Thursday, March 7, 2024

Sermon Notes 2-25-2024 Emanuel Reformed CHurch

 Sermon   Are We Ashamed?

Today we are going to begin a journey through Lent. Although last week was the first Sunday of Lent I was finishing up a series from Genesis on Getting Back to the Basics. So today we begin our journey through Scripture to lead us to Easter Sunday. 

The Scripture today is preceded by Jesus asking the disciples who people said He was and their response. Jesus then asks the disciples who do they say He is and Peter replied that Jesus was the Son of the Living God. They are in Caesarea Philippi which is a haven for pagan worship, so this statement from Peter is one that came from heaven and not from human means. Listen to what the Scripture speaks to in the few verses prior to today’s text: 27 Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 28 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.” 29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.” 30 But Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. In Matthew 16:16 and 17 we read the following: 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

So this sets the background for today’s text. Let us review it together!

31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. 

Jesus tells them He must (has to):

  • Suffer
  • Be rejected
  • Be killed
  • And be raised from the dead
  • This is important because Peter has made a confession that they believed or at least he knew that Jesus was the Messiah or the Christ that they had long awaited for and now Jesus was telling them He would be lowered down or humiliated in manner that did not make sense to Peter.
  • Jesus will tell Peter why when Peter approaches Jesus — notice Jesus knew what Peter was thinking and what he was going to say before He even pulled Jesus aside!

Let us see that encounter in the next few verses …

32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand (rebuke) him for saying such things. 

  • Peter took Jesus aside and did not rebuke Jesus in public. 
  • The word rebuke means to warn someone forcefully with a strong disapproval and with heated words. In this case it is used for personal scolding where Peter takes Jesus aside and with heated words tries to turn Him from His path.
  • No matter how well intended Peter was and just after calling Jesus the Messiah we see Peter’s mindset and thoughts as that of the world and what he desired instead of what God desired.

Let us continue on and see what Jesus says in response to Peter …

33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded (rebuked) Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

  • Wow! Jesus had just a few verses earlier lauded Peter’s heavenly wisdom and now Jesus is calling Peter Satan or at least telling Peter that his thoughts are more in line with the human point of view which is Satan’s point of view and not God’s! 
  • However, when looking at the Greek in this text we see that this rebuke was not only to Peter, but to all the disciples. It was a teaching moment to say that when we follow Christ we need to leave our thoughts and desires behind to follow Him. I use this verse so much but Galatians 2:20 states that when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior: We have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. And the life we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us. 
  • Accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior
  • Commit to Jesus and allow Him to be our Lord and Savior
  • Surrender to Jesus and make Him our Lord and Savior over everything in our life!

34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 

  • Jesus then explains how we can accept, commit and surrender to Him but taking up the cross and following Him. Therefore, Jesus’ command to “take up your cross and follow Me” is a call to being humble and willing to sacrifice everything to live for Jesus not for ourselves. One must be willing to die in order to follow Jesus. Dying to self (our desires and our biases and our agendas) is an absolute surrender to God.

35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 

  • When we try to live for the world and live out our own desires and wants then have we really committed and surrender to Jesus? So many want to have one foot in the water and one foot on dry land! We need to jump in the deep in folks and allow Jesus to control our whole life! 
  • That is hard because it no longer becomes about us, but it becomes about Him! Everything we do centers around what Jesus desires for you and me — even if He desires something we don’t like.
  • Let me say there is not an aspect of our life that Jesus doesn’t want to be a part of and consulted about! We should be seeking Him for everything in our life. Prayer and seeking His will is what we have to do to surrender our life to Him!

36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 

  • We can be successful by worldly (Satan’s) standard but we look our very soul, meaning we lose our eternal life! So many today are rejecting Jesus to seek the pleasures and fortunes of this world to only in the end lose their soul to hell! It doesn’t we don’t strive have a good life here on earth — but a truly great life is one that has us living for Jesus and Him guiding our paths. Then even when life isn’t what we want it to be we are told at Proverbs 3:5 and 6 that he will make straight our paths!

38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

  • Today’s message is titles Are We Ashamed? And this is the verse that speaks to that. When we live for ourselves we place the emphasis on us and not on Jesus! 
  • Jesus tells us that anyone who is ashamed of me in these adulterous and sinful days (boy that describes today to a tee) He will be ashamed of us when He returns to call us home!
  • Are we living a life that we are surrendering to Jesus or are we just surrendering what is convenient and harmless to our easy and comfortable lives? Are we willing to live for Jesus or live for ourselves? The choice is ours — which do we choose this morning?

