The Attention and Affections of the Hidden Ones

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Colossase. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses right through seventeen in the third chapter. When you come to this portion of this passage of scripture you will find the apostle continuing to build upon that which he wrote in the first seven verses of the chapter. The more I read the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote to these saints the more I can’t help but be struck with the tremendous reality that it bears a remarkable similarity to the epistle which was written to the saints which were at Ephesus. If you read the verses which precede this particular passage of scripture you will find that this chapter begins and opens up with a powerful statement and declaration concerning our being risen with Christ. With that being said it’s worth noting that the apostle uses the reality of our being risen with Christ to provide words of instruction to those who would read the epistle. Since we have been risen with Christ the reality of that resurrection should bring us to the place where we set our affection on those things which are above rather than those things which are below—those things which are earthly, carnal and natural. What’s more, the apostle goes on to write to his audience instructing then to seek those things which are above and not those things which are earthly and from this world. It is actually quite remarkable to read this particular passage of scripture and uncover the apostle Paul writing to these saints—not only concerning their affections, but also that which they actively seek after. It is absolutely imperative that we recognize that whether we choose to believe or accept it or not, we are all seeking something in this life. The question we must ask ourselves is what we are in fact seeking in this life, and whether or not what we are seeking is natural or spiritual.

One of the things I find myself praying each morning centers upon my attention, as well as my affection. If I am being honest with myself, as well as with you who are reading this particular writing, it’s that we do ourselves a great disservice when we do not pa close attention to those things we are attracted to and those things we find ourselves being drawn to. We do a great deal of damage within our lives when we allow ourselves to be caught up in seeking after and pursuing that which is earthly, and that which is natural and of this world. If we are honest with ourselves we must all admit that not only are we attracted to specific realities in this life, but we also allow our attention to be captured by a host of realities which are before us each and every day. While I am not in any way speaking of the dating realm when I present you with this question I must ask you who are reading this particular writing what it is you find yourselves being drawn to. If you are being honest with yourself, as well as with God, what are you truly attracted to in this life? What do you find beauty in? What do you find splendor in? What do you find wonder in? What do you find as truly captivating within your heart and life in the here and the now? I am powerfully convinced that we desperately need to be aware of that which we allow to capture our attention, as well as that which we allow ourselves to be affectionate for and towards. The more I walk in this world and live this thing called life, the more I am becoming increasingly convinced that we need to be incredibly mindful of that which not only captures our attention, but also our affection. In fact, if you study scripture you will discover the tremendous reality that the Holy Spirit has a lot to say concerning that which we seek and that which we pursue through the pens of the authors of all that we hold in our hands and all that we read. We would be incredibly remiss to ignore the various realities that are found in scripture which describe our attention and affections within this life.

If you take the time to read the entirety of this particular chapter you will notice that everything begins with the reality of our being risen with Christ, but then everything which comes thereafter is directly built upon the reality of our seeking those things which are above, as well as our seeking our affection on things above. It’s worth noting and mentioning that in between the statements which the apostle Paul made concerning our seeking those things which are above, as well as setting our affection on things which are above, and what that reality in fact looks like within our hearts and lives, he makes the wonderful and powerful statement that “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). In a different place within Scripture we find the apostle Paul writing and declaring that when Christ appears we shall indeed and shall in fact be changed. I have to admit that I absolutely love the fact that the apostle Paul writes concerning the reality of Christ’s appearing, as well as our appearing with Him in glory, for it brings us fact to face with the expectation we have and hold within our hearts. By writing and speaking concerning the appearance of Christ the apostle Paul brings us face to face with the reality of whether or not we are actively looking for, anticipating and expecting the appearing of Christ. Within this passage of Scripture we not only encounter the reality of seeking those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God, we not only read about the setting of our affections on those things which are above, but we also go on to read of Christ’s imminent and soon coming appearance. In another epistle which the apostle Paul writes within the New Testament we find and read the apostle writing concerning those who love and are actively looking for the appearing of Christ. Oh, it is absolutely incredible that we acknowledge and recognize the fact of whether or not we have set our attention and our affection on those things which are above, and whether we do in fact love and look for the appearing of Jesus Christ. Are you who are reading this particular writing actively looking for, seeking, expecting and anticipating the imminent coming and appearing of Jesus Christ, and are you living your life according to such a reality?

