“Moving Forward Through Change God’s Way”
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Sermon Slide are available HERE.
Pastor Thom Rittichier
Well, this morning, we’re going to talk about change being in the air. Yep, time change. Yep, season change is coming upon us. And change for our own fellowship. We’re going through change. And we want to be upfront in addressing this. So we’re going to be taking this up this morning. And what do we do? What are we to do as we go through the winds of change? You know, interestingly, in Colossians, chapter two, which we’re looking at this morning, God clearly and definitively speaks about going through change. So I’m going to ask you to turn there, to Colossians chapter two. I want to emphasize that there is a constant, and change in this world is a constant. Now, there are other constants beside change. But as this picture says, the only constant in life is change. I wouldn’t agree it’s the only constant, there are others, there is at least one other that we’re going to talk about. But that is a thing that you and I all surely recognize. God is gracious to us in this world that is constantly changing, not to have it all change at once. Isn’t that good? I mean, otherwise, we would be overwhelmed with everything being totally changed. There are some things that he holds to change less gradually. But they all do change. Everything changes. Everything here, in this creation, changes.
I’d like you to look at this scripture, God’s intent for change. This is recorded in both the New Testament and the Old Testament. “You, Lord, laid the foundations of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the works of your hands; they will perish”…they will come to the point where they are ruined. They have fulfilled their purpose, they have been used. They perish…”but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment”…the heavens, the earth, it will wear out like your clothes do, the totality of change, of everything we know in creation, in heaven and on earth…”like a robe you will roll them up.” You know, this past week, did you notice how windy it was? My wife said on Friday, You know it’s gonna be windy tomorrow, you may want to burn the trash today instead of tomorrow. Well, I didn’t get around to burning it on Friday but on Saturday, I was outside and I was watching the wind and I said, yeah, I think I can do it. So I went ahead and lit it and stood there and watched it burn. We have this fence row that is probably 10 to 20 feet away from where the fire was. And yep, the wind blew it over and it caught that dried grass on fire and it was burning. And I had this coat on, a coat that I liked but it was getting old, been torn and tattered and it was wearing out. But when I was standing there, trying to stomp out this fence row that was on fire with the grass, I decided I needed a little extra whopping power. So I pulled off the coat, nd started slapping it. And this coat was made of vinyl. And it you know what happened when it was exposed to the flames? Yeah! You know what I did with that coat immediately after that? I rolled it up, and I threw it in the trash, because it was done. It was done…”like a garment they will be changed.” God’s intended in our current state, they will be changed, “But you are the same.” There’s a constant, change is a constant for us in this creation and God is a constant for us in this creation, with everything and anything that changes. That’s the case for us. And you, Lord, did this. You are doing this. Those passages that I just quoted are Hebrews 1:10-12. And it’s a quote of Psalm 102:25-27.
But that’s not the only thing that the Bible has to say about change. “And we all, with an unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed, transformed, into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”, 2 Corinthians 3:18. This is God’s intent, physical change happens. 2 Corinthians 4 says to us that our outer man, physically, is wasting away. Have you noticed that? Have you noticed any change since the last 10 years? 15 years? How about 20 years? Yes, change is happening. Change happens to us physically, and changes happen, as God intends it to happen to us, internally. In 2 Corinthians 4, tells us our outer man is wasting away, also says our inner man is what? It’s being renewed. It’s being renewed how? Day by day, day by day. Change is what God intends for us. He’s built it into the heavens and the earth in its fallen state. He has intended it for us on our inner person, even as our outer person goes through change, which it does. And let me add this passage as well, Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,”… that transformed refers to being changed in form, this is inner man, “of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” My point in all of this is to say, God intends change. It happens in a fallen world. He intends it to take place in us internally as well. We have a constant, they will perish, you will remain. They all wear out like a garment, like a robe. You roll them up, like a garment, they’ll be changed but you, God, are the same and yours years have no end. God is our constant.
Now having said that, let me say this, that if you are one of those who is stubborn, relative to change, if you are one of those who kicks against change, then you, like Jacob, are contending with God. And what are you contending for? For a blessing, for a happiness that God gives. Well, Jacob did that. He contended with God. He went after a blessing that he wanted in contending with God. Do you remember how that marked his life? For the rest of his life he limped, with a hip out of joint. When we do not move through change, as God intends, we contend with God. And be careful. Because you may limp through the rest of your life as a reminder of contending with God, relative to change.
Now, this morning, we are going to begin a mini series to help move through change. God is a constant, His Word is a constant. He says this, “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is firmly fixed in the heavens”, Psalm 119:89. His word is a constant, and it is from his word that we are going to obtain encouragement and help for moving through change. Moving forward, through change, God’s way. That’s what this mini series is about. And that’s why I’ve asked you to turn to Colossians chapter two. We’re going to look at verses six and seven. Notice with me, where the Lord says this concerning giving us provision, directions, specific and clear direction, for moving through change, “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, having been rooted and being built up in him and being established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding, overflowing, in thanksgiving.” Now I’ve read that by emphasizing for our English translations, the way that the action words are spoken here in the original language. I’ve read that, emphasizing the action words, because there are action words that God gives us here in this passage for moving through change. That’s what the Apostle Paul is doing. And it’s all built on this. “So walk in him”, moving forward, through change, God’s way is the call. It is a directive call from God to walk in him.
We’re going to be looking at this passage like this: Moving forward has this past for you. There is a past that is very relevant to change, to you going through change, to me going through change, to us living in change. You know, even the world recognizes that things change. I remember reading a statement by a prominent individual who said, you can’t put your foot into the same river twice. Why? Because it’s always moving. It’s always changing. It’s always going somewhere. And even the banks change and the mountain change and the landscape changes, it’s all going to change. But for us, inwardly, in the spirit, where he wants to grow us, moving forward through change has a past for us, that we’re going to see in this passage. God’s bringing change, has a past. And moving forward, has this present with a future for us that is clearly designated. Now I’m going to build this framework a little bit more, because the framework that he uses in his passage is not complex, it’s only one sentence that takes up two verses in our English Bible, but I want you to get the framework.
First of all, there has been change. That’s what the Apostle Paul brings home to us, there has been change. And then secondly, he brings out this, there is this direction from God for present change. Now, the situation in the setting for those who were in Colossi and Laodicea, which we’ll note here in a minute, was a bit different than it is for us. Nevertheless, there was impending change that they needed to handle. For us, there is impending change. So we’re going to take a look at this. And then we’re going to see the applications that this moving through change has for us, as we’re going at it God’s way. There is change, there is change in the air, it will be a change that affects us, each and every one. So moving through it God’s way, in the inner man, there has been change. What? What change? I want you to notice what the Apostle Paul does. He says in verse six, of chapter two, “Therefore”. What, in your past, in my past, speaks of God’s provision for moving through change? It’s this word, therefore. Now, the idea, the point that he’s making, is well summarized in this, by the word “therefore”. This is a very short word and in the Greek New Testament, it’s a very short word. It’s only three letters long. And basically, the idea that’s conveyed there is these things being so. What things being so? That there has been change in the past, change in the past that God speaks about, the provision he has made concerning moving through change. When the preachers of bygone days heard this word they’d say, When you see the word, therefore, in the scriptures, you need to see what it’s there for. That’s the idea of these things being so, because this is the case. Therefore this…and what he’s talking about, as being there, was that there has been change in your past, as he looks at bringing change into their present and into their future.
What kind of change? What change? That’s what we’re talking about, what change. Turn with me to Colossians chapter one, we’re going to zero in on verse 13 where he begins to talk to us about this change. Verse 13 of chapter one says this, “He” and he’s speaking about verse 12, God the Father, “has”, that’s a past tense verb, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us”, that means he’s made a change. He’s taken you from a domain of darkness. And he’s changed us to be now in “the kingdom of his beloved son”. That is the prominent part of the change in the past that has taken place. You once were in the kingdom of darkness, the domain of darkness. You know, in the New Testament, it talks about that, He who walks in darkness does not know where he’s going. Because the darkness has blinded his eyes. That’s being in the domain of darkness. That’s 1 John, chapter two, verse 11. In the domain of darkness, you don’t know where you’re headed. Because the darkness has blinded your eyes. You and I know that experientially. Sometimes, in the mornings, I get it pretty early. And I go through the house in the dark because others are sleeping and turning the lights on would awaken them so I go through it in the dark. Now, I’ve done this enough that I know where I’m headed. But time after time, someone will have left something in the hallway. Or I will take a few steps and think I’m on the landing. But I’m still on the step. You ever had some experience like that? That is because we are moving through the darkness. And even though I’ve gone this path, many times, there are still things in it and I stumble.
Now, on a broader scale. Those who are in the total domain of darkness has so blinded their minds, that even though they’re moving through life, and they’re going somewhere, they do not know where they’re going. The darkness has blinded their eyes. That’s what we once were and God wrought a change in our lives. And that change is a change that rescued us, it delivered us. It took us out. It delivered us, it rescued us. It saved us from being under the dominion of darkness into a kingdom, a ruling going on by God’s dear beloved son, that is a change. That is a change that God has wrought. As a matter of fact, if that change hasn’t happened, Jesus said, You won’t see nor will you enter the kingdom of heaven. That change has had to have happened. If anyone be in Christ, he is what? He is a new creature. Old things have passed away, Behold, new things have come. And no matter what age a person is when they’re rescued, they’re saved, they are delivered. That’s the word that used here, when they’re delivered from that domain of darkness where their eyes are blind, and they don’t know where they’re going, whatever age they are in, there is change. I’ve had kids very small, come to know Christ. And when they came to know Christ, there was change. A change was manifest. I’ve had kids who were much older, who had heard about Christ, even gave lip service to Him, but were not delivered from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of his dear son. They weren’t saved yet. But when they’re saved, there’s change. I’m at work, I get a call from one of my kids, Dad, Dad, I’ve just been saved. Do you know where I was going? And that was after having given lip service to Christ, and there was change, ongoing change. No matter what age, there’s change. Sometimes stark and dramatic, sometimes more gradual, but still very noticeable, a change. There has been changed in our past, for everyone in Christ, and you know that change, you’d be able to recognize it, in your mind. The change, if you were younger, the change was something you grew up more into, but there were still change.
And this change, notice with me, Colossians 1:5-7a, happened this way, “because of the hope laid up for you in Heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing as it does among you, since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras…” He says, he taught you this, and there in was the change that came in their life. It was a change that was manifest then in the way they went about life. Look at verse number 10, “So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” There is this change in their life that Paul was praying for there. It’s the manifestation, there has been change for everyone who is in Christ. There has been.
Now want to add this. How? How, how has this happen? Paul talks about that. There has been change in your life. There was a change when you were transferred, but how did it happen? How does God’s provision for change happen and that’s the next word. Back to Colossians 2:6, “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord…”, it’s happened as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord. Now the Apostle Paul is telling them this for the purpose of encouraging them and knitting their hearts together for the present change that they are going to be facing. Look at chapter two, verse one, “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and …” there is an anguish in this struggle that I’m going through that I have “for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face”. Laodicea was a city which had a church that was very close to Colossi. As a matter of fact, Epaphras who is the one who was from Colossi, who taught them about this salvation through faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, the free gift that changed them, is here presenting this, he’s a collage to them. And when Paul, who gives him this letter and he carries it back says, I want this done in Laodicea as well. Chapter four, verse 16 talks about Laodicea reading this same letter, for the change that’s coming, for this purpose, verse two, “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of the full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ”. Christ in you he says, that is the hope of glory. He says that in chapter one, verse 27. This is the mystery.
