Pages

Friday, May 27, 2022

The Victory of Obedient Faith

My present journey in God’s word is through Paul’s teaching on the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6. It has me considering how this requires us to understand why these instructions come at the end of his letter rather than at the beginning. It is like the roof on the house; it absolutely requires the foundation that holds everything else secure. 

Ephesians is probably the clearest example of how Paul would begin his letters by teaching and reminding us of what is true and finish his letters by teaching and reminding us how to live worthy of what is true.[1] In this case, to live worthy of who we are in Christ, we must know the truth of who we are and what God has done for us, and stand firm against the devil’s efforts to “steal and kill and destroy.”[2]         

Here is Paul’s introduction to how we use the whole armor of God to stand for Christ while standing against the devil: 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having…[3] 

Churches are always called to “test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”[4] If everyone in the church did this, we would have agreement in the Lord, unity in the Spirit, and strength in numbers, so to speak. 

My summary of God speaking to me this morning is that: 

  • Paul has established in the preceding chapters of Ephesians one of the most clear and concise declarations of who we are “in Christ”, meaning, “in the Lord”
  • Before we get to this somewhat negative focus on the spiritual battle, standing up to what is against us, Paul has called us to the positive focus of how to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…”[5]
  • Now Paul is calling us to stand firm in everything he has already taught, our determination to live worthy of our Savior and his calling on our lives, while dealing head-on with the spiritual attacks that come from the evil one
  • And he shows the church how to put on the whole armor of God around the one body of Christ so we are all standing firm and strong together.

I know how easy it is to think that our battles are against “flesh and blood”. Isn’t that the pattern Satan keeps using against churches, to get our focus off the word and the Spirit and onto personal grievances with people? 

Let me tell you about one of the most real and personal experiences of God drawing people into his word and prayer, and the devil stealing, killing and destroying a church that would not put on the whole armor of God. 

I was in a congregation where the people had been together for 20+ years. However, they had never progressed beyond reading a daily devotional booklet that gave them a verse or two of scripture and told them what to think about it. No one had ever learned to simply read the word, talk to God about what he was saying to them, and put into practice whatever Jesus instructed. 

In that context, I had the privilege of watching people fall in love with God’s word as they simply started reading it for themselves and letting the Spirit teach them. People would come to prayer meetings almost trembling with excitement to get to the sharing time where they could praise God for what they were learning. 

It took no time at all for everyone to be surprised that, no matter where people were reading, and no matter what was going on in those scriptures, not only did each person have something that felt very real and personal to them, but the sharing of these things showed that God was speaking in almost identical ways to everyone. It was literally transforming. We were feeling like the one body of Christ led by our one head, Jesus himself. 

After some time, as is God’s way of doing things, we discovered that he was leading people deeper into themselves at the same time as he was leading them deeper into his word. It was clear that God was showing people where they needed healing and freedom in Christ in order to continue growing to know God in the real and personal ways we were all experiencing. 

Then the tragic thing happened: the deeper things triggered self-protection, and people began listening to the voices of fear from within instead of the voice of love from the word. And when that happened, everyone became convinced that personal grievances and perceived hurts were the ultimate reality and nothing God said in his word mattered. 

That church no longer exists. 

I present this invitation and warning from my encouragement that God has given his children time to be tested, to see what is “good” and hold on to it, and to admit and confess what is “evil” and repent, renounce, and forsake these things so we can abstain from them. Any church can get back to letting the word of Christ once again dwell in them richly for the building up of the body of Christ. And any church can fall away when we are unwilling to repent.[6] 

If any of us have read this, and struggle to obey Jesus and his word in faith, it is a problem of Satan’s schemes no matter how much it feels like a valid issue of personal justification. If we can’t do Jesus’ will about it, we are doing the devil’s will about it. No other options. 

