The Book of Colossians part 4 – Week 14 / March 30th

2014Devotional


“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the
Lord, so walk in Him…”

Colossians 2:6

Paul has demonstrated to the believers at Colossae the preeminence of Christ and the all sufficiency of His redeeming work on the cross. The point is clear; they need not look elsewhere for spiritual growth and development since they are complete in Christ because all the fullness of God dwells in Him bodily. They do not need additions of any type; all they need is more of Jesus and this is obtained through a real, vital and personal relationship with Him. They have been reconciled to God their Father by Christ’s redeeming work and now they have to walk this out by being steadfast and faithful in their relationship with Him. He will transform them and free them from their sinful natures.

Paul has committed his life to this cause because it is the Gospel and he intends, with God’s grace and ability, to reach the world with the good news that Jesus saves! He therefore now turns to the burden and privilege of ministry that is his.

1.    The way of suffering  1:24
Paul knows that Christ’s sufferings are all sufficient but sometimes believers need a role model in order to encourage them to lay hold of all that Jesus has done for them on the cross. The cross is enough but Paul by his example encourages God’s children to pick it up. It is in this way that he fills up in his flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ. We should be the same in that Christians around us should be encouraged to follow Christ more fully because of what they observe in our lives, especially when we go through hard times. Paul’s steadfastness in suffering displays Christ’s supernatural life in him. Can this be said of us?

2.    The way of service 1:25
Paul was called by heaven into the ministry   (Acts 9:1-9). He saw his ministry as a stewardship from God and therefore his chief concern was to faithfully preach the word of God. This word he is now preaching to them by the means of his pen. His concern is truth and we do thank God that he used his pen to preach as we have been left a remarkable deposit of what it truly means to be a Christ follower. Actually Paul wrote this letter from prison (4:10), as he did some of his other letters, and while at the time it may have appeared odd that such a great preacher was locked away and his voice could not be heard, in the plan of God his imprisonment gave him a greater voice that has now reached through the ages of time and by so doing has transformed millions of lives. The way of service does mean that we go through strange times that appear to have no purpose but in fact in God they are accomplishing great things! Our Lord does cause “all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

3.    The way of understanding  1:26-27
Paul’s message was “the mystery which has been hidden from ages.” This mystery, always spoken of in the Hebrew Scriptures (Romans 16:25-26), but not clearly recognized, was Christ in them “the hope of glory.” Again Paul is bringing them back to Christ and in fact is saying that the only way back to the image of God, here spoken of as the glory of God (See Romans 3:23), is by fully embracing Christ, and only Christ. He desires that they must get this understanding and so he stresses it again here in another way. This is the only message he preaches to the Gentiles, though it applies to Jews as well. (Romans 1:16)

4.    The way of teaching  1:28-29
Paul then gives us an insight into his love for God’s people. Though he preached to great crowds from time to time (Acts 17:22-23) he fully recognized his calling to disciple the individual. The emphasis he places in these two verses is inescapable; he wants to make sure that “every man” gets the truth of Jesus and His saving work on the cross right! This in turn tells us that the local church, no matter what the size, should at the very least provide a structure by which the individual can be taught the basic principles of what it means to follow Jesus.

The writer of the book of Hebrews referred to these as the “First Principles” (Hebrews 6:1-2). Sadly, these are too often neglected today the result being the production of believers who have no proper spiritual foundations in their lives and consequently they can be influenced by what Paul in his letter to the Ephesians called “every wind of doctrine.” (Ephesians 4:140
We should take note of these things, ask ourselves some challenging questions and determine to follow Jesus with all our hearts!

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Book of Colossians part 5 – Week 15 / April 7th

2014Devotional


“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the
Lord, so walk in Him…”
Colossians 2:6

This second chapter of Colossians sees Paul “getting down to business” as, having set forth the glories of Christ’s person and work, he now begins to deal with the issues that have been undermining the faith of the believers at Colossae. This subtle attack against their faith is one that is also being experienced by the believers at Laodicea (2:1) and it amounts to Secular Philosophy, Gnosticism and Religious Legalism. Of a truth nothing has really changed as the modern church still has to resist the intrusion of these deceptions only they have taken on new names! So, this chapter holds great relevance for us all today and we should heed its warnings. Paul admits that part of the problem is the fact that the peddlers of these errors are very often smooth talkers or, as he puts it, deceivers who use “persuasive words” (2:4).  All of this has greatly burdened Paul even though he has not really had personal contact with many of them. (2:1)

At the root of their problem is the failure to fully understand the fact that Jesus is God, one with the Father from all eternity (2:2). This understanding he calls a mystery (2:2) as if they understood it, as they should, they would know then that to have Christ in your life is to possess:
1.    All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (2:3)……and,
2.   All the fullness of God (2:9)

Knowing these two things would in turn mean that they would understand that they are “complete in Him” which also means there is no power or principality that is greater than Jesus and this gives their faith assurance, strength, well being and stability (2:2).

