What About The Abundant Life?

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."-Jesus

Why are so many people struggling to experience the abundant life Jesus promises? 

I am fortunate to have opportunities to pray with and for people several times a week, especially if I am in tune with the Holy Spirit and I obey the nudges. A theme I have noticed a lot lately is found in John 10:10. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” 

As followers of Jesus we often prefer to emphasize the good stuff. Too often when we do that, we neglect the flip side of the good. What do I mean? More times than not, there is a cost to the good. There is also opposition to the good.

Recently, John 10:10 has come to mind often when I pray for people. First, I hear about the abundant life, then I sense the need to consider the context. The abundant life is a popular promise, that was given in the context of opposition. Somehow we tend to forget there is an enemy of our souls. One of his names is Thief.” Jesus tells us, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” This Evil One works overtime to do anything to discourage us from following Jesus. His tactics are exactly as Jesus said: to steal, kill and destroy, not only material things, but joy, peace, hopes and dreams as well.

Before we go any farther, I am not saying the enemy is the only source of our misfortunes and lack of peace. There are also a fantastic array of temptations in the world, such as money and various forms of pleasure we might choose to rank above our love for our Creator and for our fellow humans. We call these temptations the “World.”

We also have free will to choose what we prioritize and focus on. Our choices definitely play a role in how abundant our life is. Who and what we pay most attention to, influences our choices. We call this the “Flesh.”

When I consider the suffering of people in the recent natural disasters my heart sinks. How one reacts to different forms of suffering that come our way, also affect our abundant life. Paul teaches us to, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thes. 5:18 [emphasis mine]

I believe our ability to thank and worship our Creator, in the middle of any kind of circumstance is key to living the abundant life… because it speaks of our interior lives. If our focus is on the goodness of the One who made us, the Good Shepherd as Jesus calls himself in John 10, then our satisfaction is not subject to situations and circumstances. We do not always have control over or circumstances. We do have control over ourselves and how we react.

What about the abundant life? I am not sure there is a clear-cut equation to living the abundant life. Accepting the love of our Creator offered to us through Jesus is, however, essential. Understanding that an abundant life is about loving God and the people around, us helps us to receive the love of God. “We love because he first loved us.” (1John 4:19) Being aware that the World, the Flesh and the Evil One all conspire against us is also a big help. But we have these promises to help keep us true:

Romans 8:37 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So, try to not get distracted from the love of God. But when you do, and we all do, let Abba pick you up. Next, agree with Him about where you went awry, choose to not continue that way, accept His forgiveness and move along in joy and the abundant life. If you have been out of sync for a while, find a fellow believer, or several, to walk with you in rediscovering the Love of God.

Abba,

Thank you for promising us an abundant life. Teach us how to receive your love, so freely offered. Help us to rest in the strength of your promises. And when we lose our focus on your love for us and others, for whatever reason, thank you in advance for bringing us back gently. Thank you that nothing can separate us from your perfect love! Amen

 

 

Holy Spirit on the Move

This month of October I have spent each weekend so far, involved at varying levels in events calling for the Holy Spirit to act. The result for me has been taking advantage of open doors to love people. Here are just a few examples from this week:

  • I helped an elderly Jewish woman at the hospital, who let me pray for her in the name of Jesus. I left her with a smile on her face, an understanding of Jesus as Messiah she had never heard before and she knows how to talk with God. (Please pray she does. The meaning of her name is “born again”)
  • I have seen positive answers to prayer for a friend who has had difficulty sleeping.

    This is not the friend, but I hope you get the idea ;-}

  • A homeless man at church needed a ride to get his medications. On the way back, we talked about God’s total forgiveness. Later in the day when I asked him what he thought about my earlier comment about how Jesus has paid for every bad he has ever done, he paused, and as it clicked in his head and heart, a big smile came over his face. A bit more prayer and he looked like a different man. Is his life fixed? I have not seen him, but I suspect not. I do, however, believe he is several steps farther along in a much better direction…aimed at Jesus.
  • At a meeting I help lead, one of the other leaders needed some love and prayer. Before the students arrived I ministered to her and she was reassured of God’s power and love for her. That allowed her to pass that along to her women that night.
  • Another friend wanted to change something in her life that has nagged her. In prayer she was not able to breakthrough on her own. We dealt with it together in a minute or two and she instantly knew she was free.

In some ways this is not unusual for me and in other ways it is exceptional. What is the difference?

The first difference is the power of the Holy Spirit has more space in my life. I have asked for it and Abba is always happy to answer that request. Granted, I had to confess and repent of a few things that were taking up space the Holy Spirit wanted to use. Holy Spirit gave me direction and insight to pray and help.

Second is my obedience. Instead of being shy, an overly nice way to say disobedient to Holy Spirit nudges, I stepped out in faith and helped some strangers, and some friends. The result is Abba used me to help others.

