Letters (1:24-27)
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ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast
ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

Letters (1:24-27)

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God has written us a letter. Do you love it? From it we learn about Jesus and are challenged to share this message with others. It's not easy but it changes lives for eternity. Message from Denny Foreman

Would you please stay standing because we're going to read God's word together this morning. I think it's coming up on the board here. There we go, let's read this together. 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 of which I became a minister, according to the stewardship from God, which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to his saints. To them God will 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. Thank you. You may be seated. Letters. Letters. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, people actually wrote letters. They use real ink, beautiful stationary cursive letters, clearly defined. Teachers in classrooms taught kids how to form the Alphabel Alpha, bet, yeah, that thing, you know, ABC, that stuff on carefully line pages and explain the difference between a formal letter and friendly correspondence. Yes, we still continue to communicate through writing, but let's be honest, there isn't quite the thrill when you receive when you receive a meme or a text on your phone, as it is when you go to the Mailbox and find an actual handwritten letter in your mailbox letters. When's the last time you received an actual letter in the mail? Two weeks ago I was a recipient of a real, honest to...

...goodness letter from a former student of mine. Now, emails and texts are lovely. If you ever will decide you want to send me one, I don't go for it. I had to admit that receiving that letter in the mail made not just my day but probably that week. I knew the writer. I'd spent nearly six years mentoring her when she was a school student, and as I read her letter, I knew I could identify with what she had to say. So this morning I'm asking that you remember that this book of Collossians is a letter. Who was the writer? Who Will the recipients? What's the purpose of Paul's writing? When was it written? All of those basic who? What, why, when and where things that you might remember from your days in high school writing classes. What do we know about Colossi, this town and the backstory to Paul's letter to the Church? There you know, we've been studying Paul's letter to the Church and Colossi for the last five weeks. So let's go back and have a bit of review. Could I have the slide of the map please? There it is a glimpse of Paul's world. When I look at this map I was reminded of some lines from one of my favorite plays that many of you know that I teach theater arts in school and I directed high school productions since one thousand nine hundred and eighty one. Anyhow, a long go on, a long time, and one of my favorite plays is thornton wilder's our town. The play deals with universal themes community, family, love and marriage death. It's set in a small new England town around one thousand nine hundred and one. There's a...

...narrator for the play and he reminds the audience of this. He says, you know, Babylon once had two million people in it and all we know about them is the names of the Kings, some copies of wheat contracts and contracts for the sale of slaves. Yet every night all the those families sat down to supper, the father came home from his work, the smoke went up the chimney, same as here and even in Greece and Rome. All we know about the real life of the people is what we can piece together out of the poems and comedies they wrote for the theater back then. As we've been studying Paul's letter to the Church and Glossy they maybe that we forget that the members of that congregation were well, just like us. I'm sometimes afraid that if we think of about people from the past at all, we think of them as being somewhat different from us. Perhaps we think of them as being not quite a smart provincial naive. We forget that they were dealing with major political turmoil, racism, religious persecution issues, geologic issues like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, strange occult practices. Pornography was rampant. In fact, you've heard lots of discussions about the rise and follow the Roman Empire. Did you know that the theater in latter day Rome was so incredibly pornographic that the government shut down the theaters? Have you watched any TV lately? Have you...

...been to the movies lately? Sorry about that, real cinema, you know. What can I say? Please don't forget that the believers in sixty a d thought that they were living in the last days, just like many of us do. Perhaps we forget that the city of Colossi was similar to that a lancaster in size. While Lancaster is known for its rich farming communities, Colossi was known for manufacturing a rich red fabric and because of its location, they were a direct link between the east and the West, just as Lancaster is a direct link between New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and points West. Because Paul is writing this letter from prison in Rome, we can be fairly certain that he wrote this letter around sixty a D and, based on other passages of scripture and data, Bible historians can safely say that by that time Paul had been in Ministry for about twenty five years and during those twenty five years he had planted several churches and mentored several young men, enabling them to plant churches. One of these young men, epaphus, is believed to have started this particular church in the city of Colossa. Again, we're a PLANT CHURCH IN LANCASTER PA. We're similar to this Colossian church. However, while we know Pastor Kevin and meet with him regularly. The COLOSSIAN Church would definitely have heard of the Apostle Paul, but they never met him. They never...

