Cycles

December 30, 2018

Summary

As I was preparing for today, I started to think of how important the last sermon of the year is for me. See where I come from, for most Christians, the 31stof December is a day you go to church and leave having entered the New Year. It is a time of joy, celebration of God’s blessings throughout the year, even if we haven’t always seen the bigger picture. It is also a night of introspect, a time to think and pray about the year ahead. The sermon is what I look forward to. It tends to be a mark in my plans for the year. No, I’m not going to talk about making resolutions.

But then I thought, if I am the one to share this year, then I don’t get the chance to sit in the pew and listen to whoever is sharing God’s word. Because it’s me standing here!

And then I read the first lesson for today. And thought to myself, this is it. This is a full sermon, what else does one say after this?

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” And it goes on.

Do these verses sound familiar? How many times have we heard them? Can we even remember? I surely cannot. But I know, whether from this passage or in other books or letters in the Bible, I have read or heard these words, and have felt it within my spirit to put them into practice. Have I succeeded? Not always. Daily I find myself dealing with my weaknesses and at times, feeling a sense of regression.

As I read the passage in Colossians, I asked myself, why is it so difficult to put these words into practice, and, more importantly, to stick to them?

The last verse, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. This. This is it. This is what it all boils down to.

As I thought about this, I remembered a song that I came across this year that touched me and made me reflect, and I thought I’d share some of the lyrics.

“Didn’t I conquer this…last year

Tell me what I missed, ‘cause I fear

That it’s coming back up again

Must be something I ate….”

I found this line funny, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt struck by the deeper meaning. “must be something I ate”. How do you blame the fact that you have backslidden on something you ate?

But what do we feed ourselves?

I want to find a way of making this stick, and hopefully the next time we try to “eat”, it’ll pop up. I love fish, who doesn’t? Okay if you don’t … I don’t know. And I can say this out loud because we’re in Norway! But imagine how good that Salmon tastes, slightly baked with just the right amount of salt and a bit of herbs. Imagine enjoying your salmon. Except this time you’ve bought it from the “to-go” section, being environmentally conscious, but you don’t take good care of it when you take it home. No matter how good it tastes or looks, you feed yourself some tiny microbial creatures called bacteria. In the morning, your body can barely function. Why? Because of these tiny things that don’t even warn you, to say, “hey! Don’t eat this, I’m in here!”. Imagine the impact that eating something that tiny has on our bodies. Imagine how something that small can disturb your entire day or longer.

We say to ourselves, it was just a joke, a slip of the tongue, it’s not that bad, not that serious, it was only once, they’re just being kids, and one recent famous, “you only live once”. Slowly we fill ourselves, unknowingly with tiny bits of junk that we feel are too small to make us change of focus. Likewise, slowly we don’t realise how and when these little “harmless” things affect our entire being. Slowly, “whatever we do, in word or deed, is not always in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

And the song goes on to say

“See the devil, he learns from your mistakes

Even if you don’t.

And that’s how he keeps you in cycles”

So whilst we think that we have dealt with an addiction or weakness, but slowly let those little pieces of junk back into our lives, we find ourselves revolving around the same issues. And of course at times, because we’ve let in so much, we don’t even identify our weaknesses as weaknesses to be worked on, we don’t learn from our mistakes and continually find excuses for our actions. And we are kept in that cycle. And at the beginning of every year, or whenever else during the year, we commit to change, only to find ourselves back where we started.

How do we break these cycles?

It is only by the power of Jesus Christ, but we also have to work.

The Lord has called us to a life of obedience and devotion, to serve Him in spirit and in truth. And therefore, we should ask God to search our hearts, to try us and know our anxieties. To see whether we have done wrong, and to guide us on the road to eternal life.

And here’s the gist of it. In 1 Peter 5.8 Be sober-minded and watchful, for the enemy prowls around, seeking to devour our souls and keep us in those cycles so that we do not experience the fullness and grace of God.

Submit to the will of God and learn His ways. The never-ending task. Just as in the Holy Gospel for today. Jesus dwelt in the house of the Lord, and he increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour. We will be different because we choose to reject those tiny pieces of junk from finding their way into our hearts, and we were not purposed to be anything less than different. We are purposed to stand out, to be the light, not in our own right, but for the glory of God.

We have been

And so in this new year, may the peace of Christ control your hearts—a peace into which you were called. And let us be thankful people. The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.

Amen

Bible References

  • Colossians 3:12 - 17
  • Luke 2:41 - 52

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