Abundant living is lived mostly in the spiritual realm and must be built and directed by the one true director of that realm. 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. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leeaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:10-15
Jesus has said that He is the good shepherd and that He is the one who has given His life for His sheep. Without Him, we would be destroyed and our lives would be placed into eternal peril. True abundance in life comes only from God and His intent for our lives. If we live our lives only to experience those things of pleasure and gratification, we will experience moments of wanton passion, but we will never achieve or experience anything that is of notable value and truly fulfilling. The degenerate soul is always craving to be appeased. As the lust of the flesh is being fed, our body is also being dragged deeper and deeper into a total frenzy, desiring a more perverse pattern of gratification. Without the Spirit of God to fill the void of your life, you can never be truly fulfilled. Evil thoughts and actions have no way of providing what is truly wanted and necessary for the eternal soul. Gratification of the flesh can provide temporary pleasure for our mortal bodies, but will never meet the needs of our eternal souls.
We do not live in segments; that is to say, live and die over and over again. Our lives cannot be compared to computers that are active when they are in use, and then go to sleep when they are left idle for some specified amount of time. When we choose to gratify our bodies, we do not come alive long enough to obtain that gratification, and then die, or sleep again until we can find gratification again at a later time. Our search for gratification is caused or directed by our desire to feel alive and needed. Life goes on whether we are being gratified or not. Misery is the enemy of the unfulfilled, and self-destruction is the profession of all those who do not trust in God. Alcohol and drugs are the common depressants of the day. They are used to prop up the subconscious of millions of todaies empty and brokenhearted. Alcohol’s primary use, is not for social acceptability but to deaden the pain of one’s inability to cope. How can you consider anyone’s desire to obtain pleasure as reasonable, when they must kill themselves to obtain it? There is no one, and has never been anyone, who is truly satisfied with only those things that this world has to offer. The lust for power and idle passion are never quenched; the greed for wealth is never appeased. Only God can meet the needs of the weary and defiled. He has made His way available to all, and He will not refuse any that seek His redemption. Many celebrities and sports heroes of this world today are never satisfied no matter how colossal their fame or how enormous their incomes. I do not have to tell you how much this world has been brought down to a lower level because of the shameful actions of many of its so-called elite. I do not intend to point fingers but only wish to verify the inadequacy provided by the obtainment of such wealth and fame. You cannot begin to deal with a problem until you recognize that it exists. The obtainment of money does not insure one’s ability to control or handle wealth, and being wealthy does not guarantee a moral standard of conduct. God is the only one that can truly fulfill; He is the only giver of true wealth. The Bible does not say that money is the root of all evil but that it is the love of money and those things of this world that are evil and divisive (1 Timothy 6:10). We have fallen to a point in society today where our heroes are not held up to a higher standard but only seek to justify their bad actions by perverting the society they are living in. The world says it is wrong to expect men and women of today to be of a higher standard, and to classify them as being wrong or corrupted is not permissible. For sure, the blame of many of their actions should not be attributed to them alone but must be shouldered by everyone that has okayed their inappropriate actions. God, with His desire to forgive His children, is the only one who can judge the actions of His children. It will be He that will hold us all accountable for all that we do, good or bad. His love will never be placed in peril, and His forgiveness will never be in doubt. The love of God is eternal, but even though He will always love His children, He will also demand repentance. Many people choose not to speak out because of their un-desirable past, and I can understand their decision to do so. If we are to be condemned by our foolish actions of the past, then we will all be condemned. God has chosen to forgive. He will not condemn us for our past transgressions if we are willing to ask for His forgiveness. Not wanting to speak out because, wee will of necessity, be compelled to terminate our actions of the present, is a true admittance of guilt and lack of personal integrity.
