Filling the Emptiness

FillingI was recently working on a drawing for our church and trying to make it look more presentable.  I noticed that there was a bunch of empty space that just didn’t look good.  I thought, “What can I fill this empty space with to make it look better?”  What I settled on not only made the picture look much better, it brought a whole new life to it.  We will get to what that filler was in just a moment.

How often do we have emptiness inside of us, and we go looking for something to fill that empty feeling?  Many choose to fill it with alcohol, drugs, pornography and various other things that can do harm, both to our bodies, and to our minds.  Satan whispers in your ear and tells you that these kinds of things will help you to take the edge off, it will take away your worries, it will make you feel better, etc…  And sure they can, but for a very short period, and soon we become addicted to these vices.  When the effects wear off, we are worse off than we were before.  These vices actually pull us deeper and deeper into the emptiness that we were trying to escape by starting them.

What if instead of attempting to fill our emptiness with these vices, instead we filled it with God?  How do we do that, you may ask?

John 1:1 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

God and His Word are one.  We can cry out to God in prayer, but the emptiness can remain.  Why is that?  Because if we are only crying out, it is a one way conversation, and we are turning a deaf ear to God’s response.  We speak to God in prayer, but God speaks back to us thru his Word.  It does us no good to cry out, if we do not listen to God’s answer.  So, What can fill our empty spaces in life?  The same thing that I filled the empty spaces of that drawing with.  Scripture!  Scripture changes it all.  Scripture gives hope to the hopeless.  Scriptures gives freedom to the chained.  Scripture gives life to the dead.  Just as that bland drawing was given new meaning and new life by adding scripture to it, so can your own life be given new meaning and new life by adding scripture to it.  Next time you are feeling low, feeling depressed, or just bored try filling that empty space with scripture.  I promise that it will have a lasting impact on you, and bring new life to what ails you.  Scripture filled my drawing, scripture filled me, and scripture can fill you too!

Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Psalm 16:11 “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

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I’m Not Happy

I think I'm happy, but then I'm notListen around you, Do you hear that?  It’s people saying over and over again, “I’m just not happy“.  In this self obsessed crazy world, virtually no one is satisfied with what they have.  We live in a time where most people desire to live in a fantasy world that is unachievable, and therefore they remain in a constant state of depression.  They compare their own lives to that of TV and movies and books, etc… and desire things that do not exist in reality.

How often does someone buy an expensive object thinking that it will make them happy, only to see that the newness fades quickly, and something different is now more desirable?  Rather than possessions making a person happy, it just makes them more covetous than before, and in a constant state of wanting something that they do not have.
Eve had everything that she could ask for, but threw it all away for the one object she could not have.  (Genesis 3)

How often does someone quit their job because they believe that a new job will make them more money, and that will bring them happiness, only to find that it causes bigger problems?
Achan thought that riches would bring happiness to his family, only to find out that it destroyed them all.  (Joshua 7)

How often does a husband or wife seek happiness in the arms of another, because they wish they could have the fantasy relationship that doesn’t exist in reality?  They bounce from person to person because they seek a dream that’s not real.
David saw a beautiful woman that was another man’s wife, and thought that she could bring him happiness, but ultimately it brought a man of God to his knees in grief.  (2 Samuel 11 & 12)

Green GrassWe are always looking into our neighbors yard and thinking “his grass is greener than mine” and “I would be truly happy if I just had what he has”.  This kind of thinking always leads us to deeper unhappiness and further depression, because it is a never ending cycle of disappointments.  We truly convince ourselves that if we get something, that we will finally be happy, only to find out that isn’t true, and are driven further and further down into a spiral of depression.

James 1:14-15 says “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

There is not a possession in existence that can make us happy, there is not any amount of money that can make us happy, and there is not a person on this planet who can make us happy.  True lasting happiness can only come from opening our hearts up to God, and giving him thanks, and praise, for every small thing that he blesses us with.  When we see someone get something nice, let’s change how we look at it.  Instead of being jealous and petty, let’s have joy with that person, and be thankful that something good happened to our neighbor.  Instead of muttering about them, let’s celebrate with them!

