CHRIST IN US -- OUR HOPE!

What impressed you about our world this week? Your spent an entire week living in this world. I doubt that you spent seven days wearing a blind fold. I doubt you spent seven days wearing ear plugs. I doubt you spent the entire seven days interacting with people who make you feel good. So, what are your impressions from this week?

If your response is, "That depends," I understand. For some it was not a typical seven days. Because of circumstances, some had their time consumed by situations that do not ordinarily consume their week. Some in those special circumstances were impressed by kindness, thoughtfulness, and love. Some in those special circumstances were impressed by grief, pain, and hopelessness.

Others who did have a typical week were impressed with a mixture of things. At moments they were impressed with some very good, encouraging happenings. At moments they were impressed with the rottenness of this world.

"Well, David, what about you? You lived in this world the last seven days, too. What impressed you about this week?" For me, it was a fairly typical week. In a typical week, usually several different things happen in my thinking and my seeing.

  1. It is fairly common for me to stand in awe of God's mercy and love. That is not a commentary on others, but on me. I have a sense of who I am and am not. I know how I struggle. I know how easily my weakness trip me up. When I see God's goodness, I know the only goodness in me are the bits and pieces that feebly reflect God's presence. And I marvel that God could be so patient with me. And I marvel that God could find any reason to even want me.

  2. It is fairly common for me to be touched by the many kindness I see. Christians constantly amaze me with their ability to care, be kind, and love unselfishly.

  3. It is fairly common for me to be distressed by evil. There is so much pain in people's lives, so much hate in our world, so much violence because people despise people. This world can be a ugly place controlled by the acts of godless, selfish people.

  4. It is fairly common for me to feel a sense of challenge in all the opportunities I see. There is so much need, so much potential, so many ways to show people that there is a way to live that does not involve hate, resentment, or causing suffering.

  1. Let me go to the heart of the matter: evil in this world attacks physical existence.
    1. This world has been a place of fear in every generation as far back as there has been recorded history.
      1. The fears have not changed, and I do not think the fears will ever change.
        1. The economic fear--"I won't have enough to take care of my needs!"
        2. The disease fear--"Sickness will control my life!"
        3. The abandonment fear--"I will have to face a hostile world alone!"
        4. The death fear--"I will die!"
      2. There has never been a time when these fears did not exist prominently.
        1. Poverty has always been a reality.
        2. Sickness has always been a reality.
        3. Loneliness has always been a reality.
        4. Dying has always been a reality.
      3. There will never be a period in this physical world when there is no poverty, no sickness, no abandonment, no dying.
        1. No matter what lifestyle some people attain, those fears will be a daily reality for most people who live in our world.
        2. There always have been "the have and have nots."
        3. There always will be "the have and have nots."
        4. The purpose of life involves more than becoming a "have" or avoiding the existence of a "have not."
    2. Your initial reaction may be, "David, that is crazy!" but consider some realities.
      1. On January 8, 1964 in a State of The Union address President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in this country.
        1. Almost forty years later does this nation still have people struggling in poverty?
        2. I am impressed with the fact that we have proven that poverty is a very complex reality.
        3. You and I know the fear of poverty is a very real fear--right now!
      2. This nation has made incredible medical advancements in the past fifty years.
        1. I find it equally incredible to note the prominent new diseases of today that we had never heard of fifty years ago.
        2. With today's astounding medical treatments, can you afford them?
        3. Just in this country, does everyone who has genuine need for these medical procedures have access to them?
        4. You and I know the fear of disease is a very real fear--right now!
      3. There are an enormous number of people in this society who deal with abandonment issues--and they include children and elderly people.
        1. Do you know anyone who struggles with a feeling of abandonment?
        2. Do you know anyone who just cannot escape that feeling?
        3. You and I know the fear of being abandoned is a very real fear--right now!
      4. The fear of death is universal.
        1. Accidents cause death.
        2. Violence causes death.
        3. Greed cause death.
        4. War causes death.
        5. Poverty, disease, and abandonment cause death.
        6. Time causes death.
        7. Nobody, absolutely nobody, beats death.
        8. You and I know the fear of death is a very real fear--right now!