I invite everyone to do what God’s word says is the solution: “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love," be "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”[7] If we will unite with other believers to do this, no matter how weak or hurting we feel, the whole armor of God will enable all who are willing to stand firm in Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Oh yes, there is a reason that the first piece of the whole armor of God is called, “the belt of truth”. Start by putting on truth, abstaining from lies, and you will have the strength to unite with Jesus’ church in the Spirit to do all the rest.

 

© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8

Email: in2freedom@gmail.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

 



[1] Paul gives a very clear and brilliant transition is in Ephesians 4:1, leading from what is true about who we are in Christ, to how we live worthy of that calling.

[2] John 10:10

[3] Ephesians 6:10-14

[4] I Thessalonians 5:21-22

[5] Ephesians 4:1

[6] The letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 make this clear.

[7] Ephesians 4:2-3

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Armed With the Armor of God

For the past month or so, I have spent considerable time meditating on Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1. It has shown me how to keep my mind set on being “filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”.[1] Through many mornings of prayer-journaling, and many prayer walks in the hills, I have process a lot of things in my life according to the way Paul prayed. 

I have also been helped along by David’s prayer in Psalm 51 where David mentors us in how to pray in repentance and faith for the thorough cleansing of our sin and a wonderful return to joy in our salvation after we have sinned. It has been a very encouraging journey to see how confident David was in the realities of who God was, what he was like, and what he would do for a man who had sinned so terribly. 

Now I return to my previous mining in the quarry of Ephesians 6, the “Whole Armor of God”.[2] 

Today’s main thought is that, when we consider what we are told to do in relation to the whole armor of God, it revolves around the one body of Christ “taking up” the whole armor of God and “putting it on”. Since these are spiritual realities, we need to learn how to do them together in real life. 

I need to clarify that us North American Christians often miss completely who Paul is talking to in relation to putting on the whole armor of God because we have such an individualistic view of salvation. For many of us, our understanding of salvation is that we are individuals who have no accountability to one another except to the extent we ourselves decide to do anything. We see the whole armor of God as covering each individual Christian rather than the local body of Christ. 

However, in this letter, Paul has already presented the truth of the church as the “one new man” that is living for Christ together.[3] When we view taking up and putting on the whole armor of God as what we do as the whole body of Christ, it is wonderfully more glorious than the disappointing results when everyone is in their own corner of the ring thinking they have to battle the devil on their own. 

The secondary thought in this passage is that, if the local church does take up and put on the whole armor of God together, it enables us to “be strong”, to “stand”, to “wrestle”, to “withstand”, and to “stand firm”. This is what the weaker believers in the church need; not a picture where they go-it-alone and do their best to put on this armor, but to see themselves as residing in Jesus’ church and fellowshipping with all kinds of members of the body of Christ who build each other up in faith, hope, and love. In that expression of Jesus’ church, they are strengthened by the group dynamic of the body of Christ where the independent individuality of North American Christianity would leave them feeling defeated and alone. 

The imagery of the whole armor of God is a word-picture that was easily understood by Paul’s readers and is quite simple to explain to any hearers today. The quest is to know how to use such a fascinating picture as a constant reminder of what we do with each characteristic so that it enables a church to stand firm rather than fall apart. Here is a summary of what we are looking for: 

  • What do we do with “truth” in the church so it is like a belt around the whole body of Christ holding all our armor in place?
  • What do we do with “righteousness” in the church so that it is like a breastplate guarding our vital organs (the fragile love relationships)?
  • How do we put on the “readiness of the gospel” so that it is like our church is fitted with the best footwear to handle any enemy, terrain, or battlefield?
  • How do we take up “faith” in real life situations so that our church is extinguishing the fiery arrows of the evil one?
  • How do we fill our minds with the glorious realities of our “salvation” so that our group-mind is protected from the world’s enticements, the sark’s delusions, and the devil’s lies, and liberated to constantly rejoice in our redemption?
  • How do we engage the whole body of Christ to take up the “word of God” in every situation we face with an active desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit as we let the words of Christ dwell in us richly so that we have the mind of Christ in the Scriptures?
  • How do we unite the body of Christ to so maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace that our “praying” is “in the Spirit”, constantly seeking the Father’s name to be hallowed in all that we do, his kingdom to come and overtake everything we are doing, and his will to be done among us as it is done in heaven?
  • And, how do we help the church “proclaim the good news” through both those who are gifted to do so, and every member being ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us the reason for the hope we have in Christ, so that the one voice the world hears from us is, “Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy, for a Savior has come who is Christ, the Lord”[4]?   

