Christ at the Center of Your Life

Colossians 3:12-17

Christ is in the Center of everything!
-The center of our Faith and Prayers
-He is our only Hope – Christ in You, the hope of glory!
-He is at the Center because of who He is
-He gives us the power to see it through by making us alive in Christ, forgiven and victorious!
-He is to be in the center of our mind – our thinking, our decisions, our plans.

Today we want to focus on the idea that Christ is the Center of Your Life. This captures the thought of Colossians. I pray it captures our hearts as we consider that there is no part of our life that escapes the presence of Christ – and that’s a comfort for us all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:12-17, NIV

Christ at the Center of Everything changes…

How We Look (Colossians 3:12)

We should ask ourselves if this is what Christianity looks like to the culture around us? Is this what we look like to the world around us? We all have some room for growing in these areas.

Jesus is the greatest example of each one of these.

How compassionate he was to a widow whose only son had died, when he raised her son.

How kind He was to a little tax collector who climbed a tree to see him. That day salvation came to his house.

How humble he was as he washed the feet of the disciples, showing them the power humble service.

How gentle he was with a pharisee who came to him at night to talk to him about being born again, sharing with him what has become world’s best loved verse.

How patient he was with Simon Peter – maybe others would have given up on him but Jesus never did.

How compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient he is with us, and He is all those things and more right this minute – showing us the way to live.

When Christ is the Center of Everything it impacts how we look….

How We Love (Colossians 3:13-15)

The love of Christ is what the world needs to see most – and when Christ is the center of our Everything, we will demonstrate the kind of love He did.

Paul says it is characterized by:

  • Love that bears with one another
  • Love that forgives one another (as the Lord forgave us) “Forgiveness is surrendering my right to hurt you for hurting me.” -Archibald Hart (Swindoll)
  • Love that binds together in unity
  • Love like that leads to peace; we are called to peace.

Barclay: “Let the peace of God be the umpire in your heart.” The umpire settles things with his decision. If Jesus is the umpire in our heart, when we are struggling in our relationships … irritate… annoyed… let the umpire have his way and it will lead to peace.

This reminds me of a Simple Prayer for Peace attributed to Francis of Assissi, though it is nowhere in his writings and first appears in France in 1912 (Francis died in 1226), but it has resonated over the years.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life!

When Christ is the Center of Everything it impacts how we look, how we love.

How we Learn (Colossians 3:16)

AMP: Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] …

When the word of Christ has it’s home in our heart, it is often expressed in song. And song / music reaches our soul on another level.

“A friend hears the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.” (Reader’s Digest)

Is our singing together a time of teaching / admonishing? Some of the invitation songs of my youth were quite pointed in admonishing.

  • Did you repent, fully repent, of your past sins friend?
  • There’s an All Seeing Eye Watching You
  • Almost Persuaded, but lost
  • Is Thy Heart Right With God?

Those messages stay with us.

Beautiful singing is a great thing, but God gets priority:

  • The Message of Christ (living among you richly)
  • Teaching and admonishing with wisdom
  • Songs from the Spirit
  • Singing to God with gratitude

We are to learn something from our time singing together.

  • God is present and to be praised
  • Jesus is dwelling among us through the message
  • We are taught to be thankful for all our blessings.
  • Faith is enriched when we sing (together or alone!).

When Christ is the Center of Everything it impacts how we look, how we love, and how we learn.

In reality, there is no setting up boundaries for Jesus …

Conclusion:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17

What part of this message is resonating with you today?
Are we demonstrating the character of Christ in our relationships?
Are we loving others with the love of Christ?
Are we giving God worship by recognizing his presence in song?
When Christ is the Center of Everything it impacts everything.

  • In our series from Colossians we have emphasized
    Christ is in the Center of our Faith and Prayers
    He is our only Hope – Christ in You, the hope of glory!
    He is at the Center because of who He is
    He gives us the power to see it through
    He is to be in the center of our thinking
  • He impacts how we live, love, and learn.

Have you put him at the center of your life?
Baptism? Repentance? Prayers to grow stronger?

