More than conquerors

Preached on: Sunday 12th November 2023
The sermon text is available as subtitles in the Youtube video (the accuracy of which is not guaranteed). A transcript of the sermon can be made available on request. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here 23-11-12 Message PPT slides multi pages.
Bible references: Romans 8:31-35, 37-30 & Mark 15:16-20, 33-34, 37-39
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– More than conquerors
– Loved by the living Jesus

Heart for God’s Glory

Preached on: Sunday 24th September 2023
The sermon text is available as subtitles in the Youtube video (the accuracy of which
is not guaranteed). A transcript of the sermon can be made available on request.
Additionally, there is no PDF this week.
Bible references: 2 Samuel 7:1-29
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon key points:
– Heart for God’s glory
– Dangers of the heart
– Jesus: our security

Find security in God; invest in eternity

Preached on: Sunday 31st July 2022
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here22-07-31 Message PPT slides multi pages.
Bible references: Matthew 6:19-34
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– We’ve all learnt to place our security in the wrong place
– We need to learn to put our security in God
– With our security in God we are freed to invest in eternity
Let’s take a moment to pray before we dig into God’s word. Let us pray:

Come Holy Spirit and soften our hearts to the word of God.
Come Holy Spirit and lead us into the ways and life of the Kingdom.
Come Holy Spirit with power and deep conviction, for we ask it in Jesus, name. Amen.

I wonder what your earliest childhood memory is. Your earliest childhood memory. If you feel like it, why don’t you turn to your neighbor and for the next 20 or 30 seconds with a bit of music in the background, share what your earliest childhood memory is. Over to you.

So, okay then, sounds like you could go on for hours probably there, so feel free to pick up those conversations afterwards.

I’m saying to Margaret I have a terrible ability to remember events. My wife despairs of me. She’ll be like ‘Remember this?’ and I’m like ‘When? How did that happen?’ There are some things I would love to be able to remember just because it’d be great to see what the people’s faces were at the time/ Like, when I was really young and apparently, I thought that the neighbor’s car needed a paint job and so I got out the creosote. Thankfully it was a company car so he wasn’t too bothered actually. Or there’s a time when I was really young, about three I think, and had one of those little fire engines that you could ride on. I got about half a mile away from house before dad found me and the next day a fence was built within 24 hours to keep me penned in the back garden. I would love to be able to remember these things rather than just be told by my parents ‘Oh, you know, this happened when you were really young.’ There are lots of things we don’t remember from childhood. There’s probably lots of things actually we try not to remember from childhood and these events, some of them at least, can really shape our lives in very profound ways and we’ll come back to that thought in a little moment.

We’re in this series on the Sermon on Mount. We’re about two-thirds of the way through and we’ll finish up with our all-age service in about a month’s time with our children and families back amongst us, hopefully, and through all we’ve been seeing how Jesus has been building upon the teaching of the kingdom. He’s been helping us see what the life in the kingdom looks like, the ways of the kingdom so that we can come into that good, blessed, kingdom life. I don’t know about you but when I read so much of the Sermon on the Mount, I find it really challenging and there’s points, especially maybe with today’s passage, that it feels a bit burdensome. He says ‘Don’t have treasures on earth’. Well, strike number one. ‘Only serve God’. Strike number two. ‘Don’t worry’. Strike number three. ‘Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness.’ Well, I’m all out Jesus so I’ll just pack up my bags and especially if you’re someone who worries by nature or by nurture and so that you’re in that place where anxiety is something you really struggle with and you’ve maybe been struggling for years and it might even be crippling your life there’s every potential that you hear this passage, you read this passage, you’ve maybe heard it tons of times and every time you end up going ‘Well, that wasn’t helpful’ or ‘It feels like a bit of a slap in the face.’ And especially when you come to some later teaching of Jesus in the same gospel, I might add, it really gets a bit perplexing because Jesus says this just a couple of chapters later not quite chapter 9 Jean, we’ll move on to 11. ‘Come to me all you who are weary and burdened,’ – she’s going to get me later on – ‘and I will give you rest take my yoke upon you and learn from me for i am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ and as you’re reading through this passage, as you’re reading through the Sermon on the Mount and you think well His yoke is His teaching, that’s what Rabbis meant, that you would take the yoke of the Rabbi upon you, that’s His teaching. Really? The Sermon on the Mount is easy and light, really Jesus? So how, how do we square that up? How do we square up what Jesus is saying and what we feel?

