Living a Full Life

As we finish our look at living life, many of us find it difficult to live a life that is full of joy, peace, and fulfillment. The Bible tells us there is a reason for that. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (NASB) Our enemy, the Devil, seeks to take away any peace, joy or fulfillment we can have in life. His goal is to see that as Believers, we live a life that is ineffective in reaching others for Christ. He will do anything he can to defeat us in every area of our lives.

As we look at our Scripture today, Jesus has been talking to the people with the parable of The Good Shepherd. He explains that the sheep know the shepherd’s voice and will not respond to anyone else. They are so close to him that they instantly recognize his voice as he calls them. He also tells them that the shepherd is the door to the sheep pen, and anyone who enters through the door other than the shepherd is a thief and a robber. In Bible times, sometimes many shepherds had to leave their sheep in a “community sheepfold” and someone was hired to be the doorkeeper. Each shepherd would come to get his sheep and would call to them. Only his sheep knew his voice and they would follow him. If anyone else tried to call his sheep, they would not follow because they did not know their voice.

Many times, our enemy tries to call us away from the abundant life found in Christ. I looked for a definition of what abundant life meant, and Wikipedia described it as, “a life abounding in joy and strength in mind, body, and soul.” For me, it means that my life is full of peace, joy, and fulfillment. I can find that abundant life only through Jesus Christ. As I live my life in a way that would bring honor and glory to God, then I can live a life that is complete, a life that is so full that I can hardly stand it.

Daily stresses can hinder us from living that abundant life. When we try to juggle work, home life, relationships, and the myriad of other things that we encounter daily, it can become so overwhelming that we find ourselves wanting to get away from it all. But, as we have seen in our series, all we need to do is look up to the One who can help us. See what God is asking for us to do. Maybe it’s just to step away from all the chaos and rest in Him. Maybe He’s asking us to trust Him in the path He is leading us, even though it makes no sense. Whatever He wants from us, that is the way to living the abundant life.

In my life, right now, I am dealing with physical pain in my knees and my back. I can let this get me down to the point of not doing anything because I’m in pain, thereby, living like a hermit and not getting out and enjoying life, or I can ask God for the strength to keep going and determine that I’m not going to let it get me down. I just spent a week at my sister’s because I had my 50th high school reunion, and while my hubby and I were there, we didn’t just sit around, we were on the go almost every day. Thank goodness for Ibuprofen and a cane! We walked more last week than I have in a long time. I was able to enjoy my high school reunion, go to a HUGE flea market, go to the zoo, visit some childhood friends, and visit the local Renaissance Faire. I lived life to the fullest despite the pain. Satan has tried his best to set me back in my walk with God, through physical pain. But I can say with firm conviction, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 KJV)

If you are facing difficult circumstances, remember that it is Jesus who is able to deliver us, He is the One who gives us the strength, it is through Him that we have that abundant life!

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Resting in Christ

As we have been looking at living life and resting, I want to step away from the physical aspect of rest and look at resting from a Spiritual perspective. Today’s Scripture is Hebrews 4:9, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” (KJV) As we read the verses around our Scripture, the writer of Hebrews is talking about resting in Christ and that we as Believers can find our rest in Jesus. During the time of the Israelites’ Exodus to the Promised Land, they were people who couldn’t find rest because they were relying on Moses, Joshua, and the Law to bring that rest to them. However, none of these could give them the rest they desired. They struggled continuously, even after they entered the Promised Land, they were not able to find that peace and rest they so longed for. They were unable to conquer the entire land and enjoy all the blessings that God had in store for them because they were relying on things other than God to bring that rest.

The writer of Hebrews writes this chapter with the theme that Jesus is greater than Joshua because Christ finished the work for us on the cross to bring us that rest that we so desperately need. Joshua nor the Law could bring the rest of knowing our sins were wiped away, and therefore the work was unfinished, and no rest could be found. The people were enslaved still in their hearts because they had no assurance that their sins were completely paid for. They had to offer sacrifices for their sins. Jesus paid the penalty of death that must be paid for sin.

Because Jesus paid our penalty, we can rest in Him, not just for the payment of our sins, but also in being able to trust Him for every situation we face. Not only can we rest in the knowledge that our sins have been forgiven and the debt has been paid, but we can also rest in the fact that Jesus can be trusted to guide us through this life. When we are being blessed, we can trust Him and rest in His blessings. When life is throwing everything at us but the kitchen sink, and maybe even the kitchen sink, we can rest in knowing He’s got this. Nothing we face comes to Him by any surprise, and He will hold us through the struggle. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

We know that He is faithful to keep His promises, He is faithful to help us (Hebrews 13:6) and we can rest in Him! Sometimes I struggle with resting in Jesus, especially when I am faced with a situation that looks impossible and there is nothing I can do about it. My default is to panic or worry myself into a frenzy. I forget that God has this, and this is not coming to Him by any surprise. He’s big enough to take care of it and doesn’t need my help. That’s when I need to step back, take a deep breath, and put it in His hands, and not take it back, which I also tend to do. Resting in Jesus means remembering all the times that He has come through for me, then believe and trust that He will do it again!

As Believers, we can rest in Jesus’ arms. When we allow Him to work in our lives to fulfill His plan for us, we will find that rest. Peace will flood our souls and we know that He has us in the palm of His hand, and He will never let us go. So, today find your rest in Jesus. Allow Him to work in your life and He will give you rest!

