Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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13 Revolutionizing your Relationships – Part 4

Colossians 3:12-17

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Here in Colossians 3 we not only see the call to live out our new position and put on Christ’s provision for the new life, but we are also reminded of the:

  1. Priorities of the new life

Paul concludes this look at the new life by giving three priorities for our hearts. Christ’s followers who have put on the Fathers provision are not focused on disputing everything or controlling everything. They are to be concerned with the peace of Christ, the word of Christ, and the name of Christ.

  1. Peace of Christ

The Greek word for peace includes both the concept of an agreement as well as an attitude of rest and security. Here in Colossians 3 we see both aspects. Objectively, believers are at peace with God: Romans 5:1 tells us, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. The conflict and resulting separation between the rebellious sinner and a righteous God has been satisfied by the Savior and His sacrifice on the cross. Because of His blood believers are at rest, safe and secure. Paul told the Philippians in chapter 4, verse 7, that the “peace of God… shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. Here he calls it the peace of Christ because it is the peace He brings: John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.“ But it’s not just about the provision and protection of His peace but also the direction as we let His peace pilot our lives. The Greek word for rule was used to describe the activity of an umpire in deciding the outcome of an athletic contest. The peace of Christ should guide and direct us in making decisions. Wherever there is a conflict of motives or desires, it is the peace of Christ that must step in to have the final say and decide which should prevail. In this life there are many umpires that we can allow to control our hearts other than His peace. Those who love money end up letting it control their thoughts, which effects their attitudes and actions. Who gets hurt and what is right is not important, money, and the getting of more of it is what rules their reason. Some people allow pleasure to control them. Pleasure becomes their pursuit and their purpose regardless of the relationships it ruins. Others allow the desire for control to control them. It’s a my way or the highway mentality, a my way or no way. What is ruling your life? How do you know? The easiest way is to ask is it restoring or ruining your life? Only the peace of Christ should rule. So when the bills pile up, it is not the bills that control our actions and attitude but the peace of Christ. When health falters and fails, it is not the body that controls the spirit it is Christ’s peace. When we find ourselves in a disagreement with someone, it is our emotions that control our thoughts and actions but the peace of Christ. Christ’s peace decides how I’m going to respond to the events and people of my life. Not only is peace objective and subjective, but it is also relational. As believers we are called to live in peace with one another. Individuals who have peace with Christ should have peace with His children. Instead of hate there should be harmony. Disunity among God’s disciples is not only a disgrace but it fails to point people to God’s peace. The greatest way to preach peace is to model the message and practice it. So let me ask you what is ruling your heart? What determines what you do and how you will act in life? We say that we want peace in our lives yet many of us refuse to give control to Christ and let His peace rule our lives. Who is on the throne of your life, self or the Savior?

  1. Word of Christ

Let the message of Christ fill your life, literally means to let the Word of God be at home in your life. This is a call to let the Word take up residence and be at home in your heart. There is a difference between a guest and someone who dwells in a home. A guest comes and goes according to what is convenient for him and for his host, a dweller remains regardless of the circumstances. The truths of Scripture should so permeate every aspect of our lives as believers that it governs every thought, word, and deed. That means that we are not just called to read and study the Word but to live it out loud. Are you letting the Word of God take up permanent residence in your life? This command is in the present tense which means that we must keep on doing so. Acts 2:42 described the life of the early believers: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Are you devoted to the Word or just dabbling in the Word? The early disciples were devoted, they persevered and remained faithful to the Word. The word richness can be translated “abundantly or extravagantly rich.” It’s a reminder that the real riches are not found in the world but in His Word. What is filling you up, the word or the world?

  1. Name of Christ

Whatever you do or say do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, whether in the church or in the world, for there is no sacred-secular split in God’s eyes for He is Sovereign over all. The simplest, most basic rule of thumb for living the Christian life is to do everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus whether by lip or life. Lastly not only do we see the priorities for the new life but also the:

  1. Pattern of the new life Vs 15-17

Paul says, “. . . and be thankful . . .” At first glance this may seem like an afterthought thrown in for good measure. But Paul was being very intentional when he tied peace and thankfulness together. When I am thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ, then I can be at peace with them. And when I remember what God has done by bringing me into a relationship with Himself through Jesus and am thankful for that, then I can let the peace of Christ control every thought, every action, every word. The more thanks, the more peace. The two are in direct proportion to one another. You want peace then why not try being thankful. Three times in three verses Paul tells us to be thankful. Appreciation is the appropriate response of believers to all that God has done. It is ingratitude that marks unbelievers while a thankful spirit cannot be contained that is why Colossians 2:7 declares that we should be “…overflowing with thankfulness.” How about you, what are you overflowing with, is it an attitude of gratitude or one of grumbling? Do you find yourself whistling or whining?


