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

John 10: 10

 

Defining abundant can be a challenge. It is often determined by the circumstances surrounding us, by where we live and the general expectations of our immediate culture. In some places abundant is satisfied only by having an almost ridiculous level of wealth. In others it is found in possessing enough food to last beyond tonight. There are certain things that are true about all of the elements of that thing that we think of as earthly wealth; they are readily consumed, they wear out and break down, and thieves target them. If we make it through to the end of life with excess we can will it to our heirs, but that gift does not define our true legacy.

 

Legacy is something that is defined in relationships. It comes from the way that we live and the manner in which we deal with other people and with our world. The sort of wealth that lasts and that passes on to those who follow after us is a gift from God to those people who seek after Him. Jesus gave all that He had so that each of us could gain this gift. As Satan is the robber and the destroyer, Christ is the anti-thief. He brings life out of death, and He provides real and lasting abundance in place of this world’s perishable trinkets. God’s definition of abundance is grounded in love and grace. It involves such culturally odd ideas as sacrifice, humility, suffering, pain, and surrender. It is found in service to God. Abundance is measured in the currency of our souls.

 

For any of us to know abundance and to live an abundant life, I would propose that we must know Jesus. This knowing goes far beyond a simple decision to accept Christ as our Savior and Lord. That is the starting place, but that is certainly not the end of the treasure that God has stored up for us. We come to understand what abundance is as we surrender our wills to Christ. God calls us into a life that is framed by His will. He remakes us into eternally minded and other focused beings. In Christ we are led to dwell in the abundant pasture of His presence. As we meditate on God’s Word and submit to His will, we are filled to overflowing with a wealth that can not be stolen. This is the sort of abundance that we can share generously with the entire world without fear of having nothing left. It is out of Christ’s abundance that we can leave a lasting legacy of faith.

“The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” Jesus

John 10: 10

 

If you have ever had anything stolen from you, you know how it feels. Although the circumstances of the theft and the personal importance of the items that were taken dictate the magnitude of the impact, there is always a very real and highly personal sense that someone has harmed you and that your world has been invaded, and it is the sort of feeling that lasts well after the event is done and the visible damage is repaired. This must be how God felt when Satan invaded His relationship with people, for evil literally broke in to the sacred heart of that relationship, and through deception, lies, and our own weakness, he took light and life from us, and Satan caused distance to come into that marvelously close connection with God that had been its essential nature.

 

However, the Lord is a lot like one of the characters in any number of films where someone is grievously harmed and then proceeds to search out the evil doer and to take them out; you know the story type, the revenge genre. Yet, God is even more into the thought and the actions of rescue rather than those of revenge, for He comes after everyone, every soul, which is taken from Him; therefore, the Lord comes after you, me, and all of the people that have ever or who will ever live. He is relentless in His pursuit, His plan is perfect, and the Lord will not stop trying to rescue us until we draw our last breath on this earth.

 

This rescue story doesn’t stop there; for, God wants us to live our lives in a state of peace, joy, and blessing that is like what He originally intended in the garden. The Lord wants us to be continually close to Him, and He continues to work to defeat Satan’s ongoing attempts to rob us of that quality of life. When there are things in our lives that interrupt and that disrupt that close relationship with God, they are usually caused by unresolved areas where sin has taken root in us. These are the aspects of ourselves that we need to submit to the Lord, and these are the issues that we need to open up about with our spiritual family so that we have the support, accountability, and strength to defeat the robber’s attempts to break into our lives. Jesus has already won the victory over Satan, and He has won that same victory for us; therefore, we simply need to trust Him and to claim what Christ intends to be ours.

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

John 10: 10

 

There might have been another way for the Creator to become reconciled with the creation. Yet, God chose to do it in the way that He did by descending out of the eternal and engaging personally and directly with our lives here on earth. In so doing, Jesus brought a renewed definition of what it means to be alive into humanity’s vocabulary. In Christ, we are alive in the fullest sense of that concept, and with all of the implications that being vital, functional, and valuable carry along with them. The blood coursing through our veins has a revived force and power within it that has nothing to do with a literal cardio strength or conditioning and is compelled by the state of our souls and the renewal of our minds by Christ. In this new life, we travel through our days in the power of the Holy Spirit and by the guidance of God’s eternal wisdom.

 

This places God’s people in direct opposition to the rest of this world, which is owned by those forces that are committed fully to the forces of evil that bring about the theft of life, the death of spirit and of body, and the destruction of all that is holy, good, and loving in our world. That idea of ownership by evil may sound harsh and too absolute, but according to Jesus, that is the way that it is here in creation. There are certainly a wide range of degrees of involvement in living out and promotion of the destructiveness that Satan, himself, is determined to bring about. Many people do good things and live kindly, caring lives. However, all people are faced with a choice of only two ultimate masters who will rule over our lives and who will determine the eternal outcome of our time beyond this world. We either choose to follow Christ into relationship with God, or we determine to exist now and forevermore apart from Him.

 

It is in this decision point for us that God’s determination to bring about reconciliation to Himself by the blood of Jesus and through the process of dwelling intimately and personally with His people in life on this earth holds its greatest impact upon that new existence in Christ. For Jesus demonstrated for us what it means to belong to the renewed kingdom of God come out of heaven in order to reclaim creation from the works of destruction that have enveloped it. In this new life, we join with Christ in loving others and in pouring out His redemptive grace into the profound chaos that has been created by the work of that great thief that Jesus is describing. Christ restores His people to the abundance of God’s intent for our lives. He gives us back the peace, the deep joy, and the confidence that have been robbed out of our souls, and our Lord sends us into this world to live out this renewal of heart and of mind in a manner that brings the abundance of Christ into direct contact with a world that is oppressed under the destitution that has been caused by Satan’s rule.

