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)
Anyone who knows me, even a casual acquaintance, knows how much I love the beach. I love taking my coffee out on the hotel balcony before the sun comes up and just listening to the waves. I love sitting and sipping while seeing the sky turn from black to shades of pink and blue as the sun announces the beginning of a new day. I love the feel of the waves as they wash over my toes on the sandy beach. I love the sights and sounds and smells. Behati Prinsloo said, “The beach is definitely where I feel most at home.” I can say “The beach is definitely where I feel most with God.” I see His strength as well as His gentleness when I see the waves. I see His power as well as His provision in the storm. I look around me with true awesome wonder and think of scripture. As the sun begins to brighten the beach and surrounding area, I think about Genesis 1:3 when God said “let there be light” and there was light. Thank You, Lord, for giving that direction to the sun and to my life. The sun and Your word both brighten my path so that I do not have to go through my life living in darkness (Psalm 119:105). I go for a walk on the beach, and walking with my head down, I think of Psalm 3:3. Thank you Lord for lifting my head from shame and defeat by letting me know that my sins are forgiven, that You say to me what You said to Jerusalem “the battle has already been won” (2 Chronicles 20:15). I look out across the ocean and think of Psalm 104:25. Thank You that in that vastness You have placed creatures that I will never know as well as creatures that I will have for dinner! Billy Graham said, “I believe the greatest form of prayer is praise to God”, and Lord, I am praising You right now. Although I am quiet and still, my spirit is following the command of Psalm 150:4 and is like David in 2 Samuel 6:14. As much as I love the ocean, I know that one day it will cease to exist (Revelation 21:1). I love the beach. Anyone who knows me, even a casual acquaintance, knows that. But, I won’t care when that day comes because, like Jonathan Edwards, I believe that “To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.” Thank You, Lord, that one day I will be there to fully enjoy You, but in the meantime, thank You for giving me this wonderful way to enjoy Your wondrous creation.
Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Proverbs 19:21: You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.
(New Living Translation)
I am sitting here this morning with my coffee and a pen and paper. I’m making a list! I love a list. Sometimes I will have more than one list going at the same time. I have a grocery list, a packing list for vacation, and a list of what I need to do before we go on vacation. I love the control I feel by knowing what needs to be done now and what needs to be done next. I especially love checking things off my list. It makes me feel as if I’m accomplished great things, and there are days that I need to know I’ve at least accomplished something, even a small thing would be good! Sometimes I will put something on my list that I have already done just so I can check it off! Lists make me feel accomplished. Lists make me feel in control. Lists let me know that I’m doing things right. The Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-27) also loved lists. He loved to have a list, and he loved to show people how he had checked off the things on the list. He said that he had kept all the commandments, and I believe him because You didn’t call him on it. He probably had the list in his pocket ready to show everyone how many items he had checked. Lord, You were trying to show him that obedience to the commandments would not give him eternal life, that only comes through a personal relationship with You. And a personal relationship with You means spending time with You. You try to show me that too. A list makes me feel in control of the situation, but You are in control of all that was, that is, and that is to come. I like knowing what’s happening now and what will be happening in the future, but Lord, You tell me that worry (or planning or even making a detailed list ) won’t add a single day to my life. I have the opportunity to accomplish great things today – not by working at worldly things that I can check off of a list but by sitting at the feet of the One who created all things and listening to His plans for my day. Your word tells me in Jeremiah 29 that You know the plans You have for me. In Proverbs 19, You tell me that I can make plans, but Your will prevails. Lord, I know that following a plan isn’t a bad thing but listening to You and following Your plan is so much better.