Saturday, March 29, 2014

Colossians Lesson 1 and 2

Lesson 1 and 2 Jesus is LORD of All and The People of Christ-Colossians 1:1-14
During a sermon, a pastor asked a reflective question to the congregation, "And what is a saint?"
 A little boy looked up at the stained glass windows of the apostles and blurted out, "People who let the light shine through!"   Sermon Illustrations,
"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." --Edith Wharton
John 8:12  Jesus said “I am the light of the world.
Matthew 5:14  “You are the light of the world.
Others are watching you. Are you a candle or a mirror?
There are questions about the exact date and place of Paul’s letter. AD 54-57 would suggest Paul was at Ephesus since Epaphras would only travel 80 miles. As the map shows the distance from Rome to Colossae would likely prevent the minister of the church to come to Paul. Lesson one in our commentary shared the troubles plaguing the Colossian church. Three factions were at work.
·        Legalism-Super Christians
·        Paganism-Contemporary Christians
·        Gnosticism- Enlightened Christians-knowing ones
Legalists we know, legalistic Jews were focused on manmade rules and circumcision for salvation.
Pagans may not be in our church but they are in our society. Monday as I stood in line at a store with my mattress cover and sheets, a young Caucasian woman in front of me had two statues of Buddha. I cannot say she was a practicing Buddhist, she said she wanted to set them on her table. She wanted decorations. She may have been searching for something in her live. I read a few teachings of Buddha and some of his teachings are similar to those of Christ. But he was not the son of god merely a man. Buddha died when he was eighty and was cremated. He did not come back and his teachings cannot lead you to heaven.
Gnostics teaching are on page 3 of you books, but basically they do not believe flesh which is evil and spirit which is good can be combined. Therefore Jesus cannot be the Son of God and he is not equal to God.  These teachings make me think of today’s intellectual community, too smart to believe in Jesus, telling us how weak we are for trusting an unseen God.  Gnostics also speak of finding answers from within, sounding like a mixture of Jesus with a side of Zen. BTW there are Gnostic gospels.
But in spite of all of this going on in Colossae, Paul does not deliver a scorching message nor does he argue or try to explain the errors of these three groups. Instead he calls them saints and faithful brothers in Christ. His approach was to encourage them in the actions that were right, to pray for them and to teach them the truth. The word “winsome” is not one we use every day. It means sweetly, innocently charming, winning or engaging manner. Let me sign up for that course.
I have a friend who is like that. Her joy is to reach out to others and share Jesus. Last week she met a lady outside this church, and she promised to bring her a bible. And she did; not one she had at home but a brand new one like she had been given.
Others are watching you. What do they see?
·        Encouragement
·        Reflecting Christ
Paul introduced himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God; this was His authority for writing. He also introduces Timothy as a brother in the faith.
Paul opens with his standard greeting: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. What a beautiful way to start a letter!
v.3 -5 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,5because of the hope
laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
Ladies I want to be very clear about the gospel.  Starting with Wycliffe dictionary with help from church website I tweaked the definition to bring you my version of “the gospel in a nutshell”
 Jesus Christ is the Son of God; co-equal with the Father. Jesus lived a sinless human life here on earth and offered himself as the perfect and final sacrifice to redeem all the sins of all people. He suffered excruciating pain and a horrible death on a cross. All of our sins were placed on Him and therefore God could not look at sin. (“My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”) Jesus arose from the dead after three days to demonstrate His sovereign power over sin and death. He ascended to heaven's glory to sit at the right hand of His Father and now He offers freely to share in His triumph with all who will accept Him as LORD.
The gospel is good news because it is a gift of God, not something that must be earned by penance or by self-improvement. He is coming back to earth again to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Hallelujah!
Ladies do you believe that?
Are you ready for His return?
 If he came tonight would He be coming for you?
Is there anyone that you would want to talk to before Jesus returns?
 Let’s pray right now.
6 the gospel “is bearing fruit and growing”---as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
Others are watching you. Is your life producing spiritual fruit? Scripture talks about six types of fruit: Most of us are familiar with the Fruit of the Spirit but here are others for you to think about.
(1) Romans 1:13 identifies SOUL-WINNING as a fruit.
(2) Romans 6:22 says HOLINESS is a fruit.
(3) Romans 15:28 calls financial GIVING a fruit.
(4) Galatians 5:22, 23 lists the fruit of the Spirit as LOVE, which results in joy, peace,   longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
 (5) Colossians 1:10 labels GOOD WORKS a fruit.
(6) Hebrews 13:15 names PRAISE as a fruit.
Others are watching you. Is your fruit showing?
Paul reports Epaphras has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
9And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
·        Knowledge- Greek word is "gnosis". the accumulation of information or facts
·        Understanding ability to translate meaning from the facts
·        Wisdom is the right use of knowledge.
There is nothing more vital than prayer, fervent, unceasing prayer for those you love. They probably have the knowledge of Jesus, even his death and resurrection. But somewhere along the line they did not understand the significance of Christ death and what it means in their life. God desires us to live in the image of Christ. We can see from the state of the world that that spiritual wisdom and understanding are in short supply.
Paul write to encourage walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
All us bear fruit but is it good fruit? I am very choosy about my fruit. I smell the pineapples; I buy green bananas, and firm tomatoes. Have you ever bitten into a piece of fruit that looked good only to be disappointed by a bitter taste or worse a worm? What could be worse than finding a worm in your apple-half a worm!
Luke 6:43-45 "For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44for each tree is known by its own fruit. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
LORD make my words sweet because I may have to eat them tomorrow.
Others are watching you. What do your actions show? Pray for a pure heart.
We definitely cannot produce good fruit on a day when we are tired or hungry or worried. Ladies we are not expected to do it alone. We have a comforter who reminds us of the character of Christ.
11May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12giving thanks to the Father,
LORD that it what I long to display as your child. I need strength and power of God.
Ladies we have been qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Not by anything we have done or said but only through the grace of God and Jesus shed blood. Thank you Jesus for redeeming me.
As others learn of the peace and joy you have in your life in Christ, they will recognize their need for Him. Your witness through personal testimony may be just what someone is waiting for!
Others are watching you. Give them a smile, show Jesus’ love.
Praise God 13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness
Are you afraid of the dark? I fear what evil hides in the dark. I like my wall white and bright. You don’t have to be depressed, you don’t have to feel alone, throw open the blinds of your home, let His LIGHT in to cheer you and comfort you. Put on some praise and worship music. Call your “Barnabas” the one that encourages you! You are too blessed to be distressed.
God Himself has transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,7 so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
What does His kingdom represent to you?
Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."5    And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new."
22: Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
2through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
4They will see His face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
5And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Others are watching you! Are you showing them Jesus? Are you a light in the dark world?
Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Let us PRAY

