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Faithlife

Taking hold of the Jesus life

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Taking hold of the Jesus life.

Col 3:1-4

If you have your bible, would you turn with me to Colossians 3:1-4.

[Prayer for Illumination]

INTRODUCTION

The way that we live our lives reflects in a lot of ways the type of person we are. It reveals who we are and what’s important to us. It reveals our core values and the reality of our selfish, sinful nature.

The Bible talks about singing to the Lord a new song. Are you singing the Lord a new song or are you giving Him the same old song and dance? When God brings change into your life do you trust that he knows what's best for you or are you running from the good God is bringing into your life, even fighting it? I know that I do.

What does your ideal day look like? If your human, than you’re a creature of comfort like me who likes your day to go smoothly, without any surprises. Take a minute to really think about your day to day routine. Do you shy away from confrontation? Do you purposely schedule your day so that you’ll meet the least amount of resistance? Do you try to avoid conflict at all costs?

If you had to compare your ideal day with a type of music, what would it be? If I had to describe my ideal day with a type of music, it would have to be “Muzak” you know the music that you hear on elevators. The calming and comforting music that fills up the uncomfortable silence with nice, soothing and relaxing melodies.

ILLUSTRATION

When you came in, you should have gotten a “Rubik’s Cube.” If you didn’t, raise your hand so that someone can give you one. If you look at your Rubik’s Cube, you’ll see that only one side has been completed. Now our daily routine is like this one side that we try and protect from any kind of change. And if you’re like me I will do just about anything to try and keep it from getting messed up.

Sure I may once in a while fidget with it by trying something new, but usually it only lasts for a short time and I end up going back to how things were. Go ahead turn your Rubik’s Cube a few times, now who here as you turned the cube, made sure you remembered what you did so you could turn it back?

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It’s scary to venture too far because the more times you turn it, the greater the chances are that you may forget your way back. But, we’re not here to remember the way back, we’re here to move forward. Stepping out in faith means, we step out of what we’re used to, out of our comfort zones.

Oftentimes, a trial will take us by surprise and mess with the comfortable routines that we’ve worked so hard to protect, but instead of looking into the reason why trials happen, we spend all our energy trying to get things back to the way they were and our growth is hindered.

Proposition: Eternal living can only be found in Jesus.

In our passage today, we are given an ethical demand and a theological reality which will help us take hold of the Jesus life.

MAIN 1

If we trust what Paul says to be true, that salvation is found in Jesus “then we also must trust that God’s grace will transform us,” [1] so that we are able to set our hearts and minds on the purposes of heaven.

Colossians 3:1-2 says:

1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Our natural tendency is to only think of the temporal side of life, what will make us the most comfortable, our immediate security, and we won’t including the spiritual side of life, what God may want to do on the inside of us, in our character by pulling us from the idols of comfort or materialism or money or selfishness or fear or whatever is getting in the way of having Christ formed in us. We ask God to transform us, but then we do everything we can to stop God from actually doing that.

Now in these two verses there is an “Ethical Demand: To aim at the Things Above.”[2] What Paul is saying here is that “when our spiritual devotion is properly focused on the Lord Christ and his unique relationship to God (as the Son who sits at the right hand of God in heaven), we will be able to see the value and role of earthly things more clearly from God’s perspective.”[3]

Maybe the reason that we don’t see the urgency of our situation, in who we are and what we do, because we don’t recognize the spiritual component or realize the eternal ramifications of the things happening in our lives. We don’t take into consideration the reality that who we are, what we’re all about and our actions do impact eternity in some way because we’re so stuck on the temporal side of life. Earthly things have become more important then heavenly things.

If we realize it or not, what we do in the visible has some affect on the invisible because the physical and spiritual components of life are intricately connected.

God know this. He can see the whole painting when all we can see are a few brush stokes and when we set our hearts and minds on things above we are more apt to be able to sense and see life from God’s perspective. We will be able to see life with an eternal perspective. But, our earthly desires are in direct conflict with the purposes of heaven. So, the more focused we are on the temporal side of life, the less able we will be able to set our hearts and minds on the things above.

                                                         

The kind of people we are in “Christ and the kinds of actions we now take as his disciples must always reflect what and in whom we believe.”[4] We must also remember that “the work of grace is inside out, so that private matters of the heart are always fleshed out in public.”[5] The reality of heart transformation is revealed in changed lifestyle.

That’s why God brings change into our lives, so that He can break up the routines of safety and comfort that we covet so desperately.

Paul’s “claim is that in Christ we not only are forgiven and redeemed by God but are also transformed into new persons,”[6] who are able to aim at the things above.

It’s really easy to explain things away by saying that the things happening to us are only coincidence, but that’s the lie that we tell ourselves, so that we don’t have to ask the deeper questions that bring into question our personal character or our level commitment to Christ or the reality of our sinfulness. When we dismiss events in our lives as random, we sooth and comfort ourselves into complacency because randomness and coincidence turn any kind of responsibility away from ourselves.

