Monday, March 25, 2013

Mannaword.com

I have been able to purchase a domain name "Mannaword" from Wordpress for this blog. So please go to Mannaword.com and reset your feeds so it will receive my future posts.

I am about to begin a study in 1 Peter. You won't want to miss a drop, so please reset your data now.

Thanks so for reading and studying with me.
Iris

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Closet Ministry

Colossians 4:10-18 is mainly Paul's greeting and sharing about people in His life that the folk in Colossae knew, and what they have done to help him further the gospel. There are two items of interest I want to highlight. 

The first one is 4:12-13 where Paul talks about a man named Epaphras. "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, salutes you, always striving for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. For I testify about him, that he has worked hard for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for those in Herapolis." NHEB  Epaphras has proven himself to be a true servant of the Christian communities in three locations. He is a true intercessor. He is mentioned here, in the first chapter and at the close of Philippians. Some believe this is just a shortened form of Epaphroditus mentioned earlier in Philippians 2. 

It matters not. What does matter is that we seen this work is a "closet work," unless someone, in this case Paul, mentions the action. Paul sees this man's prayers for others as an enabling work for them. Oh that we would get this understanding in today's Body of Christ! He evidently was praying for entire Christian communities. His heart was big in Jesus, and he knew that his prayers made a difference in their development in Christ. 

When we see a lack in any Body of Believers, may we remember this man and join the Holy Spirit in prayer for their sufficiency in that area. We are so prone to criticize and find fault. If we see something that needs changing, let's begin to pray for them regarding that. People on their knees (figuratively if not otherwise) seldom cause problems with their mouths. Those who complain, usually have not prayed for those in question. May we begin to be as Epaphras in our prayers and be a part of the establishment of His Body. 

The other small passage is verse 17, "Tell Archippus, 'Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfill it.'" Whatever the service (ministry) the Lord has given us, we need to hear this encouragement and directive. We need to be diligent in fulfilling what He has spoken - whether it is public or private in nature. Again, that matters not, but what does matter is our participation in the Body in His appointment and call. 

Then Paul ends this marvelous time of sharing with these people with, "The salutation of me, Paul with my own hand: remember my bonds. Grace be with you." May we remember in prayer all those who are imprisoned in our world for the Gospel's sake, and may we extend grace to all.

In another day or so, I will begin our study in 1 Peter. Join me then. Grace to all!

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Unusual - Name & Ministry

"All my affairs will be made known to you by Tychicus, the beloved brother, faithful servant, and fellow bondservant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts, together with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you everything that is going on here." Colossians 4:7-9 NHEB

Tychius is a person Paul uses often to send places to take care of things for him. Tychicus is first mentioned in Acts 20:4 where Luke tells us that Tychicus was among several men accompanying Paul from Asia. Then we have Paul mentioning him in Ephesians 6:21 and once again sending him on a mission. In 2 Timothy 4:12 it is stated that Paul is sending him to Ephesus, and in Titus 3:12 once again he is being sent. 

He was a very useful servant of the Lord assigned to Paul and the need he had as an apostle to keep in touch with the people he had brought into the Kingdom. In our passage today, Paul calls him, "beloved brother, faithful servant, and fellow bondservant in the Lord." Now that is a beautiful description of a diligent and faithful servant of the Lord. 

Tychius evidently had been assigned to Paul by the Lord Jesus, and took his work for Paul very serious and was all that he needed to be in the service of Paul. That was his call. We do not have a record of him teaching or ministering to other people, although that also might have been a part of his ministry to Paul and through his mission to Paul. His was a job of diligent service, especially in traveling and communicating in the name of another person. 

Isn't it interesting? The service of one Christian brother on assignment to serve another Christian brother is considered a ministry unto Jesus as a bond-servant. (For those who are unfamiliar with this term, please read Exodus 21:2-6 and Deuteronomy 15:12-17). This placement was not one of abuse or control, but rather of love in Jesus - freely given and freely received. 

