Saturday, May 27, 2017

 

Attaining Fullness of Life

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John 10:10  Abundant Life

 

1.Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.

2     "But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.

3     "To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

4     "When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

5     "A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."

6     This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.

7     So Jesus said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

8     "All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.

9     "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

10   "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

 

An old evangelistic technique developed by the Billy Graham team many years ago was called the 4 Spiritual Laws :  law 1 began: God has a wonderful plan for your life. The key verse was

John 10:10 I am come that they might have life and have it abundantly.

 

God does want you to experience Fullness of Life

The theme of fullness of  life is one that is found throughout the Old and New Testaments.

It is particularly found in John's gospel.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' "

16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.

 

 

Jesus Reminds Us Of The Stealers of Life

8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers

10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

The book of Ecclesiastes written by Solomon conveys to us that fullness of life is not found in many of the pursuits, trivial pursuits of life.

 

Ecclesiastes  1:1

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

2              "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity."

 

The word translated here as Vanity, "hebel" is translated in other versions as a breath, wind, nothing, meaninglessness.

 

3              What advantage does man have in all his work Which he does under the sun?

4              A generation goes and a generation comes, But the earth remains forever.

5              Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; And hastening to its place it rises there again.

6              Blowing toward the south, Then turning toward the north, The wind continues swirling along; And on its circular courses the wind returns.

7              All the rivers flow into the sea, Yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, There they flow again.

8              All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing.

9              That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.

 

14            I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

Pleasures won't satisfy

Ecclesiastes 2: The Vanity of Pleasure

1              I said in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure"; but surely, this also was vanity.

2              I said of laughter --- "Madness!"; and of mirth, "What does it accomplish?"

3              I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives.

 

Possessions won't satisfy

4              I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards.

5              I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.

6              I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove.

7              I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me.

8              I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.

9              So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.

10            Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor.

11            Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.

Performance won't satisfy

16            I communed with my heart, saying, "Look, I have attained greatness, and have gained more wisdom than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My heart has understood great wisdom and knowledge."

17            And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.

18            For in much wisdom is much grief, And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

 

Position won't satisfy

15            So I said in my heart, " As it happens to the fool, It also happens to me, And why was I then more wise?" Then I said in my heart, " This also is vanity."

16            For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, Since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool!

17            Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

18            Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me.

19            And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity.

 

Power won't satisfy

20            Therefore I turned my heart and despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun.

21            For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.

22            For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun?

23            For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity.

 

 

These Pursuits do not bring fullness of life. They are just trivial pursuits that won't satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart.

 

The Rolling Stones wrote: " I can't get no satisfaction, though I try and I try and I try. I can't get no satisfaction.

 

The Source of Life

 

The middle eastern sheepfold was quite different to what we are familiar with in Australia.  Did you know there are 22 million sheep in New Zealand, and 3 million people?

 

Here sheep graziers count their sheep in hundreds and thousands.

 

There in the middle east they knew each sheep by name.  There weren't a lot to know.  There wasn't a lot of grass to feed on either.  So instead of having lamb chops, the sheep would be made to last for their wool, and for their milk, and finally when the sheep is old, it is killed for food.  The shepherd would take his 30 or so sheep for walks each day to find grass. At the end of the day, in order to protect his small flock, he would gather his sheep into a small roofless enclosure made of stones about 4 feet high. He would then sleep in the opening to keep the flock inside.  The Shepherd was also the door to the sheepfold.

 

 

So Jesus said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 "All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

Jesus is the Only Door 

John 14:6,

Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life: No one comes to the father but  by me."

Acts 4:12. "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved."

He is the only door to Heaven, to salvation.

But the word "salvation" has an even greater meaning in scripture than to only refer to heaven. Christianity, knowing Christ, can bring a fullness to life now. The concept of salvation involves also the bringing out of darkness into light the things that need healing in our hearts and minds.

The One who could do this needed to be eternal in his nature to take the eternal punishment our sins deserved against a holy and eternal God. The One who did this needed to be absolutely as holy as God or else He would have had to be punished for His own sins, and couldn't then be the One punished in our place. The One who did this needed to be Man to die, and to die for our sins. "For all we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone of us to his own way; but the Lord has laid on Him the iniquities of us all." (Vs.6). My dad read those words on a cinema screen. These words brought him to tears. He said "I had heard that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, but these words say He died for me? Is this true?" I replied "These words are so true! Its what Christianity is all about!" He replied "Then this is the greatest truth in the universe! I never knew before that He died for me!" Dear friends do you know deep in your heart that Jesus Christ the Lord died for you? Please receive this Saviour for your own.

