Why is everyone hungry for more

Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.” I have God’s more-than-enough, More joy in one ordinary day Than they get in all their shopping sprees. At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep, For you, God, have put my life back together. (Psalm 4:6-8 MSG)

Materialism. It seems as though in America today people define their happiness based on what they have. Working harder and harder to make more money. Spending that money on things you don’t even have time to enjoy. Trying to keep up with the latest and greatest. Everyone else has it!

Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors… (Ecclesiastes 4:4 NLT)

But the pursuit of things can be endless. When you finally get the thing you were striving for, a shiny new thing catches your eye and the feverish pursuit begins again.

Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NLT)

And this chase never satisfies… You never quite have enough. Someone always has more. And this feeling of falling short causes discouragement and frustration that saps us of the joy God is trying to give us.

Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. (Ecclesiastes 5:17 NLT)

God wants to give us good things. He wants us to enjoy the fruits of our labor as gifts from him. (Ecclesiastes 4:4)

But he doesn’t want us to spend so much time worrying about it that there’s no enjoyment in the pursuit. If we took time to stop and be thankful for the amazing gifts God has already given us, we might realize we’re not missing as much as we think we are.

Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind. (Ecclesiastes 6:9 NLT)

We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. (Ecclesiastes 5:15 NLT)

Our time on earth is just a blink of the eye. What matters most is where we’ll spend eternity. And we can’t bring any of our earthly riches with us. But the place that God has prepared for those that have put their faith in the redemption of Jesus Christ will be full of riches that we can’t even imagine.

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT)


Empathetic Savior

As a parent, one of the things I hope my children develop is empathy for others. When someone is hurting and we don’t have the words to say … showing compassion and understanding can show them that we care. Besides of course prayer, a shoulder to cry on is sometimes all we can offer to help someone through pain and grief.

We have a Savior that has deep empathy for us. His heart aches when ours does, and he longs for us to turn to him and allow him to comfort us. He understands our suffering and our trials because he experienced them in a very real way – as a flesh and blood human being.

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. (Hebrews 2:14 NLT)

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. (Hebrews 2:18 NLT)

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:14, 15 NLT)

He faced temptation – directly from the devil himself. He was tempted to turn stones to bread in the face of physical hunger. He was tempted to test God – to prove he was really caring for him. He was tempted to bypass the pain and suffering that awaited him and take the easy way out. (Matthew 4:1-11)

He grieved with his friends when they experienced the loss of a loved one. When he saw their pain, he was angry at death. When he saw what death had taken away, he wept. (John 11:33-35)

He was stripped and mocked…
Spit at and beaten…
Despised and rejected…
And in the face of it all, many people turned their backs on him. (Matthew 27:28-30, 39-44; Isaiah 53:3)

We are not in this alone. And when temptations of life and sorrows of this world are more than we can bear – we have a Savior waiting to help us carry the load.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NLT)

The Word walked

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1, 2 NIV84)t

God sent his Son, literally a part of himself, to join mankind. (Immanuel, God with us – Isaiah 7:14) To live in our presence. To teach us of his Word and his plan for salvation. To cleanse us of our sin through his death on the cross. And to defeat death and its power with his resurrection.

In the beginning was the Word… In the beginning! God’s Word, his commandments, his plans, have always been. Throughout history, God has inspired men and women to speak his Word to his people. These spoken words were carefully documented and have been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. And every part of it is still true… Is still relevant.

And when Jesus entered the world, he came to make clear to those who would listen (Matthew 13:15) what the whole point was.

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven! (Matthew 5:17-20 NLT)

Jesus illuminated God’s perfect law so that it would be clear to all who were paying attention that they could never be “good enough” when measured up to it. We are sinful to our core.

He came to show those that were painfully aware of their hopeless sinfulness that through Him, they could be saved.

But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum? ” Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” (Luke 5:30-32 NLT)

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer : ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 NLT)

Many missed his message. Especially the Pharisees that had devoted their lives to following the rules. They were so busy with the words that they missed The Word.

Jesus said the most important commandments are to 1) Love God; and 2) Love your neighbor. The entire law is based on these two commandments.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NLT)

Let’s not be like the Pharisees – so focused on the rules that we miss the point. Let’s love sinners like us into the arms of Jesus.

Don’t deny it

Something that seems to be characteristic in all of us, at least to some degree, is our need for the praise of other people. Beginning from a young age when as children we see the excitement and receive words of praise for so many little things we do. For some of us, this praise continues and conditions us to seek the warm and fuzzy feeling we get when we are applauded by other people. In some cases, we may not receive it and we yearn for it. It’s this same desire for human praise that causes us to fear disapproval, especially when we’re standing out from the crowd.

As Christians, we often have the challenge of defending our faith or standing up for Biblical values we know to be true. This has become even more difficult these days when those holding views in opposition to ours are protected under the guise of “political correctedness”. It’s during these times that we need to remind ourselves that the only judgement that matters to us is the eternal judgement of God. If we are speaking the “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) and being bold about our faith when given the opportunity, we may not receive human praises, but we will be receiving God’s praise. (John 12:43)

There’s a story in the Bible about Peter, a friend and disciple of Jesus that seemed to have his back more than anyone throughout his ministry, and his denial of Jesus. (Matthew 26:69-75) Whenever I read it, it makes me feel sad for Peter because he clearly regrets it. It also shines a light on my own life and situations I’ve been in where my words or deeds were a denial of the fact that I know Jesus – personally.

It’s interesting to see how his denials grow stronger as the public allegations of his relationship with Jesus become more costly.

