Reflection

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Ephesians 5.17 says, ‘Do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.’

If you are a Christian, you probably want to know God’s will.  And if you are like me, that is not something you have always found easy.

Isn’t it surprising that in this verse, understanding God’s will is a command?  So, there must be something we can do on our end to better discern God’s leading and direction.

The Greek word for ‘foolish’ is ‘aphron’ and the meaning is interesting.  It means without reason, senseless, acting rashly, without reflection.  Conversely, the Greek word for ‘understand’ is ‘syniemi’ which means to consider and join together in the mind.

Paul is teaching us that the careful life is a reflective life.

We cannot live carefully and rashly at the same time.  Following God is a thoughtful process.  It takes prayer, listening, more prayer and often waiting as well.

Have you ever sensed God speaking to you about something and everywhere you look you see that same message?  You hear a sermon on Sunday and then something similar pops up in your daily Bible reading and then a friend mentions a verse, etc.  Like a jigsaw, God’s leading can be discovered piece by piece.

But if we aren’t reflective, we can miss these precious fragments of God’s providence in our lives.

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In the parable of the sower, Jesus explains the meaning of the seed that falls on rocky soil and is gobbled up by birds.

When  anyone hears the message about the Kingdom and does not understand it the evil one comes and snatches way what was sown in his heart.’ (Matthew 13.19)

Will it surprise you to know that ‘understand‘ is the same Greek word we see in the Ephesians passage?

No sermon or Bible study or personal prophetic word will bear fruit in my life unless I understand it.  Unless I take time to consider it, wrestle with it, submit to it and apply it, it is absolutely useless.

If every week I forget the sermon before I eat my lunch it has no value in my life whatsoever.  We have to chew on things to get the goodness from them.  

Ken Gire says, ‘The reflective life is a life that is attentive, receptive and responsive to what God is doing in us and around us.

Being attentive, receptive and responsive to God’s truth will always position me to know His will and to live a beautifully fruitful life as I follow Him.

 

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Redeemed restlessness

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I love Ecclesiastes 3.11.   In the middle of Solomon’s downbeat sermon is this verse of scripture.

‘He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.’

We can’t know or understand all of God’s purposes.  His ways are high above ours.   There are parts of our stories that have left us bemused at best and there are many experiences that will not make sense to us in this life.

But there are some things we do understand because He has put eternity in our hearts.  We know there is more than just this life and that heaven is infinitely more real than the desk I am sitting at or the computer keyboard I type on.

We know, but we forget.

We forget that this life, however wonderful it is, cannot satisfy.  We forget and then we wonder why we feel restless.  We wonder why in the wake of the most perfect occasions or celebrations we can feel flat and empty again and why our happiest experiences are often tinged bittersweet.

C S Lewis says it like this, ‘If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.’

Restlessness is a gift.  It reminds us of who we are.

Ephesians 5.8 tells us we are children of light.  In the Amplified Bible is says we are to lead the lives of those native-born to light.’

This is our identity.  As new creations, we are from light and of light and light is where we belong.  

Philippians 2.15 says that when we live like Jesus calls us to, we shine like stars.

Stars are not of this world.  We see them, we admire their beauty and they feel close but they are from somewhere else, somewhere very far away.

And so it is for us.  We are here, shining as lights, living our lives, following Jesus on earth.  But our light is from somewhere heavenly, somewhere eternal.  We are not of this world and so it will never quite feel like home.

Never forget who you are.  Live this life well but live it as a visitor.  You were created for so much more than this so be restless, be discontent with everything this world offers.  Only Jesus, His life and His purposes, will satisfy.

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Solomon’s Kairos

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In the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon is having a grey Monday of his own.

As he writes, we can hear his frustration at the brevity of life and the short-lived nature of human achievement.  Poor Solomon.  He had tried it all, owned it all and accomplished it all and it hadn’t really satisfied.  Like a grumpy teenager, he says he hated life and hated all the hard work he had done (Ecclesiastes 2.17,18).  You can just hear him slamming his bedroom door in a huff.

And then in chapter 3, his mood lifts a little.

In verses 1 and also verse 17, Solomon writes that there is a time, season or appointed time for every activity and every purpose on earth.  When you look at the meaning of those words/phrases in a Hebrew Lexicon, they sound very familiar.  They sound like Kairos.  They are God-given, God-appointed moments.

And in verse 11, Solomon connects God’s timing, His heavenly opportunities with purpose.

‘He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds, a divinely implanted sense of purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy.’  Ecclesiastes 3.11a Amplified Bible.

I love the Bible.  I love how truths weave themselves through the Old and New Testaments, as unchanging as the God who breathed them.

Solomon had discovered that the only way to find satisfaction and contentment in life is to live for God’s purposes.  

And we can do that every day, right smack in the middle of ordinary life, by seeing and responding to Holy Spirit-breathed opportunities.

Ephesians 5 and Ecclesiastes 3 show us the wise, fulfilling way to live.  They give us the antidote for restlessness and dissatisfaction in these dark times.  Just do your job, whatever it is.  Serve your family and church.  Enjoy your friends and good food and sunsets and music but make it all about God.  Turn all enjoyment into worship.  Give Him your everyday, ordinary earthly existence and ask Him to make it count for His purposes on earth.  In the  middle of your waking up and your washing up, expect God to show up.

