Few things can open our hearts to the Word of God like the enlivening hymns we hear from the music specials at Gospel Light. Case in point: with Michael G. at piano, Lori and Julia sang “ He Gave Himself” softly and beautifully, their passion being for the risen savior Jesus Christ. God has truly blessed our church with an abundance of musical talent.Pastor Vince Giardino titled his Sunday morning message, “Look No Hands”, and if you read on, you’ll see why. His key scripture passage for the sermon was Col 3:1-3, one he called “a classic Bible passage” and the basis for this year’s theme, “Hoping for Heaven in 2011”. Pastor followed with Col 2:11, which tells us our new life in Christ was “made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins”. “Man can not manufacture life with salvation”, he declared, but only Christ can save souls. Man has contrived methods to deceive people that they are saved.
Out came a model of a space shuttle orbiter, complete with fun sound effects and movable parts. Pastor spoke of the Thermal Protection System (TPS), the tiles on the underside of a shuttle which protect the craft and its occupants from the incredible heat while it pierces the atmosphere. The shuttle enters into a continuous orbit around the earth where gravity is countered by the craft’s velocity. Likewise, Pastor G. explained, “when we go into orbit in the Christian life, spiritually, there is a pull on all of us.” The gravitational pull of the world pulls us down as Christians. We need to “pierce that worldly atmosphere”, Pastor said, so that Jesus is the one we depend on.
Pastor Giardino reread Col 3:1 and asked, “Are you risen with Christ?” “Walk ye in him” Col 2:6, he used to admonish us. After reading Col 2:11, he explained that “an invisible operation occurred when you received Jesus Christ … not from man’s ingenuity but from God”. In 1 Cor 15:42-43, we see that when we were “raised in incorruption”, we were also “raised in power”. Just as it takes a lot of thrust to launch a space shuttle, so also does it take a lot of power to take us into orbit to live the Christian life. However, the gravitational pull of earthly things presents a never ending challenge to Christians. Pastor listed many “gravitational pulls” that a Christian faces, including power, money, emotions, family, status, or anything you might put ahead of Jesus Christ. “Why are these things hampering you and pulling you down?”, he asked. Citing several Bible passages, Pastor pointed out that, even as Christ was raised up through the power of the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Himself, so also will we be raised up.
The Object – of your faith. We were taught that we should be focusing our affections and mind on Jesus Christ. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” Col 3:2. We have within us the power to live the risen life because the Spirit abides within us once we are saved. Pastor Giardino said, “you have to go into orbit away from the earthly ways … you no longer need earth’s atmosphere” as we seek to do God’s work. Focusing on things of the world will only burn us up on reentry. We need not dwell on the devil’s power because the chains of sin have been broken. Pastor said we should be dead to the world and its gravitational pull. Christ’s Word should be our life, we were instructed. While on this earth, Jesus exhorted us to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” Matt 6:33, and not to be concerned with earthly things. Today, our savior “Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” Col 3:1, acting as an intercessor to receive our prayers.
The Orbit – We should be in orbit (i.e. the course of our lives) for Jesus Christ. To the delight of all, Pastor Giardino produced three balls and began to juggle, (and to the noisy delight of your blogger’s son, he dropped one). Juggling demonstrated Pastor’s control of the “orbit” of the balls. Likewise then, we are God’s objects and He controls our orbits. We need to be sure we are in orbit for Christ, allowing Him to control our lives. Rom 6:14 states that “sin shall not have dominion over you” since we are “under grace”. “So why are you still sinning?”, Pastor asked, “Some of you are living a life like you are not risen with him.” Sin pulls us down into a different orbit, we were told. Pastor used scripture to show we are called “unto holiness”, we are made free, we are the Lord’s “freemen”. Pastor urged us to claim the risen life, free from the heavy chains of sin. Pastor G. offered a helpful suggestion: If we are having trouble, we should “play dead”, just as an animal might “play dead” as a defense mechanism against predators. “Lord, help me to be dead”, he suggested we pray. “We may not lose our salvation, but we can lose our rewards”, our preacher warned. Using Heb 12:6-9, he said a sure sign you are one of God’s children is “when God chastises you for the way you are living”.
The Order – Col 3:5 warns against “inordinate affection”, things that we should not be attached to. Pastor advised us to put up an “Out Of Order” sign to the world. In our minds, we should say, “I’m not going to do that anymore … I’m not going to give the world an opportunity.” In Col 3:9-10, we are told to “put off the old man with his deeds” and to “put on the new man”. “Christ is all, and in all” Col 3:11. The Apostle Paul, in Col 3:12-17, listed the attributes of the resurrected life, but writes “above all these things put on charity”. In closing then, during those time when we are down and struggling with temptation, our dear Pastor advises we hang our “Out Of Order” sign against the world.Pastor G., a “Trekkie” in his youth, recalled an episode of Star Trek where the Starship Enterprise was being hammered by the Klingons. In a military maneuver, Captain Kirk order the starship to be shut down, giving the appearance of being totally disabled. Kirk was “playing dead”. The Klingons fell for the deception, moved in close, and were zapped by phasers at the right time.