Everything that God does has purpose and being a child of God means that nothing enters into our lives without God’s say so. There are no accidents in the economy of God. Accidents mean that God is not in control, that God is not sovereign. You see, God is thoroughly interested in our character. His desire is to transform us into the likeness of His Son Jesus. So, He is constantly changing our plans by reordering our steps because typically, our plans exclude any sort of suffering or conflict or confrontation.

ILLUSTRATION

I first heard this illustration from Pastor Francis Chan, who founded and pastor’s the Cornerstone Simi Valley Church in California. He compares God’s plan for our lives to Him baking a cake with our lives. Now to bake a cake you need ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla extract, milk, and baking soda.

During our lifetime, we will experience all sorts of different ingredients: Just as when you’re baking a cake. As we go through life, God brings different experiences into our lives which at the time don’t really taste very good.

Now the bulk of our lives are filled with daily activities like eating and sleeping or studying or working, this is like the flour. Sometimes we will experience blessings like a promotion or the birth of a child, or a graduation, this tastes pretty sweet which is like milk. Other times, we will experience suffering like getting an illness or hurting ourselves physically or losing someone close to us which is like the vanilla extract. When this happens were like yuck. Sometimes, we’ll experience trials that challenge and stress us out like conflict at home or work or school which can taste like raw eggs or confrontation which can feel like salt or baking soda in our eyes.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Different life experiences equal different ingredients. When tragedies happen, we’re like eeewww what’s that all about and then at other times when good things happen we’re like yum, that was sweet give me more of that.

Now if it were left to us, our lives would probably be one huge mound of sugar which represents our personal comfort. But, what kind of cake would that be? Oftentimes, it’s through these other ingredients like raw eggs or vanilla extract that God grows us and forms our character. If all we’re adding is sugar, then we may never, ever grow up. Now there are all types of cakes, so maybe God is adding certain ingredients into your cake that He’s not adding to others.

Most of the time, we don’t understand what God is doing in our lives because what we are experiencing is only the flour or milk or vanilla or eggs or salt or vinegar. We can’t see that God is actually making something wonderful with our lives.

So the more that we set our hearts and minds on the things above, the clearer we will be able to sense and discern what God is doing in our lives. Setting our hearts and minds on things above means making our schedules and plans available to God and accepting that He does know what’s best for our lives, even though at times it just doesn’t feel very good. So the million dollar question is: How do we set our hearts and minds on things above, on the purposes of heaven?

APPLICATION

Last week I went to IHOP, The International House of Prayer, with Steffan and we had the opportunity to sit in a class by Alan Hood called the “Excellencies of Christ.” And what he talked about was so perfect in answering this question of: How do we set our hearts and minds on things above?

The answer is to meditate on the personhood of Christ. In the personhood of Christ we will find everything we need to understand what the priorities of heaven are. When you’re meditating on Jesus and God begins to bring change into your life, instead of resisting or working against Him, you will more readily work with God because the more you meditate on Jesus the greater your desire will be to become like Him. And you will begin to understand the urgency in doing all you can to put yourself in a position where God will transform you, instead of ignoring what God may want to do in your life by making yourself unavailable to God.

It’s like staying at a hotel where you put up the “Do not disturb sign” to make sure that housekeeping doesn’t come in. How many times have you done this to God? But, the more you meditate on the personhood of Jesus, the more open you will be in inviting God to have His way with your life.

I believe a child of God can get to a place where the rocky path of sanctification will be more desirable than the smooth road of comfort. I believe that a child of God can get to a place where they are so engaged with Jesus that when God does bring change into their lives, they will almost be expecting it because it will feel so absolutely and completely right.

Probing Question:

Let me give you two options to choose from:

1)     If you could live the next 10 years without any kind of suffering or tragedy where you would be financial stable and your life would be super comfortable, but you will experience zero growth in Christ likeness. Would you want that?

2)     Or if you could live the next 10 years with suffering and tragedy with no guarantees on how financially stable where your life would be like a roller coaster, but you would experience 100 times growth in Christ likeness. Would you want that?

The more you meditate on the personhood of Jesus, the more you will understand and experience who He is which will propel you to a place of love and adoration for Him where your desire to become more like Him will grow and grow until you get to that place where you’re not going to let anything stop you from having God transform you, no matter what the cost. No barrier will seem too great or chasm too wide.

Have you ever wanted something so bad that it didn’t matter what the cost was, you just had to have it? That’s the place where meditating of the personhood of Jesus will take you. The only way to succeed in our faith is by meditating on the personhood of Jesus, on His divinity, His humanity, His power, His nearness and His kindness.