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12 Revolutionizing your Relationships – Part 3

Colossians 3:12-17

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

So far we have seen that we are not only called to live out our new position but we are called to put on Christ’s provision for the new life. After putting on Christ’s clothes of tenderhearted mercy and kindness next we are called to clothe ourselves with

c. Humility

Humility kindles kindness, enabling it to flow freely, because it allows us to accept people as they are. We are all made in the same mold, only some are moldier than others. Humility does not come naturally to humanity, it comes when we gaze into the greatness of God and see His grace. Pride is put in its place when we realize that we become who we are only by His grace. Humility is the antidote to self-love and the pride that poisons our relationships. Pride leads to power struggles and the need to be right. Pride hurts our relationships and leads to hate, where humility lends a helping hand. Where pride ruins relationship, humility restores and rejuvenates. Today the message that has molded our culture is that we should love self, is it any wonder that we have become a selfish self-serving society instead of a servant driven one? Humility is not putting yourself down it is lifting others up. Next is the garment of:

d. Gentleness

Unfortunately our society sees gentleness as weakness, but gentleness is not weakness, it is power under control. It is the picture of a horse that has been trained and can be ridden. It is real strength, but it does not have to display itself or show off how strong it is. Gentleness is the garment of the God-controlled person. When you put on gentleness others can take off their self-defensive armor, wariness, and fearfulness, and can put on trust. Today because we have tossed the garment of gentleness into the garbage can we have gone from a giving society to a guarded one. How do we regain gentleness, by placing ourselves and our situations under God’s will, for when we do we will not need to control others. What happens when a nation gives up on gentleness, they go from being a blessing to being a brat. Instead of serving they become self-absorbed but it doesn’t end there, brats always become bullies. Bullies have one goal to get their way and as a result gentleness is replaced with getting. Next we are called to put on:

e. Patience

Patience means self-restraint, and a steady response in the face of provocation. It is the spirit which doesn’t let mankind’s foolishness and unteachability drive it to cynicism and despair or let the insults and ill treatment drive you to bitterness and anger. Patience is the opposite of resentment and revenge. Patience is putting up with those the flesh wants to put down. Practicing the attributes listed in verse 12 makes the actions listed in verse 13 possible: “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.” It’s here that we are commanded to cloth ourselves with:

f. Forbearance and forgiveness

In relationships there is a lot that needs to be endured and it is the spirit of forgiveness that makes difficult things endurable even erasing them. Love is repeatedly having to say “I’m sorry.” In relationship we are vulnerable to pain and it is forgiveness that brings peace. Studies show that it is not great riches that make people happy, but friends and forgiveness. For many an unforgiving spirit is often the last emotional fortress that we yield to the power of God. We cling to anger and bitterness because we feel that those who have wronged us should suffer. We want justice and what is fair and Paul points out we are the recipients of an over fair God. When we realize how much God has forgiven us, we will be compelled to extend mercy to others. We forgo forgiveness because we have somehow missed the mercy of God. When was the last time you looked into the mirror of His mercy, what reflection did you see as your heart was revealed was it one of revenge or restoration? Revenge is ruining our relationships because it doesn’t just harden our hearts it creates a heart of hate. Hate always harbors the hurts and looks for an opportunity to harm. There is a story told about a man named Joe who was dying. For years he had been at odds with Bill, formerly one of his best friends. Wanting to straighten things out, he sent word for Bill to come and see him. When Bill arrived, Joe told him that he was afraid to go into eternity with such a bad feeling between them. Then, very reluctantly and with great effort, Joe apologized for things he had said and done. He also assured Bill that he forgave him for his offenses. Everything seemed fine until Bill turned to go. As he walked out of the room, Joe called out after him, “But, remember, if I get better, this doesn’t count!” Isn’t that a picture of the way we often treat one another, the forgiveness we offer is superficial, given with a selfish motive. We say that we forgive, but when the least little friction arises, how quick we are to resurrect past grievances. We like to “bury the hatchet” with the handle sticking out. That way we can easily pick it up again and use it to our advantage. When we forgive someone we’re not minimizing the harm they caused nor condoning the sin they’ve committed, we are simply choosing to place the offense into the nail-scarred hands of Jesus. Lastly we are called to put on:

g. Love

Love is the spirit of self-sacrifice that comes from God as we walk with Him. Love lashes all these attributes together with bonds that can’t be broken. Love is the beauty of the believer, dispelling the ugly sins that destroy unity. If compassion is the inner, garment, and if kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness are its active-wear, shirts, pants and socks, then love is the overcoat. “On top of all these things,” Paul says, “put on love.” Love brings warmth to a relationship. Love is not merely an emotion, emotions wear thin and threadbare as feelings ebb. Love as the overcoat is made up of two things, commitment and caring. It’s the solid ground on which relationships rest “I will be there for you.” That’s the commitment but what good is commitment without caring? Caring says, “I commit myself to you and I will be there to care for you.”

Today our relationships are running aground and being wrecked against the rocks of recklessness because we are dressing for success instead of for service. We have bought into the world’s wardrobe instead of the Words. In an attempt to be hip we have crammed our closets full of current culture and cast aside Christ’s. What is the price that we have paid for this worldly wear? That which is dearest and most desirable, the richness of relationship. The truth is we are not hip we are hypocrites; while we parade around in our political correctness we are poisoning and putting to death that which makes us human. We are not tolerant we are tyrannical; we are destroying that which is dearest. Today dads are deserting their families, people are targeting police, the peace keepers of our society, while politicians promise to fix it all with more policies. Our worldly wardrobe has left us naked but sadly not ashamed. What we need isn’t more laws its more love, if we want to become a successful society then we need to start dressing for service not self. We need to start dressing from Christs closet not the cultures. What about you, what wardrobe are you wearing?