Monday, December 14, 2020

Biblical Narrative of Christmas

 A brief look: 

One of the things that makes the Biblical Narrative of Christmas so special that it includes:

1)  Messianic Expectations - promised deliverer of Israel from Rome,  restorer of Israel back to the time of David.  These expectations extremely high when Christ did come.

2)  Angels appearing - these were not just dreams but appearances
      to Joseph - Matt. 1:20-21 - Divine, miraculous Savior
      to Mary - Luke 1:31-33 - will reign forever
      to Shepherds - Luke 2:9-14 - (not to priests, courts!)

3)  Visit of the Magi - Matt. 2:1-2 - as much as 2 years later, mystical as well as scholarly

Coupled with
4) Fulfilled prophecy
- Isa. 7:14, Matt. 2:6 (from prophet Micah)

So.... what started as a largely overlooked (unknown) local event ... has become a 

(A)  World-Wide Celebration!!

Some statistics just for the US.  (averaging out Pew Research and Gallup Polls)

96% of Americans celebrate Christmas
81% of Non-Christian Americans celebrate Christmas!!

88% of households put up a Christmas tree
90% buy gifts and gather with friends and family Christmas day or Christmas Eve, during the season

54% attend religious services (Christmas day, Christmas eve?)

65% display decorations with a religious meaning

73% claim to believe in the Virgin Birth (which = in essence the Christmas Story)

78% of American adults say they take time at Christmas to "reflect" on the Birth of Christ

(B)  the Universal measure of time - example:  BC/AD  BC = before Christ  AD = Anno Domini Latin for the year of our Lord.
Now are trying to establish BCE - CE   BCE = Before the Common Era  and CE = Common Era.
But, common era = birth of Christ!

Yet this only = a part of the story.  Four events give us the true picture:

His Birth
His Life (ministry as an adult)
His Death
His Resurrection

With His Birth comes wonder (awe)

With His Life (and ministry) come Knowledge (understanding) of who He is, what He's done, why it's necessary - John 1:18

thru His death come access - John 14:6

in Resurrection we gain Confidence (certainty, faith) - ("all authority is given Me...")

See how they are all necessary and how they complement one another...

What would the wonder of birth be without His Life and Ministry
answer:  Forgotten!  (or mythical bedtime story)

What would His imparted Knowledge be without His death?  (cross) -
answer:  we'd be aware of our fate!! doomed without hope!

What would access be without the Resurrection
answer:  uncertainty ... we couldn't be sure He was right!! (example: the state of the disciples after the cross, before the Resurrection!)

Point:   See how these 4 events work together to establish the Christian Hope!!!

All together = Christian Hope!

The Christmas story = wondrous thing!!  But.... you want your HOPE to be based on more than just that narrative!!!

3 types of HOPE  (concerning the afterlife)

#1.  NO HOPE (after death - nothing) - example:  atheist (Christmas story - just a story)

#2.  HEART HOPE ... based on...
      A.)  inherent knowledge (Eccles. 3:11)
      B)  personal desire  (longing) we long for our life not to end for nothing
and, maybe  C.)  Select portions of Scripture (example = Christmas story!)
This view ... Embraces the pleasant  (God's love)
               ....Rejects the offensive  (sin, judgment)
Therefore is generally optimistic, but = shallow, incomplete, NOT based on Scripture

#3)  CHRISTIAN HOPE which...
          A)  recognizes inherent knowledge
          B)  Admits personal desire (heart longing, sentiment)
BUT  C)  Builds on the full Revelation
And   D) Recognizes the Revelation as the final authority

POINT:  The Christmas story = a Wondrous thing!!
AND = a key element in the establishment of Christian Hope!

But don't build your hope on that alone!  Be sure to combine all 4 components!!  ie:
His Birth, His Life, His Death, His Resurrection - complement each other and = a solid Hope!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Becoming a Blesser

 This month's series = (1) give thanks    (2) give thanks always  (3)  blessings = what we're thankful for  (4)  utilizing your blessings (making use of, putting them to work!) - Blessings are not just for us to enjoy, but to employ

This week: 
Blessing (noun) - an act of God's favor, a free gift bestowed by God (on you)

Blessing (verb) ??  (1)  to speak well of - ie:  "bless the Lord O my soul" - example:  Eulogy
                             (2)  to pray God's favor upon - Mark 10:13-16 - we can do this, can't guarantee the results
                             (3)  to cause to prosper, to do better, to add to sense of well-being - example:  "that _____ really blessed me"

Beyond food and shelter ... people need to know and feel they are:

#1.  Loved (therefore, lovable) - not trash, not beyond redemption)
#2.  Valued (therefore valuable)
#3.  Significant - (therefore they matter - adding to their sense of well-being)
Anything that communicates this = Blessing!!!!  

People need blessing ..... (1) to thrive
Examples:  2/3 of inmates convicted of 1st. degree murder report childhood histories of physical abuse.
                  97% of hard core juvenile delinquents experienced a history of severe physical punishment and assault in their home.
                 80% of prostitutes report histories of child sexual abuse
                 over 60% of runaways grew up in abusive homes
                 90% of girls with anorexia (nervosa) lacked a close relationship with their father.

People need blessing sometimes (2)  to survive - example:  13th. century German King Frederick II experiment:  babies taken at birth and cared for yet without speaking in their presence and without any unnecessary touch (idea = to see what language they would speak.  ALL infants died.

An Italian historian recorded this with "they could not live without petting" - (1248 AD)

Today's term ' failure to thrive" - dozens of studies have shown "expressed love is the chief influence in mental, emotional and even physical health"

AND (3)  people need to know and FEEL Loved, Valued, Significant - head knowledge is not enough

Anything that Communicates to them, they ARE L,V,S constitutes Blessing - has to touch beyond the statement of fact!
Anything that communicates the opposite - Curse!!

Again  (1) people long for (desire blessing
          (2)  people need blessing to thrive and sometimes to survive.  ie:  all people.  nursing home residents, suicide cases
          (3)  It is within your power to Bless  - (or curse!)

Look at 3 forms of blessing ... Formal  -- Informal  -- Non-verbal
but 1st. "power of the spoken word" -
            Prov. 12:18, 15:4, 16:24, 18:21, Matt. 12:36, Eph. 4:29
Point??? it is within our power to bless or curse simply with the spoken word!!!

I)  Formal Blessing - given on special occasions.
Example:  Jewish Sabboth tradition = home, gather, praise wife, bless kids.  Then fill "cup of blessing" and share it around.
Application:  holidays?  birthdays? graduations? weddings?
Note:  formal blessing NOT accompanied by daily evidence of love, concern is not effective!!! 

II.  The Informal Blessing = expressing, communicating L, V, S, in simple, everyday life
Examples:  praise, compliments, encouragements, questions about well-being, a greeting, a call, a text, email, Card
(1)  on one hand, this is not flattery - people recognize sincerity
(2)  however, Mark Twain said, "I can go a week on a good compliment!"
(3)  NOTENames Matter!  because it shows significance!!

III.  The Non-Verbal Blessing - unspoken blessing
Definition:  "to cause to prosper, add to sense of well-being", so... anything beyond words that does this."
(smile, hug, gift, act..... etc.)

So..... Becoming a Blesser

#1.  Decide - intentionally!  (you hit what your aim at)

#2.  Watch for opportunity 

#3.  DO IT - example: at a gathering - "I'm gonna bless _____ people!"  This is easier for some. (gift), however, is the duty of all!! - Prov. 3:27, Heb. 10:24

#4.  Leave the results in God's hands 
a blessing doesn't always lead to transformation.  (blessings are accumulative!)
Your job = bless.  God's job is to transform!!!

#5.  Deal with your past. 
if were blessed - build on it!!!  - Luke 12:48
if not, Deal with it!!  - unpack baggage, break the chain!

#6.  Make Jesus your Savior and Lord 
in Him is the transforming power, new perspective, new Calling!!

What if - the whole community focused on "self"?
What if - the whole community focused on blessing others?

We are called to M.A.D./ M.A.E.D. - (make a difference, make an eternal difference) - Regardless of where you live, work, etc.  Num. 6:24-26

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Utilizing Your Blessings

 This Series = (1) Give Thanks  
                      (2)  Always!!  
                      (3)  Blessings - What We're Thankful For!
Today:  Utilizing Your Blessings - making use of your blessings, putting them to work.

We know ... we are abundantly blessed!!!
Question:  What are we to do with those blessings??

