Colossians 2:8 -Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. (HCSB)
In Paul’s day a magician was called a philosopher, so in v.8, Paul is saying “don’t be fooled by smoke and mirrors and slight of hand.” I once heard someone say that cults prey on Christians because the average Christian only knows the scripture someone else has told him. As part of a Bible study, my husband once made a list of well known and often quoted “scripture” verses that aren’t scripture at all.
“God works in mysterious ways” (from a 19th century hymn written by William Cooper)
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” (coined by John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church)
“Spare the rod, spoil the child” (possibly a paraphrase of Proverbs 13:24 – “the one who withholds the rod is one who hates his son”, but Samuel Butler, a 17th century British poet, actually coined the phrase)
“Pride goes before a fall” (possibly a paraphrase of Proverbs 16:18 — “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall”)
“This too shall pass” (from an old English poem)
“God helps those who help themselves” (credit is given to Ben Franklin but is also found in one of Aesop’s Fables)
“the lion shall lay down with the lamb” (possibly from paintings done about scripture that includes animals, but Isaiah 11:6 says “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together”
“it is good that man show moderation in all things” (Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean)
“The Lord works in mysterious ways” (possibly a link to Isaiah 55:8 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord”, but the first stanza of a poem by William Cowper reads, “God moves in a mysterious way”)
“Money is the root of all evil” (very close to 1 Timothy 6:10 – “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.’)
Satan will use our false knowledge to create smoke and mirrors and slight of hand. He rearranged words, mixed some lies with truth, and misquoted scripture with Jesus (Matthew 4), and we are easy prey to him when we “almost” know God’s Word. Instead of relying on “scripture” we heard from someone else, let us study our Bibles, talk to God in prayer, and be able to join the psalmist in declaring “I have thought much about your words and stored them in my heart so that they would hold me back from sin.” (Psalm 119:11 TLB)
1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in everything,for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (HCSB
My husband read somewhere that a husband should thank his wife for going out with him when they go to the movies or to a restaurant or whatever. Trust me, at our house he does not need to thank me for going out to eat! He may want to thank me for not running him over as I race to the car, but he doesn’t need to thank me for eating out. Let’s see — looking at a menu instead of planning a meal; telling someone what I want rather than having to cook it; walking away instead of washing dishes – I’m good, no thanks necessary! As I’m enjoying my cup of coffee this morning and remembering last night’s dinner out, I begin to think about the idea of giving thanks. Some people are really good about sending thank you notes, some just don’t do it. It is embarrassing and frustrating to me when I need to know if a gift was received and am forced to ask! I have a friend who believes that if anyone gives her a gift of any kind, it is because God laid it on that person’s heart, so she never thanks the giver for they were just doing what God told them to do. True, but a little thanks goes a long way and people want to feel appreciated. Do You feel that way about Your people, Lord? You bless us in so many ways everyday, and we take the blessing and walk away without even a thought of thanksgiving and no mention of appreciation. Psalm 107:1 says to give thanks to You because You are so good to us, but are we being like those people who irritate us because their lack of acknowledgement seems to dismiss our gift? Luke 17:11-19 tells us about ten lepers. Am I more like the nine who walked away with my blessing or the one who gave thanks? Psalm 105: 1-2 tells us to not only give thanks to You but to tell people how wonderful You are. Do I tell everyone I see about a nice gift a person gave me but keep silent about the amazing gifts from You? Lord, I come before You today giving thanks for all of the ways You bless me and giving special thanks for the gift of Your Son. Today as I enjoy the gift of life, I will not only give thanks to You but also tell of Your wonderful greatness.
