Posted on: 18th June 2018
“‘Each of us should please his neighbour for their good, to build him up.’”
Two men who shared a hospital room ended up becoming friends. One could sit up for an hour every day. His bed was beside the only window. The other man spent his life flat on his back. Each day the man at the window would describe the activity and colour of the outside world: the park overlooking the lake, ducks swimming, children playing, couples walking together, the skyline in the distance.
His friend, who could see none of this, smiled and imagined it all in his mind’s eye. One day the man by the window died and his roommate moved into his place. He propped himself up to look outside and was amazed to see a drab brick wall! Confused, he asked the nurse how come his friend had described the scenery in such glowing terms. She replied, ‘Actually, he was blind, and he couldn’t even see the wall. He just wanted to encourage you.’
Paul said, ‘Each of us should please his neighbour for their good, to build him up.’ There’s great satisfaction in encouraging people, especially when your own situation is less than ideal. One author writes: ‘When you tell someone they’re beautiful, you change how they see themselves. A girl in love thinks she’s the most beautiful girl in the world because her young man said so. When a teacher tells a student he’s smart, he works harder and achieves more. When a parent tells a child she’s loved, she has confidence to reach for the stars.
Posted on: 21st May 2018
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Discontentment. It’s something that can stop us from feeling joy and living life to the full.
The Bible says we must learn to be content ‘whatever the circumstances.’ That can be hard.
We see what other people have and we want the same. We see what other people have achieved, and we want to do that too. Once we start comparing our lives to other people’s, discontentment can find its way in and we begin to forget all the blessings and gifts that God has given us.
Discontentment clouds all the good and makes us think our lives are not alright as they are. Instead, contentment recognises all the good in our lives and doesn’t want what other people have. There’ll always be people who have more than us, but there’ll also be people who have less. What you choose to focus on will determine how contented you feel.
Our security and self-worth should be based on who we are in Christ, not what we have. Our possessions, achievements and relationships shouldn’t define who we are. Paul wrote: ‘I’ve learned…to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am’ (Philippians 4 v 11-13).
When we’re focused on our identity in Christ, rather than what we do or don’t have, we leave no room for discontentment in our lives.
Posted on: 5th February 2018
Isn’t it ironic that the majority of time we ask for patience is when we want it immediately? Even Christian’s pray for patience… and they want God to give it them now!
Think through the past few weeks. Who or what has tested your patience? A teacher who did not understand you? A friend who annoyed you? A brother or sister in an obnoxious mood? A parent’s expectations that seemed unreasonable? A disappointing grade? A broken-down car? Other drivers on the road? Sickness?
Now consider, which of those situations did you have any control over? Probably not many and whilst it’s good to try to control those things you can control, just to simplify your life, the things that test our patience are often out of our control. We just have to live with them and through them, learn patience.
So, now what?
Paul tells us to be “strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11).
Yes, God can give us the power of patience; He can also teach us patience when we ask for it.
Are you patient? Do you need to learn patience? In which areas of your life could you do with a bit more patience?
“Carry one another’s burdens and this way you will fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2)
Each person has a community around them, whether we like it or not we are connected in some way to others that we have both similarities and differences with. Each of us belongs and though sometimes we don’t believe it or feel it our belonging makes us a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Whilst last week we explored how we can set ourselves up to win and the fact we are all unique in our own way, this week we are looking at how us as individuals can set our community up to win. In the bible we read of Paul, who we thing wrote 13 books in the New Testament. We know for a fact that the majority of these books were based upon his letters he sent to several communities that had been established as new Christians. Paul’s letters teach us three things that we can do to set our community up to win.
- Pray – Each time Paul wrote to the different communities he declared at the beginning or the end of his letters that he was praying for them, often for the specifics that he knew of them too.
Do you pray for your community? For those you are in direct contact with? For your faith leaders? For those in positions of power?
- Connect – Meet people where they are at. Paul never wrote above the understanding of those who were to receive his letters. He targeted areas in his letters that the individual communities were working on in order to warn them of danger or encourage them. It’s easy to think of people in your community that may sometimes get missed due to information being in a format that they can’t cope with. Be the one who connects beyond others. Remember the phase from last year “When you support the 100, the 100 support you.”
- Build Relationships, Build Culture – throughout Paul’s letters we read of people Paul has sent out to do works within those communities he is writing to. Paul however never sent them out without the intention of them bring the culture of Christ into those communities. What relationships are you actively and intentionally seeking to build? What culture are you taking into you community?
See as communities we all feel the same things. Hopes and fears, the comfort and strength of a hug, a chat with a neighbour, a moment to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, 5 minutes of peace all to yourself, awe found in a fabulous view, beauty found in nature, a warm breeze, a generous smile, happy tears, sad tears, the assurance of a friend, the delightful laughter of children -their fun, adventure, innocence, curiosity and energy, the satisfaction gained from working hard and learning something new, a desperate prayer spoken to a gracious and listening God, who so desperately loves us all, the power of saying ‘sorry’ when it is needed and mileage that comes from a word of appreciation. The list goes on but it’s as community that we are able to empower one another to succeed far beyond what we can on our own.