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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Christ IN you - the hope of GLORY

If you have ever played that little game known as "telephone", you know how convoluted the message given by the first person can become by the time it reaches the last person in the line.  The first person whispers the message into the ear of the one right next to them, then that one passes it along in similar fashion to the next, and so on.  By the end, sound alike words get all mixed up and are often replaced, such as banana become bandanna, or rogue become road.  Those tiny differences change the entire message and we usually have a hoot about the final message as it is repeated.  In essence, you might say the person at the end (and those in between) did not receive the complete message.  Really, they did, it just got mixed up because what one person "thought" they heard was not what was said.  This is why it is important for us to take the messages we hear "about" God right to the scripture ourselves to figure out if this is really something he would do, say, etc.  We validate the message heard so we can produce valid actions aligned with that message.

God’s plan was to make me a servant of his church and to send me to preach his complete message to you.  For ages and ages this message was kept secret from everyone, but now it has been explained to God’s people.  God did this because he wanted you Gentiles to understand his wonderful and glorious mystery. And the mystery is that Christ lives in you, and he is your hope of sharing in God’s glory. We announce the message about Christ, and we use all our wisdom to warn and teach everyone, so that all of Christ’s followers will grow and become mature.  That’s why I work so hard and use the mighty power he gives me.  (Colossians 1:25-29 CEV)

God doesn't just send us "messengers" with the Word of God as the sole means by which we will embrace and walk in his ways.  In fact, he uses these messengers to bring us "some" enlightenment, but the greatest enlightenment we can have is when we come into that place of light ourselves.  I have often talked about the importance of each of us getting familiar with what is in the scriptures ourselves.  Why?  Primarily so we can be blessed by the goodness in there, but also so we can be kept safe from the teaching which veers from actual truth.  In times past, the scripture portions were kept in special places, stored away from the common eye simply because it could not be reproduced in mass quantity and it was produced on papyrus or the like.  This required "teachers" or "rabbis" to expound upon the content of the scripture after reading the passages to the public in attendance "at church" that day.  As Christ came on the scene, things began to change, though.  His intent was for all men to become familiar with the "good news" - the message of the gospel.

His purpose was to reveal the truths of scripture, in living form, so all mankind, not just a select few, could become acquainted with the truths of God's goodness, his love for all mankind, and his plan of salvation / restoration.  In turn, we were asked to continue this message (not in "telephone" fashion, though), allowing those within our "circles" of influence to also become acquainted with the truths of his goodness, grace, and love.  The mystery: God lives in us through the work of Christ Jesus.  Since he lives in us, we share in his glory.  Now, that is good news, isn't it?  We no longer have live life second-hand, through the teachings of another, but can become personally acquainted with God's grace through the work of Christ within us.

The purpose of sharing God's message is twofold:  1) So others may come to know the good news of God's plan of salvation; and 2) So we may grow in grace and become mature believers.  Hopefully, when I share truth with you, you don't trust it at face value.  You should explore the scriptures for yourself - asking God to show you if the truth I teach aligns with the principles taught there.  If not, reject it.  Run from it!  If it does, accept it.  Run to it!  This has been the plan since the beginning of the New Testament Church - God prepares individuals to help spread the gospel message - the message of GRACE, LOVE, and RESTORATION.  In turn, those who receive this message become messengers of this truth through changed lives, maturing in God's grace and love until others see the revelation of Christ IN you!

November 9, 1972 - the day I said "yes" to Jesus in my life.  That day, I asked God for a scripture to hold onto - he pointed me to this passage, calling out verse 27.  Why?  My life was going in the wrong direction and I knew without a real "intervention" of some sort, I would be swept up in actions which were going to produce nothing but sorrow in my life.  I needed hope and God directed me toward the hope I have held tight to all these years - Christ IN me is the hope of HIS glory shining through!  It is the hope of my life remaining on course, kept from the path which would only bring destruction and heartache. Nothing else could do the same for me - nothing else could produce the results his presence has produced.  The same is true for you - if you will embrace this message of hope.  God's grace awaits those who will seek it!  This is the message - this is the truth.  Just sayin!