Mike Gerhardt, 01-06-19, Remember Epiphany; To Be or Not to Be, Colossians 1:1-8, Be Thankful. Reasons to be thankful will be hard to find if we keep looking down. Let's look up at what God has done. New Year Resolutions are abundant currently. If you haven't settled on your, here are some suggestions I found online: Photobomb more Channel 7 news interviews; Watch 100 movies without losing my scholarship; Incorporate I don’t roll that way in a conversation each day; Spend less time with people, more time with my cellphone; Wave at all the people at a four-way stop; Eat more bacon; Collect airsick bags from every major airline; Become a meme that everyone uses; Knit sweaters for freezing trees.
Colossians was written from a prison in Rome by Paul about 60-62AD. One purpose was to correct heresy in that Asia Minor city. Many like the false teachers at Colossae give Jesus a place of eminence, but not the rightful place of preeminence. Jesus is not just a great man among great men; He is God the Son, preeminent in all things!
Always thank God for the gospel’s growing season in your life. By God’s grace, his word was planted in your heart maybe by a faithful parent, grandparent, friend, neighbor or coworker who took the time to share God’s Word. There were others who prayed for that Word to take root. Having never met them, Paul had heard of the Colossian's faith in Jesus and their love for others. Two qualities that we should resolve to live out in the new year. Faith and Love, spring from Hope. At times we may not feel that our faith is growing. We must trust that God’s Word is the water for the seed of faith to increase. Give thanks for God’s growing season. We may complain about things as they are today. Recently I was complaining about my leaky shower. Then I looked up what it was like 118 year ago in the USA: The average life expectancy was 47; Only 14% of homes had a bathtub, 8% had a phone; 3 minute call from NY to Denver was $11;Only 8000 cars, 144 miles of paved road at 10mph; Average wage 22 cents per hour; a dentist could up to $2500 per year; 95% of all births took place at home; Women washed their hair once a month using egg yolks and borax. So, we can be thankful we're living now and not then.
God’s grace in all its Truth. We live in the knowledge and wisdom of God's grace. God's grace found Paul when he was persecuting the church. God chose you and me in spite of our rebellion and sin. God’s gospel will spring forth and bear abundant fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Things I can be thankful for: the mess after a dinner party means I have been surrounded by friends; the taxes I pay means that I’m employed; the clothes that fit a little snug means I have more than enough to eat; my shadow means I am out in the sunshine; a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing means I have a place to live; the parking spot I find at the far end of the lot means I can get some exercise; all the complaining I hear about our government means we still have freedom of speech; my heating bill means I must be staying warm; the lady behind me in church who sings off key means that I can hear; the piles of laundry means my kids are back from college; weariness and aching muscles means I have been productive; waking in the early morning hours means I’m still alive. Finding reasons to be thankful is largely a matter of mindset. In some parts of Mexico, there are hot springs and cold springs side by side. Great for washing clothes! Women wash the clothes in hot and rinse in cold. Tourist watching said to guide: I’ll bet they’re grateful for these springs. Guide: No señor, there is much grumbling because Mother Nature provides no soap! It seems the human tendency is to complain instead of being grateful. Too often we must be reminded to be thankful. The best reasons to be thankful is Jesus. Sadly, we have heard this so much that we have become inoculated to the concept. We should be thankful every day for Jesus because His very purpose is to change life. Jesus is a life changer. Consider that term, Life Changer. We can sometimes hire a professional life changer. New Orleans Saints had a slow start as a franchise joining NFC South in 2002. One writer called it the paper bag stage. Then came hurricane Katrina in 2005. In 2006 Coach Sean Payton was hired. He had the vision to bring Drew Brees as the quarterback and now has developed highly skilled coaching staff who built a solid team. That franchise has enjoyed a life change. They are no longer seen as pushovers but rather a powerhouse ending this season 13-3. Life-changers are like that. Either a traumatic event or a highly influential person can affect a change in a life. It becomes a defining moment. Jesus is such a life changer. Jesus is a Proficient Life Changer. Have you ever given this any thought? While we tend to think Jesus is personally helpful, we lose the concept that Jesus came to make a dramatic difference in our lives. Changing lives is not a hobby or an afterthought for Jesus. The very reason Jesus left heaven and came to earth was to bring about change in the lives of people. The scriptures are littered with this truth. 2 Corinthians 5:17: If any person is in Christ, that person is a NEW creation. This does not mean the person has been renovated or slightly improved; it means he has been rebuilt from the inside out, not touched up. Romans 12:1-2: be not conformed to this world but to be transformed. Transformation is reformation to the mind, body, and soul. Think of the changes Jesus has brought you. Jesus is a Permanent Life Changer. When Jesus changes a life, He doesn’t do it for the day, the week or for a couple of months; it is a permanent change. One issue in the church today is how we have simplified church. It seems easier to join most churches than it is to join the Rotary or the Lions Club. John the Baptist tells us Luke 3:8 to produce fruit consistent with repentance. Before Christendom in 313ad, the Ecclesia (that is, the assembly) were considered rebels, renegades and often criminals so they had to be careful who they let in. New folks were held to the standard of producing works in accordance with their repentance. When a life is changed by the power of God, old things are indeed passed away. Old habits, hungers, and hang-ups vanish, and a new way of thinking replaces it. Jesus changes us by releasing us from the bondage of sin, death, and hell. He sets us free! Jesus is a Personal Life Changer. I know because He’s changed my life. When I think about my own life and the mindset which I carried for many years even inside the church, I am amazed where I am today. And when I get at the point of self-doubt about my calling, He encourages my heart. It may be a new way of seeing the truth in scripture or a fresh vision. Be thankful for Jesus the life changer. Has He really “changed” your life? If not, will you let Him? The word of God is planted. It takes root in our hearts. God’s word feeds that growing seed. With thankfulness our lives produce fruit. Mark 4:20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop--thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown. Today these yields do not seem extraordinary with our modern equipment. Consider the time when Jesus spoke these words. These yields were beyond comprehension. God’s word is indeed living and active. By God’s gospel, we are moved to live thankful, fruitful lives. On our own, we are lost and condemned. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Be thankful for God’s growing season. It is God’s gospel that is planted and takes root in our hearts. It is God’s gospel that bears thankful fruit in faithful Christian living.