Keys To Discernment: Why Paul Prays For Their Wisdom (Reboot)

As I’ve mentioned before, I had started posting these Bible Studies back in January. At the end of February, a compression fracture in my back forced me to discontinue it. About a month ago, I felt well enough to resume it, and I decided to run the original installments again just to reestablish some continuity. However, I’m augmenting these reruns with a few additional comments to provide clarification or because I missed something earlier.

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Although we’re getting into the meat of Paul’s letter to the Colossians today, our text will demand that we look at some background information on the false teachings that he addresses. I aim to demonstrate how he uses sound doctrine, rather than direct discussion of the errors at hand, to steer the Colossians away from faulty theology and practices.

We’ll most likely only get through two verses in this installment of our study, but (as usual) I’ll quote the whole passage for the sake of context.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ~~Colossians 1:9-14 (ESV)

If you take verses 9 and 10 at face value, you could get a fairly accurate interpretation of them. Definitely, Christians should pray for each other along these lines, getting beyond the superficial prayers for health, finances, marriages and other temporal matters.  Therefore these two verses encourage us to pray for each other far more deeply than we generally do.

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If You’re Not Amazed, You Ought To Be

Would you say that many Christians lose their sense of wonder that God saved them? Would you say that sometimes you lose your sense of wonder that He saved you? I have, from time to time.

Yet as we study Scripture, it’s hard to miss His amazing love for sinful, writing creatures like us. How incredible that Jesus would bear the Father’s wrath for us, taking our sin and giving us His righteousness! Nothing in us could ever merit such love, grace and mercy.

To His praise, He faithfully reminds us that He indeed has bestowed this incomprehensible love, grace and mercy on those of us who believe. He fills the pages of Scripture with innumerable examples of His love despite our persistent rebellion against Him. And when we see how undeserving we are of His love, we can’t help but be completely and utterly astounded.

How can it be that God the Son should die for me? I ought to be amazed more often!

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Saturday Sampler: July 5 — July 11

I’m delighted that Ryan Higginbottom explains The Dangerous Consequences of Ignoring Context for Knowable Word. His article provides great insights that few Christians ever consider.

Life is ticklish for Christians these days. In The Mailbag: Guess who’s coming to (the women’s ministry) dinner?, Michelle Lesley tackles a difficult question that wouldn’t have occurred to anyone even five years ago. Did I say difficult? Michelle helps us see that the Bible makes the answer uncomfortably simple.

Sometimes Leslie A gets under my skin! She irritates me because I know she’s absolutely right in the articles she writes in Growing 4 Life. For example, Christian, How Are You Responding? nails wrong reactions I’ve been having to various upheavals in my personal life. My flesh doesn’t like much of what Leslie says in this blog post, but I praise God for her refreshing conclusion! Ladies, you won’t regret letting her get under your skin.

The Ligonier blog features How Do We Become Spiritually Mature? by John MacArthur. None of us is so advanced in the faith that we can’t benefit from this article.

Evangelism can discourage and frustrate even the best of us. Mike Ratliff, who blogs at Possessing the Treasure, writes God Will Judge the Ungodly as an encouraging reminder that the Lord reaches those He calls to salvation, asking only for our faithfulness.

Responding to a recent New York Times article, Tim Challies examines the question, Are Churches “A Major Source of Coronavirus Cases?” Usually I try not to share posts of this nature — even though I tend to agree with them. But Challies raises points that I strongly believe we must consider. If you disagree with him, okay. I’ll not think less of you. But at least hear him out. It’s important to think about his perspective.

Elizabeth Prata asks, How do I know if I lack spiritual discernment? in The End Time. She answers this question by reviewing five common objections to discernment ministry and refuting those objections from Scripture.

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Breaking A Blogging Rule Because I Do It So Well (And Because I Don’t Want To Do A Flashback Friday)

Earlier this week I noticed an article on Pinterest about five rules that Christian bloggers should never heard break. Actually, none of the rules seemed specific to Christian bloggers — the main thrust seemed to be about growing readership.

Because you, dear readers, apparently exist to make me a famous blogger. Right?

(Please note the sarcasm in that last paragraph.)

Anyway, the first rule mandated reserving personal updates for a blog’s social media page. Personal updates, according to the writer, have a limited shelf-life, and therefore aren’t good for Search Engine Optimization.

And her point made sense. At least it made sense if a blog is first and foremost a business rather than a ministry.

