A Way Up

Christmas is about God doing infinitely more.

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.

Colossians 3:1 NLT - 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.

Colossians 3:2 NLT - Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

  • Reason so many don’t experience the power we talked about last week is that our focus is on the wrong things

Colossians 3:3–5 NLT - 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.

  • Sin has no power over us

Colossians 3:7 NLT - You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world.

  • Where is your real life? Hidden with Christ.

Colossians 3:8–10 NLT - 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

Colossians 3:11–17 NLT - 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.

Colossians 2:6–7 NLT - 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.

Colossians 2:13a - You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away.

Colossians 2:13b-14 - 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.

  • Paul told the Colossians that accepting Christ is not enough. We must continue to follow him.

>>> 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

2 Peter 1:3 NLT - 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.

The first aspect of growth is a recognizing our reliance on God.

Philippians 2:13 NLT - For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

R | Relationships

Philippians 4:9 NLT - 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 - 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.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT - 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.

Hebrews 10:25 NLT - 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.

O | Obedience

1 John 2:3–6 NLT - 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.

1 Peter 1:13–16 NLT - 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

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.”

W | Word of God

Psalm 119:105 NLT - 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.

Hebrews 6:1–3 NLT - 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.

2 Timothy 3:16–17 NLT - 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

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.