I Know That He Lives
This past Sunday we as church celebrated the most awesome and significant event in human history. The Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! He lives! He lives! He lives!
23 Oh that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! 24 Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19: 23-25
In the book of Job, which is considered the first written book of the Canon of the Holy Scriptures (written almost three thousand years before Christ’s death), Job knew that Christ would live forever. Job had the conviction that there would be no force superior to the Divine. He knew that neither the work nor the life of the Son of the Highest God could be exterminated. The greatest of all men could not be exterminated by Satan! The greatest of all men could not disappoint thousands of those who trusted in Him!
Over the course of history, many servants of God understood that Christ could not be defeated. These include men like Abraham, Moses, David, Job and others. The trust and faith of the patriarchs was more than an encouragement for those who lived with Christ and those who, without seeing or knowing Him, also believed. Jesus said it like this, “Blessed are those who did not see and believed.”
The years have passed since the day He chose them and taught them, but the conviction of the servants of Christ became even more firm—more tenacious. They proclaimed his death, burial, and resurrection...so great was their conviction that they died proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus.
Those who were inspired by the Holy Spirit did not keep the word to themselves. They shared through their writings, which are now part of the Bible. These men based their doctrines, their preaching, and their faith on the resurrection of Christ. Nothing made them stronger. No experience turned them into authorities, except for the certainty that Christ's tomb was empty and that now He is at the right hand of God the Father interceding for His people.
What are we doing today with our conviction and belief that the tomb is empty? To what extent are we willing to be obedient and show that our Redeemer Lives? The disciples of the first century did it with conviction and passion. Hundreds of years before Christ died, they said it without fear.
Church, let us be missional radicals proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ—that He lives and paid the price for all sinners. He lives!
Rogelio "ROY" Soto
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.” Psalms 89:14
Every Wednesday night during Rise either Jack or I get to spend a couple of minutes answering questions students leave in a box. This week’s question was “Does God love everyone, including Hitler?" The short answer is yes, despite it being difficult for us to grasp at times.
Romans 8:38-39 says, "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow, not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love." Verse 32 in that same chapter mentions God sending His Son for us all, not just some.
Personally, I am grateful for that truth. Romans 3:23-24 reminds us, "for everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty of our sins." None of us deserve God’s love or forgiveness, but He freely gave it to us. There is freedom in Christ through surrender and we all have a chance to be made right with Him, no matter who we are or what we have done and that is something to be grateful for.
Surrender it all to Him,
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Growing up I wore tennis shoes until they became ragged. Why? I always told my mom that they were more comfortable than any other pair of shoes. One day I came home from school and I was looking for my old tennis shoes and they were nowhere to be found. I asked my mom and she said, “I burned them.” I went to the burn pile in our backyard and sure enough my mom had torched my old comfortable tennis shoes.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “in Christ, I am a new creation and old things have passed…” How many times do we go back to our discarded hurts, habits and hang ups and drag them out from the burn pile? Why do we do that? We do that because they are comfortable, predictable and they meet our wants. It’s all about our willingness to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. It’s a spiritual hunger to yield/surrender to Jesus Christ.
Our surrender to Jesus Christ is based upon what He has done for us through His death, burial and resurrection. He guarantees us that “new things have come.” So everyday we can declare, “Today, the Lord is making me new _______________!” (you fill in the blank i.e., a fruit of the spirit, a new attitude, energized prayer life, a greater hunger for God’s Word, a desire to share Christ with another person, etc.)
Here are three declarations from 2 Corinthians 5:17:
- Declare that you are a new creation in Christ!
- Declare that old things have passed away!
- Declare that new things have come!
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4-5
I hate being asked if I want the good news or the bad news first. Although I almost always want to get the bad news out of the way. In Ephesians 2:1-7, Paul shares some devastating news followed by the best news imaginable. He started with the bad news that we are all hopeless and helpless dead in our sin. He describes our spiritual condition apart from Christ. Spiritually dead people only have one hope: A rescuer with the power to raise the dead and give them new life.
Paul then moves on to the good news! We were dead in our sin, but God made us alive together with Christ. We were chasing the world, but God raised you and seated you in heaven. We were children of God's wrath, but God showed His mercy, love and kindness to us as one of His own.
God has saved us so that He can spend eternity with us putting His kindness and grace on display for us. There is no better news than that!
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matt. 26:39
We experienced an amazing Easter yesterday at Oak View. The worship was inspiring! The atmosphere was electric. We celebrated the resurrection of Jesus and the new beginning we have in Christ. We watched kids eagerly fill their baskets with Easter eggs and we rejoiced with those who were baptized.