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

John 10: 10

 

There is an old cultural expression. It is one that is not used all that much any more, and it goes, “This is living!” Yet it was almost never applied to anything that had all that much to do with true life. This exclamation of pure joy at life was typically used to refer to desirable or aspirational aspects of life such as cars, vacations, and houses. There is nothing wrong with any of these things; yet, they do not bring life. In fact, these sorts of things, when they become the center of our focus and when seeking them forms our primary motivation for each day of life, can become dangerous distractions away from God’s purpose for us. Even more disturbing is the fact that anything that turns us from God and His will tends to cause people to make themselves the center of their own universe.

 

For many of us, it is fairly easy to say, “Yes” to this idea, and we do this as we feel good about the fact that we have mostly left those days and that manner of thinking behind us. It is relegated to a phase in our personal history that might be known as the Time of Maturing. Yet, almost everyone continues to struggle with making choices about the way that we think and the things that we do that profoundly impact our personal life-death balance sheets. All people who live in this world are dwelling in a place where good and evil spiritual forces are engaged in a constant struggle for control and for dominance. Everyone who seeks to follow Christ is not just living in this place, but we have chosen to live here with a large target on our backs. Our minds and our hearts will be assaulted and assailed in an unending attempt to pull us away from Christ and His purpose for us.

 

However, God does not leave us alone in this struggle. He calls us to Himself first so that we can get to know our Lord and Savior in an ever deepening and intimate manner. As we know Him, God gifts His people with understanding, wisdom, strength, and discernment so that we can face our daily struggles with a peaceful mind and a fearless heart. As we seek Him and meditate on His word, God speaks into us and provides us with the ability to make choices between those endeavors that will lead us toward the abundant life that He desires for us to live and those other options that we have which would deplete and discourage us. We are all gifted and called by God into service to Him. No one can do everything; in fact, that is exactly what God does not want. Instead, as we submit our will to Him, Christ will lead us into life.

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

John 10: 10

 

Defining abundant can be a challenge. It is often determined by the circumstances surrounding us, by where we live and the general expectations of our immediate culture. In some places abundant is satisfied only by having an almost ridiculous level of wealth. In others it is found in possessing enough food to last beyond tonight. There is one thing that is true about all of the elements of that thing that we think of as earthly wealth; they are readily consumed, they wear out and break down, and thieves target them. If we make it through to the end of life with excess we can will it to our heirs, but that gift does not define our true legacy.

 

Legacy is something that is defined in relationships. It comes from the way that we live and the manner in which we deal with other people and with our world. The sort of wealth that lasts and that passes on to those who follow after us is a gift from God to those people who seek after Him. Jesus gave all that He had so that each of us could gain this gift. As Satan is the robber and the destroyer, Christ is the anti-thief. He brings life out of death, and He provides real and lasting abundance in place of this world’s perishable trinkets. God’s definition of abundance is grounded on love and grace. It involves such culturally odd ideas as sacrifice, humility, suffering, pain, and surrender. It is found in service to God. Abundance is measured in the currency of our souls.

 

For any of us to know abundance and to live an abundant life, we must know Jesus. This knowing goes far beyond a simple decision to accept Christ as our Savior and Lord. That is the starting place, but that is certainly not the end of the treasure that God has stored up for us. We come to understand what abundance is as we surrender our wills to Christ. God will call us into a life that is framed by His will. He remakes us into eternally minded and other focused beings. In Christ we are led to dwell in the abundant pasture of His presence. As we meditate on God’s Word and submit to His will, we are filled to overflowing with a wealth that can not be stolen. This is the sort of abundance that we can share generously with the entire world without fear of having nothing left. It is out of Christ’s abundance that we can leave a lasting legacy of faith.

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

John 10: 10

 

There is an old cultural expression. It is one that is not used all that much any more, and it goes, “This is living!” Yet it was almost never applied to anything that had all that much to do with true life. This exclamation of pure joy at life was typically used to refer to desirable or aspirational aspects of life such as cars, vacations, and houses. There is nothing wrong with any of these things; yet, they do not bring life. In fact, these sorts of things, when they become the center of our focus and when seeking them forms our primary motivation for each day of life, can become dangerous distractions away from God’s purpose for us. Even more disturbing is the fact that anything that turns us from God and His will tends to cause people to make themselves the center of their own universe.

 

For many of us, it is fairly easy to say, “Yes” to this idea, and we do this as we feel good about the fact that we have mostly left those days and that manner of thinking behind us. It is relegated to a phase in our personal history that might be known as the Time of Maturing. Yet, almost everyone continues to struggle with making choices about the way that we think and the things that we do that profoundly impact our personal life-death balance sheets. All people who live in this world are dwelling in a place where good and evil spiritual forces are engaged in a constant struggle for control and for dominance. Everyone who seeks to follow Christ is not just living in this place, but we have chosen to live here with a large target on our backs. Our minds and our hearts will be assaulted and assailed in an unending attempt to pull us away from Christ and His purpose for us.

 

However, God does not leave us alone in this struggle. He calls us to Himself first so that we can get to know our Lord and Savior in an ever deepening and intimate manner. As we know Him, God gifts His people with understanding, wisdom, strength, and discernment so that we can face our daily struggles with a peaceful mind and a fearless heart. As we seek Him and meditate on His word, God speaks into us and provides us with the ability to make choices between those endeavors that will lead us toward the abundant life that He desires for us to live and those other options that we have which would deplete and discourage us. We are all gifted and called by God into service to Him. No one can do everything; in fact, that is exactly what God does not want. Instead, as we submit our will to Him, Christ will lead us into life.

 

.