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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:Patient Endurance with Joy
Text:Colossians 1:11-14 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Running the race
 
Preached:02/08/2015
Added:2015-02-07
Updated:2015-08-06
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


 

Pastor Ted Gray

 

02/08/15 – a.m.
Patient Endurance with Joy”
Colossians 1:11-14
 
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul makes a remarkable statement in verse 11. Paul writes, May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy... (Colossians 1:11 ESV).
 
In that statement he seems to be saying something that in our human experience is contradictory. Do the words “patience” and “joy” usually fit together in your life and in mine? What about endurance and joy? Do those two qualities go hand-in-hand in your life and mine?
 
Human experience teaches us that usually being patient is hard. Just ask a little boy who really wants to ride a new bicycle how hard it is to wait for the day when Mom and Dad bring that bicycle home and put on the training wheels and he can finally ride. Or ask the teenager who can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the car how hard it is to wait for their 16th birthday, to wait for their learner’s permit and finally their driver’s license. Or ask the young woman if it’s hard to wait for the ring that she desires from a certain someone. Or ask the young man how hard it is to wait to see where God’s providence leads as he looks for God’s will in marriage or employment or any other area of life.
 
We all know that patience is a virtue, but it is also a hard virtue to learn. Patience involves endurance and endurance always involves effort. The person running a marathon race may feel the pain in their side, the burning in their lungs, the ache in their thighs, and the constant impact of their feet on the pavement, but part of running the race is reaching the finish line even though it involves pain, even though it involves endurance.
 
Although we know the importance of both endurance and patience we usually don’t equate those things with joy. And the same was true with the believers in the Colossian church. They were a small church in a town that had economic hardships; they were under the Roman rule which meant that often Christians were persecuted; and they had many false teachers who were teaching them that they needed a further, deeper experience than they had received through the ministry of Epaphras who had faithfully preached the gospel to them.
 
The apostle Paul most likely wrote this letter within a few years of his own martyrdom. He knew how crucial it would be for this little group of believers in Colossae to have both endurance and patience.  But as he prayed for them he didn’t pray that they would have endurance and patience by gritting their teeth and painfully getting by day by day. Instead, he prayed in verse 11, May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy...
 
How is that possible? How could the Christians in Colossae, endure patiently the persecution and hardships that they faced? And for us today, in the various challenges of our lives, how do we endure patiently yet joyfully? Those qualities of endurance, patience and joy seem contradictory unless – and until – we recognize that God is the source of our strength. Paul’s prayer focused on a source of strength that is not found within ourselves but rather the source of strength that only God can provide.
 
The Source of Our Strength
 
It is common today for people to speak about the inner strength that all humanity is supposed to have. We are told to look for the power within us. This concept has grown in popularity with the growth of the new age movement in our culture. Within our culture there is a type of “spirituality” which is based on the old false teaching of pantheism. Pantheism teaches that God is in everything. Because God is in everything God is in you and you only need to look inside yourself to find divine power to give you the strength for whatever you need to do. That premise has actually been used as a motivation for salespeople who have been trained to believe that they can achieve success based on the power within them.
 
On the other end of the spectrum the secular humanist teaches that man is the measure of all things. The humanist may also teach to look within for strength to endure and persevere, but instead of looking to a spiritual power they look to the perceived power of the human species. Their motivation for perseverance and endurance is that it strengthens the species and furthers the advancement of human evolution.   
 
By contrast, as Christians we recognize our total weakness. By ourselves, relying on our own power, we can achieve nothing (John 15:5). But on the other hand, when we are strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might (v. 11a) then we can do all that God wills for us to do. As the Apostle Paul expressed it to the Philippian church, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
 
And that is the strength that the Apostle desired the Colossians – and us – to have. A strength not of our own, but in our weakness being strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might. It is only by God’s power that we persevere in the race marked out for us. It is only when we are strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might that we can throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).
 
Endurance and patience are crucial characteristics for every true Christian. Jesus said, “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Likewise He told a parable of the sower and the seed. You remember that the seed that fell on rocky ground seemed to flourish, as did the seed that was sown among the thistles. But in both cases the seed, and the plant which grew from it which represents the heart of the person who hears the gospel, did not survive. The cares of the world and the worries of life took their toll, and choked out the seed of the gospel.  
 
