For this session, you could actually do this at someone's house, or mock up a room in the church to represent a house... Fence areas off with chairs or screens. Then you could put things in each area. For example grab a few pots and pans for the kitchen / mock up a 'bed' for the bedroom / put the youth work TV or screen up for the 'living room'. You can get some bathroom towels and soap etc for the bathroom.. And so on. Be creative!
Did you know that if you believe in Jesus, then you are the 'home' of God on earth? It's hard to understand but it's true!
This session will look at our lives as being a home of God - the home where God lives. In the Old Testament, a temple was built by King Solomon and this is where God 'lived on earth'. In the temple, there were a number of areas but there were three key areas - the outer court; the inner court and the Holy Place where only the Chief Priest was allowed to do after he'd cleansed himself in every way. The 'outer court' in the Old Testament is like our body; the 'inner court' is the mind and soul; the 'Holy Place' relates to the Holy Spirit inside of us.
Today, God doesn't live in a physical building on earth, but His Holy Spirit lives in the spirit of the believer in Jesus. So God no longer lives in a temple, but instead we are the 'temple' of God, the home of God.
1 Corinthians 6.19-20 says, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."
The basis of this idea partly comes from Joyce Meyer, "Enjoying Everyday Life" magazine, August 2013, pages 27-28.(Link may not be available after August / September 2013).
So we'll have a look through this 'house' below and relate this to our Christian lives. Yes so it's not like everyone's house but it's just a mock-up home to get us thinking!!
Make God your shelter! If you've ever been out in a storm, you'll know how good it is to get under cover! One time when I was in the mountains, we came across a 'bothy' - a stone hut which is now used for weary travellers! Just to get inside meant a bit more warmth and somewhere to chill. It became our 'covering'. In the same way, God lets us know that we can come to him and make him our covering, especially when the 'weather' (life) gets difficult or unhappy or dangerous.
We can come to God and say, "Lord, you are my shelter, my refuge and my fortress. You are my place of safety. You will cover me, protect me and I protect me."
Psalm 91.1-4 - Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Jesus tells us that what we speak is what comes out of our heart, so we should guard our hearts and look after what we 'put' into our hearts and minds. The reason is that satan attacks Christians in the mind. There's nothing we say or do that doesn't first start in the mind. So if we look after our minds and focus on God, then we begin to get protected.
Romans 12 tells us to renew our minds and to offer our lives completely to God. What does this mean? It means saying to God, I want to follow you in every way, all the time and want you to fill my mind, not anything else.
2 Corinthians 10.3-5 - "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
So here is a way of defending against the lies of the enemy... Whenever a wrong thought comes into our head (like 'you're useless' or some lustful thoughts) we can say, 'No. Go away. I don't want these thoughts in my head. They are lies. I submit to God and I resist the devil and he has to run away from me.' You can then read out a Bible verses such as Philippians 4.8, "I choose to think about whatever is true, good, right, pure, lovely and things that honour God. I focus on God things, who God is and I worship God alone." Or put on some worship music or read a Christian book that inspries you!
We spend millions each year on things to make us look younger, older, different colours, shades, hide things, show things off, put hair up, down, off and so much more! It is estimated that the UK beauty industry was worth £15 billion in 2012!! Now that is a serious amount of cash!
The bathroom can be a place where we go to get ready and to look our best. This is good to do as we all want to look as good as we can (it's harder for some of us than others!) We can spend a long time and a lot of cash on looking just right. In Esther 2.12, we read this:
Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.
It's fine to spend time and money on looking good but what happened to Esther was representative of something deeper. She was being made ready for the King and in the same way, we should make sure we are doing all we can with God's help to get ready for King Jesus. The beauty treatments lavished on Esther are probably many girl's dreams - as are meeting a Prince or King. We should show this same kind of passion on Jesus. In the New Testament, there was a woman called Mary who broke a jar full of expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus - she offered her very best and poured it out on Jesus. Someone described worship as 'wasting time on Jesus'. They didn't mean it's a waste of time but meant that worship is giving ourselves and time in God's presence because we love him.
So how do we prepare ourselves? Worship God - this means prayer, worship, time, filling up on the Bible and obeying him.
Matthew 6.6 - But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Your bedroom is (usually) your space and the place where you (mostly) feel relaxed and 'at home'. For people, it's often the place where they can escape and shut the door. In a sense what happens in a bedroom is only fully known by you and by God. So this is a really important place.
But your 'bedroom' is more than just a place. In Matthew 6.6, Jesus talked to his disciples about what is done in secret and this is a really important thing in your Christian life. Your private life, the things only you and God know about really matter because they will impact the kind of person you are, the things you say and how you live your life. Elsewhere in the Bible, Jesus tells us that 'out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.' This basically means what you put in - comes out! So we have to make sure that in the 'secret place' we 'put in' to ourselves everything that is good, pure, from God - like the Bible etc.
KEY - Ask God to show you what should be 'in' and what should be 'out' in your life.
The Media Room
What do you watch? How do you spend your time? Do you watch things on TV that you shouldn't? Do you watch stuff on the internet that you know you shouldn't?
1 Corinthians 10.31 - "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
Put it this way - if Jesus were hanging out with you, would he be happy to watch the things you watch or do the things you do? Would Jesus be honoured by what you watch? Even if what you do isn't bad, do you waste your time on pointless things? Let's be clear - Jesus wants you to enjoy your life. If you like watching football, he'd watch football with you! But if you watch every game and spend all your time watching football, Jesus may say 'hang on, you need to get things back into balance.' Jesus isn't religious but the Bible does tell us to put God first and then other things fall into place.