I think some of it has to do with how we read it. That we read so much of scripture, we read the Sermon on the Mount, through a particular lens and so we don’t end up reading it through the lens of His heart. This heart that is gentle and humble. This heart that desires for you to know life and joy and freedom, and so, we don’t read it through that lens and we read it in another way and so, we don’t see His heart and it feels burdensome. So, if we were to read His word, if we were to read this passage through the lens of His heart, how does that change this passage? Indeed, how does it change the whole sermon?

Well, coming back to our passage, we heard Jesus say earlier ‘Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth where moths and vermin destroy and where thieves break in and steal …….. for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ What is the concern of Jesus here? If His heart is for you, if He’s not against you, if He’s not out to condemn you and belittle you, what is His concern here?

Treasures are things that we value and it could be any number of things. It could be the material. It could be our money but, equally, it could be reputation or image; a loved one; our health; could be our comfort; it could be a job or a position that we have a role, even within the church. All these could be our treasures. Treasures are things we value but tied to that, often, treasures are things that give us security, they make us feel safe and when the thing we treasure is undermined or threatened what comes? Worry, as Jesus says, and when we elevate that earthly treasure to a position it should not hold, it becomes our master, as Jesus says, and when it becomes the focus of our lives, when it becomes our ambition and the goal and the driving thing in our life, then then our vision is often clouded, as Jesus says here, and with that, at times, can come a darkness in us, as that thing becomes the goal, as Jesus says here. And so, again and again Jesus is asking the question – Where do we find our security? Where have you placed your security? He knows our human condition, He knows by both nature and nurture, we all learn to place our security in the wrong place. There’s a writer that I really enjoy reading and listening to, her name is Ruth Haley Barton, a Christian writer, and she has a helpful way of putting this across. She talks about how, across our lives but particularly in the early years, we develop coping mechanisms. Mechanisms to help us deal with the harsh and hard realities of life in this world but, often, these coping mechanisms, particularly a young age, don’t include God and so, we end up finding our safety, our security, ways to cope, in the wrong place and God isn’t a part of that picture. I was listening recently to one of her podcasts and in that she related a story in which she recalled an event from her childhood. This event she had blocked from her memory for probably about 30 years but God brought it back to her and she went and spoke to her mum who confirmed it was a real event. She was about four years old when this event happened and it was her mum who dealt the blow because her mum disciplined her in a particular way, really not in a justified way, but her mum wasn’t doing it for any ill reason but she was just, that’s what she understood to be maybe best for her child but it clearly wasn’t because it left a wound and in light of that wounding, Ruth learned a coping mechanism. She learned how to keep herself safe, how to find security in a world which had suddenly upended for her and that had effects over the years such that in her thirties she was facing a form of bullying at work, she was really in a very difficult situation but she could not stand up for herself despite the encouragement of others, she could not stand up for herself because of that earlier wound and what she did instead was she withdrew and she got small because that was how she kept herself safe, that was her coping mechanism, that was where she found security by withdrawing and getting safe.

So, what about you? What about me? Where have we learned, maybe from childhood, maybe during our adult years, where have we learned to put our safety and security? It could be in position, could be in health and comfort, could be in reputation, it could be in loved ones, or wealth and possessions, might be any number of these.

Remember, Jesus doesn’t raise this to condemn you, belittle you, He does it because He loves you, He wants you to come into life, to come into greater freedom, to cut, to know a greater security than what you’ve known until this point. And that’s our next point, because he says ‘Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or stow away in barns and yet, your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? …. For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly father knows that you need them.’ So much of the teaching of Jesus, so much of what He says mentions the Father because the Father was His place of security, His safe place, that the foundation of His life because He is in that intimate relationship with the Father, the Father’s love, the Father’s care, the Father’s affirmation, that was central to Jesus and He models it and He teaches it to His disciples. And so, what Jesus is saying in these verses and through this passage is that we need to find our greater security in God. He calls us to give up that limited security that we may be nurtured and built for ourselves whether through childhood or whether through our adult ears, we need to give that up and find the greater security of the Father’s love, the Father’s affirmation, the Father’s care and provision. But to learn that, to learn to find our place in that is a journey. But it does echo what Jesus says in Matthew 11 too ‘Learn from me and you will find rest for your souls.’ To learn from Him, to learn from Him by unlearning our coping mechanisms, to learn from Him by having our minds renewed that we understand our Father more intimately and better, that we can have that greater trust and security. It is a process. Any learning is a process. It takes time.

