God’s Idea Of Marriage, Part 2.

Grace For The Journey


27Aug  In my post I noted that marriage is an institution created by God.  It is His idea.  We also noted that marriage takes more than two people.  It takes three: Husband, Wife, and the Lord.  We pick up today in our verse-by-verse study of the third chapter of Colossians, reading again in Colossians 3:18-19, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”

The text consists of two main teaching points, the first for Christian wives and the second for Christian husbands.  We are looking at “God’s Plan For Marriage” which consist of a wife, who is to demonstrate biblical submission to her husband and a husband who is to demonstrate faithful adoration to his wife.

Yesterday we addressed the role of the Christian wife in; we turn now to the role of the Christian husband from verse 19, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”  That’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it?   Love your wife and do not be bitter toward her.  In Roman society it was not uncommon for men to rage against their wives and demonstrate remarkable anger and bitterness; always ready to explode, like a can of soda that has been shaken and suddenly opened.

Men may become bitter towards their wives when they fail to understand them.   Sometimes a man’s wife is merely offering help, caution, or warning, but men may be too self-engrossed or too self-focused to appreciate their loving counsel.

Paul says, “Love your wives.”  In the parallel text of Ephesians 5, he elaborates on the kind of love a husband is to show his wife.  He says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25).  Jesus Christ demonstrated a sacrificial love.  He loved the church and gave Himself for the church.  He died for the church.  Christian husbands are to love their wives sacrificially – to the point they are even willing to die for their wives.  That’s a deep, real love.  And it is a love made possible by the new life we have in Christ.

It is so important to recall the greater context

Of Paul’s teaching here in Chapter 3.

These two commands for wives and husbands

Are commands couched in the context of the new life in Christ.

Paul is addressing those who have already dealt with their most basic, fundamental problem: the problem of sin.  He is writing to those who have “put off” the old self and “put on” the new.  He is writing to people who have been converted; people being renewed daily in the image of the One who created them.

When Paul is writing here about the matter of marriage, he is not writing to just anyone.  He is writing to Christians.  He is writing to Christian wives and Christian husbands; those who are “seeking those things which are above” and “setting their minds on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

He is writing to those who have “died” to their old selves (Colossians 3:3), those for whom “Christ is their life” (Colossians 3:4).  He is writing to those who are regularly “putting to death” (Colossians 3:5) sins such as, “fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil desire,” and “putting off” sins cut as anger, wrath, malice and filthy language” (Colossians 3:8).

Paul is writing to Christian husbands and wives who are putting on, or “dressing” themselves with “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering” (Colossians 3:12); “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another even as they have been forgiven in Christ” (Colossians 3:13).

He is writing to Christian couples who, “above all things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection” or completeness in marriage (Colossians 3:14).  And he is writing to Christian husbands and wives who “let the Word of God dwell in them richly” (Colossians 3:16).

The context of all those preceding verses are vitally important to understanding what Paul says about marriage in verses 18 and 19.  I found it curious how many commentators wanted to make this section of this letter independent from what Paul had written in the prior verses, but it is not.

Our relationships with one another

Are dependent upon living as those

Who have been raised up with Christ.

Having minds that are set on the things above

Instead of the things that are on earth

Is not about neglecting the things here on earth.

That would result in people that are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.  It is rather having a proper view of life in the present because of having heaven as our destination (2 Peter 3:14).

Proper relationships in the family and in the workplace are dependent upon us putting off the old man and putting on the new.  Each of us are to “consider the members of [our] earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed” and put aside “anger wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech.”  The old self is dead, so we should quit dragging around its corpse with its lying and evil practices.  Instead, we are to put on the new man and “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other.”  We are to follow the example.  We are to let the Word of God richly dwell within us and encourage and teach one another accordingly.  Paul summed up his general exhortations in living the Christian life in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”  That command includes everything we communicate and all our actions and behaviors.

It is on the basis of these general commands to all Christians that He now gives instruction to the various members of a family and in the work force starting with the most intimate relationship and working his way outward in three sets: wives and husbands, children and parents, slaves and masters.

The Importance of Marriage

Paul begins with the marriage relationship . . .

For it is not only the foundation for the family,

But it is also the foundation of all of society.

If marriages decline so does the rest of society,

And tragically we are seeing that happen

In our own time in our own society.

As America continues its flight from God and godliness, it increasingly promotes sinful perversions and abominations.

The so-called sexual revolution of the 1960’s is the direct precursor to the homosexual revolution of our current times.  Both are predicated on the false basic premise that the “pursuit of happiness” enshrined in the preamble of our Constitution means that there should not be restrictions on the hedonistic fulfillment of one’s desires.  That those desires are sinful before God and detrimental to themselves and to society are irrelevant to the mind entrapped by sin. As hedonistic selfishness gains a greater influence on society, its demands progress from tolerance, to acceptance, to equality, to superiority.  Constitutional freedoms of religion and speech are trumped by rights made up by legislation to allow the practice of sexual perversion with impunity.

We have already seen from our previous study that God established marriage in Genesis 3 so only He can define it.  We also saw from Ephesians 5 that marriage is to be a picture of Christ and the church, so any advocation for marriage to be between anything other than a man and a woman is a perverse evil.  Those promoting such perversions need to repent and turn from their sin and receive forgiveness and freedom from sin that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.  They are in serious danger of the Lord turning away and leaving them condemned in their sin for eternity as explained in Romans 1:18-32..

God is also the only one

That can define the role

Of the husband and the wife.

Those advocating roles different from what He has declared are also promoting perversion and evil and need to repent.  Sadly, there are many professing Christians that do not fulfill the role God has given them within marriage either due to ignorance, immaturity, or selfishness.  It is time for them to become wise, walk in maturity, and become selfless in serving their spouse according to God’s design.  While that will appear to be scary to some, it is the only way to glorify God and have a truly fulfilling marriage.

I already talked about the role of the wife in last Thursday’s post, so I will not repeat that here expect to encourage wives to fulfill that role of being submissive to and respecting your husbands as is fitting in the Lord.  Ladies, do not fall for or continue in the mindset of feminism that has had such a negative effect on our society.  You can have a much better life and marriage by living it God’s way than their way.

Today I am going to address the specific role of the husband in marriage, however everyone else reading this post also needs to pay attention.

  • Wives need to know how to encourage their husbands to fulfill his role.
  • Unmarried men need to know God’s expectations if they do get married.
  • Unmarried women need to know what qualities they should be looking for in a husband if they get married.

The Role of Husbands

Paul makes two commands concerning husbands in verse 19. “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them.”  There are additional instructions in other passages, some of which we will look at, but these two are contrasting and all encompassing.  If the husband will do these two things, then the commands to the wife will be easy for her to fulfill.  It has been generally observed, and I think accurately, that what women desire the most is to be truly loved and what men want the most it to be genuinely respected.  It is not hard for a woman to genuinely respect a man that truly loves her, and neither is it hard for a man to truly love a woman that genuinely respects him.  Those are the very commands God gives to each to fulfill.

However . . .

Fighting against this happening

In the marriage is the curse of sin.

Men and women are both innately selfish so instead of giving of themselves freely, they seek to get from the other want they want.  But . . .

True love cannot be gained by manipulation

And neither can genuine respect

Be gained through oppression.

Like two leeches they seek to gain life from the other but only manage to suck the life out of the marriage leaving a shell of what could and should have been.  However, when a husband and wife set aside their old sinful ways and walk in the newness of life that comes with following Christ, then there is a basis for each to fulfill their God given roles within the marriage and God can be glorified in and through them.

I cannot stress enough to you husbands

That you must walk with Christ if

You are to fulfill your role in your marriage.

The first of Paul’s commands here is that you are to love your wife.

This is not a reference to either being physically attracted to her or a fond feeling of affection, though both of those should also be part of a healthy marriage.  The love commanded here is agapaô . . .

The love that arises from the will

And sacrifices itself for the

Best interest of the one loved.

This is the love Jesus has for us.  This is the love that we are to have for one another. This is the love a man is to have for his wife.  This love is contrary to the sinful bent of mankind because it seeks to give instead of get.

Ephesians 5:25-33 gives further description to this love.  In that passage the husband is commanded three separate times to love his wife.  Verse 25 commands, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”  That is complete sacrifice. And that is the kind of love we are to have for our wives – a sacrificial love.  Until you have died in the place of your wife, you have not loved her to this extent.  That means that every husband still has room to grow in his love for his wife.

Verses 28-29 commands and explains, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one every hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.”  Here there are two examples given: 1) The first is to love her with the same consideration you give to yourself. Treat her with the same kind of care you give to your own body, and lets face it, everyone seeks to treat their body with the utmost care.  Even when we vigorously exercise it is for the good purpose of keeping out body fit.  It takes time, money, and thoughtful planning to do all the things that are part of caring for our bodies – feeding it, cleaning it, exercising it, making it look good, health care for it and pampering it to make it comfortable.  Husband, do you give that kind of consideration to your wife?  2) The second example is harder for Christ is the example and His care for the church is complete and sacrificial.  His care for the church is actually better than our care for our own bodies because He does know what is best while we guess at that.  Yet that is still the example set for a husband to follow in loving his wife.

Paul also points out the pragmatic aspect of this too – this kind of love is not only a sacrificial love, it is a serving love.  A husband is to care for his wife because she is part of him.  We may not understand all of what it means in the quote from Genesis 2:24 repeated here in verse 31, but there is definitely some aspect in which the two individuals have become one flesh in marriage.  In marriage the husband is part of the wife and the wife is part of the husband.  So even from a more selfish point of view, for the man to love his wife is really to love himself – as Paul states at the end of verse 28.

Think about that a moment men.  Is there anything that you could do for your wife that would not ultimately come back to you for your benefit?  Certainly there are some exceptions in women that are so self-centered that they are not fit to live with, but in general, is it not true that if you treat your wife well, she will also treat you well?  If you give consideration to her, she will also do the same for you.  If you lead her in all godliness, she will be a more godly woman. If you love her as the scripture says here, she will be much more easily able to fulfill her role in submitting to your leadership and showing you respect. If you demonstrate sacrificial love to her, she is much more apt to sacrificially love you too.

Love your wife as Christ loved the church – have sacrificial love.  Cherish her as you cherish your own body – have serving love.

Paul’s third command to love your wife is in verse 33 – “Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself.”  The arguments here are really the same.  Everyone loves themselves.  We do what we can to build ourselves up in the eyes of others.  There is no lack and has never been a lack of self-esteem in the human race.  Instead it is just the opposite.  Humans are by nature self-centered and proud.  We love ourselves.

The Bible uses that fact as a prod to get us to understand that we need to love others. The general command given by Jesus in several different passages is that you are to love your neighbor as yourself.  Here Paul applies that directly to every husband.  You are to love your wife as you do yourself.  The type of love that the Bible is teaching here is a sanctifying love.  Instead of focusing on ourselves and seeking to build ourselves up, husbands are to have the kind of love that will lead them to do all they can to build up their wives and help her become all that God wants and needs her to become.

Let me now give you a couple of examples to prod your thinking about applying these commands in practical ways.

1) Your wife calls you to dinner and you find that she is actually serious about making the family diet more healthy, and if it tastes like it looks you will be losing a lot of weight very quickly.  What is your reaction?  A) Grateful for her service to you and care about your health, B) Irritated you didn’t get something you like C) Making plans to go out and get a burger later

2) You have been planning an event with your friends for sometime – fishing, hunting, watching an important game, etc. and when the day arrives your wife has the flu.  She looks and feels like death warmed over.  How do you feel about the prospect of staying home and taking care of her and the kids? A) What an opportunity to prove how much I love her. B) Why is God punishing me? C) Maybe her mother can come watch her and the kids?

3) Your busy reading the paper or watching your favorite sporting competition and your wife sits down and says, “honey, I have a problem.”  Do you A) Get excited that she thinks so highly of you that she wants your help, B) Want her to go away and come again some other day, or C) Get a chill running down your spine that you could be in trouble?

4) You have listened to your wife’s problem and given her a very intelligent and logical solution, but she keeps talking about it.  Do you think: A) Why doesn’t she just thank me and leave me alone now, B) Uh oh, she’s a bit dense today or C) Wow, this problem has really affected her.  I wonder how else I can encourage her and let her know that I care?

Gentlemen, to love your wife the way Christ loved the church, to love her as your own body, to love her as you love yourself will require you to sacrifice yourself for her.  Let me quickly add here that this includes the idea of protection.  You place yourself in harm’s way in order to keep her safe.  There is a price you will have to pay in order to love her in the manner God commands.  You will have to be humble and learn to put her best interests over your own, but isn’t that what we are called to be as Christians anyway?  Philippians 2:3-4 commands us to “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Back in Colossians 3:19 we also find that Paul commands husbands to not be embittered against their wives.

The word embittered is pikrainô.  The root of the word means “to cut, prick due to being sharp, pointed.”  In reference to smell or taste it is disagreeably pungent.  The word is used in Revelation 8:11 in reference to the waters being made bitter.  It can also refer to a sour stomach as it does in Revelation 10 when John’s stomach was made bitter from the little scroll he ate.  The noun form is used in James 3:11 as a contrast to sweet water, but more often the cognate forms are used metaphorically in reference to attitudes that are bitter, sharp, harsh, angry, jealous. Peter wept bitterly after denying the Lord (Matthew 26:75).  Those lacking wisdom have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in their hearts (James 3:14).  The unrighteous have mouths full of cursing and bitterness (Romans 3:14) and a root of bitterness causes trouble and defiles many (Hebrews 12:15).

Why would Paul have to warn husbands to not let such bitterness rise up in their lives against their wives?  This command is the contrast to the command to love.  If the husband and wife are properly fulfilling their roles he will not become bitter against her, but if either fail to do so, then bitterness could rise quickly.  Paul’s command is to keep that from happening.

Even a man that generally does walk properly with the Lord can respond sharply to the wife he claims to love if he is caught off guard, over stressed, or momentarily selfish.  A man who is not diligent to walk with the Lord can easily turn against his wife and become harsh or even respond in anger if he is not getting what he wants.  That can happen even when she is trying to do the right thing but is misunderstood, but it is nearly a given if she is disrespectful or he senses she is trying to manipulate him for her own advantage.

Bitterness may be sharp, but it does not have to expend itself all at once like anger.  It can also burn slowly over a long period which is why a root of bitterness can cause so much damage.  It continues to fester and smolder for longer periods causing damage long after the initial spark that set the fire going has faded away.  Such behavior ought not to be and so Paul warns against it.  Love should and will prevent it, but at those points when love is lacking or he finds his wife especially irritating for whatever reason, he is to heed the caution and not allow bitterness into his life.

Paul contrasts wrong and right behavior and attitudes in Ephesians 4:31-32 saying, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”  Bitterness is an attitude and action of the old man and so it should be put away from you as you walk in the new man.  It should not even show up in your speech much less your actions.  You are not even to let an unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such words as are good for edification according to the need of the moment that it might give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:31).  There is no room in the Christian husband’s life for jokes and comments that disparage his wife.

Peter’s command to husbands in 1 Peter 3:7 is helpful in preventing any bitterness from arising. “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman’ and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”  An “understanding way” is literally, “according to knowledge.”  Your wife is to be your life study.  Yes, she is very different from you because she thinks very differently than you.  You both should praise God for that.  It is your responsibility to study her and learn how she thinks, reasons, and why she feels the way she feels.  Her reasoning and emotions do not have to make sense to you, but you do need to strive to recognize them and respond accordingly.  Too often men make it a one-way street demanding their wives figure them out and change accordingly, but it is actually a two-way street with the greater responsibility placed upon the man.  Older women are to teach the younger women how to love their husbands (Titus 2:3-5), so they do have a responsibility to learn about you, but the greater responsibility still lies on you men to do this.  Why?  Because you are the man and she is the woman who is a weaker vessel.

Feminists recoil at Peter’s statement here that women are weaker vessels and there is much debate about exactly what Peter means by the statement.  However, Peter points this out as a reality and why men need to take on this responsibility.  I do not think this is a reference to women being weaker physically.  While women generally lack the upper body strength of a man, they often show much greater physical stamina.  Hence the old adage that a man works from rising to setting sun, but a woman’s work is never done.  Like the Eveready Battery Bunny she keeps going, and going, and going.

