We looked at Colossians last week, and saw that Paul prayed, regularly, for this church, though he had not met them.
And we recognized our need to pray for each other, too.
As well, we saw that Paul was thankful and encouraged the Colossians, and, therefore, we are encouraged to be thankful, too.
In this way, we saw that we have been reached to restore.
For the past seven months, our theme has been “Living on Purpose” and for the last several weeks, we’ve considered the theme of ‘Restoration.”
Why do we want to live on purpose?
Because we want to be reaching, intentionally, God’s will for our lives.
Why have we been concerned about restoration?
Because, God so love the world that He gave his only son that who ever believes in him would not perish but would be restored for eternity.
Our eternal life begins now, and we are to encourage believer and non-believer alike to live a restored life. We need to be restored so that our worship is that much truer, and our fellowship with one another that much fuller.
God has called us to come to Him, and to make Him known to others.
The goal God has for us is that we would be glorified.
In order to be glorified, we must first be justified.
We are justified by our faith in the work that Jesus did on our behalf.
We’ve seen that we have been reached and restored so that we can restore.
We’ve been set free to help free others, and today, let’s consider the greatness for which we’ve been restored.
God did not restore us for our selfishness, but for His Glory, and He is restoring us for greatness, not mediocrity.
Therefore, we are not a church of consumers or takers, but we are meant to be a church of contributors and givers. We want this community to be thankful that we are here taking up this piece of prime real estate beside Moody Middle School.
When a person is able to be a giver, they feel better, and when we are able to be a contributor, we are equipped.
Churches are meant to be congregations that are trained to serve, but you know, the tendency in many American churches is to train people to be served, so that they will give.
God wants us to be trained to give so that others may know Him.
God knows our pain and our suffering. He knows that we feel overwhelmed at times, and the Scriptures declare that God is close to the broken hearted.
But God does not wait until we are healed, or until we have everything together before He calls us to minister.
Jesus sent his disciples out before they were even filled with the Holy Spirit on at least two occasions to preach in His Name.
Clover reminded me of something that happened in one of our churches in Kazakhstan. In the beginning, it seemed that everyone was suffering in their finances, family or health. But as we began to encourage them to reach out and help others, they began to see that they were ABLE to reach out and help.
On one occasion, they gave all of their offerings for three weeks to help people who were suffering in Afghanistan (and don’t forget, but Afghanistan had been their enemy at one time).
God wants us to see ourselves as He sees us, as precious and as great!
Jesus said that we will be able to do greater things than Him, and I think many of us feel like we lack in that department, but one way of understanding what Jesus meant by this is that together, we can do more than we are able to do alone.
As Christians, we are selfish if we only care about ourselves and not about others.
When a person comes to Jesus, he or she is restored. We use other terms like, “born anew,” “born again,” “a new creation.”
We are not only new as individuals but as a new people, a new collective. We are citizens of a God’s Kingdom and members of God’s family.
What does it mean to be a member of God’s family?
What does it mean to be a citizen of His Kingdom?
It means that our wills are no longer supreme.
In fact, our wills must submit to God’s will.
Now, that is not something that we like to hear, really, but it is true.
Even for pastors.
Let’s look at Colossians 3:11.
Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Lord we thank you, that You, indeed, are all, and in all. Thank you that we are in You, and we live and breathe and have our being in You. WE thank you that your presence is with us, and that Your Good Word is cleansing us and renewing us.
We thank you that in You we have purpose and we are part of Your family.
We pray this in Jesus’ Name.Amen
- Connected with God
When Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden they had everything that they needed, and even everything they wanted.
But when the serpent came into the picture, they no longer had all that they needed and wanted. They wanted to be like God, so they disobeyed God, and were sentenced to death.
The story of the Bible is the story of the restoration of man.
Last week, we looked at how we are connected to God. He has qualified us through Jesus, and brought us into His kingdom of light.
In Colossians 1, there’s another couple verses about the connectedness that we have through Jesus:
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation
Colossians 1:21, 22
We were separated from God and alienated from Him.
So, we are connected to God through the gift of Jesus, not by our own actions.
When we become followers of Jesus, we are called to renounce our sins, and to turn from them. We are called to put our faith in Jesus, and to not deny Him.
As we do that, we become citizens of heaven, because we have repented of our sins, denounced Satan, the world and our sinful flesh, and we become one people, together.
We are connected to God by our declaration of faith in the work of Jesus.
America is an interesting country, and we can be thankful to live here and thankful to welcome people here.
I can move to France and even become a French citizen, but I won’t be fully French.
