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Daily Distinctives, April 21, 2015 (Good Work)

April 21, 2015

Daily Reading:

[Col 1:24 NKJV]
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

[Col 1:25 NKJV]
of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God,

[Col 1:26 NKJV]
the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.

[Col 1:27 NKJV]
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

[Col 1:28 NKJV]
Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

[Col 1:29 NKJV]
To this [end] I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

Daily Distinctive:

I really love my job. It offers something new every day. The projects are varied, and I have a very flexible schedule. I work from home so I get to see my wife and kids throughout the day. Yep. I love my job. But you know, as much as I love my “tent making business,” I love ministering and teaching the WORD even more. It makes my job look like something you would see on that Worlds Most Disgusting Jobs show. What is it about teaching the WORD of God that is so appealing to me? Well, it is quite selfish of me really. The more I study to teach the WORD of God, the more I am in His WORD and getting better acquainted with the LORD. My old pastor used to say, “If you want to know something, study and understand it; if you want to own it, teach.” And so I was glad to see the Scripture for my devotional today. Just so you know, for my devotional time I simply ask the LORD to give me a passage of Scripture to meditate on and what you see is what you get. I do have a more formal personal devotional that I do independently from this one, but I love this one the most. It forces me to practically write a sermon every day. For me this is training ground and it helps me to understand the WORD of God as it relates to my daily circumstances. And so if you read this devotional, understand that this is fresh revelation from God to me ¬†to help me prepare for the days ahead. I do pray that you are benefitting from this journey with me and hope that the LORD will speak to you through it. I know He does for me. And so on with the devotional.

[Col 1:24 NKJV]
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

If you have been with me the past few days then you will see the running theme that the LORD has placed before me. That theme seems to be dealing with the word “Rejoice.” It comes the Greek word “chairŇć” and it is used in this context to mean “to derive joy from.” And so when you read it you have to ask yourself, “How can you derive joy from suffering?” Well, when you look at this verse and discover the meanings of the words in their original language you can get a better idea of how the text is translated so as to draw from it some kind of application. The suffering that Paul is referring to here is not the redemptive suffering of Christ on the cross, but more like a dutiful subjection to the fellowship of suffering that is presented to all believers¬†by virtue of becoming a believer. To Paul, the suffering that he was subject to in ministering to the body of Christ was his joyful duty. Christ set the example for us to follow in, and as ambassadors of Christ we can only participate in the suffering as part of our service.

Now when we read this part about filling up his flesh with what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, we might be tempted to think that the term “lacking” suggests that Christ’s atoning work was somehow incomplete. That is not the case at all. Again, this suffering that Paul is speaking of here is not substitutionary and redemptive, as was the case for the suffering Christ. Paul and all other saints including us are fellow partakers together of suffering. We bear one another’s burdens and in doing so we shoulder the suffering of the church. Again, this is not to be confused with salvation which comes through Christ’s suffering on our behalf.

[Col 1:25 NKJV]
of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God,

I love this passage of Scripture because it speaks of the calling that God gave to Paul. Paul became a minister or servant and shoulders the suffering as such as a direct calling from God. The word used here for minister is from the Greek word, “diakonos” which is where we get our English word, “deacon” from. It literally means servant. And so God was the one who called Paul to be a servant and gave him stewardship over that calling to fulfill the WORD of God which Christ has said will go out unto the whole world (Matthew 24:14). This is important to me as it pertains to my own calling, and it should be valuable to you as well. We are all called into the ministry. God gives a variety of gifts and the sole purpose is to fulfill the WORD of God and for ministering to the body. Your calling is merely a function within the body. And I personally feel that the best way to uncover your spiritual gifts and discover your calling is by serving the body. It is service that the LORD reveals these gifts and their applications.

[Col 1:26 NKJV]
the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.

Paul was tasked by the LORD to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles. If you don’t know what the Gentiles are, then this should simplify it for you. You have the Jews, they believe in God and the Messiah, but they did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Then you have Christians (who can be Jewish), who recognize Jesus as LORD. Everyone else is a Gentile. The criteria for being a Gentile is basically anyone who is not Jewish.

