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A Way Up | A WAY IN A MANGER

A Way In A Manger  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Christmas is about God giving us infinitely more—not withholding His one and only Son. Through Him, He has equipped us with everything we need to live a life of godliness, yet so many of us are weighed down by sin and disobedience. This year, let us strip off every weight that holds us down as we grow up into the fullness of Christ.

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Ephesians 3:14–21 NLT
14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Intro/Recap

A Way to Begin - Repentance
A Way In
>>> Repentance is the way to begin and is the key to unlocking the door to your new life IN Christ. Last week we learned that being IN Christ means we are wrapped in His righteousness, a co-heir of the Kingdom, and sin no longer has power over us.
This morning we are going to discover a way up!
How many of you are ready for more?
Geico Commercial —> Clark Griswold, amateur
Christmas is about God doing infinitely more
God wants to do more in your life
He wants your life to shine/radiate His goodness/glory/etc.
“God loves you just as you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.”
Higher Ground - Johnson Oatman, Jr (1898)
I’m pressing on the upward way, New heights I’m gaining every day; Still praying as I’m onward bound, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up and let me stand, By faith, on Heaven’s tableland, A higher plane than I have found; Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.My heart has no desire to stay Where doubts arise and fears dismay; Though some may dwell where those abound, My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.I want to live above the world, Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled; For faith has caught the joyful sound, The song of saints on higher ground.I want to scale the utmost height And catch a gleam of glory bright; But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up and let me stand, By faith, on Heaven’s tableland, A higher plane than I have found; Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
My heart has no desire to stay Where doubts arise and fears dismay; Though some may dwell where those abound, My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
I want to live above the world, Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled; For faith has caught the joyful sound, The song of saints on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height And catch a gleam of glory bright; But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
Are you ready to move up to higher ground?
I hope so, because the stories are true
Colossians 3:1 NLT
1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
Higher ground
Colossians 3:2 NLT
2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.
Dad teaching me to drive — We naturally drive where our focus is
Headlights, cellphone, screaming at kids —> Veer off course
Reason so many don’t experience the power we talked about last week is that our focus is on the wrong things
Our sin
What others have that we don’t
We’ve driven off course
col3.3-5
Colossians 3:3–5 NLT
3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. 5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
Last week — Sin has no power over us
Colossians 3:7 NLT
7 You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world.
No longer part of this world
Where is your real life? Hidden with Christ
col3.
Colossians 3:8–10 NLT
8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.
Now is the time to move up to higher ground
Have to get rid of some things to move up
ILLUS: Hot Air Balloon
- Everything we need to live a life of godliness
- Power and desire to do what pleases Him
- We are in Christ
col3.11-17
Colossians 3:11–17 NLT
11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. 12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
We allow sin, disobedience, complacency/apathy, greed, pride, unforgiveness to hold us down.
Paul says, instead, we must clothe ourselves in:
Mercy - MRC
Kindness - KND
Humility - HML
Gentleness - GNTLN
Patience - PTNC
Grace - GRC
Forgiveness - FGVN
Love - LV
Peace - PCE
Thankfulness - TKFL
Wisdom - WSDM
Hebrews 12:1 NLT
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Cut Weights
Colossians 2:6–7 NLT
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
col2.6-7; 13-14
Colossians 2:13–14 NLT
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.
col
Cut Weights
- You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away.
Cut Weights
- Then God made you alive with Christ, [CUT WEIGHTS] for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.
God has cut away the weights, the sin that holds you down. He’s ready to take you higher.
>>> Are you ready for a way up?
It sounds easy right? Cut the weight and away we go.
Reality… not always that simple to live it out.
Paul told the Colossians that accepting Christ is not enough. We must continue to follow Him.
What does this mean?
That we have to let our roots grow down into Him and let our lives be built on Him.
Then we will grow strong in truth, Paul says.
Our hymnist said, “My heart has no desire to stay. // My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.”
The reality about the Christian life and your spiritual growth is that it doesn’t happen automatically. You have to want it.
I wonder this morning, have you become complacent in your spiritual life?
Said a prayer, got your “Get out of hell-free card,” and now you’re just waiting on heaven?
Are you content with continuing to live a life full of doubts and fear?
Doubting God’s goodness?
You were made for so much more!
>>> God will let us stay here. He’s promised to make us perfect, but how much of that perfection we experience on this side of eternity is up to you and I. If you want to move up, you have to GROW up.

Growing UP

G | God’s Resources

Philippians 2:13 NLT
13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
php
2 Peter 1:3 NLT
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
Philippians 2:13 NLT
13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
The first aspect of growth is a recognizing our reliance on God.
Spiritual growth is impossible in our own effort alone.
The remaining aspects of spiritual growth are a product of God’s resources
Philippians 2:13 NLT
13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

R | Relationships

Philippians 4:9 NLT
9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Here, the Apostle Paul tells the Christians in Philippi to continue practicing what he has taught them.
James 5:16 NLT
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
ecc
Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT
12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
All of us, regardless of how long we have been following Christ, are in need of godly relationships
All of us, regardless of how long we have been following Christ, are in need of godly relationships
Life Groups (Larry Daniels), Ladies Bible Study, The Forge
Youth Ministry —> Even more important
We were created to live in relationship.
Hebrews 10:25 NLT
25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Watching the live stream is great, but it should supplement, not replace, your attendance.

O | Obedience

John 8:31 ESV
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
John 14:15 NLT
15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.
1 John 2:3–6 NLT
3 And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. 4 If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. 5 But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. 6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
Obeying is the foundation for knowing. Want to know Him? Start by obeying.
1pe1:
1 Peter 1:13–16 NLT
13 So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
Growing UP always demands our obedience
Matthew 14:24–26 NLT
24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
Matthew 16:24–26 NLT
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
Matthew 16:24–25 NLT
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
Dave Browning: “We are convinced that the gap holding back most believers is not the gap between what they know and what they don’t know. It’s the gap between what they know and what they’re living. Many Christians are educated beyond their obedience.”
mt14
Baptism
Great Commission
Too often we wait on some big, grandiose thing before we’ll obey. In the process, we neglect the things God has already revealed to us through His Word.
Love your neighbor
Pray for your enemies
Give generously to God’s Church
Baptism
Great Commission
Why would God trust you with something fantastic thing, if you haven’t been faithful with what He has already given you?

W | Word of God

Psalm 119:11 NLT
11 I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:105 NLT
105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
The psalmist understood that the path forward is illuminated by the Word of God.
I’ve heard so many Christians over the years tell me they feel “stagnant” in their faith, or that they just can’t seem to grow.
Looking for some magic pill
Change of scenery
My question, always: Have you been spending time with God’s Word?
This is my question for you today if you feel stuck
heb6.1
Hebrews 6:1–3 NLT
1 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. 2 You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.
2tim3.16-17
2 Timothy 3:16–17 NLT
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Summary

I’m pressing on the upward way, New heights I’m gaining every day; Still praying as I’m onward bound, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Christmas is about God giving us infinitely more—not withholding His one and only Son. Through Him, He has equipped us with everything we need to live a life of godliness, yet so many of us are weighed down by sin and disobedience. This year, let us strip off every weight that holds us down as we grow up into the fullness of Christ.
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