Stephen Covey has said that, “Fish discover water last.  They are so immersed in the element that they are unaware of it.  So it is with many people who become so immersed in an abundance of blessings and opportunities that they are unaware of them until they stop, pause, and reflect and allow gratitude to emerge.  Sadly, too often it takes the force of circumstance rather than the force of conscience to stir up our gratitude.”  Whether you acknowledge this or not, every day is a gift from God.  All too often, we just go through the motions and use all of our energy to focus on ourselves.  We place our careers and finances first in our lives, then family and friends, and maybe, if we are not too busy, we just might squeeze an hour or so of God in our lives every Sunday.  My question is how is that working out for you?  Can you honestly say that you are satisfied with everything you do and with everything you have or is it never enough?  The music we listen to and the movies and television shows we watch influence our thoughts.  “Watch your thoughts, for they become words.  Watch your words, for they become actions.  Watch your actions, for they become habits.  Watch your habits, for they become character.  Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”  A question Dr. Seuss once asked still applies to people of all ages today, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”  We are called to be different.  When we choose to fit in to our culture, we declare that Jesus Christ is not enough.

Complacency has become a huge mountain in American society that is easy to conform to and difficult to resist and hinders the path of people living a truly meaningful life.  In Matthew 17:20, Jesus declares, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”  There is a Chinese proverb that says, “The man who moved a mountain was the one who began carrying away small stones.”  What stones need to be carried to move the mountain of complacency?  We find the answer in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  We need to receive the vision of God’s kingdom, become overwhelmed by God’s grace and move in this world and not let the world move us.  It is time to stop acting religious and start living out what we truly believe.  We need to get out of the routine and do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God!

In Matthew 13:44, Jesus gives a parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”  A teaching pastor at the Edge Church had this in his message, “When we accept Christ in our lives, we bring something to the table.  We bring our dirt to God and he takes all of that dirt and replaces it with His treasure.”  God wants us to take all of our filth of sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, hostility, jealousy, envy, drunkenness, selfish ambition and bring it all to the cross of Christ.  It is only then and there where we may become filled up with God’s Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

True Christianity is a life change that brings a person to love unconditionally just as God loves.  All too often, we evangelize with the phrase “turn or burn.”  We tell people that they must repent of their sin or face eternal damnation with fire and brimstone.  Is it any wonder why people do not like Christianity?  We get caught up judging people instead of loving people.   We have been diminishing grace instead of expanding it.  I would like to close this blog with Ephesians 3:14-19 and encourage this to be a prayer for everyone: “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.   I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”