Christ's compassion, Christ's Love

Abundant Life

Read John 10:1-14.

Have you ever considered your life to be worthless or that people would just be better off without you? I know, I know this sounds rather melodramatic to some, but in the depths of depression, there are loads of people who feel this way. And telling someone in the throes of this despondency that God loves them may be like singing a song to a deaf ear that cannot comprehend.

Or perhaps we’ve never experienced such sorrow so we just want to tell that individual “cheer up,” “look at the bright side,” or if we’re a little more blunt, “suck it up.” Unfortunately, even with good intentions, this type of advice can cause even greater despair.

Perhaps you are in a low place right now and just want to give up. Can I tell you that your life is worth a great deal to God? Even in the midst of circumstances that seem overwhelming. Even when you have committed some horrible sin, or have been caught up in an addiction, or deserted, or wrongfully accused, your life is meant…well, to live.

Jesus promised us abundant life as we follow Him (John 10:10). An abundant or satisfying life does not mean that everything will go our way. No, we will suffer. He promises us this. But our lives still matter and are worth living, even if the circumstances are horrific.

In John 10:1-14, notice what Jesus says about thieves, and contrast it to what He says about the good shepherd. The thieves (the enemy, Satan and his forces) want to steal and kill and destroy. So, there may be literal attempts on our mortal lives, attempts to steal our joy, or attempts to destroy our very reasons for living. There will be hard times but that does not mean we can’t have an abundant life. Not if you think of abundance as having a rich and wide variety of experiences.

Mankind dreamed of flying for millennia, and there were some rather humorous attempts at flight in our not-so-distant past.* Did you know an airplane (or bird for that matter) essentially “struggles” to get in the air? Lift and thrust must overcome the forces of gravity and drag. But once at cruising altitude we probably feel only the forward momentum, and if we are not afraid to look out the window, we can view mountains, forests, farm land, cities, all from a new and exciting perspective.

Consider that Jesus knows us in our struggles and is with us as we struggle through our daily lives. The thieves may be right outside the gate or climbing the walls, but the Good Shepherd is fighting for us. He has already laid down His life so that we may have a full, abundant, and satisfying life. Yes, we will face obstacles. Yes, we may face real danger. But remember Jesus has overcome the most powerful enemy…that of death.

Even now, He fights for you.

He loves you. Yes, really. Walk with Him. Just walk at His pace, in His path, and let Him guide you to abundant life.

A Moment to Reflect

Do you believe the Good Shepherd fights for you?

Have you ever survived something that was a real danger to your life? Do you feel as if God intervened?

Take a few minutes to laugh:

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What does the Bible really say?

Patience and Trials

Those of you who follow my blog know that I love stories of Jesus and the women he interacted with, and I try to stick with that theme. But this month I’m going to take a break and speak to a subject that I’ve had on my mind for some time.

Have you ever had someone tell you “don’t pray for patience”? Even if the phrase is said tongue in cheek there’s a good reason for giving this advice, right? After all, we “know” that God will start teaching us patience by allowing us to experience all sorts of trials. This concept could be considered biblical as Romans 5:3 states that tribulation brings patience. Well, of course we don’t want to go through tribulation! So asking for patience is like asking for trouble.

Well, here’s where I have a problem. Telling ourselves and others not to pray for patience reflects something very wrong with our thinking about God and His wisdom. Of course, our human nature does not wish to go through trials. However if you read the first half of the above verse (Romans 5:3) it tells us we should glory in tribulation.

Wait. Are you crazy? We should be excited about trials? Maybe even invite them into our lives?

I know, I know that seems kind of scary. But don’t we realize that God is a giver of good things? So should we really be afraid of the lessons He might try to teach us? Or worry because of what we pray? We will all face trials and frustrations no matter how we pray. So wouldn’t it be better to go through them with patience rather than without it? And do we really think that we can tell God when and how much tribulation to allow in our lives by not praying for patience?

There is another huge problem with this thinking.. In 1 Corinthians 13 starting in verse 6 the Bible describes the characteristics of love and right off we see “love is (oh my, there it is)…patient. While we’re thinking on that, we might want to take a look at the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22 we read this: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” When we see this we think “oh, yeah! Give me love, joy, and peace, Lord. I want me some of that.” But…following those three wonderful traits is our friend…patience!

This really makes me wonder if we can ever exhibit the love, joy, and peace Jesus intends for us without at least a dab of patience? And are we really going to skip over that portion of the fruit of the Spirit because it might bring us difficulties or temptations or even heartache? If God does allow those trials, He will accompany us. What a wonderful way to get to know him better! No, I’m not excited about facing trials but Jesus sure faced them while He was on this earth and think about this: is the servant better than his or her master? (See Matthew 10:24 for the answer.)

Perhaps you’ve already realized that if we want others to treat us with patience, we should we be willing to do treat them in like manner. And of course, the most important Person we desire patience from is God. So…patience is something God wants for us, and if we desire to be more like Him well, maybe we should think of it as something to pray for.

Here are some things I hope you include in your “take away” today:

  1. We shouldn’t be afraid to pray for the things that will enable us to be better followers of Christ. Including patience.
  2. Realize that God is with us in every difficulty, and that makes it all worthwhile (and by the way, I believe God will allow trials that are more than we can bear, but that is a subject for another time).
  3. God does not stand ready to load you up with trials just because you ask for something good.

“Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
http://biblehub.com/isaiah/41-10.htm Accessed on January 29, 2016

Praying that you will have all the love, joy, and peace Christ intends for you. (I’ll let you pray for the patience.)

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