In a philosophy class, the professor stood before his students with a large jar. He filled the jar with five large rocks and asked his students if the jar was full. The students said, “yes, it sure is.” He poured pebbles in the jar and lightly shook it until the pebbles filled in all the open areas between the rocks. He asked, “how about now?” The students said it was full. The professor then poured sand into the jar and the sand filled in the tiny spaces between the rocks and the pebbles. See, the jar represents all that is in one’s life. The rocks are the most important things: God, family, health, etc. The pebbles represent the things in life that matter, but we could live without. The pebbles are certainly things that give our lives meaning (hobbies, friendships, etc.); but they are not critical for us to have a meaningful life. These things often come and go, and are not essential to our overall well-being. Finally, the sand represents the remaining tiny things in our lives, such as material possessions, watching television or doing errands. These things don't mean much to our lives as a whole, and are likely only done to waste time or get small tasks accomplished.
So, what happens if we put the sand and pebbles in first? Will we have room for the rocks? No. We cannot fill our lives with all the “pebbles” and “sand’ and expect our lives to have room from all the more important things in life, such as faith, family and good health. In other words, we cannot pursue both God’s will and our own independent will. We have to empty ourselves of one in order to fully embrace the other. When our hearts are surrendered and trusting in God, our desires will align with God’s and our joy will be made full. Psalm 37:4 states, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Have you ever been so scared about something that it made you physically sick just thinking about it? I used to be so scared of public speaking that I would get sick, literally. One day I had to do an oral report in high school that scared me so much I stayed home from school. In fact, I never would do one. I would rather take the F. That may be shocking to you coming from a preacher. God works in mysterious ways. Looking back to how scared I got, never in my worst nightmares would I stand before 100 or so people and speak publicly. God has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?
In my office there is a picture of John Wayne that states, “Courage is being Scared to Death but Saddling Up Anyway.” My first time preaching a lesson for my Homiletics class in Chapel at Bear Valley, I was scared to death. With men in the audience such as Denny Petrillo, Michael Hite, Wayne Burger, Bill Stewart, Bob Turner (my Hom I instructor), who have preached for many many years and were wonderful speakers, I was basically shaking in my boots! But I thought of that John Wayne quote and saddled up anyway. I did not die, but my grade made me feel like dying. It was terrible. Fear can paralyze you.
In Joshua 1, Joshua was commissioned by God to go out and conquer Jericho and fill to lead God’s people into the Promised Land. He must have been scared because God tells him a few times to be strong and of good courage (Vv. 6,7 & 9). God makes three promises to Joshua:
PROMISE #1 – Joshua was going to inherit the Promise Land like Moses (Verse 3 & 4)
PROMISE #2 -No man shall stand before him all the days of his life (Verse 5)
PROMISE #3 - God states, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you?” (end of verse 5).
With these promises of God, Joshua could be strong and of good courage. God’s power and presence was with Him. What about us? I still get nervous every time I speak. However, I know God is there and He gives me strength and courage. God is with you too. We all have His power through the Spirit. His Word guides us as we apply it in our lives. Like Joshua, we too can be strong, confident and courageous knowing the Lord is always with us and He never will let us down. That is so reassuring isn’t it?
Why do we believe in what we believe? What causes us to follow a God we cannot “see” or “touch?” Why are we convicted of a resurrection we were not witnesses to? In order for something to be true, do we need to be eyewitnesses to it? Of course not. Many will deny God and what the Bible teaches according to Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection because they need to see it to believe it.
We believe in history that took place over a century ago, such as World War I, yet, nobody we know is alive today who can testify of it. We can rely heavily on eyewitness testimonials of events in history that were written down and recorded. But why do we trust them? If we must see something in order to believe in it, then we must look at history that happened over a hundred years ago as highly suspect? The problem for that type of logic is, we have the world to testify that World War II happened, therefore, we can be assured that World War I was a true event.
