Filled for Eternity

Read Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 8:34

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

BlueberriesViolet Beauregarde was the third out of five children to win a fabulous tour of a world-famous chocolate and candy factory and, just like the other children, she was there to get her fill. During the tour, the owner of the factory brought her and the other children into the invention wing of the factory, where all the new ideas for candy were being put to the test.

There, in that very room, was a chewing gum that would blow little Violet’s mind.  Not only was this a type of gum, but it also doubled as a filling three-course meal.  Wow, Violet was going to get her fill! After all, that is exactly what she had come there for! Of course, the gum was still in the testing phase of its development; yet, despite much protest from the owner, Violet stuffed her mouth with the gum and began to chew! She was going to have her fill and no one was going to stop her.

The gum started off tasting like a creamy tomato soup and then changed to the flavor of roast beef and a baked potato! Mmmm! That is so tasty! Finally, the gum changes flavor again. This time it’s dessert, and what’s on the menu? Blueberry Pie! Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm…how delicious! Well, it was the most awesome gum she had ever had, that is, until she started to feel sick and bloated. In fact, she was not only ballooning out, she was also turning blue! When all was said and done, she was a giant blueberry…just like the last flavor of the gum in her mouth. She had certainly had her fill.

Many will recognize the story above to be from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. While Violet may be an extreme case, her story is still a parallel for how many have come to view church, and Christianity, in today’s culture. Many people are looking for their fill. They want to show up on Sunday, “be filled”, and move on with the rest of their week.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being filled. We all need to be filled to sustain ourselves for what lies ahead; however, when all we do is seek to be filled, we end up looking a lot like Violet Beauregarde.  We aren’t filled just so we can merely have our fill; rather, we are filled so that we may go and fill others.

Jesus addressed this in his teachings, never more clearly than in Matthew 25:31-46. The question is, are we the type of Christians to get our fill and keep it for ourselves? Are we the type of Christians who sit around comfortably, filled to the brim, while others are begging for hope, healing and wholeness? Or, are we the type of Christians who have been filled, and who seek to fill others by bringing hope, healing and wholeness into their lives?

There is plenty of work to be done for the Kingdom of God. We are called to be the presence of God in the world. We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ.  God doesn’t need us to be disciples, but God desires us to be a part of filling others with the same hope, healing and wholeness we’ve been filled with.  Once we answer that call, we will be filled in a way that will sustain us for eternity.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

To help is to be helped; to fill is to be filled; to love is to be loved. As you have received, so you should give.

PRAYER

Lord God, we thank you for being our bountiful provider. We accept our fill and we accept your call for us to be fillers in the lives of those who need hope, healing and wholeness. Use us as you will us to be used. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Truly Living

Read Matthew 16:24-27

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10).

A scene from the film, "Braveheart"One of my favorite films is the movie “Braveheart”, which tells the true story of the Scottish freedom fighter and revolutionary, William Wallace, who lived in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Wallace was born and lived in a Scotland that was occupied and ruled by the English.  During this time, Wallace witnessed many oppressive things happen to his people.  The English were heavily taxing the Scots, banning them from observing their traditions, raping their women and killing people as they saw fit.

Wallace, who was a landowner and had much to lose, would have none of that. Instead, he rose up and rallied an army of Scots to fight for their freedom against the English. Though he had some decisive victories, including sacking and taking the city of York in Northern England, Wallace was eventually captured, hung, drawn and quartered as a traitor.

In the film, as he was awaiting his death, the princess comes to him and begs him to plead for mercy, to confess in order to be spared a painful death.  Wallace refused and the princess begged him again saying, “But they will kill you, it will be awful.”  It is here that William Wallace looks her in the eyes and says, “Every man dies, not every man truly lives.”

How true is that? Each and every one of us will die, yet many of us go through life without ever truly living. Jesus says similar words in the suggested reading above, but what does it mean to truly live, what does it mean to inherit true life? This is not a question that is easily answered and, for each person, the answer will most definitely be different.

For each of us, there is a divinely ordained purpose. God has a plan for each and every one of us and until we answer the call to pursue God’s will we will not be truly living. Just as both Jesus and William Wallace did, we too will have to make sacrifices to pursue the calling and/or purpose placed on our lives.  The question is, will you make the sacrifices to serve God’s purpose for your life, or will you try to hold on to the “life” you think you have already? What is God calling you to do? What is the purpose God has ordained for you?

I, the writer of this devotional, cannot answer these questions for you; however, God can and will. Remember what Jesus says in Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you” (NRSV). Be present in the lives of others and seek God’s will in your life. In fact, seek God’s will for your life by being present in the lives of others. If you do so you will most definitely inherit true life.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

A life without purpose is as good as faith without action.

PRAYER

Gracious God, what is it that you would have me do today and beyond? What purpose are you calling me to? Guide me, O God, toward your will so that I may be a flavorful granule of salt and a light for the world to see.  Guide me toward the true life that you have in store for me. Amen.

Dare I Jump?

Read Matthew 6:25-34

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NRSV).

“I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NRSV).

I can remember back when I was a small boy and I was first learning to dive into water. The lifeguard would take us to the bridge at the small pond where I was learning how to swim and, one by one, we would each take a turn diving. There was just one problem…I was petrified. The water looked so far down that I could not fathom letting myself fall head first. It was a scary thought for me. What’s more, there was a roaring waterfall not even 10 feet beyond the bridge which we were diving off. The sound of the water crashing on the rocks below was a horrifying sound to an 8-year-old boy. What if water’s current sucked me toward and over the waterfall?

I remember standing at the edge, arms over my head and overlapping at the hands, my head tucked in and down. There I was staring down at the water, hearing the sound of what seemed like my demise gushing down and over the rocks below. I stood there paralyzed and could not move. And when the lifeguard finally convinced me to let go, to actually take the dive, I still wouldn’t let go, even as I was falling into the water. The result: SPLASH!!! I belly-flopped and then swam, in pain, for my life toward the beach! Reaching the shore, I realized that the current wasn’t as fearsome as it seemed on the bridge, and the only thing that hurt was the belly flop, which my fear was the cause of. Eventually, I learned to let go and found freedom in the free fall off of that bridge and, since then, I have never looked back!

While the story above describes my early fear of diving, it rings true for many of us in our lives. We let our fears get the better of us. Rather than taking the leap of faith off of the bridge we stand there paralyzed, staring down at the waters. Jesus taught that it was futile to live life in fear, even when it comes to worrying about essential things such as food or clothing. Rather, he called us to live a life of faith. If we seek out the Kingdom of God, which means that it can be found here and now, and if we seek God’s righteousness, then God will provide for us as we need. This does not mean God will provide us with everything we want, but we will never be found wanting of what we truly need!

Therefore, what do we have to fear? Let us seek out the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness! Let us do what it is God has called each and every one of us to do and let us do it fearlessly!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” —Franklin Delano Roosevelt

PRAYER

Lord God, I open myself and hand my life over to you. Please liberate me from the oppressive force of fear and move me toward a life of faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Announcement

Hello all,

Thank you, once again, for signing up for this devotional.  I am excited to let you know that the first of many will be published and sent to your email on Wednesday!  God bless you and thanks again for signing up! Spread the word!

In Christ,

Pastor Todd

A biweekly devotional