Abundant Life

Numbers 33:52
“. . . then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places; . . .”

God described the land He was giving Israel as a land that flowed with milk and honey. He was of course speaking figuratively of the blessed life that the children of Israel would experience within the land. This blessed life was conditional upon their obedience to Him, and their obedience included some driving out, and some demolition. They were instructed to tear down all of the images and the places where the false gods were worshipped. They were to leave nothing that would serve as a source of temptation. Moses went on to explain,

“. . . those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.” 

Sadly, as the story unfolds, we will learn that Israel failed to drive out and demolish, and for centuries struggled with the temptation of the sins they allowed to remain in the land.

It is not difficult to draw a parallel between their experience and our lives. In order for us to experience the abundant life that Jesus offers, we also must do some driving out and some demolition. There are things that cannot remain in our lives if we are going to successfully walk with Christ. Those things include anyone or anything that will be an irritant, tempting us to sin and leading us away from the ways of God. Israe failed to obey this command partly due to the fact that they liked having some of those things around. They placed value on what God had banned and it was not long before they were caught in sin.

Stand back for a moment and examine the things in your life. Is there anything that needs to be removed? The way to do it is to go to the cross and lay it at the feet of Jesus, asking for His pardon, and strength to never pick it up again.

Pastor Jim

 

Stream In The Desert

Isaiah 35:5-6
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 
Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the dumb sing.
For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
And streams in the desert.”

Isaiah is speaking of something that only God can do. Even today, we face physical and natural difficulties that all of our human resources are unable to solve. Many who are bound by these things find that life is more like a barren wilderness than a running spring. Some have tried all sorts of techniques and programs only to find they are powerless to change. What we need is more of an encounter with the God, who can make lame men walk and bring water to a parched and arid land.

The question is, if God can do for us what we could never do for ourselves, how do we “tap into” His working in our lives? While I am not implying there is a formula where, if we take two steps then God will do a miracle for us. However, I do want to point out, there are investments we can make that will bring us closer to Him and to experiencing His promises fulfilled in us.

Jesus spoke to His disciples about the need to abide in Him. Theologically speaking, we abide in Christ the moment we put trust in Him, and by His own promise, we cannot be snatched out of His hand. What Jesus was teaching that while we are in Christ, through faith, it is important to stay close to Christ, through obedience to His Word. The closer we walk to the promises of God, the more we will experience His divine power at work in us. One way of looking at it is that since we are in Christ, we should seek to live abiding in Him, by being in His word and obeying it.

We will find we have an abundant, fruitful life, as we seek Him and live a life pleasing Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Empty Jars 

2 Kings 4:6
“Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her, ‘There is not another vessel.’ So the oil ceased.”

Living conditions in Israel had become very difficult; the nation was constantly at war with its enemies, years of drought had created wide spread famine, and morality was in decline. These things affected the living condition of everyone, regardless of their social status. In the story before us, we are introduced to a poor widow who is facing starvation. Without giving details, we learn that her husband, a godly man, had died and she and her sons were on their last leg. All her resources were gone and the creditors were at the door. In her distress, she sought counsel from Elisha who asked a simple question, “what do you have?” To which she replied, the only thing left in the house was a jar of oil. Elisha went on to instruct her to borrow vessels from her neighbors and fill them with oil from the jar. When she did, they found that the oil poured as long as their was an empty vessel to put it in. I think there are at least two valuable applications from this passage.

The first is obvious. This is a story which illustrates how God provides for His people. Long before this, Abraham referred to God as YHWH-Jirah, the Lord our Provider. This unnamed woman found God to be the one who could meet her needs when all seemed lost. We can take comfort in knowing, no matter what our need, we have a God who cares for us and has the resources to provide. I am always blessed when I hear of a child of God who chooses to trust in the promises of God, for they are the ones who see the miraculous hand of God providing for them.

The second may not seem as obvious, but is equally as striking. We read the oil flowed as long as an empty vessel was provided. Oil is often used symbolically in Scripture to represent the work of the Spirit. In the Old Testament, it was oil that was used to anoint prophets, priest, and kings, and in the New Testament oil is used to anoint the sick. In this story, what was required to have the oil flow was an empty vessel. It did not matter what the vessel had previously been used for, it did not matter what size, shape, or color the vessel was, the only thing that mattered was that it was empty and available. When it comes to Christian service, we are all dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit. Nothing in the kingdom of God can be accomplished in the energies of the flesh. That being said, if we want to be used by God, we need to be empty and available. Some of the things we must be empty of are private sins, pride, excuses, prejudice, and unwillingness to do the lowest of tasks.

This woman and her sons saw a remarkable work of God, and when it came to an end, I suggest that their only regret was that they did not gather more jars.

Pastor Jim

 

An Overflowing Life

Proverbs 9:11
“For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.”

Jesus promised, those who believe in Him would be the recipients of eternal life. He also promised we would have abundant life while we live.

John wrote,
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12

We will never experience the abundant life God intends for us until we first receive Christ and begin to walk with Him. Scripture promises the love of God will flood our hearts, the peace of God will guard our minds, and the life of God will well up within us like a fountain, flowing out upon others around us. Once we receive Christ, we begin to experience the abundant grace of God flowing into our lives. Paul knew this kind of life, and it enabled him to celebrate the Lord, even in the most difficult of situations.

There are, however, many Christians who are failing to experience abundant life. They seem to be constantly downtrodden and defeated. In some cases, it may be a result of failing to choose the path of wisdom. Solomon explains that true wisdom has, as its goal, a desire to live pleasing to the Lord. When we walk that road (when all decisions are filtered through a desire to do what is right in the eyes of God), we will find “our days are multiplied and years of life are added.” Things are simply better when we follow the Lord and do it His way. So often, our will fights against the will of God. When we resist Him, we fail to see that His desires are best for us. The height of life is always reached when we surrender all to Christ, and live in obedience to His Word.

Let’s commit together to begin each day by offering ourselves to the Lord, and looking at our circumstances in the light of Scripture. Begin each day this week by dedicating yourself to Him, praying for the things you are facing, and reading His Word. End each day by examining your actions in light of the Lord and His Word. Let’s see how far He can take us down the road of abundant life.

Pastor Jim

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