I don’t know about you but my mental picture almost of the disciples is that they hear this and immediately they just jump ‘Right, no more worry!’ So, I almost imagine that but it doesn’t match up to the facts. Have you noticed how often the disciples are portrayed as a bunch of messed-up individuals. It gives me confidence actually, this is a side point, it gives me confidence that the Scriptures are true because if it weren’t true you wouldn’t include them as a bunch of messed-up individuals, you’d want them to be on a pedestal, but they’re not. So, we find Peter at the start of his time with Jesus and Jesus goes off to pray one morning and Peter comes after Him and says ‘Jesus, you know there’s a bunch of people over here, they want to see you,’ He’s more worried about them than about what Jesus is concerned about. He has this worry in him. Or later on in life, now, admittedly, walking on water I think any of us might be a wee bit intimidated by that, but he worries and he thinks but at least he walked on the water. Or later on in life again a couple years later, he’s with Jesus who’s arrested and because of worry and anxiety he denies the Lord three times. Worry. Or later, as an apostle, when Jesus returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit’s come, Peter saw 3 000 plus people come to faith and yet later he can then choose to ignore the Gentile Christians and only have fellowship with the Jewish Christians, because of worry, because of anxiety. And it takes Paul to come along and give him a bit of a verbal slap to get him out of that place, to help him see that it’s wrong what he’s doing. But he’s worried. But, you know, even later in life Peter is able to write in chapter 5 of one of his letters ‘Cast all your anxiety on him, the lord, because he cares for you.’ It’s a journey. It takes a whole of a life and more besides to learn but, if we will learn it, we will find a greater security, we will find rest for our souls. And later, in the same sermon, Jesus will say ‘Those who seek will find.’ Is it easy? No! Is this sermon going to answer every question and issue around worry and anxiety for you? No! Might you need to go and see a counsellor for years on end maybe, maybe, if worry and anxiety has become that pattern in your life. And that’s okay, I’ve been to see a counsellor because of things. So that’s okay. I don’t expect this sermon to achieve everything but some of it might help. Hopefully. Is this ever fully achieved in our lives? Well, I’ve only been following Jesus for 20 years, I’m hopefully only halfway through my life so I can’t really say that with any great authority but I doubt it. Ask some of the older people who have been following Jesus for a lot longer than me. But I reckon they’ll probably tell you, there’s always more to learn, there’s always more to learn.

How do we learn that? How do we learn to find that greater security? I think core to it all has to be to listen for the voice of our Heavenly Father. I think that has to be core or at least it is from my experience so far. Because, what are the things that I worry about? Not so much the Manse, to be honest, I worry about its influence on Gill but I don’t worry about it quite so much. Finances? Not so much. Image? Clearly not so much. But doing right by you, this community, doing right by God a bit more. Let’s remember, this is only my first charge. I’m a young guy. I’ve got lots to learn. Half the time I’m guessing. That’s what I worry about. But you know, whether it’s through the daily reading of scripture or reading of other books, or prayer and solitude in silence, there are ways that I’m building in. When I’m not like this little chap in the picture; he seems to be kind of almost trying to get out of his father’s arms; it’s not really, ‘I’m not really sure about this cuddle, dad!’ But if we want that greater security, we need to turn to the Father. We need to learn to hear His voice.