The Lord’s Prayer places Christ in the center of everything.

Let’s end today by saying that together.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.


Resources

Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians.

Swindoll, Charles. Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes.

Reader’s Digest Quotable Quotes

Christ In Your Mind

Christ is in the Center of Everything! He is the center of our faith and prayers. He is our only hope – Christ in you, the hope of glory! He is at the center because of who He is. He gives us the power to see it through by making us alive when we were baptized, forgiven, and given victory through the cross. Christ is the Center of Everything and everything relates to the way we think about things. Our thoughts, our heart, our mind – this is the core of who we are. Christ is at the center of this also. But that is especially challenging these days.

*A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the pandemic had negatively
affected the mental health of 56 percent of adults.

*In April, texts to a federal emergency mental-health line were up 1,000 percent from the year before.

*The situation is particularly dire for certain vulnerable groups—health-care workers, COVID-19 patients with severe cases, people who have lost loved ones—who face a significant risk of post-traumatic stress disorder.

*While the pandemic affects our mental state more than we probably realize, it’s always been true that the daily life of the Christian spills over from the mind.

*That, along with all the other issues and pressures of life can occupy our minds. We do have to think through things, but at the center, our mind should be centered on Christ.

Keeping Christ in the center of our mind is a practical matter that requires our attention. Three ways to keep your mind on Christ:

SET YOUR HEARTS ON THINGS ABOVE

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

This is the result of the truth we talked about last week. When we were baptized we adopted the identity of Jesus and made Him Lord of our lives. Our focus then rises from the things of this earth to the things Christ in heaven! This is the new perspective of the Christian – and we often forget it. We can get so caught up in our own temptations, the world, everything around us, that we forget important things like:

  • We belong to a Kingdom that is not of this earth.
  • We live in the shadow of a returning Messiah.
  • We live under a different set of guidelines in life
  • We walk through each day with hopes that go beyond our own boundaries (faith)

The heart is our mind – the inner life we live every day. When it is centered on Jesus, it leads us to:

Love God (Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’)

Love Others (Romans 15:5, Philippians 2:5)

Live with the outlook that we will see Jesus (1 Peter 4:7, 8)

Keeping our mind on things above doesn’t mean we ignore the things and people around us, it means we adopt the loving view that God has for all people!

Moving Away From the Life of the Past

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices

Colossians 3:5-9

We are always in a battle – everyone has their battles. This is why it does not behoove us to have a judgmental spirit – we’ve all got our battles to fight. When we give in to them, God is not pleased with us. We are to be moving away from the life we lived in the past before we devoted ourselves to following Christ. We are constantly leaving behind the old self.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24

Move Away From Five Sins of the Flesh:

  • Sexual immorality- every kind of immoral sexual relation.
  • Impurity – embraces lurid imagination
  • Lust – the emotion that leads to sexual excesses.
  • Evil Desires – Wicked, self-serving desires.
  • Greed (Idolatry) The desire to possess what belongs to someone else

“Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire?” (Proverbs 6:27)

We are to have left this kind of life behind. (7) It was our old unredeemed selves. Paul is famous for his lists – and this list is like many others. It’s not meant to be complete, but an indication of the kind of life that should have been left behind. The problem is that we can find ourselves tolerating or even rationalizing these things in our lives.

Also Move Away From Five Sins of the Heart (8-9). None of these things characterize the new life in Jesus.

Replace Old Ways With New Ways

and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Colossians 3:10-11

All believers are one in Christ … and we are all seeking to put on a new self, live a new life, one that is ‘in the image of its Creator’.

Barclay: One of the great effects of Christianity is that it destroys the barriers which divide.

Barclay: T. K. Abbott points out how this passage shows the barriers which Christianity destroyed:

  • It destroyed the barriers which come from birth and nationality – all nations gather at the Table of the Lord.
  • It destroyed the barriers which come from ceremonial and ritual. circumcised or uncircumcised – all become one in Christ.
  • It destroyed the barriers between the cultured and the uncultured. “The greatest scholar and the simplest son of toil in the world can sit in perfect fellowship in the Church of Christ.”
  • It destroyed the barrier between class and class. The slave and free came together in the church. In the presence of God the social distinctions of the world became irrelevant.

