Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Connect Group 22 – Be careful with what is inside!

Text: James 3.10-12.

 

Icebreaker: “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12.34). What do you think about this phrase? Do you find yourself saying things that you don’t want to say? Do you have times where your heart and your head disagree and what is inside of you spills out in what you say?

 

In his book, “After you believe”, the author, N. T. Wright, tells the story of a man who wanted to make a point to his friend who had a short temper. So, when they were helping to serve people at a party, he gave his friend a tray of drinks glasses. Every glass on the tray was full to the brim. When they were serving the guests, he bumped into his friend on purpose, spilling the contents of the glasses all over the tray. When his friend looked at him, he explained that we only spill out what we are full of[1]. There are three central truths that we need to observe in this area:

 

1)   You will spill out what you are full of.

I know that we tend to make excuses; at least I know I do. But the reality is that we can’t help but spill what is inside of us. The situation that we are in may increase the strength of the spillage or make it more explosive, but if those thoughts and attitudes and feelings weren’t there in the first place, they would not be able to come out.

The problem is that people spend more time trying to control what comes out than they do being concerned with what is inside their hearts and minds.

 

It is not my intention to make anyone feel bad, but we need to recognise what is inside of us. We wouldn’t leave a rotten potato in a bag containing good potatoes, would we? That is because if we don’t recognise and remove it, the rot will spread to the other potatoes and the whole lot will be lost. (That can also be applied to picanhaSmiling face with no fill).

 

We need to stop making excuses. It is time to face it and to ask God to help us to change. How many marriages, friendships, families, career, jobs, ministries end because of the rotten or poisoned words that people speak? Sometimes people will regret it for the rest of their lives and once the words are out of our mouths we cannot go back and the impact of our words will last. The only way to prevent such things is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit who fills us with His fruits – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control.” (Galatians 5: 22-23) Letting the Spirit into our lives so that we can be this way,  starts with us choosing what we feed on.

 

2)   Be careful what you fill yourself with.

The recognition that we are full of the wrong things is the first step, but if we don’t stop filling up with new wrong stuff, then we will continue to spill the wrong things into our lives and the lives of the people around us.

 

We need to stop the cycle! It is hard to have a healthy life if we only eat fast-food, fish and chips and fat meat. In the same way, it is impossible to have good things coming out of our mouth when we feed our souls with ‘bad’ stuff all the time. I am not asking anyone to stop watching TV or listening to music, in the same way, that no one asks someone with a bad diet to stop eating altogether. But let’s make healthy choices with our lives.

 

It is tough to listen to God when we spend 10-hours watching trash TV programs + 4 hours of music that doesn’t have anything useful to say! So, let’s read and listen to what is good, and to things that will nourish our souls. It can seem overwhelming to make the change, but we can do it step by step, so that it becomes a habit in our life rather than something that we start and just give up on because we have made it too difficult by trying to change everything at once. Small changes can, over time, have big results and that’s a really encouraging reason to get started.

 

3)   Remember that your words are seeds

I remember that when I was growing up in Brazil I would often hear the phrase “words are powerful”. Even in a context that was not religious, that phrase kept me thinking. The truth is that every word that we say is a seed, and every seed will try to produce fruit. People forget this principle when they are complaining about their lives, shouting at someone or just making a comment to pass the time. We, and others, believe our words, and if they are negative then they take root and grow and do damage.

 

Remember that we will have to be accountable for everything we say (Matthew 12.36), and that is because your words call things into existence.

 

Our words can bless or curse, encourage or discourage, build up or tear down, bring people together or scatter them, offer life or only death. We have the opportunity to speak the life that comes from Jesus, into the people around us and when we do that, what grows from those seeds is love, hope, peace and joy. Isn’t that what everyone needs - someone to speak those things to them? We can be someone who spills those things into other people’s lives, our words can bring the life of Jesus right to their hearts.

 

Conclusion: It is time to think and reflect on our lives. God is inviting us to recognise what is inside of us and to ask Him to help us to have a different attitude from now on in whatever areas we have a problem. Let’s be blessed, and let’s bless.



[1] N. T. Wright, after you believe: Why Christians character Matters (New York: Harper One, 2010)

Connect Group 21 – Be careful with what is inside!

Text: James 3.10-12.

 

Ice break: “for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12.34). What do you think about this phrase? Do you find yourself saying things that you didn’t want to do?

 

N. T. Wright writes in his book “After you believe” a story of a man that wants to make a point to his friend that was short temper. So, when they were helping to serve people in a party, he gave a tray with glasses full of drinks. Every glass was full to the brim.

When they were serving the guests, he did bump into his friend on purpose spilling the liquid on the tray. When his friend looked at him, he could explain that we only spill out what we are full off[1].

There are three central truths that we need to observe in this area:

 

1)   You will spill out what you are full off.

I know that we tend to make excuses; at least I know I do. But the reality is that we will spill what is there. The situation may increase the strength or make it more explosive, but if it weren’t there in the first place would never come out.

The problem is that people spend more time trying to control what comes out than concerned with what is inside.

 

It is not my intention to make anyone feel bad, but we need to recognise what is inside of us. We wouldn’t leave a rotten potato in a bag with good potatoes, would we? That is because if we don’t recognise and remove it, that will spread to the other potatoes and the whole lot will be lost. (that can also be applied to picanhaSmiling face with no fill).

