Finding “Life’s Rich Pageant”
Several years ago the rock band R.E.M. recorded their album, “Lifes Rich Pageant” (their punctuation). On the album is the song “I Believe.” Lead singer Michael Stipe sang, “The difference between what you want and what you need, there’s the key. Trust in your calling, make sure your calling’s true.” Here is R.E.M.’s song “I Believe”. The album and the song struck a nerve. We know there is a difference between what we want and what we need. We know we want to believe in something. More than anything we know we desire to participate in the “Rich Pageant” of life. But where to begin?
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem the world had several major religions, many having been in practice for centuries. There was Hinduism, its offspring Buddhism, mythological religions like the cult religions of Greece, moral religions focused on ancestor worship like Confucianism, and there was Judaism. An obvious question is, what is different about Jesus’ claims and the claims of the world’s great religions that preceded him?
Jesus claimed to be The Way, the door, for all humankind to once and for all experience the fullest life possible. He claimed that a person could live a fulfilling life here on earth and for all eternity if they would simply accept his claims about God and then turn to God for forgiveness.
Here is what Jesus said
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10; The New Living Translation).
That’s pretty amazing, really, that he would say that. But this is what the message of Jesus is about. Jesus also said this: “For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.” (John 3:17; Amplified Bible).
The purpose of this piece you are reading is to show you what Life’s Most Reliable Guide has to say about “life’s rich pageant.” In this interactive blog we learn that if we want to participate in life’s rich pageant to the fullest, we must understand this truth: Life is about our life with God.
What is the Rich Pageant of Life?
Take a moment and write down in your own words a description of what is a “rich life” for you.______________________
A Rich Life is a Life of peace
In John 14:27 Jesus said, “__________________ I leave with you; my _________________ I give you.” This expression was a common Hebrew greeting but Jesus uses it here in an unusual way. The way Jesus uses the word describes the total wellbeing and inner rest of spirit that a person has when they are in fellowship with God. This is the peace of salvation. Jesus said in the second half of the verse: “I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” No wonder Jesus is called “the ______________ of ______________” by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6.
In Philippians 4:4-7 Paul lists three keys to gaining God’s peace. Paul said the Philippians should, “______________ in the Lord always.” “Do not be _________________ about anything.” “With thanksgiving, ____________________ to God.”
Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the stillness of God in your heart regardless of trouble.
Here is an interview by Charlie Rose with the writer of the song “Peace Train,” Yusef Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens), about what all people are looking for in life.
A Rich Life is One that Overcomes Adversity
Teenage surf star Bethany Hamilton was maimed by a shark. You can read about the day that changed her life in this magazine article. Watch the trailer for her movie, Soul Surfer, starring Denis Quaid and Helen Hunt!!
If Bethany’s story of overcoming inspires you, check out this vid with Bethany and Nick Vujicic.
Life has its problems. No one escapes difficulty or adversity. Not everyone is faced with the kind of difficulties that Bethany and Nick face, but everyone faces challenges. The life that can demonstrate maturity in the face of adversity is a rich life.
There is an old saying that goes like this: You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. How big are you?
Take a moment and write down some of the adversities you have faced or are facing right now in your life. _____________________________________ How do you usually respond to adversity? _______________________________
In Acts 16:25, when faced with having been thrown in prison for their faith, what actions did Paul and Silas take that displays maturity in the face of adversity? “About midnight Paul and Silas were ___________________ and ___________________.”
The Rich Life is a Life of Security
Speaker Juan Carlos Ortiz told of a conversation he had with a circus trapeze artist. In the conversation with Ortiz the performer admitted the net underneath was there to keep them from breaking their necks, but added, “The net also keeps us from falling. Imagine there is no net. We would be so nervous that we would be more likely to miss and fall. If there wasn’t a net, we would not dare to do some of the things we do. But because there’s a net, we dare to make turns, and once I made three turns — thanks to the net!” Ortiz was said to have made this observation: “We have security in God. When we are sure in his arms, we dare to attempt big things for God. We dare to be holy. We dare to be obedient. We dare, because we know the eternal arms of God will hold us if we fall.”
Charles Ryrie of the Dallas Theological Seminary tells this story in his book, So Great Salvation: “The 3-year old felt secure in his father’s arms as Dad stood in the middle of the pool. But Dad, for fun, began walking slowly toward the deep end, gently chanting, “Deeper and deeper and deeper,” as the water rose higher and higher on the child. The lad’s face registered increasing degrees of panic, as he held all the more tightly to his father, who, of course, easily touched the bottom. Had the little boy been able to analyze his situation, he’d have realized there was no reason for increased anxiety. The water’s depth in ANY part of the pool was over his head. Even in the shallowest part, had he not been held up, he’d have drowned. His safety anywhere in that pool depended on Dad. At various points in our lives, all of us feel we’re getting “out of our depth” — problems abound, a job is lost, someone dies. Our temptation is to panic, for we feel we’ve lost control. Yet, as with the child in the pool, the truth is we’ve never been in control over the most valuable things of life. We’ve always been held up by the grace of God, our Father, and that does not change. God is never out of his depth, and therefore we’re safe when we’re “going deeper” than we’ve ever been.”
