Let the Word of Christ Dwell in Us Richly

Colossians 3:12-17

The past two weeks I’ve been reading this passage over and over again…and WOW – I can’t get through it all in one sitting because there is just so much goodness to take in and meditate on.  My heart keeps going back to verse 16, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. 

How amazing that God gave us hearts and minds that can absorb truth! Paul’s encouragement is for us to LET the word of Christ dwell in us richly. We have to allow it. God wants us to be filled with the Word, himself, but we have to allow it in. Invite it in. Let it in.

Guess what else BLEW MY MIND?!  Thinking about the word of Christ. Is that the same Word in John 1, that was present at creation and also became the flesh (Christ himself)? Is it the red letters in my Bible?

Lastly, I love the word used here – dwell. Webster defines dwell as reside, live, be settled, be housed, lodge, stay.  I don’t know about you, but I want Jesus’s word to live in me, to stay with me, and to be settled in me! This isn’t a “Let the word of Christ stop by from time to time” or “Let the word of Christ be an occasional visitor in your world”. This is a DWELL. STAY. BE SETTLED.  And if that wasn’t enough, he adds “richly”. Abundantly, greatly, strongly, deeply, EXTRA.

How can we do this? Here are some areas of focus for me:

  • Pray for a passion and desire to let the word of Christ dwell in me richly. 
  • Read the Word. And if it’s going to dwell + stay, I need to read more frequently and consistently.
  • Speak, write, and sing the Word. We all learn in different ways – reading it, writing it, and singing it, talking about it, can help me retain memory.  Proven by my ability to recite the entire dialogue and songs from Psalty’s Camping Adventure, that I watched a million times on VHS (age 8).

I love that God gives us the ability to keep His Word in our hearts. He knows the power of the Word, the wisdom and peace it brings!

Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God shares a brief outline of Esther Ahn Kim:

Esther Ahn Kim’s biography is around the most powerful testimonies I have ever read. It was during WWII, and the Japanese occupation of Korea, that Esther’s journey of Faith really began. She refused to bow down at the shrines set up in every corner of her country and was eventually imprisoned for six years, from 1939 until 1945. Knowing she was destined for prison for refusing to bow to idols, Esther spent time training herself both physically and spiritually. She memorized more than 100 chapters of the Bible and many hymns because she knew she would not be allowed to keep her Bible. She spent countless hours seeking God though fasting and prayer. These times when she read the Scriptures led to greater clarity and she was able to surrender her fear of being tortured. When she was eventually taken to prison, God used her in countless way. 

Esther let the Word of Christ dwell in her richly, and when you read more of her testimony, you can see just how powerfully the Word was used in her life.  There’s nothing better we can fill our hearts and minds with than the Living Word!

God, thank you for providing your Word for us, and it’s ability to dwell in us. Help us to seek your Word and let it dwell in our hearts. We want to know You more and Your ways to become our ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

The Word

Today’s reading is Matthew 7:28-29 and Psalm 91.

I’m a big sports fan, but I don’t listen to sports talk radio. Why? I just don’t really see the point. All they do is just talk about their opinions on something that just happened in the past…a game just played and what a player or coach should have done or what a player or coach said after. They also talk about who they think will win an upcoming game or which player is better than the other. But, the bottom line is this…none of it matters. They don’t play the game, and they don’t have the authority to make any decisions to effect outcomes.

Matthew 7:28-29 reads…

“And when Jesus finished these saying, the crowds were astonished by his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority and not as the scribes.”

It’s almost like the people knew at this point after the Sermon on the Mount the scribes were like the sports talk radio people who could just talk and Jesus was a player or coach who could actually do something about it.

John 1:1-5 reads…

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:14 reads…

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen the glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father full of grace and truth.”

The people knew and sensed Jesus was different. They weren’t just hearing someone talk about God..they were hearing God. He had authority. They were hearing the great “I am.”

I find it very interesting John 1 refers to Jesus at “the Word.” I’m not going to claim I fully know the reason, but I think it’s because everything contained in the book we call the Word is ultimately about Him. From Genesis to Revelation, it all points to Him. And more than anything…the book we call the Word now is our living authority until He returns.

I’ve been to church my whole life and figure I’ve probably heard around 1,500 sermons in my nearly 35 years of life and not to take away from any pastors who I’ve heard preach, but you know when my relationship with God really started to grow? It was when I began to be in the Word daily (preachers and pastors did absolutely help influence adoption of this spiritual discipline). The Word guides us. The Word is our one source of truth (and grace). The Word has authority. The Word causes us to have a relationship with the Word, Jesus.

When I get lackadaisical about being in the Word and miss days, I feel empty. I feel anxious. I feel stressed. I need my GPS. I need my one source of truth and authority. I need Jesus. Then, I have confidence. Then, I have peace.

Psalm 119:105 reads..
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feed, and a light unto my path.”

Isaiah 26:3 says..

“You keep us in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.”

Let us pray…

Dear God..,,please help us to come to the Word daily as our one, true source of authority. Please help us turn to the Word to grow in our relationship and oneness with you. And thank you for sending the Word in flesh for us to see and for giving us the written Word as our guidance system until the Word returns.