James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

If either we, or our neighbor, get a good gift from above, let’s celebrate that gift equally.  This is the only way to true joy and happiness.  Let’s give thanks to God that he is giving gifts at all, especially the gift that he gave to all of his children, the gift of his Son’s payment of our wretched sin debt.  If we focus on that, then we will have no time to be unhappy in our self obsessed pity.

Psalm 37:4 says “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
Does this scripture mean that we will get everything that we desire now?  No, it means that if we find our joy in the Lord, the desires of our heart will change into things that will actually make us happy when we receive them.

Finally, I will leave you with the scripture that has become the anthem of our church.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Are you seeking his kingdom and his righteousness first?  Or are you seeking your own fleshly desires first?  This is the key to finding what will truly make you happy.

Bitterness: Poison to the Church

The Church has had to deal with problems since it’s inception.  Why is that?  Because the Church is made up of people, and people are sinful.  One of the biggest problems the Church faces is bitterness.  What is bitterness?  The definition of bitterness is “anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment”.
not fairEssentially it’s feeling sorry for ourselves.  It’s being immature and saying things like “That’s not fair!” “She can’t talk to me like that!” “He can’t look at me like that!” “They don’t appreciate me!” These kinds of statements come from immature Christians who have never applied the Word of God to their lives.  This bitterness starts with one person, but then that person has to let it be known to the world that they have been done wrong, and it spreads through all of the immature Christians of the Church.  Next thing you know there is a church split.  So how do we overcome this problem?  We become mature Christians and let the Word of God guide us.  Let’s look at some scripture to help us with this:

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
When we come into contact with a bitter person, let’s not become bitter ourselves.  Let’s not answer bitterness with bitterness.  Let’s forgive, let’s be tenderhearted, and kind to one another.  Speak truth, but speak it in love, rather than in bitterness and anger.  Christ forgave us for unspeakable sins, but we can’t forgive someone for silly things that are probably only in our own mind?

Hebrews 12:15 “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”
When one becomes bitter there is a chance that many will be defiled.  Do you want to be the cause of many becoming defiled because of childish/selfish thoughts?

Proverbs 20:22 “Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.”
When we take it upon ourselves to right a wrong by repaying evil with evil we are sinning double.  We have the sin of the evil we commit, and also the sin of not relying on God to handle the situation.

Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”
When we have hate in our hearts for someone, we stir up strife for the whole church body.  When we show love to that person, regardless of our selfish feelings, we sin not.

Proverbs 19:11 “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.”
So we can either shout to the world about those who have wronged us, and loathe in self pity, or we can let go of our anger and it will become a glory for us.

Bitterness is a poison pill for the church, not only are we harming ourselves but bitterness is a disease that spreads to weak individuals of the church.  Bitterness is the poison, but the Word of God is our vaccine to prevent it from infecting us.Bitterness (2)

 

Forgiveness or Revenge? Joseph’s Life Lesson

forgiveThe life of Joseph was like a roller coaster that takes us directly to Jesus Christ.  Let’s take a look at all the things that happened to Joseph, and how that points us to Christ, and how it teaches us lessons about how we have no need to seek revenge.

Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and hated him:  We know from new testament scripture that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him and no doubt were jealous of him.

Jacob sent his favorite son out to care for his other children:  God sent forth his only begotten Son to care for His other children.

joseph-hatedJoseph was hated because his father loved him and his superior virtue:  Jesus was hated because His Father loved him and His superior virtue.

Jacob’s sons plotted to kill Joseph as he came to care for them:  The descendants of Jacob plotted to kill Jesus as he came to care for them.

Joseph was stripped of his coat:  Jesus was stripped of his garments.

joseph-in-the-pitJoseph was cast into a pit by his own people, but would later rule over them: Jesus was cast into a tomb by his own people, but defeated it, and came out of it, and will rule over the entire world.

Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver by those closest to him:  Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver by one closest to him.

