Hidden and Revealed

Colossians 3: 1 – 4

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

We talked about seeking on Monday. Here Paul tells us what else we should seek. So far this year, we have seen that we are to seek the Lord, His strength and His face continually (Psalm 105: 4), His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6: 33), and now the things which are above. The shorthand is, fix your eyes on Jesus. Keep looking at him because in him is all that matters. All the universe is in him because he is the light, the life and the way.

Seeking is a very important scriptural and spiritual concept and I wouldn’t minimize it in any fashion. Reading this passage, though, one surely is gripped by our death in Jesus, which brings us to the next thought. We need to be resurrection conscious. By this I mean that by now we should have died to ourselves, died with Christ and been raised up with him in a resurrected life. If, then, you have been raised up with Christ, don’t keep looking back at or longing for the old, dead man. Leave the things of the earth to the dirt they are born of and set your heart on the things above. Does that mean you cannot enjoy any of the good things on the earth? No, absolutely not. God has given us all good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6: 17).

At some level this is about our values. I think of saints I have studied or known about and the over-arching similarity is their devotion to Christ. They buried the old self with its desires and arose with a new value system. It is just fine to enjoy a new car, a new house or a nice vacation. We know that God gives us those things to enjoy. Dying to self means those things no longer occupy the space they once did. In the resurrection life, God is the center of the universe. If our life is truly hidden in God with Christ, we will have made some choices about what is most important to us. These are choices made with the heart. The lover of God could not choose earthly desires over His longing for God because his heart compels him to seek the face of God. This is about loving God above all else. Some of those old saints I have read about would more likely forget to eat than to miss a single day spending time with God. They needed it, craved it.

We love God too but perhaps our zeal is not as vibrant as that of some of the people we read about. However, we can be as impassioned as anyone. We can have such zeal for God that nothing stands in our way when it comes to our devotionals. We too can have an unquenchable passion for the one who loved us first. I know I want more of that passion in my life. I am sure you do too. As we focus our attention on the thing we want, we draw ourselves towards it. Discipline helps too. The use of discipline helps us to develop a lifestyle that later becomes a part of us. As we discipline ourselves to do what we choose, we begin to enjoy the fruit of those disciplines so that we come to desire the thing we had to almost force ourselves to do previously.

Still, it begins with a decision born out of love for our Father. We choose to die to self and the passions of self and instead live to Christ. This is really some heady stuff, very idealistic and not too common. The modern church certainly is not known for its disciplined devotion to Christ. None the less, we are true believers with a love for Christ and we are finding our way into deeper and deeper ways with him. We are products of the past and the teachings of our time. We have journeyed through many aspects of knowledge and balance. I believe we are beginning to long for more of Jesus and Father. We need more of them in our lives, in our very breath and we are leaning forward into them where the life we live is a product of their lives; us in them, them in us. The great news is, they are leaning toward us too. They are calling for us to come into the deep water, water which is over our heads. As scary as that can be, it is a wonderful place to be. With Christ, hidden in God is our life, our old life having been buried.

Where is your heart? What do you want? Tell the Lord and ask him to lead you. This is a new level in Christ and a very safe place.


1 Timothy 6: 17          GW

Tell those who have the riches of this world not to be arrogant and not to place their confidence in anything as uncertain as riches. Instead, they should place their confidence in God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

This is one of the greatest challenges of wealth, trusting in it rather than trusting in God. This is the story of the rich, young ruler. Jesus invited him to join the team but instructed that first he should go sell what he had and give to the poor. That is where the young ruler stumbled.

Has God ever asked you to give something away? Did you stumble? If so, why do think it was hard for you. I find some of us become very connected to our “stuff.” Others of us find our security in those items. Sometimes we hang on to things because we do not trust that we will have the resources for a later need. That is a sure indication that we are relying on our ability to meet our needs. Trusting in riches can be a problem for people who have wealth, but it can also hamper those without much money. The same reliance issue affects people in each group.

