[Steve] Your life is like this vacuum. Well, not exactly, but let me explain. We all have a need to be filled. Have you noticed it?
Now this one has a problem. The bag is chock full! I just can't seem to get any more in here. It isn't able to do its job. It just can't accomplish what it was made to do.
Could that be a description of your life? Your life is so busy, it is so full of so many things, and yet, could there be something lacking?
On this edition of Beyond Today , I'd like to challenge you to ask yourself: "Is There Something Missing in My Life?"
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[Steve] Your life is probably full of activity - work, family, school - running around trying to get it all done. Your life is full to the brim. More often than not, it's a challenge to find the time to fit everything in, but, somehow you make it work.
What's your life like? Perhaps it's like these folks:
> It's like a bus station or a train station. We're kind of going in and out all day long.
>> Super busy, no time.
> Carnival ride. That's pretty much how I would describe my life.
[Steve] Is your life so packed, that if someone asked if there was anything missing in your life, you'd likely respond, "No - how could it be? It's so full!"
The problem is: jam-packed doesn't mean fulfilled. It doesn't automatically bring meaning to life and it doesn't mean you're content. Could you be too busy to notice that something's missing?
> No, not really. I'm pretty…I'm fulfilled most of my time.
>> I don't think we generally feel like things are missing. I think that we feel pretty happy generally, and that life is pretty good for us. So we enjoy, kind of, things and how they've been thus far for us.
> No, I'm so used to it.
>> Yeah, for the most part I'm pretty happy. I don't feel like there's a whole lot missing. No.
[Steve] Perhaps you feel that way too.
But is it possible that your life is a bit like King Solomon in the Bible? He had it all. His life was full of activity and work. Anything and everything he could have, he could want, he could imagine. You could describe it as over-the-top active - maybe like you.
But he did something, something I hope that you'll do too. At one point in his life he stopped, and considered his hectic life.
He describes his own life in Ecclesiastes:2:10 "… I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless - like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere" (NLT).
You could say that Solomon's life was like this vacuum cleaner. And just like a vacuum gets filled up with all the things around it, he filled his life with things to have, places to go, work to the bone. He did all of those things. His life was just sucking up everything it could to fill a hole, a hole that was inside his life. He had a need. He had an emptiness. There was a void, a hunger at his heart and core that like a vacuum, it needed to be filled.
Now at first, he didn't even realize he had that need. But something unusual happened. He actually stopped to consider what was going on. And do you know what he realized?
He was filling his life with what was less than the best. He realized that there was something missing. All of that work, all of that busyness wasn't really fulfilling. It was lacking something he couldn't quite put his finger on. Something that could have given meaning to it all.
Now maybe you've felt that way.
Odds are that you're like so many others - busy! Do these words describe your life? Demanding, tiring, full of activity, on the go, chaotic!
But you look around at your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends, even your extended family - and you see they're busy too. And it seems they make it work, somehow. So you pressure yourself to squeeze all those responsibilities and activities into your schedule. On top of that, you try to find meaning for it all.
Well think about this: Have you ever thought there was a reason behind why you find yourself so busy? Now it's not just because there's so many things to do. But something that may not be that obvious at first? Perhaps like Solomon, you can't quite put your finger on it.
If you're like him, you might reward yourself with all that hard work and activity with a vacation! Do you live for the holiday?
Well not too long ago, I was talking with a friend of mine that had just returned from a big vacation, and they had taken it on the road. They traveled - they saw the sites. They had nonstop action. And so when they finally got back, I asked him, is he ready to get back to normal. Do you know what he told me? He said, "I need a vacation from my vacation!"
If it is not vacations, trips that seem to make all the busyness worthwhile, then maybe it's retirement that you look forward to. But those of you who are retired can probably attest to that fact that it's not necessarily that way.
When one of my friends retired, I mentioned to him that he must finally be ready to have that time to relax and to take it easy. But you know what he said to me? He said, "Boy, that would be great, but I've got more to do than ever!"
Now I'm not saying that it's a terrible thing to be busy. But for most of us, we don't do what Solomon did. We don't take the time to stop and consider why we are so busy. What's the reason that we feel we've got to do all these things and have so much crammed into our lives? Why?
