Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Week Seven - Comps

“For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, And ye are complete in him.” 
Colossians 2:9, 10
The saints in Colossae were battling with philosophies and traditions that were getting in the way of their full understanding of what it now meant to be in Christ.  False teachers had come in saying that they needed to observe things like circumcision, holy days, and dietary laws bringing the people back into the bondage of the old law. 
Paul takes time to point out that these things are only shadows of the truth.  They hold no place in Christ.  Christ had completed all of these requirements by nailing them to the cross and triumphing over them.  His call to the believers was to grow forward, to walk in him rooted and built up, abounding with thanksgiving. (v. 6)
Then, we read this wonderful statement in verses 9 and 10 confirming that Christ is the embodiment of God.  There is no lack in him, no need of ordinances, extra spiritual laws, or works.  He is all in all.  The book of Revelation states several times that He is the one who “was and is and is to come”.  He is eternal.  He is complete.  In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  He is everything.  He completes himself – truly, He is completion and fullness.
That is a wonderful fact, but it is not the end of the truth.  As we enter into a relationship with Christ through salvation, we, too, are made complete.  We are completed in him.  Taking hold of this truth will set us free from the need to observe manmade ordinances.  It will erase philosophies and traditions.  In Him we have it all.  There is no longer anything that can control us or capture us outside of Christ and the love of God.
When I took hold of this truth it gave me joy.  No longer did I have to worry about doing enough to be loved by God.  No longer did I have to strive to get everything right.  I was in Him and that made me complete.  Everything I needed to live a Christian life, to follow the Lord in obedience, to enjoy the life God had given me, was found there.  I was safe.  I was loved.  I was complete.
Have you made the step into the understanding of the completeness of Christ and what that means for you?  Do you struggle to observe all sorts of “do’s and don’ts” in your Christian life?  Ask yourself - Do they bring you joy and completeness, or do they bring you back into bondage?

 “…that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
 Colossians 4:13
What is the will of God for my life?  This question has been asked so many times.  The interesting thing is that there is no real need to ask that question!  The will of God is clearly defined in Scripture.  God’s will is that you be saved from condemnation.  (II Peter 3:9)  He wills that you have a thankful attitude in all things.  (I Thessalonians 5:18)  He wills that you are an obedient citizen.  (I Peter 2:13-15)  He wills that you grow in sanctification.  (I Thessalonians 4:3-7)  These are but a few. Studying Scripture reveals more and more of the will of God for our lives. 
He has not hidden His will.  It is his desire that we discover it through the Word and that we stand complete in it – that we fulfill it by obeying and applying Scriptural truth to our lives.
God’s will, however, is different than God’s plan. The question we should be asking is, “What is God’s plan for my life?”  Interestingly enough, if we are living in and growing in God’s revealed will found in His Word, the plan for our lives will automatically begin to unfold.  Outside of being in God’s will you will never truly find the plan of God for your life.  They are that tightly bound together.
Further, if you are occupied with learning to stand perfect and complete in all the will of God as you grow in your knowledge of the Scripture and in your application thereof, His plan for your life is actually being fulfilled because it is His will that we follow Him.  Obeying Scripture creates that obedience and moves us along in His will and into His plan.
Are you struggling with finding God’s plan for your life?  Can you see that simple obedience creates the door?  Are you obeying the basic teaching of Scripture so that God can move in your life?  Obedience is the key!

“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves; but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”
 II Corinthians 10:12
This is such a stern warning.  We are all guilty of the action of comparing ourselves to others.  Yet rarely do we make ourselves lower than others.  Most usually we create a feeling of justification and pride as we compare assets.
This can be such a subtle thing as deeming your dress sense better than another, or, your car better, your house better, your children better, etc.  You might not even recognize that you are comparing.  But this is the way of the sin of pride.  It is self-approving.
This subtle competition pervades not only our assets, but also, sadly, our ministries.  We look at those with large ministries and deem them worldly or compromising.  Conversely, we look at those with smaller ministries and deem them as slothful or possibly sinful.  Either way it is not wise.  We are not called to judge each other in this manner. 
God is the one who builds up and tears down.  He is the one who chooses our path.  In verse 18 of II Corinthians 10 Paul brings it down to this conclusion, “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.”  In other words, comparing ourselves with others and then commending that we have something to brag about is not godly approval.  The Lord will be the one that gives the commendations, and that is a while coming.
We need to be more interested in our personal standing before the Lord.  I John 2:28 gives this admonition, “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”
Ever been guilty of thinking you are better than someone else?  Ever spoken words to tear someone else down to make you look better?  If you stood before the Lord today, what would be His answer to these questions?