This is what I present to the Lord, and to his church, as questions that all must be answered with, “Father, not my will, but yours be done!” And, if we do that together, seeking to have the body of Christ we are in taking up and putting on the whole armor of God, we can be sure to see God answering Paul’s prayer that we “may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him.”[5] 

“Father in heaven, thank you for silencing my busy-minded thoughts so I can hear your voice above my own, and keep my mind set on these truths from above so that I can walk with Jesus today in delighting to do your will and accomplishing whatever you give me to do. I praise you for your gift of fellowship in your Spirit where this beloved child gets to enjoy you in the wonders of your great and awesome gift of redemption.”

 

© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8

Email: in2freedom@gmail.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

 

 



[1] Colossians 1:9 (context is Colossians 1:9-14)

[2] Ephesians 6:10-20

[3] Specifically Ephesians 2:15, but in the context of Ephesians 2:11-22 where he uses repeated images of the people of God being a single “dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (vs 22).

[4] Luke 2:10-11

[5] Colossians 1:9-10 (in context of the whole beautiful prayer!)

Monday, May 9, 2022

Endurance For Dull-mindedness

 “I begin this week in weakness.” 

Yes, that is what I told Father as I began my time with him this morning! 

There were so many feelings about everything going on in me because of everything going on around me. I was aware of a dullness of mind that may have been a sign of overload. When I came to God like that it almost felt like I was challenging him to see if he could handle me being so dull-minded and still get something through to my heart, mind, and soul. 

After some wonderful trails through Psalm 26 and Zephaniah 3 this past week, I am back to the main path of how Paul prayed in Colossians 1. Today’s starting point was: “for all endurance and patience with joy”.[1] 

Because of my dullness of mind, I took the first word, “endurance”, and began at the beginning to see how endurance would flow out of both the praying and the experiencing of what Paul prayed and experienced. I knew that I needed the refresher, but it felt like I also needed to grasp something in a deeper way, and, perhaps, for a deeper need. 

The primary ministry of the Spirit was to awaken my heart to how the faith, the love, and the hope of the Colossian Christians was the three-dimensional foundation of everything Paul prayed. Nothing in Paul’s prayer can be fulfilled in our lives unless we are living from our new hearts in “faith in Christ Jesus”, “love for all the saints”, and “the hope laid up for us in heaven”.[2] If those are not there, Paul does what we find in Galatians to reattach us to the good news of great joy in the gospel so we are once living by grace through faith. 

This means that the “endurance and patience with joy” prayer request requires a genuine attachment to the reality of a growing faith, love, and hope. My quest this morning was to meditate on how these three universal realities of the kingdom of God would not only continue mentoring me in how to join Paul in prayer, but would also build the realness of my ability to endure with joy this very day. I particularly wanted to know how meditating on these realities would build my endurance where dull-mindedness was trying to maintain its grip on my thoughts! 

When I considered how “faith in Christ Jesus” gives endurance, I felt the genuine and good feeling of attachment to the reality that faith attaches us to Jesus Christ who is our strength. He is the rock on which we stand. He is the one and only Savior of the world. He is perfect and complete. He is the truth, the reality, the Word of God, and so our faith in him constantly builds in us so we press on with him (endurance) since he is incapable of giving up on what the Triune God is doing to save us. 

