TEXT: John 10:10
Our world today is full of unhappy and dissatisfied people. For this reason, people everywhere are looking for answers to the emptiness they feel inside. These people will try anything, if it might bring them some sort of satisfaction or happiness. Perhaps this explains why there is so much annulment, suicide, thoughts of suicide, drug dependency, alcohol abuse, criminal behavior, prostitution, sexual impurity, depression, pornography, eating disorders, emotional, and psychological disorders. We are messed up. So, what is the solution?
- Materialism and wealth?
- Pleasure and enjoyment?
- Power and prestige?
- Wisdom and understanding?
Everybody has an answer. But I believe the Bible when it says, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but in the end, it produces death,” Proverbs 14:12.
There is an answer to the eternal question, “How do I find happiness and satisfaction in life?” Jesus stated in John 10:10 the purpose of why he came. He said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”. What did Jesus mean when he said that we can have “life to the full”? You deserve an answer to this question.
In John 10:10, Christ uses the Greek word “perissos” pronounced per-is-sos’. In this context, it means ‘superior in quantity or quality’ ‘exceedingly’ ‘very high’ ‘advantage’ ‘beyond measure’. This is the exact same word that Paul uses in Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” A clue to our understanding of this word is to think about whom Paul is speaking–God.
In today’s dictionary, it means: “full” as “complete, perfect, being at the highest or greatest degree, the maximum”. So when this word is in reference to one’s life, it would mean a life that is complete, not lacking in anything essential. It would imply that one’s life was successful, superior, having an abundance of quality and life. The good news is that not only did Jesus come to save us, but he also came to give us an abundant life. This is much like a second blessing: eternal life, plus “life to the full!” I’m convinced the reason why so many Christians are not living life to the full is because they don’t know what it is! Many Christians don’t really think that such a life is available to them. How sad!
I think we can easily find Christians who don’t seem to be different from the rest of the world. I bet it would be difficult to pick them out as Christians at a party or a ball game. This is part of the reason that the world views Christianity with such skepticism. They ask, “What difference does being a Christian make?” We have the churchy words for them, but do we demonstrate the difference? My guess is that those who don’t appear to be different from the rest of the crowd are not living an abundant life – the life that Christ came to give all of us.
Jesus said, “I have come, that they may have life, and have it to the full.” This tells me that God desires his children to live a life full of happiness, peace, and a genuine friendship with God. Through Jesus, it is without a doubt, still available today. It can be done and Jesus came to do it! Christians call this quality of living, “Abundant Life!”
There really is an “Abundant Life.” It does exist! And Christians all around us have discovered what it is and how to live it. And so can you! Abundant living is a life that is filled with the things that are good for us. People who enjoy the abundant life will possess all of these qualities: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, purity, humility, modesty, faith, character, wisdom, enthusiasm, dignity, optimism, confidence, honesty, and a relationship with God. In other words, the abundant life is full of all the things money can’t buy. No matter how much money you have, you cannot buy more patience, self-control, or salvation! Hardware stores do not sell wisdom or hope. And yes, you can possess all of these qualities! You can get everyone of these things from God, who is the giver of all good things. The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change “, James 1:17. But the Bible also says, “You do not have, because you do not ask God,” James 4:2. Are you in pursuit of the abundant life? Maybe because we always think of abundant life is having lots of money…oh no brothers and sisters…it’s something beyond what money can offer.
But let me make something clear here, “Abundant Life” is found in Christ and nowhere else. Everyone who does not have Jesus in their life, will not be able to experience true abundant living. No doubt, many non-Christians can experience some happiness and satisfaction in their lives, but that is usually because they practice the qualities that make up the abundant life, such as patience, integrity, and kindness. They also avoid many of the things that destroy the abundant life such as dispair, pessimism, sexual immorality, substance abuse, etc. However, Jesus said that unless we believe in him, we will all die in our sins, John 8:24. We must, therefore, realize that no matter how much happiness a non-Christian experiences, it is unfortunately limited in quality and it’s only temporary. The facts are, anyone without the saving grace of Jesus, is spiritually dead. A person cannot live the “abundant life” if they are spiritually dead. The Bible says, “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ (even when we were dead),” Ephesians 2:4. If you are in Christ, the abundant life is waiting for you!
Now this evening we are going to look at some of the keys to living the abundant life. (HINDI PO INSTANT…some things must be done!)
- 1. A LIFE OF SERVICE WITH CHRIST AS OUR EXAMPLE.
A lot of folk don’t want to serve nobody. They won’t do anything for anybody but themselves. But if we serve Christ, we will want to serve others. In serving others, we learn how to live the abundant life.
