The Beauty of Being Empty…

John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must  decrease.”

The Beauty of Being Empty

We spend a lot of time trying to be full.  Full of happiness, full of love, full of a positive self-image, the list goes on and on.  We try to fill our wallets, our stomachs, our closets and our time.  I wonder though, instead of focusing on trying to be full, should we be working to empty ourselves?  How can we refill with what is good if we do not first empty out all that is wasting valuable space inside of us?  When I ask this question, I gain a better understanding of John 3:30, “He must become greater, I must become less.”  In order for me to be filled with God, I must step aside and make room for Him to fill me.  I must empty out all that is wasting space and make room for something so much bigger and better to change me from the inside out.

That sounds great….but what does it mean to be “filled with God?”  When I try to make myself happy through making money, shopping, eating, etc., I am focused on a temporary fill that provides a false sense of happiness that only leaves me feeling emptier in the end.  I find myself thinking thoughts like, “If I just had ______, I would be happy or if I only had ______, my life would be better.”  However, it is only a matter of time before I am finding myself thinking these same thoughts with different desires.  At times, we can be unaware of a void in our life. Poet, Antonia Porchia states, “we become aware of the void as we fill it.”  It’s good to take a life inventory every once in a while and ask ourselves, am I making conscience choices with the way I spend my time, money, etc. or am I trying to fill a void in my life that can only be filled by God?

In fact, when I stop to think about it, I realize that it is often having “things” that cause me to feel empty!  Just when we think we have the cutest shoes ever made, we see someone with cuter shoes.  After getting the latest smart phone, it seems like the next day a newer version hits the market.  Even our relationships can cause us to feel empty.  People will, not can, but will let us down.  As hard as we try, we cannot please everyone and we will let others down as well.  I think if we are being honest, we would all agree that there are times when we check Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to catch up with friends and we find ourselves feeling jealous or “less than.”  When we are feeling like something is missing, it is a great time to challenge ourselves to fill that void we are experiencing with something positive, and there’s nothing more positive than God.

God doesn’t want us to feel empty, but He will allow this miserable feeling so we will be motivated to refill and find happiness that we never imagined we could experience. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better or emptier before we fill up. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  True joy and true peace can only come from one place, and it is not the mall or a special person in our life. God can and often times does put people in our lives who we experience joy with and who help us through difficult times and that is awesome!!  But those blessings are extras in our life and not what we should attempt to fill our lives with.

Challenge:  Identify one thing that you try to fill your life with that isn’t God.  Then, to help fill your life the right way, make conscience choices regarding the everyday, small choices you make.  Examples would be the words you say, the music you listen to, the way you treat your family……and make sure to fit God in by talking to Him throughout the day and reading what He has to say to you in the Bible.

So, the next time you are thinking that being empty is so terrible, remember the empty tomb and what a wonderful blessing that is to us all.  Take some time today to empty out what’s wasting space in you and fill up with something worthwhile!

Mat 28:19, 20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

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The Power of Grace…

2 Cor. 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Today there is a movement teaching the “Health, Wealth and Prosperity” doctrine. There are some churches that are preaching that God would have you to be healthy and wealthy. If you are not then it is a faith issue with you. Just come to our church, join in with our emotional message and watch God lift you up emotionally, physically and materially. While we all want those results the health and wealth message fails to show how God develops our spiritual character and the fact that Adversity is very good when sent from God. The following is an excerpt from J Sanders.

II Cor 12:7 “A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.”

The Power of Grace

Dr. J. Oswald Sanders says that Paul first viewed his “thorn” as a limiting handicap; but later, seeing it in true perspective, he regarded it as a heavenly advantage. Our pains and problems are tools reminding us to appropriate God’s all-sufficient grace.
Dr. Prebendary Webb-Peploe, a far-famed British preacher, suffered a great tragedy one day when his child suddenly died while on holiday. Returning from the funeral, Webb-Peploe was so distraught that he knelt in his study for hours, pleading with God to make His grace sufficient to him. Still his heart was comfortless and desolate.
Looking up, the doctor saw the text that had hung for years over his fireplace. One word was printed in large capital letters: “My grace IS sufficient for thee.”
“Lord, forgive me,” cried the father. “I have been asking Thee to make Thy grace sufficient for me, and all the time Thou hast been saying to me, ‘My grace IS sufficient for thee.’ I thank Thee for sufficient grace, and I appropriate it now.”
Whatever your “thorn” today, remember—His grace IS sufficient. It’s available right now.

Our disabilities are blessings in disguise if they cause us to lay hold on God’s sufficient grace.

J. Oswald Sanders

Hebrews 12:11 “Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

The Cold Sin within….

Isaiah 64:6 “For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of
us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

Sin comes in many attitudes and forms.

The Cold Sin Within

Six humans trapped by happenstance.
In black and bitter cold,
each one possessed a stick of wood,
or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs.
The first man held his back,
for seeing the faces around the fire,
he noticed one was black.

The next man looking across the way,
saw one not of his church,
and couldn’t bring himself to give,
the fire his stick of birch.

