God Time for July 25-29
(Spend 5 minutes before you read thinking about one or two things you appreciate in your life. These appreciation memories will enhance everything that follows)
Monday July 25
1 I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles . . . 2 assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending his grace to you Gentiles.
Paul is succeeding in spreading the Gospel because God is taking advantage of this time in world history. In the first century, the Roman authorities require people of all faiths to pay homage to Rome by offering sacrifice to the Emperor. This religious act is to show allegiance to Rome. Jewish people wouldn’t be able to do this because this would directly violate God’s ways. But for various reasons, Jews are given a special exemption and are not required to sacrifice to the Emperor.
Since the earliest Christians are still considered Jews by the Romans, they can travel and teach without trouble. Therefore the earliest Church blossoms. Then there is trouble.
The Christians are not accepted by the Jewish establishment. The Christians are persecuted by the Jewish authorities to the point that the Romans realize there is a split. If the Christians aren’t Jewish, then there will be no exemption from Emperor worship. The Christian faith is outlawed and leaders, like Paul, are imprisoned. Yet, Paul doesn’t get thrown into prison right away. Because, he is also a Roman citizen, he has rights others do not have. And even in prison he is able to write letters and receive news, unlike other prisoners who aren’t citizens of Rome. This isn’t his first time writing.
What is an advantage you have in how God has wired you or the circumstances you find yourself in that make it more likely for you to be a good influence on others?
Tuesday July 26
3 As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. 4 As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. 5 God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets.
Life isn’t easy. Rich, poor, married, single, young, old, no matter what race or religion- everyone has a tough life. We are broken people living with broken people. This was true in our past and it is true now. So, are things going to get any better? You don’t have to ask that question when you are a follower of Jesus and when you act like your best true self. When you find yourself doing what God wants done things will fall into place. Then life always gets better.
If you want to make a change in your life, it doesn’t really matter where you live or what you do, you will be bringing the same circumstances along with you. Your perception is a powerful influence on what is right or wrong in your world. If you want a change, if you want your life to be richer, then it starts with being open to being transformed by God to start seeing things through his eyes.
No matter where you live or what you do, people will still be broken, you will still be broken, but you will begin to see beyond the brokenness. Like Jesus, you will be able to act like your best, true self, no matter what is happening around you.
What is one thing in your current way of thinking that is getting in the way of your joy?
Wednesday July 27
6 And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children.
God lets Paul in on this secret. God has been planning all along for all people in the world to have the opportunity to be one with him. As mentioned, there are hints of this in the Old Testament, pointing to God’s plan to bless all people, but the Jewish people still think of themselves as those who are to remain holy, follow God’s law, and remain separated from the Gentiles as much as they can.
But, God has now revealed that the separation isn’t even in his plans. The Gentiles might not realize it, but they are also to inherit the things of God because he intended to be their God all along.
Imagine what it would be like for you if your next door neighbor inherited a huge sum of money and then you find out you are related, and you receive the same inheritance.
That’s what it is like for the Gentile Christians. Their eyes have been opened to the wonders of God that have been passed down through the Jewish people. Now they realize, they get the same inheritance.
Where is one place in the Old Testament that anticipates God’s blessings being for all people?
Thursday July 28
Both are part are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.
Here is the key to life. Paul goes back to using the “body” language of being a Christian. The Gentiles are not second class citizens, but are equally part of the body of Christ, along with the Jewish Christians. What does that mean for us?
We are all invited to grow up. When we think of the body of Christ, see this as Jesus inviting us to grow up. You see, to have his body is to have his mind, too.
Do you know what is wrong with most families today? Why most businesses don’t thrive in the long run? Why governments don’t work? Why schools don’t seem to reach students? Why Churches seem weak? Wherever you want to place the blame with what ails us today, my hunch is you will miss what is the most obvious challenge face now, and we have always faced. Overwhelmingly, it’s all about the same thing. We need to grow up.
Especially those who lead. We need to quit operating at an infant or child maturity level. Nothing is going to change until we grow up.
Most leaders of families, businesses, schools, churches, and governments are weak and ineffective in the long run. Why is that? Because leaders are operating at an infant or child maturity level.
Infant maturity is this.
My job is to let you know I am upset.
Your job is to figure out why and fix it.
In infant maturity I am an expert at upset.
When infants gain the power of the family, the baby has taken over and you will move from one crisis to another, because everything is a crisis.
Child maturity is this.
My job is to tell you what I want.
Your job is to do it.
I will use fear, anger, and shame to get you to do what I want.
When child maturity people gain power they will manipulate others to do their bidding one way or another and in the long run they will fail.
More than anything else, what is wrong with families, businesses, schools, government, and churches today is those who have influence are overwhelmingly operating at an infant or child level. Oh, and it’s not just today. There is no Golden Age when it comes to maturity level.
This is what was wrong with our parent’s and our grandparent’s generations, and the generations before them. They did the very same things. They allowed infant and children maturity level leaders to gain power. Whatever we are experiencing today in our families, schools, churches and society is the legacy of the generations who have gone before us. So, how are things going? Well, thank those who have gone before.
It is only by growing beyond infant and child maturity that the Gospel can start taking hold. And the Gospel is the only chance we have to live a healthy life ourselves or have a healthy world. Jesus is calling us to take the lead. If we Christians will grow in Christ where his maturity becomes more of our own, the world will start transforming. Our maturing beyond infant and children maturity will be a powerful influence in the world we live in.
Do an honest self inventory. Do you see any infant or child maturity in you?
Friday July 29
7 By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.
The good news of Jesus is not simply when we die we get to go to heaven. That is only a small part of the good news. The good news of Jesus is we are now his body and we are invited to grow up and have his mind. By the power of the Holy Spirit we can grow up. God gives us his special love and his special power to be able to move beyond infant and child maturity. The good news is our world can be expanded by bringing the ways of heaven here.
If you are open and honest enough to actually want Jesus in your life, you will start noticing when you are an infant or child in your maturity level. You will certainly notice it in others. Paul brings this to our attention and calls this the good news in other writings, as well. Like Colossians 1.
Jesus is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
Are you being an infant in your maturity level?
Is it up to other people to try to figure out why you are upset and is it their responsibility to try to fix this?
Are you an expert at getting upset?
Stop it. You are not being a good person.
Are you being a child in your maturity level? Is what you want the most important thing? Do you try to scare people into your way of thinking? Do you use threat or are you over-assertive and aggressive to get people to do what you want them to do? Do you or try to shame others into getting what you want done?
Grow up. The health of your relationships and the health of your world depend on it.
This is God’s call for all of us. Grow up. Be beacons of light and hope so that we can become an influence for the mind of Jesus to inform the ways of our world. Your life will go much better when you are following Jesus and growing towards his maturity level.
What is one thing I can stop doing today in the way I deal with other people that will be a sign of growth? Try it.