Nor do I think that this refers to general intellectual ability since women often prove themselves to be equal to and sometimes even superior to men in various fields of study.  My personal opinion, for which I think I can make a scriptural case, is that this refers to her emotional makeup which can lead her astray.  Paul states in 1 Timothy 2:14 the reasons he did not allow women to teach or exercise authority over a man was the order of creation and that it was Eve that was deceived, not Adam.

The husband then needs to take on the responsibility to strive to understand his wife and live with her accordingly, granting her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life.  She is in no way his inferior.  The husband and wife simply have different gifts and God given roles.

 There are a couple of other roles that husbands have in the marriage that I want to mention briefly.

The first is leadership.

The Bible states in Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself [being] the Savior of the body.”  It adds in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.”  The man has a responsibility to lead his wife as her head.  This is not license for him to do anything he wants at her expense, but rather to take the responsibility to direct his family in the ways of the Lord, for Christ is his head.  Men, you are under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and that is regardless of whether you even profess faith in Him or not.  Notice in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that the statement that “Christ is the head of every man” is without qualification.  The Lord Jesus is your creator and He will hold you accountable and judge you for how well you have followed His commands in leading your family.  An additional sobering truth is that a leader has the responsibility for the decisions made in the family including those made by his wife or children.

That leadership will encompass many areas of life, but a primary one is leading in holiness.  In Ephesians 5 the example of the love of Christ is that He sacrificed Himself for the church so that He might sanctify her.  He wanted her to be all that she could and should be, without spot or wrinkle, being holy and blameless.  Husbands are responsible to love their wives with the same goal in view.  He is to lead her into holiness.  Husband, what are you doing in lead your wife into holiness?  The priorities and example of your life will answer that question – your own church involvement, personal Bible study, family devotions, personal integrity.  All of these are part of it plus your encouragement for her to take the time and be involved in her own personal devotions and in ministry for the Lord.

Your example is even more important if your wife is not a Christian.  Your walk with the Lord and how you treat her should do one of three things: 1) Attract her to salvation in Christ; 2) Drive her away because of her rejection of Christ – again be sure it is Christ in you that drives her away and not you; 3) She thinks you are a fanatic but she stays with you anyway because she knows no other man would treat her as well as you do.

Leadership also encompasses an element of protection from the physical danger and moral evils that exist all around us.  Decisions regarding even things such as where you live, the jobs you do, the friends you keep, the activities you participate in, and even entertainment choices will have major influence on the way in which you live.  If you do not lead your wife into holiness then you will be leading her away from it, and that will wear even on a godly woman.  Protect her from evil influences by your godly leadership.

The last responsibility I want to mention this morning is being a provider.

The Bible states in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household , he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever”  The context of this verse encompasses not just your wife and children, but also widows in the extended family when necessary.

Providing is not about how much money you make,

But rather about your own trust in the Lord

To do things His way knowing that

He is the one that actually provides.

Jesus’ promise in Matthew 6:33 is crucial to being a godly provider – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”  God will provide the food, shelter and clothing you need and by which you should be content if you put Him first.  And remember that 1 Timothy 6:8 makes it clear that we can be content in just having food and covering.  If these truths do not direct your efforts to provide, then you will be caught in the trap of materialism and coveting will lead you into all sorts of evils.

There are couples that live together but remain unmarried because it gives them a financial advantage in taxes or income.  There are many more that purposely disobey God’s commandments and compromise their moral convictions in order to take or keep a job.  There are even more that fail to keep the priorities God has set for the family in order to pursue gaining lots of stuff in the false belief that is what it means to be a man and provide.  Many men who work 60-70-80 hours per week consistently and unnecessarily and often have their wife working too in order to have a big home, luxury cars, fancy meals, exotic vacations, and lots of toys and gadgets.

What your wife and children need is you,

Not the abundance of stuff you can provide.

Live in a smaller home with less stuff, drive an older car, eat simply, and provide your wife and family with what they really need – your sacrificial, servant-minded, and sanctifying love, time, and godly leadership.  That is the true role of a husband.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


God’s Idea Of Marriage

Grace For The Journey


27Aug Ever heard the expression “It Takes Two To Tango?”  Or maybe you’ve heard that “Marriage Is A Two-Way Street.”  Both expressions mean, of course, that both husband and wife have a role in making the marriage work.

A marriage consists of two people

– Husband and wife –

Each working together,

Working with one another,

And for one another,


Never against one another.

It may “take two to tango,”

But it takes more than two

To make a marriage work.

It takes three to make a marriage work because . . .

Marriage is inherently a biblical institution.

The family is the first institution

Created by God.

Marriage is God’s idea.

So . . .  It takes three:

Husband, Wife, and the Lord.

We pick up today in our verse-by-verse study of the third chapter of Colossians looking at Colossians 3:18-19, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”  Remember, the Apostle Paul is writing to Christians so he has God’s definition of marriage in view.  We’re talking about . . . “God’s Idea of Marriage.”

In order to understand the commands that Paul gives in verses 18 and 19 it is critical that we understand the context for them.  Over the last week, we have studied these and the radical changes that occur when a person places their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation from sin and becomes a Christian.  A Christian is redeemed and regenerated by Jesus so that he is reconciled to God.  Before we came to Christ, we were entrapped in Satan’s dominion, but God through Jesus has transferred us to His kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14).  We were dead in our transgressions, but we have been made alive together with Jesus and raised up with Him (Colossians 2:13; 3:1).  Jesus has reconciled us to God by His death on the cross for our sins so that we now have peace with God (Colossians 1:22).  The person we used to be has died with Christ and been replaced by a new man that is chosen of God, holy and beloved (Colossians 3:3, 12).

The result of these things is that we are to put to death the vices of our old way of life such as immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (Colossians 3:5).  We are to set aside our old ways of thinking and their consequential actions such as anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech (Colossians 3:8).  We are to then put on Christian virtues such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, forgiving each other and love for they reflect Jesus living through us. (Colossians 3:12-14)   In addition, the peace of Christ is to control our hearts and we are to be thankful letting the word of Christ richly dwell in us so that we can teach and admonish one another in song, hymns and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:15-17).  Yesterday we examined Paul’s final general exhortation in that section that “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”  That command includes everything we communicate and all our actions and behaviors.

It is out of this context

That Paul now makes

Specific application of

These principles

To particular groups

In regards to the role

They are to fulfill

In their relationships

With others.

Today we will examine the role of the wife, and in future blogs we will look at the role of the husband, the children, the parents, employees, and employers.  This will takes us from Colossians 3:18-4:1.

Let me begin by making some preliminary comments in preparation for examining what the Bible says about the role of the wife.  I would like to both warn about improper application of this verse and avoid some cultural land mines if possible.

First, be careful about your response to each of these studies.  Each one will be directed at a particular group, today it will be those who are wives, but those who are not part of that particular group also need to pay close attention so that you will understand the role of others and know how to encourage them in fulfilling it.  Also, be very careful about using this information to attack and criticize others.  We are to seek to build one another up, not tear one another down.  Those who are quick to criticize others will usually have a lot more about their own life that can be criticized.

Second, be aware that due to the prevalence of feminist thought in American culture that the subject of the role of the wife has become controversial even within the church. When I say feminist thought, I am not referring to just the radical views of the feminist extremists such as those in N.O.W. whose touchstone issues are abortion for any reason and lesbianism.  I am referring to the general view of women and their roles that have come to be accepted by most Americans including professing Christians.  You will know what I am talking about when you start feeling uncomfortable by what I will be discussing today.

Third, be aware that many preachers are fearful of speaking on this issue because they do not want to risk the possible backlash.  I heard of one preacher that even succumbed to the silly argument that he was not qualified to speak on issues concerning women because he was not a woman.  If it was a matter of personal opinion that might be true, but is not a matter of opinion but of declaring what God has said.

Everyone is obligated to bring

Their thoughts and opinions

Into alignment with what

The Lord says about every

Subject He addresses.

He is the Sovereign Creator and knows the truth even about women.  My responsibility as a pastor is to faithfully explain what God has revealed in His Word, and as much as I would like to avoid having any women here upset at me, I am much more concerned that I am true to what God has said.

Colossians 3:18 simply states, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”  That command fits into the wider context of God’s commands concerning marriage, so before I discuss the idea of wives submitting to their husbands, I want to make sure you know God’s design for marriage, for the wife’s role must fit into that design.

Paul is led by God to explain in Ephesians 5:31-32, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”  Verse 32 is a quote from Genesis 2:24 where God brings Adam and Eve together and institutes the first marriage.  Verse 33 is an explanation of the purpose of marriage.

Marriage is not so much

About the individuals involved

But about the glory of God.

Marriage is to be

A picture of Christ and

His relationship to the church.

Your marriage is to bring glory to God.

This is the primary reason that the continuing talk about marriage being anything other than between a man and a woman is not only nonsense, but is wrong.  God is the one that instituted marriage, so only He can define it, and He did so when He created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs and then gave her to him.  In addition, since marriage is to glorify God as a picture of Christ and the Church, then anything other than a man and a woman is a perversion of what God intended.  Those promoting such perversions need to repent and turn from their sin to the forgiveness and freedom from sin that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are in serious danger of the Lord turning away and leaving them condemned in their sin for eternity as explained in Romans 1:18-32.

Because marriage is a picture of Christ and the church,

There is always hope even for marriages that

Are in turmoil and in danger of breaking apart.

God is much more interested in the marriage

Than anyone else for He has a larger

And more important purpose for it.

Any two people that are willing to follow God’s design for marriage can have a wonderful and joyful relationship because that is always the side benefit of doing things God’s way.  The marriage will still take a lot of work and there will be hard times, but God will use even those things to mold each one into what they are supposed to be. There will then be purpose and meaning in life because the reason for existence is being fulfilled.

There is no such thing as an irreconcilable marriage, just individuals that refuse to be reconcilable to God and their spouse.  When a husband and wife will not follow God’s design, then the marriage will be at best a hollow shadow of what it could have been, but more often, the marriage will flounder into just two people living separate lives under the same roof or it will fail completely and break apart.

While it only takes one spouse to destroy a marriage by a refusal to follow God’s design, there is good news for the spouse that does strive to follow God’s design for their life.  They can still bring glory to the name of the Lord and be a blessing to others.  We are told in 1 Corinthians 7:14 that the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believing spouse.

Remember, marriage is more about the glory of God than it is about the two people that are married.

The purpose of marriage

Has a divine objective.

That objective can still be met, but ever since Adam’s fall every marriage starts out with a strike against it.  If husband and wife each take a swing at marriage in their own wisdom and power they will strike out, but if Jesus Christ is the focus of the marriage and they let the Holy Spirit be the one that guides and empowers them, they will hit a home run.

Now let’s look at . . .

The Role of the Wife

The institution of marriage begins in Genesis with Adam and Eve.  Genesis 2:18-25 records, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helpmate for him.” (Someone called alongside to complete, complement, and assist). And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought [them] to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.  And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place.  And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.  And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, (Isha – female man) Because she was taken out of Man.”  For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

The scenario God used here set Adam up to know his lack of companionship and his need for someone who would be his compliment.  God then made Eve from out of Adam’s rib.  Paul comments on this in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 saying, “For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.”

That verse is repulsive to feminist thought and is the reason that Christian women who have been affected by feminism tend to think of Paul as a male chauvinist and not worth listening too.  The truth is that Paul elevated the position of women for women in many of the ancient societies and in even within much of Jewish practice at that time were treated little better than farm animals.  Paul emphasized a woman’s equal standing and worth before God in verses such as Galatians 3:28, but Paul also understood what God had said from the very beginning and made clear statements about the proper role God has given to women.  Paul did not compromise on the truth and neither should we.  God created the woman specifically to be the helpmeet, the perfect completion and compliment, for the man.

If this truth that the woman was created for the man’s sake bothers you, then you have a two fold problem.  First, you are in rebellion against what God has done, and second, you have also failed to understand the incredible importance of the role God has given to women.  You have been deceived into the absurd lunacy of feminism that places premium value on those characteristics which are typically male rather than female. There is very little that is feminine in feminism.

Eve had no problem with the role that God gave her, but that role became a curse when she and Adam fell into sin.  Prior to that, Adam and Eve were completely open with each other.  The word, “naked,” in Genesis 2:25 means “without impediment” and is actually a mental concept.  It is a lot more than just not having clothes on.  The very same word is used in Genesis 3:1 to describe the serpent as “crafty.”  Adam and Eve were not selfish.  They were not sinful.  They were completely open with each other and willingly served one another in the roles God had given them, but sin brought a curse upon them.

In Genesis 3:14-19 God places a curse on the serpent, Eve, and Adam.  The aspect of the curse on Eve at the end of verse 16 relates to our subject this morning, “Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”  While there is some controversy over the exact meaning of “desire” here, I believe the case is very strong for it to include the idea of wanting to control her husband, for the contrast to it is him “ruling over her.”

Rather than being a compliment to one another,

They were now in competition to one degree or another.

Selfishness desires what it wants and

Demands from the other leading

To conflict that easily becomes

A power struggle in the marriage

Over the responsibilities and resources.

God’s design for marriage is against this curse of sin.  It moves both the husband and wife back into their proper roles within which they again compliment one another rather than conflict with each other.  Paul explains here Colossians 3 and in Ephesians 5 what is necessary for a husband and wife to live in this manner.

The Issue of Submission

Many shudder when they hear that word “submission.”   The word annoys and stuns some people.   So . . . Before we do anything else, let’s make sure this is not the “Word of Terry,” but the “Word of God.”  Look carefully at Colossians 3:18 and read it again, making sure this is what it teaches: “Wives, submit (there’s that word) to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”  Don’t miss the key phrase at the end of this verse.  It literally reads, “as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord.”  In other words, biblical submission is expected on the part of those who “belong to the Lord.”

Okay, but what does “submit” mean?

First, it is nearly always as helpful to know what a term does not mean as well as what it does mean.  So . . . Let’s look into that first.

  • Biblical submission does not mean that a wife is in any way inferior to her husband.  She is not inferior morally, intellectually, or in value.
  • Submission also does not mean that a wife has no say in decisions in the relationship.
  • Neither does submission mean that a wife is to be treated as a doormat, someone to be walked upon, ignored, or walked over.

So . . .  What does it mean?

Biblical submission simply means “to follow the lead of one’s husband.” That is pretty much it.  Follow the leader.  Think about it: if more than one person is involved in anything, someone has to be the leader.  Have you ever been in a group of people at work or school, and everyone’s just standing around?  An assignment is given, but everyone is just standing there.  Someone has to lead.  Imagine a tour group and everyone is huddled together, but not going anywhere.  Finally, a leader emerges and says, “Okay, everyone.  Here we go.  Follow me.”  Someone has to lead.

God creates the family and assigns the primary leadership role to the husband.  This is called “headship.”  The husband is the “head” of the family.  Headship does not necessarily mean the husband is smarter, wiser, or in some way morally superior to his wife.  He is simply the leader.  His wife “submits” by following his lead.  She yields voluntarily to the leadership of her husband.

I believe the relationship between the Persons of the Holy Trinity is helpful to our understanding the relationship of husband and wife.  In the Trinity, God is one.  God is one yet three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  So . . . God is one in essence.  Whatever is in the Father is also in the Son.  And whatever is in the Son is in the Spirit.  There is no difference in essence.  Father, Son, and Spirit are all one and the same in essence, nature, and worth.  Yet, the Persons of the Trinity have different functions, or differing roles and responsibilities: the Son submits to the Father and the Holy Spirit submits to both the Father and the Son.

In a similar way, the difference between a husband and wife is not a difference in essence, nature, or worth, but a difference in role, responsibility, or function.

The Christian husband lovingly “leads” his wife and the wife “yields” herself graciously and voluntarily to the headship of her husband.

The assumption in the text is that the husband is, in fact, a Christian, but if he is not a believer, the principle still holds.  A husband lovingly leads and a wife graciously follows – neither acting in a way that demeans the one nor exalts the other.

One of the reasons many bristle

At the very mention of submission

Is because of the unbiblical way

Many worldly men have

Wrongly understood the term.

The secular, non-biblical understanding of submission provides a stark contrast to the biblical teaching of submission.  And it’s not just the overbearing “neanderthal-like” men with warped minds who have wrong ideas about submission.  Faulty notions of submission are often discovered in literature, popular culture, art, comedy, and among the most gifted of musicians.

