The Games People Play - Life
Last weekend Trafton was playing a soccer tournament in Deer Park. He had several games to play on Saturday and Sunday so we got a hotel for Saturday night. Trista and Rylan were in Beaumont playing a different tournament, and the plan was that they would come to meet us when Rylan got finished, and we would spend the night and then trade kids and Sunday morning Rylan and I left early so he could make his game in Beaumont at 7:30. When I got to the building I was talking with some folks over coffee and donuts and they were telling me of weekends that they had with their kids going to baseball tournaments, band competitions, and dance recitals when someone said, “Welcome to your new life.”
I was struck by the fact that there are so many of you guys who had had the pleasure of driving your kids all over creation so that they can compete in a hundred different activities. But I was also struck by the fact that these are the days that I don’t want to miss with the boys, Trista, and this church trying to live from day to day. I don’t want the hectic nature of this life to get in the way of really living.
This morning we continue our series on The Games People Play, I want us to look at a game that all of us have played, in one way or another. It’s the game of Life. The board game is rather simple, you get an SUV, hop in, and take a spin. As you go through the game you begin to make some decisions that affect the outcome of the game. Do you want to go to college or jump right in and start a career? Will you have any kids or will you have so many that you have to cram them in any open spot you can find? Whatever decisions you make, the only way to win is to accumulate enough stuff to retire in style.
I don’t know about you, but I want more from this life, than just accumulating enough junk so that one day I can sit around and look at every thing I have. What I really want is to take hold of the promise that Jesus made to us in John 10:10 "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” actually I like what The New Century Version says “life in all its fullness.”
As we start this morning, I wonder if you can really say that you are living an abundant life? Can you really say that you are living life to it’s fullest? Or have you fallen into the trap of trying to live in two different worlds?
It is my opinion that the greatest hindrance to living an abundant life, is that we have divided our lives into two different worlds, the sacred and the secular. We have one life that consists of eating, sleeping, working, looking after the kids, or our parents. And then there is the other life that consists of praying, Bible study, worshiping, singing, coming to church. The result is that very often we are not fulfilled, just busy. Actually the only abundance we seem to find is an abundance of frustration and confusion. There is no joy, no peace, no happiness.
We get so wrapped up in what am I supposed to be doing right now and what part of my life am I supposed to be living in, that the abundance we are supposed to be experiencing is reduced to merely existing.
This morning we need to refocus on what we call living an abundant life. You see abundant life is not concerned with right now, abundant life is a whole life experience.
First, we need to know that Abundant Life is a life with a guiltless past.
Guilt is a terrible burden to bear and sometimes people get crushed under it’s weight. Since we have all sinned then it only stands to reason that we all have done things that cause us terrible guilt. So we deal with that guilt in two ways: First we try to drown the guilt. We turn to alcohol or drugs, or food in an effort to feel numb.
Or maybe you try to drown the guilt by accumulating an abundance of stuff. We believe that we can find peace and happiness if we could just get a better car, a bigger house, a better job, a better spouse. I have fallen victim to those lies and sat empty and frustrated in the middle of a house full of the newest and greatest gadgets.
King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, and he spent the better part of his life trying to find fulfillment in the things that the world has to offer, alcohol, sex, money, power, possessions and at the end of his life he writes in Ecclesiastes 12:8 that it is all meaningless. We all know that emptiness of realizing that drowning the guilt doesn’t work.
So the next way we try to deal with it is by excusing and classifying our sins. I mean I may have made a few mistakes, and committed a few errors in judgement but they are not as bad as the sins of others.
I might be a gossip but at Pentecost Peter told the Jewish listeners that they had murdered the very Son of God. They are the ones who need to feel guilty because their sin was much more sever.
I might loose my temper but before Paul becomes a Christian he spent his days persecuting innocent men and women. Getting mad is not the same as killing.
When we try to classify sins, we play the better than game. Sure, I might be bad but I am better than you. But we soon realize that the better than game can only sooth our guilt for a moment. At the end of the day we are still guilty and it is the guilt that steals our abundant life.
This morning maybe you need to be reminded that God has promised us Abundant Life that cannot be taken from us. John writes in 1 John 1:7 "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."
We can be free from guilt because God makes us free from sin and allows us to have fellowship with one another. I have to remind myself all of the time that God does not call us to be perfect. He wants us to walk in the light and have fellowship with one another.
Maybe you need to be reminded of what John writes in John 8:36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be truly free.” Free from our guilt, free from our past, and free from our sins. Abundant life is life that is truly free.
Next, we need to know that an Abundant life is a life with a meaningful present.
