Saturday, December 5, 2009

Are you a student of The Spirit's Academy of Transformation, or are you a drop out?

Good morning my friends. Saturday morning; play time for children and chore time for adults. It would be nice to be a child again for a day, but that season has passed. I pray your Saturday will have pockets of rest for you.

For the last couple of days we have been considering this portion of Scripture from Colossians 3:

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. vs. 1-2

The reason this is important is because something happened to change us from what we were to what we are today:

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. v. 3

Later in the passage Paul explains it further:

... since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. vs. 9-10

Yesterday we looked at the earthly things that we are to turn away from and we considered how our will, combined by the power of the Spirit, can change our orientation. We honestly can turn away from earthly things and set our heart and mind on things above. So what things are things above? It is good to know what we are to turn away from but what are we to turn to? Paul writes:

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. vs. 12-14

Again Paul starts off with our motivation for wanting to change: we have been chosen by God, he has declared us to be holy and, most important of all, he loves us. Love changes things, bringing out the best of people. As we turn away from sin that weighs us down, that clouds our understanding, that separates us from realizing God's love, we are freed to become more than we have ever been. Because Jesus broke the power of sin over us we have been given the freedom of choice; we are able to turn away from earthly things and to take on the things from above.

You know for yourself that when you allow the earthly things to rise up in your heart, anger, rage, malice, you are unable to know compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience with people. Isn't it interesting that things above are defined by actions and attitude toward others. Even the Church is selfish and self-centered as people come in to worship corporately. We may be standing in a crowd but we are not interested in the people, we just want to receive for ourselves. Yet things from above do not allow you to be stuck on yourself. This explains why Paul always taught about contributing to others, coming prepared to give in our gatherings. Last we I asked for testimonies in my church and not one person had anything to share to encourage others. They had all come in unprepared, most likely because they were concentrating on getting themselves ready instead of considering what they could contribute. Most churches choose an elite team to minister and lose the sense of the "everyone contributing", except for tithes and offerings.

I this is true then, it is a simple matter to take a spiritual inventory to know how you are doing, whether you are earthly minded or spiritually minded. Consider your attitude toward people. Are you compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient? Do you bear with people even if you find them to be draining and annoying? Do you bear with them even if they continue to struggle against sin? Do you bear with them even when they fail to mature? What about forgiveness? You know the Kingdom, the Church is all about forgiveness. Without forgiveness we have missed the entire point. If you want to take up the things from above and leave off the earthly things then forgive as Jesus forgave. Of course none of this is possible unless you know how to receive the Father's love and then to allow that love to flow through you. Do you, unreservedly love people, regardless of what it costs you? These are the things from above.

Do you have some work to do? Yeah, me too. It is amazing how powerful the earthly things are when we are fixed on ourselves. The only way we can take on these things from above is by changing the orientation of our heart and mind. They have to be aligned with the Father's. This is what we are suppose to be working on every day. Every day is like another day in the Holy Spirit's School of transformation. He shows us what needs to be changed then, because of Jesus' love, we want it to be changed, then the Spirit uses that will to transform us. Remember, he will not change us against our will.

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