“Let it fill your lives”

What’s on your schedule this week? Do you have appointments, tasks, and objectives written on your calendar or stored in that little black box you carry? My spiral-bound planner lies open on my countertop, so that, with a glance, I see all my commitments and plans for the month. Last spring, the daily boxes were crammed so full of reminders that I was forced to also make notes in the margins of the page. (If you follow this blog, you probably noticed a gap of weeks without posts … )

No matter what form of calendar you keep, look at it now. You’ll see days and weeks and months filled with … what?

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. (Colossians 3:16)

Isn’t that a lovely picture? This verse evoked an immediate image; I saw my life as a cup or bowl, with great and satisfying richness being poured into it until it overflowed.

But after I savored the lovely picture, I had to ask some questions.


What fills my life now?

What fills the little white squares on my calendar? What consumes my minutes and hours, days and weeks? What is it that fills the cup of my life?

Just off the top of my head, I listed some of the things that might dominate our days, fill our lives:

Trying to live up to certain standards, maybe your spouse’s, your peers’, God’s, your own
Praise and expectation
Television (oops. Does that date me?  Would it be Facebook now?)
A search for possessions, security, health, position, the “right person”
Being the best parent, wife, grandmother, friend, employee
Working to pay bills and support a family
Working to building a secure future

This is just a beginning, and I’m not evaluating the rightness or wrongness of any of these things. I’m just trying to take an honest look at our days and ask… What are the things that rule our lives, our thoughts, our hopes and dreams?  


So what, then, is the richness of the message about Christ?

How would you answer that question? What richness does the message of Christ pour into your life? Again, this list is just meant to prime your (and my) thought process:

No matter what is going on around me, Christ says He overcomes the world.
Christ’s Spirit works in me, empowers me, changes me, gives me a new life.
Christ gave me a clean slate before God.
The message about Christ is that He came because of God’s great love for this world.
God’s love is unfailing; He cares about the details of my life.
Christ makes available to me the power that raised Him from the dead.
The Lord is my Shepherd. I will have everything I need.
By His divine power, God has given us everything we need to live a godly life.
My life is in Christ, belonging to a kingdom beyond this world, going on eternally…

How might my week change if it is focused on these messages rather than on the first list above?

I am not advocating running off to our own little sanctuary and spending our days pondering Scripture rather than fulfilling the roles we’ve chosen in life. As long as we’re on this earth, we’ll need to tend to the business of living.

But I am asking … on what are we building our lives? To what do we give our thoughts, our energy, and our emotions? Are the hours of my day controlled by some of those things in the first list, or is everything in my life—responsibilities, happy times, sad times, troubles and triumphs—met and lived in the light of the messages that Christ brought to the world? Do Christ and His message saturate and sustain our every breath?

Even the most noble of human aspirations and efforts fall short; there are always disappointments, failings, and, eventually, everything in that first list will be gone. Even our thankfulness and praise is limited in our humanity. The second list is eternal. Is our focus—the light that leads us along the path and directs our choices and dictates what and how we think—is it the first list or the second?

We all know the story Jesus told about the wise man and the foolish man, one building upon a rock, the other on sand. Anyone who does not live according to His words, Jesus said, was like someone building a house on sand; and when storms come, the house will quickly be washed away.

Storms can quickly wash away all those things that fill up our calendar, even the best of the list. But building our houses firmly on the message of Christ is like building on bedrock; the house will never collapse, no matter what beats against it. (Matthew 7:24-27)


And how do I fill my life with the richness of His message?

I want the richness poured into my life. I want to live on solid rock. I want security that will not disappear or be taken away. HOW does that happen?

Did you notice that Paul says, Let the message about Christ …”?  We have to open the door, open ourselves to Christ’s message, invite the Spirit to start filling…

There are more Scriptures that point the way, but I find it interesting that Paul immediately gives us two concrete things we can do: Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. (v.16)

I’d like to focus on his first statement.

Isn’t it interesting that the very first thing Paul advises is to teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom God gives? I repeat my plea from a previous post: Whatever gift God has given you for encouraging brothers and sisters – use it! The Spirit works through all of us in different ways, at different times, and in relationship to different people.

We all have some part in filling each other’s lives with the richness of Christ and His message!

The gift, the counsel, and the wisdom God has given you will help complete that lovely picture of Christ’s richness pouring into my life as I seek to build my house on the Rock.

