Monday, January 28, 2008

The Gospel Made Simple

We all know that familiar saying, "be careful what you wish for." Today, I'd like to change that to, "be careful what you pray for!"

Yesterday morning, while listening to an awesome message at church entitled "The Gospel Made Simple," we were challenged to "take out ownership of our own life and give it to Christ."

During personal prayer time, I found myself praying for God's leading in my life, my relationships with other people and my writing on this blog. I prayed, "Lord, show me what You would like me to share with people."

Well, the Lord answered that prayer! He shook me awake nice and early this morning...about 3:30 a.m.! Though I tried, there was no chance that I would fall asleep again. I found my mind flooded with ideas to apply what I have learned from God's Word towards people, situations, circumstances and opportunities that exist in our culture today. I almost found myself desiring to say, "Stop Lord! I can't take in any more today!"

My mind was being filled with current goings-on in our culture.

The situation with Britney Spear's sister, being a young teen and pregnant, came to mind.

Last evening while helping my daughter buy groceries to take back up to college with her, I saw the cover of one of the latest gossip magazines claiming that Jamie Lynn was planning on having her baby and giving it up for adoption.

Next, I thought about the wonderful review on the movie Juno that I read late last night over at Charlie's AnotherThink blog. Of course, because of the movie being a typical Hollywood production, it left out some of the really good Christian messages that could have been shared.

Nonetheless, I got to thinking. I wondered whether or not that movie may have influenced Jamie's decision to have her baby and give it up for adoption? I recall commenting to my daughter, while waiting in the grocery store checkout line, "I certainly applaud her for not getting an abortion."

I found myself thinking about Britney Spears. I thought about how she once seemed to "have it all." A successful, lucrative career. Fame and stardom. A handsome boyfriend, turned husband with whom she had two children. Then, the all to familiar tragedies of life came in; raging, seemingly overtaking her...just like a fire. Her downward spiral seemed to happen continually; getting worse and worse as time went on. The drinking; the depression; the bizarre behaviors; the "exposures," if you will; the carelessness with her children; the DUI's; the breakup of her marriage. The list could go on and on. How could someone so successful be so lost, sad and destructive? I'm sure that being under the constant scrutiny of the public and the continual glare of the paparazzi flashbulbs didn't help.

Now, I'm not certain if this is true, but I read somewhere that Britney now has a new boyfriend who happens to be Muslim. It is rumored that she plans to convert to Islam.

What does all of this tell us?

She is searching.

She is searching for what is missing in her life...a relationship, and reconciliation with God.

She needs to hear "The Gospel Made Simple." Just like every single human being on this earth...she needs to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

In that sermon (link to listen to it above), Pastor Chris Brown covered who Jesus is.

He made an interesting illustration by using an analogy of an "icon" on your computer. You click on the icon for Internet Explorer and will have access to, and see, the world wide web. Right there, at your fingertips!

Perhaps that analogy will help you see what is being said here:

1. Jesus is the "image" of God. The image of Jesus Christ is the manifestation of the invisible God. Jesus himself told us that when the disciples saw Him, they had seen the Father. He stated, "I and the Father are One." (please listen to the message and/or see the outline with verses listed at link above for much more detail).

2. Jesus is the "firstborn" of God. Jesus was also called, "firstborn." Now, the Greek word used was meant as "supremacy of rank." It represented "before all else" or "first in line." It demonstrates His dominion.

3. Jesus is the "fullness" of God. This represents completeness - not lacking anything; totality of attributes.

It would be very advantageous for readers to listen to the sermon message.

