A lesson in abundant living with Jesus
I haven’t had much time to write in the past week. We travelled to our winter residence in Arizona this past week. Getting ready, flying, opening up the house and shopping all take time.
I think I am finally able to sit at the computer and write.
This morning I painted the first Bible art I had done in a while. I read Oswald Chambers and got to thinking about the verse he quoted.
“All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you — that’s the agenda for rejoicing.” (The Message)
The disciples had just returned from a successful mission. They had been able to cast out demons and heal the sick. They were excited.
But Jesus cautioned them.
Remember you didn’t do these miracles. God did.
How often do we think we did something in our own strength?
How often do we think how smart we are, what a great idea I thought up?
Oswald Chambers is very clear about this too.
The one great challenge to us is — do I know my risen Lord? Do I know the power of His indwelling Spirit?
What does God want us to do?
Does He count the number of converts? Does He count how many dinners we served to the poor? Does He count how kind we are to others?
I am sure some of these things might please Him. But they are not what He needs from us.
Do we know that Jesus has authority over everything? And do we know we need to yield to Him and no one else?
“Am I wise enough in God’s sight but foolish enough according to the wisdom of the world to trust in what Jesus has said?” ~ (Oswald Chambers)
This all must have been an important lesson from God because in today’s sermon our pastor preached on the same thing. This time from the last chapter of John.
According to our pastor, this last chapter of John is full of questions, humour, and powerful teaching.
Here we have the disciples who have loved and followed Jesus for the past years, all of a sudden bereft — their rabbi, the one they believed was the Saviour, the Messiah, had been brutally murdered. They were alone. They were probably laughed at and scorned.
So what did they do?
They went back to what they did before Jesus came into their lives.
They went fishing.
Sometimes we do that too — right? When we have had a failure or feel like we have been let down — we return to what felt good before. I am sure anyone who has an addiction knows that feeling. I can’t do it the new way so I need to return to what I did before.
There were the disciples — out fishing at night. All night. And nothing. Not one fish did they catch all night.
Then they hear a voice say, “Cast your nets on the other side of the boat.” I am sure they had tried both sides all through the night. But this time when they released the net into the water — their net is filled to the brim, 153 fish, and the net didn’t break!
What does that mean?
What is that telling us? Through their time with Jesus, they had seen miracles, and they had done miracles themselves. But did they see those signs as just miracles? Or as the big answer —
During the time Jesus was on earth He was showing everyone what it looked like when God’s rule was on earth.
These signs were normality with Jesus.
The very first sign or miracle was water into wine at Cana. It was the best wine ever and there was plenty for the entire wedding patrons. (John 2:1–11)
Another was the loaves and fish. Not only did they end up with enough to feed the 5000 but they had lots left over. (John 6:1–14)
There is no scarcity when Jesus is in charge.
Everything that you do — all you have, is a gift from God. This is so anti-the world. The world is all about self-help, self-love, fixing it up in your own strength. Work hard and all will be well. That doesn’t mean we don’t work hard but it’s God who gives us the energy, the passion and the ability to do the work.
Everything is His. We are the stewards.
Nowadays many politicians prey on the fear of scarcity to get their points across. They talk of running out of everything.
We need to remember
We are finite. God is infinite.
A God of abundance is NOT the prosperity gospel. This is the fact that with God there is abundance from Him.
“You can’t fish well without Me,” says Jesus.
North American culture
As I said, we are a “me first” culture. My rights. My ideas. My self. And it’s hard to give up our self-sufficiency, our autonomy.
We also need to balance our faith with conservative management. God gave us brains to be wise stewards of our talents and our finances. There is a tension between faith and management. We need to pray about it — to find the right balance.
Scarcity vs abundancy
In the story of the wine and the bread and fish, there was a little that changed into a lot.
When we take communion we need to see our need for Jesus.
Everything comes from the hand of Jesus.
Jesus is present and powerful and spiritual during communion. He is our Provider and our Sustainer. We need to allow ourselves to come to the table ready to recognize His presence (like Peter when he recognized Jesus on the shore).
“Jesus said, ‘Breakfast is ready.’ Not one of the disciples dared ask, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Master.” (John 21:12, The Message)
It’s hard to see the comparison to bread — as North Americans with full freezers of food. We don’t live on our daily bread.
But if you listen to Jesus you will see the truth. With Him, we can have abundance.
What are you allowing God to do through you?
Can you give Him your all?
Can you make Him your One and Only?
Jesus is life! Life abundantly.
“I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, ESV)
May I pray for you and me?
Oh Lord, it’s hard to not do things on our own. Our will is strong. But Your teaching is stronger. We know we need to give things to You, in prayer and every day in our lives. Giving up ourself is not easy. Wanting to be right, and strong is ingrained in our lives. Help us to learn to live through Jesus and live more abundantly. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thanks to Pastor Rick Thiemke at Via Church for a spirit-filled message today.