John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full.
I hope that each of you had a wonderful Easter; I did. I was privileged to attend both morning and evening services at my home church, with the honor and privilege of bringing the evening message, had a very nice dinner with my family and spent some quality time with my wife and grandson after dinner. But you know what really made the day for me? During the morning service a young man gave his life to Christ! What a more wonderful and appropriate way to celebrate Easter than to see one die out to sin and be raised to eternal life? There is none. Every child of God should be filled with joy from this news.
As this babe in Christ begins his walk of faith I’m sure his heart is filled with the joy of the Lord. Jesus said that He has given us His joy that we might be full. Oh, if only we would step out in faith and take hold on His Word, how filled with joy we could and should be. And it’s so easy to do: Just follow Him, pursue that which glorifies our Father, produce the good fruit, and then watch as our cups begin to run over!
John 10:10 … I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.
Sunday evening I was honored and privileged to preach at one of our sister churches, Madison UBC. After studying and meditating over the last few days I had a good idea of what the message was to be. About an hour before it was time to get ready to leave I was greatly troubled, out of the blue, as they say, by today’s verse; the word “abundantly” and how Jesus meant it specifically troubled my mind. I did a quick study on the word and the verse and thought I was done, as my mind was at ease now. Boy, was I wrong! God’s message (notice how I phrased it this time) was to be centered around this thought and idea I soon learned. I feel led to share some of that message and thought with you here, too.
Jesus used the word abundantly here to refer to love and zeal for God: our lives should abound with love for Him, His people and His Word. Yes, some will have an abundance of “things” here in this life but we all can have the greatest abundance after while if we will have the abundant love for God now, serving Him with zeal from the heart. How to we get the abundant life? By living a surrendered life: totally yielded and surrendered to God.
15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
The other day I bought this new cleaning product. I was drawn to it by the wording of the labeling “no obnoxious fumes”. I’m very sensitive to harsh fumes so this was an easy buy for me. It took about one minute of use for me to realize that “obnoxious” was relative to the nose; that stuff was about as foul and obnoxious as anything I’ve ever had the displeasure of inhaling.
Have you ever wondered why there are certain folks that get to squirming around when you bring up the things of God around or to then? Perhaps it is as our passage today says: they smell the death of their sins on themselves when the sweet perfume of God is being waved through the air about them.
The next time you see some squirming going on with someone remember that it’s coming from their conscience. And keep on fanning them with the sweet aroma of the Lord, praying they’ll become sickened by the smell of death and long to have the aroma of life on them, too.
Many of you know that I used to be in sales. I remember when I told my grandfather of my new career choice he had some words of advice for me. One of the most important things he told me was this: “Son, God gave you one mouth and two ears. Use them in proportion.” In other words, listen more than (twice as much as) you speak. That short but sage advice served me well through the years. Though I must admit that as I age I tend to bloviate more than I used to.
I think these wise words also apply to our prayer life. How often do we talk and talk, petition and interceed, without stopping to listen to what God has to say to us? I know for me the answer is too often.
Our Lord wants a personal relationship with each one of us. But how personal can it be if all of the conversations are one sided? How do we expect to hear the answers we seek if we don’t stop talking and listen to His reply?
Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness,
You who seek the LORD:
Look to the rock from whichyou were hewn,
And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.
Our grandson is beginning to learn to take steps now. He’s already mastered pulling himself up and getting erect. We began by holding out our fingers to him, like handles, and he would sit himself up. From there he learned to sit up then pull himself to a standing position.
No matter where I put him now, be it standing in his crib, up against our ottoman, or standing in the seat beside me, he holds onto at least one of my “handles”. Though another object may actually be more sturdy, he seems to know if he’s holding onto me he is safe; Papaw won’t let him fall.
How similar that is to our walk in this life. If we would trust God implicitly, with a child-like faith, and grasp onto Him tighly, rather than leaning on self or things of this world, we would be so much the better off. Our Father loves us and if we will cling to Him He will always hold us up. How we should long and strive for that child-like faith!
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. (Mat. 18:3; Psa. 62:6)
Today I awoke, just like everyday, to my usual morning routine. I’ll not bore you with the details of it though. It is another ordinary day. But is it really?
I woke up today. I was able to go about doing the things I normally do. I got to enjoy the sounds and sights and smells of God’s wonderful creation from my deck as I do most mornings. I was able to pray and read the Bible a little while. And I am able to write this blog post. All of these things are pretty unextraordinary, or are they?
I am able to do each thing because God, in His mercy, love and generosities, saw fit to allow me to do them. Each day, each action, everything we do are gifts from the Almighty Himself. How often do we take the time to consider that? Probably not often enough.