Have you heard the folk song by Shel Silverstein entitled, “Put Another Log On The Fire?”  The lyrics are about a simple country man who expects his wife to do everything for him.  It’s meant to be funny and is intentionally exaggerated, but is also unfortunately “too true” in that it captures the way many men wrongly think of marriage:

Put another log on the fire.
Cook me up some bacon and some beans.
And go out to the car and change the tire.
Wash my socks and sew my old blue jeans.

You can fill my pipe and then go fetch my slippers.
And boil me up another pot of tea.
Then put another log on the fire babe,
And come and tell me why you’re leaving me.

Now don’t I let you wash the car on Sunday?
And don’t I warn you when you’re gettin’ fat?
Ain’t I a-gonna take you fishin’ with me someday?
Well, a man can’t love a woman more than that.

And ain’t I always nice to your kid sister?
Don’t I take her driving every night?
So, sit here at my feet, cause I like you when you’re sweet,
And you know it ain’t feminine to fight.

Shel Silverstein wrote the song as something of a parody of the ineptness of a man who can’t understand why his wife wants to leave him.  This is what has made the song so funny to so many men and women over the years.  At the same time, however, the song also depicts an unfortunate reality in many marriages.  Too many men neglect their wives, demean their wives, speak down to their wives, and then wonder why their marriage is in shambles.

Wise husbands love their wives and are grateful for their wives.  It was Solomon who wrote in Proverbs 18:22,“He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord” 

Look back at verse 18a again, “Wives, submit subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”  The word translated “submit” here is, “A Greek military term meaning to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”.  In non-military use, it was a voluntary attitude of cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.”

With this understanding

It is easy to see

That the idea

In this passage

Is a voluntary following


Not a demanded obedience.

To submit is to

Place yourself under

Another through the

Surrender of your will


Rights to that other person.

Where can such a voluntary submission come from given the selfish and sinful nature all humans have and the specific curse women have upon them?

It comes from the change

That occurs when the

Wife becomes a Christian.

In Ephesians 5 Paul deals with the same subject of the family and makes the same command concerning the wife, but he gives more background and explanation for how to do it.

In Ephesians 5:15 Paul warns about . . .

The need to walk as wise men

And understanding the will of the Lord

In being filled with the Spirit.

The context in the passage makes it clear

That this means to be controlled by the Spirit

Since it is contrasted to being drunk with wine.

Out of being filled with the Spirit comes a joyful and thankful attitude and “submitting to one another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21).  That is a command to all believers, not just the women.  In the next verse Paul makes his statement about the role of the wife, but the verb is supplied from verse 21.  A more literal translation of verses 21 & 22 would be, “and being submissive to one another in fear of Christ, the wives to their own husbands as to the Lord.”  All Christians are to be subject to one another, but in the marriage the wife is in particular to take on that role in her relationship with her husband.

The ability of a woman to do this will be dependent on her relationship to God and being filled with the Spirit.  In fact . . .

This cannot be done

Without the Holy Spirit.

Certainly, there are cultures where the women are subservient and obedient to their husbands, but that is out of fear, not love.  They are dependent on their husbands and fear losing their provider, their position in society, and even their children.

The submission called for here

Is based on a love for Christ

That is then extended

To the husband willingly.

She submits primarily for Jesus’ sake because it pleases Him and secondarily for her husband’s sake. The Christian woman needs to realize that her serving her husband as a godly wife is a major way in which she serves Christ, so it is a voluntary submission to him in the same way that she submits to Jesus Christ.

Paul states the reason for this submission in Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself [being] the Savior of the body.

The idea of the husband being the head

Is one of position of authority and responsibility,

Not one of superior to inferior.

The wife may even have superior abilities and skills in many areas compared to your husband, but the question here is not one of ability and skill but of order and purpose.  Paul comments in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that God the Father is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of every man, and man is the head of a woman.  The headship of the man is not arbitrary, but follows the order of creation, as Paul points out in 1 Timothy 2:13.  And it also follows the purpose of our creation as we have already pointed out from Genesis 2.  The woman was created to be the compliment of the man, not the other way around.

In tomorrow’s blog we will see that God will hold your husband responsible for how he leads you in godliness, but God is going to hold you responsible for how you follow his lead in godliness.  Wife, it is God’s will for you to demonstrate your trust of Christ in your submission to your husband which Paul says in verse 24 is to be in like manner to your submission to Christ – “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives [ought to be] to their husbands in everything.”  The apostle Peter is even stronger in this than Paul.  1 Peter 3:1-5 says, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any [of them] are disobedient to the Word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.  And let not your adornment be [merely] external– braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but [let it be] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.  For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.  Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”

Certainly this is easier if your husband is a Christian man who lives out the principles of the Scriptures, but notice from 1 Peter 3:1 that your submission takes place even if your husband is disobedient to the Word, so you are to do this even if he is not living as he should or is not a Christian at all.  No one says this is easy, in fact it is impossible unless you are filled with the Spirit.  Yet, this passage says that the way to win your husband is through your “chaste and respectful behavior.”  Your humble submission is what God will use to draw your husband to Himself.

Not let me quickly point out that this idea of submission does have limitations.  Paul says here in our text in Colossians 3:18 that wives are to be subject to their husbands “as is fitting in the Lord.”

Here then are some qualifiers to that submission . . .

1) Your submission is primarily to God, then to your husband.

You cannot submit to anything He may ask you to do that would violate any of God’s commandments.  Ideally your husband would fulfill his role in helping you be holy and blameless, but there are many men that would lead you in the opposite direction.  As Peter and John said before the Sanhedrin, “we must obey God rather than men.”  The same must be true of you.

2) Submission does not mean you are to allow your husband to abuse you.  In 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 Paul says, “. . . the wife should not leave her husband, but if she does leave, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband.”  Separation is the Biblical alternative to an abusive marriage.  That is the wake-up call for the man to get his act together.  I will add here that physically abusive men need some jail time for two reasons. 1) The God given role of government is to be an avenger of evil and it needs to carry out that role; 2) More importantly, the loving thing to do is make the person aware of the seriousness of their sin that they may repent and walk in holiness.  A little jail time on earth to be what wakens him up to the need for salvation is much better than eternity in hell; 3) Submission does not mean that you have to coddle an unbelieving husband so they will not leave you.  I Corinthians 7:15 states, “yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.”  You are to live a godly life with all humility and with all righteousness.  If your spouse cannot stand to see Jesus Christ living in you, then you are free to let them leave.  Just be sure it is righteousness of Christ in you that causes them to leave and not you driving them away by your own sinful manipulations.  I remember a man asking me in all seriousness if God would approve him leaving his wife and going to live in the desert since Proverbs 21:19 says that is better to live in the desert than live with a contentious and vexing woman.

The Issue of Respect.

Looking back to Ephesians 5 we find verses 25-33 all deal with the husband’s role.  That gives you an idea of who gets the most instruction; and who needs to most instruction; but the very end of verse 33 has one more command to the ladies, “and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.”  I believe few women really understand the importance of their influence on their husbands.  Sure, there are a lot of jokes about her changing his wardrobe and manners into something more socially acceptable, but I am referring to accomplish anything significant in this life.

The saying that “behind every great man is a good woman” is more than a cliche.  It is a general truth.  Remember that you were created to be his help meet – his complement and companion that would enable him to function properly and accomplish something with his life.  The Proverbs 31 woman enabled her husband to take a position of leadership in the community (Proverbs 31:23).  For all their bravado, men are generally fearful and insecure.  He may never admit it, but he wants and needs someone to believe in him and encouragement to succeed.  God has given that role primarily to you wives.  You treat your husband with respect and he will try to take on the world.  If you belittle him, you will either lose him or watch him shrivel up into a shadow of what he is supposed to be.

But you might say there is much about your man that you do not respect.  The Bible does not say he has to be perfect for you to respect him.  Start in the areas you do respect him and then learn from there to treat him with respect.

The Issue of Resistance.

What is the major reason that women struggle in submitting to and respecting their husbands?  Many times it is because their own walk with the Lord is lacking so they are not filled with the Spirit.  This lack leads to very poor marriage choices resulting in difficult marriages.  Those who are single need to be very careful about who you agree to marry.  After marriage, the continued spiritual lack results in selfishness and pride and therefore resentment of being called to play what she thinks is second fiddle to her husband.  Why should he get the glory?  Why does he get to do all the important things?  Why should he hold the reigns of power?  Why do I have to do what he wants? etc. etc. That brings me back to my major point.

If you are to fulfill

Your God-given role

As a godly wife,

You must be controlled

By Holy Spirit first.

You must see your life

The way God sees it and

Learn to value what He does.

We place too much importance on doing what we think is important rather than on being what God says is important.  It is completely up to God what position he puts us in, what gifts He gives us, and the extent to which those gifts are used.  That is as true in the church as it is in the family (1 Corinthians 12).

What God wants from us

Is simply humble service

To Him from our hearts.

The Lord values faithfulness, not “success” as the defined by the world.  The importance of the position God has given to women is incredible and should never be underestimated by either men or women, so don’t you do that.  Do not be jealous of other people including your husband.  You just be the most godly wife you can possibly be and know that it is pleasing in the Lord’s sight.  Put off the vices of the old nature and put on the virtues of the new.  Submit to God, fulfil your role, and watch Him work in your life and in the life of your husband.

And a wise husband knows his wife will help him as he leads.  She will be supremely helpful to him in decision-making, often providing counsel and even warning.  She may see or sense something that he fails to see or sense.  And generally, where a husband and wife are walking hand-in-hand – each for the other and both for the Lord – they will be in agreement on most decisions.

But the ultimate responsibility for leadership falls to the husband.  We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Living For The Savior

Grace For The Journey


26Aug  In today’s blog we come to the culmination of Paul’s general exhortations to the Colossians to live according to the new nature they received when they became Christians.  Paul will continue his exhortations in the next section of this book, but they will be more narrowly focused on particular groups of people within the church – wives, husbands, parents, children, workers and employers.

Paul began the chapter by pointing out . . .

The radical change that occurs

When a person places their faith

In the Lord Jesus Christ

And becomes a Christian.

The old self has died with Christ and the new self has been raised up to newness of life with Him. The result is that the believer is to set his mind and seek the things above instead of the things that are on earth.  Christians have a wonderful security in Christ because our lives are hidden in Him, and we have a wonderful promise for the future because we will be glorified with Him when He returns.

Because the Christian

Has been





By the Lord,

The old patterns

Of life

And ways

Of thinking

Are to be


As Paul states in Colossians 3:5-11, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.  For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, [and] abusive speech from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its [evil] practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him – [a renewal] in which there is no [distinction between] Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”

The old man may be dead, but the new man has to live in the same old body with the same old mind, and so it will take some work to break the old evil habits and be transformed by a mind renewed through the washing of the water of the word.  It will also take some work to put into place the new godly habits that demonstrate a change of nature.  Paul gives general exhortations to the Colossians concerning these Christian virtues in verses 12-17.

When I first outlined how I would divide up the text for a sermon schedule, I was planning to cover all of these virtues in just two sermons. One sermon on the character of the elect from verses 12 and 13, and then in the second sermon the actions of the elect from verses 14-17. Instead, we have found such rich material in these verses that it has taken six sermons to cover them – and even then we could have spent even more time plumbing the depths of the truths contained here.

Starting in verse 12 Paul exhorts us, “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 And beyond all these things [put on] love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 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. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

While the non-Christian can mimic

Some of these virtues in particular situations,

Only those who are chosen by God,

Holy and beloved,

Have any hope of carrying

All of them out with all people.

The reason?

Only by the power of

The Holy Spirit

Dwelling in you


The Lord Jesus Christ

Manifesting His life

Through you

Can any human

Have these attitudes

And behave in

The manner described

With all people

Including enemies.

As Jesus pointed out in the Matthew 5:43-48 in the Sermon on the Mount, the follower of Jesus is to love his enemies and even pray for those that persecute him.  Even the tax-gatherers could love those who loved them.  The believer is to do much more than that by pressing on to be perfect as a reflection of God, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

You cannot do that on your own.

It must be God working in you.

Such as Paul explains in Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  It is ultimately God’s work, but at the same time we must do our part in not dragging around the corpse of the old man by continuing in old habits, attitudes, and ways of thinking. We are to put those things to death.  We are to lay them aside.

We are responsible to put on the new man and step forward in the obedience of faith in following Christ.

  • We are to put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience and even bear with one another.
  • We are to go beyond that and forgive one another in the same manner that Christ has forgiven us, and He is the one that initiated everything to bring about the reconciliation.
  • We go beyond even that by loving others in the same way that God has loved us with a sacrificial commitment to the best interest of the other person.

God’s greatest demonstration of this was Jesus Christ dying as the sin sacrifice in our place to redeem us and offer the possibility of being adopted into His family.  The result of living out these virtues is having the peace of Christ ruling our hearts.  The way we think and our view on life is radically changed so that we are in actual harmony with God.

As I pointed in my last blog . . .

The more the Word of God

Richly dwells within us,

The greater we will change

And live out these virtues.

It is out of a knowledge of His Word applied by the wisdom given by the Holy Spirit that we know right from wrong and shun what is evil and embrace what is good.  Those without this knowledge walk around in ignorance thinking they are doing what is right before God, while in actuality they live contrary to His Word and often even bring shame on His name.  That is why is it important that the believer is actively involved within a body of believers who will help them know and apply God’s Word.  We are to teach and admonish one another – instruct in righteousness and warn against unrighteous attitudes and behavior.  We are to do that even in the music we listen to in the daily course of life.

For the past few days, we have been conducting some “exploratory heart surgery” as we have studied the character of the new Christian in Colossians 3:15-17.  From these verses we noted two actions of Christians with new hearts:

We Learn To End Strife – Verse 15.


We Love The Scriptures – Verse 16.

Today’s post focuses on the culminating action given in verse 17 and teaches us that  . . .

We Live for the Savior.

Verse 17 says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

This verse begins with a subjunctive clause that is stated as an independent nominative (also called a nominative absolute).  What that means is that the phrase “whatever you do” supplies the subject and verb for the next part in the sentence which does not actually have a verb.  The “whatever you do in word or deed” is without limit for it is the “all” that is to be done in the name of Christ.

Tragically, that is definitely not how the vast majority of professing Christians live, and especially so in western cultures. There is a strong tendency for westerners to partition their lives into sections which may or may not be interdependent upon each other.  Most Christians in western culture tend to divide their lives according to what they regard as either secular or sacred.  They may acknowledge some overlap between the two, but for the most part they remain separated from each other.  There seems to be little application of what they learn in church to what they do at work, at home, and in recreational activities.  Worse, there seems to be little understanding that what they profess to believe about God should be applied to how they live their lives outside of church.

This appears to be another factor in the reason why there is so little statistical difference between the vices of self-professing Christians and non-Christians.  For example, there should be a huge difference in the divorce rates of Christians verses non-Christians, but there is not.  In fact, the Christian rate is slightly higher, perhaps because those willing to identify themselves as Christians are more likely to bother to get married.

I have run into this myself and heard many comment about the same thing about people they work with, go to school with, or have some other association in which the person claims to be a Christian, but behaves in ways that are very overtly unrighteous.  They can keep their mouth clean at church, but it is foul at work.  They present themselves as humble at church, but they are self-centered braggarts at school.  They portray themselves as thoughtful and caring at a Christian fellowship meeting, but at home they are selfish and demanding.  If you question their behavior and ask about their profession of being a Christian, they always have some excuse for it, claim they are okay with God, and challenge you about being judgmental.  The technique often works and we give up on talking to them about their actions and words.  The result is that they cause the name of Christ to be blasphemed and it becomes much harder to witness for Christ because of the hypocrisy the non-Christian sees in this self-professed Christian.

This verse destroys this dichotomy between secular and sacred.  For the Christian, there is not to be any such division in life.  Everything you do is to be done with God and glorifying Him in mind.  Everything?  Yes, every word and every deed.

Now before I go on to expand on this phrase, I want to emphasize what is to control our communications and actions.  They must all be all done “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” and they must be done “with thankfulness.”  What exactly these phrases mean?

“In the Name of the Lord Jesus”

For many people in our society, a name is not all that significant.  It is just a label by which you refer to some particular individual.  That was not true in the ancient world and it was certainly not true of Jesus.  Notice that in this verse that Paul uses Jesus’ name. If Paul just wanted to make a reference to Jesus, he could have used one of His many titles such as Lord or Christ as he commonly does even here in his letter to the Colossians.  In fact, Paul uses the term “Christ” 23 times in Colossians and the name “Jesus” only 7 times.  Paul uses Jesus’ name because it is much more than a label used to identify Him.  His name represents His very person, and it was very particularly chosen to signify His identity, all that He is and all that He would do.  In Matthew 1:21 the angel of the Lord told Joseph specifically, “And she [Mary] will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus , for it is He who will save His people from their sins.”