So then for Paul this means that:

1.    They should be encouraged (2:2).
2.    They should stand together in the truth or, as he puts it, display “good order” (2:5).
3.    They should be steadfast (2:5).
4.    They should live out their faith in Christ just as they began it when these deceptions were not there (2:6).
5.    They should grow and allow the life of Christ to fully flourish in their hearts (2:7).
6.    They should be thankful (2:7).

We would do well to take note of these things and practice them. Above all we must remember that when we have Jesus we have everything. There is nothing more that God can give us or that we should search for save to know Him better! And this is achieved by regular Bible reading, prayer, fellowship and the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42). It all seems so simple that some just cannot believe that it is true; but it is.

This section closes (2:8-10) with Paul warning us about:

The Dangers of secular and humanistic philosophy
The Bible is not in contradiction to the disciplines of science, mathematics and nature. The wonders that these disciplines introduce us to are worthy of noting and learning but it is very often the conclusions that people draw from these wonders or findings that we have to resist. Thus the marvels of the human body, that have been unearthed in the last century and more, do not therefore mean that we should adopt the conclusion that we have evolved from monkeys! No, it means that we should glorify God and praise Him for His greatness. Also, we should resist these “basic principles of the world” as, if embraced, they will lead us to the place where we abort babies and by so doing sanction murder on a huge scale. When God is not acknowledged and consequently our accountability to Him is rejected we will eventually diminish the value of life and condone murder. This is the truth!

Sadly, these evils are penetrating the church, just as they were in Paul’s day, and they have to be resisted. We see them all around us and especially in the redefining of marriage and sexuality. This battle rages at an intense level and it is going to escalate bringing the believing church more and more into conflict with the world. The truth is that the unsaved or natural man is an enemy of God (Romans 5:10) and according scripture is so self centered that he has no desire to seek God and indeed cannot (Romans 8:7). His conclusions will then always reject God and he will manipulate data of any type to express his hatred of God. Recently an ardent secular evolutionist debating a Christian creationist was soundly outwitted in the exchange but was heard whispering to his colleagues, “At all costs we must not let the divine foot through the door” meaning; even though we have been defeated we cannot, must not and will not acknowledge the existence of God. This says it all!

Secular humanism is invading the church everywhere today producing a corrupt and harlot church. Believers who stand on the truth of God’s word are increasingly being ostracized, smeared as extremists and even branded a danger to society. Jesus said that this would happen (John 16:33). Nevertheless, we must stand firm and not be overtaken by this corruption.

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Book of Colossians part 6 – Week 16 / April 14th

2014Devotional


“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the
Lord, so walk in Him……”

Colossians 2:6

In our last study of Colossians we noted that Paul, having gone through His important description of the glory of Christ and His finished work on the cross, now gets down to business. That is, he will deal head on with the spiritual problems that were challenging the church at Colossae. These were Secular Humanism, Legalism and Gnosticism. We noted the problems spawned by secular humanism in our last devotional in that it discounts the role and purpose of God in human affairs. Man is now the center of all things and not God and so consequently the carnality and wickedness of the human heart begins to drive human endeavor in all fields of life.

The result is always the same:
•    A low view of the value and dignity of life.
•    A distorted and perverted understanding of human sexuality.
•    A disregard for the importance of marriage and family……and;
•    A hatred of God and particularly of Christians and Jews.

All these things are still with us today even though in the twentieth century the greatest experiment at secular humanism, called communism, was an utter failure and led to the deaths of some sixty million people.  Christians were relentlessly persecuted, imprisoned and executed and people generally living in the great Soviet Union were bankrupted spiritually and materially. Sadly, as we enter the second decade of the 21st Century, we are witnessing the same evils making their way into the western democracies. The God of the Bible has been banished from the halls and corridors of power and His laws, which civilize and regulate human behavior, have been joyfully torn down in the name of tolerance; babies are being murdered in their mother’s womb on an unprecedented scale and good is being designated evil and evil good. We are everywhere sowing to the wind and we will, in due course, reap a whirlwind.

