Gaining The ‘Good Life’ in Difficult Times
Are you living the ‘good life” today? For many that idea of the “good life”
would evoke financial security, great health, abundant pleasures, and constant
But sadly most of those pursuing that ‘good life” never find it;
and what they thought was lasting fades;
and what they thought was secure gets lost;
and what they thought was pleasure becomes pain;
and what they thought was real turns out to be fake.
Tragic, isn’t it? To miss the real “good life” for an imitation that is broken and useless – and all the time missing what Jesus offers, the most incredible life possible for any human to possess.
What is the “good life”? It is a life that flows from within. It is the original and genuine “good life”. All other varieties but His are counterfeit. Only Christ's ‘good life’ never ends. All the rest do.
That is where we start in Mark 4.8 & 20 today. But before we hear Christ's voice this morning remember that anyone who is honest and has looked at life apart from God soon realizes that the world’s pleasures only offer the best at the first, and then, once you are “hooked,” things start to get worse.
Last week as I tuned in to hear news at the top of the hour I was a couple minutes early. And there in my car came the music of the 60’s and 70’s and one of those voices was the voice of Roy Clark singing his 1969 hit “Yesterday”.
The words his voice framed, exactly captured the fleeting pleasures of anyone who tries to live the “good life” apart from Jesus. Listen to these piercing words and think that this is all that life apart from Jesus has to offer:
1. Yesterday when I was young, the taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue. I teased at life as if it were a foolish game. The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame.
2. I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out. I never stopped to think what life was all about, and every conversation I can now recall, concerned itself with me, and nothing else at all.
3. The game of love I played with arrogance and pride, and every flame I lit to quickly die. The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away, and only I am left on the stage to end the play.
4. There are so many songs in me that won't be sung. I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue. The time has come for me to pay for Yesterday... When I Was Young
Unlike anything this world offers, Jesus continues to offer that which is best until we one day enjoy the finest blessings in His eternal kingdom (Luke 22:18). So how do we make sure we have today this ‘good life” that is genuine? The best way to start is to listen to Him, the Author of the ‘good life”
Open with me to Mark 4.8 and then 20 where Jesus explains that the “good life” is actually from a Good Heart that accepts the Word.
Note that it is that which “comes from within”. So just as a good heart has fruit that comes from within and that fruit is produced by God. So we should see from within us fruit that springs up, increases, and comes to maturity.
We are the company of the unworthy, doing the impossible for the Glory of Another. Never was more asked of anyone than what Jesus Christ asks of you and me TODAY!
JESUS WANTS TO HAVE ALL OF US
In the Gospels we can trace Christ's calls to commitment. He states we can’t be His disciples unless we desire to obey these expressions of devotion to Him. Here are six ways that we evidence Christ as our Teacher, and that we are His Followers. Each of Christ's calls can be distilled down to a handful of words. Why not jot them down on a paper to remember?
1st – Jesus wants my Heart opened completely in love for Him – that means I will love Him MOST.
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).
In this verse, the word “hate” essentially has to do with a comparison of loves. Simply put, our love for God is to be so great that, in comparison, love for even the dearest of relations should seem as hatred. Loving God with an unrivaled love means that we will esteem nothing—family, friends, possessions, job, fame, power, pleasures, and especially ourselves—of more worth to us than He is.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the
Mark 8:34-37 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.35 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.36 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 “Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Jesus wants my Body offered completely to Him– that means I will die to SELF.
“Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).
Dying to self is a prerequisite to living for Christ. Paul wrote of this when he said,
“I am crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20).
In spite of the cost of death to self, and whatever personal suffering that may bring, a dedicated disciple will follow after Christ, wherever He chooses to lead.
Jesus wants my Will surrendered unreservedly to Him – that means I will OBEY.
“Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33).
Because Christ purchased us with His blood, we belong wholly to Him (1 Cor. 6:19-20). In light of this, He expects us to acknowledge His rightful ownership by not holding back anything for ourselves.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
A life given unreservedly back to God as a love offering is what stewardship is all about. Stewardship is not only about money, it is about life itself. Time and life are far greater treasures than money and possessions. First and foremost, God wants us—unreservedly!
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