25 October, 2010

The Abundant Life

There has been a lot of manipulation of God's Word and the things of God, especially in the area of prosperity and abundance. We could go into a lengthy debate as to the reason and the methods of some, but I don't want to focus on the negatives today, but rather the truth of God's Word, and what it has to say to us and about us. Our God is a God of abundance. Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think..." Jesus said in John 10:10 "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." This is a fantastic and powerful verse of scripture, yet I fear something is lost in translation, mixed with time.

Allow me to share this same verse from the NIV, and then explain myself just a bit. In the NIV that verse says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Again, powerful verse... looking at the two, "abundantly" and "to the full" speaks to me of abundance... yet still there is something that is missing... and that something can only be understood by understanding the culture of the day in which Christ lived. 

To those who lived as contemporaries of Jesus, when he spoke these words, it took on a different meaning. Again, translation is somewhat lacking, even in the NIV translation. The word that is translated in the KJV as "abundantly" and "to the full" in the NIV literally means "overflowing" as in an overflowing cup. This was powerful to those people. You see, in the time of Jesus, if you were visiting in someone else's home, as long as your cup was kept full you were welcome. But if it sat empty, the host was hinting that it was time for you to go. If your host really enjoyed your company he kept filling your cup, but not only filling it, he would fill it until it ran over the edge and down onto the table. This was saying, "you are welcome in my house and at my table... stay as long as you like. I enjoy our fellowship." Do you see the significance of what Jesus was saying? It is not only about how he wants to bless us with "things", but rather the abundance of his fellowship and presence in our lives! Now think about that for a minute... if we are walking in close and abundant fellowship with him... daily and continually... how is that going to affect our lives?

Is your cup overflowing today? That means you're welcome at God's table, your seat is guaranteed, nobody can take your place... and your needs will be abundantly supplied. God is not wanting to sprinkle a few blessings here and there. Get this picture in your mind... whatever the blessing in your cup, it's sure to run over! With the Lord, it is always the best. The calf is not the runt of the litter, but it is always the fatted calf... the robe is always the best robe, the joy is joy unspeakable and full of glory... the peace is a peace that surpasses all understanding... God's way is always characterised by...overflowing abundance! I am convinced that the last thing on earth that God wants us worrying about making ends meet. Our cup overflows! But we err when we make this all about our financial abundance. Our salvation that has been purchased by the blood of Jesus is to give us the abundant life in every area of our lives. Take, for example, grace... Romans 5:20 says in the Living Bible; "The more we see our sinfulness, the more we see God's abounding grace forgiving us." "Abounding grace"... running over... more than enough grace and mercy! That's our God!

So many people lack understanding of the overflowing cup and they live in such a way that they are always afraid that the "cup will run dry." That one day God is going to say, "no, you've had enough.... my patience and mercy have run out. That their mistakes have been too many or too great? What Jesus was saying in John 10:10 is, "Your are welcome at my table... I want to have fellowship with you. I love you and I died for you. I'll never ask you to leave! Remember this... before Paul had an encounter with Christ and became a Christ follower, he went around persecuting, imprisoning and killing Christians. But after meeting Jesus and surrendering his life to him, he wrote, "...grace...was poured out on me abundantly..." (1 Timothy 1:14 NIV) The blood of Jesus "cleansed him from ALL sin, and cleansed him from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

Whatever you need today, God has it... and He has it in abundance. So ask, and believe Him for it... and then... receive it!

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