...even seen him. This group of Believers had heard the Gospel and believed through the Ministry of Paul's Friend epaphras, who was from the town of Colossi and had founded the church there. Epaphras traveled to Rome to give a report to Paul on what was happening to this young church. And while they're according to Phile even one hundred and twenty three, epaphus becomes Paul's fellow prisoner. That's a lot of review. In the first three verses of Colosshian's one, Paul greets and blesses the people of Colossie and he introduces himself. And the next paragraph, or versus four to eight, and if you have your bibles you could be looking at this. We're not reading them because Pastor Kevin has already talked about these verses, but Paul indicates all the wonderful things he has heard about the Coloshian's faith, specifically that they are now believers, and then he follows it up with a prayer for those believers. He prays for Wisdom and knowledge for these believers. He prays that they would live good, godly lives, prayers for strength and, interestingly, in verse eleven, he prays that they would have the power to patiently endure everything with joy. He prays that they would be late bearers. And then Paul reminds them of the Good News The Gospel. God has rescued us because Jesus paid the price to free us. Our sins are forgiven and, as you recall Kevin's powerful message from two weeks ago, and verses five through twenty three, Paul Celebrates and lifts up...

Jesus, our redeemer, our Savior, our King God in the flesh, our hope. which brings me finally to this morning's scripture, John Cuny. The next slide, please, starts with Verse Twenty Four. That reads, and this is a mouthful, I now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up my flesh. What is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of the body which is the church? What what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ? Kevin assigned me this particular passage oh weeks ago, probably a good month and a half and I have struggled with it ever since, and apparently I'm not alone. Bible expositors and commentators far far, far, far far more scholarly than I will ever hope to be, have waffled back and forth on what Paul is trying to say here. There are churches that have done series on Colossians, like we're currently doing, and they skip over these verses. Yeah, thank you, Kevin. However, John Piper, in his book desiring God God, seems to have the best and most concise explanation of this verse, and he states this. Paul's sufferings complete Christ's afflictions, not by adding anything to their worth, but by extending them to the people they were meant to save. What is lacking in the afflictions of Christ is not that they're deficient and worth as though they couldn't sufficiently cover all...

...of our sins, those of us who believe. What is lacking is that the infinite value of Christ's afflictions are not known and trusted around the world. Isaiah fifty three five reminds us, and it speaks of those afflictions. He was wounded for our transgressions, whose bruised for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him and with his stripes were healed. The only thing that is lacking about Christ's affliction is that not everyone has trusted in Jesus. There are people who are not a part of his body, and Paul is rejoicing that he can participate in whatever it takes to build up the Church and make Christ known. But he's also keenly aware that believers are engaged in spiritual warfare, and it would likely get worse. You See, gang following Jesus isn't for the fainthearted. Following Jesus is a call to arms. Paul recognized that following Jesus came with a cost, and he would know back in January was genuine whey. Third is a matter of fact. I spoke here at the Church and I mentioned this. First of all, remember that Paul is writing this letter from house prison in Rome and later in the book of...

Phileman, we understand that Paul is hopeful that he is going to be released and would hopefully meet with the cautions at some point. Unfortunately, his past experiences wouldn't have given him much cause for hope, because why, five times he was lipped, he was last thirty nine times. The maximum under Roman law was forty times. Three times he was caned, he'd been stoned. He was in constant danger from unbelievers and, to add insult to injury, he was frequently in danger from those within the churches who might be spreading false teaching, teachings like gnosticism asceticism. Now forget the big terms, you don't need to know them, but let me put these false teachings, for of them, into contemporary terms. Number one, see if you know anybody that thinks like this. If I give up worldly living and I'm very austereer, I can make my way to heaven. In other words, Jesus plus my outward appearance of piety equals my salvation. Or how about this teaching? Number two, there are other spiritual ways of getting to heaven. There are beings of the same level as Jesus. In other words, Jesus isn't necessarily the only way to heaven. Other religions and leaders have spiritual truths that will lead me to eternity with God. Or perhaps there's this false teaching my intellect is enough. That wouldn't even get me through out the door. My intellect is...

...enough. The intellectual elite would let rationality and logic are non logic be the goide. Can An intelligent person believe in God? I'm smarter than that. And, of course, the grand daddy of all false teachings. By doing the right things, good things, nice things, I can hope that God will allow me into heaven. These are heresies, folks, and they were beginning to make in roads into this little church, this Colossian Church, in sixty a D and they are as much in evidence around the globe as they are in Lancaster County. Two Thousand and twenty one a D. I can assure you if you're a believer, if you stand against these false teachings, you will likely suffer along with Paul. No wonder he prayed for the Colossian church in verse eleven that they would joyfully endure, that they would stand firm in God's truth. Now, if you've been following you along in your bibles, he may have discovered that Colossians one twenty four to twenty six is one incredibly long sentence. Let's pick up where I left out John the next slide. I became a minister to the church according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you to fulfill the word of God. The ministery, which has been hidden from ages and from generations but now has been revealed to his saints, Term Minister Ministry. All too frequently we think of minister...

