Monthly Archives: February 2015

THE PROBLEM WITH COMPLAINING

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stop-complaining

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
— Philippians 2:14-15
A man who decided to join a monastery and become a monk had to take vow of silence. But at the end of each year, he was allowed to appear before the abbot and say two words. After being silent for an entire year, he finally was allowed to speak.

So he said, “Bed’s hard.”

Another year went by, and he appeared before the abbot again.

“What would you like to say?” the abbot asked him.

“Food’s cold,” the man answered.

Another year went by, and the man again appeared before the abbot. As before, the abbot asked him, “What do you want to say?”

“I quit,” he told him.

“It is no wonder!” the abbot replied. “All you have done is complain since you got here!”

The Bible tells us, “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people” (Philippians 2:14–15).

Complaining and bickering hinder us in following Jesus. There are times when we have to confront one another, and it is never pleasant. But if you enjoy confrontation, then something is wrong. Some people just want to fight. They are always upset with someone or something. The problem with people like this is they can’t keep it to themselves. They are always stirring up others. That is not the way to live as a Christian.

The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” We can choose to believe the best of others. Of course, we can’t see another person’s heart. But what a difference it would make if we started blessing others instead of blasting them.

-Greg Laurie

WORK IT OUT

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work it out

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
— Philippians 2:12
During the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, people came to California from all around the world because they had heard there was “gold in them thar hills.” Apparently some people imagined they would arrive and find chunks of gold just lying around in the streets. Well, there was a lot of gold in California back then, but people quickly discovered that the gold wasn’t as plentiful as they’d hoped. Yes, a lot of gold was in the mines, but it was necessary to work hard and stay with it in order to find that mother lode.

This is the idea the apostle Paul was conveying to the saints in Philippi when he wrote, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). We need to work out what God has worked in. We need to discover what God has done for us.

However, we don’t work for our salvation; we work it out. Salvation is a gift from God. We are told in Ephesians 2:8–9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” So we don’t work for it; we work it out.

Remember, Paul was directing this statement to believers. The idea of working out one’s salvation is referring to living out one’s faith—carrying it out correctly. In fact, the term work out carries the meaning of working to full completion. So we need to carry it to the goal.

As believers, the work of God is in our hearts, but we need to live it out. Like the gold seekers in California’s early days, we need to mine it. That means carrying to the goal and fully completing our own salvation with fear and trembling.

-Greg Laurie

WHEN YOU’RE TOO BUSY TO CONNECT WITH GOD

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BUSY

Busy. It’s a word many of us use most of the time—we’re too busy, so busy, very busy, or just plain busy. We’ve got work to do, children to raise, meetings to get to, appointments to keep, friends to connect with, spouses to love.

So how to we stay connected to God even when our lives swirl around us at a rapid pace? How do we keep Him central in our hearts and minds while we live our very busy lives? Here are a few ideas for staying close to Jesus even when life gets crazy:

Start with Scripture.
My goal is to read the Bible every day—early in the day—so that everything else I do is seen through the Biblical lens of reality. Reading the Bible is one thing that keeps me grounded in truth and connected to God. I have found, for me, that when I start my day in the Bible, my heart and mind are better prepared to respond to God’s presence throughout the rest of the day—and I usually find that I am kinder in my responses to other people and more gracious with myself.

And yet, even though I know how important it is for me to read the Word in order to stay close to God, it is surprising to me that something so simple can be so difficult to do on a consistent basis. So get creative if you need to. Do you commute to work? If you’re driving, listen to the Bible on audio. If you’re sitting on a train or on a subway, read the Bible on your phone or carry a pocket version of the Bible with you.

Listen to Truth.
There are a lot of voices swirling around us every day—voices that tell us we aren’t good enough, that we have to find love for ourselves, and that we need to be more attractive and make more money. If I listen to those voices too long, I get sucked into those lies. So I seek to fill my head with music and words that keep me focused on God throughout the day.

If you’re reading this, there’s a high chance that you have access to an incredible amount of Christ-centered media options. Podcasts that point me back to Jesus in the midst of a crazy world, music that focuses my attention on Him and sermons that keep my mind grounded in truth—these are the types of things I try to fill gaps of free time with. They help me remember that in Christ, I am loved and that I have all that I need—things I constantly need to hear.

Pray Throughout the Day.
It is important to have regular time set aside to pray, but as in any relationship, ongoing communication is important. I often pray in shorter bursts while I’m driving, or while I’m walking across campus to my classroom, or while I’m picking up toys in the house.

I had a professor in college who prayed for a particular person each time he turned on a light switch, and I love that idea of partnering normal, daily actions with intentional prayer. It keeps our hearts in conversation with God and invites Him into the normalness of our lives—which is right where He already is.

Pause When You Feel Overwhelmed.
In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul writes “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

But it’s difficult for me to receive God’s peace if I’m so busy that I don’t make time to stop, even briefly, and ask for His help. And so this whole idea of pausing is an important one for me. There are often multiple times each day where I can start to feel overwhelmed, anxious or concerned—usually about things that are outside of my control. If I actually take time to pause and turn to God when these moments come, rather than letting fear or anxiety overtake me, I find that He is always offering me his peace, which is bigger than any fear.

I also have a couple of friends who I text if I’m feeling overwhelmed—I ask for their prayer and sometimes for their advice. What I’ve learned is that the time it takes me to pause and pray and ask for help is always shorter than the time it takes me to be worried about something for another five minutes—or five days!

Invest in Relationships That Help You Love Jesus.
In order to live any life—let alone a busy life—that still has God at the center, I need people who are close to me to help me stay focused on Him. That doesn’t mean that all of our friends need to be Christians—far from it. It does mean, however, that we should aim to have a few deep friendships that flow out of a common love for Christ.

These are the friends in my life who challenge me when I’m living in a way that doesn’t line up with what I say I believe. These are the friends who offer to pray with and for me when life feels out of control. And these are the friends who bring me food when my kid is sick and bring me coffee when I’m too tired to make it for myself.

These are the friends who show me how Jesus loves me even when I don’t feel lovable—and they point me back to who God is and the truth that living with Him at the center is worth everything.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/practical-faith/when-youre-too-busy-connect-god#asakfh4sqzoERqlg.99