My Reason for Living

Standard

There’s an old country song with this line… “There goes my reason for living, there goes my everything.” The song is about a man who has lost his one reason for living _ he had lost his one true love. Without her, the song goes on to say, life isn’t worth the trouble.

Our culture tells us certain things are so important that they can be considered a “reason for living.” The problem is that getting those things doesn’t bring about the satisfaction that we thought it would.

Have you ever thought about your reason for living? If someone were to ask you that question, what would your answer be? Sometimes people have trouble answering that question truthfully because we say what we think the answer should be instead of what our lifestyle reveals.

Here are three questions that might reveal the real you so take a moment to think about the answer.

  1. When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you think about? 2. During the day, what do you spend most of your time thinking about? 3. As you fall asleep at night, what tends to dominate your thoughts?

Now if the answer to all three questions is the same, THAT is your reason for living. If not, then you need to decide which is more important to you than the others.

In Matthew 4 there is a story about Jesus and 2 men that had their reason for living challenged.  They accepted the challenge. As a result, their lives and the lives of countless others have never been the same.

Here’s the story: “While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-20)

These three verses reveal a great reason for living. It also reveals three commitments. Making these commitments will give your life great meaning and purpose. Let’s take a closer look.

Commitment #1: Commit to following Jesus.

Commitment #2: Commit to leading other people to Jesus.

Commitment #3: Commit to doing it now.

Some of you might be thinking, “I need to do more with my life, but my plate is so full I don’t have room for anything else.” Believe me, I know the feeling but Jesus doesn’t want to be added to a plate of projects. Following Jesus isn’t a matter of fitting him in beside all the other activities you pursue; it’s a matter of putting him first and allowing other things to fit in as allowed by Jesus.

Get Over It!

Standard

It was among King David’s lowest moments: His son Absalom was leading a revolution against him. Absalom was a charmer and had convinced many that David was too old _ was ineffective to lead. When Absalom stormed the city with his troops, David decided he would rather be humiliated in retreat than to be involved in a bloody civil war against his own son.

What a horrendous moment that must have been for Israel’s most celebrated king. On the way out of Jerusalem, David must have thought: It can’t get any worse than this. But it did. A man by the name of Shimei taunted David as he fled the city. Shimei stood on a hillside throwing clods of dirt and stones at the king and cursing him, saying: God is finally getting even with you for what you did to King Saul, you bloody traitor! One of David’s men snarled: Let me go up and run that mouthy coward through with a sword. David’s response was incredible. He said: No. Don’t kill him. Let him go. Maybe I’m just getting what I deserve.

Now if that were the end of the story, we could hail David as a merciful man _ how noble to forgive such an offense. Well, David was a great man, but that’s not the end of the story. The memory of that offense festered in David’s mind for years. And on his deathbed about a decade later, David speaks his final words to his son Solomon. “Remember, you have with you Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, who called down bitter curses on me the day I went to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord: ‘I will not put you to death by the sword.’ But now, do not consider him innocent. You are a man of wisdom; you will know what to do to him. Bring his gray head down to the grave in blood.” (1 Kings 2:8)

That story is a classic example of a huge problem that all too many Christians get trapped in _ resentment. There is a much better course to take called love. In 1st Corinthians 13:5 we read, “Love does not keep a record of wrongs.” After reading that I realized that it’s not a matter of if we will be wronged but a matter of what we will do when whatever the wrong is happens.

Well, per Jesus, the greatest commands are to love God and love people. Now there is something that is critical to loving people and not allowing resentment to take residence on our lives when “wrongs” occur _ it’s called forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not a matter of whether you feel like it or not. It’s a matter of obedience. Mark 11:25 records these words from Jesus: “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

So as Paul put it in Colossians 3, “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved __ clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)

 

Is It the Real Thing?

Standard

It was a busy morning at the doctor’s office when a gentleman in his 80’s, arrived to have stitches removed. He told them that he was in a hurry because he had an appointment in half an hour. They said they would do the best they could.

His vital signs were taken and he was told to take a seat. A nurse noticed that he kept nervously looking at his watch and so she decided to help him. While she removed the sutures the two began to talk. The gentleman told her that was going to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. The nurse politely asked about his wife’s health. He told her that his wife had Alzheimer’s.

He told the nurse that his wife hadn’t recognized him in almost 2 years. The nurse said, “And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?”  He smiled and said.  “She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is and I love her more than ever.”

The nurse had tears in her eyes as the gentleman left. That night she told her husband about the gentleman and said, “That’s the kind of love I want us to have for each other _ honest to goodness love.”