Answer:  (1)  Enjoy them - 1 Tim. 6:17 - "....richly ..... enjoyment!"
              (2)  Care for our family - 1 Tim. 5:8 - immediate and extended family
              (3)  Do good for others - Acts 10:38, Heb. 13:16
              (4)  Build the Kingdom - here and now as well as future

This is not multiple choice!!!  Are to do ALL of these things!

POINT:  We are to utilize (make use of) blessings ..... for good!!!  (not must consume for 'self!)

This falls under Biblical concept of Stewardship!
ie:  #1)  All your stuff belongs to God - 1 Chron. 29:13-14, 16
(what is truly yours = what you take with you when you go!)

#2.  As a believer, follower, servant ... You are to Manage His stuff  ie:  the stuff He's entrusted to your care.
example:  Parable of the Talents - Matt. 25:14-30 - talking about Kingdom of God.
Someday there will be a settling of accounts.  2 of the 3 expanded his holdings.
#3.  Stewardship goes beyond physical, material stuff
1 Pet. 4:10-11
1 Tim. 6:20 a - entrust = use it well
Can be talents, abilities, opportunities, influences, people, relationships, knowledge, training, education, experience(s), insights
Anything of value, and asset that you've been Blessed with!!  

I)  Stewardship Principles are found throughout Scripture, but Specifics are worked out between you and your Master!  

Ask yourself - "what has He given me?" 
Ask Him - "What would you have me do with it?"

Therefore = an issue of personal Lordship, a matter of personal Inquiry - can be scary!!  Example:  the rich young ruler.

II)  Stewardship does not exclude personal use of blessings (the steward lives off the estate)
But stewardship avoids 2 extremes:
On one hand, excessive focus on 'self (indulgence) - Phil. 3:19
On the other hand, hoarding (excessive saving!)  Luke 12:13-21

III)  Stewardship CAN lead to great wealth!!!  Examples:  the Patriarchs
However, there is no promise of material wealth - examples:  Jesus, the Apostles
THE POINT = wealth/possessions MANAGED for the Lord!!!  Example:  Mother Teresa

IV)  Stewardship designed to Enhance life, NOT Restrict it! 
Commands to give, share usually (almost always) include promise of blessing!!
Deut. 14:28-29, Prov. 11:25, 22:9, 28:27, Luke 6:38, Matt. 25:34-40
and Matt. 25:21 - the faithful servants reward!!!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Blessings - What we're Thankful For

Series = I)  Give Thanks

            II)  Thanks Always - 1 Thess. 5:18

Today = III)  Blessings; What we're Thankful FOR  - Biblical View!!
Definition of "Blessing" - an act of God's favor, a gift bestowed By God On you  (ie:  a good gift, beneficial, results in well-being)

Note:  Categories (types) of Blessings:
1.  material blessings
2.  financial blessings
3.  creation blessings
4.  health blessings
5. relational blessings
6.  community blessings
7.  national blessings
8.  opportunity blessings
9.  ability blessings Deut. 8:17-18
10.  spiritual blessings
(above blessings = current)  so additional:
11.  former blessings
12.  future blessings

Believers say "I'm blessed by God in all these categories .... and more!"

Non-believers?  Some online dictionaries chart recent usage of words.  Example = "blessing"  (in English)
Found great decline in the use of the word from 1800 to present.  Lowest was 1990, slight rise up to 2019.

Perhaps due to the growth of the sense of entitlement that is present.  (God owes me, that's His job, He's supposed to give me what I want and provide me with health, wealth, good stuff.  So why should I thank Him for blessings He's supposed to give me anyway)

Today - we'll divide "blessings" into 3 different categories:

#1.  Blessings of grace - (unearned, undeserved)

#2.  Blessings of Consequence = result of good works, proper lifestyle, obedience to God's will  (generally in this life)

#3.  Rewards - which generally refer to earned blessings "that come in the next life.

These three tend to overlap, therefore, is not always a clear line of distinction.

I.  Blessings of Grace = unearned, undeserved
Blessings bestowed regardless of belief/behavior - bestowed on everybody
Examples:  Life!!  birth place (year!)  Parents, extended family natural abilities (business) mental abilities (IQ), good looks, good health....
Blessings of Grace can be divided into 2 categories:
          A)  Absolute Grace  (those listed above ) nothing required of you. 
and    B) Available grace - on one hand = a free gift, however, requires some action, response from you. 
Example:  Salvation (forgiveness, reconciliation, adoption, eternal life)

II.  Blessings of Consequence - "earned" may be a bit strong, nevertheless these = partly the result of obedience, right choice, lifestyle - (obeying God and His will 4 you)
Example: Gal. 6:7-9
Point = IF follow God's will, ways then (as a consequence) blessings more often will follow.  (this doesn't mean that IF you follow God will never have problems!!  Are in a fallen world!)

Additional category?  - Blended Blessings?!  ie:  God gives, bestows, but we have to Activate it!!
Example:  John 14:27  "peace" with Phil. 4:6-7

Point - is Peace freely given?  or the consequence of ....?  Answer (I think) = sometimes given by absolute grace, sometimes consequence as a result of seeking His will, His grace, etc.
Compare:  Joy - strength - comfort - direction ... 

Question:  IF these blessings = my due and my doing - THEN why should I give thanks?? 
Answer:  Deut. 8:10, 17
(So... "I'm a self-made man... by the grace of God!")  Nobody dies it without God's grace.

III.  Rewards = consequential blessings in the Next life!
                        Matt. 5:11-12
                        Matt. 16:27
                        Matt. 19:29
                        2 Cor. 5:10
                       Rev. 22:12

Note:  these are "earned blessings' that God is NOT obligated to give ... but does so because ... He is Good!!  (gracious)
Believers recognize this ... Hence - Rev. 4:9-11

Question:  IF earthly blessings = temporal and rewards = eternal.. THEN why do we strive for the former?  and often neglect the latter?

good thin you experience and enjoy is because  (1)  God is Good  and (2)  God is Gracious  (3) TO YOU!!!
Therefore, Thanksgiving is in order! 
But more than that ...   Your Repsonse???   Luke 17:14-16  (ten lepers - all healed and grateful.  only one came back to give thanks)

 Closing Scripture:  John 1:16

Monday, November 9, 2020

Giving Thanks ALWAYS

 Last week = "giving thanks"

Tis week - "Giving Thanks Always" - 1 Thess. 5:18

NOTE:  this is not FOR all things, but = IN all things - is a world of difference. 
Examples:  Adam and Eve - "thanks for the fall?",  You - "thanks for my sins?", Daniel - Dan. 6:10 - he wasn't thanking God for the situation, but in the midst of the situation.

Question:  Why give thanks always?
Some Answers: 

I)  There's always something to be thankful for - examples:  1 Chron. 16:8 - past deeds, blessings ie:  what God has done
Psm. 107:8 - unfailing love
Lam. 3:19-23 - current mercies, His faithfulness, etc.
God doesn't change, therefore if He was good yesterday, then He is good today!
                                              if He was worthy yesterday, then He's worthy today!!
Situations change, we change, life changes, He doesn't!!

II)  Giving Thanks if God's will for you - 1 Thess. 5:18   And... IF it's His will for you, then = good for you!  Beneficial!  Right!  It's not for Him.
ie:  A)  Good for you (as an individual) - example:  Phil. 4:6-7 - peace that transcends understanding
B)  Good fo rthose around you - example:  Gen. 21:6 - when you give thanks in dire circumstances, it affects others around you.
Question:  Why are the martyrs so inspiring?  Because the died???  OR because they died WELL?!  - "Fox's Book of Martyrs" -
Heb. 13:15 - "sacrifice of Praise" - praise and thanksgiving is truly sacrificial in hard times!!!

III)  We know that in all thing God works - Rom. 8:28
This doesn't mean you'll see the good!  Example:  cross for 1st 3 days??
Example:  Jacob (who'd been a con man his whole life) - Gen. 32:22-31 - does Jacob LOOK blessed?  clearly not!!!  

2 Observations (from Ron Dunn)
(1)  Sometimes blessings come wrapped in the rags of a curse!  example:  Jacob's appearance!!   On the other hand, what appears to be a great blessing can lead to a curse!  example:  Solomon's wealth - 1 Kings. 11:1

(2)  Blessings and curses often travel on parallel tracks.. and often arrive at the same time!!  Sometimes in the curse, the blessing comes.
Example:  = the Cross = blessing?  or curse?  Answer = a curse God used to create great blessings!! - "in all things .... God works!"

hence ... Matt. 5:3-4, 56, 10 

OBSERVATIONS:  We often forget to "give thanks" - because are so focused on blessings!!!  (absorbed in, enjoying, etc.)
We struggle to "give thanks" amidst hardships... because we are so focused on the situation, difficulty!!

