January 2005 Calendar Article
Our Theme for 2005:
Living for Jesus
The Abundant Life for Jesus
—by Robert Lee
Recently, Jana took some pretzels and covered them in chocolate. This process called for her to dip each pretzel in the chocolate, then lift it out of the sweet covering and scrape off the excess. But Jana admitted to me that if she had her preference, she would not have scraped off any of that outer layer. As far as she was concerned, the more chocolate, the better the taste. I can say “Amen” to that! We both believe in an abundance of chocolate.
In John 10:10 Jesus speaks of abundance in life. In the previous verses he contrasts his own teachings and purposes with other religious instructors. He compares himself to a sincere and loving shepherd who looks out for the sheep with compassion. Those who falsely claim to speak for God are robbers and thieves who intend to “steal and kill and destroy.” Then in verse ten Jesus says that he “came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Notice the sharp contrast between Jesus giving life in profusion while others only take away.
Isn’t it exciting that Jesus Christ promises an abundant life? We Americans dislike shortages, whether it is gasoline at the service station or DVD’s of the latest movies at the rental store. We want to know that when we seek to obtain something, plenty will be available. But do we ever feel concern over a shortage of life itself? Do we ever sense that our lives are small, limited, too short, and lacking something important? The life Jesus gives is not this way. It is rich, filled with spiritual blessings, such as salvation from sin, uplifting assemblies, fellowship with beloved believers, the power of prayer, the assurance of God’s response to our needs, hope beyond the grave, and many other joys.
A look at scripture easily reveals why the life Jesus gives would be described as abundant. This life is the light of men (John 1:4). It is the opposite of what is dark, oppressive, and hopeless. This life is eternal (John 3:15-16; 4:14; 4:36 and many other passages). You cannot get any more abundant than that! Jesus frees us from (spiritual) death (John 5:24). The life he gives is made available to the whole world (John 6:33, 51). This life involves knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ (John 17:3). Just these few references from John’s gospel account reveal the greatness of life the Lord offers to those who put their trust in him.
Even Old Testament writers acknowledged the abundance delivered by God to his people. Psalm 66:12-14 says,
You made men ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water,
Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.
I shall come into Your house with burnt offerings;
I shall pay You my vows,
Which my lips uttered
And my mouth spoke when I was in distress.
Ephesians 1:7-8 says that God’s grace is “lavished” on those who believe. The footnote to the New American Standard Version says the Greek word translated “lavished” actually means “made abundant toward.” Truly God’s great gifts should cause us as believers to rejoice and give thanks for the wealth of goodness that we experience by his grace.