Sunday, December 16, 2007

December 23, 2007 Luke 2:21-35

Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas

This Week's Sermon Text: Luke 2:21-35 (NKJV)

[21] And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

[22] Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord [23] (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD”), [24] and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

[25] And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. [26] And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. [27] So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, [28] he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

[29] “ Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
[30] For my eyes have seen Your salvation
[31] Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
[32] A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.” [33] And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. [34] Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against [35] (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

What is God showing you this week? Your observations and insights into this passage are welcomed.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sunday, December 9, 2007

December 16, 2007 Luke 2:8-20

Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas

This Week's Sermon Text: Luke 2:8-20 (NKJV)
[8] Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. [9] And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. [10] Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. [11] For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. [12] And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” [13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: [14] “ Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

[15] So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” [16] And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. [17] Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[c] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. [18] And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. [19] But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. [20] Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

What is God showing you this week? Your observations and insights into this passage are welcomed and appreciated.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sunday, December 2, 2007

December 9, 2007 Luke 1:26-38

December 9, 2007

Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas
The Christmas season is a wonderful time to invite family, friends, and coworkers to experience the true meaning of Christmas. Each Sunday in December leading up to Christmas we will take a fresh look at the Christmas story through the eyes of the people who first experienced the “good news” of Jesus’ birth. Invite a friend to join you for worship and Bible study this week. Make this a Christmas to remember – a Christmas of faith, hope, and changed lives.

This Week's Sermon Text: Luke 1:26-38 (NKJV)
[26] Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, [27] to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. [28] And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” [29] But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. [30] Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. [31] And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. [32] He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. [33] And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” [34] Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” [35] And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. [36] Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. [37] For with God nothing will be impossible.” [38] Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

What is God showing you this week? Your observations and insights into this passage are welcomed and appreciated.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, November 26, 2007

December 2, 2007 International Mission's Emphasis

December 2, 2007 International Mission's Emphasis Sunday
This Sunday, I will be sharing a mission's message that ties in with our yearly International Mission's emphasis. This year's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions theme is "Tell Me the Story of Jesus."

I will be using a variety of texts to support this theme, some of them are listed below in the New International Version. Our church's mission's offering goal for 2007 is $10,000. Would you pray about your involvement in missions and what you might give this year to this worthy offering?

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Psalm 67
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us,
2 that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
3 May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth.
5 May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
6 Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.
7 God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

Isaiah 9:2“The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

Acts 1:8“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 5:42
“Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”

2 Corinthians 5:14-15
[14] For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. [15] And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

What is God showing you this week? Your observations and insights into these passages and sermon theme are welcomed and appreciated.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, November 19, 2007

UPDATED! November 25, 2007 Colossians 4:7-18

Dear Readers,
I apologize for my two-week absence from posting my sermon texts. My last several sermons dealing with stewardship were topical in nature and treated a variety of sermon texts. This Sunday, I will conclude the sermon series on the book of Colossians. I hope that you have enjoyed this study as much as I have. On December 2, 2007 I will be preaching on the subject, "Tell Me the Story of Jesus," our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Mission's theme. Beginning December 9, 2007 I will be preaching a brief series on selected biographical passages for Christmas entitled, "Christmas through Their Eyes."

Sunday, November 25, 2007
Sermon Text: Colossians 4:7-18 (NIV)
[7] Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. [8] I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. [9] He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.

[10] My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) [11] Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. [12] Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. [13] I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. [14] Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. [15] Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

[16] After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea. [17] Tell Archippus: "See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord." [18] I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Thoughts on the Text
1. Paul concluded his letter to the Colossians with an extended list of greetings. Ten (10) people, representing a diversity of backgrounds, are mentioned by name.
2. This section may be divided into three parts:
(1) Those who journeyed to the church (4:7-9)
(2) Those who sent greetings (4:10-14)
(3) Those to whom greetings were being sent (4:15-17)
3. Some questions for reflection:
(1) How was the early church instrumental in breaking down barriers between various peoples (e.g., Jew vs. Gentile; Male vs. Female; Slave vs. Freeman)?
(2) What was the source of unity for the early believers?
(3) How was the fellowship of the church nurtured through the various ministry partnerships between believers?

