What is this Abundant Life?
God longs for his children to reach out to Him as a human father longs for his children to visit. God wishes no one to perish, but many will because they will reject Him, others, because they simply cannot get honest with God. My walk with God is not about being positive, staying positive, being a positive thinker, or claiming my happiness. My walk with God is about being honest with the living God. Being honest with God, frees me to be honest about myself, with myself, and to be honest with others. Telling non-truths or half-truths is easy, and we all tell a few non-truths every day. The practice can leave us unable to distinguish the truth from the non-truth, and let’s face it the truth – can become relative.
My parents divorced when I was about four or five years old and I can remember my mom asking “When are my sons going to visit?” Her daughters were a constant. My mother would always say that her sons never thought to visit her. She would sit by the front window, sometimes she’d have the front door open waiting – waiting on one of them to visit. You should have seen her face light up when she saw any one of them drive up.
The other morning, my husband had the television on church TV. He had been watching Joel Osteen. I am not a fan of his, but it was not he that was talking, it was his wife. I’ve heard Osteen deliver talks before and I have never been impressed by his speaking. Osteen’s wife made reference to a scripture on the abundant life. Well, her interpretation was “God came to give us a life of abundance.” Then she flipped her statement, more or less as the scripture is written. I thought…oh my gosh! That is not what God said. In John, the scripture says (John 10:10 (NKJV)) “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
I have to admit, my flesh took over. I was like wow! There was an ad or something flashing their new book, Believe Big-Receive Big (I think) anyway. I was like – I can believe pretty big. Every once in a while, when I remember I pick up a Powerball, or Megamillions lotto ticket. I remember once, a pastor saying he didn’t play the lotto, but he believed that someone could win the jackpot and donate a couple of million. Well, that’s thinking positive.
My daughters tease me because I play the Lotto knowing I don’t have a chance of ever winning. Well, I say… all I know is that I am a jackpot winner until the winning numbers say I am not. If I don’t play then I will never win. So, yes – I can believe big. I can believe I can win all three jackpots, PB, MM and Texas Lotto. That’s the power of positive thinking – that would break me if I played every single time the lotto was played. That’s $2 a ticket X 3 games X 2 times a week for 52 weeks. That does not include the $1 power play. Do the math. And that’s only playing one ticket per game. Some people play for more than one chance.
I have never cared for the whole positive thinking mentality, much less the name it and claim it notion. The whole prosperity gospel is holy (full of holes that is…) I can’t do it. For one, staying positive wears me out. Second, I have known Christians that are always claiming something or another and the most they get are seconds. Yes, we have to be grateful, regardless. I just don’t believe that God would bless us with seconds, especially if they will just fall apart. I don’t believe that God would bless a single lady with a husband that is still a married man. Or a man that claims to be a man of God and wants to jump into bed the first date. I don’t believe God would bless us with vehicles that are going to break down the first day. The Scripture says in James 1:17 (NKJV)
that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
I can remember 22 years of living in great need – just for the essentials. I whined and complained to God about my circumstances. And God does not like that at all. And He was still gracious to me and my family. He provided a home. I was one whole year behind on the rent, and never did the landlord consider evicting us. If he thought about it – he never acted on it. Who does that? That’s grace. I prayed that God would bless him and his wife with their needs.
After my divorce, I confess I worried about how I was going to pay bills. I was always behind on the bills. It’s not because I wasn’t working. I was uneducated and unskilled. I had been a stay-at-home for the most part. There were times I worked two jobs and I received child support from my ex (not because he was willing to do pay which he didn’t pay sometimes). And the Lord provided. I would ask family and friends for help and maybe once or twice in those 22 years did they help financially. Those that couldn’t may have helped in other ways. For a few years, the Lord provided one faithful individual which always heard His voice. I thanked God for my sisters, in the latter years. They would invite me to go out with them and they always picked up the bill.
