Weight Words: Just do it! This changes everything.

Every command (imperative) in Scripture is rooted in God’s prior work (indicative) and especially in His identity and ours. Such as Ephesians 5:1-2:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

It’s doing what we are becoming and being.

We’re God’s children, so we can behave like it.

Consider the implications of the verses that follow:

3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
—Ephesians 5:3-6

That former life does not describe us any longer, for “at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (v. 8). We can leave behind lives of greed and pride, and no longer live as idolaters. Idolaters try to please themselves, and worship themselves or others. How freeing to instead energies towards trying to “discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” (v. 10)

Sometimes I hear skeptical people say “The Bible is just full of do’s and don’ts, a bunch a rules I don’t need.” That simply is not true, and let’s remember that every time God commands something He does it with our best in mind (for our good) and because it is in His nature and shall be in ours.

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Weighty Words: Ambition & approval.

The goal and power of the Christian life is worship. Everyone everywhere at every moment worships someone or something. What do you worship? What are you worshiping right now? Whose approval do you crave?

Paul’s ambition in a phrase:

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.
—2 Corinthians 5:9

Here’s a man so bent on helping others grow and know God that he takes responsibility for their very lives. So he sacrificed and gave and confronted and extended grace. Paul was relentless and driven, yet transparent and authentic.

Things can get complicated quickly when so many relationships are at stake. Yet his ambition and desire for approval was singular: pleasing God was all he wanted to do. When he submitted his daily plans to God no one else was CC’d on the email.

In a culture where we are commended to focus on pleasing ourselves and where masses celebrate those who make their living pleasing themselves in public (celebrities), what a freeing reality to find ourselves wrapped up in pleasing Someone who is genuinely worth celebrating. He is so worthy and compellingly beautiful that any small thing done for Him is greater than something big done for ourselves (who are so small).

How will you please God today?

Weighty Words: in Him.

Every branch receives its full nourishment from it’s root. The hidden part animates the seen parts.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
—Colossians 2:6-7

Notice the words “in Him,” which form the basis of the exhortation. What God did for us in Jesus — rescuing us from sin, death, wrath, and Satan — He now does in us. He calls us to grow into His likeness, with our whole identity becoming “in Him.” Everything we need for they journey is ours. Yet, this connectedness to God is more than me-and-God spirituality. There’s an ‘us-ness’ to this walk.

Interconnected Roots

God intends that we grow; He designed us to flourish together. Just as the roots of all the trees in a healthy forest are interconnected below the surface, we have opportunities to strengthen one another. We can move beyond our preference for comfort and leave behind our want of control, success and approval. In Jesus we have found all we could ever wish for. He is making us whole; we can now give more than we take.

Do you want to grow like this?

Commit yourself to a life of gratitude and humility, cultivating true community in honesty with others, serving people who cannot pay you back — proactively and sacrificially giving away your time, talents, and treasure. All the while, you’ll be surprised how much God is shaping your character into the image of His Son.

What Jesus did for us is becoming what He is doing in you, and will do through you.

You’re becoming like Him.

Remember, healthy people grow.

(See part one & part two.)

Weighty Words: rooted, built up, established, taught, overflowing.

Yesterday we took a quick glimpse at Colossians 2:6:

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,”

Note how the way on in the same as the way in. We trust Jesus by faith, relating to God by His Grace, as a whole way of life. Not cheap grace, but costly grace. Jesus gave up His life for us. We know we can never repay Him, so we don’t try to earn His favor. We have God’s favor because of what Jesus did for us. Now begins the effort, working out what God has worked in (Philippians 2:12-13).

Colossians 2:7 shows us the ‘how’ of continuing to walk in Jesus:

“… rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Paul’s vision of the Christian life is both ambitious and sustainable. He calls us to accomplish the extraordinary through faithfulness in the ordinary moments of life. (Clearly we were not meant to merely ‘accept’ Jesus as our way to Heaven.) He and we want much more than that. Jesus comes to take masterful control of every area of our lives as our Savior and Lord. Yet what we read here is sustainable as well. As we began in Jesus, we shall continue in Him. The same way we trusted Christ at first, we continue to trust Him each day.

