Be Careful What You Pray For (you might just get it!)

Jesus had much to say about prayer. The New Testament has many examples of His teaching others how to pray. Not only did the Lord frequently teach on this important topic, He modeled what a devoted prayer life ought to look like.
The gospel accounts record Jesus praying at various times, from early in the morning and also late at night. Jesus prayed often, which should encourage us to do the same.
My focus for this article is the fact that Jesus also prayed with great faith. He did not pray hoping that God the Father might hear Him. Instead, Jesus prayed as if He were talking directly to God (which He was!). Jesus knew, as we must, that our all-powerful and all-knowing God supernaturally is able to communicate with all people simultaneously. For us to be aware of this awesome fact is a gift of faith, for my finite mind can in no way get around it, yet in my heart I know it to be true.
Allow me to share the true story of how I became certain that God hears all our prayers and hence the title of this blog: Be careful what you pray for, because you might just get it!
A little background first to help you get the full impact of the way God opened my eyes and heart to his prayer answering ways. In May of 1991 I was admitted to a de-tox facility as the first step in my recovery from alcoholism. After spending three weeks there I was feeling so much better physically, and through the care of the professionals on staff, I was becoming aware that my only hope for long-term sobriety was to admit my total defeat at the hands of booze and to trust in a Higher Power to give me the strength I would need to stay sober each day.
As a child, my parents had dragged me to church with them every Sunday. Though it meant nothing to me then, apparently the stories I had heard repeated there stuck with me as did the messages of hope I had heard, for in those early days of treatment I came to know that Jesus Christ was indeed this Higher Power. (I am blessed these days to know Him as the Highest Power!) I began then a habit that continues to this day; in my morning prayers I ask that He give me the strength I need to stay sober today. Nearly 27 years later, He has perfectly filled my request each and every day.
But I’ve gotten a little ahead of the story. My prayers at the beginning of my new life, though consistent, lacked any real depth. I knew what I needed, for me and my family, and I asked. God graciously responded. It was one particular response that I want to share with you that truly opened my eyes to how closely God listens to us and how He patterns His response in the way that best speaks to us individually.
After de-tox I spent another 28 days in a rehab facility. This I know now was another blessing as I was able to begin to deal with the disease I had. I was learning about the damage it had done to me and to those closest to me, especially my wife and our firstborn child.
Those who are familiar with the ravages of addiction know full well the scope of this damage. My wife, one of the greatest gifts God has given me, decided early on to stick with me, offering gracious support as she herself began a journey of recovery from the effects my illness.
Though we committed to each other to go all-in on this new opportunity for life we were given, it was not going to be easy. My drinking had ruined us financially. As I emerged from treatment, we were faced with a huge financial burden. I owed in excess of $100,000 in back taxes (a sizable sum in 1991) and we had no income. We had to rely on Social Services and the kindness of family and friends just to stay fed and to have a place to live in the summer of 1991.
I have come to see the truth in scriptures like Jeremiah 32:17 which says nothing is too hard for God. Our situation was indeed dire, but not impossible to overcome. God did (and does) have a plan for each of us.
I began to more fully experience God’s mercy after I finished my 28-day in-patient rehab. Out of work and with few marketable skills, God stepped in. A good friend had a well-placed friend in one of the three nuclear power plants nearby. With the right strings pulled, I was hired as a temporary employee for a position that was to last 6 months.
There was a slight problem, however, I didn’t have a car to get there and back. Again, no problem for God, as He provided one. Another friend in our small town was aware of our troubles and sold us his 1975 Chevy Chevelle for $100. This car was a true winter-rat. The driver’s side door didn’t open from the outside, there was no floor board in back and the catalytic converter caused the passenger-side carpet to smolder after about 15 miles.
Here’s where I learned the lesson that God does have a sense of humor, as in hindsight I came to understand about being careful what I pray for. This junker of a car was well beyond my ability to fix if anything else went wrong with it. So I prayed, “God please keep this thing running for 6 months so that I can get back and forth to work.”
The job started on October 8th, 1991. It went well and with lots of overtime worked we started to chip away at the mountain of debt I brought on us. That Chevelle ran all winter, getting me through some horrendous snowstorms along the way.
April 7th, 1992 was my last day of employment there. I got out of work early and stopped at the noon AA meeting here in town. I got into my car when the meeting ended, and it would not start. It was dead; no life, no horn, no nothing. Then with a smile I remembered my prayer. God had answered it alright, to the minute! That car ran for 6 months, exactly as I had asked God to do.
I share this account to encourage everyone who prays to never sell God short. He does listen to us and He does respond, just not always as we expect or even hope.
I’ll conclude for today with what the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Ephesus:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21