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Sermon on Colossians 1: 1 — 2

Today we begin the journey that will lead us through Paul’s Epistle to the church of Colossae or the book of Colossians. In J. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible Commentary of Colossians he writes the following, “The Prison Epistles include Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and the very personal Epistle to Philemon. These four are companion epistles and together have been called the anatomy of Christianity, or the anatomy of the church. We can see that the subjects of these epistles cover all aspects of the Christian faith:

  • Ephesians is about the body of believers called the church, of which Christ is the head.
  • Colossians directs our attention to the head of the body who is Christ. The body (church) itself is secondary. Christ is the theme.
  • Philippians shows the church walking here on earth. Christian living is the theme; it is the periphery of the circle of which Christ is the center.
  • Philemon gives us Christianity in action. We would say it is where the rubber meets the road … It demonstrates Christianity worked out in a pagan society.”*

This information from Rev. J. Vernon McGee is very valuable to us here this morning.

During today’s sermon and through the next few week’s sermon series I want all of us to focus on a few questions that will help us see this text better.  During the week I pray you will be reading and studying through Colossians asking these questions found on the screen as you prepare for Sunday morning worship. Question 1 is simply: Why did Paul write to the church of Colossae? In all of Paul’s letters he is writing to address a specific need or specific problem in that church. This letter is no different — There was a reason concerning some event that is taking place in the church of Colossae or there is a need be addressed in this letter. Question 2: What is the major and background theme of this book? In other words can we find single theme that runs through this book that connects all the dots. Question 3 is simply: Who is the major character or characters in this Epistle and who are the minor characters? And finally Question 4: What can I learn from this text that will help my walk of faith to be empowered and move me to live more like Christ?

So let us join together as I will be reading from the Holman Christian Standard Bible today. If you have a Bible I would ask you to read along even if it is another translation. It would be great if you brought your own Bible with you each week so you can take notes and mark in it if you so desire. However, if you don’t have a Bible with you, you can use one of the pew Bibles. Join me in prayer as we prepare to hear the Word of God given to us by our Heavenly Father! Let us pray…


Just to speak quickly to the first question concerning why Paul is writing this letter to the church of Colossae we need to look at what is happening in the area of the city of Colossae. Paul has learned from Epaphras that the church at Colossae of whom he is the minister has drifted away from the original Christian teachings. They had been mixing other religions such as the Jewish tradition of the church and the Gentile tradition of the church together, which had created a hybrid mixture of Christianity which did not at all adhere to the original teaching of the church. Now, we will address this further next week but that is happening today. One example is the way society is entering into the church and the church is oblivious it has become more like society than what the Scriptures teach.

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Timothy our brother: 

Epaphras started the church at Colossae. When he comes to Paul explaining what is going on in the church Paul writes a letter to the church and the church takes note of this Apostle writing specifically to them. Many times a pastor can say something to the church and they just don’t receive it, but when someone else says it and it can even be the same thing it can have a major impact. (ex. Stan Hankins and I preaching the same text and using the same points a few years ago — we didn’t plan it but it just happened — and the people received Stan’s messages and not mine)

Apostle = divinely sent teacher

Doing God’s Will is also like a man leaving his father and mother and taking a wife and they become one. Not in an erotic way but they are now so interwoven and interconnected that they are seen as one by people they come into contact with. When we come to point of truly and totally living for Christ our life should reflect this same manner where people cannot see us without seeing Jesus living and working in us and through us. We should be one not only with Christ but live as one with Christ in such a manner that others see Christ in us!

The Will of God = Paul saw that the Will of God for His life was being an Apostle. God’s Will in this manner is that it is by the Will of God that Paul is called as an apostle. He is now a divinely sent teacher to the Gentiles first and others as well. We are called to seek God’s Will for our life as well. We all have gifts that we are to use within our life and within the life of the church? Not one person here today or joining those who are joining us online is without a gift to be used to glorify God! So I ask all of us are we using our gifts for the Lord or are we just letting those gifts remain dormant and not allowing the glory of God to be exhibited and seen in us — understanding that the glory is to go to Him and not us! The Will of God sometimes means that we will have to suffer for our Lord as found in 1st Peter 3:17: For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. Also we read in 1st Peter 4:16: Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (In His Steps)

A simple question we should be asking ourselves individually and as a church is what are we doing to advance the Gospel in the world around us and within the church? Something our elders and myself need to spend some time on!

