Monday, August 31, 2009

Family Relationships

Colossians 3:18 – 4:1

Family Relationships


God is concerned that we do family relationships His way.  The trouble is God’s ways are not ours.  God’s way often runs counter to our culture and to our natural selfishness.  The result is we resist these or explain them away.  However, not doing things the way we were designed to operate “voids the warrantee.”  We then wonder why we struggle and why we are not happy and why things don’t work.


Fair warning: these things are offensive in American society.


In this section of Colossians, Paul addresses three sets of household relationships.  We can understand them in our society as core social relationships.  Often we struggle to balance marriage, children, and work.


How does God see these relationships?




            1.         The vulnerable one comes first followed by the one with perceived power.


2.         Submit/obey is vital for the vulnerable one.  Love/fair is required of the powerful.


3.         Wrong doing will be dealt with (v 25) regardless of position.  (God understand the violation of these relational rules as “sin.”)


I.          Marriage relationship – wife and husband.


            A.        Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” [v 18]


                        1.         Observations:


a.         The Bible says this three times.  (Eph 5:22,23 – Colossians 3:18 – 1 Peter 3:1)


b.         The feminist movement has pressured the culture to reject this concept, without much thought.


                        2.         Before we judge we need to understand what is being said and why.


a.         The Greek word means “to reflexively obey” (Strong’s)… it is the same word that is used in Romans 13:1 and 1 Peter 2:13 to mean our obedience to government and law.


b.         This is contrasted with “usurp.”  The Greek word for usurp means to “to act of oneself.”  One person put called it “selfish independence.”


c.         One translation suggest verse 18 means: “A wife must put her husband first.”


                        3.         What is the issue?


a.         In the Garden of Eden, Adam refused to “be the man” when Eve was tempted.  He never interfered with the temptation.


“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” [Genesis 3:7]


                                                1.)        We often think Adam was off doing something else.


2.)        The text is specific… Adam was “with her” meaning Adam was there while the temptation was happening.


3.)        Since Adam was given the command to not eat the fruit of that tree… sin became Adam’s responsibility.


“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” [Romans 5:12]  (Adam is specifically mentioned in Romans 5:14.)


(Cursing the woman) “…Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” [Genesis 3:16b]


4.)        This battle goes back to sin and a time when the man failed to take responsibility and defend his wife.


b.         Here’s the problem: When the wife becomes a competitor for the husband bad things happen because competition means different things to a man.  (God’s design for the woman was to be a partner not a competitor.)


1.)        In competition someone loses.  In partnership there is a mutual achievement.


2.)        However, in competition, when balance is disrupted and control is gained, bitterness sets in and everyone loses.


***** Notice there is a qualification: “as fitting in the Lord.”  In other words, your relationship to your husband is reflective to your relationship to the Lord. *****


            B.        “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” [v 19]


                        1.         Men tend to have the reputation of being selfish and self-centered.


                                    a.         We are, because sin makes us selfish.


                                    b.         The standard for love is Jesus Christ.


“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” [Ephesians 5:25]


                        2.         The truth about men.


                                    a.         When stressed we like to either kill something or shut down.


                                    b.         Men’s BIGGEST struggle is NOT sexual… it is anger.


1.)        When the man is not required be “the man” we become selfish and cowardly.  (Adam in the Garden of Eden.)


2.)        The man’s default (at home) is “neutral.”  If we are never asked (more than once) we will never get in gear.


3.)        The politically correct propaganda machine keeps telling us that we are irrelevant sperm banks.


(Interesting that the President urged men to be men and fathers last Father’s Day… this created a huge uproar from feminists.)


                        3.         When we are selfish we become abusive.


                                    a.         The word translated “harsh” means to make bitter.


“Wherever bitterness is, there love is wanting. And where love is wanting in the married life, there is hell upon earth.” (Clarke)


b.         The other way to read this is “stop being bitter towards the wife.”  (Causing bitterness or being bitter towards.)


c.         Maybe another way to say this is “grow up.”  Be a man and love your wife… self-sacrificing… for her good (not your selfish purposes).


