Hi everyone, it’s Mick here and welcome to Tuesday’s Podcast at STC. Our vision for 2020 is ‘Join Us for the Better Life’ and every day this week our bible reflections will consider key foundations of the Better Life Jesus brings. Yesterday, an overview of the Better Life Jesus brings; today, we consider how we use our time – to see afresh that as we slowly soak our lives each day in God, radical change can happen every day, week, month and in this new year. This teaching is so relevant in our busy, time demanding, energy sapping modern world!
Time is precious – energy is finite; we only so much of each available each day – the key is how we use it. We are all busy – so it’s sobering to remember that Jesus had the same 24 hours each day that are available to you and me. His life becomes the model for my life. As the American church leader JM Comer says ‘If you want to experience the life of Jesus, we need to live the lifestyle of Jesus. When you study his life in the gospels you see how well he used his time. His life was in balance; his life was in three, heaven inspired dimensions.
The STC family will know the UP, IN, OUT triangle; it’s who we are and what we do – it is based on the life of Jesus as we see it in the gospels. Want a reminder? Check out the Grow Project video last January!
Our Bible reading today is John 15:1-4 – amazing words of Jesus about how we live our lives and how we use our time.
John 15:1-4 MSG
[1-3] … “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.  “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. …
Jesus says here that our lives will contain times of fruitfulness and times of pruning – or times of being productive and times of being prepared to be productive – or, a time to work and a time to rest from our work.
The quantity of time available to us each day is fixed, but the quality of our time, how we use it, is down to us. So, a question or three(!) as I begin this new year ‘How is my Up, In, Out life balance at the moment? As a team we often take our triangle a write a number 0-10 in the three angles – a good pointer to where I am at moment and where I want to be.
Here are three practices to consider on how we use our time
God Time: how is the Up part of my life? Am I making time to be with Jesus. You’re listening to this Podcast, so the answer is yes, well done! Through this Podcast you are connecting with the Bible, Gods word; with prayer and worship – is part of your God Time. Here are other ways to develop this UP dimension of your life? Make sure Sunday Gatherings are a committed and regular part of your life; listen to sermons live and online; look to read a spiritual book that will build you up – let me recommend any book by John Mark Comer. Go back over some of the Grow Project modules you missed/ enjoyed … develop your UP!
Family & Friends Time: We all need to make sure we commit quality time to those we love. If you are married, don’t neglect each other; if you have small children don’t let bed time stories and prayers be squeezed out or ‘how was your day?’ time if the kids are older. Make your midweek community a priority – not easy with our busy lives but your cell/cluster is a vital part of developing your IN. When Tricia and I became Christians, it was the small midweek group we were part of, and then led that so blessed our lives!
Work & Rest Time: how is my work /rest rhythm?
Work – There will be tasks that need doing today but we can begin every day/ every task by asking Jesus for his strength and grace to do our work well and that all we do would honour him; that we would be an encouragement to our colleagues and a blessing to those around us.
Rest – When do I have time away from my work (whatever that might be) to take ‘sabbath rest’? How can I be less busy? Do I need more sleep, exercise, healthier diet?
I still have to work at this in my life to make sure there is a Godly balance as over the years I could easily have had a tendency to work more than rest – no one clocks you in and out as a Vicar, the work seemingly never stops. Tricia and I have worked hard over the years in the ministry Jesus has called us too but, we we have also worked hard (and not always succeeded) at establishing this Godly balance in our lives, our marriage and with our family. So, as you begin this new year – how is your UP, IN, OUT?
Getting this balance right is not always easy but it is possible because Jesus will show us how to make it possible; then small step by small step we put his new life rhythms into practice and begin enjoy a more fruitful life, the Better Life he has planned for us. It’s well worth the effort!
Lord Jesus, show me today how to use my time and energy well . That I would honour you in all I do and be a blessing to others this day and this new year. Amen
BIBLE READING: John 15:1-4 (MSG)
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken. Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.”