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Discernment Blogging Doesn’t Have To Name Every Name Out There

Praise God for bloggers like Elizabeth Prata and Michelle Lesley who tirelessly research popular teachers and warn against the ones who mishandle Scripture. Sometimes we need to identify people and call them out. Early in the development of this blog, I joined them in writing about false teachers who routinely seduce women with their doctrinal errors.

I haven’t entirely abandoned that practice. At times, women need to be told directly that the teacher they follow so adoringly is failing to offer them healthy spiritual food. In such instances, I have absolutely no problem writing articles exposing such teachers.

That said, I believe we think of discernment ministry much too narrowly. Usually people associate discernment exclusively with calling out false teachers, forgetting that true discernment encompasses so much more than simply naming names of evangelical celebrities to avoid.

Fully developed discernment requires the hard work of studying God’s Word and learning its great doctrines.

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Is It Okay For Me To Say “I Told You So”?

This past weekend, a pastor friend of mine posted the following on his Facebook page:

They said it would not affect me, my family or friends.They said it was none of my business. They said it would not negatively impact our society. But…Now it’s legalized. Now it’s flaunted in commercials, on the television, and in the movies. Now those screaming tolerance are intolerant of any who oppose. Now it’s affecting our health care costs, schools and everything in between. Now it’s demoralizing and seeking to redefine the family. Now it’s attacking men and demonizing men for being men. But…Now, as always, is the time to stand for Truth. Now is the time to live out righteousness, holiness and justice. Now is the time to promote all that is wholesome, good and moral. Now is the time!

Of course he wrote these words in reference to same sex marriage, which has opened a Pandora’s Box of anarchy throughout Western civilization. As you can see, however, the rebellion goes far beyond LBGTQ issues. The ideological left is successfully dismantling every aspect of Judeo-Christian values in America and in other countries.

Most evangelicals thought Trump’s presidency would slow the deterioration. Admittedly, part of me thought so too. But the last few months have pretty much destroyed that fantasy. In fact, the unbridled hatred of President Trump has probably poured gas on the fire. Defying conservative values has become a mandate for academia and Mainstream Media.

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Keys To Discernment: The Prominence Of God’s Word (Reboot)

I began this Monday Bible Study series on Colossians in January, but stopped it after suffering a compression fracture in my back at the end of February. Rather than picking up where we left off, I’ve been reposting each installment again to keep everything in context. I’ve also added new comments here and there, so even if you read the series when I originally published it you can find additional insights.

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Let me begin with a gentle reminder that I intend my blog as a whole, and my Bible Study posts in particular, for women. I want to obey 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and Titus 2:3-5  by avoiding any possibility of teaching men. Dear brothers, unless you’re my husband or an elder at First Baptist Church Weymouth, I respectfully ask you not to read this Bible Study series. Thank you.

Okay ladies, shall we continue looking at Paul’s introductory remarks to the church at Colossae? We’ve been noticing that Paul uses this opening section of his letter to set the tone for the main points he wants to convey. I’ll show you the full section for the sake of context before we jump into the second part of verse 5.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. ~~Colossians 1:3-8 (ESV)

Last week we learned that Paul capitalized on the hope of the resurrection and eternal life to draw his readers’ attention away from worldly concerns. In so doing, he set the stage for the practical application of his teaching (see Colossians 3:1-4 and Colossians 3:16). In the second part of verse 5 (which we’ll discuss today), he explains that the Colossians gained this hope through hearing the Word of truth — the Gospel.

Paul focuses on the Word of truth because he will shortly begin dismantling the errors that have wormed their way into the Colossian church. He could have simply named the false teachings and left everyone to figure out how to refute them, but he instead gives them tools for future discernment.

Think of it this way: you can read blog post after blog post decrying Beth Moore as a false teacher. But how much better to read posts helping you understand sound doctrine so well that you can identify her errors for yourself? The Word provides stability for Christians, as we depend on the apostles’ teaching to guard us against the winds of false doctrine (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Verse 6 beautifully articulates how the Word of God has already taken root in the Colossian church. Indeed, Paul assures them, it has borne fruit in the whole world. The Colossians have been so transformed by the Gospel that it’s bearing the same fruit in them that it’s bearing throughout the rest of the known world. This glorious increase happens through the grace of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus illustrated in Mark 4:26-29.

