Thursday, September 12, 2019

ROOTED: in the fullness of Christ

Today's FOCUS: I pray everyone is so full of Christ that they can overflow with thankfulness as they
walk with him through life. 

How do you fill your fridge? We recently found this service through Aldi’s that delivers groceries to
your door! We’ve known about the pickup options that some stores have had for a while now, but
this...THIS IS AWESOME! You don’t have to drag three kids around a store...they bring it to you! I
know we have some Costco and Sam’s Club shoppers here who maybe go once a month and load
up 4 or 5 carts and have a ton of freezer space. Then there’s the farmer’s market shoppers who go
once or twice a week. Some of us go to the same store at the same time once a week. Some of us
run into Dick’s on our way home every night or stop for sandwich or sub because that’s just how we
roll. And finally there’s those mix in some gardening, canning, fermenting, and hunt or raise their own
animals to keep the fridge and freezer full.

We get how this works with food that we need for our bodies to function.

God wants our spirits to be full as well.

Full of Christ. All of Christ, all the time. I’ve been praying this week that each one of us can be so
full of Christ that we overflow with thankfulness as we walk with him through life.

Paul and the Holy Spirit wanted the Colossians to overflow with Christ..listen to or read Colossians
Why sink your roots daily and deeply into Christ? 
1. Christ is fully God. He wasn’t just God when he chose to heal someone or show his glory on the mountain or come
back from the dead. He was fully God all the time! 
God lived in bodily form. How did God live in a body? I don’t know. I really don’t know. But I’m glad
he did. Because how would the world have seen God if he hadn’t taken on a body? Adam and Eve,
the first two people, got to have their morning coffee..or their morning banana, with God. We don’t
really know what that looked like either, but we do know that all ended when they polluted their bodies
and minds and this earth with sin. Then they became ashamed of being known by God. They were
aware that they had become so unlike him because of their sin. 
Still, he searched for them as they hid behind the foliage of the garden. And then God shed the blood
of two animals to make clothing from their hides to cover their nakedness and shame. And he gave
them a promise...that despite how they had wrecked their relationship with him, their marriage and
family relationships, and his world, One would be born from their line who would have flesh and blood
like them, but no sin...because he would be fully God. This One would crush the head of the serpent
that enticed their flesh to long for the forbidden fruit. The only thing in the entire world that God had
not given them. This One would disarm the Evil One...would take away his power and authority..and
would put back all power and authority where it God’s hands. Where power and authority
can always be used to keep God’s people under his care throughout this life and happily ever after.
Paul alludes to all of this when he writes, “Christ is the head over every power and authority...
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them,
triumphing over them by the cross.” 
What a bizarre way to triumph over evil!
God comes to live in a body. Among people who are really, really messed up. He makes himself
vulnerable. People can sin directly against him in ways that literally hurt him emotionally and physically.
They try to scare him off and shut him up. Drive him out of town after a cliff. And then, Christ lets the
evil powers and authorities of the world kill him. 
The spiritual leaders of that time were using power and authority to control people. To use people for
their agendas and their benefit. So, instead of using their God-given power and authority to care for the
souls of people, the spiritual leaders used the people to make their own lives cushy and comfortable or
to push their political agendas. Today, we call this spiritual abuse. They burdened the people so much
with guilt, shame and fear. And then, the spiritual leaders gave the people man-made to-dos to try and
free themselves from that guilt and shame. “You should, you should you should” became the primary
way of getting people to do what they wanted. “You should”...
  • insert anything in here...
  • give more to the temple or tabernacle.
  • Pray “x” amount of times a day.