All people look for security. What are you doing to make your life secure: ______________________.
James writes in 4:13-15: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, do you not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”
In Matthew 6:34 Jesus taught that real security is found in seeking first his _____________________ and his ____________________.
A Rich Life is a Life of Hope
Of all the world’s religions, only Christianity offers eternal life in personal fellowship with God. Only Christianity offers a God who lovingly searches for people to love them and save them. This is why “hope” is such an important part of a rich life. When you know God loves you and wants to be with you then you have hope that God will care for you.
Colossians 1:4-5 talks about the “faith and love that spring from the ______________” in you.
If you read Hebrews 6:18-19, you see that our hope is secured by the promise of God Himself.
How Can I Obtain this Rich Life?
To experience a life marked by peace, security, and hope found in a personal relationship with God, what must I do?
You have got to have faith that God can help you.
In Hebrews 11:6 we see clearly that “without faith it is impossible to ________________ God.”
People have faith in a lot of things: Love, career, family, their ambitions. But what does it mean to have the kind of faith being talked about in Hebrews? Hebrews 11:1 is the most popular verse in the Bible that defines “faith.”
Read this verse and take a moment and write down your understanding of this verse. _______________________.
If you wrote down something to the effect of, faith is when we are totally sure about something even if we can’t see it, then you are correct. Think of tomorrow’s sunrise for example. You may not be able to see it right now but you have total confidence the sun will rise in the morning. You have so much confidence that you will set your alarm to be ready to get up for school or work.
So the question is, how do I get faith?
Romans 10:17 says “Consequently, __________________ comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the ______________about Christ. ” In Hebrews 11:1-39 we see how we gain faith through the word of God. This chapter in Hebrews teaches us that if we study God’s word and learn what God has done for us and what we are to do for others then our faith will increase.
In Luke 5:32 Jesus says that he has “come to call sinners to _________________.”
What does it mean to repent? Take a moment and write down your idea ___________________.
To repent means you feel bad about wrong you have done and you switch directions to start doing what is right. Repentance is a changing of directions for the good.
There is a funny story a friend tells about working with troubled teenagers. He said one day one of the teens was talking about the mistakes he had made and he exclaimed that he was ready to “turn around” his life. The teen exclaimed, “I am going to make my life do a 360 degrees turn!” At least he got the turning part correct. The idea though is not just to randomly “change” directions but to turn in the opposite direction.
Sometimes a good message becomes clouded by a bad delivery. Take this guy for instance, a street preacher outside Joel Osteen’s Houston church.
What he says about “repentance” is right on the money, but because of how he is saying it the message is clouded.
Understanding repentance to mean we turn away from bad to good, what are some things you believe God would ask you to turn from in your? Take a moment a write some things down ____________________.
What are some things God would ask you to turn toward? Take a moment and write some things down _______________.
Romans 10:9-10 shows that a person “must __________________ with your mouth and ___________________ in your heart” that God raised Jesus from the dead.
Matthew 10:32-33 says, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge him before my Father in heaven, but whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my father in heaven.”
In Acts 2:38 Peter told the people to “repent and be _____________.”
Baptism is an old thing. Jesus himself was baptized.
A Jewish leader named Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night to ask Jesus questions. In John 3:1-5 Jesus told Nicodemus a person has to be “born again” in order to have this rich life. Jesus told Nicodemus a person has to be born of both the “water” and the “spirit.” Watch this clip showing the meeting as it is recorded in the Gospel of John .
Welcome to Life’s Rich Pageant
Romans 6:4 promises we are “buried” in baptism in order that “we too may live a new ______________.”
Read Romans 6:3-11. Based on your reading of this passage what does “new life” look like?
Saved by Grace
Grace can be defined by the acronym G.R.A.C.E. “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Though we take a step of faith and repent of our wrong living and publicly turn to Christ both with our professing Christ and undergoing baptism, our salvation is only the result of God’s mercy. Grace is when you are spared and given mercy not because you have earned it but because a loving God has chosen to give it.
Ephesians 2:8 says that “it is by _____________ you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Grace is an amazing thing, just like the most famous hymn, Amazing Grace, proclaims. Here is hoping you discover this amazing grace from God today.
- “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”↵
- “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”↵
- “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 every situation, 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.”↵
- “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”↵
- ” But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”↵
- “4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel”↵
- “18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.”↵
- “6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”↵
- “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”↵
- “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”↵
- ” 1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d]
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”↵
- “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”↵
- ” 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”↵
- “32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”↵
- “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”↵
- “1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”↵
- “4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”↵
- “3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin. 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”↵
- “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”↵