Psalm 139:13: For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. (HCSB)
Job 10:11: You clothed me with skin and flesh, and wove me together with bones and tendons. (HCSB)
Isaiah 41:10: So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (NIV)
The new medicine I am taking for my advanced osteoporosis is working! My latest scan showed some thinning but no major digression as the past ones have shown ……but……and this is a major BUT ….. the marvelous miracle medicine that is having such a positive affect on my bones is having an adverse affect on my kidneys. Lord, I am shedding tears into my coffee this morning. I am so very discouraged. I have so many health issues, and it seems that each check-up brings more tests and each test brings a new issue. Sometimes I feel as if my health issues are like a child’s spinning top, going in circles but spinning all over the place, almost out of control. Or like an avalanche, going downhill fast and picking up more speed and more problems along the way. Lord, help me to remember that You created me. Jeremiah 1:5 tells me that You knew me before You created me in the womb. I can’t be sure of what is going to happen but You can. Hermann Hesse is quoted as saying “We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.” Father, You created me. You knit me together. You wove my bones together. In Jeremiah it says that Your thoughts about me are for good. Isaiah 41:10 tells me not to be afraid and not to get discouraged. You are God, and You will give me the strength I need to face my issues, health and otherwise. Just as David sang to you, I will also sing – Lord, You created me and I am wonderfully made. My frame was not hidden from You before I was born, and it is not hidden from You now. I will not be discouraged because You hold me up and give me strength. As Peter proclaimed in 1 Peter 5:7, I will cast my cares upon you because You care for me
Psalm 51:10 – God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me (HCSB)
Matthew 5:8 – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (NIV)
As I am sitting and waiting for my friend so that we can have that much anticipated cup (or two) of coffee, a woman walks by with a can of soup and a box of macaroni in her purse. Seriously? Of all the things a woman can carry in her purse – a can of soup and a box of macaroni? That thought led me to thoughts of some of the unusual things I have stuffed in my purse. I have carried books, electronics, diapers, shoes, and even snacks. My aunt always carried a soft drink in her purse. I have a friend who is afraid of the dark and therefore always has a flashlight …… and not a pin light either but one of those huge flashlights! Depending on the age of the child, there can be anything in a mom’s purse from band-aids to dirty tissues to broken crayons and ALWAYS a sandwich bag of cereal! Sometimes women will clean out their purses and find great treasures of missing jewelry, extra money, or even old food (thanks kids!). We can let our purses get so filled with junk that there’s no room for the essentials. Then I started thinking of how we can let our hearts get so filled with junk that there’s no room for essentials. What would it be like, Lord, if I had a clean heart? In Psalm 51:10, David asks for You to create for him a clean heart and a steadfast spirit. A clean heart. A heart without resentment. A heart of love for the things You love. A steadfast spirit. A spirit that is unchanging. A spirit of living in Your plan. Max Lucado is quoted as saying “You change your life by changing your heart.” Ezekiel 36:26 says that You will give me a clean heart and put a new spirit in me. Both Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs1:7 tell me that the beginning of knowledge is in the reverence and respect of You. Lord, please give me a clean heart. Give me a new spirit. Change my life by changing my heart. I know that things would be much easier to find if my purse was clean. I want it to be easier for people to find You because my heart is clean.
Psalm 22:1-2: My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning?[b] 2 My God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, by night, yet I have no rest. (HCSB)
2 Timothy 4:16-17: At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the proclamation might be fully made through me and all the Gentiles might hear. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. (HCSB)
I am sitting here in the quiet of the morning, drinking my coffee, and pondering on a story I recently read. Two girls had memorized the last words of Jesus and had taken some of Jesus’ final words to describe their lives. One had chosen Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they’re doing” (HCSB). She lived her life that way, never carrying anger or bitterness and always being quick to forgive. The other girl chose Matthew 27:46 “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (HCSB). She had led a difficult life. She had a father who was physically abusive to her mother and verbally and emotionally abusive to her. She lived in poverty in an area where poverty was considered a character flaw. She was bi-racial, and her grandparents considered that a sin and refused to acknowledge her existence. I look at her life and think that I can understand how she would feel that God had abandoned her. She did carry anger, had lots of bitterness, and refused to forgive. She began to live her life by the oft quoted “scripture” that isn’t even scripture at all — God helps those that help themselves. In the end, she realized that You had always been there. You had protected her from certain situations. You had sent people into her life at certain times. Her new scripture became Matthew 28:20 “I am always with you.” Lord, my life has been nothing like that girl’s life. I’ve never been abused, or lived in poverty or been considered a walking sin. But, there have been many times when I too asked “why have You forsaken me?” Lord, I sit here with my empty coffee cup and a humble heart. You have been so good to me. I need to be like David and say “Even if my mother and father abandon me, the Lord cares for me (Psalm 27:10, HCSB), but often I am more like David in Psalm 22:1-2 asking why. 2Timothy 4:16-17 says that even when I feel abandoned by other people, You are always there. 