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lesson 5: Philippians 3 (“Moving Toward the Goal”)

This week-end the ladies of our Leadership Council had a time of fellowship as we attended the IMAX tour of Jerusalem. I heard that some of our CBS ladies went to Israel recently. We hope they may share some photos in an opening.
Thinking of a vacation? How about Rio de Janeiro?  Rio de Janeiro host the 2016 Olympic Games, depicts beautiful landscape and sandy beaches makes it the jewel of Brazil. As the largest Art Deco statue in the world, Christ the Redeemer beckons visitors to Corcovado Mountain. Rio’s Carnival parties are extravaganzas of feasting, music, dance, and costumed revelry.
However, this photo from March 8 may discourage you. The 15,000 street cleaners there staged a strike to coincide with the start of Carnival festivities last Friday. An eight-day strike has left tons of rubbish on the streets of the Brazilian city. Workers complained they were "being treated like rubbish" and even threatened to cause further disruptions during the football World Cup finals, due to start on 12 June. The local culture of littering had made the situation worse. Even Rio's mayor, Eduardo Paes, was caught on video throwing rubbish. Mayor Paes said he did not remember the event, but asked the authorities to fine him to serve as an example. Last year, his government announced a "zero tolerance" policy towards street littering.
In our memory verse Paul counts the things he lost as rubbish. Let’s look at those things in our life that we have counted lost for Christ.
Press on toward the goal.
Lesson 5: Philippians 3 (“Moving Toward the Goal”)
·  Warning
·  No Confidence in the flesh
·  Press Toward the Goal

“Rejoice in the Lord.”  Again Paul begins this chapter with serving the Lord with Joy. Then quickly adds a warning to the church against false teachers.

2Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers,
look out for those who mutilate the flesh.

Now ladies the use of the word “dogs” in verse 2 is not our cuddly companions that we treat like children. Does anyone know “Biscuit”? He is the face of Lineberger Vet, has his bed in the reception area and is free to roam the lobby greeting guests. Bicuit has his own blog giving information on pet care. He has birthday parties with a doggie cake and dresses up at Halloween. I know some of you ladies are dog lovers and do not think this behavior strange.
But the slur Paul is using refers to wild dogs that roamed the city, scavengers. Our most vivid illustration would be the prophecy of Elijah upon King Ahab of Israel.1 Kings “You’ve made the Lord very angry by sinning and causing the Israelites to sin.23 And as for Jezebel, dogs will eat her body there in Jezreel.24 Dogs will also eat the bodies of your relatives who die in town, and vultures will eat the bodies of those who die in the country.”}
Paul was referring to false prophets, false preachers infecting the church with a perversion of the gospel.
Isaiah 56:11 The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. But they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all.

Revelation 22:15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

·        No Confidence in the flesh

3For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh--- in the previous verse he warns against
those who mutilate the flesh” referring to forcing Gentile Christians  like Timothy to obey the Jewish ordinance of circumcision.
In the fall our study of Deuteronomy depicted another type of circumcision.

Deutronomy10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. 

