Browsing Tag

Obedience

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Grace and Glory and Authority

Embarking on a study of God’s authority without having a heart attuned to His grace is likely to frustrate our best intentions of getting deeply into His will and applying it to our lives. In our study, we are learning that He “gets” to tell us what to do (He is the ultimate authority), because he made us from nothing  and because He bought us back at Calvary. He owns us twice over! We were made for His glory (Is. 43:7) and then bought by His grace (I Cor. 6:20). When our lives are full of His glory and grace, we live His way with the full realization that we must respect his glory in order to be saved in the end. But we do so because we appreciate His grace. We want to live for HimWe live for His glory and in His grace.

Most are familiar with the words of the old gospel hymn: “Amazing Grace – how sweet the sound – that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found – Was blind, but now, I see.” The concept of God’s grace is both humbling and fascinating. It is the greatest and most majestic theme in the New Testament, and perhaps is the ‘key’ to unlocking its mysteries. One may know every word of the New Testament by heart, but unless the concept of God’s grace is understood, one can never fully comprehend the profound truths of the Gospel.

The English word ‘grace’ comes from the Greek word charis, and various forms of the word are found 157 times in the New Testament. Charis, or grace, has been commonly defined as “undeserved kindness” or “unmerited favor.” These definitions, however, fail to reveal the full extremity of the meaning of grace.  Grace is not merely “undeserved” or “unmerited.” Rather, grace is the exact opposite of what is deserved or merited. When we declare our unworthiness of God’s grace, we are actually saying we are worthy of the exact opposite of God’s grace!

This is highlighted by what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1-10. In verses 1-3, we are described as having been “dead in our trespasses and sins,” “following” the “sons of disobedience,” “carrying out the desires of the body and the mind,” and “were by nature children of wrath.” However, in verses 4-6, Paul tells us that God mercifully put aside the “wrath” that man deserved, because of His great love for us.

It is God’s love for us, or more specifically agapē love for us, that prompted God’s merciful grace toward mankind. Agapē love is willful love; love that is not characterized by emotion or gratitude, but by a willful desire to do what is best for the one being loved. It is love that merely says “I love you,” not “I love you because…” or “I love you if…”

We deserved “wrath” and death (Rom. 6:23), but received the opposite, namely, ‘love’ and ‘life.’ This is the definition of God’s grace. “By grace [we] have been saved” (Eph. 2:5). It is both undeserved kindness and an expression of God’s agapē love. What did God’s grace accomplish? It “made us alive together with Christ” (v. 5), “raised us,” and “seated us in the heavenly places in Christ” (v. 6). Paul tells us that our faith, through baptism (Col. 2:12-13), is how God’s grace is administered in one’s life (v. 8).

What God’s Grace Means

God’s grace has been made manifest in Christ. When we only deserved wrath and death (Eph. 2:1-3), God – because of His agapē love – sent His Son into the world, “that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17). Therefore, we have been bought at a price (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23). An enormous price, I might add. We no longer belong to ourselves. When one believes and is baptized, he or she puts to death her former self (Rom. 6:4) and becomes a new person under new Ownership. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, we have been “born again” (John 3:3, 5). We “have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God” (Rom. 6:22).

When we try to understand God’s grace, we must recognize that it is something to which we are by no means entitled. Though we live in a society where many feel ‘entitled’ to everything (i.e. government handouts, healthcare, security, etc.), the last thing we are entitled to is God’s grace. Though it is a “free gift” (Eph. 2:8), it is not cheap. We must hold on to our gracious salvation (1 Cor. 15:2) with both an attitude of humble submission to God and an eager spirit to selflessly serve His Son (Jas. 2:17). Without an attitude of humble submission and thankfulness for God’s grace, we will fall (Gal. 5:4). (And without it, we certainly will not find comfort in a study of the authority of God.)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley Dig-a-Bit Podcast

Obedience is NOT (Great Escapes M02E04)