When I then considered how “the love that you have for all the saints” meshes with endurance, I was reminded that the agapè-hesed-love of the kingdom of God is real when the believers are all experiencing the agapè-hesed-love of the Triune God.[3] That love, by its very nature, is enduring. The quality of love in God is such that it never fails. If there is a love in us that never fails because it is the very love God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit whom he has given us,[4] then it will lead us to become enduring in everything to do with God’s people since the love we have “for all the saints” is the enduring, faithful, unstoppable, irresistible, unfailing love of God. If we have that love, and pray the way Paul prayed, we will constantly build up that naturally enduring love into the reality of enduring in us. And, yes, I’m looking forward to seeing how God does that in me this week! 

The “hope laid up for you in heaven” already gives us the taste and experience of the realities of eternal life in the here-and-now. Everything we hope for (know for certain about the future) has a level of experience in this earthly life. We already know God now, but hope keeps us excited about how much more and better we will know God then. As Paul said, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”[5] We already have Jesus with us always, but the new heavens and the new earth will give us a perfection of being with him that is beyond fully imagining. We already have the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is in us, and the Spirit is the deposit of God in our lives guaranteeing all the rest that is to come,[6] but the wonders of living in the Spirit in the new heavens and the new earth is unthinkably wonderful in the fullness we will experience then.[7] 

Conclusion: the foundation of faith, love, and hope, assures me this morning that it makes sense that these would fuel endurance in whatever I am going to face today. At the same time, it also leads me into relationship with God by faith, attached to his agapè-hesed-love, and emotionally encouraged with the certainty of my eternal hope, so that I am strengthened in my time with God to go into this day expecting his presence and strength to give me “all endurance and patience with joy”. 

After my time with God, my morning exercise routine gave opportunity to listen to a good podcast about who we are in Christ that affirmed what God is doing to build my endurance on the foundation of my faith, love and hope. This encouragement also led to me feeling clear-minded to share God’s love with others as opportunities presented themselves. And I am aware that I have already made decisions to endure things instead of try fixing them, something God has been working on me a lot as of late, so I expect that this will position me for what he can do instead of forcing what I can do. 

All in all, God broke through my dull mindedness this morning and blessed with the answer to Paul’s prayer that I would “be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him”.[8] Many aspects of God’s will became clear to me, and now I can walk with endurance in the things that are worthy of my Lord Jesus Christ.

 

© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8

Email: in2freedom@gmail.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

 

 

 



[1] Colossians 1:11

[2] Colossians 1:4-5

[3] Agapè-love is the Greek word used in the New Testament to refer to the primary love of God for his people, and the primary love that governs the kingdom of God. In God, it is the desire to do his best for his children. In God’s children, it is our desire for God’s best for others (including our enemies).

Hesed-love is the Hebrew word used in the Old Testament to refer to God’s unfailing love, his faithful love, his steadfast love, with a strong focus on God being faithful to his covenant for the simple fact that his love never fails.

Both agapè and hesed love unite to teach God’s children how to love “all the saints” the same way as the Triune God loves all of us.  

[4] Romans 5:5 (context is Romans 5:1-5)

[5] I Corinthians 13:12

[6] Ephesians 1:13-14 (context is Ephesians 1:3-14)

[7] God speaks of his new heavens and new earth in Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22 in the Old Testament, and in II Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1 in the New Testament.

[8] The first thing Paul prayed for in his prayer of Colossians 1:9-14.

Friday, April 29, 2022

In2Freedom Vlog: (More) Strengthened With All Power

As I continued meditating on what it means that God wants to strengthen his children with all power, it became very clear that our weaknesses are not in the way of what he wants to do. It is our willingness to seek his strength that determines how well we join him in his work. 

Here is a look at the meaning of “strengthened with all power”[1] with a view to understanding and appreciating how both the strength and the power are of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are able to be strong in him if we humble ourselves and pray for his strength to be perfected in our weakness. Again, because this is the will of God, we can trust God to do this for everyone who asks in Jesus’ name.