In Acts 4:12 Peter boldly told the Sanhedrin, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”  Jesus made it clear that an individual’s salvation is dependent on them believing in His name, for they are the ones that receive Him and have the right to become children of God (John 1:12).  Jesus said in John 3:18 that those who believe in His name are not judged while “he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  In the future, it will be at the name of Jesus that “every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10).

The command here is similar to the command to pray in Jesus’ name (John 14:13-14).  Just as we are to pray according to Jesus’ will if we are to be confident in receiving what we ask (1 John 5:14-15), so in everything we do in word or deed, we are to do them in such a way that they would be according to Jesus’ will.  The things we communicate to others and the deeds that we do are to be consistent with what Jesus would communicate and what Jesus would do.

Obviously then the greater the Word of God richly dwells within you the easier it will be to carry out this command.  The greater my understanding of Jesus and His commandments, the greater will be my ability to live according to what He wants.  That is the essence of statements by Paul such as Galatians 2:20 that Christ lives in him and that the life he was now living in the flesh was lived by faith in the Son of God or Philippians 1:21 that “for me to live is Christ.”  To do all in the name of the Lord Jesus is to pursue His interests in your life instead of your own.

The attitude of fulfilling this command is simply this.

I want others to see

The Lord Jesus Christ

Living through me.

I want Jesus to

Manifest His life

Through me

In what I say,

What I write, and

The deeds that I do.

I want my light to so shine before men that they will glorify my Father who is in heaven because that light is reflecting Jesus.

“Giving Thanksgiving”

The other attitude addressed in this command is one of thanksgiving. Obviously the two are inherently connected because the one who is living as Jesus desires will also be a person who is expressive of their thankfulness to God in all situations even as Jesus was thankful.  He is our perfect mediator enabling us by the blood of His cross to come to the Father to worship and even present our petitions before His throne of Grace to receive His mercy (Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 4:16).

Thankfulness to God is one of the hallmarks of genuine Christian faith.  Hebrews 13:15 tells us, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” According to 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we are to “give thanks in everything.”  

That can only be done

If our hearts are correctly

Set on the Lord

So that we seek

To understand life

According to His direction

And trust Him

For the future

Even when we do not

Understand the present.

As we come to understand the will of the Lord and are filled with the Spirit we will bear the fruit of “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:17-20).  The refusal to honor God or give Him thanks is a mark of the unbeliever (Romans 1:20).

Now that we have a general understanding of the command in this verse, let me expand on the idea of “whatever you do in word or deed.”  “Whatever you do in word” covers everything you communicate by means of language.  It covers both the spoken and written word.  it is not only what you say with your lips, but also what you write out for others to read.  That would also include sign language or use of symbols.

I did a study recently on James 3:1-12 and the dangers of the tongue because it is so powerful, yet it is so difficult to control.  Only the perfect man is able to control it, and while the mature man will do better, even he will slip on occasion until the Lord returns and glorifies all of His disciples so that we are perfect.  James makes several analogies about how small, yet powerful, the tongue is.  Like a bit in a horses mouth, or a rudder on a ship, it is small but can direct something vastly greater by proportion.  It is small, but like a spark, it can set a whole forest on fire.  It is small, but very dangerous.

James 3:9-10 sums up the real problem, “With it we bless [our] Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come [both] blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”  When we are actively thinking about what we are supposed to do and put the proper effort into it we will bless the Lord.  When we are not so diligent we will say what comes to mind in the heat of the moment and will curse.  It is easy to praise the Lord when you gather for a worship service.  The combination of the music, Scripture reading, and message help us to focus our mind so that we can truly bless the Lord with your tongue from your heart.  But what happens when you get into the car and head home and someone cuts you off and nearly causes an accident?  It is easy for angry thoughts to slip off your tongue.  James tells us this may be the reality of daily living, but it should not be.  We need the wisdom from above so that we are continually putting off our old sinful ways and putting on the ways of righteousness including how we speak.

(By the way, I have a little acronym to help you when you get angry at someone.  I am told it helps two ways.  First, by the time you remember it, you have calmed down. Second, when you do remember the word and its meaning it will remind you of the truth you need to apply . . . The acronym is . . .

P erson

I n

N eed

O f

G race

A – nd

M – ercy

Proverbs has a lot to say about the use of the tongue often contrasting wise use and wicked use.  Here are some of them . . .

Proverbs 10:20-22, “The tongue of the righteous is [as] choice silver, The heart of the wicked is [worth] little.  The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding.  It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it.”

Proverbs 10:31-32, “The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, But the perverted tongue will be cut out.  The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked, what is perverted.”

Proverbs 12:18-19, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.  Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment.”

Proverbs 15:1-2, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly.”

Proverbs 15:4, “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.”

Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Proverbs 21:23, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from trouble.”

Proverbs 28:23, “He who rebukes a man will afterward find [more] favor Than he who flatters with the tongue.”

And one of the good qualities of a godly woman is found in Proverbs 31:26, “She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

Jesus also had a lot to say about what comes out of our mouths. In Matthew 15:7-11, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and scribes for their criticism about the disciples neglecting their tradition about ritual washing of hands. Jesus told them, “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.  ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’  And after He called the multitude to Him, He said to them, “Hear, and understand.  “Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth , this defiles the man.”  Jesus then later explained to the disciples in verses 18-20, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.  “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.  “These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

A major problem with our speech is that reveals what is in our hearts – what we are actually thinking and how we view the world.  It is evil beliefs that result in expressions of evil and evil desires.  People will say something cruel and then try to excuse it saying they did not mean it and so they add a lie onto what they have already done wrong.  Of course they meant it.  That is what they were thinking and that is why they said it.  Don’t fall into that trap yourself.  Be honest and instead of trying to excuse or diminish your wrong, acknowledge, repent, and ask for forgiveness.

Jesus gives a strong warning about being careful before you speak in Matthew 12:35-37, “The good man out of [his] good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of [his] evil treasure brings forth what is evil.  “And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment.  “For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”

Everything the Scriptures say about the use of your tongue also applies to what you communicate by writing.  Since a letter or note has to be written by hand or typed and then hand delivered or mailed, there is usually more thought put into what is written and caution before it is sent for delivery.  Electronic communication through things such as email, instant messaging, phone texting, blogging, and social networks have exponentially escalated the problems with written communication in several ways.

First, written communication lacks the nuances of emotion that occur in spoken speech and especially when you can also see the person.  Written messages sent electronically are notorious for their use of contractions, acronyms, and code words and symbols.  It is even more difficult to understand the message itself.  I have had to intervene into a few rifts in relationships caused directly by the unclear meaning of the messages sent back and forth.  Be careful that what you write can be clearly understood by those receiving it.

Second, modern electronic communications can send out what you write instantly.  That can be a great advantage in many situations, but it can be a great disadvantage when you respond quickly without thinking carefully about what you are going to say.  A harsh response only stirs up more anger (Proberbs 15:1).  A harshly written letter had the advantage of a delay from writing to delivery so that it could be either torn up or rewritten before being mailed.  You cannot do that when hitting the send button on your computer or phone.

Third, modern electronic communications can broadcast your message widely in an instant.  Again, that is an advantage in many situations, but a disadvantage if you are not careful about what you write.  There are horror stories about people hitting the wrong button and sending an email to the wrong group of people.  And it gets worse if the message is forwarded.  Social networks and blogs have caused all sorts of problems because what is written is available to a lot more people than the writer intended to see it.  Don’t use your Facebook page like a diary.  If you don’t want the world to see it, don’t post it where the world can see it.

Perhaps Paul’s statement in Ephesians 4:29 is a good summary of this principle. “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such [a word] as is good for edification according to the need [of the moment,] that it may give grace to those who hear.”

If it does not glorify the Lord

Or at least is in keeping

With His character,

Then don’t say it or write it.

Seek to be a positive

Witness for Jesus

That will build others

Up by what you

Say and write.

The word for “deed” is also translated as “work, action and behavior.”  It is referring to all the various actions of your behavior.  All the general principles that apply to whatever you do in word also apply to whatever you do in deed.  Your behavior also communicates and sometimes louder than what you say.  As one person quipped, “I can’t hear you because your actions are shouting too loudly.”  People can get away with lying until their actual deeds become known, for then their behavior proves their words are simply empty rhetoric.  Why pay attention to anything said by anyone whose actions prove them to be a liar?  Your words and deeds must correspond and they must be in keeping with Jesus’ character and will.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that inherent in our salvation is the fact that we are “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  The Bible adds in Titus 2:14 that Jesus redeemed us in order to “purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” While we cannot be saved by our righteous deeds (Titus 3:5), we are saved to walk in good deeds.  We are to perform those deeds in such a way that others will see them and glorify our heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16), and we need to be in relationships with one another to spur one another on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).

What good deeds?

Whatever you do and

That means everything.

This is not just church work,

Religious deeds or spiritual actions.

This includes everything.

Your behavior at work, school, social events, and recreational activities.  It includes the activities of daily life including how you drive your car, your behavior while shopping, cooking, and eating.  It includes your behavior while doing all your chores whether sweeping the floor, dusting the furniture, shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, or taking out the trash.  It includes the mundane things of life too including taking care of your body, dressing yourself, and personal hygiene – you should even brush your teeth in a God glorifying way.  Do a good job and clean up after yourself.

All that we do is to be done

In the name of the Lord Jesus,

That is, we are to live our lives

In a manner that is consistent

With His character and will.

How can you live in such a way so that all is done in the name of the Lord Jesus?

Apply the lessons we have already learned in Colossians . . .

1) Make sure you understand who Jesus actually is, His character, and work.

2) By faith, identify yourself with Jesus who has redeemed, regenerated, and reconciled

you to God.

3) As one who is raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above and set your

mind on the things above and not the earth.

4) Put to death the old habits and ways of thinking that belong to the old man.

5) Put on the virtues of the new man.

6) Strive to have the Word of God richly dwell in you.

Put another way . . .

Strife is Nullified

The Scriptures are Internalized

The Savior is Glorified.

If these things are being done, then you will also be striving to make sure that all that you do in word or deed will be done in the name of the Lord Jesus desiring to honor Him and fulfill His will which in turn will result in thanksgiving to God through Him.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Love For The Word, Part 2

Grace For The Journey


24Aug  In today’s blog, we come once again to Colossians 3 and Paul’s description of the manner in which a Christian should live.  The characteristics described are impossible to carry out unless there is a radical change in the individual.  The person without Christ, including those who have a false profession, might be able to carry out some of these commands with the people they love or want to impress, but they cannot do it to all people as is required of the Christian.  The believer has to live according to these virtues even with their enemies.

Those who place their faith

In the Lord Jesus Christ

And His atonement for

The forgiveness of their sins

Are radically changed by God.

They are redeemed,

Regenerated and

Reconciled with God

Though the sacrificial death

And resurrection of Jesus.

Their old self dies with Christ

And a new self is raised

To newness of life.

Here in Colossians 3, Paul describes that as “the old man” and “new man.”  The old man is dead and needs to be put off, and the new man needs to be put on.  The new man occupies the same old physical body of the old man and has to contend with a brain that has been trained to think in wrong patterns and view the world incorrectly, but those things will change as the believer is conformed into the image of Christ.

The old man is dead and Christian needs to quit dragging his old corpse around.  His previous deeds and attitudes are to be put to death – immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed along with anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech.  In their place . . .

The deeds and attitudes of the new man

Are being developed through

The cleansing of God’s Word,

The renewing of his mind,


The empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

The believer’s character is changed so that he is marked by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, forgiving each other and agape love.  These virtues are not limited to friends and loved ones, but are extended to all men.  The result of this is a disposition of peace and thankfulness.  Because the believer has peace with God through Christ, he can be at peace himself and extend peace to others.  A peace that is not just the absence of conflict, but a peace of harmony in relationships.  Obviously, such harmony requires both parties involved to work at being at peace and it may not be possible if one of them refuses to do so.  That is why God only commands us to be at peace with all men so far as it depends on you. Such an effort would include living out these Christian virtues.

Let’s look at how we can love the Word of God . . .

1) The Indwelling Word of Christ.

I feel a need to concentrate one more day on verse 16.  This verse shows us another area of the work of God in our hearts that arise out of the change of character in the Christian faith in the Christ brings.

Verse 16 says, “Let the word of God 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.”

This is the only place that this particular phrase, the word of Christ, occurs.  This is one of the used to describe the Scriptures.  Another common phrase is “the word of the Lord.”  Every time it is used it refers to the communication that God has given to man so that man may know Him and His will.  In short . . .

It is a reference to the Scriptures, the Holy Bible, and reinforces the fact that the Scripture, both the Old and the New, place the emphasis on their teachings on Jesus Christ.

This parallels the phrase “the peace of Christ” in the previous verse and it would be an important emphasis to the Colossians.  Remember that throughout this letter Paul stresses the superiority of Jesus Christ in correcting the false teaching that was occurring there.  The false teachers were claiming that they were speaking the things of God.  They advocated such things as religious rituals, keeping holy days, worship of angels, self-abasement, and ascetic practices as the way to God.  Paul makes it clear that . . .

It is Jesus Christ and Him alone

That shows us the way

To live for God and

Have life in Him.

The Bible teaches that God delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us in the kingdom of His beloved son, Jesus (Colossians 1:13).

  • It is in Jesus that we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14).
  • It is Jesus that created all things in the heavens and the earth, visible and invisible including thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities. All things have been created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:15).
  • It is Jesus that holds everything that exists together (Colossians 1:16). He therefore is the architect, builder, possessor and sustainer of everything that has been created.
  • In addition, Jesus is the head of the church, the first born from the dead and preeminent in everything (Colossians 1:18).
  • It is in Jesus that the fulness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form (Colossians 1:19; 2:9).
  • Jesus is the one that reconciled us with God so that we have peace with Him (Colossians 1:20).
  • It is Jesus that makes us complete (Colossians 2:10) because it is in Him that we have been buried in baptism and made alive together with Him so that we are raised up as new men (Colossians 2:12-15; 3:1).
  • And finally, we will be glorified with Him when He returns (Colossians 3:4).

In view of all of this . . .

It is only reasonable

That His teaching should

Dwell in us so

That we will

Carry out His will.

The idea of “dwell” is for the teachings of God to reside within in us.

It is to live in us so that

We can live it out

In what we think,

What we say,

And in how we live.

Jesus Himself made the same point in John 15 when explained that He is the vine, we are the branches, so we must abide in Him to have life.  We are to abide in Him and His word is to abide in us if we are to prove to be His disciples.  David expressed this idea in Psalm 119:11 when he explained that the way to live a pure life was to hide God’s Word in his heart so that he might not sin against the Lord.

Paul adds here the adverb “richly” to describe . . .

The degree to which

This should occur

In the life of a believer.

It is to be within us

In abundance.

The word of Christ

Should direct every

Thought and decision

That we make.

We should be striving to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:15) so that we can make and live out decisions that will glorify Him.

The third part of the Great Commission is to teach believers to obey all of Christ’s commands (Matthew 28:20).  But . . .

None of this can happen

If you do not know the teaching

And truths of the Bible.

There is a knowledge base

That must be present

And that knowledge needs

To be present in abundance.

You need to know

God’s Word richly.

As important as this is, it is becoming increasingly hard to find professing believers that actually know even the basics of Scripture much less know it “richly.”  Is it any wonder then that there is little difference between the manner of life between most people who claim to be Christians and those that do not.  It is one thing to have little knowledge when you first become a Christian because it does take time to learn and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.  But what can be said for those who claim to have been believers in the Lord Jesus Christ for 5-10 years and they still have only read a very small portion of the Bible, they are ignorant of major portions of Scripture, the number of verses they have memorized is minuscule, and they can hardly find a reference during a sermon – if they even brought their Bible with them.

How sad that some true believers are in this condition because that is the model of the Christian life they have been taught in their church.  But for others, this is no longer just ignorance, it is passive rebellion resulting in active sin because they still do not know God’s will for their life.  Perhaps that is why they desire to remain ignorant, and if so, there is a question about what they really believe about Jesus and salvation from sin.

I don’t think I am being harsh here in the least, and I am glad that in comparison with other churches the percentage of folks in our church that do know their Bibles and are striving to live holy lives as a result is high.  However, we should never rest on our laurels or compare ourselves to others.

