Living the Abundant Life
It is the dichotomy of every believer who has read the Bible, listened to a sermon, or had a grandma like mine who constantly talked about the exceeding goodness of God. It is the promises of God contrasted against the realities of life. God’s promises are so intense. Jesus said we should be living the abundant life! In great storms, He promises peace so great that people can’t understand how we could be at such peace. In a world full of trials and tribulations, He promises a joy so great that it can’t be articulated in human terms. Amid a failing society, He promises to make us strong like a tree planted by the water that is not moved but stands steady for others to enjoy its fruit.
Well, can I be honest? I don’t always have that kind of peace. That kind of joy is not my normal. And the times when I have failed people remind me that I am not always full of the strength of God. We hear the promises, long for the promises, but struggle to find them. But this I know. A greater understanding of Biblical principles with the help of the Holy Spirit, I have way more peace, joy, and love even in the most disheartening times.
Jesus Came that You Might Have Life More Abundantly
God says, “I know the plans I have for you…” (Jeremiah 29:11). He says this to you and to me. My response: “I’m glad You know the plan because I can’t see it.” These exalted promises force us to accept them to be absolutely true and attainable or see them as hyperbole beyond reach. Sadly, I think Christians have decided that God’s promises are hyperbole and beyond reach. But there is one thing I keep going back to – the life of Christ who said that He came that we might be living in the abundant life God wants for us.
Biblical Principles for a Better Life
The Bible tells us that Jesus was God. But it also says that He humbled himself to a mere man. Too often, we look at Jesus and see someone that God favored exponentially with power, peace, joy, and strength beyond what is possible for mere men. But even this thought is contrary to Scripture. We are co-heirs with Christ. Everything Christ had spiritually has been made available to us. These things sit like an unclaimed package at the UPS office waiting to be picked up. But again, did Jesus receive the glory from the Father simply because of who He was – the Son of God? Philippians 2 gives us an answer to this question:
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death —
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
We know that God has exalted Christ to the throne in Heaven. Revelation 4 gives us a beautiful picture of Jesus glorified on the throne in Heaven. We could say that Jesus is there simply because of who He is, but according to Philippians, it has nothing to do with who He is. It has everything to do with what He did. The Father exalted the Son not because He was the Son, but because the Son obeyed the Father. Because Jesus obeyed the Father, the Father directed His steps and led Him to His destiny on the throne of Heaven.
Applying Biblical Truth for a Full Life
The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were the religiously perfect men who seemingly did everything God told them to do. But Jesus told the people of His day that for them to experience the Kingdom of Heaven, which had spiritually descended upon them in Christ, their righteousness had to exceed that of the Pharisees. The Pharisees obeyed all the law, but their heart was not pure. They obeyed for selfish reasons. Arrogance was their norm. Jesus humbled himself, but they were self-serving. Reputation was everything to them while Jesus made Himself of no reputation.
Philippians 2 says “He made himself of no reputation.” Our reputation is the substance of everyone else’s opinion about who we are. Jesus lived his life without a care of what people thought. Love Him or hate Him, He was the same. He did not puff Himself up. Humility was His demeanor. When people mistreated Him, He was not offended. Peter denied Him and Jesus forgave Him. Judas betrayed Him and Jesus responded by calling him ‘Friend.’ As He hung before those who cheered for his crucifixion and the soldiers who carried it out, He pleaded on their behalf, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
We all want Love and Acceptance
It is natural to care what people think about us, to want people to think well of us. It is in the DNA of humanity to want to be loved, accepted, and approved by those around us. This is natural, but when our desire to be loved and accepted exceeds our desire to please God, these natural cravings will find us in dark places. Depression, anxiety, erratic behavior, anger, bitterness, jealousy, and mental instability all come from the same source – our desire to be loved, accepted and approved of. When people do not treat us as we believe they should, our reaction reveals our greater desire between being loved by men or giving our love to God.
We crave what we don’t have
When we have been deprived of love and acceptance by those around us, we crave it even more. Like a desert wanderer finally finding a spring of water, we violently go after approval all the more. Out of this intense thirst for love, disobedience to the Lord manifests daily in our life. Because I don’t want you to be angry with me, I will shade the truth. Because I feel mistreated, I unleash my anger to make sure you never do it again. When people don’t like me for no reason, I give myself an excuse to not be nice. It is easy to see how difficult obedience to the Lord can be and because we disobey, we do not experience the great and precious promises of God. And we miss His perfect plan for our life. We settle for so much less than what He desires to give us.