The List

‘A’ list celebrities, bucket lists, grocery lists; even Santa Claus has a list. His being so important we are told through song that he checks it twice! We have Top 40 lists, honey-do lists, greatest plays lists, blooper lists and play lists on our electronic devices. For organization, we often list things alphabetically. Lists are seemingly everywhere, as many aspects of our lives seem to be in list form.
I for one am a list maker. I find my most productive days are ones in which I have made a list of the things I want/need to get done. Driven by equal parts memory retention issues and my orderly nature, I seem to work best when I can see my goals written out.
I will also admit to a certain satisfaction when an item gets scratched off the list at its completion. I’ll leave for another time a discussion of my tendency at days end, as I review the list, to write in other things I have gotten done that were not originally on it; just so I can scratch them off too!
The Bible contains many lists too. The Book of Exodus (chapter 20) records God giving Moses the Ten Commandments, making it safe to assume that God favors lists as well. The Almighty, having created us to be favorably disposed to using lists, gives us His Law in 1 through 10 form.
Jesus himself was also inclined to using lists to teach people. The 12th Chapter of the Gospel according to Mark records a conversation between the Lord and one of the Jewish teachers of the Law that gives evidence of Jesus using a list as a valuable teaching tool.
(The teacher asked him), “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus not only gives the answer as a list of two things, He goes even further and prioritizes them. In brief, Jesus tells us to place God first, others next and then ourselves in our plans. When Jesus lists things is a particular order, it’s a good bet He did so for a reason: For us to follow it as is!
Here lies the key for all us list makers/followers: Priorities. A list loses most of its ability to be a guide for us if there is no order to the items on it. For example, if I place mowing the lawn ahead of making a bank deposit in the checkbook to cover rent, the lack of priority may have repercussions for me. So as important as listing making and following it is for me, without a thought-out plan to do all these things, I may still end up merely chasing my tail.
Some years ago, my wife Betsy came up with a brilliant yet practical idea to help me get and keep my priorities in order regarding my lists. As a Christmas present, you gave me a 5’ x 7’ pocket notebook. On the top of every page, she printed the name Jesus; giving me an instant and on-going reminder to always place Jesus at the top of all my plans:
Jesus
1………………………………………
2………………………………………
3………………………………………
4………………………………………
What a great gift! It helps me in several ways. (Here comes another list!):
Serves as a reminder to pray about how I spend my time.
With Jesus at the top, my priorities are already in order. No matter
how urgent/important an item I put on the list, Jesus is already on top
of it
Allows me to continue using a method that has been successful for me.
Gives me a conversation starter when talking lists with others.
If you are reading this and are already a follower of Jesus Christ, I hope the sharing of my ‘Jesus’ list helps you to remember where to keep your focus. I know it does that for me, especially when I check my list and it seems to be growing as time passes instead of decreasing. I can take a deep breath and pray that the God helps me to re-focus on the most important item on it, Him!
But if you are not (yet) a believer in Jesus, I hope these thoughts on prioritizing your to-do list is helpful. I will be praying that the day comes soon that Jesus will be atop all your lists as well. (BTW, I just added you to my prayer list to receive salvation!)