Dig-A-Bit is a weekly mini Bible study with Cindy Colley. It supplements the Digging Deep Bible study for women. In this episode, Cindy discusses the things obedience is not. For more information about Digging Deep, visit TheColleyHouse.org.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

  • 1 Samuel 15
  • Leviticus 10
  • Exodus 7-12
  • Romans 8:28
  • Matthew 6:33

LINKS:

RESOURCES:

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Obedience: Finishing the Climb

 

When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.
And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb. Mt. 27:59-61

The progression to the foot of the cross had been a grueling and sorrow-filled climb. Mary had followed the Lord from the halls of Pilate to the hill of Golgotha. She watched the agony of the cross from a distance. She felt the earth move under her and witnessed the tearing of the rocks (Matthew 27:50-56). She was present when the centurion at the foot of the cross made the good confession: “Truly this was the Son of God.” She and the other Mary followed the rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, as he laid the body of the Lord, wrapped in clean linen in his freshly hewn tomb. She watched as Joseph rolled the stone over the opening of the sepulcher (Matthew 27:56-61).

I once had a study with a woman who was contemplating becoming a member of the body of Christ. She was unashamed in asking me just what would be required of her family. “Would we need to be there at every service? My kids have a lot of practices and games and our youngest really has a strict bedtime. The older two have loads of homework. Wednesday nights would be really difficult for us. I just need to know what kind of commitment we would be needing to make.”

I recall an elder in the church in one of the places we lived. Through every sermon, he constantly looked at his watch. He became visibly upset if the service exceeded the hour. I have observed, in some congregations, an exodus of a large number of people after the communion is served, but before the final song and/or prayer.

Somehow, I don’t think Mary was looking at the sundial. I don’t think she was wondering if the commitment from here on out would require more time and money. I don’t think she was thinking about how nice it would be to get home and wash her tired and dirty feet that had climbed the hill to Golgotha. I don’t imagine her thinking about what was for supper or whether there would be time before the Sabbath to go shopping at the market. In short, this woman, who had originally been demon-possessed, was now committed to the Conqueror of demons, of the grave…of sin.  She was the kind of disciple that willingly stayed till the end. Are you?

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: I AM BECAUSE I AM

nature-scenery-at-the-flambeau-riverIn Exodus 3:14, God gave Moses the name by which He wished to be identified to His people, Israel, when he presented to them the prospect of deliverance from slavery to Pharaoh, their hard-hearted taskmaster. 

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

I AM THAT I AM.  Frankly, as a child, when I heard the story of Moses and the burning bush, the name sounded awkward and left me wondering exactly what God was trying to convey by the nomenclature. But as I read the name today in the American Standard Version, I’m amazed at its significance. The ASV renders it I AM BECAUSE I AM.

Just think of that! Every one of us can wear the first part of this name: I AM. You are. I am. We exist. But we do not exist because of ourselves. We exist because of a mother and father who existed because of another set of parents, who existed ultimately, through the line of generations back through time because of an original cause: Jehovah. God. The Creator. We are because He is. I am because of His eternal being and power. I cannot wear the second half of God’s Exodus three name. I am not existent because of my own existence. In other words, I am, but not because I am. I am because He was, is and continues to be. My name is I AM BECAUSE HE IS.

Jehovah, then, is the only one who can claim the name I AM BECAUSE I AM.  Everyone else has an original cause. He is the Original Cause. So that makes Him God. He had no beginning, no designer, planner, maker or authority. That makes him the ultimate of all of those things. The fact that He is the Original Cause renders Him the superlative in every relationship: the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. The Original Cause does not have to explain Himself. Just as the Exodus three name implies, He not only is because He is, He does because He does. In our modern vernacular, we might say He gets to decide. Everything. The buck stops with God. 

This is why Moses had to take off his shoes in front of that bush that day. Moses, the one who was caused, who was saved from destruction, who was nurtured in the palace and commissioned to deliver was standing, at that moment, before the Great Cause, the Savior, the Nurturer, the Deliverer.  

