VIDEO Abundant Life

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10

A well-worn criticism of Christians is that, “Christians live in constant fear that someone, somewhere is having fun!” The implication is that the following is true: Only non-Christians are able to live a happy life, unencumbered by the rules and regulations of religion. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, as evidenced by the words of Jesus Himself.

When Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd in John 10, He was making a clear reference to the Old Testament image of God as Israel’s shepherd (Psalm 23; Ezekiel 34). It is God who called His people into existence as a nation and promised to meet all their needs. The notion that God desires to subject His people to joyless lives of deprivation is contrary to Paul’s words as well: God gives grace that we might have all we need (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Are you enjoying the joyful, abundant life in Christ that God has provided? The same God who has given us Jesus Christ will give us all other things as well (Romans 8:32).

Too many Christians envy the sinners their pleasure and the saints their joy because they don’t have either one. Martin Luther


Verse of the Day – John 10:10 | Life Without Limbs

Waiting with the Turtle

Today's Devotional

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

Every fall, when the painted turtle senses winter coming, she dives to the bottom of her pond, burying herself in the muck and mud. She pulls into her shell and goes still: her heart rate slows, almost stopping. Her body temperature drops, staying just above freezing. She stops breathing, and she waits. For six months, she stays buried, and her body releases calcium from her bones into her bloodstream, so that she slowly begins even to lose her shape.

But when the pond thaws, she will float up and breathe again. Her bones will reform, and she will feel the warmth of the sun on her shell.

I think of the painted turtle when I read the psalmist’s description of waiting for God. The psalmist is in a “slimy pit” of “mud and mire,” but God hears him (Psalm 40:2). God lifts him out, and gives him a firm place to stand. God is “my help and my deliverer,” he sings (v. 17).

Perhaps it feels like you’ve been waiting forever for something to change—for a new direction in your career, for a relationship to be restored, for the willpower to break a bad habit, or for deliverance from a difficult situation. The painted turtle and the psalmist are here to remind us to trust in God: He hears, and He will deliver.

By: Amy Peterson

Reflect & Pray

What do you need to trust God with? What might that look like today?

God, sometimes it’s hard to wait. But we trust in You and in Your deliverance. Please give us patience, and allow Your greatness and glory to be evident in our lives.

Holding Fast to Our Convictions

Hebrews 10:32-39

It’s easy to hold firm to our beliefs when we’re with like-minded people in church. But if we’re among people who doubt or disagree with Christianity, we need courage to stand up for the truth of God’s Word.

In these situations, we might be tempted to compromise our convictions out of fear, such as:

• Fear of Criticism. Believers standing up for God’s truth will likely get criticized by people who don’t share their beliefs.

• Fear of Rejection. If we live by our convictions or verbally share our faith, we may not be accepted by those who follow their own desires.

• Fear of Loss. Sometimes we don’t want to take a godly stand because we could lose our friends. But anyone who keeps us from obeying the Lord is not a true friend.

Sacrificing righteous standards in order to please others will keep us from the fullness of what God has planned for our life. It’s better to live for Christ and follow His commandments so we can glorify Him.

As God’s people, we hold on to our convictions, no matter the consequences. Pleasing Christ is our highest priority and well worth our standing firm for Him.

Communion of the Saints

“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)

The words “fellowship” and “communion” in the King James Version are both translations of the same word (koinonia) in the Greek New Testament. The fellowship of which the New Testament speaks is one of the most important doctrines of the Christian life. In the early days, “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . . And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts 2:42, 46).

It wasn’t long before heresies, schisms, and non-Christian practices began to fragment the churches; nevertheless, fellowship is still a vital biblical doctrine toward which all Christians should strive.

Today, with our multiplicity of sects and denominations, the concept of the communion of the saints seems almost an anomaly. Yet there is still a very real and blessed fellowship among Bible-believing Christians of all denominations, and this is one of the great blessings of the Christian life.

