Two Connectors to Jesus (1:9-14)
ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast
ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast

Episode · 10 months ago

Two Connectors to Jesus (1:9-14)


Fruitful spiritual insight makes our lives distinctive. Dependence
on God’s power provides calm in chaos. A message from Scott Greening from
Branch Life Church in Pottstown, PA.  

Well, our our churches is getting ready to start our second service here at thirty and I do kind of bring you greetings from them and we are excited to see what God is doing here at connect us and I really admire you guys and you kind of pick the most ideal year ever to launch a church, right. So, so it's amazing to see what God is doing and where we continue to be thankful for you guys in your partnership. I'm going to ask you here at the beginning to to get involved and to to answer some I've got a little bit of a quiz. I don't think it'll be too hard for you, but what would you use to connect the following objects? What would you use to connect the following objects? So let's start with this. Two bricks. What would you use? All right, what do you think, Cem aunt? Yeah, that's probably a mortar. Yeah, so I worked one summer, the summer after I graduated from college, as a laborer on a masonry crew, and it almost killed me. Those guys like, yeah, there was no training. All I learned was when they started swearing and whatever at me, I knew I was doing something wrong, but it was it was a rough summer, but to see how you can go from a hole in the ground. This crude primarily did like cinder block foundations in that basements, and so to see we would show up and there'd be a hole in the ground and then after a week or so there would be this beginning of a house. And it's kind of amazing that when you can join with mortar together two bricks it can last a really, really long time. How about two pieces of paper staples? All right, glue might work. A paper clip, so few things. When I'm get, you know, desperate, you can fold them kind of like in the corner there to keep them together at least for a little bit. What about dry wall and and wall studs? So some of you guys were working on our walls yesterday. How do you do that? Yeah, screws, nails, that that type of thing. We're finding all sorts of things in the walls and at our church and critters and old money and all sorts of I found a dollar bill yesterday, so we're made. Thank you for your you can rest easy on our financial situation. So we're good there. What about two pieces of cotton fabric? So I'm wearing a linen, the cotton linen shirt today. Okay, fabric glue. Yeah, this is outside of my area of expertise, so I'm going to have to rely on you. Thread. Yeah, thread. Today I'm using buttons. Hopefully they'll stay together, but to join two things together. I want to ask you kind of a rhetorical question because it's the theme of our of our talk this morning, and if I let you give too many answers then I'll just have to sit down and not preach, which may be all right. But we're going to think about this idea of how would you or what would you use to connect people to Jesus? What would you use to connect people to Jesus if we were to jump into a time machine that's been provided by the time variance authority to see how many of you are watching low key and go back like six hundred years to Europe, there would probably be one answer. It's a little more complicated than this, but basically one answer that you would give. While we take him... the Cathedral in the center of town, we take him to the Big Church building in the center of town, and that's that's what we would do to connect people to Jesus. If you fast forwarded another hundred years and you you shift it over and made sure you narrowed in on Germany, maybe specifically Wittenberg. You would you would answer that question say, well, now we got two options. We got the cathedral and now there's this Martin Luther Guy and he's got this church and and they're kind of doing something, and so we've got that. If you come back to our day as a little more complicated right, like here we are in a movie theater and we've already talked about how a building is not the the church and that's not really what it is. But but here's one expression, one place. Your mission as a church is to connect people to their next step, God's next step for their life, and so here's one spot where you can do that and being here today or going to the first step class or connection opportunity after the service is is a step in that. I would say probably the vast majority of us have a device that's in your pocket or in your purse or I stuck mine in my wife's purse so I wouldn't get a call during while I was preaching. But you have a device that you can get access to, probably limitless opportunities that say hey, this is how you can connect to God or Jesus. Some of them are great and good and reliable and we're thankful for all of the the connection opportunities that we have as churches to connect with people. But then there's all sorts of crazy things and things that don't align with scripture and that, but they're claiming to have some type of of connection opportunity to God and to Jesus. And so so how do we do this? How do we connect people to Jesus? What types of things do we have to do or tools do we have at our disposal? Paul wrote the book of Colossians and there's kind of a lot of different opinions commentators have in that on what exactly Paul was addressing to the book of Collossians. And when you only have kind of one side of the conversation, the best thing that we can do is is make our best guests. And I won't venture too far into those deep waters. Your pastor and I might have different opinions on that or whatever, but I think it's safe to say that whatever was going on back in Paul's Day when he wrote this letter to this church, that he didn't start, but that he was familiar with and and participated on that. There were a number of different influences that were coming and vying for the People's attention within their church and those that were kind of checking out Jesus or that and saying, Hey, this is how you do it. And so there was kind of maybe some philosophies and and that. And so the ancient Roman world and near Greece, Colossians and what we call Turkey today. But they would have had kind of this philosophical approach and maybe there was some there that said, hey, you need to to somehow get to some kind of higher plane of understanding and there's some secret knowledge that you need to have. And and so there was this kind of influence that was saying to people, Hey, this is how you really get connected to the spiritual realm or to God or to Jesus. Is that that you have to get this kind of philosophical higher...