II.        Family relationship – children and parents


A.        “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” [v 20]


                        1.         The word “obey” means “to conform.”


a.         Reality: parents have more experience and knowledge.  They are not just being mean.


                                    b.         Fact: a child that will defy a parent will defy any authority.


2.         Problem: Parents are too busy working, playing, etc… to be parents.


                                    a.         “Children spell love T – I – M – E” (quantity over quality)


b.         Political error: “children’s rights”  (Children have the right to be born, the right to be loved, the right to be taught properly.)


Wiersbe: “Children do not create problems, they reveal them.”


(BTW, how you treat your husband or wife will be how your child treats your husband or wife.)


            B.        Father’s (here we go again men…notice a pattern?)


1.         “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” [v 21]


                        2.         Three mistakes we make:


                                    a.         Indulgence (leads to spoiled children)


                                    b.         Neglect (leads to insecure girls and criminal boys)


c.         Break the will (discouraged means spiritless, disheartened, without hope, without confidence.)


Wesley “Parents who cannot discipline themselves cannot discipline their children.” 


Wesley observed that children who’s will is broken (rather than shaped) become “desperate or stupid.”


III.       Work relationship – slave and master.


(Addressing an ancient world social order… slavery was NOT what we think of it being… typically slaves in the Roman world had high standing, were well educated, were highly compensated.  Also, much of the modern world practices slavery... at least 1 million people enter the slave industry every year. )


            A.        Employee:


                        1.         “…sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” [v 22]


2.         “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” [v 23]


            B.        Employer:


                        1.         “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair,” [4:1a


2.         “…because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” [4:1b]


When we don’t do it right:


1.         God cares so much about our relationships that God takes it personally, as “sin.”


            2.         Our relationships break down, life becomes difficult/miserable.


When we get it right:


            1.         We enjoy life as God meant it to be, not under the curse.


            2.         We become witnesses to a desperate and stupid world.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

In with the good

Colossians 3:12 – 17

In with the good!


I.          High-caliber character. [v 12]


A.        “Compassion”


1.         This is a word picture, literally “spleen of mercy”


a.         Why “spleen?”  The Greeks believed the spleen was the seat of bad temper and the source of spite.  [Oxford]


b.         Direct contrast to “anger” [v 8]


2.         Jesus demonstrated compassion.


“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. [37] Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. [38] Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” [Matthew 9:36 – 38]


B.        “Kindness”


1.         How does one be kind?


a.         The word used here conveys the idea of “usefulness.”


b.         Kindness shows up in our actions as well as our attitudes about others.


2.         We see a direct contrast with “malice” [v 8]


C.        “Humility”


1.         Problem: “Humility is an impish virtue.  Let it have enough reigns and it will think of itself god-like, tighten it down and it will gloat over its holiness.  Humility is a gift and desire but so often it comes gift-wrapped in the arrogance of its practice.” [Calvin Miller]


2.         Essentially humility is the contrast to “slander” [v 8].


a.         We “slander” people, tear others down, to build ourselves up.


b.         “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” [Romans 12:3]


D.        “Gentleness”


1.         Typically translated “meekness.”  One dictionary defined “gentle” as: mild or kind; not rough or violent.  2) not harsh or severe.  3) archaic noble or courteous. [Oxford]


2.         Contrast with “filthy language” [v 8].


E.         “Patience”


1.         The idea here is to be able to suffer/tolerate indignities, delay, or trouble.


[Ill.] Sign that says, “there are three virtues in life: patience, patience, and more patience.


2.         This is often contrary to our personalities.  Some are very judgmental with the ability to make quick judgements and are often unmovable.


II.        High-compliance conduct (Like Jesus).


A.        “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” [v 13d]


1.         Parable: Matthew 18:23 – 35


a.         Nothing anyone can do to you will ever come close to the debt you owe God.


b.         Holding something against someone is ultimately an act of arrogance


2.         Promise and Warning: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. [15] But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” [Matthew 6:14 – 15]


3.         A story: Luke 7:36 – 50


B.        “Love”


1.         What do you have if you practice virtue without love?


a.         In speech you get noise, in smarts there is only nonsense, when sacrificing the is no gain.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. [2] If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. [3] If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” [1 Corinthians 13:1 – 3]


b.         “Disorientation, fragmentation, and stagnation” [LAB]


2.         Love holds everything together.


III.       High-impact compass.


It is said we live life by the calendar (task) or the compass (direction)...  Problem is we think doing something is progress.  Fact is doing something without a plan/direction/purpose can exhaust us and become counter-productive.  What sort of compass does God give us?


