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Set Your Heart On Things Above

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program.)


It is wonderful to be together again and to look into the Word of God.  It is such a privilege to share the Word of God.  That you and I and all of us would know the Word of God and more importantly to live it out.

The title for the sermon is: “Set Your Hearts on Things Above.” Our text is from the New Testament epistle to the Colossians chapter 3, verses 1 thru 4.  Please listen to the Word of God.

“Since, then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”   A wonderful passage of scripture with tremendous promises which God, the great promise keeper, can bring to pass for those in Christ Jesus.

You have heard the “bad news”: Monster hurricanes, terrible tropical depressions, flooding, fires, North Korean nuclear missile threats, immigration conflict here and in other parts of the world.  Even rising prices at the gas pumps, that hits all of us.  Dwelling on these, and our own individual struggles should not be our Christian mindset.

Yes, we live in troubled and tense times but we also live in exciting and hopeful times.  Ancient prophecies are literally being fulfilled and are seemingly setting the stage for these last of the last days and the imminent return of Jesus Christ our Lord.  One prime example of fulfilled prophecy in our lifetime is the emergence of the modern nation of Israel out of the ashes of history.  For centuries, most believed that the numerous prophecies of a revived new nation of Israel had to be figurative, symbolic in some sense but never literally would come to pass.  Consider from for example Ezekiel wrote in chapter 37:21-22 “…This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone.  I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.  I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel…”  These details make it obvious what he meant and what he will carry out.

Today the nation of Israel, utterly destroyed in AD 70 (incredibly 1947 years ago!) is a vibrant, prosperous nation again with a population of over 8 million, almost double the population of Ireland, and with a GDP (Grose Domestic Product) of almost 282 billion dollars, much more than the gross state products of Kentucky and West Virginia combined!  After only 69 years as a modern nation!  God literally and magnificently fulfills his prophetic promises “as it is written.”

We live in exciting and eventful times!  So, what should be our maturing Christian mindset?  Our attitude now and toward the future?  That is, what we are really preoccupied with in our mind and in our heart. Let’s better understand and live-out our main text: Colossians 3:1-4 which gives us some valuable principles to live by.  From verse 1 “…you have been raised with Christ.”  What does that mean?  The original language Greek verb actually means “co-raised” or “co- resurrected.”  As born-again, baptized believers we have spiritual identification and spiritual union with Christ.  When we are immersed (baptized) we are buried in a watery grave and raised-up with Christ through obedient faith to live in the newness of spiritual life.  We are saved, heaven bound “raised with Christ.”  We become a new creation, a new creature co-raised with Christ.  That’s wonderful, great news to dwell on!

If that has been a reality, genuine for us, then Christians are to verse 1 “set your hearts on things above.”  The exhortation, urging, even commandment from God through Paul to Christians is to “set your hearts.”  The original grammar more accurately means “keep setting” keep seeking as a continuous mindset.  Prioritizing eternal realities in Christ should diminish preoccupation with bad news, be it manmade or natural calamities and catastrophes even with our own personal struggles.  And even Jesus said in this world you will have tribulations but be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world.  Because Jesus has overcome the world, we in Christ Jesus will also overcome the world and not just in the future.  But God can give us the strength and fortitude to be overcomers now.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.”  That should be our priority, the things of the kingdom not of the world.  As we mature our faith and hope in Christ, we can learn to view events and circumstances through the prism of God’s promises and prophecies toward us as his people.

Because our hearts are set “on things above,” not just the chaos of this world below.  This earth is full of hardships from the world scene to our own personal scene.  But as believers we should have the faith to elevate our eyes, elevate our hearts and minds heavenward!  Obviously in our minds and hearts we do struggle with all kinds of things.  Particularly those things that we deal with personally.  But we should not be preoccupied, eaten up with these things because that never changes.  As long as we remain in Christ, our fabulous future.  Not only our fabulous future in heaven but that which we can know now regarding our future and that which we enjoy now, meaning the assurance of salvation in Christ Jesus. Things above!  God re-emphasizes in Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”  We should strive to be consumed not by the negative below but instead consumed by the super-positive above!  Do you not know that as earthly conditions worsen our ultimate redemption “drawth nearer?”  That’s focused on “things above.”

There is plenty of good news from “above.”  For example, First John 3:2 “…we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”  We shall see Jesus and we shall be like him.  Our lowly bodies will be transformed to be like his glorious body.  As our bodies are wasting away, we inwardly, our souls and our spirits should be maturing, developing and growing in faith, and in love, and in hope as maturing Christians.  There is plenty of good news from above.  See Jesus!

In First Corinthians 6:2 “…Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?”  Be rulers with Jesus!    In the great phase of God’s kingdom that is yet to come, the millennial messianic kingdom.  In Revelation 2:26 where we have a great promise from Jesus who never lies. “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.”  We have been given authority from above, why?  Colossians 3:3 “for you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”  Died to living only for self, now as Christians we live now again first/foremost for our Savior.

In Jesus Christ, we as persevering Christians are promised tremendous privileges “from above.”  Today is one-day closer than yesterday for the fulfillment of Colossians 3:4 “When Christ, who is your live, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”  That will include when “things above” will return below to this earth and all things set right.  By Jesus Christ who is coming to rule and reign in perfect righteousness on this renewed, renovated, regenerated earth.

The key that unlocks a troubled mind is to focus not on crisis after crisis here below but to focus on Christ “who is our life” from above.  The one from heaven is returning to earth!  And before that happens, we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air we believe from the better inferences in scripture in a pretribulation rapture and returning to the earth will the Lord to rule and reign with him.

Today so many churches neglect sermons, lessons regarding the second coming of Christ.  And yet someone has written “Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with promises of the second coming of Christ.  Do you realize there are 1,845 references to it in the Old Testament, and a total of seventeen Old Testament books give it prominence?  Of the 260 chapters in the entire New Testament, there are 318 references to the Second Coming, or one out of thirty verses.  Twenty-three of the twenty-seven New Testament books refer to this great event.  The four missing books include three which are single chapter letters written to individual persons on a particular subject, and the fourth is the book of Galatians which also implies Christ’s coming again.  For every prophecy on the first coming of Christ, there are eight on Christ’s second coming.

Of course, as Bible believing Christians a truth need only be revealed ONCE to be true, to be valid.

Hold on Jesus is coming again!  A glorious truth for us to be focused on too indeed be preoccupied with and dwell upon especially when things get rough down here as we think and meditated on while setting our hearts on things above.

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10