How to Have the Abundant Life – Part 1
II Chronicles 7:12-14 NIV
12 the Lord appeared to him (Solomon) at night and said: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. 13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
John 10:10 KJV
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Our last sermon series was on repentance. Now Pastor Jim is taking us to the next step in our Christian lives-the abundant life. As Christians, we have three steps in our process. First, the repentance to get us to the place where we can start to grow in God as we come to the second step of sanctification. Finally, when we stand before Christ in heaven, we will have received our third step of glorification.
Everyone wants abundance in their lives. We all thirst for good things. In John 3, when Nicodemus was asking if Jesus was from God, Jesus replied in verse 3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Like all who hunger and thirst for an abundant life, the Living Water, Christ Jesus can quench that thirst. He told the Woman at the Well in John 4:14 “ But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” This comes about through saving faith in Christ.
Our Saving Faith is:
Like accepting an invitation to a great feast (Luke 14: 12-14) 12 “Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. 13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
Like receiving great rest (Matthew 11:28) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Like walking through a door (John 10: 7-10) 7 “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Like receiving a gift (Romans 6:23) “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Like making a deposit (2 Timothy 1:12) “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless, I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
As we are sanctified into this abundant life in Christ, God is preparing us for our glorification in heaven and we will be glorifying him on earth.
Things do not always go smoothly as we walk in a world that is filled with sin all around us. Our relationship with Christ may become stale and we may become stuck. We may need revival to renew our love for God. Much like the world we live in today, we may need revival when the things of God don’t excite us such as not being drawn to prayer, the Bible, thanksgiving, and fellowship with other believers. Another sign is when the sins and troubles of the world do not bother us. We see daily examples of both. Pray for revival.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God, tells Solomon the steps to take that lead to revival. First, we must humble ourselves before God and recognize our need for God. Thanksgiving helps us acknowledge all that God is and all He does for us. When we recognize that God is good and we truly need him, we realize that we are not self-sufficient. Our pride causes us to want to hang on to our false sense of self-sufficiency. When we humble ourselves, God is there waiting to listen.
Jesus explains this in Luke 18:10-14 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” To live an abundant life, we must take a step down, humbling ourselves, in order to take a step forward and upward to that abundance in Christ.
God tells Solomon that the next step to revival is to measure ourselves against the majesty of God. We are “to seek His face and turn from our wicked ways.” When we look at the majesty, love and holiness of God, we see what sinners we are and how we don’t measure up to God’s ways. It may be a painful sight to see, but God will forgive and give us another opportunity to grow in him. We seek God’s face in prayer. Prayer is essential. God longs to answer our prayers, but we must ask in faith. God’s mighty power can do all that we ask. We may not always see the answers, but God is working. Praying for family and loved ones, God is working even when we are not there to see the results or have a physical presence in the answer. We may pray, and another person be instrumental in bringing about God’s answer. The essential part for us is to pray in faith.
Scripture tells us that God desires for us to seek His face in prayer. He says “Come now, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18); “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:8; “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13; “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:3. Are we desperate for God? Are we still hanging on to our own weak and flawed self-sufficiency? Do we want the things that God has for us? Things of peace, and not evil. Do we want the abundant life?
Do we know who God made us to be? David understood God’s hand in his own life when he said in Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”, David says in Psalm 90:12 Do you know your priority in life? You have been called for such a time as this. “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:4-5 You are a child of God, meant to walk as Jesus walked. Anything that distracts us from this can be brought to our attention by the Holy Spirit and you can be what God made you to be. Hearts are changed when we seek God passionately.