Saturday, August 25, 2007

Christian life overflows in thankfulness

More or less this will be my sermon for Sunday. However, I know this is not all of it. God has a lot more to say than what is written here. I am praying that the congregation will hear what the Lord is telling them as they listen to this simple message.
6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.-- Colossians 2:6-7
This is the first sentence of what is considered to be the main body of the letter—in terms of Paul’s concerns for the Colossians themselves—he begins by picking up the idea expressed in his prayer in chapter 1 verse 9:
9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
He maintains the idea that those who received Christ Jesus who is the Lord should continue living a life worthy of him. The English translations that render this phrase as “receive Christ Jesus as Lord” are right on the mark. The emphasis here is the recognition of the Colossians on the lordship of Christ Jesus. When they become believers they honored him as Lord. The Colossians Christians were reminded that the Lordship of Christ Jesus should be the most important thing in their life.

Looking closely at verse 9, we see that the Colossians had received Jesus as the Anointed One of God, Christ. They also received him as the historic Savior, Jesus. And most importantly as Sovereign Lord.

In light of these recognitions, the Apostle Paul appeals to them to continue to live in him. He wants them to continue to conform regularly to the teachings that have been taught them from the beginning. In these verses the Apostle Paul is teaching us that we should continue to live in Christ.

By being rooted and built up in him

Being rooted suggests a once-for all experience. We should be permanently rooted in Christ. Like a tree that deeply planted in a rich soil, Christians have been firmly rooted in Christ. That planting happened when we put our faith in Him for our salvation. This picture suggests that Christ becomes the source of our spiritual nourishment, growth and fruit. As we strive to know Jesus, day by day, we are nourished, we grow in our faith and we become mature Christians.

The result of being rooted in him is that we are being built up in him. This indicates the process that goes on with our spiritual life. This means that we become more and more like Christ. Being built up in him connotes continuous action. These truths are also express in similar passages in the New Testament.

18But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:13

Only if we were firmly rooted in Christ and continually growing in him that we as Christians be established in our faith. It should sadden us that many Christians even though they have been believers for a long time has not been established in their faith. It is because they are not exerting effort to continually grow in him. Christians are very few in this region and sad to say that most of the Christians that we know have not really been established in their faith. But I tell you, even though we not so many, I believe if only we will take the challenge to be established in our faith; we will win this region for our Lord.

Overflowing with thankfulness

Christian life should be characterized by thankfulness. There are just so many reasons for us to be thankful for. Some of the reasons are even mentioned in our text. First we should be thankful for our relationship with Christ. In verse 6, the Apostle Paul tells us that we receive Christ Jesus as Lord and this is an indication that all believers have special relationship with Christ. Isn’t being rooted and nourished through because of our relationship with him enough reason for an overflowing thankfulness.

Now, aren’t we wondering why the Apostle Paul in almost all of his letters keeps reminding the believers to be thankful? I believe the answer is that thankfulness goes against our fallen nature. Thankfulness goes against pride and self-importance. Because it acknowledges that we are dependent on God’s provision and the Lordship of Christ. And our own sinful nature is all against this.

This is the reason why reminders to be thankful abound in the Bible. As we have seen, those who do not have faith can not be expected to be thankful. But more so, Christians are reminded also because we easily forget.

A Christian who lacks thankfulness is usually characterized by criticism and negativity. Instead of being thankful for what he received, an ungrateful person would find something to criticize. These persons would not be satisfied from what they are receiving from God. This results from being a shallow follower of our Lord Jesus. Paul may be implying that those who lack a deep sense of thankfulness to God are especially vulnerable to doubt and spiritual delusion.

Somebody has said that thanksgiving means to rejoice in God’s presence and for freely receiving from him. It is a joy in word or deed toward God for his grace. We can only live in Christ if we are always thankful. It means that for believers thanksgiving is to be a continual habitual thing. This is to say, where there is lack of thankfulness, there is a deeper reality, which is a lack of groundedness in experience of God and faith in Jesus Christ. Warren Wiersbe (Pastor, radio personality, teacher) suggests that “a thankful spirit is a mark of Christian maturity. When a believer is abounding in thanksgiving, {they are} really making progress!”


These two verses challenge us to…
• Grow downward by being “ rooted”
• Grow upward by being “built up”
• Grow inward so that we can be “strengthened in the faith”
• Grow outward as we “overflow with thankfulness”

Our living should lead to thanksgiving. Our task is to live surrendered to His supremacy and to abound in the giving of thanks for what God has done for us in Christ.
*I borrowed the conclusion from Pastor Brian Bill
*The picture is Mae Fa Luang Garden not very far from our house. The picture is taken from the internet.

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