...as being a proper Noun, the minister, the minister. Kevin Green is our minister. Well, yes, Kevin does minister to us. However, he's also been called and given a special gift, that of being a pastor, a shepherd to the flock. We, as believers, are all called to ministry. We don't have time this morning, but if you think about jock down efvisions for eleven, thirteen and read it this afternoon, the term minister, our ministry, comes from the Greek Diaconos, and all too often when we think of minister, we think of it as being some sort of elevated position. Diaconos, however, is usually translated as servant or serving. The idea might better be that a minister is that of a waiter in a restaurant seeking to help, to assist, to make the dining experience better, to serve the meal itself. Again, keep reminding yourself that the book of Colossians is a letter. It opens with a greeting and salutation, it continues with acknowledging the positive contribution of the recipients and it blesses them for their faithfulness. It's my understanding that this morning, as we're going through these many weeks of looking at Colossians, that's my understanding, these particular verses twenty four to twenty six serve as a bridge from this greeting and salutation to the main body...

...of the letter, of the letter to the Colossians, which is coming up in the weeks ahead. And it's end this particular passage that he kind of teases us with this idea that something has been hidden for a very, very long time, a mystery. And even here love a good mystery. YEA, if I'm binging a TV show or reading a novel, many, many times the genre will be that of mysteries. I love trying to unravel the secrets prior to the end of the book or an episode. As a Minister Diachon US, Paul is about to serve a meal, and what a meal he is about to serve. The mystery that mankind had been waiting for since Adam and eve in the garden, the promise of someone who come and destroy evil and their clues abounding throughout scripture about something or someone that was better than the law, clues and illustrations in the design of a Tabernacle, of a temple, something special prophesied, poems written about indicating a savior. And finally, in Colossians one hundred and twenty seven, Paul said, and let me paraphrase, Jesus Christ is the hope of mankind, both to the Jew and underscore gentile. Jesus Christ the hope of mankind. No matter who you are, where you're from, Jesus Christ is the answer. He is our living hope. That means, folks, that this letter to the Colossians could just as easily had been addressed to the connectors church and Lancaster Pa. The Gospel,...

...the Good News, is Jesus our hope, the only hope for mankind. We Are Colossi, we are Ephesus, we are the church in Corinth, we are all these letters are addressed to us, folks. Yesterday was a very strange day for me. I had not only one but two funerals back to back. Both of the deceased were believers, to individuals who I admired and respected for their godly lives, and as I considered their passing, I was reminded of John Fourteen, just prior to his arrest. Jesus comforts his disciples with these words. He says peace, I leave with you my peace. I give to you, not as the world gives it do I give to you. Don't let your heart be troubled, don't be afraid. Paul's climactic statement that bridges the opening of this letter to the main body of the letter is simply this. Jesus is our Jesus is the believers. Oh, I could sit at those funerals rest yesterday and rejoice knowing that those saints were in the presence of their savior. We all have that to look forward to. Letters, receiving letters can be exciting. After my mom passed away in two thousand and nineteen, we found several boxes of mementos. Someone had letters in them that she had saved and cherished in if in fact God's word, this little book it, if in fact God's word, is a letter to mankind, I wonder how much I treasure and Cheriship. I wonder if...

I'm helping complete Christ's afflictions by extending the hope of Jesus found in this book to the world, to the people who died to save God's word. It's personal letter to each of us. As I prepared this message this morning, I turned around to my bookcase which was behind me, and I found five separate bibles. I have no idea how many I might find under my bed or in a spare room. I know I have some in my office of school and, I hate to admit it, many of them, perhaps most of them, are covered in dust. Yet with thee within the covers are God's words, personal message to me, to us. Can you imagine what it would be like to be be presented with a letter from God for the first time? I want to show you this morning a group of people who receive God's letters in their own language for the very first time. Could we run this the film place you'll be when I'm not keep them myself. I...

...go if you my one, now say you and I'm blower, but they present. I'm going to do that. Don't give you things, m father...

God. As I watched this, as I watched it time and again, I recognize how much you love us, how much you care for us, and how frequently I forget to even look at this love letter that you have given us, how much I take this for granted, when there are men and women, boys and girls, not just around the globe but in my own back yard, who have yet to hear Jesus, thank you for your salvation that you've given to us, thank you for the cost that you carried on your shoulders, and I prayed that as we leave here this morning,...

...that we would go with a just a renewed desire to know you, to love you, to serve you. Father. I do want to pray for Jordan and Marcus as they travel this week, go with them, use them in the lives of these individuals who play rugby in Kenya, and for each of us, as we begin this new week, that you would use us in our own part of the globe. Thank you, Jesus. We love you. Amen.

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