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A Gospel Focused Mind is in the Clouds

Listen Up To The One In Charge  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Have you ever heard of the saying, “They just have their head in the clouds!”
Title:
Text:
Main Idea: Keep Your Head in Heaven
Well, do you know what it means?
"Head in the clouds" means the person is not paying much attention to what is happening around them, and has their attention on their own thoughts, or their head is filled with unrealistic ideas.
Introduction
Attention (Why should they listen to you?)
Well, in a sense, this is what believers in Christ are to be characterized as.
Maybe not Head in the clouds, but certainly we are to have “heads in Heaven!”
And while our biblical ideas may seem unrealistic and even ridiculous to the unbeliever, to those of us that know Christ, the things of heaven, the Christ of heaven is the meaning of our existence!
This is what Paul was communicating to the Colossians who were being tempted to listen to a variation of the gospel which then became no gospel at all! Paul remedy for such heresy?
Main Idea: Keep Your Head in Heaven
Interrogative: Why should the believer do this?
Three reasons and the first is...
1. Because You are Raised with Christ (vs. 1-2)
Lead in…What and amazing phrase! Christ didn’t simply beat death and call it a day. He beat death and and because He did, we are promised to beat death as well. And because of this truth, we are to change our focus with will change the way we think!
Colossians 3:1–2 ESV
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Text -
Explanation -
Do you remember from last Sunday the “if or since then” clause Paul writes in verse 20? “If with Christ you have died...”? Well, he’s at it again, but look at the “if” now... “If” or “Since” (as the NIV translates this passage) then you have been raised with Christ...”
“If” or “Since” (as the NIV translates this passage) then you have been raised with Christ...”
So get the point here. Since you died and have been raised…In other words, Since you are transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ...
Since you are born again...
Since you are clothed in the righteousness of Christ...
Since this glorious reality is true in your life...
Stop listening to the False Teachers who are feeding you lies regarding the path of legalism or mystism. We don’t look back, we don’t look down! We look up!
Since you have been raised with Christ, do yourself a favor and “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
Well, this leads to two question for me ( and perhaps you are thinking of these as well).
How do I seek the things that are above?
Why does Paul not only mention Christ, but say that He is seated at the right hand of God. What does this have to do with anything?
Verse 2 is the antidote to legalism...
Colossians 3:2 ESV
2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
When you see the word set, what do you think of?
I think of “wet cement”! Yes, wet cement!
You see when cement is wet it is still pliable and you can make imprints and impressions on the wet cement. That’s why we often see handprints of little children and their parents...
And of course, once the cement dries it is firm and any impression made in the cement is not a permanent feature. This is what “set” means!
Paul says to “set your minds...” or “Cement your minds...” Make them unbending on the beautiful truth of the glorious realities of Heaven and not of the things on the earth which was the focus of the False Teachers.
Now, why do you suppose Paul would challenge them to SET there minds on this things that are above?
Because the things that are above is “where Christ is...” Heaven is about Christ and nothing more! If you can be satisfied with heaven without Christ you certainly do not understand Heaven and you are no Christian!
Because the things that are above are about the Christ who is “...seated at the right hand of God.” - “A position of favor, honor, and authority. In the OT, God’s right hand symbolizes strength and salvation.” FBS
Because the things that are above are devoid of sin and everything that is contrary to God. So focusing on it brings a little bit of heaven here to earth!
The fact of the matter is this. If you have died with Christ (verse 20 of chapter 2) and you have been raised with Christ (verse 1-2 of chapter 3) then you are a legitimate follower of Jesus. You do not need to supplement your faith with anything or anyone else to make it more credible. Christ is enough.
“Jesus plus nothing equals everything!”
And because you have been raised with Christ, even though your body is still here! You head needs to be there.
Philippians 3:20–21 ESV
20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
And this is a good thing! Listen to what...
And this is a good thing! Listen to what...
Illustration -
C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity:
A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.
Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”
There is great value in being heavenly minded. Paul knew that the great antidote to legalism in particular was setting one’s mind on this things that are above, not on the things of the earth.
