“How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Genesis 39:9

Joseph was favoured by his father and that provoked jealousy in his brothers such that they would have killed him but for Rueben’s restraint. Nine of Joseph’s brothers wanted him dead but, when Rueben was absent, they sold Joseph to Ishmaelite slave traders. Joseph was seventeen years old. He became a slave in Potiphar’s house in Egypt. His statement quoted above shows that he was not angry or bitter with God. It reveals that he did everything as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). His resistance to temptation (v 8) would be severely tested as Potiphar’s wife came again and again (v 10). Nagging is Satan’s way to test and weaken our resolve to serve the Lord. The Holy Spirit does not nag.

Eventually Joseph had to flee (v 12) and was then falsely accused (v 14) and cast into prison (v 20). Even there he did not get angry or bitter with God but continued to glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:31). At no time did the Lord leave Joseph. He continued to favour him as a slave and as a prisoner.

Where we are physically in this world is of little importance. What is important is where we are in our relationship with God. Oswald Chambers writes:

“The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, nobler men and women; or they are making us more captious and fault-finding, more insistent upon our own way. The things that happen either make us fiends, or they make us saints; it depends entirely upon the relationship we are in to God.”

“When we understand what God is after we will not get mean and cynical.”

Oswald Chambers

Joseph is an example of one who maintained his relationship with the Lord regardless of his physical circumstances or place. Paul understood this when he wrote, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11). Fear and anxiety reveal that we are not content to serve the Lord where He has placed us. This may be especially so if we are where we are because of the unjust actions of others. We may admire Joseph but have no inclination to serve the Lord as he did. But what is God after? Jesus answers that in John 17:21, “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

Warning Every Person

“We speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts”

1 Thessalonians 2:4

When Paul wrote that God tests the hearts of His people he was not writing anything new. In Psalm 66 we find the same revelation. “You, O God have tested us” (v 10) with the result that they were refined as silver is refined. God not only allows but purposely creates or provokes circumstances by which what we think we believe is tested. The purpose is to expose what is really in our heart. The heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) so we are very glad that God reveals those areas where we are deceived or in error that He wishes to correct. He also reinforces areas where our hearts are right.

In this letter Paul wants us to allow the Holy Spirit to test our hearts. Tests will reveal where we are right and where we are not right. Allowing the Holy Spirit to test our hearts will reveal the extent to which the Holy Spirit has us. All true Christians have the Holy Spirit indwelling but to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) means that the Holy Spirit has us. At its root this means a humble and teachable spirit toward God.

If we are trying to please men we will not share the Gospel with them. This may be because we fear what they may think of us, say about us or do to us. If we are trying to please God we will share the Gospel and let Him deal with their responses. This is the context of Paul’s letter, especially chapter two verses one to twelve. If we are seeking the praise of men we are not seeking the praise of God (v 6). The two are mutually exclusive.

From time to time I reflect on what this will mean when all the unsaved appear before the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15) with Christ on that throne and myself and all believers with Him. How many unsaved will look over to me questioning why I didn’t warn them?

The Lord declared Ezekiel a watchman for the house of Israel (Ezekiel 3:17-19). Ezekiel didn’t ask for it. It came with the Lord setting him apart as a prophet to Israel. The church has been set apart to warn all peoples of the world of the wrath to come and of God’s wonderful Gift of life in Jesus Christ that is able to deliver them from that wrath. In Colossians 1:28 Paul writes, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”


“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Mark 12:17

The chief priests, scribes and the elders in the temple (11:27) could see that their authority was under threat. They sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus with a view to discrediting Him and not to discern the source of Christ’s authority (12:13). Paying taxes to Caesar was a sore point in Israel. Their view was that taxes should go to the temple not Caesar. If Jesus answered their question, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not” (v 14) with either a yes or no it would have been incorrect and provided an opportunity to discredit Him. Neither yes nor no was the correct answer.

Jesus’ answer agrees with scripture that we should pray for and support earthly governments but that we also have the privilege and responsibility of providing for His ministry on earth.

In focusing attention on the image of Caesar on the coin He confirmed that obligations to human government should be met. It is God who raises up and puts down kingdoms. It was the Roman Empire that had provided the circumstances for Messiah to enter the world and fulfill scripture at that time.

Where there is Caesar’s image that object belongs to Caesar. The extrapolation of that is that where God’s image is, that belongs to God. We read in Genesis 1:26-27 that mankind was created in God’s image. Jesus said that the coin which bears the image of Caesar should be rendered to Caesar and therefore man, created in and bearing the image of God should be rendered to God. This is what Paul was thinking when he wrote, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1) and “You were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

That we are created in God’s image means that we belong to Him to serve and worship Him. This is the basis for Jesus’ demand of supreme love, supreme loyalty and supreme devotion to Him without which we cannot be one of His disciples (Luke 14:25-32).

The image of God in man was corrupted when sin entered the world but when Jesus, “the image of the invisible God,” (Colossians 1:15) came into the world and suffered the cross He opened the door for the image of God to be recreated in any person who will receive Him (John 1:12-13; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Appealing to Pride

“We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God”

Daniel 6:5

Because Daniel was faithful in all his service and work (v 4) he was much liked by king Darius (v 3) and he was raised to authority over all other leaders and governors (vv 1 & 2). This aroused jealousy and greed in those under him and they formed a lobby group to plot his demise. They could find no just accusation against him to present to the king so they had to manufacture one and they knew that it would have to be in relation to his worship of his God.