How do we keep Christ in the Center of our Mind?

Make the Choice daily by praying for it. Seek out God’s help! (Philippians 4:6-8 … the peace of God…will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.)

Make the Choice to Trust (Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.)

Make the Choice to Listen to God. (John 8:32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”)

Make the Choice to think about the best things. (Philippians 4:8 …whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.)

It is so true that one of our most necessary efforts is to guard our hearts and that’s an intentional choice we make always. (Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it
determines the course of your life.)

We can only do this with the help of Christ who makes us alive when we follow Him. (Col 2:12 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.)


Resources

The Coronavirus is a Special Mental Health Disaster

Debbie McDaniel How to Set Your Mind on Things Above

Hughes, R. Kent. Preaching the Word: Colossians and Philemon: The Supremacy of Christ. Crossway, 1989

Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians.

Attitudes

This is a three part Wednesday night Bible lesson presented by John Dobbs and Daniel Kirkendall online on Facebook for the Forsythe Church of Christ and anyone else who is interested! (Video Here) I will be adding to these notes over the next two weeks as they are presented. – John

Attitude contains the ideas and concepts that have to do with ALL aspects of our lives.  Not situational.  Not conditional.  Not reactionary.  Attitude is the thermometer that displays the temperature of our heart.  Just like a thermometer, others are able to diagnose our (heart’s) condition.  And just like an illness, there may be some steps that need to be taken in order to fix it.  

In our everyday life, we have to have check-ups, or “wellness checks”.  When it comes to our soul, we may need to have attitude checks. 

So we want to look at some scriptures that mention those things that encapsulate every part of our life.  “In all things”, “at all times”, “in every situation”, the things, or the attitudes that you can’t say “what if”, or “however”. 

And this is healthy.  It’s a good reminder as we talk about these things to kind of make a checklist, and reflect on our own attitudes.  

Attitude defined: a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.

The first attitude we will consider is Peace

Psalm 119:165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Phillipians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Another Attitude is Boldness

Hebrews 10:35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

Acts 2:25-26 “‘I saw the Lord always before me,  for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.

Psalm 3:3,6 You O Lord are a shield about me, my glory and the lifter of my head.  I will not fear, though tens of thousands assail me. 

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline

A Third Attitude is Generosity

Luke 21:1-4   Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Proverbs 3:9-10   Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; 10 then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

1 John 3:16-19 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;

Commitment

Romans 2:7  to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;

1 Kings 8:21 And there I have provided a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.”

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Colossians 1:29  For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Proverbs 16:3 Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. (NLT: Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.)

ATTITUDES PART TWO

Stillness


Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”

Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.

Psalm 23:16????Maybe vs 1-2? The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

Mark 4:35-41 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Leadership


James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

Matthew 20:26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant

Phillipians 2:1-9 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

Service


Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Matthew 23:11 The greatest among you shall be your servant.

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Diligence


2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men

ATTITUDES PART THREE

Contentment

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

1 Timothy 6:6-8 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

2 Corinthians 12:10  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

Confidence

Phillipians 4:13   I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Hebrews 13:6 So we can confidently say,  “The Lord is my helper;  I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Worship

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Hebrews 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,

Psalm 71:8 My mouth is filled with your praise,  and with your glory all the day.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Joy

James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds,

Psalm 47:1 Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Psalm 100:1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

Luke 2:10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Power to See it Through

Colossians 2:6-15

Introduction
In our look at Colossians, we have noted the theme that Christ is in the Center of Everything. The center of our faith and prayers. He is in the center because of who He is. That Christ in us is our only hope of glory. Still, Christians can get discouraged, disenchanted, disappointed.Rick Warren identified four causes of discouragement for Christians:

Fatigue. When you’re physically or emotionally exhausted, you’re a prime candidate to be infected with discouragement. Your defenses are lowered and things can seem bleaker than they really are. When we are dealing with something as massive as the pandemic, it’s easy to feel tired – sometimes when we can’t identify a physical reason.

