Living the abundant life
Suppose I †had the ability to guarantee you a life that was full of joy and happiness beyond measure and peace in your life that surpasses all understanding. What if I could also †give you the assurance† of entering into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord where there will be no more pain, sorrow or death?
Would you be interested?
Well, I wish I could personally do that for everyone but that is beyond my ability. However I can point you to the man who can provide you with all of these so that you can live the abundant life and that man is Jesus the son of God.
John 10:10 Ö I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Here we clearly see that one of the reasons why Jesus came to this earth was so that you and I could have the abundant life and He teaches what we need to know about living the abundant life through his word. Many of the secrets to living an abundant life can be found in John 15.
John 15:1"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.† 2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.† 3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.† 4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.† 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
The first thing we learn about living the abundant life is that we must be part of that true vine which is Jesus Christ. A person cannot begin living an abundant life until they accept the gospel call and are baptized into Jesus. Paul makes it clear that it is only at the point of baptism that one enters into Jesus the true vine.
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Many people in the religious world try to make baptism into Christ a formality or not being necessary and you can believe them on this if you want to but I believe I will take the word of the inspired apostle Paul. But once obey what Paul has said here and have been baptized into Christ Jesus tells us that we must abide him and if we do this then he will abide in us. Jesus describes you and as I being branches that are attached to him and that if we want to live the abundant and remain in Christ then we must learn to bear fruit and realize that we cannot produce any fruit that will be acceptable to God unless we are attached to the true vine. So with this thought in mind let take a look at few ways that we can bear fruit for the Lord and what it will do for us.
Our first example is found in.
Romans 1:13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.
Paul really wanted to visit
Why should we do this? Well as Christians we realize what God has done for us and everyone else on the face of this earth. You see God loved us so much that he gave us his only begotten son so that you and I could have the hope of having an eternal life in heaven and when we read our Bible we know how important it is to God that people are saved by being added the true vine of Jesus. There are 2 verses that make it very clear to me just how much God wants all humans to know his truth and his love.
1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,† 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Peter 3:9 †The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Surely we can see that it is Gods desire that all people be saved but is it up you and I and every Christian in the world to bear this fruit by spreading the good news. One thing that should help motivates us is the illustration that is given to us by Jesus on how the father and the host of heaven reacts when a sinner comes to the Lord.
Luke 15:8" Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?† 9 "And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!'† 10 "Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
To me this shows me just how much Love God has for us and just how happy it makes him when and sinner repents and turns to God. So as Christians that understand just how God loves us and what he has done for us show fully supply with the answer of why we should bear this type of fruit.
But what is our benefit from this?
I believe we benefit from winning souls to Christ because it brings great joy to us knowing that we had a hand in leading a sinner to God. I think we can all understand this concept. How many times has someone done something for your life that you could never repay, but when you have the opportunity to do something for that person no matter how small it may be you jump at the chance and it makes you feel good to do so. Well this same thing is true when it comes to God. He is given us the forgiveness our sins and a promise of a home in heaven and we can never repay or merit this gift but when see an opportunity to serve him or to bring glory and honor to him should we jump at the chance and we do this for him it will bring great joy into our lives. The apostle Paul understood and we can see that winning souls brought great joy to his life. Please notice what he says to the Thessalonians.
1 Thessalonians 2:17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire.† 18 Therefore we wanted to come to you -- even I, Paul, time and again -- but Satan hindered us.† 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?† 20 For you are our glory and joy. †
So surely we can see how leading people to Christ is part of living the abundant life.
Another fruit that we can be bear is found in,
Romans 15:26 For it
pleased those from
Notice Paul describes the sharing of these Gentiles of material things a fruit and this something that we can do today. We can share out material things with those who are in need. There are many different ways we can help those who are truly in need. It may be that we open our home to someone or we may feed them a meal. We might have the opportunity to help an orphan a widow in need and as far as that goes there are times when we might be able to help a brother or sister in Christ out when they are in bind.
We learn in the first century that† the Christians really understood how to give and help the needy and each other out.