Having warned his readers about “empty philosophy” Paul then turns his attention to, The Dangers of Legalism. (Colossians 2:11-17)

Legalism is the incorrect application of the Law. It was a danger to the believers in Paul’s day and it remains so today. Essentially this means that there were believers at Colossae misquoting scripture and thereby seeking to induce their fellow believers to add circumcision, Sabbath keeping and festivals to their faith in Christ. These were known as Judaisers. All of these observances were just a shadow of which the substance or real “thing” is Christ. (2:16-17) In order to prove this Paul describes fully what in effect Jesus accomplished by His death, burial and resurrection. This, for Paul is an all sufficient work that cannot be added to by a list of “dos and don’ts”.

So, then he tells us that:
•    We were once dead in trespasses and sins; meaning that we were unresponsive to God, could not impress God with our good works and were separated from Him. (2:13a)

•    We were made “alive” in Jesus, in that all the things about us that displeased God were removed enabling us to be reconciled to Him (2Corinthians 5:19). Indeed Jesus’ death on the cross atoned for our past, present and future sins thus bringing us into right standing with God. Nothing else could achieve this and certainly not some legalistic religious observance. To drive his point home Paul reminds us that when the Romans crucified a criminal they would nail over his cross the crimes for which he was being put to death. In like manner when Jesus died all our sins were nailed to His cross so that we are now free from judgment and condemnation! (2:13-14) We were therefore made alive to God. Why then would we want to keep Sabbath to have life?

•    We were also, by Jesus’ cross, freed from the grip and power of the devil; the devil has been disarmed and publicly humiliated! Hallelujah! A returning triumphant Roman General would parade his enemies through the streets of Rome to the joy of the masses. In like manner Jesus, by His blood, has vanquished the devil and rendered him powerless. (2:15) The devil’s power was in fact God’s rejection of us because of our sins but once our sins were forever removed from us, as far as the east is from the west, the devil could no longer imprison us in his world. His power now is only that of deception. (2Corinthians 4:4) Given that this is true; why then would we seek to keep a religious ritual to keep us safe from the devil?

Given that all these things are true Paul writes, “So, let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths.” (2:16) We would do well to heed this as even today there are misguided Christians everywhere seeking to make others conform to their list of religious rules and regulations. We must avoid them and recognize that true circumcision is that of the heart (2:11) and true life only comes by identifying oneself fully with Christ’s work on the cross through baptism (2:12). In other words, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk in Him.”

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Book of Colossians part 7 – Week 17 / April 21st

2014Devotional


“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the
Lord, so walk in Him…”

We have noted that in this second chapter Paul gets down to business by dealing with the errors that were threatening the spiritual life of the believers at Colossae. These were secular philosophy, legalism and Gnosticism. We have noted the nature of the first two and have made comment on how these present themselves to the Church today. They may go by different names but they are in fact the same errors and they always have one aim; to distract the believer’s commitment to Jesus only. They seek then to add something to faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross and thus they must, as Paul did, be resisted.

Now our attention turns to:
The Dangers of Gnosticism  2:18-20
There were some people in the early church community who were claiming special revelation in their supposed walk with God. This revelation, so they taught, made them wealthy, prosperous and fully provided for. Since the early Church had no New Testament by which to confront these heresies, Paul had to do so by epistle. This false teaching was known as Gnosticism or “special knowledge.” Essentially it taught that one had to have a certain type of knowledge in order to “ignite” the blessings of God in your favor. Having a strong personal relationship with Jesus was considered not good enough. In order to bolster their claims, and give them added authority, they also claimed angelic visitations and supernatural encounters. This error really threatened the well being of the church and, as noted, diminished the central place that Jesus should have held in their lives. It was also very attractive as everybody wants to be well, healthy and prosperous!

In Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthian Church he addresses the same error in sarcasm when he writes:
“You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us-and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!….” (1Corinthians 4:8-10)

This new breed of “wise” (Gnostic) believer having special knowledge was in it for what he could supposedly get from his relationship with Christ. Indeed this was nothing more than the sinful self centered greediness of their lives being camouflaged in spiritual language and teaching. Or, as Paul puts it in our text; they were Intruding into those things which they had not in fact seen because they were vainly puffed up by their fleshly minds (V18). It had to be resisted. Their real failure however was that were not holding onto the Head, Christ Jesus, from whom flows all spiritual life and direction to the body, the Church. (2:19)

Today this error continues to thrive in the wider Church and has, as it did of old, destabilized the faith of thousands of unsuspecting and sincere Christians. Once again it asserts that you have to have knowledge of special confessions and words in order for a loving God to help you and bless you with health, prosperity and abundance. In short it is not your real and vital relationship with God in Christ that induces God to act on your behalf but rather this special confessional knowledge. If you get the confession wrong God, who wants to help you, cannot. That’s why when the special “gnosis” fails and does not work as it should in one’s life it is said to be because of sin! This is nonsense and the error that the hyper-faith people have brought to the Church in recent years. Naturally, the message draws people in huge numbers to hear it because it appeals to our basic needs in life and goes further by promising great wealth and abundance. The Apostles did not reflect it and were even hungry and in need of clothing!! (1Corinthians 4:11) They had obviously sinned!

What God really wants is your love for Jesus and a desire to be like Him in all respects. If Jesus holds the central place in your life then He will care for you, provide for you and bless you with what is yours; even if you don’t get your confessional words right.  We, unlike the first century believers, do have His word and He expects us to live within its parameters but we are not to treat it like a charm that we can “rub up” in order to produce miracles of provision. Prosperity, wealth and abundance are not our focus; Jesus is. This is not to say that God will not from time to time bless us with His wealth and abundance but it is His to give and not ours to demand (Proverbs 30:8). In his epistle to the Philippians Paul reflects this truth when he states that he has gone through times of abundance and times of great need. (Philippians 4: 11-13) His focus however was always on Jesus and only on Jesus. Ours should and must be the same.

Final Thoughts  3:20-23
Paul concludes this important section of his epistle by beginning with the word “therefore”. That is, given all that he has just written about empty philosophy, legalism and Gnosticism he wants them to know that in the end they all amount to dangerous rules and regulations. They are the” doctrines of men” as he calls them and though outwardly they can be measured and approved by men they will do nothing to really change your life from within. Only Jesus can do this. They may have the appearance of wisdom (special knowledge) and they may be religious (self imposed religion) but they will not put to death the deeds of the flesh that flow from our hearts; only Jesus can do that!

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Book of Colossians part 8 – Week 18 / April 28th

2014Devotional

“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the
Lord, so walk in Him…….”

Colossians 2:6

In our last devotional study on the book of Colossians we noted that Paul wrote the book chiefly to combat false teachings that were a threat to the well being of the church. These were Secular Humanism, Legalism and Gnosticism; all of which have their counterparts today. In the final part of chapter two, while dealing with these issues, he gives us a brilliant overview of the victory that Jesus won on the cross. He not only delivered us from the hostility of our sins, which were all nailed to the cross, but He disarmed the Devil of his power and openly conquered him and then, there being no barrier left to our fellowship with God, by His resurrection, He raised us to His right-hand in heaven! Jesus did it all and thus we need nothing more than Him as we are complete in Him. All we need to do is walk in Him, cling to Him and make Him head of the church’ nothing more! It’s just that simple and yet very powerful!

Now, as he does in all his epistles, he turns to the natural outworking of these truths in our lives. I call this section of his letter:
Victorious Christian Living

Here then Paul shares three spiritual concepts with us:

1.    Our two worlds  3:1-5
If we indeed have been raised up with Christ to be seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:4-7) then our ultimate perfection is guaranteed by His life in us (Romans 5:10). It also means that we live in two worlds all the time. That is; we live in a body on earth but we also live in heaven by the Spirit of Christ within us. We are truly in His Spirit seated (past tense) in heaven with Jesus. We are transformed on earth to the degree that we cultivate a living relationship with Jesus in heaven. This is why it so vital that Christians live in the Word, pray all the time and be filled with the Spirit. (2Timothy 3:16-17; 1Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 5:18-19) These bring the life of Jesus fully into our bodies which are then transformed by the incredible power unleashed toward us by the cross (Ephesians1:17-21). Christians are generally weak and failing because they do not live enough in heavenly places. Paul says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek those things which are above….” This carries with it a question mark and a command! Where do you live?