What is God showing you this week? Your observations and insights into this passage are welcomed and appreciated.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, October 15, 2007

October 21, 2007 Colossians 3:22-4:1

Sunday, October 21, 2007
Sermon Text: Colossians 3:22-4:1 (NIV)

[22] Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. [23] Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, [24] since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. [25] Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism. [4:1] Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

What is God showing you this week? Your observations and insights into this passage are welcomed and encouraged.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007 Colossians 3:18-21

Sunday, October 14, 2007
Sermon Text: Colossians 3:18-21
[18] Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
[19] Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
[20] Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
[21] Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Initial Reflection on the Text:
1. The theme is that of harmony in the Christian home. What makes for harmony in the Christian home? How do our relationships with one another help or hinder that harmony?
2. How has this text and others that are similar been misinterpreted? How should we interpret this passage in light of the other texts that deal with the subject?
3. A great deal of emphasis has been placed in recent years on the role of wives in marriage; however, the role of the husband has seldom been treated. What is the husband's role in the marriage covenant? What kind of relationship works best between husbands and wives?

What is the Lord showing you this week? I encourage and welcome your comments on this week's text.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, October 1, 2007

October 7, 2007 Colossians 3:12-17

Sunday, October 7, 2007
Sermon Text: Colossians 3:12-17 (NIV)
[12] Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. [13] Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. [14] And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. [15] Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Initial Reflection on the Text
This passage continues the theme of the believer’s practice. As new creations in Christ, we are to “clothe” ourselves with “compassion, kindness,” etc. At the heart of the new creation is the ability to forgive. The basis of our forgiving others is the fact that Jesus has forgiven us (v.13). Love is seen as the supreme virtue that must be “put on” (v.14).

According to verse 16, one purpose of singing is instruction, “teach and admonish one another.” The rich variety of musical expression is seen in this verse – “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” An important principle is stated in verse 17. Whatever the believer does, he or she is to do it to the glory of God.

Questions for Reflection
1. How is the fruit of the Spirit developed in the believer’s life?

2. Are there “grievances” that you have against someone? Why is it so difficult for us to forgive others? What can be done to make the act of forgiveness easier?

3. Have you ever noticed the words of the songs we sing? What do they teach us about the character of God? About our Christian faith?

What is God showing you this week? Your observations and insights into this passage are welcomed and encouraged.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007 Colossians 3:1-11

Sunday, September 30, 2007
Sermon Text: Colossians 3:1-11 (NIV)
[1] Since, 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 life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
[5] Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. [6] Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. [7] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. [8] But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. [9] Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices [10] and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. [11] Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Initial Reflection On The Text
This passage seems to pour out with teaching about the believers new walk in Christ. In what way is the believer raised with Christ? When does this occur in the believer’s life? What are the implications of being raised with Christ? How does our position in Christ empower us to “put to death” our “earthly nature”? And what are some practical ways that we can “put on the new self”?

What is God showing you this week? Your observations and insights into this passage are welcomed and encouraged.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007 Colossians 2:16-23

Sunday, September 23, 2007 Sermon Text:
Colossians 2:16-23 (New International Version)

[16] Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. [17] These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. [18] Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. [19] He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
[20] Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: [21] "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? [22] These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. [23] Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Initial Reflection on the Text
The false teachers practiced a form of spiritual elitism. They had certain boundary markers that set themselves apart from everyone else. Paul tells the Colossians, “do not let anyone judge you” in these inconsequential matters (v.16). Persons are not made spiritual by keeping certain religious traditions. In fact, the ceremonial rituals of the Old Testament were but “a shadow of the things to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (v.17). The problem with a “rule keeping” religion is that it promotes “false humility” (v.18). The errorists in the church were puffed up and actually unspiritual rather than super-spiritual. Outward religious forms have “an appearance of wisdom” (v.23) but they do not have any power, “they lack value in restraining sensual indulgence” (v.23). Where then does the believer receive power? From realizing that the believer has “died with Christ to the basic principles of this world” (v.20). As believers we are not to turn back to a form of legalism, but instead, realize that our old nature has been crucified with Christ!