A.        Peace.


1.         The word “rule” is a word that came from sports: “referee.”  Legally it meant an “arbitrator.”


2.         Things peace does not mean:


a.         Peace does not mean tolerating bad behavior.


b.         Peace does not mean eliminating differences.  Instead it means using differences in love and trust.


c.         Peace does not allow open conflict or mutual silence.


3.         How does peace work?


a.         When feelings and desires clash the tendency is to take “the path of least resistance” or the one with less pain.  THIS IS MENTAL ILLNESS NOT PEACE.


b.         Peace is something God gives:


“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:7]


“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” [John 14:27]


“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Romans 5:1]


B.        God’s word. (“Word/message of Christ” v 16)


1.         The Bible is the only reliable life compass available.


2.         Walking in the ways of the Bible will lead us, eventually, to thankfulness.


C.        The name of Jesus.


1.         We are representatives of Jesus because what we do and say is in the name of Jesus.


a.         In America we do not understand group shame anymore... e.g. if a child behaved badly, it reflected poorly on the parents/family.


b.         It was motivation to not embarrass our family, group, or country.


[BTW, this is why terrorist do not distinguish between a military target and civilian target... if you are part of the whole you are guilty by extension.]


2.         “We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.” [2 Corinthians 5:20]


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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Technical difficulties

Hi everyone,

For some reason Blogger is not accepting my sermon outline uploads.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Where did it all go wrong?

Colossians 2:8, 16 – 23

“Where did it all go wrong?”


The book of Colossians is a cautionary tale of what happens when the church looses sight of Jesus.  The temptation is to begin to substitute things that sound and look very right for absolute dependence on Christ.


So where did it all go wrong?  I have the bad feeling that what was happening in Colosse is very similar to what I have witnessed in my life time.


I.          Truth has been hijacked


            A.        Truth has been reduced to philosophy. [v 8]


1.         “Modernism” was the predominate philosophy of the last 150 years.  It’s core is self-reliance and the belief that humans control their own affairs.


a.         Truth must be “observable.” (“Only what I experience/feel is true.”)


b.         Truth must be “measurable.” (“Buildings, bodies, and budgets.”)


            c.         Truth must be “reproducible.”  (“If it works, it’s true”)


“If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere, and must.”


RESULTS: a.) Shiny and dazzling high energy is true.  That which is not is “dead.”  b.) “Theology of the harvest” as opposed to waiting for the Lord of the harvest.  c.) Cloning others rather than seeking God’s will.


                        2.         “Postmodernism” suggests that truth is what a person makes it.


                                    a.         Truth is “personal.”  (Not the same for everyone)


b.         Truth is “equal.” (Everyone’s truth is the equally valid… nobody is wrong.)


c.         Truth is “powerful.” (Based on what the group thinks, or who has the power.)


RESULTS: a.) Willingness to accept what the Bible specifically describes as sin. b.) Absorption of non-biblical ideas and even anti-Christian concepts. c.) Christianity has become a democracy… everyone votes on what is sin or not.


            B.         Truth has been reduced to religious regulations. [v 16]


                        1.         Emphasis on flavors of ceremony.


a.         Matters of food, drink, and observances become definitive in judging.


b.         Vegetarian debate… personal choice NOT religious issue.


c.         “Drink” refers back to the ceremonial manner of what cups to use and how the beverage was consumed. 


d.         Sabbath observed, on what day?  (Sunday is “the Lord’s day” marking Jesus resurrection and habitual showing Himself after the resurrection.)


                        2.         Today’s versions:


                                    a.         Worship styles.


                                    b.         Church growth strategies.


