Archive for the ‘Colossians’ Category
Last updated: 10.17.08
Colossians #9: Leading Others to Jesus (1:28-29) – 10/19
In many ways, this passage is Paul’s mission statement that reflects his internalization of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Several key elements stand out in this presentation:
• Jesus is the goal – leading everyone to complete perfection in Jesus (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18).
• This goal, bringing others to Jesus, is for everyone – emphasized three times in verse 28.
• The power for Paul to meet this goal is not his own strength or efforts, although he clearly has given everything to make every effort as his imprisonment reference reminds us, but instead he relies on the power of that only God can give him
This will be our accompanying video — thanks Corbett!:
In a world of pluralism where every voice is given equal weight, Paul steps forward and reminds us that Jesus is the goal for everyone. His grace, His character, His compassion, and His holiness must be the goal of everyone! Jesus suggested this about Himself in several ways:
• His “I am” sayings, especially the “I am the way the truth and life, no one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6)
• “You have heard it said … but I say unto you …” (Sermon on the Mount)
• “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth …” (Matthew 28:18-20)
But more than knowledge about Jesus, Paul’s goal is our “perfection” to Christ. The word is translated mature, complete and in other ways, but its core meaning is the “perfection.” What Paul wants to do is to take the “Christ in you the hope of glory” (1:27) and see Him come to full form in each disciple.
Our focus will be on sharing this simple message of Jesus and working to bring others to complete maturity in Jesus. This would be tied back into our own church vision statement about the front porch – INVITING people to know Jesus; INCLUDING people in the life of Jesus in our church family; and INVOLVING people in the mission of Jesus. Of course this fits in well with our Harvest Mission focus of sharing the message of Jesus.
Special Late Developing Note
I am looking at the possibility at one of the services of exploring what I would call “The Jesus Seed.” The goal is to have Jesus who is in us and is our assured “hope of glory” fully coming to maturity so that Jesus is seen in us. This organic way of viewing the message fits right along with other metaphors that Paul and Jesus use about spiritual growth — “I planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase” and the parables in Matthew 13 and Mark 4.
Clearly, there are several crucial messages in these few short verses:
- Jesus the only true Savior
- Internalization of a mission statement (paraphrasing the Great Commission for our lives)
- The Jesus Seed
- The great mystery
Final update follows:
Christ in us is the assurance of our sharing in glory (1:27). But, the goal is for that “seed” to fully blossom till Christ comes alive in us (1:28-29). So helping Christ come alive in others must be our mission and our vision – “I [Paul] planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Cor. 3:6) and “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you … (Gal 4:19). This process is not immediate or automatic, but is a product on our focusing and reflecting Jesus in our lives as the Holy Spirit transforms us to be more like Jesus day by day (2 Cor 3:17-18). We must be willing to be used up to display and share Christ with others, trusting Jesus to be present and to empower us to do that. This is not just the goal for us, for believers, but the goal for “everyone” (3x in Colossians 1:28; cf. Matthew 28:18-20). But this planting of the seed doesn’t happen without our willingness to personally sacrifice to see it that it happens (Col 1:24-25; cf. John 12:23-24)
This is the Sunday to really focus on the call of God and the Great Commission of Jesus to reach all nations with the Gospel. A reminder of … “global economic crisis” and the “global conflict against terrorism” and the “global impact of oil prices” and the “flat world” reality that we live in because of satellites and the Internet – examples of prayer lists for folks like Robert Reagan. In times of crisis and fear and uncertainty, folks are most often open to God’s call in their lives and we can’t let this opportunity pass us by.
The key is to really tie the message of Colossians to our Harvest Mission campaign this week and emphasize the importance of living out the vision.
Ultimately, the issue is how do come to perfection in Christ – having Jesus fully alive in us and seen in all of our activities? That is the issue, Jesus coming alive in us fully so that we can fully come alive?
Focus on Jesus call to take His message to all of the world. The focus would be on this one message as the saving message the world needs. But the goal isn’t just baptisms, but the maturity of people to be the presence of Jesus in their every day worlds. As Jesus says it, “all who are fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40).
Use the Great Commission as a Scripture read in the service as a point of emphasis – while we know the normal translations, The Message would be great here as a corporate reading – maybe do it the first time with TNIV, then with The Message, and have us all say it together at the end from The Message. Tie this also to any Harvest Missions announcement and reminders.