Since God’s Word has already been firmly planted in Colossae, Paul will later encourage the church to walk in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:6-7) in accordance with the teaching they have received. Verse 7 of our current chapter tells us that they received the ministry of Epaphras. Since Paul describes Epaphras as a faithful minister, we can safely assume that he faithfully taught them the Word of God.

Verse 8 reveals that Epaphras has reported back to Paul regarding the Colossians’ love in the Spirit. Their love gives evidence that God’s Word has begun to work in them.

Do you see how Paul’s seemingly standard opening comments prepare his original readers for the epistle? Similarly, this section gives us a little preview of what we’ll learn in the coming installments of our Bible Study. Next Monday, Lord willing, we can finally get into the doctrine that Paul uses to teach the Colossians — and by extension us — discernment. I look forward to having you join me then.

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It’s Getting Dark, But We Know Who’s Coming

We’ve been through another tough week in the United States of America. I’ve been through a discouraging week in my personal life.

Yesterday’s celebration of Independence Day seemed odd, given the apparent direction of our country. I can’t imagine that even John Adams (who advocated for centralized government) would approve of the things that have happened in the last three months.

I don’t approve of what’s happening in my personal life, for that matter.

Life is getting darker than I’ve ever seen it, and it certainly threatens to get worse. Didn’t Jesus say it would? We have no reason to feel surprised by the encroaching darkness, thoughts it grieves and frightens even the most mature Christian.

How encouraging, then, to remember that Jesus is returning to establish His kingdom! We don’t know when He will come back, and we probably shouldn’t indulge in too much speculation about it.

But what a comfort to know that He will come at just the right time! One day, all madness will end and He will reign in perfect righteousness. The violence will fade away, sickness will end and creation will be restored. Best of all, He will receive the honor and glory that rightfully belongs only to Him! Hallelujah!

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Saturday Sampler: June 28 — July 4

Statue of George Washington

Already, I know that The Peculiar Idol of Personal Opinion by Melissa of Your Mom Has a Blog is the article I most recommend this week! She confronts us squarely, saying things that those of us on social media desperately need to hear.

Jarod Olivetti’s article, The Danger of an Open Bible, may surprise you at first, but he makes points that we all need to consider. You can read his post at Gentle Reformation.

Usually Leonardo De Chirico’s writing for The Vatican Files tends to be academic and a little dry. But Inter-Faith Prayers for the Pandemic to Cease? What is at Stake is Bigger Than What You Think is much more readable. More importantly, Christians need to understand why we can’t join our prayers with people who don’t believe the Biblical Gospel.

Statue of Paul Revere

Sometimes the truth is so familiar that we take it for granted. In doing so, we almost forget its richness. In her essay for The End Time, Elizabeth Prata explores the truth that The word of God is living as she examines the various implications of Hebrews 4:12. Don’t miss her marvelous treatment of this well-known verse.

You might find SharaC’s thoughts on current events interesting. Wielding and Yielding appears in Into the Foolishness of God, offering a perspective that few of us consider.

What Is Self-Discipline? asks Steven Lawson in an article for the Ligonier blog. His answer challenges us, convicts us and comforts us all at the same time. I realize that self-discipline isn’t a popular topic, and most people would probably want to skip this article. I encourage you to read it anyway. His conclusion just might surprise you.

Grave of James Otis — “Taxation without representation is tyranny!”

I appreciate SlimJim for providing Starter Questions for Evangelism on his The Domain for Truth blog. He writes this post specifically for those of us who struggle with evangelism. As someone inept at witnessing face-to-face, I feel encouraged to try some of these questions. Maybe the Lord will use them to inspire you to share the Gospel with people in your sphere of influence.

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Flashback Friday: A Right Proclamation Of The Gospel

Originally posted February 17, 2017:

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Yesterday I watched a YouTube video featuring people I personally know from my Charismatic days.  I managed to get past their “God told me” claims by remembering how often I used to phrase my own experiences in those words. In listening to Charismatics, I want to keep in mind that   many of them, though deceived, are genuinely my brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, I walked in those same deceptions for most of my Christian life.

Toward the end of the video, however, they invited unsaved members of their audience to begin their “adventure” with Christ. They assured people that Jesus Christ offers freedom from sin (which He does) and personal fulfillment. According to them, Jesus waited, hoping people would reach out to Him and receive all that He had for them. They read a prayer that made vague reference to being a sinner and committing their lives to Christ. Those who said that prayer were instructed to sign a copy, write the date and keep it in their Bibles in case Satan questioned their salvation.

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