The wait

Sometimes it feels as though our life is made up more of waiting than actually doing. Just wait. Hold on a minute. Can I put you on hold? Just a moment, please. Hold your horses! We wait so much that we have lists and rooms designated for that purpose. And they’re full. All the time.

And, as much as the waiting is bothersome, everyone else’s reaction to your waiting can be even more so. When are you going to get married? When are you going to have kids? Are you having more kids? When are you ever going to get a job? What about that promotion? We can get so caught up in what everyone else thinks of our waiting that we plow ahead, bypassing God’s timing for our own.

The Bible is full of people who decided that they knew better than God. All the way back to Eve, if she’d only waited for Adam’s input before eating the fruit, things may have turned out differently. What about Sarah and Abraham? At 90, Sarah didn’t think she could wait any longer and foisted her servant on her husband so the promised child could be produced. The result was Ishmael—we’re still seeing the effects of that mistake today. The entire nation of Israel grew tired of waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain and decided it would be better to worship idols.

The list goes on and on. The short of it is that no one likes to wait. We don’t like to feel as though we’re not accomplishing anything. But what is the penalty for our impatience?

Those who wait for me will never be put to shame.

Isaiah 49:23b (NLT)

We can try to blame God all we want, but when we jump the gun on His plan, the shame is ours alone. That’s not to say that God can’t repair what we broke, but there are still consequences.

But I don’t know what to do with myself!

I get it. I hate waiting, too. I hate not being productive. My hands must be busy. I have to have something to show for my time. In the practical sense, I bring something with me when I know I have to wait. A book. A crochet project. My journal. Candy Crush. But what about when I’m waiting on God?

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT)

God doesn’t make us wait to watch us squirm. He makes us wait because He’s either preparing us, preparing someone else, or preparing a situation. We will never see the entire picture, yet God is only asking us to trust in Him. The best thing to do—pray. Devote yourself to God. The wait may not be as long as you thought it was.

Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity.

Colossians 4:5 (NLT)

Waiting doesn’t have to be, and even shouldn’t be, idle time. The wait in itself is an opportunity. An opportunity to grow in our relationship with God. An opportunity to grow in our relationships with others. An opportunity to grow our faith and trust. An opportunity to prepare ourselves for the promise to come. The only shame in waiting is if we waste the opportunities God gives us in that time.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 48-49, Colossians 4

Real life

What is real?

REAL: Actually being or existing; not fictitious or imaginary. True; genuine, not artificial, counterfeit, or fictitious.

So what is real life?

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)

Your real life, your true life is hidden with Christ in God. Real life isn’t the daily grind. It isn’t your occupation, it isn’t your station in life, it isn’t even your earthly relationships. Real life is Jesus. So how do we even begin to live this life?

…for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds. In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

Colossians 3:9-11 (NLT)

We make so much of what we do in our lives here on earth. We have to work. We have to get an education. We have to save for retirement. We have to get married. We have to have kids. We have to provide for our kids and make sure they have an education, a job, a retirement. It’s an endless cycle that plagues us and pulls our focus off of real life and toward a mere shadow of what is to come. Work, education, saving, relationships are all important things and we should have all of those things, but when they become our primary focus, it becomes a lot easier to pick up those things that we stripped off when we came to Christ. Christ is all that matters.

And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:14 (NLT)

Real life and real love go hand in hand. When we put on love, we put on real life. True life.

Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

Colossians 3:16 (NLT)

Real life is real love which is real worship. When we live the new life that we found in Christ, we live a life of love and a life of worship. When our focus is on heavenly things, we can’t help but have thankful hearts because our focus is on the truth.

But the time is coming and is already here when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

John 4:23-24 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 45-47, Colossians 3

Pardon me once

When my eldest niece was young and she wanted to be excused, she’d asked to be pardoned. Twice. “Pardon me. Pardon me.” Someone told her that she only needed to say pardon me once. Then next time she needed to be excused, she put into practice what she’d been told. “Pardon me once. Pardon me once.”

If you’re the one in the wrong who needs to be pardoned, you only need to ask God’s forgiveness once. We almost always look at forgiveness as something that God does strictly for our benefit. We know that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die as a sacrifice in our place. But as much as forgiveness is for our sake, it’s for God’s sake as well.

I—yes, I alone—am the one who blots out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.

Isaiah 43:25 (NLT)

When someone commits a wrong against you, you have two options: you can forgive or you can hold a grudge. The only benefit to the latter is that you can feel self-righteous by holding this fault over the person who committed it against you. But by refusing forgiveness, you are effectually cutting off that relationship from the root and preventing it from ever being able to grow.

Harbouring unforgiveness keeps that offense in front of you and, when allowed to fester, it will make you bitter. Like a weed in a garden left unchecked, it will propagate to other areas and choke out anything good. Unforgiveness forces us to look at a person and see their faults first. Everything they say or do—good or bad—goes through the filter of their sin. No relationship can ever grow or even move forward unless there is forgiveness and acceptance of it.

More than it affects the person at fault, unforgiveness, if left unchecked, can ruin the one holding on to it.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He cancelled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross of Christ.

Colossians 2:13-15 (NLT)

So when God forgives us, for His own sake as much as ours, He forgets what ever happened. He has to. If He were to remember and keep record of all our wrongdoings, forgiveness in the future would be impossible to offer. In order to remain the God who forgives, God has to blot out our sins, destroy every record that it ever happened.

