Colin Smith

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in northwest suburban Chicago.

How God Introduces Himself

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:2-3

Notice what God says before he gives the 10 Commandments to his people on Mount Sinai. These commands are intensely personal. They arise directly out of a relationship with the God who gives them.

A different god would have given different commands, so it makes sense that before we get into the commands, we get to know the commander. Notice he doesn’t make his appeal on the basis of raw power. This is the appeal of a gracious God who is committed to the good of his people.

God could have said, “I am your Creator. I made the cosmos. I have more power than a million nuclear bombs, so knuckle under.” That’s true… but that is not what he says. 

Poverty, abuse and oppression in Egypt

The people were powerless in Egypt. They were trapped. There was no political process that gave them the hope of a better life. There was no education that could qualify them for better jobs. Then God stepped in and brought these desperate people out of Egypt. He rescued them and now he introduces himself to them…

“I am Yahweh. I am the One who brought you out of Egypt. I sent the plagues on your oppressors. I parted theRed Sea. I destroyed the armies of your enemies. When you cried out, nobody else was listening. But I did. Nobody else took notice of you, but I came down to help you. Nobody else saw a future for you, but I did.”

Yahweh has no obligations. He doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do. What pleased him was to come down and set these hopeless people free. Now he says, “I am your God. You belong to me. You are mine.”

You will not embrace God fully until you’re convinced that he is good

We may submit to raw power, but we can never love raw power. That’s why it is so significant that God invites us into a relationship of love.

There is all the difference in the world between a kidnapper and a lover. A kidnapper may say, “You are mine,” on the basis of power. A lover says, “You are mine,” on the basis of affection.

The only reason anyone embraces him is because they see that he is God, and that he is good. We see his goodness even more clearly in that he took on flesh and came to us in the person of Jesus Christ:

“I am the God who has come down to set you free from the slavery of sin and death and hell. You had no way out. I have come to deliver you from a fate you cannot begin to imagine.” He holds out hands that are pierced with nails and he says, “Don’t put any other gods before Me.”

This LifeKey is based on a message called: “Your Struggle With God,” delivered on
September 12, 2004 by Pastor Colin S. Smith.

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

To receive the LifeKeys weekly eDevotional, scroll to the bottom of unlockingthebible.org and sign up.  You can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on facebook and twitter.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  Matthew 1:18-19

(This is adapted from a first-person message by Pastor Colin—in the character of Mary’s husband, Joseph)

I have a marvelous story to tell you. I had a ring-side seat for the greatest event that has ever happen in the history of the world. Of course, you know that I was the one who was pledged to be married to Mary. I knew that she was the one for me from the first time I saw her. What I didn’t know was that she had been chosen by God to bear the child who had been promised since the beginning of time.

Why I was devastated

The first thing you need to know about Mary’s child is that His birth had nothing whatsoever to do with me. For us, the union of a man and a woman was sacred. It was to be kept for marriage. There’s a purity about the union of a man and a woman in marriage that isn’t found anywhere else. A lot of people in your day have lost sight of that, but I tell you, we see the pain and the insecurity that comes of it all the time.

Of course, we never faced the pressure of advertising that assaults your eyes and your minds. But I can tell you that I have no regrets, about the choice that we made.  If you choose to obey God in this, you won’t have any regrets either. I had kept myself for Mary, and Mary had kept herself for me. That’s why I was completely devastated when she came to me with the news that was to shatter our whole world. 

I may have lived 2,000 years ago…

I don’t even remember how she started the conversation, and I can’t imagine the trauma that it was for her to try and tell me. All I remember is that she said the word “pregnant,” and when she said it, I just about went through the roof. She told me a story about an angel appearing to her, but I would hear none of it. I remember saying to her, “It would take an angel to make me believe what you’re telling me.”

I may have lived 2,000 years ago, but that doesn’t make me naïve or foolish. I know that no woman has a child without a man. I know that you have scientists experimenting with all kinds of genetic engineering, but this fact remains true—no woman has a child without a man.

Put yourself in my position

I have often smiled when I hear people say that they can’t believe in the virgin birth.  They say it’s a real struggle for them. How do you think it was for me? You may think that you are more sophisticated in your scientific age than we were, but I tell you, nobody ever had more problems over this than I did. Nobody ever found it more difficult to believe that a virgin could be with child than I did. 

Put yourself in my position. What would you have thought? Of course, now I know the truth of what she was trying to tell me. But at that time, she was telling me something that I found impossible to believe.

This LifeKey is based on the message (Dec 21, 2003) called: “Joseph’s Story,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, from the series, “Christmas Stories.”

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

To receive the LifeKeys weekly eDevotional, scroll to the bottom of unlockingthebible.org and sign up.  You can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on facebook and twitter.

What Do You Tell Yourself?

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.  Galatians 4:8

Notice the past tense—this is what you were—a slave. Many Christians live much of their lives in fear, as though they were still slaves. Are you more aware of what God still needs to do in your life, or of what God has already done in your life?  