We must continually strive

To have the Word of God

Dwell in us richly

Because we want

To know and

Live for Him.

I hold no illusions or expectations that others in this church should know the Scriptures as well as I do considering I have been able to spend so much more time studying it over the past 53 years since I first read through the entire Bible.  However . . .

I do think it is reasonable for me

To think that other professing believers

Should have a similar desire

Of wanting to know

The Word of God better.

What is your desire toward the Scriptures?  Do you want the Word of God to dwell within you richly?  The fact that you reading my blog today tells me you have at least some interest of this for that is our focus here and I commend you for it.  But I also want to challenge you to go further.  While devotionals like the Daily Bread are helpful, go beyond just the printed verses.  Pursue reading through the entire Bible.  Get involved in a small group Bible Study where you can interact with other believers about what you are learning so that you can help each other live accordingly.  Don’t let the distractions of this world keep you from learning the Word and gaining its riches.

Paul continues on in the remainder of the verse to explain a practical way that believers can help each other know the blessings of the indwelling Word . . .

2) The Blessing of the Indwelling Word to Others.

Paul states in verse 16 that in having the Word of God richly dwelling within us then with all wisdom we are to be teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

Wisdom is the ability to take knowledge and apply it to life.  There are many people who suffer from having a lot of knowledge but without wisdom.  The Lord wants us to take the knowledge we gain from His Word and apply it to life.  Not just our life, but also the lives of others because we are part of His body and we are to help one another walk with Him.

Again, that is the third point in the Great Commission.  We are to help one another walk in obedience to the Lord’s commands.  We are to apply the knowledge we have gained from the Word of God richly dwelling within us and help one another walk in a manner worthy of our calling by Him.

The word “teaching,” is the word from which we get “didactic.”  It refers to “instruction in knowledge.”  It is telling someone the facts and their relationship with each other. This is the positive side of imparting truth.  We pass on to others the knowledge that we gain in learning from our own study and from others also.

The word “admonishing,” has a root meaning of “to put in mind.” It can also be translated as “exhort,” “teach” or “give instruction” though it is focuses on “pointing out things that are wrong and giving warning about them.

We teach someone how do right


Admonish them about doing wrong.

We actually already saw both of these words in our study of Colossians 1:28 in which Paul states the goal of his ministry was that he might “present every man complete in Christ.”

His means for accomplishing that goal

Was to proclaim the Lord while also

“Admonishing and teaching

Every man with all wisdom.”

The Scriptures were written down for our instruction (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11) and Paul labored in teaching wherever he went (1 Corinthians 4:17).  While there are certain gifted men God gives to the church to teach and instruct as elders and pastors (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9), this responsibility also belongs to all those within the church.

Paul told the Romans that he had confidence in them because they were full of goodness and knowledge that they would be able to admonish one another (Romans 15:14).  He urged in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 to, “admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.” 

Our goal needs to be the same as Paul

In desiring to present every man complete in Christ,

And we are to accomplish it by the same means

Of teaching and admonishing one another

Based on the Word of God which is to dwell within us.

In that way we share with others the blessings we have received from having the Word of God dwelling in us.

3) The Expression of the Indwelling Word to Others.

What is somewhat unusual in this passage is the particular means that Paul states we are to use in teaching and admonishing.  Obviously those activities are normal parts of preaching.  As already pointed out elders / pastors are to be instructing from both the positive and negative sides and Paul told Timothy to “preach the Word; be ready in season [and] out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).  Instructing and warning would also be normal parts of counseling someone.

But here Paul states that teaching and admonishing are to be done through the means of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  There are several ramifications in this verse to our use of music within the church and as individual Christians which I want to expand on, but first I want to make some general comments about music in the church and explain the general meaning of each of these types of music.

There is a wide variety of passages that mention music in the Bible.

  • Music is often a response of joy to salvation and all its ramifications. The Israelites sang after their escape from Egypt (Exodus 15).  The Christian sings in response over the joy of salvation from sin through Jesus Christ.
  • Music has been part of the church from its foundation and it will be part of our activities in heaven where we will join in the chorus of praise singing the song of the Lamb (Revelations 15:3).
  • The various Psalms clearly indicate that godly music includes a wide range of subjects. There are many that are prayers of trust (Psalm 3 & 4) or petitions for protection (Psalm 5) or mercy (Psalm 6).  There are Psalms that focus on the majesty of God in various ways including His greatness displayed in the heavens (Psalm 8 & 19), His mighty works in Israel’s history (Psalm 68, 77) and in answering prayer (Psalm 66).  Psalms extol various attributes of God including His goodness (Psalm 92), eternity (Psalm 90), power and dominion (Psalm 97), omniscience and omnipresence (Psalm 139) and faithfulness (Psalm 99). There are Psalms of mourning over sin (Psalm 38) thanksgiving for forgiveness (Psalm 32, 51).  There are various petitions for deliverance (Psalm 59) and punishment of evildoers (Psalm 58).  There are laments over suffering (Psalm 60, 79) and calls to worship (Psalm 100, 148).

Ephesians 5:19 has almost the same phrasing as Colossians 3:16 to describe what should be the normal expression of being filled with the Spirit.  Those who are controlled by the Spirit of God demonstrate that by “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”

When we consider both of these verses together, we find five types of music: psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing and making melody.

Psalms refer primarily to the Old Testament psalms put to music.  But the term is also used of vocal music of any type and especially those accompanied by a string instrument.  We have already seen that Psalms has a wide variety of specific subjects, but primarily they are focused on God, His character, work, and petitions to Him.  Many of the Psalms as well as other Scriptures have been set to music in modern times.  In our hymnal I Will Sing of the Mercies is from Psalm 89, Thy Word is from Psalm 119:105, and Come Let Us Worship & Bow Down is from Psalm 95:6.  Others are adaptations of Psalms such as Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven based on Psalm 103 and A Mighty Fortress is Our God based on Psalm 46

Hymns center more on songs of praise and differ from the psalms only in that they specifically praise the Lord Jesus Christ.  Many scholars believe that certain Scripture passages such as Colossians 1:12-16 were used in this manner.  A Hymn would include songs such as May Jesus Christ Be Praised, Worthy is the Lamb, Our Great Savior and Majesty.

Spiritual songs were probably songs of testimony that covered a broad category of any music that expresses spiritual truth.  This would include many of our modern choruses as well as songs such as My Jesus, I Love Thee, He Touched me, Just as I Am, and Have Thine Own Way, Lord.

Singing simply means to make music with the voice.  You may sing well, you may sing poorly, but God wants you to sing.  It is to be part of your worship of Him. Ephesians 5:19 adds “making melody” to the types of music.  “Melody” comes from “psallo” and means specifically “to pluck on a stringed instrument” especially a hand harp.  The closest instrument we have to that now would be a guitar, but the word is also used for a wide range of other instruments.

As I close our study today, let me now expand on some of the ramifications of Colossians 3:16.  First, note that there is no mention about the quality of the music. While it is beneficial to have those with better ability performing special presentations for the congregation lest we drive people away, yet every believer is to be involved in singing whether you have perfect pitch or you can only carry a tune in a bucket.  The phrase “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” occurs seven times in the Psalms.  While there were special opportunities for the trained musicians and singers to make beautiful sounds as is detailed in the temple worship, there is also an important place for everyone to be involved.  This verse specifically states that music is to be used in teaching and admonishing one another which includes everyone, but this also points out the next ramification of this verse.

Secondly, a lot of new songs focus more on the “beat, rhythm, and volume of the music” and have no biblical content or message.  While there are new songs that are written in accordance with this passage, I am sure this verse would probably come as a shock to a lot of those involved with Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) in its various genres for so much of it is just empty blather.  Many are repetitious phrases without any content.  Many others make allusions to something, but it is never made clear exactly what.  Todd Friel refers to one genre of these as “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs because you can’t tell if it is talking about Jesus or a boyfriend.  A classic example of this is You Light Up My Life which was very popular in CCM thirty years ago.  The song was supposedly about Jesus, yet contained the phrase, “how could it be wrong when it feels so right?”  That does not apply to Jesus, so the song is not about Him, yet the great ignorance of the Word of God gave cover for the delusion that it was a worship song.  It has only become worse since then.

Thirdly, I am amazed that a number of CCM artists are even called Christian considering that the use of any of the names of Jesus or of God the Father are very rare.   Who can tell what is really being sung about?  Why make allusions instead of telling it like it is?  You can sell a lot more recordings and become more popular if you write your lyrics in such a way that they can mean anything the listener would like it to be.  It is also the reason for such repetition of bland phrasing in so called “worship music.”  It is easy to “praise the Lord ” if nothing of substance is said about Him so that you can believe whatever you want.  Like tofu, which can be made to taste like nearly anything, much of CCM music has lyrics that can be flavored in any manner desired by the listener.  Such songs cannot offend because they say little and leave the truth about God and how He wants us to live to the imagination of the hearer.

Fourthly, added to this is the problem of Biblical ignorance on the part of the wider Christian community which accepts and propels songs and artists to the heights of popularity without discerning the actual message being presented.  “Christian” radio stations plays songs that are aberrant or even heretical in their theology, yet Christians of all stripes accept them as being Christian because they got air time on the “Christian” radio program.  The same thing happens with concerts because the artist is performing at a church.

Paul states here that we are to teach and admonish each other by the use of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

He is not referring to just

What is performed in a church

Or at a worship service,

But rather what should

Fill our days and

Fellowship with one another.

Before radio, smart phones, ipods, and the internet, people would sing to themselves and to one another while working and in gatherings for socialization and entertainment.

Paul makes the point here

That those should be seen

As opportunities to help

One another in

Walking with Christ.

The ability to fill our days with recorded music only adds to this command.  As a Christian you need to be thoughtful and careful about the music that you make part of your life.  I am not talking about the music you hear that you have no control over.  I am talking about the music you listen to and play for others when you do have a choice.  Do your musical choices help the Word of God to dwell richly in you?  Do they teach you about God, His character, His will, how to live a righteous life?  Do they warn you against straying from the narrow way that leads to righteousness?

I have observed within the greater Christian community that such discernment is increasingly rare.  Professing Christians freely listen to music that glorifies evil instead of warns against it.  The supposed “Christian” music they listen to is filled with tofu lyrics, have pablum for doctrinal content and may even have aberrant or heretical theology in them.  My fear, beloved, is that you can fall victim to this as well.  I challenge you to become and be discerning in your choice of music.

Now in saying all of this I hope you understand that this applies to all the types of music you listen to, not just what is supposed to be Christian music.  There is plenty of room in life for all sorts of music including happy songs, sad songs, ballads, instrumentals, songs about relationships, work, play and life in general.  There are even times when fun or silly songs can be appropriate.  Yet in all of them . . .

We must be discerning

That the message of them

Fits within the parameters

That God has set.

God is honored.

Righteousness is promoted.

Sin is admonished.

Songs that glorify sin or mock righteousness or disparage God are always out of bounds.

4) The Worship Arising from the Indwelling Word.

The final part of this verse brings in again the use of music in the worship of God.  We are to sing with thankfulness or grace in our hearts to God.  When the Word of God dwells richly within you, then there will be a proper response of worship to God for all that He has done.  The word “grace” here can also be translated “thanksgiving” because it is the response to God’s grace received that we respond with gratefulness in singing in our hearts to Him.

The idea of singing in your heart is not a reference to emotion or singing silently, though it is certainly fine to have a song in your mind that you do not express audibly.  This is rather a reference to a response of worship that arises from within your core of being with the heart being a metaphor for what you think and choose.  The origin of true worship is always internal.  Many people can sing with their lips or make skilled sounds on instruments, but if the heart is not included, it is not spirit filled music of worship and so will lack in its ability to truly praise God or be a spiritual blessing to others.  A non-Christian can sing a song about our Lord, as many of them do in singing Christmas carols or some popular gospel song, but it is not worship.  Only a true Christian redeemed, regenerated and reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ can fulfill this command to sing with thankfulness in their heart to God in true worship of Him.

Our motivation and protection against the subtleties of the world and the flesh is to have the Word of God richly dwell in us so that we are discerning about truth and error and what is actually edifying and what is detrimental.

Local bodies of believers can help one another become more knowledgeable about God’s Word and how to be obedient to all that Christ has commanded us.  However, it must be your own desire to have the Word of God richly dwell in you before it will actually happen.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Love For The Word, Part 1

Grace For The Journey


24Aug  In our previous study, we learned that when God gives Christians new hearts that they are “let the peace of Christ rule” in their hearts and they are to have a continual spirit of thankfulness.  Today we will learn that when God gives us new hearts it will lead to another new behavior . . .

We are to “let dwell the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”  This phrase is an imperative and is used only here in the New Testament.  The phrase refers not only to the teaching of Jesus Christ, but also of all the Bible.  God’s Word should permeate our whole being so that we God-honoring and God-pleasing decisions and plans in our lives.

My Greek professor in seminary used to say, “As the rabbis later pointed out, ‘he who dwells in a house is the master of the house, not just a passing guest.’  Thus, we are to submit to the demands of the Christian message and let it become so deeply implanted within us as to control all our thinking.”  Many saved people cannot honestly say that God’s Word dwells in their hearts richly because they do not take time to read, study, and memorize it.

This phrase is full of teaching (the imparting of truth), and admonition (warning against error).  The Word of God is the basis four our worship.  The “psalms” refers to the inspired Old Testament psalms.  The word implies that the believers sang them with musical accompaniment.  Hymns are songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.  Spiritual songs probably refer to expressions of Christian truth set to music.  Thankfulness to God is to mark our singing too (cf. Colossians 3:15,16).

Whether with instrument or with voice or with both

It is all for naught if the adoration is not in the heart.

One of the first descriptions of a Church service which we possess is that of Pliny, the Roman governor of Bithynia, who sent a report of the activities of the Christians to Trajan the Roman Emperor.  In that report he said, “They meet at dawn to sing a hymn to Christ as God.  The gratitude of the Church has always gone up to God in Christian praise and Christian song.”  It has often been noticed that the Colossian passage is parallel with Ephesians 5:18-20.  In the latter passage the hymns and songs are the outgrowth of the filling of the Spirit, while in Colossians they are the result of the deep assimilation of the Word of God.  In other words . . .

The Word-filled Christian is a Spirit-filled Christian.

An examination of the two passages would save us from a great deal of error on this subject.

Undisciplined emphasis on the Holy Spirit

Is accompanied too frequently by

Shallow grounding in the Word of God.

Christians with new hearts will follow the Bible’s teachings in Colossians 3:15-17, where we are looking at three actions in these three verses.  The first was that we Learn To End Strife And Be Thankful.  Today we will learn about how we will . . .

2) We Love the Scriptures. 

Christians love the Word of God!

Colossians 3:16 begins by says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . .”

The “word of Christ” is shorthand for the entire Bible: the Scriptures.  Jesus taught that the Scriptures testified of Him (John 5:39).  In this phrase, then, Paul has in mind the Word of Christ as well as the Word about Christ: “Let Christ’s Word – the biblical teaching that points to and presents the person and work Jesus Christ – let this very Word dwell richly within you.”

The word, “dwell” is a word that means “to make one’s home” or “to be at home.”  And the sense is present and active and suggests, “Keep making sure that the Word of Christ is at home within you.”  Or put the opposite way: “Don’t treat God’s Word like an unwelcome guest” … Or even “an occasionally visiting guest.”  See to it that God’s Word is at home within you and that His Word continually dwells within you richly.

What do you enjoy dwelling within you richly?   I can tell you that I am happy to allow a number of things to dwell within me richly: fresh air, good homecooked meals with plenty of vegetables, aged cheeses, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, beverages like water, kombucha, and teas, for example.   These are things I enjoy “dwelling within” me.

In a very real sense, this is the same way we are to enjoy God’s Word, the Word of Christ.  The Bible is God’s food for us – and it is great food!  It is meant to be cherished as a singular delicacy.

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly means “let it get down deep within, savor it, enjoy it.”  We are to get the Word of God into our minds and hearts for spiritual food every day and watch it change our life for the glory of God!

Read the Bible every day.  Whether you use a Bible reading plan or some other method, just be sure to take time to “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”  Slow down.  Read a portion as carefully and slowly as you would eat something you really enjoyed.

Don’t eat without tasting it! Savor it.  You might start this morning with a psalm.  Slowly read Psalm 1.  Read it and re-read it.  Savor it.  Allow it to “get down deep” within you.