It was rather difficult when we first moved into the city. One of my older sisters put us up until I could find a rental. Then she moved out of state. The other two lived in different cities. When my 13 y/o got pregnant, I found myself in even greater need. I had met a lady that would offer to babysit my granddaughter. She was a great blessing. We lost contact after my granddaughter started school, but we kept in touch here and there. Recently, we’ve reconnected. She is still a blessing in my life. I couldn’t blame anyone for not extending a helping hand. I whined and complained, but they Lord remained faithful.
I experienced so much before learning about the name it and claim it philosophy. And I know that the Lord was always with me in my dark moments, in the wilderness – where I had to be – for a while.
I don’t know if anyone believes in visions, but the Lord gave me a couple. One when I first got saved. I saw myself inside a nice warm, cozy home with my children. All was calm, safe and secure. For some reason, I am compelled to open the door to look out. There I was in the middle of a storm. I would never have known the storm I was in had I not walked outside. I am drawn back inside. All was calmed again.
The second vision was after my divorce. I had done through a hurtful and destructive divorce. It was a couple of years afterwards that the Lord whispered a promise. I will restore everything the enemy has stolen. That’s all He said.
Both times, I did not understand, but eventually the Lord revealed what those visions meant. And those visions came to pass. I believe without a doubt that God gives His people vision as it says in Joel 2:28-32 (NKJV) “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” Some of those visions are for us specifically. I have had other visions, all of which I have written down somewhere. I trust one day God will show me the meaning.
It is always critical for believers to read, and study the scriptures, without someone else’s interpretation. There’s a lot of mystery in the Scriptures, but we don’t have to understand all of it at any one time. Accepting what popular authors, pastors, prophets, evangelists and such write as God’s truth is dangerous. In His time and not until, the Lord will reveal to us what He wants us to know. And the need for interpretation and confirmation He too will provide – without fail. And I know that it will be according to His word and His will.
What is the abundant life? I believe that is what the Lord desires His children to learn. It is not about the material blessings. It may take 20 plus years wondering in the wilderness, great adversity, living in want, no friends or friends to call on when we need help, no one to love, no one to love us, and other not so pleasant things. But Like Daniel who walked out of the lion’s den, and the fiery furnace unscathed – so can we.
It doesn’t do any good to stand in praise and worship with arms lifted up – if the heart of the man is so far from God.
Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV) “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
From the one that was called home before I could meet him…his words are are quite fitting for today’s believer.
“Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.”
“God did not give Joseph any special information about how to get from being the son of a nomad in Palestine to being Pharaoh’s right hand man in Egypt. What He did give Joseph were eleven jealous brothers, the attention of a very loose and vengeful woman, the ability to do the service of interpreting dreams and managing other people’s affairs and the grace to do that faithfully wherever he was.”
“The Bible is not a book for the faint of heart — it is a book full of all the greed and glory and violence and tenderness and sex and betrayal that benefits mankind. It is not the collection of pretty little anecdotes mouthed by pious little church mice — it does not so much nibble at our shoe leather as it cuts to the heart and splits the marrow from the bone. It does not give us answers fitted to our small-minded questions, but truth that goes beyond what we even know to ask.”
“We were given the Scriptures to humble us into realizing that God is right, and the rest of us are just guessing.”
“We walk by faith and not by sight – not because we are blind, but because faith gives us the courage to face our fears and puts those fears in a context that makes them less frightful. We walk by faith and not by sight because there are places to go that cannot be seen and the scope of our vision is too small for our strides. Faith is not a denial of facts – it is a broadening of focus. It does not deny the hardness of guitar strings, it plucks them into a sweetness of sound”
“Wealth can’t be defined in terms of what we have, but only in terms of how free we are to give and take”.”
“Never forget what Jesus did for you. Never take lightly what it cost Him. And never assume that if it cost Him His very life, that it won’t also cost you yours.”
― Rich Mullins,
Hold Me Jesus by Rich Mullins
“Surrender don’t come natural to me. I’d rather fight you for something I don’t really want than to take what you give that I need…”