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.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Fresh Start

"I'm speechless, in awe - words fail me. I've talked too much... 
I'm ready to shut up and listen." Job 40:4-5 The Message

As 2017 begins, I make a fresh start, too! For this year, my devotional guide will be Richard Foster's A YEAR WITH GOD, Living Out the Spiritual Disciplines. The divisions focus on the spiritual disciplines and each day begins with Scripture and then Foster's commentary. If you have not read any of Foster's writings, I encourage you to do so. He is most known for Celebration of Discipline but I particularly like Prayer, Finding the Heart's True Home which I have read at least 6 times, each time finding new truths and guarantee it will greatly impact your prayer life. Foster's introduction suggests encouraging "one another to discover the footprints of God in our daily existence, and to venture out with God into areas where we have previously walked alone or not at all."
The aim is not external conformity, whether to doctrine or deed, but the reformation of the inner self - of the spiritual core, the place of thought and feeling, or will and character. Richard Foster
 As the year begins, I too begin again. My heart's desire is to listen to God, to increase my awareness of Him in my daily life. Foster writes in the first devotion to "challenge yourself to look for God in new places." A YEAR WITH GOD stresses, "The Spiritual Disciplines in and of themselves have no merit whatsoever. They possess no righteousness, contain no rectitude. Their purpose - their only purpose - is to place us before God." I do pray that you will find a devotional book for the year or perhaps you will choose several different ones to guide you in contemplating the Scriptures and God's presence in your life. As I study and listen, I will share some of what I hear, learn, and hopefully, put into practical use. -dho
Holy Father,
Open my heart, for I long to hear Your voice. I listen for Your instructions, meditate on Your wonders. I collate my random thoughts and lay them at Your altar. Through the silence, I hear Your whispers of mercy and compassion and tenderness. Inside my longing heart, prayers of praise rise to You. My soul finds satisfaction in the shadow of Your protecting wings that exists nowhere elseHoly Spirit, bring His presence and His peace. Amen.  ~ dho