2 To the saints in Christ at Colossae, who are faithful brothers. Grace to you and peace from God our Father. 

Paul is informed that these are faithful brothers and sisters in the faith. I like the fact that he doesn’t beat them up as if they are heathen or rebels of the faith, although they are drifting from the true Christian faith as it began, but he speaks to their faithfulness to God. We should not attack one another — we should strive to work together to bring glory to our Lord and Savior by spreading the Good News to the world!

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father” — This phrase from Paul as he has used in many of his writings is so amazing to me and one that we must not overlook. In this simple phrase, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” He is basically saying that I am writing or coming to you as a representative of Jesus Christ and God the Father. This is not me speaking of my own accord but of the Father speaking through me. Brothers and sisters we do not anything for the Lord of our own accord, but of His divine intervention into our lives. When we say, “That is not my gift,” or “I can’t do that,” and I have done that in my life — we are saying that God cannot intervene on our behalf to help us to reach out to others to find Jesus Christ or encourage others in their walk of faith! Paul always knew nothing he did was from his own doing, but directed and completed by the power of the Lord through the Holy Spirit. We need desperately to lay claim to this simple fact in our lives here today.

In addition, notice Paul doesn’t say, “God my Father” but “God our Father!” This simple word “our” is so key in that it is letting them know that he is one of them and not above them in the walk of faith! This is a very strong point of Paul to show his humility (compare this to when he was persecuting the church!). We must desire to be one (united in Christ) and also we need to be humble in our service to the Lord to each other!

As I close today I know many of you may be saying man if we only get through 2 verses a week we are going to be in Colossians forever! We will go each week where the Lord leads us and if that is 2 verses it will be 2 verses — if He leads us through 10 verses it will be 10 verses. We are going to go at His pace not ours! So as we leave here today we must remember these key points from today:

We need to be living out God’s Will for our life — using our gifts for Him in our individual life and in the life of the church!

We need to make sure our lives reflect that Jesus is living in us and through us!

We need to be seeking to use our gifts in our daily lives, but just as important living them out in our church life to give Jesus Christ, the Head of the Body (Church), all the glory and honor and not seeking the glory for ourselves!

And finally we need to be humble in all that we do — making sure that everything we do and how we live points to Jesus and others and not to ourselves!

Let us pray…

* J Vernon McGee - Commentary on Colossians

Scripture used is HCSB -  The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Ge 9:8–10). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

Sermon on Colossians 1:19 — 23

Let us join together as I will be reading from the Holman Christian Standard Bible today. If you have a Bible I would ask you to read along even if it is another translation. It would be great if you brought your own Bible with you each week so you can take notes and mark in it if you so desire. However, if you don’t have a Bible with you, you can use one of the pew Bibles. Join me in prayer as we prepare to hear the Word of God given to us by our Heavenly Father! Let us pray…

19 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross — whether things on earth or things in heaven.

As we begin this week’s message we are walking through the supremacy and excellence of our Lord and Savior. We have been doing that since we started in verse 15 and will finish this point up today in our text. In verse 19 we are told that in Jesus the fullness or completeness of God was please to dwell! Now the word “dwell” means to abide permanently! Although Jesus was totally and completely human the fullness of God resided in Him. This is the mystery of Divine Nature and Human Nature found in Jesus Christ! Now to be honest I wish I could explain this to you, but it is not something that is easily explainable. However, look at the attributes of Jesus’ divine nature found in Scripture: 

  • He knows everything 
  • He is everywhere
  • He has all power
  • Depends on nothing outside Himself for life
  • Rules over everything
  • Never began to exist or will never cease to exist
  • He is the Creator

Looking at Jesus’ Human nature which happened at the Incarnation when God became man we see these attributes:

  • He was born a baby from a human mother
  • He became weary and tired
  • He thirst
  • He hungered
  • He cried and was filled with sorrow
  • He lived on earth

So although this may not explain all we need to know about God dwelling in His fullness in Christ Jesus we have all these attributes I explained found in the Scriptures.