A Forgiving Father and another Prodigal Son

Regardless of a person’s familiarity with the Bible, most people seem to know the story of the Prodigal Son. But in case you don’t, it can be found in the 15th Chapter of the Gospel according to Luke. It is the third of three consecutive parables told by Jesus about how God saves us. The first two use the example of lost sheep and a lost coin. Jesus often taught by telling stories that used illustrations that His hearers would be well acquainted with. The beginning of this chapter tells us that Jesus was in the middle of a gathering of every day sinners (of which I would have fit in comfortably) as He uses these common place illustrations to so wonderfully explain what the forgiveness of God means to us.
The parable of the prodigal son contains three main characters, a Father and his two sons. The father represents of God, the older son is the judgmental religious leaders of that day and the younger son is a picture of everyone who is selfish, disobedient, foolish, wayward, etc.
If you don’t know the story, please allow me to quickly paraphrase it. A Father had two sons, the older of which was duty bound, carrying out the requirements of life that the order of birth, in that culture, placed in him. The younger one had a wild and impulsive side. He demanded that his Father give him his portion of his inheritance, while his dad was still living! An incredulous demand in that time; it reveals a selfish attitude that cared nothing for the feelings of anyone but himself.
Maybe even more incredible is the fact that the father grants the young man his request and gives him what he was due (In those days the father’s wealth would have been split with 67% for the first born and 33% for the other). Jesus then states that the younger brother gathered all his possessions and headed for a far-off country. He was leaving his family with no intent to return. The story then tells us he quickly squandered all his money (prodigal is defined as a person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way).
More problems soon follow as an awful famine strikes that land and the younger son is left destitute. With no money and even less hope, this selfish guy farms himself out to a lower than low job, tending to pigs. There’s a whole cultural message contained just within that idea that I won’t cover now; suffice to say no little boys grew up back then hoping to slop pigs for a living!
It is at the nadir of his life that the prodigal son comes to his senses (Jesus’ words, not mine: Luke 15:17). He realizes that it is his choices and actions that have brought him to this point. Feeling genuine remorse for what he has done, he humbly heads back home to acknowledge his guilt and to bear the consequences of his actions. The younger son recognized and understood he had given up his rightful standing in the family and was willing to throw himself on the mercy of his Father for his very survival.
Here the parable Jesus tells gets to its focal point, the forgiveness of God our heavenly Father. The narrative tells us that while the wayward son was still far off in his return journey, the Father saw him coming. What a wonderful picture; this Dad, undoubtedly deeply hurt by his boy’s actions, is still hoping for his return. Why else would he be looking in the direction his son had left?
Not only do we see the eternal hope of God’s love illustrated here, we get to see it in action! For Jesus then says that after seeing his son was coming home, the Father runs to meet him. As they embrace, the Father lavishes his love, forgiveness and acceptance of his once lost child. Rather than reacting in understandable anger, love led to “mercy”—God’s compassion for the helpless, issuing in action for their relief. There is an inexhaustible treasury of such mercy in the loving heart of God. (The Expositor’s Commentary).
