The Living Word

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,…”  Colossians 3:16 ESV

This website is dedicated to the wonder and application of the Word of God.  That is what Psalm 119 is all about.  It was written to draw our attention to God’s Word, to learn it and to live by it.  Psalm 119 tells how this application process actually works and the very real benefits.

Christ Himself is the Word of God, so it is also an enconium to the Word Made Flesh Who is the fulfillment of all that God has promised.  The Word of Christ is not just what Jesus said while here on earth; it is all that He represents.  It is Christ Himself with us!

What does it mean for the Word of Christ to dwell in us?  

For that, we need to consider the context from which this verse came.  In chapter 3, Paul is telling the new church at Colossae[1] to set their minds on Christ (v1).  The contrast to this would be to let our attentions and focus fall to earthly things, trivial daily matters that concern us or bump us into lesser quality thoughts and behavior, even sin.

Oh, how the mind does veer to these lesser things constantly! We get annoyed, rankled, “concerned” (worried to lesser or greater degree), discouraged, fractured, confused, frustrated, preoccupied, busy, angry, hurt, even grieved on a moment-by-moment basis.  But God, through the apostle Paul, is telling us that we have a safe haven for our spirits in the Word of God.

Why?

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God….you also will appear with him in glory” (v3-4).

As a Christian, we understand we have two natures:  the one which calls us to please ourselves (ease, comfort, pleasure, ambition) and the one that calls us to bring honor and glory to God by obedient faith.  We are to daily “die” to our old nature, because we are no longer in bondage to it. Christ’s victory on the cross and His Resurrection defeated the power of sin in our lives. We are free to choose the better way.

This is what it means to “let Christ dwell in you richly.” Let all the scriptures, manifested in the Person of Christ in love, live inside you.

First, “let”:  we have that choice of two natures to contend with.  We have been given a choice.  God wants cheerful givers, not coerced robots!  He is calling us, inviting us to choose the better way. Let means “allow”.

What is the better way?  Christ!  All the Word of God that Psalm 119 applauds, and all that Psalm 119 promises that became fulfilled in Christ, and is still being fulfilled in us as we live it out, this is our safe haven.  This is where our minds and hearts should find rest.

To ‘dwell’ means to make a home.  Let Christ make his home in you.  Is your home ready to receive him?  My own answer would be “not always”.  Then in order for this verse to come alive in me, something needs to change.

Living it out

What difference does it make to know the Word of God if we are not letting it have its way in our lives?  If God’s Word is true, then it should be law in our lives.

But it’s not, is it?  Moment by moment we make decisions on which parts of scripture we want to adhere to and what parts we’re going to let slide.  We don’t consciously think this out, but our sinful natures control us.  It’s time to give up that control to Christ:

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: (list)…which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.  In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you must put them all away: (list)…seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator….Christ is all, and in all.”  (v5-11 ESV[1]

But God’s Word is not all about just denying self and “putting off” the sinful nature!  God’s Word is about “putting ON” some wonderful things that Christ’s presence in our lives offers:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and,….forgiving one another; 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.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.” (v.12-15 ESV).

Letting God’s Word have its way in us means to “put off” what comes ‘naturally’ to the old sin nature, and “put on” those things that Christ, by His sacrifice, enables us to do above and beyond our old natures.  Christ has given us the authority over sin in order to do this.

When you read those “put on’s”, you get an idea of what it means to let Christ live in you richly.  Luxuriously, abundantly, generously, everflowing from living springs!

Practically speaking, our psalmist in Psalm 119 speaks about the literal words of God.  We can’t know God’s Word unless we read it, until we hear it being expounded and illustrated, and unless we obey it in our daily lives.

What happens?  

IMG_0079.jpg

… teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (v15b)

First, it teaches us right from wrong, truth from error.  It teaches us who God is and what Christ has done and what our future looks like!

Next, in doing so, God’s Word admonishes us. That means the Word convicts our hearts to confess and turn from our errant wandering and to apply Christ’s nature of holy love and obedience instead.  This is the wisdom of God!  To know is to do.

Finally, God’s word literally causes our hearts to sing its words in thankful worship of God! In this, we not only to minister to our own hearts, but we who believe gather to worship together!  This is not a solo act!  God’s Word is to be lived in community with other believers.

