What (or Who) Are You Thinking About?

What (or Who)  Are You Thinking About?

Phil. 4:8 

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 


Let’s consider how our thoughts motivate our actions for a moment.  We expend a lot of mental energy in our day to day. The question I have for us this morning is, “what are we spending all that mental energy thinking about?” Someone said once that, “love” should actually be spelled T.I.M.E., because whatever you spend your time on is what you love.  Whatever has your time, also has the priority of your attention and of your affection.”  I think that’s true.   


Paul here, tells us to put our minds on what is true.  Notice, however, he is listing more than highly moral traits.  In Philippians 4, Paul reminds us that truth is a person (according to Jesus’ own words in John 14:6).  Paul implores us to primarily expend energy thinking upon the person of Jesus.  He alone is that which is “excellent and praiseworthy,” and encompasses every single attribute listed here in this epistle.  For Jesus, these are more than just a list of His attributes, they are His very nature, and thus He is the very genesis of where these attributes derive from.  Paul affirms us here in Philippians,  to think on Jesus is to be our first priority.  


So, the question is natural: What (or Who, rather) do you spend your time thinking about?  Is it, in fact, Jesus? Is there anyone or anything, in your life, that rivals Jesus?  Are you fixated on the truth that there is no condemnation for you if you are in Christ Jesus?  You are fully free, fully forgiven, and fully pardoned (for anyone who has trusted in Christ for salvation). This is what Christ accomplished on your behalf because this is Who Jesus is.  He loved you this much; that He’d take your place.  Paul instructs His reader to meditate on this reality.   


So, let’s try it.  How does meditating on Jesus’ loving sacrifice of Himself motivate you today?  He died so that you wouldn’t have to.  He rose so that you could have life.  He loved the least among us to show the world that everyone in our world is worthy of love and has intrinsic value.   


Does Jesus’ love for you, spur you on to sacrifice for someone else?  Does His uplifting love motivate you to also lift the downtrodden and heavy-hearted among you?  Does His love lead you to notice people on the margins, and lead you to kindness, possibly treating them with a deeper sense of dignity than you did before?   


Church this is our challenge this morning:  

Let’s think about Jesus today.  

 And then, let’s love like Jesus today. 



Grateful for Every Moment

Are we living grateful for every moment? That’s a question we all need to ask ourselves.


Love Deeply

1 Peter 4:8
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. 
Our author, Simon Peter, was a fisherman. He was also regarded as wildly imperfect, uneducated, and overzealous. It’s true. He was know to stick his foot in his mouth and had a reputation as someone lacking in self-control. And yet, Simon Peter was still called as a disciple of Jesus. In fact, he became the leader to Jesus’ disciples. He walked closely with Jesus, promised to always defend Jesus, and then just before Jesus’ death, denied ever even knowing Jesus. This man was a mess…hence my inspiration.  His denial of Jesus isn’t the end of Peter’s story, it is, rather a true beginning.   


What gave Peter the conviction to write such words as above was the restoration and commissioning of Peter in John 21 (read it for yourself).  For every time Peter denied Jesus, Jesus reinstated Peter with a directive of love, to tend and to teach other followers about Jesus and His love.  He didn’t cast him out. Jesus called him closer and entrusted people to his care.  He anointed him with authority to lead them in the way of Jesus.  Simon Peter had been wildly unpredictable, and yet in Jesus, the Apostle Peter became wildly successful and may have been more fit to lead others in Jesus’ way than anyone else.   


He’s remembered for his denial of Jesus at the crucifixion and should be.  It was bad… really bad.  Still, this didn’t discount him or deny him the destiny God had for him.  So, with genuine conviction and emotion on the matter, Peter writes “love covers a multitude of sins.”  He had denied Jesus, yet Jesus still loved and chose to use him anyway. There was truly no offense that anyone could do to Peter that would exceed what he’d already done to Christ himself.  So, no one was beyond love or forgiveness for him.  This is a good word for us today.   


I’d just like to encourage all those this morning that are hurting or feel taken advantage of. You may be in search of justice; seeking to be fought for. You may be holding grudges, keeping score, or seeking vengeance.  Let it go.  How much more violently have you dismissed and sinned against Jesus, yet He loves and chooses to use you anyway.  He used Peter, and He will continue to use you, if you will only let Him.  


Love covers a multitude of sins. Let Him love you this morning. And then, love others today. 