But clearly God's will = (1) give thanks
                                    (20  give thanks always!
This requires acknowledging His LORDSHIP!    His goodness,, faithfulness, sovereignty ... and His Providence.

To this we are called - not for the circumstances, but in the midst of them!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Giving Thanks

 Usually a "give thanks" sermon is Sunday before Thanksgiving.

This year a short series on Thanksgiving and blessings.

We start with the BASIC - ie:  GIVE THANKS!!!

Thanksgiving is the most celebrated (observed) holiday in the USA    According to a Thanksgiving poll that appeared in the Sunday Oklahoman,
92% of people questioned said "Yes" to the question:  "Do you and your family usually have a special gathering for a meal at Thanksgiving?"  
83% answered "Yes" to the question, "do you normally say a special grace of thanksgiving at this meal?"

So Why??  ie:  why is Thanksgiving so celebrated?  (the vast majority of people recognize that they are blessed!)

#1.  Thanksgiving is written into our DNA - it come natural!.  Example:  Atheist's comment after being told how gifted he was in his particular field was "I'm eternally grateful".  (grateful to whom?  for how long?)

#2.  Thanksgiving is a major part of our Judeo-Christian heritage.   We in the US grew up in this culture.

Old Testament - Thank-Offering;  1 of 5 designated offerings, yet .. voluntary  - this offering never mandated, only that it was to be done in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.

New Testament - Offering of thanksgiving - Heb. 13:15 - (sacrifice of praise rightly includes thanksgiving)

#3.  Because we in America are SO BLESSED!!! 
Blessings:  Reviewed nearly every year. However, it merits review!!!

1)  material - stuff and things?  house size?  storage space?

2)  financial - if annual income = $25,000 - are in top 10% of world's population.
                    if annual income = $47,500 - are in top 1% of world's population   (maybe 50 K in 2020)

3)  Natural resources  (natural beauty)
     creation - fall leaves, mountain views, autumn air, etc.  Question:  Why is Cabin Rental Industry exploding here?  

4)  health - availability of health, medical assistance?  Examples:  life expectancy in Mozambique = 39, Somalia - 48, Djbouti - 55, US - 78 1/2 

5)  relational (people) - spouse, kids, family, friends.....

6) community - example:  our community fund-raising events!  Question to ppl in this community:  IF suddenly very wealthy... would you move away?  or stay here?  

7)  national - prosperity, resources, freedoms, stability, security  (this = part of BIRTH blessings!!!  

8)  Opportunity - for career, education, $$, business, family, location

9)  ability - Deut. 8:17-18 - "....wealth."  Ability comes from God

10)  spiritual - Salvation?  beyond salvation?  Encouragement?  comfort?  guidance?  direction?  strength?  Hope??  Eph. 1:3

The above = present and former.  What about the future?

So...... how are you doing?  Better than you deserve?  John 1:16


#1.  We should give thanks - which is more than be grateful - Luke 17:11-19 - all were grateful!  Only one gives thanks!  ("be grateful/thankful" vs "give thanks" - 50:1  Attitude vs action

#2.  We should give thanks to Him.  on one hand, saying to another "the Lord has truly blessed me!" is fine to do.  However, saying TO HIM - "Lord, you've blessed me!  Thank you!"
Following the example of the Thank Offering, this should be done (a) privately - just you and Him, but also (b) publicly - before others!!
ie:  personal thanks publicly offered (as grace in a restaurant)

#3.  We give thanks by giving back - God doesn't need our money, however, supporting His work = promoting Him - 1 Chron. 29:13-14

#4.  We give thanks by helping others - Prov. 19:17  Matt. 25:40

#5.  We give thanks by giving SELF!   - Psm. 51:16-17

#6.  We give thanks by giving self repeatedly!!! - Lordship issue!

Concerning the Thank Offering - Note:  Deut. 16:10, 16-17 - (the more blessed .. the more thanks should be offered!!)  This is not only about money, but in proportion to what He's done for us!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Onesimus & Philemon

 Prelude to the Message:


(1)  Ancient World::  slavery was practiced by EVERY ancient culture that we have records of.  (was common and accepted)

(2)  Among the Jews OR According to the Mosaic Law you could become a slave by...
      (a)  being captured as an enemy in war
      (b)  punishment for criminal conduct
      (c)  voluntary indenturement  ("debt slavery") - sold 'self into slavery.  Had to be released in the 7th. year an and to be provided for by the owner.   Deut. 15:12-18

Slaves were to be treated humanely  - Ex. 23:9 - "you know what it's like!"
They were to spend the Sabbath in rest (Ex. 20:8-11)

On one hand you could punish your slave, However, if you knocked out and eye, or a tooth, the slave was to be set free!  If punished and dies... the offender was punished!!!   Ex. 21:20-21

According to Ex. 21:16 was a capital offense to kidnap and sell a person as a slave!  (contrast with slave trade of America)
If you married a captive woman and then divorced her, cannot sell!!  She was to be set free! because owner dishonored her.  Were NO sex slaves in Hebrew law because no sex outside of marriage!!!

Also... cannot sell a female slave - she can be redeemed by her family!  The Law allowed protection for a runaway slave!  Deut. 23:15-16

(3)  Slavery among Romans  estimated 35% in Italy were slaves, 20% across the empire were slaves.  Treatment ranged from hard labor and abuse (mines, military, arena - gladiators) to near members of the household.. Inequality was an accepted Norm!  Freedom was not a general right, but a select privilege!!  (Acts 22:26-28)  Not until the Christian message came along was this changed.  It ended slavery.
Slaves had no legal rights.
However, often (not always) were laws for treatment and a slave could purchase his freedom, get citizenship, public office!  1 Emperor (Basil) was born a slave - 2 Emperors were sons of a former slave  (Pertinax and Diocletion)

Slavery in Rome was NOT a Racial issue.  Not necessarily menial labor.   Many were doctors, accountants, tutors, etc.   On the street, slaves looked like anyone else!!

(4)  New Testament/Christian View
On one hand, is never explicitly condemned! 
However, was never condoned (never offered up as part of God's will)

Masters were to treat slaves kindly - Eph. 6:5-9
Slaves were to serve masters well - Col. 3:2-4:1

Paul encourages slaves to seek freedom - 1 Cor. 7:21, but not to run away!!  Example:  Philemon, Onesimus
(question:  would Paul's view differ in pre-civil war south?)

Note:  1 Tim. 1:8-11 - "slave traders" - unlawful, sinful.  God does not FAVOR free OR slave!  Gal. 3:28

In the early church, slaves had total equal rights!!  membership, leadership, office holding!!  Example:  deacon.  Was no distinction between slave and free people.

The Purpose of the church was not to abolish slavery!  It was to convert owners which led to changed hearts which led to changed world!!  Hence, evangelical Christians led abolition movements!!  Christian is too seldom recognized as THE PRIMARY FACTOR in abolition.  Christianity changed hearts and minds and established "Imago Dei" - mindset  (in the image of God)

Must distinguish between people identified as Christian and practiced/condoned slavery... AND the New Testament Christian view of slavery!!!

NOW ... the Story of Onesimus and Philemon.

Are 3 Primary Players
       Paul - an Apostle, in Roman prison (probably 1st imprisonment)
       Onesimus - runaway slave from Colosse
       Philemon - Onesimus' master, prominent Christian, close friend of Paul

The Story Onesismus flees to Rome, meets Paul somehow who is under house arrest, is soundly converted, returns home with a letter from Paul to Philemon (accompanied by Tychicus)

The Letter - Phil. 1-25

Notes:  (1)  this is not doctrinal, instructive
Is a personal letter ot a personal friend concerning personal matter.  Therefore,  we see Christianity at work!  Practical ... in home, work place.

(2)  This short (obscure) letter has had tremendous impact on the world .. concerning the issue of slavery!!  Then.... slavery = Universal, accepted, Now... very little slavery in the world.  Great public outcry against it.

(3)  What about the 3 players
      Paul (probably) released, re-imprisoned, executed
      Onesimus?  (according to tradition) - was freed, became a Bishop, was martyred for his faith
      Philemon?  (according to tradition) he and wife (Apphia) both martyred for their faith.