...plane of understanding. There were some that that were involved in Judaism, the Jewish religion, and and some of that is very compatible. That's what Christianity and all came out of and that. But but there seems to have, maybe we've been kind of a different form of that that maybe over emphasized, ritualism and traditionalism and and you can kind of look at our world today, and maybe especially in other parts of the world and and see how there that's a possibility of rituals and traditions and and this is how you connected Jesus. If you do these things and participate in these traditions, then you'll be connected. They're they're seemingly was was some that. That said, you'd really kind of have to deny yourself. Here's your big fancy word for the day, like asceticism, like to harm yourself, to really de emphasize the physical nature of life and to to then you can get some connection to Jesus. And we may not be wrestling with exactly those same things today, although there are different forms of that that that creep up in our society. And certainly within about thirty seconds on Youtube you could find anyone that that would propose that this is the way that you do that. And so if you, you know, deny your body and you really pursue this, then you can have that. Or philosophical ideas are all of that. That idea that there's many different connection opportunities for people, supposed connection opportunities, is very similar to our culture today, and the book of Colossians in part is written to say, Hey, here is how you really connect with Jesus. Here is why Jesus is better than all of those things. Here is why Jesus Christ is enough. You don't need all of those different other things. And you guys, are just kind of at the beginning of this book and we're going to going to kind of jump into this and we're going to see in the pages of scripture how Paul, even with this opening prayer that he has for the Colossian Church, helps us to see, here are the things that you should use. Here are two connectors we're going to focus on that will help people get connected truly to Jesus, or to stay connected to Jesus if you're already one of his followers. So let's read these first couple of verses together. And he says they're and so, from the day that we heard we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. Fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. So we're going to look and we're going to say the first connector that we see in this verse is that there is fruitful spiritual insight. If you want to connect to Jesus, if you want to be used by God to connect others truly to Jesus, you want to be the type of person that has fruit, full spiritual insight. You want to be an insightful spiritual person that bears fruit. Oh yes, I okay, what in the world does that mean? Well, let's let's think about how Paul kind of describes that in these verses. So we're seeing here and that we say not cease to pray, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

So the first thing that we see here is that fruitful spiritual insight equals, or part of what makes that up is a knowledge of God's will, a knowledge of God's will to connect people to Jesus, to remain connected to Jesus ourselves, we need to know God's will. Now, if you're like me at various points in your life, they're kind of especially the transition periods in our life we spend a lot of time kind of worrying and praying and thinking about God's will for our life. So in college and that you're wrestling with what am I going to do with my career, like what's My job going to be? Or maybe you're starting to wrestle with and say, okay, what? Who Am I going to marry? I got married a little bit after college and seminary in that and so if I wasn't wrestling with that question, I know my parents were wrestling with the question, like who is Scott going to marry? And then I was a single pastor in Iowa in my mid to late twenties and that was like way too old and Iowa to be to be a single pastor. And so the church was wrestling with like who is Scott going to marry? And thankfully God allowed me to reconnect with brook and we have had wedded bliss ever since. Right. So, but we wrestle with that. You may be sensing that you're coming to the end of a work season in your life, whether in your own spirit or maybe it seems like that's being decided for you by your employer and you're saying, okay, what is next in my life? Some of US have kids that enter into the equation and we just had a baby seven and a half months ago, almost eight months ago, seven years after our next oldest child, and so I spent a lot of time wrestling with like, okay, what is got? What are we going to do? Are we going to make this work? We spend a lot of time wrestling with those types of questions. When it comes to God's will. That's not what Paul has in mind here when he says fruitful spiritual insight. You need to start by knowing God's will. What Paul's talking about here is God's revealed will in the Bible, the we can spend a lot of kind of time worrying and praying and thinking and seeking advice on the secret or the mysterious will of God. What's going to happen? What job am I going to have? What? Who Am I going to marry? How many kids am I going to have? What? What? What is going to happen? God says if you want to be connected to Jesus, I got a real simple way for you to start. Read the Bible. Read the Bible. This is my will for you. This is where I've communicated to you what I desire, what I want, how you should live your life. And so when we say okay, we want you to have fruitful spiritual insight. If you want to be connected to Jesus, if you want to connect others to Jesus, the first thing that you need to have is a commitment to God's word, a commitment to reading and engaging with it. We're trying to instill that in the life of our kids and so virtually every night we're reading through a portion of God's word.

