And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

1 John 5: 20 

The famous New York City coffee company Chock full o’Nuts uses a marketing tune that refers to their product as “Heavenly Coffee”, and it, no doubt, is quite good; yet, even when brewed with care and perfectly served, there can be no comparison to the rich and full truth about God that John provides for us in these two short sentences. These words are chock full o’life! 

Understanding is the thing that I believe we need most. Ultimately, it matters more than wisdom, for understanding is what directs, focuses, and applies the wisdom that God gives us. Through understanding we are able to pour out love, grant grace, and apply truth in our daily lives. God increases our comprehension of Him and of His ways as we pour our selves out onto His altar of transformation and open our hearts to the filling of His Spirit. Without the unveiling of God’s true self that was accomplished through Jesus, people do not have the ability to fully and completely grasp the totality of God and of His gracious love; thus, the Lord remains a veiled mystery. 

Through Christ our lives are filled with the gifts that God desires for us to have. Among them are peace, joy, comfort, wisdom, grace, purpose, protection, and courage, and by the interaction of Christ’s Spirit in our lives we are granted the great gift of understanding so that these other gifts can be used to truly bless us and the lives of others. Somehow, I think that this is a picture of the true heavenly coffee, and the aroma of this brew can fill the world with the one eternal fragrance.

A post from 2009; used here without edits.

I (Paul) am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.

Colossians 2: 5

We have participated in a neighborhood wide garage sale in the past, and there is almost nothing else that you can do that reinforces just how unstable the value of most of our possessions is that putting them on sale in this manner. We put out for sale a few pieces of furniture that we paid some very serious prices for quite a number of years ago; yet, the concept of deflation of value was clearly driven home when no one was willing to pay even our meager ten dollar asking price for any of them. Actually, if someone had shown any interest, I would have been willing to offer them a three for ten deal, but, alas, there were no takers.

Paul is pointing toward something that made his heart glad, for he could see that the people in Colossae had grasped the idea that there were some things in this life that did hold value. They were showing the sort of discipline that it takes to invest in permanence and in eternity. They were putting their time and their energy into getting to know the Lord more deeply, and they were taking this knowledge and understanding and applying it to the way that they conducted their daily lives. The things that they were buying with their capital were the spiritual treasures that come from a relationship with Christ, and they were growing their investment by putting it to work in their community.

Christ looks at each of us with the same sort of loving pride that Paul expressed when we seek to own the only things that will never be devalued by time, become obsolete or out of style, and that are guaranteed by the highest authority possible to do nothing but appreciate in value. When we seek to know God well and to follow His will fully, we bring the sort of stability into our lives that we will never find anywhere else, and we also touch the world around us with Christ’s promise of redemption. The process of growth in this area does bring to mind one aspect that is similar to that of the garage sale, that is, it is good and worthwhile to get rid of those old aspects of life that no longer are useful or valuable so that the priceless treasures of Christ can replace them and furnish our spiritual homes for the days to come.

Who has ascended to heaven and come down?

Who has gathered the wind in his fists?

Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?

Who has established all of the ends of the earth?

What is his name, and what is his son’s name?

Surely you know!

Proverbs 30: 4

 

The answers to these questions might seem obvious to most of us who are reading them in the context of Christian faith. Even that last question in the series readily calls forth the response, Jesus, the Son of God. Yet, we know that the writer of this proverb did not have that answer in mind when he set out these words. He was probably indicating the fact that everything in this list of actions was something that only God could possibly accomplish; so, no human, whether father or son, can do the things that God has done in creating this world and in engaging in its operation. The wonders of this world are far too great to be the workmanship of mere humans, and the remarkable and intricate way that it all continues to do so is utterly outside of the capability of our chaos devising hands. But that is not all.