3 Important Themes (illustrated) in Philemon:  

#1.  Forgiveness - vs. 17 & 18
Definition = erasing (eliminating) a debt (example - Christ and the Christian)
We are called to (A)  Accept forgiveness and (B) practice forgiveness. 
"forgive as Christ has forgiven you"

#2.  The Transforming Power of Christ (or conversion to Christ)
      Examples:  Paul = persecutor to champion promoter,
                       Philemon - pagan to Christina leader, influencer
                       Onesimus - rebel runaway to Bishop
All three martyred for their faith.

See not only their personal transformation .. but also the transformation of many others ... because of them!!!

#3.  The Providence of God - (way God provides) - vs. 15 - 16
Is it a co-incidence that Onesimus flees 1,000 miles to hide and comes in contact with Paul ... is convertedreturns? etc.   Or, is this the hand of God.  Rom. 8:28

NOTE:  God is faithful to Provide  Nevertheless, you must decide whether you will accept His provision!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Typical Christian Profile (cont.)

Last week = 'Typical Christian Profile' = wish I had more confidence" (ie:  in my faith, in my daily walk)

We cited some of the Christian giants (Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, etc.) and said "I wish I had their confidence!"

Clarify:  What we MEAN is ... "I wish I FELT more confident" (in my faith, in my walk)
What we ASSUME si ... that they Felt confident! (that they didn't have the same doubts and concerns that we have)

BUT - because the giants Acted in faith doesn't necessarily mean they FELT CONFIDENT!! 


MOSES - while conversing with God Audibly!  at the burning bush... Ex. 3:11, 13, 4:1, 10, 13 - He didn't feel confident at all.  Question:  'who am I?', 'I can't do that.'  He has no confidence n himself!  

ELIJAH - immediately After all the miracles on Mt. Carmel - He lost his confidence.  1 Kings. 19:1-5 

DAVID - after going from shepherd to King - Psm. 13:1-3 (lament)

JEREMIAH - Jer. 15:10, 17-18, 20:1-2, 7, 8 - he's ready to quit.

PAUL - who'd seen the Risen Christ, received countless revelations, worked many miracles... 1 Cor. 2:1-3 - came in fear and trembling.

POINT:  We (rightly) see these men as Giants of the Faith ... BUT .. that assessment is based on the ACTIONS (not their feelings!)  Compare:  Heb. 11 "roll call of Faith" - cited for deeds (not feelings)

There is a difference in exuding confidence and having internal confidence.

Consider the feelings of Noah, Shadrach, Abednigo, Meschach, Daniel before lion's den, Abraham when offering Isaac, disciples feeding 5000.
We assume they felt confident, because they acted confident.  

POINT:  We are called to live by faith.... with confidence in God, Christ
But... we are flawed beings ... with a natural tendency to trust what we can SEE!! - (hence the 5 senses and experiential reasoning)

So,, you will sometimes doubt, struggle, question, Resist!! - You are not alone.  This is also Universal.


(1)  Feelings matter - (a)  we're created feeling beings.
                                 (b)  this is more than physical!! - emotional, psycological - examples:  love, depression, anger, etc.                 (c)  (we assume) this = part of "in His Image"

But  (2)  Feelings are not Lord!!  We're not to obey feelings!
So... when feeligns align with God's revealed will... go with them!!
But.. when feelings contrary to God's revealed will .. ignore, stifle, combat them

Feelings can be incredibly powerful adn persistent .. hence

(3)  True faith is sometimes acting in spite of or contrary to your feelings.  - example:  Luke 5:1-7

(4)  Acting in faith (outwardly) results in the Appearance of  (inner) confidence.    We see the outward response, we don't see the inner turmoil, but it's there!!!   1 Cor. 10:13

Christian life begins with trusting Jesus as your SAVIOR.
Christian life continues with trusting Jesus as your LORD

You won't get it Perfect!! (Rom. 3:23)

BUT .. you can still DO IT!!  Compare in marriage, parenting, your job.  Won't always get it perfect, but can do it!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Spiritual Profile

 Years ago we did a "Spiritual Profile" survey

Typical response = I'm saved, baptized, seldom doubt salvation

HOWEVER - typically NOT satisfied with Spiritual WALK and Spiritual GROWTH   

On a scale of 1 to 10, PART A = where I Am - average about a 7
                                  PART B = where I should be - average between a 3 & 5

In Spiritual life, tend to be haunted by FEELINGS of:
        1)  guilt - due to constant failures - in spite of good desires and good intentions - (not living up)

        2) unworthiness - secretly feel unfit to be called "Christian", much less teacher, leader, role model (even to children)

       3)  inadequacy - ie;  unable to consistently live the Christian life (beyond superficial appearances like church attendance, public prayer.)  Are talking about really living the Christian life on a daily basis.

This Christian feels like they don't ... pray as they should, witness as they should, have a consistent quiet time with God

Consequently .. resulting in (1)  more guilt,  (2)  more feelings of unworthiness,  (3) less confidence in self as a Christian!!

This 'typical Christian' wishes he/she had:
           (1)  more Bible knowledge (better understanding)
          (2) more discernment of God's will in everyday matters.  Not talking about cardinal sins like thou shalt not murder, commit adultery, etc.

He/she would like to experience more JOY, Excitement and Passion in their Christian walk ... but in fact their spiritual life is generally routine (hum drum))

This person says "I think I could do better IF ... (1) could only stay focused on Christ  (work, family get in the way)  and (2) be consistent in my walk  (not up and down all the time)

Biggest Problem = simply TRUSTING God more fully!  ie:  surrendering to His known will, practicing submission in practical, daily basis, really believing beyond with just the head!  (but believing with heart)

Question:  Do you know this person?
                 Are you this person?

I.)  This is typical Christian profile  (Almost the Universal Christian Profile!!)

Because of (1) our human nature - Rom. 3:23 - we come short, we fail, results in these feelings

                  (2)  our dual nature - Rom. 7:15, 18-19, 22-23 - as a Christina we have this tension

                  (3) our fallen world - Rom. 8:19-21 - the world is affected by sin.  Rom. 7:21
Life in a fallen world = Roller Coaster of Events and FEELINGS  This is Universal!!   Compare the Biblical giants - Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Paul

Whether are Christian or non-Christian, life is still a Roller Coaster - 1 Cor. 10:13  Still going to have ups and downs   This is the bad news.  The good news is not alone.  Everybody has problems.

BUT  II)  God is not through with you! - Phil. 1:6
Illustration:  John 21:15-17 - lead up to this - Peter's denial.  He failed miserably."
How did Peter feel?  ashamed, terrible"
Hoe did Christ deal with him? - He recognized the failure, but wanted him to come on board, lead, represent

On one hand, must take Sin seriously"
However, must not let sin cripple, crush you!!  Example:  Elijah (post Carmel/Horeb) 1 Kings 19:15 a
Elijah failed miserably but God gave him a break and put him back to work.

AND III.  Your situation will improve - ie:  IF you continue on!!!
Clarifylife doesn't change .. but you can change!!
Illustration:  compare a green ship's captain with a seasoned Ship's captain.  The seas, storms, ship don't change.  But - the Captain does.  Much more confident, capable to go through these after doing it for a number of years.
Eph. 4:11-15 - text = blown about by doctrines, but broader application = blown about by life's storms!!!


(1)  The Christian life begins with a commitment to Christ.  

(2)  That commitment will be constantly tried, tested, challenged.  by your human nature, the fallen world, life's unpredictable fluctuations, Satan's onslaughts, etc.

(3)  You will (often) falter, fail, fall!  Consolation?  So will everyone else!!!  (But, you are aware of your feelings, not theirs)

(4)  Your options then are to GIVE UP or GET UP! - no third option.

(5)  God's will is that you get up!

(6) The growth you desire is found in getting up and going on!  The more you stay down, the slower you will grow and develop.  God will use you as you continue to get up and go on!

Closing Scripture:  Gal. 6:7-9

Monday, October 5, 2020

Closing Letter and Salutations

 Paul's letter - TO the church at Colosse FROM Roman prison

On one hand, Paul may have never visited this church!!
However, he was well acquainted with some of their people

So..... he closes this letter with greetings and personal salutations.