Right now, we happen to the kids picked it. It wasn't a grand plan for to get help on my sermon preparation for this day. But we're reading through the book of Colloshs. So somewhere my daughter had heard something about Coloshans and that, and so we finished first kings and then all right, we're going to read through coloshes. So we're working through that and every night we talked in we say hey, what does this mean? What did you learn about God to help them be connected the the next part of this then, let me go back and highlight that. Says maybe filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. All spiritual wisdom and understanding. The next part of what this fruitful in spiritual insight has to do with is skillful living, skillfully of it. That's a definition of wisdom, skill for life, and God says I want you to have spiritual wisdom. So listen. If you are reading the Bible and you're ingesting it in your you've got a commitment to know God's will and that and you're reading it, but it's not resulting and you feeling more equipped to handle the all the different questions that come in life, you may need to tweak how you're reading the Bible. The Bible primarily is to help us know God and who he is, which then shapes how we live our life. And so when we're committed to the Bible, it results in US having spiritual wisdom and understanding. It results in US knowing how we should live these things out in our life. It's spiritual wisdom that comes from God himself. Verse Eight, I think you guys probably looked at last week and talks about this spirit, and so we're continuing on here. The Holy Spirit helps us in this process of gaining this spiritual insight the the sad reality is is that it's possible for you to pursue knowledge about God, to be an expert on the content of the Bible, and not truly have a relationship with God. It doesn't really result in spiritual insight and wisdom for living your life. There are professors at colleges and seminaries that are, in a sense, experts and and the Bible, but may not truly know him and may not have the wisdom for light. Not not the the seminary that your pat I'm going to that seminary as well. Now I'm on the board at that Colle that's a great can talk about Clark Summitt University another time, but that's a great school. But but I've been part of and maybe, to put it a little differently, in a little bit more way, that that's relatable for us. We think about and go and you're in a small group or a Bible study or in some type of setting. Maybe it's one of these first or second step opportunities that you have here at Church, and you're there and there's seemingly someone in that class that knows all of the right answers. They're able to talk about Jesus in the Bible and and the the person asks about, you know, some question related and they they bring up some reference to some other story and that and you just...

...sit there and you're like, oh my goodness, this person must be some spiritual giant. They've always know the right answer. And and it's not. It's even more than just like Gee, like Jesus, like that's always the answered church right, like Jesus or the Bible. But but no, they seem to have some great kind content insight. And then you of that you hear them pray and they they have these seemingly powerful, wonderful prayers and and you say how, how in the world could I ever do that? This is not the case in every circumstance like that, but in each church that I've been a part of in my life there have always been people that are kind of like that in groups. But then when you really know what's going on in their life, they have no wisdom, they have no skill for living, they have no spiritual understanding, their finances are a mess, their relationship with their wife is on the rocks. There are kids are fantastic, you know they're they're not respected in their workplace and that, and yet in a group they say, Oh man, they seem to really have it all together. If you want to be the type of person that connects people with God and that you have a strong connection with Christ yourself, yes, we need to know God's word, but we also need to have skill and wisdom in applying it in our life. We need to to live it out. And Paul says, I'm going to pray that you're these types of people. And as I go through and we launch through this whole theological and understanding of what's coming in chapter two and all of these things. No, God's word, know how to live it out. The last component, then, is that this results in that you would walk in away in a manner worthy of the Lord. If that's not a convicting phrase, I don't know what is fully pleasing to him, not just partially fully pleasing him, bearing fruit in every good work, bearing fruit in every good work. So we start by knowing the word. Then we have wisdom and spiritual insight and doing that, the Holy Spirit helps us with that. And then the last part of this is that it results in good works. It results in good works. As Christians, we are called to live lives that evidence good works, because God has done so much for us and is so generous to to who we are. He's provided his son, he's given US salvation, he's given US blessing after blessing after blessing. We then, in response, are to be people of good works. We're to do good works for one another within the community of faith. So yesterday and those of you that participated in coming to our church, that's part of what it is. We help fellow Christians. We enter in and partner with like minded, Gospel believing churches and we help and assist them as we're able to. The New Testament is filled with examples of churches that enter in and near and far, they help one another. They took collections to help churches that we're going through famines and and all these types of things. We enter in and we take care of one another as believers. When someone within your Church family, and that's can that's part of connect US church and that gets sick or has some crisis or their basement floods or...