Acts 4:32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.† 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.† 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,† 35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
Now by this passage I am not suggesting that we must go out and sell our land and our house as they did but I want you to see they were unified and they understood that the material things that we own are temporary and are not as important as serving God and helping each other. This is why Jesus tells us.
Matthew 6:19 " Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;† 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.† 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
As Christians we must be careful not to allow material things to become our treasure or we will find that that we will be distracted from living the abundant life. I like what Paul says in,
1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.† 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.† 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.† 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
There some Christians that are so concerned about their possessions that keeps them from serving and God and some seem to think that they can there riches with them to the grave. I am reminded of the story I heard about the husband who dies and tells his wife that he wants to buried with his money. Well when her husband dies she does what she ask him to, she writes him a check for the amount of money he has and she tells him that anytime he wants to cash that check he can.
Why this is kind of funny it really makes the point that we came into this world with nothing and we are going to leave this world with nothing. The sooner we learn this lesson the better off we will be. Keeping this thought in our mind should help us to learn to be better givers of our time and of our material things.
Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Again we might ask yeah but how does that benefit me? Well I tell you. Have you every given something to a needy child who had very little and when gave them this new toy or whatever it may be you see eyes open and glisten. When you did this did it not fill your heart full of happiness and joy. Well the same feeling happens when you give our yourself our material things to help a human being out. That it why the Lord said,
Acts 20:35† Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
So sharing with those in need help us to live the abundant life.
Another fruit we can bear in found in,
2 Peter 1:5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,† 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,† 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.† 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. †
This is a perfect recipe on how to have the character of Christ and it important for every Christian to learn these virtues in order to live life to it fullest. I know of no greater work that a Christian could do than following in footsteps of Jesus and learning to be like him. Adding these virtues to our life will cause us to produce much fruit for the Lord such as,
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,† 23 gentleness, self-control.
Now I can tell you will never perfect at all the virtues but God wants to continue to work on these virtues because the more we put these things into our lives the more abundant they will be. One of the greatest benefits that you and I receive for following these virtues is assurance of a home in heaven.
2 Peter 1:8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.† 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.† 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;† 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Another fruit that we can bear is found in,
Hebrews 13:14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.† 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
If there is one thing that every Christian should do it is to praise God and give thanks to God because it though him that we live and breath and have our very being. I think David puts it best in the Psalm he wrote for the Lord in,
Psalm 30:1-12† I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my foes rejoice over me.† 2 O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me.† 3 O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.† 4 Sing praise to the LORD, You saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.† 5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.† 6 Now in my prosperity I said, "I shall never be moved."† 7 LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled.† 8 I cried out to You, O LORD; And to the LORD I made supplication:† 9 "What profit is there in my blood, When I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth?† 10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper!"† 11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,† 12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
I say amen to that. What a wonderer fruit to bear to give God praise and thanks for what has done for us, what he is doing for us, and for what he is going to do for us. We benefit from this fruit because it gives us peace in our life knowing that our God is watching out for us.
Philippians 4:6 †Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;† 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
So giving thanks and praise to God will help us live the abundant life. Now we could examine more fruits that we could bear but lets move on to our next point which comes from part of our original text in John 15.
John 15:4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.† 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.† 6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.† 7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.† 8 "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.† 9 " As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.† 10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.
Jesus use abide 10 times in the verses and makes if very clear that the only way that you and can bear fruit for God that will be pleasing to is that we must in Christ must be attached to that one true vine and remain there. Again I cant stress it enough only those who obeyed the gospel call and have been baptized into Christ for their remission of their sins can be grafted into this vine. There are a lot people out there that calls themselves Christians and but many of them have never fully obeyed the Gospel call because instead of baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins they were told to say a sinners prayer or even some have turned baptism into a way to join a denomination. Friends I am here to tell you unless you baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins then you are not a part of the one true vine called Jesus Christ and this means no matter how fruits these people produce no matter how many works they do in the name of God will not be acceptable to him because their labor and their fruit did not come through Jesus. That is why Jesus makes this statement in,
Matthew 7:21 " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.† 22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'† 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
Friends I canít tell you had sad it makes to know that there are so many people out there that are working hard to do things for God but many of them have been robbed because all the fruit they have tried to produce for the Lord has been done outside of Christ.