Please don’t miss the richness of this truth, God’s love is beyond what we can imagine and is available to all who seek it, no matter what type of ‘pig-pen’ your choices have turned your life into. But, we must understand that although God’s love is unending, for us to truly experience it we do have a part to play. Like the younger son, we must examine our hearts and admit our failures before our heavenly Father. I realize the thought of coming clean is unsettling. The question becomes; will we allow our stubbornness and fear of change to keep us immobilized? Hopefully the answer is no, for we must see past the current state of our affairs and into the wonderful fellowship God is waiting to bestow on those who seek Him earnestly.
There is no depth you or I can sink to that is beyond God’s ability and desire to reach. Not only has my personal experience with alcoholism taught me this, but also the many other lives I have seen reborn by the power of the Almighty. What this change looks like will vary with each individual, but be assured, the changes God implements will certainly be for our good and His glory.
Consider as an example the major change that comes over the prodigal son as Jesus tells this story. When we first met this young man, he was telling his Father to give him his inheritance, now. What disrespect; as if he were telling his dad that he was already dead! His only concern was for his wants to be fulfilled, regardless of how much his actions might hurt others.
Once he undergoes the powerful transformation of his heart, the young man returns to his Father with another request: This time it is, “make me like one of your hired men.” (Luke 15:19) Realizing he is no longer worthy to be called a son, he asked only that he be able to earn a living to provide for his basic needs.
It is at this point that Jesus reveals the necessity that we see our sins for what that truly are, affronts to God, and then ask Him to forgive us. The lavish response of the Father in the parable tells us what divine forgiveness looks like. It is complete.
There are many passages in Scripture that speak of the total forgiveness that God grants, here are just two: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) and, as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).
The key word in these two examples is if. God’s forgiveness is indeed complete, but we must humbly seek it. We must also know that it doesn’t come cheap, that Jesus Himself paid the ultimate price by His death on the cross to make it available to us. Once we do seek to be forgiven, we are restored into the family of God just as the younger son was restored to his family. And don’t miss this: God keeps no records of our wrongs. He forgives us and when He does, it is as if we hadn’t sinned. He will not hold onto the memory of our transgressions to hold over us at some future time.
What an encouragement for all! What’s more, though this story was told some 2000 years ago, God is still seeking prodigal sons and daughters that want to come back to him. If that’s you, don’t wallow in your mess any longer. Come to your senses and ask God to forgive you, because He will. His love is far greater than any darkness inside of you. Remember, His loving eyes are searching, not to bring shame or punishment but to simply love you and help you set your heart right. He is ready to welcome you back with open arms, are you ready to let Him?

