NUMBER 2 IN SERIES
Bible Reading: Colossians 1:15-29
[*] During a spelling contest in which the prize was a fine Bible, the contestants were finally reduced to two--Betty, the daughter of a poor, hard-working widow, and Susan, the daughter of a well-to-do farmer. The sympathy of the school was with the poor girl. Finally Susan misspelled a word, and Betty won the coveted prize. Going home, Susan's mother said to her daughter, "Couldn't you have spelled that word?" "Yes, Mother." "Then why didn't you do it?" "Well, you know Betty is quite poor, and she doesn't get many presents. She wanted the Bible very much, and she tried so hard for it that I thought I'd let her have it." "What made you do that, Susie?" "My Sunday school lesson, Mother, which said, 'in honor preferring one another.' So I thought I'd try it, and I'm glad I did." A few days later, Susan received as a birthday present a beautiful Bible, and on the flyleaf was written the text, "In honor preferring one another" (Rom. 12:10).
[*] This morning we thought of the body of Christ, which is of course made up of everyone who has received Him as their personal Saviour. Tonight we continue the theme of each of us being an integral part of that Body with a part to play.
[a] There recently appears to have been a renewed interest in medical programs on the television. I’m old enough to remember ‘Dr Kildare’ the vehicle that shot the young Richard Chamberlain to fame and fortune.
[b] But now there are programs about doctor’s practices, clinics, hospitals - even animal hospitals, and veterinary practices.
[c] Recently, when some folk have tried to get appointments with their doctor because they’ve been ill, they’ve been told that they could have to wait up to a week! Someone said, “I could be dead by then!”
[*] When we were children, it was always mummy we ran to, when we hurt ourselves, or when we were scared!
A burst of thunder caused the three-year-old to race into her parents' bedroom. "Mommy, I'm scared," she said. Her sleepy mother responded by saying, "Go back to your bed. God will be there with you." The little girl stopped at the doorway, turned and said, "Mommy, why don't I sleep here with Daddy, and you go in there with God?"
[d] When you’re feeling unwell, isn’t it good to have confidence in your doctor. To know that he or she will understand your problem, and give you the necessary medicine, is a very calming and reassuring thought!
[e] But doctors appear to be suggesting that they are seeing too much of their patients - that often the patient isn't ill enough to merit the doctor’s time.
The problem is that something appearing relatively minor may be easily treated, but if neglected, could turn into something major - even life threatening!
(a) If even a small part of our bodies suffers disease or injury, all the other parts of our bodies rush to it’s aid, e.g. putting on a dressing, legs taking us to the doctor, tongues explaining what is wrong.
What sort of state would we be in, if each member of our bodies, turned around exercising a will of their own and said “Silly thing, it’s it's own fault, why should I help??” Or the arm saying, “I always wanted to be a leg, why should I
help, after all it doesn’t affect me!”
RIDICULOUS - YES, BUT IT HAPPENS TIME AND TIME AGAIN WITHIN THE BODY OF CHRIST!!
(b) I’m reminded of the y.p. story of the young boy who was told not to go and play on the local building site.
He went secretly, and whilst there stood on a rusty nail which went up through his shoe into one of his toes!
He went home and of course kept it to himself, because he had disobeyed his parents instructions.
After some days, the toe became very sore, and when he looked at it, he found it had swelled up, and become bright red and poisoned.
He naturally had to go and tell his parents, who took him to the doctor, who had to lance the toe and let out the poison.
On this occasion the toe was neglected because he had disobeyed instructions and was not willing to own up!
(c) Sometimes when poison becomes too extensive within a limb, the only answer is to amputate, in order to protect the rest of the body.
The Apostle Paul likens this poison to the yeast leavening a lump of dough, and he speaks about the spiritual application; let me read it to you from the “Amplified Bible”. 1 Corinthians 5:6-7.
“Do you not know that [just] a little leaven will ferment the whole lump [of dough]? Purge (clean out) the old leaven that you may be fresh (new) dough.”
(e) However, let us remember that when infection enters the human body, we have anti-bodies in our bloodstream to counteract the virus.
[*] In H.G. Wells ‘WAR OF THE WORLDS’ the Martians are doing very well in taking over the earth - in fact they appear quite unstoppable, until they all catch the common cold, and without any immunity, they die off, like moths in a mothball factory!
THIS IS WHY AIDS IS SUCH A FEARED DISEASE TODAY - IT DESTROYS THE BODY’S NATURAL IMMUNE SYSTEMS, SO THAT THE SUFFERER IS OPEN TO ALL KINDS OF INFECTION!!
THE AIDS VIRUS DOESN’T ACTUALLY KILL ANYONE ITSELF, IT SIMPLY RENDERS THE BODY INCAPABLE OF FIGHTING OFF EVEN THE SIMPLEST OF INFECTIONS!
(f) When we're tired and run down, we are more open to infection, because the anti-bodies are not as active as normal! This results in the fact that we become sick much more easily.
(g) If in our Christian lives, we are run down, and in poor condition spiritually, perhaps through lack of prayer, testimony and Bible study, then we will become infected with spiritual contamination much more easily.