Joseph was tempted to sin in Potiphar’s house, and did not sin, but was still punished because of false accusations:  Christ was tempted to sin by Satan, and did not sin, but was still punished because of false accusations.

joseph-forgives-his-brothersJoseph was given power to destroy those who had wronged them, but he loved them and saved them from death:   Jesus was given power to destroy those who had wronged him, but he loved them and saved them from death.

Joseph was placed beside two criminals in prison, one would live and one would die:  Jesus was placed beside two criminals, one would live and one would die.

Joseph, who had been rejected by his own people, found a bride among the gentiles:  Jesus, who had been rejected by his own people, found a bride among the gentiles.

kneelcrossThose who had wronged Joseph would have to come back to bow their knee before him to be saved:  Every person who sins will have to come back to bow their knee before Jesus to be saved.

The lesson we can learn from Joseph is to accept the circumstances that happen to us, and move forward, for we cannot know the greater things that God has planned for our future.  Joseph’s own family plotted to kill him, threw him in a pit, and sold him into slavery.  But Joseph made the best of the situation and rose to prominence in Potiphar’s house because God was with him and had bigger plans for him.

Again thru no fault of his own, Joseph was cast into prison, but made the best of the situation and became the leader of the prison, because God was with him and had bigger plans for him.

Finally, By God’s hand, Joseph was made ruler over all of Egypt and in essence, the world, because only Egypt had food.  His brothers came begging before him and he could have had them imprisoned or killed but showed them compassion, and love, and saved their lives, and gave them much more than they deserved.  Jesus does the same for us!

gods-planNo matter how hard your luck has been, keep your head up and keep pushing on, for we do not know what God has planned for our future.  Sometimes God must put us thru the fire in order to prepare us for the great thing he has planned for our future.  Remember these words from Joseph next time someone does you wrong and you desire to seek revenge:
“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20

 

 

Lonely Temptations

temptationSatan always attacks when he has the greatest chance of success.  One of his greatest successes seems to be when we are alone in our own thoughts.  He places a sinful temptation in front of us and we say “no one will know about this so it will be ok just this one time”.  And then often we become chained down by this sin.  It’s so easy for us to fall into these temptations when nobody is around, and we can convince ourselves that we will get away with it.  The problem is that when we sin, we never get away with it.  Sin always has consequences, and one sin leads us to more sin.  Let’s look at a few biblical examples for this:

 

davidlookingKing David
The great king of Israel, David, was God’s chosen man.  God had blessed him immensely.  Scripture even calls David a man after God’s own heart, but even this great man fell into the temptation of sin when he was alone.  One day the King was supposed to be in battle, but he decided to stay home.  He found himself standing alone on his rooftop overlooking the kingdom.  He saw a beautiful woman bathing herself.  Instead of fleeing from the situation, he lusted after her and inquired about her.  Even upon finding out that she was married to one of his soldiers fighting for him in battle, David allows this temptation to overcome him and he sins with this woman.  No doubt David thought that since the woman’s husband was in battle that day he would never find out, and believed that he would get away with this sin.  But the woman discovered that she was pregnant, so David still attempting to get away with this sin, ultimately had this man killed and finally the baby dies after it is born.  These grave consequences for so many people occurred because David was standing alone when he should have been elsewhere, and a temptation was placed in front of him, and he succumbed.  That one small sin that he thought would be no big deal because nobody would find out, destroyed lives and marred a great man of God.  This is a great example for us, that no matter how much success that God grants us, it can all be destroyed by one small sin that we allow to compound because of our pride.  We must try avoid these situations and temptations, but if we do stumble, we must come before God with a broken heart, and ask him to restore us.  When we try to fix things ourselves we will always make the situation worse.

eveserpentEve
We find Eve alone in the garden, and Satan is speaking to her and appealing to her curiosity about a certain fruit.  Scripture says that Eve looked upon the fruit that God told them that they could not eat, and that it became pleasant to her eyes.  She could not resist this temptation, and she ate of the fruit.  Not only did Eve sin, but she then brings this sin to her husband and he sins along with her.  Instead of coming to God and seeking forgiveness, we find them seeking to hide from God in the garden.  And when God questions what they have done, it becomes a blame game.  Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent.  Ultimately each made their own decision to sin, but in an attempt to get away with this sin, they sin even greater by blaming others for their own decision.  Again we see Eve allowing herself to be in a place looking at something she shouldn’t be looking at, and thinking about and desiring something that she should not be desiring.  It’s in these places that Satan will seek us out and tell us that we can get away with this small thing, and we can convince ourselves that he is right.  Unfortunately when we listen to this, it always leads us to our downfall.

