November 21 - Message Update

Living a Life of Thankfulness – Colossians 3:15-17 – Pastor Scott

How do we live a life of thankfulness?


Sometimes it is really hard to be thankful. Things may not be perfect. You may be facing hardships. You may have unpaid bills and health concerns. You may be struggling with relationships, with school or with work. You may be at a cross roads or feel like you are at the end of your rope. You may feel discouraged and all alone. But there are still many things you can be thankful for. It’s hard to be thankful when you focus on all the bad things.


On the flip side, it’s easy to have a thankful heart when you realize all you have to be thankful for. If we are truly thankful, we can thank God for creating us, for loving us, for coming down here as a baby, for dying on a cross for us, for giving us life in Him, for giving us life on Earth and the hope of an eternity in Heaven.


In the book of Colossians, they too, faced gratitude and ingratitude. And the Apostle Paul wrote to them to let them know they had everything they needed in Christ. The church had problems with false teachings as some were trying to mix the truth with elements of paganism and secular philosophy. Paul writes them to encourage them and what he said to them 2000 years ago rings true today. Paul helps us answer this question: How do we live a life of thankfulness?   


1) Allow God’s peace to rule in our hearts. (v.15) And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.


Let me first point out the last three words – “And be thankful.” Seems like something that was just added on. Like an after- thought but it is very important. In fact, Paul says it at least one time in every chapter of Colossians and 7 times in the whole book. It is not a side note – it is a headline! Be thankful! How?


First, let the peace of Christ rule in your heart. Peace = the absence or end of strife. There is no trouble, you are undisturbed and you are well. That may sound like the opposite of how you feel. Especially during the holidays. Maybe you are stressed with school or work. Maybe you worry about this or are concerned about that. Maybe you stay up at night and can’t go back to bed early in the morning.


Here, Paul is saying to let peace rule in our hearts. Easier said than done, right? If it were that easy, of course I would do it! But what is peace? Peace is the absence of trouble. The peace from God does not mean we won’t have troubles. But God gives us peace in knowing He is in control. His peace takes away anxiety. His peace allows us to rest.


So, what is Paul saying? That word “RULE” is a sports term. It actually refers to an umpire or referee. What an umpire says is law no matter what others think. In our hearts, there are conflicts between our desires and our feelings, between our fears and hopes, our jealousy and love. It’s a battle ground. But if we let Christ be the umpire and rule in our heart, then we can trust that He will make the right call.


Even when the world is booing you and trying to bring you down. In our hearts, we need to let the peace of Christ rule and make His decision final. Because when we do that, anxiety decreases, tension withers, depression disappears and peace can fill your heart and mind.


You have peace knowing that God is in control. Peace knowing you have salvation. It’s a peace that the world cannot give. A peace that surpasses all understanding. And when you have that kind of peace – God’s peace - it’s easier to have a thankful heart.


2) Allow God’s word to dwell in us. (v.16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.


Word = intelligence. Animals make sounds but God and humans and those who have intelligence produce thoughtful expressions. And when we are talking about the intelligence of Christ – that’s a whole new level. And it is to dwell, to live, to reside in you RICHLY!

God’s Word is not just the best-selling book of all time – it is nourishment for your heart, vitamins for your mind, a light for the path you are walking on in life. It is life giving and life changing and can impact you and everyone around you!


When the book of Colossians was written, believers only had access to the Old Testament. Anything they heard about Jesus was passed on by word of mouth. Stories were memorized, they were shared, they were used in worship services to let others know who Jesus is and what He did. You only heard these stories if you heard it from someone who experienced it first hand or heard it from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone who did.


These days, Bibles come in all shapes and sizes. More people have access to God’s Word than at any time in the history of the world. And yet with all these Bibles out there, most sit on shelves and are barely opened. We forget that we were created by God because we are so busy creating our own lives at work or at school or online. We forget Jesus died for us because we are too busy living the life we want. We forget that Jesus offers us an eternity because we are too focused on the temporary.


And, even when we do open the Bible, it’s usually on Sunday mornings. But if you want to truly live a thankful life, you need to get into God’s Word on a regular basis. Read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, let it dwell in you. It’s not how much you get into the Bible. It’s how much of the Bible gets into you!


So why read the Bible? Why let it dwell in us? So, we can teach and admonish. Teach = more than just learning – it’s aim is to shape the will of those who are learning. Not just head knowledge but knowledge to live the life Christ wants you to live. This word is used exclusively to refer to Jesus’ teaching. Admonish – to warn with instruction. Not to just say “you’re bad you need to stop that.” But to instructively let others know what they are doing and how they can improve.


Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God was an important part of their learning and worship. They would sing about how Jesus saved them or how they could live for Him. Music affects our mood. It affects our attitude. It affects the way we treat people. (I love to listen to KLOVE) Positive and encouraging! And what we listen to is a byproduct of God’s Word dwelling in us. And if it dwells in you richly, you will see a difference in your life…in your attitude, in your mood, in the way you treat others, in the way you see life, in the way you perceive things, in all aspects of your life. You will truly be able to live a thankful life! God’s Word living and active in your life changes you, transforms you, helps you grow and reminds you of all the blessings in your life and helps you live a thankful life!


3) Allow God to work in our life. (v.17) And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.


Notice that the first two are things Christ does – Rule and dwell. Peace of Christ rules and Word of Christ dwells. And the third verse is more our responsibility – Do! WHATEVER you do. Because if you already do the first two things, it makes it easier to do this third thing. Whatever = not in some things. Or most things. It says “whatever” which means “all things.” No matter what you say…no matter what you do…do EVERYTHING in the name of the Lord Jesus.


So, what does that look like? Well, if you walk around talking about God but not LIVING for God, what will others think about God? You would live a hypocritical life. Or if you live for God but never mention God, how will others hear about God? People would not know why you are living the way you do. Word and deed need to go hand in hand.


Others need to see you live the life God made you to live so they can realize that they too can have a life in Christ. That means in the way you talk to your neighbors, your teachers, your co-workers, your family. That includes the way you treat the people who serve you food, or strangers in line, or people driving all around you.


The more I live IN Christ, the more I choose to act right BY Him, the more my life is ABOUT Him, my thankfulness FOR Him grows. And I can live a thankful life. A life where I can acknowledge all good things are from Him. A life where I know He is in total control. A life of peace, a life with His Word dwelling in me, a life where my words and actions show who I live for! And as you allow God to work in your life, you will experience what true joy is because you will be walking step with step with the One who created you. And as you are being used by God to make a difference in the lives of the people around you, each day you will be thankful that God is allowing you to do His will.


There is nothing better than living for the One who created you and loves you so much that He willingly died for you! You can live a life of thankfulness! No matter what you are going through right now. Maybe you feel frustrated, confused and lost right now. Thanksgiving is a few days away and thankfulness is not how you feel. Not on the last Thursday of the month and not any day.


But Paul writes in Colossians for us a road map of how we can get back to where we belong. Back to a life of thankfulness. And the directions are clear. You take the path that will lead you to a peace that surpasses all understanding. You take the path that will lead you to God’s Word impacting your life from the inside. You take the path that will allow God to work in your life. God’s word will all lead you to a thankful life.


Praise Songs:

Great is Thy Faithfulness, Who You Say I Am, Reign in Us, Doxology