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Beyond The Four Spiritual Laws

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Col 3:13-14 . . Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as The Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

One of The Lord's constant rubs with his religious opponents was their virtually 100% lack of compassion; which effectively invalidated their rituals.

"Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice." (Matt 9:13)

Some folk honestly believe that Christ's statement, taken from Hosea 6:6, practically repealed the entire God-given book of Leviticus. But that's not what either Hosea or Jesus were saying. They meant that God much prefers that people be civil to each other rather than religious to their fingertips.

In other words; an ungracious person's lack of things like sympathy, patience, tolerance, lenience, helpfulness, pity, and common courtesy causes God to reject their worship just as thoroughly and bluntly as He rejected Cain's. I really think that God is insulted when people lacking humanity come to church actually thinking He's glad to see them show up for some quality time together.
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Col 3:15a . . Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

This calling to peace is probably not a call to produce peace, rather, a peace relative to John 14:7, wherein Jesus says:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid."

And Phil 4:6-7, wherein the apostle Paul says:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Webster's defines "anxiety" as: characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind, or brooding fear about some contingency; viz: worry-- which implies an incessant goading, or attacking, that drives one to desperation.

If believers were never to be anxious then there would be little, if any, need to pray and share one's concerns with their father in Heaven. The point here, is to avoid desperation. When people get desperate, they start making mistakes; and some of those mistakes can be life-changing; and cause permanent damage.

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2009 a deranged man named George Sodini walked into an LA Fitness gym in Philadelphia and gunned down twelve women in an exercise class. His impetus? According to information police later found on his blog, the 48 year-old man was in a mental state brought on by his long-held personal conviction that not one woman in the whole world could possibly love him. In his mind; women were a threat to his survival-- cruel, venomous sirens whose mission in life is to torment males and make them unhappy. No doubt in Sodini's thinking, murdering those women was justifiable homicide for ruining his life, viz: they had it coming.

His case is extreme, yes, but it serves to illustrate what happens to people when they let desperation gnaw at their feelings for too long a time. Pretty soon they crack and do something irrational.

C.S. Lewis, famed author of "The Screwtape Letters" and "The Chronicles of Narnia" once remarked that he prayed, not because he expected results but, because it made him feel better.

Well, if prayer makes you feel better, then more power to you-- in point of fact, I highly recommend conversational prayer because talking things out with somebody, even an imaginary playmate, is far and away better than holding everything in.

There are instances in the Old Testament where God actually sent His people troubles just to get their attention and start them talking to Him again. Sort of like a little boy in third grade spitting on the hair of a girl sitting in front of him so she'll notice him. (chuckle) Well, if God spits on your hair, so to speak, then maybe it's time you and He had a fireside chat.

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, and guards your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus; serves to settle people down. In other words: prevent them from over-thinking their problems. Always dwelling on negative aspects is destructive even for strong people.

Nobody knows the trouble I've been through,
Nobody knows my sorrow.
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen;
Sometimes I'm up, sometimes I'm down,
Oh, yes, Lord; sometimes I'm almost to the ground.

Well; some of us would be to the ground were it not for going to prayer instead.
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Col 3:15b . . And be thankful.

You know "thank you" is not a dirty word. Christ's people should never take the attitude that just because somebody is doing their job that they don't deserve recognition.

One of my favorite romantic comedies is "No Reservations" starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. Prior to filming, Catherine took a job waiting tables to get a feel for working in a restaurant.

On several occasions, patrons didn't even look up at her nor speak in a cordial, courteous tone when they ordered. It struck her as remarkable that some of the people whom she was serving totally took her for granted and displayed not the slightest inclination to even so much as acknowledge her as a fellow human being, let alone express their gratitude for her taking care of them.
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Col 3:16 . . Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish
one another with all wisdom

Before attempting to teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, it's essential
that the word of Christ first dwell in you richly; which is from the Greek word
plousios (ploo-see'-oce) which means: copious; defined by Webster's as yielding
something abundantly. In other words: fruitful-- very fruitful.

"By this my Father is glorified; that you bear much fruit " (John 15:8)

Col 3:16 is not an easy command to obey because it requires walking the walk
rather than merely talking the talk.

"For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and yields crops
useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears
thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be
burned. (cf. Luke 8:5-15)" (Heb 6:7-8)

In other words; the wisdom we're talking about here is gained by life experience
wherein a quantity of Christ's teachings have been put into actual practice rather
than only memorized.
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Col 3:17 . .Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of
The Lord Jesus.

In other words; Christ's followers should conduct themselves as Christians as
opposed to conducting themselves in any old way they feel like.