What is God showing you this week? Your observations and insights into this passage are welcomed and encouraged.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007 Colossians 2:8-15

Sunday, September 16, 2007 Sermon Text:Colossians 2:8-15 (New International Version)

[8] See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. [9] For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, [10] and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. [11] In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, [12] having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. [13] 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, [14] having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. [15] And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

What is God showing you this week? Your observations and insights into this passage are welcomed and encouraged.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sunday, September 9, 2007 Colossians 1:24-2:7

Sunday, September 9, 2007 Sermon Text:
Colossians 1:24-27 (New King James Version)

Paul's Ministry, Proclaiming the Mystery of Christ
Colossians 1
[24] I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, [25] of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, [26] the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. [27] To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. [28] Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. [29] To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

Colossians 2
[1] For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, [2] that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, [3] in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. [4] Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. [5] For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. [6] As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, [7] rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sunday, September 2, 2007 Colossians 1:19-23

Sunday, September 2, 2007 Sermon Text:
Colossians 1:19-23 (New King James Version)
[19] For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, [20] and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. [21] And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled [22] in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— [23] if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Initial Reflection on the Text
A major theme of this passage is reconciliation, specifically between God and man through Christ. The means of reconciliation is the "blood of His cross" (v.20). At the heart of what reconciliation brings is "peace." This truth brings a great encouragement to me. When I became a believer, I did not understand fully this concept of reconciliation; however, I did understand the effect of reconciliation, there was an overwhelming sense of "peace" with God. This peace with God allowed me to be at peace with myself and others. When our vertical relationship with God is right (reconciliation), the inner and horizontal relationships are set right – there is "peace."

Paul states that Christ will "reconcile all things to Himself" (v.19). Some may see in this statement a support for universalism, the teaching that all people will eventually be reconciled to God. What is the scope of God’s reconciliation? The context of the passage is going to be helpful in understanding this phrase.

The goal or outworking of reconciliation is that the believer show forth a life that reflects God’s character, "holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight" (v.22). This transformed existence that forms the believer’s walk seems to be conditioned upon our obedience to living out the Gospel, "if indeed you continue in the faith" (v.23). Here again, as we have seen before in Colossians, is the tension at work between the sovereignty of God and the freedom of God’s creation.

It's not surprising that this passage of Scripture concludes with the phrase, "the hope of the Gospel" (v.23). What an incredible hope there is knowing that God reconciles us to Himself! This "hope of the Gospel," this grace of God in Christ, is the hope of our world.

What is God showing you? Your observations and insights into this week's passage are welcomed and encouraged.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007 Colossians 1:15-18

Sunday, August 26, 2007 Sermon Text:
Colossians 1:15-18 (New King James Version)
[15] He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. [16] For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. [17] And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. [18] And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Initial Reflection on the Text
This passage is interesting in light of the background of the problem at Colosse. The errorists in the church were implying that Jesus was less than deity. Here, Paul affirms that Jesus is not only God but that He is the agent of creation! Rather than God creating the world through a series of emanations (offshoots of deity each one being a little less god), Paul affirms that Jesus is "the image of the invisible God" (my emphasis). Paul is emphatically declaring that Jesus is the one and only emanation from God (to borrow from the language of the Gnostics), but more than that, He is completely all that God is!

The practical application of all of this is found in verse 18. Jesus, by virtue that He is the creator God, is the "head of the body, the church." Furthermore, because He is the head, in all things He is to have the preeminence (i.e., He is to be first, He is to be in charge). The body (the church) at Colosse was in danger of being a body that was out of control. Jesus was not being denied but He was being dethroned from His rightful place as "the head of the body."