I shared with the Elders the very first Kirk Session meeting I had I think it was Elders it might be in the Deacon’s Court it gets confusing when you have two bodies of people but I was on retreat the week prior to me being ordained and inducted here and had all these thoughts swirling around me and I’ve learned on retreat to utilize art. now I did do standard grade art but I’m not the greatest artist in the world so line drawings are my thing. And I drew this picture and through it was drawing it because of just what I felt the Spirit was saying to me, You won’t see it well but if you want to come up and see it afterwards then please do and so, in this picture I’ve got me, I didn’t pick black for any particular reason other than just to make it a bit less obvious but here’s me and here are these things that could weigh upon me like: ministry expectation, being a pastor; week-in week-out preaching which is quite a daunting prospect; tradition; numbers; being young but also maybe lacking young people and wanting to see that grow in our body. All these weights but they’re not on my shoulders because I felt God was saying ‘I’m behind you, and I’ll take that weight if you let me. As long as you stay connected to me and breathe in my Spirit and breathe in what I say to you, it will nurture your heart and keep you right because, what should be over your shoulders is My yoke. My yoke, that is easy, my burden that is light.’ And I have that up in the study to remind me of that

So, what about you? What do you? Do to turn to the Father to hear His voice and it can’t be every now and again and it can’t be even just a Sunday, you need more, unless like you’re a bit more like Jesus, I think you need more than once a week. So, what are you doing? What’s God saying to you? Not to correct you necessarily, to affirm you, to speak His love over you. What’s He saying? And, if you can’t answer that question, then you need to learn, you need to learn to find that greater security in the Father and we have ways and means of doing that at church: Huddle; a Fellowship Group; many others besides. And if you don’t know how to tune into the voice of the Father you need to learn because you can’t do this life of faith otherwise, you can’t grow in greater security otherwise so, come and talk to me, drop me an email because I won’t be leading over the next two weeks and when I get back if I’ve got a group of people who are saying I want to learn to grow in that, we will put a group together, we will do something because there’s few things more life-giving than hearing the voice of your Father.

Now being free of worry is a, more free of worry is a great thing but there’s also other things that come, as Jesus says, as we find that greater security He says ‘Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven when moths and vermin do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.’ With our security and God, the rest of the teaching of Jesus can come into play and become a reality in our lives. And too often we try and jump from ‘don’t have treasures on earth’ to ‘have treasures in heaven’ and we try and skip out the bit in the middle which I’ve just talked about. And, if you try and do that, you will end up with a religion, a way of following Jesus that is lifeless and which deadens your soul because instead, what you will have is something that makes you feel guilty, which makes you feel weary, and most likely in time, will bring about bitterness. So, don’t forget the bit in the middle.

But there’s this other third bit of today of ‘having treasures in heaven’. What is that? Well, it’s anything that lasts into eternity. So, what lasts into eternity? A Christ-like character. The Scriptures teach us faith, love and hope. The Scriptures teach us knowledge of God. Those who we’ve helped to come to faith in Jesus that will last into eternity. ‘The prayers of God’s people are like an incense that come before the throne of God’, they last into eternity. Our witness, our testimony of Jesus lasts into eternity. Anything that brings God glory, lasts into eternity.

So, where is the room for you to grow and how you invest in the eternal things? And that will depend upon where you are putting your security now. So, for example, if your security is in success at work and being a good employee and making sure that you tick all the boxes and such like, then you might be more inclined to say ‘Well, you know, I don’t have time. I don’t have time to be with God and seek His voice. I don’t have time to serve at church because work, that’s the goal, that’s where my treasure is, that’s where my security is.’ If it’s your comfort, your lifestyle, your bank balance, then what might come as a lack of financial generosity because you don’t want to invest in that, you want your bank balance, you want your lifestyle to remain safe, comfortable. It’s your treasure and so you’re not as generous as you might be. If image, if how you appear to others is your place of security and treasure, then what will come is an unwillingness or an inability even to step out in faith, to be different and often. I think, that can be a problem for our young people but is a problem for most of us too. A young person’s journey, a big part of it, is about identity and we need to help our young people navigate that journey so that this is not their place of security, but it’s there for all of us, I’m sure, as well, with each of those areas and there’s many more besides. With each of those areas if we can learn to find our security in the Father’s love then we are freed up to invest in eternity, to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, not simply to be more free of worry and that would be a glorious thing to see.

Now, this is the point when I suspect you begin to feel a bit more of a challenge. You begin to wonder if God is criticizing you a little bit more, but let me remind you of Jesus and His words He is ‘gentle and lowly of heart; humble of heart; His yoke is easy and His burden is light.’ He came that you might have life and life to all its fullness. He was sent because the Father loves you and didn’t want to have eternity without you and Jesus chose to lay down His life on a cross to be the sacrificial Lamb of God for you and for me.

