Colossians 3: 16

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

When we read the Bible, particularly familiar sections of it, our minds react immediately with recognition. The downside, though, is that familiarity puts our minds in to a comfort state rather than an inquiring mode. We tend to read over the passage a bit more than one that is new to our eyes and mind. One of the cures for this is to read from different Bibles periodically. I love this version of this scripture. It is the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and not only is it my favorite Bible, but also I like this verse best from the NASB. However, look what you get from reading the first part in the God’s Word translation, “Let Christ’s word with all its wisdom and richness live in you.” They say the same thing but the phrasing in the GW Bible strikes the brain in a little different way and, I believe, opens it up to a different understanding.

The Word of God is to dwell within you. Dwell is an interesting choice of word. God’s Word is to live, abide, set up residence within us. Of course, we are the architects of that indwelling presence. When we set up the Word’s abode within us, we are not supposed to issue visitor’s quarters. This is to be a permanent residence of the Word.

Secondly, the Word is not supposed to be a superficial roommate with whom you have little to no relationship. These are to be permanent quarters which allow the Word to dwell richly with you. All the wisdom of the Word and the richness of its meaning is the have room within you to express itself and to expand. We are to abide with the Word of God with all its fullness in ever increasing measure.

When we allow the Word to abide with us and in us fully, then there is no space for fear. Doubt loses its foothold. Faith is given fertile soil in which to grow and our lives in Christ blossom. It’s true. There is life in that Word and it gives sustenance and growth to the seed which is sown there.

It may be obvious but, how does the Word of Christ come to dwell within us? Secondly, how does it become a richly dwelling presence? There is more to this than simply reading the Bible. It begins with a passion to put the Word inside us. That means you have developed a desire to read the Word. You want to read it and you do so daily. It becomes something you do rather than something you have to do. We can develop a desire, even a passion for God’s Word, especially when we appreciate that it is the life of Jesus and that it is God’s personal word to us.

Besides reading the Word, we can also put the Word in us by listening to anointed Bible teachers share the Word with us. This dwelling presence is not an intellectual, brain thing. This is about the Word residing in our spirits, being intertwined with who we are, our spiritual selves. Sure, you mind should engage with the Word but just to read the Bible with your mind or to memorize passages is not the same as having the Word richly dwell within you. I would rather have you read one verse and engage with it than to read a chapter everyday. It is your mixing with the Word that causes that indwelling richness. If the Word is going to dwell within you richly then you have something to do with that. We are not passive receptors and this is not data entry. I am talking about letting the Word of God indwell you such that it impacts your life, even who you are. I am trying to convey that this is more of a personal engagement than an intellectual one. The Word will inform your mind, no doubt, but that information should come up from your spirit. The wisdom and richness of God are to dwell in your heart, or spirit, in the person of Jesus who is expressed through the living Word. The Bible is a book but when it comes alive, as it truly is to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, then it becomes a person, a person with whom you have interaction and a relationship. That Word of God that you hold in your hands becomes the very alive person of the savior living within you. He brings hope to everything you encounter and He is love overflowing. He will change your perspective and your life BUT not because you go to church on Sundays or read the Bible once in a while. No, this is choosing a roomy whom you want to spend your time and life with. And yes, it is just that intimate and personal.

Even as you read the Word of the Day, I want it to affect your thinking. I want you to read it in the morning and meditate on it all day so that something goes down on the inside of you. It might even be something I didn’t write but that the Father showed you. That’s cool! Hopefully the Word of the Day changes who you are because it is the Word being delivered to you. It’s what you do with the Word of the Day that matters most. Spend a few minutes thinking about the verse. While you pump gas, get dressed, or any of the mindless chores you will have to do today, think about the Word dwelling richly within you with all wisdom accompanying. Read it in different bible versions. Ask what it means to have the Word abiding within you and how it can impact you. Ask how the Word gets into you in the first place and then how it comes to reside. Ask yourself. As the Word dwells richly within you, increasingly, you will find that those answers arise from your own spirit where the Word resides.

Building Foundations

Psalm 112: 1 & 7

Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. He will not fear evil tidings. His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

The word “fear” in the above passage means to revere and worship. Therefore, blessed is the person who reveres and worships the Lord, who treasures the Word of God. That person need not live in fear of anything. The Word of God is alive in his (her) heart. When you have developed an intimacy with the Word of God, your trust grows to the point that fear becomes an insult. Fear just begins to recede as the Word of God grows in your heart. You really do not have to do much; it just begins to happen increasingly. You find you believe more in the Word of God than you do the evil forebodings that want to take root in your mind and heart. Then your faith increases because your heart is rooted in the Word. Knowing God’s will makes you steady as well as making your heart steadfast. You become a firm fixture who is not easily blown from place to place. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and you will not be easily shaken. The Word is the foundation upon which that trust is built.

Divine Design

Romans 12: 2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
We looked quite a bit last week at what God has to say about acceptance and in a nutshell it is that you are accepted in His sight. He said, Himself, that He has not rejected you. That is such an important truth for us to receive. Truly, we cannot give away what we have yet to receive. So, if you see a person who is critical and judgmental it may just be that they have yet to receive the acceptance and love of God for themselves.

There is a commercial running on television right now from Time-Warner cable where a motivational speaker challenges people about change. He tells them that they can change and asks if they want to, to which everyone resoundingly replies, “Yes!” Well, as I listened to the commercial I heard another message come right up out of my spirit. What I heard is that God has not called us to change. First of all, He loves you without you changing. Second, what He has given us is transformation. 

Transformation is not something we do; it is something we allow God to do within us by cooperating with His Spirit. We are transformed by God and the Holy Spirit through the renewal of our minds. We are not asked to change from who we are to someone else. No, we are only being transformed into the fullness of who we are in Christ. This transformation is more akin to the metamorphoses of a caterpillar into a butterfly. The essence of the butterfly was always in the caterpillar. He doesn’t have try not to be himself. He just grows up into the fullness of who he was always destined to be. 

Like the caterpillar, in every one of us is a butterfly. We have only to enter our chrysalis and allow the butterfly to emerge. This is the transformational process which our beloved Father has given us. We are not the authors of change, we are not transformational engineers. God has already put butterfly DNA in the caterpillar. He has created and put in the caterpillar the process for fulfilling its destiny. Truly, we are more important to Him that a butterfly. He wouldn’t abandon us and task us with the responsibility of change when He has so carefully designed the butterfly and it’s growth phases.

God has given us a chrysalis into which we can cocoon ourselves too. He has prepared a process by which He brings us into the fullness of our Divine Design. Through the renewal of our minds, we are transformed into the very likeness of Jesus. You will be the version of you which is so apparently a sibling to Jesus himself. I like to call this fulfilled you the Jesus you. So you may be Jesus Scott or Jesus Mary. You are of the same DNA as Jesus. When you took on the New Birth which is wrought in his blood and his glory, you became genetically tied to Jesus. There is a glorified you. This is who God sees every time He looks at you. Now, in order for you to live the fulfillment of who you are in Christ you must renew your mind to the Word of God. When you do, you will find that you think like God. You will begin to feel the things God feels and you will even react to events the way God does. The renewal of your mind washes out the worldly way of thinking that we were all indoctrinated in and replaces it with God thoughts and yes, you really can think the way God thinks. It is amazing and glorious and you were meant to live this way – to live an anointed life.

So, here is your part. Renew your mind by reading God’s Word. It really is that easy. Meditate on what you read. Let it seep into your own thoughts and consciousness. Allow God’s Word and God’s thoughts to become integrated with your own. You will find that as you do this you will begin to develop wings. You will emerge from your own chrysalis a glorified, emancipated child of the Most High with wings as eagles. Go soak in the glory of God’s Word, let Him pour his DNA into every cell of your being and then spread your wings and soar. You are His beautiful child, created in His image. Don’t try to change just be transformed, by the renewing of your mind.

Life in the Shallows

Matthew 13: 5 – 6            NIV

Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

Last week I wrote to you about venturing out into the deep water. This was a metaphor I used to encourage you into a deeper life with Christ. I said that the reason why it is important to encourage believers into the deep water is because so many are suffering and failing. This passage shows this truth dynamically.

Today’s verse selection is from Jesus’ parable of the sower. Jesus said this is the foundational parable. It shows us the impact of the seed on various types of soil. The seed is the Word of God; the soil is our hearts. We have the opportunity to prepare our soil ourselves. The condition of our soil determines how successful the seed will be. If we have no value for the Word of God, we are like seed which was sown along the path. It does not take root (v. 4). If we are shallow, if we don’t launch out into the deep things with God or place a high value on the things of God, then we experience lack and loss. Today’s verse reveals that we wither and die.

I wish this was all metaphorical but I see these truths manifested in real life every day. Do you see that shallow Christians are living in more peril than those who are going deeper? In the parable above, because the soil was shallow, the plant had no root. When plants or trees have shallow roots, then they are more easily toppled in the storms. This is what Jesus was trying to teach us about life. if we live a shallow faith, we won’t have strong roots either. When the storms of life hit, we are easily felled. 

Jesus said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear” (v. 9). There is a reason why I and other ministers are beckoning believers to come in deeper. There is safety, security, success and peace in the deeper water and much more besides. Shallow Christians are in a better place than non-believers but the more immersed we are in the Word and in God, the better our lives will be. We want your life to be anointed and blessed; we want to see you protected from the storms. It is not for ourselves that we call to you. It is for your sake. 

As a final thought consider this – when a hurricane or other strong storm threatens, large ships head out to sea, out to the deep water, rather than remaining in the harbor. They are safer in deep water than they are at shore. Mmm . . . there may be something there. He who has ears, hear.

One Thing

Luke 10: 42

You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.

Only one thing is needed. There are many things which distract us and which seem important. However, Jesus told Martha that only one thing is needed. That one thing is the Word of God. Martha’s sister, Mary, had chosen that one thing. She was sitting at the feet of Jesus receiving his Word. Jesus told Martha that this one thing, this one needed thing, would not be taken away from Mary.

We are confronted by so many challenges in a day. Even as we seek answers sometimes we can become overwhelmed by the multitude of things we feel we must do in order to receive our relief. Thank God for the Word of God and this teaching from Jesus. When all is in chaos, we need only one thing, Jesus. 

I have been impressed that our lives could be much easier and more simple if we can grasp the deep revelation of this passage. There is really only thing we need. The Word of God will guide us, enlighten us and keep us. In our day to day lives, as well as in a time of need, there is only one thing which is needful. Like Mary we choose that best part which is the Word of God. And when we do, if we do, then Jesus insinuates himself into our every need and takes upon himself all of the worry and upsetting issues of life. Be blessed and filled in him.

Divine Diet

Ezekiel 2: 7

But you shall speak My words to them whether they listen or not, for they are a rebellious people.

Every pastor faces the uncomfortable time when God has given her or him a message that he or she believes will not be received with gratitude by the congregation. None the less, as God told Ezekiel, that message must be delivered.

We can all be rebellious in our own right. There may be certain days when we are not as receptive or obedient as we should be. There are also certain topics to which we shut our hearts. However, we really need to make a pact with ourselves that we will soften our hearts and hear the message the minister has been given. In order for us to do that, we must first have confidence that our pastor is hearing from God. If you cannot say for certainty that your pastor is receiving his messages from God, then you must ask yourself why you are attending that church or listening to that particular minister.

The minister’s job, which I believe is clearly demonstrated in this passage, is to take from God and give whatever they receive to the people under her charge. Ministers must take the time to condition their hearts and the time necessary to hear from God. This is something we should all do but the minister spends more time in this pursuit than most people have to dedicate to the purpose. Ministers have an important role. Each person has a specific call on their lives for serving God and the body of Christ. The minister is supposed to help each person fulfill their personal destiny by delivering the Anointed Word of God to them.

If you are a pastor, teacher or other minister who has been called and anointed of God then I wish to encourage you today to deliver the words God has given you. It is not always easy as I appreciate. You may run into some resistance. However, there may be one person within the reach of your voice who is awaiting that very message. Further, we must agree together that the Holy Spirit will prepare the people’s hearts. You do your job and trust the Holy Spirit to do his. Also, do what you have to do to hear the voice of God. Your congregation does not need your wisdom. They need your anointing and your obedience to your anointing. They do not need cute anecdotes. Although they are good icebreakers, we cannot live on the cute stories. Pastor, feed on the word and the voice of God. Then deliver that food to those entrusted to you.

If your calling is not in full-time ministry there are two encouragements I wish to give you today. First, accept that you are, none the less, called into ministry. Everyone is. Secondly, do not let a tough message discourage you. You are made of sterner stuff than that. God is imparting life to you. Sometimes, though, we need a bit of jolt to awaken us. Trust your pastor or if you don’t then change churches. If you believe your pastor is hearing from God, then you would be a fool not to listen to him, right?

We all need the bread of life. To the extent we are deprived of it we are dying in some way. We need God’s Word and receiving it is a major reason for church services. You must be fed. Make it your determined purpose to feast at God’s divine table. Nourish yourself according to His nutritional plan. He is serving life.