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Jamie Johnson
4 May 2014

More to This Life

NOTE: This is a written version of the message I delivered to a group of residents at Kings Daughters Community Health & Rehabilitation Center on May 4, 2014.

Will we be part of the generation that cheats death? Will we be part of the generation that does not die but just goes up in the clouds when Jesus raptures His Church? I don't know. The way the world is going, I'd like to think that we are of that generation. However, it may be that we live and die like the generations before us. It may be that we live and die like those recently departed. It can be tempting to look at the immediate experience and see ourselves age and think that we are just destined to die as others before us. Is there more to this life than living and dying?

Years ago, Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song, "More To This Life" and it includes the following lyrics:

The old familiar story told in different ways
Make the most of your own journey from the cradle to the grave
Dream your dreams tomorrow because today
Life must go on

There's a reason it is called the "old familiar story." Do you ever feel that way, the way the song describes life? As adults, I am sure most, if not all, of us have. Some days, I -- we -- plug along just making the best of it. Some have to go, but want to stay in bed. Some want to go, but have to stay in bed. The grass always seems greener elsewhere. I have heard it said that the grass is greenest where you water it. That's a bit closer to where we need to aim. The song continues:

But there's more to this life living than dying
More than just trying to make it through the day
More to this life, more than these eyes alone can see
And there's more than this life alone can be

Do you believe that there's more to this life? Do you know? The grass can be greenest where you are, but the water is Jesus. Consider the story of the woman at the well found in John 4:7-14 (NASB):

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." She said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?" Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."

We must look to Jesus where we are at, whether rich or poor, sick or healthy, old or young. This does not mean Jesus will make life easy and you will have everything you want. It means that in Christ, you will be satisfied, that He will be your all-in-all, that even in suffering you will find joy in Him. Know that if you are in Christ, beyond this side of Heaven there is glory with Him! Paul went through great struggle. Listen to what he wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 (NASB):

Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

Yet, Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13 (NASB), "...I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

Is Christ your strength? Often we ask Him for strength, but we need to ask Him to be our strength. How we can learn from Paul! And may we trust Christ to be our strength no matter the circumstances. May we trust Him to be our More to this life!

And we can learn from Stephen who was stoned to death in Acts 7. After he rebuked the high priest and the Council of the Sanhedrin, "...they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:54-55, NASB). Even in this circumstance and dying, Stephen found joy. Did he find it in and of himself? No. He was full of the Holy Spirit. If you are in Christ, the Holy Spirit lives within you and He can bring you joy in Christ.

Not only can we learn from Stephen and Paul, but obviously, we can learn from Christ Himself. Hebrews 12:2 (NASB) speaks of Jesus "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." If you knew you were going to be tortured, shamed and killed, would you be able to approach it with joy? That's a hard question for all of us. Joy doesn't mean it was easy. Jesus prayed the night before the crucifixion and was in agony, His sweat becoming as drops of blood (Luke 22:44), but He endured the cross "for the joy set before Him." Whatever we are facing, we can take courage in Christ and how He approached the cross with the joy set before Him.

What joy is set before you? Is it a source of lasting joy? Are your eyes on Christ? If you are in Christ, He will never leave you or forsake you. May your eyes be on Him! May my eyes be on Him! He is the only worthy and lasting joy that should be set before us. You may be in a rut or a dry spell or just going through the motions day-to-day, but there is more to this life.

What if we are not the generation that cheats death, that we do indeed die? Well, that isn't all bad if you know Christ. Death is just the beginning. You see, whether or not you die this side of Heaven or are the generation that cheats death, you will be called up to Him. Consider 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NASB):

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Are you just getting by day-to-day or do you realize that there is more to this life -- living for something more, or better said, for Someone more?

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