Today I pray for us all, so often in life we let the things of this world consume us and run our lives. Jesus I ask that your love be the sole focus of our lives, and let that love consume every aspect of who we are today.
Have you ever thought about what consumes you? We all have a choice to make, consumed by the world or consumed by Jesus, so think about it and choose wisely. I think an easy way to look at this is by asking a simple question. If someone were to come along and offer you a billion dollars, would your life be better? If yes, why? The answer to the “why” is likely what is consuming you.
Let’s start by looking at the country we live in, good ol’ USofA. Currently many who live in the United States are consumed by fear and/or pride, you can see it in almost every headline you read daily, and it’s been this way for quite some time!
PORNOGRAPHY – We are country consumed by lust! An estimated 89% of the world’s porn is made right here in America. Sadly 1 in 5 men admit to watching it at work. Revenue from porn is more than the revenue from the television networks ABC, CBS and NBC…combined! Over 40 million Americans view porn regularly. And the saddest one of all, the most popular day to view it is Sunday…making it sin day.
DEBT – We are also consumed by debt, the average American carries over $15,000 in credit card debt. That isn’t referring to cars or houses, simply what is on the average credit card today. Next weekend millions of people will flock to Las Vegas for March Madness, and over 9 Billion dollars will be wagered on what was once considered a kids game. Take Black Friday as another example, people aren’t even buying what they need, they are fighting for things they that are “on sale” and usually putting those items on a credit card as well. We are allowing ourselves to be fooled into spending more to save a few bucks.
ABORTION – There have been more than 8 million abortions worldwide this year…and it’s barely even March! Every year there are 40-50 million babies who will never get the chance to take their first breath. 22% of all pregnancies in the US end in abortion, and this excludes miscarriages. The most common reason for abortion is self, I didn’t want a baby or I changed my mind.
DRUGS – Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental deaths in the US, with over 52,000 lives taken in 2015, and over 20,000 of those related to prescription pain killers. I think most often people think of drug addicts as some derelict on the street corner, but more and more addicts are showing up at PTA meetings or occupy the next cubicle over from you. The modern day drug pushers are doctors, not street thugs. Synthetic opiate deaths rose 73% last year. Image what the world would look like if we even saw a 10% increase of those who follow Jesus every year. When we moved here I was told by the former chief of police that Umatilla county was the meth capital of the US, per capita. I never verified that claim, but over the past 15 years what I have seen with my own eyes leaves little doubt that was a valid claim. I have several friends who are continuously drawn back to that evil drug, it’s truly heartbreaking to see the grip is has on people. This definitely consumes a person, and leaves NO room for anything or anyone else. In fact I believe meth is a modern day demon, it fits the description that’s for sure. I met a man just before Christmas who got out of county jail and was hoping to start over. He told me before jail he had an apartment, 3 cars, a great job, and was living a pretty decent life. His girlfriend introduced him to meth and within 5 months he was flat broke, lost everything he had, and was living in the mud down by the Umatilla river.
LOST HOPE – Millions of dollars are spent on psychics and mediums every year, and this is a rapidly growing market. The same crowd I mentioned earlier will carry their lucky coin, or rabbit’s foot, around with them praying to it that their favorite team will win, that their bracket will stay in tact. We spend so much money and effort wasted on meaningless things. All those ads you see on the Internet of on TV for psychics are people just like you and me, they hold no special skill to tell the future, but they will gladly take your credit card number to feed you a line of BS.
Now let’s take a look at some of the more popular Bible heroes. Moses was consumed by fear and doubt (read Exodus 4:1-10). He didn’t think he was qualified, even begged God not to have him speak so God sent his brother Aaron with him. He struggled time and time again with letting himself be consumed by God, but he was still a part of a bigger plan and God used him to lead millions out of slavery in Egypt.
David was consumed by lust (read 2 Samuel 11 about Bathsheba). God’s love was the cause of David’s obedience however, not the response to his disobedience. God had special plans for David (read Isaiah 11:1-5) and David was a man after God’s own heart (read Acts 13:22 and 1 Samuel 13:14).
Jonah was consumed by his own pride. God asked him to go to Nineveh but he decided to go to Tarshish instead. He didn’t want to go to Nineveh, in fact he didn’t believe they were worthy of being saved. Even after being swallowed by the great fish, and after he went and delivered the message God gave him to Nineveh, he was angry God wasn’t going to strike them down and basically pouted and felt sorry for himself. He was mad because God showed grace to his lost children.
SO NOW THE GOOD NEWS, JESUS CAN REPLACE IT ALL!!!
Have you ever thought about the life of a seed?
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” ~ Cynthia Occelli
I love that analogy, for us to achieve our greatest worth, we must become completely undone, unconsumed by the world, and consumed by the love of Jesus. Jesus was whipped, beaten, spit on, pierced by a crown of thorns, and stabbed. He was consumed by sin so that he could die with it. He was then buried in the ground, and a beautiful new creation rose out of that brokenne
ss to give new life to the world. Jesus said time and again, in order to follow me, or be consumed by my love, you must first die to yourself. We must become undone, so that new life can begin to grow in us through Jesus.