On a more positive note, those of us who are truly branches of Christ can truly say what Paul did in,
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Every Christian that abides in Christ can have the confidence that He will be there to help and strengthen us in our time of need. Again it is only when we abide in Christ that it makes it possible for to bear fruit which in turn makes is possible for us to live the abundant life. This brings us to the end of our lesson this morning and I hope that you will return this evening as we continue to examine living the abundant life.
The morning we began a 2 part series living the abundant life. We talked about how ever Christians can have the abundant life through Jesus. Most of our lesson this morning came from John 15 which taught us that in order to live the abundant life we must part of that one true vine Jesus Christ because if we are not we can never bear fruit that will be acceptable to God. So basically we looked at some fruits that we can bear as Christians and then we talked about how we must abide in Christ to be able to produce that fruit.
Well tonight I want to pick up on this thought and examine the question how do we abide in the vine? Again Jesus answer this question in,
John 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.† 11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.† 12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.† 13 "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.† 14 "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
Did you see the answer? Jesus said if you keep my commandments you will abide in my love and he says if you keep his commandments then you are his friend. Also please note,
1 John 3:24 Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
So without any doubt we can see that if a person wants to abide in Christ so that they can live the abundant life than they must obey God commands. Today there are many who seem to think that the word obedience is dirty word but the Bible makes it very clear that obedience to Gods will is absolutely necessary.
For instance notice what Jesus had to say about it.
Mark 3:31 Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him.† 32 And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You."† 33 But He answered them, saying, "Who is My mother, or My brothers?"† 34 And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers!† 35 "For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother."
Here Jesus makes the point that whoever is obedient and does the will of the father will be his blood kin. The opposite of this would be true if you donít obey Gods word than you are no way associated with Christ. Jesus ran across some people who recognized who Jesus was but they were not following his words and so he asked them this question.
Luke 6:46 " But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say? †
It doesnít really matter where you read in the Bible because God has always demanded obedience to his will in the OT and in NT. Jesus fully understood this and he being our master example has shown us just how important obedience to the father is by his example. For instance in John 4 after Jesus had talked the Samaritan women at the well about how we must worship God in spirit and in truth his disciples came to him urging him to eat and Jesus responds this way,
John 4:32 But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know."† 33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?"† 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. †
Jesus understood his priorities and so he was always ready to put the will of the farther first even before filling his own belly. I like what Job says about this concept,
Job 23:12 I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food. †
This should give us an idea of just how much importance we should place on God Word and making it our first priority as we live our lives by it. Jesus is the greatest example of this and he state with clarity what his priority was in,
John 6:38 †"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. †
I donít know of anyone who would bold enough to say that Jesus was not obedient to the father in all avenues of life. Even when Jesus was in the Garden of Gesemene and weight of the worlds sins was on his shoulder and he was so stressed that he began to sweat blood from his head he still said,
Matthew 26:39† "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."
No matter what situation Jesus found himself in he never ever put his will before the fathers and that is why the Hebrew writer says this.
Hebrews 5:8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.† 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,
Just as Jesus was obedient to the fathers will we to must do our best to be obedient to Godís commands. Please notice very carefully that Jesus is the author of salvation only to those who obey him. So donít ever let anyone try to convince that obedience to God word isnít important because it is. Again notice the word of John,
1 John 2:3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.† 4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.† 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.† 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
So it should be easy to understand that in order to abide in Christ we must obey the will of the father in order to live the abundant life.
But what should be our motivation for obeying the will of the father?
Well the way I see it there are at least 3 different reasons why a person might obey God.
1. Someone might obey because the motivated by fear and all they know is that they donít want to face any punishment. It kind of like a dog that has beaten in the past and every time you go near it cowers in the corner out fear for being beaten again. Now I will say that God wants us to respect his power and the punishment that will follow if we are disobedient but he does want us to be motivated into following him out this type of fear. He doesnít want our tails tucked in between our legs.
