This past week, I had more extra-local phone calls that normal, but I thought one call would be one that you’d enjoy hearing about. About once/month, I get to talk with Luis Castellanos, pastor at Taproot Church in Burien, WA. Most of you know Luis, but for those that don’t: Luis faithfully served at CLF for about 5 years as our administrator and youth pastor. He did a great job. But we knew all along that Luis would eventually be a senior pastor somewhere. And the Lord led him to Taproot. This past week, he told me a story that was both encouraging and challenging. He was recently doing a funeral at the church, where the family asked him to tell their family/friends in attendance about Jesus. Luis did just that. After the service was over, a young dad waved him over and said his 4-year old son had a question for him. Luis knelt down and the 4-year old asked, “Sir, I want to know about this Jesus you’re talking about.” The dad, looked at Luis and said “we just told him that lots of people love Jesus, but we don’t know how to explain who Jesus is to him. We thought since you talked about Jesus you could explain him to us.” This family was from Seattle. This was not a family in unreached parts of the Middle East or Africa. It was so encouraging that Luis would have this interaction and preach Jesus faithfully. But it was also a challenging reminder that there are people right in here in good “ol ‘Merica” who have never heard the name of Jesus. Pray, demonstrate the gospel and declare the gospel…the Lord is on the move.
From the cutting room floor: There are several things that I cut out this week from the sermon, due to time and how they would fit in the overall sermon.
- Often when the question about God’s will for our lives comes up, we rarely are looking in the Bible for that. Years ago, an older man told me this fantastic advice: when seeking God’s will, ask God to confirm it and show you in His word. Time is too short to tell you how often this has happened to me. But one thing that is really clear from God’s word, is how often God shows us what pleases Him and what honors Him. One of those times was in Colossians 1:9-10, when we’re told that God will give us spiritual wisdom to understand His will and know what pleases Him. Then Paul writes, “bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” So, if you want to know God’s will for your life…you can never go wrong with those 2 things.
- Speaking of bearing fruit…this fruit can be seen in Colossians 1:4-5, which speaks of faith in Christ Jesus, love for all the saints, and hope laid up for us in heaven. But we can also assume that Paul is talking about the fruit of the Spirit that he wrote about about in Galatians 5:22-24. But what we often don’t discuss about fruit…is how God loves it and is happy about it. Notice what Jesus said in John 15:8: By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” Fruit-bearing glorifies God…it makes God’s intrinsic worth go public…and it shows that we belong to Him.
- An off-script comment I made yesterday seemed to take many of you by surprise. I said that the intimacy and communion we can have with God, is the same that Jesus has with God. When I noticed the shock on many people’s faces, I explained it by trying to paraphrase portions of John 17. Here’s a select a couple of references from that text: John 17:11: “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” John 17:20-24: ““I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” Being in Christ means that God treats us with favor, with joy, with friendship, with care…as He does with Christ. Now, there is naturally (and supernaturally) a difference: we’re not Jesus; not the Son of God; and intrinsically glorious…further, we are not “the Alpha and Omega”. You get the point. But…God invites us into this fellowship of God, without any reservations and never holds us at arms-length. I find that remarkably refreshing, encouraging, and satisfying. I hope you do as well.
- One late addition to my sermon was in the section on Jesus giving us wisdom. I said that Jesus not only gives us wisdom, but He is wisdom personified. I said this because Proverbs 8 shows us this. Here’s what vs. 23-31 of that chapter say about the personification of wisdom: “Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.” While these verses give indication that wisdom was created and we know the Son of God was not…these verses show the “before time began” aspect of wisdom and we can know the source of that is God. Further, when you read the different parts of these verses, it sure seems like Jesus…
- When it comes to spiritual wisdom and spiritual power that come from Jesus, let me add a few thoughts about this:
- This does not mean we should be uneducated or that the pursuit of education is evil. It evil if…it’s an end to itself; it promotes a self-focus, self-sufficiency, and leads us to mistrust God.
- Further, this does not mean that God is the only person who can tutor us in math, science, teach us to be an engineer, lawyer, etc. There are some religious zealots that basically say that all training outside of the Scriptures is evil and not needed. I think a more biblical response is found in the fact that God has given common grace to all people, everywhere. And there are some non-Christians, that we can and should learn from in a variety of areas. Christians, should cling to what God says, while applying themselves to all levels of learning that are needed in their lives.
- When Peter writes, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” he is talking about everything we need to live a godly life, which is Christ-like, and glorifies God.
- Finally, you’ve got to spend time meditating on James 1:5, which says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Marvel at this promise…if you lack wisdom (we all do at a variety of times), ask God, and He will give it to you without reproach. That means He’ll answer you and give you wisdom, without saying “you again!!” or “are you ever going to get this!! Why do you keep asking??” He’s not a begrudging giver!! It’s just amazing news.
Quotes I left out that I really liked:
- Glorious=“This word occurs frequently in Scripture as a very basic characterization of God, signifying his “weighty,” overwhelming presence. The English “glorious” is too easily cast loose from this God-focused meaning (as when we speak of a “glorious sunset”). It might, then, be preferable to take the genitive as possessive: the strength that God supplies his people is in accordance with (and is the expression of) his own intrinsic glory.” Moo, D. J.
- “Patience, perseverance, and joy should continually be accompanied by a thankful spirit. In Christianity, it has been well said, theology is grace, and ethics is gratitude. If God’s action and attitude toward his people have been characterized by grace, their response to him, in life and conduct as well as in thought and word, should be characterized by gratitude.43 Nothing less is fitting, considering how he has qualified them to share the inheritance of his holy people.” Bruce, F. F.
- “What is now clear once again is that words which might appear conventional are packed full of meaning. Paul is protecting the young church at Colossae. He cannot stand by while the new teachers speak of a new and superior gift of freedom. Have the believers forgotten what their Lord and Saviour has done for them? Can they be dissatisfied with that great work of redemption at the cross? Is Christ not sufficient both to pardon and to deliver them from all their sins? Then let them be filled with knowledge and power for this—a life of increasing goodness and gratitude to the end.” Lucas, R. C.
- Really appreciate your prayers next Monday at the Sovereign Grace Churches Council of Elders meeting. It will begin at 10:00 a.m. PST.
- England 19 – New Zealand All-Blacks 7…I’ve only been a rugby fan for a little over a year, and have done lots of reading about the All-Blacks…and to say that this was a masterclass beating by England would be an understatement.
- Some time, read through Ecclesiastes and notice how often this phrase is found: “eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun.” I realize Solomon was a hedonist…I realize that Solomon was writing about vanities that he had seen “under the sun”…but it’s shocking to me how God has made us to enjoy pleasure, love life, and find satisfaction in what we do with our lives. The key: methinks (as my Australian friends would say)…is to do all of this with gratitude and thanksgiving to God, who is the giver of all good gifts.
Enjoy your week! Look to Christ!