Friday, 14 August 2015

31 Days to Abundant Life: Day 15

I want to get a little more intentional about finishing up this blog series: 31 Days to Abundant Life. Since it’s been summer, things have been more chill around here with vacations and unpredictable schedules. I’m hoping to dig into the next 17 days and ask that God will reveal more and more of His heart to me, and to us, on this subject of Abundant Life. There's always more he wants to reveal to our hearts.

Can you think of one person in your life who consistently lives life abundant?

I’m not talking about someone who is perfect or seems to have it all together. I’m talking about someone who obviously, evidently, lives their life with abundance. (Remember, abundant means life overflowing, abounding, lavish, generous, bountiful, teeming.) I don’t think someone who lives life abundant necessarily has a lot of things or money. Life abundant is displayed as a posture of their heart.

The person that comes to mind for me is my great Aunt Ruth. What can I tell you about her? First of all, she was possibly the kindest person I’ve ever known. Kind, not just because that’s how she was, but because I believe she allowed the kindness of Christ to shine through her. She was generous with her time and her resources. She genuinely cared about you and anyone she met, for that matter. 

The secret to life abundant, I think, is that there is no secret at all. We can choose to live in the teeming, bountiful, lavish love of Christ each and every day, despite anything. Whether we’re 85 or 5, Christ offers us life abundant. Whether we’re married or single, in a secure job or struggling to get by, Christ offers us life abundant. Whether we have 10 children or none, the best friends and family in the world or just a few close companions, Christ offers life abundant to us all. 

The secret is not in how to have life abundant, the secret is in how to receive it. When I think of people who live it out, people like my Aunt Ruth, as opposed to people who don’t, I think there's one simple difference. Those who live abundant life have somehow learned the secret of receiving from Christ. They’ve allowed their lives to slow down enough to hear the sacred whisper. His whisper to come to him and receive. Those who are striving for it, always grasping for more, never quite getting what they think they want, I think they simply haven’t learned the art of receiving. 

How do we learn this sacred art? Think about receiving a present on Christmas morning. What do you do when someones giving you a gift? ….. Nothing. You sit there, stare at the gift under the tree with your name on it, watch as they place it in your hands, and you smile. Some like to rip the paper off as fast as they can, some like to remove the bow slowly, unwrap the paper so it doesn’t rip, but no matter how you open it, inside will be the same gift. You look at the gift, “I love it!” you exclaim with a smile. You might stare at it for a while. Then, you look up at the gift giver and you thank them. You go over and give them a hug. You return to your gift and look at it some more and think about all that you want to do with it.

Can we think about receiving abundant life from Christ in the same way? Instead of striving or searching, simply stop and sit. Wait for him to place it in your hands, anticipate what’s inside, and each day, open the gift He promises to give to those he came to save. 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

31 Days to Abundant Life: Day 14

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

I had coffee with a friend last night and was explaining to her how some circumstances in my life lately have caused me to feel distant from God. Do you ever have weeks or months where you feel like you’re in this great stride with the Lord? Learning, receiving, hearing, seeing Him at work so evidently? And then, all of the sudden, you find yourself feeling at a distance from Him? You don’t know how to approach Him and you don’t even know why you feel that way. 

My friend asked me some good questions last night and I realized some things. When we feel distant from God, it's really easy to blame ourselves or get down on ourselves. Why don’t I feel close to Him? Why can’t I just get past this and start pursuing Him again? I realized, in this case, that Satan has been trying to make me believe some lies. He’s been out, just like the verse tells us, to steal my joy, kill my effectiveness in God’s Kingdom, and destroy the freedom I’ve been experiencing in my relationship with God. And you know what the sad part is? I’ve absolutely been allowing him that power. The Good News is, however, that God is always pursuing us, even when we feel far away. He is always drawing us back to Himself, to His truth, to His heart. 

Yes, Satan is out to steal, kill and destroy. But God...He always fights for us. He uses the body of Christ to draw us back to Himself. He uses his Word. He never lets us go.

If you’re feeling distant and you don’t know why, that’s ok. Our relationship with God is that- a relationship. Theres ebbs and flows just like any relationship, I think. But don’t let Satan have the control he desires in your life. He knows that if we’re covered in the blood of Jesus, he simply can’t touch us. But he sure can mess with us while we’re here on earth. When he does, we have a God who is stronger, more powerful, and mightier than any weapon forged against us. 

Isaiah 54:17 says this:
“No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me," declares the LORD.”

THIS is our heritage, our promise, our Good News. If God is for us, NO ONE can be against us. Satan cringes at the name of Jesus because he knows His power. He already knows who the Victor is. 

I'm reminding myself of these truths today. When lies come at me, when circumstances make me feel distant from the Lord, when I feel that I simply can’t hold myself together, I can trust that Jesus stands up for me. His love for us is greater than anything. He came to give us life to the full. Today, I'm taking hold of this truth and dismissing the lies that have been loud in my head lately. I'm remembering the promises of God and His character- that His plans for me are for my good and that He loves me more than I know. 

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Philippians 3:12

Press on, dear friends.