Today’s scripture: Colossians 1:26-29 (The Message) This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple. That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.
My thoughts (David Zier):
Paul is telling us in this passage that God’s mystery is simple: “Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It is simple.”
Paul, if it was simple, we would all be doing it well! Actually, Paul is saying the “message” is simple. He never says doing it or living it out will be simple. That is what the Rule of Life, or the Rhythm of Life, is supposed to help us do – to live out this mystery.
Jesus said the most important commandment of all is to love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength (Mark 12:29-30). I would say that doing this will help us to live out this mystery. That means putting God first in our lives. And here is that message again – establishing a Rule of Life that helps us to be “stayed” on God.
2 Peter 3:18 God tells us to “grow in grace.” The Message puts it this way; “Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet…”Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Sometimes we may feel that our own faith is weak. During those times, we can acknowledge our weakness and cling to the love and power of God. Allow your Rule of Life to include practices that will help us cling to God; help us grow.
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). How will we grow in our grounding in God? It is not just about immersing ourselves in God’s word and doing spiritual practices that draw each one of us closer to God. This is powerful and can change our lives. But we should also practice what it means to “live out God’s Mystery,” to live like we love God with all our lives, and to grow in God’s direction. Jesus showed us how to treat others, and to provide for those who are forgotten and in need. To love our neighbor. To show kindness. To forgive. What can I do with my Rule of Life to incorporate something to help me draw into that mystery of God?
List of Suggestions:
Prayer: Make time for daily prayer, within your schedule, preferably around the same time. We need this consistently, to be reminded of who Christ is, and who we are called to be. This grounds us and helps us “stay” on God. Be creative to find what works best for you.
Get to know thyself – more self awareness: Part of growing closer to Christ is becoming more and more aware of our struggles and weaknesses. To depend on Christ, on God, is an imitation of Jesus Christ who constantly looked to God. So we have to be reminded of our struggles so that we can face them and prepare for them..
Relevant to your life – your job, your roles, your gifts, and what God is calling you to be: The rule has to bring you back to who you are called to be. For a spouse, leave space for loving your spouse (and kids) better, every day. Leave space for your gifts, talents and the work you do. How can you use these better to stay on God and draw closer to God. For those still figuring out what they are called to do, there needs to be space in the rule for discernment and striving to grow.
Encouraging our growth and wholeness: Very often there are many things we would like to do, but never make time for, like exercising, building a relationship, getting an education, etc. Schedule it in and put it in the Rule.
Helping those in need : This is not just for the sake of the poor, but because we need this. Staying close to those in need and suffering means we will be rescued from our own selfishness and arrogance. Think about that? Isn’t that true? We all need this rescue. Put this in the Rule in some form. Without this reminder, we will intend to do it, and never actually do so. This is drawing us closer to Jesus.
Spiritual Friends and Support: We need others who give us hope that it is possible to follow Christ in this life, who challenge and encourage us. It is so easy to settle for less and to give in to the latest cultural whim. Find others who are actively trying to grow in Christ, open constant conversion, and stay close to them. Find your Oasis/Small Group.
These are just a few suggestions to keep in mind while making your Rule of Life. If it helps, make the rule with someone else to hold each other accountable. You can use each other as a sounding board. What matters more than anything else is that we are seeking Christ and striving to become all that God has called us to be.
Begin with some prayerful Self-Assessment – Where Am I? How Am I Doing?
Prayerfully consider the following questions and jot a few notes to yourself.
- How do I feel about my spiritual life right now and why do I feel that way?
- What’s going well?
- Where am I feeling most challenged or distressed?
- What do I want more of? What do I want less of?
- If I could hear my own eulogy, what would I want to hear? Am I on track?
- What do I sense God most wants for me right now?
With the foregoing thoughts in mind, begin to create your own Spiritual Action Plan for 2019.
My Spiritual Action Plan – My Intentional Spiritual Goals and Rhythm
Remember: Be realistic, especially if this is your first Spiritual Plan. You can build on it in years to come. Rome was not built in a day. View this as Phase 1. With each practice or goal you set, be sure to say how/when you will do it.
- What spiritual practices are most life-giving to me? What spiritual practices do I feel God calling me to stretch and grow into? (Examples: daily prayer and Bible meditation, participation in weekly group worship, finding a spiritual small group, listening to worship music as I drive to work, giving thanks for 5 simple things every day, making a service commitment, developing a breath prayer, tithing my income, etc. For more examples and think more deeply about this, take the Soul Care Survey found at http://lifejourney.church/soulcare or pick up a hard copy of the Survey at the Welcome Desk at church.)
- Given the foregoing, what will my spiritual rhythm be? In other words, what specific spiritual practices am I going to weave into the fabric of my life – when and how often?
- What additional life practices and goals do I feel called to commit to? These goals go beyond specific spiritual practices and address the growing edges in life God is calling us to tackle. Examples: Love rather than analyze God, replace anger with grace, work less hours, exercise, eat better, spend more time with loved ones, develop a new hobby or recreational outlet, embrace my job as service to God, be less materialistic, be less judgmental, forgive my greatest enemy, let go of self-interest, see Jesus in the faces of the people around me, make a career change, etc.
- Are the goals I’m setting responsive to my self-assessment above?
- Are the goals I’m setting realistically attainable this year? Am I stretching myself too far to fast? Am I stretching myself to little?
What Will Be My Form of Accountability
What steps will I take to remind myself and hold myself accountable for keeping my Spiritual Action Plan for 2019? Some possible options are:
- Promising myself to re-read my Plan weekly and prayerfully until it becomes second nature and habit.
- Sharing my Plan with a good spiritual friend and asking him/her to pray for me and to ask me, monthly or quarterly, whether I’m keeping my goals and rhythm. (This can be a verbal ask/response or an email ask/response.)
- Have occasional conversations in my Oasis Group or other spiritual small group to discuss and share our experiences with our Plans.
- Programming my Google calendar (or similar system) to prompt me with questions/reminders about my Rule of Life.
- Creating a Vision Board.
- Other creative ideas?
Note: Begin sketching out your Plan, but don’t finalize it yet. The sermons over the next few weeks will challenge us to think about specific areas of life that we often find challenging – things like relationships, finances, body care, mental blocks, etc. These sermons may help you identify areas for growth that you want to incorporate into your Spiritual Action Plan.
At the end of the New Year’s Sermon Series, we’ll have a chance to finalize our Plans, and those who wish will have an opportunity on a Sunday to participate in a prayer for God’s help in living into our Plans.
Thought/Question for the day: So where do you find yourself today? What do I need to include in my Rule of Life? Take some time with the questions. Pray with them. Here is a Link to the online Soul Care plan that may help gather your thoughts — soul care link.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.