Often times we are looking for, or choosing to trust in something other than God.
I came to Christ first during a really good time in my life, at least it should have been good…I was healthy, had a wonderful wife and baby, my business was successful, I had exceeded every financial goal I could ever need to make sure I was happy and content…I drove the right car and belonged to the right Gym….only problem was it didn’t work…
Then there are those really hard times in life we all go through…who do you trust in then?
There is one example in my life that always reminds me of the truth that there is really only ONE in whom we can trust.
Linda’s Broken Arm
I watched as God not only generated the bone to heal the break, but then straightened Linda’s arm as he healed the bone!
I hate to take issue with something that was so popular and I am sure accomplished a lot of good…but I always known that there was a more important question that needed to be answered before determining what I would DO…and that is What do I trust? Because I found that what I am trusting in ultimately determines What I Do.
We continue our series in Colossians…”Living a life Worthy of the Lord”.
Colossians Chapter 1:15-23
In 9-14 Paul prayed for the Colossians, he prayed that they would have…
Wisdom and Understanding
Deeper knowledge of God
Power to explode with Goodness
And that they would have Thankful hearts…
In verse 15 Paul turns his attention to a danger to the Colossians.
The Colossians while definitely converted to Christ, were beginning to be pulled by other things. They were continuing to hold Jesus in high esteem, and even worshipped Jesus, however they were combining the worship of Jesus with lots of other things as well. They were placing their trust in many different things…
Jewish legalism was creeping in again- following all kinds of rules and regulations.
Along with the teachings of Jesus, they were mixing in some Greek Philosophy as well as some Eastern Mysticism.
They had elevated Angels to a place of worship believing that it was the Angels who were their advocates before God.
They were also confused about their physical Bodies, thinking that their physical lives were separate from their spiritual lives and this lead to all kinds of confusion and false teaching about how they should live.
I read this list of false belief’s that were pulling the Colossians away from Jesus and although the issues may have some different twists…I thought…
THIS IS US!!! This is EXACTLY our issue in the 21st Century!
Let me ask you, if you were to describe the “spirituality” of the world in which we live how would you describe it?
Naturalistic- Worshipping Nature?
Humanistic- belief in the Power of Man and Human Nature?
Theistic? Strong belief in single God?
My business is in the Publishing world and I believe that the Publishing world is a very accurate picture of the spiritual condition of our World. I go to publishing conferences all over the world, Bologna, London, Frankfurt and New York and I can tell you that the World is really pretty “Spiritual”. The World thinks Spirituality is great…in fact ANY kind of Spirituality is great. And Jesus…He is great too…as a teacher, as a prophet…Jesus is certainly one of the lead Spiritual Guru’s available to us.
But He is one of many paths, one of many Guru’s…try to separate Him out of the pack, try to make Him unique, try to say that Jesus stands alone…and that is where you get push back.
Jesus is well thought of out there, but he is only part of the Mix. In the Spiritual atmosphere in our world, you take some of Jesus, some of Mother Nature, some Eastern mysticism, some of your own strength, your own wisdom and logic, some of your cultural influence and some of the SECRET and you mix it up in a nice stew…and somewhere in that combination is where we live.
It’s defined as…
“Syncretism”- melting or combining of many different beliefs.
And if you think it is just a problem OUT THERE….or BACK THEN….I must challenge you, it is a problem in the Church, it is a problem right here…at Grace Church, it is a problem right here for MANY of us in this room!...We are trusting in many things…instead of ONE Lord.
Most of us here profess to be “Christians” but what are we as Christians really putting our trust in?
George Barna Stats
Let me give you some of George Barna’s latest statistics and you be the judge…
- 4 out of 5 Americans consider themselves to be Christians.
- 80% fit into what is called the “Casual Christian” category
What are some of the “Casual Christians” core values?
- Their spiritual lives are not much of a priority.
- Bible study and reading is not a priority and the scriptures are not a dominant influence in their lives.
- Casual Christians are twice as likely to believe that God wants them to achieve happiness as they are to believe that God wants them to achieve holiness-…God is more interested in THEIR comfort and Happiness, than His Kingdom.
