Reframe Your Actions

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Tougher Circumstances, But Greater Joy
Here's how most Christians in 2022 differ from the early New Testament Christians: We allow happenings to determine our happiness. Everything is based upon our circumstances. It's based upon what's going on that particular day, at that certain moment in our life. Our mood is based on external circumstances rather than inner peace and contentment inside of us. We can get pretty attached to our creature comforts, but our first world problems probably wouldn't convince the Apostle Paul to feel sorry for us. He's sitting in a prison cell with chains on his wrists. He has absolutely nothing. And yet he would tell you that he has everything because he has Christ and because he has Christ, he has joy.  Paul’s joy wasn't tied to his circumstances; it was tied to his salvation. It was tied to Jesus, and Jesus reframed his actions. In fact, Jesus reframed everything in his life. In Jesus, we find our salvation, our joy, and our purpose. He models for us what our actions should be. Since our joy is directly linked to our salvation, then Christians should have more joy than anyone in the world because our past has been forgiven and our future has been settled. Therefore, Christians should be living in the present with a contagious joy. Jesus's grace brings us joy.  So, when you put your trust in Jesus Christ, you begin to experience some things. You experience his justification, his sanctification, and you look forward to his glorification. But there’s still a better word to what he offers. It's love. It's just unconditional love. He specializes in taking people who have made a mess of their life and transforming them through the power of the Holy Spirit, and through what Jesus Christ did at the cross when he humbled himself and became obedient to death. Reflection/Discussion Question: Take some time to reflect on if you mood and behavior is based more on your circumstances or if it tied to your identity through Jesus Christ.
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Light in the Darkness
We read in Philippians 2:14-15 that we are to “do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”  Do you remember who was on the throne when Paul wrote those words “to shine like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life”? Paul's in the jail cell, and Nero was the emperor at this time. Nero used to impale Christians on stakes, and he would turn them into human torches to light his garden at night. This culture was even more decadent and much more anti-Christian than the one that we're currently living in. Yet, the Apostle Paul, from his jail cell, is writing to persecuted Christians and reminding them that they have a tremendous opportunity in the midst of this to share the light of Jesus Christ. He tells them that they get to be a representative for Jesus in this dark place.  Christians can shine like stars in this culture, because the darker the background, the brighter the light. As this world becomes increasingly dark, the hope of the Gospel shines that much more brightly. Paul is an incarcerated follower of Christ who is chained to a guard, but he is pleading for Christians to humbly let their lights shine and to advance the gospel. It is the Christian's responsibility is to shine like stars in a dark world, and nothing will shine brighter in this world than having a humble spirit and a joyful heart.  Reflection/Discussion Question: Where is an area of your life where you can shine the light of Christ into a dark setting?
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Contrast to Current Culture
In a culture that is overwhelmed with difficult stories and circumstances, Christ followers have to make a conscious effort to be positive in the midst of so much turmoil. In Philippians 2:14-15, Paul tells us that we are to “do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”  Do you know what one of the most obvious signs of pride is? It's complaining, mumbling, and grumbling. We argue because we want people to think that we are intelligent or right, and we want things our way. In James 1:19, James says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry.” As Christ followers, we try and work things out rather than complaining and arguing, because reframed actions enhance our witness. You can disagree without being disagreeable. The way we handle these situations in our marriage, familial relationships, and friendships shows your life is distinctive and different from others outside of the church.  We are to never let an arrogant spirit or negativity spread to others, because it can be contagious. If you struggle with that, you have to make certain that that's something that you invite the Lord into, in order to help you change. If pride is at the roots of complaining, we begin to think that this world is here for our comfort, and we're the center of the universe. As a result of that, we begin to have this Messiah-complex as we mumble and grumble and complain our way through as if the world revolved around us. The Bible lists “grumbling and complaining” alongside the sins of idolatry and sexual immorality, because the tone in which you say something probably reveals more about your joy and your gratefulness than you could ever imagine. Reflection/Discussion Questions: In your relationships, are you quick to be argumentative or defensive when someone does not share the same views as you? If so, how can you work on reframing your actions when it comes to disagreements?
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Past, Present, and Future
We can view our spiritual journey as a simplified three-phase process. First, the Christian has been saved from the penalty of sin because of Jesus’s willing sacrifice of his life on the cross. This is justification. We have been justified; it is just as if you never sinned when you accept Jesus has your Lord and Savior. So when you stand before the Lord on the day of judgment and he looks at you, he won't see you, but instead he'll see his perfect son, Jesus Christ, because of justification. We are also going through the process of sanctification throughout our lives as Christ followers. We are being sanctified on a regular basis because of the Holy Spirit working in our lives as long as we give him that control.  After we die or Jesus returns to earth for his second coming, we will be glorified. We will be glorified beings. We will be changed in an instant according to the Bible, in the twinkling of an eye. Somehow, we will be different, and yet we'll still be the same. This is the way that Jesus wants to reframe our actions. As God does work in us through obedience, he does a work through our actions, where we filter every one of our actions and try to align them to match the same life of obedience that Jesus displayed.  Romans 8:11 tells us just how powerful the Holy Spirit is. This verse says, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” Reflection/Discussion Question: Which of these processes is the hardest for you to understand or grasp? Spend some times today looking at Scripture referring to this process to learn more.