Paul continues in verse 16, “… in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  Christians share wisdom with one another by “teaching and admonishing one another.”  Christians not only teach, but “admonish,” which means “to caution, to counsel, to help by warning; to reprove gently.”  If we love each other, we will admonish one another, even warning one another when our behavior does not “match” our identity, when we are wearing the wrong spiritual clothing.

It is especially interesting in verse 16 that one of the ways Christians teach and admonish one another is through “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”  Don’t miss the inference:

Worship music is to contain

Lyrics that teach Christians.

Christian hymns and Christian songs are to have a teaching quality about them; even an admonishing element about them.

I think this fact is more important than trying to figure out whether there is some kind of distinction between Paul’s understanding of psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs.  Volumes have been written on the supposed differences between and distinctions of these three musical offerings.

This much is clear . . .

While there is a variety of Christian music,

All of it should contain lyrics comprising the Word of God.

Songs should have words that teach the church

And songs that admonish the church.

Note also the “attitude of gratitude” in verse 16.  Just as verse 15 concluded with an element of gratitude, “and be thankful,” so verse 16 concludes with the statement, “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  “Singing with grace” is singing “with thankfulness in your hearts” or with “gratitude in your hearts.”  Thankful people can worship God meaningfully.

This “grace” carries the idea of “gratitude, favor, pleasure, and joy.”  Thus, God is telling us here that when we sing we should sing with an attitude of happiness and joy in our hearts because of our gratitude to God.  In other words, our songs should pour forth from a heart that is filled with happiness and thankfulness.

Consider how this melody, or grace, is to be directed toward the Lord. Paul says that we are to sing with melody, or grace, in our hearts “to the Lord.”  Too often it seems that people sing the songs of worship without any direction or feeling behind what they are saying.  The songs that we sing are not just words that we select and arrange so as to “sound good,” or to just “make a noise;” these are songs that are directed toward God.  We should sing them just as though they are being said directly to God, because that is exactly what is happening!  When you sing, sing it “to the Lord,” because He is the one who needs to know that we want to be there.  When you can truly sing to the Lord in a way that you mean it, you will have no problem teaching and admonishing one another.

If you have received God’s forgiveness and you know what it is to be forgiven of sin, then your heart will sing the praises of God.  Paul writes, “Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  Don’t say you can’t sing.  You can.  You may feel that you do not sing well, but that is to compare yourself with others.  Don’t compare yourself with others … Sing with grace, sing with thankfulness in your hearts to the Lord.

Do you see the principle?  As we all the Word of God to dwell within us richly, we will have thankfulness and gratitude to God that others can see and be influenced and impacted by.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”




Exploratory Heart Surgery, Part 2

Grace For The Journey


20Aug  The Christian life is a song of thanksgiving, a glad and joyous hymn of praise to God. “Be thankful,” Paul admonished the believers at Colossae in our text today.

How would you describe the Christian life?

The New Testament describes it in many ways and under a rich variety of figures. It is, for example . . .

  • A race: A long and arduous contest, like an Olympic marathon, that demands all of our energies and requires great powers of endurance if we are to reach the goal and win the victor’s crown
  • It is a spiritual warfare: A fierce, unrelenting battle with the forces of evil that seek to destroy us.
  • It is a crucifixion and resurrection, a death to sin and self and a supernatural rebirth to eternal life in God.
  • It is a discipleship: A rigorous process of training and growth in Christlikeness of character.
  • It is a stewardship: A responsible management of all our powers and abilities, our time, our money, and our opportunities for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom on earth.

But it is something else.

The Christian life is

A song of thanksgiving,

A glad and joyous

Hymn of praise to God.

Paul admonished the believers at Colossae in our text, “Be thankful.”  He counseled the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jess for you.”  In his letter to the Ephesians, he told his readers to in Ephesians 5:18, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Then he proceeded in Ephesians 5:20 to indicate that a prominent mark of the Spirit-filled life is thanksgiving, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  A Christian should be thankful.

Let’s notice three things about this aspect of our life with Christ . . .

1) The Call to Thankfulness

We all like to be thanked.  When we give a gift to someone, when we help another person, when we perform an act of kindness for a fellow human being, we expect some expression of appreciation.  Our generosity or service may not be consciously motivated by any desire for recognition.  Our action may be prompted primarily by our love, or our compassion, or our genuine concern for the other person’s happiness.  But if there is little or no evidence of gratitude, we are hurt and offended, and at times grow indignant.

Our human desire for thanks is an echo from the heart of God.  He, too, wants to be thanked.  He expects us to show our gratitude for all His wonderful goodness to us.  The Old Testament, as well as the New, rings with the summons to thanksgiving.

Listen to the psalmist, as he cries out in Psalm 95:1-2, “O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout  joyfully to the Rock of our salvation!  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with songs of praise!”

Again, the psalmist proclaims in Psalm 100:4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name!”

In Psalm 150:1, the grand finale of the psalmist, is composed entirely of a chain of 13 commands to praise the Lord.  Verse 6 is a call to all living creatures to join together in a swelling chorus of praise to Him, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

In Luke 17:17-18, when only one of 10 lepers that He had healed returned to express gratitude to Him, Jesus asked, “Were there not ten cleansed?  But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  That note of disappointment at human ingratitude is as much a revelation of the Father’s heart as anything our Lord ever said or did.

God looks for and delights in the thanksgiving of His grateful people.  Should not you and I, then, delight to give it to Him?  Should we not assign to thanksgiving a much larger place in our prayers?

Notice further . . .

2) The Cause of Our Thankfulness

Psalm 103:2 declares, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”  What a mighty impulse to thankfulness lies in those three words of the psalmist: “all his benefits!”  As the English poet Joseph Addison put it:

“Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ.”

I know of no better way to stimulate the spirit of thankfulness in our hearts and in our homes, than the regular habit of giving thanks to God for the blessings he gives.  Any such inventory of God’s goodness will certainly include the common blessings of life most of us are privileged to enjoy: health and home, family and friends, food and clothing, work and play, laughter and happiness, and all the wonder and beauty of nature that God has created for our pleasure.

As citizens of this great land, we should remember how highly favored we are.  While not all of us are rich and some – an alarmingly increasing number – are poor, we know nothing of the appalling poverty, hunger, and disease that are a triple scourge to millions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Every minute 24 people, mostly children, starve to death or die of extreme malnutrition.  By the time the average worship service is over, 1500 of our fellow human beings will died simply because they didn’t have enough food to keep them alive and well.  Each and every day, 35,000 men, women and children – 13 million a year – vanish from our planet, devoured by the dragon of hunger.

We Americans enjoy an affluence never matched by any other nation or generation in history.

  • Our material resources are incalculable.
  • Our forefathers have bequeathed to us an unsurpassed heritage of political and religious freedom.
  • Educational benefits and opportunities for cultural enrichment are available to almost everyone.
  • In this century of unprecedented global warfare, we have been spared the horrors of devastation.
  • Our national blessings are the envy of the whole world.

Beyond these and a host of other things,

Each of us has his own

Special reasons to give thanks.

But as Christians we should be

Grateful most of all for God’s

Gift of salvation in Jesus Christ

And the wealth of spiritual

Benefits that are ours.

Paul was a master of the art of language.  Whether he was preaching a sermon, developing a theological argument, debating with opponents of the gospel, rebuking men for their sins, settling disputes among Christians, appealing for mercy on behalf of a runaway slave, or defending himself against bitter accusers before a Roman tribunal, he was never at a loss for words.  But . . .

When he reflected on

His relationship with Jesus Christ

And all he owed to Him,

Paul found human language

Hopelessly bankrupt,

And could only exclaim,

“Thanks be to God for

His indescribable gift!”

(2 Corinthians 9:15).

If by faith we know Jesus Christ as our Savior, then . . .

  1. We have forgiveness of all our sins through His blood.
  2. In Him we are reconciled to God.
  3. Through Him we may come boldly to His throne of grace and power.
  4. We are heirs of His kingdom.
  5. He is our Father and we are His children.
  6. He is with us always
  7. He will provide for all our needs.
  8. He will protect us.
  9. He guide us through all our earthly journey.
  10. And at last He will welcome us to glory in His presence forever.

Whatever else we may or may not have, with blessings like these, our life, indeed, should be one unbroken hymn of thanks.

“Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who, like me, His praise should sing?”

Consider also . . .

3) The Characteristics of Christian Thankfulness.

How do we express our gratitude to God?  How can you and I tell if we are really thankful? Obviously . . . We praise God with our lips.  The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 13:15 that through Christ we should, “Continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to Him name.”

Words, nevertheless, are notoriously cheap,

And the gratitude that contents

Itself with “Thank You’s” to God,

However piously and eloquently

Phrased, is cheap and insincere.

Real Christian thankfulness is a life-transforming dynamic.  What, then, are its marks?  Let us look at several of the most important ones.

If we are thankful to God . . .

We will obey Him.

In nothing does Christian gratitude reveal itself more clearly than in obedience.  We tend to forget that God’s great purpose for us is not merely to rescue us from hell.  His ultimate goal is to mold us into the image of His Son, to make us altogether Christlike.

If you were to sum up

The character of Jesus

In a single word, w

Wat word would you choose?

Love?  Trust?  Humility?

Purity?  Self-sacrifice?

He, of course, embodied them all,

And in perfect measure.

But the word that best sums up

The character and life of our Lord

Is the word obedience.

He said to His disciples in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to accomplish His work.”  That was His life-motto.  With absolute truthfulness he could claim in John 8 29, “. . . I always do those thing that please Him.”

In everything He ever did, our Lord perfectly and completely fulfilled His Father’s will.  He obeyed to the letter all the demands of God’s law, so that no fault or blemish could be found in Him.  Then, in that same spirit of obedience to His Father’s will, He offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.

God has redeemed us in order to make us like Jesus.

If we are grateful for all that He has done for us,

Especially for our redemption through Christ’s death on the cross,

We shall express that gratitude by our obedience to His will.

Out of our gratitude will be born the determination

To live a yielded life, the desire to please God in all things.

A thankful Christian is an obedient Christian.

If we are thankful to God . . .

Our lives will also be marked by thankfulness in service.

To be a disciple of Christ is to be a servant of Christ.  If we live under the Lordship of Christ, you and I will devote our whole lives to Him and will labor steadily for His glory by ministering to the needs of others in His name.

The supreme motive for this service

Will be our gratitude to God for His

Undeserved favor and goodness to us in Christ.

What a wealth of opportunities for service our Lord gives us!

  • It may be teaching a church Bible Study class
  • Or leading a children’s Bible club or youth group.
  • It may be working in a church day-care center or preschool ministry.
  • It may be delivering meals to the homebound elderly, or running errands for them, or visiting in hospitals and nursing homes.
  • It may be helping with the physically handicapped or the mentally retarded.
  • It may be ministering to alcoholics or drug addicts, or befriending prostitutes or prisoners.

The forms of service will vary according to our individual gifts and calling.  But if we are grateful to God, we shall be busy in His service, ministering to others in the name of our Savior, and always seeking as we minister to share with them the Gospel of His redeeming love.

After years of bondage, a slave was purchased by a stranger and set free.  Falling down at the man’s feet, he sobbed, “I will be your slave till death.”  Thankfulness is the spring of the noblest service.  That is why Christian service is the finest service in the world.

If we are thankful to God . . .

Our lives will also be marked with a spirit of giving.

Wherever you find a grateful heart,

You are sure to find a generous hand.

A fine Christian layman called me one afternoon. “God has been especially good to me this year,” he explained, “and I want to share that goodness with others.”  He then asked me to recommend several Christian ministries which I considered worthy of his support.

The Bible says in Psalm 96:8, “Give to the Lord the glory due His name, bring an offering, and come into His courts!”  How comfortable would you feel to think that God measures your gratitude to Him by the gifts you place on the offering plate each week?  He does exactly that.

The key to balanced church budgets,

increased missionary support,

And larger benevolences

Does not lie in bingo,

Bazaars, and bake sales;

Nor in high-pressure

Financial campaigns;

Nor in a legalistic

Emphasis upon the

Duty of tithing.

It lies rather

In the cultivation

Of the Christian

Grace of thankfulness.

Her gratitude for all that Jesus meant to her prompted Mary of Bethany to anoint Him with her jar of ointment, a gift that cost the equivalent of a laborer’s yearly wages.  Paul boasted of the Gentile Christians of Macedonia who, though desperately poor themselves, out of gratitude for their spiritual blessings, eagerly gave beyond their means to help the poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.  Poor and affluent alike give joyously and generously when their hearts are filled with gratitude to God.

If we are thankful to God . . .

Our lives will also be marked by the thankful spirit is contentment.

We are inclined to think that contentment depends on things and circumstances.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  If that were the case, those who have the greatest abundance and suffer the least misfortune would be the happiest.  But often these very people are miserable and are some of the worst grumblers and complainers.

In his classic Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, a devout Christian, put these words into the mouth of his hero, “All our discontents spring from the want to thankfulness for what we have.”  Fanny Crosby, writer of many popular gospel songs, was stricken with blindness at six weeks of age. When she was just a child of 8, she wrote these lines:

“Oh what a happy soul am I!
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be;
How many blessings I enjoy
That others people don’t!
To weep and sigh because I’m blind,
I cannot, and I won’t.”

The psalmist declared in Psalm 103:2, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”  Grateful Christians do not grumble.  They find a happy contentment in their experiences of God’s goodness and love.

The crowning feature of Christian thankfulness is the desire for . . .

Deeper fellowship with God.

It is natural when a friend has done a great kindness to us, that we should draw still closer to him with greater affection and devotion.  The love he has shown to us stimulates and intensifies our love for him, so that our friendship becomes richer, more intimate, more precious than ever.

God created us for fellowship with Himself.  Nothing in the Genesis story is so beautiful as the immediacy and intimacy of Adam’s original relationship with God.  And nothing is so dark and tragic as the disruption of that relationship through sin.  The rest of the Bible records the gradual unfolding of God’s amazing plan to restore that relationship through Christ.

When we think of all the goodness and mercy

God has shown to us who deserve nothing

But His wrath and condemnation,

The faithfulness of His providential care,

The gifts without number He has lavished upon us,

And above all, the salvation He has purchased

For us through the death of His own dear Son,

How can we fail, if we are truly grateful Christians,

To place Him at the center of our hearts and lives?

Surely, more than anything else . . .

We shall long to know Him better

And to live in glad and loving

Fellowship with Him forever.

“Would you know,” asked William Law the mystic, “who is the greatest saint? He is not the man who does most, or even prays most. He is the man who is most thankful.”

Judged by that test, what kind of Christian are you?

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



Exploratory Heart Surgery, Part 1

Grace For The Journey


20Aug Recently I discovered a medical journal entitled Chest.  It is a journal described as the “Official Publication of the American College of Chest Physicians.”  The journal contains an article entitled, “Exploratory Surgery of the Heart.”  In one part of the article the author asserts: “Exploratory surgery of the heart is logical, simple, and when performed along the lines indicated, a relatively safe procedure.  In most cases, fortunately, it not only establishes the anatomical diagnosis but permits the prompt carrying out of corrective operative measures.”

You might say in Colossians 3:15-17 the Bible is talking about “Exploratory Surgery of the Heart.”  And just like the article in the Chest journal, God would say that such exploratory surgery is a “safe procedure” and that, in every case, He not only correctly “diagnoses,” but also “permits the prompt carrying out of corrective operative measures.”

We will be dealing with the health and condition of our spiritual hearts in today’s blog.  As we study these verses, we will do some exploratory heart surgery, taking a look inside our hearts, seeing what we discover; and seeing whether there may be something that needs correction.

If you are a Christian, then God has given you a new heart because you are a new creation (Ezekiel 18:31).  The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  Christians with new hearts will follow the Bible’s teachings in Colossians 3:15-17, where we note three actions in these three verses . . .

1) We Learn To End Strife.

Christians will always endeavor to put an end to any division arising in the church.

We work for peace

In the fellowship.

This is the meaning of verse 15, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” 

There are four imperatives in Colossians 3:15-17 identify the precepts believers must follow.  We will look at each one over the next few days and learn powerful truths that will impact how we think and behave in our daily lives.

The first truth God wants us to live by is

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”

That is, look inside your heart.  Do some exploratory heart surgery.  Do you see, “the peace of God” at work in your life?