Emphasize the “global” term that used is over and over again in media – the global impact of … economy, gas prices, warming in the atmosphere, terrorism, outsourcing of jobs, food shortages …
And those “global” issues have an impact in our houses and apartments and dorm rooms. What we pay at the pump or have in our retirement or what we pay for our utility bills or how far we can stretch our fixed income …
But as things are tough and challenging, one of the interesting ironies is that folks have been historically more open to God during these times. Our own history the great burst of growth during the depression and post depression years (the Stamps Baxter songs that buoyed people’s spirits during these times).
So our faith in Jesus must have global implications as well!
One of the powerful things that Paul reminds us in Colossians is that hard times (1:24) are not a time to back off the commission (1:25) that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:18-20, but to personalize that commission and live it with passion and power, power he will supply (1:29) because the grace of Jesus and Jesus coming alive in each of us is what is needed for everyone (1:28 everyone is used 3x).
So where do we start? What is our focus?
1. Letting the Christ seed come alive in us! (Rob Video) Our focus on the Gospel of Luke and sharing the story of Jesus we learn for ourselves (Last week!)
2. Personalizing the Great Commission for our own lives – what is God calling me to do, what is spiritual life job description? In other words, how do we let the “Hallelujah” come out in us?
3. Encourage, sacrifice, and support the work of getting the good news to as many as possible (Harvest Missions)
Focus on Jesus as the only hope for all of the world. Emphasize the exclusivity of Jesus versus all other faiths and how that is more than just believing a message about Jesus, but Jesus coming to life in each of us.
Focus on exclusive claims about Jesus in other parts of the New Testament and how they fit with Jesus claims about himself, especially in the “I am” statements in the Gospel of John – cf. Acts 4:12; Revelation 1.
Is it close-minded to say that Jesus is the goal of everyone?
Why do you think it is so hard for folks to say that Jesus is the only way to God?
What are some passages of Scripture or stories that emphasize that Jesus is the only way?
Read Matthew 28:18-20 and then take the basic gist of that and use your own words to write a life’s mission statement for your life in Christ.
What is the difference between “perfection in Christ” in terms of our daily lives and just having lots of knowledge about what Jesus did?
In my Heartlight.org post this week, called Delivered, I reflect on Jesus “dominating the dominion” of darkness and delivering us from the powers that hold us captive. Paul mentions three specific habitations of the dominion afflict us:
- Rulers and powers, both spiritual and political
- Consequences of our wrong and rebellious choices
- Rules, laws, and the whole effort to justify ourselves through religious systems
So will you abandon the addictions that hold you and follow Jesus, relying on His community to help you find new life? (Finding ways to get out of our deception mode and trusting others to help us is crucial, but feels very dangerous to us.)
Will you trust Him to lead you through the consequences of our rebellions to a better place and a fuller life? (After all, it is our own rebellious spirit that got us into most of our troubles to begin with.)
Will you abandon rule-keeping as the basis of your salvation and trust His grace to be your source of goodness? (For those of us who are religious, especially those of us claiming to be followers of Jesus, maybe we need to go back and read the Gospels and assume that Jesus’ comments to the religious leaders of His time are intended to make us think and evaluate ourselves!)
What is holding you back from fully trusting Jesus to help you escape? (Be honest with yourself. What will you not relinquish to the Lordship of Jesus?)
Those are tough questions, but ones I hope you will answer either in the response section below, or share with a couple of other folks seeking to follow Jesus.
Last Updated 10.05.08
Colossians #8: Sharing the Mystery – Colossians 1:24-2:5 – for 10.12.08
We all love to have a secret no one else knows. And if we gently taunt them, we can drive them crazy trying to figure out what that mystery, that special secret, really is. That’s the power of Christmas gifts sitting under the tree and us not knowing what that is. There is a curiosity about them that is nearly an addiction for kids trying to wait to find out what the gift is.
The Christian community Paul is writing faced a problem. People were claiming they knew secrets about the mysterious things of faith that they were lacking. They felt “less than” or deficient in their faith and were looking for someone to teach this “mystery.” The fear is about what they lacked. After all, it was “only” Epaphras who had taught them the good news message of Jesus. They knew him. He wasn’t a special apostle, like Peter or even Paul, so what if he missed something. Plus, their neighbors had all these special religious rituals. What were they missing? These fears made them easily manipulated by those pushing for special extra things that needed to be added in to the simple message about Jesus and how we respond to Him.
Paul writes, reminding them of his suffering for sharing his ministry, to say, “Look folks, here is the mystery. It’s been hidden for ages, but it’s been revealed to all of us who follow Jesus. In fact, it’s God’s will that it be revealed to all nations. I’m willing to suffer for it, and for you, because this simple message is the true message — it doesn’t need to be layered on with special practices or extra rules.
So what is this mystery? Surely it had to be more than the simple message Epaphras shared with them?
