Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 8:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Colossians 2 (NIV84). All The Treasures I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. ~ Col. 2:1-7 I identify with Paul’s words here. I feel the same way about my readers, although so many of you I do not know, I have never met, and I probably will not meet until we all get to heaven one day. I feel the same way about the church as a whole, throughout the world, but especially about the church here in my own country, and in my own town, and among my own family members. My heart is so burdened. I so long to see the church revived! I also share in Paul’s purpose for the church. My goal in writing what I do each day is first of all to obey my Lord, but it is also to see my fellow Christians walk in Christ’s love, putting on the full armor of God with which to fight off the devil’s schemes against us, walking in truth and in Christ’s holiness, having a powerful testimony for Jesus Christ, and living and walking in the freedom he has given to us. I also long to see the church encouraged in their faith so that they may follow Jesus Christ in everything that they do, no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but radically transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and on fire for Christ and his gospel wherever they go, and no matter who they are with. I also have a strong desire to see the people of God truly know Christ, not just in their initial commitment to make him Lord of their lives, but to get to know him in all his fullness. For instance, when we first marry someone, depending upon how long or how well we knew them before we married them, we may not really know that person until we live with him or her and until we spend time with them, working through problems, sharing experiences, having kids together, uniting in purpose and direction, and ministering, working and even playing together, etc. The more time we invest in other people’s lives the greater our knowledge and understanding of them should become, if truly we are seeking to know them. People can live in the same house as each other and still not know each other. This takes work, and it takes time, and we have to want it, or it won’t happen. The same is true of our relationship with Jesus Christ. We don’t work to earn or to deserve Christ or his salvation. We don’t work to gain brownie points with God. We do want to please him, though, because we love him, which is why we work at our relationship with him. We do so because we are eternally grateful for all that he did for us, and because we believe in who he is and so we honor him, glorify him by our lives, and we purpose in our minds and hearts to grow more and more in love with him, and to follow him wherever he leads us. We also work at this relationship because Jesus is our best friend and our husband and we want to become intimately acquainted with him, and we want to know all about him. Not Captive See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. ~ Col. 2:8 Going back for a minute to this first section of scripture, Paul said he told his readers all that he had told them about the importance of truly knowing Christ because he did not want them to be deceived by fine-sounding arguments. This can happen, though, when we are not grounded in the faith and in our relationships with Jesus Christ. In other words, when we first come to Christ by faith, we are just getting to know him. Most of us don’t know the Word of God, except for what was presented to us in the plan of salvation, perhaps. Some of us may have grown up in the church, so we had at least some foundational knowledge of Christ before we accepted him as Lord, but this is probably not the norm. Yet, we don’t really and truly know Christ until we enter into relationship with him by faith. Yet, if we merely make a profession of Christ but our hearts are not transformed of the Spirit of God, or if we truly came to know him, but then we don’t continue to live our lives in him, probably because we had no one teaching us that we must do that, or how to do that, and thus we don’t know the Word, either, we can easily be led astray by these fine-sounding arguments which have an appearance of wisdom, but are truly hollow and deceptive philosophies which have no power to give us life, to change our hearts, or to lead us to walk in Christ’s love and righteousness. So, we must work on getting to know our Lord and his word by investing the time with him to get to know him and his word. Then we will be able to discern what is truth and what are lies, so that we are not led astray. So, what are some of these “hollow and deceptive” philosophies which depend on human tradition which the church faces today? I believe one of them is this idea that is taught that an institution of man, run by humans, operated in the flesh, and guided by human marketing schemes and humanistic philosophy is “church” just because they call it “church.” So, if we don’t attend one of these human institutions, and we meet with the true church in other places, we are often looked down upon as though we are “unchurched” and almost classified with the ungodly of this world. Going along with that is this idea that a physical building is the house of God and is his temple, and that a human-built ‘sanctuary’ is a holy place where God dwells, and that for us to be “in church” means that we must go to one of these places, we must believe we are entering ‘God’s house’ there, and that we must do so primarily on Sunday mornings at a designated time, because tradition dictates this. Nonetheless, since Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent his Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of his followers, the church is the people of God, we are his temple, and the Holy of Holies now dwells within our hearts. So, we no longer have to go to a certain building on a particular day in the week to be with the church or to worship our Lord. We can meet with the church anywhere at any time of day on any day of the week, and we can worship our Lord God and be in his temple 24/7. Awesome, isn’t it! We are continually in his holy presence when we know him. In Christ For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. ~ Col. 2:9-12 So, what does it mean to be “in Christ”? When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we die with Christ to our old lives of living for sin and self, we are reborn of the Spirit of God to live new lives in the power of his Spirit within us, and thus we are now created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See: Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14 & 1 Jn. 1-5). To be holy means: to be separate (unlike; different) from the world and set apart to (like) God and to his service. This is how we are to live our lives in Christ, by the power and working of the Spirit within us, no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can discern and approve in our lives God’s good, perfect, and pleasing will (See: Ro. 12:1-2). The World’s Principles Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. ~ Col. 2:20-23 There is a HUGE difference between us following the teachings of scripture on holy living, which forbid us to partake in sinful thoughts, attitudes, behaviors and activities, and us following after the teachings of humans, which try to persuade us to forsake what we have been taught by Christ and his word, and to follow after their humanistic philosophies and traditions. We are not to handle, taste and touch what the Word (NT) calls “sin,” but we don’t have to obey human rules and regulations with regard to what we are to abstain from if they are not based in the Word of Truth, but in human philosophy and tradition. So, we must be discerning about these things, so that we don’t put ourselves back under a yoke of slavery. No matter how many of these external things we might do, they do not have the power to change our hearts or assist us in restraining from sensual indulgence. Only Christ Jesus, God the Father and his Spirit within us can empower us to live godly lives. Amen! Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer / Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer, This is my constant longing and prayer; Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion, Loving, forgiving, tender and kind, Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting, Seeking the wandering sinner to find. O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit, Holy and harmless, patient and brave; Meekly enduring cruel reproaches, Willing to suffer others to save. O to be like Thee! while I am pleading, Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love; Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling, Fit me for life and Heaven above. Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee, Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art; Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.