When Christians need to make choices, the peace that Christ produces in our hearts should be a determining factor.  We should choose what will result in peace between us and God, and between us and one another, if such a course of action lies within God’s moral will (cf. John 14:27).

This directive forms,

With the Word of God

And the witness of

The indwelling Spirit,

One of the most important

Principles of guidance

In the Christian life.

When these three indicators line up, we can move ahead confidently.  Realization of the unity of the body and the peace of Christ results in thankfulness that should also mark our behavior.

You will remember from yesterday’s post that Christians must forgive one another.  Paul stresses this mandate by spelling it out for us in verse 13: “If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”  There is no excuse for a Christian’s not forgiving another brother or sister.  There is also no excuse for a Christian’s not forgiving a husband or wife.  If troubled couples spent as much time and energy on trying to save their marriage as they did on trying to separate from one another, there would be more saved marriages.

The key is that

We must let

The peace of Christ

“Rule” in our hearts.

The emphasis of this phrase is that we are to continually let peace rule. The background is the Hebrew “shalom” which carries with it the ideas “of wellness, spiritual wholeness, personal and community well-being, justice and equity.”  It is exercised in a spiritual society where everyone’s needs are met and all are cared for.

Paul addresses 2 facets of the peace of God that we are to put on . . .

1) Be controlled by peace.

The peace of Christ is to what?  “Rule.”  Where? “In your hearts.”  The word “rule” comes from the world of athletics and mean “to act as umpire, to arbitrate as the decision-maker.”  Paul says let “shalom,” the peace of God be the final word in your hearts.  Let it decide what is right and let it make the call time and time again in your life.

2) Accept the call to peace.

The peace of Christ is something to which we have been “called in one body.”  We are now family, one community, one body.  To fight and quarrel with each other is insane.  It can be suicidal.  How inconsistent is it for those of us who have experienced the peace of God to war among ourselves, draw battle lines in the sand, choose sides and take shots at one another. What a shame it is for the church. What a tragic witness it is for the world.

Adrian Rogers says, “When we are in the foxhole side-by-side we have no problem fighting against a common enemy that threatens our community.  However, when the war against the real enemy subsides and we are back in the barracks face to face, if we are not careful, and we are in the habit of fighting, we will begin to fight one another.”

It is important to remember that Paul is writing primarily about peace in the body of Christ, about getting along with fellow brothers and sisters in the congregation.

Christians who have been reconciled to God,

Who have peace with Him through Christ,

Should manifest peace with one another.

Strife is the inevitable result when men are out of touch with God who is the one Source of true peace; but there is no reason why those who have accepted the peace which Christ established by His death on the cross should have any other than peaceful relations among themselves.

Peace with God results in peace with one another.  One reason why there may be strife between two church members, may well be because one of them – or both of them – do not have peace with God.  That is, they may not actually be saved.

I think this may be why Paul adds the last three words in verse 15: “and be thankful.”

Gratitude is found in the hearts of those who have been given new hearts.  Christians are forever grateful to God for their new hearts and it causes them to be thankful, and to go on being thankful.  What a difference a heart full of peace and gratitude makes in our lives.

We will look further into the need of gratitude in tomorrow’s blog

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



Dressed Up And Obedient

Grace For The Journey

19Aug  For some reason, I the rest of our study in the Book of Colossians, and began the series we just completed on “The Questions Of Jesus,before we had gone through all the verses.  I want to use the next several blogs to go back and conclude the study of Colossians.  The last time we looked at this Book, we noted in the third chapter that the Apostle Paul is describing Christian living in terms of “putting off” and “putting on.”  Like discarding old clothes that no longer “suit them,” Christians are to discard or “put off” old behaviors.  We have previously examined some of the “old clothing” we are to remove from our spiritual closets.

In Colossians 3:12 and following, we now read about “dressing up” in new behaviors that bear likeness to Christ.

Verse 12 says, “Therefore…put on tender mercies.”  Other translations say to “put on compassion” or “compassionate hearts.”  Christians are to dress themselves up with compassion.  It is similar to the next item of clothing, “kindness.”  When people look at us they ought to see that we are “wearing” compassion and kindness.

If we are God’s elect, holy, and have the life of Christ in us we are going to look like the One who chose us.  We ought to look like the One who set us apart, and loves us with a special love.

We are going to look like our Lord –

And our Lord was compassionate.

Remember the place in Scripture where the Bible says that Jesus looked out at over Jerusalem and wept over the people (Matthew 9:36)?  He had a heart of compassion.

Because we are followers of Christ, He really is “in us.”  Consequently, we too have hearts of compassion.  Jesus fed the hungry, blessed the poor, and healed the hurting.  So as His followers we will do the same.  This will be our natural inclination when we “put on tender mercies.”

Can we feed every single hungry person?  Can we bless every single poor person?  Can we listen to every single person’s story and show compassion?  No, we can’t “be there” for everybody, but consider this truth:

“You can’t help everybody,

But you can help somebody

In a way that you’d like

To help everybody.”

Who among us can’t help at least one person today?

Verse 12 adds another virtue that should be obvious in our lives, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility . . .”  Humility is another characteristic of the new self, another item of spiritual clothing we are to put on regularly.  I like how Paul describes humility in Philippians 3:3-4, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” 

Taken together with these other virtues of verse 12 – these other kinds of spiritual clothing: “meekness, and long-suffering” . . .

We get a picture of a person

Who always remembers

His position in Christ

As the means by

Which to bless others.

Verse 13 says, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another ….”  “Bearing with” connotes the idea of “tolerating,” patiently accepting the varying personalities of our brother’s and sisters.”  It goes right along with the next character quality listed in verse 13, “… and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”  This matter of forgiveness is as plain a teaching in the Scriptures as that there is a God.  There is no excuse for Christians’ failing to forgive another brother or sister.

Our Lord assumes we will do this. He has taught us as much in the model prayer in Matthew 6:12.  He said we are to pray this way, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  Or, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”  He adds in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Remember later that Peter would approach Jesus and ask, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”   Jesus answered him: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22).

Going back to Colossians 3:13, note carefully exactly what the Bible says: “If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

Forgiveness is not an option.  

If someone offends you, you are to forgive that person.  Even if the person does not come forward and make it right, you must forgive.  The Bible says in Mark 11:25-26, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.  But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

And lest we be quick to lose our patience with others who are difficult to “tolerate,” let’s consider the lengths to which our Lord goes to tolerate us!  How has Jesus treated you insofar as “bearing with” you and “forgiving” you?  Has He set the example that He taught?  Does He forgive your offenses every single time?

Even as Christ forgave you, so you also must forgive your spouse, your wayward child, your mother, your father, your fellow brother, your sister, your pastor, your fellow church member.  Forgiveness is something we must “put on” all the time.

Then Paul calls for what is arguably the most important “article of clothing” the Christian is to “put on.”  And what is that?  It is love.  Here’s how the Bible puts it in Colossians 3:14, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”  Love is the glue that holds everything together.  Love is what “produces” and “completes” the outfit.  Love is the bond that brings perfection and completeness.

So put off the old and put on the new.  “Put to death” or “put off” the old self – and everything associated with the old self – and “put on” the new, put on those things that suit you, that match who you are in Christ.

Here’s a practical way to live out these verses this week . . .

We have noted before that when we are tempted to sin, we must remember to say, “I’m dead to that, but alive to God in Christ (Romans 6:11).”  Right after you have said, “I’m dead to that” – and you’ve “put off” the thing that characterized the old you – then surrender to God and obey His Word to “put on” the opposite virtue.

For example, when tempted to lust or commit sexual immorality, “put it off.”  Kill it!  Say, “I’m dead to that, but alive to God in Christ” and surrender to God, obey His Word, and then “put on” sexual purity.

When tempted to be bitter say, “I’m dead to that.  I used to be bitter when I was not a Christian, but I’ve died to that old way of life.  And now I choose to surrender to God, obey His Word and “put on” contentment and peace and joy.”

When tempted to not forgive, remember who you are: “Elect, Holy, and Beloved.”  Then say, “I’m dead to unforgiveness, but alive to God in Christ, and so I now choose to surrender to God, obey His Word, and to forgive by ‘putting on’ forgiveness.  It suits me!”

When you put on these new spiritual clothes, you will not want to put the old ones back on. You will like the way the new ones feel and fit on you.  They were made for you.  They match who you are in Christ.  They look just right on you.  You will not want to put on those old sins anymore if you will but put on the new virtues of purity, compassion, kindness, humility, forgiveness, and love – because you find a satisfaction in them that you cannot find elsewhere.

God honors your wearing what suits you.  He blesses that daily dressing up.  He grants you a greater joy and peace when you obey His Word.  He shows you by your obedience that you are fully complete in Him.

Remember, the key verse of the Colossian letter is Colossians 2:10, “You are complete in Him,” complete in Christ!

Jesus Christ is the all-satisfying One in whom you are fully accepted and fully loved.  The Bible instructs us to, “Seek, then, the things that are above and not the things on earth” (Colossians 3:1).

Tony Evans tells about an unnerving flight experienced by Frederick Page, a pioneer of modern aviation.  Page was flying somewhere in the Middle East when he became alarmed by an unusual sound in the cockpit.  It was a “chewing” kind of sound, the sound a rodent makes when it is gnawing through something.  Knowing the sound might mean that a rat was chewing through the electrical wiring, Page grew concerned he might suffer sudden mechanical failure.  His instincts kicked in when he remembered something he had learned years earlier in flight school.  He remembered that rats cannot survive in high altitudes.  So, Page pulled back on the aviator stick and flew the airplane as high as he possibly could.  Having some trouble breathing himself, he listened carefully for the chewing sound to stop.  Thankfully the sound did stop.  Later, after Page landed his plane, he discovered the huge rodent lying dead behind the cockpit.

What’s the point of concluding my post with this story?

Many of us have some kind of “rat” gnawing in our lives.  The rat of sin takes many forms.  It could be a huge rat of sexual immorality, or pornography, or lust, or greed, or selfishness in a marriage, of fear, of bitterness or worldliness, or some other sin that incessantly chews and chews at us.  If we do not deal with the rat of sin gnawing in our lives, we’ll eventually fall into a tailspin, “crashing and burning,” bringing ruin upon ourselves.

Paul teaches that we can put those sins to death by “putting off” the old and “putting on” the new, all the while “seeking those things which are above” (Colossians 3:1).

So, pull back on the aviator stick and go up!  Set your mind on things above; get up their in the spiritual realm where you remember who you are and what you have in Christ …

and the rat of sin won’t be able to breathe and live.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



What Is Your Concern?

Grace For The Journey


18Aug  A pastor came home one day to find his daughter arguing with her friends in the bedroom.  From the front hallway he could hear them yelling and calling each other names, so he quickly made his way up the stairs.  “What’s going on in here?” he asked as he entered the room.  His five-year-old looked up at him and smiled. “It’s okay, Daddy. We’re just playing church!”

We laugh at such story, but the reality is much darker and far more serious that we often realize.  A sad but true fact is that the church is often thought of as being out of touch and insensitive to what is going on in the world.  Often, the church is seen as being so wrapped up within itself that it has no compassion on, or time for a world that is perishing.  In fact, there are many outside the church that would rather turn anywhere for help but to the church.

Philip Yancey tells about a friend of his who worked with homeless people in Chicago. One woman who was his friend was trying to help was a cocaine addict.  She was so desperate that she would rent out her two-year-old daughter to men so they could have sex with her.  The woman would get $100 per man which would be just enough for another fix.  She was homeless, she had bad health, and she had no one to care for her.  She poured out her story to a friend who is a Christian minister, and he was overwhelmed and amazed.  At the end he said to her, “As you went through all this, did you ever think about going to a church for help?”  He said that he would never forget the look of absolute naive shock that crossed her face as she said, “Church! Why would I ever go there?  I was already feeling bad enough, they would just make me feel worse!”

Why do people have this perception of the church?  Where did we go wrong?  Indeed, have we gone wrong?  I believe the honest answer is this, “Yes, like the disciples in this chapter, we have strayed from the Lord’s plan and we need to find the path back home again.”  Thankfully, God has given us some insight into what we need in this day in which we live.

In John 21, dealing with a time in the disciples lives when they became sidetracked, we are presented with three powerful lessons, that if heeded and implemented in our churches would changethem forever.  I don’t know about you, and I cannot speak for your church, but my heart’s desire for the church God has led me to pastor is that we become the kind of church where . . .

Is a place where lost folk

Can come and find help;

A place where the saints

Can come and a find home

And a place where we can all

Find hope for their lives.

I believe you want the same for the church you call home as well.  Therefore, we need to hear the lessons that are laid out in these verses.  We are going to go back over the verses in this chapter to learn how to be people who can be used by God to provide people help hope, and a home through our Lord Jesus Christ.  This involves . . .


This truth comes after a night of waster activity.

This is seen in two ways . . .

A Return To The Old Life.

Seven of our Lord’s disciples made a decision to return to the Sea to find that which they needed.  This is a picture of a life lived in the energy of the flesh.  They were in Galilee because Jesus had told them that He would meet them there (Matthew 28:10).

They were in the right place, but

They were using the wrong methods.

Instead of waiting on the Lord

To come and give them direction,

They began doing things their way,

Based on what and how they knew to do.

Aren’t we guilty of doing this at church?  We hear of a method that works over at this super church and we figure, “Well, if it worked there, it’ll work here!”  If the Lord leads you to implement a program that you read about or hear about then go to it, but unless the Lord directs it, then it will come to nothing.

We need to be more concerned

With what the Lord wants us to be doing

Than copying the latest church growth scheme.

A Reminder From The New Life.

They fished all night and caught nothing!  That must have been devastating for Andrew, Peter, James and John.  After all, these men were professionals.  They knew where the fish were and they knew how to catch them.  But since the were called to follow Jesus things have changed!  When these men were called to follow Jesus, they forsook their ships and their nets and followed Jesus.  They have been called to be “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).  They failed because they were walking in the flesh instead of the Spirit! There was nothing wrong with fishing, it just wasn’t the business Jesus wanted them to be about.

There is a word for us here as well.

We need to understand that in this

Modern day of fancy buildings,

Large budgets and good crowds,

Our resources will never be sufficient.

When we were saved, we were brought into a new relationship of total dependence upon Jesus Christ.  I personally believe that this is the Lord’s will for us not only as individuals, but also as a church.  We are to walk in utter dependence upon Jesus, realizing that without Him, we are nothing (John 15:5) . . . Knowing that in His power, we can do anything – Philippians 4:13).

The disciples experience a morning of wonderful abundance.  When Jesus showed up, things began to change!

A Challenge From The Master.

Verse 5 says, “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Children, have you any food?’”  This question was designed to bring home the reality of their failure.  They had fished all night.  They were probably tired and hungry and now this fellow shows up asking them if they have any meat. Their short answer is an indication of the reality they felt all too well.  At this moment, they felt like failures.

Aren’t you glad the Lord challenges us when we go about things in our own strength? When He does, it isn’t to rub our noses in our failures in an effort to put us down.

When He challenges our failed

Attempts at self-sufficiency,

His motive is that of

Awakening in us a renewed

Dependence upon Himself.

We need the constant reminder that “the just shall live by faith,” (Romans 1:17; “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” (Romans 14:23); and “Without faith it is impossible to please Him,” (Hebrews 11:6).

Our sufficiency

Will ever fail,

His supply

Will never fail!

A Command From The Master.

In verse 6 Jesus tells them to let down their nets on the right side of the boat with the promise that when they do, they will find the fish they have sought all night.  When they obeyed the Lord’s command, they were rewarded with a huge catch of fish.

What they had failed to accomplish

With their skill, knowledge and power

Had been brought to pass in a single moment

By their obedience to the will of God.

What a lesson for us in the church today!  We have programs, procedures, policies, etc. We have all the organization and the well-oiled machinery that we can use and still we are not catching fish like we should.  What is the problem?  Perhaps it is the same problem that the disciples had.  Perhaps we are trusting everything instead of Jesus to get the job done.  We can never expect to do the Lord’s work until we go about it in the Lord’s will!  Perhaps the hour has arrived for us to chunk the junk and get back to what works.  Perhaps it is time for the modern church to revisit the forsaken avenues of the protracted prayer meeting, old-fashioned preaching, door to door evangelism, and genuine love among the brethren.  When we learn to fish the Lord’s way we will catch what we are after!

The Capability Of The Master.