True fellowship, of course, must be based on truth in doctrine and practice. As our text indicates, real spiritual fellowship with fellow Christians must be based, first of all, on fellowship with the Father and the Son. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7). Christian fellowship is not, as many seem to think, built on food and fun, but on truth and light. HMM

It Just May Not Be Convenient

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

—1 Corinthians 9:27

 

What must our Lord think of us if His work and His witness depend upon the convenience of His people? The truth is that every advance that we make for God and for His cause must be made at our inconvenience. If it does not inconvenience us at all, there is no cross in it! If we have been able to reduce spirituality to a smooth pattern and it costs us nothing—no disturbance, no bother and no element of sacrifice in it—we are not getting anywhere with God. We have stopped and pitched our unworthy tent halfway between the swamp and the peak.

We are mediocre Christians!

Was there ever a cross that was convenient? Was there ever a convenient way to die? I have never heard of any, and judgment is not going to be a matter of convenience, either! Yet we look around for convenience, thinking we can reach the mountain peak conveniently and without trouble or danger to ourselves.

Actually, mountain climbers are always in peril and they are always advancing at their inconvenience.   ITB048

Lord, help me to serve You faithfully, with full discipline, whether it’s convenient or not. Amen.

 

Light without Sight

The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light…should shine unto them.

—2 Corinthians 4:4

 

Satan has no fear of the light as long as he can keep his victims sightless. The uncomprehending mind is unaffected by truth. The intellect of the hearer may grasp saving knowledge while yet the heart makes no moral response to it.

A classic example of this is seen in the story of Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield….Whitefield talked with Franklin personally about his need of Christ and promised to pray for him. Years later Franklin wrote rather sadly that the evangelist’s prayers must not have done any good, for he was still unconverted.

No one could doubt the intellectual brilliance of Franklin and certainly Whitefield preached the whole truth; yet nothing came of it. Why? The only answer is that Franklin had light without sight. He never saw the Light of the World….The gospel is light but only the Spirit can give sight. BAM062-063

True faith is not believing in words merely, even divine words, but believing ON the Lord Jesus Christ. CTBC, Vol. 1/079

 

Confessions of a Teacher of Holiness

John 17:17

It is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified.” As a Salvationist teacher and preacher of holiness, I have heard that call and rejoice to proclaim it to others. Gladly I bear witness to its reality and redemptive power in my own experience. Still, I confess concerns as to the adequacy of my presentation of this grand truth and the extent to which we effectively embody it.

I wonder if we espouse a kind of holiness that is not tough enough. J. I. Packer speaks trenchantly of a modern preference for “hot tub religion,” which soothes our troubled spirits and makes but few demands. Is our holiness far too fragile to see us through the traumas of life? We face a determined and powerful enemy who seeks to destroy us. We need an experience that makes us tough enough to triumph in life’s inevitable encounters.

I also confess that I sometimes wonder whether our holiness is truth-centered enough, grounded firmly enough in the truth of Scripture, rather than based upon the experience of others. Jesus Himself said, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). It is our certainty of the truth that gives stability to faith and integrity to experience.

Further, is my approach to holiness total enough? Is our holiness too therapeutic in its emphasis? There are dangers of beginning with our human problems instead of God’s purpose. Is my approach to holiness sometimes too cosmetic? Holiness deals with the essential inner orientation of the personality. The self dies hard. The cross is painful and total.

I must confess that I have sometimes had cause to wonder if the holiness I profess and proclaim has made me tender enough. The truth is that we live in an age that is seductively desensitizing us to evil. What once might have appalled and embarrassed us, perhaps even angered us, now only makes us sad. What would it take to make us cry out in indignation? What miscarriage of justice, what indifference to standards of integrity, what crass immorality would move us to tears and stir us to action? How much do I care about purity, justice and integrity?

Finally, is my holiness telling enough? Our age cries out for men and women of God whose lives stand in stark contrast to the darkness that surrounds us.

May the Lord direct our hearts to a holiness that is tough enough, truth-centered enough, total enough, tender enough and telling enough.

Paul A. Rader, The Salvationist Pulpit