...who knows what may happen in the next week, you rally together and you seek and you meet those needs. You do good works, but then you also were also called to do good works to those that are not yet followers of Jesus. We are to be known as people who love well, our enemies, love well, our neighbors, are co workers, the people on our street and in our office, and to do good works. We've done. I mentioned before, we've done lots of things and they at branched life seeking to do this and and I'll tell a few stories of some of the things that God has brought fruit to. Let me also just be real with you. We've done lots of things that that we haven't seen, at least from our limited human perspective, a whole lot of fruit from okay, so that's that's part of the deal. As churches right like you, keep working, try to find your niche, try to find your place, and that is kind of probably where you're at. It. As a church is like, how do we do? Where do we go? What is God going to bless and give fruit to? And let me encourage you and that will come back to that idea a little bit later. But we've gotten involved with things. A lot of the things that providentially, God has opened up to our church have been revolved around food. So there's a there's a a group in our area called the the Potstown area children's foundation, and so we and got involved in helping with them. One of our other pastors, Pastor Josh now, is actually on the board of that organization and they do a Christmas party for low income kids in our area, and so we just said, well, we can probably help out a little bit, and then it rushed roomed into this thing where like eight hundred families came through and we had opportunity and then we were part of collecting and distributing. What they do a few days before, for it doesn't matter before or after the event then is they provide a Christmas meal, a box of food for the families. And so we're there and at this drive through thing, loading food into two people's cars and in two different organizations. Somehow we got involved with picking up stuff at Costco twice a week. I think there might have been some stuff that you, guys, we were able to pass along to you yesterday, and so we distribute that. We try as much as possible to not start things on our own but just to say how can we help what's already happening in our community, and so twice a week we drop things off at a neighborhood called the rolling hills apartments and they have a community center and it's a low income apartment complex. And so on Wednesdays and Saturdays we drop off food from Costco there. Now they're trying to like provide healthy food for the family. So then we end up with like all these leftover cakes and cheese cakes and which taste wonderful but is not super healthy for our church family. But we try to pass along as much stuff as possible. There was a big apartment fire in our area, the Ashwood apartments, and a few from our church family showed up the night of the funeral and the next day and then, because we showed up and did good works, which started with like our pastor moving crates, another one of our pastor moving cases of bottled water. That's how it started, to then him basically being the point person for coordinating all the agencies in our area for the relief efforts for these fifty families that lost their...

...home. Just a couple weeks ago there was another fire in our area. This time it was just one family. We don't know where they're at spiritually, but their neighbors of one of our of our church people. They lost everything in their home. The home was owned by their employer. It's being rebuilt. The family didn't have wrinters insurance and so all of their stuff is gone. We have an opportunity to step in and so people today are bringing Wah Wah gift cards because the family is living with relatives in South Jersey and so now the dad's got to do like a twohour commute every day. So we're helping with gas. It's very likely that they may end up living in our parking lot in and our V while the House is rebuilt. We're called to do good works. That's what it is to have fruitful spiritual insight and and you keep doing these things and you're relying on God to bring forth the fruit. And I encourage you that, as you adopt this posture of how can we bless, how can we encourage, how can we serve you and your needs, that God will and does bring the fruit to those efforts. Let's come back now and look at the next part of our text here, and it says being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy, giving thanks to the father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of saints. In light, he has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And we see here in this second part, it's either a continuation or a second prairie request in this that the second connector that we have. The first one was fruitful spiritual insight. The second is dependence on God's power. We depend on God's power to do this. Paul prayed that the Collossians would be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, all power according to his glorious might you you think about that? fact, that that God's power can be characteristic of your life and my life? That's amazing encouraging thought. I'll be honest with you. This morning I was am was fairly exhausted, like we've done way too much traveling and I not probably definitely overcommitted myself in this this month of July and I've got a list of things that I know that I haven't got to that I really need to get to and all of that. And so this morning, as we drove over and then praying ahead, God, just help me to rely on your power, help me to rely on your might. We were able to go to the shore of the past couple this week for a few days, over to Ocean City, New Jersey, and that is great and it was refreshing in a sense, with three kids and a nice that came along as well for some excitement. That's part of going to ocean city with young kids. That maybe resulted in it not being as restful as as it could be, but I love going to the beach,...