That’s why every one of us has to deal with God. He is the One with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13). There’s a sense in which we all have our burning bushes….The ultimate One is the only One who can truly present the ultimatum of this lifetime. Because He has this kind of superlative power over us, it makes it all the more amazing that he gave us His Son. Jesus, the One who was every bit God, who shared the quintessential power that’s inherent in the Exodus three name, gave up, for a time, the ultimate authority and learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8). Obedience. I AM THAT I AM obeyed. And He did this for me. The One who could wear the name I AM BECAUSE I AM humbled himself to dwell among those who are the caused rather than the Cause and even to die for the caused. 

When I think about this, I know that I’m not worthy to contemplate this humbling of Jesus. I am not capable of fully grasping the great gap between Cause and caused that was bridged at Calvary. But I want to take off my shoes before the  great I AM. Whatever I’m called upon to do as I go forth from my burning bush, I want to do it. I want to bow before the great I AM THAT I AM. 

May all who suffered sword or flame

For truth or Jesus’ lovely name

Shout victory now and hail the Lamb

And bow before the great I AM.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: At Last! the West Huntsville Women’s Seminar 2015!

11222795_10153195680049069_178530950660725037_nIt’s finally time to register! (http://seminar.westhuntsville.org/)…for GREAT lessons about living with purpose that will get you back on track for Him and for your families. “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” the popular Friday night time of petitioning God together in behalf of the needs of those sisters in attendance and those we love, will, once again open our weekend with prayer and refreshing encouragement from sisters. Then, on Saturday, Kathy Pollard, of Denver, Colorado, will be taking us to the scriptures to give us just what we need to keep on keeping on as we close a year that has been one of the darkest years for morality in the history of our country. We NEED this weekend!

Kathy will also give us a crash course in Bible marking, for which I, personally, can hardly wait. There’s free Friday night housing in homes. There are snack times, there’s book-store perusal time, singing time and there’s encouragement coming from hundreds of smiles and praying hearts. We can do this thing of raising kids and grandkids in a culture gone awry! Kathy will be giving us ammunition for the fight that is ahead.

I truly hope you can come. Make it a sisters road trip. Make it a weekend and stay over for Sunday if you can. We’ll meet your flight and get you to your lodging. Bring your prayer requests for Friday night. Bring your Bibles for marking. Bring your daughters for the faith of your future grandchildren. Bring your sisters for growing closer. Bring your non-Christian friends for a glimpse of hope. Bring your appetites, your singing voices and your pajamas. This only happens every other year, so don’t miss it. If you come and you do not find strength for the journey, I personally will refund your registration fee!…

Okay, so it’s FREE. The seminar itself, the snacks , the lunch, the housing in homes…It’s all free of charge and waiting— for your spiritual advantage. So go here …http://seminar.westhuntsville.org/ …for answers to your questions, and to sign up. The T-shirt is the only thing you can buy on the whole page and it’s certainly optional and sold to you at cost for eight dollars.

Have I convinced you? So go sign up, already!

(ps….if you have questions, call or text Emily at 256-509-2541 or Holly at 256-322-7556)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Cafeteria Style Religion

pohb75mb48vzcoWhen I was a kid, my family would occasionally go out to eat at Britling’s in Birmingham. It was a cafeteria—old style— and the array seemed infinite to my child’s-eye wonderment. But there was also a substantial problem, in my childish perception: the adults could choose anything they wanted from the cucumber salad at the very beginning right down to the peach cobbler a-la-mode at the end. The kids on the other hand had three choices of meats for their “child’s plates”: a chicken leg, a small hamburger patty, or a little bowl of spaghetti. That’s all. We could not pick the trout almandine, the meatloaf or the shrimp. And, perhaps worst of all, we could not pick the chocolate pie, the peach cobbler or the banana pudding. If we were going to eat any of those things, we had to take what our parents picked off of their own plates and mercifully placed on our own.

Thus, the now legendary question I asked in my nasally, fresh-from the-tonsillectomy voice when I was a mere four years old: “We’re going to Britling’s? Is that the place where the grown-ups get whatever they want to eat and the kids get whatever they want you to have?”

