The Ins and Outs of Becoming Christian Part 2
“Whatever you do, your guiding principle is to be a living ambassador, giving thanks to God in all you do and say.” -Pastor Christian
water cooler conversation:
Would you rather have a horrible job, but be able to retire comfortably in 10 years or have your dream job, but have to work until the day you die?
Everybody seems stressed out these days. Do think our lives are more stressful than those of previous generations?
did you know…
Among Paul’s epistles, only Colossians and Romans were written to churches Paul had not founded. Peter is credited with founding the church in Rome and Epaphras with the church at Colossae.
In John’s message to the Laodicean church (Rev 3:14-22), he describes their faith as lukewarm - they were “neither cold nor hot” (vv. 15-16). This allusion would have been clear to citizens of Laodicea, who knew of the cold, pure waters of nearby Colossae.
Paul saw humanity as living in one of two rival kingdoms – darkness and light. Since God has rescued believers from the kingdom of darkness, we now live in the kingdom of light, or as Paul calls it, the kingdom of the Son.
The terms “kingdoms,” “rescue,” and “transfer” mirror language used in the ancient world when entire nations of people were captured and resettled hundreds of miles away to eliminate their allegiance to their previous king. Foremost among these forced resettlements was the exile of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians around 720 B.C.E. Paul is making the point that by living in the kingdom of the Son, God seeks to terminate our attachment to sin and darkness.
unpack the message:
The Ruling on the Field
Accepting Christ as your Savior to become a Christian is a one-time decision, and it is through Jesus’ death on the cross that we are saved, it is nothing of our own doing (Colossians 3:12a, John 6:37-40, Romans 8:28). However, becoming Christian, i.e., more Christ-like, is a daily choice and pattern of behavior. What spiritual practice can you incorporate in your everyday life that will help you become Christian?
Years ago, I learned the “I once was_____, now I am____,” method of sharing my faith. It’s a simple way of distinguishing my life before I committed my heart to Christ to my life after. As believers, there should be a marked difference between our response to trials than that of our unchurched or unbelieving neighbor. How would you complete the “I once was ______, now I am ______,” statement?
People are becoming more accepting of mental health issues, though some within the church still consider anxiety, depression, and other similar issues to be a spiritual problem. Do you think mental health struggles such as these can be “cured” if the person has enough faith? Can you pray it all away?
If you sometimes struggle with spiraling anxious thoughts, whether it’s situational (going into a performance review or public speaking) or if it’s your default when things are uncertain, here is a calming or “grounding” technique Pastor Roy uses with his clients to help them break the cycle and calm themselves.
Start by paying attention to your breathing. Be mindful to take, slow, deep, long breaths which will help you maintain or return to a calmer state of mind. Once you find your breath, follow these steps one by one. Repeat as necessary.
· Acknowledge FIVE things you see. It could be a pen on your desk, the rest of your lunch, your shoes, or the stain on your tie. Any five items will do.
· Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch. Touch your hair, feel the floor under your feet, tap your coffee cup or water bottle.
· Acknowledge THREE things you can hear. Maybe it’s your heartbeat, the birds outside, traffic, or a coworker typing.
· Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. Take a breath – can you smell coffee brewing, your office mate’s tuna sandwich, pencil shavings or furniture polish?
· Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like — coffee? Breath mints? The salad dressing you had with lunch?
Colossians 3:15, 16, and 17 each end with a command to “be thankful.” Why are thankfulness and gratitude so important in the life of the believer?
The Room in Your Heart
Colossians 3:16 tells us to “Let the message Christ dwell among you richly.” What is the message of Christ? How does His message impact the way we think or act?
THE Guiding Principle
Discuss Pastor Christian’s statement, “Immature people need rules. The mature need principles.” What’s the difference? How does this relate to things like smoking or other lifestyle choices that aren’t mentioned specifically in the Bible?
make a move:
Choose an action step based on what you’ve learned this week.
Colossians 3:16b tells us to “teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” This is the external expression of becoming Christian. Find someone stronger or more mature in their faith and ask them to become your spiritual mentor. If you are spiritually mature, ask God to lay someone on your heart to whom you may become a mentor.
Colossians 3:17 reminds us that whatever we do, we do it as a representative of Jesus. Examine your heart. Be honest. In what areas of your life do you need to make a change? Your habits? Your speech? What you watch or listen to? Ask God to reveal those areas and make a commitment to work on them. If you’re not sure if you can keep your promise, find an accountability partner who can support you, pray with you, and keep you on track.
Every morning when you wake up, before you check social media, while you’re waiting for the coffee to brew or the kettle to boil, make a list of five things for which you are thankful. Be specific – don’t just say, “My wife,” say, “I’m thankful for the way X supports me and makes me laugh.” Go one step further and show your gratitude through your words, through your actions, and prayer.
Thank God for His gift of salvation and the promise of new life in Christ. Ask Him to show you the blessings you’ve been taking for granted and ask Him to help you be truly grateful.
Pastor Christian reminded us that it’s hard to stay angry with someone when you remember that you’ll spend eternity in Heaven with them. Ask God to show you any root of bitterness and resentment you’re hanging on to. Begin to pray blessings on them and thank God for the lessons you have learned through that relationship.
Jesus defeated death at Calvary so that we can have peace with God. Thank Him for His sacrifice. Meditate on what that means.
Moments become hours, hours become days, days become years, and years make up a lifetime. Whatever your struggle, be it mental health, addiction, a gossipy tongue or a bitter, angry spirit, ask God for the strength to live as an ambassador for Him in this moment, then in the next, and the next, until you find victory through His work in your heart, and you are no longer a slave to that struggle or that sin.
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