And now it’s Easter Monday. Life returns to normal with its obligations and complications--its disappointments and difficulties. But this is where real faith begins. Real faith starts between the IF and the YET. That’s what Jesus modeled for us in Matthew 26. Jesus said, “IF there is another way I’ll take it. . .YET if this is way you want to go, I’ll go.” God if you heal me, if you give me a job with benefits--God if you let me keep my job I’ll be thankful, YET not my will, but your will be done. No my way, I want your way.
Here's the problem, so much in culture invites us, begs us, lures us to live in a way that's contrary to the gospel. Culture tells us you take control, you be in charge, you deserve it now. But Jesus said, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (Matt. 10:39 NLT) In other words, to really follow Jesus is to surrender control.
We should do what we can, where we can. Any place we can add value or make a difference, we should jump in, show up, and do our best to fix the problem. But anywhere that we cannot control (which is most places) we’re going to surrender control to God.
Surrender is not a one-time event, it’s a daily choice. You don’t always have the power to control, but you do always have the power to surrender. Here’s something else that’s true. God can do way more with your surrender than you can do with your control. If you want to be in control, you stand strong and your knees stay 20 inches above the floor. But when you surrender you bend your knees, and that journey of 20 inches makes all the difference in the world. You bow before Him the same way Jesus did in the garden when His soul was overwhelmed to the point of death. And He displayed this great faith between the IF and the YET.
So we pray, “Father,
If you will, please do. Yet I will trust you even if you don’t.” The
real faith starts been the IF and YET. If you will release whatever
you’re holding onto that you can’t control, remember God can do way more with
your surrender of your job/finances/fear/relationships than you can with your
- Pastor Jim
Focus Passage: Luke 23:44-49
Expanded Reading: Luke 22:47- 23:49
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was
darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while
the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then
Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit
my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now
when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly
this man was innocent!” 48 And
all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had
taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And
all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at
a distance watching these things. Luke 23:44-49
Luke’s description of Jesus’ death is very simple, not because he is not very interested in it, but because he wants to focus on its counterpart--the Resurrection. The Resurrection is the deepest meaning of the cross--that you have to die to give life. The time the Lord died was close to the time of the evening offering in the temple. The death of Jesus was faster than expected. Everything was carefully planned by the Father--even the triumphal hour of Jesus fit perfectly into the ritual of the temple. In His death there are fundamental signs for the Christian faith that must be transcended and that are typical of the prophecy that announces the great day of Yahweh.
Luke details four supernatural aspects:
1. Darkness in broad daylight
2. The thick veil of the temple torn in half
3. The voluntary and sovereign death of Jesus
4. The immediate ruin of Jews and Gentiles for what happened
A chaplain from a military garrison was speaking to a soldier in a hospital. "You have lost an arm for a great cause," the chaplain told him to offer comfort. "No," said the soldier, with a smile on his face. I didn't lose it, I gave it voluntarily.”
The Bible teaches us repeatedly that Jesus Christ did not lose His life but gave it. It was a voluntary and loving action. He gave Himself up for us, for our redemption, so that we could be saved.
How wonderful it is to know that He did not lose His life, but that He gave it for us.
Suggested Fast: Entertainment in your car or home.
Who’s Your One? My “one” is a relative who in his mind and in his opinion is a "good person" in every way. He says that he doesn’t mess anyone, nor harm anyone, and he helps those who need it without looking at who they are. He believes in God. I have been praying for him for a year, and once again I have invited him to come to celebrate this Sunday the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Who are you praying for to come to Christ -- and
who are you helping come to Christ? Easter is a great time to invite a
friend to church. You can find great resources by clicking here: https://whosyourone.com/
- Roy Soto
Focus Passage Luke 22:14-20
Expanded Reading Luke 22:7-23
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Luke 22:14-20
I am always amazed when I read here that Jesus “eagerly desired” to eat with the disciples and in the next few words He states “before I suffer.” A man on death row does not usually eagerly desire to eat his last meal. He is still filing appeals or trying to find some loophole to avoid death. Not Jesus. He eagerly desired to share this meal with them echoing what He had told them before, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35). In a meal that would seem to be one of mourning and sadness instead was hopeful and full of victory. Yes, He was going to suffer but not for anything that He did. Instead He was going suffer for us and what we did. And He did it willingly.