He is the Only Door to Satisfaction!

He knows how we are wired.  I have discussed with a dear friend issues of sexuality and homosexuality.  We have mutual friends who have deserted their marriages, some for homosexual relationships. We admitted we can't understand how folks minds are wired. We can't even understand how our own minds are wired. We see the confusion and distress our friends are causing themselves in a search for satisfaction. How can these folks find satisfaction when everything in their lives, and in ours as much, seems to be falling apart. Our minds are so complex! Where can true satisfaction be found?  True satisfaction can be found in Jesus.  He can reorganise our minds, our hearts, our whole centre of being. He can give the peace of a reorganised life, a life that walks out of darkness into His light.

 

He as perfect Man and perfect God can not only show us that a perfect life is  possible, where there is fullness of life experienced, in the same way as He provides our salvation, so He also provides us with fullness of life.

 

The Beatitudes are described as that which brings fullness and blessedness in a person's life. Jesus teaches us about them, not as a sense of moral instruction in as say Rudyard Kipling's "If"  but as a description of a believer's experience in union with Christ.

Kipling wrote:

If you can keep your head when all about you   

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 

    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 

    Or being lied about, don't deal in lies, 

Or being hated, don't give way to hating, 

    And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise: 

 …

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   

    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, 

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, 

    If all men count with you, but none too much; 

If you can fill the unforgiving minute 

    With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,   

    And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!

 

 

Jesus said:

3     "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4     Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

5     Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

6     Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

7     Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

8     Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

9     Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

10   Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11    "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

12   Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

 

The Lord Jesus is giving a description of the work of spiritual renovation that alters the personality of the believer allowing the believer to experience a fullness of life.

It begins with a recognition of our spiritual need.  It is developed as a Christian discovers the Lord as the source of satisfaction for the believer's spiritual needs.

The first four beatitudes begin with our need and end in the fifth with the recognition of the mercy of God to us, which becomes our catch cry. The person poor in Spirit sees his need. Those that mourn are grieved over their sinfulness and how their self-centred nature destroys all true happiness. The meek are those who recognise that only God can and will help them. Those who hunger for God find Him as the source for true fulfilment.  The last five beatitudes reflect upon how the world views those and relates to those who have found in the Lord Jesus spiritual satisfaction, for they are now loving and merciful people whose goals are far higher than those of the world around them. 

 

As the depths of this understanding is felt and worked out in the believer's life, so their heart is altered. They can be changed from bitter people to blessed people.

Many years ago I knew a man who had enacted a terrible vengeance in time of war against some who had committed inexorable war crimes. He harboured bitterness and guilt over his actions for nearly 40 years, until he came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as the merciful Saviour.  His whole countenance, his soul, was transformed overnight. From a mean bitter spirited man, he became a gracious kind welcoming loving person his wife said she had a new husband!

This life transforming process goes deep. It has to be worked out in daily life.

Ephesians 3 describes this daily outworking.

14  For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

15  from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

16  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,

17  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

18  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height ---

19  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 

To be filled up with all the fullness of God requires each of those previous 3 steps: 

Being strengthened by his Spirit in the inner man, tells us only those born again by God's Spirit can even begin this process of spiritual renovation, transformation, that begins the moment we trust the Lord Jesus as our Saviour. Many who think themselves to be Christians really are not. They have not come in on this floor, and so cannot experience that deeper transformation.

Christ dwelling in our hearts day by day as we read is word and pray and fellowship with Him provides the means by which this fulfilling transformation takes place.

Knowing the love of Christ as our daily refreshing experience, a knowledge which passes knowledge, is the powerful incentive to experiencing the fullness of God transforming our lives.

 

 

Jesus is the Open Door

He wants you to experience salvation more than you want to have salvation!

He is the open door for salvation. Whosoever will may come to Him. "Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10: 13

 

 

 

He is the Open Door to Satisfaction.

As we come to Him, we can discover that He meets the deepest needs of our souls. As we keep coming to Him, so He transforms our souls.