- Highest of all spiritual “Tribes” putting their families first…even above their faith.
The sad truth is that many of us…MOST of us have many other influences in our lives, many other things in our lives we are trusting in addition to…and sadly often MORE THAN we are trusting in Jesus.
What are some of the things that pulls us away from trusting Jesus today?
Legalism- We are trying to earn our way, follow a set of rules…MARCH our way into a relationship with God when it is much more like a DANCE.
Our Bodies- Unlike the Colossians, we are not living out Asceticism, the denying our bodies of all things, we often struggle with the opposite…we worship our Bodies and think that if we can get our Bodies just right, then our lives will follow.
Family- Ordained by God, Blessed by God and yet we saw in our series on our Families that sometimes our families actually REPLACE God as the core energy, sustenance and focus of our worship.
Money- This is most certainly an issue…we struggle with the unending race of believing we need just a little bit more. Just a little bit more then we will rest, just a little bit more then we will Give, just a little bit more then we will get Kingdom minded.
Comfort- The struggle with the lie that God wants us to be Happy and comfortable more than he wants us to be about bringing His Kingdom.
The sad truth is that we can live our lives calling ourselves Christians and yet not live in a way that trusts Christ.
God, through Paul calls out to the Colossians and calls out to us…REMEMBER WHO IT IS THAT, Saved you, that has called you and who it is that sustains you!
And in verses 15- 19 Paul pretty much dumps the truck of Jesus on the Colossians…not in a scolding way, not in a angry way…
I picture Paul just getting carried away with the enthusiasm and excitement and Love as he excitedly recounts and records these truths about Jesus…V15…
Colossians 1:15-19 (NIV)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
To understand the power of this description of Jesus, we need to break this down a little bit more. (V15)
Paul says …
15 He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God,
Paul does not mean the exact PHYSICAL image of God, the meaning goes deeper than that.
The Greek word expresses two ideas…
Jesus is the Likeness of God, a kind of Reflection of God…and Jesus is the Manifestation of God in the sense that Jesus is the manifestation of God’s Nature, Character and Essence.
Paul describes this truth beautifully in another letter…
2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)
6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
In Jesus we see and know the Glory of God !
In Jesus God became “knowable”…”understandable” to us!
Paul goes on and says…Jesus is…
“the firstborn over all creation. “
This is a little trickier to interpret…
It could point to priority in time…Jesus was the First born of anything and everything in terms of time.
It can also mean Supremacy in rank…related to the rights and honor of the firstborn in that culture.
When we look at the entirety of Paul’s description, I believe it is safe to say that BOTH are meant here.
Jesus existed BEFORE all Creation and is First in terms of Rank and Dignity.
After Establishing Jesus First…he then establishes Jesus as the Creator…
V16…1For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
Jesus is the creator of the as the Creator of the Cosmos, the Universe,…of everything in Heaven…and is the Creator of everything on Earth, that is the Spiritual and the Natural…
And Jesus rules over all the powers, authorities and Human institutions…Dictators, Presidents, and Kings.
Paul keeps going…
Not only is Jesus Before all things, not only did He create all things, but after He did, he did not just spin the world and let it go…He controls all things! V17…
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Jesus is the Unifying principle and the Sustaining power of the Universe!
As one theologian put it….”Jesus Makes it a Cosmos instead of Chaos”
And still there is more…V18…
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
This statement begins to bring Jesus close to us because Paul is saying to the Colossians to us, to all the redeemed people, to all those who claim to follow Christ.
Jesus is our ordained “Head”…He is our authority, He is our King, He is our Lord. And we, his people, we his church should more than all others give Jesus the rightful supremacy and bow to His authority, and live under the umbrella of His peace and protection.
WHY? Why does Jesus have this position of Supremacy? Why does Jesus and ONLY Jesus deserve to sit on the throne of the Universe and the throne of our lives?
Because it is only in Jesus Christ that the Fullness of God lives !
