Text: Colossians 3:1-11 Theme: Set your heart and mind… 1) On things above (vv. 1-4)
By Austin Ziche February 19-20, 2017 2) Not on earthly things (vv. 5-11)
How hard is it to find something family-friendly on the television; something that everyone can enjoy, but is not offensive or inappropriate for children? Teens, how often do you agree with what your parents want to watch, and parents how often do you agree with what your teens want to watch? I don’t have to tell you that finding a show everyone can agree on is a very difficult thing to do. You could have a thousand channels and be flipping around for hours and not find a single show. This is not a new problem; I remember my parents having the same problem when I was a kid. The shows were either too childish and silly for adults to enjoy or too serious or gory to be appropriate for children. So what my family started to do was watch old TV shows. We’d enjoy classics like I Love Lucy, Bewitched, or Knight Rider. One of our favorites was I Dream of Jeannie. Have you heard of that show? The basic premise is that a United States Astronaut crashes and lands on an island where he discovers a bottle containing a genie. The rest of the series is his adventures and misadventures with Jeannie the Genie. The premise sounds silly, and it really is, but it was a popular show that had nearly 140 episodes. I think people like the idea of genies. They are a big part of pop culture, they are in songs, Disney movies, and television shows. I think there is just something about the idea of having 3 wishes granted, for anything you want, which intrigues people. Could you imagine that? Having anything you wanted? Anything you set your heart on? But that raises an interesting question: what is our heart set on? What should it be set on?
In our sermon verses for today, Paul told us what our hearts should be set on. It is not riches, fame, or wealth. No, it’s something far better, far longer lasting, our all sufficient Savior. Did you hear how the verses teach us to set our hearts?
Set your heart and mind…
1. On things above. Life pulls us in so many directions, doesn’t it? You’re trying to respond to your emails, and return your calls, and text your spouse, and set up a vet appointment for your cat who is sick, and put together a report for your boss, and find an honest mechanic for your car which has had trouble starting lately, when suddenly it occurs to you that none of these things have your heart, and none of these things are getting done well. This is how it was for the young Christians at Colosse. Remember what I talked about a few weeks ago? There were men telling these Colossians that their faith was not good enough, that they needed an update, and that the message they had was not complete. And if all of this wasn’t enough, they were living in what the bible calls the dominion of darkness! Talk about being pulled in too many directions! It is to these stretched-too-thin Christians that Paul writes our sermon verses.
He says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” Let the beautiful image of their victorious Savior sitting on the throne bounce around in their minds! Picture all the angels praising Jesus their king. Imagine seeing the nail marks in his hands, and the wound in his side. Imagine singing I am Jesus Little Lamb while in his presence. Image the unshakable perfect peace in your heart as you look into Jesus’ eyes. Paul tells them that they will experience this and so much more because Christ has conquered sin. They were dead to sin, but Christ, who is life, has made them alive! Now they can know with confidence and set their hearts on the fact that they will be with Jesus in heaven one day!
I want all the kids in the congregation to think right now, what do you want to be when you grow up? If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? And adults when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you want to be a pro-football player, a firefighter, an astronaut, or maybe an actress? What kind of car did you want to drive? You probably had your mind set on a race car, muscle car, or perhaps a monster truck. Think about all the things you had your heart and mind set on as a kid. Think about the things that were so important to you, that you were so set on, that if someone questioned them you’d get upset. By a show of hands here, who really wanted to be an astronaut or a pro-athlete? And who here is an astronaut or a pro-athlete? And who here drove a race car to church? Who here is a movie star? Friends, be like that child who has their heart passionately and deeply set on something, but make that something your beautiful Savior sitting on his throne. Sitting in power as he lovingly cares for you. Rejoice in the rescue Christ has worked for you. When you set your heart on those simple truths it will bring you a peaceful and calm heart, it will make your footing sure.
Set your heart and mind… not on Earthly things. Maybe you’re sitting in your pew this morning thinking, “Yes, I want to set my heart on Christ. I want to set my mind on his victory. I want to focus on the inheritance he gave me. But it’s difficult.” Maybe you teens are thinking, “I want to live a godly life, I want to let my light shine to my unbelieving friends, but with all the peer pressure it seems to be impossible!” Earlier in Colossians it tells us that we live in a dominion of darkness! What are we supposed to do with all the sins and immorality we see in our own lives every single day? What do I do with all those earthly things, swirling around me and trying to take my attention? Paul answers this question for us, and he does not mince words.
Paul says, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Paul says put sin to death, don’t indulge it even a little. Destroy it, hate it. Do not let sin reign. Why should the Christian hate sin so vigorously? Because even one sin infuriates God and is deserving of his wrath. Paul says that there was a time when, before God rescued us, we were drowning in sins. We were filled with anger, malice, rage, we were slanderous liars. But that is not what we are anymore. Not because we figured everything out or because we have overcome sin. No, it’s because Christ has overcome sin! He has freed us from its power.
A young man named John who lives in Minnesota enjoys ice fishing. It is his favorite part of living in a cold wintery climate. He loves it so much, in fact, that he is always the first one on the ice at the beginning of every winter. Though the ice probably isn’t as solid as it should be, John’s always the first on the ice with his little stool to sit on, his drill to get through the ice, and his fishing rod. One winter he goes on the ice a little too early and as he is drilling through the ice, tragedy strikes. He hears a cracking sound, but doesn’t have time to react. He falls through the ice. But miraculously he is able to get his head back out from under the water and pull himself through the hole his body just created. Though the hypothermia is setting in he’s able to crawl towards his lake house. As he feels himself start drifting to sleep, a bad sign if you have hypothermia, a doctor, who is snow shoeing nearby, sees him. The doctor lifts John and carries the dying man to his house. He wraps the man in blankets, starts a fire in the fire place, and cranks up the heat in the house. After a few hours Johns stops shivering and he starts getting pink in his cheeks. After a few more hours by the fire, John stands up and with wobbly legs begins to walk to the door. The doctor asks John where he is going and John replies, “Fishing, out on that thin ice!”
How ridiculous would that be? I think we are sitting here thinking who would do that? Who would be so foolish as to immediately return to something so dangerous, so deadly? You want to know who is that foolish? We are! When we return to this list of sins countless times every day. When we set our hearts and minds on our own success, on money, on earthly happiness, and being the best and the smartest. When we do that we are like John walking on ice that he knows is dangerous and cracking.
Set your hearts and minds on something that won’t end in disaster, but rather something that will end in victory. Set your hearts and your minds on your Savior who has made you alive! When you feel stretched thin by this world. Look into Jesus’ loving eyes. Cling to the deep peace that Jesus gives you! Picture yourself singing with angels to Jesus as he sits on the throne! Though we might like the idea of having a Genie and three wishes we have something better. We have Jesus and salvation. Set your heart on that. Set your heart on things above. Amen.