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5/6/12 “Things Above, Things on Earth, Part 1” Colossians 3:1-4
A. Today we begin a new one-month series on The Things Above and the Things on Earth from Col.3:2
B. Colossians 3:1-4 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
C. 2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
1. We can think about the Christian life in terms of what you believe, or who you believe.
2. But you can also think of our battle as a matter of what you focus on.
3. Or, as it says in v.1 “seek the things that are above”
4. The two fighting dogs: “The one I feed wins.”
5. It’s not enough to believe in something. You’ve got to fan that faith into flame.
D. One of the themes at the heart of Christ’s teaching: Storing up treasure in heaven
II. Three passages which illuminate this theme
A. 2Cor.4:17-18 "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
1. visible vs invisible,
2. eternal vs temporal
3. The most important things for us to look at are the things we cannot see. The most important person in your life is the One who is there even when you think you’re alone.
4. The things that you see are not going to last long. The invisible things will last forever. There will come a day when everything you now see has passed away: cars, houses, positions, jewelry, money, toys, tools, clothes.
5. In February of 1990 we had a house fire that, among other things, destroyed all our clothes, jewelry, and many of our mementos. As my wife and I poked through the rubble afterward, we found some of our treasures, ruined by fire. As we stood there we said to one another that some day EVERYTHING we have will be in the same state. Today’s treasures are tomorrow’s trash. Everything we see is fading away. Even the part of ME that is visible is fading ("decaying" in v.16). But the part that is invisible ("the inner man" - v.16) is being renewed day by day, and will last forever.
6. The problems and pleasures of this world look so BIG -- until you see them in the light of eternity, until you see them in comparison to the eternal things. When we are given eyes to see Jesus Christ -- then all else seems small.
7. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." (Helen H. Lemmel, 1922)
B. “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” (Ephesians 5:18-19)
1. “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery”
a. Debauchery: this is not so much a moral statement: “Don’t get drunk, for it’s an evil thing to do.” It’s more of a recognition of the potential destructive power of alcohol: “Don’t get drunk, for it can destroy you.”
2. And yet here Paul also recognizes that there is a certain kick we need to get through life, a certain high which we yearn for. His message is not Just Say No. His main point is not about drinking wine.
3. He recognizes that we all need a lift, we all need something to take the edge off the difficulty of our lives and give us some relief.
4. The question he addresses is, who are we going to get that kick or that high from?
5. And his answer is that we should look to the Holy Spirit for that fullness.
6. The NT talks about the pouring out of the Holy Spirit into our hearts as something that not only sustains but imparts joy and a sense of the Lord’s companionship.
a. He is the Spirit of adoption, moving us to cry out “Abba, Father” to God
(1) Lizzy yearning for her dear sister Jane
b. Down-payment of our inheritance
(1) Those who are in Christ have been promised a glorious future. Riches beyond our ability to imagine.
(2) But God knows that He’s asking us to endure a lot and wait a lot before that day comes.
(3) So He gives us His Spirit as
7. But part of what Paul is saying here is that there is a counterfeit fullness, a counterfeit high that feels good in the short run but ultimately leads to ruin not fulfillment.
a. Intoxication with earthly things is one of the great enemies of our souls.
b. And we are so prone to this where and when we are.
c. So many potential intoxicants available to us.
d. Intoxicated with good things. (Piper: Hunger for God)
8. And yet, ultimately the message of the Bible is not that there is something bad out there you’ve got to watch out for, though it certainly does say that. But the greater message is that there’s something beautiful and wonderful out there, something which fulfills all your deepest longings.
C. Colossians 3:16
1. Parallel between Ephesians and Colossians
a. Same time
b. Same messenger
c. Neighboring towns
d. Very similar outline
2. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Col.3:16
3. We have been left two great things to uphold us and cheer us as we wait for the fulfillment of the promises of a glorious new world.
a. The Holy Spirit
b. The word of Christ
4. We have a book, a book of truth.
a. But the nature of a book is that it can sit on the shelf and gather dust.
5. Most of us have had the experience of reading a book and dramatically experiencing it after it sat on the shelf for years. The book has become alive to us.
6. Watching Pride and Prejudice three times
a. A book you read over and over or a movie you watch over and over or a ride you keep going on
7. Letting it dwell in you richly.
A. Where God wants us: Feet on earth, hearts in heaven
B. But this involves the investment of our time. This is a focus we cultivate.
1. This isn’t something that you just do. It’s something you develop.
C. Almost everything around us is influencing us to think about earthly things.
1. These influences need to be counteracted.
D. We are so prone to forget God, aren't we?
1. How do you get there? God has given us tools to get there: (Not JUST trying harder to remember God.)
a. disciplines (QT, reading, prayer, memorizing Scripture, meditation, etc.)
c. the influence of others who desire to think about God and help us to do so
E. What are the things we normally think about?
F. What should we be thinking about?
G. This has to do with thinking rightly about the things in your life, but it also has to do with disciplining yourself to focus on certain things and avoid certain things.
H. But ultimately it’s about what you really believe and what you really want.