In between the apostle’s words concerning our seeking those things which are above, as well as his words concerning the setting of our affection on those things which are above rather than the things on and of the earth, and what that reality does in fact look like within our hearts and lives, he not only speaks of Christ who is our life appearing and our appearing with Him in glory, but the apostle also writes concerning the reality of our being dead [with Christ] and our lives being hidden with Christ in God. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to such words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for we must recognize our position in Christ—that our lives are in fact hidden with Christ in God. What’s more, we must readily acknowledge and accept the fact that we have been made to sit together with Christ in heavenly places and have been delivered from the impact and affect of this world within and upon us. I have to admit that I absolutely love that the apostle Paul writes and declares that our lives are hidden with Christ in God, for it wonderfully reveals and demonstrates the fact that our lives are found in a reality completely different and altogether separate from ourselves. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the psalmist writes in the ninety-first chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms concerning this reality. Beginning with the first verse of the ninety-first chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms we find and read the following words:

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but is shall not come night thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is thy refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because He hath set His love upon me, therefore will I deliver Him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation” (Psalm 91:1-16).

When I read the words which the author of this particular psalm writes I can’t help but find the words which the apostle Paul wrote coming to life on the pages of the Old Testament. It is one thing to read the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning our lives being hidden with Christ in God, but it’s another thing to read his words in light of what we read and what we find in the Old Testament book of the Psalms. When we read the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning our lives being hidden with Christ in God we must understand the reality that if in fact our lives are hidden with Christ in God, then that means that anything that touches our lives—regardless of what that might look like—must first pass through and touch Christ. Perhaps this is one of the most intriguing realities that surrounds the death and crucifixion of Christ, for before we ever read the words of the apostles and New Testament authors concerning trials and suffering, the ultimate suffering, the ultimate opposition, the ultimate trial, the ultimate opposition and affliction came full force against Christ. Hell raised up everything it had and directed it toward Christ, and as a result—not only was Christ crucified and killed on the cross of Calvary outside of Jerusalem, but so also was Christ’s lifeless body buried in a borrowed tomb for three days. When I consider the reality that our lives are hidden with Christ in God, and that anything and everything we experience within our lives must first touch and pass through Jesus Christ, I am not only confronted with the reality that it first touched Christ during the week of His passion when He was betrayed into the hands of sinful men, but it continues to touch and pass through Him through His role as our great high priest. Consider if you will the words which the author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote concerning Jesus who is not only the Christ, but who is also our high priest: “seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16). We must recognize and understand that not only do we have a high priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but we also have a high priest who has been and was tempted in all ways as we are, and yet was without sin.

As I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning our lives being hidden with Christ in God, and when I consider them in light of the words which the psalmist wrote in the Old Testament book of the Psalms I can’t help but be confronted with the tremendous reality that our lives being hidden with Christ in God means that absolutely everything that touches and enters into our lives must first touch and pass through Jesus who is both the Christ and our high priest. What’s more, is that when we read the words which the apostle Paul writes concerning our lives being hidden with Christ in God we must recognize and understand that it carries so much more weight than that of anything and everything which touches our lives first touching and passing through Christ. When we read the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning our lives being hidden with Christ in God we must recognize the fact that if the enemy seeks to gain access to us, he must first go through Jesus who is the Christ and Lord, and even through God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and of us ourselves. I can’t help but be reminded of the account of Job, for despite the fact that Satan walked to and for within and throughout the earth seeking whom he might devour, he could only gain access to Job according to the express will and permission of the Lord Almighty. It is true that not once, but twice Satan gained access to the life of Job—first, he gained access to the lives of his children, as well as his possessions, and second, he gained access to Job’s physical body. With that being said, we find it absolutely incredible and worth noting that even though the Lord granted Satan permission to attack, assault and assail the physical body of Job, he was prevented by the Lord from taking his life. How absolutely wonderful and powerful it is to know and understand that even though Satan might appear to be launching all of hell against us, it does not come without the express knowledge and permission of the Lord of hosts, and first passes through Jesus who is both Christ and Lord. Mark my words and mark them well—there is absolutely nothing you face and experience within your life that does not take place with the express knowledge of the Lord your God, and does not first pass through and touch Him. The cross and the grave were the first two manifestations of this reality, for before a single New Testament author wrote concerning our suffering it first touched Jesus the Christ on the cross and within the grave.