Jesus Christ
Finally, we find Jesus in the wilderness alone fasting for 40 days.  Satan comes to him and tempts him to eat, while attempting to appeal to his flesh and his ego.  But Christ doesn’t hesitate, and quotes scripture back to Satan to avoid this temptation put before him.  Again Satan tempts Christ twice more, and each time we find Christ answer “it is written” and quotes scripture to defeat this temptation.  This is our ultimate example.

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We should try our best to avoid these situations of being alone in a vulnerable place to Satan’s temptations, but when we find ourselves there, rather than attempting to excuse our own sin, we must use scripture to defeat these temptations and remove Satan’s power over us.  And if we do stumble, rather than trying to cover up our sin, and make things worse, we must come immediately before God and ask him to restore us.  The examples have been laid out for us.  We must learn from David and Eve and countless others on what not to do, and learn from our ultimate example in Christ on what we should do, and follow his teachings and we can avoid these pitfalls.  I’ll leave you with this scripture from James warning us about falling into these temptations, and then the solution to the problem from  1 John:

James 1:14-15
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

1 John 1:8-9 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

What Influences Us?

Are you influenced by your friends?  Or are you influenced by scripture?
The former makes us feel better, because our sinful nature loves to be accepted by others, and the pack mentality takes over.  The latter will often make us unpopular and hated by many, and cause us to stand alone, but consider this:
How many times have you questioned a decision that you made by following others?  (In my case MANY)
And how many times have you questioned a decision that you made to follow what scripture says?  (In my case zero)

1 Corinthians 15:33 says “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”

We cannot hang around with the world and not be influenced by it.  If you abide near sin, it will eventually beat you down and change you.

2 Corinthians 6:14 says “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

Can we communicate with unbelievers? of course.  We should try to point everyone toward Christ, but when we spend much of our time with sinners watching them sin, ultimately the sin will influence us and pull us in.  If we say that we will just watch, and never take part, we are deceiving ourselves.  Solomon who was known as the wisest man that ever lived thought that he could do this, but scripture says in 1 Kings 11:4 “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.”
So even the wisest man that ever lived could not  be around unbelievers, living in their sin, and stay true to God.  We are wholly influenced by what we spend our time doing.  Do you spend your time following scripture and seeing what God says about things?  Or do you spend your time following friends and seeing what they say about things?  Following friends will cause us to fall repeatedly.  Following scripture will not only keep us from falling, it could also keep our friends from stumbling who are influenced by us.  Every person in the world is influenced by something, so let’s focus on the Influence who never fails.  If we can be an influence to anyone, let’s make it an influence of following God.

John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

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If Character Matters

If the entire world turns to sin, I desire to be like Noah

If I face an unbeatable giant, I desire to be like David

If the whole world is worshiping false idols, I desire to be like Elijah

If I’m asked to make an unthinkable sacrifice, I desire to be like Abraham

If the world tells me I can’t serve my God, I desire to be like Daniel

If my people face a great evil, I desire to be like Esther

If I face an angry mob, I desire to be like Stephen

If I find myself unjustly imprisoned, I desire to be like Paul

If I’ve sinned so great that I feel useless, I desire to be like Peter

If my family turns against me, I desire to be like Joseph

If I make excuses for why I can’t, I desire to be like Moses

If people need a leader, I desire to be like Joshua

If my Pastor needs a faithful companion, I desire to be like Luke

If I lose everything I have, I desire to be like Job

If I am made a king of a wicked nation, I desire to be like Josiah

And above all of these, and though I will surely fail, I desire to be like Christ

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