Well, remember our vacuum? It represents you and your life. Your heart, your core - right at the center of you, it was made to be filled like a vacuum. It's a constant need. So, many people try to fill that need with everything else, with that emptiness, that busyness that would hopefully fill it. And so we fill it with things like striving for success or work.
But you know, God answers that reasoning. If that's the way you think, Revelation:3:17 should be something you think about. It says, "You claim to be rich and successful and to have everything you need. But you don't know how bad off you are. You are pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. Buy your gold from me. It has been refined in a fire, and it will make you rich. Buy white clothes from me. Wear them and you can cover up your shameful nakedness. Buy medicine for your eyes, so that you will be able to see" (CEV).
God plainly says that the vacuum, that hole in you, was made and shaped in such a way that only one thing can properly fill it: God Himself.
You were made with a need to have Him - not just as a part of your life, but at the very center of your life.
Acts:17:24 talks about that very purpose: "This is the God who made the universe and all it contains, the God who is the King of all heaven and all earth… His purpose in all this was that people of every culture and religion would search for this ultimate God, grope for Him in the darkness, as it were, hoping to find Him. Yet, in truth, God is not far from any of us" (The Voice).
The Bible tells us that our creator, He made us. He made every one of us, every nation, culture. He made you - with that need, not only to find God, but that you choose Him to fill that vacuum within - to fill it, by God!
Now you may think, yeah that's for those people out there in the world. They've really got a problem. They are the ones who need God, but I'm religious. I'm a Christian. That doesn't describe me. But wait. Is it possible that you could claim to be a Christian and not even realize you're lacking something?
I'll talk more about that in just a moment, but first I'd like to tell you about a special free study guide that can change your perspective on your demanding life. You Can Have Living Faith deals with the real issues of your life - your everyday life. Now if your days are just flying by and you hardly have a chance to even think - be like Solomon. Make yourself take the time to consider that you just might be chasing the wind. You may not have had that kind of faith that you really need. This free study aid, You Can Have Living Faith can help you discover what you can trust and what you can truly rely on, especially in this fast-paced world we live in.
You can read, You Can Have Living Faith online at BeyondToday.tv . Or request your free copy to be sent right to your home by calling us at: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. If you live outside North America, please write us at the address shown on your screen (Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254).
No one wants to be caught chasing the wind. So isn't it time that you step back and consider your life? Think about it. Have you asked yourself: What have I filled my vacuum with - my life?
Have you ever felt that there might be something missing when it comes to all the busyness in your life? Have you ever felt that there might be something missing?
> Well, I mean just, I don't think people really analyze what they're doing in life. You know, they go to work every day, and they don't really think what the meaning of life is while we're here. So…especially in my generation we're pretty caught up in a lot of things that aren't really, I don't think are important. But I think lots of people kind of involve themselves in things that don't really matter just to take their thoughts off the problems that are really important.
[Steve] Most people's personal vacuum "of life" is taking in all that life has to offer. But do we ever pause to ask: Why am I here? Is there purpose to my life? What's the point?
The Bible puts it this way: "for in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts:17:28).
To have spiritual meaning in your life - true fulfillment, for satisfaction that gives real meaning and value to your life - God must fill that vacuum, that void in your life. You were created to have God at the core of your being - that brings meaning. That brings purpose.
Ephesians:3:19 reminds us how important this is. It says: "and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (NIV).
Unfortunately most of us, even Christians, tend to try to fill up that void with anything or everything that our vacuum will take in. Now it might be the need to be important, or to be in control, or to be appreciated, even to be loved. Or maybe it's the need just to look perfect - so we surgically fix ourselves to supposedly look better and to stay young.
But here's the problem: vacuuming up all that litter is Satan's answer to your needs. They're counterfeits. They're impostors. Relying on these will ruin you over time. God tell us, "Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it" (1 John:2:15, Phillips)
So what should you do? You need to empty your vacuum bag "of life." Dump the junk! Your heart and core is like this bag. It's jam packed full of all the things you're so busy about. Clean it out and put God first into that hole in your life.