I absolutely love the words which I find and read in the ninety-first chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms, for it brings us face to face with an additional reality concerning our lives being hidden with Christ in God. When the author of this particular chapter within the book of the Psalms writes, they do so concerning the tremendous reality of those who dwell in the secret place of the most High. The author of this Old Testament psalm writes and emphatically declares that he who dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Oh, please don’t quickly dismiss or lose sight of that which is found and that which is contained in this passage of Scripture, for if we are to understand the reality of our lives being hidden with Christ in God, we must also understand that we bear a tremendous responsibility to dwell in the secret place of the most High. It is only when and only as we dwell in the secret place of the most High that we shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. What’s more, is that we must understand and acknowledge the reality that this is manifested in the language we ourselves speak, for you will notice that the author of this psalm emphatically declared how they would say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.” When we dwell in the secret place of the most High, and when we abide under the shadow of the Almighty, we begin to notice our language changing, for we without hesitation and without reservation make the Lord our refuge and our fortress. What’s more, is that when we dwell in the secret place of the most High, and when we abide under the shadow of the Almighty, we place our trust and our confidence in the living God, and in Him alone. With that being said, it’s imperative that we recognize and understand that when we dwell in the secret place of the most High, and when we abide under the shadow of the Almighty, “He shall deliver us from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.” What’s more, is that the most High will in fact cover us with His feathers, and under His wings shall we trust. When we dwell in the secret place of the most High we. Shall not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flies by day, nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday. When we choose to dwell in the secret place of the most High, and when we abide under the shadow of the Almighty, a thousand shall fall at our side, and ten thousand at our right hand, but it shall not come near us.

The apostle Paul writes that since we are risen with Christ we are to seek those things which are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, and we are to set our affection on those things which are above, rather than those things which are of the earth. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul goes on to write that since we are dead, our lives our hidden with Christ in God. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the tremendous reality that if we are in fact risen with Christ we are to seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God, and we are to set our affection on things above, and not those things which are on the earth. I am convinced that the only way we can truly seek those things which are above, and the only way we can set our affection on those things which are above, we must first be dead with Christ, and dead in Christ. The apostle begins this chapter with an emphatic statement concerning our being risen with Christ, and in order for us to experience that reality within our lives we must first be dead with Christ, and dead in Christ. If we are in fact dead with Christ, and if we are in fact dead in Christ, our lives our now hidden with Christ in God. It is only through our willingness to die with Christ and die in Christ that our lives can in fact be hidden with Christ in God. I would dare say that those individuals within this life who are the least impacted and the least affected by those things which take place around them are those who are not only dead, but also those whose lives are hidden with Christ in God. It’s worth noting that the author of the ninety-first chapter of the book of the Psalms didn’t declare that the terror by night would not come, nor that the arrow would not fly by day. The author of this particular psalm did not declare that the pestilence would not walk in darkness, or even that the destruction would not waste at noonday. The author of this particular psalm did not declare that a thousand would not fall at our side, and ten thousand would not fall at our right hand, but there was one thing the psalmist did declare—“but it shall not come nigh thee.” Even more than this, the author of this particular psalm went on to declare that it would be only with our eyes we would behold each of the realities they just wrote and presented us. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this reality within the very depths of our spirit, for this reality can only be manifested to the decree we are dead, to the degree that our lives are hidden with Christ, and to the degree that we dwell in the secret place of the most High. Jesus didn’t declare that the gates of hell would not launch and lobby attacks and assaults against us within our lives, but He did declare that the gates of hell would not prevail against us. I have to admit that I absolutely love the words and language the author of this particular psalm writes, for the author declares, and perhaps even instructs us, saying, “Thou shalt not be afraid.” Oh, what would happen within our lives if we took these words as more than just an option or polite suggestion, and actually took them as a command and word of instruction within our hearts and lives? What would happen if we did in fact view these words as a powerful instruction to not be afraid—to not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flies by day, nor for the pestilence which walks in darkness, nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday.