List of the people mentioned in this final closing:

Tychicus - bearer of this letter, the letter to Ephesus, and one to Laodecian church (which was never found) , as well as a letter to Philemon  ( Eph. 6:21 )
Was a traveling companion, trusted assistant.  Paul calls him "dear brother, faithful minister, fellow servant"

Onesimus - runaway slave, from Colosse, NOW a Christian!  (see more in letter to Philemon)

Aristarchus - traveling companion, "fellow prisoner" - arrested in the riot at Ephesus (Acts 19:29)

(John) Mark - author of Book of Mark - traveled with Paul and endeared himself to Peter - 1 Pet. 5:13

Justus - mentioned only here

Epaphras - likely founder of the church at Colosse - Col. 1:7 "one of you", "always wrestling in prayer for you"

Luke - "dear friend and physician" - Author of books of Luke and Acts

Nympha - (man or woman depends on accent mark) traditionally a woman who hosts a "house church" at Colosse

Archippus = from Colosse and "a worker for the Lord"

Demas - here and in Philemon 24, BUT "2 Tim. 4:9-10 - abandoned Paul and possibly the faith

(the stenographer who wrote this down as Paul dictated!)


Closing TEXT - Col. 4:7-18 

NOTE Paul's epistles = Personal letters to a church - Rome, Galatia, Ephesus, Colosse, Corinth, ..
                                                              to an individual - Timothy, Titus, Philemon

SO .. on one hand are specifics that may not apply to you and me.
But the principles behind the specifics WILL apply!!

Example:  Col. 4:16 - Laodecian letter applies to Colosse (and vice versa), or, 2 Tim. 1:6, 8 - Paul's advice to Timothy applies to you and I as well! - We should not be ashamed to testify about our Lord.

POINT = (1) Read letters in their historical context (setting)
 then         (2) look for personal application
                (3)  let the Holy Spirit speak to you through the text!!


#1.  Poor Circumstances cannot stop a good ministry.
Example = Paul = Roman Prison, 1,000 miles away, still ministering!! (in fact, FROM Prison - Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, 2 letters to Timothy.   Circumstances may change drastically, but don't stop ministry.
Compare:  John Bunyan (late 1600s, 12 years in prison, wrote "Pilgrim's Progress",  Joni Erikson, YoYo Collins 

#2.  We're better together - (popular phrase today)
Example:  Paul - Apostle, preacher, teacher, evangelist, church planter, etc.
Yet ... He worked as a team member!  (1 named in this book, 29 named in Romans)

Application:  "we're better together"!!  Sunday School, Congregation, Denomination
1 reason to be active part of local church!! - 2 things happen:  A)  the church is better  B)  you are better.

#3.  We Need One Another
Note:  Phil. 4:13 - "can do all things through Christ....."
Yet Paul gained comfort, courage, strength, support... from PEOPLE!!!  (fellow believers)
The 'One another's abound in the Scripture
Example:  2 Tim. 1:4

#4.  A primary part of any ministry is Encouragement
Example:  Paul  (a great theologian, etc.  ... was a constant Encourager!)
The Definition = Pour Courage into
The Need =  immense, all around us
The opportunity = nearly endless
The point = YOU CAN DO THIS!

#5.  A little person can make a big difference
Obviously not talking about Paul!!  But, we're not talking about eh other 10 people either!!
Last Verse - Col. 4:18  (compare with Rom. 16:22)
'The Unknown Stenographer' - who probably also wrote Ephesians adn Philemon!

Point:  A totally unknown ... quietly doing his/her part to assist .. has (in so doing) graced the world with immeasurably Scriptural riches!!!

So... for all the little people, the unknowns ... a closing scripture and prayer - 1 Cor. 15:58


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sharing the Good News

 Col. 4:2-6  All of us have the responsibility of sharing the gospel.

Vs. 6 - conversation = speech, witness

(Using Paul's 'Prayer Requests' as a guideline for Personal Evangelism)

I.  Pray for opportunity  (to share the gospel)

Note:  Col. 4:3 - "that God may open a door for our message"
Point:  a place PRE-PLANNED by God  

So.... (A)  Pray for opportunity to share the gospel
        (B)  WATCH for that opportunity - be open to it, be perceptive to it

II.  Make the most of every opportunity (to share the gospel) - take advantage of the opportunity
Note: last part of vs. 5

so... I)  pray for and watch for opportunities
      II)  RESPOND to those opportunities  (ie:  share!)

Question:  Does sharing the gospel make you nervous?  hesitant? - Most Christians get that way.
See 1 Cor. 2:1-3  (this is the Apostle Paul)

III)  Pray for a clear presentation - of the gospel
examples:  Bridge illustration   Wordless book   Personal testimony = (I know.  I believe because of what I know)

"Objection!!  I just don't know enough!!"
Answer = If you are saved, then you know more than the lost person!!


(1) The gospel must be presented (in whatever form) - lifestyle is NOT enough!!  - Lifestyle doesn't say one thing about Christ dying for sins.

Therefore (2)  You must be prepared - NOT to answer every question!  But to answer why they should accept Christ. - 1 Pet. 3:15

Question:  What about ... Luke 12:11-12
Answer = Be prepared AND THEN let the Holy Spirit lead you!!

(3)  This is a Moral obligation - Col. 4:4 - last part ....."as I should"!!  - something you are supposed to do.

Add:  (4)  This is part of healthy Christian development - Philemon 6 

Note:  Your job = present the Gospel Clearly!!
Your job is NOT to save them!!!  

IV.  Be wise in your witness (ing) 

How???  (A)  Col. 4:6 - "full of grace" - 1 Pet. 3:15 b
the Gospel is offensive!!   That doesn't men you must be offensive!

             (B)  vs. 6 - "seasoned with salt" ???  palatable?  tasty?  pleasant? OR acceptable?? - not trying to win an argument, trying to win a soul.

Examples:  Jesus and Apostles - presented the Love of God without omitting the Judgment of God - they didn't take out the eternal judgment.

 Presenting the Gospel requires........

(1)  Personal willingness - you must decide if you will do it.

(2)  Personal preparation 
    mental preparation - 2 Tim. 2:15 - "study to show 'self approved..."
    spiritual preparation - because you are instrument of the Lord

(3)  The Presence and Assistance of the Holy Spirit
which is promised to those who will go!!! - Matt. 28:19-20 - "go an I'll go with you"

Bottom line = do you believe salvation, gospel makes a difference?    makes an Eternal difference?

Then.... why not more determined to share??
             why not more prepared to share??

Closing Scripture:  Matt. 9:35-38

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Instructions for the Christian Household

 Col. 3:12-17 - Good words!!  (Agape love - binds all this together)

Now practical application to Family Life!!    Col. 3:18-4:1

This = familiar passage  - example:   Marriage and family series
Parallels with Eph. 5 & 6   Includes slaves and masters - predominant in this period!  This written about the same time as the letter to Colossians; delivered by Tychicus

Topic = submission, obedience, leadership, and proper relationships - within the Christian Family!  

Application = simple

wives - submit
husbands - love
children - obey
fathers - nurture
slaves - serve
masters - provide

Simple to comprehend, maybe difficult to practice.

I.  Wives Submit
article  - "no where in the scripture does it tell women to submit"

On one hand = correct; not told to "submit" to men in general!
However, does say "submit to your husband!  - Eph. 5:22-24

meaning is NOT mindless, spineless character - see "Proverbs 31 woman"
Rather = let him take the lead.   (if he won't???  Compare "honor your father and mother")
Example:  Abigail and Nabal - 1 Sam. 25

II.  Husbands Love .... ie  (agape)  

Point = not to love her according to your notion (or culture, society)
Point = Love her AS GOD loves
Examples:  John 3:16, Eph. 5:25, 1 Cor. 13:4-8

*husband also to submit ... to Christ, to his role, position, duty, etc.

III.  Children Obey - "for this pleases the Lord"
is important enough to be one of the 10 Commandments - Deut. 5:16 with Eph. 6:1-3  (note Deut. 21:18-21) - written to nation as a whole, not necessarily individually

IV.  Fathers Nurture
do not .... embitter, exasperate, provoke, irritate .... to the point of bitterness, discontentment, anger, despondency, rebellion

(on) Parents ... don't exercise your authority so rigidly that works against what you're trying to accomplish
Example:  preachers kids

V.  Slaves Serve - more on slavery in Philemon (1 Cor. 7:21)
for us = Employees, workmen ..

(1) Serve (work) well...
(2) ... out of reverence for the Lord ... (if your boss is a jerk doesn't justify you being a jerk.)
(3) ... as if working for Him!

AND ... you will  be recompensed, rewarded - Eph. 6:7-8

VI.  Masters Provide - for us = employers - Col. 3:25 with Col. 4:1  Eph. 6:9 - at the BEMA All will be rightly judged!!

Note.... how Eph. passage begins - Eph. 5:21  (submit to one another)

Note... how timeless and universal is this application!  Because... we (fallen humans) tend toward ..

(1)  self - interests  (what we want)


(2) Rebellion against anything that hinders that pursuit.
Illustrations:  (1)  Adam and Eve & the garden and the forbidden fruit
                    (2)  The church nursery
                    (3)  The current presidential election

So... to all the household , Paul says.... Col. 4:2

be prayerful - you'll need the Lord's assistance to fulfill your role!

be watchful - selfishness and rebellion come in Many Disguises  (and they sneak up on you!!!)

be thankful - for what you have what He's done (and (doing) for His Word, instruction, Holy Spirit, Church

AND ... for your Christian home!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Col. 3:15-17

Colossians = "Put off, put on principle" - Paul writing to the church as a whole

Intro:  Col. 3:12-14 - lead up to today's text

Col. 3:15-17

I.)  Let Peace Rule  
Definition:  quietness within an individual
                 harmony withing the Body - (one another) (universal church)
Absence of tension, strife, feeling of contentment - "Rest"

Here = the Peace of Christ - ie:  the Peace He gives - John 14:27 - internal peace and calmmness in spite of what's going on around.

2 Observations:
                        (1)  let peace RULE - ie:  govern, decide, control, direct  (Greek word = referee, umpire of the games)
Point:  let His Peace .... Sway your decisions  (internal)
                                    determine your actions   (external)

                        (2)  LET peace Rule = allow/permit ... indicates choice!
Question:  How?  example:  someone tells you to stop worrying.  How do you stop worrying even if you want to?
Answer:  Phil. 4:6-7 - put off anxiety!!  BY  putting on prayer, petition, thanksgiving

Example:  We say:  "If I had His peace I could respond properly."
                He says:  "Respond properly and you'll have my peace!"

Note Also:  Col. 3:15 - "to this you are called" - ie:  peace within oneself and (context) Peace within the Body.  This peace should be a characteristic of Christian people.
Matt. 5:9 - "peace makers" - not peace lovers, preachers, seekers.

II.  Be Thankful - Col. 3:15, 16, 17 - written 3 times here.  7 times in Colossians, 50 times in Paul's writings!
"Give Thanks" = one of the most repeated commands in Scripture!!
Classic Text by Paul - 1 Thess. 5:16-18
Side note:  for every reference to "be thankful" 0 (attitude),
                there are 50 references to "give thanks"  (action!!!)  - Do it!!!
This is God's will for you - give thanks in all things.

III.  Let the Word dwell in you 
Dwell - (1) Be Present within you
            (2)  be at home within you
The idea = present and welcome!!! and at home.

This requires:  (1)  exposure to the Word - 2 Tim. 2:15
                      (2)  openness to the Word - contrast the Pharisees:  were well educated with the Word, but were not open to the Word when Christ presented the meaning to them.

Col. 3:16 - use the indwelling word .... to....
          (1)  teach one another - ie:  share knowledge, insights, experiences
          (2)  admonish one another = challenge to proper behavior

All of us have something to Offer
All of us have something to LEARN
         (3)  Worship with one another = "Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs"
Songs that:  inspire, instruct, challenge, encourage
And songs that ... HONOR GOD
Comparison:  Old Testament Sacrifice - Ex. 23:15 - no one is to come before God empty handed
                     New Testament Sacrifice - Heb. 13:15
On one hand, not all Christians are singers,
However, all Christians are worshipers
Question:  What do you BRING to the worship service?
When you come, do you bring Anything, or just come to get?   (Welfare Christian)  
Worship is not only about what we can receive.

IV.  Do all in His Name - Col. 3:17
Which  = Recognizing Him AS Lord
               Acknowledging His as your Lord - (personal)
                     in obedience/ in service
              Honoring Him
              Promoting Him
          by what you do, and by what you don't do....

So...... Let Peace Rule
           Be Thankful
           Let the Word dwell within
           Do all in His name

Next week = application of this within the Christian household!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Christian Work Ethic

Labor Day = federal holiday - established in 1894 by Grover Cleveland to honor the American worker, laborer (common worker)

On one hand, not a religious holiday
However, Biblical themes abound here!

Christian work ethic ... term is relatively new - only been around about 15 years.  However, the concept is as old as Adam.

By Definition = A)  A Moral View of work - (right/wrong)   Note:  very few Christians give much thought to the rights and wrongs of work.

                        B)  Based on Scripture - (revelation of God's will) - this is not just philosophy

So ... Some Biblical basics:

#1.  God is a working God. - Gen. 2:2-3, Psm. 19:1, John 5:16-17 - "the work of my Father"

#2.  He created man in His (working) image. - before the fall:  Ge. 2:15  After the fall - Gen. 3:17-19

Work is not part of the curse/  rather .. the curse put toil into work.
Comparison:  created to walk.  and NOW - uphill!!

#3.  This is the Old Testament View (given to the prophets by God)
Ex. 20:9, Prov. 10:4-5 (wealth comes from work.  Not always.  Depends on the times, the economy, etc. but as a rule), Prov. 10:26, 12:11 (get rich quick schemes), Prov. 18:9, 20:4, 22:29
Summary passage - Prov. 24:30-34

#4.  This is reflected in the teachings of Christ - (who came from the working class)
Example:  parable of the talents - Matt. 25:24-26

#5.  This was practiced and taugh by the Apostles - (early Christian doctrine) - 2 Thess. 3:6-13

Notes:  (#1)  work is not always sweat and callouses) 
examples:  computer work, teacher, student, stay at home mom

           (#2)  - (elements of the Christian Work Ethic)
honesty, integrity, dependability, giving your employer "work" has many related moral issues!!!! an honset day's work, giving your employee a fir day's wage, quality workmanship, productivity, self-discipline, personal responsibility, family and community obligations
Issues of wealth:  building wealth, sharing wealth, laying up wealth ... on earth,  IN HEAVEN!!
Building the Kingdom... here, now, supporting His church,  REST from work (Sabbath)
Can easily be applied to:   how you work at ... marriage, child raising, family ...
Example:  Prov. 31 woman, "wife of noble character" - model of Biblical Work Ethic

       (#3)  This is more than a philosophy of work - it is a moral issue (issue of right and wrong)
A Christian should develop their WORK habits according to God's directives.

(Some) reasons to work well...
#1.  To provide for your family - 1 Tim. 5:8  (talking about people who are capable)

#2.  To provide beyond your family  - Eph. 4:28
example:  "poor tithe" - every 3rd. and 6th. year

#3  for Personal satisfaction/fulfillment - (self-respect)
Eccles. 2:10, 2:24, 3:13

#4.  To honor God - John 17:4, Col. 3:23-24

#5. to expand His Kingdom  (eternal results!!)
     by supporting Kingdom work, by setting an example - acts 20:34-35 (Paul)
     by earning respect  - 1 Thess. 4:11-12


1)  In a fallen world, work will still be toil.  Even Christian work, ministry.
Examples:  Day Camp, AWANA - 2 Tim. 4:7

2)  Your work performance can NOT gain you salvation.  Eph. 2:8-10
Should be the results of salvation, not the means of salvation!

3.)  hard work alone does not merit eternal rewards.  1 Cor. 3:12-15 -
tested for .... what you did,  how you did it,  why you did it.

4)  (clearly) Your work matters  (it Makes a Difference)

5)  Your work "in the LORD" makes an eternal difference.  1 Cor. 15:58 - Paychecks matter, Eternity matters MORE!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Well-Dressed Christian

Recap:  The Colossian Message:  "Christ is Sufficient"  (for all Spiritual needs).
 ie:  to (1) gain salvation
      to (2) secure salvation
      to (3) grow in your salvation

Therefore:  no need to ADD to His work and should not REMOVE from His Person  (Col. 2:9)

The previous text said:  You were spiritually dead (disconnected, insensitive to), intimacy w/God broken by sin.
                                    God made you spiritually alive (Born Again in Christ) - His work.  He does it!!!
                     and          You were baptized into Christ (into the family, the Kingdom).  Not talking about water baptism.  That is a picture (symbol) of the spiritual baptism.

So, in light of all the above ... Col. 3:1-2 = "look to Him for all your spiritual needs"
and  Col. 3:3-4 = this is already a reality.  Even though no tangible measure in this life.
At His coming, this will = a visible reality!!