                                    c.         Leadership styles.


***** We have to understand, that anything based on the world’s philosophies is empty and deceptive. *****


II.         Religion has been twisted.


A.        Disqualifying tactics. (lit. “rob you of the prize” image of one who acts as an umpire/judge against.) [v 18]


                        1.         “False humility” particularly in pushing their flavor of the month.


                                    a.         Wesley – “pretend humility.”


b.         Barns – “In this way, they would become really more dangerous - for no false teachers are so dangerous as those who assume the aspect of great humility, and who manifest great reverence for divine things.


c.         In other words, every appearance of being right character and right biblically.


                        2.         “Worship of angels”


a.         Ancient church: angels were used as mediators between God and people.  [Angels delivering messages in visions.]


b.         The word “angel” is technically someone who is a messenger… in other words, people.  [Leaders building on themselves, not Christ.]


                        3.         “what he has seen” (“visions”)


a.         A “vision” was a prophetic event often accompanied by some sort of sign.


                                    b.         “Prophetic movement.”  (“sign of the blood” etc…)


B.         THE PROBLEM: “appearance of wisdom.”  (They look right…. Produce desired/valued results.) [v 23]


            1.         “Self-imposed worship” (lit. “will-worship”)


a.         The idea here is that what is imposed is based on some pretense.  (Such as faithfulness, results, etc…)


b.         Notice this is not God’s version, its people’s


                        2.         “False humility” (different word than in verse 18… )


a.         Barns – “There is a great show of reverence for divine things.”


                                    b.         Another way to understand this: “asceticism.”


                        3.         “Harsh treatment of the body”


                                    a.         Outward behavior gives the impression of superior wisdom.


b.         Wesley – “They indulge our corrupt nature, our self - will, pride, and desire of being distinguished from others.”


***** Notice it is all about what looks right and sounds right from the HUMAN perspective.  (“not according to Christ”) *****


“These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”  [v 17]


OBSERVATIONS: These things are generally imposed… in other words, if someone suggests they are in error, that person is “judged” and “disqualified.” [see v 16, 18]  They always look right (or they would not be deceptive) but in the end turn up empty.  We are distracted from being empty by desperately running to the next philosophy or sin.


III.       What is the solution?


            A.        Jesus Christ must be the focus.


                        1.         The point of reference is not ourselves.


                                    a.         Who is the ultimate (only, real) judge of success or failure?


b.         Who is the only one who has the right to establish what is true?


“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.”[v 19]


                        2.         Jesus is the “Head” while the rest is the body.


a.         “Supported” is also translated “nourished” and is a continuous action.  (What happens when someone stops eating?)


b.         “Held together” (also continuous action).  If the nerves to the brain are cut or damaged… the body is paralyzed.


                                    c.         “As God causes it to grow” (no commentary needed)


            B.         Become COMPLETE in Jesus.


“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.” [v 20]


1.         If we have become free from this world, why would we want to go back to it?


a.         Fact: escape is not as easy as it looks… because there are so many things that look right.


“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” [Proverbs 26:25]


b.         Fact: escape is much easier than it looks if we fully rely on God.


2.         Begs the question: Have you died with Christ or are you living like you are still alive to the flesh, this world, and its philosophies?



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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

It's all about Jesus

Colossians 2:6 – 15

Paul begins to deal with what has been called the “Colossian Error.” It had five parts. It relied on philosophy based on human tradition and principles (v 8), arbitrary and obsolete ceremony (vv 16), angel worship (v 18), visions as a means of authority and source for teaching (v 18), salvation maintained by works (v 23).

Today we are looking at the four questions this text asks us:

I. Are we chasing the shiny or consistent in Christ?

A. Consistency in Christ means Jesus is our Lord.

1. Receive Jesus as “Lord” is a step beyond realizing salvation.

2. The goal is to continue in that walk.

3. Trouble is we are distracted by the “shiny” (mistake “shiny” as true and “not shiny” as not true).

a. “Watch out for people who try to dazzle you...” (MSG)

b. Dinner and a show, magnetic personality, activity, “spirit fulled worship” (a way of saying ours is good theirs is not)...