Frustration. When unfinished tasks pile up, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. And when trivial matters or the unexpected interrupt you and prevent you from accomplishing what you really need to do, your frustration can easily produce discouragement. Can anyone identify with the place that frustration has had in our lives?

Failure. Sometimes your best laid plans fall apart, the project collapses, the deal falls through, no one shows up to the event. How do you react? Do you give in to self-pity? Do you blame others? As one man said, “Just when I think I can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends!” That’s discouraging!

Fear. Fear is behind more discouragement than we’d like to admit. The fear of criticism (What will they think?), the fear of responsibility (What if I can’t handle this?), and the fear of failure (What if I blow it?) can cause us to lose our energy for serving in the Kingdom.

How does Christ give us the power to see it through – to continue to live our lives in Him? In our text we will notice FIVE POWER WORDS that remind us that we can find traction in our spiritual lives and never give up!

CONTINUE

Colossians 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him

We received Christ as LORD! Not as advisor, counselor, friend, good luck charm, or magic genie in a bottle. He is Lord. Colossians 1:3 Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

AND our commitment to Him is to be continued throughout our lives.

Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,

1 John 2:28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

The first power word to give us the power to see it through is CONTINUE – don’t give up!

STRENGTHEN

Colossians 2:7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Strength comes from being firmly rooted in the teachings of Christ.

AMP: Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him…

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

Jeremiah 17:8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

How do we strengthen our faith – how do we establish deep roots of faith in our heart?

  • Build your life on the truth of Christ and His Word.
  • Cultivate Gratitude – As you grow in faith you will Overflow with thankfulness
  • Be Patient and Diligent – Know that it doesn’t happen fast. “Nature makes trees put down deep roots before having them bear fruit, and even this is done gradually.” – Vincent de Paul

The stronger our connection with God’s word, the greater our faith and gratitude.

FOCUS

Colossians 2:8 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.

There are many systems, beliefs, and ways of thinking in our world that are hollow and
deceptive – focused on everything except Christ.

  • Finding wisdom within ourselves, our feelings, what we think.
  • Finding wisdom in those who do not know the Lord (we encounter in all media)
  • Finding wisdom in those who claim to be Chrsitians, but who practice ungodliness.

Don’t be distracted and look away from Christ for your strength and power to make it through.

Hebrews 12:1b-2 …Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We keep our eyes on Christ to learn how to love others, how to have a servant heart, how to pray, how to choose God over everything, how to set aside worry and embrace faith, how to keep on track when it’s hard, and for every issue of life.

There is nothing lacking in Christ.

SUBMIT

Colossians 2:9-10 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

When we focus on Christ, it is with the intention of living obediently to him – walking in His footsteps. Submission goes against the grain in our humanity, but when we give our lives to Christ we submit ourselves to Him and find out that in submitting to Him we experience the best life and the life that glorifies God in the greatest way.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

IDENTIFY

Colossians 2:11-12 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.

  • Referencing the Old Testament practice of circumcision, Paul makes a comparison but concludes that our baptism is a spiritual event – not a physical one like circumcision.
  • This happened when we were buried with him and raised with him in baptism.
  • The effect was not on our body, but in our soul.
  • The moment you were buried in baptism, raised with Christ … you can be sure that God was at work saving you and claiming you as one of His children.

What is our identity in Christ?

ALIVE (13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ….)

FORGIVEN (13b-14 He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us…)

J. B. Phillips’ translation: He has forgiven you all your sins: Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over his own head on the cross.

LOVED (14b …he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.)

TRIUMPHANT (15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.)

What’s been hanging over your head? As long as we live in the shadow of our past failures, it will be hard to see it through each day. Remember that God has been at work in your heart and life – those condemnations against you are removed in Christ.

Conclusion: In verse 6 we read “continue to live your lives in him”.

In the old days before we could binge a series on Netflix, we used to have to wait a week between episodes of our favorite series. Often there was a cliffhanger! When LOST first came on we could watch a season and then had to wait almost a year before the next season came out. Our interest was held because the story was ‘to be continued’.

