of God's love and compassion, of Christ's humility and grace to those within our spheres of influence. Deep faith, especially in crsis, reveals the magnitude and power of God. Lives full with hope, even in times of difficulty, speak loudly of the God who dwells in us. An attitude of love toward others, whether we agree or disagree, becomes the righteous fruit of worshiping a holy and sovereign God. In his letters, Paul frequently utilizes the themes of faith, hope, and love distinguishing them as "gifts from God". He writes, "Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection." (Colossians 3:14 NKJV) David Jeremiah calls this bond with Perfect Love the "power to change the world." Love within this bond of perfection becomes the living, true Gospel. - dho

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Worthy of Worship - Living the Gospel Series

The Cross is a Reality, not a symbol - at the wall of the world stands God with His arms outstretched. Oswald Chambers
Some scholars refer to this passage of Scripture (Colossians 1:15-20) as the "most developed reflection of Christ's divinity in the New Testament". Others call this section Paul's doxology to the "grandeur and glory of Jesus Christ". Many believe Paul may have been giving this as a hymn for the early Christian church. During the first century in the Colossian church, various opponents question the deity and divinity of Christ. Paul intentionally brings the focus back to Christ as Sovereign and Savior. Christ is the grace that rescues us from the control of darkness and transfers us into His kingdom of love.

In purchasing our freedom on the cross, Christ's forgiveness of sins fulfills the Old Testament's true gospel message and reconciles us to the Father. Christ reigns as Creator and Redeemer, Spiritual Ruler and Sustainer. Even now, Believers in Christ intentionally share the true gospel message with praise and worship. This ministry of reconciliation invites others to know the peace and joy of a relationship with Jesus Christ, invites others to worship the true and living Son of God. These worship words in Colossians should define our hearts as we live for Christ! - dho

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.

Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.
    So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,

and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Live Worthy - Living the Gospel Series

Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; Colossians 1:10 NKJV

As Paul writes to the church at Colosse, he confronts the "religious counterfeits" that surround and challenge their beliefs. In verse 10, "walk" is the Greek word peripateo meaning "how to walk" and  translates to "walk with devotion to God". Often this word is used like the Hebrew word halakhah which suggests a behavior or more literally "live". We are to "live" our lives in a manner worthy of the Lord.
The question of where to live and what to do is really insignificant compared to the question of how to keep the eyes of my heart focused on God.  Henri Nouwen
Today, we encounter the same spiritual counterfeits. When considering how to live the Gospel, our hearts must first be focused on God. Without God, even times of abundance will reveal a poverty of spirit within us. Putting God first transforms our hearts so that even in times of material emptiness, the soul experiences spiritual contentment. We are to live the Gospel, no matter our circumstances; we are to live as Christ to others. - dho
Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which He looks with compassion on the world, yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.  St. Teresa of Avila

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Influences of the World - Living the Gospel Series

 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9-12   

Colosse, a Roman-controlled province of Asia Minor, geographically rests 120 miles East of Ephesus on a great trade route. In its early days, around 400 BC, Colosse reigns as a major city for textiles and trade. Known for dyed material and soft wool, with its strategic location and successful wool industry, the city thrives. By the time Paul writes to the Colossian church, new growth in nearby cites has altered its once prosperous status to a less than important "market town". The citizens of Colossa and the church are being influenced by a variety of cultural and philosophical beliefs systems. They are discouraged and confused by the chaos, a true characteristic of Satan.  
"God's love mysteriously satisfies God's justice... [His] love will ultimately prevail to mend the world and bring God's purposes to full fruit." Richard Foster
Paul writes that we have not stopped praying for you and reminds this community of believers that knowledge and wisdom comes through the Holy Spirit. Along with some false teachings and pagan religious practices in Colosse, these young Christians are being influenced by Greek philosophies, the occult, and "worship of angels". Paul reassures them living a worthy life pleases God, and that in God they will find all the knowledge and wisdom and strength necessary for fruit-full living. Today, we are surrounded by the same distractions, leaving us disillusioned and often disappointed. As believers in Christ, God provides all we need and expects us to press on with endurance and patience and thanksgiving to Him. We are called to bear fruit in all our good works, giving all glory to the Father. So, with each deed, we should ask ourselves if we are trying to appease humanity or please God. Whose approval do we really seek? - dho

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bearing Fruit and Growing - Living the Gospel Series

In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing 
throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you 
since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.

