Friday, March 28, 2014

Colossians 3:18-19

Colossians 3:18-19 (ESV)

Rules for Christian Households

[18] Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. [19] Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Colossians 3:18-4:1 addresses three household relationships: Wife/Husband, Child/Parent, Slave/Master. In the Greek household it was not unusual to have multiple generations under one roof. It was also common to consider the slaves as part of the household. Often Greek teachers, including Aristotle, addressed these three areas of household relationships. What was not common was for those teachers to address both sides of those relationships. They would teach about the wife's responsibility to submit to her husband, but they would not address the husband. In their culture he had the right to do whatever he wanted. The same was true of Children/Parents and Slave/Master. The Greek teachers would explain the importance and necessity of obedience on the part of the children and slaves, but fathers and masters were the absolute lords of their homes. Further, while the importance of slaves obeying was taught, slaves were never directly addressed by the teachers. What Paul does by addressing slaves directly and by explaining the responsibilities of husbands, fathers and masters is incredibly cross-grain to his culture.

 

It is not uncommon to hear that these verses are reflecting a first century culture, but the truth is that in those days you would never hear that a husband should not be harsh with his wife, a parent should not provoke their children to anger or discourage them or that a master should treat his slaves justly and equitably. That was brand new. It did not come from their culture. Christianity brought an equality to all people that was to be demonstrated in gentleness, understanding, justice and equitable treatment no matter what your role or responsibility in life. That was new and it changed the world.

 

Why do women have the right to vote? Why did England and the USA eventually outlaw slavery? Why were child labor laws established? Why did our country decide early on that children should be educated no matter what station in life they came from? Yes, a lot of bad things have been done in history in the name of Christianity, but it was the truth and influence of Christianity that brought about every one of these things. Christians truly believe that we all stand on level ground before God. These verses are written in the context of verse 11.

Colossians 3:11 (ESV)

[11] Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

We all have different roles and responsibilities, but as believers we are first brothers and sisters in Christ. We are secondly wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves and masters. Those relationships are different from the world precisely because of our mutual connection to Christ. May that be reflected in all that we do.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Daniel 10

Daniel 10:12-13 (ESV)

[12] Then he said to me, "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. [13] The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia,

 

I don't understand everything I know about this chapter, but clearly behind the screen of the spiritual world there is a battle going on that is somehow about us. In contemporary literature C.S. Lewis, Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti and others have attempted to express this truth in a variety of ways through their fiction. Some are more allegorical; some more fanciful; some better than others, but they are all intended to illustrate in some way the truth that there is more to this world than the physical universe. In Daniel 10 it appears as though each nation or each race has their own angelic or demonic "prince." The being talking to Daniel refers to the "Prince of the kingdom of Persia," the "Prince of Greece," and Michael, whom he calls "your prince." Some of these "princes" were opposed to him and Michael, was on his side. He came immediately in response to Daniel's prayer, but was detained 3 weeks by this battle. This raises all sorts of questions in my mind.

 

Why didn't God just snap his fingers and give victory? What does this kind of battle look like? How can angels and demons battle for 21 days? Is their time different from ours? Do they need to occasionally take a break? Were they actually fighting for 21 days or were they debating? Can an angel be hurt or killed in a battle like this? I have lots of questions with very few answers. The scriptures are strangely quiet on this matter except for an occasional passage like Daniel 10 where the veil is drawn back slightly. So, what are we supposed to do with this information? I think that there are several appropriate responses. First, we don't stop praying because we haven't yet received an answer. Second, we don't fear. We know that we have superior forces working on our behalf. Third, we take courage even though we know that the battle is not yet over.

 

Daniel 10:19 (ESV)

[19] And he said, "O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage." And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, "Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me."

 

It is very easy for us to be filled with fear and anxiety when it comes to the area of spiritual warfare. It is also easy to just dismiss it because we don't want to think about it. We then end up living in denial. Daniel is told to take courage even though the battle is not yet over. He is pointed to the 'Book of Truth." The one talking to Daniel says, "But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth." (Daniel 10:21a) What exactly he means by the Book of Truth is not made clear, and we are not made privy to the contents of the book. What is clear is that Daniel was to look to the truth. For us we know that Jesus prayed in John 17, "Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth."

 

So what do we conclude? First, we acknowledge that we have more questions than answers. Second, we take courage and trust that we are safe in the midst of the battle. Third, we look to the truth of God's word for courage, peace, counsel and assurance. His word is truth, and in him we are safe. We don't have to live in denial of spiritual warfare, nor do we need to become obsessed by it. We acknowledge it, continue to pray, look to God's truth and trust him.

 

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Daniel 9

Daniel 9:19 (ESV)

[19] O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name."

In this chapter Daniel, after reading Jeremiah, began praying for his people Israel to be restored. Three clear principles of prayer stand out in this chapter. First, Daniel's prayer was based on God's Word. Second, Daniel's prayer was for God's people. Third, Daniel's prayer was for God's glory. Too often I fear that our prayers never stop to consider what God's Word actually says. Our prayers are too often about us rather than others. They sound much more like, "God, why me? Please get me out of this mess." Instead of, "God, because of your city and your people…" Too often our prayers are about what will make life easier for me rather than what will bring the greatest glory to my God. Our prayers are selfish and self-focused and we wonder why they aren't answered and why we don't have a passion for prayer.