Let that sink in, brothers and sisters. Let that sink in, because, if we can, if we will, then we’ll see the heart of Jesus, the heart of God which yearns for us to find a truer life, a fuller life, a freer life, by having our security and our treasure in God.

I pray it may be so. Amen

Confidence in Christ Jesus as Lord

Preached on: Sunday 6th February 2022
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here 22-02-06 Message PPT slides multi pages.
Bible references: Colossians 2:6-15
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Let us take a moment to pray before we think about God’s word:
Holy Spirit, come among us and soften our hearts to the word of God.
Holy Spirit, come among us and help us see the truths of Jesus and hear them for ourselves.
Come Holy Spirit now, we pray, with power and deep conviction, for we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.I wonder, do you ever feel like your faith has waned or diminished somehow? Maybe when you were a teen or a young person? Maybe when you took on a new role in church that was a real high point in your faith journey, but you know, maybe something’s happened and your faith has taken a knock it’s dropped, it’s dimmed, and maybe now you’re feeling less confident in your faith? And you know, if that’s you or someone that you know, it’s very similar to what Paul was feeling for the Colossians. Maybe even very similar to what the Colossian Christians were feeling themselves, because, in their case, Paul was afraid that other teachers, maybe especially Jewish teachers, would come in and try to influence the church, trying to undermine their confidence, their confidence in the faith and so, he writes now both to safeguard and strengthen that faith.

He begins by taking them back to the start of their faith journey. He writes in verse 6 ‘So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord.’ Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord and with those eight words, Paul has the heart of his letter. This is the central bit to the whole letter. It concludes what has kind of come before. It has been building up to this point but those eight words prepare for the rest of the letter too, and we can just so easily skip over them because we’re like ‘Oh well, we know that language. We know what that means and yet, in the first century, those eight words were radical. Those eight words were daring, dangerous words because, to claim Jesus as Lord, well that was to assert that no one else was God, no other God was God, and it was to transfer your allegiance to Jesus, above all other allegiances, including the Roman Emperor and that was dangerous to do back in the day. This was a claim that could get you ostracized from your family, from your local community. This was a claim that could get you arrested, even killed but, really, it’s the natural conclusion of all that Paul said before. Particularly Donald’s passage a couple of weeks ago in chapter one where we looked at the supremacy of Jesus. This one who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation and whom the fullness of God dwell. This is a natural conclusion that Jesus is Lord and so Paul is saying that to be a Christian is to have received Jesus as Lord, the Lord of your life. It’s to have transferred your allegiance to Him, above all other allegiances.

Now, we might say ‘Well, I’m a Christian because Jesus is my Savior.’ and that might well be true but true saving faith also includes transferring your allegiance to Jesus as Lord because, when we repent, we’re not simply saying sorry for things that we’ve done for our sin, we’re turning from that old way of life and we’re seeking to live a new way of life under the Lordship of Jesus, and that was part of Jesus’s teaching as well. He says in Matthew chapter 11 ‘Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.’ The rest of salvation, the rest that comes through knowing you’re forgiven and reconciled to God, but he goes on ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.’ That language of the yoke and taking it upon you was a Rabbi’s way of saying my way of life, my teaching, take it upon you come under my authority, learn from me. It is coming to Jesus as Lord and so, you might know some knowledge about Jesus, you may even think well of Jesus, you might even say ‘Well, I’ve asked Jesus to forgive me’ but biblical faith, saving faith, includes receiving Jesus as Lord. That is central to being a Christian because, you know, even the demons believe that Jesus is God in the flesh, even demons believe that you can go to Jesus for forgiveness but they don’t receive Him as Lord.

So, can I ask you, have you, have you received Jesus as Lord? Have you transferred your allegiance to Him?

I’ve told my story of coming to faith on a number of occasions but a central part of that faith story is that I transferred my allegiance to Jesus. Up to that point, at the age of 19, I’d been pretty much living how I wanted to live. My way was the highway, and I just did what I wanted to do, and it hurt a lot of people along the way. Actually, it was a very selfish life but when I came to faith I realized not only did I need forgiveness, which I did and which I asked for, but I had to turn from that old way and I had to come under the Lordship of Jesus. Now, I didn’t know that language, I didn’t know that’s what I even really did, but looking back, that’s what happened. I came to transfer my allegiance to Jesus to see that He had to become my Lord and I had to live under His authority. can I ask you friends, have you come to that point, truly come to that point, where Jesus is more than just a nice guy, an old teacher, a figure of wisdom, he might even be someone you regard so highly? Because you can be forgiven through Him but if you come to know Him as Lord, true repentance includes that. So, can you say that, with the Colossians that you have received Jesus as Lord?