Governments are put at bay or become inoperable when the corruptions of its leaders are questioned. It is not advisable to rat on your comrade or adversary when the skeletons that hang in your closet are just as viable. We are living in a time of moral decay. I do not think it is “Christian” to hold a grudge or to chastise someone for those past indiscretions that have been confessed and forgiven, but all men must be held accountable for their continual bad judgments and indiscretions. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103 verse12-14). If God can forgive, then it is commanded that we also forgive. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:9-15
God tells us to pray for our enemies. This is a familiar passage from the Bible known as the Lord’s Prayer, where Jesus tells us that we should forgive men their trespasses as we want to be forgiven ours. He even goes a step farther and says that if we are not willing to forgive others their trespasses, then He will be unwilling to forgive us. It is imperative that we possess a forgiving spirit; if we harbor a grudge or are unwilling to forgive those who mistreat us, we will not be forgiven, and any attempt to live the abundant life will be lost or impaired. Worry and anxiety are a drain upon our emotions and hinder our ability to live a happy and contented life. When we do not forgive, we cannot forget, and in order for us to be at peace, we must be able to forget those un-desirable incidents of the past. Abundant living requires us to live, embracing God’s unfailing presence, so that we will not doubt His desire and ability to provide. God must be our best friend in every sense of the word. You cannot have a workable relationship when you are not in constant contact with the one with whom you wish to relate. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It is impossible to do all the things that are required of us when we do not know His will for our lives and are not sure how He would want us to act or react to the situations of each day. If we are not in tune with His Spirit, we are more subject to negative thinking and a negative response. When we do not follow His leading, we will find ourselves asking His forgiveness more often than thanking Him for meeting a need. We are all flawed, but we become more complete when we allow Him to remove the imperfections from our lives. Do not be fooled. There are no perfect people on this earth, and there will be none until Jesus returns during His thousand-year reign (Isaiah 11). If we have a genuine desire to draw closer to Him, He will see that His perfect will is accomplished in our lives.
We do not tell God what we want to do for Him. He will tell us what He wants us to do. We do not tell God when it is time for Him to use us; God alone knows the right time and season for our calling. If we were allowed to choose our service to Him, we would undoubtedly choose to do those things that we feel comfortable in doing, those things that cause us to exert the least amount of effort. Many times, God chooses for us to sacrifice, because in sacrifice, we are made pure and holy. God knows that only those who are honest and truly desire to honor Him will endure His mandate. Empty words hold no true promise, and if we are to be found faithful, we must speak only those things that are from the heart. God knows our abilities, and He knows what is needed of us. The primary requirement in service to God is a willingness to do whatsoever He chooses for us to do. If we allow ourselves to be adaptable to His will, He will give us the ability to do whatever He wants us to do. That might sometimes cause us to question His decision, but it must never cause us to doubt His authority. If God chooses for us to do something that we consider impossible, He will provide a way for it to happen. If He wants us to walk around our community, witnessing to those whom we meet about His unending love and forgiveness, and we have lost both of our legs, He will provide our transportation. God’s intent might be for others to see our physical impairment and take note of our continued praise and reliance upon Him. Seeing us depending upon Him and praising Him, even though we are afflicted, can speak volumes.
Thanking God for our disability can do far more than thanking Him for giving us our daily needs. Everyone is thankful for the blessings of life; only a few will find it in their hearts to thank Him for their dilemmas. Our lives are to be lived spotless and holy. Living a hallowed and dedicated life is not about having to give up those things that are pleasurable and entertaining. God’s intention is not chastisement and abstinence. Abundance has nothing to do with doing without; the only prerequisite in His abundance is those things that are beneficial and not destructive. God truly has a better way, and if we are not in tune with Him, we will not live our lives in a way that is productive and beneficial. The fleshly way considers only things that are selfish and self-debilitating. It does not consider how destructive something is, but only how much pleasure participating in it can be derived. It sees only what is happening at that moment and does not consider the consequences. As the Bible states, sin and inappropriate actions can be enjoyable, but only for the moment; there will always be a day of reckoning. The fleshly way only considers self, and is not apparently concerned about the devastation and heartbreak that can be caused to other individuals, those who are participants or innocent bystanders. How can we justify our actions when they are offensive and destructive to those who are not a part of our inappropriate behavior? What is done in private is irresponsible enough, but to expose your sordid behavior to those who are not implicated in your evil actions is and should be considered appalling. What is in the closet should be kept in the closet, and what has been considered shameful in the past must not be considered acceptable today. Such a statement does not have anything to do with disallowing or limiting the rights of the individual, but is intended only to preserve the rights and affirmation of a civil, unadulterated society. Corruption for the sake of personal freedom is self-defeating and should not be considered advisable. To allow inappropriate actions of any sort or nature will be harmful, and should not be considered permissible. God does not condone sin from any of His creation, be they saved or lost. He has provided a way for all mankind, and He will honor His Word. He has not given a corrupt society the right to choose what is acceptable, and He will hold in judgment those who do evil. To think that He does not have the power or right to set the standard that we are to follow is sheer folly. God is