In the New Testament, the 1st-Century church had conviction about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”
We can know the resurrection of Christ is true, just like we can know World War I was true. Remember, many who professed Christ were brutally murdered. Why would anyone testify to a lie if it meant them being tortured and killed for it? Nobody in their right mind would.
Are we convicted Jesus died, was buried and arose from the grave? To the disciples of Christ, it was real. What is it to us today? How will we respond? If we truly are convicted of the empty tomb it will then show forth in our lives. Our conviction will be in the testimony of how we live as His. We will share the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone we are able to? Conviction shows action. Let’s be active in sharing Christ in our lives.
Have you ever trusted someone with a secret? This secret was very important to you and needed to be kept, but the one in whom you trusted to keep it, told someone else? Although, it has been said certain secrets are made to be revealed at a later time, one should be trustworthy to “keep it quiet” in regards to the one who trusted them.
Jesus often told His disciples to not let others know about Who He was (Matthew 16:20). He also told those whom He healed to keep it between them, like he said to the leper, “See that you tell no one, but go your way...” (Matthew 8:4). This is known to be the Messianic Secret. Why would Jesus not want anyone to know that He is God’s Son and has the power to heal? First of all, Jesus knew that it was not time for them to know. They were not ready for it. A good example would be Peter. See, the apostles did not understand certain things yet, especially the spiritual things that Jesus had to do, which was to go to Jerusalem to suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, scribes and to be killed and raised the third day. Peter even pulled Jesus to the side to rebuke Him that this should not happen (Matthew 16:21-23). This was one of the reasons as to why they needed to not tell anyone. Second, in the case of the leper, such a miracle being revealed would hinder Christ’s mission and divert public attention from His message. Imagine how many would flock to see Jesus and to be healed? This actually was the case after the leper could not keep quiet. His disobedience of telling others Jesus healed him, caused Jesus to move His ministry away from the city to the desert regions (Mark 1:45). Revealing a secret can have major implications.
Today, we are not to keep the secret, concerning who Jesus is. We are expected by God to share the gospel, to let others know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16-18); that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6); that salvation is found in no other (Acts 4:12). Are you sharing Christ, or keeping Him a secret?
I am not a big fan of change. I get into my comfort zone and do not like to be removed from it. It makes me uncomfortable. Who likes to be uncomfortable?
The other day I was reading a post on Facebook about age. On this particular meme you would reflect on your youth and post how old you are concerning the era in which you grew up. In order to participate, I went back in time in my mind and reminisced about my childhood in the 70’s and 80’s. And I thought so much has changed in 20 years, let alone 40! I responded on their post, “I am Atari, Stretch Armstrong, drink from the hose, ride in the back of a pick-up truck without a seat belt, rotary phone, ride my bike all over the area until sundown, Ronald Reagan as President old.” As the years go by, many things change: The times change, people change, technology, electronics, & toys are more advanced. And as they try to invent things that make life more sociable and convenient, we get less sociable and so many things seem less convenient and more complicated. Maybe it is just me. Life will always change.
When it comes to the Lord, we always can rely on Him and His Word to never change. The inspired Hebrew writer states this about God, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). We can be strengthened and encouraged to know this eternal truth. Jesus was love from the beginning, and He will always be love (1 John 4:8). The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword... (Hebrews 4:12), it will be until He comes again. Jesus’ blood washes away the sins of obedient believers (Acts 2:38; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:1-5; 1 John 1:7); His blood is the agent that will always wash away sins until He comes again. God is everlasting and unchanging.
What about those in the world? Can they go from being a sinner to a saint? Can they be lost in sin to be found in God’s Grace? We do not have to look any further than at ourselves in how we were once lost and then saved by the Grace of God. It is easier to look at others in the world and think, “they would never change, never come to God in obedience” and avoid them. That is never for us to decide. It is our job as Christians to plant and water and allow the everlasting and unchanging God to give the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6). We were once lost and because the unchanging Word of Truth was planted in our lives, we are where we are today, saved. Let us do our best spiritually to get out of our comfort zones to plant the Seed, the Word of God in our communities.
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