The Palette of the Spirit

Did I ever tell you I once “had my colors done”? It takes a great deal of confidence in my own masculinity to admit this openly, but it’s true. Having gone through the process herself, my wife convinced me to do the same (which was a great sales job on her part, by the way). Now, guys, “getting your colors done” entails being draped with assorted colors to see which ones make you look more like Chuck Norris and which ones make you look more like Pee Wee Herman. In the end, you get a “palette,” which is an array of colors that best suit you. This is why I get most compliments when wearing blue and, conversely, why a friend asked if I was ill one day when I wore my olive shirt. “You look more pale than usual,” he said—a Pee Wee moment, for sure. The Salvation Army gladly accepted my small clothing donation the next day, and I consoled my bruised ego with the Schedule A tax deduction.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul laid out a spiritual wardrobe for believers in Christ. “As God’s chosen people,” he wrote, “. . . clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. . . . And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12, 14). These are the qualities that look best on us, for they reflect the characteristics of Christ in us. Moreover, this same palette suits all who live in Him.

When we put on new clothes of the Spirit, we must take off the old rags of our sinful nature. What do these old clothes look like? They probably vary among us, but I’m guessing we all have a closet full of our own version of olive shirts that make us look “ill” and, in our worst moments, “more pale than usual.” What are they for you? Pride? Indifference? Impatience? Blame? Unaccountability? Stinginess? Unbelief? Whatever our old clothes look like, ours is not to try to refashion them through our own efforts or resolve, but rather to put them aside and choose, instead, our new wardrobe in Christ. For it becomes us.

Father, send your Spirit today, that I would put off the ways of my sinful nature and clothe myself in Christ. Be glorified in and through this life. Amen.

[Click here to read today’s Scripture in Colossians 3:12-15.]

Hope amid Rejection and Pain

I had been removed from a position at work, from a division I had led, and a people I had loved. It hurt me deeply and shook me to the core. Had I been perfect? No. Did I deserve this? No, not in my estimation, anyway. The decision had been made, however, and I found myself struggling with a deep sense of injustice. Although I had observed it plenty throughout the years, I had not lived as one reeling from the feeling of wrong.

And I had landed on my feet! I was still employed by the company, still well compensated, and now in a new position with a new challenge to embrace. So if my world was so rocked and racked with pain, I had no choice but to muse about those who really knew injustice, such as people profiled by outward appearance, the naïve innocents manipulated and coerced into sex trafficking, lives lived behind bars for something they did not do, and the child beaten by the parent whose love he craves, confused and wondering, “Why? What did I do?”

Despair—it’s where we find ourselves when we are utterly at a loss. It is that place where we are overwhelmed by things that aren’t as they should be, where we are overcome by wrongs too big for us to right. So we live there in despair, some of us only temporarily and some of us not so fortunate.

Sometime before I sensed any change at work—before I realized that things might not go well for me—God had pulled me close to Him. I had begun to read His Word daily and to journal what it was teaching me and how it was changing me. It wasn’t long before I began to grasp how personal God’s love was for me, that He was even more eager than I to spend time together. I began to “get” David, the psalmist, and his complete openness before God. I began to “get” John, the apostle in awe of Jesus’ love for him. The Spirit of God was changing me through the Word of God, and I lived daily in hope.

Hope—it is the confident expectation of good, regardless of circumstance. When my rejection and pain came at work, I knew this hope. I had experienced it. It was mine. So even as this difficult season had now come upon me, God continued to open my eyes to His truths, assuring me of His presence and filling me with His joy. Each day, I expected good and, every morning, He who is goodness fulfilled my hope. His presence with me—His Word and His Spirit in me—was my hope.

So I found myself knowing an unimaginable joy while suffering an unprecedented pain. For God did not walk me around the crucible; we walked right through its purifying heat together—joy triumphing over pain and hope defeating despair.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Click here to read today’s Scripture in Romans 5:1-5.

Today’s post is an excerpt from Christ in Me. Copyright © 2016 Paul Nordman. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Click here to order a copy of Christ in Me by Paul Nordman.

Humility—Filled with Christ

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:10, 11)

It is a curious grace to reach the empty end of ourselves. Like frustrated fishermen, we have cast enormous nets for our own glory only to be disappointed with our catch. Whether we’ve hauled in knowledge or wealth, fame or stature, advancement or achievement, none have measured up to our expectations. Dissatisfied, we drop our nets again and again in search for more and more until we realize and confess the futility and mockery of “it’s all about me.” In these precious times of truth so convicting, we relinquish our pride so unfulfilling. Yet what God empties He also fills. We are thus twice-humbled: deservedly brought low in the pride of our sinful nature, then graciously raised up as partakers in Christ’s divine nature. Is it any wonder, when called to follow Jesus, Peter and his friends left it all behind to follow Him? Doesn’t His love compel us to do the same?

Then how amazing the things are that God does through people who are humbled in their flesh and living boldly in the humility of Christ! Who but hearts awakened by grace rise to seek and to serve those they once distanced in indifference or contempt? Who releases grudges held against others but those who sigh in relief over their own forgiveness? Who speaks as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God but those He has liberated from fear? Who stands in prayer against the powers of darkness but the one who has overcome them in Christ? And only in the love and power of Christ’s sacrifice for us do we gratefully offer our life to Him.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time,” (1 Peter 5:6) wrote the older, wiser Peter. Humility is the nature of Christ, and when we examine ourselves in the light of One so great, we cannot help but give Him all glory, for it is rightfully His.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9–11)

Click here to read today’s Scripture in James 4:1-10

Today’s post is an excerpt from Christ in Me. Copyright © 2016 Paul Nordman. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Click here to order a copy of Christ in Me by Paul Nordman.