The Roman government did the same thing to push their political agendas, to keep their own lives cushy and comfortable. The ultimate example of this was how they used crosses to make their point even with the innocent like Christ… "mess with us and you’ll be next.”
Christ let both the Roman government and the spiritual leaders mess with him. He let them join forces
and put him to death on a cross. But as only a genius could do, he was using their weapons against
them...he was actually using their evil for their good and for the good of the people they were trying to
control! The cross was God’s way of nailing all the horrible things that human authorities and powers
have done to the cross with Christ’s body. The list of atrocities of all parents, spouses, governments,
spiritual leaders, and so on was nailed to the cross with Christ. The spiritual powers and
governmental authorities thought they were making Christ suffer on the cross...No, Christ was
suffering under the powerful and authoritative hand of the Almighty God for all the wrongdoings
of the human race.
Because of this, people’s power and authority are so limited and temporary. People may think they
have power and authority, but it will all come to end.
God is in control.
He will take it all away from them and give it to someone else in this life or when they meet him on
Judgment Day if they reject him now. Or he will use his power to humble them and restore his
relationship with them! God will have the final say. Evil power and authority has been disarmed.
Christ has triumphed over it by the cross...because he is fully God.
And Christ wants to fill all evil people! He wants to fill you and me! We use power and authority for
evil when we feel we are lacking something, when we want more control, or when we want things to
go our way. God only uses power and authority to either restore relationship or protect those he has
a relationship with. But we somehow think we need to be god. And when we get power and authority,
it’s not enough, we want more and more, it makes us drunk…No, we’ll never fill ourselves, no matter
what we try…
2. Because you are meant to be filled by Christ.
Paul teaches us about the difference between being filled by the empty calories of human traditions,
philosophies and ideas as opposed to being filled all the way with Christ. It’s like the difference
between drinking skim milk and farm fresh milk. A can of pringles or meat and potatoes.
You are what you eat!
Paul says it this way… “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.”
When you’re trying to get away from unhealthy foods, you can’t just stop eating. You need to replace
the junk with real food! Here’s some solid spiritual food for us.. “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. 13 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.”
Woah..I’m full. That was like a spiritual buffet. Let me tell you about what you just ate...God gave
circumcision to his people before Christ came in the body. (Parents, you can explain this to your kids
because God has given you that responsibility when you know they’re ready.) Circumcision was meant
to teach a spiritual lesson in a VERY physical way.  That extra flesh was cut off. Either at 8 days old
OR when someone converted to faith in the true God. Yikes. Paul explains what was behind that painful
ritual. God was teaching that our sinful flesh must be cut and carved away from us. Blood must be shed. 
But that ceremony before Christ came couldn’t really cut sin away. It only previewed what Christ would
do. Christ would fill his perfect, godly body with our sin. The world’s sin would be nailed to him on the
cross. I don’t know how that worked, but that’s what God said he did. Christ took responsibility for our
indebtedness to God. God gave each of us a full life and we have misused and abused it. We’ve used
it to hurt others, take advantage of others, take, take, take from others. We were in debt to God. But that
legal document of all our debts to God was pounded into Christ’s body on the cross. Christ took the debt.
He attached his name to our debts. He took our name off. He was condemned. His full life of walking with
God in all his ways was enough to pay off our debts. 
Friends, God has forgiven your debts! God has ripped that piece of paper to smitherines! Shredded it.
Burned it! Nothing stands between you and your God!
Be filled with Christ again and again and again!
Paul explains that when you and I were dead in our sins, stuck and condemned within our dead,
decaying sinful skin, God made us alive with Christ! God used the same exact power to restore his
relationship with you that he used to raise Christ from the dead! After your sinful, dead, decaying
skin was buried with Christ when you were baptized, God raised you up to a new, full life! A life of
being filled constantly with Christ, so that you overflow in thankfulness for what Christ has done for you!
That’s a lot of power! And God has used his power and authority for your make you full, whole,
complete again! Full of Christ! 
When you are filled with Christ, you won’t need to reach for those empty calories. When you are filled
with Christ, your posture will go from one of sitting and consuming and asking, “what can other people
do for me?” one of walking with Christ. Being filled with Christ means he’s given you what it takes to
get out of this pew today and walk with him this week, to live your life in him. 
My confirmation certificate caught my eye this week as I was applying all this to myself...and this matters
to each one of you as well. At the end of my 8th grade year, after I had been instructed in the basics of
the Christian faith, I received a Confirmation Certificate from my church that read… “This is to certify
that Aaron Michael Schulz has been instructed and strengthened in the truths of God’s holy Word and
in the faith of the Chirstian church, has confessed a personal baptismal faith in God the Father, God the
Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and assumed a deeper identification with Zion Ev. Lutheran Church and
a greater participation in its mission by the rite of Confirmation on the 18th day of May in the year of our
Lord 2003. Signed Pastor Steven Bode.” 
God has raised you to a full life.
He’s turned a dead tree that would have been firewood into a vibrant, living one. He’s grafted you into
his family tree! That’s us when our roots are in Christ!

Lives of stability in him regardless of life’s tornadoes and storms. Lives without fear of God’s
condemnation! Lives of freedom from the evil sinful powers at work in and around us! Lives of
God, I want our roots to go deeper into Christ. Amen.