Please Pass the Salt

If, as our oldest child has stated, life is a pie chart that can be divided into 4 equal parts of 20 years, then I am well into my third slice. As such, and with my family history of coronary disease, I should be more careful about what I eat and how much exercise I get. To be honest, I am not very good at monitoring either of these.
One area that I am successful in however, is keeping in check my salt intake. Other than sprinkling some on fresh sweetcorn, I rarely if ever add salt to anything I eat. I find the various tastes of food pleasing enough that I see no need to add more salt.
However, should you ever come to our house for a meal, don’t shy away from salt just because I do. Used appropriately, it can certainly increase how much you might enjoy the food, and, (though not a worry when Betsy cooks), salt can also add life to a bland offering. Also, many good recipes suggest that you ‘salt to taste.’ I like that, for it reveals a great truth; each person’s tastes, in food and in life in general, are different.
Perhaps you have guessed by now that the topic today centers on salt. As we look at the last section of Colossians at Lakeside Christian Ministries this week (vv.4:2-18), we discover the bible yet again makes a reference to salt. In both the Old and New Testaments salt is often mentioned for use as a seasoning, preservative and disinfectant as well as metaphorically signifying loyalty, usefulness and purity.
Colossians 4:6 uses it this way: Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
A brief review of Paul’s letter to the Colossian church reveals that he wrote this it to believers in Christ who were being negatively influenced by some dangerously false teachings that were attempting to contradict the truth of God that these people had learned when they came to faith. In this short letter Paul gives a concise description of the facts: Jesus was/is the Son of God who came physically to the earth to bring salvation to absolutely everyone who would believe in Him. He then goes into what the practical application of this wondrous truth ought to look life in the everyday life of a follower of Christ. Included in this is the verse above with the instruction to have your conversation seasoned with salt.
Before adding any salt however, please take note of what our conversation is to be full of; grace. The word translated as grace here is rich in meaning. God’s grace is accurately defined as His unmerited favor. It is a gift He gives, not because we earn it or somehow deserve it, it comes from His heart to us simply because He loves us.
In using grace to describe what are conversations are to be full of, the Apostle Paul is reminding all readers to remember this great gift. Because we are to be always mindful of it, all that we say and do is to give evidence of this grace being active in our lives. For example, every conversation you have with me might not mention the Savior Jesus, but how I communicate, the words I use, the topics I discuss and even how well I listen all ought to reveal the love of God at work in my heart.
The Expositor’s Commentary says this about the grace we are to speak in: Grace, a word that usually denotes divine favor, seems here to be used in the broader sense of pleasantness, attractiveness and charm, as these ideas are all implicit in it.
As I consider this analogy regarding what Paul was/is telling his readers, I can easily see how it can be applied to all my conversations, especially those that have to do with the things of God and faith.
First, all my conversations are to be full of grace. This means that all I say, within a given context, is to be tied in to the goodness of God. We all know how badly words can hurt. The beginning of the third chapter of the Book of James discusses the power of the spoken word and how much harm can be caused by them. It is vital, then, that we all stay aware of the power of our words; remembering to have them be full of grace will go a long way toward helping us do this.
With this as a backdrop for how we speak to one another, we can then see the importance that only wholesome words being on our lips. As we practice this style of speech, we should find little to no room for slander or gossip to be coming out of our mouths. Speaking gracefully means to never publicly tear down another or to spread unsubstantiated accusations. Obviously, speaking one to one with another is most generally the appropriate place for rebuke or correction, but even that is to be done in a loving and graced filled way.
We are also to salt to taste. I like that, especially in this context. I can close my eyes and remember that last tasty ear of sweetcorn with just enough salt on it to really make the flavor pop. I like sweetcorn without salt, but I like it a whole lot more with it!
So it is to be with our conversations. Paul admonition is for believers to be able to express the truth of the love of God to everyone, and in ways that can be interesting and worthy of the other person’s attention. In a sense, it is up to all who profess faith in Jesus Christ to be able to add the proper amount of ‘spice’ to our discussions so that they will be enticing enough to make the hearer want more.
Much as a sour dispensation on the evil of sin in another person’s life will be unlikely to attract many to come to your table; that same conversation can be flavored with God’s never-ending mercy to all His creation, thus making it much more palatable. I am not suggesting that we water down the truth of God’s word in any way, He hates sin, but I am suggesting that we discuss the truth of His character in ways that invite questions and introspection, not heartless judgment.
Using the analogy of salt in our discussion means to bring scriptural truth from a bland, ‘I’ll eat some if I have to,’ list of ‘dos and don’ts into an engaging conversation that reveals the love of God toward all as the entrée. To do this well and in a way that honors God, I, as the believer, must know what is on the ‘menu,’ so to speak. Part of the work of every follower of Christ is to be continually growing in the knowledge of God.
We do this with daily reading of the Scriptures, praying that God’s Spirit would open our minds to a better understanding of what has been written. As Paul wrote in the letter to the Romans, For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4 NIV).
It’s not a hard recipe to follow: Have faith in Jesus, add liberal doses of the bible and plenty of prayer and the results are sure to be delectable. For we please God when we come seeking more of Him, and it pleases Him to give more of His unlimited self to those who seek. As the ‘the cooking process’ that is life blends these ingredients together, out comes a meal that is right and fitting for everyone. So please do pass the salt and apply it as needed, there is enough for all at the banquet table of our God!

