I’m trying to get this Sunday Morning Update out early this week so that everyone can be praying for this year’s Vacation Bible School, running from Monday the 16th through Friday the 20th.
Every year, our church family puts in a lot of time, prayer, and physical effort to create an immersive atmosphere where children can sing, play, laugh, and learn about Jesus Christ in meaningful ways. And every year, we’ve been blessed to see children coming to know the Lord when we share the Gospel message on Thursday. And I genuinely believe that -- though that’s facilitated by our hard preparatory work, our time invested, and our physical efforts during the week itself -- the main reason why any truly life-changing stuff happens during VBS is because people are praying.
So please spend time praying each day this week for the kids who are coming, for their families, and for all of our VBS workers. Please pray that things run safely and smoothly so that we can focus on the main things, please pray that children come with the right hearts and return home to share those hearts with families whose hearts are being worked on by God as well, and please pray for the hearts of our workers -- specifically, that everyone remembers that the whole point of this week is to honor God and to help the kids come closer to Him. It’s so easy as the week goes on and energy lags or stressors mount for people to lost sight of that and start grumping at everyone else, and that never honors God.
We talked a bit about that in our message this week, continuing our look at the Book of James by walking through James 4. Amazingly, even though the wisdom that comes from God is peace-loving and considerate and merciful, and even though Christians are trying to live more and more like we echo God’s wisdom, we still nonetheless have grumpy issues with one another. Why is that?
Well, the short answer is that we’re broken. On the mend, but still broken.
The slightly longer answer that James gives us is that we too often forget the importance of selflessness. I’m not necessarily talking about self-denial or even self-sacrifice, but rather simply getting past ourselves. We tend to start our thoughts and plans with what we want or what makes sense to us or what bothers us about everyone else around us, etc. -- all of which revolve around us wanting to placate ourselves. “I’m not getting much out of...” or “She really bothers me when...” or “I want what he’s got over there...”
How much more powerful would our witness -- would our church -- be is we truly started every plan by asking, “How will this benefit the people around us?” rather than saying “Here’s what I want...” so much of the time? How much more would we honor God if we consciously, consistently decided that focusing on all of those things that that entice us, or that bother us, or that thwart us, or that annoy us on a regular basis is probably not conducive to finding peace and contentment in life? What if we really did stop to think about others before we act or don’t act, before we speak or don’t speak, before we judge or don’t judge? What if we all got past ourselves and our own perceived issues, and really focused on how we can best minister to that person next to us?
Let’s try a little “getting past ourselves” this week and see what happens.