‘This mystery… is Christ in you.’ Colossians 1:27 NIV
Paul writes, ‘Christ lives in me.’ (Galatians 2:20 NIV) No other religion makes such a claim. No other movement implies the living presence of its founder in his followers. No wonder Paul refers to it as ‘the mystery’. We comprehend the idea of Christ for me, or with me, or ahead of me. But Paul said it’s better than that—Christ in me!
In his writings Paul refers to this union with Christ 216 times. John mentions it 26 times. They describe a Christ who not only woos us to Himself, but actually ‘ones’ us with Himself. John writes, ‘Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.’ (1 John 4:15 ESV) Just as you own the home you live in, so the Christ who lives in you owns you. And when you own a home you rearrange it the way you want it. Likewise, Jesus moves in and commandeers your hands and feet, requisitions your mind and your tongue.
Do you sense things being rearranged in your life today? That’s ‘Christ in you’! And here’s what it means that He is in you: ‘God, in His foreknowledge… chose them long ago; when the time came He called them, He made them righteous in His sight, and then lifted them to the splendor of life as His own sons.’ (Romans 8:29 PHPS)
Ever hear the old saying, ‘Making a silk purse out of a pig’s ear’? That’s what Jesus does when He takes up residence in your heart. He has a plan for your life, and He also provides the power to fulfill it. And what’s your part? To surrender and cooperate fully with Him.
‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.’ Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV
When God said, ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you,’ you could call it ‘a spiritual heart transplant’. Tara Storch understands this miracle. In 2010 a skiing accident claimed the life of her thirteen-year-old daughter, Taylor. What followed for Tara and her husband, Todd, was every parent’s worst nightmare: a funeral, a burial, a flood of questions and tears.
They decided to donate their daughter’s organs to needy patients. And few people needed a heart more than Patricia Winters. Her heart had begun to fail five years earlier, leaving her too weak to do much more than sleep. Taylor’s heart gave Patricia a fresh start in life. Taylor’s mom had only one request: she wanted to hear her daughter’s heartbeat. She and Todd flew from Dallas to Phoenix and went to Patricia’s home, where the two mothers embraced for a long time. Then Patricia offered Tara and Todd a stethoscope.
The question is: when they listened to the healthy rhythm, whose heart did they hear? Did they not hear the still-beating heart of their daughter? It indwelt a different body, but the heart was still the heart of their child. And when God hears your heart, does He not hear the still-beating heart of His Son?
Paul said, ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.’ (Galatians 2:20 NKJV) The apostle sensed within himself not just the philosophy, ideals, and influence of Christ, but the person of Christ. Christ moved in—and He still does. ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ (Colossians 1:27 NKJV)
‘That… He might show… His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.’ Ephesians 2:7 NIV
The Bible says: ‘God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms… that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.’ (Ephesians 2:6–7 NIV) God sent Jesus from Heaven to earth, so that we can leave earth one day and go to Heaven. This is evidence of God’s kindness, even to those who aren’t yet believers.
Beyond that, enjoying the presence of Christ in Heaven will remind us of God’s great kindness for all eternity. God places so high a premium on kindness that He never wants us to forget it. So if you want to be ‘godly’ you must endeavor to be kind.
Sometimes Christians are so committed to the tenets of their faith that they come across sounding harsh, and end up turning people off. Be careful; you can have the right doctrine—and the wrong spirit! God’s grace attracts people, it doesn’t repel them.
In The Lion and the Mouse, Aesop said, ‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, ever is wasted.’ It costs to be unkind, but it pays to be kind. So take every opportunity today to be kind to others. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.’ The apostle Paul puts it like this: ‘Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.’ (Romans 12:10 NIV) Today remember that to be kind is to be godly.
‘Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.’ Romans 1:12 NCV
We’ve a tendency to adopt the attitudes of the people closest to us. That’s why Paul wrote, ‘Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.’ The truth is that doubters get what they expect—and so do believers!
Looking for God’s best in every situation isn’t just Scriptural; it helps you identify opportunities you’d otherwise miss. Seeing people through God’s eyes causes them to be attracted to you and open in how they react. Is that important? Absolutely! Why? Because often your attitude will touch them before your message does.