So, that’s what Paul begins this section by reminding them, of taking them back to the start of their faith journey, that they received Jesus as Lord and he does that because Paul is concerned for their spiritual welfare. He says in verse 8 ‘See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.’ Paul is concerned for their spiritual welfare, He’s concerned that someone is going to take them captive through other teaching and the words there ‘take you captive’, the language there has echoes of the day of slave traders coming and taking off victims body and soul and taking them into a new way of life, a life that is no life really, and Paul doesn’t want that for them, he doesn’t want them to be taken away from the life they found in Jesus and taken into slavery and so as to safeguard and strengthen their faith in Jesus, Paul wants to give them confidence in Jesus and to build up their confidence in Jesus.

He gives them four reasons that they can have such confidence and his first reason is this – Have confidence in Jesus, because He is fully God. In verses 9 and 10 Paul says ‘For in Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.’ So Paul’s concerned that some teachers are going to come along and they’re going to say ‘Well, if you want truthfulness, if you want to really know God, Jesus is not enough, you need to to do something else or you need to have something else or know something else or know someone else.’ But not so, says Paul, because in Jesus actually the deity, not just divinity, the deity lives in Jesus and that means that Jesus is not a demi-God, He’s not half-divine and half-human and nor does He simply have a human body within which is a divine spirit or mind ‘No, no, no.’ all the deity fully lives in Jesus. He is the sole human being who embodies the fullness of God and, as such, that means He’s the head over every power and authority. He is all authority over them. He is the Lord Almighty, the unopposed ruler. He is more powerful than any other. He is the Lord. To have confidence in Jesus, the one who is fully God.

Reason number two, have confidence in Jesus because you have been fully integrated into God’s family. You have been fully integrated into God’s family. He says in verse 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.’ Now these verses can seem a bit odd, slightly out of place and pretty dense stuff as well, and it’s because of these verses and because of what Paul writes here that it seems likely Paul is concerned about Jewish teachers coming along to undermine the faith and confidence that Colossians have in Jesus otherwise, why would Paul go off on this tangent. And so, we need to remember first of all what circumcision was about. It was about being obedient to God’s covenant in the Old Testament and it signified that someone was part of the people of God. It was a sign, a way in, and so Paul is aware of this from the experience with the Galatians, that people might come along and say ‘Well, if you really want to belong to the people of God, if you really want to be saved, if you really want to be reconciled to God, then you need to have circumcision it’s not just enough to have faith in Jesus’ but Paul says otherwise. It says otherwise in just about all these letters and his argument here is that they actually, the Colossians and any Christian has been circumcised, already circumcised, and the only sense that really matters, a circumcision of the heart, not done by hand, a circumcision of the heart done by Jesus and what Paul means is this, that when you come to faith in Jesus and you put your faith in Him such that He becomes your Lord, not simply your Savior, but your Lord as well, that means you’ve submitted to the Lordship of Jesus, His rule in your life, you’ve transferred your allegiance to Jesus in the depths of your being, where it really matters, and that’s what circumcision was meant to facilitate and enable and represent That old circumcision was meant to represent that inner circumcision and so, Paul says your whole self, ruled by the flesh, ruled by sin that that old way of life where you were under the mastery of sin, that is not gone because you’ve been circumcised in the heart where it really matters and so at that point of repentance when Jesus became your savior and your Lord, you put off that old master and you receive Jesus as your new Master, your new King, your new Lord, and you transferred your allegiance to Him and that means you’re no longer an enemy of God. Chapter 1 verse 21 ‘Because you receive God and his lordship through Jesus in your life’ and that means you’re now part of His people and so you’re fully integrated into God’s people and that is represented and displayed and affirmed in baptism, particularly the baptism of immersion, is particularly helpful to portray this and so Paul writes in verse 12 ‘Having been back 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.’ So the idea here is that in the baptism of immersion where you go under the water to be baptized that that is a dying a picture of dying going underneath the ground that you’re buried with Christ, you’ve died to your old way of life, you’ve died to your other masters, and you’re rising to a new life in Jesus, to having Jesus as your Lord and submitting to Him. That’s what Paul is getting at here and so through these verses Paul is saying, have confidence in Jesus because you’re fully integrated into God’s people, you’ve had the true circumcision, the true circumcision of your heart, which the Old Testament physical circumcision was meant to point towards and help facilitate, that inner circumcision has happened and so you don’t need that other circumcision because your allegiance is now in Jesus who is God after all, and so you are part of the people of God and you can have confidence in Jesus.