Their scheme involved deceiving and manipulating the king by appealing to his pride. Satan has used this tactic frequently through history – because it worked and still works. Only a person who walks humbly with God (Micah 6:8) has any protection from this tactic.

Pride allowed the king to be deceived and manipulated into signing what was essentially Daniel’s death warrant. Satan’s goal has been and remains to utterly destroy Israel. If Israel is destroyed then Messiah will have no kingdom to return to and God will be proven unfaithful to His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Protection of Daniel meant protection of Israel.

In recent years we have seen a lobby group seeking the demise of God’s faithful people. Like the governors of Daniel’s day they could find no legal reason to silence them so they sought to bring into being a law that would put God’s people at odds with the government. They deceived and manipulated political leaders and the people in order to have laws passed that they hoped would silence God’s people. Whether their appeal was to pride or greed in our politicians could be debated. Either way, the politicians wanted to be re-elected. Satan wants to destroy the faithful church as well as Israel.

Daniel was delivered from the lions’ mouths and the faithful church will be delivered from Satan’s power and from God’s wrath that is to come (Revelation 3:10). Those who plotted against Daniel were all destroyed (Daniel 6:24) as will all who plot against Christ’s church. To plot against Christ’s faithful church is to plot against the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Acts 9:1-5; Colossians 1:18) and, like king Darius, He will turn judgment back on those who plotted against Him.


Mature in Christ #6: “Let Christ Rule”

Reference: Colossians 3:15-17

Our series title is “Mature in Christ”, this is the sixth in the series. We are reflecting on what it takes to grow into the image of Jesus – the process that’s involved, and so on. Our passage is Colossians 3:15-17. We’ve been looking these last three messages at chapter 3, looking at what Paul was saying, countering the false teachers that were affecting the Colossian believers. This is the summation of his argument; and he goes on in the next part to application in the home, in the workplace, and so on. Continue reading


Mature in Christ #5: “Putting on the New”

Reference: Colossians 3:5-14

Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, today is Father’s Day (we’ll get to the headlines in a minute) and I think it’s a somewhat unprecedented Father’s Day – Father’s Day is not, of course, a Biblical celebration, it’s one that came about after Mother’s Day was intended just as an appreciation of mothers, some years later it was suggested also to have a Father’s Day. Who would have thought that Father’s Day would become controversial? Have you heard during this week, some people are thinking about changing it to “Significant Person’s Day”? “Do away with Mother’s and Father’s Day” 🙂 – because we want to do away with the image – it’s a very serious and important issue, of course. And then, FreeTV Australia, the lawyers for that industry group, pulled the ad for Dads4Kids which they’ve been running for 15 years – although they have made reference to opposition to gay marriage in the past, this ad had nothing to do with that – but it’s seen as being a “political statement”. Continue reading


Mature in Christ #4: “Living Above”

Reference: Colossians 3:1-4

If you would like to turn in your Bibles to Colossians 3 verses 1 to 4. As you know, in this series we highlighted in Colossians 1:28, 29 that Paul’s goal, as he expressed to the Colossian people was to present them mature, perfect or complete (as the word teleos means) unto Christ. That is the challenge of which he’s countering the false teachers that have started troubling the Colossians and teaching them that they needed something other than Jesus. It might have been from the Jewish perspective – it was likely legalism, going back to Old Testament law; from the Greek side, it was a sort of Gnostic teaching that they needed more than Jesus – they needed “special” knowledge, the needed to have special “keys”.

Continue reading


Mature in Christ #3: “Walk In Him”

Reference: Colossians 2:6-7

This is number #3 in our series “Mature in Christ”, and as you’ve seen in the theme our focus this morning is “Walking in Him”; or, “Walk in Him”.

Some people go to the gym to get fit; personally, I’ve felt that like that was self-torture (although I have been to the gym, myself)! But walking is one of those things most lacking, today. We’re too busy; it’s too easy to hop in the car. We lack the exertion of physical effort. We’re too often seated, rather than active. Slowly we become passive – with all the negative health consequences that come with it.

Continue reading


Mature in Christ #2: “Growing Up in Christ”

Reference: Colossians 1:9-12

We started last week a new series, entitled “Mature in Christ”. We are looking at the goal and the objective of our Christian living. We looked last week and we found that Paul’s comments to the end of chapter 1 is that his goal is to present every man mature, teleos is the word: perfect, or completed in Christ. And as we looked at that, the issue was that the standard is not relative human maturity, the standard is Jesus himself. Just as Peter tells us, God said “Be holy as I am holy”. The goal of maturity is to be like Christ, and to be presented before Christ complete, lacking in nothing. Continue reading


Mature in Christ #1: “Pursuing the Right Goal”

Reference: Colossians 1:28-29

It is a great joy when a child is born. Whether as parents, grandparents, or extended family, there is nothing sweeter than having a new little life. But can you imagine if that little baby, stayed a little baby forever? It’s kind of cute for a time, but parents soon find out that the baby stage isn’t all cute. It has its challenges: sleepless nights, changing nappies… because a baby is just the beginning. A baby is meant to grow into an adult who begins to act and function in a mature and responsible way. Continue reading