Abundant living is a total surrender to Jesus Christ. It is a lifetime commitment to serve him. If a man is in good health, obtain wealth, a good family, and a fancy home, yet never experiences the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, he isn’t living. He is merely existing. I hate to say that some of us today are not really living, we are just existing. We are like dead dried up bones in the valley. That’s why some of us can’t praise the Lord. Somebody said, “Anything dead ought to be buried,” I’m mighty afraid that some of us need to be buried today.
I’m not talking about just paying lip service. A lot of us say for God we will live and for God we will surely die, but it is only lip service. When it comes time to face the challenges of this life, when it comes time to find us at our post of duty, when it comes time to be fully committed, we are nowhere to be found. We either have to commit to the things of the world, or commit to God. There is no in-between. Jesus told the church at Laodicea, “I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. But because you are lukewarm,” I will spew thee out of my mouth.” The problem with us today is that there are too many churches that are deceiving folk into thinking that they are the church of God and they are so lukewarm that God doesn’t have any part in it. The church has too many halfhearted Christians in it. These Christians think they are getting away with their lack of commitment to God and His Word. But the bible says that halfhearted Christians are lukewarm. No man can serve two masters, he has to hate the one and love the other or either he has to love the one and hate the other. It’s sad to say that there are too many folk who think they are right with God, but they are lukewarm and don’t even know it.
Abundant living does not exist until we have completely committed ourselves to Jesus Christ in service…
I can’t say that we will ever be called to be martyred for our faith in Christ, but there are many more ways to serve in an abundant life.
What are some of the ways we live a life of service? Even a cursory look at Romans 12:1-2 can help us understand this. Read the familiar verses in the context of a life of service. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The verse asks that we “present” which is a choosing on our part to surrender to God and to His perfect will even though we may not always understand or see God’s will, we submit to it anyway because we cannot live an abundant life outside of God’s will. Continuing on, we read “present your bodies” We must allow God to control all of us, the whole of us. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 teaches that our whole self is to be dedicated to a life of service to God. Completing the thought, “present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice.” The abundant life is one that is given completely to God at the expense of our own desires.
Let me side track just for a moment. I’m continually frustrated by Christians who say they are church hunting and bee-hop from place to place. They say a church they visited didn’t “meet their needs.” Brothers and sisters, the local church is not there to meet our needs. It’s one of the greatest mistaken assumptions by the body today. The local assembly exists as a place for us to serve, not be served.
Think about it this way. A sponge is a useful tool. Its primary function is to absorb. But, how do we get anything out of the sponge in order for it to be used again? We must squeeze the sponge. Dear ones if we attend the local church in order to absorb only in order to have our needs met, we are in dangerous territory. For God, who sees all, knows that when He wants something from you that He’ll have to squeeze you to get it. Do you want to be squeezed by God? Don’t be a sponge in your local assembly. Be a servant and then God will meet your needs.
An abundant life is one “transformed” to godliness and conformed to God’s will. We are truly happy when our personal desires are put away and we desire what God wants for us. For we cannot match the gifts and joy and abundance that He has planned for us when we serve Him and others in His name.
- 2. A LIFE SEPARATED FROM THE WORLD.
The Bible says we are in the world, but we are not of the world. You see, when we are born again, there are some things we just don’t do. When you are full of God and the things of God, you have a new walk, you have a new talk, you act different, you listen to different music, you drink different beverages, you think differently.
As a Child of God, you need to lay aside worldliness. According to the Word of God, anything that is not in line with the Word is worldly. We have to live in this world, but we don’t have to be a part of the sin and rebellion that is in this world.
One writer put it this way, “The abundant life is made possible by the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and made a reality by being separated from sin and the world and sanctified to Him.” We must actively take ourselves out of the world and immerse ourselves in the world of Christ and His people. We are not to barricade ourselves away from the dying world, (magmomongho…) but not participate in the sinful and questionable activities that do not glorify God. This is being in the world, but not of it.
It’s time that church folk quit walking with Mr. Beer, Mr. Malt Liquor, and Mr. Wine Cooler. It’s time for church folk to be filled with the Spirit instead of being filled with wine…. It’s time for church folk to dance in the aisles of the church instead of dancing in the nightclub or disco bar! God wants his children to enjoy life and have fun; and when you have fun in God, you get up the next morning and you don’t have a hangover. In fact, when you get filled with the spirit of God, you’ll have an everlasting high. You don’t have to keep getting a fix. God will take you on a spiritual high from which you need never to come down.
How can we do that? Read God’s Word so that we may know the things that we must avoid and the things that we must do as well!
- 3. A LIFE YIELDED UNTO THE LORD.