2. Another way some people are motivated to obey is if they feel like need to in order to get what they want. For example a teenager may obey their parents or do little jobs for them but not because they want to it because they feel like the need to do these things in order to get favors or things from their parents. This is basically describes someone who goes through motions but their heart really isnít into it because they real motivation is just their own selfish gain and God does not want us to obey for such a reason.
3. Now the reason some are motivated to serve God is because they want to because of their love for the father. For example when children truly love their parents they will do things for them and obey them because the respect and love their parents and this is what God wants us to be motivated by. He wants us to obey him because we love him. That is why we see such passages as,
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.† 24 "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.
And again John says,
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
I think is very important that we realize that love should
be our motivation for obeying† God. Think
about it if God wanted to make us obey through fear I guarantee you can make
ever single person cower like a dog but if he did this way would he not be
violating our free will? If God wanted to force us to obey him he would have †made us that way from the beginning and if had
wanted to change his mind about our free will he had plenty of opportunities
and encouragement to do so by the behavior or the children of
The only way that you and will be successful in remaining committed to obeying the fathers will is if we are truly motivated by love. Let me give you an example.
Hebrews 10:25 †not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
This is a passage that we use that shows that Christians should not forsake the assembling of themselves. Now those who look at passages similar to this with a motivation of fear or with idea I have to will be the type of people who will only assemble with the saints enough sooth their own conscience. In other words for some this may be only coming Sunday morning worship to other it may mean coming once or twice a month. You see this command becomes a burden to them.
But now you take a Christian who is motivated by love when they see passage such as these they donít look them as a burden or something that they have to do. No instead they look at as opportunity to love God back by obey his commands. They will find great joy in assembling with the saint every opportunity they have because they understand that it brings glory and honor to the Lord. If we are ever going to learn to live the abundant life it is imperative that we learn to make love our motivation to obeying God otherwise we will be nothing. I want to end this point with the words of Paul.
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.† 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.† 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.† 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;† 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;† 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;† 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.† 8 Love never fails.
†Ok we can see the importance of love and how we must learn to love God, But how do we love God?
Well the answer to the question should be pretty obvious. We must learn all we can about him. We have no problems understanding this in our everyday relationships. For instance many of us in the room tonight are married. Did we just instantly fall in love with our mates when we first meet them or did it take time. Well, for the majority of couples it took time for them to get to know each other and the more they learned about each other they began to fall in love with one another and they would be willing to do just about anything for their mate.
The same thing is true with friendships that you make. You donít just becomes friends with someone the instant you meet them no it takes time develop that relationship and for you learn to love that person as a dear friend. Well the same thing is true when it comes to God. If we ever hope to learn to love him we must get to know him.
Now think about this how do you get to know another person and how do you effectively grow in that relationship? I think most of us would agree that we must be willing to spend some time with that person† so that we can get to know them. 2. We must have effective communication to find out what we need to know. If we have poor communication then we will probably never get to know that person.
So in order for us to learn more about God so that we can develop a love for him we must read his word because this is the only way that we will learn about him. God has provided us with everything we need in the Bible to learn to trust him and to love him. This is why Paul says to Timothy,
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,† 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. ††
And Peter tells us that,
2 Peter 1:3 †His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
So everything we need to know about God to love him is found within the Bible. Now just like a marriage when a couple spends more time with one another they learn to love each more and more. Well the same thing is true with God the longer we are Christian the more we are going to love him. But the only way that we will grow in that love is by reading more and more of his word and spending more and more time in prayer to him. Peter teaches us that is exactly what we are to do.
2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Paul also understood how important it is for us to continue to study Godís word that he commanded Timothy to do so.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Simply put the more we read the better we will know our God and his will. As simple as this sounds I believe the very foundation of living the abundant life begins with reading our Bibles.
By reading we learn to know God
By knowing we learn to love God
By loving we learn to obey God
By obeying we learn to abide in God
By abiding we learn to bear fruit for God
By bearing fruit we experience the abundant life.
So if you want to learn how to live the abundant life you must not neglect the Word of God. Instead you should make it part of your everyday life. As we come to the end of this lesson let us never forget what Jesus said in,
John 10:10 Ö I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.