Verse 20 then speaks to through God’s fullness dwelling permanently in Christ Jesus that through Jesus God reconciled to Himself all things on earth and in heaven, making peace by the blood of His Cross. Notice it is God who reconciles us to Him, not Him reconcile to us! We are the sinner in need of grace! As the wonderful hymn says, “I once was lost, but now am found — was blind but now I see!” Through the grace of our Lord and Savior we are made right in the eyes of God. 

Let us look closer at this in the next 3 verses:

21 Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions. 22 But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him —

I love how the verses point out to the church of Colossae and to us here this morning that we were once alienated and hostile in our mind and in our actions toward God because of our evil nature or sinful nature before we came to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Before we come to know Christ we belong to Satan — not that may seem like a harsh statement but it is true. We are told at Ephesians 6:12: For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. As we see in this text the battle is not against us and Satan, but between God and Satan for our soul! God desires that we come to know Him! We find this at 1 Timothy 2:3 — 4 where we read, 3 This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. God desires for all to be saved, but it is up to us. He is reconciling our sinfulness to Himself by Jesus’ death on the cross! And He does this as we read in verse 22 in order to present us holy and blameless and above reproach before God! We cannot do this on our own, but by the blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary we are deemed (redeemed) holy, blameless and above reproach before God! Hallelujah — Amen! 

We have God, but does He have us? Totally, all of us? Have we given Him our time, finances, everything we own? Have we really given it to Him? Do we pray, earnestly pray, about every decision, in our life? Are we thankful for God’s goodness in what He has already blessed us with or are we still looking for the next thing that will thrill us & bring us supposed pleasure? Would God be pleased at why we do away from church & what we see on TV or our phones? 

Now let us look at verse 23 together:

23 if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it. 

Paul talks directly to the problem going on in the church of Colossae in this verse! They have shifted away from the hope of the gospel that they have heard Paul has proclaimed and others have proclaimed in all creation under heaven. The church of Colossae was being attacked to follow a different Gospel, much like is happening today. Today we see a watered-down Gospel — a Gospel that doesn’t want to mention sin or hell and the consequences of being a sinner — we hear God is a loving God and will not bring judgment on people or send people to hell (this is not Scriptural, but it is what people want to hear — and Paul spoke to this in 2nd Timothy 4:3 — 4: 3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths). We must stay sober-minded, enduring the suffering we will have when we remain true to the Word of God.

Brothers and sisters we are living in a time where the Gospel is looked at with scorn — where Jesus Christ is trying to be silenced — and where being a follower of Christ means we will be persecuted. I read this week that in Afghanistan if a person is found to have a Bible on their phone they will be executed on the spot. If they are a follower of Christ they will be executed on the spot! However, with that said we must not cave into the demonic world in which we are coming under attack, but we must remember who is in charge and who has our back — Jesus Christ! Let us make it our pledge to follow Him not matter what it might cost us — our job, friends, our finances, or maybe even our life! Our hope is not in this world but in the world to come! 

Let us pray…

Scripture used is HCSB -  The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Ge 9:8–10). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

Sermon on Colossians 1:18

Colossians 1:18 — He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.

I chose this week to preach only on this verse with my focus on the first part of the verse because it is so powerful and one that we need to reflect on in depth. Last week we discussed the second half of this verse and I will touch on it somewhat first and then move to the gist of today’s message. We read in the second half of verse 18 that, “He (Jesus) is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.” We see that Jesus is the beginning (always was and always has been) — Jesus was the firstborn of the dead (the giver of eternal life). This has taken place so that Jesus might come to have first place in everything (including our life and the life of His church). Did you hear what I said Jesus must be first place in our life and in the life of His church! 

The very first part of this verse is so amazing and one that we need to take time to let sink in. Jesus is the head of the body which is the Church — HIS CHURCH. This is important to us because so many times churches and people who call themselves Christians do not live as if Jesus is the Head of the Church. (IN HIS STEPS) — we tend to think with our mind that we are living with Jesus as the Head of our life and the life of the church but our actions prove otherwise. We want to (1) do it our way or the way we always have done it, even if God desires differently; (2) we do things without prayerfully seeking God for direction or even if He wants us to do the program or project we are attempting to do — we must seek God through prayer, and (3) we must seek that what we are doing is in agreement with the Word of God — so many times our good intentions go counter to God’s Word — so many times how we live, how we think, how we treat others goes directly against God’s Word.