[1] Colossians 1:11 (in the context of Paul’s prayer of Colossians 1:9-14)


© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8

Email: in2freedom@gmail.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

In2Freedom Vlog: Strengthened with all power

So often in my sharing about God’s word, I find myself eager to share both the general picture of how everyone can get to know God in his word, and the specific testimony about what I just learned that day that illustrates this point. 

This Vlog aims to accomplish both desires. The general picture is in how God’s word is like discovering hidden treasures, and the specific testimony is how God used a number of these treasures to encourage me to pray that we would be “strengthened with all power” in our living for Christ.[1] 

Not only did I see why this prayer is so important, but I also saw how God will answer us even as we are praying through his word! I do have the advantage of age where our natural decline in physical strength does seem to have an encouraging effect on our spiritual strength. However, this certainly applies to all God’s children no matter our age.

 


 

© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8

Email: in2freedom@gmail.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

 



[1] Colossians 1:11 (in the context of Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-14)

Sunday, April 24, 2022

In2Freedom Vlog: The Blessing of Beatitudinal Prayer

It was one of those mornings where my eyes popped open earlier than my alarm and I had to ask our Father in heaven whether there was anyone in my life who needed prayer right then. While some people came to mind to pray for, I mostly had a sense that I was to pray through the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-12 and seek God to make those things real for everyone in my life.


As I was praying, I became overwhelmed with the awareness of two things. One was the way God was blessing me in my praying, and the other was in the consideration of what Jesus had to do so my prayers could be answered. I was so blessed in the things our Father was teaching me, and so glad I could share them with you while out on my truck route prayer walk.


 

© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8

Email: in2freedom@gmail.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

 

Monday, April 18, 2022

In2Freedom Vlog: Praying, Not Fixing

The more I learn about prayer, the more I realize that God isn’t nearly as interested in my ideas for fixing things as I once imagined. Or, perhaps I never even imagined that he was interested because I was too busy being interested in my own ideas myself! Whatever the case, God has been working on me to stop trying to figure out and fix things, but to pray the way the apostle Paul has been teaching me in Colossians 1:9-14. 


On the Saturday of Easter weekend 2022 I fulfilled a long-time desire to hike a particular backroad that carved its way along the hillside to the northeast of our community. 


I enjoyed sight of a number of mule deer, 





and discovered a part of the range land where blue birds seemed to be in abundance.
 



Along the way I was pondering the things God had taught me earlier in my time alone with him in his word. I was quite sure I’m not the only one who has a propensity to struggle with prayer while having no problem coming up with my own ideas of what I should do. 

Since God was making the difference so clear to me, it was easy to share these things in a video that might encourage you as well. 

 


 

© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8

Email: in2freedom@gmail.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

 

Friday, April 15, 2022

In2Freedom Vlog: A Sorrowful Side of Prayer

I am all for making the most of the fellowship and witnessing we can do on social media. I like to hear what God is doing in other places and in other situations. I like to share things to encourage the children of God, and I like to share things that help people consider the good news of great joy that is all about our Savior, Jesus the Christ. 

However, there are times when it feels overwhelming to hear of another disaster ruining lives, or another wave of persecution decimating the Christian population of an area. It is overwhelming to consider one prayer request after another to help the Christians in war torn countries, or to intercede for Christians in prison camps in communist countries and dictatorships. 

And then there are the tragic reports of people who are rescued from human trafficking rings while we know that so many more are not. And unlimited accounts of people trying to attach to God but hindered by horrific experiences of childhood abuse with all its damaging trauma. 

The other morning in my meditation on God’s word, continuing to prayer-journal through Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1, I found myself including more and more of these hurting groups of Christians in my praying. It wasn’t easy. But neither was it disappointing. 