There is also a group who think they are safe and secure because they have money. They don’t realize that the only true security any of us have is in Yahweh. Everything else is transitory. These are the folks who can become arrogant in their wealth. They feel untouchable because they think money can insulate them from problems. It certainly can help fix some problems, but it often brings on others.

If our reliance is on the money we have or even in the money we hope to have, eventually we will be disappointed. As Christians, we need to learn to lean on God 100% rather than relying on our ability to generate an income or to meet our own needs. We should learn to sow generously expecting God to increase our harvest. We can learn to listen to his guidance on money management and disbursement. It is a challenge but one each of us should ponder. How much do you rely on God versus placing your confidence in riches? Think about that question and decide if you need a shift in your focus.

Where Am I?

Galatians 2: 20

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.

This is a beautiful verse, one full of the grace of God and the sacrificial love of Christ. Yet, there was a day when the ideas expressed here challenged me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to die. Even though I pursued God relentlessly, there was a part of me that held back. There was a part of me who had reservations. What does it mean to die to self and live to Christ? What happens when we completely give our lives over to Christ so that the life we presently live is Christ in us?

When I was a young Christian I was on fire for Christ but I wasn’t sure what this meant. Maybe many of you have grown past this but perhaps there are just a few who can relate to the challenge I wrestled with. I wanted to be with Christ. I desired deep, meaningful fellowship with Jesus but I didn’t want to give up who I was. I wondered, “If I give myself to you wholly will I get lost? Where am I if I am in you? Am I afraid of losing my identity? Who will I be? Will I be me?” For all my faults, I liked who I was and I wasn’t sure I wanted to stop being me.

This may sound silly to you but I wondered if I would still get to do the worldly things that I enjoy doing such as kayaking and bike riding. I had some thoughts in the back of my mind that I could not be holy and enjoy these activities. Of course, you know the answer. Jesus loves kayaking and Father is an avid cyclist. We do those things together. In fact, many times I rather ride or kayak without other people because that is Dad time. When we all get to heaven, I fully intend to go kayaking with Jesus. I may do it every day. Who knows? They enjoy all those things. The Scriptures say that God “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6: 17). He isn’t trying to take these things away from us. He is the one who is supplying them. The meaning of a life in and with Christ is that we get to do all these things with the Father, the Son and the Spirit. These activities are actually more fun now than they were because I get to spend that time with some of my very best friends.

I am still me even though I have given myself to Christ. I am just becoming a better version of me. I am Ivey 2.0. The life of Christ is in me. It is coursing through my veins, suffusing my muscles. He is even in my breath. He isn’t taking away from my former life. He has given me new life, more life, and better life. I am dying to the brokenness of the world and being reborn daily by the renewal of my mind in Christ. He opens new doors in my heart, mind and spirit and with each one he breathes new and abundant life into me.

If you have ever been concerned about getting lost in Christ, I have only encouragement for you. There is no downside to letting your former self pass away because the reborn, renewed self is so much more fun to hang out with. If you truly die to self, you will arise with healing in your wings. Jesus will only move into the rooms of your heart which you allow though. You may have been a Christian for 40 years by now but there may still be areas of your heart that are verboten to God. My advice is: throw open the doors and invite Him in. It is all good.


1 Timothy 6: 17

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

Will you let me just gloat and praise God today? I had a marvelous day yesterday. I was supposed to go to the beach this week but just couldn’t work out my schedule. So, my consolation prize was to get to take my mountain bike out for a ride yesterday. I haven’t ridden my mountain bike in a long time.

The day began with a picnic lunch seated next to the river. The birds frolicked about as the river serenaded us with its gentle tune. The weather was perfect and some of the trees beginning to lose their leaves. I love riding through the forest in the rain of falling leaves.

As I began to ride, there was a gentle fall breeze. I was exultant in the beauty, the weather and how good it felt to pedal that bike. It felt good to breathe, as if I had not breathed in days. The world slowed down for a little while and the peace of the Lord reigned supreme. My legs felt powerful as I pushed the bike down the cinder path. It was an experience of sheer delight.

