Faithlife Sermons

Seeking to Serve

The Book of Colossians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:45
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We can seek life and live in God's abundance or we can seek death and wallow in decay. We have the choice of what kind of attitude we have. We need to learn to seek to serve God. This sermon examines what kind of attitude the Apostle Paul had as he served God.

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Sermon Outline Aligning Our Attitude Colossians 1:24-29 Introduction 1. Illustration: Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over our nation's deserts. All vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do. 2. Life: We have a choice in life of how we look at the world. The Attitude we have. We can look for life and live in God’s abundance or we can see the death all around us. 3. Need: We need to have the attitude that rejoices as we do God’s work. 4. Text: Today we are going to look at Paul’s attitude as he works for God. 5. Context: Turn with me if you will in your Bibles to Colossians 1:24 Paul has just told his audience who they were before Christ, alienated from God and hostile in mind; who they are in Christ now, reconciled and at peace with God. And what changed them, Christ’s blood on the cross. He is now going to tell them about his work for God that benefits them. I. All Christians should have joy when serving God causes them to suffer.v24 Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. A. Rejoice when working for God.v24a When he says “now” he means during his current imprisonment and sufferings. Even in his suffering he rejoices, because he sees all the glory of the work he has done and it turns his sorrow to joy. It is not that he is rejoicing because of his sufferings, not rejoicing IN suffering, but during suffering. Paul was surrounded with sufferings in his prison in Rome, but he was rejoicing in the midst of them.” B. Know you will suffer afflictions when serving God.v24b A certain amount of suffering falls to the lot of the church because of its connection with Christ. A large part of it has to be borne by the leaders of the church, Paul as one of these leaders. So he gets to bear the heavy part of these sufferings. Paul suffered because he was “doing his share on behalf of the body” He was doing the specific ministry God called him to do. He planted churches in Gentile, pagan territory, and that brought reactions from Jews and Gentiles alike. Like Paul, all the saints down the ages are partakers of these sufferings when they are faithful to the obligation they have of preaching the Word. This is part of the Good News we don’t like As Jesus suffered on behalf of others, so must His followers. C. Do things that help your fellow Christians.v24c Notice that the sufferings are “for your sake” these sufferings are not for no purpose, they serve the church, the body of Christ. Paul suffered in the cause of Christ, and for the good of the church. He suffered for preaching the gospel to them. And, while he suffered in so good a cause, he could rejoice in his sufferings, There is an interesting phrase at the end of this verse “lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” Paul is not saying that something was lacking in what Christ had suffered. We can know this is not talking about Christ’s suffering on the cross because the word used here for affliction is never used of Christ’s suffering on the cross. This is talking about the persecution and suffering Christ faced in life. This word “lacking” means literally “what comes behind,” Paul is taking the suffering that comes after Christ, the hate and persecution the world had for Christ, the part left in the world is coming down on Paul, and it still comes down on Christians today. And like Paul we are to rejoice in this suffering knowing that it serves God. Validate: 2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Illustrate: During World War II, England needed to increase its production of coal. Winston Churchill called together labor leaders to enlist their support. At the end of his presentation he asked them to picture in their minds a parade which he knew would be held in Picadilly Circus after the war. First, he said, would come the sailors who had kept the vital sea lanes open. Then would come the soldiers who had come home from Dunkirk and then gone on to defeat Rommel in Africa. Then would come the pilots who had driven the Luftwaffe from the sky. Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miner's caps. Someone would cry from the crowd, 'And where were you during the critical days of our struggle?' And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, 'We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.'" Not all the jobs in a church are prominent and glamorous. But it is often the people with their "faces to the coal" who help the church accomplish its mission. Apply: We have the ability to decide what attitude we have. This takes effort and time, it is not like flicking a switch. We have to decide that we want to have a certain attitude and then we have to work on it, choosing how we look at things, making a conscious effort to shape our attitude. Seeing God’s hand in our lives and choosing to rejoice in the suffering that is part of serving God. II. All Christians should know God calls them to serve and proclaim the Gospel.v25-26 Colossians 1:25–26 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, A. God calls us to serve.v25a Paul saw his role as a servant of the church. The word translated here as ministry Diakonos is the word for deacon. This speaks to the true servant role rather than some position of authority or leadership. Paul say’s he was made a minister by the stewardship or ruling principles of God. God makes ministers, not Bible colleges or seminaries or even ordination by a church body. Our service for God is initiated by a calling from God. B. People benefit from the preaching of God’s word.v25b Paul just like all those serving God are not called to benefit themselves, they are called as Paul says, “for your benefit” That is for the benefit of the Church, the Body of Christ. Any preacher that is preaching for his own benefit is not serving God he is serving his bank account. It is quite easy to do this, I think some fall into it by mistake. It is so much easier to tell people what they want to hear, to tickle their ears. And preaching that way certainly benefits the preacher, his pockets fill up much faster preaching what people want to hear. But ministers are called to minister in a way that benefits the body of Christ, this means telling people God’s word, not what they want to hear. C. The Gospel we are called to preach must be revealed.v26 The purpose for Paul’s calling was stated here as “so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God” Not the partial word of God, but the full word of God. Not just the easy parts, but the hard parts as well. Paul makes it clear that part of the word of God had not been revealed to past ages and generations. He calls this a mystery. In Biblical terms the word mystery has a very specific meaning. A mystery is something that has been previously hidden but has now been revealed. Notice it has not been revealed to everyone, it has been revealed to His saints. This mystery is part of the Full Word of God. Validate: The prophets had glimpses of this mystery, but never the full truth Hebrews 1:1God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, Illustrate: An Artist, in a public exhibition of skill, performed an amazing feat with his brushes. Taking a canvas about six feet long by two feet wide, he placed it horizontally upon an easel before his audience, and began to sketch rapidly a landscape. In quick succession appeared green meadows, with cattle, fields of grain, the farmhouse and surrounding buildings, with orchard near, while over all the bright sky, with fleecy clouds, seemed to pour heavens benediction upon the scene below. He received applause from the audience. When the applause had subsided, The Artist stepped back to the canvas as if he had not quite completed the picture. Taking darker colors, he applied them recklessly to the canvas. Out went the bright sky. He blotted out meadows, fields, orchards, and buildings. Up, down, and across passed the artist’s hand, until the landscape was totally obliterated, and nothing but a smears, such as a child might make, remained. Then, with a more satisfied look, he stepped aside, laying down his brushes, as if to say, It is finished. But no applause came from the perplexed audience as the Artist then ordered the stage attendants to place a gilded frame around the ruined work of art, and to turn it to a vertical position. The mystery was revealed, for before the audience stood a panel picture of a beautiful waterfall, the water plunging over a precipice of dark rock, skirted with trees and flora. It is needless to say that the audience burst into rounds of applause. As God worked on the Canvas of the Old Testament there was a beautiful painting but it got marred and covered by sin, apostasy, and legalism. Only when Christ was framed by the cross lifted upon it was the image of God’s great work revealed to us in its majesty and beauty. Only then was the true picture shown, only then could we understand what God had envisioned all along. Apply: Just like Paul was called to serve we are all called to serve. We are to serve for the benefit of the Church, the Body of Christ. We all serve in different ways, but we are all called to preach this mystery which has been manifest to us as His saints. III. All Christians should, by God’s power, make the Gospel known and help people grow in Christ.v27-29 Colossians 1:27–29 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. A. The only Mystery that Matters.v27 The ‘mystery’ Paul talked about has two key elements (1. The Gentiles are now included in the plan of God. (2. The ‘mystery’ is actually a person who is ‘Christ in you’. “God willed” this change from hidden mystery to manifestation. There were some in Colossae that were teaching other mysteries, claiming