Jesus knew what His people where going to face in the future so He needed to remind them (and us) that He is the one who sustains. He is our daily bread we don’t need anything else from this broken world if we rely on Him. That night he set up a new covenant one that changed the world forever! A covenant based on his perfect sacrifice and him defeating death! Our end of the covenant is only to accept Him and what He did for us. That is why it is so important for us to remember the Lord’s Supper throughout the year and especially as we go in to Easter. It is a reminder of not only what He did, but also who HE is. "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51) Love you guys!
Suggested Fast: Jesus is our daily bread. Fast from one meal today.
Who’s Your One? God has placed someone in my life that thinks that he is a “good person” and that is enough. I’m praying that God will use me to share Christ with them. Who are you praying for to come to Christ -- and who are you helping come to Christ? Easter is a great time to invite a friend to church. You can find great resources by clicking here: https://whosyourone.com/
Focus Passage Mark 14:10-11
Expanded Reading Mark 14:1-11
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to hand Him over to them. And when they heard this, they were glad and promised to give him silver. So he started looking for a good opportunity to betray Him. Mark 14:10-11
Judas was a master at portraying someone he was not. A False Identity. A master of deception. The ultimate coverup…scammer. What words come to your mind in thinking about Judas’ character? Or do you read this passage and immediately someone you know comes to mind? That’s a Big Hurt. The pain of deception and lies.
The passage says that the chief priests “were glad….” They played at religion but they did not live it. They wore the right clothes and said the right things but did not live the right relationship with the heavenly Father. Their hearts were full of spiritual darkness…deception and lies. Of course, all of us respond and say, “I have never and will never betray Christ in any form or fashion.”
One definition of the word betray is “to deliver to an enemy by treachery.” Have you ever “delivered” or yielded your heart over to the enemy, Satan, in a time of temptation? Pastor Don Stewart says, “The fact that Jesus knew that Judas would betray him does not remove the responsibility from Judas. He betrayed Jesus because he chose to.” Every day we make choices that impact our fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Every day may we draw closer to our good, good Father.
Suggested Fast: Social Media. We find our ultimate approval in Him.
Who’s Your One? Lots of folks walk in our neighborhood. One gentleman I see on a regular basis when I am working in the yard. We always visit for a moment before he moves on. I am going to invite him to join me at Oak View for Easter. Who are you praying for to come to Christ -- and who are you helping come to Christ? Easter is a great time to invite a friend to church. You can find great resources by clicking here: https://whosyourone.com/
Focus Passage John 12:20-26
Expanded Reading John 12:20-33
Expanded Reading John 12:20-33
20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. 23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. John 12:20-26
In our Focused and Expanded Reading today we see anticipation growing in the ancient world. Jesus' life and the growing of His followers was setting the stage for a victorious overthrow of the Roman Empire.
When some Greeks wanted to come to Jesus, He announced, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." (John 12:23). Before this Jesus had repeatedly said that His hour had not come yet, but here it was! This was the moment for Jesus to be glorified! His followers anticipated a grand rise in His power. However, Jesus revealed a shift from the ministry in His life to the ministry of His death. (John 12:24). No one expected this. Death was not what they planned for when thinking of their Messiah and Savior they had been waiting for. We even see that Jesus' soul was troubled for what lay ahead of Him. (John 12:27). However, He knew His goal was God's glory.
What the people expected was understandable. They had heard the prophetic words of Daniel and Isaiah about the Messiah's everlasting kingdom. But God's plan unfolded differently than they had envisioned. And Jesus called them to trust Him and become children of the light! God's unexpected plan turned out to be better than any kingdom they could have imagined on Earth!
Sometimes God's will doesn't match our expectations. But we too can choose to trust Him and walk in the Light, believe in the Light, and be children of the Light.
Suggested Fast: Comfort Foods - sugar, caffeine, etc. Jesus is our ultimate comfort.
Who’s Your One? Who are you praying for to come to Christ -- and who are you helping come to Christ? Easter is a great time to invite a friend to church. You can find great resources by clicking here: https://whosyourone.com/
In Him, Katie
Focus Passage - Matthew 21:12-14
Expanded Reading - Matt. 21:12-27
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'" 14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. Matthew 21:12-14
For our Holy Week devotionals we’re going to trace the steps of Jesus’ ministry as He makes His way to the cross. We invite you to join us each day by taking a few moments to quiet your mind and prepare your heart to receive God’s Word. Read over the focus passage and the thoughts shared by our staff including the suggestions for prayer and a daily fast. Don’t forget to pray for your “One,” the person that God has put on your heart that doesn’t know Jesus, but they know you and need your help finding Him.
After Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem--with the crowd cheering and celebrating Him as the Messiah--Matthew tells us that Jesus did the unthinkable. He entered the temple courtyard and turned the tables on this corrupt sacrificial system established by the Jewish religious leaders. The corrupt money changers were taking advantage of the worshippers and turning a place devoted to prayer into “a hangout for thieves.”
Consider if the space in your life that should be devoted to prayer and worship is being crowded out by the busyness of life. How can you redeem the space for devotion to God? What needs to change so your priorities can be restored? Ask the Lord to search your heart and show you anything that is hindering your worship of Him above all else.
Suggested Fast: Explanation - Each day we’ll fast from something different to re-center our hearts on our Lord Jesus and remind us that Christ alone meets the deepest needs of our life. The suggested fasts for this week remind us that:
- Jesus is our ultimate comfort (Tues.)
- We find our ultimate approval in Him (Wed.)
- Jesus is our daily bread. (Thurs.)
- Our ultimate joy is found in Christ alone. (Fri.)
Who’s Your One? God has brought a friend into my life who doesn’t believe in anything. I’m praying that God will use me to share Christ with them. Who are you praying for to come to Christ? And who are you helping come to Christ? Easter is a great time to invite a friend to church. You can find great resources by clicking here: https://whosyourone.com/
When Being Thankful Is Difficult
As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved … be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15
“Be thankful,” Paul urges us. But let’s not go too fast. It’s a lot easier for some of us to be thankful than for others. For some of us, our lives are going smoothly. Our kids are well-adjusted; our marriages are strong; our jobs are rewarding. For us, being thankful isn’t very difficult, and our thankfulness is sincere and genuine. That’s good.
For others of us, though, it’s not quite so easy. People close to us don’t act as gifts should act. They betray our trust, take advantage of us, treat us shabbily. Our jobs have more drudgery in them than rewards, but it’s too late to change them now. Our health is slipping, and our loved ones live far away. How can we be thankful when so little around us seems worth giving thanks for?
Paul would surely understand, because he often faced things in his life that could hardly be classified as gifts: beatings, imprisonment, shipwreck, ridicule. Yet he still says, “Be thankful.” And he himself was thankful. Why? Because he knew that his Lord, who deeply loved him, was aware of every bad event in his life, ready to help, determined sooner or later to make it all right.
Pray today for people you know whose lives are difficult. Pray that those difficulties will not extinguish their thankfulness.
Compassionate and loving Lord, may your loving presence be with ________, who faces so many challenges today. Show me how I might be able to help. In your name, Amen.
Dressed to Serve
Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:12-14
Many years ago I had a t-shirt that was about the Armor of God from Ephesians 6 but the statement on the t-shirt was very much an attention getter. The statement was “Don’t Fight Naked!” The purpose of the statement was to remind believers to start each day equipped with God’s armor or to put on the armor of God. Another way of saying it was don’t go into the activities of your day without being spiritual ready.
Colossians 3: 12-14 is like the Armor of God passage in Ephesians. It is so practical in letting us know how we should dress to serve each and every day.
We are instructed to put on…
- Heartfelt compassion
What are you “putting on” today? Dress to serve the Lord and to serve one another.
Count to Forty
As God’s chosen people … clothe yourselves with compassion … humility … patience. Colossians 3:12
“Have patience, have patience; don’t be in such a hurry!” When our children were small, we often sang that song together. And today we often say to ourselves, “Count to ten!” to avoid doing something unwise if we are upset.
God didn’t count to ten when he saw the wickedness of the ancient city of Nineveh; he counted to forty. God sent Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh that they had forty days before being destroyed. During those forty days the people repented. So God did not destroy them. The Lord counted to forty, giving them a chance to change and live.
That made Jonah so angry that he wanted to die! Why? Because he knew that God was “slow to anger” and “gracious and compassionate.” He knew that God might give them a second chance, and Jonah wanted Nineveh destroyed.
God said of Himself that He is “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6). God doesn’t have a short fuse; He doesn’t suddenly explode when we do something wrong. God is patient with us sinners. That doesn’t mean God merely shrugs His shoulders, as if it doesn’t really matter what we do. No, God hates evil and will do away with it all someday. But He counts to forty, giving us time to change.
Can we be as patient as God is with others?
Patient God, I find it easy to criticize and condemn what others do. Help me to count to forty, or more, if necessary, and to be as patient with others as you are with me. Amen.