A woman came to me a couple weeks ago, one I barely know but she knows I love Jesus and said she had nobody else to turn to in life. She was told me she believed God’s love was for other people, but not for her. After sitting there listening to her for a few minutes, it was remarkable to watch that broken shell of a woman become undone so that Jesus could enter life. Before I said one word she was figuring it all out on her own. She said she is consumed by things, nice cars, Coach purses, fancy clothes, etc. She was consumed by her job, one in which she was just fired from, but what she really wanted most was to be closer to her family, and to be closer to God. I was thinking about her this weekend as I prepared this sermon for Desert Rose. We live by McNary Dam, and it holds back the mighty Columbia River. If that dam were to vanish instantly, you better believe the people living in the town of Umatilla would be consumed by the flood washing over them, as well as all the fishing boats below. To me that is a great way to see how this woman, and so many others, don’t understand God’s love. Just because you don’t feel it or won’t accept it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. In fact God’s love is so much mightier than that wall of water, He is simply waiting patiently to let that love overwhelm you and consume your every thought.
We live in a dark world, but remember that darkness cannot consume light. You can take a group of 50 people and walk deep inside the earth to a large 50 foot cavern. There isn’t a single source of light in the room, and one could sit there for hours and his eyes will never adjust to the darkness. However if you took one small match and lit it, the entire group of 50 would instantly be able to see again. Light ends darkness, not the other way around!
Jesus lived his life in such a way, such a perfect way, as an example for all of us. He was consumed by sin, all sin, so that he could die with it and rise from that death to renew us in Him. That is dying to self, by simply accepting that gift.
Here are some Bible verses to help back this up:
Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT) – “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.“
John 4:13-14 NLT – “Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
Jeremiah 7:5-7 NLT – “But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.”
Ephesians 4:18-24 NLT – “Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”
John 15:15 NLT – “I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.“
John 18:36 NLT – “Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
I have been reading “The Broken Way” by Ann Voskamp and wanted to share a few quotes that I think are pertinent to this discussion.
“The only way to rise to the beauty of love is to rise and serve.” (Jesus laid down His life for us so that we may be consumed by Him)
“Relationships are the realest reality—and the realest risk . . . and the worthiest risk.” (Jesus made it a point to be our friend, to show us how to love one another)
“I am what I love and I will love you like Jesus, because of Jesus, through the strength of Jesus. I will love when I’m not loved back. I will love when I’m hurt and disappointed and betrayed and inconvenienced and rejected. I simply will love, no expectations, no conditions, no demands. Love is not always agreement with someone, but it is always sacrifice for someone.”
I will end with this wonderful story I heard years ago, thanks to the wonderful power of Google I was able to find it again to share it with you.
THE ROCK CLIMBER
A rock climber had a goal to climb the highest mountain in the world. The man spent years preparing and training himself to accomplish his dream. The only problem was he wanted all the glory for himself; therefore he wanted to climb the mountain alone.
The day came when he felt he was ready to start on his adventure and so he began his way up the mountain. During one of the nights, however, as he approached the top, the clouds covered the moon and the stars. Nevertheless the man chose to continue the climb even though he had zero visibility.
Only a few feet from his destination, however, he slipped and fell. Gravity sucked him through the air down the mountainside at a tremendous and frightening speed. All the man could see was black spots before his eyes.
As he was falling his life flashed before him. He was thinking about how he was rapidly getting closer and closer to death when suddenly he felt the rope tied around his waist pull him hard. Unexpectedly he was jerked to a stop and suspended in mid-air with only the rope to hold him.
As he collected himself from the waves of adrenalin, terror and physical trauma, in the stillness and silence of the night he cried out to God for help.
Surprisingly a deep voice from heaven spoke to him and said,
“What do you want me to do?”
The man replied, “Save me.”
The voice said, “Do you really think I can save you?”
Again the man answered, “Of course I believe you can.”
“Then cut the rope tied around your waist,” he said.
The man thought about it long and hard, but decided instead to hold onto the rope with all of his strength.
Unfortunately the next day rescue workers found the climber, frozen and dead, still clinging tightly to the rope. The clincher, however, was that he was only a few feet from the ground. He did not turn loose of the rope nor did he know he was only a short distance from his deliverance.
Many times the things in this life we cling to so tightly may very well be the things that will, in the end, destroy us. Perhaps, for example, it is a bad habit or relationship.
Jesus said, “Those who seek to save their lives will lose it, but those who lose their lives for My sake will find it.”
This is a difficult lesson to learn – to have a loose reign on the things of this world – to cut the rope, so to speak – and to hold tightly instead to the promises of God. For after all, our salvation and hope is found in Him and Him alone.