The third man sat in tattered clothes.
He gave his coat a hitch,
why should he put his log to use,
to warm the idle rich.

The rich man just sat back,
and thought of wealth he had in store,
and how to keep what he had earned,
from the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge.
As the dim fire passed from sight;
for all he saw in his stick of wood,
was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group,
did nothing without gain,
give only to those who give to you,
was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight,
in death’s still hands,
was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without;
they died from the cold within.

James 2:1-4 “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious
Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if
a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in
fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes,
and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine
clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to
the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,”
have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become
judges with evil motives?

How Asparagus got its name…

Psalm 98:4 “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.”

HOW ASPARAGUS GOT ITS NAME

A child was asked to write a book report on the entire Bible. Here is what he wrote:

The Children’s Bible in a Nutshell

“In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, “The Lord thy God is one,” but I think He must be a lot older than that. Anyway, God said, “Give me a light!” and someone did.

Then God made the world.  He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren’t embarrassed because mirrors hadn’t been invented yet. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden … Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn’t have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel. Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check. After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast.  Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Hesston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh’s people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable. God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don’t lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor’s stuff.  Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother. One of Moses’ best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies.  Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn’t sound very wise to me. After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore. There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don’t have to worry about them.

 

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New Testament. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, “Close the door! Were you born in a barn?” It would be nice to say, ”As a matter of fact, I was.”) During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats. Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus.  Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount. But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn’t stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead. Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, and then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.”

 

Job 8:21 “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouting.”

Time is Valuable…

James 4:13, 14 “Come now, you who say, ‘ Today or tomorrow we
will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell,
and make a profit’, whereas do you not know what will happen
tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that
appears for little time and then vanishes away.”

Time is Valuable

To realize the value of one year:
Ask a student who has failed a
final exam.

To realize the value of one month:
Ask a mother who has given birth
to a premature baby.

To realize the value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly
newspaper.

To realize the value of one hour:
Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of one minute:
Ask a person who has missed the
train, bus or plane.

To realize the value of one-second:
Ask a person who has survived an accident.

To realize the value of one millisecond:
Ask the person who has won a
silver medal in the Olympics.

To realize the value of eternity:
If we could but ask someone who has passed
from this portion of Eternity without being Born Again!!

Time waits for no one.  Treasure
every moment you have.  You will treasure
it even more when you can share
it with someone special.

It must be said that the only treasured moments
that count for eternity are those that line up
with God’s will for our lives.

For what is your life?

When you leave this life for the next will your thoughts be…?
 
2 Tim. 4:7 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith:”
 
John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Continuous Spiritual Education…

Continuous Spiritual Education!

What are your plans for continuous spiritual education?? Even the secular business world understands the importance of continuous educational improvement. Whether we are adults or children we are being taught daily. When we stop learning our intelligence starts to regress. It is just like our muscles. If we do not use them we lose them.

We are taught in the home, from the media, from the neighborhood, in our schools, from our government, everywhere we turn someone wants us to teach us their values. How about the most important lesson book we can learn and live by. Did you pick it up this morning or anytime this week or month? Listen to where real truth and absolute truth comes from.

Only one education major has eternal significance!!

Joshua 1:8,9 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth but you shall meditate in it DAY AND NIGHT, that you may observe to do all that is written in it, for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

If that is true, and of course it is, then it makes sense that we would…

II Tim 2:15 “STUDY to show yourselves approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

When is the last time you truly studied the scriptures?

If it seems foolish to you to spend time in the Bible you want to heed the following verse. It says that if scripture is foolish to you then you are not a part of God’s family.

1 Cor 2:14 “But the natural (unsaved) man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

And if you are outside of God’s family then your eternal destiny is;

Revelation 20:11-15 “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

You can make sure your name is in the book by following the following course of action. There is no time like the present to earn your degree!

Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:8,9, Romans 10:13

Choose you this day….

Choose you this day!

So, if I were to ask you what is your main priority or focus today what would you say? Knowingly or unknowingly each day we all present ourselves to serve something or someone. Our priorities for the day are shown by our actions which represent our inner thoughts and priorities. The old saying that actions speak louder than words is very true.

Take a minute to look back at your actions and ask yourself. What or Who is number one in my life yesterday or for the past year? What was your focus or your priorities? Much of your focus may appear to be good but cannot be your number one priority. So, what should be my number one focus?

 “Mat 6:31-33 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Have you ever presented yourself as a servant to the King of Kings??

To do so you must first know Jesus as your personal Savior. We need Jesus because we lost our relationship with God as the penalty of sin. And nothing we are able to perform by our own achievement can restore that relationship.

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

 

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Eph 2:8,9 “For by grace you have been saved  through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone would boast.”

Remember;

John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”

 

Romans 10:13 “For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”[

When you have accepted Jesus as the Lord of your life then He wants you to…

Rom 12:1,2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you PRESENT YOUR BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

Do you remember when you said, Lord I want to do what you what me to do? You can be saved and on the side lines or not serving. He wants us to serve Him. If you are ready to start then the following steps will help you to do so.

Luke 9:23=25 “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,[a] and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”

Go for it, Jesus awaits our move….!