I wish I could tell you that I had some amazing revelation while I was out there or that God spoke in my ear the whole time, but, He was uncharacteristically quiet. None the less, it was so clear that He was with me and that this was the day the Lord had designed for me.

It was a time of enjoyment; a time the Father gave me to enjoy all the good things He has done for me and the many things He has provided purely for my enjoyment. It was a time of personal ministry where the Lord met my needs and nurtured my inner being.  We had a wonderful day together and though I was tired, I was also surprisingly refreshed by the experience. I found a new place for the Father and I to meet in the pictures of my mind. By the way, when you find those beautiful places by the river, in the mountains or at the beach, take a picture of where you and Jesus sit so that when you get home you can revisit that spot together in your mind.

So, I have no great epiphanies to give you today, no sage advice. I have only an insight. We have heard it said that sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses. That is so true but sometimes the roses are a bike ride in the mountains, along one of the oldest rivers in the world, which actually flows north instead of south. God has created all these wonders for us to enjoy so enjoy them and give Him thanks. And just think, if He would create all that just for your simple enjoyment, what else will He do?

Balance Beam

Proverb 21: 17 – 18          NIV

He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

Wow! That is a powerful statement. We have become very developed in seeking pleasure whether it is our TV time, our hobbies, food, drink, vacations, or any of a number of pleasures. There is a place for recreation, no doubt. There is a time for play and there is also a time for work. Ecclesiastes teaches us that there is a time for everything (3:1). Solomon isn’t denying that in today’s proverb, after all, he was also the author of Ecclesiastes. The point I believe Solomon is trying to convey is that using our energy in seeking pleasure is a vain activity which leads, ultimately, to emptiness. We even work to fulfill our pleasures but there must be things of substance in this life and in this world which would give us much greater satisfaction that simply chasing pleasure.

Of course, the clear point that Solomon makes is that this seeking after pleasure will lead us to poverty and this is from the richest man to ever live upon the earth, even to this day. Solomon was so rich that he didn’t even bother with silver. I accept what Solomon suggests here but also speculate that the endless search for fulfillment in pleasure leads to an impoverished lifestyle. I mean to say that perhaps this person’s poverty does not see him living on the streets and begging at soup kitchens but that he is none the less very poor in spirit, in friends, in fulfillment, in rewarding relationships with his family, and a plethora of other ways.

The one pleasure that Solomon highlights in this passage is the desire for wine and oil. There are so many among us whose life seeps away at the bottom of a wine glass. Their ambition for more fruitful pursuits is swallowed up by the pleasure they seek in that glass. Time, which is such a valuable commodity, gets wasted when much good could have been done. All this pursuit buys is regret. We do not want this for our loved ones. Life is so meaningful but can we wasted so easily.

One of the biggest life lessons I have learned is that it is all about balance. You can work too much, play too much. Almost all things, even good things, can turn into negatives when we exercise them out of their proper balance. There are many nice and pleasurable things in our life and God gave us all good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6: 17), but they can be overdone and then become detrimental to our lives. Paul wrote, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify (1 Corinthians 10: 23). Perhaps this is the admonition which Solomon is giving us today, that is, to spend our time in fruitful pursuits. Let us not run the race seeking pleasures only because at the end of our days on earth we, ourselves, will say, “Vanity, vanity; it was all vanity.”

Good God

Romans 8: 32      (New Living Translation)

Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
Our God is a good God. That cannot be said enough. So many times we think that God is punishing us when something bad happens in our lives or that God is trying to teach us a lesson. That just is not true. Our Father loves us. If He loved us enough to let His only son die a cruel and horrible death for us, will He not also give all good things to us? Is it reasonable to suggest that He did not withhold His son but is withholding all kinds of other good things from us? The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6: 17 that God “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” We are increasing in our knowledge of God and His nature. As we do we also increase in our trust in Him because we come to know that He wants to perform good works in our lives. Then the relationship with Him also grows and we come to trust Him even more. The more trust we put in Him, the more we are able to walk faith. It all keeps growing to our benefit but the first step is ours. We must let him be a good God to us and expect good things from Him.