The cafeteria line has never been my favorite. Still isn’t. The thing is, when I was a kid I wanted to be able to pick; I mean from the whole, entire spread. As an adult, it’s the picking that is the problem. Too many choices and certainly too much stress figuring out how much I’m paying for my choices when I’m adding things to my tray one casserole and cobbler at the time. But it’s also the thing about balance. It’s really a cafeteria style temptation to skip the salad, greens and Brussel sprouts and pick the fried fish, the candied yams, the fried okra and the lemon chiffon pie. They even tempt you to get some kind of dessert for your bread…like orange crescents or carrot muffins. (“Muffin” because they don’t want you to think you’ve already picked up a piece of carrot cake when you’re deciding whether or not to take the fudge pie at the end.)

There are drawbacks to the cafeteria system that can make us unhealthy and all-spent out. But the application of the cafeteria-style mentality to our spiritual choices is eternally tragic. Think about it with me.

As I look on the Facebook walls of friends who are LGBT advocates on this week that’s been heartbreaking for me (and actually at any given time), I notice many comments about the Golden Rule, about loving one another and about treating each other fairly. Of course, all of these concepts are straight from the book. They are Biblical concepts that are repeated over and over in scripture. They are truth and we cannot bypass them on the way to the end of the line.

But in our zeal to talk about the God of love and the love of God, we cannot silence the God of law and the law of God. The condemnation of sin—the part of the Book that holds us accountable for the moral, sexual, and religious choices that we make—is too obtrusive in the Word of God, for us to pretend He accepts us all even as we rebel against His expressed commands. Approaching the Word is not standing in a cafeteria line in view of an array of choices. He is God. He is holy. Reverend is His name. He is the supreme authority in the lives of those who will live with Him forever in eternity. He gets to choose—terms of admittance, lifestyles, modes of worship. He gets to dictate life to me.

I understand and am saddened that there are many in our country today who do not believe the Word…at all. They are not even “in line” before the Book.  I get how they can get their heart’s permission to fornicate, to be adulterers, drunkards, licentious, swindlers, homosexuals and to participate in all sorts of sin. With no objective standard of conduct, what, except personal preference and fear of unwanted short-term consequences, is to stop unbelievers from any kind of riotous behavior? The answer is—nothing. At least those people are honest in their rejection of the standard.

I also understand that group of people who have faith in the Word, but sometimes falter in keeping its precepts. I am one of those people. We are saddened by and ashamed of sin.

It’s the third group of people that are perplexing to me. They are the ones who are claiming an allegiance to the Bible, wearing the name of Christ and even engaging in lots of good works in the name of the Lord and, all the while, defending and/or participating in the very actions that are expressly condemned in Scripture. It’s the “Christians” who, on Facebook, talk about how proud they are of someone’s “coming out of the closet” or post pictures of themselves in extremely immodest attire or use profanity (or post someone else’s use of it) or invite friends to the bar. It’s the sisters and brothers among us who exalt what the Word condemns, endorse what the Bible disapproves, and proudly display what the Bible calls shameful.  These are the cafeteria-line Christians. They’ve chosen the parts of Christianity that they find appealing and rejected the rest.

In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus referred to a group of people who did lots of good things and even did them in His name, but yet were lost. Why? Because they did not comply with the full will of the Father in Heaven. They chose to do some good works, while at the same time, rejecting commands of the One Who has all authority over all of the lives of all people in all generations.

May I always remember that The Word is not a cafeteria line. It is sustenance for my soul, as the Psalmist said:

I opened wide my mouth, and panted; For I longed for thy commandments (Psalm 119:131). 

And finally, this wonderful paragraph from Psalm 119 is a divine mantra for those of us today who are finding it hard to digest all the “love talk” from those who are blatantly disobedient to His clearly expressed will for human sexuality:

Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,

but I do not swerve from your testimonies.

I look at the faithless with disgust,

because they do not keep your commands.

Consider how I love your precepts!

Give me life according to your steadfast love.

The sum of your word is truth,

and every one of your righteous rules endures forever (vs.157-161).