Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Spiritual Fullness in Jesus Christ

Audio Message:

I’m going to share my testimony, briefly of how I got saved and how I got called to ministry. I was raised as a catholic and as a green bay packer fan. I took to the second much more than the first. I was a very good kid until about 10th grade. My parents started having problems, and they began a divorce process when I was about 15 and concluded that when I was 16. I struggled a lot in school and was bullied a lot.

During this time of struggle I turned to prescription drugs and alcohol to make the pain go away. I quickly became addicted, and these drugs led to different drugs. I crashed a car, and ended up involuntarily confined at a mental hospital. I was expelled from high school as my drug use spiraled out of control. Later I got drunk driving charges and possession of marijuana. I was put in jail for 30 days. After getting my second DUI I went to treatment at the age of 22. I stayed sober about a year. But relapsed and things got worse. For three years I continued to use drugs, going in and out of rehab, and ended up in jail and on probation repeatedly. Around this time my mom and grandpa both got saved in a small Baptist church. They began attending a group where they started praying for me. My grandpa witnessed to me in 2011, and gave me my first Bible and I started reading it constantly. My cousin got me a copy of a movie called the Life of Jesus, which was the gospel of John in movie format. For another year I continued in drug use, until in 2012 I ended up in the emergency room twice for overdoses. I almost died in the ICU one night with my mom present. But finally at rock bottom, I cried out to Jesus Christ, and He transformed my heart and life. I got clean, I got sober, I was brought into the body of Christ, and later I graduated liberty university with a bachelors in religion. 18 months later I started attending the Salvation Army after getting a job at the local homeless shelter in my hometown of Wausau. Two local officers saw the call God had on my life and encouraged me to consider officership. After much prayer, and attending several SA conferences, I realized the Lord was calling me. I decided to test that call, and my DYS’s set me up for a 2 year internship, which I did in Escanaba Michigan. I loved my two years there, and was accepted as a cadet to CFOT in 2017. CFOT was challenging and rewarding in many ways. But I gained a lot of good experiences there. So recently I graduated, and here I am at my first appointment.

I’m very passionate about theology, doctrine, and the truth of God’s word. I’m passionate about personal holiness. I’m also passionate about Christian apologetics, as a way to evangelize the lost. I’m passionate about evangelism and street ministry as well. And obviously I’m very passionate about ministry to drug addicts and alcoholics. I really believe God’s gospel is for anybody and everybody. I came from the bottom myself, God still wanted me. So, that’s a bit about me.

Today as we open the scriptures we consider the theme in Colossians chapter 2 of Spiritual Fullness in Christ. And I want to point you specifically to this theme within a theme, of continuance. Continuance. This idea is simple, we keep going. We keep marching forward in our journey. We don’t stop. We keep going, week by week, month by month and year by year. And that is our ultimate goal as Christians, we want to continue all the days of our lives, to follow Jesus, until we die. That is the plan, that is the mission.

It reminds me of a story of a man who went to alcoholics anonymous meetings regularly to stay sober. He’d been going to several a week, for years. One day he was at a family event, and his wife’s sister looked at him and said, “Why do you keep going to those aa meetings haven’t you learned how to stay sober yet?” And he sort of gave her an angry look, but didn’t know how to respond.

Naturally he spent a great deal of time thinking about the nasty remark, and he remembered that this woman was very religious. And he finally figured out what he should’ve said,” Why do you keep going to church haven’t you learned about Jesus yet?”

If that’s all it took to be a Christian, just show up a few times and learn who Jesus is, and then we just stopped going, would we be very good Christians? No. Not at all. Because we need a consistent input, week by week, every Sunday, to keep us plugged in to the message of Jesus Christ. That’s why we pray in the morning and at night, because we need to stay plugged into the message. That’s why we read our Bibles everyday. That’s why we attend a Bible study during the week, and why we hold each other accountable. It’s all for the greater purpose of staying firmly footed in Jesus Christ.

Because there is another message being communicated to us. It’s the message of the world. It’s the television commercials that tell us if we just buy this product, we’ll finally be fulfilled. It’s the billboard telling us to visit the gentlemen’s club and flash dollar bills at young girls. It’s the bar we pass on the way to work promising a “good time.” It’s television shows, internet websites, friends, even family members who communicate to us about the luxuries and pleasures of this life.

That message competes in our minds and hearts with the message of Jesus Christ. So I want to challenge all of us today, myself included, to change our inputs.

When we drive, let us listen to Christian music, or a Christian audiobook. Let us be steadfast to read a good morning devotional book, and pray in the morning to start the day right. Let us be steadfast in praying before we eat our meals. Let us turn off the television and turn on a good podcast from a Christian minister or Christian apologist. Let us switch over from the secular media websites, to Christian websites. And the whole idea being, that we begin to shift our input from the messages of the world, to the message of the Bible and of Jesus Christ. Rest assured that these cultural messages do impact us more than we might realize. Why do businesses spend millions on 30 second advertisements during the super bowl? Why do businesses pay monthly for bill board ads, radio ads, television ads, and internet ads? Because those advertisements stay in our minds, and affect the purchases we make. They impact our worldview. So we want to careful to make sure we are nurturing a Christian worldview, and not a secular worldview.