Citizens of heaven, standing side by side

Paul has more to say about living as citizens of heaven. Look at the last half of the Philippians verse, where he paints a picture of the unified body of Christ.

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing side by side, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.
Philippians 1:27 (NLT)

Citizens of heaven, living wherever they have been placed on this earth, share one Spirit and give their allegiance to one Lord. And when we live as citizens of heaven, then we stand side by side, fighting together to spread Christ’s Good News.

A beautiful and powerful picture of Christ’s church and unity in His Spirit and mission!

I believe that when we do live as citizens of heaven then a unity of Spirit does come. We are all members of Christ’s body. Sometimes our earthly bodies fight themselves, and they suffer and even die. We members of Christ’s body are not to fight each other. What does Scripture say? Fights and quarrels and divisions among us come from our own jealousy and selfish desires. When we live controlled by desires and motivations that come from our sinful nature, then we are living as citizens of the world, enemies of God.*

Tough words.

The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis, is a book of letters written by the devil Screwtape to mentor a younger, inexperienced demon on effective ways of tempting and tripping up Christians. This is Screwtape, warning his trainee, Wormwood, about Christ’s church (the “we” refers to Satan and his demons):

…we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy.

We have been called to carry on Christ’s mission on this earth. If only we can look beyond our selfish wants and catch a glimpse of the great power of citizens of heaven, a “terrible army,” standing side by side and fighting for the Good News of Christ!


* See James 4:1, 1 Corinthians 3:3  


Every One a Part of the Whole, and Don’t Underestimate the Small Stuff

When the widow brought her offering of two small coins to the temple, what thoughts were going through her head? Might she have been embarrassed by the smallness of the gift? Was she tempted that morning to say, “My little coins will make no difference to the temple treasury, so why give up my bread today?”  She could not have imagined that the Master  himself would use her humble act as part of His teaching that would be passed on to followers for thousands of years.

In one twenty-four hour period this week:

* I attend an informal discussion at the church, about the church. Many open their hearts, some opening wide, others opening a crack. But we all come away with more understanding of others, and we have all been changed.

* I tune into Joyce Meyer, and she’s preaching about reaping what you sow, especially in relationships. A payday eventually comes, and whatever seeds you have been planting will bear a harvest.

* I wash dishes and read again the small tin sign hanging on the cupboard: “Friendship is not a big thing, It’s a million little things.”

* I listen to my daughter, who is a naturalist, explain the nature walk she will lead this week with second graders. They’ll be looking at ways animals and living things change their environment. Tiny bugs and bacteria in dead trees change a giant in the woods back to dirt. God has created a huge universe where every miniscule piece is connected to and in some way affects the whole.

Christ’s church has been put together in the same way.

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.
If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 
In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.
All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

Small things change their surroundings; small things make a difference in the big picture. In God’s nature and in the body of Christ, every piece affects the whole.

Did you notice the Scripture says that every believer is a part of Christ’s body, whether or not he thinks he belongs? And every believer changes the whole, sows seeds that bear a harvest, affects the function of the body.

Many people sit back and think nothing they do will make a difference. But every act changes something. One small thing can make a dramatic difference in a person’s day … or in his life. When I was fourteen, a lady of my mother’s generation gave me a word of encouragement one Sunday morning. It was one simple little sentence that I’m certain she has long since forgotten. Yet, throughout the almost five decades since, I have often been warmed by the memory of her words.

A small memory — but our lives are made up of small pieces. The life of the Body is made up of small pieces.

These truths also appear in our effect on the world around us. Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth.” He’s not asking us to be salt. He’s telling us we are salt. He goes on to talk about salt that has lost its flavor. What we do in our corner of the world seasons our surroundings, flavors our lives and the lives of others.

A number of years ago, the book titled Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff — and it’s all small stuff was so popular that the title became a catch phrase, a modern day proverb. The idea has evolved into a series of books. I understand the premise, that we often agonize and worry and “stress out” over things not worth the energy. We make mountains out of molehills.

But I want to say:  Don’t underestimate the small stuff. Don’t tell yourself, “It doesn’t matter if …”  Because, in all likelihood, it does matter.

After all, how small is a grain of salt? A seed? A germ that can infect and affect an entire community?

It does matter.


Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 12: 12,15, 22, 27,26; Matthew 5:13 (All NLT)