(Paul employs five metaphors in verse 7 as he illustrates how growth works. )

The growing process is rooted like a healthy plant. We shall be continually built up and renovated together as a luxuriously designed dwelling, established on a solid foundation. When Jesus is our sure foundation, we can weather any season and storm. God leads us forward by pointing us back to what we’ve been taughtwe never outgrow our need for the good news of Jesus.

People who live this way — rooted, built up, strengthened in the gospel — will naturally overflow (abound) with thanksgiving, like a river at flood stage.

No one can contain that life, it’s an unstoppable force.

(Tomorrow, part 3.)

Weighty Words: as … so …

As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” —Colossians 2:6

[Kari writes]: I’ll never forget the first time those words echoed in my heart. College, probably sophomore year, Pastor Mark read them slowly. So walk… the room stood still.

So walk in Him. Of course!  Why hadn’t I understood it before? I was striving, struggling, trying trying trying to live a life of faith. I was frustrated, defeated, discouraged. What was I doing wrong? No matter how early I rose in the morning or how long I prayed I still seemed to struggle. Ready to raise the white flag, I came to Bible study.

As you have received Christ …

How did I receive Christ? As a child. A 5-year-old child. Did I have anything to offer God? Nope. Did I have to rise at 5am to earn His love? Did I try really hard and pray exactly the right words and sweat my way into His kingdom?

No.  How did I receive Christ?

I bowed. I clasped my starfish hands and …

asked.

I asked. I brought empty hands and bowed my head and bent my knees and asked God for the gift of grace.

So walk in Him…

Why do we think that we continue any differently than we began?

Sinners are not only saved by grace through faith, but the saved sinner lives by grace through faith.

Grace is the way to life and the way of life.

[Read the rest.]

Tomorrow, verse 7.

Weighty Words: But as for you.

To find out what a person values most, there’s little need to ask him or her. Just watch what they pursue.

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”
—1 Timothy 6:11-16

Even in run-on sentences like these, Paul never uses religious jargon, and none of his words are wasted in charges like these. The weight of the words is not so much in what Timothy was to do in response. The gravity is found in who God is: the “blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kinds and Lord of lords,” who alone will never die (is eternal and immortal). He dwells in unapproachable light and deserves all honor. He is the perfect benevolent Monarch; no need for democracy in his kingdom, as He always gets it right and richly provides for even the least in His land.

Often we look around the room to find the most talented, successful, charismatic, and powerful person, and then almost like clockwork get set in motion trying to earn their approval. (Paul describes those kinds of people — the rich, powerful and famous — in the verses that follow.) We strive to be noticed and go to great lengths to earn distinction before that person. There’s no need to do that. Only the One described above has words weighty enough to be obeyed. Through the generosity and integrity found in His character, He can compel us to follow hard after Him. Flee the old life. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Become famous for those attributes.

Weighty Words: SENT.

(Maybe it should be called Pure Words instead. Read on.)

[John 17] Jesus is about as calm as the eye of a hurricane as He awaits an inevitable betrayal, arrest, conviction and crucifixion. So He intently goes to a familiar place to pray. An urgent conversation awaits Him. His closest friends are oblivious to the weight of the scene; the only weight they feel is their eyelids shutting as they sleep instead of watch. I would chide them expect for the fact that I would have done the same.

What Jesus prays is both shocking and re-assuring. He wrestles with the Father, resigning His will to what must be done. (For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame [Hebrews 12:1-3].) Then His prayer takes the tone of a man giving his final resolution, a battle cry of certainty. Jesus doesn’t say much after this, at least not for a few days. The risen Christ had much to say on the other side of the grave.

He had just said His peace to His betrayer, Judas, who would come onto the scene soon after this hour of prayer. Earlier, at the Last Supper, celebrating the substitution of the Passover Lamb, Jesus told His adversary to get on with what he intended to do.

What Jesus needed to say next He said to the only one who did not betray Him. Though the Father would soon turn His face away, He is the only One in Jesus’ life who would keep all His promises.

This was a moment of sweet communion and a glimpse into the most pure conversation to ever take place on planet earth. No pretense or manipulation. No one ‘winning,’ and getting his way through whining or verbal abuse. The strength of Their wills is unfathomable, their rights as Deity immeasurable. But — check this — neither asserts His rights.


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