When we forgive others, three things happen: we release ourselves from being bound by unforgiveness, we release the offender from their punishment, and we take away the ability from anyone else to convict that person of their sin.

This is the example God has put before us. We only have to ask to be pardoned once. For His sake, God cannot withhold forgiveness, nor can He keep any record of our wrongdoing. That is to our benefit. And, if God has done all of this for us, what right do we have to withhold forgiveness from anyone who asks it of us?

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 43-44, Colossians 2

No Exceptions

When there’s work to be done in the church, are you the person who jumps right in and joins the crew or are you the one hanging back making the excuse that you’re not the expert, this isn’t your “thing”?

When it comes down to it, it’s not about the work at all or whether it’s your area of expertise or not. It’s about service. As Christians, we too often wait to feel called to something. Do you think that’s what the disciples were doing on their boats? Waiting for their calling? No! Of course not. That was their livelihood.

I’m not saying that Jesus is calling you to drop everything, leave your job and family, and join the full-time ministry. Maybe he is, but that’s for another day. What I’m saying is that every Christian is called into service in one way or another. If you wait until you feel called to something, you’ll be waiting a long time. Sometimes the service that needs to be done is cleaning the toilets (I’ve done it – dudes, your bathroom is gross). Sometimes it’s being at the front door of the church greeting people with a smile. Sometimes it’s demolition and sometimes it’s rebuilding.

In Nehemiah, we see people from pretty much every walk of life joining in the work of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah had a burden on his heart to do the work, but there was no way he could have done it on his own. When the work got going, we see goldsmiths and perfumers. These people were not your general labourers. If you were working with gold and perfume, you had a highly praised skill set. Along with these men were local rulers. Men repaired the sections of the wall that were near their homes. And yes, according to Nehemiah 3:12, women worked, too.

The only verse that mentions people not joining in is this:

And next to them the Tekoites repaired, but their nobles would not stoop to serve their Lord.

Nehemiah 3:5 (ESV)

To me, this is a bit of an oxymoron. They would not stoop to serve their Lord. Is there no greater work than to serve our Lord?

So the next time you have the opportunity (yes, service to God is always an opportunity) to serve in any capacity. Serve. Don’t wait. The greatest satisfaction in service comes when you do it with a joyful heart full of thanksgiving.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 1-3; Acts 2:1-13

Glorified

We hear often in the church that we must bear good fruit. If you were raised in the church, you know the songs that go along with Galatians 5:22-23. You know what the Fruit of the Spirit are (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). But do you know what they’re for?

Sure, being loving and kind makes us look good as Christians. It may even help draw people into our churches, but is that the only reason we’ve been commanded to display these traits?

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

John 15:8 (ESV)

If we do everything as unto the Lord according to Colossians 3:23, God gets the glory. That’s the point of all of it. God gets glory, people see that we are His followers, and those same people are attracted by our traits that reflect God.

By your words and actions, the people you associate with can see who you’ve been spending time with. You reflect their traits and, in a way, bring glory to them because you’ve deemed them important enough to emulate. Do we do the same with God? Do the people around us know that we’ve been spending time in the presence of God by the traits we reflect? Is God glorified by our behaviour?

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 17-19; John 15

Serve

I give your priesthood as a gift.

Numbers 18:7b (ESV)

Do you view your service to God as a trial or a gift? Do you serve because you have to or because you get to?

To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 1:5b-6 (NKJV)

In the Old Testament, much was expected of the priesthood. The processes and procedures outlined in Leviticus and Numbers seem endless. To most, this would seem a great inconvenience compared to the rest of the tribes of Israel who were left to live according to the law without having to worry near as much about it as the Levites.

But, like God set apart Israel as a chosen nation, He set apart the Levites as a chosen tribe. A priesthood. A gift of service to Aaron.

As we approach our churches on Sundays – and many throughout the week – do we look at our service as work or a gift? Our attitudes about what we do and why we do it will go far when it comes to our effectiveness in ministry no matter what area(s) we serve in.

In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people.

Colossians 3:23 (NCV)

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 18-20, Mark 7:1-13

Secrets

This message is the secret that was hidden from everyone since the beginning of time, but now it is made known to God’s holy people. God decided to let his people know this rich and glorious secret which he has for all people. This secret is Christ himself, who is in you. He is our only hope for glory.

Colossians 1:26-27

There are some things the Lord our God has kept secret, but there are some things he has let us know. These things belong to us and our children forever so that we will do everything in these teachings.

Deuteronomy 29:29

Obviously, there are things that God knows that I am not meant to know. It’s not my job to question what He allows me to know and what He doesn’t. The things that God has not revealed to me are not for me – maybe not for right now or maybe not ever. But that doesn’t have to be a downer because what God has seen fit to reveal to me is pretty amazing.

God has revealed Jesus Christ and, not only that, but Christ in me. “This rich and glorious secret” that I get to tell the world about far surpasses anything and everything else that God has not already shown me.

But it doesn’t stop there. I have Christ, but God also wants to keep revealing things to me – about Him and about myself. All it takes is for me to take some time to dig in and get to know Him better. The more I know, the more He wants me to know and soon all those secrets God has been keeping are mine, too.