Saturday, November 7, 2009

Who Are You Going To Be Today - Grumpy Old Person or Child of God?

Good morning my dear friends. Saturday morning: what will you do with this day? Better question: who will you be in this day? You know, different things in our lives can cause us to become a different person. For example, money can change a person. It can change a person's values, what they consider to be important in life. Another example is friends. Friends can have a huge impact on the way a person dresses, talks, and the way they see themselves. The best example though is perspective. A person's perspective on life has a major impact on everything, including the way they see money and friends. So, who are you going to be today? To answer that question it is best to begin with your relationship with Jesus.

The way a person sees their relationship with the world depends on their relationship with Christ. This is the reason why the change can be so dramatic when a person accepts Jesus and receives the Spirit. Suddenly their perspective of the world, their place in the world and their relationship with God all take a dramatic shift as perspective changes. Suddenly things that were not important is now of great significance. Things of great significance are no longer that important. The way we spend our time and money changes according to these changing values as does the manner in which we work and play. However, it doesn't necessarily happen all at once. I believe this is the reason the Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to write:

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)

Receiving Jesus  Christ is like learning to walk all over again. It takes time to work things out, to learn to walk with new legs. In fact, it takes a life time. Give yourself a break, what has happened to you goes against what you were born with and what you grew up thinking was normal. Now your normal is no longer normal and you have to learn a new normal. It takes a daily effort to work these changes out. Just remember it is not you doing the changes because the changes taking place is the Spirit's responsibility and your part in it is submission, or obedience. As he changes how you see something, don't fight him on it but allow the changes to take root. It is significant that the next thing we read is:

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. vs. 14-16  

Complaining or arguing with who? All my life I have seen this as simply complaining and arguing in general. I have always seen the previous verses as Paul telling the Philippians to obey his instructions. Yet, this morning, as I write, I am gaining a new perspective. The obedience is to the Spirit so these verses are saying don't complain or argue with God. Don't complain about what he takes you through because he is changing you, shaping you, molding you to be like Jesus. Don't argue with the Spirit about these changes. You may not want to admit it but you complain about God and argue with him every time you complain about the things in your life. Some may have more cause to complain than others but is that because the Spirit is doing a great work in some people more than others? Or maybe some people have more things that need changing? I don't know about you but the Spirit has a lot of work to do in me. 

Complaining is a terrible thing because it causes us to focus on the hardship or trial instead of on the work that is being done in us. Many things have happened to me that resulted in good change in me, but I complained the entire time. Not much of a witness there. Not a great testimony of trust there. Not much of a shining light. Do you see the significance of not having the right perspective? I allowed the manner in which I saw things to effect how people saw Jesus in me.With my complaints and arguments I looked less than "blameless and pure, children of God without fault". That is significant because we are meant to "shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life". 

I am just starting to get warmed up so I had better wind it up with this. We have all met Christians who have been serving Jesus for years, yet we see very little fruit of the Spirit in their lives. They seem to be bitter at times, always complaining, even gossiping. There is no light there. They cause more damage than good in the Kingdom. They have failed to submit to the Spirit in the working out of their salvation daily. That is what we need to avoid becoming at all costs because that is not pleasing to our Father. He wants us to put away the complaining and arguing, and trust him, "so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life". It is our purpose so it must become our perspective. Everything that we face is used by God for our good, to prosper our spirit, our relationship with him. So submit to the Spirit every day in gladness and trust him so that the joy of the Lord becomes our strength, even in the worst of days.                     

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