Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Illustrating Colossians

A shortie but a goodie. Lots of wisdom in Colossians.

And so from the day we heard, we have not ceased praying for you, asking that you may be filled with knowledge of this will and all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that as you walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in knowledge of the Lord. Colossians 1:9-10

Put on then as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. And above all these put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14

This next verse in particular struck me. I've always heard people say that they'll pray that God will open a door or that when he doesn't open a door he'll open a window ect., and I guess I never realized that it was actually a biblical reference. But the thing that really spoke to my heart was that Paul (like many of this other letters) was in prison when he wrote this. 

So from a literal standpoint he may have been praying that the prison doors open or for the believers outside declaring the good news to have opportunities to share it, that Paul couldn't do where he was. 

Metaphorically, maybe he was saying that people's hearts and minds are in prisons that haven't heard the good news or have shut themselves off from it refusing to hear anymore.

Which got me to meditating on the fact that he was in a physical prison but spiritually he was golden. Many then as well as today from the outside look like they have it going on but spirtually they are trapped in a prison. 

At the same time pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word to declare the mystery of Christ on account of which I am in prison. Colossians 4:3

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Illustrating Amos

Oh, Amos. I can honestly say in 30 years of church going I've never heard a sermon on you. I can see why.

Case in point: Amos 1:13
Thus says the Lord, "For three transgressions of the Ammonites and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border."

Case #2: Amos 3:6 
Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has done it.

Case #3: Amos 2:9 
Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars and who was as strong as the oaks; I destroyed his fruits above and his roots beneath.  

All jokes aside Amos definitely isn't your warm and snuggley God of comfort and hope book. It's a: quit oppressing the poor, withholding justice, living in idolatry, hypocrisy and corruption or distruction will come. 

Which we can apply to ourselves today. When we live for ourselves, making decisions out of selfish ambition the byproducts of that are hypocrisy, decite and oppressing those weaker than you.

So after page after page of destruction, you have page after page of promises and reminders of His love. 

He who made Pleiades and Orion and turns deep darkness into morning and darkens the day to night. The Lord is his name. Amos 5:8

But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like and ever flowing stream. Amos 5:24

I love this verse so much. When I read it I knew that I chose wisely with Amos. This is my battle cry for my family, that we aren't blind followers of the masses.
But the Lord took me from following the flock. Amos 7:15

A long one but a good one. 
11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God“when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LordThey shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lordbut they shall not find it. 

This imagery came from a Scott Erickson painting that I love and immediately thought of when I read this verse. 
I will plant them on their land and they shall never again be uprooted. Amos 9:15

From being cut off and uprooted earlier in the chapter to later the promise of never being uprooted can be confusing but I think it boils down to that weeds in your life must be pulled out before anything good can grow. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Illustrating Jude

Seven pages shy of finishing Psalms I needed a break, so I chose the teensy book Jude. When I read it in the past, I always took away from it the condemning of the church at the time for sins like: rejecting authority, immorality, grumbling, showing favoritism, ect

But that view of Jude was shattered when I came to this gem of a verse:

"Have mercy on those who doubt." 

Mercy- compassion, love, kindness & space to figure out what they believe.

Not what doubters usually face- judgement, frustration & condemnation from Christians.

As one who has gone through seasons of doubt this verse really spoke to me because I can remember being bitter towards religion & anyone who tried to press it on me only made me dig my heels in the sand further. 

Mercy was what I needed. 

Prayer was what I needed & there were people praying for me. 

Space was what I needed & got. I eventually came back to a God with open arms and a church family with open arms without smug looks.

After doing this entry in my bible & photographing it, I wrote with a pencil around the illustration the people I know who are going through seasons on doubt. They will be in my prayers that they not only receive mercy from Christians they encounter but that they find their way back to God.