For Jesus to be the head of His Church here at Emanuel we must seek Him for all that we do — approaching Him in prayer for guidance and direction before we move forward. When He tells us to stop we must stop. When He tells us to move we need to move and not hesitate. We must realize nothing we have in the church and in our lives belongs to us, but they belong to Jesus if we know Him as our Lord and Savior. The family we have, the job we have, the money we have, the house we have, and I could go on and on are not ours, but given to us by our Lord and Savior! Our life and the life of the church should reflect this mindset of Jesus owning all we have and that Jesus is actively living in our lives and in the life of His church! Simply put Christ has to have first place in our life and in the life of the church. How do we go about this coming to fruition in our life and the life of the church? 

First, we must understand that our covenant that we made to make Jesus our Lord and Savior and to follow Jesus is not one to be taken lightly. We have made a promise to God that Jesus is our Lord and Savior and I am not sure we take that promise as seriously as we should. God is not looking for religious rituals or rule keepers, but He is looking for our obedience to follow Him out of love and adoration and indebtedness for what Jesus did for us on the Cross of Calvary! Do we realize Jesus died for our sins (removing them from our record) so that we could be seen righteous in the eyes of God — something we could not do on our own! In addition, God raised Him from the dead so that we have eternal life found in the firstborn of the dead (Jesus)! This is something none of us deserve, but God desired to give it to all who call on His name. Our gratitude for what Jesus has done for us should be reflected in the life we live for Him and allow others to see Him in us and through us. Our life should be a clean life verses a life lived in sin. Now, we will sin, but it should not be something we habitually do or desire in our heart. We are not loved by God because we have kept a few rules, but because we live our life for Him striving to stay true to the Word of God in how we live our life.

As a church we need to make sure it even goes beyond our life, even to the appearance of the church. Let me give you an example. I shop at Food Lion and Walgreens quite a bit. In the area in which Sandy and I live there are 2 Food Lions and 2 Walgreens within 5 miles or so of our house. 1 Food Lion and Walgreens are right beside each other and the other Food Lion and Walgreens is across the street from each other. I shop at the Food Lion and Walgreens across from each other, even though it is farther away than the other two stores, because they are always clean, the people are super friendly, and the stores are hardly ever, if ever, in disarray. When I walk into a church, including Emanuel, I look at what things are like at the front door. Is it clean or cluttered? Are the people there greeting me with a smile and a genuine friendliness and the love of Jesus? And is the area that I see in my time in the church messy or disorderly? Many times you see this even before you come into the church as you drive into the driveway and parking lot as to whether things look disorderly and/or messy. Is the parking lot clean — are the shrubs kept up neatly — are the doors and windows clean and working in an orderly fashion — Am I being greeted outside or as I enter the door? Haggai 1:4 states, Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Are we more concerned about the condition of our own house than the house of the Lord? Brothers and sisters it goes beyond the physical appearance of the church to the spiritual nature of the people within the church! As a church we need to make sure when people are entering God’s house they see that we take care to make sure it is kept up physically, but in addition, that we have our Spiritual house in order. We should have people in place to welcome and greet people with the love of Jesus. Jesus says at John 13:34 — 35, 34 I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. Do people see that when they come to Emanuel? Do they see the people of Emanuel loving one another and caring for and caring about each other? People can tell if that love is real or genuine! Are they greeted with the love of Christ so that they know we are His disciples? Is God’s House kept up or is it running down or wearing at the edges? Many think that God just wants us to be at a church, but listen to what God says in Hosea 6:6, For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Did you hear that God desires our loyalty and the knowledge of God! The word loyalty means faithfulness and obedience. The knowledge of God is to truly know Him and His Word and they both speak to our love and faithfulness towards our Lord and Savior! And what about 1st Samuel 15:22 where we read, Then Samuel said: Does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. As we can see God desires our worship to be one of obedience, faithfulness and a relationship other than ritual and rules. 