Instead, it was almost a relief to give in to the need to pray for others with an open heart that is willing to “weep with those who weep” even while we wish we could “rejoice with those who rejoice”.[1] In the end, it was another illustration of Jesus’ Beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”[2] I hope this short video has the same effect on you.



 

 

© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8

Email: in2freedom@gmail.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

 



[1] Romans 12:15

[2] Matthew 5:4

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

In2Freedom Vlog: Comfort for Attachment Pain

I don’t know when I first heard the word “attachment”, but as I learned what it meant, I realized that it was the bridge between things I knew inside me and what I saw revealed so clearly in God’s word of the love, joy, and peace of the Spirit that conditions the fellowship of God’s people. 

I can recall reading about people struggling to explain the Greek word “koinonia” which is translated into English as “fellowship”. I could sense that various writers had come across a treasure of close relationships in the early church that they longed to see reproduced in every generation. 

I can remember hearing about how Paul’s heart was expressed in the book of Philippians in such a personal way and knew that I wanted to get to know Paul like that. I could see for myself that he wrote the little book of Philemon to address a very personal and sensitive issue between two brothers in the Lord, and I knew that he had something going on in his relationships that was almost foreign to me. 

My point is that my discovery of the word “attachment” seemed to shed so much light on this quest to know and understand how important love-relationships were to God, and even how the triunity of God was so significant to what it meant for us to be made in the image and likeness of the Triune. 

In a very helpful book on developing relationships in the church, The Other Half of Church, I found this description of attachment: 

Attachment is the strongest force in the human brain. It is not an emotion, although we feel it strongly, and attachment runs much deeper in the brain below willful control. Attachment is the best word scientists could find for what glues people together and little creatures to their parents. It produces an enduring care for the well-being of another. Attachment is a life-giving forever bond with no mechanism in the brain to unglue us. If God has an enduring love for us that brings us good, the only force in the human brain that can understand such lasting kindness and care is the brain’s attachment system.[1]

My point in sharing this is simply that it explains how God designed our brains to match his design of our souls and spirits. He wants us attached to him in a love-relationship with him that consumes us in heart, soul, mind, and strength, and he wants us loving our neighbors as ourselves, loving our enemies as he loved us while we were enemies, and loving one another in the church in the very same way as Jesus loved us from the cross. Such a high and lofty aim has a level of reality to it that is absolutely stirring, while explaining why we are so traumatized by anything that is wrong in our relationships. 

If you’re still with me, this Vlog post is just a few minutes more of showing how personally God’s word speaks to our need for attachment, and for healing when attachments go wrong. May the word of Christ dwell in us richly even in this![2]


 


© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8

Email: in2freedom@gmail.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)



[1] Wilder, Jim; Hendricks, Michel. The Other Half of Church (pp. 81-82). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

[2] Colossians 3:16

Sunday, April 10, 2022

In2Freedom Vlog: Filled and Increasing


I have often heard people stumble over the different ways things are expressed in God’s word. Sometimes they think that God is contradicting himself when he is simply looking at a truth through a different facet of the diamond. 

This hit me this morning when I saw that Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-14 referred to knowledge in one way that requires us to pray to be filled, while looking at knowledge in another way requires us to pray that our knowledge could keep increasing without ever being filled. And, both are wonderful expression of God’s will! 




















The surprise of a snowy morning seemed so inviting to go out and share a few thoughts about the way we can be both filled and increasing while we pray. It was certainly a beautiful day to be out in God’s creation.

 


 

© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8

Email: in2freedom@gmail.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

Saturday, April 9, 2022

To Worship With Thinking


I was up early and literally overwhelmed with how many treasures of wisdom and knowledge God was revealing in his word! 