"therefore" because of what He's done, is doing, will do ...  here is an appropriate/ proper response for the believer:   Col. 3:5-14 - Put Off - Put On Concept

I.  Put off the Old 

II.  Put on the New
Col. 3:5, 9-10, 12
Using clothing analogy = "the properly dressed believer"

This implies:  (1)  Choice of clothing/ behavior.  There are 2 closets - the world's closet and God's closet
YOU decide what to wear!!

                   (2)  Action - more than just a decision = "Putting On!!" - taking up and responding

God does His part:  examples = new birth, Holy Spirit within, written instruction, etc.
YOU must do your part!!! ie:  choose and clothe self!!  - Put off & Put On.

Question:  How should a believer dress?
Answer:  like a believer!!! - Col. 3:12 - "chosen" , "holy - set apart (position), "dearly loved" - by God
Live and act in such the way God sets for the believer.

1 Cor. 6:11, Eph. 4:22-25, 28-29 - 3rd. element added here - "mind" - Rom. 12:2

These lists NOT necessarily complete!!
Therefore you must  (1) make self aware of options (scripture)
                               (2) choose your outfit - Old Testament example:  Prov. 15:1
                               (3)  Put it on!! - clothe 'self = action.  James 1:22-25

and then ....
III.  Cover all with Love
Col. 3:14 - The Agape Overcoat  (outer garment)

Agape = the unconditional, sacrificial love OF God FOR Man - John 3:16

Point:  (1)  AS God loves you/people ... so you are to love others

BUT ...(2)  "love" is NOT one of the clothing options.  Rather = the covering under which all other garments lie.
Matt.  22:36-40

Another parallel passage:  Rom. 6:11-14 (a)

So... Christian ... (1) you've been born again (anew)
therefore,            (2) put off old garments (those contrary to God's will)
                           (3)  select new wardrobe
                           (4)  Put them on!!!

unfortunately ... this is not a 1 time experience!!!  Have to re-choose, re-dress every day!!! - over and over and over.

to the Not Yet Christian - this is not a mystical, magical thing.  BUT does = a real, spiritual experience!! - something happens.
You can practice some of this without Christ, however the Born Again experience, beginning does not take years to achieve.
"Born Again" = the work of God in You.  Change of nature comes only from God.  Surrender to that!  To Him!!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Col. 2:9-3:3 Christ is Sufficient

Primary message of Colossians  - written because of the heresy that had started in Colosse.  - Colossian Heresy - add to the gospel, take a bit away from the gospel
Message =  Christ is Sufficient:
for ALL Spiritual needs!  to GAIN salvation and to KEEP salvation!!

Therefore, adding to His work = unnecessary and distorts the gospel
taking from  His Person and work(s).  Distorts the gospel and misrepresents God.

Today's Passage = Col. 2:9-3:3 - "nailed to the cross" = the ceremonial part of the Law.  Christians not obligated to the ceremonial law.  That was fulfilled with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  Are obligated to the Moral Law - that hasn't and doesn't change.

I)  You were dead (spiritually)
II)  God made you alive (spiritually)
III)  You've been circumcised (spiritually)
IV)  You've been baptized  (spiritually)

Question:  Why is Paul saying all this?
Because he wants it understood ... IF you've accepted Christ (by faith), THEN you are firmly and securely established in Christ!!!  There is nothing you need ot ADD to that!!!

V)  Don't Submit to the World's Rules.  This does not mean the rules of nature, science, creation.
 = religious, philosophic, moral dictates of man
VI)  Submit to Christ; follow His Rules

I)  You were spiritually dead - (not physically dead)
ie:  A.  separated from  the Source of Life (Spiritual, Eternal)
     B.  (largely) insensitive to that Source (Holy Spirit) - to spiritual things.  1 Cor. 2:14

II)  God made you spiritually alive - Col. 2:13 with 2 Cor. 5:17-18 - God did it!  FOR you and TO you!!
    (1)  God *Holy Spirit) convicts (convinces)
    (2)  You decide, open self to Him
    (3)  He does the work.... you don't add to it!!!

III)  You've been spiritually circumcised
      Originally circumcision was a sign of the Covenant with God (example:  Abraham - Gen. 17)
Here = the putting offu, cutting away of the old man, sinful nature.  Col. 2:11 - old nature is removed - have new nature - positionally but not necessarily experientially
Point = you've been received into and recognized as one of God's chosen

And, so
IV)  You've been spiritually baptized   Col. 2:12 - hence, example:  Baptism formula used here:  "buried with Christ, resurrected to walk in the newness of life" - Rom. 6:4
Point = You are a new creature, cration, person .... in Christ!!!
      By the WORK of God, by the Reckoning of God (declaration of God) = "saint"
Not basing salvation on the person, but on the work of Christ!
You are fully accepted by God!!  And securely established in Christ!

V)  Don't submit to the world's rules
Again... this is not talking about the rules of nature, science, creation.
Rather = religious, philosophic, moral dictates OF MAN!!
ie:  you needn't follow Man's rules to establish or secure your relationship with God!!!

Two Questions here:
#1.  "how then should I live?"
Options - A)  in response to the dictates of the world (man)
               B_ in response to the dictates of God, Christ

#2.  "how then should I decide?"
Answer = (a)  take a good look at the world ... not only its arguments and reasoning, but at the outcome of its reasoning.
then (b) do the same with Christ!!!

This is not an issue of preference!!  (what you like!)
This is and issue of what is RIGHT!!!

VI)  Submit to Christ; follow His Rules - don't add to, don't take from

Words of Christ - Matt. 7:24-27 - wise man and foolish man.
Question:  Where you going build your house???   On what are you going to establish your life??

Monday, August 17, 2020

Colossians continued

Text today = Col. 2:1-10

Jesus warned of false teachers, and false teachings.  (appearance looks good, sounds good, but inside = false)  Matt. 7:15-16, preceded by Matt. 7:13-14 - truth = narrow and specific.  Therefore, watch out for people who try to lead you astray.

Heresy = don't deny the faith, but water it down by adding to it.
This proved true in the early church (hence the Colossian Heresy) and remains true today.
Examples:  Jehovah's Witness, Mormons, Universalists, etc.

Thus, the relevance of the Book of Colossians!

Paul says in Col. 2:1-10 -

I.)  Don't Be Deceived - Col. 2:4, 2:8  (led astray)

This doesn't mean drift away .... due to neglect, indifference
It means enticed away (seduced) to follow false teachings

By ..."fine sounding arguments, hollow philosophy, deceptive philosophy" - example:  eggshell arguments - look good on the outside but no 'meat' inside

(A)  Doctrine (truth) Matters - it = what you build on!!!
1 Tim. 4:16 - what we believe!
                    why we believe it!
                    How to respond to it (live)
We have to understand the truth!!!!

(B)  Christian doctrine is built on revelation, not speculation.  1 John 1:1-3, Col. 2:18-19
Hence = Apostolic Authority - 1st. hand information directly from Christ.  The Apostles got this directly from Jesus Himself - personally

(C)  A "fine sounding" argument is not necessarily a sound argument. - Gen. 3:1-6
Compare:  Matt. 4:1-11

Satan AND false teachers use ;;;;
(1)  a "fine sounding argument" - example - Adam and Eve
and (2)  a semi-biblical argument - example:  Jesus' temptation by Satan

AND people persuaded because are not grounded in Christian doctrine!!

II.  As you have received Christ ... so walk in Him
Col. 2:6-7

Rooted ... IN THE FAITH!
Built up... IN THE FAITH!
Strengthened .. IN THE FAITH!
Eph. 4:11-15

and "overflowing with thankfulness" - Paul is big on Thanksgiving.
If you recognize your blessings, and acknowledge blessings, are more apt to stay on track!!

So... I)  don't be deceived ...
       II)  as received ... so walk....
(A)  All fullness dwells in Him - Col. 2:9  
(B) In Him you find your fullness - Col. 2:10
Compare:  2 Pet. 1:3
(1)  don't make Him less than He is  (Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, etc.
(2)  don't feel the need to add to Him!!

SUMMARY ... (1)  don't be deceived  (misled)
                         (2)  Put your faith (confidence) in Christ
ie:  come to Him, surrender, accept, etc.
            then      (3)  as received ... so walk .(continue)

This does not address all the issues of the Christian life. ie:  the way you walk is not found in how you get salvation, but follows salvation.
This makes a simple overview!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Col. 1:28 - 2:10

Paul is battling "Colossian Heresy" - says Christ PLUS other stuff. This happening to newly established church. False teachers coming in - teaching must have Christ PLUS. Paul contradicting these teachers. 

