Imagine what it would feel like to be surrounded by people who genuinely appreciate the small things in life, ones who are grateful, thankful and content. To be part of a community who affirm each other, not to get something for themselves, but because they truly care for one another. Well, this is who the Church is biblically... This is who we can be when we remember who we are because of Jesus.
"...God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life..."
I'm not talking here about mustering up the strength to force a smile and say "Jesus loves you". No! What we see here is God at work. God giving us the desire and the power to be this way. It is a response to who we are in Christ, not a guilt driven, religious command. We are free to enjoy whatever we have, wherever we are and whomever we are with. That is a freedom only found when we are secure in our identity in Christ.
See, when we know that we belong (to Jesus/in his family) then our belief (of who He is, what He's Done and who we are because of that) brings joy and transformation. Only then will our behaviour start to reflect Jesus. That's the order, and that is what we see happening in these verses.
If you believe that to be true, if you believe that we [the church] are precious to God, protected for eternity and are a purpose filled family, then...
I want to put out a small challenge, what would it look like if for a month, just one month, we all took Philippians 2:14 literally. "Do everything without complaining and arguing." Would we actually be light that shine in darkness? A reflector that draws others to the true source of the light? Do you think it can be done, do you believe that the Spirit can empower us to reflect him in this way?
He can, He does and I believe He will continue to give us the strength to be grateful, thankful and content this month. The key is to "Hold firmly to the word of life", meaning - remember who God truly is, what he has done through Christ and who we are now because of that. The more time I spend enjoying God and thinking about how good his good news is, the less I am compelled to complain.
If you hear me grumbling, complaining or arguing this month,
please lovingly remind me of who Jesus is and all he has done.
Don’t Keep Scratching the Itch, Kill the Mosquito.
Looking back at the last four weeks,I feel like I have just begun to notice the effects of an eternal itch. Something I have been subconsciously scratching and scraping at for years, but never finding relief. It has been so long, that I stopped noticing the irritating sensation and simply scratched automatically.
I’m talking about the annoying desire to zone out to the world and get lost for hours in mindless TV and shows. It is always there and for a moment or two I desperately want to give in and scratch that pesky “mossie bite”. But that never fixes the problem. I will need relief in another 10 minutes.
The Spirit isn’t about quick fixes. He doesn’t want to just cover up the desire to zone out with a band-aid. Yes, it will stop you from scratching, but the itch remains. What the Spirit does is attack the “mosquito” itself. But how does he do it? Well, this month I have been able to experience it a little.
2 Cor 10:5b - “...take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NLT)
1 Cor 6:12 - “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. (NLT)
1 Cor 10:23 - “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. (NLT)
Phil 4:8 - Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (NLT)
The Spirit reminds us and strengthens us to be aware of everything we fill our mind with. Spiritual disciple is so important–I have experienced the benefit from just one small change of behaviour. He prompts me and it has become automatic now. Everytime I start reading I subconsciously start timing and consequently I take note of when I start watching TV (netflix). The Spirit has begun to show me how to take hold/control of what I am filling my mind with.
He fends off the “Mosquitos” by equipping and training our minds to close the windows, shut the fly screens and find rest under “mosquito nets”. We must be aware of not only what we are letting into our minds, but the very dwelling place of God.
I encourage you to take note of what you spend your time on. I haven’t cut myself off from TV or netflix, I have simply made sure I balance that with listening to God. And it has been a very healthy and helpful habit I hope to continue.
WEEK four results of SAMEtember: Mon 21st - Mon 28th.
TV Time - 3 hours 10 minutes
Reading Time - 6 hours 35 minutes.
SAMEtember Month Total
TV Time - 25 hours 38 minutes
Reading Time - 23 hours 45 minutes
After a crazy week of sleep insomnia, doctor visits, planned events, work and managing our 2-year-old, my wife and I were ready for rest. This week we found it.
Now back on my feet, somewhat well re-energized physically and mentally, I began this third week looking forward to finding rest in God. I started this month, hoping to map out and keep track of what I put into my mind. The point is to balance my “zone out time” with my “equipping time”. And to be honest, no great revelation came this week, nothing exceptional happened either, except I actually saw balance.
Research shows that after repeating something for 21 days, a habit is often formed. I caught myself several times this week, turning off the TV when what I was watching finished… That may seem logical for most of you, but I had previously been in the habit of lingering. Before I knew it another show had started and I was sucked into another 1-2 hours of mindless zoning out. But this week I saw less of that.
With this “extra time” I had found, I was able to start and finish a book called Fruitful Church (highly recommended) and my wife and I also started reading 2 Psalms (chapters) a day, separately, whenever we had space, and then talked about it in the evening. That along with that, plus other readings, I found myself pausing more during the week and reflecting on things. I have definitely enjoyed SAMEtember this week and been refreshed by the spiritual discipline I have put on myself.
WEEK two results of SAMEtember: Mon 14th - Mon 21st.
TV Time - 6 hours 10 minutes
Reading Time - 7 hours 55 minutes
I want to encourage you to try, even for a week, to keep track of how you spend your time.
“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down