As Paul writes this letter to the church in Colosse some thirty years after the resurrection of Christ, first century Christianity continues to spread despite controversy and conflict for these new believers. The Colossian church, a church plant resulting from Paul's ministry in Ephesus, struggles with some false teachings within the fellowship. His letter comes with encouragement and affirmation to these young Christians, reminding them that their hope is in Christ, that the truth of Christ is sufficient. Paul is reminding them they are called to proclaim the true gospel message to every person.
We need men and women saturated with the truth of God who can re-state the old truth in terms that appeal to our day.         Oswald Chambers
The Greek translation of verse six is literally, the gospel "in all the world has been bearing fruit and growing as it is among you." Perhaps this seems an exaggeration by Paul; however, in slightly more than thirty years, the gospel message "had already spread from Jerusalem to Syria, Greece, Italy, Egypt, and beyond!" Halley's Bible Handbook states, "Within the first generation, the church became established worldwide." When reading the writings of well-recognized Oswald Chambers, we must remember his words were penned at the very beginning of the 20th Century during the early 1900's and still stand true today. The Great Commission remains the same for the 21st century disciple as for the 1st century disciple: tell the true gospel message to all people! We are still called to proclaim the Good News, to "live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God."(Colossians 1:10)  - dho

Thursday, January 19, 2017

True Gospel - Living the Gospel Series

"This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God's wonderful grace." Colossians 1:6 NLT

The Good News or the "the gospel" is proclaimed today the same as the first century Christian church spread its message. Colossians discusses the truth of the gospel and its outcome of fruitful living. Paul writes this letter to the church in Colosse some 30 or so years after Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Already there are skeptics and critics crowding and distorting the truth of the Gospel message. Paul's letter reinforces the True Gospel of Jesus Christ as the redemption for those who believe. Today, as then, false and inaccurate information attempts to threaten and discredit the Good News. 
The true gospel message will prevail over competing voices, no matter how attractive they seem.    
David Jeremiah
Let's spend the next several weeks trying to understand the "true gospel" and how it impacts culture. One of the themes in Colossians is Christian living. When a person unites with Jesus Christ, the outcome is holy living. Like the first century church, Christians today find themselves surrounded by unrighteous behavior that takes its lead from the world, not from the message of the Good News. Oswald Chambers' words, penned a century ago, still challenge our culture, "There must be a sense of need before your message is of any use. Thousands of people are happy without God in this world." The great lie from the world rests in the myth of "happy" while the True Gospel offers "fruitful living". In responding to the Good News, a person does not find happy but hope - infinite hope! - dho

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Designed for Holiness

In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblet and silver platters, 
but waste cans and compost buckets - some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use 
to present any and every kind of gift to His guests for their blessing.

What kind of container can God use? Everyone understands a container is designed for the purpose of holding something. Containers come is all sizes from bags to buckets, cisterns to caissons, pods to pots, vats to vessels, each with its own purpose. Today, we think of containers as holders of physical objects, storage containers or organizers, but in ancient literature, people are commonly thought of as vessels; "their bodies as containers" gives us a new way to consider how God has designed us for holiness.

In my word search, I discover two antique words that are types of containers, alembic and jeroboam. Alembic is an obsolete device consisting of two vessels used for distillation that separates the impurities from a chemical, a purifying and refining process. References to Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern kingdom of Israel, can be found in the Old Testament. Living during the time of Solomon and his defiance of God, Jeroboam becomes a king who creates conspiracies, instigates idol worship and engages in constant conflict with the Southern kingdom of Judah. Two types of containers, one designed for purification contrasted with a bodily container engaged in conflict ~ what kind of container do you want to be?

Warren Wiersbe's commentary describes each Christian as being "a vessel in the great house, but some vessels are defiled and cannot be used." This Scripture explains to us that every house uses various containers, but we should strive to become the kind of container that God can use. This requires Christ, the only refiner and purifier of souls. Without Christ, our vessel is unclean and not useful. In this Scripture, the Greek word skeuos signifies a vessel, container, or instrument that is used in a given activity. Paul challenges each Believer to become a valuable, useful and holy container to be used for God's Glory. God lavishes us with His love and calls us to holiness in Him. There are some who say they know God, but their actions tell a different story. Does your container tell a God-story? ~dho

Consider This?
- Read Romans 5:3-5 (click on verse for link to BibleGateway)
- Describe how God fills "containers" for Christians.