Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Colossians Week 6 - God Works Within Us

Since we have been going through the book of Colossians we have seen that the writer, Paul, has been talking about the Church in general and our relationship with it. Last week we finished up a two part talk, where we focused on the us aspect of that relationship. We talked about how we are to be built up, we are to have our faith strength, and we are to be thankful toward God. All this leads us to knowing the fullness that Jesus has brought us into, which is knowing him intimately. 
We also talked last week about how Christianity is not an organized religion. We talked about how an organized religion is meant to create a false spiritual experience. While Christianity is a faith based relationship.
Christianity isn’t based on what the pastor tells you what to do, rather on what God is working on within you. Which is where Paul is going with this whole thing. Last week, we saw that organized religion wants us to be so focused on the do’s and don’ts so that it can create a controlled experience, whereas Christianity is meant to be lived as a living breathing movement of where God is leading and teaching us. 
In order for that to happen though, we need to give each other room to explore what God is teaching us.

But in this, there are somethings that we need to be seeking to deal with in our relationship with God. And it’s with that mindset that Paul moves on to chapter 3 of Colossians. So if you have your Bibles, we’ll be start reading in Colossians chapter 3 verse 1.
Now as we get into this, I have to let you know that I struggled with how much we were going to cover today. Because, to be honest this is one of those sections where it could easily be cut into two, but as we have said before, we’re here looking at the overarching ideas that are being put forth in the book, rather than looking at the verse-by-verse of it all. So, even though there is a lot to cover, we’ll read this as Paul lays out his thoughts. Let’s begin reading.

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. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Let’s stop right there. In our last section we talked about how Paul wants us to know the fullness that God has brought us into. That fullness, we discussed, was knowing God intimately. We talked about how that is a common theme throughout the book of Colossians so far, and it is in this passage that Paul is going to give some rubber to road application for us. Before it was mostly abstract kind of thinking, know God, but now Paul’s going to get into how that actually works itself out.
Paul starts off with saying set your hearts and minds on things above. What are those things above, and why is it our heart and mind? Well the things above is the reality that, as Paul says in verse 3, our lives are hidden with Christ in God. In other words, it’s what we have been talking abbot for a while now: the fullness that is to be experienced now, and which will see a new dimension to when Jesus returns. The two are the same.
The heart, as we have talked before are our feelings, and our mind are what we think.
So Paul is saying that we need to get our thinking selves, and our feeling selves on the same page. What’s that page? To focus on the fact that our lives are Jesus’ and we can experience that full life now with him.

But what does this full life entail? Remember we asked that same question last week, and we said it’s getting to know Jesus intimately? Well, here are the nuts and bolts of how that happens within that intimacy. Let’s start back at verse 5

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. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also 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 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 

In verses 1-4, Paul says that we need to get our lives focus in the right place, with understanding that our lives are Jesus’. He says we need to get our thinking selves and our feeling selves to live in that reality. But here’s the thing, you and I know that there is something wrong, there’s something holding us back. Paul knows it too. So he says, let’s put to death those things that are holding us back from experiencing this fullness of life that we have been brought into.
He then gives us a list of things that are holding us back: Sexual immorality, impurities, lustful things. Translated into the modern happenings of our world, some of these cold be: homosexuality, adultery, pornography, even what can be see on TV and movies. 
Paul talks about evil desires and greed, which Paul calls idolatry, because it’s those things that we try to replace God with for our security.
He goes on with anger, rage. When somethings not right, it’s the way we respond with destruction. Malice, which are those ungodly, self-centered reasons that drives us to do things. Slander, filthy language, and lying which is using our mouths to breakdown, rather than build up.

Paul just hit things that go on in our thinking and in our feeling. He says those things are to be put to death, and our thinking selves and our feeling selves need to refocus to our lives with Jesus.

Now the usual answer to this list that Paul just gave us is, “I can’t do that. I’m not some super-spiritual person.”

And in verse 11, Paul’s response to that someone who would respond with this statement.