Live Life as an Adventure

 

I have often told people that since Jesus came into my life, I have been on an adventure. God has led me into some pretty incredible areas, areas I would never have dreamed to be placed in. As we look at living life, we have talked about looking up and listening to what God is telling us about resting. Today, we look at life as an adventure and how we should experience that adventure. Our Bible Journaling today is from Exodus 40:36, “Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out.” (NASB) The World English Bible says, “When the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward throughout all their journeys.”

As we look at the background of our verse today, we know that God led Israel with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. His Spirit inhabited the cloud and the pillar of fire, and so He led them out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Whenever the cloud moved, the Israelites were to follow. They were going to a land where they had never been and didn’t know what to expect when they got there. They were on an adventure.

Our lives are often like that. God is leading us in areas we are not familiar with, and with which we have no experience. That can be scary sometimes, but mostly I find it interesting. As I said, my life has been an adventure. In High School, if someone would have told me that one day I would have been working in radio and television, I would have told them that they were crazy. Broadcasting was not even in my peripheral vision! But because God was directing my life, I met my first husband, who was the chief engineer of a local Christian radio station, and my path was set. I have been involved in radio on the microphone and behind the scenes, and on television in front of the camera and behind it. It has been an amazing journey. After my husband died, God took me on another adventure, and I am now married again and retired, experiencing life differently.

God wants us to experience the adventure He takes us on. Some parts are exhilarating, while others can be devastating, as it was when my first husband died. I was in such a dark pit, but even in that, God was leading and teaching me.

Adventure comes in many forms. It can be in a time of rest, such as when we get away from the daily grind of things while we are on vacation. It can be in little moments, like seeing nature in a new and different way as we go about our normal routine, and we can praise Him for His creation. Adventure can be something as simple as watching our little ones grow, experiencing the world around them with awe and wonder. Or, it can be seeing our lives unfold in ways we don’t expect, and we stand in awe that God is doing something different in our lives. Our lives are an adventure, we just have to see that God is leading us and wants us to be aware and experience that adventure to the fullest.

Look around you, what is it that God wants you to experience? Are you aware of His leading? Can you see the adventure on which He is taking you? Open yourself up to the adventure He has for you. You will find that life can be so much more exciting when you are aware of God’s hand in everything you do and experience.

Live Life – Look Up

In today’s world, we can find ourselves so focused on work and projects and doing things that we don’t take the time to stop. Life calls to us from all avenues of things that must be done, drowning out the still small voice of God. Our lives become unbalanced and we tend to become wrapped up in the hectic activity. Today’s Bible Journaling is from I Corinthians 2:11, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (KJV)

God speaks to us daily, but I think we get ourselves so involved in the busyness of living that we don’t stop and listen. Our verse today tells us that we know the things of man because we are human (the spirit of man), but the things of God are revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. But when we get so tied up in the things and activities of this life that we can’t hear the Holy Spirit speak to us, then our life is unbalanced. God gave us an example to follow. We are to rest, to stop and replenish our energy. When He created the world, the universe, and everything in it, the Bible says God rested. (Genesis 2:2) Jesus also rested often with His disciples. Mark 6:31-32 says, “Because so many people were coming and going that they didn’t even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to them, `Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’” (NIV). In other words, Jesus said, “Fellows, you deserve a break today. Come to the desert and we’re going to rest.” (taken from Pastors.com – article by Rick Warren)

Resting can be anything from taking a walk and spending time with God, praying and singing praise to Him, to going on vacation to relax and get away from the daily grind and enjoy life around us. Look up and see the world around us, enjoy what He has created. It also can be a time of reflection. There are times we need to stop and take stock of where we are and where we are going. If life is going so fast that we can’t even breathe, then we run headlong into a life of exhaustion and chaos.

We can get so focused on work, family duties, and putting out fires all over the place, that we forget that we need to get away for a little while and get ourselves back into a place of balance. I know some people who accrue tons of vacation time, but they never use it. From where I stand, they are running headlong into a medical crisis because they won’t take the time to relax and gain strength from enjoying some downtime. Even those in ministry can be so driven that they are constantly going and don’t take some downtime. What they don’t realize is that God doesn’t require that we work ourselves to death. Yes, He has given us a talent, a ministry, a calling and we are to fulfill that calling but not to the extent that we become ineffective in our calling. We must listen to His call to take some time and rest.

When I lived in Montana there was a period where my pastor was going non-stop because within two months we had four people pass away, and he had to deal with preparing funerals and ministering to grieving families, plus preparing for Sunday sermons, and visiting the sick. He was exhausted and yet he wouldn’t take time away. It took the Church Board to make him go on vacation to rest up; it was not a request; it was a demand. He desperately needed to get away so that he could be an effective pastor to the congregation. His life was out of balance. He didn’t look up and listen to God telling him that he needed rest. Once he was rested, we could tell that he was relaxed and able to minister to us effectively.

As our verse says today, we can’t know the things of God unless we are listening to the Holy Spirit speak to us. We must slow down and listen, we must look up to Him and take in what He says. When He says it’s time to rest, then we need to stop and rest…rest in our physical lives, rest spiritually, and rest in His arms.