God; and, being God, He will be in absolute authority. He does not consider or choose to give man the supreme authority. It is foolhardy to suggest that we have been enlightened and we are now in a place where we can choose to do what God has called sin without His judgment. He has given us the right of choice, but He will also hold us accountable for our choices. If the rotten apple is not removed from the barrel, soon, the complete barrel will be contaminated and worthless. That is not an inappropriate statement or example; it is only stating an indisputable fact. To warn others of the consequences of inappropriate behavior is not being harsh and judgmental; it is only showing your desire and concern for those who are in need of correction. The love of God has been extended to all men and women, and we, as God’s children, have been commanded to love each other. That is not meant to say that we are to agree with every divisive action or evil deed. God has never said, “Because I love you, I will allow you to act in whatever way suits your fancy.” He expects His children to do only those things that are life-giving and beyond reproach. God’s purpose is life, not death, and for that life to be eternal. There are things in this world that are evil and are only intended to be troublesome and disruptive. It is not the intention of everyone just to get along, and some willingly show their displeasure by being rebellious and unruly. To allow such inappropriate behavior to continue unabated, is to permit the destruction of society and is against any form of sane or rational thinking. It does not take much study to see what happens to a society that permits corruption and immoral thinking. If anything in this world is to be considered as worthy, then we as its citizens should be willing to protect and defend it. God can be our only defense; He can be our only deliverance. The price of freedom has been enormous, but it has not been without cause. To willingly give up so many precious lives for freedom and liberty on the battlefield, while allowing society to be placed into the confinement of evil and immoral permissiveness is unsustainable. Bondage of any sort is servitude and is not intended to permit the free flow of freedom or liberty. It will only corrupt and destroy. Being possessed means you are controlled and directed by the devil. When you are in the controlling power of Satan, your desires and concerns are turned inward and you do those things that are self-satisfying, fulfilling the lust of the flesh. When you are lost, those things of the flesh are natural; or, in essence, the only way that you know. Anyone who says they do those things that we can prove as evil, just because it makes them feel good, or because they get satisfaction in doing it, have been truly deceived. Anyone who does those things saying that they are without choice, and have been denied deliverance, has refused the power of God’s Holy Spirit. The Bible says, “Ye are of your father, the devil; and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44). The power of sin and the devil is far greater than that of man. Satan’s power over those who have not been converted breaks down any desire or resistance that they might have, and they will choose to do his bidding; they have been placed under his bondage. That is not to say that they did not have a choice, but that their choice was to allow his power to dominate and defeat them. To say that the devil made them do it is to infer that they were without choice. When Jesus died upon the cross, everyone was given a choice, and the only way we can say that we were not is to totally deny all the facts. We, as individuals, must be under the authority of one or the other, God or the devil. It is our choice to make. Once we have chosen, we will be expected to do the things that particular family and its leaders are all about. True freedom and liberty can only be found in Christ, and to avail ourselves of its wonderful goodness, we must rely upon Him. If God were not permitted to rule, a society governed by the self-seeking, permissive, immoral actions of man would not exist indefinitely, if it could exist at all. To rely upon men to restrain their evil intentions for the good of society is preposterous, and to expect them to do only what is universally productive is foolhardy. Man is inherently evil and to expect him to act in a righteous, ethical manner is to assume the impossible. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from God, and there can be no other explanation or answer for their presence. Goodness does not indwell the hearts of the wicked, just as wickedness should not possess the hearts of the forgiven.
People who are saved do make mistakes and sin, but that passion to sin does not have a permanent residence in their heart and life. Once the Holy Spirit has been welcomed into your heart, the evil-filled heart must be emptied from all sin, because the Spirit of God cannot reside where sin is allowed to abide. If we are not willing to give up our evil lifestyle after we have asked Jesus into our lives, we are inviting severe chastisement to ensue. God will not let His children continually disobey and live in sin, away from Him. If we are truly saved, then He has required us to so live that His name is not constantly being dragged in the mud. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:30-32
I have personally known people who have claimed to be saved and then continued to live like the devil. One example in particular was a close acquaintance with whom I worked at my job. I did not know that he was saved, but when I talked to his uncle, who was a minister, he told me that as a child, this man had dedicated his life to the Lord. Well, to make a long story short, one day, just out of the blue and at a young age, this young fellow died. There were really no apparent health issues, and he was in the prime of his life. I cannot say what really happened, but when I thought about it, I was given cause to wonder. God will not let His child recklessly rebel without holding him accountable. He will do whatever it takes to get his attention, and when that child refuses to listen, He will do the only thing left for Him to do. Truly, the blessings that we obtain are from a loving Father, and if we expect to continually receive, we should also be continually in a mood or spirit of thankfulness. There is nothing to be more desired than a heart that is cleansed from the unrighteousness of this world, and filled with the thankfulness of God’s eternal love. A constant prayer of the heart and lips, should be our worship and praise of the one who has given His life for our eternal security. Thank you Father, for giving your Son; and thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice on the cross.