I. Paul's Struggle (labor, efforts) he = "laboring" to BUILD the church - through evangelism, discipleship, preaching, teaching, training, traveling - overseeing the churches - often from afar --- not from prison!! Includes .. laboring in prayer!!! Especially Intercession!!!

For Paul - building the church = building the Kingdom!!
This viewpoint we should share!!!  ie:  to build OBC = to build God's Kingdom

This requires WORK, LABOR, STRUGGLE   Gal. 4:19-20
Compare the "struggle" of raising Kids!!

II.  Paul's Purpose - (in laboring)  Col. 2:2-3
   A).  Christians be encouraged (pour courage into) ... inspired to continue in the faith.  This = a ministry within itself

   B.)   Christians be United  - Eph. 4:4-6 - already united ... Positionally (in Christ)
   But,  Eph. 4:3 - must strive for Practical unity
On one hand, we are NOT going to agree on all points.
However, we can (and must) make effort toward peace and co-operation!!  Matt. 5:9

  C.  Christians gain understanding - (of Christ, of the Gospel)
Note:  Col. 2:2 ... "so that..."
In other words, ... that encouragement and unity Result in Understanding!!

Question:  How can Encouragement and Unity lead to understanding?
1 way would be in the atmosphere they create!!
ie:  an atmosphere wherein people  (A)  learn about Christ
                                                     (B)  encounter Christ

Generally speaking, a divided church does NOT Connect People to God!!

For us/OBC ... we should WORK at Encouragement and Unity in order to create an atmosphere in which God works!!!

Col. 2:6 - "as received .... so walk...."  (from KJV)

Paul struggled because he was building the Kingdom
      Should give people courage
      Seek and pursue unity for gospel witness' sake
      When this happens, people come to a knowledge of Him.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Colossians Study continued

Col. 1;21-29 - refuting the " Colossian Heresy" - that need more than the gospel for salvation.

I.  The Work of the Gospel - Col. 1:24 - (work = for the gospel to be presented, etc.)
    Doesn't mean that Christ's work is lacking and Paul must complete it!
    However means that sacrifice and suffering still needed TO build the church, develop the body.

Col. 1:24 NAS - "my share"
Paul does all this for the body of the church.  A church will not grow and thrive without work!
Col. 1:28-29 - Question:  HOW TO  "labor in His energy"?
                       Answer = (1)  WORK - (go and do)
                            AND   (2)  TRUST - = Paul and God.  Can't do it without God, but God tends to do it
WITH you!!!!
Compare:  Phil. 2:12-13

II.  The Commission of God - Col. 1:25  (with Col. 1:1)
Paul's commission = Apostle ... BY God's commission, calling, appointment, arrangement
YOUR commission = _________ BY God's commission, calling, appointment, arrangement

We are all given ...  (A)  the GREAT Commission - Matt. 28:19-20
                      also, (B)  a Local Commission - 1 Cor. 12:7, 11, 27 - this is not just for Paul
If you are called to a particular church, you have a job to do in that church.  You are part of the body and must function for the body as a whole to function.

III.  The Mystery of the Faith - Col. 1:25-26
The mystery is NOT a riddle to be solved.  Rather = a truth undiscoverable without divine revelation.
The Gospel is not something we must figure out by sleuth!  (investigation, genius) - as per the Gnostic Gospels.
Rather the Gospel = something unknowable until God revealed the answer!  Example:  death, burial, resurrection of Christ!

The "Good News" WAS "kept hidden" but NOW revealed and available to ALL!!!  "No Secrets!!!
Maybe incomprehensible, but not secret.

IV.  The Hope of Glory
by definition = the expectation of glorious things (promised us)
Col. 1:27 ... "Christ in your IS YOUR hope of glory"
Confidence in Christ (faith) comes from 2 sources:

(1)  Objective Evidence - (external facts) ie:  miracles performed, prophecies fulfilled, words of Christ, the Resurrection
(2)  Subjective Experience  (internal experience as here!!)
Rom. 8:9-10
Gal. 2:20
Eph. 3:17
hence the picture of Christ knocking at the door of your heart - Rev. 3:20
2 Cor. 13:5
Christian should possess Both objective evidence and subjective experience.

Closing Challenge:  Col. 2:5 - "as Received ... so walk..."

The Challenge,  the charge = Examine....
    (1)  Your reception OF Christ - did you receive Him as Savior and Lord?
    (2)  Your walk WITH Christ - are you giving proper response to your Savior and Lord?

Colossians was a personal letter .... from Paul to Christians at Colosse.  BUT, through the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, it becomes a personal letter ... FROM God.... TO.... YOU!!!

What are you going to do about that???

Monday, July 27, 2020

The All Sufficient Christ

The "Colossian Heresy" = Christ is Good!!  BUT not sufficient!
Said you need Jesus plus some things, or minus some things.

Compare to today:  "I believe in Jesus ... but. ... (A) I also believe .... (add to)  or (B) but I don't believe ... (take away)!

Paul's Stance = CHRIST (alone) is Sufficient!!!

Col. 1:15-23 = goldmine of Christology.  (We will only have time to walk through and pick up surface gems.)  This is a prime text for a study of Christ!!

(1)  The visible image of the Invisible God!
this = Incarnation - John 1:1, 14, 14:9
This = an incredible claim!  Made the Jews really angry.
This = an incomprehensible doctrine!  - 1 Tim. 3:16
AND ... absolutely counters the Colossian Heresy!! - If this is true, it is not necessary that we understand it!

This is the basis for C.S. Lewis' - "Liar, Lunatic, Lord arguments"

(2)  The 1st. born ... over all creation!
This expresses both  (a) TIME - before all because is eternal
                               (b)  RANK - over all because is Lord
Matt. 28:18 - "all authority..."

(3)  The Creator ... of all things!!
Material & non- material.  beings & things, powers and authorities

"All things created ... (A) by Him - John 1:1-3
                                (B) for Him"
On one hand, for our enjoyment, pleasure, good....
However, it serves His purpose - to express love, to please, to create a safe and productive place
We're not the center of the universe.  He IS!

Point:  all creation serves His Purpose, His will, His intent

(4) Before all things = (A) He precedes all  (chronologically)
                                 (B)  he presides over all  (LORD)

Whatever Supernatural powers exist ... (A) He MADE them and (B) He is Lord over them.
Example:  His encounters with demons

(5)  The Sustainer  - "all things consist, cohere, hold together".  He is not just the creator, but the maintainer!
Question:  Why do we have a Cosmos?  instead of a Chaos?  - (it is ordered and functions exactly as is supposed to)  Heb. 1:3 a

(6)  The Head of the Church
The church is not our invention - Matt. 16:18  "I'll build my church"
Therefore, is not to be governed by Our rules!!!

(7)  The Beginning (of the church?)
already noted that He = 1st. in TIME and RANK
So here = origin and source of the (life of the) church.
ie:  it's founder and its fountain -- that which powers life into the church!!
(does the church continue to grow by man's ingenuity or Christ's Presence and Purpose?

(8)  The 1st. Born from the dead
Not the 1st to be restored to life - ex.  Elisha, Lazarus, etc.
But, the 1st. to OVERCOME DEATH!!!  to be permanently victorious.
These others died again.
vs. Col. 1:18 - "so that in Everything He might have the Supremacy"

Note:  1st. born is significant in that there will be others born ... to follow!!!  -1 Cor. 15:22-23

(9)  He is the God Man - Col. 1:19 - with Col. 2:9 - was human flesh!
ie.  the full nature of God ... resides in the Son!!  Phil. 2:6-7

He is
(10)  The Reconciler - Col. 1:20
Reconciliation indicates ... A)  A Rift between  (the fall)  and (B) A Restoration  - relationship mended, harmony restored
He fulfilled what was necessary for restoration.  Doesn't mean all will be saved.  Only those who accept Him and what He did.

Note:  "reconciler of ALL things"!!  Even Creation - Rom. 8:19-21
Note:  He reconciles .. BY making peace (what reconciliation IS)  Through His Blood  (death) ON the Cross (the time and place), (an event in history)
A physical event on a physical cross with a physical body!!!

Abbreviated Summary of:  Col. 1:21-23:
   Once you were alienated ...
   Now you are reconciled ...
   Through the death of His Physical body.

Col. 1:23 "This is the Gospel!!"

Is NO NEED to add to it ... ie:  works, spiritual guides, sacrifices, etc.

Is NO NEED to remove from it ... the cross, resurrection, blood, judgments, hell

Rom. 1:!6- "not ashamed ... 'because....."