Abundantly

John 10:10

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

One cannot claim every verse in the Bible as their favorite, but this one certainly ranks well towards the top on many people’s lists. We can see why. First of all, these are the words of Jesus. All the words in red tend towards the top of folks’ lists. Second, he revealed one of the key reasons he was sent to earth. That makes this a very important verse for us all. Mostly, though, I think we like it because of the monumental promise it contains. The promise of a full and abundant life.

Jesus is so big, and his thinking is so big that it is hard for even his words to express, much less our minds to absorb, his thoughts. Had he said that he came to earth so that we might have life, that would have been good. There would be tomes of theology from that statement alone. He didn’t stop there though, because that did not express what he was thinking or trying to convey. He didn’t just come so that we would have life, but that we would have abundant life.

Immediately, that phrase takes our minds out of the eternal life paradigm and lands us right here on planet earth. Of course, we will have abundant life in heaven. Since that truly goes without saying, that is not what he was communicating. Besides, there will be no thief in the after earth life to steal, kill or destroy. Yahoo! So, Jesus’ message has something important to say about our life here on earth.

The New Life Version of John 10: 10 reads, “The robber comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I came so they might have life, a great full life.” Think of Jesus’ statement this way, God sent Jesus to earth to bring us not only life, but a great, full life. First, It wasn’t life such as just breathing and hearts beating that Jesus came to bring. People were already living on earth. So, when God said to him, “Go to earth and give them life,” He must have had something else in mind. Second, when Jesus said he came to bring us a great, full life, there was certainly a great deal implied in those words. We need to consider what that means. What did God intend in sending us abundant life through Jesus? The answer to that question affects every facet of life. That is why I think we need to seriously ponder these questions and this verse.

Of course, life is certainly not ours in abundance without our health. A healthy body is foremost to a great and full life. So, did God have our health in mind when he sent Jesus? Of course, He did. Remember that Isaiah foresaw the torture that Jesus would endure so that he could bear our disease and infirmities in his body.

A full life also suggests a long rich life. Surely no one would consider a full life to mean thirty or forty years of abundance and then a bunch of years of a half empty life. That doesn’t make sense. The glass must be full and overflowing from beginning to end.

Jesus came to earth to bring us life in abundance. It was one of his main objectives. Let’s not let anyone talk us into anything less than God’s intention and Jesus’ purpose. Believe God for fullness. Believe Him for overflowing abundance. It is His will.

Fruitful Speech

Proverb 18:20-21

With the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied; he will be satisfied with the product of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.

We keep coming back to this, our words. There is nothing in God’s Kingdom that is not hinged on our word and His. The super key is getting our words to align with His. That is why I think this series is so important. You are getting a focused look at what God has to say about health and healing. Let us not forget, though, that God has constantly spoken to us about the words of our mouth. When we get our words in alignment with His teaching on healing then we will have healing tongues.

Truly life and death are in the power of the tongue. Let’s recall Job 22: 28, from earlier in this series, “You will also decree a thing and it will be established.” This statement tells us clearly, I think, that what we say is what we get. I am not saying there are not other forces acting on us, but if God said life and death are in the power of the tongue, and He did, then there must be a great deal of significance to what we say. Today’s verse will not be the last time we see scripture on the importance of our words, but it is significant that God specifically tied our health, and literally life and death, to the fruit of our mouths. Is that fruit good, or rotten?

Let’s think about this a bit more broadly for a moment. In the first place, I would not have you speaking about your life, health, or body in any negative way, ever. Period. That is the first level of this. However, let me dive deeper today by suggesting that other negative language may be impacting your health. Have you ever wondered why God made gossiping a sin? I will tell you that He had in mind your health. Not only does gossip harm the person about whom the tattler tells, it also harms the hearer and the speaker. It’s kind of simple, really. You can’t have garbage in your mouth without it poisoning you.

What about hateful language, words of anger, etc. Do you think those words go out from us without having any impact on our internal and external atmosphere and the people around us? If you remember some of those cartoons that depict foul language coming from a person’s mouth, you will recall the ugly language usually being represented by a black cloud. In a sense, I believe that is the exact environment we create for our bodies when we use hateful, angry language. Remember that God wants us to be at peace and we will not be at peace when we allow ourselves to get into tirades of ugly expressions.

Think back on today’s verse. With the fruit of our mouths, we will be filled. In other words, we will eat the fruit of our mouths. Is that meal going to be something pleasant or something vile? What we eat certainly impacts our health. No doubt about that. The part we didn’t necessarily understand is that we should strive, not only, to eat clean food but to use clean words as well. This is important. In fact, it’s life!

Life and Health

Proverb 4:20-22

20 My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their whole body.

By now, probably most of us are convinced that God’s Words have healing power in them. I hope so. This tells us that God’s words are life to our bodies. Now, what is hard to understand about that? The challenge is in the preceding verses and even the preceding phrase.