Unless we are strengthened with all power according to God's glorious might we cannot endure. But conversely, when we are strengthened by God might then we have the assurance of Philippians 1:6, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
 
We need to be strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might in order to endure with patience the race that is set before us, which is Scripture’s analogy for living the Christian life. But we also need to be strengthened with all power according to God's glorious might in order to have, not only endurance and patience, but also joy.
 
Endurance and Patience with Joy
 
It is, in fact, only the Christian who knows true joy in this life. The Scripture repeatedly speaks of the joy of salvation, the joy of the Lord in a believer's life. Interestingly enough, Scripture often speaks of the joy that believers have in the same breath as Scripture honestly speaks of the troubles that we as Christians face.
 
In this passage, for example, we know that the Colossian church faced troubles with false teachers as well as the challenges of living in a town that was economically depressed and in decline. And in addition, they had all the other troubles that simply come from the human experience and from a living out one’s faith in a hostile world. Yet in this passage Paul speaks of endurance, patience and joy all in one breath.
 
Peter does the same in 1 Peter chapter 1. In verse 6 and 7 he describes various trials which test the genuineness of our faith. He compares the trials to the heat of the refiner’s furnace which purifies gold as it removes the dross. And after speaking of such great trials what does the write in verse 8?  Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9).
 
James writes in a similar way, in James 1:2, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.
 
Romans 5 is yet another passage among many which stresses that endurance and patience, both hard qualities for us to master, are linked by God’s strengthening power to joy. Romans 5: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:1-5).
 
From these verses we see that we do not run the race of the Christian life with teeth gritted, painfully facing every step, but rather, even in the hardships and trials, of which there are many, we as believers have true joy as we are strengthened by God's mighty power.
 
Giving Thanks to the Father
 
A second ingredient for patience with joy involves thanking our heavenly Father for His blessings, specifically, in the words of verse 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
 
The inheritance of the saints in light is speaking about the eternal glory that we are given through faith in Jesus. To receive an inheritance usually means that you are part of the family. When parents pass on they may leave their children a portion of what God has blessed them with. While there are exceptions, usually it is family members who receive that inheritance.
 
By nature, whose family do you and do I belong to? When you were born, in whatever year it may have been, you were born as I was, into the family of Adam. The sinful nature of Adam is in each one of us from the moment of conception. As such, in our natural state, we do not deserve the inheritance of the saints in light. By nature we are on the outside looking in, children of Adam. But verse 12 describes three links in a wonderful chain of adoption which God has worked for all who, by His grace and enabling Spirit, believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.
 
Qualified to be Heirs
 
First, He has qualified us to be heirs. I knew a girl who had been abandoned by her mother. Her mother had left her on a doorstep of a stranger’s house wrapped in a blanket.  In God’s gracious providence, in the course of time, she was adopted by a Christian family. Through that adoption she was qualified to be an heir. Through her adoption she was given all the rights of any natural born child.
 
What a blessing it was for that girl! No matter what troubles came in her life, no matter what ridicule she may have received growing up, – for we know that children and teens, just like  adults, can be very cruel, – but no matter what she went through she had that joy of knowing that she was adapted by a father who loved her, cared about her, provided for her, and gave her all the legal rights that any natural born child would have.
 
And that's exactly what our heavenly Father has done for us. We are born as children of Adam, described in Ephesians 2:1 as being by nature objects of God’s wrath, yet what has God done? He has qualified us to be heirs. He has adopted us into His family through faith in Jesus Christ. As John explains it in that familiar first chapter of his gospel, Jesus came to that which was His own but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:11-13).
 
No matter what is going on in your life, no matter what hardship you are facing, no matter what sorrow is in your heart, no matter what ridicule you may face from those in the hostile world in which we live, the realization that we are qualified by our heavenly Father through faith in Jesus Christ to be heirs of the saints of light must by necessity give us that joy unspeakable which Scripture describes.
 
We still have the problems, whether with health or employment or other circumstances beyond our control, but we have a peace which surpasses all understanding and an inner joy the world can never know. How?  Why?  Because our heavenly Father has qualified us for the inheritance of the saints in light, which is an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade away – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:4-5).
 