Look for every heavenly moment that comes along and grab it.  Love people and share Jesus.  Forgive and forget.  Take risks for the Kingdom.  Believe His promises.  Pray without ceasing.  Love God with everything you are.

There is beauty in everything God is doing in your life today.  Ask Him for the eyes to see it.  There is purpose hidden in the ordinary.   Ask Him for the faith to believe that.  And there are eternal opportunities from His hand.  Ask God for the supernatural wisdom to redeem every single one.

 

 

 

When Kairos is grey

 

rainy day windowMonday has arrived in a grey mist.  My bed invites me to stay a little longer and ignore my to-do list.  The thought of some coffee tempts me downstairs but only just long enough to fill my mug.  I sneak back to bed, hoping the caffeine will produce enthusiasm.

Some days the hardest thing to do is what you have to do.

Mundane isn’t much fun.  Treats and dates and vacations are much easier to like.  Special days make you jump out of bed and dance through your chores.

But nothing today feels very special.  There is no music or sparkle or dessert.  It is an ordinary day with ordinary tasks to complete.  For me, there are piles of washing waiting and the grey socks along with the grey skies make my heart feel a little grey.

My restless soul has some ideas to improve the situation.  Perhaps violating my diet with something sweet and sticky would cheer me up.  Or I could shop till I drop, pick up a trinket that would make me smile.

But I remind myself that even today there are heavenly opportunities, Kairos moments from God.

Galatians 6.9 says, ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’

Faithfulness is like gardening.

I’m not a great gardener because I’m impatient.  Good gardeners understand that beautiful summer flower beds start much earlier in the year.   There is preparation and planting and pruning, often on cold rainy days when summer feels very far away.

It is the same in my life.  Every time I do good, no matter how boring or mundane the task is, I am planting something and the Bible promises there will be a harvest.  

If I really believe that, it redeems my Monday and gives it eternal value.

God is in the business of taking what we have, blessing it and multiplying it.  Whether it is loaves and fishes, bottles of oil or boring to-do lists.  Nothing is too insignificant.  Anything offered to God in faith becomes useful in His hands.  

So there are Kairos opportunities on a grey Monday.  I have the chance to plant good things in my life and all I need is a Kingdom-of-God outlook.  I have to believe that doing good always matters.

Like seeds placed in the soil when the days are still soggy and cool, this kind of planting is an act of faith.  I am agreeing with God that even mundane steps of obedience are eternally significant and that every act of service has value.  I am offering God what I have today, believing that grey April Mondays eventually become summer afternoons and that empty pots eventually become full.

Whatever is hard today, keep going.  Don’t get tired of planting good seeds.  Keep loving the difficult person in your life.  Keep praying for the answer you haven’t received yet.  Keep serving, even when no one notices or appreciates it.   Keep believing God.  Do what needs to be done, however boring or grey that is, and trust God for the supernatural, bountiful harvest that will come.

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Kairos

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The word in Ephesians 5.16 that is translated as ‘time’ or ‘opportunity’ depending on the translation used, comes from the Greek word ‘kairos‘.

Kairos is one of my favourite Bible words.  It is a beautiful word and we don’t really have a good equivalent in English.

There are, in fact, two words used for ‘time’ in the New Testament, chronos and Kairos.  Chronos is the word from which we get our word, chronological.  It means sequential time – seconds that turn in to minutes that turn into hours.  Each of us is given the same amount of chronos each day, 24 hours.

Kairos describes a very different kind of time.  It is a specific time when conditions are right for a certain action.  It is a moment when something special can happen. It is a special opportunity that we don’t want to miss.

All time is precious and it is good to be careful with chronos.  None of us wants to waste any of the hours we have in a day, but it is far more important not to waste Kairos time.

Have you ever thought about the fact that some moments have more value than others?That is why it isn’t enough to just be efficient with my time, I need to be discerning with it.  Living carefully means seeing the potential in a Kairos moment and making the most of it.

Life is very busy.  We all have demands on our time and just working for a living, raising a family, studying a subject or progressing in a career takes up many hours in a day.  Wash has to be done, meals have to be cooked, kids need taxi rides and papers need to be written.  Sometimes the time we are left with doesn’t feel like much.

But Ephesians 5.16 really is the most wonderful promise.  If we can spot God-opportunities and make the most of them, we can redeem our time.  We can buy it back from insignificance and spend it on what really matters.

But how can we recognize Kairos time?  What does it look and feel like?

It feels like a God-interruption.  It feels like heaven’s extraordinary life touching my ordinary one.  Kairos is the eternal bumping into the temporal.

It is the day when a teenager opens up about something they are struggling with as you drive in the car together.  It is when your neighbour asks a question about church as you bring your groceries in.  It is the day you feel an injection of faith to pray for a situation and you just know God is going to answer.  It is that Sunday service when God touches you and you are changed, really changed.

These are times of reaping and multiplication and supernatural provision.  They are moments infused with spiritual potential.  But they are often brief windows of opportunity.  We must seize them before they slip by, unused and wasted.

Let’s ask God for the grace to sense His wonderful, heavenly interruptions and to respond to them with open and obedient hearts.

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