First, we must find God’s Words. Okay, how hard is that? We know the Bible contains a whole lot of stuff God said. Additionally, this devotional sends you a “word” from God every day. What?! That is the power of this devotional. You don’t have to be in love with what I write because you are getting a dose of what Yahweh said every single day. I just love that.

The second piece of this life in the words is that we must not let them depart from our sight. So, find God’s words and hang on to them. Put them as your screensaver on your computer. Write out a 3 X 5 card with each one of these healing verses. Man, that would make a great deck of cards! Just sayin’ . . ..

Keeping these words of God in our sight is how we keep them in the midst of our hearts. You really must rehearse them. That is most easily done by having them where you can read them often. What if you made a list of all of the verses from this series and read one each day? Hmmm, there’s an idea.

Lastly, pay attention! You know what, that is easier said than done. One really has to be intentional about this. Pay attention to God’s words by keeping them before you. It is so easy to read a verse and then move on. God is saying something specific here. He wants us to manage our lives according to His words and we cannot do that if we are not continuously paying attention to them.

So, here we go . . . dust off that Bible because that is how you find God’s words to begin with. Second, maybe do something with all these verses you are receiving. Many of them work for more than healing. All the Lord’s words bring life to every facet of life. Hey, if you are still working on that New Year’s resolution to lose weight, I’ve got your answer right here. His Word is the answer. Speak these verses over your weight loss and believe God. Find His word for your situation and then pay attention to it by keeping it in front of your eyes and in the midst of your heart. They are life and health.

Choose Life

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding close to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, so that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.

So far, along this journey, we have seen that part of the Father’s health practice is to lead us into good choices. Yesterday we saw the blessing and the curse. Now, the Father says, very plainly that is up to us to choose between the blessing and the curse. One leads to life, the other leads to death. He has given us the right to choose.

The right to choose is killing us. Yep, I said it. God loves and honors us so much that He has guarded our freewill zealously. This is good news though because God has laid life before us.  The problem is that we are not always good stewards of our freewill. What’s worse is that when we make bad choices, and things go awry some people are quick to blame God. He is making it very plain in this passage that He is giving us the choice. He called all of heaven and earth to bear witness that He has set before us life and death. Then, amusingly, He gives us this bit of advice. “Choose life,” He tells us. Wow! Clearly He was concerned that someone might not make the right choice unaided.

This passage comes right on the heels of the explanation of the blessing. The blessing is life just as Jesus is life. It is to the Old Testament what our inheritance in Jesus is in the New. I like to think of it as a double measure of the blessing working in my body and my life. You should expect good things to happen in your life because the blessing is working in you.

Let us remind ourselves, though. The blessing “shall come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the Lord your God.” Don’t think of this obedience as a harsh task master. In real life it becomes, listening to God and doing what He says. If He tells me something about my diet or exercise and I choose not to do it, then the blessing is going to be hampered in that area. He is not punishing me for disobedience. He has pointed out the way to reap blessing. It is all on me if I don’t do it.

There is the blessing in the land but there is also the curse. God lets you choose between them. You can follow Jesus to the promises like the Israelites followed Moses or you can choose to do your own thing. You can go back to Egypt for that matter, but remember, you cannot live in Egypt and enjoy the fruit of Canaan. So, choose, which shall it be, blessing or living in the land of the curse? Choose life. Follow Jesus so closely that he cannot get a moment alone. Have breakfast with him and call him to watch over you while you sleep. Ask him to speak to you in your dreams and chat with him throughout your day. Intertwining with him is the best way I know to choose life.

High Way

Romans 8: 2

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

The first phrase of the above sentence is just glorious good news. You have been set free. The Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of life, has set you free from all bondage by the power of love and life in Christ Jesus. Hallelujah! Whatever has bound you in the past no longer has power over you.

Taking the whole sentence together gives us another perspective. In Jesus we were set free from the law of sin and death. Do you see there are two paths here? The Holy Spirit, through Jesus, has set us free so that we can walk in the law of the Spirit of life rather than walking in the law of sin and death. So, there is a path of life and a path of sin and death. Formerly we were trapped on the path of sin and death. We had no choice, no escape. But then Jesus came and broke all the chains that bound us so that we could be free indeed.

Here is the point that we need to understand though. When Jesus broke all those chains that held us captive, we were no longer bound to the path of sin and death. We, however, no longer being slaves but rather free people in Christ have a choice. While Jesus paid the price of your ransom and set you free, He did not make your choice for you. That would only be another form of slavery. The scripture says that whomever the Son shall set free shall be free indeed (John 8: 36). In other words, Jesus did not trade your bondage for another form of slavery when He ransomed you. He didn’t buy you as a slave that is bartered and traded. He ransomed you out of the hands of the oppressor so that you can live as a truly free person with all the rights and responsibilities that inure thereto. Therein lies the rub. Where there is freedom and rights, there is responsibility.