We’ve all got problems

You’ve got problems, I’ve got problems, we all have problems. Many times, our day to day lives are all but consumed with the problems that face us. They are far too numerous for me to mention in this short blog, so suffice it to say that one common denominator for humankind is the fact that we face trials, difficulties and uncertainties. I find verification of this statement in the very words of Jesus; “In this world you will have trouble.” (Emphasis added)
The problems you face, like me, can seem overwhelming at times, so please don’t take anything I say in this forum as underestimating the significance of what you are up against. Many are facing traumatic situations, severe family dysfunction or life challenging illness. These issues are real and can hold much power over us.
As we venture into the 2nd week of our study of the Book of Colossians, please let me share the hope that God gives us all: For he (God) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14 NIV).
As much as my heart goes out to those facing some of the above-mentioned struggles, I share with you the words of hope from the Bible so that you may begin to perceive that the greatest problem of all is a life lived without Jesus Christ in it. As empty as life is without Him, and regardless of the pain and loss you may be living in this moment, the pain and loneliness of eternity without Jesus as Savior is incalculable.
The hope of the gospel is just that, hope. This is not hoping for, like so far off wish list; but is in fact a certainty that God places in your heart and mind as you accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior. Please know that when the bible teaches about hope, it is a certainty. We all need this hope that only God provides, because we share the biggest problem of all, sin.
Sin is a word most of us are well familiar with, as for many we are taught from an early age the difference between right and wrong, with the wrong often referred to as sin. However, for us to better understand the real problem sin is to all of us, we need to get a handle on what the bible teaches about it. It only makes sense that we more fully understand what it is that Jesus is to forgive us of.
The bible teaches that sin entered the world as Adam and Eve believed the lie of the serpent in the Garden. From that point until today, each human born is stained with the sin nature inherited because their fall. Our fallen nature prevents us from having the daily and perfect fellowship God desires us to have with Him. This chasm that exists between us and God cannot be breached by any human effort. We are separated from God, as sinfulness cannot exist where His holiness is.
The only bridge possible over this span is the love of God, as evidenced in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ; what we commonly referred to as ‘the cross of Christ. For us to be fully restored into God’s favor, we must put our faith in the saving power of the Lord. Paul explains this in Colossians 1:13-14: For he (God) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
“Ok,” you might be saying, thanks for the theology lesson, but where is the practical application of this good news in the face of the many troubles I am facing today?” The answer, dear friend, is in perspective. I do not mean to short-change or downplay anything you are going through, but once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can begin to see things with a much clearer and bigger picture in mind. In other words, once you know your eternal future is absolutely secured by God, the issues facing you today lose some of their power over you. That is a blessing of having your hope in Jesus.
This is not to say that simply trusting Jesus to rescue you from an eternity separated from God will make this life be a stroll through the roses. My experience, as well as the experience of many faithful followers of Christ, has been filled with challenges, pain and setbacks. But again, here is where active faith carries you through. My hope is firmly placed in what Jesus has done and is doing for me, today! That is encouragement enough to see me through anything.
Yet, a part of me wants all the nastiness and burdens of today to be done and gone. They never will be, however, this side of heaven. Here’s why: First, I have the very human tendency to get complacent once satisfied. I believe a certain amount of the trials I go through in this life are designed by the Creator so that I will learn to lean on and trust Him more. If I have it all, to my liking, what do I really need God for anyway? This type of thinking leads me to nowhere good.
And speaking of nowhere good, some of the problems I/we are up against on any given day are because of bad choices we have made. There are consequences to our actions, and if these choices are harmful to self or others, we can fully expect repercussions. For example, if you smoke, abuse drugs or drink alcohol to excess, the sickness you feel or the trouble these choices bring you are self-inflicted damage. Or, if your personal relationships are a mess (and these things just mentioned can do a number on them), consider how your words or actions are affecting others. Try using some empathy to see how that person is feeling or why they are reacting to you in a certain way. The bible tells us to consider others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:4).
This brings us back to the point about perspective. The truth is this: On our own we just aren’t all that important. But as a person who believes that Jesus has forgiven them and permanently has restored relationship with the God of heaven for you, we come to know how important we are to Him! Remember this as you go about your day, with thanksgiving in your heart that God has placed such importance on you that He has made the way back to Him possible. By practicing this, and it does take practice, I am convinced that how you see and react to the circumstances surrounding your life with change for the better. Putting your complete trust in Jesus doesn’t make all your problems go away, but I promise you it makes anything life throws at you more manageable because you know that no matter what, God has taken care of the most pressing problem you have, your separation from Him, away. May you live this day in the joy of that most awesome news!

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Jesus is Supreme

I love a good buffet; be it Chinese, a Golden Corral type or Italian to name just a few, if I’m invited, I’m there!  I do truly like to eat, and to be at a place that offers me a wide variety (and sometimes an unlimited amount), is a pleasure to me.  I consider all these options, many that I consider so tasty, and then pick out my most faves.  Or, maybe I’m feeling a little daring and will sample some things I wouldn’t normally.  In either case, it leaves me in control of what and how much I take in.