Below, is a brief outline of the message:

Christianity Made Simple
Message #3
January 26-27, 2008
Pastor Chris Brown


Track 1 of 6

Colossians 1:15-20 Philippians 2:5-11

Image: ICON

Track 2 of 6

Firstborn: Supremacy of rank

Fullness: The sum of

Track 3 of 6

Jesus Claimed To:
John 5:18, 8:58-59, 10:30-38, 12:45, 14:7-10, 16:15, 17:11-22…
Matthew 5:17-44, Mark 13:31, John 6:63, 14:24, 8:51, 14:23
Matthew 8:27, 28:18, Mark 1:27, John 5:27
Matthew 7:21-23, Luke 12:8-9,
John 3:14-19, 5:22-27, 6:40, 8:12, 10:7-21, 14:6
Mark 2:5-7, Luke 5:20-24

> equal with God

> voice of God

Track 4 of 6

> have authority over all things

> determine people's destiny

> to forgive sins

Track 5 of 6

Two Proofs:
John 5:17-22, 10:33, 10:20, 8:48, Matthew 12:22-26

> early church belief and response

> why was Jesus killed?

Track 6 of 6

Colossians 1:21-22

Reconciled: made right

Colossians 1:23

We have a choice to make.

Looking at the verses (listed above) regarding who Jesus claimed to be convinces us that we need to make a choice. Either you stay in your sin or choose to take out ownership of your life and give it to Christ.

Here's what Paul wrote:

Col 1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

In our "digging deeper" homework assignment, we are asked the following question:

This week we saw that Paul used strong words such as "enemies" and "alienated" to describe the Colossian's spiritual condition (and ours) before they (we) knew Christ (Colossians 1:21). How do the following verses reinforce and further describe who we are before we know Christ?

Romans 1:18-25

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

Rom 1:19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

Rom 1:21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Rom 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

Rom 1:23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Rom 1:24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,

Rom 1:25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

Rom 8:8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Tts 3:3
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.

George Bernard Shaw once wrote:

There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it.
- George Bernard Shaw

Do you think he was right about that?


But I challenge you to think it over. Perhaps not having the correct Object of our desire in mind makes that quote true.

What does God's Word say about this?

Psa 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

We are to delight ourselves in the LORD first - and then we shall receive the desires of our hearts.

What does that mean? Will we then expect to get everything our little hearts desire? Of course not. I can think of many times in my life when I desired things that would have been absolutely disasterous for me!

It is when we line up our will with God's Will for our lives (as revealed through Jesus Christ and His Word, the Bible) THEN we get the true desires of our heart.

I know that for me, my desires changed quite drastically when I was born again in Jesus Christ. I find myself desiring to worship, pray to, and love to God! I'd rather listen to contemporary Christian music artists than any other type of music. I find myself desiring to please God! I find myself desiring to follow Jesus and share the Gospel with others! I find myself desiring to study God's Word and I love doing so! I find myself desiring to take Jesus' statement, "If you love Me, keep my Commandments" seriously!

One desire I now have that wasn't there before is to take what I have learned from over 20 years of Bible study and share it through writing here on this blog. Whenever I have the opportunity to share the gospel with people I know, it is the delight of my heart!

These are just a few examples of how I know that the Holy Spirit is leading me. It is important to know that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer who is born again in Christ. He will not leave nor forsake you! He will not lead you to do anything that is contrary to God's Word. His leading enables believers to conduct our lives in the "center of God's Will." (Thank you Susan Smith, for sharing that fact in one of your newsletters...that following Jesus and the Holy Spirit's leading places us in the "center of God's Will!")

More sermon homework notes:

Fortunately, God hasn't left us to live a life destined to be separated from Him. When any of us make a commitment to follow Christ, some incredible things begin and continue to happen to us spiritually. Read these great verses below in Romans, and take time to write down what Paul (the writer of Romans and the book of Colossians) saw as important to understand about the transformation that happens as a person follows Christ.

Romans 7:24-25

Romans 8:1-2; 8:5; 8:12-13; 8:15

There is always going to be a battle to do things our way or the way God's Spirit is leading. Further help is provided by Paul's words in Colossians 1:22-23.

Col 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

Paul concludes his awesome message:

Col 1:24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

Col 1:25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God,

Col 1:26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.

Col 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which[fn4] is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Col 1:28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

Col 1:29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.


1:27 M-Text reads who.

HT's: North Coast Church
Blue Letter Bible
Susan Smith's newsletter