Jesus didn’t redeem you so that you can run around in the darkness, a slave to the law of sin and death. Rather He shed His blood so that you would have the right to choose. He is not going to pick you up and put you on the path of life. He is not going to chain you to the correct road so that you don’t go wandering off like a lost sheep and fall back into the pit. He has purchased your complete freedom and is not going to take it away from you even if you make an absolute mess of your freedom.

You must choose. Are you going to walk on the path that is paved with the law of liberty in Christ Jesus, the path that love bought? Are you going to live the way of the path of life? Or are you going to keep dancing along the path of good intentions fallen short, the path of compromised ethics? Are you absently mindedly or even intentionally going to stay on the low path that leads ultimately to death and destruction? Look, you don’t walk the High Way without purpose and intent. You must make conscious decisions every day to come up higher. The road leading to life and liberty is one of choice and deep commitment. Your right to walk on it was guaranteed by Jesus but you must still choose to come up to the higher life. Little compromises along the way are going to create potholes in your road. Do not let inattention to the details of life damage your path. And do not forsake your values for convenience or benefit. Choose to walk on higher ground. It is the best and safest path.

Wisdom Calls

Proverb 8: 32, 35

Now then, sons, listen to me, for blessed are those who keep my ways. For one who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord.

There is a lot to love in this proverb and, again, it has been a challenge to choose a verse or two. I will continue to put the link for the proverb at the bottom so that it is easy for you to click and read the entire proverb. The part about wisdom being created and when she was created is fascinating. I chose these two passages, though, because they speak to how we live our lives and the choices we make.

The first idea to take note of is that we can choose to seek wisdom. James 1: 5 reads, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” So, we can receive wisdom by asking Father for it. That is what Solomon did. In 1st Kings, chapter 3 you can read the story of Solomon’s request and God’s grant of wisdom. Solomon became the wisest king of all time because he asked.

There is, perhaps, a little more to seeking than a one time request, however. If you read the story in 1st Kings, you will see that Solomon was devoted to the Lord and had a longing for the things of God. He sought God and in that seeking He found the Lord. I think seeking is done with the heart rather than the mouth. Request is made unto God through speech, but it is with our hearts that we reach out to Yahweh. When we seek God with the strength of our spirit, then we are always going to find Him. Seeking wisdom is the same. When we seek her with determined purpose, our hearts set on our desire, then we shall receive.

The fruit of wisdom is beyond comparison. I remember as a young adult reading these passages from proverbs, and they invigorated me. They still inspire. In wisdom’s palms are treasures of every kind, but life and the favor of the Lord certainly make up the grand prize. What shall we desire once we have the favor of the Lord?

Seeking wisdom is not a one and done. It is a way of life. As life changes, we need refreshing. The wisdom of yesterday was for yesterday. Tomorrow the need will be different. Dedicate your heart and mind to seeking wisdom. Look for her and she will find you.

Proverb 8:

https://classic.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=proverb+8&version=NASB

Revealed in You

John 14: 21

The one who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will reveal Myself to him.

I admit it; I am motivated by that last phrase, that Jesus will reveal himself to me. So, I back into the rest of the verse. If I want Jesus to reveal himself to me, then I must, first, have his commandments, and second, keep them. Keeping them means doing them. Well, what are Jesus’ commandments? When I began my Bible journey back in the 80’s, I began by reading the gospels with particular emphasis on the words written in red. And yes, I like the red letter Bible because Jesus’ words are in red, but truth be told, he is the Word so every word in the Bible is Jesus. Anyway, I started in Matthew but also read a psalm and a proverb each day. After that, I stayed in the habit of reading the Old Testament and the New. The One Year Bible is a nice tool for getting a bit of each every day.

Before we can keep Jesus’ commandments, we must know what they are. Watching how he acted and hearing his words instructs us. Doing his commandments is different. Most of us begin through an act of our willpower. And, for most of us, that is doomed to failure. The way to do his works and follow his commandments is to give ourselves over to him. The book of John talks about living in and with the trinity. I meditated on that book for a long time and still am. Jesus told us that it is not by our strength, but by our surrender that we live to Christ and show the Father within us. It sounds easy but it is the hardest thing in the world. We must die to self and put on the new self which is Christ in us.

When we let go of doing things of our will and design; when we let him intertwine with us, then he is revealed, and it is glorious. So, interestingly, the more you let go, the more you get. Not only does Christ love you but he is able to show you his love. He is able to express himself and his love to you and through you.

We must know the person of Christ, but all the study in the world will not help you to know the love of Christ and see him revealed. There are plenty of folks who have Bible knowledge but do not have the love of Christ flowing through them. That comes by putting our egos on the shelf and letting him be Lord. It comes through meditative surrender which is a function of trusting Jesus and courage. Some people are too afraid of what they will see in themselves if they ever get quiet enough to let truth arise. Jesus is truth but he is also life so where there is truth, there is life. When we allow him to speak to our hearts, he is able to express his love to us and that, in turn, is seen by the world as we naturally keep his commandments.

Let Jesus bless your heart today. Let him speak to you and reveal himself to you. He is the glory of God and he lives in you. Wow, that is amazing!