11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Paul’s answer to us saying that this can’t happen in our lives: You can. Why? Because it’s not about your social, economic, ethnic, or spiritual background. It’s because Jesus lives in you.
You can put to death these things that Paul has listed because of no other reason than you have been brought into the fullness of Jesus, and now Jesus through, the power of the Holy Spirit, lives within you.

And even more, because Jesus lives in you and you can put to death these things that were listed, Paul says to not stop there, but to replace it with the things that are found in the fullness of God’s life. Verse 12 says…

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

We asked the question in our third week of going through the book of Colossians: How do we be the person that is here for the Church and not make the Church here for us?

Here’s the answer: by getting our thinking and feeling selves to put the things that we lived in before Jesus, to death. We do this only through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us. When we get our thinking and feeling selves to focus on the fullness that God has brought us into, we can begin to replace those dead things, with living things that are found in the fullness of Jesus.
When we are fully participating in this kind of relationship based spiritually, then we can sit with each other as fellow relationship based people, bearing with each other as we deal with taking off the old dead things, and putting on the new living things of the fullness of Jesus. We can forgive each other, because we understand the struggle that is in us, and how much Jesus has forgiven us to bring us into his fullness. And we can be united together, because of our Savior and his work. We can boast in what Jesus has done, rather than in what we have done. And in doing so, we can celebrate what he is doing in other people’s lives, because he is moving within them, jus like he is moving in us.

And as we do this we can stand next to each other, people who are on the same path at different stages, singing to our God who has saved us. Paul says in verse 15 and 16…

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

When Paul says that we are to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. He is telling us to sing songs that are written in Scripture, which are psalms. We are to sing songs that talk about our faith which are hymns. And we are to sing songs that come out of our the relational experience we have with God.

At the beginning we said that this whole section of putting to death those things that keep us from refocusing our hearts and minds on the fullness Jesus calls us into, can only be done through our relationship with God. I cannot do this for you, because I am not God and I don’t know what needs to happen in your life for you to experience God’s fullness more. It’s the same for you to me. All we can do is to thank God for each other, encourage each other along the way, and share with each other the insights we have gained through our experiences that God has led us through.
So ending his thought, Paul adds this in verse 17, 

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

We need to be working with God to experience his fullness. We need to come to the Church to sit with other believers, other people who are engaging in this relational process, to be encouraged, to be challenged, to be supported, and to worship the God of our fullness together.

So today, I want you take take a piece of paper and write down what God is working on in your life. Then, if you can ask someone that you know is a Christian about what is God currently teaching them. That way you can see the similarities and the difference, as you both walk with God.

God bless and have a great day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Colossians Week 5 - The Fullness of Jesus

Today we’re going to continue making our way through the book of Colossians and if you have your Bibles you can open up to chapter 2 of Colossians where we left off with verse 9. 

Now since we have been going through the book of Colossians, we have been taking it section by section, so that we can get a fuller understanding of what the Holy Spirit was trying to reveal through the author Paul. 
That is until we came to chapter 2 verses 6-23. We talked about how this section dealt with so much information that we need to cut it into to parts. The first part dealt with verses 6-8, where we talked about how Paul was telling us as individuals that we needed three things: 1) To be built up in Jesus by solidifying our understanding of who he is, 2) That we need to have our faith strengthen through serving people, 3) And that we need to be continuously thankful by looking at the good God has done for us.
Then we talked about how these three things that we need in our personal lives are to combat, momentary philosophies of how we approach our relationship with God, human traditions of how the Church is supposed to act, and spiritual forces that our trying to divert our attention away from God and onto momentary problems.
It was all this that we talked about, which needed to be flushed out, before we could talk about the next part of the section.
So now knowing that we need to be built up in Jesus, to combat momentary philosophies. Knowing that we need to have our faith strengthened through serving, which combats against human traditions getting in our way in reaching people. And knowing that being continuously thankful keeps our eyes on God and away from the momentary problems of this world that the spiritual forces around us want us to focus on. It’s now that we can move forward in understanding the next part of the section. So if you have your Bibles with you, would you please open up to verse 9 of chapter 2 in the book of Colossians. Where we’ll read together. 