This whole year seems like a cliffhanger to me … what is next, we do not know. It can be discouraging …. we can suffer from fatigue, frustration, failure, and fear.

Rick Warren: And while God isn’t responsible for the things that cause discouragement, he is the provider of all that cures discouragement. So stay close to him and keep going forward!

But we do know that our story is ‘to be continued’ … Paul says continue to live your lives in him.
Strengthen your faith in the Word
Focus your attention on Christ
Submit to the Lordship of Jesus in obedience
Identify yourself as alive, forgiven, loved, and triumphant!
That’s the power we need to see it through!


Resource
4 Causes of Discouragement and 4 Cures

Christ in You, Hope of Glory

In a recent article in Psychology Today, Dr. David Feldman wrote: “There’s no doubt that the past few months have been among the most traumatic in recent memory….Few people would use the word “hopeful” to describe the state of our world. On the contrary, words like tragic, heart-breaking, and painful come to mind. People are afraid, sad, angry, and grief-stricken…..” He goes on to say that we can still talk about hope. “That’s because real hope isn’t about living in a fantasy world; it’s about living in this one. It doesn’t deny suffering and pain.”

He’s right – we have been through a lot over the past months. It’s not over – and we
need to prepare our hearts for a long season of dealing with the implications of
COVID-19, the economy, seeking racial peace, and the ongoing challenges of academics and sports. That’s a lot to weigh on our shoulders, and it gets heavy.

I believe the one sustaining foundation of our lives is that Christ is at the Center of
Everything. Last week we started looking for this theme in the book of Colossians.
I challenged you to read the book in one setting.
I posted a video overview of the book I hope you watched.
Last week we talked about the way that Christ is in the Center of our faith and prayers.
The theme of Colossians may be Colossians 1:27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

One of the reasons why it is so crucial to have Christ at the center of our lives is
because of who He is. Today we will focus in on who Christ is and our response
to Having him at the center of our lives.

FOUR REASONS CHRIST IS OUR HOPE (1:15-22)

He Reveals the God of Hope to Us. He is the Image of God – the likeness of God. (15)

Hebrews 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

John 14:7 “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.

From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

He Has the Power to Give Hope. He is Firstborn (15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.) By “firstborn” Paul means he is the one who occupies the privilege and rank of being firstborn.

He is Creator – all things were created by him and for him (16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.)

He is Central to all things (17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. )

He Brings All Believers Together in Hope

He is the Head of the church (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. ) He holds the rank of preeminence in His Church! He is the One who’s will it is that we place above everything else in His church!

He brings all things together, brings peace , accomplishes all of this through his blood, shed on the cross (19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.).

His Love For us Brings us Hope. Cross / blood are demonstrations of his love. His sacrifice points out that He is worthy, and we are unworthy of such love. (21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.)

Who we are before Christ has redeemed us: Alienated from God, Enemies in our minds, Enemies because of evil behavior. Hopeless in every way – but Christ in us brings the hope of glory (1:22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—)

HOW HOPE EMPOWERS THE CHRISTIAN (23-29)

Strength to Endure (23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.) Continue in your faith … firm … not moving from the hope of the gospel. Hope gives us the strength to endure because the eternal life promised, because of God’s presence daily, and because of the Holy Spirit within.

Reason to serve. (24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.) Paul was willing to suffer, willing to serve for the sake of the body of Christ, which is the church. “I have become its servant…”

Hope gives us reason to serve because it looks to the future and isn’t tied down by the struggles of the present.

Message to Share (27-28). The truth about Christ! Clear up the mystery! 1:27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. To help others become mature. (28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.)

Christ is the only hope because He reveals the Father to us, He has the power to give us hope, He brings all believers together in hope, His love for us brings us hope. This hope empowers us to have Strength to Endure, a Reason to Serve, a Message to Share. Have you put all of your hope in Christ?

In days like we are living in, we need the power that hope can bring into our lives – to give us strength to make it through, to keep our focus on serving and loving others, and to remember that we have a mission – a great hope to proclaim to the world.


Feldman, David. Is It Still Possible To Hope?
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/supersurvivors/202006/is-it-still-possible-hope