In Jesus we see the Fullness of Righteousness, the Fullness of Wisdom, the Fullness of Power and Every Blessing available to every person.
And then…watch this…
Ephesians 3:19 (NASB)
19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Because of Jesus, because of all that He is… You and I can be filled with God’s wisdom, power, purpose and peace. Because of Jesus…God can now fill us with His presence.
From the beginning to the end, from back Then to right now…All that God offers and all that God IS lives in Jesus and through Jesus and the Power of the Holy Spirit is then available to us.
God through Paul has established the Uniqueness of Christ from all things and everything. Jesus is not a Guru…Jesus is God!
And Paul says…because of all that Jesus IS…look at all He has DONE and is able to DO! V20
20 …through him (Jesus) to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
The fullness of God dwelt in Jesus…and through the Blood of Jesus God reconciled EVERYTHING back to Himself! And both the Dwelling in Jesus and Reconciliation through Jesus are BOTH tied to the verb “was pleased”
It pleased God to dwell in Jesus and it pleased God to reconcile through Jesus!
Do you get the picture? Epaphras comes to Paul and says…there is a church, a Body of believers, they are struggling, they are being pulled away from the life Jesus gives them, pulled by the struggles of life, pulled by the threats of life, pulled by the pleasures of life, pulled by false teaching and pulled by temptation.
They are worshipping and trusting in other things, other powers, things other than Jesus.
Paul writes this church a passionate plea all based on the truths of WHO Jesus is…
The Image of God
The First in all Creation in timing and the first in Rank, the First in Power
The Creator of all things
The Sustainer of all things…the one who holds our lives and our Universe together.
The one who has authority over all things
The one whom God was pleased to dwell in
The one who opened the door to allow God to dwell in us.
The one who’s life, death, and resurrection reconciled us to God.
God, through Paul establishes the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ in all the Universe, in all the world, among all the powers…
Then based on that uniqueness and the truth of Jesus Paul gives the Colossians and all of us here today a challenge…a challenge…(V23)
Because of all that I have just listed, because of all that we proclaimed, because of ALL that IS TRUE about Jesus Christ…
23 …continue in your (not the faith) faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel…
Paul says because of all Jesus IS, because of all that HE alone can do, has done and IS doing…
Live out your Faith!--- Not THE faith, YOUR faith
Live Established and Firm, this is one phrase in the Greek…and it means Secure as if on a ROCK and unshakable foundation.
A rock is one solid piece, not a bunch of little pieces put together that have all kinds of little faults that can be penetrated or pieces to chip off, just one big solid in penetrable ROCK!
Immovable or Steadfast, a picture of being Firmly Seated in one place.
Picture a Big Huge solid Rock…rolled into a perfectly fitted hole in the ground that covers it about half way….that Baby is going nowhere!
That is how firm and settled we are to be in…
In the “HOPE of the “Gospel” - the “Good News”
What Good news?
The Good news of Who Jesus is, and all that we have and all that we ARE because of the truth of WHO Jesus is.
“Because of the truth of who Jesus is, we should live lives firmly established and immovable in Jesus!”
Now before we tie this all up, you may have noticed that verse 23 started with an “IF” we need to deal with that “IF”
And in the way that “IF” is used here, it carries with it (3) different yet interwoven meanings…
“IF”- statement of confidence and sometimes is translated “Since”. In this sense Paul is saying, because all I have told you is true and you know it…I am confident that you will live out your faith…firmly established and immovable.
“IF” -a statement of strong encouragement…like “you must”. In this sense Paul is encouraging the Colossians…because of all that is true of Jesus and IN Jesus…you MUST live out your faith, firm, steadfast and immovable…it is the ONLY reasonable choice.
But please hear this, we believe that this “IF” also carries with it a sense of dependent response!
Paul is saying the truths that I have told you are only possible IF you live out your faith, Firm, steadfast and immovable.
While we know that our salvation, where we spend eternity is NOT dependent on our actions. We also believe that the full blessing of reconciliation, the full Harmony with God, the full HOPE of Glory, the full Peace that passes all understanding cannot be experienced… and the Kingdom of God will not come to earth as it is meant to come unless we as followers of Christ live out our faith each day… firmly established and immovable from the Hope that comes with trusting Jesus for everything and in all things.
