ABUNDANT LIFE (Part II)
Life, it seems, has taken us on quite a journey. Not a very pleasant one, I might add. Probably, most people you know have had to face all of this to some degree or another. We have come to a place where we have to fight so hard to make it all work. Some have given up to fear, some have allowed themselves to be consumed by all that they hear, while others continue to strive for the life that they want for themselves and their families. Even though a pandemic, political and economic upheaval and a major cultural shift have changed the landscape, the life God has promised us still lies just in front of us. But we must all realize that life lived abundantly doesn’t happen by accident or in a vacuum, but requires effort, courage, tenacity, and, above all, faith.
In one of my last posts, I wrote of the “abundant life” that God intends for His children. You’re probably thinking that I wrote that prior to COVID. But the truth is that I wrote it while in the hospital with COVID. All that’s going on in the world does not change who God is or His love for His children. God is not moved by such things because He is in control. He is not caught by surprise because He has a plan. I know quite a few folks who have lost sight of that. But listen to Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesians 3:16-21:
“That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
The Christians' quality of spiritual life need not be, nor should it be, disrupted because of all the turmoil in the world around us. That’s rather idealistic and unrealistic, you might add. To that I would say, what part of this spiritual conversion and walk that we have in Christ is subject to natural, realistic laws. Jesus called us to a totally unrealistic life in Him, and part of that is remaining focused while in the middle of the storm. The natural reaction would be fear or frustration or doubt or discouragement. But when did God call us to respond naturally?
This abundant life to which God has called us is not achieved strictly by human effort. The whole salvation narrative, from the beginning of our walk in Him to its eventual conclusion, is filled with divine intervention. He did not call us to abandon us.
“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
2 Chronicles 20:15
“Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.”
Now, with that said, we are not left totally without responsibility. Our part in all this is to trust God, obey God and to be used of God. Sometimes our fear or doubt or cowardice takes the battle out of God’s hands and back into ours. That will bring defeat every time.
Another thing we must understand is that this abundant life is not determined or defined by outward circumstances. A great, yet tragic illustration of this is found in the Bible in Numbers 13. They were getting ready to go into the land that God had promised to them. They sent spies in to check it out. All twelve returned saying it really is a good land (abundant life, if you will). But ten went on to add that there are giants in the land. Listen to the tragic words in verse 33.
“So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height,.......and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”
Because of a paralyzing fear, they actually defeated themselves without even raising a weapon. They seemed to forget the God who was going to fight for them. That’s where many people are living their lives today. There are truly many gigantic issues that we must face. But appearances and circumstances do not, or should not, control the story of our Christian life, God should. Look at David facing Goliath, Daniel the lion’s den, three men facing a furnace, and Elijah against hundreds of false prophets. In each of these situations they faced insurmountable odds, impossible odds, but they didn’t let those circumstances determine the outcome. Make sure you don’t loose the battle before you ever go to war.
This life of which I speak, does not just happen or remain without maintenance and nourishment. We can never let down our guard, but must be very intentional about maintaining this abundant life. It is well worth whatever sacrifice you make or energy you expend. I’m going to close this with a very familiar portion of scripture from Ephesians 6:10-18:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints..........”
God bless you in your walk in Him. I pray that it will always be toward abundance.