So here's the challenge - do you need to do something practical to deal with anything you've been watching? Do you need to say sorry to God, turn away from it and take action so these things don't tempt you again. (Tell someone you trust and ask them to look out for you).
The Living Room
1 John 3.24 - "All who keep His commandments [who obey His orders and follow His plan, live and continue to live, to stay and] abide in Him, and He in them. [They let Christ be a home to them and they are the home of Christ.] And by this we know and understand and have the proof that He [really] lives and makes His home in us: by the [Holy] Spirit Whom He has given us."
This is often the room where we spend the most time and feel the most at ease. In a way this is like our daily life with God. A living room isn't always very welcoming though, depending on how things are at home. For some people, it may not be somewhere they want to go for lots of reasons.
It's a bit different for God as he loves us beyond what we can imagine and he isn't really phased by the mess we get in as he can sort things out!
But if Jesus came to your physical home or bedroom, would he feel comfortable? Is it in a mess? Do you have things in your room that shouldn't be there? What's the vibe like in your room - angry, abusive, peaceful, happy? Would you be happy to invite Jesus into your place? You see, while Jesus is happy to come and help us clean up our room and he will - we also have a part to play in working with God to make sure our 'living space' is a Godly one and not a bad one.
How do we do this? 1 John 3.24 tells us: we obey what God says (in his Word and in what he says to us). We also make sure we stay connected to God by following his plans, not just doing what we want but asking God to be at the centre of all we do and who we are.
How are your eating habits? The Bible tells us that our body is the temple of God - the place where God 'lives' on earth. So our bodies are really important. We are encouraged to look after our bodies because they are the 'temple' of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, King Solomon built an amazing temple that was filled with precious jewels and valuable materials, handcrafted stones and statues, and the very best of everything they could find.
We should also do our best to look after ourselves for God. Two famous speakers - Derek Prince and Joyce Meyer - both said that God spoke to them in the senior years to say they needed to eat properly and get fit in order to do all that God had called them to do. So let's start early when thinking about looking after our bodies and keep on looking after ourselves all our life!
In Daniel 1.12, Daniel did not want to eat or drink anything that had been offered to idols (evil gods). So he told the man in charge, "Why not test your servants for ten days? You could give us a diet of vegetables to eat and water to drink." The man agreed and after 10 days, Daniel and friends were far healthier than the others. Now this isn't about being a veggie (!!) but the principle is important - Daniel ate and drunk only what was good for him. We should do the same without ever being obsessive. Being obsessive or not eating enough is also wrong and we should get help if this is an issue.
Want to see an olde Disney Nutrition movie - www.youtube.com/embed/8VRKvJEk1A8
Here are some kitchen hints - drink lots of water; don't eat things with lots of saturated fats in; have a good lot of fruit and vegetables each week; eat different kinds of meat (eg red meat every so often); don't have too much of anything but eat things in balance. And remember to exercise! It will make you feel happier, you'll be fitter, healthier, less likely to develop diseases and it actually helps in not getting depressed!
If you've lived in a home for a while, you often have a stash of boxes and things that you may have put away and forgotten about even. A lot of it isn't needed and just clutters up a home. Some people take this to real extremes, such as the example of this extreme hoarding - London's worst hoarder! - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rod5a0lDKGM (there is a Part 2 and 3 to this!)
Sometimes people refer to this kind of stuff as 'baggage'. There are things in our lives that clutter up our lives, our head and our heart. These are things that have happened to us and maybe caused us pain and hurt. Some people live without forgiving others and it rips them apart inside, causing havoc in them and to those around them. These things weigh us down and can actually slow us up and stop us in our Christian lives. The writer and speaker RT Kendall gives many examples of how people even get healed when they forgive others who have hurt them.
Hebrews 12.1 says this - "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
So here's the question... Is there baggage in your life? Are there things inside of you that you have 'put to the back of your mind' or that you've never really dealt with - like not forgiving someone. Just take a moment now and ask God to speak to you to reveal anything inside you that he wants to help you deal with and get rid of to bring you freedom. Don't try and force anything or try to think of anything! Just ask God. If nothing comes to mind that's fine! God helps us as and when he knows we are ready to be helped and often there won't be anything. But if God does speak something into your heart, pray this prayer and really mean it:
Lord, I choose to deal with this (name the issue) or forgive this person (name that person). I choose to let go of any pain and hurt. I throw off everything that holds me back and any sin in my life (mention anything God speaks to you). I completely forgive any hurt and if it's a person I bless that person in the name of Jesus. I pray you would help me and release me from this pain. Thank you Lord. Amen.
(If you need to talk to someone more, speak to your youth worker or someone you trust).
John 15.1-4 - "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."
Are you a good gardener? Do you have a garden? Do you even care about gardens? You should - the first and perfect place God made for us was a garden - The Garden of Eden. God cares about gardens!
But here's the question - if you have a garden, are there weeds in it or do you have some amazing flowers and plants there? You see, if you don't look after a garden, it gradually gets worse. But if you invest time into the garden and look after it, feeding the plants and watering them, the garden grows and looks beautiful.
John 15 tells us that God is master gardener. He wants to help us to look like well-watered gardens - growing in God and in his truth and able to stand the winds and storms of life. He wants us to grow to our full potential. But we also have to work with God. We have to remain connected. If you cut off all the roots of a tree, the tree will die because it's not getting water. The same would happen if you put the tree in a black room with no light. The darkness would kill the tree. So we have to stay 'in the light' (connected to Jesus) and we have to keep feeding on the Bible and Jesus (the living Word) and being refreshed constantly by water (the Holy Spirit in us).
So a challenge - are you connected to the master gardener? Take some time now to pray or write down a commitment to God that you want him to be centre in your life, to get rid of the dead branches and to breathe his life into you to be all he wants you to be.