Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thank God for hardships

Romans 8:28-29
28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.

I am sure some people interpret v. 28 to mean that in every circumstance, God will work things out to personally benefit me in a way that I am happy with. On the other end, there are some (myself included) who would interpret it to mean that God works for general good of His children, not necessarily to better the circumstances of a particular individual. But as I was reading through Romans 8, I noticed something that highlights the need to always read verses in context.

Paul specifically defines the good he is talking about in verse 28 with his statement in verse 29. I don't know about you, but I often view those two verses as separate and unrelated texts. Verse 28 is about the here and now relationship between God and His children, and 29 (and 30 too) are about the nature of salvation. How easy it is to forget that Paul wasn't numbering his thoughts in a chapter-verse format!

That tiny little word at the beginning of verse 29 is so important: "for". Paul is continuing his thought here. God works all things together for the good of those whom He has called, and this good is not just the calling and election to salvation, eventually resulting in glorification (v. 30). "For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son." That's the good, and it is for each and every believer individually. 

In every circumstance you face, God is working to conform you to the image of His Son, to make you more Christ-like. The hard news is that God usually does this through difficult, trying circumstances. The good news is that the more Christ-like you become, the easier it is to face those trying circumstances and see that they too will make you even more Christ-like.

Philippians 1:29 For it has been given to you on Christ's behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.
Ephesians 5:20 [Give] thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

You have been granted the privilege of being made Christ-like through suffering. For every trying circumstance you face, give thanks to God.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Let the Word dwell richly among you

Colossians 3:16 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.

The phrase "dwell richly among you" really stuck out to me as I read this. That word for dwell is the same word that Paul uses to describe the Holy Spirit living in us in 2 Timothy 1:14. In the same way that the Holy Spirit lives in each of us individually, the Word of God should live among us as a body of believers. And not just occasionally or out of some sense of compulsion, but "richly", abundantly, as an overflow of what each of us is learning from the Word in our individual lives. 

Paul also says here that we are to teach and admonish (warn, counsel, or exhort) one another with the Word. We all need this, and we all have a responsibility to do this. Don't let satan deceive you into thinking that you don't know enough or understand enough to be able to share what God has revealed to you. Every single bit of understanding each of us has about God and His Word comes from God Himself (1 Corinthians 2:11-14). As we teach and admonish one another, we need to remember to do so with gratitude to God for His revelation, and with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience (Col 3:12) and love (v 14). 

Let God's Word dwell richly in you today.