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March 10, 2019

Be Heavenly Minded

Heaven is a wonderful place. Why is it we don't think of it often? Listen or read to find out.
Duration:35:31

Mike Gerhardt, 03-10-19, Be Heavenly Minded. At a local dealership, someone saw a large dumpster with a car sticking out for all to see. The sign read: LEAVE your clunker here pointing to the dumpster. How many of you have ever owned a car like that? I owned a Chevrolet Vega, I was tempted every time I passed a dumpster. One day while driving along, the engine blew. I ended up selling it for junk. Man built these things. From day one, they are deteriorating, breaking down and falling apart. Everything this side of heaven is a clunker. But GOD sent HIS SON to redeem us clunkers and he is in the restoration business. At a recent car show, there were pictures of cars rusted out and sitting in a field. Then a series of pictures showing the restoration process. The shiny new restored car was at the show for all to see. We know eventually that car will rust away again. But God’s promise of restoration is forever in heaven. Our new bodies described in 1 Cor.15 are imperishable. Life is more than just being alive, it's something greater than just getting by, greater than just enduring, and greater than what is seen. To live in Christ, to die is gain. Life is to have Jesus in all that we say and do. To be free in Christ is life from above. Has it occurred to you that you’re driving a clunker that needs to be restored? Let us read Colossians 3:1-11.

Let your earthly practice reflect your heavenly position. Once you were dead in sin NOW you are dead to sin. Christ in you the hope of glory, (1:27) live in that fullness of Jesus. The new life on the inside must result in a new life on the outside. Your heart is the core of your being and center of your affection. Your mind is the concentration of your thoughts and the calculations of your intellect. Fix your attention on Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of God because he has defeated the forces of evil to win your salvation. Set your heart and mind on heaven.  You’ve been raised in Christ. In a sense, you’ve already died and gone to heaven because you're alive in Jesus who is your life. When someone gets a surprise, they say I've died and gone to heaven. Well, that's not too far from the truth.

There were two sisters who enjoyed attending wild parties, drinking free alcohol, and going home with someone different each time. Then Jesus Christ converted them, and they found a new life in Christ. They received an invitation to one of those parties and responded we regret we cannot attend your party because we recently died. Read 3:1-4. We must fix our attention on heaven in order to be some earthly good. Years ago, affirmative action programs pushed the concept of ethnic diversity. We are a richer nation, and better off as individuals due to a close identity with our ethnic diversity and the cultural variety it brings. If our nation can find such identity in being Native-American, African-American, Mexican-American, Chinese-American and a multitude of other ethnic groups, why can’t we as followers of Christ, find our identity in being Christian-American? As much as the world wants us to respect ethnic heritage, does it care about spiritual heritage? Where is our homeland?
Set your desires and actions on heaven. Put to death your earthly nature. Get rid of anger, malice, slander and bad language. Put on the new self. Read 3:5-8. Here is one of Paul’s behavioral lists. Put to DEATH!! Rid Yourself of ALL such things. Impurity, that’s huge. Put off greed, not American. Remember God’s justice is coming. Think about anger (the sinful kind), rage, malice, slander, bad language and lying, all that pours from the mouths of those around us whose hearts are not set on heaven. Playing basketball, I'd sometimes miss a shot. I'd shout sugar in place of another word. Often it would stop the game with a question Pastor Mike what did you just say? Sugar. That’s what I thought.

Language comes in all shapes and sizes: DO not take the Lord’s name in vain (you hear it all the time OMG), curses (damn you or go to hell), inappropriate language (bathroom talk, parents ask your teen what WTF means when they get that text message), coarse or hurtful joking (when you have to explain that it was only a joke, it wasn’t right to say) or words that hurt (like stupid, idiot). Watch your language.

At the bottom of many of his musical manuscripts, the organist and composer Johann Sebastian Bach often wrote the letters INDNJC. Those letters stood for In Nomine Dominie Nostri Jesu Christi - in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Considered a genius, Bach recognized the one true Genius. Praised for his musical gifts, Bach was aware of the primary giver of all gifts. James noted every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. Most of us will never compose a Bach-like musical manuscript. But each day of our lives we compose "living" manuscripts of sorts. Each day we have opportunities to use our God-given time, talents and gifts as we write the notes that collectively compose the songs others will hear when they listen to us. Once we invite Jesus as our Savior, He goes to work to restore His holy image lost in sin. He transforms us to make us like Himself. This process is described as putting off some behaviors and putting on others. We are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language and to put on love.
Vernon Grounds: Unless and until our sin-tarnished souls are cleansed by Jesus' forgiveness, God's image is obscured in our lives. But when we trust Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, we are forgiven, and the restoration begins. Read Col 3:9-11. Set your friends and family on heaven. Recognize Christ in all believers. Be careful of superficial prejudices. As a young boy, theologian Alistair McGrath enjoyed experimenting with chemicals at school. He'd drop an old British penny bearing the image of Queen Victoria into a beaker of diluted nitric acid. Because of the grime, Her Majesty's image could hardly be seen. But the acid cleansed it and the Queen's image resurfaced in shining glory. We were created in the likeness and image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), but that image has been defaced by sin. We are still His image-bearers. We need to look for that image in those called out by his name and to encourage heaven minded behavior to bring out the best in each other. Barbarian was a term the Greeks used for all non-Greek-speaking peoples. It was not originally pejorative or derogatory. The Scythians were Iranian nomads from south Russian northeast of the Black Sea. These distinctions are gone in Christ. Old Joe was dying. For years he had been at odds with Bill one of his best friends. Wanting to straighten things out, he sent for Bill to see him. Joe told Bill that he was afraid to go into eternity with such bad feelings between them. Then Joe reluctantly apologized for things he had said and done. He assured Bill that he forgave him for his offenses. Everything seemed fine until Bill turned to go. As Bill walked out of the room, Joe called out after him, But do remember if I get better, this doesn't count! What a picture of the way we often treat one another! Sometimes the forgiveness we offer is superficial and given with a selfish motive. We say we forgive but when the least little friction arises, we are quick to resurrect the past grievances. We like to bury the hatchet with the handle sticking out for easy access. R. W. De Haan: If our sinless Lord is willing to forgive us--with all our faults--how can we withhold pardon from those who have sinned against us? True Christ-like forgiveness buries the hatchet completely.

Consider it this way: When you set to daylight savings time on your watch, how do you go about it? Do you just guess at what time it is, or do you try to find a reliable indicator of the actual time maybe the announced time on the radio? You set your watch by a verifiable source. Why wouldn’t you set your mind or focus your thoughts on something reliable?
You and I are told by the media all day long how to think of ourselves in worldly ways. We are told we deserve to have an ideal body or an ideal car or an ideal relationship. We are urged to think that we must be richer, smoother, prettier, faster, and sexier and more in control of our lives. And so, we set our minds on these things. We think we need them, want them and get them no matter what the cost. Is this a vision of your life? Or do you aspire to be a person who is consistently being converted in mind, body, and spirit away from the world’s way and to the ways of Christ? Are you energized by the notion that your thoughts, your deeds, your very being in this life could reveal heaven to someone? Think about that. You can have this kind of life, and as Paul says in verse 4 when Christ who is your life is revealed, you also will be revealed with him in glory. Pray that your life will become plain for all to see just who you really are in Jesus.

You are one who is restored in the image of Christ. You are to be just like him. Christ in you the hope of glory.