But Paul is emphatic. The message is Christ! He is the one where fullness is found! This is the message for which Paul suffers, serves, and strives to share (1:24-25; 2:1-2).
This is the message that serves and forms the people of God, hidden for ages, but now fully revealed to all of God’s people and not just in the hands of a select few (1:25-26).
This message is all about Christ coming alive in us (1:27):
Christ is our hope of glory! (1:27)
Christ is our message! (1:28)
Christ is our goal! (1:29)
Christ is our power! (1:29)
Christ is our treasure, wisdom, and knowledge! (2:3)
Christ is the focus of our faith! (2:5)
And what does this mean?
Our message is not complicated, esoteric, or difficult to understand. We don’t need some secret knowledge, some new and astounding author, or some deep and mystical wisdom. Our message is Jesus.
As we focus on this at our different assemblies, we need to go back to simple songs and remind each other of the simple message of Jesus. “Jesus Loves Me” sung by and for adults, “O How I Love Jesus,” “Why Did My Savior Come to Earth,” “Victory in Jesus,” “It is Well with My Soul” fit alongside “In Christ Alone” and other simple songs that focus on Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15 coupled with the Lord’s Supper becomes crucial to reminding us of that simple message – Jesus died for my sins, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day so my life would not be lived in vain and I can share in his victory. In addition, I believe we have a real invitation song and tie Romans 6 (or Colossians 2:12) in with Romans 15 right after The Lord’s Supper to give folks an opportunity to respond to Jesus.
Coordinate each of the elements above into the flow of the service in our usual order.
Put our Time in the Word early in the assembly, use 1 Corinthians 15 as our focus for The Supper, and actually have an invitation later in the assembly.
Focus on how and why the Gospel is simple and it’s about Jesus: it mustn’t be made complicated! Maybe compare the key parts of 1 Corinthians 15 (died, buried, raised) with the key parts of Romans 6 (died with Christ, buried, raised) and how the latter helps us experience the Gospel.
What makes so vulnerable to latest religious fad?
Do you feel pressure to know the latest Christian book or sing the latest great Christian song?
Do you ever worry that you don’t know all you need to know about the message of Jesus?
What are some things that you will not compromise on in your Christian faith?
If everything is up for grabs, that what solid ground do you stand on for your faith?
When we declare that “Jesus is the message” (something John 1:1-18 beautifully says as well), why is it so hard to limit our message to just Jesus?
What are some things you catch yourself wanting to add to the message of Jesus?
What are some of the most dangerous things you worry about that are being added to the message of Jesus?
What does Jesus really mean to you — describe how the Lord impacts you in different areas of life?
In my Heartllight.org post this week, called “Godly Organic,” I share the “Spirit-natural” principle that we are made to live and grow. It is who and how God made us to be. When we don’t grow, we know that something is wrong. Yet so often, we settle for just treading water spiritually. The power behind this growth, however, can be found in the prayer we offer for each other and the power of God released to empower us toward this growth:
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God … so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might (Colossians 1:9-11).
So I want to challenge you to ask yourself a few questions about your own personal growth in the Lord and commit yourself to praying for your brothers and sisters in Christ and releasing the power of God into their lives.
How has God continued to fashion you to be more like Jesus?
Can you say that God is re-creating life in you out of the barrenness and scars of your past life?
What is a sign of growth, God’s power, at work in you?
I’d love to hear your response to these questions!
Last Updated 9.30.08
Colossians #7: Screwtape’s Demise – The Joy of Simple Service for 10.05.08
An old story attributed to various sources (CS Lewis or Jewish Rabbis), describes both heaven and hell as the same banquet room filled with wonderful chairs, a huge table, plenty of guests, and a limitless supply of sumptuous food. The problem is that all the forks and knives are 3 foot (sometimes said 6 foot) long. In hell, the people are arguing and fighting and starving. Mounds of food rot on the plates and rats run to and fro among the putrefying bounty. The forks and knives are too long for anyone to feed himself, so the people fuss and fight and squabble and go hungry. In heaven, however, the same banquet hall, chairs, table, and food furnish the scene of joy and feasting and fun. The difference, in heaven, they feed each other with their long forks. You see, they know the joy of simple service and no one is left out. All are full.
For the followers of Jesus, table fellowship and serving each other around the dinner table was always special. Luke emphasizes it more than any other gospel, but all the gospels show Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners, feeding the crowds, blessing bread, going to feasts, and sharing in the Last Supper. Some of this goes back to His Jewish roots and the importance of feast days. Some of it anticipates His presence in all meals — remember the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 — and His followers sharing in the “breaking of bread” (aka the Lord’s Supper).