It is thus important for us to know that from God’s perspective the work of redemption in our lives is already completed because of Christ’s life in us. We have to walk it out in time all the while knowing that we have in Him “everything pertaining to life and godliness.” (2Peter 1:3) This means the things in our earthly body and realm that displease God can be easily put to death. The devil wants you to believe otherwise! Christ has done it all for you. Hallelujah! We live victoriously then in two worlds and our victory is ensured when we actually, in time, live lives that are truly in fellowship with God. It is precisely here that Christians fail all the time. (1John 1:1-3) Those walking in true fellowship with Christ will never fear the Day of Judgment because being in a vital and continuous relationship with Him means we constantly enjoy His approval. (1John 4:17)

2.    Our Deliverance  3:6-7
Jesus died to deliver our lives from “fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry.” If we live in them, even though claiming to be Christian we will fall under the wrath of God! The lesson is clear, we cannot claim to be redeemed and then continue to walk in the very things that Jesus died on the cross to deliver us from. This is what the Bible calls hypocrisy and it is this wickedness that Jesus preached against when He walked this earth (Matthew 22:18). We must be sober and recognize that God in Christ paid a great price to save us and is then not mocked by people who claim His name and live in sin! (Hebrews 10:26-30) The wrath of God is surely coming.

3.    Our New Likeness  3:8-11
Because Christ’s power is working mightily in us we easily put off the deeds of our past sinful lives. We no longer are given to anger, filthy language and blasphemy because we have put on Christ. It is His likeness that we embrace having been renewed in our minds with a knowledge that teaches us to appropriate Christ and Christ alone. This powerful redemptive work is available to all peoples of the world regardless of their race, color, station in life or education. Chris is all and in all. In other words, “Christ is enough!”
It is then with these wonderful words that Paul drives home the all sufficiency of Jesus’ work. We would do well to ponder these things carefully and live by them because Jesus said, “Not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of God….” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Book of Colossians part 9 – Week 19 / May 5th

2014Devotional


“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the
Lord, so walk in Him…..”

Colossians 2:6

Having defended the all sufficiency of Christ’s work Paul now becomes proactive and thus encourages the believers at Colossae to respond appropriately to the truth. He therefore sets forth the true nature of Christian living and does so by emphasizing:

1.    The things we put on  3:12-14
Christians who constitute the “elect of God” have to trust the great power of Jesus within them by being obedient to what this Life seeks to accomplish. That is, Paul commands them to “put off” the sinful attributes of their fallen nature and put on “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness and longsuffering”. This is in reality is impossible but it becomes attainable when we obey God and trust Jesus in us to make it happen.  We have to step out and build “spiritual scaffolding” with our minds and then Christ will change us by giving us the essence of what the scaffolding represents. In other words do what you cannot do and Christ will do it for you! Or, as scripture puts it “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2) And again, “Christ in you the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

When the child of God learns to “own Christ” in this way (Ephesians 4:20-24) transformation becomes a way of life that also impacts his relationships with others and enables him or her to love anyone. A community of Christ that lives in this manner will witness the “complaint factor” decreasing and the “unity factor” increasing. (V13-14)

2.    The things we let happen  3:15-16
Jesus life in us bubbles up like a fountain (John 7:37-39) and we should therefore “let the peace of God rule” in our hearts. The Christian life is one lived out in fellowship with others and this can be a very challenging business as aspects of our fallen natures get in the way and inject hurt and division into the community. We need supernatural help and God gives it in the form of His peace; all we need to do is let it overflow from our lives.

In like manner we must also “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.” When we expose ourselves to the word of God, in a manner that it fills our hearts, it too “bubbles out” of us in “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”  Not only do we embrace one another in these songs but we sing with gladness to our great God who has by His grace saved us. It is worth noting that all the great revivals of history were characterized by new songs. The problem with most Christians today is that they do not live in the Bible and are therefore unable to “rightly divide it.” As a result anything but psalms and hymns and spiritual songs comes out of their hearts!

3.    The things we do  3:17
We live each day for Christ and therefore we are to do everything to His glory. Christianity is a way of living and not a way of religious observance. It changes everything about us and teaches us to demonstrate Christ’s life in all that we do and say. This is a high calling and only achievable if we walk each day in the grace of God. This grace of God is brought to us by what Jesus did for us by His death burial and resurrection and we cannot add to it or subtract from it. Jesus is enough!

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Book of Colossians part 10 – Week 20 / May 12th

2014Devotional


“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the
Lord, so walk in Him…..”

