Thursday, April 2, 2020
The Secret to Having an Abundant Life
Many of us have a vision of what life should look like in the future, but experience tells us that life rarely follows our plan.
My life today hardly resembles that life I thought I would have when I was younger.
You know what?
I wouldn’t exchange the life I have now for that previous vision for my life.
When I think about the circumstances of my life, I develop the sense that I am exactly where God wants me to be.
It is okay that life doesn't follow our plan. God often uses the unpredictability of life to guide us to where He wants us to be.
While it is a good thing to have a plan and to work toward goals, we also have to be flexible enough to respond to the circumstances of life.
I know this can be a scary thought because it reminds us that much of life is outside of our control. We like to think that our life is simply a product of our choices, it is not.
I believe that as we learn to follow Jesus through the ups and downs of life our faith is strengthened and we are able to become the people God wants us to be. Having a life outside of our control forces us to learn to trust God through all the different circumstances of life.
There is a side of us that would like to believe that because we have faith in Jesus then our lives will be smooth and easy. We may not actually say it out load, but there are times when we have become disappointed with God because He didn't protect us for the bad things in life.
Sadly, that is not one of the promises of the Bible.
The reality is that following Jesus often brings hardships and pain, because the enemy wants to prevent us from living the abundant life that Jesus promised his followers.
On top of that, our dreams (the dreams we created before we knew Jesus or when our faith was young) often get in the way of where Jesus is leading us. These dreams actually become the obstacles that get in the way of experiencing the life that God created us to live
A frustrating aspect of this process is that God doesn’t treat us all the same.
For some people God will allow great tragedy into their lives in order to prepare them for what lies ahead. Other people God will allow constant obstacles thrown into their paths that will teach them endurance and trust. Still other people will seem to have a life of constant success and ease.
When we compare our lives to the lives of those around us will begin to feel like God is being unfair. There is no blueprint that God follows to direct the lives of each person. Instead, God uses the unique circumstances of our lives to mold us into the people He wants us to be.
Think about Joseph, the son of Jacob, for a minute. (The story of Joseph is found in Genesis 37-50) In the life of Joseph we can see how unfair life can seem.
Joseph experienced slavery and false imprisonment in a foreign land while his brothers enjoyed freedom in their homeland.
How can that be fair?
Yet, what we discover on the other side of these experiences, when famine hit and Joseph’s family came to Egypt for help, circumstances had changed.
Even though they remained at home the brothers did not have an easy life because of their guilt for selling Joseph into slavery.Their guilt softened their hearts.
Even though Joseph went through very difficult circumstances, he was now second-in-command in Egypt. God continued to work in the life of Joseph so he could be in the right position to help people. Being a slave and then a prisoner didn’t make sense to Joseph at the time, but God even used those evil circumstances to work good in and through the life of Joseph.
Things will not always make sense, but we must trust that God will do what is right.
What does that look like?
It looks like doing the next right thing.
When the future is bleak and we don’t know how we will ever come out of the hell hole we find ourselves in, all we can do is pursue the good that is right in front of us.
This is the secret to abundant living that we learn from Joseph’s life.
Joseph proved himself to be trustworthy and a man of godly character in the bleakest of circumstances. Why?
He did the next right thing.
This is what God requires of us no matter what the circumstances we have in our lives.
When we remain faithful, in even the toughest of circumstances, God is able to use those circumstances to move us closer to abundant life He has promised us.
What we discover in this process of trusting God is that the life that He has for us is far superior to the life that we thought we wanted.
I am preaching a sermon series called The Discipleship Road at Bethlehem Church. The series is loosely based on Eugene Peterson’s book A L...
People are different. I know that isn't breaking news, but it is worth remembering. You and I are different in dozens, if not hundreds...
We are created in God’s image. The main point of that reality is that we are to be God’s representatives in the world. I like to say, “We ar...