9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Let’s take a breather right there, and digest everything that Paul is writing.

After I had begun my own personal relationship with God, I tried to attend churches. While I sat through a lot of sermons over time, it seemed to be that I was hearing the same thing over and over. Don’t do. Don’t do this, don’t do that.
And when I heard the Gospel message given, it was seemed like it was, “God saved you from sin.” Now, I’m not saying these things I heard were bad, but there began to be something missing in my relationship with God. I felt like this whole being saved thing was more about the things I wasn’t supposed to do. But as I read the Bible, it seemed like there was more to the story than just the things I was saved from, and the things I wasn't suppose to be doing. 
A few years of this went on and for one of my studied I had to read the book the Four-Fold Gospel by A.B. Simpson. In the book, Simpson talked about what we were saved from, sin and death, but then he added a section on what we were saved to. He gave point after point about how we are not just saved from something, but we are saved to something.

Here, Paul tells us that we are not only saved from something, but we are saved to something.

Verse 10 says, “10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.”

Paul is saying that when we put our trust into Jesus as our Savior we are being brought into fullness. Paul goes on to give us three overarching ways that Jesus accomplishes bringing us into this fullness: 1) By triumphing over the spiritual powers of this world, 2) By putting to death our old self-focused lives, 3) And by raising us to new life.
Our being brought into fullness can only pass through the work of Jesus on the cross, and through his resurrection. Paul is picking up on what Jesus had taught, as recorded in the book of John 14:6, “6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Us being brought into fullness can only be accomplished through Jesus, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead.

But what is the fullness that Paul is talking about? What does it mean to be brought into this fullness.

Well, Jesus says in John 10:10, “10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

So this fullness is a fullness of life. But what does that mean?

I want to share with you something else from A. B. Simpson. He wrote a hymn in 1904 called “Himself.” Take a moment to read through the lyrics below, or follow the link to hear the song for yourself: https://youtu.be/CvTPC3JtiCI

Verse 1: 
Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
Now it is His Word;
Once His gift I wanted,
Now, the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.

All in all forever,
Jesus will I sing;
Everything in Jesus,
And Jesus everything.

Verse 2:
Once ’twas painful trying,
Now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation,
Now the uttermost;
Once ’twas ceaseless holding,
Now He holds me fast;
Once ’twas constant drifting,
Now my anchor’s cast.


Verse 3:
Once ’twas busy planning,
Now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once ’twas anxious caring,
Now He has the care;
Once ’twas what I wanted,
Now what Jesus says;
Once ’twas constant asking,
Now ’tis ceaseless praise.


Verse 4:
Once it was my working,
His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him,
Now He uses me;
Once the pow’r I wanted,
Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored,
Now for Him alone.


A.B. Simpson recognized what the fullness was that Paul is writing about here in Colossians. 

The fullness of this life is not the things we have, but to know Jesus the Creator. From the second section Paul, has been hammering us with knowing Jesus. That it is the relationship with Jesus that is the most important aspect of this Christian life. From this one understanding,  everything else extends. 
Paul tells us in the first chapter of Colossians, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Getting to know the God who created us is what it means to be brought into fullness. Because when we enter into that place, everything us comes together. 
The questions we have, the struggles we experience, the desires of our heart, all this begins to be understood in the presence that God created us to experience. This is why it is so important that in the book of Revelation chapter 21 it says, “3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

This experience that is talked about in the book of Revelation is meant for every person who puts their trust into Jesus as their Savior. And that experience is meant to begin now. It is not a wait and see experience of some by and by time, but rather what is talked about in the book of Revelation is a more intense experience that we are to be having right now in this life.

But here’s the thing, we tend try and create a false experience, a false fullness. And it’s this false experience that Paul addresses, starting in verse 16. Let’s continue reading.