Colossians 2:6

Paul has now completed his treatise against doctrinal errors that threaten the spiritual life of the church at Colossae. He now turns his attention to pastoral issues that involve the practical outworking of one’s faith. Here he deals with the foundational relationships that all people have. He thus gives instructions about family, marriage and work relationships. In other words he is saying, “This is what Christian relationships should look like.” We would do well to mark these and ensure that we reflect the very things that Paul, so many centuries ago, wrote to the Colossian Christians about. Time and time again it is here in this area that Christians fail and thereby providing no way of living for others to follow. We must pay close attention then to all that Paul says.

The Christian Way
Colossians 3:18-4:1

Marriage V18-19
Wives and husbands have distinctive but equal roles. When these are recognized the marriage relationship becomes stable and a great blessing to those who live in it. We live in a world where, thanks to secular humanism, the distinctive roles that men and women have in marriage have been rejected and even scoffed at. It is therefore not surprising that the divorce rate in the world today is huge to say the least. One would think that the “progressive pundits” would stop and asked why and at least admit that their misguided theories have brought destruction and violence to so many lives (Malachi 2:16). But they don’t; they just continue on as if all is well. They are blind fools and they are many!

When God made man He affirmed that he was incomplete though perfect (Genesis 2:18-25); he needed a helper or someone that would make up his obvious deficiencies. The answer was woman! She would come from near to his heart and she would submit her ideas, thinking, intuition and opinion to him thus enabling him to make better decisions and the right ones! So, submission is not being told by a man what to do but it means; she tells him what to do and then leaves him to make “the call.” Men fail when they do not bring their wives into their every decision and they should never tell their wives what they want them to know but rather what they should know. When men treat women with disrespect by not listening to them and therefore dishonoring the reason why God created them, they dishonor God and He in turn will not answer their prayers!  (1Peter 3:7)This is a serious matter. Husbands must love their wives. That is cherish them, lay down their lives for them and sacrifice for them. This teaching coming from Paul, an unmarried man, is remarkable and we must all heed it lest we see more devastation and breakdown in marriages.

Children  V20-21
Children should learn to obey their parents and this means that the mother and father must be absolutely united and resolute when they train their offspring. Children quickly learn how to play one parent off against another with shouting, chaos and disorder being the result. God is well pleased with obedient children and we must not forget that the training that children get in their homes will set their course for the rest of their lives and particularly their married lives.

God has gifted men with love authority and women with love care. When these work together our children are secure, well adjusted and able to accept authority figures in their lives. Fathers and mothers must not become unbalanced by emphasizing the one more than the other. Fathers then must be careful that their love authority does not become authoritarian! This will damage the children, provoke them and make them bitter. The world is full of bitter children who carry their resentment into adult life. We must be careful!

Employment  V22-4:1
Bondservants or employees must do their work unto the Lord and “not with eyeservice.” God is watching us as we belong to Him and when we serve in a company or business of any type we ultimately serve Him and therefore we must not be shoddy, dishonest and unreliable. A judgment day is surely coming and God in Christ will reward us for our actions when living under employment. Of this we must and can be sure!

Equally employers must treat their employees with respect, kindness and give them what is just and fair. That is, pay them generously and not be stingy while they make millions. Once again, employers should know that they have an employer in heaven who is watching their conduct and He will deal with them in the end if they have been unjust.

Let us then be sure that our lives are truly Christian and reflect these values.

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Book of Colossians part 11 – Week 21 / May 21st

2014Devotional

“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the
Lord, so walk in Him…”

Colossians 2:17

A real vibrant Christian life is identified by a new way of living. This is why the early believers were called people of “the way. (Acts 9:2)” A way of living then should be different, it should “turn the world upside down” and be Christ like (Acts 17:6). The early Disciples were noted for the fact that “they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) This was not always attractive to the world because it loves the darkness more than the light and will therefore rebel against the ways of Jesus. In our last study we noted what we called the Christian Way and so we examined what Christian relationships look like in the home and in the office.