Our choice about eternity is not like a buffet, however.  Though I know some reading further will consider me closed minded, I beg of you to at least give more than a passing thought to what I share with you today.

Here at Lakeside Christian Ministries, we are embarking on an 8-week study of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians, beginning on September 11th.  In this short, 4-chapter letter, Paul makes some of the clearest and strongest statements about the supremacy of Jesus Christ.  The Scriptures prove, to those with a heart to allow them to, that there is only one real and true choice by which we can be saved, that being faith through grace that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected to forgive us our sins.

I realize that many in our culture, and around the globe, are making a serious attempt to be considerate of other opinions and feelings.  This is of course a noble task, for the bible tells us that we are to do nothing out of vain conceit or selfish ambition, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV).

It is because I and many like me want to serve those with interests other than our own, that I reach out to you will the undeniable truth of scripture.  Just as there were false teachers about in 60 AD, when the Apostle penned this letter to the people of Colossae, there still are today.

False teaching takes on many forms that appear spiritual, but they can be seen for the lies they are when held up to the true light of the gospel.  I invite you to join with us as over the next 8 weeks as we learn that the true banquet table of God has just one offering, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave his life as a ransom for many Mark 10:45)

Initially, I would like to return to the illustration of a buffet to get us started.  Many good and well-intended people I know think of their Christian life in this way.  They fully enjoy the offerings of forgiveness found in the bible, but are just as likely to pass by the teachings about repentance and the call to live a life of holiness.  In this analogy, these folks are drawn to sweet tasting offerings on the line while skipping the harder to chew items.

Another prevalent, but equally incorrect teaching found in many places today is the ‘prosperity gospel.’ This doctrine would have a person believe that their financial success and security will be found if they only believe it will happen for them.  Like so many lies, this one is particularly cunning.  After all, God does promise blessings to His people.  However, the blessings of God are dispensed by God at times and places of His own choosing.  No amount effort on a person’s part will guarantee a response from God.  We are to serve and bless others because we love God and want to honor Him.  That is to be our only motivation.  Anything other reason, such a seeking monetary gain or the favor of men as the result of our actions, is looking to promote us and not God.

One other false teaching that has many confused today tells people that Christianity is outdated and biblical teaching is no longer relevant to modern society.  Much as the gnostics were teaching in Colossae, those holding to this belief currently believe that spiritual matters are to be left up to the individual.  This teaching espouses that each person can find a higher spiritual destiny/reality solely on their own.  Those holding to this lie believe that through some various mystical means they will achieve a type of spiritual oneness with an undefined deity or life-force for good.  This teaching, while attempting to encourage people to improve their eternal lot, entirely dismisses the point of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The last of the examples I will cite for now regarding the false teachings/beliefs that are around today is the one I call ‘salvation through weights and measures.’ The grave error committed here is believing that all of life is recorded in some type of heavenly ledger or scorecard.  Those who are fooled by this believe that they can earn their way into heaven if the ‘good’ things they have done  outweighs the ‘bad’ in some final accounting.  Scripture clearly teaches that salvation is only made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9 states this most plainly).  You are misguided if you believe that you can earn your way into heaven by your own actions.  Only a holy (perfect) God can forgive sins and make us holy.  Anything less than this would reduce God to being less than holy, and therefore not be God at all.

For now until next time, I ask you to consider the supremacy of Jesus Christ.  I invite you to read the entire letter to the Colossian’s.  A careful and thoughtful reading of it may well help you realize that Jesus is indeed all you need.

As always, should you have comments on this, feel free to leave them in the space provided below.  If you have questions or concerns that may be more personal, feel free to contact me by email at pastorchuck38@gmail.com.  If you reach out to me, I will respond.

These thoughts will also be on audio through our website: www.lakesidechristianministries.org.

May God bless you on your journey to and with Him. Amen.