After reading that in an email I had some Bible verses come to mind… One was 1 Corinthians 12:31 _ “Eagerly desire the greatest gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.” The next one was 1 Corinthians 13:13 _ “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” The third verse is John 15:13 _ “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” The fourth is Romans 5:8 and it is indeed the real deal_ “God demonstrates his love for us this way: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

So, there you have it, an older gentleman that loves a wife _ a God that loves us. The question is how are you doing when it comes to love? I have a feeling that like the nurse what you are looking for is genuine love. So, let it begin with the person that you saw in the mirror this morning when you were preparing to face the day.

 

Some Quiet Time Goes a Long Way

Standard

There is a man by the name of Burney Krauss who recorded nature sounds for documentaries, movies, and commercials. In 1968 he said that to get 1 hour of undisturbed natural sounds — like no airplanes, no cars passing by, it would take him about 15 hours of recording time.  Ten years later he said that to get the same 1 hour of undisturbed sound, it took him over 2000 hours.

There’s a line from a sermon Jesus preached that says, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father…” (Matthew 6:6) For years I thought that going to my room to pray was so that I wouldn’t be distracted in what I had to ask of God. Then one day I was reading how Jesus would escape for some quiet time with God. I find it very interesting that after that He always seemed to come back with answers _ what men to choose for apostles, where to go, what to do _ and a light went on… We are told to go to a quiet place to shut out the world so we can hear from God.

So, I ask, how long does it take God to get your attention? What distractions keep you from hearing God? I suggest that you leave the phone and the laptop in another room and spend some quality listening time in a room with just the two of you _ God and you.

Try it _ you’ll like it!

Standard

Every believer knows that it’s a great idea to read the Bible regularly. But the fact is, many church-going people don’t do it nearly as much as they should. Why not? Some excuses I’ve heard are: “It’s boring…I don’t get anything out of it…I’m too busy…It’s too hard to understand…”

Now reading the Bible is not like reading a novel or a history book. Something supernatural happens when we read scripture and allow the words to penetrate our hearts. There are many good reasons why you should read the Bible.

Here are 7 good things that happen when you make reading and applying the Bible a regular part of your life.

  • You discover a path to comfort during times of crisis.
  • You discover solutions to problems.
  • You discover what you’re doing wrong.
  • You discover the path that leads to forgiveness.
  • You discover eternal life.
  • You discover God.
  • You become more intimate with God.

What the Apostle Paul had to say about Scripture is true: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) And that barely scratches the surface.

Now I know it’s tough to remain dedicated to Bible reading and even more difficult to maintain a Bible-living lifestyle but, it is well worth the effort.

I suggest that you get your Bible out and read it _ not as a text book _ but as a book that takes you on an incredible journey with God. So, as the commercial put it… “Try it _you’ll like it!”

 

 

What Kind of Church Do You Attend?

Standard

Years ago the Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal talked about what has been referred to as a “God-shaped vacuum” in the heart of every person. Those weren’t the exact words he used, it’s just how it has been described.

In referring to how people responds to this vacuum, Pascal said… “This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”

He’s saying that we all have a void, an emptiness _ an infinite abyss that can be satisfied only through a personal relationship with God _ a relationship that we seek with all our heart _ a relationship with God the Son.

Now, seeking God is about more than just standing on a mountain-top overwhelmed with emotion as you gaze into heavenly skies. To be clear, these mountain-top experiences are wonderful and transformational. I encourage you to go to the mountain top as often as you can. But that’s not all there is to seeking God. Seeking the fullness of God in your life means that you come out of the prayer room, and out of the sanctuary, and into the streets where the people are. Seeking the fullness of God means that you start serving others in the name of Jesus Christ.

David was known as a man after God’s own heart. Could the same be said for you? Seeking the heart of God means that you determine to build on your life on his priorities — so that what matters most to him becomes what matters most to you. What matters most to him? He wants you to love him and love others _ He wants you to serve him by serving others _ He wants you to walk with him on the path that leads to holiness, eager to do all his will.

In doing this, you’re saying: God, doing that which matters most to you matters most to me. On this I will build my life. In response, God will say: Here is a man, here is a woman, after my own heart.

The same could be said for a group of people that gather week in and week out to discover and then carry out what matters most to God. So, I ask, just what kind of church are you not only attending but more importantly participating in to bring glory to God?

(adapted from a message by Steve May)

Merry Christmas!

Standard

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. (Hebrews 9:28)

Have a very blessed Christmas day as we celebrate the first arrival of our great Redeemer and look forward to His second arrival.