America is an inclusive nation, and that is wonderful. We are not the only inclusive nation, but we are a nation that people want to come to for at least a visit, but many want to come for the opportunities that we have here.
But, we know, that becoming an American is not the best that we can become.
I know a minister who served in the former Soviet Union, and he suffered for Jesus there, but later moved to America, and in order to make ends meet, compromised and is no longer the minister that he was.
I meet people who used to be leaders in churches, and yet they have turned away from church altogether.
The world, the flesh and the devil are out to get Christians and prevent them from finishing well.
I for one don’t want to fall victim to his attacks.
When we come to Christ, we become a new creation, and we no longer are separated by race, religion, culture and position, but we come to Christ, and He is Supreme.
We become His child, and are no longer separated from God.
I believe that we are all in need of what is most important in life, and that is greater than a good job, or good pension. It’s more important than family and fame. We need to be followers of Jesus, and live our lives according to his teaching.
Let’s take a moment to thank God for the connection that we have with Him, through Jesus His Son.
[pause, pray and thank Him]
- Greatness Together
In addition to being connected with God, we are connected, together.
Paul wrote, “no Jew or Gentile,” and by this he didn’t mean that there would be NO ONE, but that as different ethnic groups, we would actually become One New People.
We who were not a people, are now the people of God.
And if the people who believe in Jesus would act like they believed in Jesus and fellowship with each other, work together, give at least 10% of their income to the Lord’s work, and dedicate their lives and families to the Lord and His work, then we would reach the world within a short time.
As followers of Jesus, the divisions that usually separate people, have melted. Let’s consider Race, Religion, Culture and Position.
“Here there is no Gentile or Jew…”
In Christ there is no racial separation, but why do we have churches, still, that have racial separation?
We must understand that some people like worshiping only with their “kind.”
I don’t want to judge them, but if we would want to worship with others who are different than us, then I think we’ll reach the world, faster.
Even in Missions I met people who tried to separate people by race, thinking it was better, and where as it might be better to have a new believer mentored by an older believer of his ethnic group, the gathering for public worship out to look as much like heaven, as the vision that John had in the revelation when he saw people from every tribe, people and tongue.
But it is easier said than done, I’ll admit that.
Different people whether it is a different culture, race or language takes some getting used to.
The early Church had some getting used to that had to be done.
Jews and Gentiles were separated
This was not a bad thing, on the one hand, as God designated Abraham to start a new people, through whom, the Redeemer, Jesus, would come.
But, now that He has come, there is no need for the racial division that previously was to reveal God through a people, now all people could be saved.
When the great Azusa Street Revival began in 1906, Blacks, Whites and Hispanics worshiped together, and received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, together.
Sadly, in time, there were those Christians who were against the Pentecostal teaching, and claimed it to be of the devil.
As well, there were those who didn’t like seeing the races mix together, and they created scandals about it.
But, it was too late, people began to see that they did not need to be segregated anymore.
God, who created culture, designated one man, Abraham, to be the father of many nations, and through Him, and His descendant, Jesus, God promised to bless all nations because God so loved all the world,
“Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
[neither] circumcised or uncircumcised
Circumcision may seem a bit odd, it only affected the men, and how did anyone know whether a man was circumcised or not?
Well, bathing was not always a private matter in the ancient world, and so this was a way that people would know.
As well, I was surprised when I visited the city of Miletus, in Turkey, which is a biblical city, that at the city gates there were baths. People were supposed to go to the baths upon entry into the city, and be inspected for diseases. And in that way, circumcision was exposed.
Circumcision, in a sense, refers to religion. Godly Religion is meant to focus attention upon God, however, religion can be spoiled and cause one to focus upon itself, as Paul had first-hand knowledge of, and as Jesus preached against. RELATIONSHIP is the goal of the Christian Religion, not religion itself.
Paul wrote “[no] circumcised nor uncircumcised.” This was done to the body as a sign of the covenant, but what man really needed was that this would be done to the spiritual heart, and that excess would be cut off, and room for Jesus would be made.
“[no] Barbarian [nor] Scythian.”
Barbarians were called such because they were non-Greeks who’s language sounded like “barbarbarbarbar.” The Scythians were looked down upon even by the Barbarians (though, the Scythians became the Kazakhs, by the way, and had a sophisticated culture, and a “golden man”). Culture may influence our understanding of God, but let it influence in a positive manner and not a negative manner. The Amish keep the culture of the Middle Ages, basically, but where is their actual faith in Jesus and relationship?
I recall many times when my Kazakh friends had trouble separating culture from faith, and they would not eat certain foods because they associated these foods with the religion of Islam.