Did you notice that in these verses, Jesus took care of every need they had?  They were laboring ineffectively for fish and when they arrived on the shore, Jesus had fish and bread prepared.  They were attempting to catch a few fish for a little food, Jesus gave them a net filled with fish that would help them and others.  They were weary and cold from a night on the lake, Jesus had a fire prepared to warm and comfort them.

The lesson here is unmistakable . . .

Our need is the evidence

Of God’s supply in waiting.

When we lack, He has our supply!  He is able to meet the need of His people (Philippians 4:19).

In these verses, there are some truths revealed about Jesus that can and will change every individual here as well as your church and mine . . .

·         Jesus is alive from the dead.

There is no need to fear the task at hand.  Jesus lives and will never leave us nor forsake us, but He ever lives to make intercession for us at the right hand of the Father.

·         Jesus is able to control circumstances.

He changed in an instant what they had been unable to change in an entire night!  Don’t give up!  Learn to trust the power of our Savior (Matthew 17:20).

·         Jesus is able to control success.

The success of the Disciples in this instance was entirely in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ.  They would have continued in failure unless He had intervened!  When He did, they enjoyed enormous success.  Folks, this takes the pressure off of you and me! When we realize that the harvest is the Lord’s and our duty is to walk in His will and do what He tells us to, we come to recognize that He is also responsible for any measure of success that is obtained.  My job is to obey.  The duty of our churches is to obey. Success is in the hands of the Lord!

·         Jesus is able to direct from afar.

Jesus was on the shore, the disciples were in a boat out on the sea, still the Lord was able to direct them and intervene on their behalf.  What a lesson for the church!  While we sail the stormy seas of life, Jesus is seated in Heaven.  From that vantage point, He is able move in our circumstances, He is able to meet our needs, He is able to direct our lives and He is able to command His churches.  He is not out of touch; He is in absolute control!

·         Jesus is able to empower His people.

Jesus was able to accomplish in a moment that which they could not do in an entire night of self-effort.  So it is in the life of His church!  If we try to do these things in our own power, we will surely fail, but if we walk in the will of God, humble seeking His face and looking to His powerful hand to get the job done, then we cannot fail!

·         Jesus is able to supply all the needs of His people.

When the Disciples reached the shore, they found that their labor had been in vain. Their attempts at self-sufficiency has been wasted.  When they came face to face with Jesus, they found that He had everything they needed was already ready and waiting for them.  May I remind you this evening that He is still Jehovah-Jireh?

To learn how to be people who can be used by God to provide people help hope, and a home through our Lord Jesus Christ also involves . . .


Our Primary Duty.

We see in verses 15-17, that three times, the disciple who denied the Lord, is called upon to reaffirm his love for Jesus.  Much has been said about Peter’s confession and the word play that ensues between himself and the Lord.  It is true that the first 2 times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him with “agape” love, and twice Peter answered that he loved Jesus with “phileo” love.  However, before we become to harsh toward Peter, let’s remember that this is the man who had made his boast to go with Jesus unto the death and had, before that night was ended, denied Jesus three times.  I see Peter humbled and honest before the Lord.

What is the word from the church from this passage?  Love Christ!  We, as a church, must move beyond the “phileo” love that says, “I am fond of you, I live you like a brother.”, and we must come to the place where we love the Lord with a genuine agape love.  That is . . .

We need a






Love for Christ

That pervades

Every area

Of our lives.

When we come to this point, Matthew 22:39 will pose no problems for us. Then we will be in a place to demonstrate to the lost world around us that Jesus is all that He claims to be (John 13:35)

Our Perpetual Duty.

Genuine love for Jesus is manifested in what way?  Is it enough for me to say, “I love the Lord!”?  Is it enough for our churches to say, “We really love Jesus here?!”  No!

True love for the Lord

Always manifests itself

In obedience to

His commandments,

(John 14:15!_

Then, when there is obedience

To the commands of Jesus,

He has promised to manifest

His presence in the midst of His people!

In these three verses, we are shown the perpetual duty of the church . . .

To Supply The Saints.

Peter is told to feed “my lambs” (verse 15), the “little ones,” and “My sheep.” (verse 16). These would be those who are more mature.  The point is clear . . .

Jesus expected Peter to communicate

The mind and message of God to all ages.

Herein lies a problem that is ever growing in our churches.

·         We have men who communicate their opinions.

·         Men who communicate the course of politics and society.

·         Men who communicate the mind of the Convention or denomination.

·         There are those who communicate the mind of their favorite preacher.

However, if we are going to feed the lambs and the sheep, then we must open the Word of God and communicate the mind message of God to His people.  When they receive a steady diet of “thus saith the Lord,” they will grow!

Some might say, “That is the preacher’s job!  What does that have to do with me?”  I would answer, “Everything!”  The duty of the child of God in this matter cannot be over-stated.  After all, there are many of you who teach in the church.  When you stand before a small group Sunday morning Bible Study class or that Disciple class you have people there that need to have a word from God!  For the rest of the church, like Joshua and Aaron, the members need to hold up the hands of those who are standing forth and communicating truth to the flock of God.  Pray for God’s men and for those who teach in our churches.  May I remind you that it takes every member of the body functioning in its appointed place to get the job done for Jesus?  Let’s do our duty!

A visitor was being shown around a leper colony in India.  At noon a gong sounded for the midday meal.  People came from all parts of the compound to the dining hall.  All at once peals of laughter filled the air.  Two young men, one riding on the other’s back, were pretending to be a horse and a rider and were having loads of fun.  As the visitor watched, he saw that the man who carried his friend was blind, and the man on his back was lame.  The one who could not see used his feet; the one who could not walk used his eyes.  Together they helped each other, and they found great joy in doing it.

Imagine a church like that – each member using his or her strength to make up for another’s weakness.  That’s what should be happening in every congregation of believers.

To Support And Strengthen The Saints.

In verse 16, the word “feed” literally means “to tend, or to keep sheep.”  Peter is told that the sheep need more than food.  They are to be looked after and all their needs are to be supplied.  Again, there is a message to pastors here, but there is also an application to all the saints of God.  This thought reminds us that Galatians 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  This verse needs to become a reality in the modern church.  When people enter the church they should know that they are part of a group that cares for them and that they are loved.  We need to take every possible step to ensure that Matthew 22:39 is fully realized in every church around the world.

A Zulu proverb says that “when a thorn pierces the foot, the whole body must bend over to pull it out.”  This kind of interdependence is a basic characteristic of the church.  That may mean putting aside petty differences and pointless squabbles, but when we genuinely love one another, the world will notice and God Himself will manifest His power and presence among His people once again.

To learn how to be people who can be used by God to provide people help hope, and a home through our Lord Jesus Christ also involves . . .


A Word About Reality.

In verse 18, Peter is reminded that obedience to Jesus carries at a price.  Peter is told what kind of death he is to die for the Lord.  When we decide, whether as churches, or as individuals, that we will walk in the will of the Lord and will love Him and each other like we should, then we can expect to come under attack from Satan.

The Bible plainly tells us that all who live for the Lord can expect to be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).  The reality is that there is a price to pay, but in the end, the payoff is worth the price!  What payoff?

The presence and power of God

Active in our lives and in our churches

Is plenty of dividend.

A Word About The Requirement.

Peter’s original call is reaffirmed (Matthew 4:18-19), and the Apostle is restored to his office.  In this, we are reminded that Jesus has certain expectations concerning our walk with Him.  It is simple, the requirements are the same for every person (Matthew 16:24).  When we genuinely deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus, we will see our lives, our attitudes, our effectiveness, and our churches changed forever. Again, often the price is high, but the payoff is priceless!

A Word About Rivalry.

In verse 20, when Peter is told about his ultimate demise, he asks Jesus about John.  It is as if there is some sort of rivalry in the mind of Peter with John.  Jesus responds by telling Peter to tend to his own life and the Lord will take care of John.  What a lesson for the church tonight!

Competition should be eliminated from our vocabularies!  It isn’t about how much we have or how many we have as opposed to that which you have at your place of worship and ministry.  Our testimony to the world should be that we can worship together, that we are not out to get one another.  Bible-believing, Bible living believers, though they differ in worship styles, musical tastes, or on nonessential issues of doctrine, can come together for the greater glory of God and can work together to impact a world for Jesus. Therefore, instead of wondering how we can get more than those folks down the road, let’s begin praying for one another.  Let’s begin working together to advance the Kingdom of God in this world.

After this impromptu breakfast meeting, the disciples were never the same.  Peter became a powerhouse for Jesus, the others served with distinction and glorified God in their lives and ultimately by their deaths.  Why the change?  I believe the answer lies in the fact that they learned some lessons that were never forgotten that morning.  Some lessons that they took to heart and that were allowed to work in their lives.

Has the Lord spoken to your heart?  Perhaps on a personal level God has spoken to you and you realize that your walk with Him needs improvement.  Perhaps you are a church leader and you know that there needs to be improvement in your walk with the Lord and witness for the Lord.  Maybe God is speaking to another someone and you know that some of these lessons need to be heeded and implemented in your life. Perhaps, there is one who is reading this who has never been saved and God is calling you to come to Him.  Why not take care of all these needs right now.  God will move in response to the cry of His people! I trust that you will do as God would have you to do right now.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”







Children Have You Any Food?

Grace For The Journey


13Aug  In this final chapter of John, we find a portrait of Jesus that is thrilling for the Christian to behold.  In these verses, Jesus is revealed as “The Friend Of The Fallen.”  As we study this passage we will notice . . .


 The Bible tells us about Peter’s fear and failure in Matthew 26:69-75.  Before we can see how the Lord restored this fallen preacher, we must first understand what happened to Peter and how he came to be fallen in the first place.

The Place.

Peter was in the wrong place altogether.  In the beginning, Peter had made his boast that he would never forsake the Lord, Luke 22:33-34.  Yet, when the time came and Jesus was arrested, Peter, like all the others forsook Jesus and fled (Matthew 26:56).  However, verse 58 tells us that Peter decided to follow the Lord and see what happened, but that he followed Jesus “at a distance.”  When Peter found himself surrounded by the Lord’s enemies, it became hard for him to stand by his earlier boast. He takes the low road and denies that he even know the Lord Jesus (verses 69-74).

Essentially, all backsliding begins in the same manner!  Instead of staying as close to the Lord as we should, we begin to follow Him “at a distance.”  It may begin as simply missing a few services here and there.  Maybe you just stop praying like you should. Maybe the Bible isn’t opened and read as frequently as it ought to be.

Wherever and however it begins,

It will eventually lead to the same place.

It will eventually lead you into

A backslidden and cold condition!

Peter’s problem was that he found himself in the wrong place!

The Pain.

When Peter denied the Lord that night, the Bible tells us that he went out and “wept bitterly.”  Peter was miserable in his new condition.  He knew that he had wronged the Lord.  He knew that he had violated something very precious and sacred.  He was a miserable man.

So it is with every child of God who decides to walk away from the will of God.  You will soon realize that sin brings with it pain, suffering and misery.  The Bible says in Proverbs 13:15, “Good understanding gains favor; but the way of unfaithful is hard.”

Gone will be the peace of God and

The sense of God’s presence.

Gone will be His power and that

Joy in the soul that is worth more than gold.

Sin is a thief and a robber!  It robs youth and beauty.  It destroys innocence and effectiveness. Sin has the ability to make you into a very miserable person!

The Price.

After Peter sinned, he felt a definite loss of fellowship, peace and joy.  He knew that things were different.  This is a powerful truth for believers to understand . . .

When a person decides to

Walk a different way

Than the Lord intends,

Your decision carries with it

A very high price tag.

If you are saved, then you can expect to lose much when you walk away from the Lord. You can never lose your salvation, but you will feel like you have.  You can most certainly lose your fellowship with the Lord.  There will be the loss of peace, joy and contentment.  There will be the loss of blessings and rewards.  Sin is a cruel taskmaster and it will beat you silly.

Peter failed and he failed big!


Verse 3 says, “Simon Peter said to them, I am going fishing.  They said to him, ‘We are  going with you also.’  They went out, and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.” Notice . . .

His Choices.

After the resurrection, Peter must have assumed that his ministry was over.  He had denied the Lord and so he decided to return to the old way of life.  I am sure that he might have tried to justify it by saying, “Well, I have a family to support.”  Whatever the motivation, Peter had been called to forsake all those things and to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:19).  The Lord’s call had been a call to come and be a fisher of men.

People who are out of God’s will always make the wrong choices!  They always base the decisions on fleshly motives rather than spiritual ones.  This is what Peter did and he was foolish because of it!

His Companions.

When Peter went back to the old life, he took others with him.  These other disciples weren’t as sold out to the Lord as they should have been either!  If they had been, they would have been waiting for their marching orders.  After all, Jesus had told them to go into Galilee and wait for Him (Matthew. 28:10).

Have you noticed that sin loves company?  When a person backslides, they usually aren’t content to go it all alone and they will try to drag others down with them.  You see it in families all the time!  One will get cold toward the Lord and before long everyone in the family is out of God’s will.  What a shame it is when we feel the need to drag others into the same foolish pit into which we are in!

What’s equally sad is the fact that there always seems to be those who are willing to follow the wayward child of God!  Why are things this way?  Because we like to surround ourselves with people who are on about the same level as we are.  If we are right with God, we want to be around others who are right with God.  If we are out of God’s will, we feel rebuked by the lives of those who are living for the Lord and seek out those who are like we are.  Sadly, we will often try to reproduce our spiritual temperature in the lives of those who are close to us.  This is merely an effort to make self-more comfortable.

The Consequences.

Peter and his cohorts fished all the night long and did not catch a single fish!  Most of these men had been professional fishermen before they met the Lord and this must have been a devastating thing to have to deal with.  They toiled and labored all the night and produced nothing of value.

This is just the way it works for those who are living in sin.  No matter what they try to accomplish in their own strength, it always comes up empty or less that they had hoped!  The Prodigal Son found this out as he sat in the pig pen and watched the hogs eats the husks.  He couldn’t even fill his own belly through self-effort!

I would like to remind every person reading this blog that . . .

We are totally dependent on

Jesus Christ for everything (John 15:5).

We can produce nothing

Of lasting value in our own effort!

Some might argue that they have been living less than a fully committed Christian life and that they are still thriving and prospering materially and physically.  May I remind you that both of those things are temporary and will soon pass away.  In the final analysis, all that lasts are those things you do through Jesus.


John 4-12 tells us that when morning dawned Jesus approached them and asked, “Children, have you any food? (Verse 5).  When they respounded that they had not caught anything, Jesus told them to cast the net on the right side of the boat and they would get the fish.  When they obeyed Jesus they caught so many in their net that they could not get the catch into the boat.  Peter then realized that it was the Lord who spoke to them and he rush into the water to get to shore leaving the other disciples to bring in the catch.  Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of fish (153), so many yet the net was not broken. Then Jesus asked them to come and dine with Him.

Even though Peter had wandered into sin,

He still hadn’t gone so far that

The Lord had stopped loving him!

Peter still had a Friend in a very high place.  That Friend made all the difference for Peter and He will for you also.  Notice what Jesus did for him . . .

He Found Him.

Peter was forced to admit his failure (verse 5).  This is the first step in coming back home. There must be an acknowledgment of sin and wrong doing.

Peter started to obey the Lord again (verse 6).  He stopped doing things his way and started doing them the Lord’s way.  This brought success where there had been only failure.

Peter has a renewed desire to be near the Lord (verse 7). He wasn’t willing to wait for a more convenient time but went to meet the Lord immediately.

If you are one of those who have wandered away from the Father  and are presently walking in the far country, then you need to know that you still have a Friend in Jesus. He hasn’t forgotten you.  He hasn’t forsaken you.  He still loves you as much right now as He ever has.  He just wants you to come to the place Peter came to.  He wants you to be willing to confess your sins, begin again to follow Him and just love Him like you ought to.  By the way, no matter where you run, the Lord will find you.  He will not let you get away.

He Fed Him.

When Peter, and the other disciples, reached the shore, they found that Jesus had a fire prepared with fish already cooking.  They found there, with the Savior, all the things they needed after being out on that boat all night long.  They found food, warmth, and fellowship.  They found a Savior who loved them and who had all the provisions in place that they needed.  Everything they lacked out on that boat, they found when they came to Jesus.

Some of you have toiled and labored since you have been away from the Lord.  You are miserable, there is no peace and no joy in your life and you need to get right with the Lord.  Let me encourage you to do so today.  When you do, you will find that He still loves you and that He has all the things you lacked while you were away from Him.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”