God through Jesus gave us the power to live complete lives and to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. He also gave us the choice NOT to…
If we do not live out our faith in Jesus Christ each day, we are Diminished in our own lives…and the Kingdom of God is also Diminished.
What does a life of living the faith firm and Established, Steadfast and immovable in the Hope that is in Jesus?
How do we know if we are living lives trusting in Jesus?
The answer is revealed in the way you spend your free time, yes you could play more golf and take more rest but you are firm in your commitment to a Mission or a Ministry…not out of guilt but because you have realized the truth… although the world tells you that fulfillment comes from focusing on yourself, Jesus says it really comes from living as a servant…and the way you spend your time….shows you trust Jesus.
The truthful answer to Who/what you are trusting in is revealed in what you do with the money God has given you because although every commercial you see tells you life is found in consumption, you are established in your giving because Jesus showed that life is in sacrifice and the choices you make with money show who you trust in more…Jesus or the Ad agencies.
The truth is revealed in times of trial and struggle and suffering. Yes you trust your doctors and good medicine as we all must, but before any of that you trust in your Creator and you are immovable in your prayer and your Hope. And when YOUR OWN prayers get shakey and weak, you call in reinforcements and you ask others to carry you in prayer because you know that the hopelessness you are feeling is a lie. You have on your side the one who Holds all things and controls all things and He loves you and will never leave you or forsake you, and you trust Jesus more than you trust your Feelings.
The truth of who you trust in even shows up in death..when you experience the greatest of all sorrows…the loss of someone you love and this world has no more medicine to offer, and no more hope to extend, but you remain firmly established in HOPE because Jesus is the First Born of the Dead even in death….especially in death…there is hope and there is promise because even in death they live!
The truth of who or What you are trusting in is revealed in your treatment of the Scriptures while your mind tells you to read the sports page and your curiosity to read People magazine, your heart tells you it is critical to be in God’s Word because it is only there that you find true wisdom and understanding because it is the Instruction Manual and Love letter of our Lord and our Creator and so you are firm about time in the scriptures.
The truth of WHO and what we are trusting in is revealed in our prayer lives because while Logic and prudence says you need to get more sleep or to do a little more business, Your Spirit knows you need to spend time before the Throne because it is there you can speak to and hear from the one who controls all things.
Now you could go down each one of those categories I listed and engage me in a discussion or an argument..How much of my free time is OK to give to myself? How much money do I have to give to trust in Jesus? How much time in the Scriptures?
If that is your question for me, if that is going to be your challenge for me for out in the Lobby, I would love to talk with you, but I might be able to save you the trip. I will you give the answer in every category right now...
The answer to how much do you have to do, to give, to sacrifice, to pray before you are living a life of trusting Jesus is..…YOU KNOW!...YOU KNOW.
I have found that I can fool all of you, and you can fool me, but I can’t fool God and I cannot fool myself. I have found in each one of these categories that I KNOW when I am trusting in Christ and when and where I am trusting in something else…and I bet you do too.
A Whisper comes, a conviction felt, an encouragement given and you listen…and respond…or you delay and wait for it to change and go away!
I know when I am ignoring Jesus and trusting in something else… my bet is that you do too.
And it is time to get honest and to get real and stop making excuses and start getting at it!
(is there something right now???)
Let’s Get at it…let us be firmly established, be immovable…in the Hope that Only Jesus brings.
The Colossians are being pulled away…God through Paul points them back to Jesus…and says given the truth of all that Jesus has done, the truth of all that Jesus IS… your only real choice is to live trusting Jesus for everything.
If we look at Paul’s writings we will see a consistent message and it is this…
Paul says…If Jesus is NOT all that we say He is…then you are FOOLS to trust in him for anything!.
But…But…if Jesus IS who we say He is…Who He says He is….they you are FOOLs not to trust him for everything!
Time to start living a Life Worthy of our Lord!