  2. People who accepted the challenge to be Christians after Jesus' death and resurrection confronted bigger fears and struggles than we face.
    1. In no way is that an attempt to minimize our fears and struggles.
      1. Our problems and struggles are quite real.
      2. I just want us to realize that there have been many people in many ages who faced greater demands than we face.
    2. In every age, people make the same religious mistakes.
      1. In the first century world, commonly people were convinced that there was a religious key to being a person to whom God gave His approval.
        1. They even declared what the key was.
        2. Some said the key was having the right lineage--a person had to be a physical descendant of Abraham through Isaac.
        3. Some said the key was proper religious rites--doing the right thing in the right way (even if you had no understanding of what you did) was the key to gaining God's approval.
        4. Some said self-denial was key to gaining God's approval (so make yourself suffer physically for religious reasons).
        5. Some said becoming a fanatic for God was the key to gaining God's approval--just do weird things for religious reasons.
      2. Paul said there is a key, but none of those are that key.
        1. "Well, Paul, if none of those are the key, what is the key?"
        2. Paul told the Christians at Colossae in Colossians 1:27 this was the key: "Christ in you, the hope of glory."
    3. I want to illustrate what Paul meant by "Christ in you, the hope of glory" in these ways.
      1. First, in your mind look at a sheet of paper with "Satan," "God," and "humans" on the sheet.
        1. "Satan" is on the lower left hand corner of the sheet.
        2. "God" is on the upper right hand corner of the sheet.
        3. "Humans" are in the middle of the sheet with a pull in both directions being exerted on them.
      2. Second, in your mind look at that same sheet of paper, but this time have a continuous line (arrow) drawn from "Satan" to "God."
        1. Basically Paul told those Christians at Colossae that God was unconcerned where you were on the line.
        2. God's basic concern was this: which direction are you going? Are you moving toward God or are you moving toward Satan? Are you deliberately becoming more evil in your life, or are you reflecting more and more of God's goodness in your life?
      3. If you really think about these two illustrations, there is a basic problem.
        1. It is easy for humans to move in the direction of Satan--it is really simple to do evil.
        2. It is hard for humans to move in the direction of God--doing God's good when you are surrounded by evil is hard.
        3. If it were as easy to move toward God than it is to move toward Satan, there would be many more good people in the world.
        4. People, of themselves, of their own strength, of their own doing have a hard time moving toward God. Let me illustrate this fact in several ways.
          1. It is easier to be a racist than it is to care about people not like me.
          2. It is easier to hate the poor because some of them abuse the system than it is to care about the poor.
          3. It is easier to resent stealing, or adultery, or sexual perversion, or addiction to pornography, or alcoholism, or substance abuse than it is to care, be helpful, and extend forgiveness to such people.
          4. It is easier to ignore the divorced person, the jobless person, the mean person, the insecure person, the abandoned person, the defeated person than it is to care about and help such people.
        5. It is surely easier to live with any problem in my lifestyle than it is to change my life style.
        6. So where does the power to change come from? Where do we find the power to move closer to God? Is it just up to us and our human strength?
          1. Paul said, "No, it is not just up to human strength."
          2. Paul said the source of your power as a Christian is this, "Christ in you."
          3. I must move toward God, but I find the strength to move toward God in Jesus Christ.

  3. I want us to read together Paul's statement to these people, the Colossian Christians.
    1. As we read, I want you to notice something--see it, pay attention to it, note it.
      1. "What? What is so important that I should pay that much attention to it?"
      2. Note the two things:
        1. Note what it means for Christ to be in a person.
        2. Note that Christ is the power source.
    2. The reading:
      Colossians 3:1-17 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him-- a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

We belong to a Savior who was resurrected from the dead. God says to us, "If I can raise that Savior from the dead, I can use him to lead you to me."

So I ask you, which direction are you moving? Toward God? Do you know the impossible frustration of trying alone, or do you let Christ live in you and provide the strength?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 27 July 2003
Study Along With David Chadwell
A Worship Worksheet
July 27, 2003

What impressed you about our world this week? ________________________________
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________

Some people were impressed by kindness, thoughtfulness and __________. Others by grief, _____________ and hopelessness.

In a typical week David will be impressed by:
God's __________ and love
The _____________ around him
The amount of ______________ in the world
_____________ in all the opportunities around

This world has been a place of fear in every _________________ as far back as there has been recorded history.

There will never be a period in this physical world when there is no ______________, no sickness, no abandonment, and no ________________.

The fear of death is __________________.

People who accepted the challenge to be Christians after Jesus death and resurrection confronted _________________ fears and struggles than we face.

In the first century world, people were convinced that there was a religious ________ to being a person to whom God gave his approval.

Paul says there is a key ... what would it not be?
_____________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________

What would it be? ______________ in you, the _______________ of glory.

We belong to a Savior who was _________________ from the dead. If God can raise a Savior from the dead, he can use him to lead _____ to God.

What direction are you moving? _____________________________________________
_____________________________________________________

Let Christ ____________ in you and provide the ______________.

provided by Gary Brown


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