But this begs the question, “How?” How do I do this? What does this look like in my day-to-day life? According to John Piper...
The first step is to recognize our need for setting our minds on things above. We must recognize that there are many competing claims upon our minds and our attention, and we must resolve to find a time and a place where we will not be bombarded by TV, radio, the telephone, or the internet.
Instead, we should give ourselves to our Bibles and to the living God in a little safe and quiet space. We must give ourselves to setting our minds on things above by meditating upon and memorizing Scripture.
Likewise, as we read the Scriptures we ought to pray, "O Lord, open my eyes to see yourself and the wonders that you are and the wonders that you promise." These are the things of heaven. And in this way we will become more heavenly minded because we are saturating our minds with the things of God, the words of Scripture.
It is very simple in the end. Find a time and a place where you have a season of solitude and quiet. Open your Bible and read slowly, and as you read turn every sentence into prayer. And saturate your mind. Ask questions. Ponder. Ask how it relates to your family, your children, your singleness, your job, your leisure, so that all of your life takes on a Godward focus, a Bible saturation, and an exaltation of Jesus Christ.
https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-can-we-do-practically-to-help-set-our-minds-on-heavenly-things
So, the question for you this morning is, if you had to describe your thought life, would you say it is focused on this earth or heaven?
I think it is clear from the apostle, where your head should be and why it should be there.
Remember the words of Jesus?
Matthew 6:33 ESV
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Review - Keep Your Head in Heaven
Because You are Raised with Christ
2. Because You are Hidden in Christ (vs. 3)
Lead in…
The American Psychiatric Association surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults about their sources and levels of anxiety, and found that 39% reported being more anxious than they were at this time last year. Another 39% said they were equally anxious, while only 19% said they were less anxious than last year.
The American Psychiatric Association surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults about their sources and levels of anxiety, and found that 39% reported being more anxious than they were at this time last year. Another 39% said they were equally anxious, while only 19% said they were less anxious than last year.
Approximately 40 million American adults — roughly 18% of the population — have an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Safety, health and finances seemed to be the greatest sources of anxiety, according to the APA poll. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said “keeping myself or my family safe” and “my health” made them either somewhat or extremely anxious. Sixty-seven percent said the same of “paying my bills or expenses.” Politics and interpersonal relationships followed at 56% and 48%, respectively.
https://time.com/5269371/americans-anxiety-poll/
Colossians 3:3 ESV
3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Yet we have here from the Apostle Paul a very comforting thought for those in Christ that have their “Head in Heaven.” Look at what he says in verse 3...
Colossians 3:3 ESV
3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Text -
Typically if you were to hear the phrase, “…you have died...”, it would not be good news!
But in this case and in the case of , being dead is not such a bad thing. In fact, it is pretty wonderful!
Why is it wonderful? Because this death is dying in Christ.
Colossians 2:20 ESV
20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—
It’s dying to the old life because we have died in Christ.
In this verse, this death has to do with our position in Christ.
When we, by faith, come to Jesus Christ as our savior, a Christians dies to the flesh...
Romans 6:3 ESV
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Rom
Colossians 2:11 ESV
11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
Galatians 6:14 ESV
14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Christ’s death happened in the past and we were united with Him in that death - the benefit of which is the penalty of our sin was paid! And we were risen unto new life! We were risen unto eternal life! This is a guarantee to every believer! You will make it to the end! You will be saved! You will have a glorious eternal home with Jesus - This is His promise to you!
John 10:28 ESV
28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
1 Peter 1:4 ESV
4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
Hebrews 7:25 ESV
25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
Romans 8:31–39 ESV
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38–39 ESV
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31 ESV
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
So, since all these verse point to the singular truth that Believers are forever cemented into the family of God through faith in Christ alone, it stands to reason that there is no safer place to be!
Listen and allow this truth to wash over your anxious soul this morning. We are, in Christ, safer than any other place we could be regardless of our outside circumstances. This may sound strange and counterintuitive, but it is absolutely true!
That we are, in fact, safer than any other place we could be regardless of our outside circumstances. This may sound strange and counterintuitive, but it is absolutely true!
You have heard it said, “There is no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will.”
