I want to just share a few things about me that you may not have known.
Now, this is an extreme example of poor self-understanding and would probably be more accurately defined as delusional. Far more often we are just tempted to portray and even believe at times that we are more effective in areas of life than we really are. Or we just live lives filled with pretense and false fronts. We also choose not to listen to objective voices that could be very beneficial.
It is vitally important that we know ourselves accurately. This will help us in virtually all areas of life. We will operate from reality and therefore we will know truth. There are things that I am not very good at and I won’t bother creating a big list. Some things I would like to improve upon and others I couldn’t care less. At work, home and in the Church we are called to be who God made us to be – not more or less. Along with this is to challenge and encourage others to be who God truly made them to be.
We are so often tempted to want to be someone we are not and to listen to voices that are attempting to force us into a mold that is not God’s design for us. God’s Word clearly communicates to us who we are based on Creation, humanity’s fall into sin and the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I woke at 4:30 this past Monday morning to lightning, thunder and driving rain. I had heard the forecast so I was expecting a bit of rain at my parents’ cabin near Aitkin, MN. I was planning on spending a couple of days all alone to work on my Family Camp messages, removed from all the distractions that are so common in my “normal life setting.” Since the thunder and lightning kept me from falling back to sleep, I thought I might as well get after it so I started the coffee and fired up my computer. Off I go!
By six o’clock I was in a work-groove but couldn’t help noticing that the gutters couldn’t keep up with the rainfall. I made a piece of toast as the sky brightened enough to see that puddles were forming all around the cabin. No big deal; that is what happens when it rains hard. But by noon puddles were everywhere and the rain was falling as hard as ever. I checked the rain gauge that I had emptied the night before and it was reading just over four inches. Time for a sandwich.
At 4:00 PM the first section of dock was underwater and the boat cover needed for me to manually remove the water so that it wouldn’t tear. The lightning was still lighting the sky and the thunder boomed just as it had when it awakened me about a half-day ago. Now I was identifying that this was a unique storm and I better gather some information to help me process what needs to be done. So I did a few things:
So, in a nutshell my “discernment process” looked like this.
The rain continued but I actually just enjoyed this rare storm I was living through. The weather information the next day described it as a cell that just didn’t move. No one had predicted this to happen but it did and I am just fine. As I consider the things I did, I think they are actually quite similar to how spiritual discernment [which is our topic for Sunday’s message] should take place in our lives. Know what is true, then live out of that truth but continue checking back in with the one that knows far more than you – that would be God!
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1.9-11
What matters most to you?
I can rattle off an answer to that question pretty quickly but I am not sure that my actual life would always back up what I claim to be most important. I think most of us struggle to one degree or another with making the day to day decisions that place our time and resources in their proper priority slot.
Many things vie for my focus. Some are worthy such as my God, my family and my church. Some are not worthy and I have no problem avoiding such as Justin Bieber, raisins and the biggest trends in pet apparel. The problem is that not everything falls into that second list so easily. There are things like exercise and eating right that need to matter to me but at times I ignore. Then there are things like stuff, power, prestige and affirmation that can take on a life of its’ own if we let them.
Jesus knows our tendencies for messing up priorities so He asks us, “What would it profit you if you gained the whole world but lost your soul?” (Matthew 16:26) This question has an eternal aspect that brings us to the end of our days on earth but it also speaks to our lives right now. God wants us to enjoy our lives now and live them out in a way that matters until we reach home. Our God wants us to live the way that He created us to live.
God made us for significant lives that are filled with love, joy and peace. When our priorities are in line with God’s we will be able to find these things even when life isn’t easy. God can accomplish this! But when I pursue a different set of priorities I will find myself scrambling to keep things from spinning out of control. The interesting thing is that I can get caught up in all sorts of good priorities such as “church work”, projects at home and spending time with my family but if God Himself has taken a backseat even those good things can be like drinking dust to quench my thirst.
In Matthew 16:26 Jesus asks us a second question, “What can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Or in other words - What have you given your life to accomplish? What did you decide would be what you are all about? With Jesus questions guiding your thoughts – what are your priorities? Are you ok with the answer or is it the perfect time for God to recalibrate your souls and bring you back to the full life you were intended to live?
Pastor Nick Mundis