One of the most common thieves of Abundant Life is the fear of accomplishing nothing in life. After all we all want to be successful, and we all want to be good at we do. We all want the praise and admiration of others.
Every teacher wants to be teacher of the year.
Every athlete wants to be MVP.
Every fry shaker at McDonalds wants to be Employee of the Month.
And if they tell you differently they would probably lie about other things as well.Everyone of us have fallen into the trap of placing our self worth in what other people think about us.
I am a good husband ‘cause Trista tells me.
I am a good Dad ‘cause the boys tell me
I’m a good brother ‘cause Trae tells me.
I’m a good son because my Mom and Dad say so.
I’m a good Son-in-Law because Charles and Francis tell me.
I’m a good uncle because Kennedy tells me I’m her favorite.
How do you know that you are good unless someone tells you that you are? But that’s the problem with our present. We desire praise and adoration, then we choose to look for it in the wrong places. We look for affirmation from our families, our jobs, and even in church. We gauge our worth by what others say and think about us. And in a society where everyone is gauging their personal worth off what others think, we are left seeing people as things to be used, rather than children of God that are to be loved. The result is that we place our life's worth on the opinion of others. And that’s very shaky ground at best.
We can have an abundant life not because someone thinks that I am a good person but because God thinks I am wonderful. Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession. You were chosen to tell about the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
We are uncommon people in a common world. A possession of God and people created for a purpose in this life. We were created to love God and to tell others about the wonderful things that He has done in our lives. I have worth because God chose me and wants me to take a part in the bigger picture He is painting. You have worth because God chose you and wants you to take a part in the bigger picture that He is painting.
I fully believe that it’s a good idea to tell someone how much they mean to you, or how you appreciate the good job they are doing. But it’s a better idea to tell them what God believes about them. We all gain our worth from God. We are important because our creator said that we were, and has poured out His blessings to show how important we are to Him.
And I would rather have a blessing from God than the parking space reserved for the employee of the month.
Finally, Abundant life is a life with a fearless future.
There are so many of us who have received the promise of abundant life, then we allow it to be stolen because we fear what the future will bring. Failing health, failing finances, difficulties of all sorts leave us feeling hopeless and helpless.
How can you have an abundant life when you don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. Well the same Jesus who promised you abundant life also said these words in Matthew 6: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Our God promises to take care of the things we need here. Sure we go through peaks and valleys in this life. I understand that the valleys of life are difficult but there is always hope because at the end of each valley is a mountain top. And we understand that it’s only on those mountain top experiences that we realize how active God has been in our lives.
But we need to understand the promise of an abundant future extends much farther than the 80 or so years we have here on this earth. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:8 Now, a crown is being held for me--a crown for being right with God. The Lord, the judge who judges rightly, will give the crown to me on that day --not only to me but to all those who have waited with love for him to come again.."
Here in my hand I have a rope, now I want you to imagine that this rope is a time line. Just pretend that it goes on forever. Now this black part right here, this represents your time on earth. You have a few short years here on earth and then you have eternity to spend somewhere else.
What blows me away is that most of us only think about this black part. We are only concerned about the black part, and we forget that we have all of this other time that is promised to us. We look at our lives and we think, I’m going to work real hard and save, save, save so that when I get to the end of this life I can rest, and relax and have abundant life. We are consumed with what we are going to do after we retire, and we forget about what comes next.
That’s a bit crazy don’t you think. The Bible tells us that what I do in this black part is going to determine how I am going to exist for millions and millions of years, for all eternity. And we are so overly concerned about having abundance in this black part that we allow it to steal the abundance from our present and fill us with guilt about our past.
So why do we spend this little black part worrying about being comfortable when Jesus promises us an abundant life that will last for all eternity? Why do we make decisions that will affect this little part, and forget about the eternity that comes after.
Life without Christ has a hopeless end; Life with Christ is an endless hope. Abundant life, life to the full. We who have our hope in God, we who receive our worth from God, and we who know forgiveness because of God. We no longer have to play at the game of life, we can win and be victorious because we have been promised abundant life indeed.
Questions For You To Consider
Jesus said that he had come to give abundant life, what does that look like to you?
What’s the difference between a mature believer and an immature believer?
Not everyone feels a need to be “saved.” Jeremy thinks that is one of our major struggles in middle-class America. Folks we come in contact with believe that they are managing their lives quite well and they don’t need a rescue plan. How should the abundant life Jesus offers be communicated to people in this situation?
In what ways do you and our church demonstrate signs of abundant life?
How can you be a full participant in the abundant life that Jesus offers?
If real abundant life stretches from this life into eternity then what are you doing in this life that will affect your eternity?