 

**Additional thoughts- I love the accessibility we have 24/7 to the Bible through apps. However, in my humble opinion, I believe there is enhanced impact in opening the physical Bible and reading it in addition to the app or the few verses that might be referenced, and even included, right in the text of your daily devotional. When you open the actual Good Book, as opposed to an app or just reading the verses listed in the devotional or blog like this, there is something that says/feels…this is different than just another blog, app, article, or website I go to on my phone or tablet. This book is the one and only source of truth in my life. This book is the Word.

Legacy

Legacy. What do you think of when you hear the word legacy? Do you care about yours or not? Well, I believe you should because we all leave a legacy and your leadership example determines your legacy. We are all leaders, definitely as parents and spouses and often professionally, but even those that aren’t married, don’t have kids, or don’t have a defined professional leadership role are still leaders. Other friends and co-workers are always watching and following you whether you intend them to do so or not so that makes you a leader. John Maxwell says leadership is influence. Your leadership example determines the impact you have on others which ultimately determines your legacy.

Our small group is currently reading The Resolution for Men and The Resolution for Women. This is my 3rd time through the men’s version, and I would highly recommend every man read it. It is like an instruction manual for being man, husband, and father by translating and breaking down what God instructs us to do in the Bible. It tells men how He created and empowers us to fulfil His leadership vision. Having children, when I think of legacy, I think of the legacy I want to leave for them first and foremost.

The book challenges us to think about how we define success for our children. It is human nature for us to define the success of our children by whether they achieve big things academically, athletically, and even socially with friends or being on homecoming court or in school leadership roles for example. However, this book challenges us that success for our children is only defined by them loving God and knowing Him as their Lord and Savior. Period. End of story. Thus, the legacy we leave in this way through our leadership by example is all that matters.

David tells us in his last words in 2 Samuel 23:3-5..

“The God of Israel has spoken,

the Rock of Israel has said to me:

When one rules justly over men,

ruling in the fear of God,

he dawns on them like the

morning light,

like sun shining forth on a

cloudless morning,

like rain that makes grass to

sprout from the earth.”

How do we lead our children in this way by our example so they know and love Jesus as their Lord and Savior?

  1. First, we must be in the Word daily. This keeps us centered and focused on God so we can know and understand Him and His will better making better decisions daily. This must be visible to them so they know you are in the Word. We should also look to be in the Word together as a family. Try a weekly family devotional on a certain day each week.
  2. They must see you in prayer. They must know you go to God throughout your day in prayer to draw closer to Him as a source of wisdom. Talk about how you go to Him for your challenges and to praise him, and pray together as a family.
  3. They must see you praising and worshipping God in adoration. This can most commonly be done in song as we read about in many Psalms, throughout the Bible, and just yesterday with David in 2 Samuel 22. If your kids go to their own church service, consider bringing them into church with you occasionally so they can see you praising and worshipping Him. Recently, we had a night of worship music only at our church where we brought our kids, and it was awesome singing along with them praising God. It doesn’t have to be planned though. Singing along to Christian music in the car or while cooking out or eating dinner at home spontaneously can be just as impactful for them to see God is more than worthy of your praise all the time..any time.
  4. Speaking about God and his creations of beauty all around us in the world and about how God worked in your life today and asking them how God worked in theirs today is tremendously impactful. Simply put..talk about God. Daily. Not just on Sundays on the drive home from church.

Lastly, if you want to lead someone, most notably your kids as we are speaking of, you must have their heart. If you have their heart and they know you care about and love them, they will follow you. The Resolution for Men discusses if you don’t have your child’s heart, you must do WHATEVER it takes to get it back..even if it takes the rest of your life. 2 Samuel 23 tells about David’s mighty men and all the things they did in battle. While it might be neat to be known for personal or professional successes in life, we should strive for our kids to say when we are no longer on this Earth our legacy was this…”My Mom/Dad loved Jesus with all their heart, and I’m forever grateful they helped me do the same.” Our children must make their own decision to follow Jesus, but nothing is more important than the eternal legacy we strive to instill in and leave them.

Carpe Momentum.

Apostasy

Today’s reading Hebrews 5 and Psalm 13

The theme of spiritual growth has been a focus in In the last three readings I’ve been assigned.  Today is number four.

  1. Three posts ago was, The 5 Essentials for Christian Growth from Philippians 1:9-11;
  2. the next post was, The 3 Stages of Christian Growth (and how to avoid them) from 1 Thessalonians 5; where the topic was grieving the Spirit.
  3. the last post was, Be Strong from 2Timothy 2:2-6, wherein Paul gave us four relatable examples of what we should grow into, the teacher, the soldier, the athlete and the farmer.

Hebrews 5 closes with a warning against apostasy. Having heard enough to be teachers of Christ, there were those in this congregation that were turning back to Judaism. (Hebrews 5:12)  The Jews identified with being teachers, leaders of the blind, but here the writer rebukes them, essentially saying, you need to go back to the essentials.  You need to start again at the beginning with the basic things.

