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Ice-Cream Social Devotional
When a friend shared what was on her heart with me, I got excited.
First she wanted to bring the women of the church together in a social gathering. She wanted us to move toward being a community of women. Getting together for ice-cream is a great first step!
Second, she wanted this community of women to be strong. Strong in Jesus as we face the situations the world creates. Strong when we are asked the hard questions. Not to shrink away from the tough stuff.
Finally, that we handle the tough stuff in a godly fashion with a strength that reflects Jesus in our response.
This passage from Philippians 2 (1-5a) aligns perfectly with what God placed on my friend’s heart.
1Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
Now, let’s take another look at that passage and see how it applies in the context of bringing women of the church together and making us strong in Christ.
I see verses 1 & 2 speaking to us about community.
The definition of community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
1Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,[Paul says] 2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
We become of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, [and] intent on one purpose when we pray together, study together and even when we eat ice cream together. We learn who likes chocolate or sprinkles. Who has hurts and who has been heeled.
We grow into a community of friends and sisters in Christ by spending time together; by helping each other through the easy things and through the hard things.
Taking a look at verses 3 & 4, I see strength described through meekness. In Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Bible Theology, Samuel Meier wrote “Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong who have been placed in a position of weakness where they persevere without giving up.”
We are strong when we rely on the presence of God and assume a position of meekness, living in Christ’s example. We are strong in Christ.
3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Finally, how do we provide a godly response to the hard questions and in tough situations, especially when we know what we are witnessing is not of God?
5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
God provided scripture to help us know Him, to give us wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15), and to strengthen us. It is for us to use for His glory. In 2 Timothy, Paul is telling Timothy to be on the look-out for false teachers, as should we. He tells Timothy that all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (3:16). We need to develop an attitude in [ourselves] which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5a), so that we can, guided by the Holy Spirit, recognize and correct error. This only happens when we are secure in our identity in Christ and live in His presence.
In His presence
I saw a story online a few years ago God’s presence in our lives. The speaker used two simple vases. She filled the smaller one with water, representing the believer. It was placed inside a larger vase and then the speaker proceeded to fill the larger vase, overflowing the smaller one until it was completely filled.
I attempted to recreate this illustration at our ice cream social. I put a few drops of red food coloring in the smaller vase to bring out the contrast of the two vases and one of the ladies asked if the color represented the blood of Christ. Yes, I guess that would further illustrate God’s presence and protection in our lives. Without His blood we would have no identity, or community, or strength, or the wisdom needed to provide a godly response.
So, in our all-too-busy lifestyles it’s not always easy to feel like we are in His presence, is it? But, it’s oh so sweet when we let God’s presence flow over us to fill every curve, every laugh line and every empty space in our hearts. When that happens He finds a way to bring us together, He makes us strong, and He provides the godly response.
So, let’s do a quick review--
We are in community by learning together; about each other and about what God can do in and through us for one purpose – His.
We grow stronger when we rely on the presence of God, understand our identity in Christ and assume a position of meekness (strength under control).
As far as a godly response goes, God enables us to use scripture in the right circumstances and in just the right way, for His glory. When we intentionally seek Him in His word, we find ourselves in His presence and intentionally ready to give a godly response. Sometimes our words might be as sweet as our ice cream dessert and other times they may be a bit to perky for some. One thing is for sure; when God is leading the words are always right.
New American Standard Bible, The Lockman Foundation, 1995
http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/27308-why-christian-meekness-does-not-equal-weakness, Charisma Magazine
http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/meekness/ Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Meekness, Samuel A. Meier
https://www.reviveourhearts.com/true-woman/blog/what-two-vases-taught-me/, What Two Vases Taught Me, April 27, 2012, Dawn Wilson