But you might think, "Wait a second. Are you telling me that providing for my family or playing with my kids is wrong?" Am I saying that God wants you to throw your family out the window? Well, let's think about that for a moment.
> I would say my kids are probably my most important thing that I would probably, you know, the time that I put in, the biggest reward I would say.
>> Oh, being with my daughter for sure.
[Steve] Do you find time for the most important things then?
> Well, to me the most important things are the family to begin with. I think spending time with them and then depending upon your point of view, some religious - it is another aspect. So, yeah. Definitely.
[Steve] We're busy with some things that are very good, but if we don't start with God at our center, then even though it feels good, even though it feels fulfilling, the reality is - it's not what's best. Even as Christians, we can't have God just be this one little part. Like when we go to church or just when we need something. Instead, He must always be at the center of our life - in every part. That's what's best.
Let me give you an example.
The New Testament gives us the story of two sisters: one who filled that void in her life with God; the other, who had taken in a lot of other things that got in the way of what was most vital for her life. Imagine yourself in this story. Which individual are you most like?
The story is found over in Luke:10:38 and it begins with Jesus and His disciples visiting the sisters. "When they got there, a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down in front of the Lord and was listening to what he said. Martha was worried about all that had to be done" (CEV).
So we see two life choices. One, Mary, chooses to put Jesus at the center of her life. She fills her vacuum with Christ.
Now the other, Martha - who you could say is a "busy Christian." She is running around all in the frenzied activity she thought that she should do. Well, let's see what happens.
"Finally, [Martha] went to Jesus and said, 'Lord, doesn't it bother you that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!' The Lord answered, 'Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her'" (CEV).
Did you notice that Martha wasn't doing evil things? She filled her life with good things - giving, and serving, and helping the family. But Jesus points out to her that these things weren't the most important, they weren't the most critical, they weren't what's best.
In a way, He was telling her she needed to dump the junk, to clean out that vacuum bag "of life." She needed to order her life with God first and foremost.
So which person is most like you? When we prioritize our life and place God at our heart and our core, like Mary, everything takes on a new perspective. When God is our meaning and fulfillment instead of our jobs, and even instead of our kids, or spouses, then we've got a rock to stand on.
In this uncertain world that we live in, we need that. We never know when those other things that fill our life might be taken away. Yet God can never be taken from us.
It's your choice. What a blessing it is to decide to follow the best path of faith. Then we can order all of our other responsibilities in the right amount, with the right priority.
So stop, consider and choose.
Determine to dump the junk and put God in first.
That is what's best.
We want to help you make that right choice - so call us for your free copy of our study guide, You Can Have Living Faith. This study aid will help you choose like Mary, what is best.
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We've been discussing your busy life and how you fill it by asking the question: "Is Something Missing in My Life?" We're going to deal with this a little bit more in-depth, so I'm joined by fellow hosts, Darris McNeely and Gary Petty.
I used the example of Solomon and how Solomon felt that all the busyness that he was experiencing, he felt it was just like chasing the wind. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt that you were chasing the wind?
[Gary] You know it's funny Steve, when you talked about that, it made me remember when I was a little, little boy, a wee little guy, I decided one day I was going to go out and catch the wind. I got a bag and tried to catch the wind, the power of the wind.
But you know, as you were talking about Mary and Martha, and that situation, I've thought about times in my own life where I've done lots of good things. You know as a pastor, you get busy. You take care of the poor and the windows, and you're going to the social committee, and taking care of the finances. They're important things. They have to be done. But you can get so caught up in those things that you forget where the real power comes from, and you begin to not have God as the center of your life, but those things as the center of your life. And whatever you do, your life gets messed up, it doesn't work.
[Steve] And that can be a challenge then. How do you recognize that? How do you recognize that woah, this is just chasing the wind?
[Darris] Well, you can begin by maybe looking at your credit card bills. Looking around your living room, your house, take a peek in your closet. How many clothes do you have? Maybe better yet ask, how many clothes do you really need? Look at those bills that are coming in that you are struggling to pay at times because of all the stuff that you thought that you had to have, that you really don't need.