B. Strategies for staying consistent:

1. “Rooted” is in the “aorist” tense, meaning it is something that is a completed event.

2. “Built up” is in the “present” tense, meaning this is an on-going thing.

3. “Strengthened” is in the “present” tense, meaning it is an on-going thing.

4. “Overflowing” is the final result... thankfulness!

II. Are we captive or free?

(Observation: false teachers “kidnapped” converts from churches... W. Wiersbe)

A. How are we taken captive?

1. (Greek audience) through philosophy. (Jewish audience) through works.

These are “HALLOW AND DECEPTIVE” regardless how wise or right it looks.

2. Ultimately error plays on ignorance.

a. Human tradition. (Culture, everybody does that, everyone knows that...)

b. Basic principles of this world.

1.) Literally the “ABC’s”

2.) So basic they are easy to miss but corrupt absolutely.

(Ill.) Ben Witherington, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary wrote a book “The Jesus Quest” which covers a variety of ideas about Jesus in today’s theological world. I asked how evolution played into these theories. He admitted that was a basic principle for most of what I would consider “non-Biblical” ideas.

Subtle warning: most false teachers do not ask people to forsake Christ, the ask people to make Christ part of the new system. (Wiersbe)

B. How are we set free?

1. Circumcision done by Christ.

A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. [29] No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.” [Romans 2:28 – 29]

2. Baptism... using the image, not the actual baptism (“Through your faith”) [v 12]. It is an identification with Christ. (See chapter 3)

(Observation: both are symbols of something very permanent...)

IMPORTANT: the contrast is between philosophy which depends on human tradition and basic principles of this world and Christ.

III. Are we dead of alive?

A. Sin has a deadening effect, Christ brings us alive. [v 13]

1. It was sin that caused the mess we are in... death, abuse, injustice, sickness.

2. The choice is “self-life” or “Christ-life.” Either we are alive in Christ or dead in our 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.” [v 13]

B. How did God do this?

1. [v 14] “Canceled” the written code... our expression for “arrest warrant.”

2. [v 14] “Nailed” as the image of crucifixion... That which accused us (sin) was taken and place on an instrument of execution.

3. [v 15] “Disarmed” means a direct and violent intervention for us. (Does this give us a picture of sin holding us hostage at gun point?)

4. [v 15] “Triumphing” means ultimate victory celebration.

If sin means captivity, death and constantly chasing the shiny, then Christ means freedom, life, and consistency.

(Ill.) Scientist studying learned behavior. Colony of monkeys in a cage. The cage was set up with cold water sprinklers and a ladder in the center leading to a bunch of bananas. When ever a monkey would climb the ladder to get the bananas, the whole colony would be sprayed with cold water. Eventually the monkeys would stop trying to get the bananas so the water was turned off.

Then a new monkey was added to the colony and it would always head for the bananas. The other monkeys who had been sprayed with cold water would stop the monkey and beat him, to teach him to not go after the bananas. Eventually, they took all the first monkeys out of the cage and replaced them with new monkeys. All of the new monkeys were taught by the colony to not go after the bananas.

The scientist added a third generation of monkeys. When they put a new monkey in the cage, it would go after the bananas and would be beaten by the colony. Amazing, monkeys that had never been sprayed with cold water still behaved like the previous generation without knowing why.  [This is probably an "Urban Legend"]

IV. Are you caged or changed?

A. It’s time to ask: “Why do you do the things you do?”

1. “Everything of God gets expressed in (Jesus)...” MSG

2. Unfortunately, as one of my Asbury professors once admitted, it all comes down to what a person wants to believe....

a. Do you hear the human tradition/principles in that statement.

b. Fact is: it is what God tells us... not how we squeeze it into tradition or philosophy.

B. Human effort comes down to this:

These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.” [v 23 NLT]

... they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” [NIV]

1. Caution: this is not “license.”

2. The issue is what have you accepted?

a. Jesus as savior? Great, Jesus died to save you from your sins!

b. Jesus as Lord? Jesus was raised to life to provide a pattern for your life.

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