Sunday, September 20, 2009

And Can It Be That I Should Gain

Today we kicked off our new schedule with Sunday School at 9:00 and the worship service at 10:15. Pastor Brad welcomed us warmly, then quickly summarized the main points of today's message before running through the announcements, which were as follows:
1. The Truth Project will begin next Sunday. If interested, see Brad to sign up. Cresman's will host two groups at their home. One will be held on Sunday afternoons and the other Monday evenings. Contact Brad or Walt & Gwen for more information.
2. Adventure Club is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, October 7 for children from age four to sixth grade. AC will meet Wednesday evenings from 5:30 - 7:00. If interested in helping, contact Brooke.
3. An Old Fashioned Hymn Sing and Potluck will be held at the Newmans on October 4 at 4 p.m. Meat will be provided... bring your favorite sides or desserts.
4. Anyone interested in making Christmas ornaments can join us on Thursday mornings now through Christmas. See Gail Brown for details.

After a period of worship and prayer, the Scripture reading was from Colossians 1:9-14.

And Can It Be That I Should Gain

Brad opened his message by re-reading the passage from Colossians chapter one.

9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The first verses, 9-11, were the focus for today's message. Paul here is telling the Colossians what he is praying for as he thinks of their community of believers. The four things are (1) that they would be filled with the knowledge of God's will, (2) that they would live worthy lives, (3) bear fruit, and (4) have an enduring faith.

The context of Paul's letter to the Christians in Colossae was that were a number of false teachings creeping in to the church. It wasn't a single "great white shark" tearing them up, but a mix of smaller issues which needed to be addressed. One was that Jesus was not involved in the Creation, based on a false concept of the Trinity. A second was that certain people had special knowledge that was not available to the rest of the church. Lifestyle questions also were part of the mix. There was also a bit of angel worship as well as the notion that there were demons behind every bush.

As often happens with young churches with a lot of new believers, their lack of Bible training can cause them to take in ideas that seem religious or right but are not Biblical. Similarly, the Colossians needed help getting clarification in a variety of areas.

Brad then went into detail regarding the four prayers in this section.

1) Knowledge of God's will
The is a difference between knowledge of God and the knowledge of His will. We can know a lot of facts about God, but still miss what He expects of us. God's will matters. Do you know what God's will is for this world? You should be filled with is. God's will for the world is peace, that violence would end. That is all throughout Scripture. It is also that those who have more would feed those with less. God's will is that there would be a common community established in our world. Also, He has a will for lost people, that they be found.

And God's will for His church is that it would prevail everywhere. His will for the poor and oppressed is that they would be fed and set free.

Our prayer should be, "God, show us Your will."

2) Live a worth life
This piece of Paul's prayer deals with all the lifestyle debates which were occurring there. One group focused on very strict regulations and another group was saying it didn't matter how you lived. Paul's prayer was that they would live a life worthy of the calling on their lives. Ultimately, we're to walk as Christ walked. What Would Jesus Do? (WWJD)

3) Bear fruit
Brad noted that as we bear fruit we will grow in our knowledge of God. The goal of our Christian lives is not merely salvation. We're God's handiwork, a masterpiece... but also a work in process. That is why we need to persevere in our Christian walk.

4) Be strong, persevere by God's glorious might
"There is an enemy power out to thwart you," Brad said. Life has many hardships. That is why Paul continually encouraged the saints to persevere. In his letter to Timothy he stated, "I have fought the good fight, I've finished the race."

It never pays to drift. It's better to pay the price of endurance that to go through the pain of error and sin.

In summary, God has qualified you... that is, made you qualified to be in the Kingdom, not because you were good, but because of His mercy.

Brad then shared this illustration. "If you see a turtle sitting on a fence post, you know it's because someone put him there." It's a cute picture of grace. I'm heaven bound not because I can climb there on my own, but because Someone put me there.

Christ, Paul says, has transferred up from a bad place to a better place. He's paid the price to redeem us. There's always a price.

Another illustration of grace... In Sudan there's a civil war taking place. Women and children have been put into slavery and are victims of despicable deeds. European Christians aware of the situation risked their lives to meet with the warring factions to determine a price for the slaves so they could raise money to buy their freedom. For $33 each they redeemed as many as they were able.

Can you imagine what these women and children felt was they were relieved from their suffering by people they didn't even know? So it is with ourselves. We were bought with a price, and that price was a lot more than 33 bucks. It cost God the spilt blood and pierced body of His son, the second person of the Trinity.

You have been qualified, transferred and redeemed. And now you are safe and secure and relocated and forgiven forever through Jesus Christ. That's the message that we get to proclaim to our broken, messed up world.

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