“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
Ephesians 4:16
It doesn’t take a medical doctor to know that the physical body is a miracle of science – creative science.  Every part of the body works together to allow growth and preservation.  Millions of cells are meshed together and flow through miles and miles of pipework delivering the nutrients necessary to sustain a healthy body.  The body is so designed that it can heal itself and works to fight off any foreign bodies that threaten its existence.
Such is the description here of the body of Christ – the church.  This living organism, the Bride of Christ, is also a miracle.  It is a miracle of spiritual science – a part of God’s plan for the ages.  He so designed the church that every necessary element is present inside each local congregation.  The members are “compacted”, meaning, “knit together”, so as to create growth and preservation.  Working together, they supply life and sustenance to the body.  By following Scripture, this spiritual body is healed and protected.
This idea of the body of believers being fitly joined together and compacted is amazing.  Think about it.  Your particular church family has been chosen by God to function as a spiritual body.  Each member has a particular role to perform.  Each one is a functioning cog.  Each one brings something to the body that none other can.  Then, as each member is fitted in and knitted together, the church stays active and alive.
Sometimes we might wonder why God places certain cogs in our congregation.  Or, we might wonder where we personally fit into the body, but we can be sure that God knows what he is doing.  Our role is to find our function and fulfill it with love.
Do you know your place in your church body?  Are you knitted together? Are you fulfilling your role in love so that the church can grow and be healthy?  Or, are you hindering the health of your church body?

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…”
Ephesians 3:17-19
The word, comprehend, means to grasp, to seize, or take hold of. To comprehend a matter requires that we study it out.  It demands that we take time to decipher meanings and look for applications and examples.  Taking hold of a concept is more than merely repeating it, but truly understanding all sides of the issue.  Here we are challenged to do the same with love, the breadth, length, depth, and height, and more specifically, the love of Christ.
Songwriters have put it, “Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough, to keep me away from you…” the truth of this verse goes much deeper.  The love of Christ is not about our seeking Him, but rather, His definition of His love for us. 
Christ came to seek and to save those who are lost.  This is His action of love.  But His action is not what we are called upon to comprehend.  The truth we are striving to grasp or seize is the fact of His immense love. 
His is a love that stands true for all time; a love that is wide enough to encompass all and deep enough to withstand all.  It is a love that endures throughout eternity and a love that reaches to the sin sick soul.  It is a love that never fails.  It is a love that is founded in truth and forgiveness.  It is also a love that will act in truth and honest judgment.  It is a love in which we can rest and find security.
His love surpasses our knowledge. We do not have the width required to encompass all or the depth to withstand all.  We are limited, but He is not.  The fact is - there is no one whom He does not love.
God loves me, and you – unconditionally.  If I did not read my Bible today, God would still love me.  If I failed to pray, God would still love me.  If I stayed in bed in sorrow all day, God would still love me.  If I lost my temper and said unkind words, God would still love me.  Living in the truth of unconditional love gives me solid ground and strong roots.
The love of Christ so constrains us – it compels us, urges us on, and causes devotion.  Being rooted and grounded in this love enables us to comprehend just enough of this love in order to share it with others.  We will never exhaust His love or truly understand its full richness.  Thankfully, however, we can be receivers of this love and enjoy all of its benefits.
Do you know the depth of the love of God for you?  Do you express this type of love to others?  Are you secure – rooted and grounded - in the love of God specifically for you?

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