ROOTED: in gospel service

Today's Focus: I want everyone to be overjoyed that their life’s purpose is rooted in serving the
gospel that has made them holy, without blemish and free from accusation in God’s sight.

Why do you serve? I mean, why do you pour yourself out for the benefit of others? Why do you
sign up for something extra? Why do you do things that come at a cost to the time and energy
levels you have? 

God gives us the purest reasons to serve and he gives us the perfect master to serve in today’s
lesson. I am praying that starting today, continuing today, you can be overjoyed that your
life’s purpose is rooted in serving the gospel that has made you holy, blameless, and
faultless in God’s sight.

So why do you serve?

  • Some of us, some of the time serve out of duty. Obligation. It needs to be done. I have what it takes to get the job done. No one else will. It won’t get done if I do it. 
  • Some of us get some satisfaction from fulfilling our duty.
  • Some of us serve because it makes us feel good.
  • Some of us serve because we have a spike in emotional energy to do something about a need, but when that emotional energy runs out, so does our service. 
  • Some of us serve because people will recognize us. They might just thank us. So we want our name attached to that large gift that was given. We want our family name engraved on that picture or statue that was donated. And hopefully at least someone realizes that I was behind this successful effort. 
  • My friends. These reasons aren’t enough. They’re not big enough, pure enough reasons to serve. God gives us bigger, purer reasons to serve.

I am praying that starting today, continuing today, you can be overjoyed that your life’s
purpose is rooted in serving the gospel that has made you holy, blameless, and faultless
in God’s sight.

The word gospel shows up three times in this part of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. We want to
be rooted in what God wants us to be rooted in, which means we think and talk about what’s
important to him. He wants us to be overjoyed that our life’s purpose is rooted in serving the gospel.
We get to serve the gospel that has made us holy so we can be near God. We get to serve the
gospel that has removed the stains and filth of our sins as we stand face to face with God. We get
to serve the gospel that has made us free from any fault before God.

1. We get to serve the gospel that holds hope out to us!

Daily hope for the daily grind! (vv. 21-22). 21 At one time, you were alienated from God and
hostile in your thinking as expressed through your evil deeds. 22 But now Christ reconciled
you in his body of flesh through death, in order to present you holy, blameless, and faultless
before him—23 if you continue steadfast and firm in faith, without being moved away from the
hope of the gospel.” 

We had a guest speaker come from a horse ranch near Bloomer that rescues horses and trains
them again so they can be ridden by children in challenging situations. She also happened to
graduate from St. Paul’s school in 1998. The horses they rescue for their youth ranch are unwanted.
Maybe their owner couldn’t afford them. Maybe they were hard to break in, so the owner gave up.
For whatever reason, these horses have become alienated from their owners, which makes them
extremely nervous an unpredictable...until there is rescue. Until they are taken in, groomed, fed,
talked to, trained, ridden and cared for. And given a new provide a chance for a young
child and their mentor to bond with the horse as the child learns to ride and care for another creature.

Each one of us was, at one time, alienated, detached, from God.

By our own doing. We were unholy, which means, unlike God in his perfect wisdom, justice, and
love, even though he created us to be like him. We were unable to be anywhere near our holy God.
We were able to be blamed for a whole lot. Each one of us was at fault. 

This made us hostile in our thinking and evil in our deeds. Why would you love and trust a God that
has every reason to condemn you to hell? You wouldn’t. You might be bitter with this God. You’d be
on edge and very defensive anytime that God is brought up in conversation, anytime his Word and
the demands of his law to live a holy life were brought to your attention. I’ve had coworkers at
different places I’ve worked see me bring a Bible to work for my break times and say, “keep that
thing away from me, God will strike me dead!” 

  • You might be bitter and angry with this God
  • You’d either try and prove that you’re not all that bad and try and get back on God’s good side
  • You’d just say, “what’s the point” and do whatever makes you feel good in the moment.
  • This is what it means that we were hostile in our thinking and expressed what was on our minds through our evil deeds. Either way, you and I had no chance of making reconciliation happen with this holy God…

And that’s why he did it all for us!

Christ came to offer up his own holy, blameless, faultless body to God. He wrapped all of your
unholiness, your blame, and your fault into his own perfect body and held onto it all as he died.
He did more than take all of that away...he wrapped his holy, blameless, faultless life around you.
And his love now holds you like this! You can trust him! There’s nothing to be ashamed of or scared
about in front of God! This is how Jesus presents you before God the Father. How can the Father
not love you now! How can he not come near you again?! Face to face! Reconciled! This is the
gospel! This is the gospel that holds you near and dear! God wants to hold all unholy people in this
gospel hug!