Now the mystery here is the mystery of salvation. The Prophets of old and the forefathers of the faith, did not have the fullness of salvation since Christ had not yet died for their sins. In the book of Hebrews we read…

[Heb 1:1 NKJV]
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

[Heb 1:2 NKJV]
has in these last days spoken to us by [His] Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

The saints before Christ only had a partial view of the redemption which was to come. We have the benefit of hindsight and have been given the fullness of the Gospel. But even so, we still only see a glimpse of eternity. Rest assured though that our salvation and our eternity is secure in Christ Jesus to Jew and the Gentile who believe on the name of Jesus. Christ has revealed His redemptive plan to all generations through His effectual and atoning work on the cross.

[Col 1:27 NKJV]
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Now we are numbered amongst the saints who have been given the key to the mystery of salvation, according to God’s will and purpose. Now we have Christ in us, the hope of glory! It is through our relationship with Christ and our surrender to His will that He has covered us and redeemed us. Without Christ there is no hope for glory. In Christ our salvation is secure.

[Col 1:28 NKJV]
Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

Paul’s aim as a minister and my aim as well is that by the WORD of God mankind could be warned of the destruction which comes by a denial of Christ’s free gift of salvation. It is through teaching that men are made more fully aware of their present condition. Now, in each unrepentant heart is what you may have heard referred to as a “God shaped void.” What this means is that God has placed in every carnal man a fundamental knowledge of good and evil. He has made Himself known through His creation so that we are without excuse. It reminds me of the saying, “Ignorance is no excuse for the law.” In other words you can’t play dumb and hope to get off the charges leveled against you. We are all sinners in need of a Savior, and Jesus is that Savior. As teachers of the WORD of God our aim should be to point people to Jesus where they can lay their sins at the foot of His cross and be saved. The goal is to make disciples that will be presented before the LORD God as perfected in Christ by His blood and sanctification.

[Col 1:29 NKJV]
To this [end] I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

This is the end game for Paul. He labors and strives not in his own strength or might but in the living, working, power of Jesus Christ in him. Paul had come to the realization that apart from Christ’s working in him there is nothing worth mentioning. The only true transformation of life comes from the Holy Spirit working in a person to surrender their will to the LORD. As servants, we are just tools in the hands of the Savior, working to perform His excellent will, utilizing the gifts that He gives and the opportunities to serve that He provides. If you are a believer, you have been given certain gifts of the Spirit to accomplish God’s will on the earth. The question is, are we surrendered to His call? Are we allowing God to move in us to hone us into vessels fit for service and then pouring ourselves out before Him so that we can be used by Him for His will and His purposes.

Daily Muse:

I love this part of my day. Have I ever mentioned that. I find a great deal of peace and satisfaction sharing the WORD of God. Everything else pales by comparison. When I sit down to prepare a study, a message, or a devotional it is as if the LORD is right there beside me and I feel so very close to Him. As I meditate on the things that the LORD reveals to me throughout the day, He has a way to drive home the application in my personal life. I see growth and fruit as a result. It is amazing how God can take a creep and pull a man outside of himself and show the man how He is working in the mans life. I find that when I am in the WORD it is like I get to take a step outside of myself to evaluate where I need to go. It reminds me a lot of one of the movies that I recently watched. I think it was one of the Lord of the Rings movies. In one scene the characters climb to the top of a tree, way up in the canopy’s and peeks out over the horizon to get his bearings. That is kind of how I feel when I am in the WORD. Life gets so busy that often times I can’t see the forest for the trees. But when I am in the WORD, I am up in the canopy, looking out over the forest towards my destination. When I come back down I can then walk in the right direction. And you know what? The more I press in to the LORD, the more He uses the mundane things of life to serve as illustrations for how He is working in my life. That is so awesome! But then again, we serve an Awesome God!

Daily Prayer:

LORD, I am so glad that You love me and have a vested interest in my spiritual growth. I know that You could do without me, but You don’t because You love me that much. But I also know that I could never do without You. The fact that I lived so much life prior to coming to You is a mystery to me. I should not even be alive, but by Your grace and mercy. Thank You LORD Jesus. Praise be to You my LORD. I will rejoice in You and in all that You reveal to me. I love You my King, my Savior, my LORD. I worship You and You alone. You are the only one worthy. Thank You for all that You are doing in my life. Scratch that, thank You for all that You are doing in Your life that You have made me a steward over. My life is Your life, for You have given it to me. May my days, which You have numbered, all be to Your glory. It is in Your name that I pray.¬† -Amen

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