APPLICATION

I want us to spend the next 5 minutes or so meditating on the personhood of Jesus. In the bulletin, I’ve given you some attributes of Jesus’ personhood to meditate on.

1)     Jesus as the Word of God: John 1:1-5

2)     Jesus as the Son of Man: Matthew 9:4-7

3)     Jesus as the Son of God: John 5:19

4)     Jesus as the Mediator: 1 Timothy 2:5-6.

5)     Jesus’ omnipotence: Matthew 8:26-27

6)     Jesus’ sovereignty: John 5:26-27

7)     Jesus’ immortality: John 17: 1-5

From the list, I want you to pick one, read the passage connected to it and then just meditate on it. There’s some space at the bottom of the paper to jot down some of your thoughts and any revelation that God gives you. So spend some time reading the verse and mediating on that attribute of Jesus’ personhood.

Now, my prayer is that you will take this list home and spend some time meditating on each of these attributes of Jesus. But, understand that this list is only a beginning.

The more that we meditate on the Word of God, the more we will realize the immensity of God. But, it’s real easy to get to a place where we tell ourselves that we know the bible, that we know all the stories, that we know God, that we know Jesus. But that’s a real dangerous place to be because when this happens we become intellectually prideful, when this happens we end up putting God in a box because we start to believe that we know all there is to know about God. It’s one thing to be head smart about God and be completely heart dumb about experiencing God. Just knowing about God is completely different than actually knowing God

ILLUSTRATION

In going back to the Rubik’s Cube, when we do this, our understanding of God can begin to look like that one completed side. We can get so rigid in our thinking and understanding of God that we become closed to experiencing God in any other way because we think we know it all. So when God tries to bring any sort of correction to our thinking or a new way of experiencing Him we reject it. The more this happens the smaller God becomes and the bigger the conflict and trials in our lives get. You may even begin to believe that what you’re going through is too much for God.

If we persist in this too long, we will eventually become unteachable. When this happens we just about become useless to Kingdom of God because God can only use people with teachable hearts. Pharisees were people with unteachable hearts.

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Jesus says, “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well” (John 14:7). This is why meditating on God’s Word and on the personhood of Jesus is so important, the more we understand the personhood of Jesus, the more we will know the Father.

MAIN 2

Now in the next two verses, there is a “Theological Fact: [of] Living with Christ in God.”[7] It is “in Christ that we should expect victory over sin, since in our new-creatureliness we now have the capacity to obey God.”[8]

When you read a passage like 2 Cor 5:17 which says: 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! What goes through your mind? We all say we believe that, but when it comes to actually walking this verse out in your life, do our actions actually line up with what we say we believe? Because this verse talks about change and transformation.

1)     Maybe when you came to faith, God pulled you from a life of sin and you had a pretty dramatic conversion and the contrast between the old and the new was very clear.

2)     Or maybe you’ve been walking in the new life since you were a little kid and the distinction between the old and the new has never ever been that clear to you.

Either way, as we grow and mature, we can reach a certain level of comfort in who we are and it’s real easy to begin to settle into that image of ourselves. When this happens, it’s really easy to simply stop growing and take on a complacent, even an indifferent attitude toward change.

ILLUSTRATION

In going back to the Rubik’s Cube you have in your hand, oftentimes the image that we hold of ourselves is like that one completed side. And we will fight to protect this image. Have you ever said to yourself: “Oh, that’s just the way I am.” When we say things like that, what we are really saying is that I’d rather stay the way that I am than try to change. Maybe you believe that you can’t change. But, thinking like that excludes God from the picture.

Now in all these Rubik’s Cube examples what I’ve wanted to emphasize is that we as people as limited. Our desires are limited, our understanding is limited, and our view of ourselves is limited. It’s because we are only creations. But, God is the Creator who is able to see everything going on, when we can only see a portion. So, when He begins to bring change into our lives, it’s because He’s trying to make us whole. He’s putting together and completing all the other sides.

God’s Word says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14) and we all know this to be true because I don’t know about you, but I know that I’m complicated.

And I don’t know about you, but just thinking about trying to get every side of this Rubik’s Cube seems almost impossible, but God knows what He’s doing and though it may seem like He’s messing up our one little side, what He’s really doing is working to complete the good work that He started in all of us. Phil 1:6 says: “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.”

It’s only through Christ that a believer is given new life because Jesus “is the source, power and goal of all Christian growth.” [9]

Verses 3-4 say:

3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

In these verses there are two truths: 1) that believers’ current lives are hidden with Christ in God and 2) that believers will one day also appear with Christ in glory.

Do you believe that your life is hidden in Christ? That everything that we need in understanding who we are can be found in Christ?

What Paul is saying here is that believers are “with Christ in God and therefore reside in a place other than [this world], a place where divine grace transform[s us] into a new creation.”[10]

Where are you looking for your life? Are you looking for your life in Christ or out in the world?  