...despite the fact that sand gets in all sorts of places that you would rather it didn't, because the waves always remind me of God's power. You know, even in ocean city, which is not like Hawaii or someplace that has like the barrel pipe ber or whatever they call the waves and all that like, you can step out there and, you know, get slapped by the waves and get knocked over and you look at like the mounds of sand that they've brought in or that have been deposited there by the waves. Do it to to preserve the beach and do all of the thing and you think this is just one small little peace of God's power in all of the universe, and just the power that's represented in the waves in the ocean is really kind of beyond my comprehension. And Paul writes and says, Hey, I want to pray own to remind you that if you want to connect people with Jesus, if you want to stay connected to Jesus Yourself, depend on God's power. Okay, when I do things in my own strength, which is a way too often occurrence, it's just ridiculous. Like it. You know, last week I walked out and wasn't paying close enough attention and get wiped out by some small little wave. I'm nothing, but God says you can have my glorious might be made real in your life. And the reason, the result that it brings then, is this idea of endurance and patience with joy. Sometimes we think things need to happen on our schedule. You know what, why aren't I this far in my career? Why haven't I been able to share Christ with my neighbor yet? Why? Why hasn't? You know, four million people shown up at real centimas and you know, we had to take over the whole place and simulcast Pastor Kevin all the movie theaters and Lancaster. And you know why hasn't that happened yet? But Paul reminds the Collossians and he says, Hey, I want you to depend on God's power, because here's the trick, whether you see it now or whether you see it in a little bit or whether, like the Israelites in the Old Testament, you see it in four hundred years, like his power is coming, his power wins, his power defeats all of the frustrations and the things that seemingly hold us back, all of the road blocks in our life, and when we rely upon him rather than trying to chip away at it in ourselves, amazing things can happen, and so we can have patience with joy. We can also see in this here, this idea of giving thanks to the father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of saints. In light, I've been kind of trying to knowing that I was coming to follow along with your series here, and so I think it was last week that Pastor Kevin talked a little bit about like our Gospel identity and living life in light of that and so part of being dependent. Like. How do we do that? How? What does that look like? To be dependent on God's power? It's to remember and to to live life in light of the...

...fact of our future realities. Yes, God has completely saved us right now, if you are one of his followers, but we are also have this great inheritance that's coming to us. If you knew that your unkto previously unknown uncle who had billions and billions and billions of dollars, had set up a trust phone on his death and it was going to become available to you in five years, how would you live your life? Probably a little differently than you would right now. Right Paul is saying, depend on God's power, live like the future reality that's coming. You are part of the inheritance of the saints and Light. You are on the win, winning team. You are part of the Group of people that will rule and reign with Christ in his future kingdom, and all of this. This is who you are. Live like it today. Depend on my power. Be Confident in what I've called you to do today, because, whether it happens at the end of this message or whether it happens in five hundred years, Christ is coming back. God wins and his power will be known perfectly throughout all of creation. And how do we know that? A He's delivered us from the domain of darkness and he's transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. We know this because of what God has already done through Jesus Christ on the Cross and then three days later rose from the grave, the transfer that defeated sin and death. Jesus took my unrighteousness, my sin, my disconnection from God, on himself and he paid the penalty for that sin. And so that when I believe, then he transfers me into his kingdom, he gives me forgiveness of sins, he allows me to be connected with God forever. I don't we invite you this morning if that's not yet a reality in your life. You want to be connected to Jesus, depend on his power. Depend on his power to save you from your sins, to save you from the dominion of darkness, to move you into the Kingdom of his beloved son. He's already demonstrated his power that it can happen through the death and the resurrection of his on Jesus, that very act that gives us spiritual life that lasts forever. We invite you to follow Jesus in that way. For believers it's the same thing. Are you depending on those? Let me give you these last two statements and and ask if if you will live this week in like that. Fruitful spiritual insight makes our lives distinctive, our lives in the best way possible. Are supposed... be different from the those that don't know the hope of Jesus. And when we know God's word, we have skillfully applying it in our life and we're doing good works out of that. That's the type of life that people look at and say, what's going on with that guy? How will you seek to live a distinctive life this week? And then, secondly, dependence on God's power provides calm in chaos. There's a million different things buying for, like what's the most important? There's political things, there's equity issues, there's racism, there's all of these different things and you can just say what am I going to do, like how's that? What's all going to work out? Our countries is going nuts. God's power is over all of that and we can have calm in the midst of the chaos and midst of all of these competing voice that saying this is really what's important. No, this is really what's important. No, this is really what's important. No, this is how you connect with what's really true and good in life. And No, Jesus, Christ is enough and when you rely on him and his power, you can have calm in the midst of chaos. I trust that your life this week will be marked by that sense of calm. Let's pray, heavenly father, thank you for your word, thank you for these encouragements. God, help us to see that Christ is enough and that you and your word and your power are what connect people to Christ to start their spiritual life and what connect people to Christ to help us and give us nourishment in our spiritual life. We pray that that would be true of us this week, that we would have distinctive life's in the best way possible and that we would be marked by a sense of calm in the midst of whatever make them and Jesus name Amen.

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