 

God’s Word is complex and multi-layered. There is meaning and content present within it that often takes us beyond the intent of the human author and into the heart and the mind of God, Himself, as the inspirational and the creative force behind the crafting of the words. All of these questions involve existence, the world as it was on the day that they were first written and the world as it has continued to be over the time since. I think that they also suggest the possibility of the future. They enter into God’s promise of redemption and restoration for all of Creation. All of the elements of this world that are set forth after the first question in this series and before the last one are subject to the brokenness in this world that has come about as a result of our sinful rebellion against God. All of these things which were proclaimed as good by God have become dangerous and harmful in various ways and at certain times.

 

Yet, there is a Holy God who seeks to bring all of His created world into the safety and the security of His presence. We can know this God by coming to accept and to know His Son, Jesus Christ. There is redemption to be gained in this relationship with the Father through the Son, and we can know the deep peace that comes into existence within our souls when we yield our lives to Christ and follow His will for the conduct of our days. Then, the God who manages wind and the waters of the seas and who has set into place all of the corners of the planet that we stand upon enters into the minute details of our lives and grants to us His love, grace, wisdom, and perfect will so that the life that we are living is one that now possesses the presence of the divine and is filled with the glory of that presence in all situations and circumstances. God the Father is the great creator, the Son is the perfect redeemer, and the Spirit dwells with us to grant us all knowledge of our God and to guide us into the absolute wisdom of His Word.

Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1: 1, 2

 

The proverbial phrase, “You are what you eat,” has been around for a long time. It has been adopted and adapted into the title for books, lectures, television programs, songs, and other forms of popular expression. I think that its wide-spread use is an indication of the fact that there is truth contained in these words, for it may not be literally and absolutely accurate but it does convey a sense of functional reality. What we put into ourselves does directly and significantly effect how we live and even, to some extent, who we are. The author of this psalm is talking about something more important and considerably greater in its life-altering capacity than any of the meat or vegetables that we might encounter. He is speaking about the consumption of truth, righteousness, and all the rest of what is entailed in truly knowing God.

 

We all face this same choice. We can listen to the voice of God or we can select other ones to fill our minds and hearts. In fact, we will hear a wide range of input as we go about life, and we will all be subjected to good ideas and to poor ones in this process. Not everything that is said in the name of God will be true and useful, either. However, all of God’s Word is true, everything contained within it is holy, and the counsel of the Holy Spirit is unquestionably reliable. So, even when the words come from within the context of the church or out of the mouths of people who share a profession of faith, there needs to be a form of testing of the validity and the value of those ideas and concepts. That testing always involves holding the idea or direction up to the template of God’s Holy Word of truth, allowing His Spirit to reveal the application of that truth, and then in evaluating all of this prayerfully within the fellowship of trusted fellow followers of Christ.

 

The Lord has provided His followers with a truly marvelous banquet feast of truth, and the life that we are given by ingesting it is remarkable as it makes all of the difference in the joy and the peace that we will know in our journey through our days. Yet, at times we still decide to dine at the table of the unwise or, even worse, we fill ourselves up on the deadly counsel of those who stand in opposition to God and to His righteous way. In these times, Christ’s invitation to turn to Him, to repent, and to take a seat at His table of grace, love, and life remains open for us. The Lord invites each of us to come, sit in His presence, and be filled to overflowing with the law that brings life and by its hope and promise of eternity. This is a place where we are granted the opportunity to meditate deeply upon Christ, to be filled with His presence, and to prosper and grow stronger for this day of service to God’s kingdom.

 

 

Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Deuteronomy 34: 9

 

It is here that the great story of Moses is drawn to a close. Yet, his ending does not alter in any way the on going course of God’s engagement and involvement in the lives of people. In fact there seems to be an important point in the way that God works in our lives to be recognized from this moment of culmination for the life of Moses. Notice the fact that Moses seems to have been actively engaged in the process of training and of commissioning the successor that God had selected for them.

 

It is my sense of things that when the text speaks of the fact that Moses “laid hands” on Joshua that there is more than one activity in view. Certainly there is some form of formal ceremony of commissioning in which Moses turns over the leadership of the Israelites to Joshua. However, I think that there is also much more. Joshua didn’t just suddenly have all of the knowledge, wisdom and understanding that he needed to undertake this enormous task. He surely had not grown on his own into a man who knew God well and who trusted the Lord completely. Joshua and Moses must have spent a great many hours together in which they shared in the joys and blessings that came from the Lord and in which they traveled together through the hardship and the pain that accompanied their trail.

