Many moons ago, I wrote a blog post about how much I love our church's Wednesday night services. That post is still back there in the dark recesses of this little blog of mine, just in case you are interested. When I wrote that post, I obviously had a plan to write more posts on the role of the church. Somehow, I never got around to doing that, but maybe this one will speak just a little bit of what I might have been thinking back then. My love for our church and our Wednesday night services still holds true, even though we have made a few changes since then. We have begun doing six week studies led by our pastor. While I enjoy these studies, I miss the time spent with just the ladies. So, I was happy when we finished the last study and Bro. Don announced that we would take a break before beginning the next one and in the interim time would go back to breaking into prayer groups (ladies in one room, men in another).
I volunteered to do the Bible study the first week. I have had several topics on my mind lately and felt sure that I would go in one of those directions. I was wrong. Wednesday morning, I sat down to figure out what I was going to present to the ladies that night, and nothing would work. I got ready for school and we made the 10 minute drive to Daddy's and our schoolroom … where I saw my Mama's computer. I knew that she had typed quite a few Sunday School lessons for the class she had taught for more years than I can remember, so I started looking through them and I realized that I have been given a wonderful gift. My sweet Mama's thoughts about scripture and about her Savior and about the life we, as Christians, are supposed to lead. I printed some of the lessons for later … for those moments when I am needing a wise word from my Mama. I chose one to share with the ladies at prayer meeting. I chose this one because it touched my heart, so now, I am going to share this same one with you. Since it is pretty long and I am going to give it to you just as Mama wrote it, I'm going to break it into two parts … I'll share one today and the other tomorrow.
The Abundant Life
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came so that might have abundant life. What is abundant life? What is Jesus saying? Does He mean that He wanted His people to be wealthy? What about having the most affluent circle of friends? Does He want us to have the finest house or vehicle? Perhaps Christ was not talking about our physical life at all. Maybe He only meant we should have abundant life in Heaven. No, I don't believe Christ was only speaking in a spiritual sense about Heaven, although life there will certainly be abundant. Nor do I think He was referring to any of the other possibilities I mentioned. Christ is our example in everything and none of the ideas mentioned applied to Him, so that could not be what He was talking about. Christ most definitely lived an abundant life. Our question is not only “What is an abundant life?” but also, “Are you living one?”
“Not that I speak in respect of want:
for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,
therewith to be content.”
One of the primary factors that seems to be important to living an abundant life is to be able to truthfully say you are content where you are. Paul made this statement as a man who was sitting in a prison somewhere, most likely in Rome. Not only was he imprisoned at the time but he had a list of other reasons as long as your arm that would be sufficient evidence to cause him to be discontent. Most likely he was a man prone to grumble and complain just as any other human. He was simply a man. Paul was no better or worse than any of us. The scripture tells us, however, that he learned to be content. Paul had learned that no amount of complaining in the world would change a situation. It would not reverse a set of circumstances that seemed undesirable. Never will complaining provide food during a famine. Paul learned that the best thing to do, if you are going to get any enjoyment out of life, is to learn to thank the Lord for whatever troubles you might be facing and be content with the situation. There is no need to fret over something you can do nothing about.
We have a good example of how contentment is key to the abundant life in Proverbs 15:15.
“All the days of the afflicted are evil:
but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”
Notice first of all the description of the afflicted. According to the scripture, all the days of his life are evil. This simply means that he sees nothing good in life. Nothing ever goes the way he wants it to. There is no joy in his life. However, “he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” The difference is in the attitude. Both people have problems and trials in life, they just deal with them in different ways. One man sees life as nothing but negative and so he leans a miserable life. The other man, who might be facing the exact same trials, maintains a good attitude and therefore experiences a continual feast. The second man knows the secret to the abundant life. If someone can be truly content with life in all manner of circumstances, he can expect to know the meaning of Christ's statement about the abundant life. Without contentment, the abundant life is impossible.
I Corinthians 9:16
“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of:
for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
Paul was keenly aware that the Lord had appointed him to a specific place of service. He was willingly serving the Lord in whatever area he was needed. Paul felt as though his life would be lacking something if he were not busy about the work God had called him to. In other words, Paul felt as if he had to preach. Never in any of his letters did he mention being tired of serving the Lord. Why is this? Very simply put, Paul was enjoying the abundant life. He had no regrets about the time he spent in the ministry. Paul would not have been content any other way, except to serve the Lord. Should we expect our lives to be any different? For a child of God, I don't see any reason to think such a thing. We are called to service. Granted, we are called to differing areas of service, but we who are born again are expected to be serving the Lord. Service is a must if the Christian intends to live an abundant life.
Tomorrow I will post the second part of Mama's lesson on living the abundant life, where she looks at the role of sacrifice and obedience in living an abundant life.
(Want to read part two? click here)
(Want to read part two? click here)