 

We need to stop making excuses. It is time to face it and ask God to help us to change. How many marriages, friendships, families, career, jobs, ministries end because of rotten words and poisoned words that people speak. Sometimes people will regret it for the rest of their lives.

 

2)   Be careful with what you put inside.

The recognition is the first step, but if we don’t stop new wrong stuff inside of us, we will continue to spill the wrong things.

 

We need to stop the cycle! It is hard to have a healthy life if we only eat fast-food, fish and chips and fat meat. In the same way, it is impossible to have good things coming out of our mouth when we feed our souls with ‘bad’ stuff all the time. I am not asking anyone to stop watching TV or listening to music, in the same way, that no one asks someone with a bad diet to stop eating altogether. But let’s make healthy choices with our lives.

 

It is tough to listen to God when we spend 10-hour watching trash TV programs + 4 hours of music that doesn’t have anything useful on it! So, let’s read and listen to what is good, to what will nourish our souls.

 

3)   Remember that your words are seeds

I remember growing up in Brazil hearing the phrase “words are powerful”. Even in a context that was not religious, that phrase kept me thinking.

The truth is that every word that we say is a seed, and every seed will try to produce fruit. People forget this principle when they are complaining about their lives, shouting at someone or just making a comment about passing the time.

 

Remember that we will have to be accountable for everything we say (Matthew 12.36), and that because your words call things into existence.

 

Conclusion: It is time to think and reflect on our lives. God is inviting us to recognise what is inside of us and to ask Him to help us to have a different attitude from now on. Let’s be blessed, and let’s bless.



[1] N. T. Wright, after you believe: Why Christians character Matters (New York: Harper One, 2010)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Connect Group 20 – Keep the fire burning!

Text: Leviticus 6.8-13 

 

Icebreaker: What is the easier thing to do - to start a diet, or to keep going with it for a while? (This question can be applied to many other things in life as well)

 

I don’t know about you, but for me to start a diet or daily exercises is a lot easier than to keep it going for 2 or 3 months! In my life I never said, “That’s it! I will stop the exercise now and I will put some weight on and be out of shape”. But all that happened as a consequence of the act of stopping doing what I started to work towards as a goal. Unfortunately, the same thing happens with other areas of our lives.

 

Imagine for a second that you are Moses! God is giving you all the instructions about what should happen with the offerings in the tabernacle, but God keeps pausing and reaffirming as he gives the instructions that you should put wood on the fire all the time, because you need to never let the fire go out. You would take notice of that command, right?

 

Well, God is saying the same thing about our lives today, He is telling us not to allow the fire to go out. And if you want to keep the fire of God burning strongly inside of you, you must understand that:

 

1)    The fire won’t light up by itself

The first law of Newton in physics is that “an object at rest will stay at rest unless an unbalanced force acts upon it”. This is also true in our spiritual life; everything will stay the same as it is now unless we start to do something! We need a spark, like a match being struck and flaming into life. Sometimes we let the spiritual fire in us get so low, that there is nothing but ashes and hardly any sparks. But the good news is that it only takes one spark to start a fire; one worship song, one prayer, one Bible verse,  can produce a spark that can get something going, especially if we clean the fire-place of the ashes first, by going to God and repenting of everything that is stopping us from being passionate about Him. 

So, we are responsible for starting the fire; for going to God and recognizing that our fire is going out. But… RECOGNITION is only the first step.

 

 2) You must keep the fire burning by putting fresh wood on it every day!

God gave an order to Moses, every morning, if you want to keep the fire burning, you must put fresh wood on it! To keep the fire (passion) for God, and the presence of God moving us forward, we need to give our spiritual fire something that will keep it burning! The wood is our prayers, our reading, our worship, our time with Him and around Him. The Bible says, not just to put ‘wood’ on but to put ‘fresh wood’ on the fire. Stuff that isn’t fresh in our lives tends to come with religiosity – these things are about compulsion and repetition not about hope, joy or discovery – it’s so important that we put fresh things in front of the Lord! Don’t offer the old, offer everything!

 

3) Fire from yesterday was good for yesterday; today you need fresh wood!

A mistake that the people of God often make is to think that the fire from yesterday will keep burning today! That is impossible if the fire isn’t built up with fresh wood. Just because you ate yesterday it doesn’t mean that you can do without eating today! Just because you took a shower yesterday, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to take one today!

Your time, experience, gifts, works and everything that you did yesterday was good for yesterday, today is a new day with Him, and today has new opportunities to allow God to glorify Himself through you!

It’s good to remember what God has done in our lives in the past, but if we are not careful everything that we say about our relationship with God is in the past tense – and we realise that we have gone cold – our passion is missing, and our relationship with Him is not on fire any more. Today is a time to put fresh wood on the fire of our relationship with God, to start again if necessary, but to make sure that we don’t allow His fire to go out in our life.

 

Conclusion:

I don’t know how your life is today, if the fire of the Holy Spirit is going out, or if there have been cold ashes in your heart for a while already! The only thing that I know is that if God helped you to realise this today, it is because He wants to change that situation and put a new fire inside of you! Today is time to be in love (relationship) with God again! Is a new time in our lives, do you want that? Let’s pray

 

 

Connect Group 26 – Don’t lose joy when tribulation arrives

 Text: John 16.4-24 (You can read it or read a couple of verses and share the story)            John 15.11 Icebreaker: Is it possible to h...