Well, having your “Head in heaven” is the center of God’s will! And having the reality that you are hidden and safe in Christ should give you a grace and a comfort that nothing else can give.
Weighted blanket and the glory of God.
There is a dimension of God’s presence that the scriptures refer to as God’s dwelling place, or shekinah. We may also refer to this as his manifest presence.
This manifest presence is also called the glory of the Lord. The word “glory” in our English Bible is translated from the Hebrew word kabod which means heaviness or weightiness. The glory of God is literally a heavy or weighty sense of his presence.
This manifest presence is also called the glory of the Lord. The word “glory” in our English Bible is translated from the Hebrew word kabod which means heaviness or weightiness. The glory of God is literally a heavy or weighty sense of his presence.
This manifest presence is also called the glory of the Lord. The word “glory” in our English Bible is translated from the Hebrew word kabod which means heaviness or weightiness. The glory of God is literally a heavy or weighty sense of his presence.
https://www.24-7worship.org/pb/wp_212f2fbf/wp_212f2fbf.html
When your focus is on the reality that you are Hidden in Christ, if this is your meditation throughout the day, your anxiety will begin to ebb away as you rest under the weight of His glory!
If you haven’t noticed yet, both point one and point two deal with the mindset of the believer. Set you minds on things that are above and consider yourself dead in Christ, safe and hidden in Him.
So here again it is your responsibility to meditate on the profound truth that your life is hidden in Christ. You must actively and regularly think about these things! And as the mind changes to actually believe what God says, your heart will follow.
Do you really want to grow in this area? To reduce anxiety and fear? Why not start by meditating on the verses I gave you a few minutes ago? ; ; ; .
Write them down on a 3x5 card and carry them with you. Read them over and over, especially when the levels of fear and anxiety increase!
Also, get your calendar our and set up appointments with God. And in those appointments, spend time praying through these and other verses.
For me, I meditated and hung onto...
Matthew 6:33 ESV
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
3
Change your mind with the truth and your heart will drive you into action!
Review - Keep Your Head in Heaven
Because You are Raised with Christ
Because You are Hidden in Christ
2. Because You are Hidden in Christ
3. Because You will Appear with Christ (vs. 4)
Lead in…Do you ever just feel tired and you want to crawl in bed and pull the covers over you head? Life is so overwhelming that you just can’t seem to muster the energy to figure out what the next step must be?
Here again, Paul wants us to change our minds about this life by focusing on the next! And in this case we are to focus on the ultimate hope we have! Being with Jesus in glory!!
Colossians 3
Colossians 3:4 ESV
4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
As Paul is wrapping up his argument against the false teachers and their heresy of legalism and strange spiritualism, He wants the Colossians to not focus on those earthly ways of trying to gain closeness and favor with God but instead, to focus on their reality because of the finished work of Christ on the cross, his burial and resurrection!
Explanation -
Did you know that when you became a follower of Christ, you forfeited your life? That is, in essence, what Paul is saying in verse 4.
“When Christ who is your life...”
1 Corinthians 6:20 ESV
20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Prior to salvation a person is a slave to sin...
John 8
John 8:34 ESV
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
And I don’t know about you, but prior to my salvation, I not only practiced sin, I was an expert at it! But when God saved me through Christ, I switched my allegiance from bowing down and worshiping myself and my sinful, self promoting ways, and began a journey of exalting and honoring Christ as Lord in my life. Not flawlessly, not perfectly but incrementally Christ gently and lovingly became my Master.
Christ is my life.
I wonder, can you say that with full confidence this morning, that this, indeed is true in your life? That Christ is your life?
And the beautiful truth from this text is that it is a foregone conclusion that Christ will appear one day!
This old world will not keep slugging along. God has a clock and it continues to click and one day the alarm will ring and Jesus Christ will appear!
Now, this could be referring to the rapture of the church that we read about in and it would make good sense to interpret this with that in mind.
But it also could be interpreted as Christ’s second coming. I believe this is what Paul is referring to because he uses the word “appear” which means “to make manifest or visible.
The Rapture or taking away of the church is a more private event designed to collect the people of God and usher in the Tribulation.
