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Amen! Is that not the only thing we can sometimes cling to - Jesus? And when we don't really understand what all is going on, don't have all the answers, we can always just hang on to Jesus. I thought there were a lot of good questions; challenging questions, questions of eternal value and warnings as well. And in some ways that's what I'm going to speak about as well. I've been having some contact with a young man. He's asking these questions about making rules in their church and I just really have a burden for that, because I don't think that's the answer and I think we tend to slip in all those things ourselves. If we're not careful we think in those ways, of some security, some safety instead of having to face reality. We do need clean hearts. Let's pray. If you all want to stand that would be great. Heavenly Father, we ask you to be with us today again and we desire your wisdom and your goodness. We desire that you would show us your truths, we need your help, we need your guidance, we need your discipline. Be with each one of as we seek to give our whole lives to you and die to ourselves. Be with those who are not here, with those that are sick, if it be your will to heal. Bless us. In the name of Jesus, Amen. I'm going to start reading in Colossians 1:9. For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long-suffering with joy; giving thanks to the father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. Paul is really encouraging these people, consequently us as well, praying for them that we might be worthy and fully pleasing to Him. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the son of His love- I was thinking of the verse, giving thanks to the Father who qualified us like in Acts 2 or maybe 3, where they were going from house to house, breaking bread and giving thanks to the Lord, that's one thing we can continue to do, is to thank Him for delivering us from the power of darkness and conveying us into the kingdom of the son of His love.- In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. One thing I noticed, I didn't read it for that reason, but Paul really points to Christ in this, and he always does, that's the reason he preached. His goal and vision is to preach the gospel, the gospel of Jesus, to people so they can be saved by Jesus and I think that's where we're all at; this is one of the securities I would see, one of the safeties... I lost my thought there. He is the image of invisible God, the firstborn(this is in reference to Jesus), He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And he is before all things, and in Him all thing consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all fullness should dwell. There's one place where it reads that the Father delivered everything into the hands of the Son, and I'm not sure if it's at that same place, but somewhere it says He's going to give it back to the Father some day. I'm not sure how all that happens, but it's something I believe is going to happen, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether thing on earth or things in heaven, having made peace though the blood of His cross. And you who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled. If we follow His drawings- I believe there's many people in my past that I have met with that have to some degree followed the call of the Lord and the time comes when they make the decision to go after something other than the Lord, maybe churches, often, or listening to men, and Paul speaks about all these things later. It's that little choice of not continuing in faith in the Lord that I see a lot of people have turned. I don't think they know it, and maybe I'm blinded, but this is what I think I see, that they have veered off the path, even though it was just a little bit, maybe, at that time and that danger is true for any of us. Myself, or anybody. I was just thinking about the deception part, when Steve mentioned that we do not know it. How can we change something we don't know? It's kind of difficult. We have to know to change. We have to seek. We have to listen. Be real careful about listening. I think we get all the warnings we need. God is not going to have a lack of warnings for us. I think there's going to be brothers somewhere that have told us "Be careful! Watch this!" and we went on. And I don't know how it all happens, but it just seems like it does happen. And you who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He had reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight-- And in this God is going to work in many different ways, I believe. He told people through visions, maybe spoke to them perhaps, different times. I believe He's told it through other people. Sometimes we can learn, there's many ways that He can show us what direction to go. If indeed you continue in the faith-now this is an if- if indeed you continue in faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you hear, which was preached to every creature under heaven of which I, Paul, became a minister... Paul became a minister of that gospel. He was just sharing what he learned, sharing what he saw. Sharing what he knew. ...I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. One place I think Jesus said, the prophets desired to see what they saw at that time and they didn't get to see it. But now the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, has been revealed to His saints. We know a lot that they did not know. The gospel of Jesus, they didn't have it back in the old testament. It was hidden from them. It was prophesied, but they didn't fully understand. But now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him w preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. For I want you to know what great conflict I have for you and those in Laodocia, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ. That their hearts, or that our hearts might be encouraged and being knitted together in love and attaining to all riches and fullness of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ. If our unity and our goal and vision is for the kingdom of Christ, this is where I want to be knit together in love and encouraged. I think this is why I'm here, because I desire to have fellowship with those that follow Jesus, the best we can, the best we know how. In whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. I think in another translation it says, your good discipline or your discipline. Our walk in Christianity is not one of a happy-go-lucky deal. It's a true battle and it's going to take enduring to the end. It takes some discipline on our part. Steadfastness. Clinging to Jesus. When people come with persuasive words: that this doesn't matter or that doesn't matter, or that we can ignore some scriptures....there's going to be many different ways. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and establish in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit - Let us watch! Let us have our eyes open. There's people trying to cheat us. Satan is trying to cheat us, but there's people trying to cheat us too. They will teach us empty deceit. That could be deception itself. - According to the traditions of men. according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the God-head bodily. - We just need to remember who we're serving, who saved us, or is saving us. Who brought us out of this darkness - And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principalities and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ. buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. and you, being dead in your trespasses and the un-circumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Have disarmed principalities and powers. He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. There's such a difference between people wanting law and people wanting the spirit of God. You can always put law on people, but that's for the lawless, it's not for the people that want to serve Christ. Those who are zealous don't need a law. I'm not sure where all the differences come in why they needed a law back then, it says it was for a taskmaster to bring them to Christ. Some- how to keep them till the time of Christ. But law it is for the lawbreaker, those who want to transgress, that's what laws are for. If you seek to walk in the Spirit, you'll be doing these things. Trying to do them. Trying to help each other do them. We have a goal to serve Christ instead of being put under the law. God had laws back in the old testament and today we want to make more laws; and I think they did it back then obviously in Paul's time. So let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding of a festival, or new moon or Sabbath, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. I've thought already, when you see a shadow, there's something making that shadow, in this case it was Jesus, and when He came it was so bright I don't think you could see the shadow anymore. Just shining out everywhere. If there's a shadow, it's going to be something else other than Christ, getting in the way of Christ. Therefore we can just go to Christ and follow Him. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking to light in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into these things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind and not holding fast to the Head, (capitalized Head, like Christ) from who all the body nourished and knit together in joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. - People will cheat us from that. False teachers. False ideas - Therefore if you died with Christ from the basic principles of this world, why as though living in the world do you subject yourselves to regulations; do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, which all concerns things which perish with the using, according to the commandments and doctrines of men. These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom and self-imposed religion, false humility and neglect of the body. But of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. And this is the snare that Paul had problems with and seen back then. Thinking that making a guardrail to keep us safe is going to keep us safe. It does not. Rather it's a false safety, a false security that will even deceive you on top of it all, and you'll believe a lie. And it does not have a value against the indulgence of the flesh. Does that mean we have liberty to do anything we want? No, Paul says we use our liberty to serve Christ and not the flesh. The flesh is still here. But for us to not overcome the flesh (and that may be a big difference in the old testament from now, maybe they could go to heaven with a lustful heart, a greedy heart, and whatever else, but) Jesus requires us to have a clean heart. He wants us to break that stony heart and have a heart of flesh. It seems to me there's a lot of people, and I've never been in any of these what we would call worldly churches, or Baptists, or whatever, but I understand, I've seen it in newspapers, they fight over stuff that I would think, why would they do that? And the Anabaptist people do the same, little different things, but they fight just the same-disagreements, splits, schisms. All because of some little thing that somebody has dreamed up that might make them safe. We need to be sensitive, I believe we need to be very sensitive to the brothers because they are some of our security to not being deceived, I believe. For my own self I want to listen. Listen and learn. I don't really believe in my heart, maybe one time I did, I don't know if I did or didn't, I'm not more safe than anyone else in this world. I'm just as fallible, just as easily deceived, I just believe I am. I'm just like everybody else, and I guess we're all that way. So let us be careful that we don't in our hearts already think this false humility will save us in some way, because it will not. These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom, in self-imposed religion, false humility and neglect of the body and are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. These are the matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom, in self-made religion and self-abasement, and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth, for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears then we will also appear with Him in glory. I think there's a lot of times when we would like to brag about ourselves, brag about our church. Think we're really something. If we're hidden in Christ, so when we're raised with Christ some day, then we'll be made known, but for now we stay in Christ. Just a thought I had. Therefore put to death your members which are fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, covetousness which is idolatry, all these are in the heart things too, it's nothing outward. It can be outward, but it starts in the heart. If we get covetousness enough we start stealing and we take away another man's wife, or another woman's husband, take away another man's goods, take away another man's possessions. We covet. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the son's of disobedience. It's much like there in revelations. In which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them, but now yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie one to another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds. And have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of him who created him. Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or un circumcised, Barbarian, Scythian, slave or free. But Christ is all in all. It's the way it's going to be in heaven, that's the way we need to think on earth. If we can spend eternity together in heaven, can we for a little short time work things out here on earth? Humble ourselves. Be willing to take the bad end. Be willing to suffer. And there in the next couple verses, Therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another. If anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things, put on love which is the bond of perfection. Is that our driving power to desiring the kingdom of God? Is that we lose when we lose our first love? When we no longer drive for that? Just that I've got to have that kingdom. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts unto which you also are called in one body and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word and deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter towards them. An interesting thing about some of these verses, that I found interesting when I learned about it; it may not be new to you. Wives submit to your own husbands as is fitting to the Lord, that verse is not for the husband, it's for the wife. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter towards them, that's not for the wives to demand that we love our wives. That is so backwards, and it does not produce fruit. Those verses are for where they belong.Children obey your parents in all things for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Parents can tend to think, children you have to obey me. Unless we train, unless we do our part, they don't have to. They will not. But to the children, obey your parents, this is well pleasing to the Lord. There's a blessing behind it. In one place it says, that your days on the earth may be long. Bondservants obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye-service as man pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. I think about the speed limit often when I think of that. "Can I drive the speed limit for conscience's sake? Or do I drive the speed limit because I have to?" And there's many other areas too. In this case it would've been like a slave, or whoever you're bound to. Do it with sincerity of heart, and whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord, not to men. So we don't have to work hard for our task masters, do we? We can do it for the Lord. We're supposed to do it for the Lord, and not man, but in the process he's going to be pleased. And whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord and not to men. Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the of the inheritance. For you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, for there's no partiality. Masters, give your bond-servants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a master in heaven. Continue earnestly in prayer being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. Meanwhile, pray also for us that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ for which I am also in chains. He was in chains because he spoke the mysteries of God. That I may make it manifest as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom towards those who are outside, redeeming the time. Walk in wisdom towards those who are outsiders or other people, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer each one. That just seemed like a little challenge to me and so clearly brought out how back then they also had this problem of people with the wrong philosophies, wrong ideas, it seems like there's no room for that. It seems when you follow through with that in thought, rules in a family; we all have our rules in our families. I guess as far as imposing your own rules to everybody else, that's where the problems would begin and there would not be long- suffering, there would not be meekness, there would not be humility, there would not be kindness, there would just be a mess of if we'd all do that. This young man brought up about submitting to the elders. I'm not saying we shouldn't submit to elders, but somewhere there's a decision that has to made whether it's right or wrong, and if it's something that is wrong, we should not submit to men, even if they're elders. So it's kind of hard; he likes his fellowship there, but he's been burdened with that this last week. Then the danger to us is that we don't go that way of making rules. I think it's a very normal and natural tendency to go that direction. It looks so safe and it looks so good. And then I think, how do I know for sure. Do I know for sure that it's wrong to do that? To listen to your elders? Is he going to be blessed with that some day? To be sure, to not be respectful to even our kings and I think we very easily make light about our (and maybe it's always been this way) presidents, our leaders, are almost becoming a joke. And we need to be careful we don't follow that spirit of making light about anybody. All the children should not be mocking each other regardless how little or how big, whatever can be wrong; children mock each other. I think it's all that same spirit. We need to be careful that we're polite, that we honor one another. Children need to be taught that. And it's natural to mock for some reason, and it's easy to, and it happens. The group I came from, they loved those kind of things. Some were nice. Some were not. Anyways, I would hope we could keep our focus on Christ the way Paul taught it here in Colossians and help one another do that.

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