(Summary of Sunday Sermon, 10 May 2015)
DO SOME MORE
I am over 50 years old. So, a few weeks ago, I asked God what else I needed to do for Him with the remaining years of my life. I felt God respond, Do some more!
Little children eat and drink well in order to grow up. What if they decided at 5 years of age that they’d eaten and drunk enough? That wouldn’t be been sufficient. They’d need to keep at their meals. Similarly, we don’t stop with one dose of fertilizers for plants. If we want them to grow, we need to regularly nourish them.
THE 2 C EFFORT
We need to have a similar approach in our spiritual lives too. Becoming a follower of Jesus doesn’t mean that we have to maintain a status quo. We need to examine what else God wants us to do.
In Act 24:16, Paul says at his trial before Felix that, ‘I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men’. It’s a conscious and a constant effort. We have to strive continually to please Jesus.
DELIGHTING AND MEDITATING
So how do we strive to please God consciously and constantly? Let’s turn to Psalm 1:2. It says, ‘But they delight in doing everything that God wants them to do day and night; they are meditating on His laws and thinking about ways to follow Him more closely’.
- DELIGHT IN
What are the things that delight us? Dancing, watching movies, shopping, reading books, going on long drives, sports, music… the list goes on. Interestingly, reading the Bible doesn’t figure anywhere. That sounds like a boring chore, doesn’t it? Some of us find worshipping in church boring. God doesn’t want us to read the Bible or worship Him in church out of fear. He wants us to delight in it. Let us ponder whether we enjoy and take pleasure in spending time with God’s Word and His presence.
In order to help us delight in God, here are three ways of ordering our prayer life to enjoy God.
- Let us spend disciplined times of prayer with God.
- Let us spontaneously break out into prayer during the day
- Let us set us aside seasons in our lives for prayer.
The more time we spend reading His Word and meditating prayerfully, the more our lives will become pleasing to God.
Meditating refers to reading the Word and chewing on it in our minds. When we are constantly thinking about the Word, then our lives slowly fall in line with it too. Colossians 3:2 says, ‘Set your mind on things above and not on things below’. It is the object of our meditation that entangles us. We don’t need to wrap our minds on and get entangled with things that are not our problem. Let me give you a real life example of this. My brother cared about people. He’d often be involved in various youth activities across the city. One day, he saw two people fighting on the road. He decided to mediate. He got them to pause fighting but one of them angrily swung a piece of firewood at his opponent. Unfortunately, it hit my brother instead. Thankfully, he didn’t break his jaw. Young friend, let us be careful about the things that we poke our heads and hearts into. We don’t need to get our heart involved in things that don’t concern us.
- FOLLOWING HIS INSTRUCTIONS
We must be careful to meditate on His Word and follow His instructions. We must do everything that He calls us to do. It might be as small as going to church on time or as big as making major life decisions. Whatever they are, we need to follow His instructions closely.
PRACTICAL APPLICATION IN DAILY LIVES
The desire to please God through our lifestyle changes everything that we do. Here are some practical applications.
1 Timothy 5:4 says, ‘But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.’ It is important that we don’t take for granted the people in our lives. For e.g. – we must make an effort to call or email our parents. That small effort on our part will make a big difference to them. Caring for our family pleases God and we must be careful to inculcate that.
I accompanied my friend to her place during one college vacation. Her parents had a difficult marriage. They’d constantly argue and bicker with each other. One day I saw her dad flinging a plate at his wife in anger. I realized how grateful I needed to be to God for the blessed family that I was part of. Maybe our families aren’t all that we’d dreamt of. But we need to still appreciate them and believe that we can be a blessing to them.
- KIND AND CONSIDERATE
Our parents are getting older. We need to be kind and considerate towards them.
- WALK THE TALK
Hebrews 13:16 says, ‘But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.’ Romans 14:18-19 says, ‘ For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.’ We were in the gulf for 10 years. We didn’t have the liberty to preach the Gospel. One day, my non-Christian neighbor remarked to me that there seemed to be a difference about me. She said that I seemed like a woman of God because she had been observing the love and affection with which I bid my family good bye every morning at the door. We are constantly influencing people around us, in our schools, colleges, offices and neighborhoods. Let us examine the kind of influence that we are spreading.
- BE NICE
MCC has many volunteers who spend time with its blind students. It makes a big difference when someone steps out of the rat race and lavishes their time and company with another. The world is full of people who are craving a nice compliment or a gentle word. A few days ago, we were ministering to some young children from unfortunate backgrounds. We noticed one of the boys who had a perpetual scowl and angry posture. He’d beat up other boys over small things. He had even been kicked out of school because of his troublesome ways. We enquired about him and realized that he was an orphan who used to live on the streets. The trainer of the session had picked him up from the streets and was now trying to give him a second chance in life. But deep within him was a hurting little boy. We need to be sensitive to people around us and make an effort to be nice to them. It matters to God.
RAISING THE BAR
2 Peter 1:8 says, ‘For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’. We need to constantly keep pushing the limits of our efforts to please God. When we do that we will become more productive and effective. If we have a short time with God daily, let’s increase the duration some more. Maybe we can tell more people about the outreach programs in church.
Let me give you an example of pushing the limits. There’s a raffle draw called Mashriq Millionaire in the gulf. The idea was to buy Mashriq certificates of 1000 dirhams in the hope of winning a lottery amount of 1 million dollars. Interestingly, almost everybody who won it would say that they’d use 25% of their winnings to buy more Mashriq certificates. They were hoping for more.
We have so many talents and gifts. Let us follow God and think of what we can do for Him with them. He will open doors for us. Let us not become like that man from Jesus’ parable who hid his one talent. Let us be good stewards of our blessings and gifting and use them more for God. Many years back, I saw some of my good believing friends whose marriages were crumbling. They slowly started chasing money and other worldly attractions. Frantically I asked God if I too would stumble like them. God taught me that I needed to raise my bar and set a higher goal post so that my mind wouldn’t get entangled with things around me.
Let’s ask God to envision us with more things to do for His Kingdom.