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

I’ve heard people talk about organized religion, and a lot of what they say is true. But do you know what the worst thing about organized religion is? Organized religion is meant to create a false spiritual experience. It accomplishes this through a list of do’s and don’ts. Through controlling it’s people with what they can and cannot do. By telling them to follow a certain pastor, or rabbi, or teacher. Organized religion desires to have us experience the fullness of God within a box that can be managed, by another.

But here’s the thing, Christianity is not an organized religion. It is a faith based relationship. And as we’ll see the next time, there are things that we can do to help us in our relationship, but those things are between us and God, not us and a pastor. Not us and a rabbi, not us and a teacher. 
I believe it is my calling as a pastor to help us go through the Scriptures to uncover the truths as the Holy Spirit of God directs us, but I am not, nor should I ever be the basis for your relationship with God.
Nor should any of you be the basis for my relationship with God. We are equals, walking this path of understanding our relationship with God together. We are to give grace to each other to achieve, and fail as we move forward, knowing God. 
Yes, there are some set perimeters, such as there is only one way to find this fullness and it’s through the death and resurrection of Jesus, but there is a lot of areas within that, that we need to discover together with God, as he reveals it. 

Paul is telling us that we have been brought into fullness of a relationship with the God of the universe, let’s not try and revert back to a false spiritual experience that is based on blanket do’s and don’ts that confine us more that liberate us.

Church, this is what we need to do: instead of taking our God as a religion to follow, and looking for that next spiritual experience, we need to seek God as a relationship that is fulfilling just because it is him.

The question I want to ask today is this, “Do you know Jesus in a full way, or is your relationship with him a religion?”

This week, every time you're in the shower I want you to say a prayer asking God to help you live in the fullness that Jesus has brought you into. Why the shower? It’s a place of solitude where nothing of the world is beckoning you. We all need to live in the fullness that Jesus has brought us into, if we did, how much different would the Church be if we had the life focus that A.B. Simpson had when he wrote, 

Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
Now it is His Word;
Once His gift I wanted,
Now, the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.

And I would add, “once it was the experience, now the fullness of the Lord, I seek.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Colossians Week 4 - Built, Strengthened, Thankful

We’re in our fourth week of going through the book of Colossians. As we’re making our way through the book, we’ve talked about how we’re focusing on the larger ideas that are being presented through the text. Rather than the fine theological ideas that are found in every verse. 
We’re looking for what the Spirit had to say at the time of the writing, and how that should affect us today.
In the first week, we focused on chapter 1 verses 1-14. In those verses we saw how the writer of the letter, was emphasizing that the Church, this body of world-wide believers in Jesus, are connected to each other for two reasons: 1) They have accepted Jesus as their Savior, and therefore are brought into this group called the Church, and 2) We who are in the Church are connected through praying for one another. This is why prayer is so important for the Church to be active in. Without it, we severely limit our ability to connect with each other, and the world-wide Church.
Then the next week we moved to verses 15-23 of chapter 1, and talked about how the writer, wants us to get to know Jesus intimately. We shouldn’t just know facts about Jesus, but get to know him as a person. Since God is personal, meaning he has personality and can be known on a personal level, we need to get to know Jesus on that personal level. That way, we won’t approach him as just some idea, but a living being.
Then last week, we talked about how, the writer connected knowing Jesus’ intimately to serving the Church. And we found that in order to know Jesus the way he wants us to know him, we must serve the Church with our labor, our eagerness, and our energy. We do this so that we can engage each other, unite each other, and point each other back to Jesus, the head of the Church. Because in the end, it’s all about him.

That brings us to chapter 2 verse 6. So if you have your Bibles, would you open to Colossians chapter 2 verse 6. And as you do, I want to ask you a question. Last week we made the statement, that the Church is not here for us, but rather we are here for the Church. Meaning, we should be looking to give 100% of ourselves to the people of God, not expecting anything in return. If we all had this approach, then all of us would get our needs met within the Church.
But here’s the question, “How do we be the person that is here for the Church, and not make the Church here for us?
That question is what we are going to be tackling in the next few chapters, and we’ll start today.. Let’s start reading in verse 6.