A simple way to apply Col 3:17 is just to ask yourself: Can my master put his
signature on this? If you know in your heart he cannot, then you do not have
Christ's authorization to proceed. If you proceed anyway, then you will be off
reservation, in your own little world of anarchy and rebellion against Christ's
sovereign right, as the lord and master of Christianity, to manage your affairs.
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Col 3:18 . .Wives, submit to your husband, as is fitting in The Lord.

NOTE: Here's a new word for your vocabulary: Womxn. You know what that is? It's
the latest desperate attempt by man-hating women to avoid identifying themselves
with men in every way possible. I suppose they'll next revise the spelling of their
gender to look like this: femxle.

The word "submit" raises a lot of unnecessary hackles when it isn't referring to a
pecking order. What it's referring to is just the opposite of defiant, stubborn,
uncooperative, domineering women. Especially wives that tend to marginalize their
husbands in everything.

For example: there was a wife in one of my Sunday school classes who made up
her mind to go back to school and work towards a degree regardless of how her
husband felt about it. She actually had the chutzpah to announce her intentions in
class while her husband sat there in silence with his head down in utter shame and
embarrassment.

Anyway: in a nutshell; the submission we're talking about here is related to a
Christian husband's position in the home rather than his gender in the marriage.

For example; we ought to respect senior citizens not because they themselves have
done anything to earn it, rather, because it's a respect that their age deserves. (cf.
Lev 9:32)

Back when Queen Elizabeth Second became monarch, her husband Philip felt
humiliated to have to kneel to his own wife till she explained to him that he
wouldn't be kneeling to her, rather, to the crown.

In other words: it's the position that deserves the respect rather than the person in
it. So, Christian wives ought to give their husbands the respect due to his position
in the home rather than the blokes they are.

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to The Lord." (Eph 5:22)

In other words: if it's unchristian to be assertive and confrontational with Christ,
then we ought to agree that it's unchristian to be assertive and confrontational with
one's husband too.

That's a pretty tall order for Christian wives in a modern culture that constantly
pressures them to be strong and masculine rather than soft and feminine; to be
superiors rather than subordinates; and to be assertive, confrontational, and
defiant rather than reasonable, peaceable, and cooperative.
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Col 3:19 . . Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

The Greek verb translated "love" is agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o) which doesn't necessarily
imply either affection and/or fondness. It's more about civility than emotion. This is
the kind of love that we extend to everyone-- friend, foe, and stranger alike-
regardless of how we might feel about them. It's the very same love that Jesus
taught in Matt 5:44 which reads:

"You have heard that it was said: You shall love your neighbor, and hate your
enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies,"

In other words; you don't especially have to like your enemies, but you do have to
be civil with them, i.e. courteous, kind, charitable, tolerant, patient, diplomatic,
tactful, gentle, reasonable, fair, deferent, approachable, cordial, genial, affable,
sociable, helpful, thoughtful, sympathetic, considerate, and cooperative, etc.

I readily admit the difficulty of being nice to people who rub us the wrong way; but
still, Christian men whose marriages resemble an on-going cold war would greatly
ease the tensions in their homes, and make the situation bearable for both sides of
the bed, were they to simply practice agapao.

"Harsh" can be exemplified any number of ways.

Abrasive
Abusive
Critical
Unfriendly
Uncivil
Rough
Oppressive
Cruel
Hostile
Loud
Demanding
Laying Down The Law
Intolerant
Impatient
Insensitive
Unyielding
Fault Finding
Public Scolding
Nit Picking
Mockery
Marginalizing
Remarks About Her Appearance
Penny Pinching
Money Rationing
Giving Her No Say In Important Decisions

Those behaviors are very effective at making a Christian wife's existence bitter, i.e.
a living hell; especially a Christian wife who's making an honest effort to comply
with Col 3:18.
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Col 3:20 . . Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases The Lord.

That command pertains only to Christian kids; not to just any kid who happens to
be looking in. And it needs to be said that not every kid in a Christian home is a
Christian kid. Some are demon seeds: that's just a fact of life and it can't be
helped.

The Greek word for "obey" in that verse is hupakouo (hoop-ak-oo'-o) which is
somewhat ambiguous. It can mean, variously, to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e.
to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority.

Too many television sit-coms today portray kids who don't listen to their parents.
But of course those sit-com kids typically have no desire to please The Lord.
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Col 3:21 . . Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become
discouraged.

The koiné Greek word for "discouraged" is athumeo (ath-oo-meh'-o) which has to
do with breaking the spirit. Really bad cases of athumeo can cause a child to lose
the will to excel; sometimes even the will to live, i.e. suicidal.
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Col 3:22-25 . . Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not
only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and
reverence for The Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working
for The Lord, not for men

Some Christians tend to forget that they live in a fishbowl; a sort of Big Brother
society where God misses nothing.

"Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace
to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform
to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called
you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy.
Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives
as strangers here in reverent fear." (1Pet 1:13-17)
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Col 4:1 . . Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you
know that you also have a Master in heaven.

NOTE: I have yet to find a passage in the Bible condemning slavery as a moral evil.
I'm not saying that such a passage doesn't exist; only that in my 52 years as an
ongoing Bible student via sermons, books, seminars, lectures, Sunday school
classes, radio programs, and personal study, I haven't run across one. The Bible's
primary issue with slavery is the treatment of slaves.

The master in heaven is providential. In other words: Christian masters have a
sacred obligation to house their slaves in decent accommodations, clothe them with
adequate garments, and nourish them with good food too because slave masters
are a father to the souls in their house; they depend on him to care for them;
there's no one else; and according to Gen 1:26-28 and Matt 12:11-12, people
deserve to be treated better than an animal.

Whether the above rule should be taken to apply in normal labor relations can be
disputed, but in my judicious estimation; Christian employers really ought to pay
their workers a living wage-- augmented with timely adjustments for inflation --
rather than just paying them the least they can in order to keep profits up and
overhead down. Just saying.
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Col 4:2 . . Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

The Greek word for "devote" is proskartereo (pros-kar-ter-eh'-o) which means: to
persevere; viz: not give up and/or lose interest.

"And he spoke a parable unto them to this end: that people ought always to pray,
and not lose heart." (Luke 18:1)

For many of us, prayer is a last resort; a grasping at straws because we simply
have nowhere else to turn. We wish for success with prayer, while not really
expecting it because we already know from plenty of experience that prayer too
often leads into a cul-de-sac of perplexity and discouragement; so then, what's the
use? In other words: prayer is very difficult for some Christians because it's often
so futile.

Why doesn't God respond? And if He's not going to respond, then why keep on
making a fool of ourselves trying to get through to an imaginary playmate when all
the while its phone is off the hook?

It was this very issue that led Mother Teresa of Calcutta to question whether there
really is a God out there. During virtually her entire five decades in India, Teresa
felt not the slightest glimmer of The Lord's presence and suffered a good deal of
anxiety wondering why Christ abandoned her.

I'm not making this up. You can read it for yourself in a collection of Teresa's
private letters titled Mother Teresa / Come Be My Light; The Private Writings of the
"Saint Of Calcutta"
published with hierarchy approval by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk,
director of the Mother Teresa center and a postulator for her canonization.

In one of Teresa's private letters, penned to a Father Picachy, Teresa complained: I
am told God loves me; and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so
great that nothing touches my soul.

In yet another letter, penned to a Father Joseph Neuner, S.J. Teresa again
complained: Now Father-- since 1949 or 1950 this terrible sense of loss-- this
untold darkness-- this loneliness, this continual longing for God-- which gives me
pain deep down in my heart-- Darkness is such that I really do not see neither with
my mind nor with my reason-- the place of God in my soul is blank-- There is no
God in me-- when the pain of longing is so great-- I just long & long for God-- and
then it is that I feel-- He does not want me-- He is not there-- God does not want
me-- Sometimes-- I just hear my own heart cry out-- "My God" and nothing else
comes-- the torture and pain I can't explain.

In yet another letter, Teresa complained: When I try to raise my thoughts to
Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like
sharp knives and hurt my very soul. How painful is this unknown pain-- I have no
faith.

If the most pious nun the 20th century ever produced found heaven's phone off the
hook for virtually five decades, then why should John Q and Jane Doe pew warmer
persist with prayer? Well; primarily because it's commanded. I would suppose
that's reason enough for most. I mean; were God to ask us to throw a baseball at
the Moon every so often; wouldn't you comply just to please Him, even knowing
you couldn't possibly hit it?
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Col 4:3-4 . . And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so
that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I
may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

Proclaiming the mystery of Christ clearly as one should means to avoid
sophisticated intellectualism. (1Cor 2:1-5)

When physicist Stephen Hawking set out to write his fabulously popular book "A
Brief History Of Time
" he determined to make an effort to speak of complicated
cosmological concepts in layman's terms. Well; he succeeded, and consequently
just about anybody with an average IQ and the ability to read can pick up
Stephen's book and get something out of it.

In my opinion it is far better to appeal to common folk than the educated elite
because most of them are a lost cause no matter.

