John 10:10

 

Last week I encouraged us not to quit.

Our heavenly Father is cheering us on like the middle school swim coach.

So we keep going; we preserve but we are depressed and discouraged.

We slumber along, refusing to quit but not walking in joy.

Our choice is not between quitting and being miserable.

It is between surviving and thriving.

The Casting Crowns song “Thrive” that I played as a prelude says: We know we were made for so much more, Than ordinary lives, It’s time for us to more than just survive, We were made to thrive

 

Let’s live lives that thrive, we don’t want to just survive this life we want to thrive.

 

Surviving would be like living in the 1850’s, Pioneer days, hard living and no extras in life.

Maybe even the 1950’s, 1 car per family, a party phone line, a record player, and a black and white TV.

No cell phone, no internet – that is hardly even surviving

Surviving is the Gilligan’s Island

Thriving is the Beverly Hillbillies

 

Do you want to survive or thrive?

 

John 10:10 The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 

The choice is Satan or Jesus – Death or Life.

 

Many people think that Satan offers life, a good life of fun and satisfaction but it is really death.

Satan says that a life with Jesus is boring, strict, and no fun.

 

The truth is following Satan is death now and for eternity.

Following Jesus is life, a full life now and Eternal Life with Him.

 

Your choice

 

When Sarah was in the hospital waiting for a heart we meet a woman who was visiting a child that was dying in the room beside us. She asked Vicki if she had a faith.  “How could I survive if I didn’t?”

We often wonder that – How can people make it through the difficulties of life without Jesus.

Many accuse Christians of using Jesus as a crutch – everyone has a crutch.

Everyone puts their hope in something or someone.

I would rather trust Jesus than drugs or alcohol.

About three months after Michael died Vicki and I went to a support group in Cincinnati. What we meet was a bunch of hurting people that did not have hope.  Our grief journey was new but I felt that because of my faith I had healed more than many their seeking support.  One dear mother was 10 years down her grief journey, had dealt with alcohol addiction and found comfort now in seeing her boys in the stars.

 

Life was hard but I was still thriving because of my peace and hope in Jesus.

 

What would your life be like without Jesus?

That is surviving.  Your life in Jesus is thriving.

 

But even in your faith you can just get along. You want to quit but you don’t.  You are miserable and you can’t see how to thrive in Jesus.

 

First know that Jesus promises a full life.

John 10:10 … I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

Part of a full life is having rest in Jesus (We will be studying Hebrews 4 tonight talking about God’s Rest).

 

Jesus is calling you if you are weary and burdened. Anyone?

Jesus offers rest, Jesus is gentle and will give you comfort.

A full life begins in a relationship with Jesus who wants to be with you and who wants to make your burdens lights. He will help you carry them.

 

Many times we don’t experience the full life of rest because we won’t let Jesus carry our burdens.

Part of the way Jesus carries our burdens in through our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Galatians 6:2  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

 

Help carry the load.

Let others know you need help and are carrying a heavy load and the next straw may just break your back.

 

Go to Jesus and let Him carry your burdens.

What good is your worry going to do? You are just stealing joy from tomorrow.

 

Jesus promises you a full life, an abundant life.

Jesus wants you to thrive not just survive this dreaded world.

 

Who wants to thrive instead of just surviving?

What does a life thriving in Jesus look like?

 

Acts 5:27 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28  “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29  Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! … 40  They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41  The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42  Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

 

That is thriving with Jesus. Not the kind of thriving you want?

Then you can take the lie of Satan which brings death.

A life of service and sacrifice for Jesus is a life well lived.

A life that thrives is because no matter the circumstances you can rejoice in your being faithful to the mission.

 

The disciples all thrived like Jesus promised. They preached the good news and rejoiced.

Then they were martyred. History tells us how they died.

 

PAUL was beheaded

PETER was crucified upside down

ANDREW was crucified.

THOMAS was pierced through with the spears of four soldiers.

MATTHEW was stabbed to death.

JAMES was stoned and then clubbed to death.

PHILIP, BARTHOLOMEW, SIMON THE ZEALOT

JOHN survived being thrown into a boil pot of oil and then was exiled to the island of Patmos.

 

That is what a full life looks like; serving Jesus with your last breath.

We rejoice because we know that we are serving Jesus and not ourselves.

Being an American has made us soft.

You want me to preach that a Thriving life in Jesus is a life of Health and Wealth. Sorry that is not what the gospel teaches.

Just because life has many hardships doesn’t mean we can’t rejoice.

 

Don’t let the hardships of life break you down.

Don’t let the circumstance of life not allow you to rejoice in Jesus.

As Paul set in a jail cell he wrote these words.

 

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Every moment of every day was not horrible for the apostles and it won’t be for us either unless we let our negative thinking win.

 

Let me shift gears for a moment. Our default button is depression when we face difficult times.  As American’s in the 21st Century we have been conditioned to expect a certain level of comfort and ease.  That has been a great lie of Satan.  If your life has any difficulties it is God’s fault and He doesn’t love you.  That is a lie based off a feeling.

The truth is sin brought death and destruction into the world.

God’s perfect world was the Garden of Eden, the perfect Paradise but Adam and Eve sinned and the perfect Paradise was gone. A perfect place is coming again but for now we have to live in a sin filled world where there is disease and death, where there is hurt and pain.

 

How do we deal with these difficulties?

We rest in Jesus, we become content in Jesus, we have joy in Jesus.

But by default we get depressed; it is easy to do, I have been there. I have given you a helpful insert in your bulletin – a few ideas of how to beat back depression that is caused by negative thinking.

 

Challenge Negative Thinking

 

Examine your negative thoughts in light of truth so the lies you believe wont drive you deeper in depression.

 

All-or-nothing thinking – Looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground (“If I fall short of perfection, I’m a total failure.”)

 

Overgeneralization – Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever (“I can’t do anything right.”)

 

The mental filter – Ignoring positive events and focusing on the negative. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right.

 

Diminishing the positive – Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count (“She said she had a good time on our date, but I think she was just being nice.”)

 

Jumping to conclusions – Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader (“He must think I’m pathetic.” “I’ll be stuck in this dead end job forever.”)

 

Emotional reasoning – Believing that the way you feel reflects reality (“I feel like such a loser. I really am no good!”)

 

‘Shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’ – Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do, and beating yourself up if you don’t live up to your rules.

 

Labeling – Labeling yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings (“I’m a failure; an idiot; a loser.”)

 

Put your Thoughts on the Witness Stand

 

Once you identify the destructive thoughts patterns that you default to, you can start to challenge them with questions such as:

  • “What’s the evidence that this thought is true? Not true?”
  • “What would I tell a friend who had this thought?”
  • “Is there another way of looking at the situation?”
  • “How might I look at this situation if I didn’t have depression?”

 

As you cross-examine your negative thoughts, you may be surprised at how quickly they crumble.

In the process, you’ll develop a more balanced perspective.

 

2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

 

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

 

If we are going to beat back depression that we face from day to day, then we must think right. We can’t believe the lies that we tell ourselves.  (If you are struggling with depression please get help.  Visit your Dr to make sure you are physically ok.)  (Call me and let’s get together and talk.)  (Don’t be ashamed – at a Wednesday night Bible study soon we are going to look at all the people in the Bible who struggled with depression.)  Being depressed does not mean you are a bad Christian; it means you need help to work through the struggles you are facing in life.

Jesus wants you to thrive – He wants you to have an abundant life.

He wants you to know His love, His forgiveness, and His Peace.

Your ability to thrive in this life has nothing to do with your circumstances and everything to do with Jesus.

 

2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

 

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”