- Whatever You Do
- Colossians 3:17
- Lyndol Loyd June 18, 2017
This sermon began with a scene featuring the song “What Time is it?” from the Disney Channel movie, High School Musical 2.
That’s a scene that could have easily taken place at any of our Lubbock area schools just a few days ago. There is no question about it, summer is here, and there’s a certain mindset shift that takes place this time of year.
- For children and their parents, it is a time of no homework, and possibly being able to sleep in a little bit longer.
- For others, it is a time for firing up the grill.
- For others, it means placing your feet in the sand, rubbing in some sun screen, and leaning back in your beach chair while you listen to the waves come crashing into the shore.
- For others, it is time for a road trip to visit friends and family or to explore places that you’ve never been before.
- Even for those who find themselves in the routine of their regular career and daily work schedule, most would have to admit that summer has a different feel about it.
All of this got me to thinking, “Why is it that we long for summer so much?”
I think for some of us, it is because summer functions as a break from the craziness that can be our school year schedules, which make us feel like we’re always on the run from one place to another.
There’s a certain element of freedom that comes with summer for some of us. Summer, in effect, gives us the opportunity to be somebody else for a few days. We head off on vacation, step away from our day to day reality, and create an alternate reality where life is fun, carefree, and relaxing.
In some ways, summer is a time of self-indulgence for many of us, and can also come with a giant downside. People decide to rest, relax, and get away, but far too many folks also check out on their routine. Thus, they check out on God. They inadvertently take a break from God during the summer months, which is a huge tragedy and a missed opportunity.
So this morning, we want to take a few moments to talk about getting the most out of you summer, and how you can maximize the potential that exists for each of us.
I want you to picture a regular summer day in your life where you do the things that you normally do, but actually doing them with Jesus. What if, for one day, you were to work and play and eat and sleep just like normal – except, somehow, Jesus was by your side for each moment?
Most, if asked to describe our lives right now, wouldn’t say we have an unbroken, close connection with God that carries throughout the day. The reality is that most of us have compartmentalized our lives with “spiritual” activities as a single piece of the pie [a pie chart is displayed to the congregation.] Doing everything in Jesus’ name seems impossible.
For the apostle Paul, the reverse was true. He believed that the place to grow close to God is precisely in our everyday lives. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
The image Paul gives to us isn’t one where relationship with Jesus is simply a slice out of our lives. The image here is one where Jesus is at the center of our lives. Everything else radiates out of the relationship we have with Jesus.
Let’s think about for a moment about what it means to do daily activities in Jesus’ name. In Paul’s day, a name wasn’t just something to call a person. A name signified the whole person – in other words, it was a label for the person’s character.
When Paul says to do everything in Jesus’ name, he’s saying to do these things according to Jesus’ character – to do something the same way Jesus would do it if he were in our place.
What’s striking is how comprehensive Paul’s statement is. “Whatever you do,” he says. Then, in case we miss how broad that is, he adds, “in word or deed.” And if anyone is still looking for loopholes, he says, “do it all in the name of Jesus.”
- What it might look like for you
What would happen if you were to spend a whole, ordinary day this summer doing everything in Jesus’ name?
Morning: If someone were to observe you waking up, would they say it was pretty much like seeing Jesus wake up?
Eating breakfast: What would it mean to eat breakfast in Jesus’ name? Maybe it means you’d actually eat breakfast. Would that affect the amount of gratitude you feel or the pace at which you eat?
Driving: What would it look like for you to drive in Jesus’ name? If you could actually see Jesus in the passenger seat next to you, would he look nervous? Would you drive any slower than normal?
Working: How about your work? Whether you work in an office, work at home, or are retired, how might your daily work be different if you were to do it in Jesus’ name?
Watching TV: How would you watch TV in Jesus’ name? Do you think you would only watch nature programs?
Shopping: How would you shop in Jesus’ name? Would you buy different things – or fewer things – if he were present?
Vacation: What would it mean for you to vacation in Jesus’ name? Would any of your activities be different?
Relationships: Think about your relationships with your family, friends, and neighbors. Think of the words you’ve spoken so far today. If you only uttered words in Jesus’ name, how many words would you have to take back? What would it mean to relate in Jesus’ name to people you dislike?
- One day at a time
This might begin to seem a little bit overwhelming to us, but don’t let it be. As a matter of fact, my advice to you is to only take this one day at a time. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Consider Psalms 118:24 which says, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
It doesn’t say “yesterday.” It doesn’t say “tomorrow.” If we are going to learn to practice the presence of Christ in our lives, it will have to be this day, for this is the day we have.
It doesn’t require heroic measures – that’s one of the encouraging things about this. For the most part, it doesn’t even mean doing new things. It means doing things you’re already doing, but in new ways – in Jesus’ name.