Finally if you want further proof that Jesus must be the Head of our Church let us look at Ephesians 1:22 — 23 together: 22 And He (God) put everything under His (Jesus) feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way. We see God has appointed Jesus Christ as Head over everything for the church and we see that the fullness of Christ who fills the church is what God desires for His Church! That is what He desires for His Church here at Emanuel. We also know from reading Revelation 1 — 2 that Jesus walks among the churches and is actively watching His churches! Think about that — right now Jesus is here amongst us actively watching what we are doing and seeing if He is the Head of Emanuel and if we are seeking Him for direction and guidance! This is a very powerful thought, but also a very humbling thought if we are not seeking Jesus as the head of our life and the life of His church here at Emanuel.

As I close today, our challenge starts with making Jesus the Head of His church here at Emanuel. Now that may seem simple, but in reality it is so difficult to do. We want to continue doing things the way it has always been done even if it is secular instead of biblical. Why? Because it is comfortable and the way we are familiar with! However, if we will put Jesus at the Head of His church great blessings will flow and amazing things will happen! That is where I desire for us to go as a follower of God and as His church here at Emanuel  — to make Jesus the Head of our life and the Head His church. To do that we must:

  • Get serious about our faith — it can no longer be a low priority in our life
  • Get serious about our commitment we made to God when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior — We made a commitment to our Lord and we must keep it
  • Get serious about our prayer life — prayer must become an important and integral part of our life and the life of the church
  • Get serious about being in the Word of God and not just reading it but living it out in our life — like prayer this must become an important and integral part of our life and the life of the church

And we must be willing to pray, “Lord, I desire to be obedient to You and live for You so others can see You in me. I desire to do all I can to minister to people through YOUR church here at Emanuel. I desire to live for You and not myself. And Lord I desire for Jesus to be the Head of my life and the Head of His church here at Emanuel!” 

Brothers and sisters when we are willing to make that commitment — then great things will happen because Jesus will receive all the glory and honor as we live totally committed, we live sacrificially, we live obediently and we live faithfully for Him!

Let us pray… 

Scripture used is HCSB -  The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Ge 9:8–10). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

Sermon on Colossians 1:15 — 18

Let us join together as I will be reading from the Holman Christian Standard Bible today. If you have a Bible I would ask you to read along even if it is another translation. It would be great if you brought your own Bible with you each week so you can take notes and mark in it if you so desire. However, if you don’t have a Bible with you, you can use one of the pew Bibles. Join me in prayer as we prepare to hear the Word of God given to us by our Heavenly Father! Let us pray…

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 

Verse 15 through 17 are unique and somewhat difficult to understand. We see words and phrases like “firstborn,” “invisible,” “everything was created by Him,” “all things have been created through Him and for Him,” “He is before all things,” and “by Him all things hold together.” 

In verse 15 Paul is telling the church of Colossae that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Just what does this mean? Well, no one has ever seen God except for Jesus, so it is saying that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Now does this mean that Paul was saying that by seeing Jesus then God must look like you and me? Or was Paul speaking to Jesus’ nature and His holiness? I do find it interesting in Scripture other than the description of Jesus in heaven found in Revelation 1 we see very little spoken about His physical appearance. As one commentator put it, “In my study it is believed that the intent is not to focus on the appearance of Jesus, but on the Word of God!” I believe this gets right to the point of why we don’t see a physical earthly description of Jesus! We must remember Jesus spoke to the disciples and Philip at John 14:7 — 9 these words: 7 “If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” 8 “Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” There is an intimacy in this conversation between Jesus, the disciples and Philip. Jesus uses the word “know” if you have known me you have known the father. He then goes on to say, “Those who have seen me have seen the Father.” He is saying if you have seen Me then you have seen the Father — we may get so stuck on the physical appearance in these words, but I believe Jesus is speaking to His spiritual nature — His compassion — His love for others — His obedience to the Father — His example of living a life for God!  Jesus reveals God to the world and is the perfect manifestation or revelation of God. He was the exact likeness (the Greek meaning of image) of the very person of God. That is why we need to focus on our life witness and what others are seeing in us. Are they seeing a commitment to our spiritual life — our compassion for others — our love for others — our obedience to God the Father — are they seeing an example in us that points to Jesus? We need to strive to reach this life lived for Jesus — not out of strict rules and regulations, but out of our love for Jesus!

