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In public, most people appear happy and confident. But beneath the surface, many feel empty. In fact, it is possible to be in a large crowd and yet still feel alone.
A lot of men and women see no meaning or purpose in life. Attempting to overcome the emptiness, some become busy, others turn to drugs or alcohol, and still others strive for more money, power or love. Though pleasure exists for them, it is usually short lived.
There’s a reason why life can feel empty: Man was created with a yearning that God alone is able to satisfy. Individuals can’t be fulfilled until they experience His transforming and unconditional love. Jesus said “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” In other words, the Lord wants us to feel complete, which can happen only through a relationship with Him.
However, even a person who is saved can feel empty. This could result from disobedience: a slight detour in one’s walk with the Lord can become a way of life, depriving a believer of deep satisfaction. It’s also possible for Christian’s to live according to God’s Word without fully surrendering their desires to Him. For example, many believers still try to fill up their own void with achievements, wealth or relationships. When aspirations like these are given higher priority than the Lord, they are a form of idolatry.
We can live a full live only when we seek God above all else. Pray for His guidance as you search your heart. Confess any sin, and ask God to fill your life as only He can do.
The book of Acts is an amazing record of how God worked in and through the early church & one of their most important activities was prayer. While Jesus was with His disciples little was recorded of them praying because they could talk directly to Christ. But after His ascension they immediately gathered in the upper room & “devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14).
Talking to God was their means of preparing for the work He had for them. Jesus had told them the Father would give the Holy Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13). Then after the resurrection He instructed them to stay in Jerusalem until they were “clothed with power from on high” (24:29). Without the Spirit they were not adequate for the Great Commission even though they’d spent time with Jesus. & if they needed the Spirit’s power so do we.
To the degree we’re willing to admit our absolute helplessness to do God’s work the Holy Spirit will empower us as we pray. When we are devoted to prayer the Lord begins to work in our heart preparing us for service. He gives us the Spirit’s boldness to speak God’s Word (Acts 4:31) & the courage to face any persecutions that might result (v.29).
God is looking for believers who understand the importance of prayer and realize the only way to fulfill His calling for the church is through His supernatural power. Christ’s church is not grown through programs, seminars and conferences but through the humble prayers of saints who gather together in utter dependence upon Him. That’s when God’s power is released and His will is accomplished.
2 Corinthians 11:22-31
In today’s passage, Paul’s description of his suffering is remarkable in 2 ways. First of all he had obviously faced considerable torment for his faith. Second he refused to whine or seek pity.. if this was the price for passionately serving Christ Paul was willing to pay. In our own faith walk we can learn from the apostle’s commitment.
We serve according to God’s will not our own. On the road to Damascus Jesus said to Paul “It will be told you what you must do” (Acts 9:6). We are to see the Lord’s direction and timing instead of choosing the ministry that seems best to us. Committing to do whatever He asks requires courage but anything less amounts to putting limitations on our obedience.
We serve according to our gifts not our talents. A spiritual gift is the special endowment God gives us to serve where he calls. Talents may be useful in His work but His gifts equip us for success. Natural skill wasn’t what made Paul a powerful preacher. In fact he spoke of the uselessness of his abilities and pedigree in comparison with knowing and erving Christ (Phil. 3:4-9).
We are to serve with a focus on God not on the work. Paul excelled at remaining Christ centered but this is where many people fall short. We get caught up in schedul;ing responsibility and accolades which can make us lose sight of the true purpose: reaching the needy and those who need Christ.
Doing “church work” can stroke the ego but drain the body. If we keep focused and serve out of our gifts service will be satisfying even when it is hard or painful.
Have you ever attempted to walk in a straight line while looking at your feet? Try this on the beach sometime so you can look back at your footprints. You’ll probably be surprised at how crooked the path is. But fix your eyes upon something far away, and each step will point in the desired direction – toward that distant focal point.
Our lives are like this. If we set goals, then our decisions and thoughts will lead toward the desired end. On the other hand, if we humble along without specific aims, we will wander and waste much precious time and energy.
Goals are crucial to the well-lived life. Why, then, do so many people fail to formulate purposeful aims? Some simply do not see the importance of a plan, while others are too lazy to devise one or don’t know how to go about it. Then there are those who lack faith in God’s ability to help them achieve their aspirations.
Think about the many goals Jesus had- they drove all that He did. His daily aims involved such things as serving others and teaching those who sought righteousness. But more than that, our Savior centered everything on a primary purpose set even before time began, to lay down His life on the cross in order to save mankind from sin and glorify the Father.
We were created to glorify the Lord and be fruitful in His service. Imagine the impact our lives could have if we asked God to guide our goals. Pray, “What do You want to change about my life? What do You want to accomplish through me?” Let Him determine on what and on whom you focus.
Think back to when you first came to God. Did you understand what to expect? The church’s missions is to faithfully proclaim the gospel, but we also have the responsibility to teach new believers how God works in our life once we are saved.
The first thing we can anticipate after salvation is to grow closer with the Lord. As with any relationship, this requires 2 way communication. We come to know and love God through His word, and in prayer we share our live with Him. As our understanding of Him deepens, trust will increase. We’ll see we have no reason to worry, because our Father always provides for our needs, whether phsyical, emotional or spiritual.
We can also expect clear guidance, if we align ourselves with His will and ways He promises to direct our path. At times His guidance is corrective, He also reminds us of scriptural truths and encourages obedience.
Difficulty can be another result of following Christ. Problems don’t just fade away once we come to Christ. In fact, everyone who chooses a godly lifestyle can expect misunderstanding, resistance, and even persecution. Furthermore believers aren’t exempt from the trials that afflict all of humanity.
As you begin a New Year of walking with Jesus remember you’re never alone in your struggles. And with Christ’s strength you can confidently face whatever comes your way.
Look around you. While many may be enjoying the festivities of Christmas some are still holding on to bitterness & disdain but don’t be surprised – the problem isn’t the season it’s the Savior. Our need for salvation reminds us of our own shortcomings and inability to redeem ourselves.
This isn’t the first time that Jesus stirred up antagonism in someone’s heart. Herod was troubled when he heard that the magi were looking for the King of the Jews. When they didn’t return to report the location of the Christ child he became enraged and slaughtered all the male children in Bethlehem who were 2 years of age and under.
What is it about Jesus that causes some people to feel such hostility? Herod’s fury was fueled by his desire for power and control. He didn’t want another king no matter how small to dethrone him. People today scorn the celebration of Christ’s birth for the same reason- they don’t want anyone else ruling their life.
Romans 1:18 says that people who reject Jesus Christ have suppressed the truth. The Lord pointed out that those who fear their deeds will be exposed as evil won’t come to the Light. However we should never assume that salvation is impossible for someone who is hostile to Jesus. After all the apostle Paul was an aggressive persecutor of the church until his conversion.
Sometimes people who resent Christianity and Christmas may seem unreachable to us but remember no one is beyond the reach of Jesus.