2. We get to serve the gospel that has called us by name

This gospel has been proclaimed to every creature (v. 23). “But now Christ reconciled you in his
body of flesh through death, in order to present you holy, blameless, and faultless before him
—” 23 if you continue steadfast and firm in faith, without being moved away from the hope of
the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under

You’ve seen it in war movies (or experienced it as a soldier) when a bomb or grenade goes off. It’s
like everything is in slow motion. You can’t hear, can’t think. Don’t know which way is forward or
backward, up or down. But your comrades aren’t going to leave you behind. They shout and scream,
but it’s no use. They wave their arms and point you to the escape vehicle. But you just can’t make it
because you’re so disoriented. Finally, they come right up into your face, grab your cheeks and mouth
the words, “Come with me!” And they grab you by the hand and lead you to safety.

This is what God did for you when he called you by name at your baptism. It looks like such a sweet,
innocent moment. Not really. God is calling you out of the jaws of hell. God is calling you away from
master Satan. God is calling you away from a self-serving life. The gospel is calling you to believe in
the holy, blameless, faultless Son of God. To continue steadfast and firm in this faith, without being
moved away from the hope of the gospel. This means you hear God call you by name. He literally
comes up into your face,

“I am your God. I am your God! I’m here to rescue you!”

He points towards heaven, he takes you by the hand and you hang on for dear life and trust him all
your life long!

This is what God does for you when he speaks to you through a friend, a parent, a sermon, a
devotion you read on facebook. The gospel calls out to you. And every person under heaven.
You’ve heard this gospel. You proclaim this gospel so others can hear God calling them by name
and rescuing them from themselves, Satan, and hell.

3. We get to serve the gospel that has made us its servant,

just like Paul was (vv. 24-29). “This is the gospel of which I, Paul, have become a minister.”
You, yes, even you, are the gospel’s servant! Here’s what it looks like to live as a servant of the
gospel that has made you holy, blameless and without fault. 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings on
your behalf, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf
of his body, which is the church. 25 I became a minister of the church for your benefit when
God gave me the task of fully proclaiming the word of God, 26 namely, the mystery that was
hidden for past ages and generations, but now has been revealed to his saints. 27 God wanted
to make known to them what is the wealth of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles—
this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
28 We proclaim him as we admonish and teach everyone with all wisdom, so that we might
present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 This is the goal I am laboring to reach, striving with his
strength, which is powerfully at work in me.
Being rooted in gospel service means that we suffer like Paul did so others can hear the gospel
calling out to them. So others can be held by the hug of God’s gospel as well. This is why we hang
in there with our kids through their rebellious years. This is why we hang in there with our spouse
through the ups and downs of marriage. Why we hang in there with our brothers and sisters who fall
back into addictions. Why we hang in there with people who have lived their whole life not knowing
and trusting that God has reconciled with them. We hang in there and suffer with all these people...
because Christ suffered for us. For them. So they can hear his gracious voice. So they can experience
his safe, forgiving hug along with us.
Being rooted in gospel service means that we do whatever it takes as a church and school to fully
proclaim the word of God in our community. We do whatever it takes so that the mystery of God can
be revealed to people. So they can understand and believe the gospel too. I think of one of my
friends here who cannot hear a thing, not even the hymns anymore. What can we do for him so he
can see his God now through life’s sadness and look forward to hearing God’s voice again when he
is in the glory of heaven? This applies to anyone with any obstacle getting in between them and their
God. How can we serve them with the gospel by removing those obstacles in their way? 
Being rooted in gospel service means that we actually use God’s word to admonish and teach each
other with all wisdom so we can all be presented complete in Christ. It drives me crazy to see
long time Christians being so mean and brutal towards each other. Complaining against each other.
Competing against each other. Having power struggles. Being unfriendly and not understanding
towards new people in the church. It drives God crazier. Being rooted in gospel service means that
we use God’s Word and all his wisdom within that word to resolve conflict. To reunite around gospel
service. To reconcile. Just as God has reconciled us to himself.

This is why we serve. Why we labor and strive with all our strength. The strength of God and his
gospel that are powerfully at work in us.
Be rooted in gospel service. Amen.