Reason number three, have confidence in Jesus because you are fully forgiven. Paul says in verses 13 and 14 ‘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 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’ and so Paul says that these Colossians, before they had faith in Jesus, were dead in their sins which every human being is before faith in Jesus, and in the uncircumcision of your flesh that that sin, your flesh, was your master in that previous state. You were dead, you were estranged from God, the source of life but then God made you alive and He made you alive by forgiving your sins by forgiving you fully through Jesus’ death on the cross. Now, the phrase in these verses where Paul says ‘the charge of our legal indebtedness’, that phrase, the charge of our legal indebtedness, that’s Paul’s shorthand here of referring to the Old Testament law. The Old Testament law would simply build up a list of things that we failed to do, a list of ways that we rebelled against God, ‘that we were enemies of God in our minds by our evil behavior’ Chapter 1 verse 21, and as such, the law simply put us under a doomed future, a curse, because we sin and we sin and we sin, and we send some more and all that means is that our future, the only future ahead of us, without receiving forgiveness, the only future that was ahead of us is eternal separation from God because of sin, but Paul is saying that now, through Jesus, you can have that debt taken away, not ripped up and forgotten about, but actually borne by Jesus on the cross. There it is nailed with Jesus and He dies our death, He bears the punishment of our sin. God can’t simply ignore it because He’s a holy, righteous God but, out of love, He dies in your place and in my place and if we put our faith in Jesus, we can be fully forgiven such that the law, the charge of our legal indebtedness has no charge against us now when we have faith in Jesus, when we belong to Him because we’re fully forgiven, we’re reconciled to God. Chapter 1 ‘and so let’s have confidence in Jesus because of his death on the cross.’

Reason number four, have confidence in Jesus because you are fully secure. Paul says in verse 15 ‘and having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by the cross.’ Now there’s various references in this letter and in other letters of Paul’s to the spiritual forces to powers and authorities and it’s not exactly clear what Paul means by that language. Here he doesn’t really expand upon it overly much so it could refer to demonic powers, it could refer to foreign gods, it could simply refer to the Roman government even. Of course, it could refer to all three and whichever one, it is ultimately Paul’s point is still the same, that Jesus has disarmed these powers, Jesus has disarmed any embodiment of rebellion against God and so that means that Colossians, by having faith in Jesus, don’t need to fear these powers, they don’t need to submit to these powers. Again, they don’t need to try and appease these powers once more, rather they’ve to see that, in Jesus, they have the true God of true Gods, they have the Lord of all creation who, through his death, has won the final victory and such that one day His kingdom will be established and that will be all there is. So, have confidence in Jesus because you’re fully secure through Him.

Those are the four reasons that Paul gives to the Colossians. Reasons to have confidence in Jesus and I wonder friends, which reason do we need to take heed of today in our own life?

Do we need to have confidence that in Jesus? We have the one who is fully God, so why look elsewhere? Why look for faith and another God, or by another name? Simply come to Jesus.

Or do you need to have confidence that through Jesus you’re fully part of God’s family? So, why are you taking other steps to try and earn it, earn your way into God’s family, earn your status or your welcome in God’s family. You are part of God’s family.

Are you needing to have greater confidence in the forgiveness you have through Jesus? And so, you don’t need to look to your own solutions, you don’t need to try and appease God with your good behavior. Come to faith in Jesus and a confidence in what He’s achieved on the cross.

Or do you need to know that you’re fully secure in Jesus, that you don’t need to fear other powers, you don’t need to trust in other sources of security or salvation? Trust in Jesus, have confidence in Him, for in Him you’re fully secure.