That is what it means to let the Word of God dwell in us richly!  It is an act of joyful obedience by faith in the Faithful and True.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [to the public glory of Christ], giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  (v17).  

This website is about Psalm 119.[3]  But Psalm 119 is about God’s Word.  Therefore, these posts will also be about the wider word of God in echo of our beloved psalmist. My experiment is to walk out the Word of God as it is applied in life–my life primarily, but also the lives of fellow saints through their writings, posts, and example.  What does it look like to obey God just here?

Heavenly Father, your Word to us is good.  It is tested and tried and found to be solid ground.  It is hard, though, Lord.  With all the wonderful promises and the kindness of your heart reflected there, putting off the old self is painful.  I don’t like being wrong, and I don’t like doing hard things.  My sinful nature resists loudly, and I often cry, “Unfair!”  I look to the rest of the world as justification for my dilutions and rebellions.  “They don’t have to, why should I?”  And yet–I know your Word is life.  So much of obedience is common and ordinary; but Lord, sometimes those changes terrify me with their impact!  I don’t feel ready!  Even the good things, Lord!  I am with C.S. Lewis when he said that seeing you work miracle of healing from his prayers terrified him, for then he knew you were real.  And that has so many implications, Lord!  To know you truly see me and are actively involved in my life doesn’t always bring warm and fuzzy feelings! But a future without You is unimaginable. I am laid low in the dust before your feet.  I know that obedience will bring suffering, persecution and death as well as joyful, abundant living and eternal life with You.  I give my life to you knowingly and ask that You bear me up as I live this out.  In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in joy, Amen. 

© Feb 2019 by readpsalm119.com.

Footnotes:

[1] I intentionally left out the list, both for brevity and for you to fill in the blanks yourself.  My goal is to emphasize the “putting off” bit.  We know in our hearts what we need to put off at the moment of this reading.  If I read “sexual immorality” I am tempted to say, “Oh, I’m clear!  I’m not sexually immoral right now.”  But the function of all of these items in the list is that they are ALL idolatry.  Idolatry is the worship of someone or something other than God.  What is the idolatry in your heart at this very moment?  That is what we are to put off!  But please click on the link which will take you to the full verse and read there some examples of what we are to put off.

[2] the church at Colossae:  new believers in a Greek city in the first century AD

[3] Posts which illustrate the truths of any of the octrains of Psalm 119 will continue to be listed on the “Prayers” page under the appropriate octrain division (scroll down below the prayer links to the post links).

_______________________________________

FURTHER RESOURCES:

Ancient Wordsuploaded by 1BelovedSon, Dec 4, 2008, [YouTube; 4:30], written by Michael W. Smith.

Holy words long preserved 
For our walk in this world,
They resound with God's own heart
Oh, let the Ancient words impart.

Words of Life, words of Hope
Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e're we roam
Ancient words will guide us Home.

    REFRAIN:
    Ancient words ever true
    Changing me, and changing you--
    We have come with open hearts,
    Oh, let the ancient words impart.

Holy words of our Faith
Handed down to this age,
Came to us through sacrifice
Oh, heed the faithful words of Christ.

Holy words long preserved 
For our walk in this world,
They resound with God's own heart,
Oh, let the ancient words impart.

     (Refrain)

Wonderful Words of Life, by Phillip P. Bliss, 1874; uploaded by

Jack N Poy, Feb 22, 2015, the video produced by Fountainview Academy, British Columbia, Canada, [YouTube; 3:38 min.].

Sing them over again to me,
Wonderful words of life,
Let me more of their beauty see
Wonderful words of life; 
Words of life and beauty
Teach me faith and duty. 

    REFRAIN:
    Beautiful words, wonderful words,
    Wonderful words of life;
    Beautiful words, wonderful words,
    Wonderful words of life.

Christ, the Blessed One, gives to all
Wonderful words of life;
Sinner, list[en] to the loving call,
Wonderful words of life;
All so freely given,
Wooing us to heaven.

Sweetly echo the Gospel call,
Wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all,
Wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior,
Sanctify us forever.

(Note:  Please visit Fountainview Academy's channel on YouTube for 
the most beautiful, musical arrangements of old hymns sung by angelic young voices, performed excellently with classic instruments, and filmed in gorgeous, scenic locations.  Beautiful!)

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