We are vulnerable to more pain because of our desire for love and acceptance. When people do not love us as they should, we tend to see it as a reflection of our lack of value rather than their inability to love purely. The pain from emotional wounds can become intense. The Lord has given us many things to bring pleasure to our bodies. Blue Bell ice cream brings me much pleasure. God gave me taste buds to enjoy food. And He has given us many things to give us pleasure from wine, a hot bath, to sex. But when my heart hurts, if I don’t turn to the Lord, I will seek pleasure from the things of this Earth. Seeking pleasure instead of healing leads to even darker places of addictions to food, drugs, alcohol, sex, exercise, work. Pleasure-seeking steals away God’s plan for our life.
Seeking pleasure over healing also steals away God’s plan for our life
Living life to capture love from people and then indulging in fleshly pleasure when we don’t get it can make obedience to the Lord incredibly difficult. It is not that we don’t want to obey the Lord, it is just so hard. God gives us commands like forgive seventy times seven times when people hurt us, bless those who persecute you, be perfect, honor your mother and father, give to God first, always build other up, be perfect, don’t get drunk, don’t withhold your body from your spouse, don’t lie, don’t show favoritism, be perfect. The presence of love, acceptance, and approval makes it easier, but disrespect, betrayal, neglect, and rejection make it debilitating. We are so concerned with what people think of us and this separates us from God’s plan that is more than we have ever imagined.
And don’t think you have to live in the gutters of society to struggle in this way. Do we not see people in the church too concerned about what people think of them? Is there not arrogance in the pulpits the same as in corporate America, professional sports, pop stars, and American idols. Are there not Christians angry with parents or friends who have treated them less than what they feel they are worth? All Christians have a place waiting for them in Heaven, but I am afraid that very few will experience the abundant life Christ had in mind when He came to this Earth.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I remember when I was training up my children to follow the Lord. To get them to see that obedience in deed and attitude was the key to receiving all God has for us was not easy. I would say to them, “Just obey.” It seems so simple, but it ain’t simple at all – not at all. Sure, we can avoid some of the vices, some of us, but our desire for love is so strong it makes obedience to God extremely difficult at times. God has a plan for all of us, but how do we find it?
God has a plan for all of us, but how do we find it?
This has been the theme of my books. I wrote “Breaking Free From Your Past” as a quick read to help people understand the Biblical principles that are essential from breaking free from the pain caused by those who did not love us as we needed. I want as many people as possible to learn and follow these principles. We can’t move into our destiny until we break free from the pain of the past.
My first full book is called “Prepare For Greater Things.” This book is about learning the wisdom of God and why God allows bad things in our lives and how, if we respond as He calls us to, these moments prepare us for greater things – hence the title :). My most recent book just released “With All Your Heart” is all about going deeper in our trust with the Lord. When we don’t trust the Lord, we will not obey. How many blessings are we missing out on because we don’t’ trust the Lord enough? Trusting God more and more is the key to living the abundant life.
Biblical Understand is the key
The Bible says the Word of God reveals to us the next step. He doesn’t show us the end from the beginning. He told Abram to go to a place but didn’t tell him where the place was. Instead, the Lord led Abram step by step. With every decision and every response to circumstances in his life, God moved Abram on a journey that eventually brought him to the promises of God. It’s time to take the next step to living the abundant life God wants for you!
Every moment of every day, what is happening around us and our response to those things will be the next step on our journey. Some decisions we make will take us off the path to God’s promises while others will move us closer to His plan. There are times when we don’t know how to respond and we need to learn. Other times, we are certain of how we should respond, but we don’t have the emotional stability and strength to do what we know we should. But God is our healer. He can bind up our wounds giving us the ability to keep stepping into His plan for our life.
This is why I write!
I want to see everyone living in the abundant life God wants for them. Not that I always do life as I should, but the Lord has helped me to understand the principles that help me improve day after day. My desire is to teach and help people find God’s plan for their life. It is free to subscribe. And I would love to connect with you, answer questions, or just pray for you. Send me a note and I will get back to you quickly. And join my Facebook page where I take current events in our society and apply Biblical truth.
May the Lord bless you and may you find God’s plan and live the abundant life He has for you!
Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!