Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Mood or Mindset

Here are Alan's notes from 27th November 2011. We probably won't have time to use them in cell groups before Christmas but it might be good to reflect on the Bible Reading and thoughts again in our own devotions. I will post notes from Sunday 4th December tomorrow

How festive are you feeling?
Do you have to get into the right mood for Christmas? What does it take for you to feel Christmassy? Cold weather? Log fires? Mince pies? Carols? Sprouts? Well maybe not sprouts!
There is essentially nothing wrong with the lovely traditions of Christmas which generate a happier atmosphere and a sense of well-being. In fact I get a bit fed up when we Christians get a bit poe faced about it all. But surely Jesus came to do more than change our mood for a season but came to change our minds and hearts for eternity.
In the Bible when the word mind is used, it does not just mean mental exercise or brain power but includes your whole attitude, your demeanour, your mind set—the whole way you live your life. It includes your internal thoughts and attitude as well as your external actions. It involves how you think, feel, and act.
In his letter to the Philippians Paul tells us that we don’t just need to know the mind of Christ, i.e, his opinion on stuff but we should have his mind. In other words it would be a really amazing thing if we could adopt his outlook, his attitudes, his response on everything.
1. Anything
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient to death even to death on a cross.”
Why did Jesus Christ trade his rightful place in heaven for possibly something as inhospitable as a cavein Bethlehem. He could even have been born in the street. There is no cosy stable in the biblical account of his birth.
It was because the human race although given a perfect environment and opportunity to live for God messed it up. We messed it up so badly that with out intervention we face eventually being cut off from God, who is the source of all goodness for eternity.
But God was prepared to do anything that didn't deny his character to help us. He was prepared to take our mess upon himself so that we could get out of it. In Jesus, he placed himself in the same position as every human being and even lower.
A missionary told the story of two rugged, powerful mountain goats who met on a narrow pathway joining two mountain ridges. On one side was a chasm 1,000 feet deep; on the other, a steep cliff rising straight up. So narrow was the trail that there was no room to turn around, and the goats could not back up without falling. What would they do? Finally, instead of fighting for the right to pass, one of the goats knelt down and made himself as flat as possible. The other goat then walked over him, and they both proceeded safely.
Jesus saw us as trapped with no way to help ourselves. By dying for sinful mankind, He let us "walk over Him" so that we could experience forgiveness and receive eternal life.
2. Everything
The scale of what Jesus has done for us and wants to do for us suddenly becomes immense. When we really understand the coming of Jesus then we know we can't just adopt a mood of niceness until Boxing Day but that we must let him take hold of everything we are.
The old hymn puts it, “Love so amazing so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
This is not about paying Jesus back for what he has done. Jesus is not a loan shark, who gives us what we need when we are down on our luck but is on out back forever getting as much out of us as he can squeeze for ever and ever.
Those of us who are parents will know that the arrival of your new baby changes everything. It bears no comparison with babysitting or helping at toddlers. You don’t just find there is a little more to do. You change. You have changed your status to mother or father. You think differently about yourself as a result. The way you live your life changes, decisions have to be made with consideration to how this will affect the baby. We know that a baby isn’t just for Christmas but for life.
Paul said this his letter to the Corinthians in the Message translatio:
“Jesus included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived in their own. Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at Jesus the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore, Now we look on the inside and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start is created new . The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from God who settled the relationship between us and him.”
3. Anyone
You can’t say after reading Paul's words that Christianity can ever just be about getting in a good mood once a year. Do you notice in those words that Paul talks about getting a new way of looking at things? In this he not only means how we view Jesus but also how we think about other people.

The rest of that passage from 2 Corinthians says. “God settled his relationship between us and him and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. We’re speaking for Christ himself.”
If we are going to speak on behalf of someone else we had better know them and their mind, their approach.
We have seen that Jesus approach was to selflessness, servant-hood and unlimited sacrifice.
We reflect this in the last item on our Prayer Beacon list of values.
“The cross is a demonstration of the sacrificial love of Christ and we believe that he calls us to acts of compassion and social justice. Pill Corps should be a place where action is taken to minister to those who are in need or who are hurting, both in our own locality and beyond.”
God bless

Alan and Carol

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