Initially he’s confronted by just one girl, face to face. There were no doubt people around, and Peter knew they might be listening to the exchange. His eyes probably darted around to see who was paying attention. His answer might have been loud enough for anyone paying attention to hear, but not loud enough to attract any more attention. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He said.

Not long after, he was confronted by another girl. But she didn’t speak just to Peter. She pronounced his suspected relationship with Jesus to all that were around. Now things were heating up and I can picture heads turning to look at Peter. I can almost hear the gasps and whispering. I can almost see the pointing. Could it be true? And this time Peter comes right out and lies, even with an oath. “I don’t even know the man.” Ouch!

Finally, a group of bystanders approach Peter and declare that he must be one of Jesus’ followers. No more hiding it. It looks like everyone knows now. So Peter might as well just confess, right? Nope. Instead he chooses to lie his strongest lie yet. “A curse on me if I’m lying – I don’t know the man!”

At that moment the rooster crows and Peter becomes painfully aware of what he has done. (Jesus had warned him he would deny him, and Peter had vehemently insisted that would never happen.). Then Peter went away “weeping bitterly”.

Jesus said that if we’re embarrassed by him, he’ll be embarrassed by us when he returns. Seems kind of harsh, but not when you take into consideration all that he’s done for us. He certainly deserves our undying loyalty, even in the face of human judgement.

“If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38 MSG)

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? … Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. (Romans 8:31,34 MSG)

But if you refuse to serve the Lord , then choose today whom you will serve…But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord .” (Joshua 24:15 NLT)

In the zone

When you’re “in the zone”, you feel like at this moment in time everything is going your way. It’s all working out just the way you want it to. In that moment, you’re in your zone. But where do you end up when that moment has passed? Where are you when you’re not in your zone?

If you’ve given your life to Christ, and you’re trusting God for the game plan, you can have faith that you’ll always be “in the zone” — in God’s zone. And being in God’s zone guarantees you a winning outcome.

I have three sons, all with their own God-given talents that I pray will be used to glorify God. I want them to know that if they give their lives to Christ, every part of their lives, they will not fail. They may have to learn to redefine their own personal definition of success on some occasions, but they can rest assured that the ultimate outcome will bring them immense joy.

God has given each of us talents that he has plans for. He has a “zone” for each of us. He wants to be an active part of every detail of our life…rejoicing with us in success and comforting us in failure. And in both cases, bringing us closer to the culmination of his plan for our life.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NLT)

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6 NLT)

The name of Jesus

There is power in the name of Jesus!

Before he was even born, the significance of his name was made known when the angel of The Lord proclaimed to Joseph that he should name the child Jesus “…for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NLT)

Once Jesus began his ministry, his disciples would excitedly proclaim his name to their friends and family, having realized that he was the promised one.

…“We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus…” (John 1:45 NLT)

And the cities surrounding Jerusalem were no doubt buzzing with his name. “Did you hear about Jesus?”

In Cana…”Did you hear that Jesus turned water into wine?”

In the Judean countryside…”John the Baptist says Jesus is the one!”

In Jerusalem…”Jesus has healed a lame man and a blind man!”

At the temple…”Have you heard Jesus teach? He knows so much and he’s never been trained!”

In Bethany…”Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after four days!”

Near the governor’s headquarters…”Did you hear? Jesus was arrested and beaten! They are going to execute him!”

At Golgatha…”Jesus has died! At the same moment of the big earthquake that ripped the temple curtain in two.”

Everywhere…”Jesus has risen! Just as he said he would!”

After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, his name was worth suffering and dying for to many of his followers. And to this day, many believers around the world still suffer and die proclaiming the name of Jesus.

The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:41, 42 NLT)

Ever since the church began, the “establishment” has been threatened by the name of Jesus. Much like so many today are trying to eradicate the name of Jesus from the “public” realm, the apostles then were commanded never again to speak or teach of Jesus. (Acts 4:18). Fortunately for us, they had no intention of disobeying God to fall in line with leaders that wanted them quiet.

It kind of makes you wonder why more people haven’t come to the realization that Jesus is the Savior of the world. What other name in history has gotten so much attention?

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11 NLT)

Gracious conviction

We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. (Romans 6:6, 7 NLT)

Does this mean that we’re supposed to be sinless? Of course not – we are human. The difference for a redeemed child of God is that the Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin. He will make us aware of the areas that need to be purged. And we will have a chance to respond.

At first, the conviction will come before the sin, when the thoughts are taking shape in our mind. It will make us aware that the direction we’re contemplating is the wrong one. Then we choose. Push the feeling of conviction away and head in the wrong direction. Or quickly take a step in the right direction, before the thoughts give birth to sin.

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. (James 1:14, 15 NLT)

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT)

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. (Romans 8:12 NLT)

If we didn’t get the message before or if we chose to ignore it, the conviction will come during our sin and we will suddenly see the ugliness of our actions through the eyes of God. And we will once again get to choose. Continue down the sinful path that leads to destruction or turn and run back to our Heavenly Father who is waiting with open arms to forgive us and wash away the filth.

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. (James 4:7-8 MSG)

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him… for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. (Luke 15:20, 24 NLT)

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (Psalms 51:7 NLT)

And if we still weren’t paying attention, the conviction will come after our sin. When we are suddenly punched in the gut with the realization that we blew it. By now the devil thinks he’s got us! He will attempt to confuse gracious conviction of the Spirit with guilt and condemnation in the hopes that instead of running back to God, we will run away in shame. But our Heavenly Father does not condemn us if we’ve been redeemed by the blood of Christ. Our sin will make him sad because he knows the earthly consequences we may have to experience because of it. But as a child of God, our eternal salvation is a done deal.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8:1, 2 NLT)

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29 NLT)