First, I still have in mind Paul’s prayer of Colossians 1:9-14. I have it printed out on 4x6 file cards to share with others. My copy is taped to the side of my computer where I pray through it on a daily basis. It is shaping my heart, and soul, and mind, to long for my heavenly Father’s name to be hallowed around me, his kingdom to come into everything I do, and his will be done in real life here and now as it is done in heaven always.[1] 

Second, I am in awe of God regarding the way he is using the example of the evil king Manasseh to show how he will hear and answer the prayer of any sinner who repents and returns to God in faith.[2] I shared about this yesterday in my Vlog post about him.[3] It is so encouraging to know that God receives any sinner who repents and calls out to God in Jesus’ name. 

Third, this uncovered a vein of gold in the book of Hebrews regarding how to relate to the hardship of hostility by attaching to God as the Father who lovingly disciplines me as his son.[4] 

And, fourth, I suddenly found myself worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ for the gift of thinking! Yes, THINKING!!! 

It came from the first word in this verse: 

“CONSIDER him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”[5] 

Consider: to think about carefully v. — to think about actively, with effort and precision.[6] 

I am in awe of God that he would let me feel the negative and positive of this at the same time. I feel like a seasoned veteran of the Beatitudinal Valley who bears with the downside of all the humbling that takes place because the reality of the upside of becoming like Jesus is such a treasure of grace.[7] 

The negative side of this thinking and considering is to be reminded of all the hardships and heartaches people have gone through under my watch because they have not wanted to THINK. They have been so afraid of hidden and secret things inside them that they would rather turn off their mind and brain from thinking about anything to do with God at all than to endure the few moments of thinking about the festering pains of the past in order to know Jesus Christ as the healer of the brokenhearted and the binder of our wounds in the present.[8] 

As a pastor, I grieve the damage that not wanting to THINK has done to people! I have experienced a lot of hurt from people who have rejected me because they were rejecting where God was taking them. However, that is minor compared to the hurt they have caused themselves by hardening their hearts against the mercies of God that are new every morning, even in our valleys of discipline.[9] 

This is a huge lesson in life for me, that not THINKING causes far more pain than anything I have ever had to feel by letting myself think about what I have done, or what has been done to me, or how my relationship with God and people has been affected by the wounds and the sins of life. 

On the positive side, this tells me how I can overcome the daily grind of hostility that tends to wear us down so we “grow weary or fainthearted”. It is by CONSIDERING Jesus. 

Using the definition of “consider” as above (“to think about carefully v. — to think about actively, with effort and precision”):

  • I am to think about Jesus “ACTIVELY”. In the Bible, meditation means to think actively about God and his word. It is like a cow chewing its cud, bringing up thoughts, thinking them over, coming back to them again, processing them through new experiences, so that we get as much spiritual nutrition out of the word of God as is possible. The writer of Hebrews is calling us to this meditation on Jesus, where we actively give ourselves to all kinds of thoughts about him all the time so that we are transformed through the renewal of our minds.[10]
  • I am to think about Jesus “WITH EFFORT”. A fear-based identity that has never faced the pain of childhood trauma has difficulty with this. I get it. I know all about it. However, I also know the value of effort in pain. The older I get, the more I am aware that I need to put up with pain to maintain good health. My exercise routine gets more difficult with age, but I am regularly quite thankful that I put in the effort to press through something I wasn’t enjoying in order to get the good results. If there is a reward to effort in such mundane (and temporary) earthly pursuits, how much more in giving effort to our thinking about the hostility our Savior endured from sinful people so we will grow in our health for enduring the same kinds of things. 
  • I am to think about Jesus “WITH PRECISION”. This has been such a blessing to me as of late, that everything to do with God and his word is true. Even my hobby-horse of exploring creation science has repeatedly proven the world’s beliefs false while glorifying the word of God for being true. There is no benefit in people giving a lot of thought and consideration to Jesus when they are following the lies and deceptions of the evil one. We MUST let God change our minds from all that is false about Jesus and think hard about him with precision that holds to the whole counsel of God about our Savior (and everything, of course). 