Does Jesus have the preeminence in the body of Christ today? Are there areas in the body of Christ that are off limits to Him? What about our lives? Does Jesus have His rightful place in your life? In my life? What would be different in my life if Jesus was in charge? Is Jesus our co-pilot? Or the pilot of our lives?

Your observations and insights into this week's passage are welcomed and encouraged. I hope to hear from you this week.
For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007 Colossians 1:9-14

Sunday, August 19, 2007 Sermon Text:
Colossians 1:9-14 (New International Version)
9 For 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. 10 And 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, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Some of My Initial Thoughts on the Text
1. Paul continues with the theme of prayer for the Colossians in this passage. He prays for some things that all of us need as believers if we are to experience God's full and meaningful life. What are some of the themes for prayer that Paul touches on?
He prays that they will be filled with the "knowledge" of God’s will.
He prays that they will live a life filled with God’s "power."

2. Why is it essential to be filled with God’s will and power? How does this lead to God's abundant life? Could you use a fresh filling of the knowledge of God and His mighty power? I know I could!

3. What is the result of being filled with God’s will and power?
We live a life that pleases God.
We bear fruit and grow in the knowledge of the Lord.
We have "great endurance and patience."
We have joy which is expressed in thanksgiving to the Father for the salvation that the Son has provided.

4. Two times in this passage, Paul uses the word "knowledge." The Gnostic teachers believed that salvation came through a secret knowledge available only to the few. According to Paul, what is the nature of true knowledge? How would the fulfillment of this prayer enable us as believers to walk in the knowledge of the Lord?

5. According to verse 13, believers have been rescued "from the dominion of darkness and brought . . . into the kingdom of the Son." Has there ever been a time in your life when you were rescued from some difficult or even tragic situation? How did you feel when you were rescued? Relieved? Joyful? Thankful? How can focusing on what Christ has done for us increase our sense of gratitude and joy in our every day lives?

Your observations and insights into the text are welcomed and encouraged. I hope to hear from you this week!
For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Living the Mystery, A Study of the Epistle to the Colossians

Beginning Sunday, August 12, 2007, I will begin a series of messages from the wonderful little Epistle to the Colossians. You might be wondering why I have chosen the series title, "Living the Mystery." It really is a play on the theological concept of mystery. Let me explain. The church at Colosse faced threats from within the church. This is what prompted Paul to write the letter in the first place. Epaphras, who founded the church at Colosse, reported to Paul some disturbing news about the presence of heretical (non-biblical) teachings at Colosse.

What was this heresy at Colosse that threatened the church? It was a syncretistic movement combining Jewish, pagan, and Christian elements. The pagan element was a form of what most scholars call "incipient Gnosticism," a complex system of myths and Greek philosophy that absorbed the various religions with which it came into contact. One of the tenets of Gnosticism was the belief that salvation was obtained through knowledge apprehended by mystical experience. This knowledge came only to the initiated; thus, salvation was available only to those who understood the "mystery."

However, Paul reaffirms the faith of the Colossians by reminding them that the "mystery" of the Gospel is revealed in Jesus Christ and in Him are "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (2:3). We might say that believers have been initiated into the "mystery," the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ. Believers are "Living the Mystery." There is also an element of belief that is an unfolding revelation to believers. That is, as we walk with Christ and understand our completeness in Him, we discover the wonderful "treasures and wisdom" that the Father has granted to us in Christ.

Each week I will post the sermon text(s) for each Sunday's message. Your comments and insights into the passages are encouraged and welcomed. It is my hope that this will be an ongoing dialogue that will help us all "Live the Mystery" of the Gospel. I hope to hear from you soon.

This Week's Text:
Sunday, August 12, 2007 -- Colossians 1:3-8.

For His Glory!

Pastor Joe