In this study we turn our attention to: “The Work of the Ministry” Colossians 4:2-6

The Call to Prayer  V2-4
The work of God turns on the cog of prayer. We must not in any way delude ourselves about this. If we do not pray we will not see what we are believing and longing for. That is, there will be no revival, no harvest of souls, no outpouring of the Spirit and no blessing. Every great revival in history began with prayer and this prayer, according to Paul, must be earnest, watchful and filled with thanksgiving. “Earnest” has the thought of being sincere, urgent and dedicated. “Watchful” means that we must discern the enemy of God’s work and also look for God’s answers. The God we serve is a prayer answering God and when His children call upon Him earnestly and watchfully He always answers. Of this we can be sure!

Our prayers must also come to a place where they are no longer just about ourselves but rather about God’s work and others. So, Paul urges them to carry in their hearts the great burden of seeing doors opening for the proclamation of, what he calls, the mystery of Christ. This proclamation must be powerful and true even though it will be opposed and could lead to being placed “in chains.” Our message is very often not a welcome one but is the only way to eternal life. All this means that we must learn to pray and that prayer should and must take a more prominent place in the, life of every local church. (Acts 1:14)

Also, we need God’s help in preaching the message properly. It is not eloquence and knowledge, though both help, that will accomplish the will of God in preaching but God’s help by His Spirit. Paul needs this and asks for prayer in this regard. He was well educated, could speak well, as he proved before Festus and Agrippa (Acts 26:24-28), but he needed God to really make it what it should be and so all preaching must be bathed in prayer, much prayer. There is no doubt that the great sin of the modern church is that of prayerlessness.

The Call to Wisdom  V5
Christians have to show the ungodly or “those outside” the ways of God. This requires wisdom as we should endeavor to reach them with truth couched in love. The knowledge of truth alone will not enable us to reach the world. Wisdom is the correct application of knowledge and we need this in order to reach the world. Much of Christian witness is misguided and offensive because it lacks wisdom. Thankfully Jesus gives wisdom to those who ask Him for it! (James 1:5)

Wisdom also means that we use the time allotted to each one of us properly. Time is the most precious gift that we all have because time equals life! So many Christians have wasted this gift and so Paul calls upon us to “redeem the time.” That is, but it back and make sure that you are its master!

The Call to Communicate  V6
Our words are powerful, loving and hurtful. James reminds us that a forest fire can be set aflame by our words (James 3:1-6). We should thus be careful what we say and seek always to make our speech graceful and, as he puts it, “seasoned with salt.” That is, as much as possible, they should be a blessing and thus “tasteful” to those who hear us. This is a life-long learning process and we should always ask Jesus to help us. This is the work of the ministry and we must constantly “sharpen these tolls” if we wish to be effective Disciples of Jesus.

May God help us to desire these things with all our hearts.

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Book of Colossians part 12 – Week 23 / June 1st

2014Devotional


“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the
Lord, so walk in Him…..”

Colossians 2:6

Paul has exhorted the believers at Colossae to stay true to the Gospel of Jesus. That is, they are to avoid secular humanism, legalism and Gnosticism. We have then noted how he has borne testimony to the excellence of Christ and the all sufficiency of His finished work on the cross. They need nothing more, are complete in Him and should remain vitally connected to Him because He is the head of the Church. Our focus must be upon Jesus at the right-hand of glory since we have been raised up with Him and are already seated with Him in heaven and are thus freed from all demonic power and influence. This took place when we first believed in Him! And, this is why “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” Don’t begin this walk in one way and then seek to go in another. Jesus is enough and we should all seek to know Him better. This was Paul’s heart desire. (Philippians 3:8)

There is a practical outworking of these truths since they bond us to God by His Spirit and this changes our way of living, working and loving. We do all of this within the boundaries of God’s word and so become the people of “the way.” More important still; we involve ourselves fully in the work of God and therefore we seek to extend His kingdom by preaching the Gospel. We do this in relationship with Him and by His power and this in turn means that we become a people of prayer, much prayer.

Paul has now ended his epistle and then, as he normally does, gives his: Concluding Remarks Colossians 4:7-18

We can learn much from these concluding remarks as they let us into the personal journeys of Paul’s associates. We then note the following and as we do try to discern which associate speaks the most to you:

Tychicus V7-8
The beloved brother who comforts and encourages the hearts of God’s people.

Onesimus V9
This also “beloved brother” is faithful though once he was a slave. (Philemon 1) Jesus can change our circumstances and break our bondages.

Aristarchus V10
A soldier for Christ now imprisoned with Paul for preaching the Gospel.

Justus V11
A worker in the Kingdom of God and a comfort to God’s servants. Preachers, Pastors and Ministers also need encouragement and care!