 

Father, I confess that my prayer life has been too much about me.  May I learn to pray as Daniel prayed, to your glory.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Friday, March 21, 2014

Daniel 8

Daniel 8:25 (ESV)

[25] By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand.

 

I've been following the news in Ukraine with some interest recently for a couple reasons. I have a number of friends in Ukraine, both Americans and Ukrainians. As a church we are hoping to send a short term missions team to Ukraine this summer. What has been going on there is a bit frightening and the future is certainly uncertain.  While I've been closely watching Ukraine someone informed me that there are 60 wars going on in the world at the present time. War is romantic from a distance, but scary, brutal and destructive up close. The good news is that even in the midst of war God never stops being God.

 

In Daniel 8 Daniel had a vision about the "time of the end." The vision explained how nations would rise and fall and how one King would destroy many, and would raise himself up even against God, but he would ultimately be destroyed. These are disturbing thoughts that left Daniel sick and appalled for several days. War, death and destruction is never a good thing, but they never take God by surprise. God knows from the beginning what the future holds. God is never caught off guard or unprepared. God never stops being God.

 

We may not be facing war and destruction, but whatever crises we face in life we know that God knows. When everything falls apart and the bottom drops out of life, God knows. When all our great plans crumble and disintegrate, God knows. He knew before we ever began and his faithfulness is not dependent on our experience. He can be trusted in the darkest times of our lives. When we can't see any light we can rest in the truth that he is the light. When we can find no hope we can trust that he is our hope. But we need to learn that life is not about us. It's about him. God never stops being God.

 

Father, thank you that you know the future from eternity past. Because of that I trust you with my present.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Colossians 3:12-13

Colossians 3:12 (ESV)

[12] Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, [13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

 

According to these verses we are to be forgiving others as the Lord has forgiven us. That implies two things to keep in mind. First, we remember that God forgave us when we did not deserve it. Forgiveness is not earned or deserved, it is received by grace through faith. Secondly, we recognize that forgiveness is based on the cross. Jesus took my sins upon himself when he went to the cross. The truth is, he took my brother's sins there too. That offense against me has already been paid for by the death of Jesus on the cross. Therefore, I can forgive.

 

But the truth is, these to implications of verse 13 are not all that these verses suggest are necessary for forgiveness. Verse 12 is clearly connected. If I am to bear with others and forgive them then I must first have an attitude adjustment.  I need to recognize who I am in Christ. As a believer I am one of God's chosen ones, holy and beloved. As such I need to put on a compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, recognizing that my fellow believer is also one of God's chosen ones, holy and beloved. In other words a changed attitude based on my new standing with God through Jesus results in a changed attitude toward myself and others which allows me the freedom to forgive based on the death of our savior.

 

Father, thank you that you have forgiven me and my brothers and sisters in Christ of all sin past, present and future. Today may I walk in the joy and humility of that truth and may I extend your grace to those around me.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Col 3:16

Colossians 3:16 (ESV)

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

Too often in our churches singing = worship and worship is about feeling close to God. That really makes worship about me rather than about God which means it isn't worship at all. But, that is an issue for another time. What I find interesting about the verse quoted above is that singing is not talked about in the context of worship, but in the context of teaching. "Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs..." According to these verses singing = teaching.

 

Clearly worship is involved as well. The sentence ends by saying, "with thankfulness in your hearts to God." But the primary force of the singing is related to teaching and admonishing one another. I think that we forget that songs are effective ways to teach. There songs new and old that teach deep theology. As a child I learned to worship by singing Holy, Holy, Holy. Not long ago I was in a church service in North Idaho and the worship leader taught a new contemporary song to the congregation that was saturated with sound biblical theology. Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs can be extremely effective in teaching our children and adults sound theology. They can also be effective in calling fellow believers to take their faith seriously, motivating them listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and challenging them to address sin and the need for submission to the Lord. Church music is not just about worship.

 

It is amazing to me that churches that pride themselves in being solidly biblical miss this truth. I have heard bad theology proclaimed through "old favorites" and children's choruses in a church that would never dream of letting anyone teach that theology in their pulpit or classrooms. There are hymns that I love to sing, but because of their bad theology I have had to stop using them. There are hymns and contemporary Christian songs that teach great theology, but because we have never taken the time to look beyond what we know we never use them. There are songs that teach theology and biblical truth but because in our tradition they are associated with a particular season we never actually look at what they are saying. For example, Joy to the World is a hymn primarily about the coming millennial reign of Christ, but because we so associate it with the first Advent we never really pay attention to what it is teaching. What if we sang Joy to the World when we were preaching Revelation 20 instead of Matthew 1-2? What if we took the time during the Christmas Season to explain the significance of the words of Joy to the World and challenged each other to look beyond Christmas to the second coming of the King?