Management consultant Fred Smith points out that there are two kinds of people in any organization: polluters and purifiers. The polluters are like smokestacks, belching out dirty smoke all the time. They hate clear skies, and no matter how good it gets they find a way to make it gloomy. When the people around them breathe their toxins they feel sicker and sicker. Purifiers, on the other hand, make everything around them better. It doesn’t matter what kind of rotten atmosphere they encounter. They take in the toxic words of polluters just like everyone else does, but they filter them before passing them on. What goes in gloomy and negative comes out fresh and clear.
The question is: when you spend time with people, do they walk away feeling better or worse? Do you clear the air by giving them encouragement and fresh perspective, or do they leave feeling downcast and discouraged? Observe how people respond to you and you’ll know which group you belong to.
‘…you were redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ…’ 1 Peter 1:18–19 NIV
The story of redemption begins in Eden with God shedding the blood of a lamb to cover Adam’s and Eve’s sin, and ends in Heaven with a multi-national choir singing, ‘…You…have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every…nation.’ (Revelation 5:9 NKJV) The blood of Jesus Christ represents two things:
(1) The cost of your sin. Rolled on to Christ’s shoulders was the weight of your every misdeed from the cradle to the grave. Next time you’re tempted to violate God’s Word and do your own thing, bear that in mind!
(2) The cure for your sin. Your salvation wasn’t a joint effort. You didn’t contribute a cent because you were spiritually bankrupt. ‘…you were redeemed [bought out of slavery and set free]… with the precious blood of Christ… ’ (1 Peter 1:18–19 NIV)
The preaching of the blood will offend those with sins to hide, a moralistic ego to protect, or a gospel that offers salvation through good works and social evolution. The blood of Jesus not only saves the repentant but also condemns the defiant, for ‘…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.’ (Hebrews 9:22 NIV) Plagues and apocalyptic hail could not release God’s people from the iron grip of Pharaoh. What did? The blood. Nothing but the blood! And the blood has never lost its power. It can (a) heal your painful memories (b) cleanse and set you free from the sin you dare not speak of (c) put a canopy of protection over you, and (d) draw a line in the sand over which the enemy dare not step. Today, thank God for the blood!
‘Which yields its fruit in season.’ Psalm 1:3 NIV
Your life is lived in seasons, and to be fruitful you must recognize the season you’re in and maximize it. ‘How can I tell when a season is ending?’ you ask. Because the grace that accompanied that season will lift, and what was once rewarding will start to feel unrewarding.
The Bible says a successful man or woman is like a tree planted by streams of water ‘which yields its fruit in season’. You can only be fruitful in your season! That’s where blessing and success occur. You can’t just do it whenever you want to; it has to be in your appointed time. When the right season comes, it’s effortless for a tree to produce what’s stored within. And there’s fruit within you that will be produced when you understand what season you’re in.
But there are rules for each season; let’s look at them.
Spring—is for training and discipline. That’s when you begin to see God’s purpose for your life and prepare for it.
Summer—is for maturing what spring started. The seeds you sowed and nurtured then will grow and multiply now.
Autumn—is when you no longer have the passion of youth but the steady calm of the seasoned veteran. If you’re wise, you’re now working smarter instead of harder. It’s time to transition and prepare for the upcoming winter.
Winter—is when you assess your accomplishments, enjoy your rewards, pass on your counsel, and take your bows. You have fought the good fight, kept the faith, and finished the course (see 2 Timothy 4:7). If you do it right, each season can be the best season of your life!
‘For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.’ Hebrews 10:36 NKJV
Do these three things:
(1) Don’t be Mr or Mrs. Quick-Fix-It. Your kids need to learn to respond the right way to difficult conditions. That means dealing with frustrations, not being rescued from them. Overprotecting produces a sense of inadequacy and powerlessness in them. By quick-fixing everything, you’ll rear children who cannot handle life. They’ll expect to be rescued from all trouble, and become overly dependent on others. The Bible says, ‘Problems and trials… help us develop endurance.’ (Romans 5:3 NLT) Allow your children to experience age-appropriate challenges, and they will thank you later for the strengths and coping skills they’ve developed.
(2) Prepare them to wait. When you know in advance that your child will have to wait (for instance, in a doctor’s office or an airport), help them prepare for it. ‘Make the most of every opportunity.’ (Ephesians 5:16 NLT) Have them pack items they enjoy. Because they chose the items, they’ll feel they invested in the process.