We know from 1John 2:12-16 the three stages of Christian growth:

  1. Babes. Babes in Christ know the name of Jesus.
  2. Young Men. Young men in Christ are strong. They know the Word and use the Word (the truth) to overcome the deceiver.
  3. Fathers. Fathers in Christ know God.

In my estimation, the writer was essentially saying, you think you are on stage three but you are obviously failing stage two (you are deceived).

This statement is made to the whole congregation as a preface to what the writer is going to share. In paraphrasing, he is saying, ‘I’m getting ready to go deep here.  Get ready, and know that some of you aren’t going to get it because you’re self-deceived.’  The beginning of chapter 6 then wraps up the warning to those that have heard the truth and been led astray down paths of false doctrine.  It is horrifying.  

 

God, may we all grow in You and You alone.  May we grow in Your Word and be strong, able to discern the truth and overcome the deceiver.  God would you give each of us all a thirst for your Your Word?  We need You LORD.  Amen.

Thy Word

Today’s reading is Acts 18.

Here we learn about three new champions of the Gospel in Priscilla, her husband Aquila, and Apollos. Although we don’t know for certain that Paul was responsible for Priscilla and Aquilas’ conversion to Christianity, the text does say in Acts 18:2 they were Jewish, so I have to believe Paul may have had an impact on their conversion, or if nothing else, helped them grow in their knowledge, understanding, and love of Christ. How did he do this? We see in Acts 18:3 that “he stayed with them and worked.” He didn’t just give them the Gospel and move on..he invested not only time with them, but was in the trenches with them working which may have been why they were receptive to the message of Christ. It also says in Acts 18:5 that “Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to Jews that the Christ was Jesus.”

What I then find so cool is this investment by Paul leads to Priscilla and Aquila going with Paul in Acts 18:18 to Syria. Now, they are determined to spread the Word. In Ephesus, they come across a man named Apollos who it says in Acts 18:24 was “competent in the Scriptures.” However, it seems he was missing some key things about Jesus and “knew only the baptism of John” from Acts 18:25. Instead of Priscilla and Aquila just saying he was a good man and well intentioned, they go a step further and in Acts 18:26 it says, “they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” It then says they invested in him like Paul did in them and “encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him” in Acts 18:27. As a result of his speaking and teaching the Word that Christ was Jesus, he greatly helped others believe in the grace of Jesus we are told in Acts 18:27-28.

Wow..it is amazing how investing in one person and showing and teaching them the Word can not only change the course of their life and where they will spend eternity, but likely where their  family and future generations will spend eternity, as well as some of those whose lives they cross paths with during their lifetime. When the Holy Spirit starts to move in one, the trickle-down effect and impact is mind-boggling. This is how Christianity went from a few of Jesus’ brave disciples to where it is today in the world, and even right down to you and me knowing Jesus Christ. We owe a great debt to those that had the courage to speak the Word before us.

John 1:1-2 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” John 1:14 then says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father full of grace and truth.” The far-reaching effects of Paul’s witness and investment in Priscilla and Aquila and then their witness and investment in Apollos happened because they focused on teaching the Word. In 2 Timothy 3:16, we learn that “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” We must ask ourselves constantly if we personally, and even the church we attend, are truly following the Word or are instead following traditions passed down that are not in the Word or things present day society tells us is normal and okay because things have changed. If we choose to discredit or ignore even one thing in the Word, then all the rest of the Word is discredited and we are in effect saying not all scripture is breathed out by God. If we pick and choose which parts we want to believe and follow, then none of it is true.

We may be hesitant to correct others when they stray from the Word because we ourselves are not perfect, but Priscilla and Aquila show us the far-reaching effect of helping a man who was well intentioned but just a little off like Apollos. Jesus knows we are not perfect, but tells us we must do so (and also how) in Matthew 18:15-18. Galatians 6:1 says the same and reminds us to take watch ourselves. When we correct others and bring them back to the Word, we must also do so with “grace and truth” just as Jesus (the Word) did in John 1:14 from above. As a side note, isn’t it interesting, and I don’t believe a coincidence, that grace comes before truth here and many other places in the Word.

I will leave you with the words of a song you may know that my 4-year-old son and his classmates recently sang at the Cornerstone Christian Academy Spring concert. The song brought back memories, as I can remember singing it as child. The lyrics to “Thy Word” are just as true now as they were then and as true as the Word has been forever and ever. I pray that today and every day we will let “Thy Word” be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path and that we share it so it can be the same for others we know and then others they know…

 

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet

And a light unto my path.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet

And a light unto my path.

 

When I feel afraid, And think I’ve lost my way.

Still, you’re there right beside me.

Nothing will I fear As long as you are near;

Please be near me to the end.

 

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet

And a light unto my path.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet

And a light unto my path.

 

I will not forget Your love for me and yet,

My heart forever is wandering.

Jesus by my guide, And hold me to your side,

And I will love you to the end.

Nothing will I fear As long as you are near;

Please be near me to the end.

 

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet

And a light unto my path.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet

And a light unto my path.

And a light unto my path.

You’re the light unto my path.