"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to
the flesh." (1Cor 1:26)

NOTE: "The great crowd enjoyed listening to him." (Mark 12:37)

In the situation related to that passage, Jesus was speaking about something that
was entirely new to his audience; and it was also pretty complicated too. The thing
is, their usual teachers avoided talking to them about lofty stuff; whereas Jesus
very often did even when he was pretty sure his listeners hadn't a clue what he was
talking about.

All I'm saying is: never go on the assumption that your listeners are either below
you or too dimwitted to catch your drift: they just might surprise you, and if
nothing else; will certainly appreciate your considering them worthy of regard.
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Col 4:5 . . Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every
opportunity.

I once heard a story about a well-meaning sidewalk evangelist who was handing
out Gospel tracts. A man came by and asked the side-walker what he was doing.
The side-walker handed the man a tract and said: Here, read this. Well, the man
was illiterate. So he told the side-walker: I can't read your tract, so I'll just watch
your tracks.

In other words; don't just talk the talk; walk the walk too: live it because for some
people, your life speaks volumes.
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Col 4:6 . . Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt

Grace can be defined as kind, courteous, gentle, patient, lenient, inclined to good
will, generous, charitable, altruistic, compassionate, sympathetic, thoughtful,
cordial, affable, genial, sociable, cheerful, warm, sensitive, hospitable, considerate,
and tactful.

It seems to me from the language and grammar of Matt 5:13, Mark 9:50, and Luke
14:34 that the primary purpose of salt is to enhance flavor and make otherwise
naturally insipid and/or bad-tasting things palatable, viz: salt can be thought of as
diplomacy; roughly defined as conversation that makes an effort to maintain peace
rather than provoke conflict and/or annoy people and make them uncomfortable.
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Col 4:16 . . After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the
church of the Laodiceans; and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.

That directive has little application today except to point out that the epistles are
meant to be studied in every Christian church; not just special Christian churches.
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1Thess 4:1-2 . . Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in The Lord
Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and
please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. For you
know what commandments we gave you by the authority of The Lord Jesus.

The commandments instituted in the apostle Paul's letters are given to the Lord's
followers for the purpose of taking the guess work out of walking and pleasing God;
viz: nobody should expect to excel in the Lord's commandments when they don't
even know what they are.

"Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I
speak this to your shame." (1Cor 15:34)
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1Thess 4:3-5 . . It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should
avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a
way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not
know God;

Some folk, not quite understanding the nature of the Spirit birth about which John
wrote in John 1:12-13 and about which Christ spoke in John 3:3-8, have been led
to believe that born-again Christians are supposed to be free of their libido and
their romantic impulses. Well, obviously not, or why else would it be God's will to
control them?

There's a downside to sleeping around; not only a spiritual downside but a practical
downside too. The below is from a study done by two psychology researchers from
the university of Denver after studying 418 people who participated in a
Relationship Development Study.

"The more sexual partners one sleeps with prior to marriage, the less quality of life
they can expect to have in marriage. This also goes for people who shack up prior
to marriage; even among those whose only sexual partner has been the person
they eventually marry. People who have been through a divorce, or who had
shacked up with someone before meeting their current spouse, were also less likely
to have a high-quality marriage."
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1Thess 4:3-7 . . It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should
avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a
way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not
know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take
advantage of him.

"wrong his brother" in this matter refers to adultery.

"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will
judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." (Heb 13:4)

Christians commit adultery with Christians? Haw! Does that even need to be
answered? Of course they do; and it goes on all the time, even among church
officers; who by all rights should be setting the example for the rank and file.

My wife was once friends with the wife of a counselor in a very big church in San
Diego. She confided with my wife (on the QT of course) that it was amazing the
number of church officers and their wives who were messing around. She couldn't
reveal their names of course due to confidentiality considerations.
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1Thess 4:6b-8 . . God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. Anyone
who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules but is rejecting
God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

God's rules are the edicts of a monarch; and He expects compliance; but because
people hear His rules as hear-say rather than straight from the horse's mouth, they
quite naturally tend to be scofflaws.

God's rules are the edicts of a monarch; and He expects compliance. But because
people hear His rules as hear-say rather than straight from the horse's mouth, they
quite naturally tend to be scofflaws.

NOTE: Why "gives" the Spirit instead of gave? Well; although Christ's believing
followers are all equally endowed with the Spirit (1Cor 6:19, Eph 1:13) it's benefits
are doled.

Jesus depicted the Spirit as a source of living water.

"On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice: If
anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the
Scripture has said: streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he
meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive." (John
7:37-39)

When believers go rogue and live in accordance with their base nature instead of
complying with Christ's commandments; the water is withheld. Consequently they
dry up and become like yard debris. (John 15:1-10, Rom 8:5-13)
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