(3) Keep a positive attitude. If you constantly complain while waiting in traffic, or for someone who’s late, your children will do the same. Instead, try saying, ‘This delay gives us time to tell each other about our day.’ Or, ‘Even when we feel frustrated about waiting, God’s timing is always perfect!’ Teach them God’s perspective on patience: ‘Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.’(James 5:7 NIV)
‘Bring forth fruit with patience.’ Luke 8:15 KJV
Here are five more teaching tips:
(1) Teach by experiment. Toddlers through ‘tweens’ can appreciate the time it takes a plant to grow, so involve them in planting a seed and watching it grow. Explain how everything in life takes time to change and develop. Teach the meaning of Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV: ‘To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven.’
(2) Make use of visuals. Younger children especially need visuals when waiting for an event to happen. If it’s 4:30 and dinner is at 5:00, use a timer. If it’s eighteen days until the family holiday, let them mark the days off on a calendar. Often their problem with waiting is not knowing when it will end.
(3) Don’t interrupt and don’t tolerate interruptions. Toddlers to teens—kids interrupt! Adults, too. Interruptions are usually a rude and frustrating display of impatience. Unless it’s an emergency, be clear: kids—and adults—are to wait their turn to speak. It’s more than good manners—it’s obeying God’s Word. ‘There is… a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7 NKJV)
(4) Make use of board games. Most board games require taking turns, which means waiting. Your kids will hardly realize they’re practicing patience! Chess and draughts are good for tweens. Scrabble educates teenagers and teaches them patience.
(5) Reward their patience. When your toddler waits for his sippy cup to be filled while you feed the baby, thank him for waiting so well. If your teen saves her money to buy a new phone, compliment her wisdom and reinforce it by perhaps donating the last few dollars to her purchase.
‘But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.’ Romans 8:25 NLT
Waiting patiently is what life, God, and success demand. Even when we’ve done the right things, God requires us to wait for the results. ‘You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.’ (Hebrews 10:36 NKJV)
How do we help our children develop this vitally important life skill? Writer Tammy Darling says:
(1) Set clear boundaries. For instance, say, ‘You may have that when I’ve seen you wait patiently.’ Don’t be moved by their demands!
(2) Refocus their attention. Queuing in a shop can be an occasion for impatience. So try a guessing game—like ‘I Spy’—with younger kids, or get older kids talking about family holiday plans.
(3) Teach by example. Do you pass other motorists on the road just to get one car-length ahead? Impulsively buy something on a credit card rather than wait until you have the money to buy it? Whether they’re three or thirteen, your children learn by watching you.
(4) Avoid constantly saying, ‘Hurry up!’ Toddlers typically dawdle. They’ve no idea how long getting ready takes. So instead of always telling them to hurry, help them learn the process and pace of getting ready. ‘It’s time to put your toys away… time to get your shoes and socks on… time to put your jacket on.’ Instead of frustrating them with commands to hustle, involve them in actions they understand and can handle. This teaches them how to manage time practically.
‘Pray for those who mistreat you.’ Luke 6:28 NIV
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.’ (Luke 6:27–28 NIV) Then He added, ‘Your reward will be great.’ (Luke 6:35 NIV) God sees, He records, and He’ll reward you for every kind act you do. It’s easy to be kind to those who are kind to us, but you must grow in grace in order to be kind to the people who mistreat you.
In the comic strip Nancy, the character Sluggo once told Nancy, ‘That new kid in school is nothing but a big fathead!’ Nancy replied, ‘You shouldn’t call people names like that. I never call people names.’ Sluggo replied, ‘Well, I just got mad when he said you were stupid looking.’ Whereupon Nancy demanded, ‘What else did that big fathead say?’
It’s easy to react to acts of kindness with kindness. The real challenge is responding with kindness to those who lack it. Os Guinness in The Case for Civility wrote about politicians as society’s role models: ‘Name-calling, insult, ridicule, guilt by association, caricature, innuendo, accusation, denunciation, negative ads, and deceptive and manipulative videos have replaced deliberation and debate. Neither side talks to the other side, only about them.’ Civility—being respectful whether we agree with another person or not—is a good policy!
Every one of us has a ‘kindness kit’ we carry with us everywhere we go. It’s better known as our tongue. Never underestimate the power of one kind word.