I, on the other hand, had no trouble eating the foods because I didn’t have that same heritage.
I learned to not eat them, though, on certain occasions (during certain holidays) because it was as though I were participating in the rituals of another religion.
In Christ, cultures are redeemed, and ideas can take on a new meaning.
Jesus declared all food to be clean, and declared that man-made religious and cultural regulations were not correct.
[no] slave or free
We who are free, really are not free, and we who are enslaved, really are not. This is not to excuse the American institution of slavery, which is a heinous blot upon our history and our landscape, still. Some ask, “why is this still a problem?” and yet, what we should understand is that with the Civil War, Jim Crow laws and the KKK, the problem has not been able to go away, fast enough. In the Muslim world, for example, some Muslims are angry about the crusades of the Middle Ages, and while the term “crusade” is used differently, today, it brings up a negative connotation that still causes people to shudder
AS BELIEVERS we are slaves, truly. Did you know that in Greek, “servant” and “slave” are the same term doulos? Jesus came as a SLAVE for man. Paul was a SLAVE to Christ. We are to be slaves, too, but without chains.
No separation does not mean no difference. Differences are beautiful.
Consider the situation of Joseph in the book of Genesis. He was Hebrew, an Israelite. He was betrayed, sold into slavery, imprisoned and forgotten.
As a Hebrew, he was detestable to the Egyptians. Hebrews and shepherds were looked down upon by the shepherds, which made it that much easier for the Egyptians to enslave them and treat them like property.
As an Israelite, Joseph was a follower of the One True God, and he made God known in a land where people believed in many gods. We live in a land with many religions. Don’t worry about all these religions coming to America, we were messed up in the religion department long ago, as Americans make their own religions J Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, Universalist Church, Unitarian Church, Unity Church, Moorish Temple of Science, Wiccans and even the Church of Satan all started here in the USA.
In this pluralistic society, we need to shine as lights and let people know that we believe in the One True God.
Culture: America doesn’t have much of it’s own culture, but we collect culture. What is truly American is Yankee ingenuity, Baseball, Hotdogs, and country music, …though Yankee ingenuity took what was invented in Europe and made it better. Took the game of Cricket and made it shorter. Took German sausages and made them smaller (and with questionable ingredients) and took Irish folk music and slowed it down to make country music.
Joseph’s culture was formed by his language and his upbringing. Though his culture had been created by God through his great-grandfather, Abraham, and was set apart by God, his culture had not acted godly. Therefore, he had been an arrogant sounding dreamer, while his brothers were schemers, world-be murderers and slave-traders.
Position…Joseph, as I mentioned, was a slave, yet he came to a high position in Egypt.
It is wonderful to realize that a betrayed man who believed in the One True God and was a great-grandson of Abraham, and was sold into slavery, imprisoned and forgotten, would rule as egypt’s second in command.
Joseph did not rule without Egypt, but it was God who made him great!
When I think about our denomination, the Assemblies of God, we have our roots in the Azusa Street Revival.
Did you know that William Seymour who started that revival was a black man.
Africans were brought to America and served as slaves.
African families were broken up, and had to make do in extreme and harsh conditions.
African women were raped and men were worked to death building our great nation, and even a war happened that brought an end to slavery, but with it came destruction to our nation.
yet our denomination owes its origination to the son of a former slave, William Seymour who started a revival in 1906.
In this revival, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as mentioned in Acts 2, were given, and blacks, whites and Hispanics worshipped together.
- “Here” Is Where?
Where is the “here” of this verse?
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
- Raised with Christ
- Resurrected Power (Present and Future)
- Position in the Kingdom of God (Present and Future)
- Focused on Righteousness
- Hearts…above where Christ is
- Minds…above for we died and are hidden in Christ
- Deny self, Take up Cross, daily, follow Jesus (luke 9:23)
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
- Christ Is All in All
- Is All
Who is Christ?
Is He the American God?
Is He One god among many?
Is He One way to heaven?
According to the Word of God, Jesus is All
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.
Colossians 2:9, 10
We live in a pluralistic society that doesn’t believe the authority of the Bible.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
I am so glad that we gave $1100 to Hurricane Harvey relief. But, the US has been hit by a 1-2-3 punch with Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Mexico has been hit by earthquakes.
Jesus warned of terrible things in the end.
The sun disappeared in the solar eclipse.
The sea disappeared from islands and bays with Irma.
Christ is all…but people don’t want all if it is Christ. They want all if it is them.
- In All
Christ is in all.
If only the world would know Jesus as we know Him, then they would put everything else aside and follow only Him.
Intentionally connecting the changing community with the unchanging Gospel.