You were a slave

A slave has no freedom. He does what he is commanded to do. The tragedy of the slave’s position is that his work never moves him to a better place. It cannot bring him freedom.

That used to be your position. You had not fulfilled, and could not fulfill the demands of the law. You owed God a debt you could not pay. That put you in the position of a slave. You could not change your position by your work—no matter how hard you tried. The good news of the Gospel is that God has acted to win your freedom. What has He done? 

You are a son

 “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir…” Galatians 4:7

This is present tense: This is what you are—a son. This remarkable change has already happened in your life, if you’re a Christian. You were a slave; you are a son!

The Gospel sets you free! God has embraced you in Christ who died to redeem you. He has made you a new creation in Christ by the Spirit who lives within you (2 Corinthians 5;17). Grasping the Gospel means believing that these things are true of me in Christ.

Let me tell you something very strange. There are many people who believe that they are Christians, but they constantly tell themselves that they are slaves: “I have this sin that I can’t get over. It’s just me. It’s the way I was made.”

Now when you think like that or speak like that, you are saying that you are a slave. And when you say, “I am a slave,” you are denying the Gospel. You are not living by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself for you.

Where victory over sin begins…

There’s only one way to live the Christian life and that is by believing the Gospel, by believing that what God promises in Christ is true for you. When you do that you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32).

If you’re a Christian, don’t say, “I have this sin that I can’t get over.” Instead, say, “This is a sin I have fallen into many times, but those past failures are forgiven, and today I stand before God, not as sin’s slave, but as a child of God in whom his Spirit now lives. That means I can endure this trial. I can stand against this temptation. By the grace of God I’ll prevail.” That’s what it means to live life in the body by faith in the Son of God.

This LifeKey is based on the message (Dec 3, 2006) called: “The Gospel Sets You Free,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, from the series, “Grasping the Gospel.” 

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

You can receive our daily devotional booklet by mail by visiting UnlockingtheBible.org/LifeKEYS and subscribing to the LifeKEYS Daily Bible Devotional BookletYou can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on Facebook and Twitter.  

Invention, Tradition or Revelation?

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Galatians 1:6-7

Where did the gospel come from? Some people say that the gospel came from Paul—he invented it. Others would say that the gospel must have come from the church—it was handed down by tradition over the centuries. But if you’re going to stake your life on the gospel, you need to have confidence that it’s true…

The gospel did not come from Paul

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. Galatians 1:11

If Paul invented the gospel, if his teaching is an expression of his own thinking, then we have liberty to disagree with him. But Paul says emphatically, “The gospel I’m preaching is not a human invention.”

Paul reminds us of this plain fact of history—he once poured himself into opposing the gospel message that he now proclaimed: “For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13).

Paul was once an enemy of the gospel, and since he openly opposed the gospel message before he began to proclaim it, it stands to reason that he could not have invented it!

The gospel did not come from the church

I want you to know, brothers, that… I did not receive [the gospel] from any man, nor was I taught it.  Galatians 1:11-12

Many people assume today that the gospel is a tradition of the church—that it has been distorted and manipulated in the interests of those who hold power. So you hear people saying, “Well, of course the church wrote the Bible.”

If it were true that the church wrote the Bible, then the task of each generation would be to update that teaching to fit the ever-changing needs of the church. Paul makes this quite clear here: “It did not come to me from the church. It is not a tradition to be developed adapted or changed.” It’s not the church that creates the gospel. It’s the gospel that creates the church.

The gospel came from Jesus Christ

I want you to know, brothers, that… I received [the gospel] by revelation from Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12

The gospel came from the highest authority. Paul’s gospel came to him by revelation, directly from Jesus Christ. So, we can confidently affirm that the message of Paul is the message of Jesus.

You can stake your life on it

The problem addressed by the gospel is bigger than finding peace, building confidence, overcoming fear, or finding fulfillment. If the problem was internal to us, it might be possible to find an answer from a scientist, a psychologist, or maybe a theologian, or even a friend.

But the problem addressed by the gospel is that our planet is under the wrath of God. That’s why a message invented by Paul, or a message handed down to us by tradition would be of no use to us. It would leave us still under the curse and judgment of God!

If our problem is with God, only a gospel that is from God can help us. The reason the gospel is good news is that it’s from Jesus Christ. It comes from the highest authority, and that’s why you can stake your life on it.

This LifeKey is based on the message (Nov 12, 2006) called: “The Gospel is from God,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, from the series, “Grasping the Gospel.”

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

You can receive our daily devotional booklet by mail by visiting UnlockingtheBible.org/LifeKEYS and subscribing to the LifeKEYS Daily Bible Devotional BookletYou can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on Facebook and Twitter.  

About Colin Smith

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in northwest suburban Chicago. Before coming to the United States in 1996, Colin served as Senior Pastor of the Enfield Evangelical Free Church in London for 16 years. He is heard daily on the radio broadcast Unlocking the Bible, speaks regularly at preaching conferences, and is the author of more than two dozen books and booklets. Follow Pastor Colin on Twitter @PastorColinS, and Unlocking the Bible @UnlckngtheBible.

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