Colossians 2:6-8 say this: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

Let no one take you captive in this world. No corporation. No government. And no news media. Or political party. We must keep our minds steadfast in all the spiritual fullness found in Jesus Christ.

Verses 9 and 10 say this: “9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.”

In Jesus, who is our risen savior, and who is literally alive right now in the eternal reality, beyond this physical reality, you have been brought to fullness.

Jesus Christ is God almighty, all the Deity, capital D, lives in bodily form in Jesus.

And then we find a bit of a paradox in that it says in verse 10 Christ is the head over every power and authority.

Now this is interesting because we often find ourselves seemingly subject to human authority. We find ourselves in job environments that require a great deal of us. We find ourselves sometimes persecuted by people and by their systems of control. We find ourselves seemingly completely subjected to the authorities of this world, paying taxes, carrying around cell phones, purchasing food at the grocery store, driving the speed limit, and so on and so forth.

Yet we know that ultimately we only have one true king and leader, King Jesus Christ. Ultimately Jesus has final authority over every power and authority. Which goes to our current situation. We’re kind of like resistance fighters in France during World War II. If you recall they called themselves the maquis. The maquis were scattered throughout France during the Nazi occupation of France. Now the true French government was a government in exile, in Great Britain. The Maquis would receive orders from the government in exile, and then conduct hit and run attacks on Nazi units, waging guirella warfare.

That’s much like me and you. We’re resistance fighters against the kingdoms of evil and darkness that rule this present world. Our king Jesus is our leader, who is seated in power and majesty in heaven. We know that Jesus is coming again, returning to rule and reign on this Earth. That is our coming D-day invasion, when Jesus returns. But for now we’re under enemy occupation. And our job is to be subversive in winning others to Christ in this world. OF course the weapons of our resistance are not physical, but they are spiritual. We fight our battles by praying, by loving people, by asking the person in the check out counter how they are doing, and blessing them. We wage our battles by sharing the gospel with our friends, coworkers and loved ones. Each of you are under cover, we’re princes and princesses of a coming kingdom, currently in the rags of this world, quietly sharing the gospel, praying for the lost, and winning people to Jesus Christ.

But if we don’t live out our Christian worldview, and we don’t remain steadfast in Christ, there is always the danger of sort of slipping back into the ways of the world. We can very easily just skip praying, skip the bible reading, just worry about ourselves and our own families. Just you know, take vacations, go buy all the stuff we want, and watch movies, and just live for ourselves. I’m sure many French people did that during the occupation, they thought well it’s too dangerous to try to fight the Nazis, we just have to accept this reality, and they probably just went about their regular business. And there are Christians who are like that, Christians who are lazy, and don’t really live for Christ. And Jesus will deal with them directly on the day of judgment. Don’t be one of those Christians. Be a real Christian, who really, truly lives it out.

Remember, that your old lives, before you became Christians are gone. Your old self is dead.

Our scripture today puts it this way: “11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

I used to live a life ruled by the flesh. That’s just a fact. I did what Justin wanted. If Justin wanted drugs, fine. If Justin wanted sex, fine. If Justin wanted to go to college here, great. Whatever Justin wanted, the flesh ruled, all my wants, I lived to fill. But now that old guy is dead. Dead and gone. Buried with Christ in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I died that day I cried out to Jesus Christ. And then the Holy Spirit raised me up in my faith that Jesus Christ really saved me. Really is real. See, just as Jesus was raised from the dead by the father across the cross, and is alive right now, that’s just how we share in Christ Jesus, we’re born again, of the Holy Spirit, and alive because Jesus conquered the grave.

The scripture for today concludes in this way, and this will also be our altar call for today: v.13-15 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

Now that is the gospel right there, if you’ve never heard it before, there it is. Today, if there is someone in this room who doesn’t have Jesus Christ as their savior, I want to tell you today, you can receive Him right now. Right at this very moment.

Are you dead in your sins? Do you need forgiveness for your sins? Because Jesus Christ is here right now, in glory, with His angels, and in power, and His holy spirit is here waiting to come upon you. Come to the altars right now. Declare your need publicly for Jesus. And if you want to recommit your life today to Christ, please come forward as well.

Jesus Christ was slaughtered brutally on the cross, God on the cross, for the purpose of cancelling the charges against us. We were legally in debt, with a long list of our sins over our lives condemning us before God as sinners, as traitors to God, and as those destined for the fires of hell.

But Jesus Christ, our God, decided it would not end that way. He decided to take the punishment for our sins for us, on the cross. So if you believe in Jesus Christ, and repent of our sinful ways, and put your full faith in Christ, and give your life completely to Him, He will make you born again.

Count the cost wisely friends. Because we must completely give our lives to God, to do with as He desires. We yield our lives to Christ, and we begin to live for God’s will and not our own will. That is not easy. But it is so worth it.

For those who need Jesus and want to claim Him as savior today please pray with me. And if you simply want to reaffirm your commitment to Jesus and give it all over to Him once more, please pray with me, as we close today.