The more I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this particular chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Colossae, the more I can’t help but be reminded of specific references within Scripture which speak directly to the reality of both our attention and our affection. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which David wrote in the twenty-seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms beginning with the first verse: “The Lord is my light and my salvation;’ whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord” (Psalm 27:1-6). Building upon the reality of what I read and find in this particular passage of Scripture I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are written and recorded for us in the eighty-fourth chapter of the same Old Testament book beginning with the first verse: “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainted for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Stealth. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also falleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selfhood. Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:1-11).

Continuing to build upon this theme of setting our affection on those things which are above, as well as seeking those things which are above and not those things which are of the earth, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Jesus Himself spoke in his famous Sermon on the mount. Consider if you will what He spoke beginning with the twenty-fifth verse of the sixth chapter of Matthew’s gospel: “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeders them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say not you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take not thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:25-34). Earlier on in this very same chapter and within the very same sermon, Jesus makes another declaration which lends even more weight to this reality. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded in this particular chapter beginning with the nineteenth verse: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves to not break through nor steal? For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, who great is that darkness” (Matthew 6:19-23).

I can’t help but see a powerful and direct correlation and connection between the setting of our affection on those things which are above, our seeking those things which are above rather than those things which are upon the earth, as well as our lives being hidden with Christ in God. The more I read the words which the psalmists write in the Old Testament book the more I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the reality that if there is one thing we have desired of the Lord, and if there is one thing we will seek after—namely, that we may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our life, and to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His Temple—in the time of trouble He shall hide us in His pavilion, and in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me. What’s more, is that the psalmist also goes on to write that He shall set us upon a rock, and our head will be lifted up above our enemies which are round about us. It is absolutely imperative that we recognize and understand this, for this all begins with “one thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after.” It is true the psalmist does in fact declare that in the time of trouble the Lord will hide us, and it is true the psalmist declares that in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide us, but it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we come face to face with the reality that there must be one thing we have desired of the Lord, and there must be one thing we must seek after. This is what is so incredible vital and critical when reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning the setting of our affections on those things which are above, and seeking those things which are above and not of the earth, for these two realities are directly connected to our lives being hidden with Christ in God. I would dare say that the only way we can truly set our affection on those things which are above, and the only way we can truly seek those things which are above is if we are truly dead with Christ, and truly dead in Christ. David did in fact write of the Lord “He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters, He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those which hated me,” but before he ever wrote those words he first wrote these words: “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies” (Psalm 18:1-3).

What does all this look like? What must we take away from the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning our seeking those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God? What should we take away from the reality of setting our affection on things above, and not things which are on the earth? What should we take away from the reality that our lives are hid with Christ in God? The answer is actually found in the remaining portion of this chapter concerning putting to death and mortifying the members of our flesh, putting off the old man, and putting on the new man. In fact, if you read the remaining portion of this chapter you will find a powerful description of what this all looks like in the natural realm, and what is indeed and what is in fact required of us. I leave you with the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture beginning with the fifth verse: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscene, and coveteousness, which is idolatry: for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: in the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old men with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body: and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him” (Colossians 3:5-17).

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