When your Christian life is not living up to the “hype” – Read the instructions!

Hand writing read the instructionsSomeone told me about a wonderful product… bragged about what it could and would do. I looked it up online and read the reviews… Wow! If the promotional stuff was true and the reviews were valid, what was I waiting for? I needed the item! So I ordered it… It arrived and I read the stuff on the packaging… Yup, what they advertised was right there on the label! I got it out, read the instructions, tried to follow them closely and… Disappointment! It wouldn’t work for me!

Sometimes the Christian life is like that for people. Others brag it up, testify to its benefits, market its potential… But when you try to make it work as advertised, it just doesn’t deliver as promised… Victory – an overcoming Christian life is expected – but something less than that is the reality.

Well, perhaps what we do when we have a product that isn’t “up to the hype” can serve as a guide for us… We contact the manufacturer and ask for help! In the case of the Christian life – we consult the inspired Word of God!

This morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord” I read some instructions that address how to have Spiritual victory while living in a pagan world… This guidance comes directly from the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul… (He was addressing struggling believers in the city of Colossae):

First a challenge – an exhortation:

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives [“walk”] in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thanksgiving….

Then a warning…

“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…

Finally, the Spiritual provision and reality that can be experienced (forgiven, free and fulfilled)!

“For in Christ all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness! He is the head over every power and authority… You have been buried with Him in baptism, and were also raised with Him through your faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 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.” (From Colossians 2:6-15 NIV)

Hey this is not just “so much fluff” or “marketing baloney” – It’s God’s inspired word – His guidance for getting and gaining Spiritual victory in THIS life! It works! My advice? Camp out in this passage a while – pore over each aspect of the instructions – and see if the quality of your Christian experience doesn’t improve. God wants all that your “life in Christ” is cracked up to be!

“The Lord’s Work” requires a good work ethic – It’s no place for lazy people!

Hard Work - Sweating LaborerAmong his sons, the work ethic of Ewalt W. Bartel, was his identifying feature… It was one of his most noteworthy characteristics. He worked HARD – and enjoyed it – he found it incredibly satisfying. He would arise before 5 a.m., grab an oatmeal cookie and a glass of milk my mother had put out for him the night before, milk the cows (we had a grade A dairy farm), then jump in the school bus and run his route, arrive back home and clean up the barn, grab a bite of breakfast mom had prepared, then go out and take care of farm work, grab lunch, more farm work, jump in the bus and run his school bus route, come home and milk the cows, clean up the barn, take care of some more farm work, and then end the after what we called “supper” and have his devotions before signing off for the day and going to bed.

All of us boys have watched the sweat pour off of his body as he would tackle a task, hear him grunt with effort, and then go on to another task, and another, and another. He would periodically pause, breathe a deep sigh, smile slightly and say with deep satisfaction… “Well that’s done!” Ewalt W. Bartel found hard work incredibly satisfying… It was part of his persona… His DNA. And I must say, his sons picked up on it and embraced it.

All of this as a prelude for a post promoting “the Lord’s work!” Apostle Paul was not lazy – He and my dad were “soul brothers” when it comes to finding “work” (hard work) satisfying. I must admit, I find some individuals who claim to be in “the Lord’s work” an affront to the Apostle Paul’s example! I’m afraid some use “the ministry” as a front for a life of leisure and recreation. Apostle Paul would be indignant! I’m with Paul… As a professor of ministry courses at a Bible university over the years, I have challenged students, “If you’re not willing to spend long hours, work hard, weep with the hurting, and help the struggling, and study diligently to serve healthy spiritual meals from God’s word, don’t bother to enter “the ministry!”

Want to hear it from the mouth of Apostle Paul himself (with a couple of parenthetical comments from “your’s truly” based upon the Greek language of the original text)… Here it is:

“Him [the Lord Jesus Christ] we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature [complete] in Christ. For this I toil [the Greek word means “to work hard”], struggling [this is a Greek word that literally means “to wrestle” and implies physical, emotional, and spiritual exertion] with all HIS ENERGY [not my strength or energy] that He powerfully works within me.” [In other words, when Apostle Paul was “bone tired” through his efforts in “the Lord’s work” he discovered a supernatural, satisfying, inner strength that would come to him, empower him, buoying him up, and enabling him to press on and complete the tasks the Lord had given him!] (From Colossians 1:28–29 ESV – my comments in brackets)

Gotta tell you… I want to live that way! Ewalt W. Bartel was my human example of a healthy work ethic… Apostle Paul sets the standard for me in “the Lord’s work!” At the end of my life, I want to be able to pause like my Dad, smile and sigh and say, “Well, that’s done!” (i.e. my work for the Lord – my calling as His servant).

Wow! Who Jesus Christ is blows my mind (and transforms my life)!

The Supremacy of Christ

Wow… What a Savior!!! The Lord Jesus Christ!!! I read Colossians 1:16-23 again this morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord” and it left me in awe of who Jesus really is…

He reveals God… accurately, fully and completely!

He was creator… involved in creating everything that exists!

He is eternal… He existed before time, was revealed in time, and now exists beyond time!

He is sustainer of everything in the universe!

He is the supreme of “his body” – His redeemed people – the Church!

He is preeminent over everything!

He is the cosmic reconciler over everything that has experienced the impact of sin … the cosmos, creation itself, and fallen humanity!

Here it is in the inspired words of Scripture… a passage that every Christian should memorize…

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel.” (Colossians 1:15–23 ESV)

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