If you know me, I trust you know I am not sharing these stories to make me look good. I share these to make the Holy Spirit look good.

I am also hoping you too will ask Abba for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit.  We do leak after all. Then the next time you sense the Holy Spirit nudge you to say something kind to a stranger, or whatever it is for you to do, you will obey. I promise you the benefits and blessings for both you and whomever you touch are eternal, when you step out in faith.

Will you ask and obey?

Metamorphosis

As I walked my dog this week I could not miss the bright yellow caterpillar in my path. Knowing about metamorphosis, I wondered what it would become. I learned it turns into a moth that has intricate shades of gray, called an American Dagger moth.

Perhaps the moth is not as impressive to look at as a colorful butterfly, nevertheless, the process of metamorphosis is amazing! One living thing changes into a very different kind of living thing, in this case from a crawly creature to a flying one. The way it lives and moves is dramatically different that it was before it changed.

An American Dagger moth caterpillar along my path.

A synonym for metamorphosis is transformation.

I have thought about spiritual transformation lately and I see how closely it resembles the metamorphosis of a crawling caterpillar to a flying moth or butterfly. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul explains. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image [of Christ] from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” As we learn the word of God, gazing on the nature of Jesus, the ways of God’s Spirit and spend time with mature followers of Jesus, we go ‘from one degree of glory to another,’ and morph into who our Creator intends us to become.

In Galatians 2:20 Paul tells us,I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” He learned to turn himself over to the will of God.

An adult American Dagger moth, [The moth image was originally posted to Flickr by Wildreturn]

Our metamorphosis is both a moment in time and a process. When we accept the Love of God through the loving sacrifice of Jesus, we are crucified with Christ and are instantly morphed, or sometimes the word translated is used, into the Kingdom of God. The first unique life is still present, but now in a new and different presentation. We do not know or understand all it means at first. That process of discovery we go through is how we mature.
I am not the same person I was at 16 when I began to walk with Jesus. Like any baby I crawled then fell down a lot those first few years. Eventually I learned to “fly like the moth,” as I matured in the Kingdom of God. The experience and process of walking by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit is the transformation, or metamorphosis process.

 

Come Help Change the World!

I think I’ve always wanted to change the world for the better. Initially I had limits on how that might look. When I was a kid I swore I would never be a teacher. Teachers have to deal with unruly kids and long hours for relatively little pay. I saw what I put my teachers through and decided there was no way I wanted to take that from other people’s kids!

When I became a follower of Jesus, I said I would never be a missionary in Africa. I was a sorority girl from a good family. And though I was a Tomboy, enjoying sports and camping….I was convinced that being a missionary in Africa was NOT God’s will for my life. I was convinced I would have more impact by making a stand in my own area of influence and culture….

37 years ago the tag line for Campus Crusade for Christ [now CRU] was “Come Help Change the World!” What 22-year-old just out of university does not want to make a difference in the world? We all hunger and thirst for significance. We all want to feel like we have contributed to making life better for us and for others.

I signed up!

Me, circa 1982

Even before I signed up with CRU I knew I was going to Africa. God met me at the CRU Christmas conference in Chicago the December of 1979. I literally heard bells ringing, that no one else heard, when an announcement was made for a recruiting meeting. I attended the meeting and God deeply impressed on my spirit that I was to apply to go to Africa. This was really odd because I was taught that emotions and experiences were the caboose on the train of faith. They were not essential. I have since learned that the caboose is, however, a part of the train=}

Within months I was in cross cultural training to go teach school in Nigeria, West Africa. Next I moved to Côte d’Ivoire, putting all my years of classroom French to practical use, or at least beginning to. Then I spent years in Senegal and Mali with a month in the Philippines in 1991. It was there in the Philippines I began to connect deeply with my passion for prayer.

My life has moved a long way from there. There have been twists and turns I did not anticipate. God has remained the same and He is making me into His image, sometimes in spite of myself.

I still find ways to “Come help Change the World!” I mostly work from my base in Massachusetts at this phase of life. But that’s the awesome thing about prayer. We can literally affect lives and events anywhere through prayer.

Technology also allows us to have an impact beyond our four walls. I receive prayer requests from all over the world. I use Skype and Face time to have audio and even face to face conversations and prayer with people in Europe, East Asia, Africa.

And of course there are our neighbors, co-workers and shop keepers and others we see regularly. Do my interactions go beyond paying for my purchases and trivial greetings?

Last weekend at Restore & Revive I was delighted to listen to every plenary speaker and several workshops emphasize the need for the power of the Holy Spirit for Evangelism. The event did take place at D.L. Moody’s home town and campus. He is one who clearly depended on the love and power of the Holy Spirit to win people to Jesus.

In a week or so the different sessions will be linked to the Restore & Revive site. Also God.tv will also be showing at least some of it in the near future. I hope you are able to watch and listen, and I pray you are restored and revived to come help change the world!