Epaphras V12-13
The one who labors in much prayer with a great zeal and praying that God’s people will find, live in and be complete in the will of God. We desperately need people like this today.

Luke V14
The beloved physician bringing his medical skills to the benefit of the Kingdom of God. We all have remarkable abilities that should be surrendered to the work of God.

The Churches V15-16
We should all belong to a local church for it is there that we are built up and exposed to the faithful reading and preaching of God’s word. (Acts 2:42)

Archippus V17-18
Each one of us has received a special gift (1Peter 4:10) and we should be most careful to employ it faithfully on behalf of God’s work. Fulfill God’s plan for your life!

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Genesis Twenty – two Faith Challenge – Week 24 / June 8th

2014Devotional


“And without faith it is impossible to believe God, because
anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists
and rewards those who earnestly seek Him”

Hebrews 11:6

This passage is called the “Binding of Isaac” by the Jewish theological world. The text then records the call of God over Abraham, some four thousand years ago, to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah, which eventually became the site of the Temple. The significance of this event is the following:

1. It was a test of Abraham’s obedience to the call of God over his life.

This is testified to by the text itself. It is worth noting that when we pass these tests God’s purpose flows through our lives to a greater measure. (1Peter 1:3-7) These tests are not easy and require real faith and obedience to face them successfully.

2. It constituted a picture of Messiah’s redemptive work.

The book of Hebrews in the New Testament affirms this when it states that Abraham received Isaac “back from the dead”. (Hebrews 11: 17-19) Jesus confirmed that Abraham “saw His Day” in John chapter eight and verse fifty-six. It is possibly true that on this unique day in Abraham’s life  his eyes were opened to recognize the nature of Messiah’s redeeming work on the cross. It is fascinating to read in the text that Isaac carried the wood to Mt. Moriah and then that he was laid on the wood and thus prepared for a sacrificial death. Jesus, in like manner, carried His wooden cross to Golgotha and was “laid” on it.

3. It reminds us that our redemption is based on the vicarious suffering of another.

That, we cannot do anything to merit or earn our way into heaven. (Ephesians 2:8) Our best good works fall far short of God’s perfect standard and are thus “dead works”. The book of Hebrews teaches us that we have to repent from these “dead works” (Hebrews 6:1) and have faith in Christ’s finished work for us on the cross. Abraham, in this passage, was right when, in response to Isaac’s question as to where the lamb would come from, said, “God would provide for Himself a lamb.”

4. It reminds us that human sacrifice, the ritual of dark religious systems, is forbidden by God.

Human life is precious and though marred by sin can be saved and take on the image of Christ. Abraham lived in a world where human sacrifice was routine. The Bible reminds us of the “detestable god of Molech” that demanded the sacrifice of new born babies. It condemns this and promises judgment against it. Today abortion is the new expression of this evil. Humankind is responsible and accountable to God for the things done in their bodies and thus they do not enjoy exclusive rights over their bodies. The  God we serve gives every human being worth and dignity and “He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

5. It reminds us as believers that we are called to a life of faith and obedience.

Abraham, by faith, took hold of the call of God over his life in Ur of the Chaldees. Paul underscores his remarkable faith and in Romans four writes about it. (Romans 4:1-25) This walk of faith  would be tested since it had a unique destiny; Abraham would become a father of many nations. We would do well to remind ourselves that our destiny or calling in God will likewise require obedience to fulfill it. God will test our hearts and minds as He did that of Abraham’s. The goal is always the same; that our lives should bear witness to the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Finally,

6. It gives a unique redemptive promise

. At the conclusion of this passage Abraham is told that his obedience to God would mean that “In his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed.” This word “seed” is not in the plural but in the singular form meaning that it is referring to one individual, Jesus of Nazareth.  Paul affirms this in Galatians three. The lesson is clear, Abraham’s obedience guaranteed that a Saviour would come and redeem the world by his atoning work.

So, Genesis twenty-two is a remarkable passage of scripture well worth our quiet contemplation and truly we should all thank God for Abraham. His eternal legacy finds ultimate expression in the fact that the God of the universe identifies Himself by associating with Abraham. That is, He is the God of Abraham and his children, Isaac and Jacob. Meaning that He is a God of Covenant, Atonement and Transformation. In addition, though belonging to Christ, we shall forever be designated Abraham’s children. (Galatians 3:29) All praise be to Him!

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries