End of Summer Tune-Up, Pt. 3
Study Guide, September 11, 2022
Pastor Clay Olsen
If you have ever lived in really high altitudes, you discovered that there were some adjustments that you needed to make. According to National Geographic, high altitude living is at least 8,000 feet above sea level. Although, some effects of higher altitudes are noticed at levels somewhat lower than that as well. Sharon and I once lived where the altitude was 9,000 feet. Even your car is affected at that altitude because of the lower oxygen levels. Your car can lose 3% power for every 1000 feet you climb. And tire pressures have to be raised several pounds as well. Plus, you have to make some adjustments in other things; like baking. Things bake faster at higher altitudes, so you have to adjust your baking times to account for that. Even batter rises faster, so you need to use a little less to prevent overflows.
Plus, the effects on the body are profound. With lower oxygen and humidity your lungs need to get acclimated, and you need more fluids and certain foods, like more carbohydrates. I loved that part! Essentially, a body needed about three months to get fully acclimated for ‘high altitude’ living. However, in order to get fully acclimated for ‘high attitude’ living it’s even a little longer than that…actually, it’s sort of life-long. But ‘high attitude’ living is right where followers of Jesus Christ need to be living. And since we are making some end of summer adjustments for a spiritual tune-up, several Scriptural adjustments are required in order to reach and maintain ‘high attitude’ living.
So just how high are we talking about in our ‘attitude’? How about this high? Col 3:1-4- “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” NASU We did an expositional study of this passage not long ago, so we’ll just bring out a few things that go along with our adjustments and tune-up.
For one thing, in order to maintain a ‘high attitude’ in how we conduct our lives, we will need to also maintain a ‘high altitude’ from which we view all life. Again, and how high is that? “…keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Where Christ is now seated is the position from where we are to view all things…from Heaven at the right hand of God. In other words, if we are going to understand the things of Earth, see the things of Earth, and do what we need to do while on Earth, we are going to have to live our lives while on Earth from the vantage point of Heaven.
Sometimes people charge Christians with being so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good. Well, sure, sometimes people have been careless and unfaithful in their duties as servants of God to the people of Earth, but that’s just another form of disobedience. Rather, we are to serve our God in Heaven by serving others on Earth. But the only way to really do earthly good is by doing it according to the directives of Heaven, and through Heaven’s view of Earth. Remember, everything good on Earth originated in Heaven, anyway. Col 1:15-20- “He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” NASU
So from Creation to the Cross to the coming Kingdom, everything good on Earth originated in Heaven…the God of Heaven and Earth. Therefore, anything of true good and of lasting value upon the Earth also originates in Heaven…often working through God’s people on Earth. But in order for God’s people to see what is truly good, and to discern what is really of lasting value, we will need to view it all from the vantage point of Heaven. And the way that we can view these things of Earth from the viewpoint of Heaven is through the lenses of the Holy Scriptures. Or, the only way to have spiritual 20/20 vision of the things of Earth is by looking at the Earth through the 39/27 vision of the Bible…the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament. For, you see, without using the lenses of the Scriptures everything you see on Earth will be out of focus. And not only will it be out of focus, but worse, it will be disconnected from truth…as in, lies and deception.
Did you ever stop to think that for those who do not live their lives according to the truths of God’s Word that they have lived their whole lives according to the lies of the world, the flesh, and the devil? When your whole life is lived based upon the lies of the devil and the deceptions of your sin nature and the distortions of the world, how horrible and regrettable will it be when your appointment with your Maker arrives and He says to you: “…I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matt 7:23 NKJV If your Maker says, “Depart from Me”, then your whole life will fall apart, and it will stay that way forever. To go through life and to not come to know Jesus Christ as your own personal Lord and Savior is to have both wasted your entire life and your eternal future as well.
Make sure that you have repented of your sins and turned to Christ to follow Him, and trusted in His sacrificial life and death for your salvation. The one thing on Earth that you want to be sure of and can be sure of is that you have called upon Jesus Christ to be your own Lord and Savior. Make sure of that today!
And then, spend the rest of your life making adjustments to live more and more according to the teachings and the truths of God’s Word. Decide day after day to look at life from a ‘high altitude’…from the heights of the Scriptures. And determine day after day to walk in this world with a ‘high attitude’…not a ‘haughty attitude’ of course, but a ‘humble attitude’ that takes a ‘high attitude’ toward all the issues of life, including the hard issues of life. Which will not be easy, when so much of the world around us is being dragged down by the opinions that arise from the sin-nature of man and the traditions of man that revolve around the worship of man…which is just another idol. Remember, worship is not an option for mankind…only who or what man worships. A person will either worship the Holy Trinity of God alone or the unholy trinity of the world, the flesh, and the devil. But everyone is worshipping someone…or something.
So, again, in every issue, be it a cultural issue or a personal issue, there are two paths to pursue it…from either the low ground of man’s opinions or from the high ground of God’s words. And remember, it’s easy to walk the low ground, the ground of man’s opinion and cultural pressures. It takes practice and the power of God to walk the high ground. But it’s doable. The Psalmist told us about it, remember? “The God who girds me with strength and makes my way blameless…He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places.” Ps 18:32-33 NASU
That’s a favorite passage of many Christians. And rightly so, since it is so inspiring and reassuring. And we need God’s reassurance, especially when we are walking as on ‘hind’s feet upon high places.’ That’s not for the spiritually faint of heart. I remember doing some mountain hikes in Colorado where the face of the mountain was kind of steep and rocky, and then seeing some mountain deer running around on the rocks, looking at us stumbling along like: “What’s their problem…those clumsy humans!”
Now fortunately, not all the high places that we are to walk are that steep. Sometimes, they might seem that way…especially when it comes to taking the high ground, the Scriptural ground on the hard issues of life. But that is when we are going to have to be ‘stubborn’, in a good way…stubborn for God. But whenever you take sides for God, just remember that God is on your side. It’s like that great saying: “God plus one is a majority in any crowd!” And also know that since you are taking God’s side, God will enable you to take your stand for God, no matter how steep the slope might be that you are walking, like with those deer on the rocky slopes. It’s like what God said to Ezekiel. Ezek 3:7-9- “But the people of Israel will refuse to listen to you because they refuse to listen to Me. All the people of Israel are very stubborn and hardheaded. Yet, I will make you as stubborn and as hardheaded as they are. I will make you as hard as a diamond, harder than stone. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be terrified in their presence, even though they are rebellious people.” GOD’S WORD Version
God says to us disciples who are willing to take a stand for God and God’s glory: “I will make you as stubborn and as hardheaded as they are. I will make you as hard as a diamond, harder than stone.” How’s that for encouragement in discipleship training with others? “God will make you as stubborn and as hardheaded as the rebellious people around you.” But note carefully that there is a great difference between being ‘stubborn and hardheaded’ for God and in being ‘stubborn and hardheaded’ against God! For if you are hardheaded against God that reveals that you are also hard hearted toward God. But if you are hardheaded for God that reveals that you are also soft hearted toward God…sensitive toward God. And the more sensitive and soft hearted you are toward God and the things God cares about, the more you are also like a diamond in God’s hand that He uses to deal with the stone hearts around you. Diamonds are often used to cut through stone. Plus, it’s a testimony from God about just how valuable He views His faithful people.
And this brings out another wonder of the Word of God. Remember what we are told in
Heb 4:12- “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” NASU As God’s people, we carry in our hearts and minds and hands the most powerful force on Earth: Truth…the truths of God’s Word. As we deal with the hardened hearts and the hard issues as we walk in this world we don’t have to fuss about having to give people a piece of our mind…no, just give them the Bible! Remember: What is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword is not our opinion, but God’s Word! What pierces as far as the division of soul and spirit is not our reasoning, but God’s Revelation! What is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of people’s hearts around us is not our cleverness, but God’s Truthfulness! And what rescues and redeems people around us is not what is done by our might and power, but what is done by God’s Spirit, as He uses His people as His vessels of truth and mercy in a world that is passing away and perishing.
Remember, Jesus often went up to the Mount of Olives. It was a high place above the city of Jerusalem. From that higher altitude Jesus shared His higher attitude with us…His thoughts with us. And even though many times He had to deal with the hardheaded and hard hearted religious and non-religious people in the city with tough love…even though He was ‘tough’ with them, there was still ‘love’ towards them. Remember, He even over-turned tables in the Temple, but His desire was to over-turn their souls…to have them to turn their hearts to Him.
Shortly before He went to the Cross, He shared with us the prayer that He prayed over them in Matt 23:37- “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” NIV What a revelation of the heart of God toward the perishing. Jesus foremost desire was to rescue the perishing…and yet so many were not willing to be rescued…they not willing to repent of their sins and give their heart to Him to be saved from their sin.
As we walk that high ground with Jesus, at times we too must deal with unrepentant and hard hearts around us with tough love, just like Jesus did. But we must also carry that high attitude of even though being tough with them, still, having love towards them…not wishing that any should perish, but for all come to repentance. From the high altitude of the Scriptures, we have learned that, yes, God is just…and He must be just. That’s why there must be a Hell as well as a Heaven. Unrepented of sin must be judged. Unsaved sinners cannot enter Heaven. But we have also learned that the Judge of the Universe foremost desires to be merciful. God’s highest motive is mercy. That’s why He saved us, who were once lost, but were then willing to be gathered to Him…who repented and trusted in Jesus for our salvation. Remember, the primary reason this sinful and perishing world has been permitted to go on in its rebellion, as long as it has toward the Creator and Redeemer, is because of this: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NASU
As we go up to the high altitude of the Scriptures to learn from them, we are to then carry Jesus’ high attitude in how He lived and how He dealt with others around Him…He judged with righteous judgment those who needed tough love, and He also prayed with lovingkindness and mercy for whosoever would believe, so that they would not perish.
Remember: The high attitude that we are to develop and to then practice is that kind of high attitude – Jesus’ high attitude.