May we see that our service to one another, especially if we have received such an assignment from the Lord, is counted as ministry unto Him. This would change a lot of things in the Body of Christ. Lord, open our hearts and our eyes, to our calling to serve one another in your love, and teach us faithfulness and diligence in that service. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Words of Salt

"Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." Colossians 4:5-6 NHEB
Now Paul begins addressing our attitudes toward those who have not yet named the name of Christ. We are to dwell in God's wisdom among them and thus making the most of our time as we relate to them. 

The believer never has a "time-out" in reference to their life in Christ before the world. Our time-out comes as we relax in Him in our quiet time and among others in Christ. The traditional "let-your-hair-down-and-be-like-us" never is to occur for us. Our time as we live in this dimension of life is to always be lived "in-Christ." 1 John 4:17c says, "...for we are as He is in this world." The only way the world will ever want Him, is if we literally live "in Him." That means we always reflect Him and always respond in Him. 

This would be impossible if we are just in some form of church-going religion. However, because He is in our very being, our very fiber of existence, He in us is over and abundantly able. As we wrap our minds around His being, His Word and His empowerment He does it and makes our time here count. 

We cannot "redeem" as in "get back" what has already passed. What we can do is make our now time count for great fruit in Him. In other words, we make every minute with unbelievers count. 

Our speech is to be full of grace - or full of making up for the faults of others. Now just think about it. Isn't that what our Lord's grace does for us? He makes up for what we lack - abundantly - lavishes grace on us. So as our speech is full of the salt of good news and redemptive salvation as we share, then through those words they are drawn to Him. It tastes salty. They find themselves wanting more and then some water. Hummmm seems like we have that also. 

In the Old Testament every sacrifice was salted prior to going on the altar. That way the meat always tasted good. That is what Paul is referring to. In other words, our words are like the sacrifices of the Old Testament - they are to make people want more. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Mystery - Christ in You!

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; praying together for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: that I may reveal it as I ought to speak." Colossians 4:2-4 NHEB
We began this section last week, but I only worked with the first part of a verse. Now I want us to complet the thought that was written. 

Paul is asking the Christians in Colossae to pray for an open door for the word he is to speak. Then he tells us what that word is. He says, "...to speak the mystery of Christ,...". He was not called to just speak to people about some general love from God. He was not called to speak what we would call elementary items about the word. No, he was called to declare boldly the "mystery of Christ." 

This "mystery" he defined elsewhere as "Christ in you the hope of glory." Christ dwelling in the gentiles as well as the Jews. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the "mystery" that although spoken of in the Old Testament, was not seen nor understood. That was mainly because it is written there in "shadow" or "type" form. It was not intended to be understood until the Lord had risen from the dead and poured out the Holy Spirit on that day of Pentecost. 

The "indwelling," which eliminates all definitions of distance between the Lord and His people, is what the religious folk of Paul's day fought him about. This risen Jesus who now lives in us, the glory of God now dwelling in man, in every believer was and is something that cause folk to balk at such revelation. 

The Lord has forgiven all sin. Yes, each of us must willingly accept that in Him to make it effective for us, but it is accomplished. He does not climb back on the cross when someone sins. It is done. Because that is true, Christ through the Holy Spirit now lives in all who will receive Him, and they become His temple. It is not a temple made with human hands to house (host) Him, but the temple He has always looked forward to - the temple made by Himself - the humans who choose Him. 

Such an awesome mystery. Our modern systems often do not fully embrace this completed work and therefore many times we are trying to get closer to God. We need to completely re-think such approaches and begin to accept the empowerment of this mystery Paul preached. It will revolutionize our lives and our churches. 

May those of us declaring the Word, declare this mystery clearly. Lord, You are so awesome in every way - magnify Yourself in us!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Impossible Made Normal

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; ...." Colossians 4:2 NHEB
This seems to be a simple encouragement and on one hand it is. It carries the same idea as "Pray without ceasing" in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  The expectation from our God and Father is that we will always be talking with Him. 

 Some of our newer translations read "Be devoted to prayer," which has a bit different emphasis. I believe both are good and right. This translation says to continue steadfastly which gives us the idea of doing something faithfully. Being devoted to prayer adds the heart value in emphasis. I think both of these are included in the statement. 

In the Greek, the word for "continue steadfastly" means "to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of despite difficulty – 'to devote oneself to, to keep on, to persist in.'" Basically we see it is an instruction to never stop, never give up, regardless of what our circumstances - be devoted in our heart and lives to talking and sharing with our Lord. 