Delivered from the Domain of Darkness
 
Verse 13 gives us the second link in this beautiful chain of our salvation. It says: He has delivered us from the domain of darkness.
 
I don’t know anything about the father and mother of that little girl who was found on a doorstep. I can only imagine that their life was very dark. I can only imagine the circumstances had to be awfully harsh to leave a little baby on a stranger’s doorstep. I can’t begin to imagine how dark and how hard someone’s heart would have be to do that.
 
But I don’t need to look at anyone else’s heart or anyone else’s life. I look at my own life and I see that the Lord has very graciously delivered me from the domain of my darkness. The darkness of my own life is, even after my conversion, deeper than I can even imagine. I don't even know the fullness of the sin that is still within me, even though by God's grace I am born from above and am a true child of God.
 
And the same is true for you. All of us who by God’s grace believe in Jesus Christ alone for salvation are delivered from the domain of darkness which marked our lives. By His sanctifying Spirit we become children of light, and we strive to walk more and more in the light of His Word. But we recognize that there is still darkness within us. And we marvel at the grace of God that He has delivered us from the domain of darkness.
 
Transferred Into the Kingdom of His Beloved Son
 
The third link in the chain of salvation which has brought us into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ is also written about in verse 13: He has transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.
 
Before the world was ever formed the Lord loved us and qualified us to be his children, to be heirs with His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. At a point in time, in your life and mine – if we truly believe in Jesus with saving faith – He delivered us from the domain of darkness.
 
Many of you who grew up in Christian families do not know that exact time of deliverance. But if you are a true Christian, you cannot help but look with joy at the reality that even though you are still a sinner you have been delivered from the domain of darkness. As you are delivered from the domain of darkness you are learning day by day to be more and more a Christian who walks by the light of God’s Word.
 
But as God delivered us from the domain of darkness He also transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. That transfer is a double transfer. What I mean by that is that in order for us to be adopted into God’s family our sin had to be transferred onto Jesus and His righteousness had to be transferred onto us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 speaks of that transfer when it declares: God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
 
And it is through that transfer of our sin to Jesus and His righteousness to us that we have, as verse 14 teaches, redemption and the forgiveness of sins. To redeem means to purchase. In biblical times it often referred to the price paid for a slave. We were slaves to sin and Satan. But Jesus paid the price by sacrificing Himself  on the cross.  As the familiar hymn puts it:
 
I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.
 
Sing, Oh sing, of my Redeemer,
With His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.
 
And because Jesus has paid the penalty for our sins by His redeeming work, our sins truly are forgiven and there is now, as Romans 8:1 says, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. As the 103rd Psalm reminds us our sins are separated from us as far as the east is from the west. As the Lord said to Isaiah, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Or as Micah put it, Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
 
It is that God of all mercy, grace and everlasting love who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints of light. He is the One who has delivered us from the domain of the darkness of our sin. And He is the one who has transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
 
How are we to respond? Our response includes running the race – living  the Christian life – with  endurance, patience and joy as we constantly give thanks to God the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light, heirs with Christ now and throughout eternity.
 
We  also express our gratitude by fulfilling the first part of Paul’s prayer (which we looked at last week), in verse 10, as we strive to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
 
May that life of joyful gratitude, regardless of earthly circumstances, describe your life and mine, now and always!  Amen!
 
 
 
 
 
- bulletin outline -
 
May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. - Colossians 1:11-14 (ESV)
 
“Patient Endurance with Joy”
Colossians 1:11-14
 
I. Paul’s prayer for the Colossians included that they would have all endurance and patience with joy (11b). Those qualities seem contradictory unless:
     1) We recognize that God is the source of our strength (11a)
 
 
 
 
     2) We thank Him for our inheritance as believers (12a), recognizing:
          a) He has qualified us to be heirs (12b, c)
 
 
 
 
          b) He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness (13a)
 
 
 
 
          c) He has transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son (13b), through whom we
               have:
                 (1) Redemption (14a)
 
 
 
 
                  (2) The forgiveness of sins (14b)
 
 
 
 
II. Our response: A life of gratitude, walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge
     of God (10)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
02/08/2015 – a.m.
 



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 02/0, Rev. Ted Gray

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