1 Peter 5:7 tells me to give You all my worries because You care for me. Father God, please help me to abandon Matthew 27:46 as my mind set and replace it with Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” (HCSB)
Psalm 119:130: “The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.” (NIV)
John 18:20: “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus answered him. “I have always taught in the synagogue and in the temple complex, where all the Jews congregate, and I haven’t spoken anything in secret. (HCSB)
As I’m sipping my coffee this morning, I am smiling over the confusion but still a little baffled by what happened. My husband and I have been married almost forty years, and like most married couples, we have our own code language. For example, we have a code for what it really means when we suggest going out to eat. We have a couple of local restaurants that are “just don’t feel like cooking; lets go out” places. One is bar-b-que and one is pizza – neither fancy. If we are dirty and sweaty from working in the yard or something like that, we will take showers and put on some clean jeans and shirts, but usually its just “go as you are.” They definitely do not mean hair and make-up done and nice clothes. When these are our destination, the code is “Let’s just grab something for supper tonight.” Then there’s “Let’s go out to dinner tonight.” I know that translates into somewhere nice; somewhere worth time spent on hair and make-up; somewhere that involves steak or seafood or both! Yesterday as he was leaving for work, my husband said “Let’s go out for dinner tonight.” I’ve played this game before and therefore I am confident that I have the necessary clues to solve the riddle of what destination he has in mind, so that afternoon I start – shower with the good smelling stuff, hair and make-up done, nice clothes – and I am ready when he gets home. I have even gone over menu choices in my head! I rush out to the car, we leave the driveway,………… and he turns toward the pizza place. Wait…….what?!?! I am trying to figure out where I missed the clues and even bring up a few hints about “going out to dinner” vs “grab some supper”. The hints miss the target, and I end up upgrading to pasta over pizza but no steak or seafood in sight. Sometimes, codes don’t work. Sometimes hints fall flat. Thank You Lord that Your word is not a guessing game. Thank You for making Your word understandable and not a series of riddles with hints and clues. In John 18:20, Jesus said that He said nothing in secret. Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” and Psalm 119: 130 says “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” Thank You Lord for speaking to Your children in a way that is understandable to the highest and the lowest, to both kings and commoners. Thank You, Lord for giving me the light of Your word.
Psalm 139:14: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful,I know that full well. (NIV)
Proverbs 31:30: Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting,but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. (HCSB)
Lord, I’m very discouraged as I pull on my jeans. I know my muffin top is my fault. I know that my muffin top has made friends with, well, muffin tops…….and bottoms…….and their good friend, butter. Muffins taste so good with coffee, Lord! I’ve read the magazine articles telling me how to trick myself into not eating the unhealthy foods – carrots to replace the crunch of potato chips, water to make me feel as full as if I had just eaten, even chocolate flavored coffee to replace chocolate chip cookies. Well, apparently I’m not that easily tricked about crunch or solids vs liquids or flavors. My body just screamed at me “This stuff doesn’t taste like chocolate. This stuff doesn’t even taste like coffee”. A full glass of water fills my bladder not my stomach, and my taste buds are well aware that I didn’t eat. And its safe to say there are not enough carrots in the world! I want to make friends with the number on the scale and the number on the tag in the back of my pants, but the numbers I want to buddy up with don’t seem anxious to hang out with me. But, Lord, You tell me in Psalms 139 that I am beautifully and wonderfully made. Genesis 1:26 tells me that I am created in Your image. In Ephesians 2:10 it says that we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. All of that tells me that You don’t care if the tag in the back of my pants says 2 or 12. I know that I need to keep my body healthy because You tell me in 1 Corinthians that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that it was bought with a price, but You don’t ask me to have a supermodel’s thin body. What You said to Samuel also applies to me (1 Samuel 16:7). When You look at me, You don’t look the same way other people look at me. People look at the outside, but You look at the heart. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. “