Not surprisingly, Jesus reminded His followers repeatedly that the greatest in the Kingdom is a “servant” (diakonos – a table servant and the word from which we get the word “deacon” Matthew 23:11). Jesus is the ultimate example of what this means: 1) He identifies Himself as a table servant (Luke 22:24-27) and 2) he demonstrates himself to be a table servant when He washes His followers feet (John 13:1-17). In both cases, the Lord calls on His followers to be servants to each other (again, all of these words come from the noun or verbal form of the word from which we get the term “deacon.” We shouldn’t be surprised, then, when the early church appointed 7 men to serve at tables to make sure widows are fed in Jerusalem (again, same root word for service).
So rather than a position of power, Jesus is calling us to a life of service. And this powerful, simple and important root term is used to describe this kind of service. (Download study chart which will also downloadable on sh-refresh.com and church website, and can be provided for LIFE groups to use.)
This term is used in Colossians several times (1:7 “faithful minister”; 1:23 “servant; 1:25 “servant; 4:7 “faithful minister”; 4:17 “work” or “ministry”)
Begin with illustration and tie to Jesus in Luke 22 and John 13. Then from there, show it used in Colossians and focus on how the work of the Kingdom only gets done through servants. Overview biblical material related to the term and show how important this is. Focus is on our need for folks who are wiling to be servant leaders — people who lead by their service and not their rank.
Begin with illustration and then go to Luke 22:24-27 and refer to John 13. Key lead in to the Lord’s Supper this week and our call to serve each other in this process.
Shepherding Group Night, but we would have covered other New Testament background for the term “deacon.”
How do we come to value servants as a reminder of Jesus instead of looking down on and treating poorly those who serve us?
What makes being a servant hard?
What are servant kinds of jobs today?
How are these people treated generally?
What are servant kinds of jobs in God’s family that we often take for granted?
Who is someone you don’t want to ever have to serve?
How do you think Jesus could serve Judas both by washing his feet and also sharing the meal at the Last Supper?
What is the most joyous service you have ever offered to someone else?
What made it a joy to serve them?
Who is the greatest example of a servant that you know?
Why did you choose this person?
How have you — or how should you — show that you value this person and appreciate what they do to bless you and others in the Lord?
Last Updated 9/14/08
Colossians #6: Dominating the Dominion – 9/28/08
Key Passages: Colossians 1:13-14; 2:13-15; 3:1-4
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
We have been rescued and brought into safety! What does that mean?
1. Brought from death to live (resurrection of Jesus is important!)
2. Brought into the Kingdom
3. Given forgiveness
4. Had canceled the whole way of works righteousness
5. Disarmed the powers
Focus will be on Jesus disarming the powers against us – spiritual powers and the power of the Law (and all law) to condemn us. (John 12:31-32; cf. Eph 2:1-10)
Focus of Daybreak will be on the power of Jesus to defeat the dark forces of Satan that stand against us. The center of this is the cross.
A. Communion Focus on the Victory Power of the cross
That’s the Power of the Cross
In Christ Alone
Mighty is the Power of the Cross
B. Time in the Word Focuses on “the powers” and Jesus power for us (e.g., John 12:31-32; Ephesians 2:1; 6:10-18; 1 John 4:4; cf. Acts 26:18; )
Our fascination and yet denial of the powers in popular culture — books, art, movies
The incredible victory Jesus won over the powers (Ephesians) & systems of laws (Galatians) that bound us and condemned us
Our opportunity to participate in Jesus’ victory over the powers & systems of laws that bound us and condemned us
Focus at Refresh will be similar, but done by Curt Cloniger through drama. We could get a couple of pieces of Cross-focused backgrounds to use for our Communion Time interspersed with some Scripture references to contextualize them.
Sundown focuses on the meaning of salvation – what Jesus has done for us: rescued, transferred, redeemed, forgave, made alive, qualified … that we find in Colossians. What do these mean? Mark 5 could be used to remind us of Satan’s desire to harm us and God’s power at work in us.
LIFE Group Questions (supplement the above Scripture readings with Ephesians 6:10-19 and Acts 19:13-30 and Mark 5 for the following discussions)
Why do you think we are fascinated with spiritual powers, but seem so reluctant to discuss them and our response to them in our spiritual discussions at church?
Are these evil forces real, or are they products of our own mistakes and fears?
As believers in Jesus, what answers do we have to the threat of spiritual attack from evil forces? What resources do we have to fight these spiritual forces?
How is a reliance on keeping Law a destructive spiritual power without grace? (cf. Romans 7:14-25)
Should we fear the spiritual powers?