Living the FULL LIFE

Psalm 3:1-6, 8 “O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him’. But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn against me on every side. From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessings be on your people.”

Christmas is almost here, and Jesus-followers all over the world are in the season of Advent. We are expectant and reminded that Jesus, God incarnate, God who became flesh, God-Man, came down to this little speck of a rock we call earth and became a baby. Jesus, the Son of God, grew up and endured the same struggles and life questions that we ask today. Jesus can identify with our fears and our joys, and most importantly he came to bring us FULL LIFE, abundant life, not just eternal life. Too many times Jesus-followers can hyper-focus on eternal life, but we forget much of Jesus’ teaching focused on the here and now. How are we living abundantly in the present?

It can be hard to live abundantly in the present. There are many risks and fears that can be suffocating. “What I am going to wear? What does she say about me really? How am I going to afford next month’s rent? Do I really have a shot at getting that job?” Fear can be debilitating and hold us back from FULL LIFE. Just like the Psalmist, Jesus had a lot to say about worry and fear throughout the Gospels. Why? Because when we allow fear to rule our lives, we are saying God I don’t trust you. If we can’t trust God, then we can’t experience FULL LIFE. The Psalmist speaks of tens of thousands who are against him. I am thinking, this is the point in the story when you say, “I’m out of here.” Not the Psalmist, even though the odds are against him and the outlook for the day looks bleak, the Psalmist knows that his God is bigger than his circumstances and he can trust him. “From the LORD comes deliverance.”

Do you have any fears? Do they control part of your life, all of your life? Does fear cripple you from experiencing FULL LIFE? This could be something as simple, God has asked you to be generous with your money, give more, tithe more, but your fear of whether you’ll have enough to make ends meet at the end of the month stymies the opportunity to experience the joy of giving. Can’t we trust God to provide? If our almighty God could come down as a human, isn’t he powerful enough to provide for us? This Advent season, don’t allow fear to hold you back from God’s best, his FULL LIFE. Our God, our Lord and Savior Jesus is better than you think. You can trust him.

Psalm 4:6-8 “Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’ Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”

Other Scripture readings:
Psalm 1, 2, 3, 4, 7
Amos 2:6-16
2 Peter 1:1-11
Matthew 21:1-11

Throughout the Advent season we will be running devotions written by friends of the camp on the blog. Check back daily.

Lent Reflection: It’s Not About Nazel Gaving

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What is Lent? No, it’s not what you find in your bellybutton or dryer, although that may be true for some of us. Most of us know about the “lint” in our bellybuttons because we are so good at navel-gazing. We know all the hit songs like “It’s All About Me, Jesus.” Our culture feeds on putting ourselves out there, being noticed and becoming famous. Check out Twitter and Facebook. We are consumed with being noticed. “After all, I’m my own biggest fan.”

Jesus tells a story in Luke about a Pharisee who is praying in the Temple, “I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there” (Luke 18:11). Then the Pharisee gives his laundry list of how awesome he really is: “I don’t cheat, I haven’t committed adultery, I fast twice a week, and to top it all off, I tithe 10%.” This was like a celebrity tweeting his/her awesomeness all over the Twitterverse. This Pharisee was his biggest fan! In contrast, Jesus talks about the tax collector who beat his chest and prayed, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Jesus is blatantly clear that the tax collector, 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 18:14b). Jesus’ way is not about self-promotion. It is sacrificial. It is service. It is love.

Lent is a time when we reflect on the way of Jesus. Lent is sacrifice. Lent is preparation. Lent is reflection. Lent is repentance. Lent is self-denial. Lent is a time, believe it or not, that’s not about us. “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:30). Is Jesus “greater and greater” in your life? Are there things you are holding on to that make him “less and less”? This Lent season, let us surrender to the ways of Jesus so that He can be “greater and greater” in our lives.

Other questions you may want to ask yourself:
Do you find yourself hoping that people notice and respond to your Facebook posts? And are you disappointed when they don’t?

Would you be willing to go “unnoticed” for a day? A week? And would God’s love and presence be enough? Why or why not?

James Ballard was a guest speaker at camp last summer at our Fall Retreat. Click HERE to see James giving a video tour of one of the night game’s at the fall retreat.