So Earthly-Minded . . .
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Col. 3:1-2
There is an old saying that goes “some people are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.” And while there can be some truth to that statement, a more dangerous and pressing concern should be that some believers are so earthly minded that they are no heavenly good. This is the concern of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3. Those of us who have been raised with Christ should have our minds (thoughts) and hearts (affections) focused not just on this world, but on the world to come. Each new generation of believers has to come to grips with finding the balance between “being in the world but not being of the world.” (John 17:14-19) We are called to work, go to school, raise a family and support our community, all the while knowing that the only thing that will last in the world forever are people and God’s Word.
This is one of the many times in scripture where the pathway for the believer is not either-or, but both-and. The best parents, husbands, students, kids, employees are devoted Christ followers who give their best, forgive the worst, and don’t give up because that is exactly what Jesus has done for them. The most spiritual thing you can do sometimes is to live this day to its fullest--to love others as deeply, to keep your promises, and take care of your stuff in the here and now. In living lives fully engaged in the world and fully committed to the will of God you demonstrate for an unbelieving world that faith matters to everyday life. You help them bridge the gap to faith. You help them find the door to hope.
I’m looking forward to seeing you this Sunday for our annual “I LOVE MY CHURCH” celebration. It’s our opportunity to recommit ourselves to the mission, values and vision of Oak View and thank God for 71 years of fruitful ministry.
Pastor Jim & Tashia
Warning, Warning, Warning!
See that no one deceives you by means of philosophies and empty subtleties, according to the traditions of men, according to the rudiments of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and you are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power. Colossians 2:8-10
Paul warns the Colossians through this writing to be careful because there are people who call themselves servants of Christ who want to deceive them. He was aware that there were many wolves disguised as sheep inside the church who try to mislead the faithful servants through false statements. They say good is bad and bad is good. Warning, warning, warning!
The warning that Paul used here implies that this is not just a potential problem, but a real one. The warning is such that he uses a very graphic Greek word, sulagogéo, which means “to be carried away like prey to be eaten,” or “like a prisoner of war to make him work in the vilest things without any possibility of claim.” The instruments that carry the servant as prey are the philosophies and the vain subtleties. Without a doubt, this is not about what we understand today as philosophy. In Paul's time it was a term that was often used to hide a religious/magical/superstitious syncretism where the illuminating factor of this "religion" was prominent.
This philosophy that Paul is talking about here is defined as vain subtleties--that means it appears to be something good, and deep, and that it is incredibly attractive--but deep down it is nothing. Vain subtleties does not have deep roots, and nothing solid can be built on them because they are “... according to the traditions of men, according to the principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
In verse 9 Paul uses the term fullness and the verb "dwell" in full force. Jesus embodies all the divine attributes--everything that makes God is effectively and essentially in Christ. The use of the word bodily refers to the incarnation of God: the Word became flesh. Jesus was God-man and man-God. Therefore, He is the only One who can draw a link between God and man.
In verse 10 it is emphasized that Christ is above all principality and power, alluding to spiritual and demonic powers that are in the world trying to displace Him. Having this clarification in mind, we are told that our Lord Jesus is so great and infinite that He does not accept or share His lordship with anyone. Yet He chose to save us and be in us, by His grace. Yes, you and I are complete in Christ. In Christ we have been made partakers of the divine nature.
As long as a human being is not born again (as Jesus told Nicodemus) he will have an incomplete spiritual life because he is out of a proper relationship with God. Only through the miracle of salvation, redemption, and transformation can a human being become complete (not perfect) but complete in order to exercise the capacities that God has for him.
That is why the Scripture it is giving us a warning not to fall into false doctrines and philosophies and the vain subtleties of the false teachers who will tried to mislead us through false statements.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us out of temptations and give us discernment to stay away from all evil traps and the philosophies and vain subtleties because they are "... according to the traditions of men, according to the principles of the world, and not according to Christ."
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Colossians 2:16-17 NIV
We have been in a season in which our world has transformed, and along with that we had to transform the way we do church. I would like to look at this time as an opportunity that was forced upon us. An opportunity to look at new and different ways to reach people for Christ. We learned that the way it has always been done is not the only way and I want to praise Oak View for their willingness and faithfulness in that process. We have found new and different ways to fellowship and reach new people and that is exciting. I sometimes worry that when the world goes back to “normal” we might be tempted to do the same. I hope not. We will continue to hold on to the truths that Christ has for us. But let us continue to look for new ways to make sure more people get to have that ultimate reality that Paul writes about, that can only be found in Christ. Love you guys!