The Second Coming is a very public event. Wuest says, “The reference is to the second Advent when our Lord shall come from heaven with all His glorified saints in glory.”
Now, I want you, as best you can, imagine what that day will be like. We will have been with the Lord for the seven years of the great tribulation. We will have enjoyed the marriage of the Lamb! We will have received our rewards at the Bema seat judgement!
And then comes the time when we will return from Heaven with the Lord for the great battle of Armageddon...
Revelation 19:11–16 ESV
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
And after this there are many other events that will take place for example, the Millennial Kingdom and so forth.
The point is this, however.
Because Jesus is your life, you will live with Him in His glory for all eternity! There is no chance of you losing this glorious promise or privilege!
Why is Paul telling the Colossian Christians that they will appear with Christ? Because they needed to be reminded from the Apostle, that the lies the False Teachers were teaching them, do not lead to Jesus. In fact, the teachings of the false teachers only lead to further bondage and increased sinful pride!
Several years ago when we lived on 546 Gidley Street in Grand Haven. A couple of well dressed young men came to our door. My young kids were in the living room and anxious to find our who these guys were and what they wanted. They were two Jehovah’s Witnesses and they wanted to teach me the way more perfect. I politely listened to them and then asked the this question. “Is Jesus Christ God?” They hummed and hawed and admitted that Jesus was not God very God! And so I told them the system you are following will lead you to Hell. You must turn to Jesus Christ as your only hope for eternal life!
The false teaching of Paul’s day as well as today are systems of damnation! It doesn’t matter if they mention Jesus Christ. If He is not recognized, celebrated and in fact, worshiped as God, then you are dealing with heresy! Run!
Pastor Voddie Baucham said, “If you believe the wrong gospel, it doesn’t matter how sincere you are in your belief, you are merely sincerely wrong.”
But what Paul does for the Colossian Christians is to help them put off that nonsense and to put on the truth that they have a hope that one day when Christ appears to the world, they will appear right alongside Him!
The point is this,
Do you have that hope? If you are following some sort of merit based, works oriented system of religion, you may think you have that hope, but you do not. You are following a system of damnation! Turn to Christ now! Reject the old systems of legalism or even mysticism. Christ is your ONLY hope! Not what you do for Him!
I love this thought...
“It’s not what you do it’s what Christ did that affects what you do!”
Review - Keep Your Head in Heaven
Because You are Raised with Christ
Because You are Hidden in Christ
Because You will Appear with ChristBecause You will Appear with Christ
Because You will Appear with Christ
Conclusion (Visualization)
Review opening illustration (if appropriate)
The false teachers were promoting a gospel that was off! It wasn’t right! It was an aberant view of a beautiful truth!
And this is why Paul challenges the Colossians to keep their “head in Heaven!”
The truth is folks, we are what we think about. And if we are going to be honest, our thoughts can be largely negative and focused on worry, anxiety, anger, jealousy, etc. I challenge you to “Think about” what you “Think about.”
Be cognizant about what is going on in your brain! Don’t be passive about it!
2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
And one way we can obey Christ is to do what Paul says and “Set your mind on things above and not on things of the earth.”
What if we all did this? What if the believers of ABC focused our minds on the eternal rather than the insigificant stuff that will fade into obscurity? What if we truly realize what Buck Veltman got to see this morning at 1:52 am? That Heaven is not only real, it is our glorious destination! That this life is not our final stop! I think if we lived with our “head in Heaven”, our live on earth would take on an entirely different trajectory. We would LOVE God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength and we world LOVE our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.
If we live in light of what is to come, we will truly live in the here and now.
Proverbs 23:7 ESV
for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
Action they should take
Land the Plane
Connection Group Reflection Questions
Keeping our “head in Heaven” is so important. Discuss why you think this is so!
How does one “seek the things that are above?” What step are you taking to do this?
What is wrong with setting our minds on the things of the earth?
Are you comforted with the idea of being “hidden with Christ in God?” What is significant about this for the believer?
One day you will appear with Christ in glory! In what ways does this truth embolden you for His work?
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