 

There is a Godly mandate in this process. The Lord directs us to take what we have learned about living within His will and share it with those who will succeed us. Everyone has a legacy to leave behind. Each of us has a story of the ways that God has taken our life and has changed it. These personal accounts of God’s relationship with us are important, for they add tangible flesh to the story that God’s Word depicts. As we live and experience the highs and the lows of life, we need to take others along on that journey. In a bigger sense, this life-long process of relationship is how Moses laid hands on Joshua. This was how Joshua was prepared to be a leader who the Israelites followed along the road that God had laid out for them.

 

You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

2 Corinthians 9: 11

 

God is very generous. He gives us everything that we truly need and more. In fact, God’s generosity is very interesting to consider. He gives to people who ignore Him and even to those who reject Him, and He waits like an impatient grandparent at Christmas to give all of Himself to everyone who enters into relationship with Him. God fills His people with all that we are willing to accept; then, He keeps on presenting His bounty of love to us to accept even more. Yet, God’s granting of Himself to us is quite different from the way that most of us operate as He gives to us so that we can give it all away to others.

 

Christ poured Himself out on the cross so that all of humanity would have the opportunity and the ability to know God. This great gift of life is the culmination of God’s plan for the redemption of people from the condemnation of sin. However, a person’s acceptance of this gift is only the beginning of Christ’s infilling of that person with the totality of the gift that we can call true life. This new life reaches toward its highest and best function when we accept these gifts of truth, wisdom, understanding, love, grace, mercy, and acceptance as ours and then, in Christ’s name, grant all of them to the world.

 

Christ does not give to us so that we can possess and hold. He gives to us so that we can bless the world with the presence of God in tangible form. We are to be people who love all other people and all of creation with the same sort of uncompromising and sacrificial passion that Jesus demonstrated for us. He entered into the lives of the people who crossed His path and gave all of Himself to them without precondition or qualification. Jesus knew that many if not most of the people that He engaged with the Father’s message of truth would reject Him. However, Jesus did not cease in His absolute giving. As a follower of Christ, this is a difficult example to follow totally, but committing my life to being a giver of God’s gifts is one of the greatest ways that I can express my thanks to God for the life that I have in Him.

You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

James 5: 8

 

James has just drawn a picture of patience as seen in the way that Palestinian farmers are dependant upon the cycle of the spring and fall rainy seasons for planting and for harvesting their crops. So too, God’s people are called to be patient so that we wait upon the cycles of God’s own plan. There is no easy way out of this life, and we cannot anticipate a quick and painless release from the burdens of relationship with our fellow worldly travelers. We live with absolute certainty of Christ’s return, but we have absolutely no knowledge of when that might come about.

 

Thus, we are to live as if it will happen in the next moment. This means that we are to stay continually submitted to Christ so that His love, grace, mercy, and peace are presented to everyone that we interact with throughout our days. This last hours of the final day attitude also means that we are to spare nothing in our efforts to repair damaged and broken relationships and that we can trust Christ to care for us when we make ourselves vulnerable to others. Another element of a heart that is set or established upon Christ in these days is that it breaks for the lost and is willing to sacrifice all for the sake of gaining their souls.

 

Christ wants for His followers to live in the full and complete hope of His promised return. In order to do this we are to be people who know our Lord well. We grow in this knowledge by means of on-going study of God’s word that is accompanied by meditation and contemplation upon what it is actually saying. Our relationship with God is further developed as we gather with other followers of Christ as His body and share life, worship, and prayer together in community. Additionally, we know God as we go out into our world and demonstrate to its inhabitants the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To me, this life of meditation on God’s word, prayer, life in Christ’s body, and acting upon the Lord’s calling for my life is the description of a heart that is established on Christ; so, this is what being patient in Him is all about.