Your Life Reveals Your Beliefs
We had a great time at JOFF yesterday as we came together as a family to worship God. We worshipped God with our fellowship, with music, with prayers and testimonies, and with our tithes and offerings. We also worshipped as we came to the communion table to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
A big part of worship is simply being reminded of how great God is and how completely lost and hopeless we are without Jesus. As we have studied the book of Colossians together on Sunday mornings Paul has reminded us of those very things. He reminds us of who Jesus is and what He has done but he also reminds us of what our response to Him should be. He reminds us of what our lives should look like.
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things
Focus on the things of Heaven not the things of earth. We must have a desire for God that is greater than our desires for the world.
3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God
You died means that you made a decision to give up your old life. To stop pursuing the things that are opposed to the will of God.
Your old self is fading away or hidden with Christ in God. Is your life hidden with Christ in God or is Christ hidden because of your failure to obey Him?
4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
You don’t just add Jesus to your life – He must become your life.
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.
You cannot be in passionate pursuit of God and the things of the world. You cannot grow as a Christian if you are accepting sin in your life. You must put these things to death – and stop resurrecting them.
7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
Are there some things you used to do that you don’t do now? I used to do some things that I regret very deeply. Things that were very obviously opposed to God’s will in my life. Things that Paul just listed. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I have put those things to death but it doesn’t end there. We need to put to death all sin. Not just the big stuff.
8 But now you must 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 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
It’s not just the obvious sin that maters to God. You have to be a new person on the inside. This is a list that represents secret places in our hearts. These are things that destroy relationships. Including our relationship with God.
9 Since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self…
It’s like taking off dirty clothes and putting on brand new clean clothes. Your clean clothes represent your new identity. Paul goes on to tell us what these new clothes are made of.
12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
We’re God’s chosen! He could have chosen to leave us in our sin - but He didn’t – He set us apart and He loves us dearly. We are God’s chosen people so we should act like it! Our life should match our beliefs. The outside should match the inside.
13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Put on love – but not your love. Your love is too imperfect. He’s talking about the love of God. Put on God’s love. Put it on every day as if it is your clothing.
Is your life consistent with your beliefs? Do you look like the person you claim to be? When people see you do they see Jesus? Let’s keep these things in mind as we prepare our hearts for Easter. Let us honor God with our lives as we continue to rid ourselves of the old dirty clothes that represent the person we used to be.
Dealing with Suffering & Hardships
As we have been going through the book of Colossians on Sunday mornings the issue of suffering continues to surface. In Colossians, Paul talks about the privilege of suffering for Christ in light of the suffering that Christ endured on his behalf. Paul endured many hardships as he took the Gospel to the Gentile world. This passage in Acts gives us a great example to follow when we face suffering for any reason and encourages us to believe that God is in control no matter what.
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
No investigation, no hearing, no opportunity to defend themselves - they are stripped and beaten severely. It was actually illegal because they hadn’t been convicted. Then the jailer puts them in the inner cell - reserved for the most dangerous prisoners and then he puts their feet in stocks. So they are severely beaten and put in chains – but how do they respond?
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
They respond by worshipping God – praying & singing hymns to God. No pity party, no complaining – not focused on their circumstances. Instead they turn their focus to God.
…and the other prisoners were listening to them.
How we respond to adversity is so important. People will watch to see how you respond. It’s easy to have the right attitude when things are good. Where is your focus when hardship & pain come into your life? Others notice – God also notices when we respond by turning our eyes upon Him.
26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, & everyone’s chains came loose.
The heart of God was moved by their worship! He may not take the pain or suffering away but He will respond. He will give you peace and other times He may do something else in addition. In this case He chose to respond in a very dramatic and powerful way
27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
Rather than face the humility of public execution – he was going to kill himself but Paul stopped him – We’re all here! This jailer had treated them so harshly – had no compassion. Paul didn’t say – He deserves to die – Serves him right - instead he reaches out to him with the love of God.
God gives us these opportunities all the time. In life you will be treated unfairly - rude – uncaring – disrespectful. How do you respond? These are opportunities to show the love of God. Look at the impact it had on the jailer
29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.
30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
He saw how they responded to being whipped and chained. He saw how their God responded. And then it became personal when he was treated with compassion. It touched his heart and he was moved by the Holy Spirit to respond.
He had probably heard the message but it meant nothing without this display of love. He had hardened his heart but now he knew it was real - What must I do to be saved?
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved —you and your household.”
Believe in – have faith in the Lord Jesus and God will save you!
32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.
His faith didn’t save his family – they had to decide for themselves. They shared more about God’s incredible grace with his family
33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
They accept the message and are transformed - They are immediately baptized. They couldn’t wait to get in that water – to be identified w/ Christ!
This hardened jailer who just hours earlier had no compassion was now filled with love and compassion. That’s what repentance looks like.