But in Ch. 3 vv.5-6 Paul acknowledges that he above all others has bragging rights to family, culture, religious and educational achievements.
·  circumcised on the eighth day,
·  people of Israel, “Abraham is our father”
·  tribe of Benjamin, as was King Saul, (and Judah were the only pure bloodlines)
·  a Hebrew of Hebrews; language only spoken by scholars
·  as to the law, a Pharisee; separated ones
·  as to zeal, a persecutor of the church;
·  as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “Like most ’religious’ people today, Paul had enough morality to keep him out of trouble, but not enough righteousness to get him into heaven! It was not bad things that kept Paul away from Jesus—it was good things! He had to lose his ‘religion’ to find salvation.”17 His miraculous conversion on the Damascus Road lead to “his eyes being opened” to the futility of trying to achieve righteousness in our own strength.

In verse 7 and 8 Paul uses banker vocabulary in the terms of gains and losses.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

Is your confidence in your heritage, your abilities, your achievements, or even your level of dedication to your beliefs—or is it in Christ’s atonement for you?

Press on toward the goal.
·        What is your goal?
·        How are you trying to attain your goal?
·        Have your goals changed?
“Once upon a time” (sounds like a fairy tale) My goal was to be a wife and mother and a teacher by profession.  “My religion” was working to be good enough for God.
My pride in all the positions I held and my level of dedication to the church, my fervor, and passion for justice and fairness was not a bad thing in itself, but as Jesus said to Martha. Mary has chosen the better thing. Luke 10:42 NIV My pride and achievements in the church and the educational field became a wedge in my marriage.
      I still have pockets of perfection: Some things I am really good at to the point of perfection and other area….not so much. Sometimes it is not that the good things are sinful it is we should choose the Better way. Being busy for the Lord can be just as distracting as worldly pleasures.

·  Moving Toward the Goal
Now like Paul I am press toward the goal that Christ Jesus has prepared for me. As a deer longs for water, I long for an intimate relationship with Jesus. To be in his presence , to sense the peace and acceptance only he can bring. The only righteousness I can ever claim is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God. I fully trust in my Father whose promises are true and whose timing is perfect.

12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
13    Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

14    I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Press on toward the goal.
Let me tell you of an illustration from a Patsy Clairmont. I cannot do it justice, but maybe you have read Chapter 2 of her book God can Use Cracked Pots.
It was a feel good and happy morning, when she got all dressed up and for once her hair was perfect. Patsy looked in the mirror and stated, “Lookin’ Good!” Going shopping in her small town she had to park 2 blocks from her favorite store. But it was such a beautiful she did not mind. Patsy talked of bouncing down the street and everyone was smiling and waving. As she went to the back of the store she caught herself in the reflection in a refrigerator door and looked with pride at her color coded outfit. Then in horror she exclaimed, “What is that on my foot?”
Patsy remembered that when she undressed the night before she had taken off her slacks and pantyhose in one swoop. Today as she dressed the pantyhose were pushed down and decided to immerge on her bounce down the street with local friends smiling back at her.  Standing in the store she was so embarrassed that she thought she would die.  Later she cried to the LORD from her humiliation and said “LORD you say to make beauty from ashes, what can you do with pantyhose?” The LORD spoke to her and reminded her of the other things she dragged through her life far worse, such as guilt, anger, fear and shame. These emotions were far less attractive to the LORD than a pair of pantyhose. “These things are the ones that rob you of the joy of living. These things keep you from fully knowing who I am. These things that you have been dragging around for years keep you from being that light that I desire in your life to have an influence. You keep displaying all these qualities that are so unattractive.”

Ladies tonight can I ask you… “What is it that you have been dragging around with you for all these years?” Are you ready to lay it down and choose the prize God has waiting for you?
Pressing on toward the goal for the prize
 I was regretting the past
            And fearing the future . . .
            Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
            “MY NAME IS I AM.”
He paused.
            I waited.
He continued,
            “When you live in the past,
            with its mistakes and regrets,
            It is hard.  I am not there.
            My name is not I was.
            When you live in the future,
            With its problems and fears,
            It is hard. I am not there.
            My name is not I will be.
            When you live in this moment,
            It is not hard.  I am here.
            My name is I AM.”     - Helen Mallicoat
Let us continue to press on toward the goal trusting in God for the moment.
If you’re a Christian, you are not a citizen of this world trying to get to heaven.
 You are a citizen of heaven making your way through this world.
20   But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,21who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Can you imagine? The paintings of heaven are done by Ron Dicianni from a book he collaborated on with Randy Alcorn “Tell me About Heaven.” You will be familiar with many other works if you can to Google him.

How can we keep our focus on God and hope of Heaven?
“The snow covered the ground, and three young boys were playing in it. A man said to them, ‘Would you like to try to race, with the promise of a prize for the winner?’
The boys agreed, and the man told them that his race was to be different. ‘I will go to the other side of the field,’ he said, ‘and when I give you the signal, you will start to run.
The one whose footsteps are the straightest in the snow will be the winner.’ As the race commenced, the first boy began looking at his feet to see if his steps were straight. The second lad kept looking at his companions to see what they were doing; but the third boy just ran on with his eyes fixed on the man on the other side of the field. The third boy was the winner, for his footsteps were straight in the snow. He had kept his eyes on the goal ahead of him.”
If, by the Spirit, like Paul, we fix our eyes on “the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus,” we won’t wander off course. What are you looking at?

Will you choose to Press on toward the goal of knowing Christ and His resurrection?