6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Let’s take a quick break right here. 
If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, he is now Lord of you life. If your life was a movie, then Jesus should be the director, the writer, the producer, the editor and the promoter. We are to live our lives as Jesus would desire for us to live. 
How do we do that from the writer’s point of view? He says we need to be doing three things:
In verse 7, Paul first says that we need to be rooted and built up in Jesus. What’s that mean? It means, that we need to solidify our relationship with him. In other words: we need to truly know him. This is done by, understanding that we need him to show us what it means to live our lives for him, and we need to level deep into the knowledge aspect of our relationship.
The Second thing is, we need to have our faith strengthened. How’s that done? Well, strengthening comes through challenges, a challenge that we talked about last time was service. Service challenges and strengthens our faith, because working with people is messy. They’re smelly, mean, and broken. And God loves them. So we need to love them by serving them. This builds our faith, because when the going gets tough, the cracks in our trusting of God will shine through. By serving, we see our deficiencies in loving people the way that God loves them. And it’s those cracks/deficiencies that help us to know what areas need to be worked on in our relationship with God.
Finally, we need to be thankful. There’s a lot of things that can make us think of the bad, but in all the bad that we see, there are things that are always there that we can thank God for. I remember seeing this one greeting card where it was a cartoon drawing of two disciples of Jesus, Paul and Silas. They were sitting in a cell with their arms chained above their heads. Silas says to Paul, “What should we do,” Paul responds with, “Let’s sing, I Lift My Hands Up to the Lord.” Even in our darkest moments we must thank God, because it changes our view of the situations we’re in.

So Paul, the writer of Colossians, has moved from talking about the connectedness of the Church, to knowing Jesus intimately, to the need of serving the Church, and now he moves into the individuals. We as individuals in this whole, relationship with God and his Church, need to be built in Jesus, have their faith strengthened, and be thankful.
Why? Why would he do this? Why does Paul believe that we need to know this? Let’s continue reading in verse 8.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

Paul tells us that we need to be built in Jesus, have our faith strengthened and to be thankful, because as we’re living in this world, there will be other paths to take. 
In the book of Matthew chapter 7 verses 13 and 14 Jesus said this, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

There are multiple paths in this world. One is the path to eternal life, which only goes through Jesus. After we have accepted that path though, other paths will want to side track us from Jesus’ path.
These paths want us to leave behind the God that has saved us, to return to a world that is dying.
So here in verse 8, Paul talks to us about not being captive by these other paths, these other philosophies, human traditions, or spiritual forces.

That’s why we must make sure that we are being built, strengthen, and thankful. So these other things will not divert us away from the path that goes through Jesus.
Now, we would never have anything like this happen in the Church today right? We would never have any other philosophies change the Church. We would never have human traditions shape the Church. We would never allow spiritual forces opposed to God in the Church right? No of course not.
Yeah, you and I both know that is a lie. The reality is, we have. We have allowed the things of this world to bring us as individuals off the path God has laid out for us, and onto the things that the world wants us to be bogged down by.