Now, as you have received Christ, how has this changed happened? You’ve received Christ. To receive Christ, well, it’s just like you receive anything, you take it to yourself. If you receive a gift on Christmas morning, you take it to yourself, you open it, you keep it, that’s kind of how it goes. We receive Christ Jesus, the Lord, we take him to ourself. And when Jesus talked about how, how this receiving takes place, he took a child and he sat him in the midst of them there, where his disciples were, and they had some grandiose ideas about themselves. And Jesus sat the child in their midst. And he said, Unless you become like one of these, unless you become like one of these, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”, Matthew 18:3-4. How do we receive Christ? How does God make a provision for us? It’s in receiving Christ, it’s taking Christ to ourselves. How do we receive him receive him? It’slike a child. A child who trusts their parent, what they say. I had kids who had dispositions that were different on this. One of my kids, I would tell them what to say, and it was like, Oh, yeah, um, maybe, I don’t know if you know for sure or not. And I had another kid who thought, I’m just as smart as you. But I had this one child, who I would tell him something like, Stand here, by the car, and keep your hand on the handle until I come back. And some of my kids would and some would do it for awhile, but this one child stood there and held the handle as I went off and did the thing and came back. And they were still there, holding the handle. Now I did that because we’re in a traffic situation. And I wanted to make sure he held right there, close to the car, while I did this, and came back. This is the childlike faith of Matthew 1:3-4. Now even those other kids, when we got in situations, trusted me over someone else. Going into a new church assembly, one of my kids would say, I don’t have to listen to you. You’re not my mom. You’re not my dad. I don’t have to, because of trusting. Jesus point is, if we receive Christ, it has to be like one of these. It has to be, or you’re not going to enter the kingdom of God. We have to trust him for the changes, changes like we’ve had in the past, and changes for the future.
You know, interestingly, this trusting like a child leads to being born, born of God, not of the will of the flesh, not of the will of man, not naturally, but being born of God. This change has taken place in our life, so that we have taken to ourself, Jesus Christ, who now is the Lord, to us. We’ve taken to ourself, Jesus Christ, who now is the one in charge, he calls the shots, he gives the direction. This has been the change, moving forward into present change, whatever it is, has this past, that God has wrought in us, we have this. Now, moving forward into the present change that has a future for you, the Apostle Paul, going from that of wanting to encourage hearts in preparation for changes that were coming, lays out to them that there is this specific and clear direction from God for present day change. Whatever change that is, change with God has a past, we’re always going to be going through change and this present change has a very clear direction. And what the Apostle Paul does here is he gives us four different statements that are imperative. What’s an imperative? It’s a direction that God gives. It’s not a suggestion. It’s kind of like, here’s the direction to go for handling change. Now, why does God do this? Because he’s kind of self inflated and has a big ego? And he thinks that he ought to be the one in charge? Why does God do this? It’s for our benefit, all of these directions, and commands of God are for our good. And they’re registered this way so that they register this way, that these are imperative. These are necessary for present day change.
Now, because we are a stubborn people, we don’t like to be told what to do. And you know, that starts out when we are children, Don’t tell me what to do. Now, who does God think he is to tell us what to do? He is God! He has no trouble with that, he’s got no trouble with being God, because He is God. And we need him to be God. And he needs to tell us that this is what we should do. For the present change, with the issues the Laodiceans and the Colossians had and all those who are in Heliopolis, which is where they were. As for us in Hartford City, with all the issues we have, we need his imperative direction. And he gives, clear, specific, direct, and very helpful. And remember the aim in this, that your hearts may be encouraged. That’s what he says. He says that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of the full assurance of understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery in Christ.
Change, whatever it is, what it was for them at Colossae, whatever it is for us, it’s this. “So walk in him”, based on that past change that you’ve had, being delivered from the domain of darkness to the domain, to the rule of God’s dear Son through the Gospel, the word of truth, that is bringing change in your walk through life. In as much as that is there, because that is, so walk in him. As you’ve received him, walking in him. How did you receive him? You received him like a child who trusted what his daddy said, holding on there. That’s how you received him. And as a result, you were born, you were born of God. And being born of God, now we walk that way. In him, we walk just that way, in him. How do you walk in him? Now the word walk is clear. We know what that is. And it’s a very good picture. You moment by moment, move forward, step by step with what happens. That’s the walk, and for the Hebrews that idea, the word idea, is to tromp around. Your tromping around is a picture of progressing through life, going somewhere forward, moving through life. You walk, how?, in him, how?, just like you received him. So you walk in him. That’s what he says. And this takes place, having been rooted in him. Now this verb tense is very important, I’m going to do this and not so I seem smart, but because it’s so very important here. And I’m not smart, because somebody told me this, so now I’m telling you. This verb tense is what’s called a perfect, meaning there is a present result from past action: past action, you have received Christ-present result, you are rooted in him. A past action with a present result, if somebody comes up here and smacks me in my nose, I guarantee that my nose will bleed because that happens pretty readily, especially this time of year. And the present result will be bleeding from the past action of having taken a shot in the nose. The present result is that we are rooted, we have deep seated, fixed firmness, by a past action of having received Christ. So walking in him, is this having been rooted in him, fixed firm.
