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.
John 15:1-14 NIV
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
What is abundant life? Satan, the thief wants to steal, kill and destroy, but Christ came to give abundant life. (John 10:10) In our fallen world, many believe an abundant life means more stuff, more prestige, more fun, and more and more of anything and everything. In the second of this series on the abundant life, Pastor Jim discusses what abundant life is and isn’t and some steps we must go through to obtain the abundant life Christ offers us.
Many people strive for abundant life and many achieve abundance in life. There is an abundance of stuff, prestige in the community, fulfilled responsibilities at home and at work and with the façade of this abundance is the pride of accomplishment and a self-sufficiency that puts us above God, but not necessarily a happy or peaceful existence. Christ’s promise of an abundant life is much richer and deeper because it brings us into a peaceful relationship with him. As we learned last week, God asks us to humble ourselves and pray and seek a relationship with him that can
give us much more than anything we can ever hope for or receive by our own self-sufficiency (2 Chronicles 7:14). Humility says we need God. We need God and an abundant relationship that includes prayer and knowing that he will answer our prayers just as he told Martha when he raised her brother Lazarus from the dead in John 11:40 “Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”
Prayer precedes revival. Revival leads to the abundant life. In John 15:1-14, Christ speaks about believers abiding in him like a branch must abide in the vine (or tree) in order to grow and produce abundant fruit. The Greek word for abundant denotes a super abundant life in quality and quantity. The Creator of the universe wants us to experience super abundance; a super abundant life only He can give. (Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”) This abundant supply far exceeds any material goods or earthly prestige and goes beyond the confines of this earthly existence. It gives peace.
So many are not at peace with God, other people, themselves and the problems of the world that they see. Yet, God longs to bless us. He knows that earthly riches fade away and do not meet our deepest needs. Peace comes from being in God’s will and choosing to be His follower. Satan wants to tempt us away from God’s will and was bold enough to even tempt Christ Jesus to choose earthly power over following God’s will. Christ said no. Satan is in an adversarial relationship with us. Satan says Christianity is boring; we deserve more fun; we deserve more power and more things, and a little cheating and compromise won’t hurt. Satan ups his evil game when we choose to follow Jesus. He is the thief who wants to destroy our marriages, values, and society. Paul certainly learned this through trials as he wrote to the Philipians in Chapter 3:7-8 7 “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (NIV). When we dump the garbage of what seems important in this world and lean on Jesus, He allows us to “(Do not) be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philipians 4: 6-7 NIV Of course, that includes all the things we see every day in our world. Things such as a pandemic, increasing inflation, gas prices, wars and rumors of war and so many other things that disturb us daily.
Abundance brings us contentment. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Philipians, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4: 11-13 KJV) An abundant life is not about what we have but in Who has us!
God has created us to be His Child! We are heirs of God! Romans 8:16-18 KJV “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be
compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” What a glorious promise! What an abundant life!
We must keep our hearts, minds, ears and eyes open to his voice to have a relationship with him and follow him. The first step to the abundant life is the purifying grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We learn to know him through God’s Word and our relationship with Him. This Grace and the relationship with the God of the Universe is extended to all who will receive Him. God’s love is stronger than any pain, failure, fault, or problem we have now or have ever experienced God will never love us less for our failings but will make all things new with his unconditional love and grace. (Isaiah 1:6) Christ gave his life for us to make this happen. How do we respond to His love?
In John 14 when Christ speaks about abiding in the vine, He mentions that we abide in Him to bring forth fruit. After bearing fruit, the husbandman who tends the vines or trees, prunes back the branches so they will be able to produce more fruit. Hanging onto the dead branches only hampers the productiveness of the plant. God prunes us in the same way. When we hang onto old habits, things that corrupt our relationships, things that are displeasing to God, even things that we may think have worked for us in the past, God will prune those old things away so we can grow and produce more and better fruit that gives us an abundant life. Pruning hurts, but it is essential for our growth and for us to be pleasing to God. God may prune our thoughts, attitudes, commitments, relationships, behaviors, passions, and our willingness or unwillingness to live for Him. What is your passion for Christ?
Pruning is not done to destroy us but to help us grow. However, a pruned tree can look rather naked. Pruning hurts, especially when we realize we went through such a good season with the fruit flowing. Pruning changes this and can be frustrating when we were comfortable in the fruitful season and not so comfortable with the pruning. When we are in this pruning season, waiting for the blooms of fresh fruit to come, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 4:16) This is a time to wait on the Lord, grow and listen for God’s wisdom and direction. We don’t always understand this and waiting is hard and waiting on God sometimes just seems to be slowing us down when we think we’re ready to move on to “more important things.” We can become like the minister who found that his church service was running long, so he instructed the congregation to only sing the first verse of Take Time to Be Holy so they could be done and move on to the next thing, which was likely lunch. While it may seem funny, we often do the same type thing in our daily walk with Christ.
Ask God to do with you as He wants. Pursue God. He is so worth it! Do you know your destination? God wants to show you the way.