 

With every song we sing in church we are teaching each other something. We are teaching good theology or bad theology. We are teaching that songs mean something or that they do not. We are challenging one another to deeper faith and a deeper walk with God or we are allowing them to become more self-centered and self-focused because we make worship about the experience rather than about the truth. Music is powerful. It is time that we recognize that it is more than worship. It is also a primary teaching tool.

 

Father, thank you for giving us music and for building a love of art, beauty and music into each person. May we use these things for your glory and for the good of your people.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Colossians 3:12-13

Colossians 3:12-13 (ESV)

[12] Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, [13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

There is an old hymn whose chorus goes:

Why should he love me so?

Why should he love me so?

Why should my savior to Calvary go?

Why should he love me so?

The verses quoted above challenge believers to a life of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. That challenge is sandwiched between two key phrases. Theses verses begin by reminding is that we are "God's chosen ones, holy and beloved." They end by reminding us that "the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."

 

When God calls believers to forgive, be compassionate, be patient and be kind he is not asking us to pretend that we haven't been hurt. He is asking us to take our hurt to the cross. He is asking us to treat others the way he treated us. He is challenging the forgiven servant to be a forgiving servant. We are to love as we have been loved, forgive as we have been forgiven, and humble ourselves as Jesus humbled himself to die for us. Jesus, Lord of Lords, creator and sustainer of all that exists, said that he "came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45) As ones who have been accepted and forgiven we are called to be accepting and forgiving.

 

Father, thank you for your accepting love and forgiveness. May my life reflect that same love to those around me.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Friday, March 14, 2014

Colossians 3:5-11

Colossians 3:5 (ESV)

[5] Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

There are two lists in verses 5-11. The first list is to be put to death. The second list is to be put away. The first list is moral. The second list is relational. There are 4 truths about these lists that are important.

  1. These describe what it looks like to walk in the life we had before Christ.

  2. These things cause God's wrath to come against those who live in them.

  3. We no longer live in them (that old man has been put away and the new man is being renewed) therefore we should stop walking in them.

  4. We are no longer identified by externals like our station in life, our background, or what we do. We are now identified by Christ. He is all and in all.

God is not calling people to clean their lives up. Rather, he is calling them to walk in accordance with who they are in Christ and to treat others as who they are in Christ. The motivation to holiness is the truth that in Christ we are holy.

 

Father, thank you! When I look in the mirror it is so easy for me to forget that I am holy. When I look around it is so easy to forget that my brother is holy. Remind me often. May my life reflect Jesus today.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Colossians 3:2-3

Colossians 3:4 (ESV)

[4] When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

In this chapter the motivation to holiness is who we are in Christ and who we will be. Lest we think that this is somehow purely an idea of Paul's, 1 John says the same thing.

1 John 3:2-3 (ESV)

[2] Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. [3] And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Notice that in1 John it is not the one who purifies himself who has hope. Rather, it is the one who has hope who purifies himself. Likewise, in Colossians 3:1, it is not the person who seeks God that will be raised with Christ. It is the one who has been raised with Christ who is to then seek God. We sometimes talk and act as though "finding God" is some great mystery or task. The reality is that God has done everything to find us. It is in his finding us that we can then find him. It is in dying with Christ and being raised to new life that we are then able to seek God, to set our minds on things above, to purify ourselves and to anticipate our future glory with Christ in the presence of the Father. It is by God's grace through faith in the substitutionary death and resurrection of Christ that we enter into new life with Christ. Because we have been made new we are then called to think, live and hope differently. It all starts with him.

 

Father, thank you for the life and hope I have in Christ. Today may I reflect his purity to the world around me.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Daniel 7

Daniel 7:25 (ESV)

[25] He shall speak words against the Most High,

and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,

and shall think to change the times and the law;

and they shall be given into his hand

for a time, times, and half a time.

[26] But the court shall sit in judgment,

and his dominion shall be taken away,

to be consumed and destroyed to the end.

 

In this chapter Daniel has a vision that greatly disturbs him. He is told that it is a vision about 4 kings. Verses 25-26 speak about the final king. He greatly exalts himself even against the Most High. But his kingdom will not last. We have been reading about political unrest in Ukraine. In fact there are protests, skirmishes and wars on almost every continent. Just a quick skim of the news over the last couple days shows unrest in parts of South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. People who think they are in control have lost control. People who have felt powerless have seized control and others are fighting over who is in control. But the truth of the matter us that ultimately God is in control. The rise and fall of governments sometimes takes us by surprise, but God knows what is going on. In the End there will arise a King who will think that he is even superior to God. He will "speak words against the Most High and wear out the saints of the Most High," but ultimately he too will answer to God. Verse 27 gives us hope:

 

Daniel 7:27 (ESV)

[27] And the kingdom and the dominion

and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven

shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;

their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,

and all dominions shall serve and obey them.'

 

Father, thank you that even when things are clearly out of our control, and seem to be out of yours,  you never cease to be God. Thank you that we can trust you in even the most chaotic of times. Father, remind us often that this is your creation and the enemy can go no further than you allow him. You are the Most High God.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Isaiah 50

Isaiah 50:4-7 (ESV) The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him w...