Prayer has come to mean many different things to us - it all depends on how we have been taught or not. I usually try to avoid the word, because it carries so much baggage that has nothing to do with true prayer. When we begin to understand what the Lord has done for us and enabled in us, visiting with Him takes on an entirely new and living aspect that may seem foreign at first, but in time we would not want to revert to our old "prayer ways" at all because of the fullness in Him. I wrote the following to my Intercessors yesterday. It is the way of freedom in continuing steadfastly in our relational dialogue in Him.

"If anyone loves me, he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him, and
we will come to him and make our home with him."

John 14:23 ESV

As we realize more and more the Lord's abiding presence within us, these scriptures warm our hearts and remind us that we are never alone. Our Lord lives in us and He and the Father have made their home in us through the Holy Spirit. Such a wonder was never thought of by any man. But our God, great and awesome in every way, had in mind living with and in us individually and collectively. So we have become in Him the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are the house He has always wanted to live in. He created us to be able to  have Him at home in us. We are His home. Such a marvelous truth is just too good to be true.

When we begin to really embrace this truth, we will cease from our efforts "to get closer to God," for how can we possible be any closer. Instead, we will begin to bathe in our oneness with Him in Spirit and begin to relax at home in His person, power and constant presence. There is no loneliness here, nor emptiness, nor lack, nor need. So everything changes. Our perceptive ability of what is true and real changes for as we relax and trust Him to show us what is true, we begin to embrace truth that sets us free in every dimension. Such truths take this love in Jesus to new heights of release and reality. May we bask in these truths. His Word never lies. So as we receive, trust and release into it, we become a person of rich presence in Him. Oh yes! Let the relaxing embrace become our focus instead of the striving based attempts to reach Him. He is here, as I am typing this and as you are reading. He is with us - at home. Lord, teach us truth - over and over again!

So what seems like an impossible instruction, is really a warm and loving entreaty to keep talking, thinking, turning to, leaning on and receiving from - Him the one who loves us so. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Training in Lordship

"Masters, give to your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven." Colossians 4:1 NHEB 
As we enter the last chapter of this small letter, we must remember that Paul is not writing in chapters and verses. He is writing a personal, inspired letter to these people he has never met (2:1). He is continuing the thought of the previous chapter. All these "bullet-point" items at the close of his letter, are intended to train the people in life-style expressions of the love and grace presented in the first part of the book. 

He has just instructed the servants to be obedient to their masters, now he turns and addresses those who are masters (ones in authority over - GK -"lords") how to behave toward their servants. In our world today, these terms would be employees and employers. We do not live in a master/servant world. But the same attitudes of heart are to be expressed by us to those who work over us and under us in the authority chain of our work. The every day life of the believer becomes our training ground for Kingdom lordship. For everything we are a part of is related to Kingdom. 

If you will look back at the instructions for servants, "Servants, obey in all things those who are your masters according to the flesh, not just when they are looking, as men pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord." I find it interesting the encouragement here is obedience, not submission. The heart of submission is to be working in a covenant relationship. In a relationship that is employment based, that is not what is being encouraged. We need to allow the Lord to teach us these great differences in relationships, so our grace expression can be a blessing - everywhere. 

Since the employer has a master, and now is one, it is the encouragement to be fair and non partial (or equal) in dealing with those in your care and oversight. This eliminates the "put-down,"  the "mock-out," the manipulations and control so often characteristic of those in places of authority toward those below. (In church as well as in world). In Christ, since we all have a master (Lord), or someone in authority, over us, we would do well to treat others with honor and respect regardless of what their position is in life - over or under. When their position is not what we are ultimately regarding, we can honor and bless, all the while keeping lines of authority in place. 

When we truly understand the Lord is not impressed with titles or "position," (or anointing or gifting) and it is Him we are expressing, then we learn not to be "men-pleasers" any longer. I think everyone alive has this to learn. We, in Christ Jesus, have someone else in charge of our promotion or lack of it. We need to bless Him in our interactions with others and be a person of great integrity expressing encouragement and respect. This then becomes the training ground for lordship in the Kingdom.