The second half of verse 15 can be somewhat problematic to some where we read, “…the firstborn of all creation.” Wait a minute I thought that Jesus was not created or born — yet we are reading in this verse the word “firstborn”. This doesn’t mean Jesus was born or created, but it speaks to Jesus’ supremacy over creation. Look what it says the firstborn over all creation. Jesus came to earth as our Lord and Savior and the Word says He is the over all creation. But we don’t need to stop there because verse 16 explains it better to us when we read, “For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Let us look at verses 16 and 17 together.

16 For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.

Today we have so many views of how the world was created. There is the theory that the world just sort of appeared out of nothing and out of nowhere.  There is the theory of a big bang took place and the world came into being. Others believe that there was an evolutionary process that took place until the world came into existence. And then there is another theory that some god did create the world, but he is far off and removed from the world (this is the Gnostic view of creation). This view had seeped into the church of Colossae and it is prevalent today — many of these theories I just mentioned are believed today in the secular or humanist world and sadly has seeped into the church as well.

The Scripture text here tells us that everything was created by Him whether in heaven or on earth, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — we see and it is shown to us a second time all things have been created through Him and Paul adds for Him. I love this because in a world that we feel we have no hope because of who is in charge we can rest assured that the thrones and dominions and the rulers and authorities were and are created by Jesus and for Jesus! He is in control and we need not forget that! If we are still unclear about this creation order and firstborn text in today’s text let us look closer at the Scriptures and see what they tell us concerning Jesus and His beginning. Turn with me to John 1:1 and read along with me, “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.” We can rest assured that Jesus is still in control of His creation and God is still on His throne! 

As I was ready from the Life Application Study Bible Devotional this week I saw this statement made and it fits today’s text perfectly. The point the author made was, “If Jesus had been just a very good man, his life and death would have provided a great example of how a person should live. We could honor him and learn from his lifestyle. If Jesus had been only a great human teacher or orator, we could be motivated and inspired to work and achieve. But a great moral leader and powerful speaker can’t save us from our sins, can’t change us on the inside. Jesus can. As the divine Creator, He has the power to make us new.” What a great thought to know we have a Savior that can make us new!

In verse 17 we should notice what this verse says — He is before all things (He has always been — no beginning and no end — the Alpha and the Omega). He also holds all things together which means He is an active and living God within His creation which would discredit the Gnostic view of a God who was far off and not active in His creation. He is not someone who is sitting back waiting for things to come to an end, but actively watching over you and me and His world. God is in control.

Today as we leave I want us to look at the world around us. In the last year and a half our world has been turned upside down. Just when we seem to get a good handle on COVID the Delta Variant comes along. Now many leaders are wanting us to go back to masks and some churches are even shutting down again. The economy is going crazy with prices skyrocketing in so many areas. Read the newspapers (if you dare) and you will see our cities have become a cesspool of crime and violence. The morals of the world has become so decadent, corrupt and sinful that it isn’t even funny. People are being pitted against one another like never before and it seems many want to stir the pot to keep the world in chaos. Yet, even with all these things happening all we have to do is rest our faith on these 3 Scriptures from today’s text. 

So let us go away with these points from today’s Scripture that we can have hope and assurance instead of worry and fear (these are found in your bulletins):

It is through Jesus Christ who reveals to us who God is to the world and we are to strive to become more and more Christ-like in the way we live for Him so we can reveal Jesus Christ to those around us!

Jesus created this world and it was created by Him and for Him! So no matter how bad things look He is not asleep at the wheel, but He is actively watching — I am sure He is sad about how things are going, but He is still in control. 

God is not a god (with a little g) among other gods who is not actively engaged in His creation! God is actively and passionately involved in His creation.

Jesus holds all things together and is in control — God is still on His throne and Jesus is at His righteous right hand interceding on our behalf!

What hope we have to know that in this world, no matter how bad things get, we have a God who loves us and is walking with us in every step we take! He loves us and desires for us to have eternal life found in Jesus Christ!

If I could give one bit of advice to all those here today in our worship room and to those watching via the Internet is to start praying. Do what 2nd Chronicles 7:13 — 15 teaches where we read, “13 If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence (COVID or Delta Variant) on My people, 14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 15 My eyes will now be open and My ears attentive to prayer from this place.” Let us make this our prayer each and every day from now on!

Let us pray… Pray 2nd Chronicles 7:14 repenting of our nations sin as Job prayed for his children and Daniel prayed for the Jewish people while in exile!

Scripture used is HCSB -  The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Ge 9:8–10). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.