- Beginning the day with Jesus
In order to live every moment of a regular day with Jesus, we have to begin the day with him. According to the Old Testament, when does the day begin? When the alarm clock goes off? When the alarm clock goes off for the fifth time? When Starbucks opens?
According to the Old Testament the day actually begins at night. Genesis 1:5 says, “There was evening, and there was morning, the first day.” Throughout the Bible’s description of creation, each day begins with night.
This same principle also applies to observing the Sabbath. According to Jewish law, sundown signals the beginning of the Sabbath. So in the Hebrew way of thinking, the day always begins with night.
Author Eugene Peterson put it this way: “Thinking about night as the beginning of the day reminds us that everything doesn’t depend on us. We go to sleep, but God is working all through the night. So we don’t have to be anxious or rushed. When we wake up, we will simply join him in his work.”
When we acknowledge that the day begins at night, the first thing we need to do in order to practice the presence of Christ in our lives is make some changes in how we sleep.
Believe it or not, the Bible does have things to teach us about sleep. Psalm 3:5 says, “I lie down in sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” Psalm 127:2 says, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves.”
Despite the Bible’s affirmation of sleep, many of us go to bed exhausted. In fact, some of us wake up that way, too, and then we go through our whole day tired. U.S. News and World Report say that Americans have a national sleep deficit that’s bigger than the national financial deficit.
Fatigue is one of the greatest barriers to prayer and spiritual growth. It is hard to be like Jesus when you are sleep deprived. If you doubt this, try hanging out with a sleep deprived person. See how well they do at living in Jesus’ name.
Odd as it may sound, for some of you the single most spiritual thing you could do is get enough sleep. And you can say that you heard it here first.
- Invite Jesus to be with you when you wake
Once you’re getting enough sleep before going to bed, the final thing to do as you drift off to sleep is to invite Jesus to be with you when you wake.
You might pray a simple prayer like this, “God, when I wake up, I want my first thoughts to be about you.” Lamentations 3:23 says, “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day.” (NLT) Ask God to remind you of the fresh mercies from him you can count on from the moment you open your eyes.
What are you normally like in the morning? Someone once said there are two kinds of people in the world; those who love to wake up in the morning, and those who hate people who love to wake up in the morning. Marriages often have one of each.
Consider a routine such as this:
Invitation: Jesus honors our freedom, so he usually doesn’t impose himself on people who aren’t open to him. He goes where he’s invited, so invite him into your day. Your invitation could be as simple as, “Lord, before I get up I want to invite you to join me in everything I do today. Thank you for your willingness to live in and through me.”
Speak to Jesus: Tell Jesus about any anxieties or concerns you feel. What are the first thoughts on your mind when you wake up? For many, they are thoughts that make us feel anxious, or fearful, or hurried. It doesn’t need to be so.
This doesn’t have to be long or drawn out. Something like, “Lord, I have a meeting today and I’m nervous about it.” Or, “God, I need wisdom for a tough decision.”
Acknowledge your dependence on Jesus: You weren’t meant to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You weren’t even meant to carry your own life by yourself.
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Take him up on his offer through a simple prayer each morning, and acknowledge your reliance on him.
Just as you’ve gotten into the habit of brushing your teeth in the morning, get in the habit of beginning your day with Jesus. Invite him into your day and surrender it to him.
- Find God in each and every moment
Another way to describe living in Jesus’ name is that it involves learning to find God in each moment of the day – in every activity we’re involved in.
Does anyone remember a popular series of children’s books called Where’s Waldo? These books were filled with page after page of very detailed cartoon drawings. Hidden in the details of every drawing was a little character named Waldo, in a red and white striped ski cap and glasses. The challenge was to become a master in the art of finding Waldo. You might have to search for quite some time to pick him out of the crowd, but Waldo was always there.
In many ways, our experience of God in an average day is like reading Where’s Waldo. We need to develop the skill of identifying God’s presence in our lives. So how do we do that?
Review the day with God. One of the best tools available to help you find God in each moment is through a review of your day with God. Think of it as an exercise in looking for where God was at work in you that day.
Reviewing the day with God is a lot like what sports teams do. When athletes want to improve their performance, they often spend time watching game films. By reviewing what they did on the field, they can learn from mistakes and be encouraged by their progress. In the same way, you can review the game film of your day with God.
If you review your day with God regularly, two things will begin to happen:
You will become aware of recurring negative patterns in your life, which will cause you to grow tired of your regrets. This will increase your desire to grow and change. Secondly, you will begin to be awed by God’s presence in the ordinary moments of your life.
You will realize that you really can live your day in Jesus’ name. When that starts to happen consistently, life gets exciting – because when you start experiencing the reality of God’s presence with you every day, it’s not ordinary any more.
So do you want to have a great summer? Then it is as simple as this: Keep Jesus as the center.