WHY ARE WE SO EMPTY?

  WHY ARE WE SO EMPTY? 

JKBcircleEmptiness is that weird sensation of missing something you can’t identify-or of wanting something but not being certain what. Some people feel emptiness because they suffer from other psychological disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Disorder. Anyone diagnosed with one of these disorders needs to talk to a professional and follow a doctor’s guidance. But for many others, the feeling of emptiness isn’t part of a larger disorder, but it has become a way of life.

On one hand, we might argue that a wealthy nation like the United States, with so much entertainment, technology, options for education, travel, and personal freedom should not, at least on the surface, have much excuse for feeling empty. On the other hand, the abundance of all of those things points to the reality of the problem-if a nation of consumers can’t be filled with all we have, the problem of emptiness must go far deeper than what we can acquire or achieve. Emptiness defines us, on one level, as a culture. 

One friend of mine described a man he knew this way, “You could sense the presence of his absence!” How many of us are painfully aware of the “presence of our absence?” Something is missing and we are not sure what it is. It’s something just not there! It’s the presence of an absence. 

Psychology Today, in an article about relationships and our natural longing for other people, acknowledges that when we are lonely we self medicate in “typical” ways with alcohol, meaningless sexual relationships, and food. Those abuses are so common they are proverbial in America. But notice what the article says about the feeling behind the longing for relationships. 

“If you are without the love you need, you may be compelled to bury your longing in any of the typical ways that can serve to disavow what you feel: an indulgence in alcohol or substances; pursuing sexual relationships that are otherwise meaningless; an overconsumption or over-restriction of food; or various other diversionary activities. Longing is painful, but emptiness that may exist beneath such yearning is dreadful. (March 26, 2013:  “Longing and the Dread of Emptiness”)

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When we look for love from others and don’t find it, and then attempt to cover the pain, it is the deep sense of emptiness that we are really trying to fill. We try relationships, sex, food, work, pleasure, drugs-anything to avoid the confrontation with our own emptiness. But we don’t really need a psychologist to tell us that do we? The emptiness of our lives and those around us is self evident.

What does God say about it? Actually, the Scripture acknowledges our struggle with emptiness. As I was reading Scripture this week, I became fascinated with how many times the Bible promises that we can be “filled.”

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18 ESV)

“…and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God…” (Ephesians 3:19 ESV)

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 ESV)

God knows we battle an empty life and He offers the only solution that doesn’t add more emptiness to the emptiness! He promises “fulness.” We can be filled with the Spirit, filled with the fulness of God, and filled with joy. Who needs fulness? People who are empty! 

-jkb

HEARING GOD

                                      HEARING GOD

JKBcircle“I Brake for the Voices In My Head” In a town full of clever bumper stickers-that may be one of the most memorable I have seen around Austin lately. Sometimes, however,  I worry that’s the impression people have when a Christian talks about “hearing God”. Even other Christians sometimes have a hard time with the idea of hearing God. But it isn’t weird- at least it doesn’t have to be.

We should expect God to speak to us. After all, He reveals Himself as the “WORD” (John 1:1-2). The God who wants us to know Him by the name WORD must have plenty to say! Remember Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27). Perhaps it’s the word “hearing” itself that for us probably implies audible voices. But God can speak directly to our spirit. He does not need to speak audibly for the spiritually trained believer to “hear” imagesInstead, you should be prepared for a very distinct impression upon your spirit or your “inner being.”

When you need spiritual direction or guidance in life, or when you simply desire a closer fellowship with God, you need to be able to hear Him. Let me suggest an environment for learning to hear the voice of God.

1) GET ALONE Your life is crowded with noise and distractions. It’s good to love people but be like Jesus and look for a “solitary place” (Mark 1:35) to listen to God and give Him the audience of your undivided attention. Don’t you think He deserves that?

2) OPEN THE WORD God communicates clearly and directly through the Bible. Read a familiar or favorite passage thoughtfully and prayerfully while continually asking the Holy Spirit to guide you into the truth (John 16:13).

3) PRAY Tuning into God’s voice requires an attentive spirit. That quiet openness is a by product of prayer. As you pray, listen and reflect upon the Word of God. Ask Him to speak to you. Don’t be surprised if He does!

4) OBEY Hearing God implies we are ready to do what we hear Him say. Scripture says, “The Lord confides in those who fear him;
    he makes his covenant known to them.” (Psalm 25:14) 

Remember, hearing God through Spirit filled, prayerful, Scripture meditation is not a game, it is a gift God gives His people so we can become like Him, and respond to His direction as He leads us to serve Him. ~jkb

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SPIRITUAL GROWTH- DAY 34

      5 WEEKS OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH!

JKBcircleFive weeks ago we started this journey of Spiritual Growth together. We have covered 5 areas: Faith, Church membership, Scripture, Prayer, & Evangelism. Sunday I am speaking on the 6th and final message in this series: It is about the gift of living free- by the power of the Holy Spirit! Join us Sunday at Hyde Park Baptist or The Quarries Church for the message “Strong in the Spirit!” (Galatians 5:16-18)