Out of Season

There I sat, sweating through my shirt, wondering how I’d ever cut a 40 minute sermon to just 15. After this final song, I was to step on stage and teach. Not to a crowd, but to a camera. Due to COVID-19, the call to suspend public gatherings had just been made a day before. I had spent weeks preparing the sermon to be delivered live to a packed house. Our people were being asked to stream the service from their living rooms. I had received texts and calls from parishioners the night before, anxious about not getting to meet as a church, Reeling in loneliness, they too needed a crowd, as much as I needed them. Was this really the church? Well, it was, it was our option, in that moment. It was revealing; I think we all felt exposed, I know that I did. Had we really made any disciples that could sustain through a time such as this? was the message truly embedded? Was the love we preach that we have…real? How did we get here? …and, how did we get here so fast?! All of this ran through my mind, revealing one fundamental question… What do we do now?
Schools were closed, businesses shut. Sporting events were cancelled, concerts/local venues cancelled, and yes…church…was cancelled. We were all being forced to consider others primarily. More than we had ever been forced to before. Some deemed it “Coronapocolypse.” Anything to this magnitude had only been imagined in the minds of Hollywood producers and End Times fanatics, yet here we were, without a dress rehearsal. We weren’t witnessing it on a big screen, but playing it out in real time. It was life; a new norm. It was real…it was surreal.
2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the Word, be prepared in season, and out of season…” Well, this was out of season, but were we truly prepared? What does the church in the West do, when it cannot “DO” any more? How does it function without programs…and production…and people…or at least a considerable crowd? It is forced to “BE.”
Being, at it’s very heart, lacks an entertaining factor. Today, many may mistake it for boredom, but isn’t it funny how the things that seem most simple in life are the things that tend to make us feel most alive? They tend to give us purpose and fuel us with meaning. I mean, consider it, the entire world was just forced into an unscheduled Sabbatical, leaving most people with the quest for something to do, but maybe…just maybe, church…while unscheduled by us, yet fully ordered by God, we were all asked to just…be, Asked to reconsider. (maybe for the first time) who we really are. What’s really important. And, Who is priority. We all went through it, but have we already forgotten? I hope not. Moments like this bring everything into focus. What we just experienced through this global pandemic was a monumental opportunity to strip everything back to the heart. 
It was a time of reckoning. A time of rediscovering. A time of revival. A time to simply “BE.”
Church, let’s pursue Him this week. Let’s become like Him in that pursuit. And. let’s simply be the people that He designed and intends us to be. Let’s trust Him and worship Him by simply being.


Loving Like Him

Matthew 5:14-16
Are you the kindest in the room? Are you the most generous? Are you the most thoughtful? These are the questions that I’ve been asking myself as I move from environment to environment these days. And, to be honest, my kindness, my generosity, and my thoughtfulness get tested. Often, pushed to the brink and my flesh screams fiercely to show itself. 
I say to myself… I simply cannot do it! And the truth is, I’m right. I can’t do it. I cannot both fight for my own rights and simultaneously love other people like Jesus did…
So… I think of Jesus. I know that Jesus was the kindest, most generous, and most thoughtful in any room that He entered. I know that He is my example and standard, and I know this because I have personally experienced His grace. I also know that He has left me in the world as a representative to others desperate to be right, to be heard and to be seen… just like me. 
I think of how ridiculous my personal thoughts of acknowledgement truly are. If He hadn’t seen me, I’d still be lost. If He hadn’t heard me, He would have never come. If I were not valuable, He would have never died in my place to make me His own. Jesus didn’t stop the plan of the Father to consider His own rights. He loved the Father enough to abandon those for me. He loved me so much that He would undeservingly die just so that I could live. He worshipped the Father by loving a broken people, a broken person…like me. He simply sought to please the Father as He revealed Himself to the unlovely, to the unlovable, and to the unseen…as He revealed Himself to…me. What did Jesus do for you, my friend?
Was His love enough to enlighten a darkened world to His reality. by the way that you love others? To lift their needs above your agenda, just like Jesus did for us? Matthew 5 says this is why we are here. Matthew 6 says that “you cannot serve 2 master, ” you’ll serve either Him or you. The flesh will not quiet or cease to be tested, until you and I decided to quiet it and submit it to His way above our own. This is true worship of Jesus. He is our example and standard; He submitted to the Father. He did this for us. Will we do this for THEM?
Justin Lett