to have special knowledge saying you had to know their secrets to enter Heaven. Paul corrects this by saying “The Mystery” that had not been revealed, the only mystery that matters is Jesus Christ crucified. Paul refers to Christ as “The Hope of Glory” This term refers to eternal life. Being “in Christ is the only means for eternal life. All the riches of the glory contained in this mystery are not any longer to be confined to one nation but are so vast as to be told “among the Gentiles,” even the pagan nations in all the world. B. Proclaim the Gospel to everyone.v28a This revelation about Christ is to be proclaimed to everyone. Not limited to some. Those in error at Colossae felt that such knowledge was to be restricted and only a select few were to know the deep things of God. Paul repeats the phrase every man times in one verse to stress how crucial it is that we not restrict the teaching of God’s word. This revelation is to be presented in two ways. “Admonishing” in Scripture has the connotation of confronting with the intent of changing one’s attitudes and actions. Here the term speaks to the task of calling to mind a correct course of action. It encourages people to get on with what they know to do. “Teaching” complements “admonishing.” “Teaching” is the orderly presentation of Christian truth so that they may know how to grow. This is to be done in all wisdom, not in worldly wisdom but in God’s wisdom. Not in view of what is easy, or convenient, or even effective, done in a manner that agrees with God’s will. C. All Christians should mature in Christ.v28b The purpose for all these teaching and admonishing is “so that we may present every man complete in Christ” The word complete here is very important, some translations use the word perfect or mature. Paul may have chosen this exact Greek word because it was also used by false teachers to mean someone one initialed in the mystery cults; someone who was “in on” the secret teachings. Paul’s meaning. Here is spiritually maturity, complete understanding concerning Christ. We teach and admonish so that people can grow in Christ. The goal of our instruction is maturity in Christ. D. We work by God’s power.v29 This is hard work. Paul uses the word striving “I labor, striving” This word is used especially of the labor undergone by the athlete in his training. We get the English term “agony” from this Greek root. Church work is not easy! If we were to try to do this work all on our own strength we would utterly fail. It is God’s power, not the believer’s, that “energizes” all ministry. Notice that Paul does this work “according to His power” Paul is only God’s instrument; he toils and strains, but not with power of his own, the power comes from God. The way this is worded is really cool, a literal translation is “His energy, energizes me.” Only because the Holy Spirit works powerfully in Paul can he possibly achieve this high and holy calling. Paul does not go about his work half-heartedly, hoping vaguely that grace will fill the gaps which he is too lazy to work at himself. Nor, however, does he imagine that it is ‘all up to him’ so that unless he burns himself out with restless, anxious toil nothing will be achieved. Illustrate: One New Year's Day, in the Tournament of Roses parade, a beautiful float suddenly sputtered and quit. It was out of gas. The whole parade was held up until someone could get a can of gas. The amusing thing was this float represented the Standard Oil Company. With its vast oil resources, its truck was out of gas. Often, Christians neglect filling their spiritual gas tanks, we can only do what He calls us to do by His power, we have no power of our own to do His work. Validate: 1 Timothy 1:12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, Apply: So how do we get energies by God? Well, spending time in prayer, when we worship God singing songs and hymns, these things are great for recharging. For me personally I get my tank filled best when I help other people. I cannot describe how much energy I used to get in serving at Second Mile Mission. I would walk away from a day of helping others and feel so much closer to God so much more of His power in my life. Transition: Conclusion As we fly along in life we can either be the vulture or the Hummingbird. We can look for life or we can look for death. Our attitude affects how we see the world. We have the ability to choose our attitude, but it takes effort to make this choice. As we serve God we will encounter difficulties and suffering. We are called to be like Paul and rejoice in the times we encounter suffering, knowing that our service benefits the Body of Christ. God calls us to serve by preaching his word, teaching and helping others to grow in Christ. We need to understand we cannot do these things by our own power. Only when God energizes us by His power are we able to do the things He calls us to do. God calls us to this service because He loves the world so much, and wants an eternal relationship with everyone. But we all sin…
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