I will keep posting these daily posts through next Saturday. But today is the last of the Scripture readings associated with this series. I hope you were blessed. I will continue to suggest chapters for you to read next week but I encourage you to use the previous posts as a way to get caught up if you fell behind! God bless you!- jkb

SCRIPTURE READINGS: 

Express: Romans 16

Advanced: Mark 15-16

Challenge: Acts 25-28

SPIRITUAL QUOTES:

“In our day heaven and earth are on tiptoe waiting for the emerging of the Spirit-led, Spirit-intoxicaed, Spirit-empowered people. All of creation watches expectantly for the springing up of a disciplined, freely gathered, martyr people who know in this like the power of the Kindgom of God. It happened before, it can happen again.” ~ Richard J. Foster

“The prayer offered to God in the morning during your quiet time is the key that unlocks the door of the day. Any athlete knows that it is the start that ensures a good finish.” ~ Adrian Rogers

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SPIRITUAL GROWTH -DAY 33

The Good News!

Share_The_GospelSomeone once saiid, “It’s not good news if it doesn’t get there in time!” There is an urgency about the gospel since those who need to hear it won’t be around for ever. Neither will we!

 

SCRIPTURE READINGS:

Express: Romans 15

Advanced: Mark 14; 2 Timothy 4

Challenge: Acts 21-24

SPIRITUAL GROWTH- DAY 32

               MOTIVATION FOR EVANGELISM!

430159_3525297258126_1424373558_nSOMETIMES IT TAKES A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT to remind us what God expects, and what He empowers us to do! God can and will use you if you share your faith with a lost friend. I hope this message will motivate you to evangelize! Here is last Sunday’s message at Hyde Park Baptist Church, Austin, Texas. It’s about evangelism! -jkb

SCRIPTURE READING:

Express: Romans 13-14

Advanced: Mark 13;  2 Timothy 3

Challenge: Acts 17-20

 

SPIRITUAL GROWTH-DAY 31

         THE WORK OF EVANGELISM! 

JKBcircleJesus was fond of describing world evangelism as if He were a farmer considering the potential of a field. He repeatedly referred to the results of evangelism as a “Harvest” (Matthew 9:37ff; Luke 10:1-2; John 4:35). He knew that crops don’t harvest themselves- it takes work!

When I was a teenager, visiting my grandparents one summer, I got hired to haul hay. Our job was to pick up the bales laying in the field and throw them onto the wagon as the tractor pulling the wagon drove by. We had to keep up an aggressive pace all day. It was blazing hot and the bales seemed to get heavier as the day wore on! Our skin was scratched from the roughness of those bales and the sweat stung my back as we picked up, threw, stacked, unloaded, and re-stacked in the barn, hundreds of bales of hay. Farm work is hard work! Evangelism can be like that. Jesus said we should pray for more laborers to go into the fields of evangelism to harvest souls. It isn’t easy but it’s worth it! -jkb

SCRIPTURE READINGS:

Express: Romans 12

Advanced: Mark 11-12; 2 Timothy 2

Challenge: Acts 9-16

MY SERMON NOTES FROM LAST SUNDAY:

LOVING THE LOST
Luke 10:1-2

James Merritt: “We need God’s army of soldiers to get out of the barracks and onto the battlefield to bring men and women to The Lord Jesus Christ.”

JESUS CALLS US TO INTERCEDE FOR AN INGATHERING (vv.1-2)

Bailey Smith: “The task before us demands an all out effort in at least two areas:the reaching of the lost and the motivation of Christians to be consistent soul winners.”

promise (v.2)

problem (v.2)
Amy Carmichael: “We have all eternity to celebrate our victories but only one brief moment before twilight to win them.” 

plan (v.2)
Dawson Trotman: “When you pray, believe the impossible.”
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SPIRITUAL GROWTH – DAY 30

                           THE POWER OF YOUR TESTIMONY!

JKBcircleThe last book of the Bible assures us that our personal story of faith in Christ is powerful! “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Revelation 12:11) I’m certain the testimony mentioned here is more comprehensive than merely a brief overview of how conversion took place but our personal experience with Christ is, none the less,  held out as one of our most powerful spiritual weapons.

When sharing your personal testimony you should practice with an accountability partner. Then, when the opportunity presents itself to witness you will be confident and prepared. The main reason we share  our testimony is to point others to Christ-not cover every detail of our personal life! 

Our evangelistic testimony should be brief and include 3 main points:

1) my life before Christ

2) how I became a believer

3) the differences faith in Christ made in my life

Will you share your testimony today? If not, will you ask another believer to work with you to sharpen your testimony? Time is short- eternity is long. Do something today that moves you closer to sharing your faith with a lost friend or family member. ~jkb

SCRIPTURE READINGS:

Express: Romans 11

Advanced: Mark 9-10; 2 Timothy 1

Challenge: Luke 21-24; Acts 5-8

Share_The_GospelSCRIPTURE MEMORY THIS WEEK:

1) Matthew 28:19-20

2) Acts 1:8