What does it mean to “Yield ourselves unto the Lord? — to “Yield ourselves unto Almighty God?” In the secular world, the word “yield” means to give the “right of way” to someone else. When we talk about yielding, in the spiritual sense, we are saying that we are giving Almighty God the “right of way” with our lives — that we are yielding to His power and to His control! “How do we yield ourselves unto the Lord — unto Almighty God?”
Well, there are three (3) necessary “basic steps” to yielding ourselves unto Almighty God for the very first time — steps that are necessary in order for us to living an abundant life — steps that are also necessary for each and every one of us, each and every day of our lives — steps that are ordered by Almighty God Himself!
- First, ADMIT THAT GOD’S WAY IS THE BEST WAY!
Now, let’s just suppose — for a moment — that I told you that I was better looking than Brad Pitt; smarter than Albert Einstein; more athletic than Kobe Bryant; a better writer than John Grisham; a better singer than Gary Valenciano — what would you say? More than likely, my brothers and sisters, you would say something to the effect that I need to have my head examined — to take a “reality check” — to admit that I am just not quite up to those standards! When it comes to how we live our lives; however, we do NOT do the same thing! We go through life thinking that SOMEHOW our ways are better than Almighty God’s ways! We prove that we believe such “stuff” every single time that we live in disobedience to Almighty God!
To think, my brothers and sisters, that sometimes we actually have the audacity to think that we know better than the “Creator of the Universe” is the very height of arrogance; and, church, it is a “sure-fire method” for ending up living a life of misery! The prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT), records Almighty God saying: “My thoughts are completely different from yours; says the Lord. And My ways are far beyopnd anything you could imagine. (vs. 9) For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
When Almighty God tells us to live a certain way, He is not doing it to harm us; or, to be some sort of “Cosmic Killjoy”! He does it because He knows what is best for us — and, my brothers and sisters, He wants us to have that! To “Yield Unto The Lord” simply means that we are going to get out of bed, in the morning, and say to Almighty God, “Your way is best, so I will follow Your way today!”
- Secondly, WE MUST SURRENDER OUR LIVES TO HIS CONTROL!
I’m reminded of the hymn, written by Judson W. van Deventer (1855 – 1939), entitled “I Surrender All”:
“All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely
I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence
All to Jesus I surrender, Humbly at His feet I bow;
Worldly pleasures all forsaken, Take me Jesus,
take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender, Make me, Saviour, wholly
Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit, — Truly know that
Thou art mine.
All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to
Fill me with Thy love and power, Let Thy blessing
fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender, Now I feel the sacred
Oh, the joy of full Salvation, Glory, Glory to His
I surrender all, I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Saviour, I surrender all.”
The idea here, of course, is that we need to admit that NOT only is Almighty God’s way the best way; but, we must go far beyond that and ask Almighty God to take full and complete control of our lives! When we yield our lives unto the Lord, we are literally saying, “God, You take over the ’steering wheel’ — You control the ’brakes’ — And I will leave the ’driving’ to You!”
The Apostle Paul tells the Romans and us, in Romans 6:12-13 (NLT): “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to its lustful desires. (vs. 13) Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the Glory of God.” An author once said, “Now, go do the right thing!”
The Almighty God lets us choose whether we are going to live a life of “total surrender”; or, whether we are going to fatally attempt to control our own lives! If we are going to experience all of the wonderful things that Almighty God is offering us, we must choose to surrender our lives totally and completely to Him!
- Thirdly, OBEY GOD’S DIRECTIVES IN YOUR LIFE!
We can listen to what Almighty God is saying to us; and, we can agree with everything He says; and yet, actually do nothing about it! While this action – on our part – is totally and completely illogical, it happens all of the time! We know that Almighty God’s way is the best way; however, we still find times when we fail to obey Him even though we know that His way is best for us! There is a “real problem”, however, with this type of response to the “Truth” of Almighty God! Listen to the Words of Jesus, the Christ, Himself, as recorded by the Gentile physician, Luke, in Luke 6:49 (Amplified Version): “But he who merely hears and does not practice doing My Words is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation, against which the torrent burst, and immediately it collapsed and fell, and the breaking and ruin of that house was great.”
If we do NOT live in obedience to Almighty God, it is only a matter of time until the “Floods of Life” come upon us; and, we begin to be troubled! When we live in disobedience to Almighty God, we remove ourselves – in many ways – from His influence over our lives! Then, my brothers and sisters, when the “tough times” come — and, if we live long enough, they will, in fact, come — we won’t have any foundation to hold onto; and, church, everything around us will start “caving in!”
Our goal in life should be to yield our lives unto the Lord, so that we may live in such a way as to unwrap the packaging around the “in-dwelling” presence and power of the Holy Ghost (or, Holy Spirit) within is — it is then, and only then, when the “in-filling” comes, that we will experience Abundant Life…