He wants you to experience satisfaction more than you want to experience satisfaction. And he has provided for you to have that deep satisfaction.

 

The Super abundance of Life

 

I Must Abide in Christ

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. . . . These things have J spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full "(John 15 :4, 11). Supreme happiness only becomes possible for the Christian when he learns to abide in his Lord. Should anything prevent the flow of life from the Lord to His child-from the vine to the branch spiritual tragedy will undoubtedly follow. The health of the branch is dependent upon clean channels through which the life-giving sap might flow. And in like manner this is true of the relationship between Christ and His followers.

John 15:9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love"

He wants you to abide in his love. Keep knowing that love and you will have fullness of life.

Jude writes:

 

I Must Commune With Christ

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16 :23, 24). This constituted the new teaching on prayer. Through the medium of Christ the disciples could talk with God, and confidently expect to receive from Him definite answers to their petitions. When humble fishermen found in the Lord Jesus the authority and means whereby to approach the throne of grace, they quickly discovered that language was inadequate to express the joy resulting from a real answer to prayer.

I Must Study the Words of Christ

John 15:10  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full

Keeping His Word, His commandments, the Word of God in our hearts as we read it each day enables us to experience fullness of life and joy in Jesus. What is the theme of the Bible? The theme of the Bible is the Saviour's love to you.

Read his love letters to you each day to keep your heart soft towards the Lord, so He can do that transforming work on your heart.

 

I Must Walk With Christ

"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. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. . . - Walk in the light" (I John 1: 3-7).

It remains one of the greatest miracles of our faith that through His death and resurrection, the Saviour has now become omnipresent to His people. He has said, "I will never leave you. And if this be true, we are thereby provided with the opportunity of walking with Him in blessed fellowship. The road of life need never be lonely. Every path can be an Emmaus road, on which our hearts may burn as we listen to His word.

I must walk with other Christians in fellowship.

Christianity is relational. It is relational between you and God. It is relational between you and other Christians. It is relational between you and others who are not Christians yet and some who will never become Christians. It is relational between you and the world of Creation that the Lord has placed us in.

Enjoy those relationships.

"Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full" (2 John 12).

This is a fitting climax for all that has gone before. If we enjoy the preliminary steps, we cannot refrain from talking about the Lord Jesus. It is easy for us to imagine John sitting down with the "elect lady and her children," and as they conversed about the Saviour, their faces shone with holy delight.

 

 

The Secret of Life

In many religions the goal of life is self-abnegation. That is, the removal of self to nothing. Some people will be so focussed on self-eradication that turn completely inward. It is like the person who thought he needed to find his real self by peeling off the layers. Sadly he found he was more like an onion than an orange, for when he peeled off all the layers he found there was nothing left.

Rather the fullness of joy that we seek is not found by seeking fullness of joy! If you seek fullness of joy you will never find it. Fullness of Joy is a by-product of something else.

Jesus said  "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

Luke 9:23-25.

 

Basically, the Lord Jesus is asking you to take your eyes off yourself and put them on Him. If you are following Him, you are seeing only Him in front of you.

 

Jesus said A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 13:34,35.

 

Love doesn't seek its own self. it fixes its focus upon the object of its love.

Have you forgotten about yourself and fixed your eyes firstly on

J esus first

O thers second and

Y ourself last.

 

 

Once it was the blessing,
  Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
  Now it is His Word;
Once His gift I wanted,
  Now, the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
  Now Himself alone

All in all forever,
  Only Christ I'll sing;
Everything is in Christ,
    And Christ is everything.

Once 'twas painful trying,
  Now 'tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation,
  Now the uttermost;
Once 'twas ceaseless holding,
  Now He holds me fast;
Once 'twas constant drifting,
  Now my anchor's cast.

Once 'twas busy planning,
  Now 'tis trustful prayer;
Once 'twas anxious caring,
  Now He has the care;
Once 'twas what I wanted,
  Now what Jesus says;
Once 'twas constant asking,
  Now 'tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working,
  His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him,
  Now He uses me;
Once the pow'r I wanted,
  Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I labored,
  Now for Him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus,
  Now I know He's mine;
Once my lamps were dying,
  Now they brightly shine;
Once for death I waited,
  Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored
  Safe within the veil.

 






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