IN FACT THERE ARE MANY WHO ARE SUFFERING FROM A KIND OF SPIRITUAL AIDS, AND ARE OPEN TO EVERYTHING THE DEVIL WANTS TO INFECT THEM WITH!!!
(a) If our blood circulation is affected, then that limb of the body concerned will quickly get ‘pins and needles’ and cease to function normally. It will become cold without feeling, and will literally die, if nothing is done quickly.
(b) As part of Christ’s Body, naturally it will affect us badly in a spiritual way, even critically, if His Life does not flow freely through us!
(c) If His Life does flow and pulsates through us, then we will be spiritually healthy, and the necessary spiritual antibodies will be plentiful to destroy infection or spiritual disease!
(d) Each part of our body is continually cleansed, protected and nourished as the blood flows through our veins and arteries, carrying it’s precious, life preserving antibodies.
[*] It is desperately important that our blood is in good condition, or we will rapidly become ill and die.
Our sister-in-law, Jean, in Belfast, who died of her cancer, had to go for kidney dialysis twice a week, where for hours, her blood was taken out purified, and returned - because her body’s natural purifying mechanism, her kidneys, had failed.
(e) As we allow Christ’s life to flow through us, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, He will make us clean, spiritually healthy, and useful for God!
(f) However, even though we have fellowship with God's people week after week: even though we have many Christian friends, and are in their company often, it is no substitute for coming personally to Christ, that He may meet our need.
(g) A young nurse was helping to care for a sick, Christian gentleman whom she loved very much. He said to her, "Ellen, it is time I should take my medicine. Measure just a tablespoon and put it in a glass." She quickly did so and brought it to his bedside. He made no attempt to take it from her but said, "Now, dear, will you drink it for me?" "Me drink it? What do you mean? I am sure I would in a minute if it would make you well, but you know it won't do you any good unless you take it yourself." "Won't it really?" "No, I am sure it will not." "If you cannot take my medicine for me, neither can I take your salvation for you. You must go to Jesus and believe in Him for yourself." The dear old saint of God had been trying to explain to his young nurse that she could not be saved on his account and by serving him, but rather through her own acceptance of Jesus Christ as her Saviour.
Allow me to quickly reiterate some of the points I made this morning:
(a) We are part of His Body with our part to play - let us make sure, large or small, that we are fulfilling our proper role.
(b) As part of His Body, we must be controlled by the MIND OF CHRIST!
Philippians 2:5 says, ”Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
(c) The members of our own body must work completely in unison with one another, and so too with the Body of Christ!!
(d) Spiritual disease within the body cannot be simply left alone. It must be dealt with, or it will spread and destroy.
(e) I wonder is it possible there is something in your life or mine, that is poisoning our part of the Body of Christ.
(f) Let us yield anything of that nature to Him, the Great Physician, and allow Him to deal with it. He will take away the poison of sin!
(g) He can then put us on the path to spiritual healthy living!
[*] Much is often made today, of healthy eating, healthy exercise, and ways to stay young! Obviously, I haven't come across the last one yet!
A mother and her four year old son were looking through an old family photo album. The boy pointed at a picture of a handsome young man with dark, curly hair. He asked, "Who's that?" She told him, "That's your father." The boy looked confused. "Then who is that bald guy who lives with us now?"
(h) Let us always bear in mind, that as we must maintain our physical bodies with food, exercise, rest, cleanliness and a host of other things, then so too we have the responsibility of maintaining our spiritual being as part of Christ’s Body!
i. Spiritual food from the Scripture is essential - no starvation diet!
If we don’t support the Bible Study/Prayer/Fellowship meeting - it will die - perhaps with devastating effect on those with less spiritual growth than ourselves!
ii. A close prayerful fellowship with God has no substitute. If younger Christians see us apparently neglectful our own spiritual life, or indeed the corporate spiritual life of the corps, they will view it as unimportant, and we will be responsible - by example, for leading them along a path which lacks spiritual depth and substance - a Christian experience which will not stand in the heat of temptation!
If a young or new Christian stumbles through lack of spiritual growth - how horrendous it would be, if we felt responsible, because we'd given the wrong signals.
iii. We could say that testimony is a spiritual exercise to keep fit!
If that’s true, the Church must have many spiritual ‘couch potatoes’.
Many Christians KEEP THEIR BODIES FIT, BUT NOT THEIR SOULS!
iv. Keeping spiritually clean pure and holy should be every Christian’s
burning desire! We must continually be cleansed from the contamination this world throws at us every day! We also have to make an effort to avoid the filth that contaminates our souls so easily!
v. Rest, doctors tell us is very important to our physical and mental health and well-being.
We are told in Scripture that we are to “Rest in the Lord.”
That conjures up in my mind a picture of peace and tranquility, as we trust ourselves completely into His care and keeping!
SALVATION ARMY SONG BOOK
690 205 (ESP. V.3)
Other possible songs - 374, 361, 657, 662, 647, & choruses 71 & 238