Look in your basement, your garage, look in the backyard at that swimming pool that you thought was a good idea, but after a lot of payments, you really don't use it quite as much as you thought you might. Stuff that we put into our lives today can crowd out the most vital, important things that we really need to be doing.
My wife and I moved a couple of years ago after 22 years in one house. We gave things away. We sent stuff to the Salvation Army, Goodwill. We still had more than we thought we really needed to move, so we had a garage sale. We sold things for penny on the dollar for what we had bought it. And when it was all done, we recognized by some of the things that had happened in that garage sale experience by the people who came through and bought our stuff.
I realized after talking to some of the people that came through our garage those days that they were lonely. And, though they had got me down on a few dollars on a particular item, it was the conversations that followed afterwards with these people who wanted a glass of water, who wanted to tell me about their husband who died a year or two ago, that I finally realized that these people were coming around looking for things in my house, but what they were really looking for was conversation. And it made me realize that it's not things, it's not stuff, it's relationships. Coming to recognize that those things about our lives and the people that come in and out of our lives, are really what makes the things that are important to us real. And if we hang onto that, we've learned exactly what you are talking about today, Steve.
[Gary] I think another sentiment of this problem is when you start to experience burnout. You look at people who are very dedicated. They give a lot of time. They work for their church. They work for nonprofit groups and they begin to burn out. They get to the place where they don't have any energy anymore. Their desire goes away. And a lot of times, that's because the priorities are wrong. They are doing the good things, but not by being renewed by their relationship with God.
[Steve] Now, I think you make a good point that sometimes we are so busy, we don't recognize that. But if we finally do step back, we recognize we need relationships, and of course the most important one is, we need God at our heart and our core. All right, we recognize that fact. I have that need. Now, what do I do? What are the steps that we should be taking in order to fill that need that God made us with?
[Darris] Steve, I find that when I am taking those steps to get close to God the best, when I start my day by spending some private time with God. By reading the Bible, by praying, by letting God talk to me through His Word. Reading some of the Psalms for wisdom. Reading some of the Proverbs. Getting encouragement from this Word and feeding on that at the beginning of the day. In the quiet hours before everything else rushes in. When I do that, and when people build that habit into their life, that is when the connection is made with God and things seem to go better more often than not, as a result of that habit being firmly based in my life.
[Gary] And I think one thing when we do what you're talking about Darris - when we get up every morning, and we spend some time studying God's Word, praying to Him - throughout the day, take those little moments, short period of time, to think about what you studied. Think about what God told you and you get renewed, and it keeps your life centered.
[Steve] I think that's an important point. There are benefits when we put God first, right?
[Darris] We do, absolutely. Even when it comes back to the stuff that makes up our lives. When realize we don't need all of that. Perhaps we don't run up the debt. We recognize that we have less stress. We also recognize that it's not the things that make for quality of life, it's spiritual matters. When that happens, our lives today are better with that concept in mind.
[Gary] And when we have a better life today with peace and joy and the things God gives us, it's not only for today, it's for eternity! That's what's so exciting. God has eternal life for us in His family, in His Kingdom forever.
[Steve] And we can live life beyond today. It gives us the big picture of things. In fact, we want to help you do that. We want to help you have the kind of faith you need.
So remember our free offers. When you order the free study aid, You Can Have Living Faith we will also send you a free subscription to our magazine, The Good News . It will help you increase your faith in Jesus Christ and to know where to place your trust in this fast-paced world that we live in. So call us: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to download a free copy at BeyondToday.tv .
You have a deep-seated need. It's like a vacuum at your life's core that must be filled. What will you fill it with? Work, family, everything that you're so busy with may seem to quiet that vacuum, but have you put first things first?
Don't be distracted. Remember that space can only be filled by God. So go for it! Now's the time to begin to make a change, to make a wholehearted commitment to put God first and foremost in your life. I hope and pray you'll be dedicated, devoted and choose what's best.
You can face the challenges and the worries that life brings and you can win! Recognize your spiritual hunger and thirst for God and commit yourself to become an undivided disciple of Jesus Christ.
Thanks for joining us. Be sure to tell your family and your friends about Beyond Today . Tune in again next week and join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today , I'm Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
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