You know, when I was reading this I thought of something from the science class. Do you know that mushrooms have roots? They have a really unique root. It’s called a hyphae, which is kind of a long hair like thing. And do you know that those roots can go out to 30 acres. And there’s a whole bunch of this mushroom activity, from these hyphaes that are all over the place, and it takes place underground. These roots do this stuff. And then this root does this. “Now being built up”, this root pulls in nutrients, so that one layer upon another layer upon another layer upon another builds up in this mushroom. Until finally, about this time of year, we start to see some of it poke above the ground. Have you ever wondered, I’ve always wondered about that? Are these things, spores that just come out of the air? What do they do? How do they get there? I’ve got them all over the place in my yard. Of course some of these mushrooms, called toadstools by us, are not edible, but they’re all over. And sometimes, man, those dudes are tough, specially at the bottom of this stump I have there, that I can’t hardly get rid of them. They’re tough, man. It’s not like, This is a tinder commercial mushroom, it’s like, No! I’m staying here! And this thing grows up, all of the sudden. And there it is. And what’s happened is that now this thing, having been rooted, is being built up. It’s being built up. And this is what he tells us is God’s present provision for how we move through change, walking in Christ, rooted like that, deep and widespread root. It’s being built up. It’s going up, stage by stage, and it’s being then further established, he says, in the faith, being established in the faith, and overflowing with thanksgiving.
Now all of these come by receiving Christ Jesus and it is an act of God , its what he does. You have to respond and take him to yourself, but he’s the one that causes you to be born again. By his doing, Corinthians tells us, are you in Christ, who’s become to us the wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. This receiving is a thing from our past to move us through change and being built up, God does. And being established, present day actions going on, are things that God does. But here’s what we do. This is how to move through change, over flowing with thanksgiving, over flowing through thanksgiving. The Bible’s pretty clear to us that we have change to move through. This verb, which is also imperative, is the basis for the other four actions that come into place. The determination is that I will walk, with a child like faith, in my Father, I will walk forward, having been rooted by my Father, in Christ, and now being built up in Christ, better established and overflowing. The last one is the one that we do.
You know, I’ve been interacting this week with people about the change, the changes that we’re going to be going through. The change that Heartland fellowship is going to be moving into a larger church, for the purpose of bringing community to our fellowship, for the purpose of aiding this other church. And I have had interactions from that, responses, challenges, questions, which is good. And I’m grateful for those, it’s exactly what we should be doing. Exactly. And as we move through this, the opportunity of worshiping with The Lighthouse church has been set before you, it will be a change. It will be a change. It will be a change in the sense of the number of folks who are there, it will be a change in regards to the approach to ministry. The Sunday morning isn’t so geared to Bible teaching as to reaching out. The pastor there has been given the gift of evangelism. And he reaches out with evangelism. But there’s other services that are available, that provide for the rooting, the grounding, the building up. And these are available, but it’s a change. And how shall we move through change? Everyone has their own choice to make, what they will do. We’ve always had that choice. God gives us that choice. But how we will move through change, God’s way, is as we have you received Christ, as you have been taught in him, like this passage says, you take the steps to move forward in your walk. You take the steps, overflowing with thanksgiving.
Can I share this with you? To my joy and for your sense of encouragement, as I’ve shared this, it’s been hard. But there’s been encouragement from people. Folks intentionally taking it upon themselves to overflow with thanksgiving for what has been the past. Some folks said, even in this room, It’s been a great ride. That’s an encouragement. Some folks said, Of all the places in town, that would be where we would go. That is overflowing with thanksgiving. This is how we do this. And for the next several weeks, we’ll be interacting, preparing for the change because April 3rd will be the last assembly we have in this building, as a Heartland regularly scheduled service. We will be doing some things in town, it’s an opportunity that I’ll make known to you as we’re going through this. Then on April 10th, on Palm Sunday, for those who so choose, can join Lighthouse. They’re going to have a drama, not in our honor, but they have a Palm Sunday drama planned. And it’ll be the first day we’re there. And we go from there. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to me.