7 February 2018

Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s Foundations podcast. My name’s Bryony and it’s great to be joining you this week. It’s a real privilege to get to journey through the Bible with you like this so thank you for taking this time out to listen, our prayer as a staff team is that you find these podcast’s encouraging and that they help you in your life as a disciple.

REFLECTION

I wonder if, before you got to listening to this podcast today, you’ve had a look at the news? Maybe you’ve done a brief scroll through the newspaper review on the BBC app or you’ve been listening to the headlines on the radio. It’s likely that you will have heard people complaining about something someone has done, a politician trying to shift the blame or maybe a certain president sending out ill-advised grumbling tweets! We live in a world where we can feel overwhelmed by negative public conversation. It’s not just in our papers where we see this work out: stand at a busy bus-stop on a rainy Monday waiting for a bus that doesn’t seem to be coming and it’s amazing how a shared frustration will get British people talking! It feels strange that we find it so much harder to speak positive things than negative. There’s a reason why our newspapers aren’t filled with good news stories: it doesn’t sell!

In today’s passage Paul reminds the Christians in Philippi of the power their words and actions have. I’ll read the rest of the passage at the end of this podcast but for now I want to focus on verses 14 and 15. Paul writes;

‘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’

Paul says ‘Do everything without grumbling or arguing’ – everything, he means everything! This is a tall order – to live a life where grumbling in banished from your language, where arguing or complaining have no place. Even though this is a challenging command, Paul says the result of a life lived like this will mean that we ‘shine like stars’. We will make a difference.

I’ve realised the truth of this in my family. I’m acutely aware that I have the power to completely change the atmosphere in our house. If I start the day grumpy or grumbling, things degenerate for everyone fast! However the opposite is also true: when I create a light, fun atmosphere things change. Obviously this doesn’t protect our house from the inevitable tantrums, we’re not some kind of weird perfect family. But my experience tells me that things are better when I’m better. My position changes things, our words carry more weight and power than we realise.

So today’s thought is simple really: how, practically, would we live differently today in the light of this passage? Where are the places today in our homes, at work, with our friends or family where we know the battle is on? The temptation will be there to get dragged into grumbling and complaining, arguing or blaming. What would it look like for us to ‘shine like stars’ in those situations? Could we go further and instead of just stopping ourselves grumbling and arguing, could we go out of our way to ‘shine like stars’? To season our words with love, encouragements and gratitude. Could we change the atmosphere today?

PRAYER

Thank you for this reminder Jesus, help us to be people who bring light, who shine like stars. Enable us today to walk away from grumbling or complaining and instead sow seeds of encouragement and love.

READING: PHILIPPIANS 2:12-18

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.

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. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.