What do you think the form of that might take? Let’s take philosophies. What philosophies could we have in the Church? Some might say how we reach people. In the first gathering of believers I ever worked with as a Christian, I was told, to stop reaching out to people, because they need to look like us, before they can join us. I was told, just like a basketball team all wears the same uniforms, so to, do Christians need to all be the same.
Where is it in the Bible? 
What about building a building? The line from the classic baseball movie Field of Dreams, said, “If you build it, they will come.” And there have been times in the Church were the first step after a body of believers starts to meet is, we need to build a building. Why? Where in the whole of Scripture is that philosophy of Church organization found?
What about traditions? Does anyone know why we have a table with a Bible, and candles on it in the Sanctuary of most church buildings? The table is called an alter. But why do we have it? Did you know that this particular set up of the “alter” has no New Testament basis? I’ve heard some people dismiss this as an Old Testament things. But Where is the Christians alter? Wasn’t the cross? Isn’t that the alter on which God sacrificed the spotless lamb? So what’s the reality of our “alter”. Out table is actually a relic from the Roman judicial proceedings. In the Roman court, their would be a table between the judge and the people, where the accused could plead their case from. And when Christians took over judicial buildings for their gathering places, this piece of furniture stayed.
Where in the Bible is the command to use a piano found? Or a guitar? Or any other instrument? There are references to instruments being used in music to God, but no command of do or don’t when it comes to instruments. Yet, I have heard arguments put forth that only the piano or organ should be used to lead music. 
And then there are the spiritual forces. Let’s be real, if we do not believe that there is a spiritual reality, then we might as well throw out 95% of the Bible. Because the whole thing is about how the spiritual interacts with the physical. And the reality is, when it all comes down to it, we only know of one spiritual being that is for our good, and that’s God. When we follow anything else, even our own spiritual feelings, we enter into a realm that is filled with illusionists. We only see what it wants us to see.
We need to realize that there are spiritual forces at war all around us, that we cannot see, or hear. And yet, will reveal themselves to bring us into the fighting. 

This is why it is so important that we know the Jesus of the Bible. That we know what he wants from his people. Because our philosophies, our traditions, and the spiritual forces around us, don’t always line up with the path that God is calling his people towards.

Instead the Spirit is telling the Colossians, and us today, that instead of following the world’s philosophies, human traditions, and the spiritual forces, we need to be built in Jesus, strengthen in our faith, and be thankful as we move through this world.

But how? How can we combat, worldly philosophies, human traditions, and spiritual forces with being built, strengthen, and thankful?

Studying the Bible, and knowing the words of Jesus, keeps us from falling into the world’s philosophies. The word of God transcends time, culture, and language. A philosophy that is of the world, speaks only to the moment. By cultivating the words of the Bible into our lives, we can learn to distinguish between the eternal transcendent truths of God, from the momentary ideas of this world.
Having our faith tested through serving people, aligns our heart to the heart of God. Human tradition would have us focus on the what rather than the who. Serving changes our focus from the what of the way we do things, to the who that Jesus died for. As people change, so should certain aspects of our traditions. We talked last week about hymns. In the most cutting edge music leaders within the Church, I don’t see a hatred for the hymns, but rather an understanding that hymns are needed. But in order for that need to be fulfilled, hymns need to be brought into the modern day, for the modern worshiper.
Being thankful to God, keeps our eyes on him, because we realize everything comes from him. Spiritual forces that are against God want us to wallow in the bleakness of this world. They want us to desire more than what is given to us. But thankfulness of what God is doing in our lives, keeps us solid in the truth that God is good, he is in control, and we need nothing, except what he gives us.

This week I have a three fold challenge for you. First, is the philosophical aspect. I want you to challenge yourself to think of a philosophy or an idea of something that you think should be a certain way in the church. It could be how people dress, how the organization of the church should be run, what versions of the Bible should be read. I want you to scour the Bible for answers. If the philosophy is not in the Bible, then ask God to strip it away, so that you can see God’s word clearer.
Next is the human tradition aspect. I want you to challenge your thinking of what is supposed to happen in the Church, then I want you to rummage the pages of Scripture to see if the tradition you think should be in the Church, is actually found in the pages of the Bible. If it is not, ask God to strip it away from you, so that you can see God’s word clearer.
Finally, I want you to come up with 1 thing that have been worried about, or hurt over. Then I want you to find 3 things, in that 1, that you can thank God for.

Each of us needs to realize that there are things in our lives that are calling us away from the path God wants us to walk.
At the beginning of our talk today, I ask the question, “How do we be the person that is here for the Church and not make the Church here for us?

We need to become people that are built in Jesus, leaving behind worldly philosophies. We need to be people that are strengthen in our faith through serving, which will crush the human traditions that take us away from the people Jesus died for. And we need to be thankful towards God, which will keep our eyes on him, rather than on the spiritual forces that wish to stumble us.

Are you willing now, to be a person here for the Church?