Text: Colossians 1:3-8
I enjoy going to yard sales, and every year I travel to many of them. One thing I have noticed at yard sales is the number of exercise machines sold there.
Amazingly, many of them are like new and show almost no sign of wear and tear. People buy them with the admirable intention of putting them to full use, but the pressure and demands of everyday life crowd in. The effort required to put these machines to use is the primary reason they are pushed under beds and into closets, where they take up space and collect dust until they finally make their way to the yard sale table. So it is that I find a great variety of spring loaded muscle builders, stair steppers, rowing machines, and exercise bikes at yard sales every year.
There is another thing I see often at yard sales. Bibles that are preserved like new can be had for fifty cents or a dollar. I often pick them up so I'll have one that I can give away should anyone need one.
When I look at the number of Bibles that have made their way to the yard sale table, I can't help but wonder how many are still collecting dust on the shelves. Just as exercise machines must be put to use to exercise our physical bodies, so the Bible must be put to use to tone us up spiritually.
A tool has to be applied to the job it is designed for to fulfill its purpose.
If we are ever to bear the fruit that God desires, we must apply the gospel to our lives. This passage tells us how to put the gospel to work. First of all:
I. We must listen to the instruction of the gospel.
A) The gospel has to be heard
B) The gospel has to be understood
C) The gospel has to be learned
II. We must live by the inspiration of the gospel.
A) The gospel inspires faith
B) The gospel inspires hope
C) The gospel inspires love
III. We must labor for the increase of the gospel.
A) In the world (missions/translations)
B) In the believer
C) In the lives of others (Personal testimony)
The word gospel means "good news." Its very nature demands that it be spread. It is essential that we allow the truth of the gospel to fill our lives so that it can flow out of us into the lives of others. How terrible it is to clutch the gift to ourselves with no thought of our dying neighbor.
One fellow that understood this was an African villager that was wonderfully converted and spread the news of the gospel every chance he got. It is told that he had elephantiasis, a dread disease that causes the arms and legs to swell to several times their normal size. Because of this, it was very painful for him to hobble around. Nevertheless, he was determined that everyone in his village hear the good news of salvation.
He traveled about his village on his giant legs, going from hut to hut until every one in his village learned of Jesus.
Not content, he soon went to a nearby village about two miles away and shared the gospel with them until all had heard.
He sat in his hut for several days after this, but he began to remember a village about fifteen miles away that he had visited as a child, before the disease had set in. He asked a missionary doctor that had come to the village if anyone had shared the gospel with them. The doctor told him that the word had not gotten there as yet, but counseled him to be patient, and that it would reach them in time.
The burden grew heavy as he looked to the Lord, and one night he left his small village and headed down the jungle path to that distant village. At noon the following day, he finally arrived at the village. The people offered him food, but he would eat nothing until allowed to tell everyone about how the God of creation was love, and that He had sent his son to die that our sins might be removed. And that this same Lord Jesus had been raised and had come to live in his heart, bringing him joy and peace. That night, as he headed back to his own village down the dark jungle, his fear of what the night contained was balanced by the joy of sharing the gospel.
The missionary doctor awoke in the night to hear strange sounds outside his door. He opened it to find this man lying outside the door almost unconscious, with his swollen feet cracked and bleeding. The doctor later told how he had cleaned the mans bruised and bleeding feet and how his tears mingled with the ointment as he applied it to the damaged feet. His thoughts went back to the verse that read, "How beautiful are the feet of him who brings glad tidings and publish peace." The ragged feet he was tending became very beautiful to him.
How do your feet look today? Are they bearing the news of Christ? If not, maybe you need the good news renewed and brought home to your own heart again. Take Your Bible off the shelf, or out of the sale pile, and put it into your heart again. Let the gospel strengthen you, so you can strengthen others.