  • It’s in Jesus that we find eternal life.
  • It’s in Jesus that we find our inheritance.
  • It’s in Jesus that we find our true identity.
  • It’s in Jesus that we find peace with God, others and ourselves.
  • It’s in Jesus that we find joy.
  • It’s in Jesus that we are given the Holy Spirit.
  • It’s in Jesus that we are healed.
  • It’s in Jesus that our hearts are mended.
  • It’s in Jesus that our minds are renewed.
  • It’s in Jesus that our souls are refreshed.
  • It’s in Jesus that we are redeemed.
  • It’s in Jesus that we are adopted as sons and daughters of God.
  • It’s in Jesus that we find true strength.
  • It’s in Jesus that we experience the Father’s love.
  • It’s in Jesus that we are under the protection of the Father.

Everything that we need to experience the fullness of life that Jesus promised (John 10:10) us can only be found in Him. That’s why Paul says that our lives are hidden with Christ in God. But, we must also remember that this fullness of life that believers experience is only in part (1 Cor 13:12) because it is only at Jesus’ Second Coming will the Kingdom of God be fully realized where as Paul says: believers will “also appear with Him in glory.”

What I want to draw your attention to is the connection between Phil 1:6 and Col 3:4. When Christ appears we also will appear with Him in glory because God will have completed the good work He’s begun in each believer.

This is what Bruce Barton says: “One day, when Christ appears in his glory, believers will also appear with him in glory. The divine life of Christ will be revealed fully and will glorify us ([it will] reveal our true potential as children of God). This verse tells [us]…why we should orient ourselves to heaven, [and] not to earth. [because] Our true glory will come from heaven. Earthly glory is transitory [temporary] and illusory [an illusion]; only heaven’s glory will last.”[11]

                                                                                 

CONCLUSION

Let me close by asking you:

  • Where do you stand right now in this moment before God?
  • Do you want to know the things of heaven?
  • Do you want your life to be hidden in Jesus?

INVITATION

I’m here to tell you the Good News of the Kingdom of God of how God has provided a way out from under the burden of our sins. He has provided us a way to approach Him because the only way to approach a holy God is to do it His way. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

 

It is through Jesus Christ: (Phil 2:6-8) 

6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! 

It is through His death for sin that He absorbed the full wrath of God on our behalf. He died in your place, so that you could be made right with God. And we all need to be made right with God because no one is righteous enough to say to God that I deserve to be in heaven, nobody. But, you need to make the decision to not only recognize that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. But, you also need to choose to accept this free gift of salvation from God.

God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on a cross for sin and then raised Him from the dead. It’s through Jesus’ resurrection that we have new life, eternal life, because we have also been raised with Christ and are set free from the bondage of sin, from the oppression of sin.

That’s why Jesus could say: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

 

What this means is that you have to surrender your life to Jesus and ask Him to become the Lord and Savior of your life. But, this means that you have to submit to His authority over your life by handing the rights to your life over to Him. Because the only way to approach a holy God is to do it His way.

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Today, you could make peace with your God. Today, you can begin to know the things of heaven. Today, your life can be hidden in Christ. Do you want this? Is your life and your eternal future important to you? Because it is important to God, He loves you and desires to be in an intimate relationship with you through His Son, Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

But, you have to choose Him, you have to recognize that God is greater than all the earthly things of this world, and that He is more important then all of your earthly desire. You have to turn from your sins and turn to Jesus. So I want to invite you right now into the family of God. Wherever you’re at just begin to do business with God. Cry out to God and tell Him how sorry you are for your sins and invite Him into your heart, into your life.

If you’re a believer and you’re convicted about the way you’ve been living and want more of the things of heaven within your heart and mind, then you too, just begin to do business with God. Confess and repent for your lifestyle and recommit your life to Jesus today. Ask Him to begin to fill your heart and mind with the purposes of heaven.

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God’s Word says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Receive His forgiveness now Beloved.

If today you gave your life to Jesus, know that you have peace with God and that you now have a deep, intimate relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ through the Person of the Holy Spirit. I’d love to talk to you more about this and would love to pray for you personally and help get you connected with the Body of Christ.  Community is so important and supporting one another within the Body of Christ is essential is we are to survive in our faith.

[Closing Prayer]

Father God, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to save us. I pray that He would become greater in us and that we would become less. Do what will bring You the most glory in our lives. In the beautiful name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


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[1] R. W. Wall, Colossians & Philemon, The IVP New Testament commentary series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993), Col 3:3.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] B.B. Barton & P. W. Comfort, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Life application Bible commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1995), 206.

[10] R. W. Wall, Colossians & Philemon, The IVP New Testament commentary series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993), Col 3:3.

[11] B.B. Barton & P. W. Comfort, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Life application Bible commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1995), 206.

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