When I look at the hostility that has been expressed in churches over the decades, I see a pattern of people suddenly deciding they do not want to THINK. They do not want to FEEL. They do not want to THINK about FEELING. This is particularly painful for me because one of my earliest lessons about pastoring included the warning that God’s people would be more committed to self-protection than to knowing and doing the will of God.[11] I will just say that I have felt this as personally as anything could be felt as people beloved to me have walked away because the pain of thinking was greater than any benefit of attaching to me, or to God with me. 

However, the grace of God continually calls me to THINK about Jesus, to CONSIDER him, and to let myself FEEL the weight of the hostility he experienced against himself. And in the consideration of what HE endured, I will find his strength keeping me from growing weary or fainthearted on one side, but then leading me in the positive focus of “running with endurance the race that is set before us” while, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despise the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”[12] 

Do I wish that the hostility was outside Jesus’ church rather than inside? Yes. 

Do I wish we were enduring the world’s hostility together as local expressions of the body of Christ and letting God’s discipline make us like Jesus? Yes. 

However, does God reward us individually as we press on to keep THINKING hard about Jesus and his suffering so that we can endure the injustices we face even when we are disowned, slandered, and rejected? Yes. 

Here is Jesus’ invitation in his own words: 

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”[13]

My time with God this morning was gladly opening the door to Jesus so I can consider what he endured for me to help me endure hardship and discipline for him. I know the fellowship with my Savior will grow stronger as I persevere. However, I share this in the hope that it has helped you consider our Savior with me, so you can also “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”[14]

 

© 2022 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8

Email: in2freedom@gmail.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

 



[1] Encouraged by Jesus’ model prayer for his disciples in Matthew 6:9-13

[2] II Kings 21 and II Chronicles 33

[4] Hebrews 12:1-11, with continuing applications in Hebrews 12:12-29

[5] Hebrews 12:3

[6] Bible Sense Lexicon from Logos Bible Software

[7] The Beatitudinal Valley is the way I see the Beatitudes Jesus taught in Matthew 5:1-12. The first four are like traveling on the downside of the valley as God shows us our poverty of spirit, leads us to mourn what is wrong with us, brings us deeper where we meekly know we cannot fix ourselves and so we find ourselves surrendering to the authority of Jesus Christ, and finally hitting rock bottom, so to speak, where we hunger and thirst for the righteousness of what we could be in Christ by grace through faith. This leads us up the upside of the valley where we become the merciful who have already received mercy, and continue to do so as we express mercy to others. We become the pure in heart as the opportunity to “seek first the kingdom and righteousness of God” (Matthew 6:33) consumes us through and through. This leads us to climb up into the realities of becoming peacemakers who have an insatiable longing to see people come to have peace with God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And, this brings us to the place where we have so experienced the grace and mercy of God that we consider it pure joy when we are persecuted for the glorious name of our Savior and the good news of great joy that he is still in the world seeking and saving the lost.

[8] Psalm 147:3

[9] The famous expression about this, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:22-23), is in the context of Jeremiah grieving the horrible trauma his people were going through under God’s discipline because they refused to THINK about what the prophets were saying and RECEIVE the word of their God to bring them to repentance and faith.

[10] Romans 12:1-2. Note: worldly meditation is not to think actively, but to think passively. In other words, the world’s way of meditating is to try to empty the mind so that Satan can fill it with his thoughts. This is in contrast to biblical meditation that considers the words and thoughts of God that are already revealed to us and letting them overtake our hearts, and souls, and minds by our determined willingness to “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly” (Colossians 3:16).

[11] This came to me around 1990 through Larry Crabb’s book, Inside Out. © 1988, 2007, 2013 by Lawrence J. Crabb Jr. through NavPress Publishing Group. I had never heard of self-protection before, but the book turned out to be prophetic in its warning that more church people would idolize their own abilities at self-protection above their desire to know and do the will of God.

[12] Hebrews 12:1-2

[13] Revelation 3:19-20

[14] Ephesians 6:10 (in context of Ephesians 6:10-20)