Make Good Decisions
"Having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Colossians 2:14-15
In Colossians 2, Paul discusses the phrase "legal indebtedness." The law of God was the written contract that held us in debt to Him. Our charges against Him were incalculable, but through Jesus Christ, God has canceled those charges! Every charge against us was nailed to the cross. He can forgive us because though we fail to uphold our end of the contract by keeping the law, Jesus paid the price for our crimes against God. Jesus did that for us by living a perfect and sinless life.
This is the gospel. Our debt is paid! The nails that pierced Him declared us free. Paul says that Jesus made a public spectacle of the powers and authorities that opposed Him. His death and resurrection stripped Satan of power. Jesus holds the victory!
The victory of the cross is realized. Our names have been written in the Book of Life. We have a glorious inheritance in Christ.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8
In January of 2009, the movie Taken was released in the U. S. starring Liam Neeson. The film grossed 226 million dollars, is credited with restarting Neesom’s career, and spawned two successful sequels. Moviegoers were clearly “taken” by the story of an ex-CIA agent and father, Bryan Mills, who tracks down and rescues his teenage daughter who, while travelling through France, is taken captive by human traffickers. Mills risks his life to save his daughter only to have her taken again in the next film--and the one after that.
In a spiritual sense, believers and non-believers are constantly being taken captive by ideas, beliefs, and worldviews based and built on man-made systems or spiritual forces that are independent, or in some cases, directly opposed to Christ. While those are “taken” are often lured into these philosophies with promises of more, of a better life, what they find is hollow, lacking substance, and unable to supply what only Christ can provide.
Paul is writing his letter to the believers at Colossae to warn them of the danger of deceivers that seek to usurp Christ’s place of supremacy in their life. Today these false ideas, appeals, and practices are communicated through podcasts, classrooms, blogs, TV, books, and Youtube videos. We are surrounded by voices calling us to a life other than one where Christ is preeminent over all. Some would minimize Jesus, others would say that Jesus is not enough. But the great news of the Gospel is that Jesus is enough for all of life. The message of Colossians can be summed up in three words…
JESUS + NOTHING = EVERYTHING
In Christ we have freedom from the guilt of our past and from fear about tomorrow. We are given a spiritual family called the church with a mission to change the world. Anything less than Christ is not enough. And we are called to build up each other and share the Good News of the Gospel so that no one will miss the joy and gift of the Good News of Jesus.
We’re praying for you,
Only Christ Transforms the Heart
3 Always praying for you, we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope that is kept for you in heaven, of the which you have already heard through the true word of the gospel…” Colossians 1:3-5
These verses are a single prayer that means a sustained prayer of thanks. Prayer and gratitude are inseparable links in the theology and practice of the Apostle Paul, as are faith and works. I remind you that Paul was not in a pleasant situation, or in a nice place. He was imprisoned in Rome and the church in Colosse was going through a difficult time.
As we can see, the thanksgiving is directed to the Father—the author of grace and peace. The Word presents Christ, the second person of the trinity, as the Lord. (v. 3)
This prayer is given by Paul because he had received good reports from Epaphras of what was happening in the church at Colosse. But Paul was realistic. He knew good things were taking place, but also that bad things were happening among the congregation. It was necessary to talk about both without fear and shame. (vs. 4-5)
Paul considers faith, love, and hope first, and then he presents them in a different way. The first two are a unity and the third one is not expressed as a virtue, but as the cause for the first two. Faith and love are founded on hope.
The faith of the Colossians was not just "faith," but it was a "faith in Jesus Christ." The Lord! This faith is not limited to what the servant believes, considers, or feels. Rather, faith it is an act that obeys and is subject to the Lord. This faith in Christ is a way of living. In fact, it is a lifestyle—not only a knowledge of what you believe.
That is why the second element of the trilogy we are considering here is love. Faith only works with love. We have to banish unreal, earthly, carnal faith from our minds. True faith is what people will see, mainly in love—the love that believer has towards God and others.
In this way it can be said that the bond between the servants is not mere carnal feelings or emotions, but "spiritual" facts—primarily the fruit of the Spirit. The bond between servants in the Body of Christ is love that is reflected in deeds.
My prayer is that our hearts have truly been transformed by Christ, and that through our actions His love is manifested for those who need it.
Jesus said, “In this, people will know that you are my disciples... if you love one another.”