Friends, where is it you need to grow in your confidence in Jesus today? Where is it you feel undermined? In these four areas of life, we can feel undermined by so much, so Paul exhorts us, as he exhorts the Colossians, to have confidence in Jesus and Jesus alone, because of these four ways.

And so, Paul has seen seeking to safeguard and strengthen the Colossians faith in Jesus as Lord and he gives those four reasons but actually, Paul said something else as well, something I skipped over just to help me structure this sermon.

In a useful manner Paul earlier on said this ‘So then, just as you receive 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.’ Paul doesn’t want to see this group of Christians just hang in there with a lukewarm or dry faith. His picture of the Christian life is not that someone comes to faith in Jesus and just hangs in there until the day they see Jesus’ face to face. No, no, Paul has a greater vision for the Christian life. He wants to see these Christians continue in Jesus, to continue exclusively in Jesus, to continue strong in Jesus, to continue in Jesus with thankfulness. That’s his heart and vision for these Christians and so he says ‘Continue to live your lives and him keep trusting in Jesus. Pursue Jesus with passion and with excitement, with overflowing with thankfulness because’ as he says you’re rooted in Him already, you’re rooted in Him when you received Him as Lord, you’ve become rooted in Him so now, be built up, don’t be undermined, don’t just hang in there, with the smallest amount of faith or knowledge or joy or passion, be built up, build on the foundation you have in Jesus Lord so that your strength, faith is strengthened and then you’re not taken captive by other false philosophies which are empty, which are dead, which don’t lead to life, don’t allow your allegiance to be transferred from Jesus to something or someone else keep your allegiance in Jesus and evidence that by continuing to live in Him and grow in your faith.

And don’t we need to hear this as well church? There is so much in life, whether it’s on social media, in the newspapers, and what we see on the TV and the demands of the marketplace to try and get us to buy different things. There is so much around us in our culture which seeks to draw our allegiance away from Jesus and give our allegiance to other things, to find our security, to find our salvation, to find hope and confidence and authority in other places rather than in Jesus. And you know friends, there are local groups, local institutions which you might even be a part of on a voluntary basis, which are seeking to lead you astray. They might even claim to be Christian in nature. They could even involve the Bible in certain ceremonies and rights, but you know, they might prevent you from mentioning the name of Jesus, they might bar you from mentioning His name in prayers or in other activities and meetings. And if that’s the case friends, if you’re part of a group that’s like that where the name of Jesus is banned then it’s seeking to draw you away, it’s undermining the authority of Jesus, it’s not encouraging you to have Jesus as your Lord, truly and so I caution you there.

But whether that applies to you or not friends, all of us at times can feel an emptiness in faith, even in life and all of us at times can have faith feel like it’s waning a little bit or that God seems more distant than He once was, there are times in all of our lives when our confidence in Jesus is undermined but the answer is not, it is not to go looking elsewhere. The answer is to seek Jesus, to pursue Him afresh, to continue in Him, to continue exclusively in Jesus and keep our allegiance to Him because, let’s remember these great promises of Jesus ‘Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, for everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds’ and then later in the same gospel He says ‘Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’

Friends, do you need to come to Jesus afresh today maybe this year? Do you need to come to Him, to find the rest of knowing God that you don’t need to look elsewhere? In Jesus, you have God in all His fullness so come to Jesus. Do you need to know the rest of being part of God’s people, His family through Jesus, that you’re safe and secure in Him for all eternity? Do you need to know the rest of being forgiven, of reconciled to God through Jesus death on the cross? Do you need to know the rest of being secure in Jesus that He has disarmed all powers and authorities? You don’t need to fear them. Have peace through Jesus and come to Him afresh today because friends, Paul exhorts us to continue in Jesus, to come to Jesus that we might have confidence, that we might overflow with thankfulness for all that we have in Him because, in Jesus, we have the one who’s fully God in Jesus, we are fully part of God’s people now and for all eternity, in Jesus we are forgiven, we are secure, so let’s continue confidently and thankfully in Him. I pray it may be so. Amen.

We close our service with our final hymn, How firm our foundation. We’re going to sing it to a different tune than we know it would normally but it’s a tune that should be well known to you. We sing together then, How firm a foundation.