Saturday, January 25, 2014

Having it all! Is it possible?

           It is hard to imagine how wealthy some are in the world. Investor Warren Buffet, the Walton family of Walmart fame, Bill Gates, and others. They have accumulated not millions but billions. To those on the outside people dream about what it would be like to be that rich. We led to think that such wealth would mean an end to our problems, a life of easy, and happiness. We know, from many examples that this is just not the case. Stories abound about lottery winners whose lives are ruined by their acquired wealth.
           One famous example is that of the late billionaire, Howard Hughes. At the age of 20 he became a noted film producer and one of his works, Two Arabian Knights, won an academy award. As a pilot he set cross-country and around the world speed records. He had highly publicized relationships with Ginger Rodgers, Katherine Hepburn and Ava Gardner, among other Holly wood legends. And the income from the business he inherited provided him with almost unlimited funds. Between the fantastic amount of wealth he accumulated and the remarkable feats he achieved, most agree that he had it all.
           Yet all the outward success he fostered decayed quickly. He began to suffer from a series of mental disorders, and he became a fanatic about cleanliness, fearful of any germs. (His servants had to wear white gloves, sometimes several pairs, when touching documents he would alter read.) He had a devouring dependence on narcotics. His last years were the worst: naked, dirty and emaciated, he remained in darkened rooms and limited his contacts to a few employees who kept him alive. In a sense, he still "had it all"; he had his billions. Yet he had nothing.
           In today's success orientated world, happiness and contentment are being wrongly equated with Hughes style success. Big money, respected accomplishments and high-society connections are tantalizingly offered as bait to lure the commoner into believing that "having it all" means everything.
           "Having it all," that is, true happiness and contentment, cannot be bought, bribed or earned. But it is given freely, as a gift, by the same Lord who has given us all good things to enjoy. In fact, God wants us to have it all!
           Jesus once said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." It was for that very reason that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world. He lived a perfect life and died on excruciating death in our place, to pay for our sins. By that death, later by his resurrection from the dead Jesus destroyed sin and its power once and for all. He victoriously made things right between us and our God by his self-sacrifice. By believing in him we share in that victory!
           We can know that our sins have been forgiven by our gracious God, that Jesus has put us back into a right relationship with Him, and that He will give us the ultimate evidence of that victory in everlasting heavenly glory.

           Believe in Jesus as you Savior from sin - that's having it all!

Christ is King – let him rule your life.

           I read a story about a young sentry who was on guard duty for the first time. He had orders not to admit any car unless it had a special identification seal on its bumper. About the middle of the night an unmarked car approached which the sentry quickly stopped. Inside the car was a general and his driver. When the sentry told them that they could not enter because the special seal was not on the car, the general got impatient and somewhat angry. He finally leaned over and told his driver not to worry just drive on through. When the sentry heard this he moved forward and asked the general, “I’m sorry to bother you sir, but I’m new at all this. Could you please tell me who I should shoot first, you or the driver?” This young sentry may have been new to his job but he knew what his job was. He knew what it meant to take orders and carry them out, to respect those in authority.
While we may not be in the military, we are expected to comply with those who have authority over us. That would certainly include our parents if we are children, the police, the local and state governments, etc. We submit to the authority of the IRS when we pay our taxes even though we may not like it.
The authority that I would like you to think about more seriously is the Lord, Jesus Christ. In fact, the Bible calls him the King of kings and Lord of lords. When Pilate questioned Jesus about this, shortly before Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus replied, “You’re right when you say that I am a king” (John 18:37). What that means to us who follow Jesus is that he is our King.
The rule of a king is called a ‘monarchy’. There are roughly 200 countries in the world and about a fourth of them have some form of a monarchy. Most of these monarchs are figureheads with a parliament type body having the real power. In God’s kingdom, the power of Christ is supreme. His power is unlimited. He created everything that exists and sustains it with the power of his Word. With his power, he rules the world. He controls the forces of nature. He brings about the rise and fall, not only of the ocean tides, but the nations of the world. They all exist by his permission.
His desire is that as many people as possible would come to know him as their Savior before he returns on Judgment Day when it will be too late. As our King, he watches over us. He protects us from harm and danger. With his victory at Calvary, he defeated the Devil, freed us from the power of sin and death.
There is no king who has had such power, can do so much, or moved his people more. Do you recognize him as your King? Do you submit to his will as the Lord of your life or do you often go out and do “your own thing?” Do you trust him to save you and protect you? Do you believe that, according to his promise, he will turn your trials into blessings? Most important of all, do you take your sins, when you fall short, to his throne of grace and ask for his forgiveness? It’s yours. You have his promise on that.
Like the young sentry, don’t ever forget who is in authority. Always seek to do his will for Jesus Christ is the King of kings.

Have you made a New Year’s resolution?

          Did you make it till midnight on New Year’s Eve? Maybe it’s not important to you to observe this tradition. But, people around the world wait with eager anticipation for the stroke of midnight on December 31st to welcome in the New Year. Party hats and horns, confetti and streamers, balloons and fireworks, are all part of the celebration. Then at midnight, everyone shouts “Happy New Year!”
Have you given much thought to what you are saying when you wish someone a “Happy New Year?” Is it your HOPE that their New Year will be a good one? Is it merely a wish you are making on their behalf? “I hope you win the lottery.” or, “I hope you don’t get laid off.”
Let’s face it. Isn’t looking into the future nothing more than a “hope and a prayer”? After all, we can’t see into the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen or how things will go in our life? Will we lose our job or get a promotion? Will our business prosper or will we go bankrupt? Will we be blessed with good health or face sickness? Will we see the blessed arrival of a baby or face the loss of someone we love? For most the future is seen as a blank slate that has yet to be written. They ask, ‘How can anyone know and be certain that the New Year will be a happy one?’
The truth is that one can know. The truth is that the greeting “Happy New Year” when used for a child of God is not an optimistic wish but something we know will be true. It is a prediction that will become reality. We can say this because it is based on the word and promise of God.
When Jesus came into this world, he did not simply come so we could celebrate his birth. He came to suffer and die. Through that suffering and death, Jesus defeated Satan and freed us from his power. By his resurrection, he assured us that death and the grave can no longer imprison us. By being punished for our sins, he assures us that our sins cannot condemn us. In other words, there is nothing yet to be done to secure our happiness for the future.
While we live on this earth, things may not always be easy. Before we are taken to glory, we feel the effects of sin around us and from within. This experience is not always a pleasant one. When we lose a loved one in death, it hurts. Yet, if they die in Christ, it won’t be long until we see them again. We face problems, many of them, but God has promised to use them for our good. The bottom line is that our futures are bright and our lives are good - so long as Jesus lives in our heart.
If you want your New Year to truly be a happy one, stay close to Jesus and his Word. Let him rule your heart and life. Trust in his promises. Enjoy the blessings he has to give! Have a happy New Year!